"In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." - Ben Bova [ more quotes ]

"BACKDRAFT"

Screenplay by

Gregory Widen

SHOOTING DRAFT



INT. FIRE STATION 17 - STORAGE ROOM - 20 YRS. EARLIER

Darkness. Then the GLINT of a flashlight. Its beam rocks
crazily to and fro across the inside of a small storage room
as we hear two children arguing.

OLDER KID
You're doing it wrong.

YOUNGER KID
Shut up.

OLDER KID
You're doing it wrong.

It's hard, but we get a sense of the room in the whipping
beam of light. Huge, dark coats lined up like sides of beef
on steel batons. Bent, stained helmets hung like African
masks.

Beneath them BRIAN, 7, and STEPHEN, 12, are trying to struggle
into a pair of the ludicrously massive coats over their
pajamas.

STEPHEN
It doesn't go like that.

BRIAN
Who asked you?

STEPHEN
If you do it like that it'll open in
the fire. Then you'll get burned and
DIE.

The door suddenly opens, morning sunlight roaring in. It's a
fire station storage room full of fire gear. A fireman stands
in the doorway, tall, athletic, their father; DENNIS
McCAFFREY.

DENNIS
Who's going to die?

STEPHEN
Brian. He's not doing it right, dad.
He never does it right.

DENNIS
(gestures for them to
come out)
Well, let's have a look.

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - DAY

The two boys tromp out of the closet. The rubber turn-out
boots are as high as their thighs. The ends of the coats
drag on the floor. They salute, Brian's arm just an empty
sleeve. Dennis kneels down and re-fastens Brian's coat.

DENNIS
Your brother's right. If you don't
fasten these correctly they could
open and you'd get burned.

STEPHEN
And DIE!

BRIAN
You wouldn't let me die, would you,
Dad?

DENNIS
McCaffreys are smarter than fire,
Brian.
(playfully slaps their
shoulders)
How 'bout lunch, huh?

STEPHEN
Fireman shit?

DENNIS
Hey, what's with the mouth? Where'd
you grow up, a barn?

STEPHEN
Firehouse.

DENNIS
Cute.

-- The station suddenly fills with the BELLOW of an ALARM
KLAXON.

DENNIS
(sighs)
Never fails...

A young fireman, ADCOX, appears with the dispatch card.

DENNIS
Big deal?

AXE
Medium deal.

DENNIS
Want to come along, Brian? Watch the
old man earn his keep?

STEPHEN
(pissed)
Dad!

DENNIS
You've come along a dozen times,
Stephen, give your brother a chance.
We'll be back in a few minutes.
(to Brian)
How 'bout it, sport?

BRIAN
Sure!

Dennis scoops Brian up and loads him into the fire engine
cab. The other three firemen climb aboard and take their
places.

EXT. FIRE STATION 17 - DAY

There's a cough of diesel, a crunch of gears, and the engine
is pulling out of the station.

DENNIS
Hit the button, Brian.

Brian stamps his foot on the siren button. The red light
snaps on, the siren growls and blares, and they're off down
the street. Brian turns around in his seat and, at the last
instant before the corner, makes eye contact with his older
brother.

They stick their tongues out.

EXT. CHICAGO STREET - DAY - 20 YRS. EARLIER

The engine howls its way through the city. Brian, sandwiched
between his father and Adcox, looks out in wonderment at
intersections zipping past like picket fences, at people on
sidewalks holding hands over their ears, at the red emergency
lights bouncing crazily off shop windows.

EXT. BUILDING - DAY - 20 YRS. EARLIER

Lazy smoke curls out the second story of a commercial block.
Medium deal. The engine pulls up and the firemen are jumping
off like ship rats. Dennis opens his door, hops down, and
pauses just long enough to point a serious finger at his
son.

DENNIS
Stay near the truck.
(winks)
And keep an eye out for us, huh?
We're short handed today.

Brian nods vigorously, taking the command seriously. Dennis
smiles and is off, dragging a hoseline with his crew toward
a doorway they disappear into. Brian climbs down from the
cab.

ENGINEER
Don't stray too far, little man.

Brian smiles to the pumper operator. He just wants a better
look. And he gets it: Smoke turned evil and dark now, taking
on purpose.

EXT. BUILDING - DAY - 20 YRS. EARLIER

There's a level of apartments above the storefronts. As Brian
watches, a window opens and out steps his father and Adcox
onto a small fire escape. Their attention's on the next window
over, out of reach, wrapped in leaky smoke.

Suddenly Dennis climbs up onto the fire escape railing, armed
with only an axe, and JUMPS across to the next metal balcony.
A ballsy, dangerous move. He kicks in the window, breaks out
the frame with his axe, and dives in.

A beat later he reemerges on the balcony with a terrified,
smudged little girl. He hands the little girl over the railing
to a fireman now coming up the more traditional way -- a
ladder.

Dennis's face lifts and grins at Brian; dirty, bigger than
life, invincible. He winks a wink only possible between
fathers and sons and he's gone again, back into the swirling
darkness. As Brian stands there, full of love, full of pride,
he sees a piece of awning along the roofline crack; releasing
a sickly yellow tongue of flame that slinks over the roof.
The flame seems to pause, to stare at Brian a beat. Shhh,
don't tell anyone. Brian is transfixed, his little head
staring up in astonishment.

Nobody else has noticed it.

Brian can see his father and Adcox through the window;
probing, looking for the flame lurking just above. Brian
starts to call out in a small, hesitant voice,

BRIAN
Dad...

He tries to call louder... But suddenly everything is
happening very fast in slow motion:

-- Brian can see Adcox testing the ceiling with a pike pole
as Brian steps forward, under the power of a flame that
beckons him as --

Dennis suddenly THROWS his body against Adcox, knocking him
clear just as a flame EXPLODES DOWNWARD from the ceiling
fully against him as -- All the building's windows BLOW OUT
and it's like the sky's erupted for Brian, a burning hailstorm
that falls and pelts the ground around him. Plaster, wood,
and something metal that cracks against the pavement and
spins slowly.

A fire helmet.

And Adcox is coming out the door now, blackened and torn,
hopeless tears streaming down his face.

AXE
Get us some backup! We need some
goddamn backup!

And, spotting Brian, he runs towards him. And the helmet
spins and spins and Adcox keeps running, and the sky is
raining fire, and the flame on the roof has risen up now to
its full, horrifying size and it's laughing now, laughing at
the little boy as the helmet finally stops spinning, and we
read the printing on the neck guard.

MCCAFFREY

And Adcox is sobbing and has his arms around the boy,
protecting him from the fire, the world, but it's like Brian
doesn't see him. He pulls away from Adcox, walks up to his
father's helmet, And puts it on.

The scene EXPLODES with a flash as a photographer captures
the instant.

INT. SEEDY APARTMENT - DAY

Sequence omitted from original script.

INT. BRIAN'S CAR - DAY

Hold on the freeze-frame. Let it become an aged cover of
LIFE. The magazine jiggles and rocks and we see now it's
sitting atop a box of knick-knacks jostling in the back seat
of an aging BMW. There's plenty of other boxes here, a live
on the move, and in the driver's seat, BRIAN McCAFFREY, now
27. There's piles of empty burger wrappers, Coke cans, and
Florida knick-knacks on the dash board; a little blow-up
palm tree, a cheesy hula girl emblazoned with "McCaffrey
High-End Stereo Sales".

EXT. HIGHWAY - MONTAGE - DAY

Brian and his battered BMW shoot past prairie, cow country,
nervous suburbs and finally a sign: WELCOME TO CHICAGO.

EXT. CEMETERY - DAY

Wind tugging at his bangs, Brian stares down at the graves
of Dennis and Mary Elizabeth McCaffrey.

INT. CHICAGO GAS STATION RESTROOM - DAY

In a crusty sink he combs his hair, knots a tie around his
neck.

EXT. CHICAGO FIRE DEPARTMENT TRAINING ACADEMY - DAY

Brian walks through its sculpted columns, straightening his
tie. He comes to a door, FIRE ACADEMY CHIEF. He takes a deep
breath, steadies his gaze, and enters.

INT. FIRE ACADEMY CHIEF'S OFFICE - DAY

The ACADEMY CHIEF sits at his desk going over a file. Out
the window can be heard a FIRE TRAINING CLASS in action.

CHIEF FITZGERALD
Is this a joke?

Brian's sitting in the seat opposite.

BRIAN
If it was a joke, sir, you'd be
laughing.

CHIEF FITZGERALD
You walked out on this academy six
years ago. One week to graduation.
You think we forgot that? You think
I did?

BRIAN
I want another shot, Sir.

CHIEF FITZGERALD
(beat)
Look, everybody remembers your old
man. Being his son, all you had to
do was breathe to graduate here.
Dead Hero Father Rule. But you blew
us off. Why should I take you back?

BRIAN
If you remember, sir, my test scores
were in the top --

CHIEF FITZGERALD
-- I don't give a damn what your
test scores were, maybe you could
have been a good firemen, but you
had your shot.

BRIAN
I need another one, sir.

CHIEF FITZGERALD
Sorry, but it's out of my hands. Try
again next year.

BRIAN
No, it isn't out of your hands or
you wouldn't even have met me. If I
push you have to let me back in.
Dead Hero Father Rule. Sir.

CHIEF FITZGERALD
(simmers)
Even if you graduate this academy,
you've still got nine months of
probation. That's hard duty, son. If
you don't really love this job, it'll
kill you.

BRIAN
(rises)
See you Monday. Sir.

As we hear the BLOW OF A WHISTLE

CUT TO:

EXT. CHICAGO FIRE DEPT. TRAINING ACADEMY - GRADUATION DAY

And everybody lined up at attention in dress blues.

CHIEF FITZGERALD
(at podium)
Though the world changes every day,
some things are truly forever:
Courage, devotion, and honor in what
we do. This class is a special one,
for we dedicate it to the three
firefighters that have fallen this
year: Donald Knowlton, Richard Walter
and Michael Petzold...
(silent beat)
Ladies and gentlemen, it is with
pleasure that I certify that Candidate
Class number 322, having successfully
completed all academy requirements,
are hereby graduated to the Chicago
Fire Department.

Candidates and their relatives CHEER and leap to their feet.
Something struggles inside of Brian. He doesn't stand at
first. Another Candidate, TIM, 20, looks at him strangely.
So does the Academy Chief, his eyes finding Brian's. And
Brian's standing slowly now, joining them...

EXT. BROWNSTONE - NIGHT

An expensive one. We hear a window BREAK.

INT. BROWNSTONE - NIGHT

Through the dimness a file cabinet. An AXE SUDDENLY SLAMS
into it, RIPPING it apart. Files crash to the floor. And a
picture. 1970. Four young guys marlin fishing. Time of their
lives.

INT. BROWNSTONE BEDROOM - NIGHT

And a GREY PUTTY being SLAPPED along the edges of a door.

INT. PUB - NIGHT

A split-level firemen's dive; complete with mounted axes and
personalized T-shirts from various engine companies proudly
declaring "LADDER CO. 6 -- AXE FIRST, HOSE LATER" and "CHICAGO
FD, 150 YEARS OF TRADITION UNIMPEDED BY PROGRESS".

Tonight the place is firmly in the hands of an army of
recently graduated candidates. A few on the back patio have
hooked up a charged hoseline and are taking potshots at
balloon targets, each other, the neighbor's cat. Brian and
Tim, still in their uniforms, enter from the street. Survey
the scene.

BRIAN
Completely out of control.

TIM
What the hell are we waiting for?

As they shoulder their way inside, another CANDIDATE appears
holding proudly a fistful of sealed envelopes.

CANDIDATE
Hot off the presses, guys. Station
assignments.

Tim and everyone else but Brian eagerly tear into them. Brian
nonchalantly shoulders up to the bar.

BRIAN
A beer, Willy!

The barkeep turns and smiles.

WILLY
Well, if it isn't the littlest
McCaffrey.
(to candidates with
hose)
Hey! You break anything with that
you buy it!
(to Brian)
Sorry, there must be something wrong
with my eyes. I keep thinking that's
a fire department uniform.

BRIAN
It's in my blood, Willy.

The candidates are ripping open their assignments, exclaiming
to each other: "All right! Engine 117! That's a slum! They
get cookers every day!". "Oh no, Engine 10, that's a nice
neighborhood"...

Willy turns to the bulletin board behind him and unpins a
stack of business cards.

WILLY
Really. Well, let's have a look at
what else was "in your blood". I
always look forward to getting these,
they make such a nice collage for
the bar... "Assistant Director, Sales,
Aspen Snowmobile Tours..."

BRIAN
Didn't offer the kinda growth and
challenge I need.

WILLY
Uh huh. And "Pioneer's Pride, Mobile
Log Cabins". That was in your blood
about six months wasn't it?

BRIAN
Management were pin heads.

WILLY
"Laguna Jamming, Custom Surfboards"?

BRIAN
Coffee sucked.

WILLY
And just this year, "Brian's Sound
Spectrum". Your own company even.
Big step.

BRIAN
I was ahead of my time.

WILLY
You know, I've got a perfect little
spot here for "Brian McCaffrey,
Fireman"...

Tim holds an envelope marked McCAFFREY out to Brian.

TIM
Aren't you even curious?

BRIAN
Engine 115, right?

TIM
(opens it, surprised)
How'd you know? These are supposed
to be sealed.

BRIAN
Lucky guess.
(winks)
And a case of scotch to a captain in
station assignments.

TIM
You crooked son of a bitch. Why 115?

BRIAN
Lots of fires. They promote faster
there. Take a look at the last Lt.'s
list, half the guys on it came from
that battalion. Gotta think about
your future, Timmy. 115's the station.

TIM
Ah man, if you're gonna bribe your
way into a station, why not 17 with
me and your brother?

On Brian's reaction

CUT TO:

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

A Porsche knifes through darkened streets. The DRIVER, 50,
is dressed for success. Pulling up to the brownstone we saw
earlier, he gets out and rubs his eyes. Another day in the
salt mines.

Climbing the short stairs, he sticks his key into the lock
and opens the door. It is the last thing he will ever do.

A THUNDERING EXPLOSION ENGULFS the stoop.

INT. PUB - NIGHT

The place is packed now with girls flirting with the
candidates, putting their helmets on, etc. The horseplay
around the bar suddenly stops at the sweet sound of a SIREN.

EXT. PUB - NIGHT

Everyone steps outside, cocks an ear. And here it comes, the
real thing, SCREECHING past in a full-tilt rush. Shouts and
raised toasts.

TIM
Hey, that's my cousin's company!
C'mon! Let's go!

As Brian turns, he suddenly confronted by an elderly
LITHUANIAN WOMAN.

BRIAN
(surprised)
Mrs. Viatkus...

She grabs his cheeks and rattles off in Lithuanian. Brian
can only smile. Then two attractive jean-clad legs step up.
JENNIFER.

JENNIFER
Brian.

BRIAN
(surprised)
Jennifer.

JENNIFER
You're back.

BRIAN
You look great.

JENNIFER
Thanks for calling.

BRIAN
Uh... I've been sorta keeping a low
profile... the academy... I graduated
today.

JENNIFER
Huh.

BRIAN
So... I see you're still in the
neighborhood.

JENNIFER
Not quite. Just visiting. I live in
Lincoln Park now.

BRIAN
Yeah? What have you been up to?

JENNIFER
I work for city hall.

BRIAN
Really? No kidding.

JENNIFER
What, you think I just dried up and
blew away when you left? The world
does turn once in awhile Brian, even
without your permission.

Just then, Tim OPENS UP the hoseline, DRENCHING Brian.

TIM
Don't want you overheating, Brian!

Brian ducks the stream and PULLS a length of hose near his
feet, FLIPPING Tim. Brian JUMPS him, shuts off the hose and
pins him to the pavement.

TIM
Okay okay! Uncle!

Brian walks back toward Jennifer

JENNIFER
You've certainly matured.

She turns to leave.

BRIAN
Well, if nothing else, it's nice to
know we can still be friends.

JENNIFER
I don't want to be your friend, Brian.

Another in a series of fire engines HOWL past. Tim grabs
Brian by the shoulder.

TIM
Let's go, man!

EXT. STREETS - NIGHT

Brian and Tim jump into Brian's car. They shoot blindly down
the street looking for the fire engine, running down red
lights or anything else that gets in their way. Brian suddenly
hits the brakes, SCREECHING to a stop. They roll down their
windows. Far off can be heard the wind-up of a siren.

TIM
(points)
That way.

EXT. STREETS - FIRE ENGINE - NIGHT

SCREECH. They fly around a corner, down a block, and there
it is, lights flashing up ahead. Brian GUNS it, roars up
alongside the fire engine. Tim leans out the window, shakes
a bottle of beer, and lets loose a foamy eruption in the
truck driver's face.

DRIVER
Tim! You crazy motherfucker!

But he's laughing.

TIM
What'cha got?

DRIVER
Box alarm. Walton Ave.

TIM
We'll meet ya.

EXT. BROWNSTONE - WALTON AVENUE - NIGHT

As Brian and Tim pull up two engine companies are already
dragging lines toward the rolling brownstone we saw explode
earlier. Tim cheers the firemen on like a drive-in movie.

Brian watches the fire with uneasy fascination. Embers
whipping into the night, drifting to the ground around him.

One of the engine companies is entering the doorway now. He
watches as they willingly crawl into a place any sane person
would run for their life from. Jesus Christ. FLASH -- Brian
turns at the blinding snap of a camera. Several locals are
gathered around a parked car, some taking pictures. Brian
notices that right away. It takes a beat longer to notice
the CHARRED CORPSE stuffed head-first through the windshield.
It's the Porsche driver, his legs sticking out at crazy
angles. A dog barks furiously at it.

TIM
(also looking at body)
Man. Something sure put a crimp in
his evening.

BRIAN
Backdraft.

The brownstone fire quickly transforms itself into noisy
clouds of dirty white steam. And one of the firemen is coming
back out now, walking toward Brian.

When he's just a few yards away he pulls off his air mask
and helmet and we shudder with Brian, because the man is a
dead ringer for HIS FATHER.

STEPHEN
Well, look what we have here. Nice
costume. Rent it?

BRIAN
I want to thank you for coming to my
graduation, Stephen. It was a great
inspiration to me.

STEPHEN
So you're going to fight fires now,
huh?

He pats Brian's cheeks, leaving behind large charcoal smears.

STEPHEN
(re smears)
Doesn't work on you.
(turns to leave)
See ya around, little brother.

BRIAN
Not likely.

STEPHEN
(turns)
Well, see you're wrong already. Had
a talk with Chief Fitzgerald, and we
decided in the interest of brotherly
love, that maybe you shouldn't be
way over on the other side of town.
So starting tomorrow, your assigned
to company 17. My company.
(Brian's color drops
a hue)
One case of scotch, you're getting
cheap in your old age, Brian...

And Stephen turns for his own men, Tim staring at Brian as
clouds of smoke drift past like ghosts.

EXT. BROWNSTONE - ACROSS THE STREET - NIGHT

A flame LEAPS up into the foreground. Touches a cigarette.
The cigarette glows, lingers, then lowers slowly from the
mouth of RIMGALE, fifty-five years old and six and a half
feet of solid granite. Wearing a windbreaker and grey slacks
tucked into fire department rubber boots, he takes another
slow drag. Looks at the body stuffed into the windshield.
It's twenty yards away from the brownstone. Stephen looks up
as Rimgale drops the cigarette, crushes it with his boot,
and crosses the street to the building.

INT. BROWNSTONE - NIGHT

Charred walls hiss and snap in the steamy darkness. Rimgale
is there, gloomy in the beam of his flashlight. He crouches
down, plays his flashlight along the ruined baseboard.

SHADOW
If you stare any longer Stevie, I'll
start charging you admission.

Stephen is leaning in the doorway, watching him.

STEPHEN
Got a cause?

SHADOW
Are the glory boys actually showing
interest in Investigation's work? I
may have a stroke.

STEPHEN
The glory boys just want to finish
their report so they can go home.

