Screenplay: Without a Trace… Part 4

INT. CHAMBERS’ HOTEL SUITE – NIGHT

Steve sorts through a pile of photocopied pictures of Leslie and Sarah.  A Cozumel map sits open on the desk with hotel names and locations crossed off with red marker.  The sheets on the bed are still fresh with mint candies on the pillows.

Steve reaches in the nightstand drawer and pulls out one of Leslie’s shirts.  He crumples the shirt and inhales it.

EXT. PRESIDENTE SUITES PARKING LOT – DAY

Steve approaches Ambrose from the main lobby entrance.  The sun is blinding.

                      STEVE

          I got your message.

                      AMBROSE

          We found the Jeep.

Ambrose strolls toward a damaged rental Jeep.  A crack in the windshield distends from one end to the other.  Both headlights are broken.

                      AMBROSE

          The police towed it here an

          hour ago.  Found it abandoned

          near the Puntas Molas Lighthouse.

                      STEVE

          Where’s that?

                      AMBROSE

          Near Cozumel’s southern tip.  About

          four kilometers from the main road.

Steve circles the Jeep and inspects the gravel embedded in the knobby tires.  He checks the floor mats and finds a burned match.

                      STEVE

          You’re sure this was hers?

Ambrose glances at his clipboard.

                      AMBROSE

Your wife signed the rental

agreement two days ago.

                      STEVE

          Was anyone with her besides my

          daughter?

                      AMBROSE

          I don’t know.

                      STEVE

          Any indication where she went?

Ambrose looks over the rental agreement.

                      AMBROSE

          No, but the contract forbids

anyone from leaving the island.

                      STEVE

          Could someone ferry a rental

Jeep off the island?

                      AMBROSE

          Technically they’re not suppose

          to, but it happens.

Steve wipes his hands across the seats, searching the fabric and the space around the sandy floor mats.  He taps the gas can strapped to the tail gate; it rings HOLLOW.  He touches the severely scratched hood.

                      STEVE

          This vehicle’s been through hell

and back.

                      AMBROSE

          Most of this island is uninhabited.

With unpaved roads and rocky shorelines,

the environment takes its toll on our

rental fleet.

                      STEVE

          The roads didn’t damage this hood.

Ambrose’s beeper goes off.  He takes it from his belt and reads the number.

                      AMBROSE

          I have a pick-up at the airport.

If you need me, you can page me

at the front desk.

Steve watches Ambrose walk away.

                      STEVE

          What do you know about the

lighthouse at Puntas Molas?

Ambrose turns.  He cups his hand on his forehead to shield the sun.

                      AMBROSE

Not much.  It’s been closed for

repairs since last summer.

            STEVE

Would anyone go there to swim or

dive?

Ambrose shrugs.

                      AMBROSE

          They’d be crazy if they did.

          The waters on that side of

the island are very rough. 

There’s a strong rip tide and

a rocky shoreline that claims

at least one boat a year.

Steve checks his watch and nods.

INT. LOBBY, PRESIDENTE SUITES – DAY

Steve approaches the front desk and spots Randy pushing a luggage cart toward the elevator.  Randy makes eye contact with Steve, then looks down at the floor and shakes his head.

INT. CHAMBERS’ HOTEL SUITE – NIGHT

Steve packs a duffel bag with crackers, water, and a map of Cozumel.  A knock at the door prompts Steve to open it.

Steve discovers an empty hallway.  He jogs toward the stairwell and looks over the open landing.  When he returns to the room, he finds a note on the floor outside his door.

INSERT – STEVE READS THE NOTE

Midnight – Pier 3 – San Miguel.

EXT. SAN MIGUEL, PIER 3 – NIGHT

Live music carries across the street from the seaside promenade where Steve loiters among the masses dwarfed by the towering cruise ships.

Steve proceeds along the pier to a vacant kiosk.  A payphone rings.  He grabs the handset on the third ring.

                      STEVE

          Hello?

The line is silent.  Then a man’s voice come on.

                      MAN’s VOICE (VO)

          Steve Chambers?

                      STEVE

          Who is this?

                      MAN’s VOICE (VO)

          El Loco’s Bar off Adolfo Rosado

Salas.  Be there in ten minutes.

Alone.

                      STEVE

          Wait…

INT. EL LOCO’s BAR – NIGHT

Patrons whisper when Steve enters the dirt floor establishment.  Murals of ocean scenery cover the stucco walls.  Mariachi music plays from a radio behind the bar.

Steve approaches a back room table where FBI Agents Dale Smythe and Wendy Riker sit beneath the smoky glow of a naked light bulb.  Smythe motions toward Steve.

                      STEVE

          Who the hell are you?

Agent Riker displays her badge.  Her gravel voice is thick and husky, yet almost sultry at the same time.

                      AGENT RIKER

          I’m Special Agent Riker with the

FBI.  My partner, Special Agent

Smythe.

                      STEVE

          What is this?

Agent Smythe leans forward on the bench seat, exposing his considerable girth and his 9mm Glock holstered beneath his Hawaiian shirt.  He nudges the top of his dark-rimmed glasses that sit high on the edge of his bulbous nose.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          Sit down.

                      STEVE

          Why the cloak and dagger act?

