"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 ]










CROUPIER

A screenplay by

Paul Mayersberg























Shooting Script



Copyright 1988
Paul Mayersberg
All rights reserved.



FADE IN:

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

A roulette table. The PUNTERS place their bets. TWELVE
PLAYERS, nine men, three women. The FACES of the men, all
ages, intense, hopeful, fearful. Which of them is JACK?

JACK'S VOICE
Now he had become the still centre
of that spinning wheel of
misfortune.

A MAN'S hand spins the wheel. The ball is thrown against
the spin. Hands, faces, chips...

JACK'S VOICE
The world turned round him...
leaving him miraculously untouched
The little white ball circles the
spinning wheel.

The PUNTERS'S faces as the ball starts to bounce. All eyes
are on the bouncing ball.

JACK'S VOICE
The croupier had reached his goal.
He no longer heard the sound of
the ball.

The back of the CROUPIER'S hand, his slicked-back short
hair, razor cut. The CAMERA moves around to his face...

JACK'S VOICE
To begin with he was Jack Manfred...

whistling sound takes Jack back in time.

INT. PUBLISHER'S OFFICE - DAY

JACK is walking through a maze of open-plan partitioned
offices. He ls casually but fashionably dressed, hair dyed
blond long, a nervous elegance about him, almost
unrecognisable from the croupier's face.

He searches for the right office. He finds it. The name on
the open is GILES CREMORNE.

INT. GILES' OFFICE - DAY

GILES CREMORNE, a public schoolboy in his late twenties
comes forward and vigorously shakes JACK'S hand. Jacketless,
he wears yellow braces. Next to his tidy desk is a slot
machine.

GILES
Take a pew, Jack. You look well.
What's it been, two years since we
broke bread?

GILES has an upper-class accent, but an acquired street
manner.

JACK
Three years, two months. March
'93.

GILES
What a memory you've got. Maths
always was your strong suit. What
happened to the moaning Lisa?

JACK
She went back to South Africa.

GILES
(digging)
Did she?
(smiles)
You were pretty thick at one time.

JACK
We all played the field.

GILES frowns at a memory, an implication. GILES'S mobile
phone buzzes. He picks up.

GILES
Hi-ya... I'll call you back.
(to Jack)
Now then...

JACK
(suddenly)
I want a job, Giles.

GILES
(cautiously)
All right. As what?

JACK
I was thinking perhaps I could be
a reader. You employ readers, don't
you?

GILES
We do. For unsolicited manuscripts.
We pay twenty pounds a manuscript.
You might get two, maybe three in
a week. Can you live on sixty
pounds?

JACK opens a pack of Gitanes.

GILES
Sorry. This is a no-smoking office,
Jack. You've written a book, haven't
you? I didn't read it myself, but --

A WOMAN SECRETARY puts her head into the office.

GILES
Give me ten minutes, Fiona.

FIONA puts a fax on GILES'S desk, smiles at JACK, and goes.

GILES
Fiona used to read for me.

He winks at JACK.

GILES
Let me tell you about our operation.
We like personality authors. People
the public recognises. Celebrity's
what sells books. We can always
find someone to do the writing.
First, we need the face. Then the
concept.
(he is reading the
fax)
Right now I'm looking for a soccer
novel. Something where a tycoon
buys a lousy team and takes it to
the top. Seven figure transfer
fees. Corruption all down the line.
Violence on and off the pitch.
Steroids. Got any concepts? It
could be a thug story. I tell you
what. Why don't you think about
it. A couple of pages. The pitch.
Steroids. Got any concepts? It
could be a thug story. I tell you
what. Why don't you think about
it. A couple of pages.
(smiles)
With plenty of sex, of course.

GILES pops a coin into the slot machine, pulls the handle,
waits.

JACK
Interesting, Giles. I will think
about it.

The machine spits out several coins. GILES takes them.

GILES
Let me give you three words of
advice, Jack. Don't give up. Stick
with it. Who persists wins. That's
my motto. Write, write, write.

JACK nods, extends his hand. A firm handshake.

JACK'S VOICE
Jack had three words for, Giles.
Go fuck yourself.

Meeting over. GILES smiles goodbye, pockets his slot machine
winnings.

INT. JACK'S BASEMENT FLAT - SITTING ROOM - DAY

The untidy evidence. To the accompaniment of the music, a
discordant version, three dog-eared copies of 'The Invention
Of The Wheel', A Novel by JACK MANFRED. Worn furniture. A
pile of literary magazines. Two elegantly arranged vases
of flowers. Women's fashion magazines. Books everywhere,
including 'Scarne on Gambling', 'The Education of A Poker
Player', 'Delta of Venus' and other books by Anais Nin. A
woman's dress, back from the cleaners. A framed etching of
Cape Town, South Africa, in the eighteenth century.
Finally...

Beneath the iron barred window, with a view of the iron
steps down from the street, JACK sits at the dining table.
In front of him is a word processor. He toys with a glass
of vodka, smoking a Gitane, and leafing through a soccer
fan magazine. He starts to touch-type, looking at the
screen, not the keyboard. Words appear, letter by letter...
THE BALL... A NOVEL... BY JACK MANFRED. He pauses to drink.

EXT. PHONE BOOTH - DAY

A MAN, face unseen, steps into a phone booth. CLOSE ON:
his hands. It is impossible to tell where he is.

He opens his pocket book, addresses, diary etc., and
searches through for something.

EXT. PHONE BOOTH - DAY

He finds what he's looking for: a small photograph, among
others of girls, of a ten year-old boy in school uniform.
On the back are three phone numbers, two of them crossed
out. The MAN lifts the receiver, inserts coins. He starts
to press the numbers. There are CLOSE-UPS of his finger
pressing the sequence of digits, each one CLOSER, longer
than the one before, until...

INT. JACK'S SITTING ROOM - DAY

The phone rings. JACK looks to the answering machine, waits
for the voice.

MAN'S VOICE
Jacko, if you're there, pick up. I
want to talk to you. It's important.

JACK hesitates, then picks up.

JACK
Dad, I'm here.

EXT. PHONE BOOTH - DAY

The MAN is handsome, tanned, 50ish, white shirt, dark tie.
He is JACK'S father.

JACK SR.
How's it going?

The subsequent conversation is INTERCUT between SITTING
ROOM and PHONE BOOTH.

JACK
Great.

JACK SR.
Found a job?

JACK
No.

JACK SR.
Well I've got something for you.
In London, I mean. I've been
chatting to some friends. Do you
know the Golden Lion casino? It's
in Bayswater, I believe... They're
looking for a dealer, a croupier.

JACK SR pulls out a cigarette - a Gitanes.

JACK
That's not what I want to do, dad.

JACK stubs his cigarette out.

JACK SR.
(lighting his
cigarette)
Don't be stubborn. The pay won't
be grand, but it's regular. That's
what you need, isn't it? I know
you don't like taking my advice...

JACK
(drinks)
It's not that.

JACK SR.
I've set this up for you. Call the
Golden Lion and ask for Mr Reynolds,
he's the Manager. I don't know him
personally, but I've spoken to his
boss. Don't say no, Jacko. Give
yourself a break.

JACK reaches for a cigarette.

JACK
All right, I'll think about it.

I won't. Goodbye, dad.

JACK SR.
Just do it. You've got the knack,
you've got the personality, you
got that from me.

JACK lights up.

JACK SR.
You understand the punters. Think
about it, you can write during the
day and sleep knowing the bills
are paid.

As he speaks, he watches passing WOMEN.

JACK SR.
For Christ's sake, Jacko, don't
look a gift horse in the mouth.
Have you written that name down?
Reynolds, at the Golden Lion.
(exhales)

JACK
(exhales)
All right, dad. Yes, I'll call
him.

JACK is not enthusiastic, but he scribbles the name down
on a pad.

JACK
So how are you doing, dad?

JACK SR.
Great. I've just started a new
company. Solid financing. It's
good.
(pause)
I love you Jacko, you know that

JACK
Yes, I know that.

JACK SR.
Don't let yourself down.

JACK
I won't. Goodbye, dad.

JACK hangs up.

INT. PHONE BOOTH - DAY

Stubbing out his cigarette, JACK SR. leaves the booth. We
now see where he is. A beach bar in South Africa. He walks
to the bar and....goes behind it, slipping on his barman's
jacket. A WOMAN in dark mirror glasses and a bathing suit
is waiting.

JACK SR.
(smiles)
Sorry to keep you. What'll you
have?

INT. JACK'S SITTING ROOM - DAY

JACK, disturbed by the call, pours himself a vodka. He
looks at what he's written: 'THE BALL... A NOVEL BY...
JACK MANFRED.'

JACK'S VOICE
Jack knew something was wrong.
He'd forgotten Giles' advice. Giles
said three words.

JACK inserts a word in the title. It now reads: 'ON THE
BALL'. JACK drinks. After a moment...

JACK'S VOICE
JACK'S VOICE No. Jack knew it still
wasn't quite right...

He types: 'IN THE BALLS'. Then, on reflection, deletes 'IN
THE'. Through the iron bars JACK watches feet pass on the
street above. A drunk drops a beer can over. The can falls
in SLOW MOTION but the clatter is loud.

DRUNK'S VOICE
I want to fuck the whole world
over.

INT. CASINO - DAY

Reception area. The CAMERA turns around the fake glitz of
the interior: brass, drapes, polished wood, mirrors, and
moves towards the front door.

JACK'S VOICE
Welcome back Jack... to the house
of addiction.

The door opens. Against a blaze of street daylight, JACK'S
silhouette appears. The CAMERA moves forward to greet him.
JACK removes his wristwatch.

INT. CASINO - MANAGER'S OFFICE - DAY

JACK shakes hands with DAVID REYNOLDS, a cold man in his
late forties, dead behind the eyes.

REYNOLDS
David Reynolds, I'm the Manager
here. Sit down, John.

JACK
Jack.

REYNOLDS examines a file in front of him.

REYNOLDS
You've been recommended by the
management here. They know your
father. He has a bit of a
reputation, hasn't he?

JACK
(frowns)
Has he?

REYNOLDS
In any case, I understand you've
had some previous experience... in
South Africa.
(Jack nods)
You'll find the rules a little
different here. Before we start,
you haven't got a police record,
have you?

JACK
No.

REYNOLDS opens the door. He lets JACK go on ahead.

REYNOLDS
Where did you go to school?

JACK
(surpised)
I was at Beadles.

REYNOLDS
I don't think I know that one.
Private, I suppose.