Rimgale's flashlight finds a wall socket that he pries loose
and holds up to the light. He lowers it, takes in the walls,
the room.

SHADOW
They're gonna have to wait a few
days on this one.

EXT. BROWNSTONE - NIGHT

Tim's talking to his cousin. Brian hangs back, watches the
body-bag people load the Porsche driver into a meat wagon.
There's a still an audience for this, still stray dogs
circling and barking. Brian walks up, looks inside the car,
and sees on a seat the ragged remains of a FINGER.

BRIAN
(to coroner crew)
Hey, you forgot... this.

They're already climbing into the wagon. The driver smiles
creepily.

CORONER DRIVER
We always leave something for the
dogs.

Brian looks across the fireground, sees his brother walking
back to the fire engine. They share a brief, edgy glance.

EXT. HOUSE - DAY

A modest one. South-side Irish old fashioned. Brian walks
up. There's a little kid, about five, playing with a toy
fire truck on the drive.

BRIAN
Hey, Sean. What's goin' on, man?

The kid stares at him without a glimmer of recognition.

BRIAN
It's Uncle Brian. Y'know.

He makes his hand into a talking puppet.

BRIAN
(bandito accent)
"Spinach? We don't need no stinking
spinach". Remember?

The kid drops his toy truck and flees inside.

KID
Mom! Mom!

INT. HELEN'S HOUSE

Brian follows, sticks his head in the door.

BRIAN
Hellooo...

A warm looking woman, 30's, HELEN, comes around the corner.

HELEN
Brian?

BRIAN
Hi, Helen. Man, you look great.

HELEN
You look like... Brian.

She gives him a tentative hug.

HELEN
'Bout written you off. How long have
you been in town?

BRIAN
Four months.

HELEN
Four months?

BRIAN
I know, I know, Should'a called.
I've been really busy. I joined the
fire department.

Helen's expression suddenly saddens.

HELEN
Oh Brian...
(beat)
You guys... you really know how to
put each other through it, don't
you?

The little kid is peeking fearfully from the kitchen doorway.

BRIAN
That's Sean? Jeez, he's a giant.

HELEN
Yeah, you'd be surprised what three
years can do to a kid.

BRIAN
Sean, come on out, man. What, you
forget your favorite uncle?

HELEN
Stephen told him you were killed in
a hot tub accident.

SEAN
(intense)
Dad was kidding, Mom.

And the kid runs unexpectedly away, angry.

BRIAN
Well that's two things to strangle
Stephen for. Where is he, anyway?

HELEN
(beat)
Stephen's not staying here now, Brian.
He moved out last April.

An embarrassed sting.

BRIAN
Oh, man, I'm sorry.

HELEN
You guys ought to try picking up a
phone once in awhile.

EXT. STEPHEN'S BOAT - MARINA - DAY

A small one on the river. Several boats bob peacefully. Except
one. Raised high in dry-dock, it's an ancient fishing trawler.
Bachman-Turner-Overdrive drifts up from the galley on badly
fuzzed speakers as Brian climbs the ladder.

BRIAN
Hey.

Stripped to the waist, Stephen's bent-over cleaning out the
guts of the inboard motor. He looks confused to see Brian.

BRIAN
I talked to Helen...

Wrong thing to say. Stephen turns back to his work.

BRIAN
...Man, I thought dad's boat was
finally retired to the family
graveyard. Don't you worry about
falling out of this thing?

Stephen straightens up, his forearms smudged with grease.
Brian admires the unwashed cereal bowls and peeling deck
paint.

BRIAN
I like what you've done with the
place.

STEPHEN
It's comin' along... want a beer?

Stephen tosses him a beer from the fridge. As Brian pops it,
he sees the small pile of city-issue gallon size cans in the
corner. Armorall, solvent, extinguisher foam.

BRIAN
Been ripping off fire stations?

STEPHEN
It's old stuff Adcox gave me that
the department was going to throw
out anyway. Still good enough though
for this tub.

Brian winces at the music coming out of shot speakers.

BRIAN
Bachman Turner Overdrive?
(looks through music
rack)
...Buffalo Springfield?... Stephen
Bishop? Oh man...

Brian lifts one of the tapes -- an 8-track -- and holds it
carefully in his palm as if it were a rare and fragile relic.

BRIAN
My God, an actual operating 8-track.

STEPHEN
What, you've never seen one before?

BRIAN
In the Field Museum once.

STEPHEN
It works.

BRIAN
It worked when you were in sixth
grade.

INT. STEPHEN'S BOAT - DAY

Sequence omitted from original script.

EXT. STEPHEN'S BOAT - DAY

Brian opens the trunk of his old BMW. It's full of stereo
boxes marked BRIAN'S "SOUND SPECTRUM".

INT. STEPHEN'S BOAT - CABIN - DAY

Brian's gutted the speakers and is re-wiring them.

STEPHEN
People actually used to pay you for
this?

BRIAN
Millions, Stephen -- And sexual
favors.

STEPHEN
Sheep don't count.

BRIAN
Yeah? What about Laura --

STEPHEN
That was never proved.

Brian moves over to another speaker.

STEPHEN
Why'd you come here, Brian?

BRIAN
I wanted to know why you messed with
my station assignment. I mean, is
this really gonna have to one of
those big brother -- little brother
"you broke my GI Joe and I'm still
pissed" games?

STEPHEN
(sighs)
What is it with you, man, huh? How
do you manage to keep coming up with
new and amazing ways to screw up?
That scotch bullshit? Am I really
supposed to believe you came crawling
back home because you suddenly felt
heart strings moan for the family
biz? You were bankrupt, man.

BRIAN
Hey! You don't know me --

STEPHEN
I know you cold, Brian. The scary
thing is, you probably could have
faked it for awhile. But you see, in
this job there's no place to hide.
Isn't like selling log cabins. You
have a bad day here -- someone dies.
And that's not fucking good enough.
Want another beer?

BRIAN
So that's it? Big bad brother's gonna
ride my ass till I cough blood?

STEPHEN
Big bad brother is going to treat
you like any other probie -- that I
don't think is going to make it.

Brian staples the last of the audio cord in place and switches
on the tape player. The cabin fills with sharp, crystal clear --
Stephen Bishop.

BRIAN
There's only so much technology can
do.
(picks up his tool
box)
Thanks for the beer.

STEPHEN
Thanks for the speakers.

EXT. STEPHEN'S BOAT - DAY

Brian climbs down off the boat. Looks up at Stephen.

BRIAN
Y'know, I told myself a million times
I didn't want to be a fireman. I
said bullshit to that line about
tradition and family legacy. I know
I split, and I know how you felt...

STEPHEN
Yeah, you know. You know what it
felt like.

BRIAN
I gotta do this, Stephen. I gotta
know.

STEPHEN
I think you're gonna find out, Brian.
Don't be late tomorrow.

INT. BRIAN'S APARTMENT - MORNING

A simple one-room walk-up. A stereo blares Chicago blues as
Brian buttons up his uniform in the mirror. He steps back,
looks at himself, -- and oh man what the hell am I doing...

EXT. BRIAN'S APARTMENT - STREET - MORNING

Brian climbs into his car, turns the key -- nothing. He gets
out, looks under the hood, then SLAMS it down in frustration.

INT. ELEVATED TRAIN - MORNING

A pissed-off Chicago, hauling itself off to work in the
morning snap, passes by Brian's window. Tough Midwestern
brick. Tough Midwesterners. Heads-down in their 150 year war
with a wind committed to pushing the whole damn thing into
Lake Michigan.

EXT. EL STATION - MORNING

The train clacking away above him, Brian walks down the
sidewalk carrying his fire equipment. He turns a corner and
comes on.

EXT. FIRE STATION 17 - MORNING

Brian stands there. It's his dad's station. Turn of the
century abused. Sooty with stone gargoyles and a pair of
faded red doors that suddenly CRANK OPEN as Brian comes up
the drive. Fire engine 17 and ladder truck 46, lights
flashing, pull out onto the apron.

The fireman sticking his head out of the passenger window is
Stephen. One look at the silver trumpet on his collar and we
know this isn't Fireman McCaffrey but Fire LT. McCaffrey.

STEPHEN
You're too late, probie.

Tim, in ladder truck 46, waves a small bye-bye as both rigs
begin heading down the street.

BRIAN
(chasing)
Goddamn it, Stephen...

Brian bolts full-out for the engine. At the last instant
before he falls on his face a fireman reaches out and drags
him aboard.

INT./EXT. FIRE ENGINE 17 - DAY

It's Adcox, the fireman from the first scene, now a veteran.

AXE
Why baby McCaffrey, how ya doin'?

The Pumper driver, SCHMIDT, pops in a howling ROCK TUNE as
they zoom off.

SCHMIDT
(re Brian to Adcox)
You know this rug rat?

AXE
Know him? I practically raised him.
(Jewish mom)
And he never calls, he never writes...

Brian shouts over the noise to GRINDLE, 35, one more seat
down.

BRIAN
I'm Brian.

GRINDLE
I'm sorry.

Grindle sticks his nose out the window, sniffs, then begins
buckling up his coat.

GRINDLE
Boys, I do believe we have a
barbecue...

As Brian and Adcox fasten up their own equipment --

EXT. FACTORY - DAY

Smoke pours with confused indecision from every window of a
five story factory as the pumper and ladder company pull up.

GRINDLE
(staring at confusing
smoke)
I hate it when we gotta fucking go
look for it.

STEPHEN
(to Schmidt)
Call in another alarm. We're gonna
need some back-up.

Everyone begins strapping on air tanks and masks. Adcox drags
the rig's suction line to the hydrant. A beautiful illegally
parked Mercedes is blocking the way.

AXE
(to Stephen)
Oh these moments do try me...

STEPHEN
(admiring car)
Be gentle.

Whistling to himself, Adcox SMASHES the brass coupling through
the passenger window, runs the line through and SMASHES it
out the other window before connecting up to the hydrant.

Stephen and Grindle pull hose off the bed and move out.
Brian's so jacked up he can't get his air tank on right.
Schmidt calmly helps him into his gear.

SCHMIDT
It's only rock 'n roll, kid.

Stephen, Adcox and Grindle are crouched at the door, ready
to go. Brian takes a hose roll and runs to catch up when
he's cut-off by dazed Latin workers shouting incoherently at
him in SPANISH.

STEPHEN
Hey, probie! How 'bout it, huh?

Brian pushes past the workers and takes his position on the
hose line. Stephen reaches over and re-adjusts Brian's air
tank strap.

STEPHEN
You're doing it wrong.

Stephen eases the door open. Thick smoke rolls sickly out
over their heads.

STEPHEN
(to Brian)
Stay beside me.

And in they go...

INT. BURNING FACTORY - DAY

Inside the smoke is like liquid lead. Going by feel, they
hump the hose up one staircase after another, crawling on
their hands and knees toward a dull red glow. Turning a
corner, they enter

INT. BURNING FACTORY - A VAST ROOM - DAY

Totally ablaze. Brian looks up in wonder at the buffeting
waves of flame in the ceiling, at the SCREECHING timbers
crumbling to the white-hot floor. At the walls HOWLING in
bestial agony. It is the most horrifying, and wonderful thing
he has ever seen.

AXE
Wash it to the windows?

STEPHEN
No, we'll hit the son of a bitch
head on.

AXE
It's gonna flash, Stevie. We gotta
get behind it.

STEPHEN
Nah, listen to it. It's a pussy.
It'll just steam on us. It won't
flash. Go high in the ceiling.

Adcox and Grindle shrug and pull their helmets down tight,
expecting the worst. Adcox opens up the nozzle, turning loose
a high pressure BLAST OF WATER into the ceiling. The fire
SCREAMS in manic anger and HEAVES a cloud of HOWLING steam
that WHIRLS back and BAKES them like lobsters. Brian gasps
for air as swirling ash batters his facemask. A window
somewhere EXPLODES. Somebody shouts. Christ, you can't see
anything. Stephen HOOPS in victory.

STEPHEN
(to fire)
I knew you were a pussy! C'mon! Steam
us!
(to firemen)
Let's go!

The chase is on! Going for the throat while the fire's
confused and defensive, the firemen SCRAMBLE through the
boiling cloud. They hit it in the ceiling, in the walls,
forcing it back and back. It HOWLS and CLAWS in anger,
furiously throwing cinders and broken timbers in their faces.
The walls ECHO with its SCREAMS as it retreats to a corner.

STEPHEN
Ya love it, probie?

BRIAN
I'm in heaven, Lt.

STEPHEN
Hook us up to a stand-pipe.

Brian runs back to the wall to hook up his hose roll to the
building water system. He goes to unscrew the cap with his
hydrant wrench but it keeps slipping off the nut.

STEPHEN
Jesus, how 'bout man, huh? We're
gonna loose this!

Brian finally gets it hooked up and runs back.

EXT. FACTORY - OTHER SIDE - DAY

Tim and three guys from his ladder company, come up an
extended aerial ladder, CRASH through a window and

INT. FACTORY - DAY

begin HACKING their way toward Brian's company as -- BOOM!
It's a sudden, shattering vibration that shakes the building
to its foundations. Then, a sucking sound: RUSH-RUSH-RUSH...
Stephen speaks calmly into his radio handset.

STEPHEN
Hey Otis, is it...?

SCHMIDT
(into radio)
Yeah.

STEPHEN
Goddamn it, where's our backup?
Where's the second-in companies?

SCHMIDT'S VOICE
Sorry, man. John Wayne time.

STEPHEN
(to firemen)
Dig in!

The firemen hesitate. PENGELLY, the Truck Company Lt., looks
at Stephen with concern.

STEPHEN
Dig in, goddamn it!

The crews immediately gather in the center of the floor.
They turn over tables, chairs, anything to form a barrier. A
circling of the wagons. -- BOOM! rush-rush-rush -- BOOM!
Each louder than the last. Stephen and Brian are ducked behind
an overturned desk. Adcox and Krizminski clutch hoselines
like frontiersmen's Winchesters.

STEPHEN
You're gonna love this.

-- rush-rush-rush -- CRAAAASH!! On an instant the world comes
apart as all four walls of factory windows EXPLODE in a hail
of glass. A wave of HOWLING FLAME POURS IN after it, SHRIEKING
and HISSING.

At the same moment, part of the floor beside a heavy sewing
machine GIVES WAY and a ladderman, SANTOS, FALLS THROUGH,
grabbing the edges at the last minute as flames BELLOW UP
from underneath. He SCREAMS as his grip loosens.

Grindle leaps to the ladderman's side, grabbing his arms and
coat. Brian hesitates just an instant and Stephen SHOVES him
out of the way to back up Grindle.

SANTOS
Help... Oh God...

Adcox's taken the hoseline and is opening fire. Water and
flame crash and snarl across the floor in a blood curdling
ROAR. It's a thrashing, murderous standoff.

Stephen and Grindle have got Santos but the angle's bad.
Blow it now and all three could take a header. Santos is
panicking, losing his grip. Grindle bores his eyes into the
man's with the calm and conviction of Moses.

GRINDLE
You go, we go.

They may all die, but they won't leave him. He calms a little,
hangs on till they PULL him out of harm's way. Adcox continues
with the hose as suddenly, everyone HITS the deck as the
fire EXPLODES over them, BURSTING their coats into flame.
Tim's company opens up their line, WASHING everybody down
before CHARGING after the fire. A ladderman, NIGHTENGALE,
steps on Brian's back.

BRIAN
Hey!

NIGHTENGALE
Sorry man, I thought you were dead.

Brian, stunned, sits up, his coat and helmet smoking. Stephen
seems totally unaffected and is already on his feet and over
the top of the barricade, the others backing him as he
mercilessly drives the fire back, trapping it finally into a
corner. The fire hisses, spits, shakes the walls with its
furious anger. But it's all bluster now, the fire's dying.

PENGELLY
(ladder co. captain)
Stephen! BC's on the radio. Says
they think a civilian got left behind
downstairs.

STEPHEN
Adcox! Take Tim and do a search.

Adcox leads Tim downstairs. Brian looks shaken up. Stephen
helps him roughly to his feet.

STEPHEN
Don't you fold on me now, man.

Brian burns at that and shakes his brother's arm off.

STEPHEN
Clear the hose for me.

Brian's walking over to clear the hoseline when he hears it.
small voice. Faint. "Help me..."

BRIAN
Hey, I think it's coming from a
different staircase.

Nobody hears. -- Brian takes off down the other steps on his
own.

INT. BURNING FACTORY - DOWNSTAIRS

It's only the fire's ghost here, lazy and slow.

Off the corridor are rooms full of commercial sewing machines.
Brian enters one and drops to his knees.

Looks under a table, flashes his light behind a work stand.
Nothing. He turns to backtrack his way out when A TONGUE OF
FLAME suddenly LEAPS up through the floor in front of him,
cutting off the door. Brian lands on his ass as it hisses
and giggles and dances unreally in front of him.

I never forget a face, kid. -- That fire from childhood. He
could maybe force his way through but Jesus, the way it looks
at him --

-- Brian ROLLS away from it. Looks for another doorway --
And ends up in thick smoke. He drops to a crawl, stays on
his belly where the air's clear. When he sees it. Behind
some furniture. Something flesh-colored. Shit. It's a body.
He crawls up closer. It's a woman. Adrenalin pounding the
top of his skull off, he grabs her and stumbles back down
the hall, makes a turn --

BRIAN
I got one!

EXT. FACTORY - DAY

-- And now he's bursting from the building onto a short fire
escape, shouting at the top of his lungs.

BRIAN
I got somebody! I got somebody!

A sea of media flashbulbs ERUPTS in his face. The press have
arrived in force, crowding the street. Brian pushes through
them to a clear spot on the far side of the engine. Two fire
paramedics rush over as he lowers the figure.

BRIAN
Is she... Is she alive?

The paramedics suddenly stop their efforts. Turn to Brian.

PARAMEDIC
I'm afraid you're a little too late
with this one.

They step aside. Brian looks down. The woman looks strange.
Mostly because she's a heavy store DRESSING DUMMY. The
paramedics burst into laughter. Brian, looking pale and
shaken, turns and walks away. He passes Grindle and Tim,
sitting on the pumper's tailboard helping the REAL woman
that was found inside.

GRINDLE
Sorry to hear about the mannequin. I
heard you two were close.

Photographers have appeared and are flashing the woman. Dizzy,
Brian wanders off, tries to help out with the choking clog
of singed factory employees before finally turning quickly
into

EXT. FACTORY ALLEY - ACROSS THE STREET - DAY

Where he barfs his guts out in private. Doubled-over, one
arm on the brick wall for support, we see the raw terror.
The demons rushing out of him.

BRIAN
Shit...

Someone else does too. Jennifer. Dressed now in a long
expensive coat, she's standing at the end of the alley with
a clipboard. Brian, ashes smeared across an ashen face,
spittle on his chin, doesn't notice her.

STEPHEN
(appearing beside him)
You all right?

Stephen isn't pale. He's flushed and buoyant. All this hasn't
taken anything from him. It's made his day.

BRIAN
Yeah. Fine. I'm a little busy right
now.

Stephen leans against the wall. Folds his arms.

STEPHEN
Y'know, you got an awful short memory
for direct orders. I told you to
stay beside me.

BRIAN
-- C'mon, Stephen.

STEPHEN
-- You split the team, man. And what
was that crap with the standpipe?
You'd think you and a hose were never
introduced before.

Stephen turns to leave. Brian yells after him.

BRIAN
Goddamn it Stephen!

STEPHEN
-- I told you to stay next to me!

BRIAN
-- I was doin' it! I was up there
fucking doin' it. You don't know,
man, you don't know what I did!

STEPHEN
What you did was drop the ball,
Probie. Get that right.

PENGELLY
(from end of alley)
Hey! Stevie! They're callin' for ya.

Stephen turns to walk away. Pauses.

STEPHEN
Bet 30,000 dollars a year and twenty
two days a month off sounded pretty
good twelve weeks ago, huh?

