"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 ]

"THE CINCINNATI KID"

Screenplay by

Ring Lardner Jr. and Terry Southern

Based on a novel by

Richard Jessup

SHOOTING DRAFT

1965



FADE IN: SERIES OF ESTABLISHING SHOTS - DAY

Exterior scenes of St. Louis, particularly the riverside
industrial district. Even more important to establish than
the place is the time: end of summer, 1936. Election posters
would help, with the Republican ones stressing such themes
as "Burst the Roosevelt Bubble," "Save the American Way of
Life," "Vote for Landon and Knox."

EXT. FACTORY - DAY

One of the most typical scenes of the day: a mass picket
line outside a textile or shoe factory. And the picketing is
anything but peaceful; the demonstrators are in direct
conflict with the police, who are trying to keep an entrance
open for strike-breakers. Whatever the general action, a
small segment of struggle breaks off from it, and it is this
that our CAMERA picks up: some police chasing some pickets
or some pickets chasing some strike-breakers, the one faction
pursuing the other up an alley with violent intent.

EXT. ALLEY - DAY

A couple of the pursuers catch up to the pursued and assault
them with clubs or other weapons. The fighting is bitter,
dirty and noisy.

INT. KITCHEN IN SLEAZY RESTAURANT NEAR RAILROAD

The eight men gathered here in a game of five-card stud are
clearly removed from the struggle outside, even though the
SOUNDS of it are very close, coming through window opening
on the alley. In fact the noise is so loud that the DEALER
of the hand in progress reacts in annoyance.

DEALER
Somebody shut the goddam window. Let
a man think.

The player nearest the window shuts it. The Dealer, who also
owns the restaurant, is the talkative type of poker player.
Except for THE CINCINNATI KID, the other men at the table
look like hoods of one sort or another: gunmen, labor spies,
extortionists, what have you. The man who fancies himself
the toughest of them all is named DANNY, and he and The Kid
have almost all the money on the table between them, about a
hundred dollars in front of each. No other player has more
than a few dollars left, and now, as fifth cards are dealt,
there is about forty dollars in the pot. Only four men are
left in the hand.

DEALER
Possible straight gets a --
(deals the card)
-- lovely little four.

FIRST PLAYER
On the last hand even, you couldn't
give me a break.

DEALER
I put the brakes on your straight,
didn't I?
(he laughs; no one
else does; he deals
to The Kid)
There you are, son, a gorgeous deuce.

KID
Thanks.

DEALER
(deals to Danny)
And our lucky friend from Chicago
gets a queen with his pair of sixes.
Little lady make you happy, Buster?

DANNY
Deal to yourself, clown.

DEALER
Dealer gives himself a --
(deals card and groans)
I might have known.
(to Danny)
Bet your sixes, Buster.

DANNY
I told you not to call me that.
(then as the dealer
turns away)
Cost you --
(counts out his money)
Ninety-four bucks.

DEALER
Biggest pot of the whole game, I got
to drop.

DANNY
(to First Player)
Interested?

FIRST PLAYER
Wouldn't call you if I had a pair
higher'n sixes. Which I ain't.

He turns over his cards, leaving it up to The Kid.

KID
Don't seem like he'd bet out without
something better than the sixes,
does it?
(fingers hole card as
if to fold)
Cost me every cent I've won since
yesterday afternoon.
(studies Danny's face)
But I tell you, I got this stubborn
streak. Call the ninety-four dollars.

He counts out the money, which is almost all he has.

DANNY
(indignantly)
You can't have better than a pair of
kings!

KID
Oh, I'm not claiming anything that
fine.
(turns over an eight,
making a pair of
them)
Just enough to beat the pair of sixes.

DANNY
You seen my hole card, you bastard!
(indicating Dealer)
He was dealing them high.

Attending to first things first, The Kid has been pulling in
the pot, adding it to his own stake, and pocketing the total.
Now as Danny accuses him again, The Kid looks him squarely
in the face.

DANNY
You stole that dough.

KID
You better watch those loose lips of
yours, you want to have any teeth
left behind them -- Buster.

He stands up.

DANNY
You wouldn't of shelled out ninety-
four bucks --

KID
I called you on account of I didn't
think you had another pair or another
six and I know a punk like you would
get greedy and try and buy the last
hand.

He walks off, disappearing through a door marked "MEN."

INT. MEN'S ROOM - THE KID AT MIRROR

He is waiting when the door opens abruptly, and Danny appears,
his right hand in his coat pocket. The Kid's hand goes to
his own pocket and as he whirls around, a straight razor
appears in it, its blade snapped open. Pushing Danny to the
wall with one hand, he keeps him pinned there with the razor
in the other, while he bolts the door. Danny gets his right
hand out of the pocket with a gun in it, but The Kid moves
the razor blade against his neck.

KID
Drop it.

As the gun clatters to the floor, and the others force the
door, The Kid takes a step backward to provide enough
momentum, then swings at Danny's middle with his left,
dropping him, then jumps up on the wash basin and wriggles
his way out through a window.

SUPERIMPOSE: MAIN TITLES

Danny recovers his balance and his gun, unbolts the door
just before it is smashed in, and runs with the others to
get out of the building and after The Kid.

EXT. ALLEY BACK OF RESTAURANT - DAY

The conflicting parties from the picket lines have moved on.
The Kid drops from the window to the ground and starts to
run toward the railroad yards. A few moments later, Danny
and four other poker players appear and run after him.

EXT. RAILROAD YARDS - DAY

The chase across the tracks goes on behind the Credits. The
Kid's pursuers split into two groups to cut him off, and
they seem to have succeeded in cornering him against a track
on which a passenger train is bearing down, headed for the
station. His dubious chance of escape depends on his getting
beyond this track in front of the train, which, with a burst
of speed, he manages to accomplish just in time. The passenger
train divides The Kid from his pursuers, and we PAN with the
train into the depot.

INT. UNION STATION, ST. LOUIS

The train slowly stops. Amid all the atmosphere of arrival
in a day when the Pullman car was still the ultimate in
travel, LANCEY HODGES appears on a platform, takes his bag
from the Pullman porter and passes it on to a Red Cap before
he has descended the steps. He walks with other passengers
and Red Caps toward the center of the station.

EXT. UNION STATION - DAY

Shooting through the Meeting of the Rivers fountain across
Market Street to the Romanesque building with its campanile.

EXT. UNION STATION - TAXI STAND - DAY

Lancey getting into a taxi.

THE CREDITS END

INT. TAXI - PROCESS - DAY

Lancey sits in serene repose in back, watching the sights go
by. The HACKIE steals a couple of looks at him in the rear
vision mirror.

HACKIE
What you looking for, mister?

LANCEY
Do I have to be looking for something?

HACKIE
I can pretty much tell.

LANCEY
You can pretty much tell what?

HACKIE
Some guys come to town, I can tell
if they're looking for something.

LANCEY
What do you think I'm looking for?

HACKIE
If you're looking for girls, I can
fix you up.

LANCEY
I strongly doubt if you could fix me
up. In that department.

HACKIE
Well what are you looking for?

LANCEY
You're looking for a clout in the
head if you don't keep your face to
the road.

EXT. PLUSH HOTEL - TAXI STAND - DAY

A doorman takes Lancey's suitcase as Lancey pays the Hackie
and walks into the hotel. A SECOND HACKIE whose cab is at
the curb reacts to seeing Lancey and steps forward.

SECOND HACKIE
Hey, you know who that is?

HACKIE
No. Who?

But the second hackie has followed Lancey into the hotel.

INT. LOBBY OF PLUSH HOTEL

Lancey crosses to the desk to register as the Second Hackie
goes to a row of phone booths and enters one. He dials with
his eyes on Lancey registering.

SECOND HACKIE
(into phone)
Shorty? Want to hear who just checked
into the Park Sherman... Yes, you
do. Lancey Hodges.

INT. BOWLING ALLEY - ATTENDANT

He is talking on the phone while he hands out score sheets
and shoes to some bowlers. He is just as excited by the report
as the Hackie is.

ATTENDANT
The Kid know?

INT. BAR - FEATURING THE BARTENDER

He is talking on the telephone behind the bar.

BARTENDER
Somebody sure as hell ought to tell
The Kid.
(hangs up)
Lancey Hodges is in town.

INT. BAR - CLOSE SHOT - DRINKING MAN

He reacts to the news in a big way. CAMERA PANS to another
DRINKING MAN, who is equally impressed. They exchange looks.

FIRST DRINKING MAN
Kid's been laying for him a long
time.

INT. BARBER SHOP - BARBER AND CUSTOMER

BARBER
You ask me, The Kid'll go after him
as soon as he hears.

CUSTOMER
Who's got a better right?

INT. HOBAN'S POOL ROOM - HOBAN AND THE SHOOTER

We are in the front room where the pool tables are. Through
an open door in b.g., we can see the unadvertised but
unconcealed other activity of the establishment: a poker
game in progress.

HOBAN
You going to tell The Kid, Shooter?

SHOOTER
Hell, I can't not tell him.

HOBAN
It's where he's been headed for years.

The Kid enters the place through the front door, still a
little dishevelled from his escape.

KID
(in greeting)
Hey!

HOBAN
What you say, Kid?

KID
Hey, Hoban.

SHOOTER
Where you been? Boys been holding a
chair for you in back.

KID
Business opportunity come along.
Something too good to pass up.

SHOOTER
Turn a profit?

KID
Yeah, did okay. Except I almost had
it took back.

HOBAN
Oh, one of those.

SHOOTER
(concerned)
You been in too many rough ones
lately, Kid. You can't go on forever,
coming out in one piece.

KID
I got to build my stake, Aren't enough
chances in this town to let one go.

HOBAN
You're too good, that's your trouble.
People who know you're the Cincinnati
Kid, they don't want to sit down
with you --

KID
For nickels and dimes... Thing is
I've about used up St. Louis.

SHOOTER
(nodding)
The streets are getting full of guys
you've hustled.

KID
Been thinking about Miami. There's
nothing to keep me here.

SHOOTER
(after a moment)
The hell there isn't
(as the Kid looks at
him)
Lancey Hodges' in town.

KID
Yeah?
(then)
The Man himself, here in St. Louis --
I might just stick around Shooter.

INT. LANCEY'S HOTEL ROOM

Lancey is on the phone, sitting on the bed.

LANCEY
(into phone)
Mr. Schlaegel? How are you? And your
enchanting wife?... Tomorrow is quite
convenient... I generally prefer
stud but you name it... Your stakes
are my pleasure, sir... Thank you,
why don't we make it after lunch? My
diet these days is enough to spoil
anyone else's appetite... A pleasure,
sir. Please remember me to your
charming wife.

He hangs up and some of the strength seems to go out of him,
as if he had been through too long a sustained effort. His
eyes show that he is feeling pain and he breathes deeply.

EXT. HAROLD STREET - DAY

Harold Street leads to the river and we follow The Kid and
The Shooter as they walk down it in the gathering dusk.

SHOOTER
(lighting a cigar)
I been seeing it coming for a long
time, Kid. Long time.

KID
I ain't exactly been hiding it.

SHOOTER
No, you ain't been hiding it.

KID
Well I got to know.

SHOOTER
Sure, you got to know. We all got to
know.

KID
Sometime or other we got to find out
how much juice we got.

SHOOTER
That's why I had to tell you.

KID
You ever sit down with him?

SHOOTER
Yes, I have.

They walk along, The Shooter pursing his lips thoughtfully.

KID
Well, what happened?

SHOOTER
Nothing. Nothing at all.

KID
You lost.

SHOOTER
I didn't lose. I'm too good to lose
when I set my mind to it. I play
poker a certain way, Kid. I've had
my Lancey Hodges. Only with me it
was Whistling Sam Magee to New
Orleans.

KID
(respectfully)
I heard about him.

SHOOTER
Well then you know it all... about
20 years ago it was, maybe more.

KID
What happened?

SHOOTER
Why, I lost it. It dried me up on
the inside for a long, a very long
time.

KID
Yeah?

SHOOTER
I been where I'm going, know what I
mean?

The Kid nods as they come to where an old wooden pier extends
into the river. Along the river bank can be seen a small
portion of the mile-long Hooverville that stretches up and
down the Mississippi.

EXT. PIER

They walk out on the pier and eventually stop, look out at
the river, watching the working boats. They have their
thoughts; The Shooter smoking his cigar.

KID
You think I'm ready?

SHOOTER
(after some time,
several seconds of
thoughtful puffing)
Kid, I don't think you're ready.

KID
(quickly)
Oh.

SHOOTER
But you're not going to take my word
for it, are you? Are you now?

KID
No, I ain't. I can't.

SHOOTER
I know, I know. You got to find out
for yourself.

KID
I don't figure to take him right
away. But if I can hang in there
long enough, I can outlast him. If I
can outlast him, I got a chance. You
admit that, don't you, that I got a
chance?

SHOOTER
I already said I didn't think you
were ready.

KID
Did you think you were ready when
you sat down with Whistling Sam Magee?

SHOOTER
Kid, I thought I was the best stud
poker player in the world. I'm telling
you now, I thought I was the best.

KID
Well, I don't think I'm just a cocky
square with a fair hand with cards.
I got something.

SHOOTER
No, you ain't no cocky square. And
you probably got something.

KID
Okay. And I ain't saying that you
was either when you sat down with
Whistling Sam Magee.

SHOOTER
If you got the stuff, being a little
cocky don't hurt you none.

KID
Well, would you say if I got any
chance at all?

SHOOTER
This much of a chance. If Lancey is
not right. If he's got a cold, or
his stomach ulcer is acting up, or
something like that.

KID
But then everybody'd see he wasn't
right and it wouldn't prove nothing.
Listen, we got to have it understood.
If he's not right, we call it off
till he is.

SHOOTER
You're set on a real showdown, aren't
you? Your mind's all made up.

They start back off the pier.

KID
I got to. You said yourself I got
to. I'm overdue.

SHOOTER
Yeah, you been around a long time --
I was a lot younger than you when I
went up against Whistling Sam -- But
you'd be kinda young too, to be The
Man.

KID
I gotta find out.

SHOOTER
(after a pause)
Want me to set it up?

KID
(gratefully)
I wish you would, Shooter Man.

SHOOTER
All right.

KID
Hey, what if he turns me down?

SHOOTER
He won't, the way I'll spread the
word. He'll have to take you on,
someone in your class. If he ducked
it, that'd make you The Man.

KID
You think he knows I'm around?

SHOOTER
He can smell meat like you a mile
and a half up the river. He knows
you're around and he'll sit down
with you. You want to butt heads
with The Man, I'll set it up.

Ahead, on the levee, CHRISTIAN is seen waiting for The Kid.
She has not yet seen them as they approach off the pier.

SHOOTER
There's your woman.

KID
I wouldn't want to wait around too
long. I want to get in and get it
over with.

SHOOTER
He must of come to St. Louis for a
big money game. I'll probably get
asked do I want to deal it for them.
And however long that takes, he'll
have to rest up for you.

KID
Oh, well, if he's tooling a dollar,
I can understand that. Sure.

SHOOTER
You got much of a stake?

KID
Close to three grand.

SHOOTER
Work on it. But three grand will
give you a ride and even if you don't
win, why you'll come away with a
good idea of what you're made of.
But once you go in Kid you can't
quit. You get that straight right
now. Two of you go in and only one
of you can come out.

Christian sees them and moves toward them.

KID
Well, school's out. I damn sure don't
want no lessons. I want everything
he's got.

SHOOTER
It's the only way to be, Kid.

Shooter turns away abruptly as Christian arrives, giving her
a brief nod.

SHOOTER
See you.

The Kid takes Christian's arm automatically; he watches The
Shooter walk way down Harold Street. He and Christian head
in another direction. She is humming a mountain tune.

CHRISTIAN
When we leaving town, Kid? This week?

KID
No, I won't be ready. Not for a while.

CHRISTIAN
I thought --

KID
Might even turn out we don't go.

She is surprised by this and, in her own hesitant way,
curious.

CHRISTIAN
You must feel different about it
than you did Saturday.

He looks at her fondly and, for one fleeting moment of
weakness, is actually tempted to tell her about Lancey. But
it is too sharp a break with tradition.

KID
Yeah, I'm feeling a little different.
(TIME LAPSE)

INT. KID'S BEDROOM

It is night and the room is lit only by a single lamp where
Christian sits in her nightgown on a chair by the window,
turning over the pages of a mail-order catalogue. In f.g.
The Kid lies on his back under a sheet on the bed, his eyes
closed and his hands clasped tensely behind his neck. He
opens his eyes and turns to look at her. The movement catches
her eye, and she instantly stops turning the pages, afraid
the noise has disturbed him.

KID
It's all right. You don't have to
act like a cat. You're not bothering
me.

CHRISTIAN
You want me to turn out the light?

KID
No. I'm overtired, that's why I can't
sleep.
(sits up and swings
his feet to the floor)
Why can't you sleep?

CHRISTIAN
(lightly)
Undertired, I guess. If a person
rests all day, she doesn't have much
to rest up from at night.
(stands up)
Why don't you have a nice hot bath?
I could give you a rubdown and then
you could have a nice hot bath, and
then maybe you could sleep.

