FEBRUARY 2, 2013 12:23PM

When Nick Meets Nick

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Here's a link to Part 2, which contains a link to part 1 ...

http://open.salon.com/blog/steven_axelrod/2013/01/31/a_deal_with_the_devil

  Digitech

 

EXT. DIGITEC INDUSTRIES -DAY. ESTABLISHING
SUPER: November, 2003
A glittering modern building, all white concrete and tinted glass, rises out of an immense plain of parked cars in an industrial park outside of New York City. A gleaming metal rectangular sign, set low to the ground on squat titanium columns, says Digitec Industries. Nick and the Devil are standing in front of it. Nick takes it all in.
NICK
Wow.
DEVIL
And this is a Saturday. The CEO, Nick Molloy, works his people hard.
NICK
I do?
DEVIL
Oh yes. You know that old phrase -- if you don’t come in on Saturday, don’t bother coming in on Sunday? Digitec has adapted it a little. Nick says -- if you don’t come in when your first child is born, don’t bother coming in when your mother dies.
NICK
I do?
DEVIL
It’s just a little office joke. You actually give a half day off for funerals.
Nick just stares at him.
DEVIL (CONT’D)
Go on -- check the place out.
Nick starts hesitantly across the parking lot. A woman is climbing out of her car.
WOMAN
Mr. Molloy! Sorry I’m late! My daughter had a dentist appointment and the traffic was just --
NICK
It’s all right, um -- ?
WOMAN
Cathy? Cathy Greenway?
NICK
Of course. It’s fine, Cathy. Don’t worry. Thanks for coming in on Saturday. I appreciate it.
She is too stunned to get out a complete sentence.
CATHY
I, Um -- it’s --
NICK
You probably need to pick your daughter up from the dentist, too. Have you made arrangements for that?
CATHY
Well, I was ... I gave her cab fare and --
NICK
How old is she?
CATHY
Um -- nine?
NICK
Whew -- that’s kind of young. I think you really ought to pick her up yourself. Kids tend to be a little freaked out after a session with the dentist. Especially if they get a cavity filled. All those needles. And the drilling!
He makes an accurate drill sound, whistling through his teeth. Cathy smiles nervously.
CATHY
Right ... that’s true ...
NICK
Pick her up, Cathy. Call it a long lunch.
He walks on. Cathy watches him go. She is grateful -- and suspicious. This makes no sense at all. Other employees, subtly avoid him; some trapped in his path look down and hope he doesn’t see them. We can feel the chill come over the place as he walks into
INT. DIGITEC LOBBY - DAY
People scurry around; a receptionist who has been chatting on the phone hangs up and returns to her computer screen. A chubby man in jeans and a t-shirt trots up to him.
CHUBBY GUY
Nick! Five minutes? I want you to look over these new randomizing protocols. There’s a couple of glitches you need to check out.
NICK
We’ll talk after lunch.
The chubby guy nods and takes off. Nick glances at the SECURITY GUARD by the elevator. Hr doesa startled double take: it’s Brad.
Nick goes into the elevator. He’s alone as the doors shut. In the lobby you can feel the big atrium ceilinged room palpably relax: newspapers and cell phone re-appear, conversations start again, the receptionist is back on the phone.
INT. ELEVATOR
Nick and the Devil stand facing the door.
NICK
That was Brad. What the hell is he doing here?
DEVIL
People always say the word ‘hell’ in such a casual way. Like it’s just some little term they use for emphasis. I guess they all assume they’re going to Heaven and my feelings don’t matter.
NICK
Maybe they just don’t think you’d be petty enough to care.
DEVIL
Bad mistake. But to answer your question: you hired Brad as a favor.  Remember --in this world he hasn’t really done anything to you. Just the opposite, in fact. You beat him up at that Christmas party, stole his girlfriend, turned him in when he tried to cheat on his finals. He sort of went downhill after that. Dropped out of school, took various jobs, never got anywhere. When he came to you for help, you took pity on the big lunk.
NICK
I did?
DEVIL
No one ever said you were all bad, Nick. Now let’s get moving -- your office is on the top floor.
Nick pushes the button. Nothing happens.

DEVIL (CONT’D)
You need a key.
Nick looks hapless.
DEVIL (CONT’D)
Oh, all right -- just this once.
He snaps his fingers and the elevator starts up.
NICK
What’s going on down there? Everybody’s terrified of me. Even Brad looked nervous.
DEVIL
What can I say? You’ve become rather terrifying. It makes sense. The Meek may inherit the earth, but when they bankrupt the earth and it goes into receivership ... then the assholes pick it up at a penny on the dollar and let the Meek clean their toilets. But you know all about that, don’t you, Nick? You’re good at cleaning toilets.