As Stephen leaves, we see that Jennifer's been standing at
the end of the alley, listening to them. She's turns and
walks as Brian looks up. We register his surprise. He watches
her head toward a dynamic-looking guy in his 40s, ALDERMAN
SWAYZAK, surrounded by reporters.

EXT. BURNED BUILDING - FRONT - DAY

SWAYZAK
(to reporters)
Roger, Paul... How's it going, guys?

REPORTER
Another fire in this district. Getting
to be Cinder Alley up here.

JENNIFER
(walking up)
You used that last week.

She hands Swayzak a clipboard.

AXE
(yelling down from
window)
(to Brian)
Hey! Probie! We're still workin'
here, man.

INT. BURNED BUILDING

Brian and the rest of the company rip open the walls and
beat the last weak flames in a final flurry of dingy sparks.

The moment the smoke clears just a fraction, cigarettes appear
in everyone's mouth. Was it good for you? The talk is easy
and obscene, the intense camaraderie of shared danger. Ash
clods are thrown playfully back and forth in the afterglow
of having taken on the worst there is and walking away one
more time.

GRINDLE
(to Adcox)
Stephen man, what's going through
that guy's head? Takin' it on in the
first room... this shit's happening
too often. It could've flashed.
Should've flashed.

AXE
But it didn't. Guy knows.

GRINDLE
Guy's lucky.

Adcox sees Brian. Smiles.

AXE
Hey, baby McCaffrey. First one's the
clincher. You did okay.

BRIAN
My Lt. might have something to say
about that.

AXE
Ah, everybody screws up some, Brian.
You're working for the toughest Lt.
on the job. Saw him once pick up a
probie he thought was moving too
slow and throw him into a burning
building. It's just bad luck you're
family.

BRIAN
(beat)
John, when you're in there... in the
fire... do you ever see...

STEPHEN
(from across room,
interrupting)
C'mon ladies, let's roll some hose...

BRIAN
(to Adcox)
-- Never mind.

Brian turns and sees out the window Jennifer and Swayzak
standing near Rimgale's red fire dept. sedan.

EXT. FACTORY - DAY

Rimgale walks up to his sedan.

SHADOW
Alderman Swayzak.

SWAYZAK
Investigator Rimgale.

SHADOW
I need to get in the trunk.

Swayzak's leaning on it. We sense the dislike between them.
Swayzak steps aside. Rimgale pops the trunk.

SHADOW
Awful expensive shoes to be wearing
at a fireground, Alderman. But then
I guess you haven't been to too many
fires.

JENNIFER
I wanted to talk to you about Alan
Seagrave's death. We still haven't
gotten a fire report from your office.

SHADOW
You'll have an answer as soon as I
do.

SWAYZAK
People are asking how a prominent
taxpayer got stuffed through the
windshield of his own car. They're
asking me.

JENNIFER
--The point is, Investigator, you
haven't even told us yet if the fire
was accidental. We're starting to
get the feeling your office is
dragging out this case to embarrass
the Alderman because of his fire
dept. reorganization program --

SHADOW
-- You mean his firehouse closing
program, -- Don't you?

JENNIFER
We'd just be very disappointed if it
turned out your office was playing
politics.

SWAYZAK
-- Because I'm not. I care about
this city, and I care about this
department --

Rimgale cuts him off with the shutting of his trunk lid.

SHADOW
(calm of a monk)
Alderman, I have a remarkably
uncomplicated job. To decide if a
fire's arson, and if so catch the
pain in the ass doing it. But to be
honest, if my methodical investigative
methods just happen to muck up the
campaign of certain mayor wanna-bees,
well, I guess I can't say I sleep
any less peacefully.

And he walks back to the burned building.

SWAYZAK
I wish I could just fire the son of
a bitch.

STEPHEN
Hey! Swayzak!

Stephen's leaning out of an upstairs window. As the TV cameras
turn, he drops down onto a fire engine hose bed and pops
right into Swayzak's face with a murderous grin.

STEPHEN
We almost lost a whole company up
there, Swayzee buddy. Isn't any back-
up since you closed '33. And we really
appreciate it, the guys and me.
Honest. I know you've got my vote
for mayor.

Grindle and Santos start walking for Stephen. Brian's there,
following after them.

SWAYZAK
Look Lt., I'm on your side. If there's
a problem, please, work with our
task force to fix it.

STEPHEN
Oh yeah, your famous task force...
three guys have already died this
year because of the cuts made by
your "task force"...

GRINDLE
Stevie, c'mon man...

Stephen silences Grindle with an outstretched hand. Swayzak
leans close, out of earshot of the cameras.

SWAYZAK
You see that funny glow that's
starting to blink in the corner of
your eye, Lt? That's your career
dissipation light -- and it just
went into overtime.

STEPHEN
If anybody's light's gonna blink,
it's yours.

Swayzak holds his ground. It's a tense, out of control moment
between them. Rimgale turns from his work, watches Stephen
with concern. Adcox suddenly inserts himself face-to-face
with Swayzak and we see the raw hatred.

AXE
You're in firemanland now, Swayzak.
Do yourself a favor and just walk
away.

Swayzak holds Adcox's gaze, then turns for his car. Brian
watches Jennifer climb in beside her boss.

BRIAN
This is your city job?

Jennifer shrugs as they pull away.

INT./EXT. FIRE STATION 17 - LATE DAY

Brian jumps down from the rig as it backs up the driveway.
Across the street a middle-aged woman flashes them from the
balcony of her apartment.

AXE
That's Franny. She likes firemen.

STEPHEN
Tim, fill out the alarm card.
(to Brian)
Clean the pipe poles, wipe down the
ladders and hang some hose.

Adcox watches Brian and Tim exchange looks. Tim shrugs. Brian
sighs and pulls out the pike poles, starts across the floor
before freezing suddenly at a murderous GROWL. Brian turns
and sees a DOG. Sort of. It has the rib cage of a wild beast,
fangs, long greasy hair. It blocks his way, SNARLING with
hate.

GRINDLE
That's The Thing. You can't stay
unless he likes you.

Slobber drools out of its mouth as it GROWLS.

BRIAN
Have you guys got something against
dalmatians?

Brian wipes some of the crusted grime from his face, looks
back and forth between Franny and The Thing, and sighs.

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - BUNKROOM

Sequence omitted from original script.

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - LOCKER ROOM

Brian enters, strips down his battered uniform, and opens
his locker. The mannequin from the fire SPRINGS OUT, legs
spread. A sign taped to its mouth says: "TAKE ME BRIAN, YOU'RE
MY SUPERMAN!"

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - WASHROOM

Brian and the others scrub the morning's fire off their bodies
in the station shower. Tim keeps filling his mouth full of
water and launching it upward in a stream.

BRIAN
Do you have to do that?

TIM
(pumped)
Could you believe that fire? Man!
First day! There I was, Adcox and
me, pullin' that lady right out of
the fire's fuckin' throat! I love it
here -- No surround and drown for
this company. Fighting 17th! Goddamn
Stephen's amazing. You see how he
took that fire by the balls? I'm
gonna be that good some day, you
watch.

Brian compares himself to the praise heaped on Stephen.

TIM
Y'know what Stephen said to me, right
when all the shit was coming hard?
"You never know till the moment the
fire stares you down if you're just
gonna do this job or be great at
it".

BRIAN
Ah man, is he usin' that line now on
you? What, you think he made that
little gem up? Jesus Christ, I used
to have to listen to my old man use
that every morning.

Brian shuts off his shower and walks out.

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - BUNKROOM

Stephen sits alone at his bunk, slowly stretching a strained
and ruined back. He blows out a long, tired breath, and begins
working ointment into an anciently scarred and battered knee.

On the wall is a small glass case full of station memorabilia
through the years. There's a two battered fire helmets there,
set reverently on velvet. Beside it is a photograph of his
father. Grinning. Top of the world. He's wearing a T-shirt
proudly stenciled FIGHTING 17th.

Father and son exchange a long, awkward greeting.

In the doorway, Brian stands watching his brother, who not
even 40, suddenly seems an old and broken man.

The ALARM KLAXON suddenly sounds. Brian, just in a towel and
Tim, in boxers covered with little dinosaurs, dash for the
fire pole.

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - APPARATUS FLOOR

Tim and Brian slide down and bounce off the floor.

GRINDLE
-- C'mon! C'mon! Go! Go!

Brian and Tim rush for their equipment. Grindle grabs their
arms.

GRINDLE
No! C'mon! This way!

He hustles them across the apparatus floor, through a doorway,
and into the kitchen.

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - KITCHEN/DINING AREA

The makings of a meal are laid out on the counter. Brian and
Tim come to a screeching halt. The rest of the station is
sitting calmly at the kitchen table, watching.

BRIAN
What's going on?

PENGELLY
Dinner, Probies. Get started.

CUT TO:

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - KITCHEN

Tim and Brian, still in their boxers, set down plates of
food.

STEPHEN
Better be good.

SANTOS
Or we feed you to The Thing.

Everybody digs in. The table is a craze of half a dozen
different conversations. On the TV mounted above on the wall
are news shots of Seagrave's body sticking out of the
windshield.

Adcox stands and tinks his glass with a spoon for silence.

AXE
Gentlemen, please... As 17's official
toastmaster --

SANTOS
And bullshitter.

AXE
Thank you, Santos. Did I happen to
mention that you were cut out of my
will?
(company laughs)
I think it appropriate that we
recognize the two asswipes -- I mean
probationary firemen -- among us who
today were baptized officially into
the world of Old Man Fire. First to
Tim, who despite being handicapped
at birth with a rather dull expression
and a really hideous pair of ears,
not only took on the beast but pulled
from its clutches -- assisted by a
more famous and brilliant firefighter --
me -- a kicking and screaming civilian
that will probably end up suing us
for breaking her fingernail.
(laughs)
And to Brian, who's own contribution
was both more beautiful and less
likely to sue.

Adcox puts his arm affectionately around the mannequin, seated
with honor at the head of the table. Right beside The Thing.

AXE
Y'know, when I heard that both
McCaffrey brothers were going to be
assigned together here, well, my
heart was filled with... a sudden
desire to transfer.
(laughs)
So raise a glass, lads. To funny-
looking Tim, and the McCaffrey
brothers, who despite years of getting
on each other's nerves have managed
with great effort... to still be
pissed off at each other. Gentlemen!

COMPANY
(together, a toast)
Fuck you!

The klaxon suddenly rings. Two bells. The ladder guys groan
and get up.

STEPHEN
Bye, boys.

SCHMIDT
(winks)
We'll keep it warm for you.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - BUNKROOM

Dawn lightens the room as Brian slowly opens his eyes and
sees in extreme, fish-eyes close-up: THE THING GROWLING at
him. Brian turns the other direction and sees Stephen, fully
dressed, standing over his bunk.

STEPHEN
Clean the toilets.

INT. APPARATUS FLOOR

Bleary-eyed, the nine firemen line up raggedly in front of
their rigs, dressed like shit but for peaked uniform caps
they wear only at this moment. Stephen stands before them,
does a quick glance up and down the line.

STEPHEN
Okay, company dismissed. -- See ya
guys tonight at Fitzgerald's
retirement party.

They shuffle for the door. As Brian passes,

STEPHEN
You want a ride?

EXT. BRIAN'S APARTMENT BUILDING - MORNING

Stephen pulls up. Brian opens the door.

BRIAN
Thanks.

STEPHEN
Brian --
(a beat that hangs
there)
-- See ya tonight.

INT. RESTAURANT - RETIREMENT PARTY - NIGHT

That's been cleared out for a huge PARTY in full swing. An
Irish folk band cuts loose a merciless bagpipe beat. City
brass--including Alderman Swayzak -- a few reporters, firemen
and their families all mix together for this is a RETIREMENT
PARTY for the Captain Fitzgerald. Brian enters, seeks out a
beer at the bar. Stephen's there, swaying with what is clearly
not his first drink of the evening.

STEPHEN
Hey.

BRIAN
Hey.

CHEERS as a one joke gift after another is laid on the Chief.
Stephen sees his ex-wife, Helen, dancing with another man.
He turns away.

STEPHEN
I gotta change the view...

Santos and Grindle walk up.

GRINDLE
Heard you didn't make the list for
captain, man. I'm sorry...

Stephen just shrugs.

Brian sees Jennifer across the room. She looks great. Refined
as she expertly works the room, schmoozing and hugging and
calling various politicos by their first name.

As she speaks to one, a waiter offers a drink. As she accepts,
a bottle appears over her shoulder and splashes it with red
syrup.

BRIAN
(holding bottle,
interrupting)
With grenadine, right?

JENNIFER
When I was twenty.

BRIAN
Oooh, very sophisticated. Having
fun?

Her attention broken, the politico has slipped away. Annoyed,
Jennifer leads Brian aside and speaks low, but angrily at
him.

JENNIFER
Look, I'm not the same girl who had
nothing better to do than wrap her
legs around you on a Saturday night.
This isn't about fun. I'm working
here.

BRIAN
Carrying Swayzak's notebook?

JENNIFER
Let me tell you something. Martin
Swayzak is going to be this town's
next mayor.

BRIAN
Yeah. Swayzak. Humanity's last hope.
How can you work for that guy?

JENNIFER
Why do you think Marty came here
tonight? Because he cares about your
department. You don't know how hard
he works. You don't know about his
programs helping West Side --

BRIAN
-- All I know is that his programs
are getting firemen hurt.

JENNIFER
Bullshit. Marty's plan is only about
efficiency. I've got two cousins on
the job, you think I'd work for him
if I didn't believe in it?

Jennifer instantly cuts off as a well-dressed COUPLE passes
and switches stunningly into schmmoze-mode.

JENNIFER
(to man)
-- Tom, how nice to see you. I know
Marty'll be very happy you came.
Thanks so much for the donation.
(to woman)
Marie... how's little Kevin? Really?
Seen the polls? This is the year...

They move away. Jennifer turns to Brian and switches just as
fast back to their argument.

JENNIFER
-- The thing that really makes me
angry is the way your union has --

Brian can't help it. He cracks up.

BRIAN
What was that? Oh man, you have picked
up a few moves since John Paul II
Boulevard.

JENNIFER
Yeah, well I like to think I'm just
a little past hanging out on JP II
watching the Irish pick fights and
Litwalks barf in the planters.

BRIAN
I seem to remember some pretty good
nights on JP II.

Brian turns and walks away.

ACROSS THE ROOM

Adcox is talking with another knot of firemen. He's brought
a date, SALLY, a hot little number that has a habit of
standing on her tip-toes when she talks.

SALLY
(looking at Swayzak
across room)
Yuck, what a scumbag.

AXE
(to Santos)
Fuckin' city transferred Sally three
months ago out of parking violations
into Swayzak's office. Now I gotta
pay my own goddamn tickets and she's
stuck with an asshole.

SANTOS
Pay more?

SALLY
(shrugs)
No, but there's more exercise --
being chased around a desk.

There's a commotion at the other end of the bar. A group of
firemen have gathered around a weekly magazine.

GRINDLE
Aw, I don't believe this shit.

SCHMIDT
Somebody get a shovel! You seen this,
Stephen?

As they hold it up to Stephen we see a photo spread titled
DARING FIRE RESCUE.

The first photo shows Brian rushing out of the burning
building with seemingly a woman in his arms. The second photo
shows the backs of Adcox and Tim's helmets as they
administered aid to the real woman they saved. The implication
is it's the same woman.

BRIAN
What?

TIM
(reads)
"Probationary Fireman Brian McCaffrey,
on his very first fire, showed the
kind of bravery and courage of a
veteran firefighter when he risked
life and limb to double-check a
burning floor alone, emerging
victoriously with Anna Rodriguez, a
seamstress for the North Shore
Clothing Company... McCaffrey first
gained prominence as the subject of
a 1972 Pulitzer Prize winning
photograph taken at the scene of his
father's death..."

The old photo is there too. Brian and his dad's helmet.

GRINDLE
Whadda we gonna do about this?

Stephen glances over the headlines.

STEPHEN
Y'know, I think it's a union bylaw
that if a guy gets in the paper --
especially if it's bullshit -- he
owes the company a drink. In fact...
(motions to waiter)
...I'll have a double. On the hero.

The other firemen jump in with drink orders. Dozens of them.

BRIAN
(confused)
What's going on?

Tim shows him the magazine. Brian reads with horror as
Alderman Swayzak appears beside him.

SWAYZAK
Brian McCaffrey, right?

JENNIFER
Brian, this is my boss, Alderman
Swayzak.
(to Swayzak)
Brian's a big fan of yours.

BRIAN
Yeah. Big fan.

SWAYZAK
And I'm a huge fan of what you did
to save that woman, Brian.

BRIAN
Uh, I think there's been a mistake.
I didn't save that woman.

SWAYZAK
No need to be modest, Brian.

BRIAN
No, you don't understand, I saved a
mannequin.

SWAYZAK
-- That really was incredibly work
you did. You and your brother,
fighting fires together, helluva
image, isn't it? You must feel lucky
to be assigned under his command.

BRIAN
Every little boy's fantasy.

SWAYZAK
Brian, let me come to the point. I'd
like to offer you a job.

BRIAN
I have a job.

SWAYZAK
This one's still with the fire
department. One of our best
investigators, Don Rimgale, is working
on a very difficult, visible case
right now. We think he could use
another pair of hands and you're
exactly the kind of guy I want
representing us: An authentic hero
from a traditional firefighting clan.

BRIAN
Yeah, we got all kinds of traditions --
like dying young.

SWAYZAK
Not every job in the fire department
comes with a tombstone, Brian. This
could be a great opportunity to
move... beyond a fire engine.

Brian looks at Jennifer, then smiles at Swayzak.

BRIAN
Thanks anyway, Mr. Swayzak, but fire
engines sorta run in my family.
Politics don't.

-- A man suddenly steps between them to pump Swayzak's hand.
Brian shakes his head and walks away. Swayzak shoots a
concerned glance at Jennifer. She catches up with him at the
buffet table.

JENNIFER
Boy, took you all of thirty seconds
to blow that.

BRIAN
C'mon Jennifer, he's just another
North-Side jag-off with a mouth.

JENNIFER
Brian, do you always have to be so
stupid? Think about your future for
once.

BRIAN
So now you suddenly care about my
future?

JENNIFER
Look, I didn't mean to take a piece
out of you back there, I just thought
you'd call when you came back. You
didn't and...
(beat)
Don't blow it just because of this
garbage between us.

BRIAN
Hey, sorry if I made you look bad in
front of your boss. But I'm not gonna
be a poster boy for him, I'm trying
to do something here. There's five
hundred smoke eaters in this room
that do that stuff for real every
day. Tell Swayzak to talk to one of
them.

Across the room, Stephen's at the buffet, watching Helen
dance with her fireman date, the drinks hammering him hard.

PENGELLY
Aw man, how can she dance with that
guy?

SCHMIDT
I hate that guy. He's a dispatcher.
I hate his voice.

STEPHEN
Whatever...

PENGELLY
I mean, I know women have gotta bang
somebody, but why that son of a bitch?

Stephen gives Pengelly an icy, sideways look.

SCHMIDT
Hey Stevie, he's an asshole...

Stephen smiles and pushes off the bar -- right for Helen as
she dances.

STEPHEN
Uh, Helen, I wanted to talk to you a
second about Sean...

HELEN
Stephen, I'm kinda busy here, can we
talk about this later?

DATE
How ya doin', Stephen?

STEPHEN
Jackson.

Jackson steers her away but Stephen isn't done yet. He dogs
them.

STEPHEN
(to Helen)
What's wrong with right now? He's
your son for christ's sake. He's --

JACKSON
Hey, Stephen, what about that dumb
ass brother of yours, huh?

STEPHEN
...Yeah?

JACKSON
Savin' a mannequin... How fuckin'
stupid can a guy get?

Stephen suddenly PUNCHES Jackson.

STEPHEN
You can't talk about my brother like
that...

HELEN
(sighs)
Here we go...