She waits at the foot of the bed for him to come slowly to a
decision.

KID
'Kay. Can't hurt to try it.

She goes into the bathroom, where she turns the water on
gently so the tub will take a long while to fill. Then she
takes a bottle of alcohol from the medicine chest and returns
to the bedroom with it. She stands in front of him waiting
for him to move, but The Kid is singularly listless. Not
till she sets the bottle down does he respond by turning his
face to the pillow. She goes right to work on his shoulder
muscles, and she seems to know what she is doing.

KID
What did you do with yourself this
time?

CHRISTIAN
Last night I went to a movie with
The Shooter's woman. French movie.

KID
In French?

CHRISTIAN
They had the words in English at the
bottom of the picture. But The
Shooter's woman knew what they were
saying without it. Pig's woman or
somebody told me she went to college.

KID
Sure. Majored in man-eating.

CHRISTIAN
I think maybe she really did go. But
I never quite dared to up and ask
her.

KID
I didn't know you ran with The
Shooter's woman.

CHRISTIAN
We got to be kind of friendly when
you both were in that three-day game
down to Cairo. 'Course she's older'n
me.

KID
And been around more. A lot more.
What was the movie like?

CHRISTIAN
Weird. It wasn't a straight story
where you knew whose side you were
on, the way you do in regular
pictures.

KID
American pictures.

CHRISTIAN
Yeah. There were lots of things I
didn't understand.

KID
What was it about?

CHRISTIAN
Well, there's this town in Europe a
long time ago where they get a message
from a Spanish general he's coming
to spend the night with his troops.
So all the men are scared silly about
what the soldiers will do to them.

KID
Nothing weird about that.

CHRISTIAN
But all the wives and daughters tell
the men to go hide somewhere and let
them bargain with the enemy.

KID
That don't make much sense.

CHRISTIAN
Wait. The way they handle it is they
go to bed with the Spaniards. And
the next morning the soldiers go off
peacefully and everybody's happy.

KID
Including the husbands and fathers?
Don't they suspect?

CHRISTIAN
That's part of what I wasn't sure
of. I guess they know what went on
but they care more about their safety
and their money than they do about
their honor.

KID
Then they got their heads screwed on
straight. Honor's just an idea. You
can't see or feel it and you can't
eat it and you sure as hell can't
get any mileage on it.

She slaps him on the rump and straightens up.

CHRISTIAN
I'll just turn off the bath water.

He doesn't move but just stays relaxed and closes his eyes.

INT. BATHROOM

Christian, humming softly, turns off the water, takes a large
towel from a rack and puts it on a stool by the tub where it
will be more convenient for him. She lingers to test the
water with her finger and do anything else she can think of
to assure maximum comfort for her man. Then she steps back
into the bedroom. The sight of him makes her advance
cautiously and confirm her suspicion that he is asleep.

INT. SHOOTER'S APARTMENT

MELBA, The Shooter's woman, is sitting up in bed working on
her eyebrows and listening to MUSIC turned up LOUD on a radio.
The bedside phone RINGS, barely audible above the radio. She
answers it.

MELBA
(into phone)
Hello... Yes, it is. You want him?
(calling)
Shooter! Telephone! Shooter!

She gets no answer, which is no wonder in view of the noise
from the radio. But the radio is across the room and it's
slightly easier for her to get out of the side of the bed
she's on, and go to the door of The Shooter's room. She opens
this and we see The Shooter in bed in his own small quarters,
reading a magazine. He turns around inquiringly.

MELBA
Phone for you. I always seem to be
the one to answer it, no matter who
it's for.

SHOOTER
(getting up)
If you'd rather we put it in my room --

MELBA
Are you kidding?

The Shooter picks up the phone but before he speaks into it,
he pantomimes to her that he won't be able to hear over the
radio. She seems to regard the request as an imposition but
she does go grudgingly to the radio and turns it down a little
before she returns to her bed and her cosmetic chore.

SHOOTER
(into phone)
Hello?... Well, hello. What brings
you to our fair city? Little action,
maybe?

INT. LANCEY'S HOTEL ROOM

Lancey, dressed for bed, is on the phone.

LANCEY
(into phone)
How could you guess, Shooter? I was
invited by a Mr. William Schlaegel --

INT. SHOOTER'S APARTMENT

SHOOTER
(into phone)
Owns most of the Schlaegel Brewery.
Braumeister beer.

The Shooter sits down on the edge of Melba's bed, the movement
jostling her so she pricks herself with her tweezers. She
exclaims in protest and gives him a dirty look that makes
The Shooter stand right up again.

INT. LANCEY'S HOTEL ROOM

LANCEY
(into phone)
As he put it, rather bluntly, I felt,
we don't want everyone to have to
watch everyone else dealing to see
to it they don't make any little
accidental errors by mistake. I told
him a man couldn't ask for a better
guarantee of a fair-and-square game
than having The Shooter deal it. So
if you're willing, we're meeting at
two o'clock in the afternoon. Ask
for Mr. Schlaegel's suite at the
Park Sherman... Good. I'm glad you
can do it, Shooter. Be a pleasure to
see you again...
(then)
Oh pretty much the same... Just have
to be a little careful about smoking
and drinking and eating -- and
breathing. See you tomorrow. Good
night.

He hangs up the phone, settles himself in a comfortable chair,
and opens a heavy book. CAMERA MOVES in CLOSE enough to reveal
the title: Prescott's CONQUEST OF PERU.

INT. KID'S APARTMENT

It is midday outside but the window shades are tightly drawn
to keep the daylight from disturbing The Kid, who is still
asleep. Christian, dressed for the street, moves from the
bedroom to the kitchen-living room which is the remainder of
the two-room apartment. Finding paper and pencil, she writes
a quick note and leaves it on the kitchen table, then starts
out.

(TIME LAPSE)

EXT. DEPARTMENT STORE WINDOW - DAY

featuring one bathing suit displayed among others in an end-
of-season sale with some such advertising message as "All
bathing suits reduced 1/3 for clearance!" The particular
suit is a two-piece one, exposing two or three inches of
bare midriff -- the first modest forerunner of the trend
that led eventually to the bikini.

CHRISTIAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
Would you wear it in public?

CAMERA PULLS BACK to include Christian and Melba looking at
the display.

MELBA
Wouldn't be much point wearing it in
private. Sure, why not, as long as
you don't have a bulge to hide?

They start walking.

CHRISTIAN
I don't know, Melba.

MELBA
(looking her over)
My guess is there isn't anything
about you needs hiding. But I'll
give you a more definitive opinion
at the bath.

CHRISTIAN
(startled)
At the what?

MELBA
Turkish Bath. After we're through
shopping. I'm treating you, Christian.

CHRISTIAN
I never been. I'm not even sure what
you do.

MELBA
You don't do anything. That's what's
so marvelous. They do it to you.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. STEAM ROOM

CAMERA finds Christian and Melba among the perspiring females.

CHRISTIAN
The third time I stayed. Never went
back to the boarding house except to
pick up my things.

MELBA
And that side of it's held up? No
complaints in the bed department?

CHRISTIAN
Well, just one.

MELBA
(intrigued)
Yes?

CHRISTIAN
The nights he isn't there.

MELBA
He really does that to you, does he?
You got one of the rare ones.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. MASSAGE ROOM

Christian and Melba are on adjoining rubbing tables, a curtain
separating them from the waist down only. Their heads are
close enough so they can talk without their masseurs
necessarily hearing every word they say.

CHRISTIAN
You find a guy, you love him, and
that's it. It's supposed to just go
on like that for life. Right?

MELBA
According to the propaganda, right.

CHRISTIAN
But it isn't my life, it's his life,
with me tacked on. You have any idea
what it's like to be a hash slinger
in a cheap restaurant?

MELBA
No, honey, the stock crash wafted me
right from the daisy chain into
unmarried bliss.

CHRISTIAN
It's hell, if you'll excuse the word.
But I didn't want to quit. The Kid
made me. I felt I ought to hang on
to something that was me away from
him. You know what I mean?

MELBA
Sure. Some girls solve the problem
by taking on an extra guy.

CHRISTIAN
I'm serious. Having children might
take care of it, I don't know. Or --
this is really a terrible thing to
admit.

MELBA
Your most sordid secrets are safe
with me. Confess.

CHRISTIAN
If he was rich, or famous --

MELBA
Why don't you give him both?

CHRISTIAN
(smiling)
Why not? Well, if he was rich and
famous, maybe I wouldn't mind so
much just being -- just a woman to
him. Do you think that might make it
seem more worthwhile somehow?

MELBA
Somehow! Are you sincere, sweetie?
(reacting to the
masseur's touch)
Oooo -- divine.
(to Christian)
Isn't this heaven?

CHRISTIAN
I'm not sure. In a way it seems soft
of --

She is at a loss for a word.

MELBA
Decadent? Depraved?

Christian looks blank.

MELBA
Wicked?

CHRISTIAN
Well, yes.

MELBA
That's what I meant by heaven.

INT. ROOM IN PLUSH HOTEL

Lancey, Shooter and five other men are sitting in comfortably
padded chairs around a well-appointed poker table. Everything
about the game is in sharp contrast to the one The Kid played
in. It is played with chips - expensive ones; there are a
couple of bottles of wine on ice, fine cigars, a tray of
sandwiches, etc. Lancey's opponents are all wealthy types;
two of them could be Texas oil men. The youngest, a good-
looking man of thirty, is BILL SCHLAEGEL. The Shooter, as
nonplaying dealer, distributes fifth cards to the four
remaining players in the hand, and both Lancey and Bill end
up with four cards of one suit showing.

SHOOTER
(as he deals)
Still queens -- possible flush -- no
help -- possible flush.

FIRST WEALTHY TYPE
Queens check to the possibles.

LANCEY
Check.

SECOND WEALTHY TYPE
Check.

Bill silently tosses in two of the rarest and highest ranking
chips on the table.

FIRST WEALTHY TYPE
Fold.

LANCEY
And up two.

SECOND WEALTHY TYPE
Fold.

THIRD WEALTHY TYPE
Biggest pot yet.

A phone RINGS and the Third Wealthy Type answers it.

BILL
Call the two thou.

LANCEY
(turning over queen
of his suit)
Queen high.

BILL
(indignantly)
Jack high. Can you beat that?

FIRST WEALTHY TYPE
He just did.

THIRD WEALTHY TYPE
(to Second Wealthy
Type)
It's your office.

SECOND WEALTHY TYPE
Dallas or Tulsa?

THIRD WEALTHY TYPE
She just said office.

The Third Wealthy Type takes the phone and speaks on it during
the ensuing. The Second Wealthy Type crosses to the bar and
fixes himself a drink. Lancey takes in his winnings. Bill
hasn't recovered from the blow. There is a hiatus in the
game.

BILL
How the bloody hell did you figure
out I didn't have the king or the
ace?

LANCEY
I recollect a young fellow putting
the same question to Eddie the Dude.
It was a game in the grand lounge of
the "J.M. White, Third," the largest
paddle-wheeler ever built. "Son,"
Eddie told him, "All you paid was
the looking price. Lessons are extra."
(turns to Shooter)
First time I heard of this Cincinnati
Kid was in New Orleans, at Yeller's.
I knew right away I'd have to play
him someday.

SHOOTER
You'll enjoy his game.

LANCEY
I may admire it. But if he's all
that good, I doubt if I'll enjoy it.

SHOOTER
The tougher the competition, the
better you used to like it.

LANCEY
I've learned to take everything in
moderation.

EXT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT

It is early evening. The Kid approaches the restaurant with
Christian on one arm, Melba on the other.

KID
(to Melba)
Have a drink with us?

MELBA
Better not. Shooter said they'd break
at seven, and he has to have his
food first, then his nap.
(looking The Kid over)
You know, there's a day in your life
I'm looking forward to.

KID
In my life?

MELBA
The day The Kid becomes The Man.

She smiles at them both and goes off. They move to enter the
restaurant.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. RESTAURANT - KID AND CHRISTIAN

The plates with the remains of their main course are in front
of them. The Kid pours what's left of a bottle of beer into
his glass.

CHRISTIAN
How'd you sleep Kid?

KID
I slept okay.

CHRISTIAN
I hope you don't mind my not being
there when you woke up.

KID
No I don't mind --
(then)
What she was talking about, Shooter's
woman -- I'm going up against a big
game soon.

CHRISTIAN
She told me. It's a very big game, I
hear.

KID
Yes.

CHRISTIAN
Will it be long?

KID
Why?
(then)
What's the matter?

CHRISTIAN
I thought --

KID
Thought what?

CHRISTIAN
I'd go home and see Mama.

KID
I wouldn't be able to spare you much
change.

CHRISTIAN
Oh, I wouldn't want much. Bus is
really the best way to go.

KID
Would a hundred fish do it? For the
bus and something nice to bring your
Mama?

CHRISTIAN
That would be fine, Kid. Just fine.

KID
When would you want to go?

CHRISTIAN
There's no reason for not going right
now unless --

She lowers her eyes, finding it hard to say the words.

KID
Unless what?

CHRISTIAN
Unless you wanted to go to bed first.

KID
Do you want to? Would you like it?

CHRISTIAN
Un-huh. I'd like it.

KID
You want dessert?

CHRISTIAN
No. You?

KID
(shakes head)
Coffee?

CHRISTIAN
I don't need it.

KID
Neither do I.

He looks o.s. raising a hand to summon the check.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. KID'S APARTMENT - DARKENED WINDOW

It is dark in the room and dark outside, the street lamps
furnishing only enough light for a faint border around the
window shade. Christian's head and nude back move into the
Shot; she pulls the shade aside to look out.

LONG SHOT - ILLUMINATED CLOCK - CHRISTIAN'S P.O.V. - NIGHT

The time is a few minutes before ten.

INT. KID'S APARTMENT - CHRISTIAN

She lets the shade fall back into place. Moving quietly in
the darkness, she begins to dress. CAMERA PULLS BACK and
PANS to include The Kid, lying on the bed with a sheet over
him. He seems to be asleep until he speaks.

KID
You still haven't said it.

CHRISTIAN
Said what?

KID
If you're coming back.

Christian abandons the process of dressing herself and sits
down in the easy chair to answer this question.

CHRISTIAN
Maybe I ought to stay with Mama and
Papa a while, and see.

KID
What's to see?

CHRISTIAN
I never did like city streets.

KID
Oh.

CHRISTIAN
Uh-huh. The promise didn't fulfill
itself for me.

KID
Promise?

CHRISTIAN
Come to the city and all. Electric
lights and flush toilets. All the
pretty dreams -- it was all promise.

KID
Oh, I see.

CHRISTIAN
I don't know if you do or not Kid --
You're city -- and I'm country --
You grew up with it.

KID
I don't think that's why you're going --
because you like it so much better
in the country.

She doesn't comment one way or the other, nor does he press
the point.

CHRISTIAN
What will you do?

KID
Well, I've got that big game.

CHRISTIAN
I heard he's The Man for you.

KID
Yes. If I won, there would be a lot
of money.

CHRISTIAN
You'll win. You been coming on strong
a long way. This is your time.
(then after a long
moment)
Come home with me to Mama's Kid.

KID
(finally)
I'm sorry.

CHRISTIAN
(gently)
I know you are honey -- I know it.

She gets up and begins to pack her clothes in an old suitcase.
After a moment The Kid gets out of bed.

KID
I'll go down to the bus with you.

CHRISTIAN
You don't have to.

KID
(starting to dress)
I'll go down with you.

CHRISTIAN
(after a pause)
Kid --

KID
Yeah?

CHRISTIAN
This is going to sound kind of funny
to you, but I want to ask it.

KID
Sure.

CHRISTIAN
Do you think there's any chance, if
you do win this big game, that you
might do something else besides cards?
(hastily)
I don't mean never play poker. I
just mean not have it be the only
thing you do.

KID
Hell, it's the only thing I know how
to do. What else is there for a guy
never finished school? College
graduates are walking the streets
looking for jobs -- trained people,
engineers, scientists!

CHRISTIAN
I realize --

KID
(not letting her speak)
When you're The Man, you don't have
to hustle -- When you're The Man,
The Best, the Big Money comes around
on their knees just beggin' to hustle
you. I'm not goin' to quit. I'm goin'
to win.

CHRISTIAN
Yes, I can see that. Of course I
didn't say quit.

KID
Well you see how it is.

CHRISTIAN
That's all right.

KID
(after a moment)
Christian, you aren't doing this to
be off my back, in case I lose?

CHRISTIAN
I been thinking about it a long time.
I been planning to go home and see
how I felt about things.

KID
And this just helped you decide.

CHRISTIAN
That's all.

KID
Then don't go.

CHRISTIAN
(firmly)
No, this is your time -- Now you go
on Honey and you play The Man --
I'll be at Mama's.

She closes the suitcase and puts on the one dress she hasn't
packed. The Kid, dressed now, watches her for a moment then
goes to the bottom drawer of the dresser and opens it to
reveal a stack of money under a shirt. He takes five clean
twenty-dollar bills and counts them on to the top of the
dresser, snapping the crisp leaves gambler style. Then he
stoops down again and takes out two more twenties, adding
them to the pile.