INT. CASINO - HALL - DAY

The full overhead lights give the casino an exposed, tacky
appearance, devoid of mystery or glamour. The place has
roulette tables and blackjack counters. It is deserted
except for several CLEANING LADIES, vacuuming, emptying
ashtrays. REYNOLDS walks with JACK, talking.

REYNOLDS
There are three types of casino in
the U.K. High volume. Small faction.
And MOTR. That's middle of the
road. Us.

JACK
Do you have a Salon Prive?

REYNOLDS
We tried. But there wasn't enough
business. The punters like company.

REYNOLDS goes to one of the tables with JACK.

REYNOLDS
Let's see you handle the chips.

He slides open a box and tips 200 chips of varying
denominations onto the table.

JACK
I have to assume the serial numbers
on the bowl and cylinder correspond.

REYNOLDS
We check every four days.

JACK
Why four? And not three or five?

REYNOLDS
(shrugs)
It's the procedure here. Now sort
the chips.

JACK starts to stack the chips in piles from a hundred
pounds to five. REYNOLDS watches. JACK'S fingers work fast.
In a matter of moments he has the lot stacked.

JACK
Stacks of 20. Rows of 5.

REYNOLDS
Any exceptions?

JACK
25 pounds or 25 pence in fours.

REYNOLDS
Give me 365.

He presses a stopwatch in his hand. JACK quickly sets out
four neat piles, three of 100, one of 65. All four piles
are in denominations of ten and five.

REYNOLDS
Very good. Now take these colours...

He throws a pile of blue and white chips on the table.
The blue are 10, the white are 5.

REYNOLDS
I want 780, but I want 500 in
denominations of 25.

JACK nods and gets to work. His fingers make Reynolds's
ticking watch seem slow.

REYNOLDS
(impressed)
Very good.

INT. CASINO - DAY

Now at a roulette table, REYNOLDS has prepared the bets
for fifteen punters. It's a set-up to test Jack's style
and concentration. REYNOLDS gives JACK the white ball.

JACK
You use two alternating, don't
you?

REYNOLDS
We do.
(hands him a second
ball)

JACK
(hesitates)
Where's the magnet?

REYNOLDS
They've been tested.

JACK spins the wheel, throws the ball against the turn.

JACK
No more bets.

As the ball begins to bounce, but before it stops, REYNOLDS
turns to a CLEANING LADY who's emptying some ashtrays
nearby.

REYNOLDS
Could you stop that for a minute?

The WOMAN looks up, surprised. JACK watches, then catches
sight of REYNOLDS surreptitiously moving a chip onto the
third line.

JACK
I'm sorry, sir, I've called no
more bets.

JACK reaches across, takes the chip and puts it on the
wood Grounding the wheel. REYNOLDS nods approvingly. The
ball stops.

JACK
23 Red. Odd.

He now rakes away the losers' chips and pays out the
smallest first, before getting to the major pay-out on 23.
It's all very efficient and speedy.

REYNOLDS is increasingly impressed.

REYNOLDS
Haven't you forgotten something?

JACK
(thinks)
I don't think so.

REYNOLDS
Wipe your hands.

JACK takes out a handkerchief.

REYNOLDS
Not with your own cloth. Besides,
your pockets will be stitched.

JACK
What happens if I want to sneeze?

REYNOLDS
You won't. Not without permission.

JACK laughs. REYNOLDS smiles. They like each other.

REYNOLDS
Fine. Now let's move on.

INT. CASINO - DAY

A blackjack table. JACK is turning cards over for five
punters in an arc. REYNOLDS is moving from one chair to
the next playing each of the five hands.

REYNOLDS
How many aces are left?

JACK
Five.

REYNOLDS
I make it six.

JACK
Five.

REYNOLDS looks down at the table.

REYNOLDS
What makes you so sure?

JACK
It's a rule. Always stand by your
first count. The odds are you're
right.

REYNOLDS
Good call.

JACK pulls out the shoe.

JACK
You want me to check?

REYNOLDS
(irritably)
I said good call.

REYNOLDS walks away. JACK puts the shoe back. He takes his
watch out of his pocket, glances at it.

JACK'S VOICE
It had taken him 45 minutes, but
Jack now had Mr Reynolds's number.
The man couldn't count.

INT. CASINO - OFFICE - DAY

Back in the office REYNOLDS is talking to JACK. On
REYNOLDS'S desk is a framed photograph of his suburban
wife and two kids.

REYNOLDS
Let me just run through a few
things. As a dealer you never
gamble, not anywhere. We'll need
your picture.

JACK
What for?

REYNOLDS
For the database. It can be accessed
by every casino in the country. We
have the same system for punters.

JACK
I don't gamble.

REYNOLDS
Ever?

JACK
I don't gamble, Mr Reynolds.

REYNOLDS doesn't pursue it.

REYNOLDS
Next point. Friendships between
croupiers inside or outside the
casino are discouraged.
Relationships with females working
here are expressly forbidden.

JACK
We had the same rule at Sun City,
but it was impossible to check.

REYNOLDS
This isn't South Africa. We'd know,
because someone would report it.
Believe me, someone always does.

JACK
Does know? Or does report? What
would happen if I knew something
like that and didn't report it?

REYNOLDS
We'd know. There are no secrets in
this casino. You'd be punished.

JACK
How?

REYNOLDS
First offence: verbal warning.
Second offence: written warning.
That one's filed and sometimes
copied to the Gaming Board. My
discretion. Third offence: you're
sacked on the spot. You'd never
work in a casino in this country
again. There's another rule: you're
forbidden to talk to or recognise
a punter outside the casino. If
you see someone who's gambled here,
even if it's just casually on the
street, you must ignore him. Or
her. You're not married, are you?

JACK shakes his head

REYNOLDS
Girlfriend?

JACK
Yes.

REYNOLDS
She's not in the gaming business
is she?

JACK
No.

INT. CASINO - "CROW'S NEST" - DAY

A CCTV Centre over the casino. JACK crosses the room,
looking down through a glass floor at the empty casino
below. REYNOLDS walks over to a series of twenty or more
banked TV monitors with many Video 8 tape decks.

REYNOLDS
This is our Crow's Nest. I'm showing
it to you now, but you'll never
see it again.

JACK
Very impressive.

REYNOLDS
We have tapes in here that go back
six months. Let me show you
something.

REYNOLDS presses a button. Together they look at a TV
monitor which shows an overlook of a roulette table where
a WOMAN is cheating. REYNOLDS freezes the frame.

REYNOLDS
See that? That was six weeks ago.
The dealer missed it. The guy up
here missed it, but I watch these
tapes after hours. Nothing gets by
me. Now the lady's in jail. It's
easier to take ten million pounds
from a bank than take one penny
from this casino.

INT. CASINO - MANAGER'S OFFICE - DAY

Again in the office. REYNOLDS extends his hand. JACK shakes
it.

REYNOLDS
You can start Monday week.

JACK
Fine.

REYNOLDS
That hair will have to go.

JACK
Fine.

Pause.

REYNOLDS
Are you planning to make a career
in casino work?

JACK'S VOICE
And end up like you?

JACK
I just want the job.

REYNOLDS
Jack, you're not the usual type we
get here.

JACK'S VOICE
Mr Reynolds was right. It was true.
Jack was up above the world. An
artist, living in the clouds.
Looking down.

A HIGH ANGLED SHOT of the office, JACK and REYNOLDS. The
phone rings.

REYNOLDS
Excuse me...

REYNOLDS picks up and listens. The CAMERA descends.

REYNOLDS
I can't talk about this now... no,
I'm with somebody. They can wait!
I'll be home at the usual time...
all right, I'll call you back in
an hour...
(hangs up)
Don't ever get married, Jack. Casino
work doesn't mix with house and
garden. Any questions?

The CAMERA reaches a LOW ANGLE on JACK, looking up.

JACK
Yes. What's the salary?

EXT. CAR - STREETS - TWILIGHT

The street lamps have come on. JACK is at the wheel of a
Sixties Austin-Healey.

JACK'S VOICE
The casino paid its staff monthly
in arrears. He would have to wait
six weeks for his first cheque. He
needed money now.

EXT. USED CAR LOT - TWILIGHT

Under a canopy of coloured lights A CAR DEALER is walking
round jack's car, examining it.

DEALER
(fake American accent)
What kind of deal you looking to?

JACK
What's the Blue Book price?

DEALER
That's not relevant. An old car
like this, it depends on the
condition.

JACK'S VOICE
The car was a gift from Jack's
father. That's to say, Jack Senior
had given it to him before the
bailiffs arrived.

The DEALER picks at the cracked leather seats, the
protruding stuffing, the chipped dashboard, the rust.

DEALER
This ain't exactly what you'd call
mint.

He bends down and looks underneath the car.

JACK
How about fifteen hundred?

DEALER
How about five hundred.

JACK
What?!

DEALER
How about we split the diff...
Seven-fifty.

JACK
Is that your idea of arithmetic?

DEALER
I'm not a mathematician. I'm in
business.

JACK
Eight-fifty.

DEALER
Seven-fifty.

The DEALER looks at JACK. JACK stares back. It's as if one
is waiting for the other to blink first. Neither blinks.

JACK'S VOICE
He suddenly wanted to be rid of
it. 'Hang on tightly, let go
lightly'. It was a saying Jack
remembered.

JACK leans into the open car and takes out his hat and
cigarettes. He has accepted the offer. The music begins...

INT. UNDERGROUND - NIGHT

... And continues. JACK stands, with an unlit cigarette,
in a crowded moving train. He looks at the faces, MEN and
WOMEN. He sees PEOPLE reading books. He looks at the TITLES:
Romantic fiction, Classics, Business Management, Thrillers,
Self-Help, Cooking....

JACK'S VOICE
Jack imagined people reading his
book. One day he would enter their
heads, play with their imaginations,
test their feelings...

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

JACK crosses the road. He turns down a side street where
Victorian houses have been converted into flats. There are
scores of 'For Sale' and 'To Let' signs down the street.

JACK'S VOICE
He would tell them you have to
make a choice in life. Be a gambler
or a croupier. And then live with
your decision come what may.

He goes down into a basement, closing the iron gate behind
him.

INT. JACK'S BASEMENT FLAT - NIGHT

JACK unlocks the door, goes in, to the accompaniment of
street sounds and a dog barking.

JACK'S VOICE
Marion saw life differently. She
was a romantic. And thought he was
too.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - NIGHT

Radio music is playing from another room. An orchestral
version of 'Try a Little Tenderness'. JACK comes in, hangs
his hat up, looks around. He sees a neatly arranged vase
of flowers that wasn't there before. He goes to the bedroom.

INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

JACK sees on the bed, an open box and a carrier bag from a
designer department store. Among the white tissue paper is
a simple black silk dress and lace-decorated black
underwear. He smiles and picks up the knickers. He goes to
the open bathroom door, from which comes the music.

INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT

A radio plays beside the bath. The water is draining away.

MARION NEIL, a red-haired woman in her mid-thirties, wearing
a bathrobe with the name MARION on it is examining the
lines on her neck in the half-steamed bathroom mirror. She
sees JACK, turns with a smile. JACK holds up the black
knickers.

MARION
I couldn't resist them.

JACK
You mean I won't resist them.

JACK goes to her.

MARION
No, no. I'm not ready for you.
There's some vodka in the freezer.

JACK
You want me drunk?

MARION
(laughs)
I won't be that long.

She pushes him gently with the flat of her palms towards
the door.

INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

JACK comes back into the bedroom. MARION pushes the bathroom
door, not quite closed. JACK tosses the knickers onto the
bed.

INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT

JACK takes the vodka bottle out of the freezer, pours
himself a glass. He sees two bottles of wine opened, food
neatly prepared, ready to cook, an open cook book. He pours
a glass of wine.

INT. SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

JACK sits drinking his vodka. Looking up through the barred
window he sees women's legs passing on the street above.
On the desk beside the computer is the glass of wine.

MARION materialises in the door to the bedroom. She is
made up, wearing the black dress and high-heeled black
shoes, a black scarf around her neck.

JACK takes the glass of wine and gives it to her.

JACK
You really are a beautiful woman.

MARION
(pleased)
It's not just inner beauty, is it?

JACK
Turn around.

MARION whirls to show off her dress.

JACK
You're all I desire.

He reaches for an envelope on the desk. He gives it to
her. MARION opens it. There are several fifty pound notes
inside.

MARION
Where did you get it?

JACK
I. sold the car.

MARION
You shouldn't have done that. I
know what it meant to you.

JACK
I owe you for the rent. It's only
a car. I can get another.

MARION
Take it back. Till you sell your
book.

JACK
Come on, Marion. Let's face the
truth. Nobody's going to publish
it.

MARION
Of course they will. You just have
to be patient. I'm betting on you.

She raises the glass of wine, drinks.

JACK
I'm not much of a bet.

He drains his glass.

MARION
You are to me.

She takes her scarf, puts it round his neck, pulls him
seductively towards the bedroom door.

MARION
Come into my world.

She winds the black scarf across his face, covering his
eyes.

MARION
(whispering)
You're my prisoner.

JACK
I've got something to tell you.

MARION
I want to hear it.

JACK
I've got a job.

MARION
(startled)
What job?

MARION pulls the scarf from his eyes. She wants to look at
him.

JACK
In a casino. As a croupier. A
dealer.

MARION
How did you land that?

JACK
It came my way. 450 a week.

MARION
(sits up)
450? What did you do, just walked
in and said I want to be a croupier?
Don't you need training?

JACK
I had training. In the Republic.

MARION
You were a croupier there? You
never told me that. I thought you
just knew some gamblers.

JACK
I start Monday week.

From the street comes the whining sound of a car alarm.

MARION
450 a week. I've never earned that
in my life. You're an enigma, you
are. A fucking enigma.

JACK'S VOICE
Not an enigma, just a contradiction.

MARION looks deeply into his eyes.

MARION
You sold the car. You got a job.
What's the third thing? Tell me.

JACK
There's no third thing. Don't be
superstitious.

MARION
I love you Jack, you know that.

JACK'S VOICE
And he half-loved Marion. And she
knew that too.

Outside, the car alarm stops. JACK takes MARION'S head in
his hands. She reaches for one of them, examines it.

JACK
Are you trying to read my palm?

MARION
You've got such beautiful hands.

JACK'S VOICE
The hands of a conjuror, a woman
had told him once. Or a card sharp.

Their hands interlock. She leads him into the bedroom.

INT. NAIL STUDIO - DAY

JACK'S hands are being worked on by a woman MANICURIST.

MANICURIST
What line of work are you in?

JACK
I'm an undertaker.

MANICURIST
Really?

The MANICURIST stops for a moment, looks at him with
curiosity.

INT. BARBER SHOP - DAY

A BARBER is cutting JACK'S hair. He goes up JACK'S neck
with electric clippers. Jack's hair is now black.

BARBER
Do you work round here?

JACK
My office is in Shanghai.

BARBER
(surprised)
What do you do?

JACK
I'm an arms dealer.

The BARBER stops for a moment, nonplussed.

INT. CASINO - CHANGING ROOM - DAY

In front of the mirror JACK buttons a white shirt and
skillfully ties a black bow tie. His short hair is lacquered
back. He reaches down for his black jacket... puts it on.
The transformation is complete.

As he scrubs his nails, JACK sees a WOMAN in the mirror.
She is changing her clothes. She pulls off her Indian cotton
dress. She's wearing pants but no bra. Quite
unselfconsciously, not looking Jack's way, she dresses in
her casino clothes.

JACK dries his hands. He turns. The WOMAN smiles at him.

BELLA
I'm Bella.

JACK
Jack Manfred.

BELLA
Hi, Jack.
(fits herself into
the uplift bra)
Welcome to the cesspit.

JACK
Is it that bad?

BELLA
(starts to do up
her top)
How do I look?

JACK'S VOICE
Like trouble, Bella. You look fine.

BELLA
The punters love it. Tits in
uniform.

She laughs.

INT. CASINO - ROULETTE TABLE - NIGHT

JACK appears at the head of the table. The PUNTERS look at
him, not recognising him.

JACK'S VOICE
The usual bunch. They didn't know
Jack, but he knew them.

JACK
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

A fat INDIAN PUNTER addresses JACK.

INDIAN
Where's the other fellow? Where's
Geoff?

JACK
He doesn't work here any more.

INDIAN
Well, let's hope you know your
job.

A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN trying to look as young as possible
throws 100 pounds in cash to JACK.

WOMAN
Tens, please.

She turns to the WOMAN next to her, who looks very similar.

WOMAN 2
Perhaps this man will bring us
luck.

The WOMAN has sensed her friend's interest in JACK. She's
jealous.

WOMAN
(to Jack)
What's that aftershave you're
wearing?

JACK'S VOICE
Never converse with the punters.
It slows things down. Speed is
volume, and volume is profit for
the casino. Aim at twenty spins an
hour.

JACK pretends he hasn't heard the question. In the
background REYNOLDS is watching as JACK spins the wheel.

JACK
Last bets, please.

INT. CASINO - ROULETTE TABLE - NIGHT

Later. A plastic-looking BLONDE WOMAN, heavily made-up,
sits at the table. She nods to JACK. PUNTERS are placing
their bets. She has 50 casino chips of 100 denominations
in front of her. JACK notes the large sum.

The BLONDE puts 2,500 on red and 2,500 on black. PUNTERS
round the table are astonished at the size of the bet and
the strangeness of betting both red and black.

JACK spins the wheel. Black 10 comes up. JACK takes the
red loss and moves it across the table to the black win.
The BLONDE picks up the 5,000 without a reaction and leaves
the table.

JACK notices that she goes straight to the cashier's desk.
JACK clears the chips away, starts to pay out.

A WHITE-HAIRED MAN on JACK's right speaks to him:

MAN
You're new here. You'll get used
to Madame Claude. She comes in
once or twice a week and does that.

JACK nods.

JACK'S VOICE
He knew the scam. Come in with
five grand cash. No questions asked.
Launder it by getting a casino
cheque when you cash in. Jack
wondered why Mr Reynolds permitted
it? After all there's was no profit
in it for the casino. Or was there?

INT. CASINO - ROULETTE TABLE - NIGHT

Later. A different set of PUNTERS. The wheel spins. A GREEK
MAN sits at the table. He doesn't attempt to bet. He looks
around to see a CROUPIER in his late 20's waiting to replace
JACK at the wheel. This is MATT. He gives JACK a curious
complicitous smile. JACK collects the chips and pays out.

JACK
Thank you very much, ladies and
gentlemen. I'm going to hand you
over now to my colleague. Goodnight.

MATT takes over.

MATT
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

REYNOLDS appears and takes JACK'S arm.

REYNOLDS
(quietly)
Good work, Jack. You handled
yourself well.

At the table, MATT glances at the GREEK man.

INT. CASINO - BLACKJACK TABLE - NIGHT

JACK is now dealing to FIVE PUNTERS. He has a 10 and a 5
exposed for the house. TWO PLAYERS go bust. ONE PLAYER
sticks on 19, the next on 20. The LAST PLAYER buys a card
for 21. JACK turns over an ace for the house. He twists
again. It's a 5 - making 21. The two losing PLAYERS groan.
The LAST PLAYER is paid evens for equalling the house. One
of the PLAYERS who's gone bust gets up, having lost all
his chips, and leaves.

JACK'S VOICE
Suddenly a delayed wave of elation
came over him.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

Across the casino an Oriental man, MR TCHAI, is walking
towards the table with REYNOLDS. Behind him is a 6 foot 5
bulging BODYGUARD. REYNOLDS comes up to JACK's table.

REYNOLDS
Why don't you take a break, Jack.

JACK
(puzzled)
All right, Mr Reynolds.

He moves his chair back, nods at the remaining PLAYERS. MR
TCHAI sits down, watched by the BODYGUARD.

BELLA comes up, smiles sweetly, and takes over from JACK.

BELLA
Good evening, Mr Tchai.

MR TCHAI
Good evening.

TCHAI pulls out a sealed bank packet of 5,000.

REYNOLDS
Enjoy yourself, Mr Tchai.

REYNOLDS waves to a WAITRESS who comes over.

WAITRESS
(to Mr Tchai)
Your usual, sir?

TCHAI nods. He hands her a 50 note.

WAITRESS
Thank you, sir. Enjoy your game.

JACK'S VOICE
50 for a diet Coke. Waitresses
were the true winners in the casino.
They were the only members of staff
allowed to accept tips. On a good
night they could get between 200
and 300.

The WAITRESS goes. The other PLAYERS at the table look at
MR TCHAI, wondering who he is.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

REYNOLDS walks with JACK across the casino.

REYNOLDS
Mr Tchai always likes to play at
that table, and only with Bella.

JACK
Does he win?

REYNOLDS
(smiles)
He's a good customer.

JACK'S VOICE
A good customer is a consistent
loser. Was that what Mr Reynolds
meant?

INT. CASINO - CHANGING ROOM - NIGHT

JACK is changing into his street clothes. The young croupier
MATT comes up to him.

MATT
Where do you live, Jack?