And Stephen PLOWS into Jackson. Another fireman JUMPS to
Jackson's aid. And Brian's there, defending his brother,
PUNCHING OUT a fireman. The crowd finally pulls the two apart.

JACKSON
You're crazy, man!

STEPHEN
Leave me alone!

AXE
Goddamn it, Stephen, lay off!
(Stephen calms a little)
You stupid dumbshit, you never know
when to fucking quit, do you? You
ever wonder why your career's in the
fucking toilet? Why you're gonna be
stuck a Lt. for life?

STEPHEN
No.
(beat)
I need a drink.

Stephen takes a step for the bar -- then suddenly turns and
JUMPS Jackson again. Brian pulls him off and drags him for
the door.

BRIAN
You don't need a drink, man. You
need to get outta here...

As Jennifer watches Brian lead Stephen out the door.

JENNIFER
(to Swayzak)
Ah those McCaffreys... just hate
leaving a party with anyone left
standing...

EXT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT

Brian leads Stephen toward his car.

STEPHEN
I'm okay... leave me alone...

Stephen pushes Brian away and promptly stumbles to the
sidewalk.

BRIAN
So you got a 'roid going with Jackson
or what?

STEPHEN
Nah, he's nothin'. It's just
sometimes... sometimes you just gotta
punch somebody out, y'know?

Brian stands there and folds his arms.

STEPHEN
I don't think I can get up.

Brian lends an arm.

STEPHEN
Look, Brian, a photographer. Maybe I
can get on the cover of LIFE magazine,
too.

BRIAN
C'mon, let's crawl home.

EXT. STEPHEN'S BOAT - NIGHT

Stephen throws an arm over Brian's shoulder as he leads him
up onto the boat.

STEPHEN
...Adcox, those guys...they don't
get it... it isn't the goddamn
promotion... or dad... I'm not my
old man, y'know? No fire's gonna get
me... I don't give a shit about being
a captain... it's just... it's just
they don't trust me anymore...
(blows out painful
breath)
...they don't trust me anymore...

INT. STEPHEN'S BOAT

Brian's flops his brother on the bed. Unties his shoes.

STEPHEN
If you'd get out of my fuckin' way.
I could take my own goddamn shoes
off...

He clearly can't. Brian slips them off.

STEPHEN
You're such a pain in the ass...
You've always been a pain in the
ass...

There's just a grim wall lamp above Stephen's face.

STEPHEN
Jesus, it's too damn bright in here...
Like a goddamn spotlight... I'm goin'
blind...

BRIAN
(touching light)
This?

STEPHEN
Yeah... too bright...

Brian turns off the dim light. Stephen's breathing deepens.

STEPHEN
They don't know... they don't know
what I hear in there...

Brian tucks the blanket around him.

STEPHEN
...This boat could be okay, huh?...
Take it out weekends... Sean 'n me...

Stephen's voice drifts off into sleep. Brian watches a moment,
the rare look of peace on his brother's face, then leaves.

EXT. FIRE ACADEMY - NIGHT

Dark and still. Brian, carrying a roll of hose, scales the
chain link.

EXT. FIRE ACADEMY - EXERCISE GROUND - NIGHT

Is a practice stand-pipe. Brian counts down to himself, then
rushes the stand-pipe, spinning off the cap with a hydrant
wrench and attaching the hose coupling. He does it again,
over and over.

EXT. FIRE ACADEMY - DAWN

The sky's gone pink and blue as Brian climbs back over the
fence. Adcox, coming out of a donut shop across the street,
sees him.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. STREET - CHICKEN ACCIDENT - DAY

A truck has JACKKNIFED across the avenue and SPILLED its
contents -- several THOUSAND baby chicks. They're scurrying
everywhere as Brian's company tries to round them up. It's
hopeless as the exhausted firemen stuff handfuls of the
cheeping cargo into their turn-out coats. There's ghetto
kids all around, grabbing at the chicks, grabbing at the
fire engine.

STEPHEN
(at kids)
Hey! Knock it off!

Brian stops a beat. Rubs his eyes.

AXE
(smiles)
Maybe you should have gotten more
sleep last night.

Brian looks at him. Does he mean what he thinks he means?
Tim is coming out of a small store across the street. He
hands a small bag of groceries to Adcox.

TIM
This everything you wanted?

Everyone grows suddenly silent.

EXT. WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

A fireman's without even saying so, "Petzold" on the mailbox,
Engine 17 parked out front. Brian's alone outside, cleaning
the diesel fuel off his arms. Watching a small kid playing
with a toy fire truck in the drive.

INT. WIDOW'S HOUSE

Tim and Brian are loading the groceries into the fridge.
Stephen and Grindle are fixing a loose cabinet door as Adcox
sits caulking a faucet fitting at the kitchen table with a
young WOMAN.

WOMAN
(to Stephen)
Can I help you guys at all?

STEPHEN
Nah, we just about got it.

WOMAN
(noticing Adcox's
shirt)
Sally must be finally ironing your
shirts.

AXE
It's just new. Couple'a shifts and
it'll be as thrashed as the rest.

The sight of uniform is too much for her. Her eyes cloud.

WOMAN
I'm sorry...

Adcox reaches out and lets her weep on his shoulder.

AXE
It's okay...

WOMAN
I miss him... I just miss him,
y'know?...

EXT. WIDOW'S HOUSE - DAY

Adcox stands out at the fire engine smoking a cigarette,
lost in himself, watching the little boy play with his toy
fire truck. Stephen's followed him out.

AXE
This job... This fuckin' job
sometimes... To buy it trying to go
the extra yard, man, that's one thing,
but to buy it just because there
wasn't any back-up... it's bullshit...

Stephen leans down close.

STEPHEN
Yeah, it's bullshit. So what? Fuck
Swayzak. Fuck 'em all. We don't go
into fires for them. You know that.
Christ, you taught me that.

A beat of understanding between them. Stephen looks back at
the house.

STEPHEN
You know Knowlton pretty well?

AXE
Yeah...

STEPHEN
(beat)
Kind of an asshole, wasn't he?

Adcox can't help but smile.

AXE
Biggest in two battalions.

STEPHEN
(beat, smiles)
We're gonna be okay, man...

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - DAY

As Brian and Tim scrub down the fire engine, the rest of the
company lies sprawled in

THE STATION REC ROOM

Watching a weepy soap. Schmidt walks through and is snared
by the TV's glow. He hesitates. Shares the moment.

SCHMIDT
Is she going to get the divorce?

SANTOS
(sighs with honest
concern)
Hell if I know, man.

A ladderman, WASHINGTON, walks in with a memo.

WASHINGTON
Hey, Pengelly, you made the captain's
list!

Everybody clasps Pengelly on the shoulder. "Way to go". "All
right, man". Brian turns and sees Stephen out on the apparatus
floor, watching. Watches. Pengelly's younger than him.

EXT. FIRE STATION 17 - TRAINING BUILDING/HOSE TOWER - DAY

An expanse of concrete lying out back of the station. Built
in one corner is the concrete shell of a five story training
building, just wide enough for a stairway and room on each
level. Twenty yards away, Brian, Tim and Adcox stand ready
beside a pile of coiled hose rolls.

STEPHEN
(looking at watch)
Alright... Go!

Tim picks up a roll of hose, 50 pounds, throws it over his
shoulder and runs with Adcox to the foot of the building.
There's a fixed standpipe that Adcox ties into as Tim drags
the other end inside and up a flight of stairs.

STEPHEN
Go!

Brian lifts another hose roll under his arm and runs for the
building.

STEPHEN
That isn't a football, probie. Get
it on your shoulder.

Brian runs up two flights to meet Tim and connect his end.
Tim heads down for another roll as Brian drags his up another
two flights. It's a bitch.

Sweating, he barrels back down the stairs, passing Tim coming
up with another roll.

BRIAN
Having fun, fireman?

Tim flips him off. Brian laughs and sprints for another roll.

STEPHEN
You're not breaking any records,
Brian.

Brian holds it under his arm and takes off. Stephen grabs a
roll himself, hoists it to his shoulder and runs alongside.

STEPHEN
Your shoulder. Like this!

Brian lifts it to his shoulder.

STEPHEN
Come on! Pick it up!

They come to the doorway. Instead of stopping, Stephen follows
Brian in and runs alongside up the stairs. Without a word
spoken it's become a race between them.

Brian's face explodes in sweat. His heart pounds as they go
up flight after flight. The hose rolls weigh a 100 pounds. A
thousand. Neck 'n neck all the way; grunting, their throats
burning, only one flight from the roof Stephen STUMBLES and
SCRAPES his leg. Brian pauses. Stephen's already back on his
feet.

STEPHEN
Run, damn you!

Brian does, Stephen already gaining on him -- getting ready
to pass him -- when they burst gasping out onto the roof,
Brian the "winner" by a nose. Stephen drops his hose roll,
sticks his face into Brian's, -- And laughs. Unsure, Brian
starts to join in. Stephen stops suddenly.

STEPHEN
Roll the hose.

BRIAN
What, are you kidding? By myself?

Adcox and Tim, down below, have already disappeared back
into the station.

STEPHEN
You heard me.

We see now what Stephen apparently doesn't. He was scraped
badly, his pant leg torn and leaking dark circles of blood.

BRIAN
What, is it the stairs? Christ, I'll
let you win next time.

STEPHEN
(in Brian's face)
You got a problem with drilling,
probie?

BRIAN
No, Lt., I don't have a problem with
drilling. But let's just have one
drill. Not one for the company and
one for me.

STEPHEN
Roll the hose.

Stephen turns and walks away. Brian stands there watching
him in blind fury, finally exploding.

BRIAN
Goddamn you Stephen, I'm not gonna
quit. You hear me!

An awkward beat between them that's interrupted suddenly by
the station alarm klaxon. Stephen smiles.

STEPHEN
Well, thank God for fires...

EXT. FIRE STATION 17 - HOSE TOWER - BELOW - DAY

Sequence omitted from original script.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAKE SHORE MANSION - NIGHT

Sequence omitted from original script.

EXT. LAKE SHORE MANSION - NIGHT

Sequence omitted from original script.

INT. LAKE SHORE MANSION - FRONT DOOR

Sequence omitted from original script.

CUT TO:

EXT. TENEMENT BUILDING - DAY

Smoke and confusion. A MOTHER is screaming hysterically at
Stephen as he jumps down from the engine.

MOTHER
(grabbing his coat)
My baby! My baby's still up there!

BATTALION CHIEF
Hang on a sec, Stevie, we got a
hoseline coming.

Stephen doesn't even pause and enters the building. Brian
hesitates a beat, then follows.

INT. TENEMENT BUILDING - DAY

Where they bomb up a staircase just as a WALL OF FIRE LASHES
DOWN, KNOCKING them on their ass. Stephen jumps to his feet
with an axe as Brian struggles to get up.

STEPHEN
Don't take that kind of shit from
it! Don't let it know you're scared!
Come on!

Stephen, with just his axe, CHASES up the stairs at the fire,
HAMMERING at the flaming boards. The fire retreats into
another room, SLAMMING the door shut behind it.

Brian struggles up the stairs. The two of them slide up on
either side of the closed door, Stephen cradling his axe
like a SWAT team shotgun. The door breathes in and out and
something animal scratches and snarls on the other side.

Brian can feel the panic rising in his throat. That thing
behind the door, that slobbering, evil thing. It wants out.
It wants... him.

STEPHEN
Ready?

BRIAN
Christ, Stephen, let's wait for the
hose team...

STEPHEN
Listen to it, Brian... Jump when I
say... It won't get us.

Stephen HAMMERS the lock with his axe and KICKS the door
open. A WALL OF FLAME ROARS out past their cheeks, then
BACKWASHES in.

STEPHEN
Now!

Stephen picks up the door, and using it as a shield CHARGES
into the flames. Brian tries to follow but the fire WELLS
UP, cutting him off. He hesitates. It's that goddamn flame
again, leering at him. Daring him. It BUCKS suddenly, DROPPING
Brian to his knee. He GROANS in pain.

-- And now Adcox and Grindle are coming up the stairs with a
hoseline WASHING DOWN the room. Clouds of furious steam bellow
out and across the ceiling. Nobody could be alive in there.

Except Stephen. His entire outfit smoldering, he emerges
from the clouds like a fucking god, carrying in one arm a
gasping child.

EXT. TENEMENT BUILDING - AFTERMATH - DAY

Most of the firemen have gathered together for post-fire
coffee and stories. Brian sits off alone on the fire engine
bumper, apart from them. Santos walks up.

SANTOS
They think she's gonna live...

Stephen walks up. Sits down beside him.

STEPHEN
You okay?

BRIAN
I waited... I would have fucking
waited...

STEPHEN
That's not what it's about, Brian.
The point is there was a kid in there.
And what if there'd been two? I went
in because that's what I do. It's my
way. It's dad's way. It isn't
everybody's way.

BRIAN
Dad's way? Where did he tell you
that? In a fucking seance?

STEPHEN
You said you wanted to know something,
Brian. What did you learn today?
(Brian doesn't answer)
What do you say, Brian, huh? Time to
move on?

Brian lingers only a moment before standing.

BRIAN
You're right, Stephen... You win...
You're the best, man...

Brian hands Stephen his helmet and walks away.

INT. SWAYZAK'S OFFICE - DAY

There's only six like it in city hall, and this one has a
view.

SECRETARY'S VOICE
(on intercom)
Brian McCaffrey on line two for
Jennifer.

JENNIFER
I'll take it in my office.

SWAYZAK
(turns to her and
smiles)
Go get him.

INT. CORRIDOR/CONFERENCE ROOM - DAY

Jennifer comes out of Swayzak's office and walks down to her
own.

INT. JENNIFER'S OFFICE/INT. BRIAN'S APARTMENT - DAY

-- It's a tiny, bleak little rat hole. She picks up the
receiver...

JENNIFER
Brian?

We see Brian in his apartment.

BRIAN
I've been thinking about what you
said the other night... If the offer's
still on the table, I'd like to talk
about it.

JENNIFER
(beat)
...Okay. I'll arrange things with
your assignment captain.
(beat)
Marty's a good man, Brian.

BRIAN
Yeah...

Brian hangs up. He stares at it a moment, then SLAMS it
against the wall.

Jennifer stares at the phone with something almost like
sadness.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. BROWNSTONE - DAY

Stephen drives past the burned-out brownstone that fried
Alan Seagrave. He parks in the alley behind, walks up the
building, and PULLS OFF a plywood sheet covering a blown-out
window.

INT. BROWNSTONE - DAY

Stephen walks through the creepy, brutalized silence. Back
to where Rimgale had focused his investigation that night.
He searches the floor, the wall, looking for something...

EXT. ARSON HQ/FIREHOUSE - DAY

A crumbling one in Chinatown. Brian checks the address on
his slip of paper. He stands there a beat, hating himself.

INT. FIRE STATION/ARSON HQ

It's a regular station but for the rear that has been
converted into arson squad offices. As Brian approaches the
office door he can see Rimgale sitting at his desk. Standing
nervously beside it is a fresh-faced, uniformed PROBIE.

SHADOW
(to probie)
...So stop me if I get this wrong...
The fire's almost out... You're
upstairs on the unburned floor
checking for heat. You've been told
by your Battalion Chief, your Captain,
by me, not to do anything up there
until ordered. But now the itch
starts, and all of a sudden comes
the Glory Boy Flash: Hey, I'm a hero.
Heroes don't just stand around. So
on your own you decided to punch out
a window for ventilation. Was that
before or after you noticed you were
standing in a lake of gasoline?

The kid is dying a thousand deaths of humiliation.

SHADOW
You could've crispered half your
company with that little stunt, but
more importantly you wrecked the
physical evidence I use to prove
it's arson. You've made my day longer,
Probie. Go home and think about that.

The kid shuffles off hang-dog. Rimgale's angry gaze falls on
Brian.

BRIAN
Uh, I'm Brian McCaffrey. Your new
assistant.

SHADOW
Your Dennis' kid.
(beat)
I work alone.

And Rimgale walks into his office, leaving Brian marooned in
the doorway. Stepping behind a small partition, Rimgale
changes his shirt. Brian can just glimpse from where he stands
a horrible burn that has consumed most of Rimgale's stomach.
Rimgale catches the look.

SHADOW
Are you still here?

BRIAN
Get used to me, Inspector. I'm not
going anywhere.

SHADOW
Then go find a corner. I don't want
you in my way.

BRIAN
I think we should get something
straight here. I was assigned to
this office by the city.

SHADOW
Look, I knew your father, he had a
helluva reputation on this job. But
that don't mean you get any slack.
Swayzak sends you down here, okay, I
gotta eat you, that's the rules and
I got nothing to say about that. But
Swayzak or no, you live with me.
Step out of line, and I don't care
who knows you, I'll swing the hammer.
(beat)
You think you're the first?

Rimgale glances at his watch, puts on his coat, and picks up
a small paper bag.

BRIAN
Where are you going?

SHADOW
Pest control.

CUT TO:

INT. MAX SECURITY PRISON - DAY

And the face of RONALD, an unremarkable man in his 40s.
Unremarkable but for laser eyes and two heavily bandaged
hands. Go wide and find him sitting in an institutional chair --
handcuffed, actually -- in an institutional hall. A uniformed
guard stands nearby as Brian and Rimgale come down the
corridor. Ronald smiles upon seeing Rimgale.

RONALD
Shadow.

SHADOW
How ya doin', Ronald. Staying
comfortable?

RONALD
Didn't think you'd make it.

SHADOW
Wouldn't miss this for the world,
pal.

RONALD
(looking at Brian)
Who's this?

SHADOW
He works for me.

RONALD
Is he a fireman?
(smiles)
I like firemen.

SHADOW
You like everybody, Ronald.

Ronald's eyes pick up Brian's name on his prison ID badge.

RONALD
Brian McCaffrey...
(eyes light up happily)
Oh this is really a treat. Brian
McCaffrey. Lost a dad to the animal,
huh?

BRIAN
(heating up)
Hey, do I know you?

SHADOW
You don't know him.

RONALD
I know you.

BRIAN
(to Ronald)
What the hell are you talking about
my --

Rimgale silences Brian with a threatening hand.

SHADOW
Knock it off. Now.

RONALD
Tell him about me, Shadow?

SHADOW
Ronald here likes telephones. Used
to tape wooden matches to the bell
striker and wrap it in cotton. Came
up with a whole little thing there,
didn't you Ronald? When you got bored,
what did you do? You just started
making calls... mostly day care
centers and retirement homes, wasn't
it?

RONALD
Did he tell you how we finally met?

SHADOW
Nobody cares, Ronald.

RONALD
Oh, but it's a good story, Shadow.
You're depriving our famous young
friend here...

VOICE IN CORRIDOR
Okay... Ronald Bowland...

The cop helps Ronald to his feet and all four are marching
down the hall.

RONALD
It was on State Street, right?...
Just your basic warehouse torch for
the owner. Cakewalk. But the animal...
turned on me... 'Ol Shadow here, he
shows up -- whole place is going
like hell -- my hair, my hands...
could've just let the animal take me --
but Shadow, he's a good camper, so
he tries to pull 'ol Ronald out.
Guess he didn't notice the tub of
phosphorous next to me...
(smiles)
Notice you're still a little shy
about rolling your sleeves up, Shadow.
Show him your stomach yet?

INT. PRISON - INTERVIEW ROOM - DAY

Ronald in the hot seat before a parole board, Rimgale and
Brian on the sidelines.

MAN
...All right, the parole board has
received Mr. Bowland's fitness report,
his ID-44, endorsement from his
section warden... Dr. Norris?

WOMAN PSYCHIATRIST
As supervising psychiatrist I would
describe Mr. Bowland's progress as
remarkable. Taking into account his
disability and the six years already
served, I recommend parole.

MAN
Mr. Bowland, do you regret your
crimes?

RONALD
Yes. I understand now the pain I
caused.

MAN
If released, will you commit these
crimes again?

RONALD
I won't.

MAN
Do you consider yourself ready for
society?

RONALD
Yes.