                      AGENT RIKER

          We wanted to be sure you weren’t

          followed.

                      STEVE

          Followed by who?

Agent Smythe points to the opposite bench seat.

                      STEVE

          You’ve been following my family

since we landed in Cozumel.

Agent Smythe lights a cigarette and blows smoke out the corner of his mouth.  Riker leans forward, exposing cleavage from her V-neck blouse.

            STEVE

What do you know about my wife

and daughter?

            AGENT SMYTHE

We’re investigating the disappearance

of nine people at various Caribbean

resorts.  All are wealthy.  And all

tapped their bank accounts before they

disappeared.

                      STEVE

          What are you saying?

Agent Riker fans the cigarette smoke.

                      AGENT RIKER

          We suspect a piracy ring is involved.

                      STEVE

          Piracy?

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          It’s more common than you think.

          Though usually not in Caribbean

          waters.

                      AGENT RIKER

          Has anyone contacted you about

          a ransom?

                      STEVE

          No.

                      AGENT RIKER

          Have you seen anyone suspicious

          near your family?

                      STEVE

          Aside from you two?

Steve glances around the room.

                      STEVE

          Are you working with the local

authorities?

                      AGENT RIKER

          They’re aware of our investigation

but our partnership with the Mexican

Government remains tenuous at best.

                 AGENT SMYTHE

     The Mexican Government doesn’t

appreciate Uncle Sam throwing

his weight around.

           (beat)

     Especially when we suspect that

one of their own is involved.

                      STEVE

          Someone in Cozumel?

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          We don’t know for certain.  What

          we do know is that yesterday

at 0800, a Coast Guard sonar pinged

a sunken vessel in 300 feet of

water outside Aruba.  The wreckage

is uncharted.

      (beat)

We suspect it might be a British

yacht last scene in that general

vicinity; the boat’s been missing

for three days – along with its

diplomat owner and his mistress.

                      STEVE

          And you think pirates did this?

            AGENT SMYTHE

Possibly.

                      STEVE

So what’s the connection to

my family?

            AGENT SMYTHE

We don’t know, yet.

                      STEVE

          Then why are you wasting

          my time?

Agent Smythe glances at his partner, then back to Steve.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

We pulled your naval records.

You’ve done everything from

scrubbing hulls to underwater

demolition.  We need you to dive

to this sunken ship and identify it.

            STEVE

Why?

                      AGENT RIKER

If it’s the yacht we’re looking for,

it might provide us with a lead.

Something tangible we can work from.

                      STEVE

          Sounds like a job for a Coast

          Guard salvage team.

                      AGENT RIKER

          The Coast Guard needs four days

to assemble a team.  We can’t

spare four hours.

                (beat)

          We can have you on site by 0600.

                      STEVE

          Three hundred feet is serious depth.

          We’re talking mixed gas.  Heated suits.

          And a top-side crew that’s worth their

          salt.

                       AGENT SMYTHE

          The Coast Guard has equipment on

board.  What they need is someone

qualified to use it. Right now,

you’re the only option we’ve got.

                      STEVE

          And what about my wife and daughter?

          Who’s searching for them when I’m

          gallivanting under water?

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          We have undercover agents investigating

your family’s disappearance as we speak.

Our people are good at what they do.

The sooner we act on this, the better

our chances of finding your family.

Steve wipes his hand through his close-cropped hair.  Agent Smythe drops his cigarette on the dirt floor and crushes it under his shoe.

                      AGENT RIKER

Time is our enemy.

Steve shakes his head.

                      STEVE

I don’t know…

                (beat)

          I spoke with the Deputy Consulate

          at the American Embassy–

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          And he assured you his people are

          doing everything they can, right?

                      STEVE

          Yes.

                (beat)

                      AGENT RIKER

          Do you know how many people

disappear in Mexico City every day?

                      STEVE

          No, not exactly.

                      AGENT RIKER

          We’re not debating what the Deputy

          Consulate told you.

                (beat)

          The question is: do you believe him?

EXT. SEA-NOTE BOW – DAY

Victor stands on deck with a 12-gauge pump-action Browning.  He blasts two clay pigeons from the sky.  Pulverized fragments fall toward the water.

                      VICTOR

          Again!

Damon pulls a rope attached to a spring-loaded launcher. Three clay targets hurl through the air.

In one fluid motion, Victor brings the shotgun to his shoulder, aims across the length of the barrel, fires, pumps, and fires again.  3-inch magnum cartridges litter the deck.  Smoke trails from the heated muzzle.

                      VICTOR

          I’m out.

Damon hands him a box of shells.

                      DAMON

          They’ll be here soon.

Victor reloads.

Damon launches three more targets.  Before Victor can load the last shell and fire, Damon draws his .357 Magnum and blasts the clay disks.  Large chunks of broken clay fall to the water.

LATER

A 36-foot, twin-engine Donzi approaches from the distance and slows alongside the longer yacht.  Victor steps across the Sea-Note’s gunwale to tie off.

                      VICTOR

          Carajo!  Donde has estado?

A bearded CUBAN BUYER in a straw hat, khaki Chinos, and a silver briefcase boards the Sea-Note.  Two body guards armed with UZIs remain on board the Donzi.

                      DAMON

          You’re late.