KID
I wish it could be more.

CHRISTIAN
That's all right.

He doesn't actually hand her the money. He leaves it on top
of the dresser and she goes over and takes it, folding the
bills and putting them in her change purse. The Kid picks up
her suitcase, and she leads the way into the other room. At
the front door she stops and looks back at the little
apartment for a moment.

CHRISTIAN
I don't guess I'll ever forget these
rooms, Kid.

KID
I don't guess I will either.

CHRISTIAN
You going to move?

KID
If I win, it won't be good enough.
If I lose, I lose it all.

She looks at him for a moment, then exits. He follows.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. TAXI - PROCESS - NIGHT

The Kid and Christian sit in silence. She puts her hand on
his.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. BUS TERMINAL

The Kid and Christian sit on a bench in the waiting room,
still silent. He has her suitcase between his legs and a
pile of magazines on his lap. She looks at a clock and gets
to her feet. He follows her to the door, carrying the suitcase
and magazines.

EXT. BUS PLATFORM - NIGHT

Christian boards a bus that has seen better days. On the
steps she turns to take the bag from him, but he follows her
on.

INT. BUS - NIGHT

Christian takes a seat. The Kid puts her suitcase in the
overhead rack and hands her the magazines, none of which
would be classed as heavy reading.

CHRISTIAN
Goodbye, Kid. Good luck.

KID
Goodbye, Christian.

They don't kiss. He turns and goes out.

EXT. BUS PLATFORM - NIGHT

There are not many passengers boarding this bus. After a
couple of moments, the driver closes the door and starts
off. Christian waves from the window, and The Kid waves back
to her. When the bus has gone, he walks around the outside
of the terminal to the front.

EXT. FRONT OF BUS TERMINAL - NIGHT

There are a couple of cabs at a taxi stand. One of the hackies
offers his services to The Kid, but The Kid declines. He
wants to walk.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. ROOM IN PLUSH HOTEL

It is midday and the poker game is almost twenty- four hours
old. Our attention is focused on Bill Schlaegel, who is
writing out a check.

BILL
Four stacks? Right, Schooter?

SHOOTER
Four.

The Shooter takes advantage of the lull in the proceedings
to move to the telephone.

BILL
Thank you for the entertainment,
gentlemen. My particular gratitude
to you, Lancey. It's been a rare
pleasure to watch a great artist at
work. Thank you for the privilege.

Lancey gives him a quick look, finding this a bit thick.

LANCEY
Well now, son, you're quite welcome.
Can't say I recall another man, in
all my days on the three rivers, who
seemed to find it quite so pleasurable
losing all that money.

Bill puts his check down in front of The Shooter's place,
and gets to his feet.

BILL
Good day, gentlemen. You're welcome
to use the premises as long as you
like.

CAMERA MOVES with Bill as he passes The Shooter, who is
waiting on the phone while the hotel operator dials his
number. Bill gives him a friendly pat on the back, and speaks
in a low, harsh voice for The Shooter's ears alone.

BILL
I want to see you.

Bill goes out. Shooter looks after him as his party comes on
the phone.

SHOOTER
(into phone)
Hi, Kid. Shooter here. Listen, I
told the woman I'd take her to the
ball park, but I'm still working.
How about you and Christian take her
out?

INT. KID'S APARTMENT

KID
(into phone)
Christian's gone home to see her
folks.

INT. PLUSH HOTEL ROOM

SHOOTER
(into phone)
Oh.
(then)
Well listen, would you mind taking
her yourself? The gang'll be there,
in the section... Thanks. Appreciate
it. See you.

He hangs up, returns to the table and starts to shuffle the
cards in his own spectacular way.

(TIME LAPSE)

EXT. BUSCH STADIUM, ST. LOUIS - DAY

A game is in progress between the Cardinals and another
National League club. The batter at the plate connects for a
long one. CAMERA FOLLOWS the flight of the ball.

EXT. STANDS - THE KID AND MELBA

They are making their way to meet their friends in the section
they prefer. They stop to watch the ball as the fans around
them rise to their feet. The section they have just reached
is in the sun, overlooking the outfield.

EXT. FIELD

An outfielder races back and makes a difficult catch.

EXT. STANDS - THE KID AND MELBA

They start on their way again. CAMERA PANS ahead of them to
a group consisting of Hoban; HOBAN'S WOMAN, still sexy in
her forties; PIG, whose name could derive with equal
justification from either his looks or his manners; and SOKAL,
who talks colloquial American with a Central European accent.
The group as a whole is notable because its members have not
risen to their feet with everyone else, because all the men
are basking in the sun with their shirts off, because they
view the action on the field with detachment, and because,
nevertheless, they are constantly placing bets on details of
the game. Now, as people around them resume their seats,
Sokal is able to confirm that the fly ball has been caught.

SOKAL
(to Hoban)
You owe me two fish on the out, plus
three on the inning, minus two on no
strikeouts so far.

The Kid and Melba join them.

HOBAN
Hiya, Kid. Getting yourself in shape
for The Man?
(to Melba)
Shooter still on the job?

HOBAN'S WOMAN
Where's Christian?

MELBA
(in a whisper)
Lay off that.

PIG
What'd she do, take off? So did mine.
Don't lose no sweat, Kid, there's
plenty more where they came from.
All shapes and sizes.

KID
Hi, Hoban. Sokal. Pig.

He and Melba sit down.

HOBAN
(to Sokal)
Boyer. One to two on the sacrifice.

SOKAL
Five to three, I'll give you. Two-
fifty against one-fifty.

HOBAN
Mark it.

SOKAL
I figure they'll walk him. Fill up
first.

KID
Not with who's coming up. I'll take
the same odds.

While he is talking, Melba unbuttons his shirt.

MELBA
Get some of this sun.

SOKAL
(to The Kid)
Mark it.

KID
(to Melba)
Guess I will.

He takes his shirt off. Melba finds some suntan lotion in
her bag, and applies it to her face and arms, her eyes rarely
straying from The Kid.

HOBAN
Bunting, Sokal.

EXT. BALL FIELD

The bunt is fielded by the first baseman, who throws to second
for the out. There is no play at first.

SOKAL
So they pitched to him. I still win.

PIG
(to Kid)
Everybody been on the phone to
everybody about coming to watch you
and Lancey. Big Spriigi, Yeller to
N'Orleans, Old Lady Fingers. They're
all coming.

MELBA
(to Kid)
Let me give you some of this. Keep
you from burning.

KID
I don't think --

MELBA
Can't hurt you.

Without waiting for his approval, she goes ahead and spreads
the lotion on his skin, painstakingly, as if she were applying
paint to canvas, working it in, one area at a time, with her
fingertips.

HOBAN
(to Sokal)
Chance to invest your profits. Bet
you an even fin he make first.

SOKAL
(looking toward plate)
Who we got -- Warwick? You got
yourself a bet, pal.

The men concentrate their attention on the diamond. CAMERA
MOVES IN to Melba's fingers playing across The Kid's midriff.
From the field comes the sharp CRACK of a bat against a ball,
followed by a SHOUT from the crowd. CAMERA PANS UP to the
faces of Melba and The Kid as he looks at her and she meets
his gaze with inviting eyes.

SOKAL'S VOICE
Not your day, Hoban.
(calling to a vendor)
Hey, beer!

MELBA
(softly)
Mais tu es charmant --

CUT TO:

INT. SHOOTER'S APARTMENT - CLOSEUP - MELBA

With the same look of invitation in her eyes.

MELBA
Charmant. Come here, please.

CAMERA PULLS BACK. Wearing the same clothes as at the ball
park, she is sitting in a chair with her legs tucked under
her. The Kid is sitting on a straight chair at a table on
which he has a cup of coffee. They are alone in the apartment.

KID
Any special reason?

MELBA
Me. I'm special.

He stands up but doesn't move toward her.

KID
Sure you are. You're The Shooter's
woman.

MELBA
Right. And maybe I'll go on being
The Shooter's Woman, even after you
and I have had our little romp. What
do you think about that?

KID
First place, Old Shooter'll come
barging through that door any minute.
He said they were winding it up.

MELBA
No barging. He doesn't have his key
with him.
(stands up)
Have to buzz from downstairs.
(moves toward him
provocatively)
So we can treat ourselves to a little
sample of things to come.

The Kid stays where he is as she comes up against him.

KID
Also it don't mean anything to you,
you're Christian's friend?

MELBA
Honey, she lost her franchise the
minute she got on that bus. You know
that.
(her arms around him)
I have a shaky sense of security,
Kid. Don't make me feel unwanted.

He kisses her and lets himself enjoy it for a while, then
pulls away.

MELBA
No good?

KID
You know damn well how good it was.
Where's a pack of cards?

MELBA
What do we need cards for?

KID
Gin or casino, you name it. All I
know is we're switching to another
indoor sport.

INT. ROOM IN PLUSH HOTEL

The poker game is over. Two of the Wealthy Types have already
departed; one is finishing a drink on the way out; another
is putting his winnings into his wallet; a third is writing
out a check. Lancey and The Shooter still sit at the table
in f.g.

SHOOTER
Lady Fingers'll want to come, I bet,
and she's right on the edge of her
stake. She could spell me dealing.

LANCEY
Sure, sure. Haven't seen the dear
old bitch in fifteen years.

SHOOTER
Well, that's it, then. Monday night,
Room Three-Eleven at the Dorset Hotel.
And may the best man win.

LANCEY
Yes, that's how it usually comes out
in the long run. You think this boy
is going to give me trouble, Shooter?

SHOOTER
Yeah, he's going to give you trouble.

LANCEY
I don't want it to be one of those
marathon games. Not any more.

SHOOTER
Like the session with The Portugee
at Jolly's in Omaha. Remember?

LANCEY
Sure, sure. Longest game I ever played
though, I was a kid on my way to the
Klondike gold rush. At Soapy Smith's
in Skagway. Four nights and three
days.

SHOOTER
You win?

LANCEY
Depends how you look at it. When we
wound up, the Yukon River had frozen
over and you couldn't get through to
Dawson City till the following June.
Made myself a Hundred and fifty bucks
and missed the gold rush.

SHOOTER
You been around a long time.

LANCEY
That is undeniably true. But it
doesn't mean I'm ready to retire.
How old is this boy of yours?

SHOOTER
Twenty-six, twenty-eight, something
like that.

LANCEY
Well, now, makes me feel a whole lot
better, knowing that. I was thirty-
six when I sliced up Eddie the Dude.
This Kid of yours is just going to
have to wait a few years.

INT. CORRIDOR, PLUSH HOTEL - FELIX

He is standing by an elevator in f.g. keeping watch on a row
of room doors including the site of the poker game. FELIX is
an impressive physical specimen whose capacity for brutality
is masked by a quiet, deferential manner. When he sees a
door open, he moves so as to be out of The Shooter's sight
as the latter comes toward him. It isn't until The Shooter
rounds the corner in f.g. and presses the button for the
elevator that Felix makes his presence known.

FELIX
Excuse me, Mr. Shooter, sir, but Mr.
Schlaegel asked me to remind you how
eager he was to see you.

The doors of the elevator open. Felix yields precedence to
The Shooter and they enter it. The doors close.

INT. LOBBY, PLUSH HOTEL - AT THE ELEVATORS

An elevator opens, and The Shooter and Felix come out.

SHOOTER
I ought to call my woman.

FELIX
Yes, of course. They always like to
know it if you're going to be late
for supper.

CAMERA MOVES with them as The Shooter leads the way to a row
of telephone booths and enters one.

INT. SHOOTER'S APARTMENT - MELBA AND THE KID

They are sitting at the table in a game of casino. She plays
an ace from her hand, adds a seven from the board, and lays
them both on top of a three-card pile.

MELBA
Still building eights.

KID
Thanks for putting it together for
me.

He plays an eight and takes in the whole pile.

MELBA
It's not my game.

The telephone RINGS. She stands up.

MELBA
Want to know what is?

CAMERA FOLLOWS her to the phone. She picks it up.

MELBA
(into phone)
Hello -- Oh, hi, sugar -- why not?

She reaches a hand around to the back of her neck, fiddles
with her dress a moment, then beckons in The Kid's direction.

CLOSE SHOT - THE KID

He doesn't understand what she wants but he gets up and comes
to her obligingly, CAMERA MOVING with him.

MELBA
(into phone)
What's the switch?

She points to the hook-and-eye fastener at the top of the
zipper that runs down the back of her dress. The Kid
pantomimes the question "What for?" but she just wiggles her
finger impatiently at the fastener while speaking into the
phone.

MELBA
(into phone)
Whose idea was that?

The Kid still doesn't know what she has in mind but it seems
easier to humor her than not. He unfastens the hook. Melba
smiles her thanks and, to his consternation, reaches back
and pulls the zipper all the way down. She places her hand
over the mouth-piece of the phone.

MELBA
(to Kid)
He's not coming home now.

She steps out of the dress.

MELBA
(into phone)
Whatever you say, Shooter man.

INT. PHONE BOOTH, PLUSH HOTEL - THE SHOOTER

SHOOTER
(into phone)
Explain to The Kid, will you?

INT. SHOOTER'S APARTMENT - MELBA AND THE KID

Melba in her bra and panties, snuggles against The Kid.

MELBA
(into phone)
He'll understand.

INT. PHONE BOOTH, PLUSH HOTEL - THE SHOOTER

SHOOTER
(into phone)
Tell him they decided to play a little
longer, and I'll call him at his
place later when the game's over...
Right. Goodbye, honey.

He hangs up the phone and emerges from the booth. CAMERA
MOVES with him as he joins Felix and they walk toward the
hotel entrance.

INT. SHOOTER'S APARTMENT - MELBA AND THE KID

The Kid, his policy toward this new situation still
unresolved, holds her lightly while he tries to think it out
aloud.

KID
Listen, Melba --

MELBA
I have to tell you first. You're
sitting down with Lancey next Monday
night.

KID
I wish it was sooner. I wish it was
tomorrow.

MELBA
Shooter'll give you all the details
later.

KID
I don't like waiting that long.

MELBA
Let's not kick a gift horse in the
teeth, sugar. We've got this time
together. Let's try to "fill each
unforgiving minute with sixty seconds
worth of distance run."

She invites a kiss and he obliges her. But there is a contrary
force at work inside him.

KID
Listen, what I was going to say
before, I don't want you to think
I'm being some kind of jerk or I
don't feel you'd be great to sack up
with.

MELBA
Then let's cut the filibuster.

KID
I've made dolls that were friends of
mine's wives. I figured if they were
willing, they were doing it to their
husbands, I wasn't.

MELBA
Of course. Any other attitude, you're
degrading the woman. You're not
treating her as a person with a mind
of her own, but as somebody's
property.

Again she presses close to him and again he savors her for a
moment.

KID
Only thing is, it's different with
The Shooter than anybody else. He's
so straight, I got the obligation to
be straighter with him than other
people. So do you. On account of we
both owe him plenty.

MELBA
I thought we just agreed that what
you and I did was strictly between
us.

KID
Can't be.
(decisively, pulling
away from her with a
pat of dismissal)
Shooter's the closest thing to family
I got. It's almost like he was my
old man. Don't you see how that's
got a bearing on us?

He starts out. Melba stares after him, scarcely able to
believe what is being done to her.

MELBA
Sure, it means I'm your mother.

EXT. SCHLAEGEL ESTATE - DAY

An expensive automobile, with Felix at the wheel and The
Shooter next to him in the front seat, approaches the main
house of a lavish estate in a St. Louis suburb. It continues
along the driveway past the house.

EXT. AREA AROUND SWIMMING POOL - CLOSE - BILL AND BABY

In swimming trunks, Bill is spoon-feeding a year-old BABY in
a highchair. Looking o.s., he waves in greeting to The
Shooter.

EXT. SCHLAEGEL ESTATE - THE SHOOTER

He walks from the parked car toward the pool, returning Bill's
salutation.

EXT. AREA AROUND POOL

SHOOTING from behind The Shooter as he approaches the
attractive family group that includes, besides Bill and the
baby, a FIVE-YEAR-OLD GIRL who is having her hair brushed
after swimming by ROSANNA SCHLAEGEL, her beautiful mother. A
family dog completes the picture. Bill continues to feed the
baby as he hails The Shooter.

BILL
Shooter -- very generous of you to
come on such short notice. Rosanna
you know, and I think you've met my
daughter June.
(indicating baby)
No point introducing you to William
the Fourth. He has a bad memory for
names.

SHOOTER
(greeting them in
turn)
Mrs. Schlaegel. How are you, June.
What's it all about, Bill?

BILL
Little something I'd like to sound
you out on. But the least I can do
is offer you a drink.

ROSANNA
Like me to fix it, love?

BILL
Wonderful. Why don't you do a batch
of your Bloody Marys? If that's okay
with you, Shooter?

SHOOTER
Great. Whatever.

As she goes off, Rosanna cautions June about her hair.

ROSANNA
Just don't let it get wet again.

As soon as his wife is gone, Bill goes right to the topic he
doesn't want to discuss in her presence.