The parole board shuffles their papers. It's a done deal.
Rimgale suddenly stands and approaches Ronald.

SHADOW
Sure Ronald? You're ready alright.

RONALD
Absolutely.

MAN
(surprised)
Excuse me, Mr. Rimgale.

SHADOW
Excuse me.
(to Ronald)
What do you do with little girls?

A tortured look comes over Ronald's face. He's holding back.
From the paper bag, Rimgale suddenly tosses a burned baby
doll in his lap.

SHADOW
What do you do with them, Ronald?
Huh?

Rimgale then lights a cigarette lighter in Ronald's face.

RONALD
(smiles)
-- Burn them.

SHADOW
And old ladies?

RONALD
-- Burn them.

SHADOW
And the world -- the whole world.

RONALD
(smiles)
-- Burn it all.

The parole board stares, stunned. Rimgale stands.

SHADOW
See ya next year, Ronald. Gotta go.

EXT. THEATRE BUILDING - DAY

A pre-war theatre closed with a sign: UNDER RENOVATION --
OPENING XMAS 1991. DAVID BENTON, mid-forties, climbs out of
his car and walks to the entrance with some rolled-up
blueprints.

INT. THEATRE BUILDING - DAY

Benton walks through the vast theatre and up to a beautiful
Art Noveau office door: DAVID BENTON, PRIVATE. He goes to
insert his key. Drops it. As he reaches down, we see a tiny
wisp of smoke SUCK back under the door. Benton sniffs, as if
he smells something, then shrugs and inserts his key. It'd
have been a good story if he'd lived longer.

The moment he pushes the door open It EXPLODES OUTWARD in a
ROARING FIREBALL.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. THEATRE BUILDING - SUNDOWN

Later and engine companies have already knocked down the
building fire as Brian climbs out of Rimgale's red sedan.

SHADOW
(opens trunk)
Hey kid, c'mere -- At least make
yourself useful.

He starts handing Brian handfuls of equipment cases. Loaded
down, Brian follows Rimgale into the building.

INT. THEATRE BUILDING

Fire crews are at work in here, including Engine 17 at the
other end of the theatre. Brian's surprised to see them, his
eyes locking briefly with Stephen's. An ENGINE COMPANY LT.
walks up to Rimgale.

ENGINE LT
We were lucky with this one. Could've
taken out the whole complex, but the
explosion blew out most of the flame.
Good for us.
(looks to body)
-- Not so good for him.

"Him" is our previous owner, David Benton, just his hands
and a leg showing from under the collapsed door. Rimgale
crouches beside it.

SHADOW
Turn this over.

Brian does. The corpse's keys are still in the lock. So's
Benton. Blown with such force he seems fused with the door.
On the door's edge Rimgale notices a small patch of melted,
sticky goo. With his penknife he scrapes a sample and seals
it in a glass vial, stands, and walks into the office.

INT. THEATRE OFFICE

BRIAN
What do you want me to do with --

Rimgale, now inside, silences him with an outstretched arm.

SHADOW
-- Shhh.

BRIAN
(after a beat)
What are you listening to?

Rimgale doesn't answer. His eyes drift over the scorched
walls as he speaks softly to them.

SHADOW
You sneaky little son of a bitch...
Hide and seek... Come on, tell me
what I want to know...

He scratches at some soot. Smiles and lifts a small hand
recorder.

SHADOW
(business-like into
recorder)
Heavy smoke stains observed in entry
room. Demarkation line high. Fire
never got hot enough here to cook
soot off. It started somewhere else...
(walks down hall)
Less soot here. More heat.
(they enter back room)
And very little soot here.
(to Brian)
Get that couch out of the way.

Brian pulls it aside. The lower third of the wall is
completely untouched by soot.

SHADOW
(to himself)
So you were happy here. Warm and
cozy and in no hurry...
(into recorder)
Soot high, clean unburned wall low,
indicates slow burn in thermal
balance.
(to Brian)
Find me some glass.

BRIAN
Glass?

SHADOW
Do we have a language barrier here?
Glass.

There's some on the sill of a blown window. Brian hands a
shard to Rimgale, who turns it over in his palm.

SHADOW
(into recorder)
Glass found in ignition room is in
small, thin pieces, indicating
explosion. Lack of discoloration
indicates a long, slow burn. Explosion
must of come after a slow burn.
(shuts recorder off)
You little tease... What were you up
to you little bastard, huh? What
made you that mad?
(then, an idea)
Or scared.
(switches on recorder)
It started in this room. Took its
time, hung out... but the air ran
out. It couldn't breathe. So it was
snuffed. But it wasn't dead... still
all that trapped heat, lying low,
waiting for some sucker to open the
door and give it that one gulp of
air...

BRIAN
-- Another backdraft.

Rimgale turns to the wall, a section where the plaster is
severely damaged. He probes with a penknife.

SHADOW
Finish coat burned away... Severe
spawling of rough coat...

Rimgale follows the damaged wall down -- down -- to a melted
wall socket.

SHADOW
That's our ignition point. Dig it
out. Carefully.

Brian chops it out from the wall. Rimgale crouches down,
peels back the melted faceplate and examines the wires. The
copper tip is severely melted. Rimgale sniffs the plug.

SHADOW
(into recorder)
Temperature in this room was about
2000 degrees, but copper wire in
outlet is melted, which requires
5000 degrees. An accidental short in
the plug could of created a spark of
7000 degrees, hot enough to melt the
wire and start a fire.

BRIAN
No it couldn't.

Rimgale shuts off the recorder. Stares down Brian.

BRIAN
I mean you'd be right -- with normal
wire. But that's gauge ten in that
plug -- industrial stuff. Who knows
why they put it in here -- but it
won't melt at less than 12,000
degrees. And no natural spark short
of lightning gets that hot.
(Rimgale just stares)
In another life I was in high-end
electronics.

Rimgale opens a plastic bag and puts the plug inside.

SHADOW
(into recorder)
Have outlet analyzed for any traces
of flammable accelerants.

Rimgale stands and walks out.

BRIAN
Don't mention it.

INT. THEATRE BUILDING - NIGHT

Brian follows Rimgale down from the office into the vast
theatre. Walls hiss and spit. Brian's surprised to see his
former engine mates there, tromping and crunching their way
through broken glass, their flashlights like dancing
fireflies. Tim passes by.

BRIAN
Hey, Tim.

Everybody turns at the voice and the air suddenly chills.

TIM
(distant)
Brian.

SHADOW
(to Brian)
Check the wall for burn patterns.

And Rimgale's off to another room. Brian turns and looks at
the wall. It's endless.

BRIAN
(to Tim)
So, you surviving without me?

TIM
There's no replacement 'cause of
your boss' cuts, if that's what you
mean. If someone else goes out on an
injury we're really screwed.

BRIAN
Swayzak's not my boss.

Silence. Brian looks over the wall. A dirty puddle separates
him from it.

GRINDLE
(to Brian)
Ooooh, like the tie. Love the tie.

BRIAN
Grindle, scrape down that wall for
me, huh? I would myself, but the tie
'n all, y'know...

Grindle stares at him a beat, then wordlessly steps into the
muck and pulls free a section of wall, dropping it on the
ground in front of Brian. Santos and Grindle look at each
other.

SANTOS
Uh, Brian, if you're lookin' for
smoke patterns, there's some good
ones over here.

BRIAN
Yeah? Where?

GRINDLE
(as Brian walks over)
Little to the right... further...
further... Right behind there. Hey,
could you hand me that pike pole?

There's a pike pole leaning against the wall. Brian pulls it
aside. SPLASH -- The pole had been supporting a small, sagging
piece of ceiling that instantly collapses, dumping twenty
gallons of murky, putrid black water all over Brian's civvys.
Nobody laughs.

GRINDLE
Sorry, maybe that wasn't it after
all.

Stephen appears around the corner. Sees what's happened.

STEPHEN
That's just about enough, guys, okay?

SCHMIDT
See ya around, Brian.

They leave. Brian stands there, humiliated.

AXE
(to Brian)
What the hell's the matter with you,
huh? You're steppin' in the shit
again. You could've done it. You
don't want this.
(the suit 'n tie)
Wake up, kid.

Brian burns with shame and anger as Adcox walks away. Stephen
hands Brian a towel.

STEPHEN
Here. Dry yourself off.

Brian snatches it from him. Glares at his brother.

STEPHEN
Look, you are sorta making yourself
fair game.

BRIAN
Thanks for the insight.

STEPHEN
Brian, look --

BRIAN
Just leave me alone, okay?

Brian walks away. Stephen calls after him.

STEPHEN
Hey, Bri... Rimgale's okay. I don't
get half the shit he's talking about,
but then everybody says the same
thing about me. Who the hell knows?

INT. HELEN'S HOUSE - DAY

Helen, Stephen's ex-wife, is sitting at her kitchen when she
looks up suddenly at a strange sound coming from the roof.

EXT. HELEN'S HOUSE - ROOF - DAY

On the short, sloping roof, Stephen stands hammering a shingle
back into place. Helen sticks her head out the dormer window.

HELEN
Stephen, what are you doing here?

STEPHEN
Fixing my roof.

HELEN
It's not your roof anymore.

He stops and tosses the hammer aside. Looks at his watch.

STEPHEN
Where's Sean?

HELEN
He's got piano lessons.

STEPHEN
Oh yeah? How's he doing?

HELEN
He's going to be a fireman.

STEPHEN
Give up, babe. You can't fight it.
Believe me, my mom tried...

HELEN
(beat)
Stephen, you gotta stop just showing
up on the roof like this.

STEPHEN
I just wanted to, I don't know, not
exactly apologize for the other night --
especially since I don't remember
much of it --

HELEN
-- You remember.

STEPHEN
Yeah... I just thought I should say,
I don't know, something.

HELEN
The great communicator.

STEPHEN
Sorry I hit Jackson.

HELEN
He deserved it. He was born deserving
it.

STEPHEN
He treats you okay?

HELEN
Okay.

STEPHEN
I treated you better.

HELEN
You treated me like shit.

But she smiles.

HELEN
You want some coffee?

STEPHEN
Coffee? Nah, I gotta go.

HELEN
What's wrong, Stephen?
(looks at her)
C'mon, you only beat up the roof
when something's on your mind.
(beat)
How's Brian doing?

STEPHEN
He's out.

HELEN
I know he's out, but how's he doing?

STEPHEN
Y'know, I treated him better than
any other probie I ever had. He
probably hates my guts, but I did
the best thing for him. I made him
finally look in the mirror.

HELEN
Ah Stephen, that's what this is really
about, isn't it? You always have to
be right.

STEPHEN
Hey, I'm the first one to admit when
I'm wrong.

HELEN
Yeah? When was the last time?

STEPHEN
In a fire? Never.
(beat)
Look, I'm his brother. I care about
him, y'know? He was going to get
himself killed. Maybe not today,
maybe not in a year, but it would've
happened. And I couldn't -- I just
couldn't...

HELEN
You can't keep being his father...

Stephen sighs deeply.

STEPHEN
You know what I realized today? I
can't remember my dad's face anymore.
There's pictures of him staring at
me everywhere I go, but the guy behind
them... he's gone...

He sighs and hops down from the roof to the driveway.

STEPHEN
I'll see ya around, Helen.

She watches him as he walks lonely up the street.

INT. CITY MORGUE - DAY

A Lab Tech, RICCO, leads Brian and Rimgale through the autopsy
area till they come on two corpses lying side by side covered
in plastic.

RICCO
Okay, Alan Seagrave and Donald
Cosgrove...

If you say so. Brian's stomach does a half-gainer as he's
confronted by two hideously charred bodies.

RICCO
...Both deaths due to close encounters
with stationary objects; office door
for Mr. Cosgrove, '89 Porsche for
Mr. Seagrave. No non-relevant traumas.
No significant blood toxicology.
Attitude of both trajectories
consistent with explosions.

Brian is discreetly avoiding his gaze, whistling quietly to
himself as he looks over specimen jars on a shelf.

RICCO
They ran the residue you scraped
from both crispers' front doors.
It's a combination of plumber's putty
and rayophene gum. Burns almost
completely away when you light it.

SHADOW
Putty? On both doors?

RICCO
There's something else kinda
interesting...

Ricco lifts Benton's charred shoulder. Underneath we see
some of his clothes that have melted and co-mingled with his
flesh.

RICCO
See this?

A credit card has been fried right into Cosgrove's skin about
where his back pocket should have been.

RICCO
Guess he didn't leave home without
it.

Ricco erupts in a honking laugh, then switches instantly
back to a business tone.

RICCO
Anyway, down here, take a look...

SHADOW
McCaffrey, hold this for us.

BRIAN
Uh, I don't think that's in my
contract...

SHADOW
I just re-wrote your contract.
C'mere...

With supreme reluctance Brian pulls the crisper's head and
shoulder away from the table.

RICCO
Jesus Christ, he isn't gonna try to
sell you insurance, lift him.

Brian gathers the torso up and hoists him higher.

RICCO
(to Rimgale)
See that patch of shirt? We wondered
about the discoloration so he ran a
spectro. On a lucky shot we picked
up some traces of Trychticholorate.
Nobody around here had ever heard of
it.

SHADOW
Trychticholorate? Alright, it's an
absorption catalyst in toxic waste
accidents. It's pretty rare, they
stopped making it a couple'a years
ago.

RICCO
Probably got in Cosgrove's clothes
in a gas state from the fire.

SHADOW
What the hell was it doing in the
fire?

RICCO
That's your job.

At that instant, Cosgrove's eyes OPEN and his body SIGHS.
Brian DROPS the body in shock and backs away, stunned.

SHADOW
I asked you to hold him, not feel
him up...

INT. RIMGALE'S CAR - DAY

Rimgale's FD sedan. Brian is still wringing imaginary guts
off his hands. Rimgale tosses an open fire chem book in his
lap.

SHADOW
Read.

BRIAN
"Trychtichlorate is a binary
structured --"

SHADOW
-- Go to the bottom. Under heat
properties.

BRIAN
"During heat episodes of 2000 Kelvin
or higher, Trych breaks down and
dissipates. Will consume magnesium".

SHADOW
Ever burned magnesium? It's so hot
it takes water molecules and BAMM!

Rimgale CLAPS his hands next to Brian's head, STARTLING him.

SHADOW
Son of a bitch tears 'em apart just
to eat the oxygen. Wouldn't take
much at all to melt ten gauge wire.
Problem's burnt magnesium leaves a
powder trace -- unless you could
find something that would eat its
residue.

BRIAN
Trychticholorate. Then Swayzak can
announce Seagrave was a murder.

Rimgale looks at Brian. He's getting tired of this.

SHADOW
Look, it isn't proof, okay? Someone
may have put the chemical in the
outlet, but we found it as a vapor
in Cosgrove's clothes.

BRIAN
And the putty around the door?

SHADOW
Even if it was used to seal the air
off, that doesn't explain why someone
would go to the trouble of a
backdraft. A gun's a helluva lot
easier

BRIAN
But the right guess on this is arson.

SHADOW
I don't guess.

BRIAN
Some people say you don't do much of
anything when it comes to this case.

SHADOW
I don't work for them, either.

INT. ARSON HQ - DAY

Brian's sitting at a desk. He's finishing up a huge paper
clip Tyrannosaurus. The phone RINGS.

BRIAN
Arson.

JENNIFER
Straightest answer your department's
given me all week.

We see Jennifer's calling from her office, she's busy signing
papers brought to her and okaying campaign posters as she
talks.

BRIAN
Hey.

JENNIFER
How's it going?

BRIAN
Boss and I are up to about three
words an hour.

JENNIFER
(to secretary)
Green committed to a thousand.
(to Brian)
There's another fund-raising party
tonight. Marty'd really like you to
come.

BRIAN
I don't know, I'm kinda swamped here.

He tosses a paper airplane.

JENNIFER
I could use a date.

BRIAN
Yeah? Well, maybe I can fit it in...

RIMGALE'S VOICE
McCaffrey! Come here!

BRIAN
(into phone)
Call ya back.

Brian hangs up quickly and walks back into

INT. ARSON HQ - ANOTHER ROOM - DAY

Rimgale's there, crouched excitedly beside a trash can that's
lid's been sealed closed. He tamps a piece of putty on the
rim and backs away.

SHADOW
Take the top off. Go ahead. Take it
off.

Brian walks over and RIPS OFF the lid. -- Instantly a tongue
of flame SHOOTS straight up past his head and BLOWS out.

BRIAN
Jesus!

Rimgale's grinning like a little kid.

SHADOW
That's it! Oh, that son of a bitch,
he's different, goddamn it! You see
what this tells us, huh? Our killer
doesn't love fire!

BRIAN
What?

SHADOW
(pulls out file)
I got it after we talked to Ronald.
Torches. Want to fry the whole goddamn
world. But the fires that killed
those guys never really burned up
much. -- The burns were all lit in
outlets surrounded by double
firebreaks in the walls. And he made
his burns backdrafts.
([p. 78])

BRIAN
But he killed these guys.

SHADOW
But he could have killed everybody
there. The firebreaks kept it from
spreading in the wall. The backdraft
blew out the flame. That's it. That's
the reason.

BRIAN
What reason?

SHADOW
Why backdrafts. Whoever fried Seagrave
and Cosgrove went to a helluva lot
of trouble to make sure they died by
fire, but also made sure the fire
blew itself out.

BRIAN
That's why the sealant on the doors...
So what have we got, a torch with a
conscience?

SHADOW
No, we have a stone killer trying to
make a point.

BRIAN
Are you going public with this?

SHADOW
No. Do that and I guarantee you'll
scare him off. I don't want him
running away.

EXT. PARTY BOAT - NIGHT

A Latin band cuts loose as beautiful people mill about against
a beautiful Chicago skyline. An AIR HORN blows, and suddenly
the skyline is MOVING. We're on a huge, private party boat.

EXT. PARTY BOAT - NIGHT

Brian's leaning on the boat railing watching the passing
parade of rich and beautiful. Across the sea of champagne
and brie, he spots Jennifer talking with her boss, Swayzak.
He has his hand on her back.

Jennifer spots Brian. She smile, detaches herself and walks
over.

JENNIFER
Hi.

BRIAN
(eyes on Swayzak)
Hey...
(beat)
So are you dating your boss or what?

JENNIFER
If you weren't at least the 300th
person to ask me that, I'd probably
be pissed.
(beat, sighs)
Boy, you sure know it's a man's world
sometimes...

BRIAN
Sorry.
(beat)
Are you dating anyone?

JENNIFER
You think that's really any of your
business?

BRIAN
Well, you did invite me here.

JENNIFER
Marty did.
(beat, smiles)
But I wanted you to come to.

Swayzak suddenly appears with his entourage.

SWAYZAK
Mr. McCaffrey...

BRIAN
Nice boat.

SWAYZAK
It isn't mine.
(to photographer)
Let's get a picture.

Swayzak swings around and puts his arm cheesily around Brian's
shoulder. Another staffer slaps a SWAYZAK FOR MAYOR sticker
to Brian's lapel. Jennifer rolls her eyes to Brian. I'm
sorry... Snap.

SWAYZAK
(seeing someone else)
Larry!
(sotto to Jennifer)
What does he do again?

Swayzak leads her off in pursuit. Left alone, Brian turns to
the railing, stares off at the passing city. You can hear
the wind-up of a siren.

And there it is now, an engine company zooming along Wacker
Drive. Something digs and kicks inside of Brian as he watches
it disappear.

JENNIFER
How's the job going?

She's appeared again beside him.

BRIAN
Okay.

JENNIFER
Boy, Rimgale's as slow as a snail,
isn't he?

BRIAN
No, he's more of a dinosaur. Guy's
not a dummy, though. He's juggling
alot of balls on this one.

JENNIFER
Yeah, but it doesn't take Albert
Einstein just to figure out if these
guys were killed by accidents or
not.

BRIAN
Jesus, give him a break. There isn't
enough proof yet to go public. Sure,
we found some chemical shit we think
somebody dumped in the plugs to torch
'em, and we've maybe figured out why
backdrafts, but you can't rush this
stuff. Not 'till it's locked.