The Cuban Buyer throws a glance at Victor.  VICTOR LEAVES THE SCENE AND VENTURES TOWARD THE WHEELHOUSE.

INSIDE THE SEA-NOTE’s STARBOARD CABIN

Spread eagle on her back, Leslie stares up at the cabin ceiling.  Her eyes dart back and forth at the sound of men’s voices.  Her wrists and ankles are tied with ropes that extend beyond the corners of the mattress.  She strains to free herself.

BACK TO THE SEA-NOTE MAIN SALON

                      DAMON

                (to Cuban Buyer)

          Let’s see the cash.

The Cuban Buyer opens the silver briefcase and reveals several $10,000 bundles of used bills.

                      CUBAN BUYER

          Four-hundred thousand.

                      DAMON

          The deal was five.

                      CUBAN BUYER

          This is not the boat I wanted.

Damon paces about the cabin.  He stops at the starboard porthole in the galley and peers at the body guards aboard the Donzi.

                      DAMON

          Four-ninety.

The Cuban Buyer whistles for his men.  Victor emerges from the WHEELHOUSE with a Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun.

                      CUBAN BUYER

          Perhaps you take me for a fool?

                      DAMON

          I’ll take you anyway I want.

Victor riddles the Cuban body guards with two quick bursts from the MP5.  Shaking uncontrollably, the Cuban Buyer puts his arms in the air.  His crotch is stained with urine.

                      CUBAN BUYER

          Please…  Take the money. 

It’s yours.

Victor blasts the Cuban Buyer, knocking him backward as bullets tear his chest apart.

EXT. COAST GUARD CUTTER – NIGHT

A helicopter hovers above the 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter, CHINCOTEAGUE.  Spot lights flood the landing pad where Agent Smythe and Agent Riker escort Steve across the deck.

Shielding his eyes from the chopper’s downwash, Coast Guard CAPTAIN PETERS greets Agent Smythe with a handshake.  A slender man with steel blue eyes and a dark tan, Captain Peters wears a gold academy ring with an emerald stone.

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          Couldn’t stay away could you?

Agent Smythe turns to Steve.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          Here’s your man.

Steve extends a hand shake to the Captain.

                      STEVE

          Steve Chambers.

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          Captain Peters.  Good to meet you.

          Welcome aboard the Chincoteague.

          I’m not sure how much you’ve been

          briefed, but I can bring you

          up to speed.  We’ll commence our

          operation at 0700.

                (beat)

I’m sorry about your family.  I

hope this mission helps.

                      STEVE

          Me too.

INT. CHINCOTEAGUE SLEEPING QUARTERS – NIGHT

Steve rests on his back, staring wide-eyed at the bunk above him.  An enlisted crew member SNORES LOUDLY in the rack across from him.

LATER

Steve checks his watch.  He rolls over.

STEVE DREAM SEQUENCE – LATER

Steve’s hands shake beneath the murky water where he floats above the surface with a scuba tank on his back, panning an underwater flashlight at the hull of the sunken ship half buried in a portion of the ocean’s sandy bottom.  Ripples in the metal plating on the foredeck structure reveal rusted patches encrusted with layers of barnacle growth.

Steve breaks a portal with the butt of his dive knife and aims the light at a school of silver-gray fish swimming in the ship’s dining room.  Lengths of wooden molding float among the waterlogged rubble in a salt-water grave.  His own exhaust bubbles rumble above his head as he inspects the grease-pen sketch on the dive slate attached to his scuba vest.  The light reflects off the white tablet as he studies the hand-drawn outline of the ship’s interior.

Employing a steady scissor kick, he swims toward the ship’s stern.  The underwater visibility deteriorates.

He swims inside a gaping hole above the engine room and ties a guide line to a length of railing.  He swims through floating debris until a figure passes in front of him.  Unable to discern the shadows through the heavy sediment, he swims toward the bloated bodies of Leslie and Sarah.  Their faces appear translucent with hollow eye sockets.

Steve spits out his mouthpiece and inhales a lung full of water.

STEVE’s BUNK – PRESENT DAY

Steve snaps awake.  He’s flat on his back, drenched in sweat.  Shoes CLANG on the metal deck until a black Coast Guard crewman named SEAMAN TATE calls out.

                      SEAMAN TATE

          Ready when you are, Captain.

EXT. COAST GUARD DECK – DAY

Agent Smythe greets Steve as he makes his way to the diver’s staging area.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          You up for this?

                      STEVE

          Yeah.

                (beat)

          Where’s your partner?

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          In the shitter.

A group of enlisted men gather around the coils of hoses extending from the surface-supplied air control center.  Seaman Tate unlocks a storage trunk and drags out a canvas bag.

                      SEAMAN TATE

                (to other crewmate)

          Give me a hand with this.

Steve watches the men unload the diving equipment.  He shakes his head when he sees the Russian version of an American Mark V dive helmet complete with a metal breast plate and canvas suit with lead-bottom boots.

                      STEVE

                (to Agent Smythe)

          You’re kidding me.

Agent Smythe turns to Captain Peters.

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          Not what you expected?

                      STEVE

          Where’d you find that, e-Bay?

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          It’s old but it works.  And it’s

          all we’ve got.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          What’s the problem?

