Screenplay: Without a Trace… Part 2

INT. TRAWLER WHEELHOUSE – DAY

Damon examines a goose neck lamp above a Plexiglas chart plotter.  He looks up to see the Captain gathering rope along the aft deck where a crane and pulley station sway under load.  The stolen Sea-Note yacht approaches in the distance.

ON THE AFT DECK

Damon and the young Latino push crab traps aside to make room for the next net to come aboard.

The Skipper stands behind an orange life ring suspended from a hook-shaped stanchion.  He checks the split winches and the rusted net roller before activating the crane and pulley system.

Damon observes the Skipper at the control box, hoisting another catch toward the live well storage bay.

The wind gusts.  The clouds darken.  Choppy seas rock the boat about its axis.  A torrential downpour ensues.

Damon and the Captain retreat to —

THE WHEELHOUSE

The Captain starts the diesel engines.  Both men are drenched.  Damon rests his hand on a fire extinguisher mounted to the bulkhead.

                      SKIPPER

          Where’s the boy?

                      DAMON

          He went below.

Damon observes the random flashing light from the Sea-Note’s bow.  He reads the Morse code message and realizes by the look on the Skipper’s face that the old man has already interpreted the message for himself.

                      DAMON

          You shouldn’t read that.

                      SKIPPER

          Who are you?

Damon grabs the 20-pound fire extinguisher and swings it with both hands, SMASHING the Captain upside the head.  The impact sends the Captain sprawling, face down.  Blood seeps from one ear.

Damon drops the extinguisher and throttles back the engines.  He exits the wheelhouse and descends to —

THE GALLEY

The young Latino confronts him.

                      YOUNG LATINO

          Why are we slowing?

Damon pummels the Young Latino with a jab-cross-hook combination.  He exits through the AFT COMPANIONWAY to retrieve a metal briefcase.  Four foot swells from an isolated storm cell rock the trawler like a toy boat in a crowded swimming pool.

EXT. FORWARD DECK – DAY

Damon jumps from the trawler to the stern of the massive yacht passing slowly amidships.

                      DAMON

          What took so long?

                      VICTOR

          Bad weather.

Victor hands him a shoulder-fired rocket launcher.  Damon waits for the Sea-Note to distance itself before he pulls the trigger.  The flying ordinance leaves a trail of smoke. THE TRAWLER EXPLODES, showerING the air with CHUNKS OF wood STRINGERS and fiberglass HULL.

INT. BASEMENT, CHAMBERS’ HOME – DAY

Steve finishes his treadmill run and steps off.  His upper body is sheathed in sweat.

INSERT – STEVE GLANCES AT THE TREADMILL ODOMETER

The odometer reads 12 miles.

INT. MASTER BATHROOM UPSTAIRS – DAY

Steve loads his neatly folded clothes into an open suitcase on the floor by his dresser.  The blinds are partially closed with the first rays of morning sun dousing the King-size bed.  Leslie stirs.  She reaches for Steve’s pillow.

                      LESLIE

          You’re up early, sailor.

                      STEVE

          I couldn’t sleep.

Steve leans over and peppers her face with kisses.

                      STEVE

          I’m gunna hit the shower.

          Our plane leaves in three hours.

                      LESLIE

                (pretending to solute)

          Roger that.

                (rolling out of bed)

          Is Sarah up yet?

Steve ponders the question.

                      STEVE

          If she’s not, can we leave

her here?

Leslie frowns.  She wallops Steve in the ass with her pillow.

INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE SARAH’s BEDROOM – DAY

Steve knocks on Sarah’s door.

                      STEVE

          Let’s go.

He puts his ear to the door.

INT. SARAH’s BEDROOM – SAME

Sarah mimics Steve’s comment from the corner of her trundle bed where a hard shell suitcase sits empty on the floor.  She’s still in pajamas.

                      SARAH

          I’m not going.

                      STEVE (VO)

          Get your stuff squared away

and grab some breakfast.  When

you’re finished you can help

me load the truck.

Sarah puts her headphones on and stares out her window at the Lexus SUV parked in the driveway below.  The snow is shoveled in neat rows.

INT. DULLES AIRPORT – DAY

The Chambers board their plane from the satellite terminal at gate D-34.

INT. UNITED AIRLINES 747 – LATER

Steve occupies the window seat with Leslie and Sarah beside him.  Leslie takes his hand in hers and leans her head back.  Sarah stares across the isle at the porthole on the other side.