JENNIFER
But Rimgale's probably going to come
around to arson.

BRIAN
In a dinosaur kinda way, yeah.

BAMM!

Both of them look up sharply. A woman drunk out of her mind
has tipped over in her chair. She laughs, her fellow
tablemates laugh, everybody laughs. Jennifer takes Brian by
the arm in the opposite direction and smiles.

JENNIFER
Save me.

EXT. PARTY BOAT - NIGHT

The band's completely cut loose now. A wild percussion rhythm
that has everyone on their feet dancing like madmen. Brian
and Jennifer stomp and sweat and shake and giggle through
hair crazily askew. The lakeshore is twinkling and wonderful
as it slips past. The drums beat faster and harder and the
only thing that isn't moving now is their eyes -- eyes locked
on each other.

EXT. ARSON HQ - NIGHT

Sweaty, flushed with the evening and a few drinks, Brian and
Jennifer pull up in her car.

BRIAN
Thanks for the invite.

JENNIFER
Got anything to drink in there?

BRIAN
Oh, there might be something stashed
away for emergencies.

INT. ARSON HQ/FIRE STATION

The regular engine company's gone to bed and the arson squad's
packed in for the night, leaving the apparatus floor quiet
and dim as Brian and Jennifer enter.

Brian leads her back past the engine and arson sedan to the
rear where Rimgale has his offices. As they walk Jennifer's
eyes drift up to the old sculpted parapets, the press-tin
ceiling.

BRIAN
This is one of the oldest fire
stations in the city. Lotta tradition
locked up in here. What do you think?

JENNIFER
Homey.

BRIAN
See that trap door up there? That
used to lead to the hay loft when
they had horse-drawn engines. It was
pretty different then... but kinda
the same, y'know?

JENNIFER
Do you miss it?
(he doesn't answer)
You seem like you do.

BRIAN
When I came back, I knew more than
anything else that I wanted to be a
fireman.

JENNIFER
Then why did you quit?

BRIAN
I wanted to be a good one.

INT. ARSON HQ - BACK OFFICES

They walk into the back arson offices. Brian pokes through a
few drawers, one or two shelves. Finally he lifts a squat,
specialized fire extinguisher. The bottom has been hollowed
out, leaving room for a fifth of bourbon.

BRIAN
Old firehouse trick.

He pours her a glass. Jennifer takes a generous sip of her's,
turns, brushes past him and breathes,

JENNIFER
So show me your fire truck.

INT. ARSON HQ - APPARATUS FLOOR

Brian escorts Jennifer along the side of the behemoth.

BRIAN
Well, our specimen here is your basic
standard issue piece of primary
suppression equipment. This area is
the pumping panel, which controls
the rate of liquid insertion into
the hose.

JENNIFER
Uh huh.

Brian lifts a narrow, tapered straight-bore nozzle.

BRIAN
This is a six inch playpipe, cast
bronze to keep it firm during hard
flows.
(picks up another
item)
This is our pipe extender, used in
forward lays...
(moves on)
This is our hard suction line... Our
adjustable insertion nozzle...
(comes around back of
trunk)
...And this is the hose bed.

Beat. The air cracks between them. And is brushed aside. In
an instant they're all over each other. Tangled lips and
gulping breaths. Jennifer abruptly breaks it off

-- And looks mischievously up at the hose bed, with its long
curling rolls of soft cotton.

Brian doesn't remember this precise scenario being discussed
at the academy, but he improvises admirably, popping up onto
the hose bed and offering a gentlemanly hand to Jennifer. As
they tumble into the soft folds

CUT TO:

EXT. HIGH-RISE - NIGHT

Engine 17 roars up, lights flashing, to a high-rise. As the
crew jumps down Tim trips and falls flat on his face.

GRINDLE
Jesus Tim, if you're going to kill
yourself at least wait till the fire,
it's better P.R.

INT. ARSON HQ - HOSE BED - NIGHT

Jennifer unbuttons Brian's shirt.

JENNIFER
Tell me about the playpipe again...

She pulls the shirt off his shoulder as we

CUT TO:

INT. HIGH-RISE - LOBBY - NIGHT

Engine 17 walking up to a frazzled security guard in the
lobby.

STEPHEN
Where is it?

SECURITY GUARD
Don't know. There's alarms going off
on three different floors.

STEPHEN
Wonderful.

They climb into the elevator.

INT. HIGH RISE - ELEVATOR - NIGHT

It's cramped on the way up with the bulky coats, helmets,
hose rolls, and the tangible nervousness that always goes
with this kind of fire. The elevator Musak plays 101 Strings
version of "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Old Oak Tree".

TIM
How do we know if the floor's going
to be on fire?

STEPHEN
If the doors open and it's hot, don't
get out.

INT. ARSON HQ - HOSE BED

Brian pulls off Jennifer's stockings. As she kicks it away...

INT. HIGH-RISE - UPPER FLOOR - NIGHT

The elevator stops. DING. The door opens. No howling blaze,
not even any noise, but enough hanging smoke that you can't
see your hand in front of your face.

They fan out gingerly onto the floor, looking for the fire.
Hide and seek in a white fog bank. Everybody stops and
listens. Slowly, carefully, they feel their way through the
haze.

STEPHEN
It's here.

On cue something snakes past behind the walls, whispers and
whines and shivers up and over them and then is silent.
Grindle attaches a hoseline to the building standpipe.

GRINDLE
These high-rise gigs give me the
creeps.

AXE
Let's wait for a back-up, Stephen.
We're early on this one, it hasn't
even broke out yet. We're one short
as it is with Brian gone.

But Stephen's on the hunt now. Obsessed.

STEPHEN
Want to learn something?

TIM
Yes sir!

Stephen and Tim take the lead, their axes gripped like
shotguns. Grindle backs them up with a charged hoseline.

STEPHEN
Adcox, go with Pengelly and check
the other side.

AXE
It isn't safe, man. Don't go splittin'
us up. Not with this one.

STEPHEN
-- What the hell's the matter with
you? You always check the other side.
I haven't got time for bullshit right
now, okay? We got a job here.

AXE
Let me take the lead, Stephen...

STEPHEN
Goddamn it Adcox! Just do your fucking
job!

Adcox folds. With a stricken look on his face he takes his
crew down the other way. Stephen and Tim slowly feel their
way.

CRACK

Everybody SPINS around in terror. Nothing. Something inhuman
giggles down ahead of them. Stephen smiles.

STEPHEN
(like a mantra)
Oh, you're so very sly, but so am
I...
(to Tim)
...Listen to it... you can tell when
a wall cracks which way it's gonna
jump... you can hear the doors breathe
if they're hot...

Tim looks confused. He doesn't get it.

They come to a side door. Stephen runs his hand down the
jam, feels for heat. Then he steps back, takes a deep breath,
and CRASHES the door down with one AXE BLOW. Quiet inside.

INT. ARSON HQ - HOSE BED - NIGHT

Brian and Jennifer are into the rhythm now, breathing deeply.
On the wall above them are framed photos of dead firemen.
Watching.

INT. HIGH-RISE - SECOND DOORWAY - NIGHT

Stephen concentrates on the sound of the fire above him, --
then abruptly turns and CRASHES down another door.

INT. ARSON HQ - ALARM KLAXON GOES OFF - NIGHT

Brian and Jennifer lie in a tight embrace, enjoying the
moment, the lull, as suddenly the lights SNAP ON and an alarm
klaxon BELLOWS. Firemen are coming down the pole now.

JENNIFER
What's going on?

They frantically climb into their clothes. The firemen haven't
noticed them as they climb aboard. They've STARTED THE ENGINE.

JENNIFER
What are they doing?

EXT. ARSON HQ - STREETS - NIGHT

And before either of them realizes it, they're suddenly
pulling out into the street and WAILING off down the block.
The wind's wild in their hair, the siren deafening, the
flashing red lights blinding staccato, And Jennifer loves
it. She kisses Brian fiercely, he lets out a war whoop lost
in the blast of air, and together they hold each other as
the night screams past and...

EXT. HIGH-RISE - NIGHT

Engine 17 pulls up into the parking lot of the high-rise
fire. Firemen leap out of the cab and rush around behind to
pull off lengths of hose from the bed. As the folds curl
away the fireman is stunned to see a woman's stocking come
out with it.

With equal shock he looks up and watches as a disheveled and
grinning Brian and Jennifer climb calmly down out of the
bed.

BRIAN
Excuse us.

INT. HIGH-RISE - TIM'S DOOR - NIGHT

Stephen and Tim creep along the hall.

STEPHEN
(to Tim)
Lotta smoke, but it isn't rolling...
that means it's hiding... staying
sleepy... one of these doors...

Tim's come to one.

STEPHEN
(to himself)
Easy... no hurry... you're not going
anywhere...

Stephen BANGS down another door. Sticks his head in to check.
A little woodpecker toy dips up and down in a glass of water.

Tim readies his axe before his door, gathers his courage as
Stephen comes out of the room he was checking. Sees Tim
lifting his axe.

STEPHEN
Did you check the door for heat,
Tim?

Tim doesn't hear. The axe is already up.

STEPHEN
Tim?

Tim's committed now, coming hard at the door. And Stephen
sees it for just an instant -- Small tendrils of smoke edging
lazily around the door -- then being sucked back in.

STEPHEN
Tim!

He rushes for Tim as Tim's axe SMACKS the door and a whine
behind it builds and roars and howls and Tim's all follow-
through now, hitting the door with his shoulder as

The door EXPLODES OUTWARD, HURLING TIM against the opposite
wall and for an instant he's okay but he freezes in terror
as A SHRIEKING TONGUE OF FLAME SHOOTS OUT THE DOORWAY and
Grindle shouts in horror and opens his hose line as the flames
wrap Tim like a jealous lover as Adcox hears it and screams,

AXE
Oh God! Oh God no!

And Tim's screaming now too, because his helmet, his mask,
his face, it's all melting and Grindle dives suicidally at
the monster, BLASTING it with his hose as Stephen ignores
the flames and puts his arms around Tim as Grindle DOUSES
them both, killing the flames.

The monster rolls wounded back into the room, into the air
shafts as Tim whimpers incoherently, sliding down the wall
as Stephen tries to help but oh God you can't tell what's
face and what's mask and helmet anymore.

Grindle looks back where the fire came from. There's a corpse
in there, burned and lying between two doors.

Adcox rushes to Tim's side sobbing and it's the end, the end
of the goddamn world...

EXT. HIGH-RISE - NIGHT

Brian and Jennifer are having the time of their lives, when
suddenly a group of firemen pass by rushing someone on a
stretcher to an ambulance and Brian sees -- sweet Jesus --
it's Tim. Jennifer turns away in horror. They load Tim into
the van as Adcox and Grindle jump in to ride along. To hold
his hand.

Stephen watches the ambulance disappear out into the street.
Frustration and fury tear at him as he takes off his coat
and slams it to the ground. He kicks it, kicks it till his
strength's gone. He turns, his wounded eyes finding Brian.

INT. HIGH-RISE - NIGHT

Rimgale walks down the smokey corridor. The charred civilian
is there, sitting in the short stretch of hall between two
blown doors. Through the haze Rimgale sees Stephen crouched
in the interior room, picking at the debris. Lost in himself.

STEPHEN
Hey, Stevie.

Stephen stands and looks around the room, seemingly unaware
of Rimgale. He walks wordlessly straight out past him, his
eyes streaming with tears.

INT. HOSPITAL - EMERGENCY ROOM - NIGHT

Brian shoulders his way through the emergency room. He passes
a small alcove full of vending machines. Adcox is there,
sipping a paper cup, leaning against the machine in deep
anguish.

BRIAN
Is he...

AXE
He's alive.

INT. HOSPITAL ICU - NIGHT

Further down the hall is ICU. Grindle and Santos are there,
sitting outside the room, raw and weary. Grindle nods to
Brian. Everyone's still stained and smudged from the fire.

Everyone but Brian.

Brian looks through a door window into the room. There,
surrounded by doctors and physicians, lies Tim. He's been
cut out of his uniform. Gauze bandages everywhere. As a pair
of forceps peel some away Brian glimpses what used to be a
face, now only reds and browns and leaky whites. He turns
away.

BRIAN
Do they think he'll pull through?

GRINDLE
They're not saying.

BRIAN
I should have been there.

NIGHTENGALE
None of us should have been there,
Brian.

Voices rise down the hall. Turn to shouts. It's Adcox and
Stephen, tearing heartbreakingly into one another. Brian
can't make out the words but it's ugly, emotional. Abruptly
it ends and Stephen emerges from the alcove, walking toward
them upset.

BRIAN
You had to do it, didn't you?

Stephen's got other things on his mind.

STEPHEN
...Not now, Brian.

BRIAN
Had to take on another fire bare-
handed, huh? Had to be fucking myth
man in there instead of looking out
for your probie. Is that what
happened? Is it, Stephen?

STEPHEN
I had that fire. He didn't listen!

BRIAN
He didn't listen? He was a fucking
candidate! He was your responsibility.
He shouldn't have been there in the
first place, Stephen.
(beat)
You burned him.

STEPHEN
Fuck you.

Brian grabs his arm.

Stephen SNAPS and roughly PUSHES Brian, knocking him against
the wall. Brian comes off it in a flash and is all over
Stephen. They go down and it's all thrashing and shouting
now. A horrible, endless draw. Grindle and Santos are in it,
pulling them apart, holding them up against opposite walls.

Both brothers glare at one another, tears filling their eyes.
Brian shakes Grindle off and walks away.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. ARSON HQ - BRIAN'S DESK - MORNING

Brian sits staring blankly. A newspaper drops in front of
him. FIRE DEPT. SAYS IT'S MURDER. Rimgale stands above him.

SHADOW
Goes on about how the break was made
through the discovery of "chemical
traces" and a "behavioral link". Oh,
and Swayzak's quoted saying the chief
investigator is closing in on the
torch and expects an arrest "any
time".

Brian's eyes wince closed.

SHADOW
Get your stuff and get out.

INT. JENNIFER'S OFFICE - DAY

She's pouring some coffee as Brian bursts in.

JENNIFER
(surprised)
Brian. What's wrong?

BRIAN
You told Swayzak about our arson
lead. It's all over the fucking news.

JENNIFER
I didn't know it was a secret. There
aren't supposed to be secrets between
the city and its investigators --

BRIAN
-- Bullshit! You knew what I told
you wasn't ready for the papers --

JENNIFER
Will you please keep your voice down,
there's people --

BRIAN
-- You could have scared the son of
a bitch off. We may never bust him
now. All for a couple's political
points.

JENNIFER
I was doing my job.

BRIAN
(grabs her arm)
Yeah? And just how much of all this
has been "doing your job"?

JENNIFER
(shakes it off)
Let me ask you something, do you
really think Marty had you assigned
to arson because of your firefighting
skills? Who the hell are you kidding?
I was there, remember? I saw you and
your brother --

BRIAN
Leave Stephen out of this --

JENNIFER
Oh yeah, he's the real fireman.
(beat)
Who are you? Just another probie
working for Swayzak --

BRIAN
-- I work for the city.

JENNIFER
You knew what we were asking you to
do. Don't suddenly pull out a
conscience now. The fit isn't right.

Swayzak appears in the doorway. He looks haggard, as if he
hasn't slept. There's something haunted in his eyes.

SWAYZAK
Mr. McCaffrey... Keeping busy?

BRIAN
Yeah. In fact, I just dropped off a
letter to the Times explaining how
yesterday's arson announcement was a
fabrication by your office. They
loved it. And you know what? You
were right, my family background in
firefighting gave it weight.

JENNIFER
Oh Brian...

Brian shoulders his way past Swayzak and walks out.

INT. HOSPITAL - TIM'S ROOM - NIGHT

Brian walks up to Tim's room. Stephen's sitting there, ragged
looking. Inside the young probie lies wrapped in tubes and
gauze and years of wasted promise. An EKG beeps, a respirator
hisses, and Brian gulps down something heavy in his throat.

STEPHEN
He's gonna live. Maybe not much else,
but he's gonna live...

Stephen walks away.

EXT. ARSON HQ - MORNING

As Rimgale gets out of his car a limousine pulls up. Swayzak
opens the rear door from inside.

SWAYZAK
Inspector.

SHADOW
Alderman.

INT. SWAYZAK SEDAN - DAY

Cruising through traffic. Swayzak is disheveled, unshaven,
fidgety. A man who hasn't slept and had a few drinks before
the one he's pouring now. He offers one to Rimgale.

SHADOW
I usually have breakfast first.

Swayzak apparently doesn't.

SWAYZAK
When are you going to catch the prick
that's doing this, Don?

SHADOW
"Don?"

SWAYZAK
Don't you have any leads at all?

SHADOW
No Marty, I don't.

For the first time, Rimgale sees real fear on Swayzak's face.

SHADOW
We still haven't found a connection
between the victims.

SWAYZAK
Jesus, open your eyes! Seagrave,
Cosgrove, and now Holcomb -- fried
in a goddamn high-rise!

SHADOW
Holcomb? I didn't know the name of
that victim had even been released
yet.

The sedan stops back at arson HQ. They'd gone around the
block.

EXT. ARSON HQ - SWAYZAK SEDAN - DAY

Rimgale opens the door, climbs out, lingers.

SHADOW
Is there a connection between them,
Alderman?

SWAYZAK
Just catch the son of a bitch.

The door shuts and Swayzak roars away.

INT. ARSON HQ - BACK OFFICES - DAY

Rimgale walks back into his offices. He's surprised to see
Brian there working at his desk.

SHADOW
What the hell are you doing here?

BRIAN
I'm finished with Swayzak. I'll do
whatever you want me to do. I just
want to help catch the guy that burned
Tim. You gotta give me another shot.

Rimgale stares at Brian, appraises him.

CUT TO:

INT. HIGH-RISE

A CLOSE UP of Rimgale POPPING the molding around the door
frame of Holcomb's burned office. Underneath can be seen
traces of the same white residue from the other fires.

SHADOW
I thought 'ol Marty was acting a
little strange... And he's right.

Rimgale rubs the white powder between his fingers.

BRIAN
Backdraft?

Rimgale stands at the spot in the short hall where the body
lied between two doors.

SHADOW
The backdraft was set somewhere in
there. It fried Holcomb when he opened
the inner door. But the outer door
held... and waited for Tim...

Brian steps into the inner office.

SHADOW
So find me the fire.

Brian begins searching, probing. He finally stands. Defeated.

SHADOW
You're thinking too much of the
building and not enough of the ghost.

Brian's eyes don't understand. From Rimgale's coat comes a
plastic flask. He pours out of it a liquid onto the floor
and lights a match.

SHADOW
In a word, Brian, what is this job
all about?

BRIAN
Fire.

Rimgale drops the match.

WUMP. A small flame explodes to life.

SHADOW
It's a living thing, Brian. It
breathes, it eats, and it hates.

The fire's climbing a wall, chewing a corner.

SHADOW
The only way to beat it is to think
like it. To know that this flame
will spread this way across the floor
not because of the physics of
flammable liquids or heat convection,
but because it wants to.

FWUMP. It darts west. Licks the ceiling. The fire purrs and
hisses. Stretches luxuriously and attacks savagely.

SHADOW
Some guys on this job, fire owns
them. It makes them fight on its
level. But the only way to truly
kill it is to love it a little, just
like Ronald.

Brian stares at the flame. A goblin reaching out for him... --
Woosh! Rimgale hits it with a fire extinguisher. In an instant
the goblin is gone, the genie in the bottle.

VOICE
What the hell are you guys doin'?

A young woman's entered.

SHADOW
We're the fire department, lady.

WOMAN
Well color me stupid, I always thought
the fire dept. put out fires.

SHADOW
(to woman)
You work here?

WOMAN
Till yesterday. What do you think
the odds are that a non-refundable
ticket to Paris survived this?

BRIAN
Somewhere between zero and no way.

WOMAN
Shit. What a mess.