                      STEVE

          These rigs were decommissioned

in ’79.  I wouldn’t put my worst

enemy in one of these.

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          A lot of off-shore drilling

operations still use them.

Steve examines the dive helmet.  Agent Smythe lights a cigarette.  Behind the men, a small crane pivots with a length of steel cable and an air-supplied umbilical cord extending from the metal arm.

Seaman Tate steps forward.

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          Tate, this is Master Chief Chambers.

          You’ll be his ears on this mission.

                       SEAMAN TATE

          Aye aye Sir.

                      STEVE

                (to Seaman Tate)

          You ever worked a mixed gas rig before?

                      SEAMAN TATE

          Yes Sir.

                      STEVE

          How many hours?

Seaman Tate looks at the Captain then turns sheepishly to Steve.

                      SEAMAN TATE

          Counting today?

EXT. CRANE HOISTS STEVE OVERBOARD – DAY

Suspended by the mechanical arm, Steve dangles over the cerulean blue water before the winch slowly deploys him feet first.

                      SEAMAN TATE

                (instructing the crane operator)

          We ain’t got all day. There’s seven

minutes of air in that suit.

                      AGENT SMYTHE
          What’s the problem?

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

The suit is self contained. 

We can’t turn on the main air

supply until he’s fully submerged.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          Why not?

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          He’ll blow up like the Michelin

Man.

INT. SEVERAL FEET BELOW THE SURFACE – DAY

Steve checks his air pressure from the analogue gauge on his wrist.  He sinks quickly with a narrow field of vision through the oval faceplate.  His voice echoes inside the copper helmet.

                      STEVE

          How’s my air?

                       SEAMAN TATE

          Holding steady.

200 FEET BELOW THE SURFACE – LATER

Colors fade in the absence of natural sunlight.  Underwater visibility diminishes.

                      SEAMAN TATE (VO)

          Approaching two-hundred and

fifty feet.

                      STEVE

          Copy that.

Steve activates his underwater strobe affixed to a lanyard on his breast plate.  Air bubbles gurgle from his helmet’s exhaust port.  When his feet touch the surface, he pans the light.

                      STEVE

          We’re here.

He plods along the sandy bottom.

                      STEVE

          I don’t see it…wait…up ahead.

                      SEAMAN TATE (VO)

          Do you have visual contact?

                      STEVE

          Affirmative.  Large figure.

Can’t make out the details.

Steve reaches the remains of the 50-foot sailing yacht and finds a jagged opening in the hull.  The mast lays broken in half.  Bullet holes riddle the starboard side.  Shards of broken glass deflect the light beam.

                      SEAMAN TATE (VO)

          Watch your umbilical.

                 STEVE

     Copy that.

Steve cranes his neck when a shadow flashes across his peripheral vision.  He pans the light and sees nothing but floating sediment.  He holds his breath, then slowly exhales.

                      AGENT SMYTHE (VO)

          You find our boat?

Steve shines the light in front of him and makes his way around the yacht’s stern.  The name X-T-SEA trails off the damaged transom.

                      STEVE

          If you’re looking for a motor

          yacht, this isn’t it.

Static crackles in the dive helmet.

                      SEAMAN TATE (VO)

          Chief…  You’re breaking up.

                      STEVE

          Tate?

Steve bangs his helmet with the flashlight.  For a moment, all is silent except for the sound of his exhaust bubbles. a hammerhead shark blasts through a jagged opening in the yacht’s hull, tearing across Steve’s path.  The flashlight SMACKS the yacht and dies.  Surrounded in darkness, Steve pants inside the helmet.

                      STEVE

          Tate?  Are you with me?

Steve fumbles in the dark for the flashlight.

                      STEVE

          Tate?

More static.

BACK ON DECK – LATER

A frenzied Seaman Tate shouts at the crane operator.

                      SEAMAN TATE

          Take him up!  Take him up NOW!

LATER

The crane gently lowers Steve on deck.  Water drips from the canvas suit.  INSIDE THE SUIT, Steve sweats profusely about the head and neck.  He stares out the helmet faceplate as the ship’s crew members gather to help remove the dive gear.

                      STEVE

          It’s getting hot in here.

Seaman Tate takes a pneumatic lug wrench and starts to unscrew the first of 8 bolts securing the helmet to the breast plate.

                      SEAMAN TATE

          Save your breath.  I’ll have

          you out in a jiffy.

The pneumatic wrench malfunctions, emitting a rat-tat-tat-tat sound.  Seaman Tate taps the wrench against the deck to revive it but the equipment continues to fail.  He grabs a manual wrench and attacks the second bolt by hand.

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          Get him out of there!

                      STEVE

          You wanna crack the O2 a notch?

Seaman Tate works frantically to loosen the third bolt.

                      SEAMAN TATE

          You know I can’t do that Chief.

                      CREWMAN

The compressor’s dead.  We’re

switching to a back-up unit.

                      CAPTAIN TATE

          How soon?

                      CREWMAN

          Ten minutes.

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          We don’t have ten minutes!

Seaman Tate spins the fourth bolt off with his finger and clamps the wrench on number five.  Sweat pours down his face.

Steve leans forward and falls toward Seaman Tate.  Steve’s eyes roll back in his head.  His face turns pale.