                      LESLIE

          Did you grab our passports?

                      STEVE

          They’re in my bag.

                      LESLIE

          What about the travelers checks?

                      STEVE

          Relax.  Everything’s squared away.

Leslie reaches under her seat for her purse.  She digs out a pack of orange Tic-Tacs.  She pops two in her mouth as the 747 taxis toward the runway.

                      LESLIE

          Sorry.

                      STEVE

          Just hold my hand and breathe.

          You’re safer in here —

                      LESLIE

          I know I know…

Steve glances out the porthole overlooking the left wing. Ducted blades spin inside the turbofan’s cowling.  He shuts his sun visor as the plane accelerates for takeoff.

                      STEVE

                (facing Leslie)

You all right?

                 LESLIE

     I’ll let you know when we land.

EXT. COZUMEL MEXICO – DAY

The Chambers step off their Aero Mexico flight and walk across the tarmac under blistering skies to —

THE COZUMEL MUNICIPAL AIRPORT

Steve and Leslie stand in the customs inspection line with their carry-on luggage at their feet.  Sarah fans her face with a vacation brochure as she chews a wad of bubble gum. Music seeps from her headphones.

                      STEVE

                (tapping Sarah’s shoulder)

          Did you put sun block on?

Sarah takes her headphones off.

                      SARAH

          What?

                      STEVE

          Are you wearing sun block?

                      SARAH

          No.  Are you?

Steve looks at Leslie for a second.

                      STEVE

                (to Sarah)

          Your skin will cook without it.

          The sun’s a lot hotter here than

at home.

Sarah puts her headphones back on.

At the customs station, Steve presents the passports to the Mexican official with greasy black hair and sweaty pits. The man examines the passports and stamps the pages.

INT. BAGGAGE CLAIM AREA – DAY

The Chambers family waits by the luggage carrousel.

                      SARAH

          Where’s the restroom?

Leslie points to a sign that reads El Bano.

Steve grabs the bags off the conveyor belt and parks them next to Leslie.

                      STEVE

                (to Leslie)

          Stay with the bags.  I‘ll

          find out about the shuttle.

Steve approaches —

THE HOT SPOT VACATIONS COUNTER

A pretty woman in a flowered shirt and straw hat extends a warm smile.

                      HOT SPOT REPRESENTATIVE

          Buenos dias, Senor.

                      STEVE

          Habla usted ingles?

                      HOT SPOT REPRESENTATIVE

          Si.  And your name, Senor?

                      STEVE

          Chambers.  Steve Chambers.

The representative checks her computer screen.

                      HOT SPOT REPRESENTATIVE

          I have you down for six nights,

          seven days in the President Suites.

A shuttle will take you from here.

Steve returns to Leslie at —

THE LUGGAGE CARROUSEL

Leslie throws her hands up.

                      LESLIE

          Where’s Sarah?

                      STEVE

          I thought she was with you.

                      LESLIE

          She went to the restroom ten

minutes ago and hasn’t come out.

                      STEVE

          Are you sure?

                      LESLIE

          Positive.

                (beat)

          It’s so crowded in here…

                      STEVE

          We’ll find her.

                      LESLIE

          You stay here.

Leslie treks through the airport, pushing passed crowds of tourists gathered at the entrance.  She stands on her tiptoes, looking over people’s heads.  She’s nervous, shaky.  She runs back to the luggage carrousel.

                      LESLIE

          Do you have her passport?

Steve checks his carry on bag.

                      STEVE

          It’s right here.

                (beat)

          Are you sure she didn’t…

Leslie points.

                      LESLIE

          There she is.

Sarah emerges sheepishly from a crowd of tourists.

                      LESLIE

          Where have you been?

                      SARAH

          Nowhere.

Leslie looks at Steve and shakes her head.

                      LESLIE

                (to Sarah)

          From now on, you stick with us.

The Chambers’ walk to the back of the airport where AMBROSE, a tall, black, debonair gentlemen in a red Polo shirt with the Hot Spot Vacations inscription above the breast pocket holds a sign with hotel names.

                      AMBROSE

          Ladies and Gentlemen, if I could

          have your attention for a moment.

          My name is Ambrose.  I’ll be your

          Hot Spot Vacations guide for the

          duration of your stay.  First, I’d

          like to welcome you to beautiful

          Cozumel, Mexico.  Second, if your

name ends in A through K, you’ll

ride with me.  If not, please be

patient and another representative

will be here shortly to assist you.