BILL
I've been quite busy on the telephone
since I last saw you. There's a lot
of interest all over the country in
this game with Lancey and The Kid.

SHOOTER
Betting interest?

BILL
Jack Doyle in New York is giving
twelve to five on Lancey. Same odds
in Reno. I've taken fifty thousand
of it so far.

SHOOTER
Fifty thousand!

BILL
I'll probably go for more but I didn't
want to rock the odds.

SHOOTER
I knew you liked The Kid's style but
why you going in so deep?

BILL
Two reasons. First, I want to see
that smug old bastard gutted worse
than he gutted me. Second, as long
as that's going to happen, I don't
see why I shouldn't make some money
out of it.

SHOOTER
But how can you be so sure? The Kid
could do it, we both know that, but --

BILL
"Could" isn't good enough for a man
who hates to lose money as much as I
do. He's going to need help -- from
the best man with a pack of cards
between Omaha and New Orleans.

SHOOTER
Not a chance, Bill. You ought to
know I never ever use what I got
with the cards for nothing but tricks
and dressing up a game.

BILL
Sure, I know it. That's why you're
the man they choose to give them a
square deal. That's what makes it so
perfect. Nobody'll be looking for
it.

SHOOTER
It's out. Out.

BILL
The great thing is they'll be so
close, The Kid won't need much. Three
or four key hands.

SHOOTER
Understand this, Bill. I'd like for
The Kid to win, and I sure as hell
don't want to see you lose all that
money --

BILL
If I did, I'd have to collect that
twelve grand you owe me. Not myself.
My collection agents. You knew poor
Wildwood Jones, didn't you?

SHOOTER
OK but I'm paying it off! It's comin'
in ain't it? Six grand already.
(then as Bill just
looks at him)
Bill, you got to listen to me --!

BILL
No, I don't. It's quite the other
way around. You have some delusion
you're a free agent, but you're not.
I own you.

SHOOTER
For God's sake --!

BILL
Shut up. I'll cross the twelve off
the books and give you ten thousand
dollars in cash. And you can tell
The Kid if he needs more of a stake,
I'll put it up.
(looks o.s. and smiles)
Marvelous. Here's Rosanna with what
you need.

CAMERA MOVES to include Rosanna carrying a tray with glasses
and a pitcher full of Bloody Marys.

BILL
-- for that dry feeling on the roof
of your mouth.
(TIME LAPSE)

INT. KID'S APARTMENT - CLOSE SHOT - WINDOW - DAY

It is raining dismally.

MED. CLOSE SHOT - THE KID

He is lying on one half of the bed, with the covers thrown
back, his hands clasped behind his head, wearing pajama
bottoms. He turns his head and stares at the white expanse
of unoccupied bed.

(TIME LAPSE)

EXT. ST. LOUIS STREET - DAY

The weather is clear as The Kid wanders idly along a
residential street of well-kept nineteenth century buildings.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. BAR - THE KID

He is drinking a bottle of beer slowly. CAMERA PANS to another
bar stool where a customer is having his shoes shined by a
NEGRO BOY who slaps his rag against the shoes with a fine
sense of rhythm. Finished, he collects his dime and nickel
tip, and moves to The Kid.

BOY
Shine them up for you sir?

KID
No, thanks.

BOY
Fetch you a newspaper maybe?

KID
No.

BOY
How about a singy-song then? I play
good.

KID
Play what?

The Boy takes out a tobacco can with the lid torn off and
the top flattened down and shakes it, producing a sound like
the rustle of dry leaves. Then he produces a similar can
that makes a rattling noise when he shakes it.

BOY
Dry corn in this one. Blue shale
stone from the river in this one.
You ready?

KID
Yes, I'm ready.

The Boy looks at the BARTENDER, who has moved closer to see
what's going on.

BOY
(to bartender)
You ready?

BARTENDER
Hell, I'm ready for anything.

The Boy stands perfectly still for a few seconds, then begins
to shake the can with corn in it. After a bit he brings in
the shale stone can with the other hand to chord and accent
the rustle of the first can.

At the same time he begins to sing a simple song in a pure,
delicate voice. It is catfish music created on the spot and
sounds strangely like the idle tunes Christian likes to hum.

KID
(when the song is
over)
Thank you very much. That was nice.
Where did you learn to do that?

BOY
I picked it up from Herman.

KID
Who is Herman?

BOY
My friend I pick it up from.

KID
Is he a good friend?

BOY
I don't know 'bout that suh. He just
a frien' who teach me some things.

KID
Well, I don't want a shine, but here's
fifteen cents.

BOY
Thank you, sir.

BARTENDER
And here's another dime for you,
fella.

He rings up a NO SALE and flips a dime to The Boy, who is
astonished and then worried by this munificence. Suddenly he
grabs his tobacco cans and his shoe-shine kit, and runs out
into the street.

BARTENDER
Nice little colored kid.

KID
(mostly to himself)
-- Yeah.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. STEAM BATHS - THE KID AND JANSEN

JANSEN, a masseur, is at work loosening up The Kid's neck
and shoulders.

JANSEN
Monday night, uh, Kid?

KID
Monday night.

JANSEN
I sprung for some of the action. A
yard and a half of that five-to-two.

KID
Thanks, Jansen.
(in pain)
Hey!

JANSEN
We got to get you loosened up. I
never felt you this tight.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. BUS TERMINAL - PHONE BOOTH - THE KID

He is in the middle of a call.

KID
(into phone)
Just tell The Shooter I'll be there
on the dot Monday night.

MELBA'S VOICE
(over the phone)
And until then?

KID
He doesn't have to know.

INT. THE SHOOTER'S APARTMENT - MELBA

MELBA
(into phone)
I'm not asking for him.

INT. BUS TERMINAL - THE KID

He hangs up the phone, rather than continue the discussion.
CAMERA FOLLOWS him as he comes out of the booth, picks up a
small duffel bag, and walks to the door that leads to the
busses. He goes out into the night and gets into a bus.

(TIME LAPSE)

EXT. RURAL HIGHWAY - DAY

A bus drives along a main road in the Ozarks, heading toward
CAMERA. As it comes close, the name of its destination:
"FAYETTEVILLE" can be read.

EXT. CROSSROADS COMMUNITY - DAY

The bus stops momentarily at a small cluster of buildings
around an intersection. The Kid is the only passenger to get
off here. As the bus continues on its way, he goes to an
attendant in a gas station on one corner, and asks a question.
Referred to a general store and post office on another corner,
he crosses and goes into it. The STOREKEEPER comes back
outside with him to point out the route to where he wants to
go. It is along a dirt road that winds uphill behind the
store. The Kid starts up the road.

(TIME LAPSE)

EXT. CREST OF ROAD - DAY

The Kid reaches the summit of the hill directly behind the
crossroads, and looks down into the valley between this hill
and the next one. He starts down an even narrower road leading
to a little farm on a hillock in the valley. It consists of
a modest cabin, a single barn, a fenced cow pasture, and a
few cultivated fields.

(TIME LAPSE)

EXT. CRAIGIE FARM - DAY

Christian comes around a curve in a path on one side of the
house, carrying two five-gallon milk cans slung in a yoke
over her shoulder. A little dog YAPS and runs from the front
door of the house to the front gate. She looks in that
direction and CAMERA MOVES to include The Kid as he unlatches
the gate and walks toward her. After a moment's hesitation,
she moves to meet him, gliding on her bare feet to keep the
water in the cans from slopping out.

CHRISTIAN
Hello, Kid.

KID
Can I help you with those?

CHRISTIAN
Taking if off is harder than taking
it on in.

She turns toward the side of the house and walks to the
kitchen door. The Kid follows.

CHRISTIAN
How's The Shooter?

KID
Fine.

CHRISTIAN
You haven't played yet?

KID
Monday.

INT. CRAIGIE KITCHEN - CHRISTIAN, THE KID AND MRS. CRAIGIE

MRS. CRAIGIE, Christian's mother, opens the door for them,
giving The Kid a sharp, appraising glance.

CHRISTIAN
This is Eric, Mama. He's come to see
me.

MRS. CRAIGIE
How do, Eric.

Christian crosses to the drain sink near the pump and turns
her back. Mrs. Craigie lifts the cans off the yoke on to the
drain board. She and Christian each take a can and pour the
water from it to prime the pump.

CHRISTIAN
We lost suction on the pump right in
the middle of canning.

The Kid looks at the stove with a couple of large steaming
pots on it, and the table alongside with a half-dozen hampers
of green beans.

MRS. CRAIGIE
There's coffee. And sour ham and
bread in the warmer, if you're hungry
Eric.

As soon as they are finished with the pump, Mrs. Craigie and
Christian turn to the table, where they begin to snip stems
and cut beans before putting them into the pots on the stove.

MRS. CRAIGIE
You know anything about canning, you
know we can't stop now. If we'd been
looking for company, we never would
have started.

CHRISTIAN
Spring beans, you have to cook them
fast. But you find yourself some
breakfast.

KID
I'm all right. Bus stopped for
doughnuts and coffee.

CHRISTIAN
You can stay with us tonight and
still make it back to St. Lou on the
Sunday schedule by about midnight. I
told Mama and Papa about The Man.
And all.

KID
Where is Mr. Craigie?

MRS. CRAIGIE
To the barn. Why don't you go down
and introduce yourself? Christian
and me'll be at this another hour or
two.

KID
I think I will. I think I'd like
that.
(to Christian)
Okay?

CHRISTIAN
Sure. And I'll see you a little later
on.
(then, as he starts
out)
Papa don't know everything. About
you and me.

The Kid looks quickly at her and then at Mrs. Craigie, who
keeps her gaze fixed on the beans.

EXT. CRAIGIE BARN - CRAIGIE - DAY

He is pitching manure from all over the cow-lot into a pile
banked against the side of the barn, working a long-handled
shovel with practised ease. He looks o.s. and sees The Kid
approaching but continues his work as The Kid enters the
SHOT. Nor does he stop shoveling while they are talking,
except at moments of particular significance to him.

CRAIGIE
Hello.

KID
How do you do, Mr. Craigie. I'm Eric
Stoner.

CRAIGIE
Christian's Eric.

KID
That's right.

CRAIGIE
You seen her?

KID
She's helping her mother can.

CRAIGIE
You minding to marry Christian?

The Kid looks at him a long moment then --

KID
You got any objections if I do, or
if I don't?

Craigie takes a couple of steps toward The Kid, his boots
sucking in the muddy ground.

CRAIGIE
Son, that's what I call a sharp
answer.

KID
It was what I call a sharp question.

CRAIGIE
We don't know much about you,
Christian's mother and me.

KID
I'm what's known as a three-river
man. Which just means I go around
playing stud poker wherever I can
find the kind of action I'm looking
for.

CRAIGIE
You met Christian when she was working
to Hot Springs?

KID
Yeah. I was playing in this game in
the hotel and she was a waitress in
the coffee shop. We went out. I told
her I thought she could get a better
job in St. Louis.

CRAIGIE
Now how did you happen to tell her
that? Maybe you run some kind of
employment service on the side?

KID
I said it because I wanted her in
St. Louis. Anyway, she made it there
and she called me and we been seeing
each other ever since.

CRAIGIE
Living together?

The Kid takes his time before deciding how to answer this
one.

KID
Yeah, living together.

CRAIGIE
How come she come home now? She going
to have a baby?

KID
Not that I know of.

CRAIGIE
You two have a fight?

KID
No.

CRAIGIE
She must have had a reason.

KID
Think so? Well, you've known her
longer than me.
(then)
Look, Mr. Craigie, let me and
Christian find out a few things then
maybe I won't have to answer your
questions.

CRAIGIE
I never run across anybody like you.
I guess I don't understand gamblers.

KID
That's all right. I don't understand
farmers.

CRAIGIE
You say things that sound smart
alecky. But I'm not sure if they
really are smart alecky.

KID
Well I can't take into account what
somebody's going to feel every time
I say something.

CRAIGIE
Are you a believer?

KID
In some things.

CRAIGIE
I mean in God.

KID
That's a tough one. I don't disbelieve
in Him, but I couldn't say I believed
in Him either. I guess I just never
paid Him much mind. Didn't seem
important.

CRAIGIE
God not important?

KID
I don't mean what He does isn't
important -- if He exists. I mean
it's not important to me whether He
exists or not.

CRAIGIE
Christian was raised in a Christian
home.

KID
Is that so? I didn't know ---
(then)
I'm not aware of the difference.
(pause)
I'm not asking permission to marry
Christian, you know.

CRAIGIE
I know.

KID
If I was, the only person I'd be
asking it from is her.

CRAIGIE
(after a moment)
Who is this fella Christian says
you're going to play that's so
important?

KID
He's the king of the stud poker
players.

CRAIGIE
And you're going to play him.

KID
Yes.

CRAIGIE
Are you any good?

KID
I'm this good. The Man has got to
play me.

CRAIGIE
What happens if he don't?

KID
Then I'm The Man.

CRAIGIE
That important to you?

KID
I been trying to figure that out
ever since I set it up.

CRAIGIE
You playing because of money?

KID
(after a moment)
Not really.

CRAIGIE
Christian said you never was much
worried about money -- I been worried
about money most of my life -- up
until I figured out it wasn't so
important.

KID
No, it's necessary, but it isn't so
important.

CRAIGIE
Well how come you want to play this
King fella?

KID
Ambition -- maybe security, like
that.

CRAIGIE
Is it aspiration to be the King or
just uncertainty about the future?

KID
I ain't looking for security if that's
what you mean.

CRAIGIE
Not trying to lock something up tight
and nail it down?

KID
That would figure into it. But that
isn't all of it. -- It's important
to me.

CRAIGIE
Now son which is more important to
you, this king business or Christian?

KID
If you got the guts to ask that
question, Mr. Craigie, I guess I got
the guts to answer it. Christian, if
you came right down to it, is not as
important as doing what I have to
do.

Craigie has finished piling the manure. He puts away his
shovel.

CRAIGIE
Well son, I had to know.

KID
Know what?

CRAIGIE
There never was a man worth a damn,
to my mind, who let his woman stand
in the way of the thing he had to
do.
(then)
I got to go now -- see what I can do
for a sick heifer. Why don't you
take Christian, when her Mama lets
go of her, and tell her I said you
should go to the old spring. It's a
good place.

KID
Thanks. I'll tell her.

Craigie walks away.

(TIME LAPSE)

EXT. SPRING - DAY

It is a small shack against a rocky bluff. CAMERA PANS
Christian and The Kid as they come down the path and enter.

CHRISTIAN
It stays warm all winter.

DISSOLVE:

INT. SHACK

CAMERA MOVES to reveal Christian and The Kid, who are in the
pool without clothes, treading water.

CHRISTIAN
Papa's mama used to bring her wash
up here.

KID
We liable to draw an audience?

CHRISTIAN
Don't worry. It's on our land --
Nobody uses it.

She starts to swim, CAMERA MOVING with her upper back as she
reaches the side of the pool and pulls herself on to the
bank, lying on her stomach. The Kid joins her, first drawing
himself up on his stomach alongside her, then turning on his
back to look through the slats at the sun.

CHRISTIAN
You must have said something to Papa
gave him the picture on us in St.
Lou. Else he never would have spoke
to you about this place.

KID
I told him on account of he already
knew. Never any sense feeding a man
a lie he's not going to believe.

CHRISTIAN
Even if he did know, I'm glad you
told him.

She raises herself up so that she is directly above him.

KID
(in mock protest)
Hey, you're all wet!

CHRISTIAN
So are you, foolish.

(TIME LAPSE)

EXT. CRAIGIE PORCH - CRAIGIE AND THE KID - NIGHT

The two men are sitting just outside the kitchen, where Mrs.
Craigie and Christian are pasting labels on the mason jars
they filled earlier. The paste and some of the jars are just
inside an open window on a shelf behind the men's heads. The
light comes from a kerosene lamp inside.

CRAIGIE
Let me get this straight in my head.
Cards is all a matter of luck, who
gets dealt the best ones.

The Kid stands up and selects six playing cards from a deck
in his pocket. During the next few lines he uses the paste
on the shelf to stick together three pairs of them so as to
form three double-thick cards. One of these has two faces,
another two backs, and the third a back and a face.

CRAIGIE
So when one of you professional
gamblers sits down with a bunch of
your -- what do you call them --
customers, clients?

KID
The technical term is "suckers." Or
"marks."

CRAIGIE
Their chance of winning is just as
good as yours, except if you got a
way to control it, who gets what
cards. Right?

KID
Not right. That's cheating and it's
not any part of what we're talking
about.

CRAIGIE
Then how do you win?

KID
I'll show you.

He displays his three cards.

KID
You see one of these cards is white
on both sides, one is red on both
sides, and the other is white on one
side, red on the other.

CRAIGIE
What about it?

The Kid lifts a straw hat off a peg on the porch wall.

KID
This. I put the three cards in a hat
and shake them up, and then I ask
you to draw one card out blind. Put
it face down on the table so neither
of us can see the bottom side.

Craigie does as instructed. The ensuing dialogue assumes the
card he picks is red on top; if it's white the words "red"
and "white" will be reversed in the dialogue.