NICK
I was.
DEVIL
Ah. The new Nick Molloy. And not a moment too soon.
The elevator doors open on the private office suite of Digitec’s CEO.
INT. - NICK’S OUTER OFFICE
The secretary, GAIL jumps up as the elevator doors open.
GAIL
Mr. Molloy! The files you asked for are on your desk. And there are some more documents from the lawyers.
NICK
Thanks.
He walks past her into
INT. NICK’S OFFICE
A large glass desk with a state of the art computer sits in front of a giant tinted picture window. There are some files on the desk, nothing more. The place looks austere to the point of abandonment. It’s hard to believe anyone actually works here. Nick picks up the files and starts looking through them. The Devil appears beside him.
NICK
You didn’t tell me I was going to be in  restraint of trade.
DEVIL
You’re not really a success in America until the government sues you. That’s what I think.
NICK
Great. The Devil approves.
DEVIL
Your friend Carl is suing you, too.
NICK
What?
DEVIL
Check it out. The next file folder.
Nick starts reading. He leafs through a few pages.
NICK
He leaked information to the FTC.
DEVIL
Naughty boy. But I think he was a tad peeved you never made him a partner.
NICK
I didn’t?
DEVIL
So he turns on you. Envy, pride and anger -- one of my favorite tri-fectas. I already had him on lust, gluttony and sloth, but catching him daydreaming about your wife while eating Entenmann’s donuts and watching TV ... it didn’t have quite the same zing, somehow.
NICK
But, wait a second -- we always talked about being partners. What happened?
DEVIL
He wasn’t up to it. So you put him in charge of Digitec’s philanthropic programs. He tried to spend millions on a scholarship program to help poor kids attend places like ... oh, I don’t know. Stanford, for instance?  He claims it was your idea. But he pushed it past the board without your approval. So now he’s stuck in some cubicle doing nothing in particular, going into debt and wondering what happened. I guess he didn’t have much to lose, talking to the government. 
NICK
Carl ... Jesus Christ. And he’s daydreaming about Jenny. I don’t ... this doesn’t ... I want to go home.
DEVIL
That’s not possible. As I told you --
NICK
No, I mean -- my house. Where I live now. I want to see Jenny. Take me home.
DEVIL
Done.
Nick grabs the files and they are gone. But even as they disappear, we can see, through the wall-to-ceiling window a $160,000 midnight blue BMW Z-8 doing a controlled skid into the parking lot.
THE Z-8
pulls into an empty space. The white cement bar at the back of the space has the words Mr. Molloy stencilled on it. And indeed Nick Molloy -- the future Nick -- swings out of the sports car a moment later. He is dressed with exorbitantly expensive informality -- a t-shirt, jacket and jeans; but the t-shirt is silk, the jacket is by Armani, the jeans are hand-stitched for him by a Czechoslovakian tailor in Brooklyn. Not to mention the alligator cowboy boots and the Rolex watch. He strides toward the front doors of the Digitec building -- just a few steps from his parking slot. A couple of people hastily step aside. Someone else holds the door open for him. He doesn’t seem to notice.
INT. DIGITEC LOBBY
Everyone is startled to see him -- much more so than they were a few moments ago. The receptionist is still on the phone. She hangs up quickly -- but not quickly enough.
FUTURE NICK
Personal call, Marla?
MARLA
No, It was -- I just --
FUTURE NICK
Three strikes and you’re out. Just like baseball.
MARLA
No, you don’t -- my son has the stomach flu, and --
FUTURE NICK
Good. You can take care of him full-time.
You’re fired. I want you out of the building by noon.
MARLA
No, wait a second, I only --
But he is already walking away. A moment later he’s in the elevator and the elevator doors are closing. The other receptionist puts a comforting hand on her arm. The whole atrium lobby seems to reverberate with Nick’s passing. A kind of relieved amazement -- almost all of them survived another run-in with the boss.
INT. NICK’S OUTER OFFICE
He emerges from the elevators. Gail is so startled she knocks over her cup of coffee. Nick ignores her and continues into
INT. NICK’S OFFICE
GAIL follows him inside. The desk is empty.
GAIL
Mr. Molloy, what -- ? How did you --?
FUTURE NICK
Where are the files I asked for?
GAIL
I ... it -- you took them.
FUTURE NICK
What are you talking about?
GAIL
I gave them to you and ... you left. I assumed you went home.
FUTURE NICK
Is this some kind of ludicrous prank?
GAIL
No sir.
FUTURE NICK
Are you trying to be funny?