                      SEAMAN TATE

          He’s out!

STEVE DREAM SEQUENCE

Steve sees a ghostly image of Leslie in a dark room, pounding his chest, yelling at him to wake up.  Leslie puts her lips to his mouth.

BACK TO CHINCOTEAGUE DECK – PRESENT DAY

Agent Riker kneels beside Steve’s body, pinching his nose; blowing in his mouth.

Steve pops his eyes open and coughs.  He inhales a shallow breath and stares beyond Agent Riker.

                      STEVE

          Baby?

Agent Riker helps Steve to an upright position.  Seaman Tate looks over her shoulder.

                      AGENT RIKER

          Take a deep breath.

Steve looks around, dazed and confused from his brush with death.  Crewmen cheer.

                      STEVE

          What happened?

                      AGENT RIKER

          You just stepped out for a second.

                (beat)

          You’re all right.

INT. OFFICER’s QUARTERS – NIGHT

Agent Smythe leans back in a swivel chair bolted to the floor.  Across from him, Agent Riker holds a brown accordion folder.  Steve enters wearing Navy sweats.

                      STEVE

          You got a minute?

                      AGENT RIKER

          You look better.

Steve faces Agent Riker.

                      STEVE

          I…Ahhh…Owe you big-time.

                      AGENT RIKER

          Forget it.

                (beat)

                      STEVE

          Someone wanted that yacht

          at the bottom of the sea.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          The Coast Guard’s sending a

salvage team.  They’ll be here

in three days.

                      STEVE

          Where does that leave us?

                      AGENT RIKER

          The chopper returns at 0800.

          We’ll be in Cozumel by dawn.

                      STEVE

          Any word on my family?

Agent Smythe shakes his head.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          Not yet.

Agent Riker hands Steve the accordion file.  Inside, a butterfly clip holds several black and white mug shots.  Steve thumbs through the photos.

                      STEVE

          What’s this?

                      AGENT RIKER
          Our greatest hits collection.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          We believe two of the men

in those photos have connections

to this man.

Agent Smythe displays a mug shot of Victor Mendoza.

Steve glances at the photo.

                      STEVE

          Oh my God…

START OF FLASHBACK

Steve recalls Victor’s face during his family’s dive trip.  He recalls the tattooed forearms of an eagle clutching a trident as Victor slaps Sarah on the shoulder.

BACK TO PRESENT DAY

                      AGENT RIKER

          You all right?

Steve points to Victor’s photo.

                      STEVE

I’ve seen this man before.

                      AGENT RIKER

                (incredulously)

Where?

            STEVE

On the dive boat at the Presidente

Suites.

      (beat)

The day my wife and daughter disappeared.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          Do you recognize this man?

Steve shakes his head.

                      STEVE

          Who is he?

                      AGENT RIKER

          Victor Arellano Mendoza, a Cuban

immigrant from Miami.  Served four

years as enlisted Navy before

applying for special forces training

with the SEALS.  He blew a gasket

during BUDS and killed his drill

instructor.  Served two years in

Leavenworth before escaping.  He

killed two guards in the process.

That was nine months ago.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          Last month, an anonymous caller

tipped a Miami Coast Guard patrol

about Mendoza’s involvement in a

pirating scheme.

                      AGENT RIKER

We’ve tracked Mendoza to Curacao and

          Saint John where a family disappeared

from a chartered yacht.

Agent Smythe blows smoke through his nose.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

Mendoza killed a female Agent

in Aruba.

      (beat)

Every time we get close to him he

slips through our fingers like the wind

INT. FBI APARTMENT, SAN MIGUEL – NIGHT

Steve peers through a window overlooking the Caribbean.  His face is drawn; his eyes sunken and pinched from lack of sleep.  Agent Smythe enters.

                      STEVE

          We’re wasting time.  Every minute

we sit here and do nothing puts

my wife and daughter in greater jeopardy.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          If we go in with guns blazing and

Mendoza isn’t there, we’ll tip

our hand.

            STEVE

So now what?  We sit here and

sing Kum bi ya?

            AGENT SMYTHE

We’ve had the phone lines tapped.

There’s 24-7 video surveillance

throughout the resort.  If Mendoza

or his men were there, we would

have seen them by now.

            STEVE

And what if they’ve already left?

What if they’ve taken my wife and

daughter with them?

Agent Riker enters the room with her cell phone.  She nods to Agent Smythe.

                      AGENT RIKER

          I got a call from Lieutenant

          Mierez.  One of his men found

a floater near the northern tip

outside the Puntas Molas lighthouse.

                 AGENT SMYTHE

     How long ago?

                 AGENT RIKER

     About an hour.

  AGENT SMYTHE

          Male or female?

                      AGENT RIKER

          Undetermined.

Agent Smythe grabs his Glock from the table and tucks it down the back of his shorts.  Steve wipes his hand through his hair.

                      STEVE

          This can’t be happening.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          Call Mierez back.  Tell him we’re

on our way.

INT. WOODEN STORAGE SHED – NIGHT

Sarah stands up and feels along the wall for a light switch.  Confused and disoriented, she flicks on the single bulb dangling above her and finds Natalie Johnston curled in a corner.