JACK
Over the river.

MATT
Have you got transport?

JACK shakes his head.

MATT
I'm going over the river. I'll
give you a lift if you like.

JACK
Thanks.

INT. BMW - NIGHT

MATT puts the car into gear, drives off, JACK sitting beside
him.

MATT
So how do you feel, your first
night? I'll bet you're on a high.

JACK
Nice car.

MATT
She's my baby.

JACK
How long have you worked at the
casino?

MATT
Coming up to two years now.
(mysteriously)
But I was away for six months.

JACK
You've done pretty well.

MATT
(smugly)
Not bad. I have other interests,
of course.

MATT spins the car round a corner.

MATT
I'm off to a little watering hole.
Why don't you join me? Relax.

JACK
No thanks, Matt. I need my eight
hours.

MATT
I'll lay you five to one you won't
sleep. In this job you have to
unwind. Otherwise it'll kill you.
I mean that.

JACK
Some other time.

INT. FLAT - KITCHEN - NIGHT

JACK pours himself a vodka, smoking a cigarette.

INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

JACK starts to take his clothes off. MARION is asleep in
bed. She wakes.

MARION
What's the time?

JACK
I don't know.

Clock beside the bed reads 4.30.

MARION
How did it go?

JACK
Fine.

He gets into bed beside her. She takes him in her arms.

MARION
You're shaking. What is it?

JACK
Tension. It'll go.

MARION
Poor baby. This'll relax you.

She starts to massage his neck, his hair.

MARION
I loved it blond.

JACK
It's only hair. I haven't changed.

INT. BEDROOM - DAY

MARION is dressed in a suit, preparing to leave. She throws
her nightgown into a laundry basket. JACK is asleep. She
bends to kiss him. He wakes.

MARION
When you get home, I'm asleep.
When I leave home, you're asleep.

JACK
(dreamily)
I'll see you in my dreams.

INT. SITTING ROOM - DAY

MARION drops a set of keys into her bag, glances at JACK'S
covered computer. She draws the curtain back. Daylight
illuminates the old etching of Cape Town.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

JANI DE VILLIERS is 30-something, blonde, tanned,
expensively dressed in designer clothes. She gives JACK
ten 50 notes.

JANI
In 20s, please...

He slots the cash into the "bank" beneath the table, then
counts out 500 in 20 chips. He slides the chips towards
her, looks at her. She smiles.

There are ten other PEOPLE at the roulette table. An ARABIC-
LOOKING MAN with a moustache behind JANI is looking down
the front of her dress.

JACK
(frowns)
Place your bets.

Around the table the PUNTERS move their chips onto numbers,
lines, colours. JANI throws three chips to JACK and calls
the numbers:

JANI
5...8...11.

JACK places them for her.

JACK'S VOICE
Jack could see this woman was an
experienced gambler. Professionals
always place their bets through
the croupier. That way there are
no comebacks.

The wheel spins, 11 is the number. JACK calls the number
and puts the 'dolly' on 11. JANI smiles faintly. JACK pays
out across the table. JANI leaves two chips on 11 The MAN
behind JANI puts his chips on 11. JANI glances up at him.
She sees the MAN is betting with her. JACK spins the wheel
again. 33 comes up.

INT. CASINO - ROULETTE TABLE - NIGHT

JANI bets again on number 11. The MAN follows suit. The
wheel spins. JACK watches the table. JANI glances at him.
The MAN moves closer to the table to one side of JANI.
Concealed in his hand is a chip. As the ball bounces round
and lands again on number 11, the MAN deftly adds the chip
to the square. JACK clocks it.

JACK
I'm sorry, sir, that's a late bet.

MAN
(in Arabic accent)
What are you talking about? It's
11, I've won. With this lady.

JACK
(carefully)
You've won with the two chips you
placed earlier, but the third chip
was a late bet.

MAN
I put them on together.

JACK
I'm afraid that's not so, sir.

REYNOLDS, who has been watching the tables, sees the
beginning of an incident. He comes over. The MAN is getting
angry. JANI watches.

MAN
Now look here, you...

REYNOLDS
Is there a problem, sir?

MAN
Yes. This croupier is accusing me
of cheating.

JACK
It was a late bet. This gentleman
has been following the lady's
numbers and...

The MAN interrupts JACK and touches JANI's arm.

MAN
(to Jani)
Do you think I cheated?

JACK and REYNOLDS wait. JACK glances at JANI.

JANI
In my opinion... it was a late
bet.

REYNOLDS
I think we should talk about this,
sir. Away from the table.

MAN
(angrily)
No. I won. I want to be paid.

He bangs his fist on the felt. JACK waits for REYNOLDS'S
decision. REYNOLDS looks at JACK.

REYNOLDS
Pay the gentleman. In full.

REYNOLDS steps back, JACK pays out JANI and the MAN. The
MAN takes his winnings. He looks at JACK with hatred, then
leaves the table.

REYNOLDS watches him, looks to JACK and nods. JANI collects
her winnings and throws two chips to JACK. She stands up
to leave.

JACK
I'm sorry, madam, we don't accept
gratuities in the UK. It's different
in South Africa.

JANI
(surprised)
You know where I'm from?

JACK nods and gives her back the two chips.

JACK
I've lived there.

JANI
(sweetly)
Well, thank you anyway.

JACK watches her leave.

JACK'S VOICE
Bright woman, he thought. She knew
the rule of gold. Quit when you're
ahead.

JANI heads towards the cashier. JACK sees REYNOLDS arguing
with the irate ARABIC MAN near the entrance.

He looks back to the table.

JACK
Place your bets.

On his way out the ARABIC MAN looks towards JACK and makes
an occult sign with his hand.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

It is late. There are few PUNTERS left at the tables. JACK
tidies up his table, which is next to MATT's. He looks
across at MATT and sees the GREEK MAN who was at the table
the first night when MATT took over. The GREEK wins on a
number. MATT clears the table and counts out the GREEK'S
winnings, quickly and efficiently.

JACK stiffens. He sees that something is wrong. MATT moves
piles of chips across to the GREEK, who doesn't look up.
JACK glances in the direction of the hidden video cameras
and the crows' nest. REYNOLDS is in the back-ground, has
seen nothing untoward. JACK watches the GREEK pick up his
winnings and leave.

INT. BMW - NIGHT

Again MATT is driving JACK home.

JACK
(hesitantly)
Look Matt, there's something I
have to say to you. I saw you
cheating.

MATT
(violently)
What the fuck are you talking about?

JACK
That Greek guy who won at the end.
You paid him out in 25s not 20s.

MATT
(angry)
I don't cheat, Jack. You've got it
wrong.

JACK
I'm not going to report it.

MATT slams on the brakes. The car comes to an abrupt stop.
MATT turns to JACK, furious.

MATT
What are you, a cop?

JACK
If I see you do it again, I'll
report it.

MATT
I don't get you. Even if it was
true, which it isn't, what the
fuck difference would it make to
you?

JACK
Because if a supervisor knew I'd
seen you and I hadn't reported it,
I'd lose my job as well. And I
can't afford that.

MATT
So it's Mr Clean. Wise up, Jack,
this whole business is bent. The
casino is nothing but legal theft.
And that's OK. It's the system.
Half the punters who come in are
using stolen money, drug money,
they haven't earned it. We earn
our money.
(softens)
I'm on your side, Jack. I don't
need an enemy.

JACK
You're talking about complicity.

MATT
I don't know what that means. I'm
talking about not rocking the boat.

MATT holds out his hand for JACK. JACK shakes it. MATT
grins.

MATT
OK, now let's unwind.

He puts the car into gear and drives off.

JACK'S VOICE
Matt was an escape artist. Like
Jack's father.

EXT. GREEK RESTAURANT - NIGHT

MATT's car pulls up in the parking lot at the back of the
restaurant. He and JACK get out of the car and go through
the open kitchen door.

INT. GREEK RESTAURANT - KITCHEN - NIGHT

The kitchen is full of people, some involved in cooking,
some standing around smoking and drinking, mostly Greek.

MATT
Hey, Andros!

He shakes hands with a GUY who looks like the owner.

MATT
This is Jack.

JACK shakes hands too. They cross the kitchen and go through
a bead curtain. Piped Greek music is playing.

INT. RESTAURANT - DINING ROOM - NIGHT

A smoke-filled private dining room. There is a poker game
in Progress. FIVE MEN are playing, a DOZEN GIRLS are dotted
about watching. There is a trestle table laden with Greek
food, from stews to salad, buffet-style. An improvised bar
with ouzo, vodka and wine. It's help-yourself.

JACK
Who are these guys?

MATT
Mostly people in the casino
business. A few drug dealers.

JACK
And the girls?

MATT
Just girls. What are you drinking?

JACK
Vodka. Straight. On the rocks.

MATT
Good call. Help yourself.

JACK pours himself a vodka, scoops up some ice with his
hand from a bucket. Clouds of smoke envelop him. The noise
is close to deafening.

JACK
Does Bella come here?

MATT
That bitch? No.

INT. RESTAURANT - DINING ROOM - NIGHT

The poker game. A MAN with fair hair gets up, kisses a
GIRL whose dress is a bathing suit, puts his arm round her
and they wander off. MATT is at the table. JACK is
replenishing his vodka.

MATT
Hey Jack, join us.

JACK
No thanks.

MATT
(laughs)
Don't worry, I won't report you!

JACK
I don't gamble.

GIRL appears behind JACK's shoulder.

GIRL
You don't gamble, but do you smoke?

The GIRL has a joint in her over-ringed hand. She is dressed
in purple Indian cotton.

JACK
Sometimes.

GIRL
(hands him the
smoking joint)
How about now?

She blows smoke in his face. JACK drains his vodka, pours
himself another.

INT. RESTAURANT - LAVATORY - NIGHT

JACK comes into the Gents, another smoke-filled room. Three
or four MEN are arguing over a drug deal, standing in front
of the urinal. One of them has an envelope full of cash,
another a packet of drugs.

JACK goes to a lavatory stall, opens the door. In the stall
the fair-haired MAN who was at Matt's table is sitting on
the lavatory, his trousers round his ankles. The GIRL in
the bathing suit is sitting on his thighs, bobbing up and
down. JACK sees a butterfly tattoo on her left cheek, the
Queen of Spades.

JACK'S VOICE
Marion. I'm on my way...

INT. RESTAURANT - DINING ROOM - NIGHT

JACK puts his arm on MATT's shoulder at the poker table.

JACK
I'm off. I need to sleep.

MATT
Loosen up, Jack. If you don't,
this job'll get to you. The
pressure's too much, believe me,
it'll break you.