KID
Okay, red on top. That eliminates
the all-white card, right. So the
card you've picked is one of two --
the all-red or the red-and-white.
One out of two is an even chance, an
even-money proposition. Right -- you
follow me?

CRAIGIE
I think so.

KID
So if I said I'll bet you a dollar
to seventy-five cents the other side
of that card is red, you'd take the
bet wouldn't you?

CRAIGIE
Seems like. Yeah.

KID
And that answer makes you a sucker.
Because the odds are two to one, the
other side of that card is red, and
I ought to be offering you a dollar
to fifty cents instead of seventy-
five.

CRAIGIE
But if there are just the two
possibilities.

KID
There are three possibilities.
(indicating card on
table)
That can be the red side of the red-
and-white card, or it can be either
side of the all-red card. In two
cases out of three the other side is
red. And I'd win the bet from you
two out of every three times we made
it.

CRAIGIE
(dubiously)
You would?

KID
Sure. It's obvious when I explain
it, isn't it?

CRAIGIE
Reckon so. Except if there's only
two things that the bottom side can
be, red or white --

KID
Take my word for it -- the odds are
two to one. And knowing that is the
difference between your gambling man
and your sucker. Not who gets the
better cards but who knows what the
proper odds are. In a poker game
there can be a million different
situations, each with a different
set of odds to figure. The man who
ends up winners is the man who knows
when to bet and how much...

CRAIGIE
The sucker is still took advantage
of, isn't he? The gambler knows
something he don't know.

KID
Sure -- like if you grow better corn
or raise a cow that gives more milk
than the other guy's. Or two business
men are in competition, or two lawyers
are up against each other in a
courtroom. Whatever your line is,
the one who wins out is the one who
knows his job better.

CRAIGIE
Seems like there should be something
else to it --

KID
There is -- Making the man you're
playing against think he's got the
best hand -- and making him pay to
find out.
(TIME LAPSE)

INT. CRAIGIE KITCHEN - THE KID

He is lying on a cot in the darkness, next to the big wood-
burning stove. Christian enters the SHOT and slips under the
covers with him.

CHRISTIAN
I can't stay long. Papa'll be getting
up to milk.

KID
I'm the one can't stay. I got to
head for that bus.

CHRISTIAN
Why did you come, Kid?

KID
Well, hell, I don't know. I had kind
of a rough time after you left.

CHRISTIAN
Rough how?

KID
Tuesday there was a ball game, but
then the Cardinals went on the road.
I never known time to drag so; I was
all torn apart --

CHRISTIAN
Because of the poker game coming up?

KID
That's how I read it, but I was
reading it wrong. It wasn't Lancey
or the game that was chewing at my
insides --

CHRISTIAN
What else is there could give you
such a bad time?

KID
I finally figured it. I located where
the trouble was. It was you.

She is genuinely surprised at this and at first a bit
dismayed. But her more considered reaction is one of pleasure.

CHRISTIAN
Oh, --

She kisses him.

KID
When you talk about doing something
besides poker if I get to be The
Man, you don't mean pass up the chance
to make some dough from it for a
while?

CHRISTIAN
I sure don't. I told Papa, wherever
money comes from, it feels the same
when you spend it.

KID
You were going to do some thinking
down here.

CHRISTIAN
I done some.

Then they both react as Craigie can be heard getting up.

KID
I'll be back after the game Christian --
You wait here for me and I'll let
you know.

CHRISTIAN
All right Eric -- Good luck Monday.

She gives him a quick kiss and stands up.

KID
I got that made now. You said it
right. My time's come.

(TIME LAPSE)

EXT. CROSSROADS COMMUNITY - NIGHT (PRE-DAWN)

The sun hasn't risen yet as The Kid boards the bus for St.
Louis outside the general store.

EXT. HIGHWAY IN MISSOURI - DAY

The Kid's bus crossing the endless plain in the afternoon
sun.

EXT. ST. LOUIS BUS TERMINAL - NIGHT

The clock above the loading platform says it is a little
after two in the morning as the bus pulls up, and The Kid,
groggy from the long ride, gets out.

INT. KID'S APARTMENT

He enters wearily, goes straight into the bedroom and
collapses on the bed. After a moment he summons the energy
to loosen his shoelaces and kick his shoes off. But that
completes his preparations for sleep.

INT. SHOOTER'S APARTMENT

The Shooter is awake because he can't sleep, and Melba is
awake because she is trying to persuade him to do what she
considers prudent. He sighs deeply as she solicitously pours
him a cup of coffee.

SHOOTER
Twenty-five years I been building a
reputation.

MELBA
Handle this thing right and your
reputation will be better than ever.

INT. LANCEY'S HOTEL ROOM

Lancey is also awake, confronting a row of medicine bottles.
He finishes laying out an assortment of four different pills
and capsules, pours himself a glass of hot milk from a carafe,
and proceeds to take the pills one at a time, with a sip of
milk after each.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. KID'S APARTMENT

The Kid, looking completely refreshed, is readying himself
for the game. He has chosen casual, comfortable clothes, and
now he collects three items to take with him: a large bottle
of mouthwash, a green sun-vizor, and finally, his stake.
When he withdraws the money from the dresser drawer, we can
see the pile has increased in size. The Kid finds an envelope
to put it in, and he is ready to go. He starts out but in
the middle of the kitchen he stops to look at his watch. It
is too early. He crosses to the stove, pours himself a cup
of coffee, and sits down to drink it.

INT. LANCEY'S HOTEL ROOM

Lancey has decided on a change of costume from his last game,
and this time he goes for the old-fashioned velvet smoking
jacket and silk foulard. Over this he puts on a light
overcoat. Then he assembles medicines, toilet articles and
money, putting them all into a small satchel. Finally, he
puts on his hat and goes to the door.

INT. PLUSH HOTEL CORRIDOR

We follow Lancey's progress as far as the elevator.

INT. SHOOTER'S APARTMENT

Melba and Shooter have finished dressing, and he waits by
the door while she does the inevitable last-minute things to
her makeup.

SHOOTER
I made up my mind to this. I ain't
going to give him any help till he
needs it.

MELBA
I'm glad you're taking a stand.

SHOOTER
Hey, what if he starts off lucky and
stays ahead of the game the whole
way. It could happen, you know.

MELBA
You'll make it happen, Baby. I've
got faith in you --

EXT. CLOCK TOWER - NIGHT

The hands are at 7:25.

INT. TAXI - THE KID AND DRIVER - NIGHT

The Kid is looking at the clock tower.

KID
Once more around the square.

EXT. SQUARE OUTSIDE DORSET HOTEL - NIGHT

The taxi drives away from CAMERA following The Kid's
instruction. CAMERA PANS to the front of the Dorset Hotel,
which they have just passed. It is fifty years old or more,
no longer elegant but still respectable.

INT. POKER SUITE - LANCEY

He is standing at ease among old friends, sipping a creme de
menthe frappe.

LANCEY
It's a friendly town, St. Louis.
I've always said that.

CAMERA MOVES to take in the people around him, one after
another. The Shooter is there, and Pig and Sokal and Hoban,
and Melba and Hoban's woman and a couple of other women whose
main attributes are physical, and Bill Schlaegel. Out of
town representatives include LADY FINGERS, who is about fifty,
down on her luck but still cheerful and remarkably energetic;
and YELLER, a light-skinned Negro who has achieved stature
in what is mainly a white man's world, through diplomacy and
a quick wit. The room is the large living-room of a once
splendid suite; there are enough chairs and couches around
the walls to accommodate a good many spectators, while the
middle of the room has been cleared for a round table with
seven chairs.

SHOOTER
We ain't seen much of you though,
last seven, eight years.

LANCEY
Climate, Shooter. In my declining
years, I spend more and more time in
Florida and the Gulf Coast.

LADY FINGERS
Lot of folks been figuring another
reason you was keeping clear of the
three rivers.

LANCEY
What reason is that, Lady Fingers?

LADY FINGERS
Cincinnati Kid.
(laughs)
That the way it is, Lancey? You been
scared of The Kid?

LANCEY
Should I be scared of him?

LADY FINGERS
Damn right you should! I'm telling
you, that boy going to make your
stomach ulcer bleed before the night
is out. He's close to murder. I seen
him give a fella the shakes so bad
on a fourth card, it took a pint of
corn liquor to settle him down.

LANCEY
Thanks for the warning.

Lancey notices that most of the people around him have turned
to look at the doorway. He glances in the same direction in
a casual sort of way.

FEATURING THE KID

He saunters toward Lancey. Almost everyone greets him, and
he responds to as many as he can. Melba intercepts him.

MELBA
Mow the man down, sugar pie, make it
quick and bloody. Been too many lean
years for all of us.

KID
I intend to take Shooter right along
with Lancey.

MELBA
I'm not talking about the old Shooter.
He's been factory rebuilt. A new
spirit dwelleth in him, and his gaze
is on distant hills.

The Kid would like these cryptic words explained, but Lady
Fingers descends on him.

LADY FINGERS
So you showed up after all. You're a
braver boy than I thought, so much
the worse for you.

KID
You think I'll be sorry I come?

LADY FINGERS
Bound to. That Lancey ain't human,
he's one of them barracuda fish.
He's liable to bleed to death, right
on a flush hand before he give up to
you. I seen him gut a fella so bad,
the fella quit and got up and spit
red in the john and went square.

The Kid sees Lancey approaching, and turns to him.

LANCEY
Hello, Kid. Pleasure to know you.

KID
Lancey. I been looking forward a
long time.

LANCEY
Sure, sure. You seem to know about
everybody. Yeller from New Orleans?

KID
What do you say, Yeller? Still feeling
salty with me?

YELLER
Forgiven long since.
(to Lancey)
We had a little jurisdictional
dispute.

KID
I hustled a couple of boys, right in
his territory.

YELLER
So I tried to tell him our rules
down there. Colored marks are for
colored hustlers.

KID
And I tried to tell him how I got no
prejudice. When I'm on the edge of
my stake, I hustle anybody at all,
regardless of race, creed or color.
Anybody at all.

YELLER
Including my girl.

KID
Hell, I figured I was doin' you a
favor.

YELLER
You did.

Suddenly they both laugh over a private memory and shake
hands, obviously old friends.

LADY FINGERS
(to Lancey)
Did you know Old Cottonhead died?

LANCEY
No, I hadn't heard.

LADY FINGERS
Heart give out in a high-low game.

LANCEY
(turning to The Kid)
How you feel, Kid?

KID
Great. You?

LANCEY
The best. You think maybe we ought
to see if we can stir up some action?

KID
Whatever you say, Lancey. You're the --
(correcting himself)
You're our guest in this town.

LANCEY
Well, I'm kind of in the mood to
play a little cards.

KID
I think we ought to be able to get a
game together in this crowd.

LANCEY
But first you take a look at things --
make sure everything's the way you
want it. I already been around.

KID
Thanks. I'll do that.

He turns toward the center of the room. The Shooter follows
him.

MED. SHOT - AT POKER TABLE - KID AND SHOOTER

The old, solidly built wooden table has been covered with a
white linen cloth on top of a blanket. The cloth is tied
down under the rim so that the surface of the table is flat,
tight and cushioned by the blanket. The Kid presses his
fingers into it to test these factors.

SHOOTER
It's an old table. Everything's pretty
old in this hotel.

KID
It's solid, that's what counts. And
you got the top fixed perfect.

Lancey comes into the SHOT behind them.

LANCEY
Light all right for you?

SHOOTER
Two hundred watt bulb.

KID
Fine, excellent. Okay with you?

LANCEY
Sure, sure. Shooter's set us up just
great.

KID
Sure has.

SHOOTER
Thank you, gents. Tried to do the
best I could.
(looks from one to
the other)
Cards?

LANCEY
Why not?

KID
Good a time as any.

SHOOTER
(calling)
Hoban! Okay!
(to Kid and Lancey)
You both know Joe Hoban. He's a draw
poker man, but clean and straight as
they come.

Hoban comes into the SHOT with a dispatch case, which he
sets on the table. He unlocks it with a key and turns it
upside down. Thirty sealed decks of cards spill on the table.

HOBAN
They come from the St. Louis Bridge
Club, but they're poker size cards.
They been bonded by the club steward
and I seen him take them out of the
safe. Shooter, Lady Fingers and me
pick them up and come straight here
with them.

SHOOTER
Hoban's selling them to us at five
dollars a pack, with the usual
guarantee. If it's proved any deck
is spooked, he pays off the losers.

LANCEY
St. Louis Bridge Club, eh? Steward
still that old yard bird Okra?

HOBAN
(disturbed)
That's him.

LANCEY
(not noticing; to Kid)
Old stud man, Okra.

KID
I don't know him.

LANCEY
Quite a character. Quite a character.

HOBAN
(anxiously)
Nobody heard from me what the cards
were for, Kid.

There is a quick exchange of glances all around as the other
three realize what the imaginary suspicion is behind Hoban's
defensive reaction.

LANCEY
(to Kid)
Been ten years since I seen or spoke
to Old Okra.

KID
'Kay, fine. Don't worry about it,
Lancey. Who's sitting down with us,
Shooter?

SHOOTER
Four of us. Me, Pig, Yeller and Doc
Sokal. If that's all right with you
both?

KID
'Kay, fine.

LANCEY
Sure, sure.
(to Kid)
Shall we have a look at the decks?

CLOSE SHOT - KID AND LANCEY

with the pile of decks and the empty dispatch case on the
table in front of them. They start checking the decks one by
one, each putting the ones he has covered in a pile for the
other's consideration. They examine the seals and the
cellophane visually, and they also sniff both ends for the
odor of a hot iron. By the time they are through with this
process; The Kid has found three decks he isn't satisfied
with, and Lancy two. The Kid passes his three rejects to
Lancey, who tosses them back into the dispatch case without
looking at them. Then Lancey tries to submit his two to The
Kid, but The Kid waves them away, and Lancey throws them,
too, into the case.

LANCEY
Well, Kid, what's your game?

CAMERA PULLS BACK to include the other four players, who
have come up to the table, still not taking chairs until
Lancey and The Kid have chosen theirs. Though Lancey's
question is purely ritualistic, they look to The Kid for his
reply.

KID
I don't mind stud poker if that's
okay with you.

LANCEY
I got no objections to stud.
(to the others)
Gentlemen?

Consulting the others is a formality, but all four of them --
Yeller, Shooter, Pig and Sokal -- nod or grunt or otherwise
indicate assent.

MED. SHOT - FEATURING BILL

across the room, he is indicating to The Shooter that he'd
like a word with him before play begins.

MED. SHOT - FEATURING SHOOTER

He detaches himself from the group and sidles inconspicuously
over to Bill.

BILL
Tell The Kid I have a suite on the
fifth floor. He can drop up during
the breaks. Bedroom all for him any
time he wants a nap.

SHOOTER
That's thoughtful of you, Bill.

BILL
I'm a thoughtful man. I hope you
are.

THE POKER TABLE

The Kid gestures to Lancey to choose his seat. Lancey
acknowledges the courtesy, glances at the window and picks
himself a chair facing away from it.

LANCEY
Privilege of age. Can't take the
glare of the morning sun in my eyes.

The Kid, following protocol, moves to a seat directly across
from Lancey's. The Shooter takes his place at the table
halfway between The Kid and Lancey, and pulls the twenty-
five eligible packs of cards to him.

SHOOTER
You want to have the usual brandy
and coffee on hand, Kid? Anything
special for you, Lancey?

LANCEY
Why, yes, Shooter. Creme de menthe
frappe. Green.

SHOOTER
(glances around)
You got that, Hoban?
(to the table)
Gentlemen, if there are no objections,
I'm the dealer. These rooms have
been contracted for, and there will
be an ante of ten dollars per chair,
per day. During the breaks for me,
Old Lady Fingers has agreed to deal,
but she don't care to be a player --

LADY FINGERS' VOICE
Do too care!

CAMERA PANS to reveal Lady Fingers as she steps from among
the spectators to a place behind Lancey.

LADY FINGERS
Can't afford to play, that's the
real truth. Had a bad year and I'm
way over my edge.

SHOOTER
Lady Fingers will get three dollars
an hour from the ante, plus her room
and food, and a five-minute break
every hour. Gents?

LANCEY
Fine, Shooter man.

KID
'Kay with us.

LADY FINGERS
If you don't see me when you need
me, call room three-oh-eight.
(taps Lancey's shoulder)
You know who else ain't with us no
more? Miriam, widow used to run the
kitchen game to South Chi. Lost two
month's Relief at blackjack, coal
dealer cut her credit, and she froze
in her bed.

THE PLAYERS - FEATURING THE KID

The Kid has taken his roll from his pocket and is counting
it out rapidly. The other players watch, interested to see
how much he is putting out. After counting out one stack of
thirty hundreds, he distributes the rest in stacks of
twenties, tens and fives, folding each bill over once as
protection against picking up more than one at a time.

SHOOTER
Gentlemen, this is a game of five-
card stud poker. There is no limit.
A dead man has one half hour to raise
his roll outside and get back in the
game.

The Kid has completed his count.

REVERSE ANGLE - FEATURING LANCEY

He takes the money from his satchel.