GAIL
No sir, I --
FUTURE NICK
Then give me the files.
GAIL
I -- you took them.
FUTURE NICK
That’s impossible. I just got here. You just saw me walk in the door.
GAIL
I -- I don’t know, sir. I don’t know what’s happening.
She is starting to cry. Nick is not impressed.
FUTURE NICK
I’ll tell you what’s happening. You lost my files. And you’d rather say I’m crazy than admit it.
GAIL
No, no, I just --
FUTURE NICK
Are you saying I’m crazy?
GAIL
No ...
FUTURE NICK
Then you’re a liar.
GAIL
I ... yes, sir.
 FUTURE NICK
You have five minutes to get me those files. Or you can start job hunting on Monday.
He stares at her and she hurries out of the office.
EXT. MOLLOY HOUSE - DAY
Nick and the Devil appear, standing in the crushed shell driveway of a tree-shaded mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. A gardener is raking fallen leaves; that’s the only sound.
NICK
She’s home?
DEVIL
Every day.
NICK
But --
DEVIL
You didn’t like her rehearsing and touring. Every great man has a woman behind him. That’s what you like to say -- behind him. Not off to the left somewhere, playing rock music in a sleazy nightclub. You wanted a homemaker. So you got one. She made you a very nice home. You should be proud, Nick. She was so creative with the slip-covers.
Nick has nothing to say to this information. He blows out a breath and starts for the front door. It’s locked, of course. He glances at the Devil, who shrugs. He gestures at the door; it unlatches and swings open. Nick is a little nervous now. But he eases into
INT. FRONT HALLWAY
Black and white marble squares make the foyer look like a chess board. A dramatic winding staircase leads upstairs.
NICK
Jenny? Hello? Anybody home?
He starts up the stairs. Jenny appears on the second floor landing when he is half-way up. She has obviously just stepped out of the shower. She wears one large bath towel around her and another one wrapped like a turban over her wet hair.
JENNY
Nick -- ! I didn’t know you were -- I was -- I didn’t hear the car.
NICK
No, I --
He pauses, just staring at her. She looks, if anything, better than ever.
JENNY
What?
NICK
Nothing, just -- you look so beautiful.
JENNY
Please. I have to get into the city and I’m running late.
NICK
No, I mean it. You’re more beautiful than you were in high school.
JENNY
Okay. What’s this about?
NICK
Huh?
JENNY
What’s really going on? What did you do, Nick? What do you want?
NICK
I didn’t do anything. And all I want to do is kiss you.
JENNY
Funny you should mention kissing. I realized the other day that the only time we ever kiss any more is when we’re making love. Which means, basically -- never. It didn’t even make me sad. That’s the most depressing part. I just sort of noticed it. Like the weeds in the driveway. Weren’t you going to do something about them, by the way?
NICK
Jenny, I --
JENNY
It doesn’t matter. Let them stay. I admire weeds. They don’t give up.
She turns and walks away from him, down the second floor hallway to their room. Nick bounds up the stairs after her and into
INT. SECOND FLOOR HALLWAY
She is disappearing into a door half-way down the hall. Nick pauses for a moment, unsure whether to follow her into what must be her bedroom -- their bedroom. It’s just a flicker of hesitation; then he is bounding after her.
INT. BEDROOM
When Nick enters, Jenny has draped the towel over the back of a chair. Her back is to the door as she steps into her panties. Nick stops with an audible gasp. Does he actually have the right to be here, glimpsing Jenny’s nakedness as a stunned voyeur? You can see why the Devil would be amused.
NICK
Jenny --
She turns to face him.
JENNY
What?
He’s just staring at her.
NICK
Oh God ... Jenny, I --
She puts on her bra and continues dressing as they talk.
JENNY
Whatever this is, Nick, I really don’t have time for it now.
He puts the files down on the dresser and turns back to her.
NICK
Jenny, please ... what’s going on? What’s happening to us?
JENNY
You want to have that conversation? Fine. Then you tell me, Nick. What’s happening to us?
NICK
I don’t know. It’s like you don’t even love me any more.
JENNY
I don’t believe this. You treat me like shit, ignore me for days at a time, make me feel so unwanted and so unloved, you forget our anniversary, you forget my birthday. Your coke dealer sees more of you than  I do. You forgot our last dinner date, where were you Nick? Were you high? I waited for two hours before I finally ran out of there.
NICK
I’m using cocaine?
JENNY
Did that slip your mind? Maybe I should mention it to your parole officer.
NICK
Wait a second. Parole officer --?