Ambrose follows the Chambers family with his eyes.  He takes a walkie-talkie from his belt clip and mumbles at the microphone.

EXT. RIDE TO PRESIDENTE SUITES – DAY

The Hot Spot Vacations van travels through the town of San Miguel along the waterfront street of Avenida Rafael Melgar.  Cars, mopeds, and a swarm of pedestrians crowd the narrow streets at the center of town.  Small cantinas and retail shops cater to the hordes of cruise ship tourists arriving from the city dock.

EXT. OUTSIDE OF SAN MIGUEL – DAY

The van winds along a twisty, pothole-ridden road lined with knee-high weeds.  The van enters —

A SECLUDED DRIVEWAY

An archway welcomes guests to the Presidente Suites Resort.  Meticulously landscaped gardens adorn the lobby entrance with marble floors and pink stucco walls.

INT. LOBBY OF PRESIDENTE SUITES – DAY

Leslie and Sarah follow Steve through the domed, marble foyer lined with Roman pillars and paintings of ocean scenes.  Crystal chandeliers hang from the two-story ceiling painted with pastel colors.  Mahogany furniture occupies the common areas with sprays of fresh flowers.  A piano plays softly behind a spiral staircase.  Beyond the gift shop, an outside bar feeds onto a private beach.

Steve rubs his temples as he stands in the check-in line with Leslie and Sarah beside him.  In front of him, undercover FBI Agents DALE SMYTHE and WENDY RIKER pose as husband and wife.  Agent Smythe is short and stout with dark hair and thick eyebrows.  Agent Riker is a tall red-head with a slim figure and a golden tan.

                      LESLIE

          Don’t look at her.

                      STEVE

          Were they on the plane with us?

                      LESLIE

                (whispering)

     You just keep your eyes on me,

sailor, or I’ll make you drop

and give me twenty.

Steve strokes her back.  He leans over, whispers in her ear, and taps her ass.

            STEVE

I’ll give you twenty.  Naked.

EXT. TENTH FLOOR OCEANFRONT SUITE – DAY

From outside the entrance to his room, Steve watches a

bellhop named RANDY push a luggage cart from the elevator along the open-air walkway overlooking the scenic garden view.  Lighter than a featherweight boxer, the Randy sports a gold chain earring to match the gold lapels sewn on the shoulders of his pressed white uniform.

INSIDE THE OCEAN-FRONT SUITE

Steve presses on the corner of the King size bed.  A TV hutch and two dressers occupy the opposite wall.  A mini refrigerator and a welcome basket stuffed with fruits and snacks adorn a reading table beside the balcony overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

                      STEVE

                (to Randy)

          You can set those by the bed.

Randy unloads ten bags of luggage from the cart.  He pretends not to notice Sarah in her bikini.  Steve takes two dollars from his wallet and hands the folded bills to the young bellhop.

                      STEVE

          Gracias.

Randy looks at the two dollar tip and feigns a smile.

                      RANDY

           I’m Randy.  If there’s anything

 I can do, to make your stay more

 enjoyable, dial 4 to reach the lobby.

Randy exits.  Steve rubs Leslie’s shoulders.  Together they watch Sarah sulking by herself on the balcony in her bikini and her flip-flop sandals.

                      STEVE

          What did I do now?

                      LESLIE

          Nothing.  Just give her time

to adjust.

ON THE BALCONY

Sarah takes her headphones off and peers over the painted railing to view the landscaped grounds ten stories below.  Carved in a circular pattern, the bushes encompass a kidney-shaped pool with a man-made waterfall and swim-up bar.

Sarah enters —

THE HOTEL SUITE

                      SARAH

          I’m going down to the pool.

Steve shakes his head disapprovingly.

                      STEVE

          Dressed like that you’re not.


                      SARAH

          Who says?

                      STEVE

          Put something on until you

get outside.

                      SARAH

          Why?

                      STEVE

          Sarah…

            LESLIE

She’s all right.

            STEVE

She might as well be naked.

                      SARAH

          Mom…

Leslie takes a sarong from her beach bag and hands it to Sarah.

                      LESLIE

          Put this on.  You can take it

          off when you get to the pool.

                      SARAH

          I don’t have to.

                      LESLIE

          Sarah!  Don’t argue.

We’re on vacation, remember?