LANCEY
Five grand? Nice, tidy sum. I'll put
out the same.

CAMERA PANS to Yeller.

YELLER
I swear I don't know what I'm doing
sitting down with you titans, but
maybe it's worth putting up five
thousand for the educational value.

CAMERA PANS to Pig as he brings out a roll and drops it
casually in front of him.

PIG
I'll play with what I have in my
pocket till I have to send out for
more. Twenty-seven, twenty-eight
hundred, I don't know.

CAMERA PANS past The Kid to Sokal, who is counting out bills
from an impressive roll.

SOKAL
Five G's, I'm with it. Don't mean
I'm goin' blow it all, though.

CAMERA PANS to The Shooter, who is counting out a smaller
stake than anyone.

SHOOTER
Last and certainly least --

He puts his money out without counting it, takes a deck of
cards, rips the cellophane off it, takes the jokers and tosses
them offhandedly to one side, not seeming to take aim.

FEATURING THE JOKERS

Heads turn as the cards sail through the air in unison,
landing inside The Shooter's familiar hat, which is resting
crown down on the mantelpiece. The spectators gape at the
display of dexterity.

FEATURING THE SHOOTER

He begins to shuffle and all eyes are upon him, not from
suspicion but from pure admiration. He is in peak form,
shuffling six times, once for each player and then slapping
the cards down before Lancey, who is to the right of him,
with an empty chair in between.

CLOSE - LANCEY

He waives his privilege of cutting with a barely perceptible
nod.

THE POKER TABLE

The Shooter acknowledges the compliment with the same sort
of gesture. Then he begins to deal in his magnificently
precise way, pitching each card so that it comes to a stop
six inches in front of the player's money and in clear view
of everyone at the table.

CLOSE SHOT - SHOOTER'S HANDS

With Sokal in b.g. It is notable that as The Shooter completes
dealing hole cards and switches to the first up card, there
is no visible difference in the motion of his hands. He calls
the cards as he deals them.

SHOOTER
Seven, nine, trey, nine, ace, and
The Shooter guns up a ten. Ace bets.

LANCEY
Ten dollars.

SHOOTER
Dealer folds.

SOKAL
Call the sawbuck.

CLOSE SHOT - FROM BEHIND KID

He looks at his hole card: an ace.

KID
I'm in.

PIG'S VOICE
Call.

YELLER'S VOICE
Call.

THE POKER TABLE

The Shooter deals again.

SHOOTER
King to the seven, pair of nines,
deuce to the trey, queen-nine, ace-
eight.

KID
Nines bet twenty bucks.

Each other player folds in turn. The Shooter pulls in the
cards, and The Kid pulls in the seventy dollars. The Shooter
shuffles and deals again.

SHOOTER
Queen, ten, king, four, ace again,
and a king for The Shooter.

LANCEY
Ace bets ten dollars

SHOOTER
King over.

TWO SHOT - HOBAN AND BILL

They are perched on the back of a love seat at the far end
of the room, with their feet on the arms. This gives them a
view of the table through a pair of opera glasses they share,
but they are far enough from it to be able to discuss the
hands freely.

HOBAN
Shooter won't stay on a king or an
ace if there's another one showing.

BILL
What's he have to have in the hole?

HOBAN
Ten or better. With no other ten
showing.

THE POKER TABLE

The second round has been dealt. Sokal has a queen-eight,
The Kid a pair of tens, Pig a king- seven, Lancey an ace-
five. Yeller, like The Shooter, has folded on the first card.
The Kid makes the same bet of twenty dollars, and the other
three remaining players drop.

LANCEY
New deck.

Unhesitatingly, The Shooter pulls in the cards, separates
them into four or five piles, and tears each pile in two. He
glances around, and Hoban comes up behind him. The Shooter
hands him the torn-up cards and unseals another pack, going
through the same routine of throwing the jokers into his
hat.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. POKER SUITE - AT THE POKER TABLE

It is around midnight, and there is a more settled look to
the game; some of the players have removed their coats, and
there is a good deal of smoke in the air. The Kid has a cup
of coffee by him, presumably with brandy in it; Lancey has
his frappe; Pig is drinking whiskey; the Shooter and Yeller
have bottles of bear. It is the end of a hand. With about
six hundred dollars in the pot, Pig, who has been called,
turns over his hole card triumphantly.

PIG
Aces over eights.
(waits for a challenge,
but the others turn
their cards)
Thank you, gents.
(as he pulls in money,
to Yeller)
Be a laugh if the two champs ended
up cleaned.

CLOSE SHOT - LANCEY

He barely notices Pig's remark.

CLOSE SHOT - KID

He barely notices Lancey's reaction to Pig's remark.

CAMERA MOVES among the spectators, who also have a more
settled look about them. There is a bar, attended by a
uniformed HOTEL BELLMAN, and most of the people are drinking.
We see in passing a couple go through the door to the bedroom
and close it behind them. CAMERA HOLDS on the love seat as
Bill rejoin Hoban on their perch.

BILL
Any action?

HOBAN
(shrugs)
What do you expect first five or six
hours?

BILL
Still feeling each other out?

HOBAN
Pig's ahead about a grand, Shooter
maybe three hundred.
(TIME LAPSE)

CLOSE SHOT - CARDS BEING DEALT

Sokal gets a nine of clubs, The Kid a six, Pig a queen, Yeller
a king, Lancey a jack, and The Shooter a four.

SHOOTER'S VOICE
King bets.

CAMERA PULLS BACK to show the players. There is less oral
accompaniment to the betting now.

YELLER
King says twenty.

Lancey calls, Shooter drops, Sokal calls, The Kid drops.

PIG
In for twenty.

SHOOTER
(dealing)
To the nine a ten, to the queen a
seven, to the king a jack, and to
the jack a jack.

LANCEY
Pair of jacks will venture a hundred
dollars.

SOKAL
(who has the nine and
ten of clubs showing)
I'm in.

PIG
(after studying the
board)
Up two hundred dollars.

YELLER
(folding)
Leave it to the rich folk.

TWO SHOT - HOBAN AND BILL

BILL
Lancey could be laying for him with
three jacks.

HOBAN
Pig don't think so.

LANCEY'S VOICE (O.S.)
Call the two hundred.

THE POKER TABLE

Lancey puts in his money and so does Sokal.

SOKAL
I'm sticking.

THE POKER TABLE

Shooter deals another round: an eight of clubs to Sokal, a
second seven to Pig, a ten to Lancey.

SHOOTER
Possible straight flush, pair of
sevens. Pair of jacks are still high.

LANCEY
Check to the sevens.

SOKAL
Likewise.

PIG
(trying to be casual)
Bet the size of the pot. Nine hundred
and eighty dollars.

LANCEY
In for nine eighty.

SOKAL
I'll play.

TWO SHOT - HOBAN AND BILL

BILL
What's with Lancey? I thought he'd
raise with three jacks or drop with
two pair.

HOBAN
He probably thinks Pig's faking the
queens. Anyhow, Doc's liable take
them both with a straight or a flush.

THE POKER TABLE

There is a good deal of suspense hanging on each card as The
Shooter deals. Sokal gets a five of diamonds, and his
disappointment is too great to conceal.

SHOOTER
Busted, no flush, no straight. Pair
of sevens with a queen gets a nine.
To the pair of jacks, a trey.

PIG
(counting his money,
trying to be calm)
Pair of sevens will bet whatever I
got here. Twenty-four hundred bucks.

LANCEY
I'll call your twenty-four hundred --

CLOSE SHOT - THE KID

He watches Lancey, puzzled; this isn't what he had expected.

LANCEY'S VOICE (O.S.)
-- and raise you whatever I have
left.

The Kid relaxes; this is more the way he figured it.

THE POKER TABLE

Lancey is completely calm. Pig is shattered, his whole world
suddenly blown apart.

LANCEY
Comes to fourteen hundred fifty
dollars, Pig. Don't imagine you'll
have any problem promoting that much
in half an hour -- plus whatever you
care to raise me.

All eyes are on Pig, which doesn't make it any easier for
him. He just sits there, his hands shaking.

SHOOTER
Fourteen fifty to the queens. You
want to take your half hour, Pig?

There is another long moment before Pig flips over his up
cards.

PIG
No, I'm out. Out of the game.

He looks at Lancey with malevolence. Lancey turns over his
up cards and tosses them in front of The Shooter. Pig suddenly
lunges toward the cards, wanting a look at Lancey's hole
card, but Lancey is too quick for him and pushes the cards
into the pack The Shooter is assembling.

SHOOTER
(to Pig)
You Tap City?

Pig is suffering, weighing the advantages and disadvantages
of making the dread admission. Finally he nods. The Shooter
takes a ten dollar bill from his own stake, and the other
four remaining players each add a ten. The Shooter pushes
the money toward Pig.

PIG
I got a woman.

SHOOTER
I thought you and Hilda were quits.

PIG
We're back.

The other players look at The Shooter to see if he is going
to accept this statement at face value. He nods, that he
does, and each man contributes another ten. The Shooter passes
the second fifty to Pig.

SHOOTER
See you around, Pig.

PLAYERS
(ad lib)
So long, Pig -- See you -- 'Night.

PIG
(getting up)
So long.

CAMERA FOLLOWS him to the door. The spectators make room for
him, no one saying anything. At the door, Pig turns back for
his valedictory gesture.

PIG
Good luck -- Kid.

He goes out.

CLOSE SHOT - LANCEY

He has been rearranging his money, but Pig's words make his
head jerk up and toward the door.

CAMERA PULLS BACK to reveal the other players, who react in
dismay to the breach of form.

SHOOTER
He shouldn't have said that. Not
after taking Tap City from the table.

KID
His woman's been giving him a rough
time. Wants him to quit and go square.

SOKAL
At his age? Crazy.

LANCEY
He wants to wish anybody luck, doesn't
bother me. Personally, I don't figure
The Kid needs it.

KID
Thanks, Lancey.

With that, the tension is gone. But just to make sure, The
Shooter pushes his chair back.

SHOOTER
I know it's early, men, but what
about taking a little break?

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. POKER SUITE - BILL, MELBA AND THE SHOOTER

Melba fills a beer glass from a bottle and serves it to The
Shooter.

BILL
(to Melba)
It always distresses me, a man
reaching his middle years and still
having no assurance of next week's
income.

MELBA
I know what you mean. I like a man
to have plenty of assurance.

The Shooter's gaze wanders o.s. CAMERA MOVES to FEATURE the
objects of his attention, who are Lady Fingers, Lancey and
The Kid. The two men would like to talk to each other, but
Lady Finger's is monopolizing Lancey, and he doesn't want to
offend her.

LADY FINGERS
Spider Man died kind of slow. First
he give them a kidney, then his gall
bladder, and then they taking his
whole damn stomach. You remember
Spider Man, run the dice table down
at Turk's Club to Memphis.

LANCEY
Who? Oh, Spider Man, sure, sure.

LADY FINGERS
He died kind of slow.

The Shooter comes to Lancey's rescue.

SHOOTER
Need your help, Lady Fingers... to
make arrangements for food and
shelter.

He whisks her away. Lancey and The Kid, finally facing each
other alone, don't quite know how to begin.

LANCEY
Good crowd.

KID
Yeah. Nice-looking broads.

LANCEY
That's a fact.

KID
That was a pretty thing to watch
what you done to Pig with those jacks.

LANCEY
Thanks, Kid. From you, that's nice
to hear.

KID
When he bet out first, he was ready
to think you had them back to back.
Even when he bet the size of the
pot, he figured there was still a
chance you were laying for him. But
when you called him, I could see it
in his eyes he thought you had jacks
and tens, and I knew you had him
hooked.

LANCEY
You knew, did you? Before I raised?

KID
Oh, sure, I seen what you were pulling
all along.

Lancey is a bit taken aback by The Kid's confident assertion,
but he manages a smile.

LANCEY
You been to Miami, Kid?

KID
Not yet.

LANCEY
Beautiful town, lot of loose money
around. You ought to come down some
time.

KID
You mean it?

LANCEY
Sure, sure. Lot of room down there.
Another spot you ought to work someday
is Reno, Nevada.

KID
I heard.

LANCEY
You got to have nerves though. So
much going on. Action everywhere you
turn. You lose the feel of the cards
when you're in so much action day
in, day out.

KID
I'd like to make it out there.

LANCEY
There's different levels of action
there -- you'd find yours, any kind
you could ask for.

KID
I generally stick to stud.

LANCEY
Sure, sure, for eating money. But
you know how it is, I like to lay
off once in a while and try craps.
Nothing serious -- I don't even think
of it as work.

KID
Oh, I do that. I'll take a night off
and shoot a little casino. Or even
blackjack.

LANCEY
Your age, you don't need a regular
vacation every year. But me, I have
to forget the grind for a couple of
weeks. I go to this place near Delray
Beach, and the whole time I don't
play anything but bridge.

KID
That's interesting. I could go for
bridge if there was a way to do it
without partners.

LANCEY
I'm not keeping you from your woman,
am I?

KID
(after a slight
hesitation)
No. We're -- she's gone away for a
while. We're not sure we're looking
for the same thing.

LANCEY
I'm sorry to hear that.

KID
I was hoping Christian would run
with me and wouldn't try to make a
big deal out of it.

LANCEY
But she tried?

KID
Yeah, and now I don't know. I don't
figure a man can change his way
because the way I see it a man's
lucky he's got something going for
him that he can hold on to. A man
can't change his way for a woman.

LANCEY
Nooo, a man can't do that.

KID
I been wondering if it isn't maybe a
better idea not to look for a fixed
thing. Just tie in to something nice
when you're away from the action,
and enjoy it, and let it wear itself
out.

LANCEY
(after a long moment)
That's very interesting you should
say that. You're pretty young to
have figured things out already.

KID
Well she didn't understand how it
was with me and ---

LANCEY
(warmly)
Between us?

KID
There ain't but a few people, I guess
who would understand --

LANCEY
(as The Kid doesn't
finish)
Kid, you're the best stud man I've
seen in 35 years of action. You know
that?

KID
Well -- thank you.

LANCEY
And when it comes to broads, which
is getting to be an academic problem --
I can look back now to the two or
three I ever considered I might want
to spend the rest of my life with,
and you know what? I like it...
looking back on them, that is --
(then)
I always got a lot of companionship
out of a good book.

KID
It's very educational, hearing what
it's like for a man your age.

LANCEY
Glad to be of help. And it's good we
had this little talk so I know we
can be friends regardless what
happens.

KID
That sounds good to me. I didn't
think you was coming in at me like a
grudge match.

LANCEY
No room for any kind of emotion in a
fair game of stud. I learned that a
long time ago.

LADY FINGERS' VOICE (O.S.)
Ready for some action, gentlemen.

They look at each other and then exit.

ANGLE INCLUDING THE POKER TABLE

Lady Fingers is sitting in Shooter's place, rippling and
shuffling the cards. Yeller, Sokal, and The Shooter are all
either sitting at the table or standing near it. Lancey,
followed by The Kid, returns to the table.

LADY FINGERS
It's a whole New Deal. Good hands
all around. Prosperity for everybody.

LANCEY
You're still good, Fingers.

LADY FINGERS
Getting crippled up, Lancey. Not
many of the old gang left. You heard
Whistling Sam was gone?

LANCEY
No, I didn't hear.

LADY FINGERS
I was the one got called to the morgue
to identify him. I don't suppose you
seen anybody been run over by a twelve-
ton bulldozer.

LANCEY
No, can't say that I have.

LADY FINGERS
Don't go out of your way.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. POKER SUITE - TOWARD WINDOWS

Morning sunlight is streaming in.

THE POKER TABLE

The Kid, facing the sun, wears his eyeshade. The Shooter has
resumed the deal and now hands out last cards to Sokal, The
Kid and himself.

SHOOTER
Bet the pot. Four hundred and twenty
dollars.

SOKAL
Fold.

KID
It's yours.

SHOOTER
Thanks, gents. Makes me exactly even.
This kind of a game, that's a smart
place to quit.
(takes his money off
the table)
Just do the dealing, if that's all
right with everybody.

(TIME LAPSE)

THE POKER TABLE

It is later in the morning. Three players are left in the
hand on the last card: Yeller with nothing higher than a
jack, Lancey with a king-queen showing and Sokal with an ace-
king.

SHOOTER
Ace-king is the high man.

SOKAL
Shoot the works.
(counts it out)
Nine hundred and thirty bucks.

YELLER
I'm over.

LANCEY
(putting out the money)
What have you got?

SOKAL
(unhappily)
Doesn't matter. If you can call me,
you beat me. Ace-king high.

LANCEY
(turning an ace)
Ace-king-queen high.

YELLER
(to The Kid)
I had them both with a pair of fives.

SOKAL
Winds it up for me, men. And I can't
say it's been a pleasure.
(despairingly)
That one I was sure I could steal.

YELLER
Lancey has a built-in burglar alarm.
I'm also withdrawing from the field
of battle, gentlemen. Settle for the
seventeen hundred I've already
dropped.

Yeller pulls in the money in front of him. There is now about
$19,500 left on the table, $11,500 in front of Lancey, $8,000
in front of The Kid.