JACK
"The world breaks everyone, and
afterwards many are strong in the
broken places." Ernest Hemingway.

JACK turns and leaves, helping himself to another drink.

MATT
Wasn't he the one who shot himself?

INT. JACK'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

JACK comes to the flat. He is drunk. He starts across the
dark room. Suddenly the light comes on. JACK turns to see
MARION, sitting in a chair in her night-dress.

MARION
Where've you been? I've got to
give evidence in court at nine.

JACK
Don't play the cop with me, Marion.

MARION
Take that back!
(furious)
Fucking take that back. I'm not a
cop any more.

JACK
I take it back. You're not a cop
any more. You're a store detective.

MARION
Are you drunk?

JACK
Probably.

MARION
This fucking job's getting to you.
You haven't written a fucking word
since you started.

JACK
Do you have to swear all the time?

MARION
(hurt)
Well, that's my poor upbringing. I
didn't go to no private school. I
haven't got no class. I want to
live with a writer. Not a fucking
croupier. I don't even know what
the word means. Croupier.

JACK
Marion, stop this.

MARION
(near to tears)
What do I mean to you? I want to
know. Tell me.

There is a pause.

JACK
You're my conscience.

MARION
Haven't you got a conscience of
your own?

JACK has no answer. He goes into the bathroom.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - DAY

The computer is still covered. JACK is standing at the
table dealing cards, practising. One card slips. He swears
silently. He flexes his fingers, cracks his knuckle joints.
He looks at a skirt, legs, high heels, Passing above the
barred window.

EXT. PICCADILLY - EVENING

JACK emerges from the Underground, one of the CROWD.

EXT. PICCADILLY - STORE - EVENING

JACK goes into a large Department Store.

INT. DEPARTMENT STORE - EVENING

MARION is store-walking in the women's underwear department.
It is Sale time. Baskets of tights and knickers on display.
CUSTOMERS are rummaging. She is on the look-out for thieves.
She jumps as JACK places his hand on her hip.

MARION
What are you doing here?
(looks round
nervously)
You know the rules.

JACK
What about a drink on the way home?

MARION
I don't finish till eight. Make it
nine and you're on.

JACK
I'm on at nine.

MARION
Well, that's our life now, isn't
it?

EXT. PICCADILLY - EVENING

JACK pauses in front of an airline office. There is a large
picture of Cape Town, and a special ticket offer.

JANI comes out of the office. Her hair, tied back earlier
in the casino, is now glamorously fluffed out. She sees
JACK. He doesn't see her.

JANI
Thinking of going back?

JACK is startled. He doesn't recognise her for a moment.
Then...

JACK
Oh hello.

JANI
(smiling)
You know what? I'd like to buy you
a drink.

JACK
It's against the rules. Dealers
are forbidden to talk to punters.

JANI
That's stupid. What are the odds
of you being seen with me?

JACK
Impossible to calculate.

JACK'S VOICE
Jack knew that, in reality, all
odds are calculable.

INT. RITZ HOTEL - NIGHT

The Art Deco bar. Expensive PEOPLE around. JANI and JACK
are installed on a sofa. A WAITER puts down two Martinis.

JANI
(raises her glass)
To coincidence.

JACK
(drinks)
There's a casino in this hotel.

JANI
I'm not much of a gambler really.
I just like this bar.

JACK
So why did you come to my casino?

JANI
I was at a loose end. A friend of
a friend gave me a courtesy
membership.

JACK
First visit to London?

JANI
No, no. I come every couple of
years. I always think I'm going to
stay. I'm from Cape Town originally

JACK
I was born in the Transkei, on the
Wild Coast.

JANI
Near the casino.

JACK
In the casino.

JANI
Now there's a coincidence. My father
used to gamble there.

JACK
Your father?

JANI
I loved the atmosphere. But it
destroyed my poor mother.

JACK
The debts.

JANI
And the lies. Gamblers are born
liars.

JACK
(nods)
And superstitious too. It's like
witchcraft.

JANI
That's Africa. There's an African
in all of us, isn't there?

JACK
We all came from Africa, supposedly.

JANI
Do you believe in astrology?

JACK
Absolutely not. But then, I'm a
Gemini and Geminis don't believe
in astrology.

JANI laughs out loud.

JANI
You know, you don't strike me as a
typical croupier.

JANI drinks. JACK notices her wedding ring. JANI catches
the look.

JANI
I'm not married. I wear it to keep
the flies off.
(looks at her watch)
I must go. Let me pay for this.

JACK
Absolutely not.

JANI
Toss you for it.

JACK
I don't gamble.

JANI nods, stands up, takes out a notepad and pen. She
looks round feigning conspiracy.

JANI
(low voice)
I know this is verboten, but if
you feel like a chat or maybe
dinner, give me a call.

She scribbles her name and phone number on the pad, tears
off the page, gives it to him.

JANI
I'll understand if you don't.
(smiles)
But I hope you do.

She leaves. JACK watches her go, looks at the page she's
given him.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - NIGHT

In front of a mirror JACK trims his hair with nail scissors.
He is dressed in his croupier's uniform. He straightens
his bow tie.

JACK'S VOICE
He didn't know why, but he'd started
to dress for the casino at home...

INT. UNDERGROUND COMPARTMENT - NIGHT

JACK sits in the compartment.

JACK'S VOICE
... like a musician in his tuxedo,
going to the concert hall on public
transport...

INT. CASINO - ROULETTE TABLE - NIGHT

An ARAB at the end of the table kisses all his 50 chips
and sets them out on the table. The wheel spins. JACK looks
round at the PUNTERS.

The ball bounces, falls on zero. Everybody loses. Many
groans.

A MEDITERRANEAN-LOOKING MAN with a gold bracelet coughs. A
gob of phlegm from his mouth lands on a pile of chips that
JACK is raking away. A WOMAN in her mid-thirties is
appalled.

WOMAN
Animal!

JACK
Would you mind being more careful,
sir.

MAN
I've got 'flu.

He coughs again, but into a handkerchief.

WOMAN
Then go back home. To the zoo!

JACK clears the piles of chips to one side. He signals to
a SUPERVISOR. The SUPERVISOR hurries over.

JACK
This gentleman accidentally coughed
onto these chips. I don't think it
would be hygienic to stack them...

The SUPERVISOR signals a WAITRESS over.

SUPERVISOR
Agnes. These chips have to be
counted and put into the steamer.

AGNES
Yuck.

She looks at JACK, grimaces, and takes the chips away.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

The last PUNTERS are leaving. The overhead lights come on.
A CROUPIER is wheeling away a trolley with thousands of
chips. TWO MEN are covering the tables with shrouds.

INT. CASINO - STRONG ROOM - NIGHT

REYNOLDS watches as JACK and MATT count the thousands of
pounds, putting them in piles. Behind them is a large open
safe.

MATT
I can't give you a lift back
tonight.

JACK
Don't worry.

REYNOLDS places the notes in steel boxes.

EXT. CASINO - NIGHT

JACK, comes out. BELLA hurries after him, following him
round the corner.

BELLA
(calling)
Jack. Do you need a ride?

JACK
No. Thanks.

BELLA
My car's in the garage.

JACK
Maybe another time.

BELLA
I'll take you up on that.

JACK
(pleasantly)
Goodnight.

He straightens his hat and walks off. BELLA walks the other
way.

EXT. STREET. NIGHT

A MAN lurks in the shadows ahead of JACK. JACK doesn't see
him. But as he comes past, the MAN steps out blocking JACK'S
way. He is the Arabic-looking MAN JACK earlier caught
cheating at the casino with JANI.

MAN
You don't recognise me? You had me
barred. You fucking little worm.

JACK
Wait a minute. You got yourself
barred.

MAN
It was you, you shit.

The MAN reaches forward and grabs JACK'S tie. He yanks it
with farce. JACK gasps. He rams his elbow into the MAN'S
chest.

The MAN kicks JACK on the shins. JACK topples. The MAN
leaps at him. JACK, knees him in the groin.

The fight is untidy and vicious. Both men collapse
struggling onto the pavement.

A car appears, a Mini-Cooper. BELLA is driving. She sees
the fight.

JACK'S nose is bleeding. The MAN kicks him in the back.
JACK yells with pain, gets to his feet.

JACK
Now I'm going to kill you.

He boots the MAN in the head. BELLA gets out of her car
and runs over to them.

BELLA
Jack!

The MAN is screening under JACK'S repeated blows. BELLA
pulls JACK away.

BELLA
Jack. Leave him! Come on!

JACK'S face is masked with blood and fury. BELLA is
frightened by JACK'S violence.

BELLA
Let's go. We don't want the cops
here.

Before she can get JACK into her car, he goes back to the
MAN groaning on the floor. He stamps on the MAN's hand.
BELLA is shocked.

JACK
(coldly)
He won't cheat again.

BELLA pulls him away, bundles JACK into her car, gets in,
drives away.

INT. BELLA'S FLAT - BATHROOM - NIGHT

Water is running in the basin. BELLA puts JACK'S jacket on
the lavatory seat. She starts to undo his tie. JACK wipes
his blood-stained nose with a wet flannel.

BELLA
You're shaking.

JACK
It's the tension.

She undoes his shirt and takes it off. He winces. She washes
his torso, cleans him up.

JACK looks at his shaking hands. BELLA takes him by the
hand, leads him into the bedroom.

INT. BELLA'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

She sits him on the bed. The room is lit with coloured
lamps.

BELLA
Excuse the mess.

JACK pulls her suddenly into his arms, pulls her onto the
bed. She is startled.

BELLA
Careful.

JACK'S hands open her blouse. He reaches for her breast.
BELLA'S surprise becomes excitement. He kisses her hungrily,
his hands rummaging in her clothes. She reaches for a side
zip in her skirt.

BELLA
Don't tear anything.

BELLA kicks off her shoes. There is a burst of passion
between them. For JACK, a continuation of the violence
with the MAN on the street.

For BELLA, it's a sudden release. Her naked foot knocks
over the bedside lamp.

JACK spreads BELLA on the bed. She tugs his trousers down.
He rips her black underwear away.

INT. BELLA'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Later. JACK is lying sprawled on the bed with BELLA. She
reaches across him and retrieves the fallen lamp.

BELLA
It's funny, isn't it? If that guy
hadn't come up to you, you wouldn't
be here now.

JACK strokes her bottom.

JACK
I hate cheats.

BELLA
All men are cheats.

BELLA picks up a joint from the bedside and lights it.

BELLA
I spent two years on the game. I
don't mind telling you that.

JACK looks at her.