                      SARAH

          Who are you?

Natalie pulls away, shielding her face with her hands.  Her shirt is soaked in sweat.

                      NATALIE

          Natalie.

                      SARAH

          Where are we?

Natalie shrugs.

Sarah moves to the boarded window hammered shut with 16-penny nails.  She touches the nail heads and looks around the empty storage shed for something to pry with.

                      SARAH

          We have to get out of here.

                      NATALIE

          They’ll find us.

                      SARAH

          Not if I can help it.

INT. POLICE HEADQUARTERS, SAN MIGUEL – NIGHT

Steve follows Lieutenant Mierez along a narrow hallway with Agent Smythe and Agent Riker at his side.  The four descend a flight of stairs to —

THE MORGUE

Steve, Smythe, Riker, and Mierez stand over the body on a gurney covered with a plastic tarp.  Smythe and Riker cover their mouths with their hands.  Mierez pulls a handkerchief from his pocket.

                      AGENT RIKER

          Let’s do it.

Lieutenant Mierez pulls the tarp back to reveal a white, bloated body with a severed arm and substantial flesh wounds to the torso.

Agent Smythe turns his head and gags.  He blows chunks.  Intestinal fluids hit the floor with a WET SLAP.

                      Lieutenant Mierez

                (mumbling through the handkerchief)

          Do you recognize this person?

Steve steps around the body.

                      STEVE

          I can’t tell.

Agent Smythe leaves the morgue.  Steve follows.

                      AGENT RIKER

          Where are you going?

                      STEVE

          To check on something.

EXT. PUNTAS MOLAS LIGHTHOUSE – NIGHT

Steve crouches outside the lighthouse foundation.  He finds an entrance blocked with an iron gate secured with a chain and lock.  He shines the light on a wooden plaque hanging from the chain.  Waves SPLASH against the rocky shoreline.

INSERT – STEVE READS THE WOODEN PLAQUE

Peligro – No Entrada ilegal!

BACK TO SCENE

Steve backs away from the locked gate and proceeds around the other side.  He stops in his tracks and looks down at his feet.  At his ankles, a nearly invisible length of fishing twine stretches across the ground, reverberating like a plucked guitar string.  He follows the line with the flashlight beam.  The line ends at a claymore mine embedded in the ground.

He SLOWLY retreats and finds another path to follow, one embedded with deep tire tracks in marshy soil.  He pans the flashlight beam along the ground and discovers a piece of broken plastic partially buried in the dirt.  He inspects the broken plastic and wipes a clear spot to reveal the remnants of an orange Tic-Tac case.

INT. LIEUTENANT MIEREZ’s OFFICE – NIGHT

Lieutenant Mierez takes a long drag from his cigarette and blows smoke at an out-of-balance ceiling fan.  Sweat beads on his forehead.  Across the room, Agent Riker scribbles on a notepad.

                      AGENT RIKER

          Any verdict on the cause of death?

                      LIEUTENANT MIEREZ

          Not yet.

Agent Smythe enters the room and shakes a cigarette from his soft pack.  When his cell phone rings, he puts it to his ear and frowns.

                      AGENT SMYTHE
          AFIS came back with a hit on

our DOA’s prints.  A woman named

Pamela Johnston.  She took a

collar eighteen years ago for

assaulting an officer at a pro life demonstration.

Smythe puts a cigarette between his lips.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

I’ll check the airlines and the hotel

Registries.  If the Johnstons came to

Cozumel recently, Mendoza might still

be in town.

                      AGENT RIKER

          I’ll check their bank records for

unusually activity.

Lieutenant Mierez paces by his desk.

                      LIEUTENANT MIEREZ

          Let me know what you find.  The life

          of another man’s family may depend

          on it.

INT. SEA-NOTE STARBOARD CABIN – NIGHT

The whine from an outboard motor fades against the sound of waves lapping the hull.  Leslie pulls on the ropes around her wrists and creates enough slack in the lines to free one hand.  Her wrists bleed from the effort, but she manages to untie herself and leave the cabin confines.

OUTSIDE THE CABIN

Leslie presses her ear to the adjacent wall.  Hearing nothing, she moves through the companionway toward —

THE MAIN SALON

                      LESLIE

          Sarah?

Leslie enters —

THE WHEELHOUSE

She sees the outline of an inflatable yacht tender heading for shore with two men on board.  She reads the navigation chart on the plotting table.  Belize is circled in red marker.

She takes the VHF radio from the helm and keys the microphone.

                      LESLIE

          Mayday mayday mayday! Request

          immediate assistance, over.

STATIC CRACKLES from the speaker.

                      LESLIE

          Mayday!

                      COAST GUARD (VO)

          This is the United States Coast

          Guard.  Please identify…

Leslie keys the mic.

                      LESLIE
          You have to help me.  I’ve been

          kidnapped…

More static.

                      COAST GUARD (VO)

          …your location…over…

The speaker starts to BUZZ and WHINE as Leslie adjusts the squelch control.

                      COAST GUARD (VO)

          …please identify…over…

When the dinghy circles back, Leslie abandons the radio and rummages through a toolbox.  She retrieves a monkey wrench and SMASHES the dashboard and navigation monitors.  Sparks fly with pieces of broken glass and plastic.