LANCEY
(to The Kid)
Well, just the two of us.

KID
Yeah, just the two of us. Deal them,
Shooter Man.

(TIME LAPSE)

THE POKER TABLE

There is around $1,500 in the pot. Shooter deals an unhelpful
card to Lancey's pair of aces, and a nine to The Kid's king-
queen-ten.

KID
Cost you a grand.

LANCEY
Compulsory call, Kid.

The Kid turns up a jack and pulls in the money.

(TIME LAPSE)

THE POKER TABLE

The last bet has been made and there is about $3000 in the
pot. Lancey exposes his hole card.

LANCEY
Two pair, jacks up.

KID
Kings up.

He takes in the money.

(TIME LAPSE)

THE POKER TABLE

There is $2500 in the pot. Lancey shows a pair of kings, The
Kid an ace and three odd cards. The Shooter deals a nine to
Lancey.

THE KID

He is watching The Shooter intently.

FEATURING THE SHOOTER'S HANDS - KID'S P.O.V.

The dealing motion looks perfectly legitimate as The Shooter
gives The Kid an ace. Lancey's hand reaches into the SHOT to
turn over his up cards.

LANCEY'S VOICE (O.S.)
Studded again.

THE KID

He takes the money in slowly, his eyes on The Shooter. Now
the distribution of money has been reversed. The Kid has
something under $12,000, Lancey something under $8,000.

THE SHOOTER

He avoids meeting The Kid's gaze.

(TIME LAPSE)

THE POKER TABLE - FROM BEHIND THE KID

On the fourth card Lancey shows a pair of sevens, The Kid a
pair of eights and a ten.

LANCEY
Two thousand dollars.

The Kid lifts his hole card and we see it is a ten.

KID
Call two thousand.

He turns to watch The Shooter.

FEATURING THE SHOOTER'S HANDS - KID'S P.O.V.

Again there is no indication of improper dealing as The
Shooter gives Lancey an odd card and The Kid a ten, completing
his full house.

LANCEY'S VOICE (O.S.)
Two thousand more.

THE POKER TABLE

KID
Take it. I can't beat three sevens.
(then as The Shooter's
eyes flicker with
surprise)
I'd like a break to get some food
and sleep -- I'm winners so it isn't
up to me to say it but I'm saying it
anyway.

He exits. After a moment The Shooter follows. Lancey watches
them go then rises, apparently still fresh and strong. Lady
Fingers joins him.

LANCEY
(pleasantly)
My dear, that young man is a stud
poker-playing son-of-a-bitch.

LADY FINGERS
Gettin' to you, Lancey?

Lancey looks at her a moment, then smiles.

LANCEY
(softly)
Not yet he isn't.

He moves through the crowd, then exits.

CUT TO:

INT. BEDROOM - BILL'S SUITE - THE KID & SHOOTER

They are alone in the room. Shooter is uncomfortable and
would like to be elsewhere but The Kid is standing in front
of the closed door.

THE KID
Now, just what the hell are you trying
to pull?

SHOOTER
(trying to bluff it)
Nothing -- what are you talking about?

The Kid grabs him and slams him against the wall.

THE KID
You, Shooter Man -- you been feeding
me cards for an hour.

SHOOTER
(angry and ashamed)
The hell I was.
(he waits a brief
moment then eases
away from The Kid)
Christ, Kid, even if I was you
couldn't spot it -- I'm too good a
mechanic for anybody to spot it.

THE KID
(grabbing him and
slamming him against
the wall again)
But I was looking for it, Shooter --
four times you give me the cards I
need.

SHOOTER
(a little shrill)
You seen it before often enough. One
player draws four good ones.

THE KID
Never in a game when I been told
ahead the dealer has a stake in my
coming out on top.

SHOOTER
(slumping)
My woman told you.

THE KID
She told me enough to make me start
thinking.

SHOOTER
(almost pleading)
Why should you bitch if I give you a
little help?

THE KID
Why, you dumb bastard? -- You have
to ask me why.
(ready to hit him)
I could break you apart for what
you've done.

SHOOTER
(backing off)
Kid, you got to understand. It wasn't
my idea --

THE KID
Well who the hell's was it then --
Schlaegel? --

SHOOTER
He's got the squeeze on me Kid and
he's meaner than hell. He'll cut me
up if I don't come through.
(then)
You think I wanted to deal a phony
game? You think it don't mean
something to me? I never done a
crooked thing before in my life.

THE KID
My ass bleeds for you -- Now you get
straight on this. No fix. You come
along straight or I blow it wide
open.

SHOOTER
He's liable to kill me.

THE KID
He ain't goin' to do nothin' to you
except pay off because I'm goin' to
win.

SHOOTER
It is a hell of a chance to take.

THE KID
You got no choice.

SHOOTER
He ain't goin' to like it.

THE KID
(almost yelling at
him)
He ain't goin' to know.
(then quietly)
Shooter, I'm goin' to win this one --
win it my way -- and you ride with
me or you're out, finished.

SHOOTER
I ride with you.

THE KID
You better not forget it -- now beat
it. I need some sleep.

Shooter looks at him, then moves towards the door.

THE KID
Tell Mr. Schlaegel I accept his offer
to use the room.

The Shooter goes out. The Kid crosses to the phone.

THE KID
(into phone)
I want to be called at 4 p.m. on the
nose. For sure -- Thanks.

CUT TO

INT. LANCEY'S ROOM

In the privacy of his room he shows how close he is to
exhaustion. Wearily, he sits on the bed and begins to remove
his shoes. Then, catching his reflection in the mirror,
straightens.

LANCEY
Not yet he isn't. But he damn well
might.

CUT TO

INT. BEDROOM, BILL'S SUITE - CLOSE SHOT - MELBA

She is in the final stages of undressing. CAMERA MOVES with
her as she steps to The Kid's bedside and gets into bed with
him. Having accomplished this without waking him, she speaks
into his ear in imitation of a hotel phone operator.

MELBA
Good afternoon, sir. It's exactly
four o'clock.

He awakens in considerable confusion. Melba is amused by his
difficulty in adjusting to his circumstances.

MELBA
It's really only about twenty-five
to four. You can stay right where
you are.

THE KID
I don't want you to think I'm getting
too personal, but you mind telling
me how the hell you come to be here?

MELBA
You mean you don't remember last
night? We drank all that champagne
and you said "Let's get married right
away," and we chartered a plane to --

THE KID
Can it --
(then)
Where's Shooter?

MELBA
I locked the door. It's incredible
the way you invariably worry about
The Shooter.

THE KID
It's incredible the way you invariably
don't.

MELBA
Worrying takes time and we don't
have a lot.

THE KID
We're supposed to sit down again at
half past four.

MELBA
Does it really matter so much to you
now, that sense of obligation to The
Shooter?

THE KID
(thinking about Shooter)
I got no obligations to The Shooter.
(then to Melba)
Or to you.

MELBA
Obligations are not what I have in
mind.

CUT TO

INT. LANCEY'S ROOM

He is shaving. Apparently much stronger but his hand is
shaking. He looks at it. It steadies. After a moment he smiles
a little.

CUT TO

INT. BATHROOM, BILL'S SUITE

CAMERA is on the shower door as the SOUND of running water
ceases. The Kid can be seen indistinctly through the door.

THE KID
Reach me a towel?

Melba, who is dressed again and applying her lipstick, comes
into the SHOT, takes a towel from a rack and hands it to him
after he opens the shower door. He gives himself a quick
once-over with it, the secures it around his waist, steps
out of the shower stall, and begins the process of shaving.
Melba meanwhile finishes restoring her makeup.

MELBA
You any idea how much The Shooter
has involved in this game of yours?

THE KID
If Schlaegel bet as much on me as I
heard, I guess he'd pay a nice piece
of change to be sure I won.

MELBA
It's worse than that. Schlaegel staked
him for three years. He has his hooks
so deep in Shooter Man, he'll take
out his liver when he pulls them
out.

The Kid stops shaving and looks at her.

THE KID
You asking me to go along with the
fix?

MELBA
I'm asking you to consider whether
your ego is worth destroying another
man's whole life.

THE KID
You're still working for him. On my
time you're still working for him.

MELBA
What kind of switch is this? You
criticize me for trying to chippie
on him, then I get a little loyal
and you're at me for that.

THE KID
No -- I don't hold it against you.
You wanting to make things right for
him -- but this game I handle my way --
win, lose, or draw.

There is a KNOCK on the door.

MELBA
Rolls and coffee for the hard-headed
hero.

CAMERA PANS to take in the view of the bedroom as she crosses
it to the door, talking as she goes.

MELBA
Believe me Kid there is too much at
stake for us to rely on your doing
it on your own.

She has paused at the door to finish her sentence. Now she
unlocks and opens it -- to Christian. Melba is so taken aback
she can't do anything but stand there holding the door open.
The Kid, in the bathroom in f.g., is similarly frozen in his
tracks. After a moment Christian advances into the room.

REVERSE ANGLE - CHRISTIAN IN F.G.

The scene as it looks to Christian is circumstantially
incriminating. CAMERA MOVES with her gaze from The Kid to
the one mussed bed, to Melba. The faces and the silence of
the two people are even more incriminating than the
circumstances.

CHRISTIAN
Hello, Kid. Hello, Melba.
(a pause)
You said wait home 'til you let me
know.

THE KID
Yeah, that's what I said. We took a
break in the game to catch some sleep.
Shooter sent his woman up here to
wake me up.

MELBA
Yeah, I woke him up.

CHRISTIAN
It don't take much.

MELBA
No, I didn't find it any trouble.
(awkwardly)
Well, you children don't need me,
that's for sure. See you downstairs.
(to Christian)
You, too, honey, right?

CHRISTIAN
I'll be around if The Kid wants me.

THE KID
See you, Melba. Thanks.

MELBA
Por nada, as they say. It was nothing.

She walks past CAMERA and a moment later comes the SOUND of
the door closing behind her. The Kid, who has moved into the
bedroom, crosses to his clothes on a chair, and picks up his
undershorts and trousers. He returns to the bathroom, using
the door for partial concealment as he removes his towel and
puts on his shorts and trousers.

THE KID
You been to the place?

CHRISTIAN
No, I've got my bag downstairs. Maybe
I'll take it over later on tonight.

THE KID
How's your Mama and Papa?

CHRISTIAN
Fine. How's the game going?

The Kid fastens his trousers and returns to the basin to
give his face a last few strokes with the razor and wash off
the soap.

THE KID
It's come to be just me and Lancey.

He comes back into the bedroom to finish dressing. As his
movement brings him fairly close to Christian, he realizes
he hasn't kissed her, and repairs the omission before putting
his shirt on.

CHRISTIAN
(after the kiss)
I was wondering.

THE KID
I got my mind on the cards.

CHRISTIAN
I know. And I don't want to rattle
you. We got plenty to talk about,
but it can all wait. Except I want
to say this. I came back because I
figured if it was going to work with
us, it's silly me sitting home with
Mama while you're playing your big
game. I mean if I'm any use to you
at all, this is when it's most
important.

To The Kid preoccupied by the game and the fix, feeling both
affection and guilt. The idea that she can be any use to him
against Lancey is one he can't grasp.

THE KID
I'm glad you came, Christian. You
got as much right here as anybody.
(then)
More right, I should have said.

CHRISTIAN
Should you?

THE KID
Hell, yes. The change I come out
with when I win this one, you're
going to be the one to spend it.

He moves toward the door.

CHRISTIAN
Eric --

THE KID
(turning back)
Look, I said I'm glad you came --
and that's all until I wrap this up --
I'm a poker player, remember?

She looks at him. After a moment he exits. She follows.

CUT TO:

THE POKER TABLE

It is evening. Lady Fingers deals a first up card to the two
players. The Kid gets an eight, Lancey a jack.

THE KID
The eight'll try two bills.

LANCEY
(turning his card)
No stay.

Lady Fingers scoops up the cards, shuffles them into the
rest of the deck, submits it to Lancey for his cut, and deals
them another two cards apiece -- all in the space of seconds.
The Kid gets a queen, Lancey a nine.

THE KID
Two hundred.

LANCEY
(turning his card)
No stay.

INT. POKER SUITE

CAMERA starts on Yeller, who is stretched out on the loveseat
with his eyes closed and PANS UP to INCLUDE Hoban, who sits
at the observation post with the binoculars. Yeller speaks
without opening his eyes.

YELLER
Anything?

HOBAN
Naaa, Kid paired kings. He wins a
hundred.

CAMERA MOVES on PAST a window, showing it is night outside;
past a group of other spectators; past Bill, Shooter and
Melba who watch the game grimly; and finally to the table,
where The Shooter is dealing again. The Kid is down to his
undershirt, and even Lancey has made a few concessions to
comfort. The players have just been dealt their third cards.
Christian moves up to stand behind The Kid.

LANCEY
Queen bets another C-note.

THE KID
(folding)
Take it away.

He looks up at Christian.

THE KID
Go read a magazine, honey.

She hesitates. Then moves away. Lancey watches this.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. POKER SUITE - CHRISTIAN

It is later at night. The magazine lies open on Christian's
lap; she is staring absently into space.

LADY FINGERS' VOICE (O.S.)
All right, gents. I'm declaring a
break.

The announcement rouses Christian from her reverie.

THE POKER TABLE

Lady Fingers is in the dealer's chair. The two players look
pretty weary.

LADY FINGERS
I break.

THE KID
I don't want a break.

LANCEY
Well, I don't either.

THE KID
Deal.

Lady Fingers puts down the deck. Picks up a new one.

LANCEY
(snapping)
Same deck is good enough.

THE KID
I want a new deck.

LANCEY
Alright, alright -- A new deck then,
Jesus.

THE KID
Deal.

Lady Fingers looks at the two men for a long moment. Puts
the cards down.

LADY FINGERS
You want to deal? Then deal them
yourselves. I'm going to the john.
I'm going to get something to eat,
and I'm going to take a nap. You
barracudas can snap all you want but
at each other -- I'm taking a break
and if you don't like it you can
both go to hell.

She turns and stalks off. Lancey and The Kid look at each
other for a moment, then both grin.

THE KID
I guess we been told.

LANCEY
Looks that way.

THE KID
(rising)
See you in about 3/4 of an hour,
Lancey, right?

LANCEY
Make it an hour. Old bones need a
little more time to loosen up.

THE KID
(meaning it)
Listen, I think it is amazing you've
been able to keep going this long.

As he heads for the door, Lancey reacts to this. Then stands
and looks around the room. Groups of people stand in the
shadows watching silently, not hostile but certainly not
friendly. He is The Man but he is getting beat and nobody is
sorry. After a moment he turns and leaves from a side door.
CAMERA PANS to HOLD on Christian as she stops The Kid by the
door.

INT. POKER SUITE

CHRISTIAN
(taking his hand)
Eric --

SHOOTER
(simultaneously)
Your fan on the fifth floor wants
you to have a bite with him. Alone.

KID
There's nothing to talk about.

SHOOTER
You better, Kid. You don't, you're
only making worse trouble.

Christian scans both their faces as they talk... concerned.

THE KID
If you think so.
(to Christian)
Sorry.

CHRISTIAN
What's wrong?

THE KID
Nothing, Nothing you have to worry
about. I'll see you later.

He heads for the door. Christian looks after him.

THE KID
Get something to eat.

CUT TO:

INT. BILL'S SUITE

Bill and The Kid are sitting at a room-service table. Bill
nibbles at some cheese and crackers while The Kid tackles a
large steak. Felix, the chauffeur, stands in attendance on
them.

BILL
I thought it would be better if you
and I sat down together to see if we
couldn't work out our differences.
Felix!

He motions to Felix, indicating a wine bottle on the table.
Felix steps over and refills The Kid's glass.

THE KID
What I told The Shooter goes.

BILL
Are you saying no before we've even
discussed it? Am I to feel all my
arguments will be wasted?

The Kid just looks at him -- then returns to his meal.

BILL
I'll skip to the final argument.
(then)
More salad, perhaps?

He makes a peremptory gesture to Felix, who springs forward
to offer the salad bowl to The Kid.

BILL
The Shooter will be back dealing
when you start again. He will give
you an occasional helpful card.

THE KID
That's an argument?

BILL
That's a fact. I'm coming to the
argument.

THE KID
I'll give you a fact. I won't let it
happen.

BILL
Is that knife sharp enough? Felix.

Felix jumps into action again. He moves to The Kid's side,
reaches into a breast pocket and takes out a switch blade,
which he clocks open an inch or two from The Kid's neck. It
is an extremely ugly-looking and menacing weapon.

BILL
See if it cuts better with that.

Felix hands the knife to The Kid, who tries it on his steak.

BILL
Sharp?

THE KID
Very. But it don't cut any ice with
me.

He jams the knife in the table and snaps off the blade.

THE KID
(rising)
Not this time. He exits.

INT. HOTEL CORRIDOR

As The Kid exits Christian is waiting for him. He moves down
the corridor, preoccupied. She follows.

THE KID
Did you eat?

CHRISTIAN
No.

THE KID
(stops, looks at her
irritated)
Why not, for Chris sakes?