BELLA
But don't worry, I'm clean as a
whistle. I only did S & M.
(she hands the joint
to JACK,)
No blow jobs. No screwing.

JACK
Why did you quit?

BELLA
I got scared.

JACK
(inhales)
I can imagine.

BELLA
Can you? I'm happy being a dealer.
At least the punters keep their
hands to themselves.

JACK
You called the casino a cesspit.

BELLA
Well it is. But I know where I am.

JACK hands the joint back to BELLA.

BELLA
I've been watching you work. You're
the best in the place. But you
know that.

JACK
I despise the job.

BELLA
Ah, we all say that. But if we
hate it, why do we do it?

JACK doesn't answer.

JACK'S VOICE
Jack wanted to say we do it for
the money. But that wasn't really
true.

BELLA leans over JACK and begins gently to massage his
flesh.

BELLA
What do you really want to do?

She puts the joint in an ashtray.

JACK
The Indian rope-trick.

BELLA
Look, now I'm pumping you. I'm
sorry. It's none of my business.
It's just that you're not like the
others.

JACK
Not like Matt, you mean.

BELLA
Now he's a real shit. Don't get
friendly with him. I'm sure he's
got his hand in the till. You know
what he said to me once? "I want
to fuck the whole world over. That's
my mission." The shit!

BELLA touches a bruise on JACK'S body.

JACK
Ouch.

BELLA
Sorry.

She kisses the bruised skin, pulls him to her. BELLA simply
wants to be held.

JACK'S VOICE
Jack could hear Matt saying it...

INT. JACK'S FLAT - DAY

JACK is at his desk typing intently. There is a pile of
new pages in the sunlight.

JACK'S VOICE
"I want to fuck the whole world
over. It's my mission."

MARION passes in the foreground. She kisses him on the
back of his head and leaves. JACK'S fingers move across
the keyboard, dancing.

JACK'S VOICE
At last he had found what he'd
been looking for. A clear and simple
theme. And a hero to act it out.
Little Matt...
(Pause)
...Chapter One.

INT. CASINO - WASHROOM - NIGHT

MATT is shaving.

MATT
I look like shit.

JACK is scrubbing his nails at a basin.

JACK
Rough day?

MATT
Rough life, Jack.

A YOUNG WOMAN appears in the mirror behind the two MEN.
Her name is PAT. She is dressed like BELLA.

PAT
Hi. I'm Pat.

MATT and JACK say 'Hello'. MATT appraises PAT'S appearance,
winks approval at JACK.

JACK
(to Matt)
What happened to Bella?

MATT
I'll tell you later.

JACK is mystified.

INT. CASINO - BLACKJACK TABLE - NIGHT

JACK is dealing to MR TCHAI and three OTHER MEN. One chair
at the table is empty.

MR TCHAI
What happened to Bella?

JACK
She was re-assigned.

JACK shows 13. He turns over his third card, a King. The
bank busts. JACK pays out.

JANI sits down in the vacant chair. JACK conceals his
surprise, a hint of nervousness.

JACK
(formally)
Good evening.

JANI nods impassively.

JACK'S VOICE
Jack knew this was no coincidence.
Why had she come?

The MEN look at the glamorous woman. MR TCHAI doesn't
register her presence. He is as inscrutable as his BODYGUARD
who hands him an envelope. JANI takes out money from her
purse. JACK counts it.

JANI
One thousand even. In fifties.

JACK slots the money down, counts out 20 50 chips. JACK
deals. Bets are placed. 100 from JANI. The cards turn. MR
TCHAI splits two aces. JANI has a 6 and 7. MR TCHAI receives
two los and wins big. JANI gets a 10 and busts.

JACK'S VOICE
He wondered if she believed he
would bring her luck...

JANI'S face is impassive. She receives her cards...

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

JANI busts again. JACK sweeps away the chips, the cards.
JANI reaches into her bag, takes out another thousand
pounds.

JANI
In fifties.

The MEN at the table look at JANI.

JACK'S VOICE
Or did she think he would help her
win?

INT. CASINO - BLACKJACK TABLE - NIGHT

JANI loses again. She is down to 4 chips. She looks up at
JACK. Their eyes meet, hers desperate, his helpless. MR
TCHAI picks up on the look.

JACK'S VOICE
He knew how to fix it for her. His
father had taught him the trick.
Switch the sequence. Bust the bank.
The casino wouldn't spot it. But
Jack was wary of the punters...

JACK glances at the MEN at the table.

JACK'S VOICE
He could see Mr Tchai was counting.
He couldn't risk it.

JANI places her last bet, glances at the mountain of chips
in front of MR TCHAI. JACK catches her look. He deals.
JANI reaches for her next card. JACK observes her left
hand.

JACK'S VOICE
He noticed she wasn't wearing her
ring. Why not? Odds on she'd sold
it.

JACK plays out the hand. JANI loses. She immediately gets
up. She is crushed.

JANI
Good night. Thank you.

She walks away from the table.

JACK
Good night.

JACK'S VOICE
Thank you, she said. For what,
Jack thought. Jani de Villiers
knew the odds.

TCHAI looks at JACK.

MR TCHAI
Pretty woman.

INT. JACK'S BEDROOM/SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

JACK is sitting on the bed fully clothed. He is carefully
sewing a button on his croupier's jacket. Through the open
bedroom door MARION can be seen sitting on the sofa, legs
tucked under her, reading the new typescript.

The phone rings. In the bedroom JACK picks up.

JACK
Hello...

EXT. SOUTH AFRICA CASINO - NIGHT

JACK SR. is in a public phone. Coloured lanterns hang round
in the night. Distant laughter.

JACK SR
How's it going, Jacko?

INTERCUT between JACK and JACK SR.

JACK
Fine. I took the job.

JACKSR
Good for you. I was wondering what
happened.

JACK
I tried to call you, dad, but they
said your line was disconnected.

JACK SR
(jovially)
Ah yes, I moved house. Needed a
bigger place. How's that book of
yours coming along?

In the sitting room MARION looks towards JACK in the
bedroom.

JACK
I'm getting there.

JACK SR
It's good to have the job to fall
back on, isn't it?
(pause)
There goes my other phone.

JACK
Goodbye dad.

He hangs up. MARION turns the last page of the typescript.
She's finished.

INT. SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

JACK comes in from the bedroom. MARION says nothing. She
puts the typescript down. JACK waits.

MARION gets off the sofa.

MARION
I don't like it.

JACK
Why not?

MARION
I don't like it at all. You had a
wonderful character before, the
Gambler. He was so romantic.

JACK
He was a loser. This guy's a
croupier. He can't lose. People
have shat on him all his life. Now
he's in control. He's a winner.

MARION
Is that your idea of a winner? He
doesn't give a shit about anyone.
He uses people and --

JACK
(interrupting)
-- It's because of the sex, isn't
it? You don't like the sex in it.

MARION
I don't give a fuck about the sex.
Most men'll fuck a lamppost. He's
just a miserable zombie. Is that
the way you feel now? Is that what's
happened to you?

JACK
Marion. It's a book.

MARION
Oh really. Then why is he called
Jake. Why don't you come clean and
call him Jack.
(softens)
There's no hope in it.

JACK
It's the truth.

MARION
Without hope there's no point to
anything.

JACK
Now wait a minute. What's so hopeful
about your job? Spending the day
catching poor people stealing. You
said yourself the organised gangs
get away with it. At least in the
casino everybody gets caught. Rich
or poor, the odds are the same.
It's all relative.

MARION
Crap. It's not relative. It's
unfair. Like your casino. It's
designed unfair. And your croupier's
a little shit because he goes along
with it.

JACK sees MARION is getting really angry. He crosses the
room, Pointedly takes MARION'S handbag, opens it, takes
out a National Lottery card and receipt. The doorbell rings.

JACK
(coldly)
You're just like all those other
dummies out there. Fourteen and a
half million to one! Is that your
idea of hope?

The doorbell rings again.

MARION
The door, Jack.

JACK
Leave it.

MARION
No. Answer it!

JACK hands her the lottery card and goes to the door, opens
it. BELLA stands there.

BELLA
You fucking little shit! You shopped
me.

JACK
What are you talking about?

MARION watches, numb.

BELLA
Reynolds got a doctor in. They
forced me to take a dope test. It
was positive. As you knew.

JACK
I don't know anything about it.

BELLA looks over to MARION.

BELLA
Your boyfriend fucked me, smoked
my dope, then shopped me. What do
you think of that? I can't get a
job now.
(to Jack)
You bastard. You're no different
from Matt. A pair of vicious little
shits, that's what you are.

JACK
(firmly)
Look Bella, I don't know anything
about this. You should talk to
Matt.

BELLA
You're all scumbags.

MARION
I agree.

Without looking at MARION, BELLA suddenly kisses JACK on
the lips. BELLA looks hard at JACK, then leaves. JACK
pursues her.

EXT. BASEMENT - NIGHT

BELLA runs up the iron stairs to the gate at the top.

JACK
Bella!

Without looking back she flings the gate shut, goes off
down the street. JACK turns.

MARION
Go on. Go after her!

MARION slams the door to the flat. JACK is half-way up the
stairs, alone.

EXT. PICCADILLY DEPARTMENT STORE - EVENING

The rush hour. 6 in the evening. JACK watches MEN and WOMEN
coming out the store.

JACK'S VOICE
Jack had no idea where Marion was
staying, or with whom. He realised
he knew little about her life. But
then, he had never asked about it.

JACK now sees MARION. He is about to go up to her, moving
through the flow of the crowd, then he stops.

A MAN in his 30s, tall with a moustache, greets MARION.
He's been waiting for her. JACK watches the two of them,
unseen.

The MAN and MARION exchange a few words. She smiles, takes
his arm. He leans forward to kiss her.

JACK'S VOICE
For the first time in a long while
Jack thought about his mother.
She'd left when she couldn't take
it any more. His father had said
'Don't worry, Jacko, she'll come
back.' She didn't.

JACK turns and walks away.

JACK'S VOICE
But Marion wasn't his mother...

INT. CASINO - CROWS NEST - NIGHT

JACK stands behind REYNOLDS who is playing back a video of
the earlier incident in which MATT cheated with the GREEK.

JACK
He's paying out in stacks of 25.

REYNOLDS
I can see.

He freezes the frame, presses a button, zooms in on the
detail of MATT's hand covering the chips.

On another video monitor MATT is dealing blackjack. REYNOLDS
looks at the screen.

REYNOLDS
Little shit.

JACK'S VOICE
Chapter Three. His existence was
forming an interesting pattern of
betrayals. Sometimes he was unsure
whether he was the betrayer or the
betrayed.