SHADOW
You seem real broken up about Mr.
Holcomb.

WOMAN
Jeff Holcomb? The Darth Vader of tax
accountants? He was a sleezeball.
Hopefully a sleezeball that carried
some insurance.

BRIAN
Go talk to the building owner.

WOMAN
He was the building owner.

BRIAN
Our book lists the owner as Dekom
Trust.

She looks at him like he's the dumbest human she's met all
week.

WOMAN
Don't investigators come in adult
size?

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - OUTSIDE STEPHEN'S OFFICE - DAY

Sequence omitted from original script.

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - STEPHEN'S STATION OFFICE - DAY

Stephen's lying sprawled on his bunk, his hands pressed over
his eyes. There's a voice outside the door.

GRINDLE
Stevie? Rimgale's here to see you.

STEPHEN
I'm busy.

GRINDLE
He just wants to --

STEPHEN
-- I'm busy goddamn it, okay?

A beat, then Rimgale himself enters.

STEPHEN
What, they don't knock on your planet?

Rimgale takes in Stephen's room, the half empty bourbon
bottle. Without a word, Rimgale walks over and pours it out.
He sits down beside Stephen.

SHADOW
I still haven't gotten your fire
report, Stevie. On Tim.

A wave of pain rolls through Stephen.

STEPHEN
I'm working on it.

SHADOW
I deal with this stuff every day.
But a fireman... you never get used
to it.
(beat)
What happened up there? He was a
candidate. Did he pay attention? Was
he listening?

STEPHEN
...He wasn't listening to the right
thing...

SHADOW
What do you listen to, Stephen?

STEPHEN
You don't know... nobody knows...

SHADOW
I might.

Stephen's eyes meet Rimgale's and hold.

STEPHEN
It knows us. This one knows us.

SHADOW
(beat)
I need that report, Lt.

Stephen takes Rimgale's notebook out of his lap, rips out a
page, and writes angrily in huge block letters.

STEPHEN
Tim-went-to-the-fire-and-now-he-
doesn't-have-a-face.

Stephen throws the sheet at Rimgale, stands, and walks out.

INT. HALL OF RECORDS

An Escher drawing of a place, endlessly vast racks spun around
an open central core. High up, lost among its rows, Brian is
going through rack after rack of dog-eared record books as
Rimgale enters down below.

BRIAN
(trying to hold it
together in his mind)
Hey boss, Dekom Trust is owned by
Pan Illinois... which is majority
controlled by Lakeside Dynamics...
which is a division of Windy City
Ventures... who's partners are...
(beat)
Alan Seagrave, Donald Cosgrove, and
Jeffrey Holcomb.

SHADOW
Son of a bitch. They knew each other.

CUT TO:

INT. HALL OF RECORDS

More books. Files. Acres of paper.

BRIAN
So Seagrave and Holcomb were
accountants...

SHADOW
And Cosgrove. Coppers figured he
laundered money for the mob before
getting into real estate. They weren't
very high on Seagrave, either.

BRIAN
Nice bunch of guys.

SHADOW
Who all ended up wearing candles for
faces...
(beat)
Swayzak's up to his ass in this
somehow. Guy can barely hold a drink
in his hand, he's so scared.

A beat, then he looks directly at Brian.

SHADOW
We need to get a look at his files.

EXT. ROOFTOP RESTAURANT - NIGHT

Sequence omitted from original script.

EXT. LAKESHORE - DUSK

With glowing skyscrapers leaping up in the background, it's
an unexpectedly quiet, serene place along the lake. Jennifer
sits alone at a bench, watching an ancient fisherman look
for dinner, as Brian walks up.

JENNIFER
Hi.

BRIAN
Hi.

JENNIFER
We still talking?
(beat)
Look, I'm sorry about the other day --

BRIAN
Swayzak knows something about the
guys that were murdered. I want to
know why he keeps that hidden.

JENNIFER
I don't know anything about it.

BRIAN
You could check. It'd be in his files.

JENNIFER
(beat)
Do you know what you're asking me to
do?

BRIAN
Yes.

JENNIFER
Y'know, four years ago I was working
in a bakery. Two years ago I was
bringing Marty coffee and he didn't
even know my name. I run that office
now. Marty believed in me and I
believe in him. You want me to just
throw that away?

BRIAN
Your boss is lying, Jennifer.

And it hangs between them, two people lonely on the edge of
the lake.

INT. BRIAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Sequence omitted from original script.

INT. HELEN'S GARAGE - NIGHT

At a workbench, under a single lamp, Stephen stands amongst
a confusion of tools, wire, And a wall socket.

With a pair of pliers, he tugs at something within the socket,
puts the face-plate back on and screws it down. He stares at
it, and we feel the sudden wave of hopelessness cascading
through him.

He sets the socket back down -- and SCATTERS everything aside
in a single, furious move.

INT. HELEN'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Sequence omitted from original script.

EXT. HELEN'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Stephen's sits quietly against Helen's back door, lost in
himself. A light comes on. Helen opens the back door.

HELEN
Stephen?

She sits down beside him.

STEPHEN
I'm sorry... I... couldn't sleep...

HELEN
What's wrong?

STEPHEN
I...
(beat)
It used to be, when I was a kid,
what meant most to me about this job
was there were no ifs. Life and death,
right and wrong. When someone called
the fire department, we came... Those
guys don't know how much I love
them... You don't leave people
hanging... cause that's what it's
all about. It's loyalty. It's 'till
death do us part. Isn't that what
you heard?... It's you go, we go...
Cause without that, it's the end of
families, it's the end of the fire
department... and when the fire
department stops coming... that's
the end of the fucking world...
(beat)
I'm sorry I came, Helen, it's just...
it's just there's nobody I can talk
to...
(beat)
I miss you.

The moment lingers, grows heavy and grey.

INT. HELEN'S HOUSE - BEDROOM - NIGHT

Stephen and Helen in bed, holding each other...

INT. HELEN'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - MORNING

Morning, and Stephen dressed, making eggs for three. Sean's
there, lending a hand, beaming as Stephen tries to show him
how to flip an egg. Helen enters in her robe. He kisses her.

STEPHEN
Cook and I are almost finished here.
Have a seat.

HELEN
Stephen... I... can I talk to you a
second...

Stephen musses his son's hair and follows her out into the
hall.

STEPHEN
Look, I'm sorry I --

HELEN
-- No, that's okay. It's just Sean...

STEPHEN
-- He's gettin' good on those eggs.
And y'know, he told me he actually
likes the piano.

HELEN
I don't want to confuse him, Stephen.

The blow's so long and hard and deep you don't even see it.

HELEN
It's... It's just things have
changed... you're the same, Stephen,
but things are different now... you've
got a son... you're the best at what
you do Stephen, you always were, but
you scare me now...

Just then, Sean sticks his head into it.

STEPHEN
(to Sean)
Hey... Sean-man, your dad blew it. I
forgot I had to work this morning...

SEAN
Aw dad, c'mon...

STEPHEN
Next time, huh? We'll do it up big.
Promise.

Helen's turned away.

SEAN
Okay.
(then sotto)
Mom's crying, dad.

INT. SWAYZAK'S OFFICE - CITY HALL - MORNING

Jennifer enters Swayzak's inner office. His chair's turned
away toward the window.

JENNIFER
(holding print-out)
Latest polls came in, Marty.
(he doesn't answer)
Marty?

Finally the chair turns, revealing a haunted man. Polls are
far from his mind.

JENNIFER
Jesus Christ, Marty, what's going
on?

SWAYZAK
Leave me alone.

She sees a fire department file on the murders open on his
desk.

JENNIFER
We've come a long way together, Marty.
I've staked my whole career on you.
And now you're sneaking around this
office, leaking things to the papers
behind my back...
(beat)
Is there something you're not telling
me about these deaths?

Swayzak's eyes are dead metal.

SWAYZAK
No.

And he turns his chair around again. Jennifer stands there a
beat. -- Then turns to the filing cabinets.

EXT. BRIAN'S APARTMENT BUILDING - NIGHT

Brian drives up and parks. He's half way to the staircase
when he sees someone sitting in the dark in a car.

BRIAN
Jennifer?

She hands him a manila envelope.

BRIAN
What is --

JENNIFER
Just take it.

Silence.

BRIAN
I'm sorry.

JENNIFER
That's a dumb thing to say.

BRIAN
You're right.

She starts her car.

JENNIFER
Goodbye, Brian.

INT. FIRE DEPARTMENT REPAIR DEPOT

A cavernous hall full of dozens of fire trucks loaded on
jacks. Rimgale's sedan's there, the repairman shaking his
head in amazement at the undercarriage.

REPAIRMAN
What the hell do you do with this
thing?

Rimgale's looking through the report Brian's handed him.

SHADOW
This is the copy of Swayzak's manning
report that was released. Everybody
on this job knows it's bullshit but
we could never argue with the numbers.
They're all airtight.

BRIAN
Yeah? Airtight?

He dumps three more reports on Rimgale.

BRIAN
I've got three different drafts of
the same report -- with different
numbers that're all over the place.
Looks like they were just making it
up as they went along.

SHADOW
Did a little check on the consulting
firm that wrote the report. They did
exactly one job -- Swayzak's manpower
study. It's not even really a company.
No employees, no directors, just a
PO Box.

BRIAN
Then who wrote the report?

SHADOW
It had to be someone who knows
numbers. Some kind of fancy
accountant. But what's the connection?

Brian hands him something else. A photograph. Swayzak and
the other three, posing on a fishing boat, 1970. Time of
their lives.

SHADOW
I think it's time Mr. Swayzak and us
had a little heart to heart talk.

EXT. SWAYZAK'S HOUSE - NIGHT

The red arson sedan pulls up to wealthy home. Rimgale and
Brian walk up and knock on the door -- it creaks open ajar.
They push the door open slowly.

INT. SWAYZAK'S HOUSE - NIGHT

It's dark as they enter.

SHADOW
Hello? Swayzak?

Brian and Rimgale split up down different halls. It's the
HISS Brian hears first. Then the FLASH of an electrical socket
FLARING ice-cold cobalt blue. Suddenly the room's dimensions
are there in frantic, strobing shadows. Chairs, a couch --

-- And a figure that JUMPS Brian. the light from the burning
plug is a fierce strobe as the figure, a confused shadow,
crashes Brian to the floor. They STRUGGLE.

The figure GRABS Brian's throat. Brian PUSHES him back

-- Against the burning wall plug. The figure SHRIEKS in pain,
gets his hand on a crowbar and SLAMS Brian -- who crumples,
dazed. The figure stands -- just as Rimgale TACKLES him. The
figure CRASHES across a gas space heater, SNAPPING the
connection off. The figure SLAMS Rimgale HARD with the
crowbar, squirms free, and stumbles out the door.

Hissss... Rimgale climbs to his feet as fire eats at the
wall. A baby backdraft wagging its tail. He goes to a dazed
Brian's side, lifting him by his armpits and

EXT. SWAYZAK HOUSE - NIGHT

helping him outside. Hissss... The ruptured space heater
pumps gas furiously. Rimgale sees that. He also sees a bedroom
door ajar on the far side of the house. And through the door
a couch. And on the couch, A body. Hissss...

INT. SWAYZAK HOUSE - NIGHT

Rimgale rushes back inside. It's Swayzak, unconscious.

EXT. SWAYZAK HOUSE - NIGHT

Rimgale drags him out on the stoop beside Brian just as the
gas WHUMPS and the doors and windows EXPLODE in a HOWLING
FIREBALL, the shrapnel BLOWING Rimgale off his feet. Brian
slowly shakes his head clear. He looks around, tries to orient
himself.

SHADOW
Uh... I sorta got a problem here...

Brian climbs up to his feet and walks over to where Rimgale
lies at a weird angle, a piece of wrought iron fence punched
through his shoulder.

INT. HOSPITAL - EMERGENCY ROOM - NIGHT

Rimgale lies in an emergency room bed.

SHADOW
Well Brian, I guess you can say it's
arson now...

BRIAN
How ya feeling?

Rimgale grunts.

BRIAN
Did you pull me out?

SHADOW
Yeah.

BRIAN
Did I say thanks?

SHADOW
No.

BRIAN
Just wondering.

SHADOW
I hate hospitals. You're so... so
goddamn useless...

Rimgale suddenly kicks the bed frame in anger. He kicks it
over and over with frustration till something finally SNAPS
off. Brian waits, let's him vent his frustration.

BRIAN
So what do you want me to do?

SHADOW
I've been lying here hours... just
thinking... We're close...
(beat)
We're not looking in the right place,
Brian. This one knows us and we're
not looking in the right place...

INT. PRISON INTERVIEW ROOM - DAY

Brian's sitting alone in a chair. Finally the opposite door
opens and in enters Ronald.

RONALD
Well, Mr. Life magazine. Come all
this way just to say hi?

Brian hands him a stack of murder files.

BRIAN
I'm close... but I can't get who it
is...

RONALD
So you came to me...
(smiles)
Well, this is going to be an
interesting afternoon after all...

As Ronald starts to read the files

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. PRISON INTERVIEW ROOM - LATER - DAY

Brian still sitting there. Watching Ronald devour the
statistics. The photos of charred bodies. Ronald finishes,
leans back.

RONALD
Okay, here's the deal. I'll tell you
a story, you tell me one. Fair?

BRIAN
Who's doing this?

RONALD
Your first question should be who
isn't. It isn't a spark, Brian. Not
enough damage. And an insurance pro?
Where's the profit margin?

BRIAN
Then who --

RONALD
-- No no, your turn. Tell me a story.

BRIAN
I don't have a story.

RONALD
Sure you do.

Ronald drops on the table a dog-eared copy of that 1972 LIFE
magazine with Brian on the cover.

RONALD
Famous story even. Straight burn.
Just an engine and truck first on
scene. What did you feel, Brian,
when you first got there?

BRIAN
What?

RONALD
You gotta tell a story too, Brian.
It's fair. C'mon, don't think too
hard --

BRIAN
I... I thought it was great. I loved
it. It was nothing to these guys...
medium deal.

RONALD
Right. Light smoke, low roll. Couple'a
civilians hollering -- medium deal.
So young fireman Adcox and Captain
McCaffrey, they head up stairs, get
out on the fire escape -- McCaffrey
does the ballsy jump across... what
were you feeling, Brian?
(Brian doesn't answer)
C'mon, you promised. Be honest.
(Brian just stares)
Okay... Guard!

BRIAN
-- I wanted to be him. Right then I
wanted to be him more than anything...

RONALD
(smiles)
Very good, Brian. -- About your report
here. The way to a torch's heart is
through his tools. That's how you
know him. It's the way he talks to
the fire. And to you if you listen.

BRIAN
The outlets.

RONALD
That's a probie answer. You're smarter
than that, Brian.

BRIAN
Trychticholorate.

RONALD
Good. -- So our two heroes, Adcox
and McCaffrey, they go back inside.
Only there's another fire in there
nobody sees. And it took your dad,
didn't it Brian? Did you see him
burn?

In a flash, Brian suddenly reaches across and grabs Ronald
by the collar.

BRIAN
Who the fuck is doing this?

RONALD
After it took your dad... the fire...
did it look at you Brian? Did it
talk to you?...

And Ronald sees something in Brian's eyes. He smiles.

RONALD
You see, our world's aren't so
different...

Brian releases Ronald.

BRIAN
(quiet)
Who's doing this?

The arsonist smiles a creepy, horrible grin.

RONALD
Think, Brian. Who doesn't love fire,
but knows it better than anyone else?
Who's around trychticholorate 24
hours a day?

A cold shock rolls through Brian as he slumps back in his
chair.

BRIAN
Oh Jesus Christ...

RONALD
Not such a far walk after all, is
it, Brian?

EXT. STEPHEN'S BOAT - MARINA - NIGHT

Brian climbs up onto Stephen's boat. Nobody home. He opens
the cabin door, goes inside and hits the lights.

INT. STEPHEN'S BOAT - NIGHT

There's cereal bowls in the sink, beer bottles on the table,
And a stack of fire department supplies in the corner.

His whole body aching with reluctance, Brian begins looking
through them. Solvents, Armorall, a small specialty can of
fire dept. chemicals. There's a label of ingredients on it.
Way down at the bottom, Is trychticholorate. Nausea wracks
its way through Brian.

BRIAN
Oh goddamn it Stephen...

Footsteps. Brian spins around in stone shock as Stephen comes
into the cabin.

STEPHEN
Hey, what are you doing here?

BRIAN
Just... Just wanted to say hello...

STEPHEN
So hello.

Brian backs away from the chemicals.

STEPHEN
Well, long as you're here you can
help clean up a little. I've got a
guy coming to look at this in a few
minutes.

BRIAN
You're selling dad's boat?

STEPHEN
Yeah, it's just another memory in my
life right now. And I got way too
many of them...

BRIAN
I really should get back. There's...
there's something I'm supposed to
do.

STEPHEN
Yeah? What have you got to do?
(beat)
Look at you. Look at your face. All
the things you must be thinking.
Man, you must really hate my guts.
Well, you know what? It's okay.

BRIAN
Look, Stephen, maybe we can talk
about this some other --

STEPHEN
-- Okay, so you don't like me. You
don't like everything I've done.
What, because I wasn't such a genius
the way I raised you? Jesus Christ,
dad was gone, what was I supposed to
do? You tell me, what the fuck was I
supposed to do?!

He KICKS the bulkhead wall.

BRIAN
It's okay, Stephen, I --

STEPHEN
-- I tried, y'know? Helen's right. I
don't have all the answers, but
goddamn it, I've got some.
(beat)
Look, you're gonna do what you have
to, and maybe I shouldn't have gotten
in the way. I'm your brother, not
your father. Go on. You gotta go
somewhere? Go...

Brian turns to leave. Pauses.

BRIAN
I saw it.

STEPHEN
Saw what?

BRIAN
When dad died, I saw another fire...

STEPHEN
Everybody did.

BRIAN
I saw it before it got them. I tried
to yell, but... He asked me to look
out for him. And I didn't do it. I
let him die.

STEPHEN
(stunned)
...Jesus, you been carrying that
around for twenty years? For christ's
sake, you were seven years old! You
think he could have heard you in
there?

BRIAN
I hate him so much sometimes, Stephen.
You don't know how hard it was for
me to put that uniform on...

STEPHEN
Maybe I do.
(sighs)
...What a fuckin' mess, huh?
(beat)
People can change Brian.

BRIAN
Sometimes right when you're looking
at them.

Brian sees the chemicals in the corner again and something
freezes up inside. Stephen catches the look and there's
horrible silence between them.

BRIAN
Oh God, Stephen, what's going on
with you?

STEPHEN
I don't know, Brian... I don't know...

EXT. FIRE STATION 17 - NIGHT

Brian stands before the fire station. His brother's and his.

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - UPSTAIRS LOCKER ROOM

Brian PRIES the lock off Stephen's locker. Starts looking
through it. Adcox comes out of the shower with a towel on,
starts shaving in a mirror. He doesn't notice Brian. Adcox
turns to head for his own locker and the towel slips a little.
And Brian's universe caves in.

An icy claw tears out his stomach. Gulping breaths, he forces
himself to look at Adcox's back.

On it is a small, rectangular burn. It's fresh and it's the
size of a wall socket. At that moment Adcox turns. The two
of them stare at one another just a beat, then Adcox walks
past him. Just then the alarm bells RING. Brian hesitates a
beat, confused, then turns and runs down to

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - APPARATUS FLOOR

Where firemen are scurrying around, suiting up. Brian looks
frantically for Stephen, sees him out back.

EXT. FIRE STATION 17 - BACK OF STATION - SUNDOWN

BRIAN
(breathless)
-- Stephen, wait a minute. I gotta
talk to you. It's Adcox, he's --

STEPHEN
-- What are you doing here?

BRIAN
I saw Adcox's back! I saw the burn!
I put it there! Jesus Christ, Stephen,
he's been killing people!

STEPHEN
I know.

BRIAN
How do you know?