Sarah ties the sarong low around her waist, barely covering her bikini line.

                      SARAH

          It wasn’t my idea.

Sarah leaves in disgust.  Steve throws his hands up.

                      STEVE

          She’s a joy.

                      LESLIE

          She’s sixteen and away from

her friends.

      (beat)

She’ll sort things out.

                      STEVE

          She’s had two years to sort

things out.

                      LESLIE

          Give her time.  She doesn’t

          always show it, but she loves

          you.

                      STEVE

          Like a canker sore.

                      LESLIE
          She likes to push your buttons.

Steve grabs a towel and sunscreen lotion from his beach bag.

                      STEVE

          I’ll go down and keep

an eye on her.

Leslie locks the door and pulls her shirt off.

                 LESLIE

     Honey don’t…  You’ll only upset

her more.

She drapes her arms around his shoulders and engages him in a passionate kiss.

                      LESLIE

          Besides, I can make better use

          of your time.

Steve lowers his hands to her waist and rubs her curvature.  He guides her to the bed and pulls his shirt over his head.  Leslie unzips his shorts and smiles.  He pulls her on top of him.  She straddles his thighs with her long hair brushing his face.

EXT. 100 YARDS OFF COZUMEL SHORELINE – NIGHT

Damon pilots a ten-foot Zodiac tender from the Sea-Note yacht anchored at sea.  Steering with one hand, he peers through NIGHT VISION GOGGLES to view the PALE GREEN IMAGE of a rocky shoreline near a lighthouse.  He sees Victor pull a camouflage tarp off a Jeep.

EXT. SHORELINE – NIGHT

Damon beaches the Zodiac.

A snapping twig grabs Victor’s attention.  He takes a .45 caliber Smith & Wesson semi-auto from his belt.  Distended muscles wrap his hardened forearm like steel cables.  He eyes a wall of scrub brush for signs of movement.

Damon proceeds around the Jeep with a six-inch, ventilated .357 Magnum revolver.  A tourist emerges with his hands in the air and a camera suspended from a strap around his neck.

                      TOURIST

          Please don’t shoot.  I don’t

Want any trouble.  I just –-

I’m trying to find the lighthouse.

Victor glances at the lighthouse base a few yards away.

                      TOURIST

I take pictures.  That’s what

I do.  Of the island, you know…

I got lost.

                      VICTOR

          Then let me show you the way.

Victor shoots the tourist three times in the chest.

                      VICTOR

                (to Damon)

          Load the Jeep.  We leave in an hour.

INT. DINING HALL, PRESIDENTE SUITES – DAY

The Chambers family sits at a breakfast table overlooking an ocean view with the resort’s private beach below.  Sarah pokes at a plate of pancakes with strawberry glaze.  Steve and Leslie eat Corn Flakes with sliced banana.

Sarah gazes at a tan, muscular boy dragging a paddle boat toward the water.

                      LESLIE

          What time does the dive

boat leave?

Steve glances at his watch.

                      STEVE

          One hour.

                      SARAH

          Do I have to go?

                      LESLIE

          I thought you wanted to?

                      SARAH

          Not today.

                      STEVE

          No one’s twisting your arm.

Steve points to Sarah’s plate with his fork.

                      STEVE

          You don’t like the pancakes?

Leslie leans over the table to view the boy on the beach.

                      LESLIE

          I think pancakes are the

last thing on her mind.

Steve chews his cereal.  Across the room, Agent Riker frowns behind her Serengeti shades as her partner Agent Smythe returns with a plate of food.  Steve nods.

EXT. DIVE PIER, PRESIDENTE SUITES – DAY

A breeze sweeps across a calm sea with clouds thin and distant as Steve helps Sarah and Leslie carry their dive gear to the 36-foot dive boat named DIVERS’ PARADISE.  Steve hands his gear to the crewmen, Victor and Damon, who stow the dive bags beneath a row of bench seats lined with scuba cylinders.

ABOARD THE DIVERS’ PARADISE

The CAPTAIN, a Cozumel native with black hair and a scarred upper lip climbs out from the forward storage compartment. Topless in a pair of cutoff jeans, he wears a grease-stained cap with the word Captain embroidered in yellow letters across the brim.

Six more divers board the boat.  Four men.  Two women.

LATER

The captain starts the engines as Victor and Damon stow the fenders and cast the lines.  The boat trolls away from the pier, then accelerates slowly on plane and heads south, parallel to the coastline.

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