REYNOLDS looks up from the screen.

REYNOLDS
(grudgingly)
Thanks for the information.

JACK
A pleasure. Pity about Bella.

REYNOLDS
She was a real asset. But what
could I do?

JACK lights a cigarette.

REYNOLDS
(shakes his head)
Sorry. No smoking in the Nest,
Jack.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - DAY

Working at his computer, JACK lights one cigarette from
another. He pauses from his typing. On the desk beside him
is the note with JANI's phone number. He picks up the phone,
starts to dial, then stops, replaces the receiver. He looks
distracted, lost. On the table MARION'S flowers are dead
in the vase.

INT. BOOKSTORE - DAY

JACK comes downstairs from the upper floor. He is looking
at a book he has selected: 'SCARNE ON CARDS'.

Across from the cash desk near the entrance a book signing
is in progress. A small crowd surrounds a Middle Eastern
author called HABIB dressed in a kaftan. GILES is with
him. A PHOTOGRAPHER is there. A few camera flashes.

GILES sees JACK at the cash desk. He is uncertain for a
moment, then smiles.

GILES
(calling)
Jack!

Hearing his name, JACK turns. GILES comes over.

GILES
I thought it was you. It's the
hair!

JACK
(touching the back
of his neck)
I'm working on that soccer story.

GILES
(vaguely)
Right.
(suddenly)
Look, I must get back to Habib.

JACK
Habib?

GILES
My author. He's a Terrorist. He's
written a kill-and-tell book.
(puts his hand on
Jack's shoulder)
Take care.

GILES heads back to the signing. The CASHIER puts JACK'S
book in a bag. GILES stops, thinking of something. He comes
back to JACK.

GILES
Jack, look, next weekend I'm having
a house party. Here...
(removes a card
from his pocket
book)
It's near Oxford. Why don't you
come? It'll just be social. No
business.
(conspiratorially)
Bring a friend. I've plenty of
room.

JACK
(looks at the card)
I'll try and make it.

GILES
Looking forward!

GILES goes back to his group. JACK looks round the
bookstore, sees thousands of books in piles.

JACK'S VOICE
Books piled like chips. Stack 'em
high. Sell 'em fast. Make a killing.
You think you're a gambler, Giles,
but you're not. You're a dealer.

A camera flash.

EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - NIGHT

JANI'S white Honda winds its way through the wintry
Oxfordshire countryside. The moon is bright.

JACK'S VOICE
Chapter Four...

INT. HONDA - NIGHT

JANI, wearing dark glasses, is driving. JACK, beside her,
reads a map with a torch.

JACK
I don't know how you can drive at
night with those glasses.

She turns and smiles at him. Her left hand is bandaged.

JACK
How did you hurt your hand?

JANI
Just an accident. Nothing.

JACK
Turn left ahead.

The car turns into a lane.

JACK
Jani, there's something I want to
say. Before we get there. I don't
know what the sleeping arrangements
are. Giles probably expects us to
share a room.

JANI
That's fine.

EXT. COUNTRY HOUSE - NIGHT

The Honda's tyres crackle on the gravel drive which leads
to a floodlit yellow stone country house. There are three
cars parked outside the entrance. The Honda stops next to
them.

INT. HONDA - NIGHT

JACK prepares to get out. JANI catches his arm. She takes
off her dark glasses. Her right eye is bruised.

JANI
There's no point pretending it was
an accident. I had a fight with
someone, that's all.

In the distance there is the sound of a tennis ball being
struck.

EXT. COUNTRY HOUSE - TENNIS COURT - NIGHT

A floodlit tennis court. A racquet smacks a tennis ball.
JACK sits with GILES drinking Bloody Marys watching a game
of mixed doubles.

Everybody's wearing sweaters. JANI is playing with one of
GILES'S friends, GORDON. On the other side, two girls,
FIONA from Giles' office, and CHLOE, Gordon's girlfriend.

JACK follows JANI'S game. She is far and away the best of
the four.

GILES is also studying JANI's movements, her knickers when
she serves.

GILES
She's a dab hand With a racquet,
your friend.

JACK
South African women are very sporty.

JACK watches JANI'S strong leg muscles as she moves about
the court.

GILES
I can see. How did she get that
shiner?

JACK has been waiting for this.

JACK
I found her in bed with someone.

GILES
(surprised)
Who was he?

JACK
She.

GIEES
I say. You're a dark horse, Jack.

On court, Jani delivers a winning overhead smash. The four
PLAYERS shake hands across the net. They come off the court.
GORDON puts his arm around JANI. His girlfriend CHLOE
notices. JACK is irritated. GILES catches the moment.

GORDON
(to Jack)
You don't play tennis?

JACK
I don't play anything.

GORDON
How boring for you.

JANI moves deliberately away from GORDON, who clearly
fancies her, and sits down beside JACK. She pointedly kisses
him on the cheek. GILES glances at GORDON, who shrugs.
FIONA comes up to GILES.

FIONA
Where's our drinks?

CHLOE
They're so bloody selfish.

JANI
(to Jack)
I'm so glad you brought me.

JACK'S VOICE
Jack wouldn't have come without
her.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE - DRAWING ROOM - NIGHT

JACK and JANI, GILES, GORDON and their two GIRLFRIENDS are
sitting down with drinks at a card table. GORDON opens a
fresh deck of cards.

JACK
I don't gamble.

GILES
Don't be a spoilsport. It's only a
few quid.

JACK
It's nothing to do with money. I
don't gamble.

GILES looks to JANI to persuade him.

JANI
He doesn't gamble.

JACK
I'll watch.

GORDON
(insinuatingly)
Jack likes to watch.
(to Jani)
Does he like to watch?

JACK is getting angry. JANI is calm.

JANI
(to Gordon)
One more remark like that and I'll
break your balls.

There is silence. GORDON is embarrassed. FIONA looks at
CHLOE, they're shocked and impressed. JACK smiles.

GILES
(laughs)
I'll bet she could, too.

JACK defuses the atmosphere.

JACK
I'll deal, but I won't play.

He sits down, picks up the cards.

GORDON
You sure you know how?

JACK takes the pack of cards, splits it expertly into two,
shuffles by pressing the two halves together open-palmed.
There is a rattling noise as the cards fold mechanically
into one another, leaving the pack as if it hadn't been
shuffled. FIONA and CHLOE are fascinated.

FIONA
Do that again.

JACK gives the cards to his right, GORDON cuts them. Another
immaculate professional shuffle, and out come the cards
from JACK'S right hand, flicking across the table.

As the cards land, they fall exactly next to one another
in front of each player.

CHLOE
That's sexy.

At the end of the deal, five players are looking at a neat
fan of five cards before them.

FIONA
Don't they look pretty.

They all pick up their cards.

GILES
(frowns)
There's nothing pretty about this
hand.

CHLOE
You're not supposed to talk, Giles.

FIONA
He's probably lying. He does that.

JACK catches JANI's eye. She winks.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE - DRAWING ROOM - NIGHT

Later. JACK deals the cards.

JACK
Last hand.

GILES
Hey. I've got an idea. Why don't
we...

FIONA
(sharply)
No! No stripping.

CHLOE
Right. We're not having that again!
(glances at Jack)
Although...

GORDON
I'll stick to bluffing. That's
what I'm best at.

JANI smiles, says nothing. JACK slides the pack to JANI.
She looks up at him and cuts the cards. JACK deals the
cards deftly. The FIVE PLAYERS pick up their cards.

Before each player calls we hear Jack's voice. In the end
he correctly predicts their call. Is it telepathy? Or
something else?

GORDON
I'll stick.

FIONA
Two cards.

GILES
One card.

CHLOE
Oh I don't know...Er...two cards.

JANI
Three cards.

The PLAYERS examine their hands. The WOMEN are pleased.
The MEN say nothing. JANI puts her cards together.

The betting begins. No one drops out. The raising goes
round three times.

FIONA
That's it. I haven't got any more
cash.

The betting comes to an end. JACK watches as they turn
their hands over. GORDON turns over a Straight.

GORDON
Beat that.

CHLOE turns over a Flush.

CHLOE
Ha. Ha. Ha.

GORDON
Shit.

FIONA turns over a Full House.

FIONA
Not so fast, darling.

GORDON
(disbelieving)
Hang on, chaps. That's impossible!

GILES turns over four of a kind.

GILES
How's about that for impossible.

Laughter, cries of amazement.

GORDON
What's going on?

JACK is impassive. They all look to JANI, who turns over,
one card at a time, a Straight Flush.

CHLOE
Wow. What are the odds for this
happening?

More laughter, cries of amazement.

FIONA
Thousands to one.

JACK
42,300,000 to 1.

JANI
Approximately.

GORDON
I could've won if I'd been able to
bluff.

JANI leans forward and takes the pot. GILES looks at JACK,
then at JANI.

GILES
I get it.

JACK
Get what?
(smiles)
Are you accusing me of cheating?

GILES
Good God, no. But with skill like
that, what do you want a job for?
You don't need to work.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE - BEDROOM - NIGHT

JACK sits on the side of a four-poster bed and takes off
his shoes. On the other side of the bed JANI unzips her
skirt. She looks round the room.

JACK'S VOICE
Here was an interesting question.
Was writing work... or play?

JANI puts her skirt over a chair and goes into the bathroom.
She doesn't close the door. JACK continues undressing.
From a hold-all he removes a pair of pajamas. He glances
at the open bathroom door, then climbs into his pajamas.
He has two ugly bruises on his chest from the fight with
the ARABIC MAN.

JANI comes out of the bathroom naked. She sees his body.

JANI
What happened?

JACK
Remember the guy who cheated at
the table?

JANI
You don't like cheats, do you.

She walks across to her case, opens it, rummages around
and takes out a nightie. This, without the slightest hint
of embarrassment. JACK goes into the bathroom to brush his
teeth. JANI climbs into bed.

JANI
Which side do you like?

JACK
(calling)
You choose.

They get into bed.

JANI
That trick tonight, I don't think
I've ever seen that before.

JACK
It can only work with amateurs, A
pro would have spotted it.

JANI
I didn't.

JACK
Then you're not a pro.

JANI leans over and turns off the lamp. Her hair brushes
JACK'S face.

JANI
Goodnight.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE - NIGHT

In the deserted hall is a nineteenth century painting, a
copy of Gericault's 'Raft of the Medusa'. The picture light
illuminates the group of men and women, clinging to the
raft and to each other.

INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

JANI'S VOICE
Jack...? I need your help...

JACK wakes drowsily.

JANI
I'm in trouble.