JENNY
You know what I wound up doing on my 28th birthday? I ate a street hot dog on Lexington Avenue, by myself. Remember when we used to do that together? We’d play squash and then have hotdogs and duck into a movie, it didn’t even matter which one, and make out in the back row.
NICK
Let’s do that. Let’s go right now. Come on, Jenny, let’s do it. It’ll be fun.
JENNY
Is this one of Dr. Mandelbaum’s ideas? Because --
NICK
No, it’s just me. I want to do this. I want to be with you. It’s Saturday, let’s spend the day together.
JENNY
Nick ...
NICK
Please. We can go to Bloomingdale’s -- you can try on all the clothes and show me the outfits. Remember, we used to do that in high school? We never bought anything and we made all the sales ladies crazy. Then you’d make me crazy trying on bathing suits and lingerie. I never let on, though.
JENNY
But I knew.
NICK
You little flirt.
JENNY
I was bad.
NICK
Come on, we’ll do it again. We can go to Chinatown for lunch and buy weird candy and five dollar Rolex watches.
JENNY
You wear real Rolex watches now.
NICK
Well, that’s a mistake. But I mean it. Let’s have a day in the city. We can take the Staten island ferry and kiss on the deck and get there and go Ugh, we’re on Staten island, and go back. We can go to the Bronx zoo. Remember that class trip to the Bronx zoo? We didn’t see a single animal, except you said you saw an eland’s tail or something, sticking out of the bushes and you said ‘I want to go to an old fashioned zoo where it’s cage, cage, cage, animal, animal, animal and you’re outta there.”
JENNY
You remember that?
NICK
It was memorable. You were funny. And I was falling in love with you.
She stares him; the silence grows. Finally she looks away.
JENNY
Nick, what are you doing?
NICK
I’m charming you. I’m courting you. I’m trying to win you back because I’m losing you somehow. And I can’t stand the thought of that. Call your appointment and cancel. And we’ll drive into the city.
JENNY
Can I drive the Z8?
Nick takes a quick breath. He didn’t know he had a Z8.
NICK
Sure. You were always a better driver than me, anyway. You could never quite show me how to do those three point turns, remember?
JENNY
You’re letting me drive the car.
NICK
I’m imploring you.
JENNY
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
NICK
Nothing. I’m starving. Let’s get eggs and home fries and black eyes at the Pink Teacup.
JENNY
I’m not sure that place even exists any more.
NICK
Let’s find out.
JENNY
Okay. Nick ...
She doesn’t know what to say.
NICK
It’s easy. You call and cancel. I’ll get the car. I’ll meet you out front.
JENNY
Okay.
There’s another awkward pause, then Nick takes off. Jenny stares after him, confused and troubled  -- and happy, for the first time in a long time.
INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY.
Nick starts down the hall, elated. This is going much better than he ever dreamed possible. Then he pauses by the big window that looks down on the driveway. A BMW Z8 is pulling up. It skid stops and we watch Future Nick jump out of the car.
NICK
stares out the window, bewildered and horrified. This can’t be happening. He shrinks back instinctively. Future Nick disappears from view and Nick is paralyzed until he hears the front door slam. Then he takes off, running for the other end of the hallway and the back stairs.
INT. MASTER BEDROOM
Jenny is still on the phone when Future Nick walks in.
JENNY
 ... I know, it’s fantastic. I don’t really understand it either, but -- thanks, Melinda, I knew you‘d --
(To Future Nick)
Hi, honey.
(Into phone)
I have to go.
She hangs up and turns to him. She does a baffled take -- his clothes are different, his attitude is different. Everything is different.
FUTURE NICK
I don’t know if Gail has gone insane or if she really is as dumb as she looks. But she insists I brought my files home. Have you seen them?
JENNY
Nick, I --  They ... they’re on the dresser. You just -- Just a minute ago, you were ...
He turns and sees them. He snatches them up.
FUTURE NICK
What the hell? How did these get here?
JENNY
Nick -- ? Are we still going in to the city?
FUTURE NICK
What? What the hell are you talking about? No, we’re not going into the city. You go into the city.  That’s what you do. You sit around with your friends trash-mouthing each others’s husbands, all of whom actually work for a living. You girls ought to try it someday. Working. It doesn’t leave much time for drunk at lunch hen-parties.
JENNY
Fuck you.
She runs back into the bathroom and slams the door. Future Nick just shrugs -- he’s used to his wife’s erratic behavior, and strides out of room.
EXT. MOLLOY HOUSE GROUNDS - DAY
Nick is crashing through the dense birch woods behind mansion, circling around towards the front of the estate. He sees the Z8 pull out and rocket down the driveway. In a moment the car is gone and the world is silent again except for the sound of raking leaves and a the low murmur of a jet passing far overhead. Nick leans back against a tree. 