OUTSIDE THE HELM STATION

A two-cycle outboard drones louder as Leslie creeps along the gunwale opposite the approaching boat.  She climbs over the bow rail and drops to the water feet first.  She side-strokes to —

THE SWIM PLATFORM

She hides underneath, waiting for the men to return.

LATER

Victor and Damon reach the Sea-Note and tie off.  They jump aboard the yacht with guns drawn.

                      VICTOR
          Check the cabin.

BENEATH THE SWIM PLATFORM

Leslie quietly leaves the confines of her hiding space and pulls herself inside the dinghy.  She unties the line and drifts away before she yanks the starter cord.

Damon exits —

THE WHEELHOUSE

He skirts along the gunwale toward the stern.

                      DAMON

          HEY!

Damon fires at Leslie in the dark.

BACK AT THE YACHT TENDER

Leslie cranks the handlebar throttle wide open, forcing the bow to rise abruptly as the small inflatable heads for shore.

Gun shots echo across the water.  The outboard sputters and dies.  Ducking for cover, Leslie yanks the starter cord repeatedly.  When the motor won’t start, she notices the fuel valve TURNED TO THE OFF POSITION.  She adjusts the valve and pulls the starter cord until the engine comes alive.

Leslie crouches in the small inflatable, facing forward with one arm bracing an oar lock.  The boat dips sharply as Victor launches himself on board like a monster from the deep.  Leslie screams.

INT. CHAMBERS’ SUITE – NIGHT

A startled maid screams when Steve enters his hotel suite.

                      STEVE

          What are you doing?

The maid jumps away from the dresser.  Clothes are strewn about the floor.

                      MAID

          Lo siento, senor.  Lo siento.

                      STEVE

          Habla usted ingles?

His Spanish accent resounds like a Chinese tenor with a head cold.

The maid keeps her head down and advances toward the door. Steve blocks her path.

                      STEVE

          What are you looking for?

He points to Leslie’s clothes.

                      MAID

          Dejeme ir, por favor!

                      STEVE

          Tell me!

The maid thrashes when he tries to grab her arms.

                      MAID

          Please…Senor…If they find me…

                      STEVE

          Who?

                      MAID

          El faro.  Bad things happen there.

                 STEVE

     El faro?

                 MAID

     The house with light.

                 STEVE

     The what?

           (beat)

     A lighthouse?

                 MAID

     Si.

                 STEVE

     Are my wife and daughter there?

The maid shakes her head and flails her arms.  Agitated to the point of hysteria, she breaks free and bolts for the stairwell outside.

                      STEVE

          Wait!

Steve chases her to the hallway where he hears a loud scream followed by a sickening THUMP.  He rounds the corner by the elevators and finds the maid’s apron caught in the walkway banister.

He leans over the railing and sees the women’s body lying face down; her arms and legs skewed at awkward angles.

Randy emerges from the elevator.

                      RANDY

          Senor Chambers?

                      STEVE

          Randy?

Randy peers over the guardrail as Lieutenant Mierez approaches with two armed officers.

                      LIEUTENANT MIEREZ

          STOP!

Steve darts inside the stairwell and runs down.  The officers give chase.

INT. WOODEN STORAGE SHED – NIGHT

Using a flat head screw driver, Sarah pries a nail loose from the boarded window.  She works her fingers between the plywood and the window.

Shouting erupts from outside the room.  A burly man with a grizzly beard and an UZI barges inside.

                      BURLY MAN
          Get away from the window!

Sarah drops the screwdriver.  Natalie runs for the corner.

INT. CARGO VAN – NIGHT

Sarah and Natalie crouch toward the back of the cargo van as the sliding door SLAMS SHUT.  Their hands are tied.  Duct tape covers their mouths.

FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD

The driver steers with one hand on the wheel and the other holding the UZI.  His unfastened shoulder belt clangs against the door frame.  Branches scrape the van’s roof and side view mirrors as Sarah reaches for the sliding door.  When the driver glances in the rear view mirror, Sarah withdraws her attempt.  Natalie mouths the word no.

INT. FBI APARTMENT, SAN MIGUEL – NIGHT

Agent Smythe lights a match and holds it at the end of his cigarette.  Agent Riker looks on disapprovingly.

                      AGENT RIKER

          If you light up one more time in

here, you’ll be smoking that

          through your ass.

Agent Smythe fans the air with the match to extinguish the flame.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          Who pissed in your Wheaties?

He takes a notepad from his shirt pocket and flips it open.

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          I pulled the hotel registry from

the Presidente Suites and found

a record for Marvin and Pamela Johnston.

They checked out two days ago – with

two adult children.

           AGENT RIKER

But we’ve only got one body.

           AGENT SMYTHE

So far…

      (beat)

I also checked the Johnston’s bank

          records.  Two days ago, Pamela

Johnston withdrew $800,000 from her

joint account.

           AGENT RIKER

Maybe she wanted to disappear?

                     AGENT SMYTHE

          From what?

                     AGENT RIKER

          An abusive husband?  A chance for

          a better life?

                     AGENT SMYTHE

          And abandon her kids?

                     AGENT RIKER

          I’ve seen it before.

                (beat)

           AGENT SMYTHE

Her husband owns a bank.  If she

needed money, she could have

taken it at any time.