STEPHEN
I knew when you came looking for the
chemicals. Looking for me.

BRIAN
-- What were they doing there?

STEPHEN
They were for the fucking boat, Brian.

Grindles sticks his head out the back door.

GRINDLE
We gotta roll, Stevie...

STEPHEN
I'll be there.

GRINDLE
They're waitin' man.

STEPHEN
I'll be there, goddamn it!

Grindle goes back in.

STEPHEN
(to Brian)
Anything else?

BRIAN
What are we going to do about this?

STEPHEN
I'll handle it.

BRIAN
We gotta go to Rimgale, Stephen.

STEPHEN
I'm his Lt. He's my responsibility.
I'll handle it. Me.

Stephen turns and walks toward the station.

Brian's eyes go to a window just above it. There, watching
him, watching the whole exchange between brothers, is Adcox.

Adcox stares at Brian a beat, then finally disappears as
Brian hears the cough of diesel engines.

BRIAN
Oh, Christ. Stephen...

He starts running for the station.

INT./EXT. FIRE STATION 17 - NIGHT

-- It's too late. Adcox climbs aboard just as the engine
company pulls out and whistles down the street.

The ladder company is just easing onto the drive. Brian
hesitates only an instant, then runs to the equipment racks,
PULLS off the hooks his helmet, coat, boots -- and jumps
onto the truck as it takes off in pursuit.

INT./EXT. ENGINE COMPANY 17 - NIGHT

As it howls down the avenue, Stephen turns around and stares
at Adcox sitting behind. The glimmer of an understanding...

INT./EXT. TRUCK COMPANY 46 - NIGHT

The laddermen look confused seeing Brian sitting among them.

A CAR Suddenly CUTS the truck company off. The driver SLAMS
the brakes, PUSHING the truck company into a HORRIBLE SKID.
The back fishtails, the wheels JUMP the curb, BASH a mailbox,
and then the whole rig ROLLS onto its side and DRAGS to a
stop.

It's tangled confusion in the rear cab. Firemen, unhurt,
piled atop one another. Brian slides his way out from under
them and looks down the street where plumes of smoke rise
six blocks away.

He starts running.

EXT. WAREHOUSE FIRE - NIGHT

Flames and smoke curl from a huge industrial warehouse along
the river as Brian, panting, runs up. He searches frantically
through the maze of arriving engine companies, looking for
number 17. There it is but nobody's home. Brian stops a
passing captain.

BRIAN
Where are they? Where's 17?

CAPTAIN
On the roof.

Brian looks up at the smoke and whirling firestorm four
stories above him, feels the bile of fear in his throat, the
desperation, -- And begins strapping on an air tank.

EXT. WAREHOUSE - NIGHT

Brian, now fully suited up, climbs the endless rungs of an
extended aerial ladder.

EXT. WAREHOUSE ROOF - NIGHT

Tongues of flame ROCKET skyward through ragged holes. Black
clouds drift murderously, roofing tars bubble and hiss as
the roof itself GROANS like a comatose dinosaur, reminding
you the whole thing could go any minute -- and you with it.

Trudging alone across this alien, spongy surface, Brian looks
for his company. It's almost impossible to tell anyone apart,
faces hidden behind helmets and masks.

Suddenly a cloud of smoke clears and there's two firemen
near the edge, "17" on their helmets.

BRIAN
Stephen --

The helmets look up. Stephen and Adcox. Facing each other.
Adcox cradles an axe.

STEPHEN
Brian?

Brian starts to move beside Stephen but Adcox turns, tightens
his grip on the axe, and now all the cards are on the table.
A hissing black cloud drifts through. They're the only three
people on earth.

Adcox's eyes are clouded with tears.

AXE
Aw man, Stephen, listen to me...

STEPHEN
-- What the fuck were you thinking,
huh? Burning people? You're a fireman.

AXE
They were killing firemen, man. When
Sally showed me what was in Swayzak's
files... They were my friends, I had
to do it. I had to do it for the
department.

BRIAN
Did you do it for Tim?

AXE
(pain, to Stephen)
That was an accident! Jesus Christ,
why did you have to go in there so
fucking early? Why didn't you listen
to me!

Brian and Stephen are backed up against the roof edge --
sixty feet up. Far below a fireboat has begun pumping a
massive stream at the side of the building.

AXE
You gotta let me finish --

BRIAN
Just come down, John. Just --

AXE
-- Shut up! Your dad would fucking
puke if he saw how you've shit on
his department!

STEPHEN
-- Knock it off!

AXE
(to Stephen)
-- You can't let him turn you against
your friends, man --

BRIAN
-- He killed people --

AXE
-- You know what Swayzak would do to
the department if this got out? --

BRIAN
-- Stephen, this is bullshit --

AXE
-- What he would do to your dad's
department? You gotta let me finish
it --

And there's a horrible glimmer of confusion on Stephen's
face.

BRIAN
You're his Lt., Stephen...
(beat)
Are you gonna handle it? Are you
Stephen?

STEPHEN
Shut up!

AXE
...What do you want me to do, Stephen?
Talk to me. What am I supposed to
do?

STEPHEN
(beat)
There's a fire. We've got a job here.
Let's get on with it.

EXT. WAREHOUSE - ACROSS THE ROOF - NIGHT

The rest of the crews are totally oblivious to what's
happening through the smoke on the other side. Grindle and
Santos feel the roof go suddenly spongy beneath them.

GRINDLE
Shit... It's going! Clear the roof!
Now!

Everybody drops their equipment and runs for the edges as

EXT. WAREHOUSE ROOF - BRIAN ET. AL - NIGHT

Brian, Stephen and Adcox react as the roof HOWLS and GROANS
and huge SPLITS begin racing along it. And then it goes.

The center section DROPS, and in rolling waves of SCREECHING
steel, the hole spreads outward; DEVOURING.

Adcox shoves them aside and runs for his life as the hole
races for them, SWALLOWING roof.

STEPHEN
Jesus Christ Brian, run! Run goddamn
it!

And Brian balls-out dashes for the edge. Stephen's made one
corner, Brian desperately heads for another. At the last
instant -- as the HOWLING FLAME BELLOWS UP to his ankles --
Brian LEAPS OFF the roof --

EXT. WAREHOUSE - FIRE ESCAPE - NIGHT

-- And falls half a story before CRASHING onto an exterior
fire escape. Flames have cut off the fire escape two floors
below, so Brian climbs down as far as possible, crawls onto
a ledge, KICKS out a window, steps through,

And falls.

INT. WAREHOUSE - ELEVATOR SHAFT - NIGHT

Blackness and emptiness, two stories of it, before he CRASHES
into a pool of water at the bottom. He's in a freight elevator
shaft, thrashing madly, drowning. Great SHEETS of WATER are
POURING through an upper doorway and CASCADING down like
monsoon rain.

EXT. WAREHOUSE - FIREBOAT

We see it's coming from the fireboat's rushing stream.

INT. WAREHOUSE - ELEVATOR SHAFT

The weight of his equipment is pulling Brian underwater.
Struggling against the insane swirls and the sheets of water
still POURING DOWN, Brian unhooks his air tank. He leans
back, tries to float on the rising column of water. -- His
coat catches on something -- YANKS him underwater. He
struggles feverishly -- finally tears the coat off.

The building GROANS in earnest. Flaming chunks of plaster
CRASH down around Brian, forcing him to duck underwater. The
place is coming apart.

Ten feet above, one of the falling chunks SMACKS a gas main,
SPLITTING then IGNITING it. A white-hot JET OF FLAME SHOOTS
from one side of the shaft to the other.

Brian's floating okay, he's floating right up into the flames.

Brian tries to flatten himself out, to keep everything but
his nose below water, but he's still moving up -- the heat
becoming so intense his face flares and he's ducking under
water now, trying to stay alive, trying to decide whether to
drown or burn --

-- When there's a CRASH. And suddenly another door on the
shaft is tearing open. There's a glint of an axe. A
flashlight.

It's Stephen.

Brian has about two seconds left. In that time Stephen sees
the shut-off for the gas line mounted on the wall opposite.
It's unreachable, a good twelve feet across a horizontal
curtain of flame. Before we can even assimilate that,
Stephen's already jumped. A crazy leap over the fire. He
SMACKS the opposite wall, HITS the shut-off, and FALLS
CRASHING into the pool beside Brian.

STEPHEN
You crazy son of a bitch, why couldn't
you stay behind a desk where you
belong?

BRIAN
"You never know till the fire stares
you down if you're gonna be --"

STEPHEN
Oh shut up, huh?
(grimaces)
I think I broke my goddamn arm...

Brian helps him stay above water. The level continues to
rise, bringing them finally even with an open doorway they
scramble through.

INT. WAREHOUSE - STAIRWAY - NIGHT

It leads to a stairwell that's become a RAGING TORRENT of
water spilling down it. No way. They push through to the
next doorway and out onto

INT. WAREHOUSE - NIGHT

The place is full of hundreds of chemical drums. The fire
has cracked its way into the room as WUMP -- drums begin
EXPLODING, SHOOTING UPWARD Roman candle fountains of
glittering FLAME. Brian helps Stephen as they snake their
way past sweating drums -- pressure valves hissing madly
with desperation. They duck low, round a corner,

INT. WAREHOUSE - CATWALK - NIGHT

-- And walk right into an axe handle that SMACKS Brian's
throat KNOCKING him gasping flat on his back. It's Adcox.

Stephen JUMPS Adcox and TACKLES him on the edge of a metal
platform that extends out from the raised flooring.

STEPHEN
You stupid son of a bitch! What the
fuck are you doing!

AXE
Stevie... I...

Adcox struggles against him, heaving and sobbing.

STEPHEN
Let it go! Goddamn it let it go!

And Adcox releases the axe.

AXE
I'm sorry... I'm so sorry...

Brian's on his feet now, coming toward them, when a chemical
drum below EXPLODES, the shock wave BUCKLING the platform
and DROPPING it several feet before it HOLDS. Brian, cut-
off, is HIT with a wall of debris.

Adcox and Stephen are FLUNG across the platform and THROUGH
the shattered railing. Stephen grabs a piece of broken,
dangling strut and hangs on with one hand.

In his other hand is Adcox. Hanging below him, his grip
loosening.

BRIAN
Stephen!

Brian's struggling to get out from under the debris. The
railing Stephen's hanging onto is slick, his hand SLIPPING
along it. But he won't let go of Adcox. His eyes bore into
his best friend's with absolute conviction.

STEPHEN
You go, we go.

The towering shots of FLAME from below have begun to IGNITE
Adcox's pant leg. He's starting to burn. But Stephen won't
let go. Won't let go even as the flames crawl up Adcox's
back. And Stephen's hand is slipping and slipping and then
it isn't slipping anymore because it's come off.

BRIAN
NO!

Adcox and Stephen FALL. There's a narrow catwalk half-way
down. Stephen HITS with a sickening CRUNCH.

Adcox falls past it, down into the flames.

There's an exposed I-beam running from the ruined platform
out over the catwalk. Brian climbs up onto it, balances across
over the fire below and jumps down to the catwalk where his
brother lies, battered but still alive.

BRIAN
You're gonna be all right, man.

INT. WAREHOUSE - FLOOR - NIGHT

Brian looks down and across the factory floor. There, coming
through the doorway, is Pengelly and Nightengale with a
hoseline.

INT. WAREHOUSE - NIGHT

BRIAN
Hey! Over here!

They start for him when another drum EXPLODES, FLATTENING
them and launching their hoseline into a crazy, thrashing
arc. The flame has cut them off from the hose. Stephen sees
what Brian's thinking.

STEPHEN
Wait for another hose team...

But Brian's already moving for the catwalk ladder.

STEPHEN
Wait for the goddamn hose team!

Brian puts his feet on the outside rungs of the ladder and
SLIDES down to the factory floor. He's heading for the
hoseline when WHAM! -- The fire cuts him off. Not just any
fire. That same one from so many years ago.

Don't fuck with me, kid. I'm not in the mood.

Nightengale's lost his helmet and it's lying near the flames
spinning slowly upside down -- just like his father's. Brian
stands there, paralyzed, as the fire laughs at him. Same old
little kid with his finger up his ass. Then something
different comes into Brian's eyes.

BRIAN
No... No more.

There's a pathetic little wall extinguisher mounted on the
pole. Brian lifts it, approaches the fire. You can practically
hear the flames laugh at him. Brian suddenly turns and SLAMS
the neck of the extinguisher against the pole, BREAKING it
off before HEAVING the cannister HISSING into the flames
where it EXPLODES -- a cloud of extinguisher powder that
STUNS the flames just long enough for Brian to dash through
and TACKLE the hose.

The fire shakes off the powder, rises up to kill -- Just as
Brian spins and HITS it with the STREAM.

-- And it's like a howling train wreck as the two grapple
with each other -- Pengelly and Nightengale have an opening,
and they're dashing for the catwalk ladder up to Stephen
because the fire doesn't care -- it only has eyes for Brian
now --

-- And Stephen sees Brian tackle the monster, and his eyes
fill with tears --

-- And the fire's pushing Brian -- pushing him with the fury
of a frightened street bully -- but Brian won't give -- and
now the fire's back's broken -- it's whimpering, dying.

And Pengelly and Nightengale have climbed up to Stephen now,
pulling him away.

STEPHEN
That's my brother! That's my brother
goddamn it!

And the fire's just a little gremlin now, sighing sadly as
Brian steps up with the hoseline.

BRIAN
Another time, friend.

And whoosh, it's gone.

EXT. BURNED BUILDING - NIGHT

Brian rushes up as paramedics load his brother into an
ambulance.

STEPHEN
(smiles, weak)
You are such a pain in the ass...

As Brian jumps in with him

CUT TO:

INT. AMBULANCE - NIGHT

Paramedics swarm over Stephen as the ambulance screams through
the night. Brian's right there, holding his hand.

STEPHEN
Don't tell them about Adcox... Don't
let 'em...

BRIAN
I'm sorry... I'm sorry I thought...
I won't.

His brother squeezes Brian's hand, his eyes never leaving
him.

PARAMEDIC
(reading EKG)
Oh shit, give him some lidocaine,
now. Now.

STEPHEN
(beat)
Who's your brother?

Stephen's EKG's begun to falter. The other paramedic fires
off an injection into his IV.

PARAMEDIC
His pressure's fading -- push some
adrenalin.

The EKG's become erratic. Stephen's eyes never leave Brian's.

BRIAN
Oh man, don't you die... Don't you
die...

PARAMEDIC #2
He's going south... He's gonna box
damn it...

They put an ambo bag over Stephen's face. The eyes never
leave Brian's.

BRIAN
Goddamn it don't you die now... Not
now!

They're breathing for him now. The EKG begins shrieking.

PARAMEDIC
V-fib!

The paramedics begin scrambling to load the defibrillator
pads on Stephen's chest. But the fireman's eyes never waver
from Brian. They look into his with complete conviction,
complete acceptance, And then they don't.

FADE TO BLACK:

Then, FADE UP TO:

EXT. MICHIGAN AVE - DAWN

A silent, quiet street absolutely empty of traffic. Then
over the crest of Chicago's mightiest thoroughfare, creeps
slowly a fire engine. It's emergency lights are on but not
the siren. This engine isn't in a hurry today.

Behind comes another fire engine. And another. Ten, twenty,
all of them creeping slowly along. And behind the engines
now walk firemen in their dress blues. Hundreds of them.
Walking silently in step behind

TWO COFFINS

Loaded in the rear of Engine 17. Santos drives as Grindle,
Brian, and the men of ladder company 46, walk behind. The
silent procession passes under extended aerial ladders crossed
like dress swords. Average people stop, take their hats off.

EXT. LAKE SHORE DRIVE - THE SILENT PROCESSION

Sequence omitted from original script.

EXT. CEMETERY - DAY

Two coffins, lying side by side, draped in the blue and white
of the Chicago flag. A single fire helmet rests atop each
casket.

Brian stands at attention beside Helen. He holds the hand of
Stephen's son Sean, his eyes clouded with tears as a fire
dept. honor guard plays Taps. Jennifer's there, too far away
to touch.

Rimgale, still wearing a head bandage, stands stiffly beside
a brass bell and speaks with a voice raw and weary.

SHADOW
In the Chicago Fire Department the
alarm code 3-3-5 signifies that the
company has returned home to quarters.
We will now ring out that code to
welcome home John Adcox and Stephen
McCaffrey...

With a small hammer Rimgale rings out 3-3-5 on the bell.

The honor guard folds the flag covering Stephen's casket and
hands it to Helen, who holds it to her breast as we

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. CEMETERY - DAY

A sea of blue uniforms drifting across green as the funeral
breaks up. Brian hugs Helen and Sean. Lets them go.

EXT. CEMETERY EDGE - DAY

Rimgale's there, resting against his dept. sedan as Brian
walks by, pauses, and leans on it beside him. A beat.

SHADOW
Your brother was a good man.

BRIAN
Yeah.

SHADOW
Another couple of good men get burned
up for their city? Is that how it's
going to read?
(Brian doesn't answer)
You're the only one that knows.

BRIAN
Like it never happened...

Rimgale turns to walk back to his sedan. He pauses. Looks
back to Brian.

SHADOW
Want to help me with something?

INT. OFFICE - DAY

An elevator opens as Brian and Rimgale walk quickly out,
down a hall, and BURST into Swayzak's office.

INT. SWAYZAK'S OFFICE - DAY

The Alderman's there, giving a press conference from his
desk.

SHADOW
Mr. Swayzak! How ya doin'?

SWAYZAK
(confused)
Investigator...

Rimgale sits on Swayzak's desk.

SWAYZAK
I'm a little busy right now --

SHADOW
This'll only take a minute. There's
two cops outside that want to ask
you about this --

Rimgale drops the manning report on Swayzak's desk.

SHADOW
This is just a guess of course, but
I think they're gonna want to know
why you secretly paid Donald Cosgrove,
Jeffrey Holcomb and Alan Seagrave to
create a phony manpower study.
(to cameras)
You guys'll wait, right?

The room explodes with questions. Through the din Brian leans
over the desk very close to Swayzak.

BRIAN
See that glow flashing in the corner
of your eye? That's your career
dissipation light. And it just went
into high gear.

Brian turns and pushes his way out. At the door he pauses
and looks back at Rimgale. The investigator nods and smiles
just a little...

INT. SWAYZAK'S OFFICE CORRIDOR

As Brian walks down it, Rimgale appears and calls to him.

SHADOW
-- Brian.

Brian hesitates.

SHADOW
Don't keep looking over your shoulder
for the ghost. It's gone now.

And there's just a beat between the investigator and his
probie before Brian nods and walks away.

EXT. SWAYZAK OFFICE CORRIDOR

Brian walks down the hall. He passes Jennifer's small office.
She's in there, surrounded by packing boxes.

BRIAN
I think your boss is going to need
some spin control.

JENNIFER
I quit two days ago, Brian.

BRIAN
(beat)
What'll you do?

JENNIFER
I don't have the slightest idea...

BRIAN
I'll see ya around, huh?

JENNIFER
It's a small town.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. FIRE STATION 17 - CITY

And morning breaking across the avenues and up against the
tired brick of firehouse 17.

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - LOCKER ROOM

Brian sits staring into his locker, lost in thought, his
equipment stacked up on the bench beside him. THE ALARM KLAXON
SOUNDS

INT. FIRE STATION 17 - APPARATUS FLOOR

And firemen scurrying to their equipment on the apparatus
floor. They're climbing aboard their rigs now and the pumper's
diesel is coughing to life.

At the last moment, as it begins to pull out, Brian comes
sliding down the pole in his turn-out gear, bounces off the
floor, and climbs aboard as the engine WHISTLES away.

INT. ENGINE 17 - CAB

There's a new fireman beside him on the bench. He can't get
his coat buckled right. Brian leans over does it for him.

BRIAN
You're doing it wrong.

EXT. FIRE ENGINE 17 - STREET - DAY

And the fire engine slips away from us, down the avenue,
into the city as we

FADE TO BLACK

THE END

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