The Devil appears beside him.
DEVIL
Okay, okay -- my fun part. Not yours.
NICK
What is going on? What is happening to me?
DEVIL
Okay. First of all -- you didn’t examine our agreement very closely. Here’s a little hint: the small print is the stuff they don’t want you to read.
NICK
Small print ...?
DEVIL
It’s a technicality but Hell and Purgatory are more or less lumped together, legally. Part of the same operation. If you’re not in Heaven, you’re dealing with me.
NICK
So?
DEVIL
So ... when I said everyone goes to Hell automatically, I meant the Purgatory department of Hell, you see? The ticket buyers line as opposed to the ticket holders line, if you catch my drift. You’re all in line, but you aren’t all going to make the eight O’clock show. Get it? I spelled this all out in the contract.
NICK
Wait, I don’t --
DEVIL
Take a deep breath. It will all become clear. What you did in pressing that enter key was forfeit your right to enter purgatory. Which is really the only route to heaven for people like yourself, whose gas emissions are melting polar ice-caps even as we speak.
NICK
Oh my God. I sold my soul to the Devil.
DEVIL
Precisely! But it gets worse. You made the deal on the bizarre assumption that you would somehow be materialized into the future life you wanted. Am I right? 
NICK
Yes, but --
DEVIL
That was your big mistake. You spoke to a younger version of yourself. There were two of you in that room. You created that situation. It was your wish. You folded time on itself and you created another Nick Molloy.
NICK
But that’s impossible!
DEVIL
Good thinking, Nick. Of course it’s impossible! If you wanted things that were possible you wouldn’t need me.
NICK
So ... that guy I saw ...
DEVIL
He’s the boy you talked to in 1992. All grown up. He took your advice. He stood up to the bully and bet on the racehorse and went to Stanford and all the rest of it. He got the girl. He also got the cocaine addiction, the drug bust, the community service wrist-slap and the two year’s probation. But what the hell. Point is -- he got the life. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. He succeeded. Can you wrap your mind around that one, Nick? This is his life. Not yours. Where did you think he was going to be when you finally showed up in the future that you created for him?
NICK
I ... I didn’t --
DEVIL
No. You didn’t. Most people don’t. Which is one of the things I like best about people.
NICK
So he has everything I ever wanted.
DEVIL
Pretty much.
NICK
And as far as I can tell he’s a total asshole.
DEVIL
What can I say? Some people can’t handle success. You’re one of them. Most failures would consider that a consolation.
NICK
I want to go back.
DEVIL
Sorry.
NICK
What do you mean -- you just told me, you said I sold my soul -- not my real life. You told me that.
DEVIL
Again, it’s a technicality. So, no -- you didn’t actually sell me your real life. But it’s gone, anyway.
NICK
Wait a second. How --
DEVIL
When you told that younger version of yourself how to change the future, it created a new time line. And sorry but there’s only room for one. The one you started from is gone. You destroyed it. You’re the only part of it that still exists. How does it feel, Nick? You’re the sole survivor.
NICK
But what am I supposed to do now? I’m --
DEVIL
Exiled? Displaced? Redundant?
NICK
I don’t believe this.
DEVIL
You will.
NICK
I have to think. I have to make a plan.
DEVIL
You remind me of an old John Lennon song. I never  did get to meet him, by the way. Straight up to heaven, can you believe that? After all the drugs and adultery and the “We’re more popular than Jesus” stuff? But Jesus thought it was hilarious. And now they’re best of friends. So cute and chummy you could puke.
NICK
What are you talking about? What John Lennon song?
DEVIL
(Singing)
He’s a real nowhere man/living in his nowhere land/making all his nowhere plans/for nobody.
NICK
I’m not that, I’m not nobody. I’m me. I’m as much me as -- as he is. There has to be some way out of this. I’ll kill him! I created him! He’s the fake, not me.
DEVIL
Good point. But killing him might be tricky. It’s all theoretical, of course, but one school of thought has it that the two of you are like siamese twins, not connected at the hip or the brain, but at the soul. A much more powerful connection. Severing it could very easily kill you both.
NICK
So I’m screwed.
DEVIL
Well ... no one knows for sure. You’re welcome to try. But it’s worth remembering ... you can’t win them all, you can actually lose them all. See ya.
ICK
Wait, I --
But the Devil has disappeared again. Nick sits down with his back against a tree. He has a lot of thinking to do.
 

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Steve, with the action taking place just outside the city I might well have been in the general area when this was all "happening"...looking forward to read what transpires next!