CHRISTIAN
Eric --

THE KID
(moving away)
You should eat something.

CHRISTIAN
(loudly, stopping)
I've got to talk to you.

He stops, looks at her.

THE KID
Talk.

CHRISTIAN
(fumbling)
It's -- about us. What's going to
happen?

THE KID
(interrupting)
What's going to happen? What's going
to happen for Chris sake is I'm going
to win the game.
(then more softly)
You go back to the apartment, honey,
this might take two more days.

CHRISTIAN
(flatly)
If I go, I'm not going back to the
apartment. If I go -- I'm just going.

THE KID
(after a long moment)
Well, that's up to you, Christian.

He looks at her a moment longer then moves up the corridor.
She watches him, then turns. Standing in the open door some
distance away are Schlaegel and Felix.

CUT TO:

INT. POKER SUITE - THE SHOOTER'S HANDS

Shuffling the cards. CAMERA PULLS BACK enough to see his
face as he looks across at The Kid. CAMERA PANS to a CLOSE
SHOT of The Kid, and then past a couple of spectators,
including Christian and Melba, to Bill, whose eyes are on
The Kid. Finally CAMERA PANS back to The Kid.

THE KID
I told you, Shooter -- I won't go
for it.

THE POKER TABLE - INCLUDING BILL

Both The Shooter and Bill are aware of a portentous note in
The Kid's tone.

LANCEY
What's up?

THE KID
The Shooter's not well. He didn't
want to spoil the game, but he ought
to be resting... He ought to be in
the hospital.

LANCEY
Well, we got Lady Fingers. Or we can
deal ourselves.

SHOOTER
I'm okay. What The Kid's talking
about is nothing. It's just not
important.

THE KID
It is to me... You want to kill
yourself, do it on your own time.

Lancey looks from The Kid to The Shooter, sensing that there
may be something more behind this, but not knowing just what.

LANCEY
I got to go along with that, Shooter.
Lady Fingers! You ready?

CLOSE SHOT - LADY FINGERS

Rising from her chair.

LADY FINGERS
Like Eddie the Dude said on his
deathbed, I'm as ready as I'll ever
be.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. POKER SUITE - CLOSE SHOT - THE KID AND POKER HAND

The four cards showing are the ace, ten and two little clubs.
As CAMERA PULLS BACK we also have time to note The Kid's
stake. He is still ahead. Lancey counts out five hundred
dollars from his stake, leaving about thirteen thousand, and
puts it into a pot that already contains around a thousand.

LANCEY
I can't persuade myself you have the
flush.

The Kid turns up the jack of clubs.

LANCEY
Now I can.

The Kid pulls in the money.

(TIME LAPSE)

INT. POKER SUITE - THE KID - LANCEY - AND POKER HANDS

Both men are showing the strain. Perhaps Lancey the most as
he appears to be consistently losing. Showing are two nines
and two odd cards.

LANCEY'S VOICE (O.S.)
I'm going to pay the price to look
at that third nine.

The kid turns up another nine and reaches for the money.

LANCEY'S VOICE (O.S.)
Caveat emptor. New deck, please.

(TIME LAPSE)

THE POKER TABLE - FROM BEHIND THE KID

He shows a pair of eights and two odd cards against Lancey's
pair of queens. He takes another look at his hole card, and
we see that it is of no help to him.

THE KID
Pair of eights bets an even thousand
dollars.

HOBAN AND YELLER

They are both sitting on the back of the loveseat now. The
binoculars pass from one to the other. Both men are tense
over the growing excitement of the game.

YELLER
Ten bucks and my notoriously fallible
instinct tells me the boy is bluffing
this time.

HOBAN
Mark it.

CAMERA MOVES to the other four remaining spectators:
Christian, Melba, The Shooter and Bill. They are close enough
to see the cards but too close to discuss them.

THE POKER TABLE

The kid has almost half the money in front of him now, and
is playing with increasing assurance and pressure.

LANCEY
(turning his cards)
I'm not that curious.

HOBAN AND YELLER

HOBAN
(excitement in his
voice)
The Kid is pushing it and making it
stick.

CAMERA MOVES to the other four spectators as they react to
The Kid's successful streak.

SHOOTER
(in a low voice)
He's getting to him.

And it looks that way. Lancey appears old and unsure. The
Kid sharp and cold. A young barracuda moving in for the kill.

CAMERA MOVES in close to Christian as she tries to catch The
Kid's eye. Thinking she has it, she smiles her encouragement.

FEATURING THE KID

He looks right at her and doesn't seem to see her. Lady
Fingers has dealt the first up cards of a new hand, and Lancey
is high.

LANCEY
Two hundred.

THE KID
And up five.

LANCEY
Fold.

CLOSE - CHRISTIAN

Amid the growing excitement and tension she is a complete
outsider.

(TIME LAPSE)

THE POKER TABLE

The Kid shows two jacks and two odd cards; Lancey a pair of
aces and two odd cards. Lancey puts about eight hundred
dollars into the pot.

LANCEY
Betting the jack isn't there, Kid.

The Kid exposes his hidden jack.

SHOOTER, BILL AND MELBA

Greed and an almost vicious satisfaction marks their faces
as they watch Lancey falter. The Shooter whispers to Bill
just loud enough for the girl to hear.

SHOOTER
We're in -- I think he's got him.

Christian looks at them, then at The Kid. Hesitates a moment
then suddenly gets to her feet and starts for the door. Only
Melba notices her, and even she doesn't have time to question
her. CAMERA FOLLOWS Christian to the suite entrance, where
she picks up her bag then turns to look back at the table.

FEATURING THE KID

The place where Christian was sitting is right in his line
of vision but he hasn't observed her departure.

CLOSE SHOT - CHRISTIAN

She goes on out the door.

INT. POKER SUITE - ANGLE INCLUDING WINDOW

The second dawn of the contest is near at hand. The room,
continuously lived in for so long by so many people, is a
shambles of dirty glasses and plates, empty bottles, full
wastebaskets and ash trays, and frayed people. At the poker
table, Lady Fingers is dealing a new hand.

LADY FINGERS
A jack and a ten. Jack bets.

CAMERA MOVES in close enough for us to see the cards. Lancey
has the jack of hearts, The Kid the ten of clubs.

LANCEY
Jack is willing to wager two hundred
dollars.

The Kid takes his first look at his hole card.

CLOSE SHOT - SHOWING FACE OF HOLE CARD

It is the queen of hearts.

THE KID
And up five hundred.

Lancey looks at him a long moment. His face pale and shaken.
The Kid is beating him. Pushing -- buying -- always pressing
and Lancey knows he is losing one hand at a time, not badly
but consistently and inevitably. His age and fatigue are a
strong handicap for the long pull. Then his face settles as
if he had come to a decision. He smiles lightly summoning
some last reserve of strength, almost as if he knows this
will be the last hand, win or lose.

LANCEY
Call your five hundred and five
hundred more.

THE KID
(after a brief
hesitation)
Call.

HOBAN AND YELLER

HOBAN
Fifty to one hundred says Lancey
paired his jacks.

YELLER
Mark it.

THE POKER TABLE

Lady Fingers deals the ten of diamonds to The Kid, giving
him a pair, and the ten of hearts to Lancey.

LADY FINGERS
Pair of tens. Jack, ten of hearts.

THE KID
Five hundred.

LANCEY
Your five hundred -- and up one
thousand.

The raise is a surprise. The Kid's eyes go up to study
Lancey's face, even though he knows what a futile effort
that is.

HOBAN AND YELLER

HOBAN
Fifty to seventy-five he's got the
jacks wired.

YELLER
Mark it -- Could be a high heart.
Queen's the best, but that old man
can be cocky with an ace or a deuce.
'Specially having one of The Kid's
tens.

THE POKER TABLE

LADY FINGERS
One thousand to the tens.

THE KID
Call.

LADY FINGERS
(dealing)
A third ten, and a nine of hearts to
the ten, jack.

SERIES OF ANGLES

The Kid, Lancey, Shooter, Melba, Schlaegel, Yeller, Hoban
and others as they realize this could be the big hand.

HOBAN
He'll run. He's beat on the board
anyway you look at it. Even if he
has the jacks it is better than eight
to one against improving.

YELLER
He won't run and I don't think he's
got the jacks. I think he's going
for the flush.

THE KID
(after a moment)
Two thousand, five hundred dollars.

Lancey looks at him, then at the cards. The moment stretches.

LADY FINGERS
(finally)
Two thousand, five hundred dollars
to the three hearts.

Lancey looks at her. His face briefly showing his anger. The
Kid notices this and reacts.

LANCEY
(finally, casually)
Reasonable bet. Two thousand five
hundred.
(he counts out the
money to Lady Fingers)
Deal them.

SHOOTER
(knowing this is it)
He's going for it and The Kid's got
him. He's going all the way.

LADY FINGERS
(dealing)
A queen of diamonds to the three
tens.
(a note of excitement
in her voice)
And an eight of hearts to the possible
flush. Possible straight flush. Three
tens bet.

The Kid checks the amount of money in front of him.

THE SHOOTER AND BILL

They exchange a quick look of satisfaction, and then their
eyes go back to the cards.

HOBAN AND YELLER

They each take a quick turn with the binoculars.

HOBAN
If The Kid bets into the flush he's
filled up with a queen in the hole.

YELLER
If The Man has a flush or a straight,
he goes under.
(then)
But not with both.

FROM BEHIND THE KID

He looks at his hole card. It is still the queen of hearts.
He has a full house, which has to be the winning hand unless
Lancey had the audacity to bet out with a jack-seven of
hearts, and to raise The Kid with a jack-ten-seven.

THE KID
Bet what's in front of me. Make it
fifty-four hundred bucks.

He counts out all his money except a few smaller bills.

THE WATCHERS

Reacting.

FEATURING LANCEY

He takes his time before he responds.

LANCEY
Fifty-four hundred bucks is a nice
piece of money.
(counting it out)
I see the bet and raise sixty-seven
hundred.

Slowly and deliberately, revealing nothing in his face, he
reaches into his breast pocket and takes out a slim wallet
and begins to let the bills flutter out on the table. The
Kid looks at him frozen.

THE SHOOTER AND BILL

Bill hisses softly into The Shooter's ear.

BILL
Kid has him, doesn't he?

But The Shooter, like the Kid, is white-faced and frozen by
the raise.

THE REMAINING SPECTATORS

They crowd in close to the table: Hoban, Yeller, Bill, The
Shooter, and Melba.

KID
(after a long moment)
I'm taking my half hour to raise my
stake.

LADY FINGERS
I declare a thirty-minute break.
Leave your cards and money on the
table. The game will start again at
five forty-five.

LANCEY
I'll take your marker, Kid.

KID
I can raise it.

LANCEY
I know you can.

KID
Long as you know.
(he raps the table)
-- Call.

LANCEY
(turns up a heart
seven)
Straight flush to the jack -- That's
$6700 you owe me, Kid.

CLOSE SHOT - THE KID

There is nothing to be gained from a poker face now, and he
reacts with a stunned expression in which all the accumulated
strain and fatigue is beginning to show. CAMERA MOVES among
the spectators: Hoban and Yeller, who are sorry for The Kid
and admiring of Lancey; Bill, who is all the more angry at
his defeat because his hopes were up; The Shooter, who is a
very unhappy man; and Melba, whose anger at the Kid is
balanced by her fear of Schlaegel and what will happen to
The Shooter and possibly to her.

THE POKER TABLE

Lancey pulls in the money while The Kid stares at him dumbly.
Lady Fingers riffles the cards.

LANCEY
New deck.

LADY FINGERS
Are you playing, Kid? You got a half
an hour to raise your stake.

KID
No -- I'm through.

LADY FINGERS
(formally)
Gentlemen, this game is over.

LANCEY
You're one hell of a poker player,
Kid. That was a rough hand.

KID
Thanks.

LANCEY
What's the tab for the whole show?

As he settles up, the CAMERA FOLLOWS The Kid to his brandy
bottle. As he pours himself a slug, Melba and Shooter join
him.

CLOSER ANGLE

MELBA
You had to do it, didn't you -- you
had to go for it your own way.
(then, as The Kid
doesn't answer)
Well, sonny, I hope you learned
something. I know we sure as hell
did.

KID
Where's Christian?

MELBA
She's gone. She's got too much sense
to stick with a two bit loser.

SHOOTER
Shut up.
(then:)
Sorry, Kid.

KID
Yeah.
(then:)
I should have known he had it, Shooter
Man. I walked into it.

SHOOTER
(trying to grin as
Schlaegel and Felix
move up)
Well, Kid, it's like I said -- you
just wasn't ready.

BILL
(to The Shooter)
Are you ready, Shooter Man? We're
having a meeting and I suggest you
join us.

Shooter looks at him a moment and nods, and taking Melba by
the arm, moves toward the door followed by Felix.

MELBA
Why me -- I'm not part of this.

SHOOTER
(jerking her forward)
Oh, yes you are -- you and your big
mouth -- you're part of it all right.

SCHLAEGEL
He's right, my dear. Now run along
with Felix. We're going to have a
long talk about that big mouth of
yours.

Melba starts to protest, but Felix jerks her out the door.
Shooter hesitates, then follows.

DIFFERENT ANGLE

Schlaegel turns to The Kid.

SCHLAEGEL
I was wrong. I figured you for brains.
But you're a loser, Kid. You had a
chance to play with grownups and you
ran.
(then, as Lancey and
Lady Fingers approach)
They weren't playing your game. They
were playing mine. Think about that
while you find a place to hide. But
hide good, Kid -- because I got a
message for you and I'm going to see
it delivered.

The Kid looks at him, looks at Lancey and Lady Fingers,
wondering about what Schlaegel has said, angry about it.

THE KID
Any time.

Schlaegel nods, moves to the door.

NEW ANGLE

Lancey and Lady Fingers join The Kid.

LADY FINGERS
Never thought I'd see the day. You
raising tens on a lousy three-flush.

LANCEY
Gets down to what it's all about,
doesn't it? Making the wrong play at
the right time.

THE KID
(sharply)
That's what it's all about?
(then, as Lancey looks
at him and doesn't
answer)
You were crazy -- odds are three
hundred to one against.

LANCEY
(after a moment)
I don't play a percentage game. I
play stud poker my way. And I got
the money and you got the questions.
Figure that out.
(then, not unkindly)
You're good. But as long as I'm
around, you're second best, Kid...
and you might as well learn to live
with it.

The Kid looks at him and doesn't answer.

LANCEY
Look me up if you're in Miami after
Christmas. Stillson Hotel.

He smiles his very pleasant smile and goes out the door.

SCENE

Lancey stops surrounded by a crowd of admirers offering their
congratulations. The Kid watches for a moment then takes a
long drink out of the bottle and eases through the crowd and
out the door.

INT. CORRIDOR

as The Kid moves down the hall and enters the elevator.

INT. LOBBY

as he moves through the almost deserted lobby into the street.

EXT. ST. LOUIS STREET - DAWN EFFECT

SERIES OF ANGLES of the Kid walking alone through the city.
During the above there is an impression someone is following
him.

EXT. DESERTED STREET NEAR THE KID'S APARTMENT

He turns a corner and there is a man blocking his path.
Suddenly three men move in behind him. He turns, trapped.

CLOSER ANGLE

The men are four of the original seven players he hustled in
the opening scene.

NOTE: During the progression of the game first one, then
two, then all four men will be included among the observers.
Always in the background, never positively identified. Their
presence should be felt if not recognized.

DANNY
So it ain't Eric Stone, from the
foundry. It's the Cincinnati Kid
King of the stud poker players.

THE KID
No -- not the King -- not much of
anything right now.

DANNY
(moving towards him)
We'll start with giving you back
what you gave me.

He moves toward The Kid.

CHRISTIAN (O.S.)
Eric --

The men hesitate.

NEW ANGLE

as Christian gets out of a taxi.

DANNY
(as she moves toward
them)
Tell her good-bye, sport. You ain't
going any place.

THE KID
I know that.

He crosses to Christian.

CHRISTIAN
Are you all right?

CLOSER ANGLE

THE KID
I'm fine.
(then)
Weren't you going to say good-bye?

CHRISTIAN
I said good-bye.

THE KID
Yeah, I guess you did.
(then)
You don't know if I won or lost do
you?

CHRISTIAN
No -- it doesn't really matter.
(then after a long
moment)
I love you, Kid -- and it's not
enough.

THE KID
Yeah, I know.

TAXI DRIVER
(calling)
Listen, Lady, it's coming on the
morning rush. I got to have one fare
after another or I'm behind for the
day.

Christian doesn't answer. She looks at The Kid for a long
moment, then turns and goes. He watches her. She enters the
cab and it leaves. The Kid just stands there.

DIFFERENT ANGLE

Danny and the others move up around him. The Kid ignores
them. After a moment Danny swings from behind and knocks him
to the pavement. He lies there stunned for a moment. They
look down at him. Then he comes up. He flattens two in the
process of being badly beaten. They leave him.

DIFFERENT ANGLES

as the city awakens. Finally, he stirs, stands and walks
away.

FADE OUT

THE END

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