                      AGENT RIKER

          You really think Mendoza’s men

got to her?

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          It fits the profile.

Agent Smythe pulls the slide on his Glock and grabs a map from the table.

                     AGENT SMYTH

          Call Mierez and tell him to

meet us.

Agent Smythe heads for the door.

                      AGENT RIKER

          Where are you going?

                      AGENT SMYTHE

          To play a hunch.  I’ll be back

in an hour.

INT. CARGO VAN – NIGHT

Gravel PINGS inside the van’s wheel wells as the rusted Dodge 250 starts down a gravel road.  When the driver’s cell phone rings, he pulls the phone from his shirt pocket and answers.

Sarah glances at Natalie.  Natalie inches closer to the sliding door.

Sarah lunges for the handle and pulls it down.  The door slides open to reveal an endless wall of jungle brush whirring by in a blur.  The driver taps the brakes and waves the UZI at the girls who both jump out and bounce violently like a pair of crash test dummies.

Up ahead, brake lights illuminate the darkness before the back-up lights engage and the van accelerates in reverse.

The driver jumps out and surveys the landscape.  He plunges toward the jungle, spraying the UZI in the girls’ direction.  The clamor of RAPID GUNFIRE echoes through the trees.  A flock of blue warblers SQUAWK in unison.

INT. CHINCOTEAGUE WHEELHOUSE – NIGHT

A glow illuminates from the radar screen where Captain Peters stands at the helm beside the radio officer.  A torrential downpour pounds the glass in front of him.  A constant hum reverberates in the background.

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          Any word from our mayday caller?

                      SEAMAN

          No Sir.

                      CAPTAIN PETERS

          Keep at it.  I want to know the minute

          we pinpoint the signal’s location.

EXT. PIER AT PRESIDENTE SUITES – NIGHT

Agent Smythe creeps through the bushes along the deserted path leading to the Divers’ Paradise.  Top 40 music plays from the tiki bar.  A young couple strolls hand in hand on the beach, oblivious to Smythe’s presence.

INSIDE THE DIVERS’ PARADISE

Smythe shines his pen light in the cabin and climbs —

BELOW DECK

He finds a pump-out head and a locked storage compartment. He picks the lock and opens the lid to find a broken spear gun and several life jackets.  A hidden panel

reveals a machete.  Smythe squirts the blade with Luminal and observes the lime green color indicating the presence of blood.

He wraps the machete in a rag and climbs —

ON DECK

A shadowy figure jumps him from behind.

EXT. FBI APARTMENT, SAN MIGUEL – NIGHT

Steve arrives to find the door unlocked.  He enters.

                      STEVE

          Hello?

He moves toward the back of the room and hears the clack-clack-clack from a length of spinning audiotape slapping the empty spool on a reel-to-reel recorder.  A video monitor shows the image of his Jeep parked outside.  A wisp of steam rises from the contents of a Styrofoam cup.

                      STEVE

          Agent Smythe?  Agent Riker?

He follows the hallway to the darkened bedroom where the emerald eyes of a cube-shaped alarm clock flash the time at 5:15 a.m.  A cockroach scampers up the wall.  The bathroom faucet drips.

Standing over an open suitcase on the bed, he pokes at the folded shirts and women’s underwear packed beside a romance novel and a .22 caliber semi-auto Beretta Bobcat.  He palms the tiny gun as Agent Riker appears.

                      AGENT RIKER

          Find what you’re looking for?

                      STEVE

          I found this at Puntas Molas…

Steve presents the orange Tic-Tac case.  Agent Riker steps toward him and cocks her head inquisitively.

                      AGENT RIKER

          What is it?

                      STEVE

          I found this container at the Puntas

          Molas lighthouse.  My wife eats these

things like candy.

                      AGENT RIKER

          How’d you get in here?

                      STEVE

          The door was open…

Steve moves away from the suitcase toward the light seeping in from the hall.

                      STEVE

          Where’s your partner?

                      AGENT RIKER

          He went out for a smoke.

          It looks like we may have

          found your wife and daughter.

Steve blinks. He clears his throat before he speaks.

                      STEVE

          You what?

                (beat)

          Where?  When?

                      AGENT RIKER

About an hour ago.

                      STEVE

          Are they all right?

                      AGENT RIKER

          They’ve been detained.

Steve glances at the video surveillance camera and sees Victor drive up in a Nissan taxi with a gold chain license plate cover.  Steve points the Beretta at Agent Riker.

                      STEVE

          What the fuck is going on?

                      AGENT RIKER

I think you know the answer

to that.

Riker pulls her Glock from her hip holster and aims at Steve.

                      AGENT RIKER

          Put it down.

Riker advances.  Steve pulls the trigger twice and hears CLICK CLICK as the Bobcat’s firing pin strikes an empty chamber.

Riker nods her head toward the door when Victor enters the apartment.

                      AGENT RIKER

                (to Steve)

          I should have let you die on

the Chincoteague.

                      STEVE

          Why didn’t you?

                      AGENT RIKER

          Bad timing.

EXT. SEA-NOTE BOW – NIGHT

Victor pours gasoline on the bow as the Cuban’s Donzi approaches from the watery horizon.

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