JACK
What kind of trouble?

JANI
I owe a lot of money.

JACK
Was that why you did the two grand?
I couldn't help you.

JANI
I know that. But you can now.

JACK
I don't have any money. switches
on the light. JANI is looking
distressed.

JANI
Some people I know, they're planning
to rob The Golden Lion.

JACK sits up, turns on the lamp.

JACK
You don't mean that.

JANI pulls up the bedcover around her body.

JANI
They mean it.

JACK
Who's they?

JANI
My creditors. One night, around
three in the morning, they'll come
into the casino -

JACK
(interrupting)
Forget it, Jani. It'll never work.

JANI
The point is, they want a man
inside.

JACK
(laughs)
And I thought you were a bright
woman.

JANI
Just listen. You don't have to do
anything criminal.

JACK
(smiles)
Robbery's not criminal?

JACK gets out of bed, tours the room.

JANI
You don't have to be criminal. A
man will come up to your table and
deliberately cheat. You'll see
him, stop him, and the guy will
make a big scene. There'll be chaos.
And that's when it'll happen.

JACK
You're serious.

JANI
You won't be committing a crime.
The man will cheat, you'll just be
doing your job, that's all.

JACK comes right up close to JANI in bed.

JACK
And I thought you were only after
my body.

JANI
I've come to know you. You're
honest.
(takes his hand)
I trust you.

JACK
What'll you do when it all goes
wrong?

JANI
It won't.

JACK
But if it does.

JANI
You keep the ten thousand pounds.

JACK
What ten thousand pounds?

JANI gets out of bed.

JANI
These people will pay you ten
thousand before and ten thousand
after. They want someone they can
be sure of, an honest dealer. That's
the point. Not all dealers are
honest. Mr Reynolds will never
suspect you.

JACK
Reynolds? You've done your research.

She puts her hand on his.

JANI
I didn't know what else to do.
You're my last chance.

She takes his hand and puts it on her bruised eye.

JANI
Next time it'll be my neck.

JACK
What about my neck?

JANI is close to breaking down. Her toughness evaporates.

JANI
I want to go back to Cape Town, I
want to start again, clean.

JACK
I can't do it, Jani.

JANI
I'm asking you, as a...friend.
You'd be saving the life of a
friend.

JANI goes back to bed. She turns out the light. JACK stands
in the middle of the dark room.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE - PASSAGE - STAIRS - NIGHT

JACK comes out of the bedroom in his pajamas, wearing his
hat. He walks slowly down the passage. He hears the sounds
of love-making coming from one of the rooms. He passes
'The Raft of the Medusa' as he goes down the stairs.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE - KITCHEN - NIGHT

JACK comes into the kitchen, switches on the light. He
goes to the refrigerator, takes out a bottle of vodka. He
washes a dirty glass and pours himself a drink.

JACK'S VOICE
Jack wondered why he was even
considering it. Ten grand. In cash.
That was why. But Jack didn't need
the money. His father would have
taken it, like a shot. But his
father was a gambler.

He downs his drink, and leaves the kitchen.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE - PASSAGE - NIGHT

JACK walks back to his room. There is silence now, no sounds
of sex.

JACK'S VOICE
He was always broke. Jake suddenly
realised... it was Jake who was
considering it.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE - BEDROOM - NIGHT

JACK comes in, tosses his hat on the bed. JANI isn't in
the bed. The bathroom door is afar. He hears the sounds of
gasping. He rushes to the bathroom.

INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT

JANI is holding her head over the lavatory bowl. JACK runs
some water in the basin. He helps her to her feet and gives
her a glass of water.

She washes out her mouth. She looks at him, tears running
down her face.

JANI
I want you to forget what I said.

JACK
Wait a minute...

JANI
No, forget it. The bet's off.

She reaches forward for a toothbrush and starts to clean
her teeth.

JACK
What about your father? Can he
help?

She spits the water out of her mouth, kisses him on the
forehead and goes back into the bedroom. JACK looks at his
reflection in the bathroom mirror. He strokes his hair
down.

JACK
Why don't you just go back to South
Africa?

He leaves the bathroom.

INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

JACK gets back in bed with JANI. They turn away from each
other and prepare to sleep.

JACK
How much do you owe?

JANI
Let it go.

JACK
Did they tell you to sleep with
me?

JANI
I told you, all bets are off.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE - BEDROOM - DAWN

JACK wakes as JANI is dressed getting ready to leave. She
bends and kisses him.

JANI
I'm sorry.

JACK
What for?

JANI
I have to take the car.

She looks at him then leaves the room

JACK'S VOICE
Hang on tightly... let go lightly.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

JACK comes into the kitchen. GILES is making coffee. CHLOE
is sitting at the table, half-asleep in her nightgown.

GILES
Good night?

JACK
Not particularly.

GILES
And your lady?

JACK
She had to leave early. She asked
me to thank you.

GILES
A bit unexpected, wasn't it?

JACK
Not entirely.

GILES
How's that football story corning
along?

JACK
You said it was going to be social,
Giles. No business.

JACK'S VOICE
He was overcome with a sense of
urgency. He had to get it down...
Chapter Five.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - NIGHT

JACK comes in, puts down his overnight bag. He yawns, heads
for the bedroom. Suddenly, he sees that the vase of dead
flowers is now full of fresh blooms. Underneath is a small
box, gift-wrapped. JACK opens it. Inside the tissue paper
is a tiny gold charm on a chain. He examines it.

CLOSE-UP: The charm is a book, no title engraved.

JACK is touched.

INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

JACK comes into the room. MARION is in bed asleep. He looks
at her, smiles.

He starts to get undressed. MARION stirs. JACK puts the
book charm around his neck. She moves from the middle to
one side of the bed, making room for him. He holds the
charm.

JACK
It's beautiful. Thank you.

MARION
I hope it brings you luck.

JACK
It will.

MARION I haven't brought you much luck, have I? Perhaps we
shouldn't be together.

JACK
That girl, she works at the casino --

MARION
-- I don't care about her. Of
course, I was angry. But not with
you. The book is yours not mine. I
was wrong, what I said about it. I
hurt you, didn't I?

JACK
You're entitled to your opinion.

MARION
It's none of my business what you
write. And your job, that's none
of my business either. I love you.
And I've done everything wrong.

JACK takes her in his arms.

JACK
I'll leave the casino soon.
(he strokes her
hair)
I promise.

MARION
You will?

JACK
Within a month. Believe me, I'm
going to quit!

They begin to make love. She holds the back of his head.

MARION
Then you can dye your hair blond
again.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - NIGHT

JACK is asleep in bed with MARION. He is murmuring
indistinguishable words. It wakes her. She gently touches
his shoulder. He opens his eyes.

JACK
What?

MARION
You were talking in your sleep.

JACK
Not talking. Writing.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - DAY

JACK is at work alone. The phone rings. He leaves it and
continues I working. Then he hears JANI'S VOICE.

JANI'S VOICE
I need to see you. I've moved. I
have a new number. It's 468-3275.
Please call me.

There is a click. JACK scribbles the number down and resumes
work.

INT. UNDERGROUND - NIGHT

JACK gets off a train. He is dressed as a croupier. He
walks to a public telephone on the platform, taking JANI'S
note from his pocket. He dials the number. The noise of
the train and PASSENGERS makes it difficult to hear. The
phone at the end rings and rings. JACK waits.

JACK
I want to speak to Jani de
Villiers...
(waits)
Jani... it's Jack... I'll come
over now...

He takes out a notepad and writes down the address.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

JACK walks down a street of rough, transient's hotels. The
street lamps are on.

JACK'S VOICE
Chapter Seven... Jack had decided
to see her. The challenge was
essential.

He comes up to a hotel called 'Journey's End'. He goes in.

INT. HOTEL. STAIRS - NIGHT

JACK climbs the creaking stairs under the fluorescent
lights. He knocks on a door. JANI opens it. She wears men's
pajamas. She looks unslept.

JANI
Come in.

She glances up and down the passage. JACK goes in.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

JANI carefully closes the door. JACK looks round the dingy
room.

JANI
It's not the Ritz this time.

She switches on a standard lamp, looks at him.

JANI
Is it yes?

JACK
Yes.

JANI
Thank you.

Reflected in a mirror, she opens her bag and takes out an
envelope, gives it to JACK. He looks inside. Four bank
packets of 2500.

JACK
It doesn't seem fair. You're
offering me ten grand in cash but
you can't afford a decent place.

JANI
Well, life's not fair. We know
that.

JACK
It's all relative. I need the
money too.

JANI
Do you?

JACK
Yes.

JANI
The date's not set yet. I'll call
you. One last thing: the man you're
going to catch cheating, he may
get violent. But you know how to
deal with cheats.

JACK
(looks at her face)
That bruise has cleared up nicely.

JANI
Bruise?
(touches her eye)
Oh, yes. It's better.

JACK
(touches his chest)
I've still got mine.

JACK looks at her hand.

JACK
And your hand too.

JANI
(coolly)
I took the bandage off yesterday.

She crosses to pick up a bottle of Scotch.

JANI
Would you like a drink?

JACK
No thank you.

JACK puts the envelope in his pocket. They look at each
other.

JACK
I don't think we should meet again.

JANI
(nods)
It's a shame there aren't more men
in the world like you.

JACK goes up to JANI and kisses her on the mouth. She puts
an arm around him.

JACK'S VOICE
There was a part of Jani he really
liked.

He turns and leaves the room.

EXT. HOTEL - STREET - NIGHT

JACK comes out of the hotel, walks up the street.

JACK'S VOICE
Question: Was he gambling, taking
Jani's money? Answer: No. Because
he wasn't betting with his own
money. He was being paid in advance
for a service...

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

At the roulette table JACK spins the wheel, throws the
ball.

JACK'S VOICE
In reality there were two clear
elements of risk in this exchange.
One: the possibility the cash was
counterfeit. Two: the possibility
Jani or her creditors would want
the money back if the plan failed.

A MIDDLE-AGED MAN is sweating. He fingers his last 2 chips.
He reaches for a number, hesitates. JACK sees that the
MAN's hand is shaking.

JACK'S VOICE
To begin with he put the odds at 2
against. 7 for. He checked a random
selection of bills at a bank. They
were all good.

Across the table a well-dressed JEWISH WOMAN in her fifties
is sitting next to a YOUNG MAN, a gigolo type, the top
three buttons of his shirt undone. She too hesitates with
her bet, looks down at her card, marked with the last thirty
turns.

JACK'S VOICE
So now his odds were decidedly
better. He put them at 8 to 1. The
fact that the notes were good gave
him one less negative. 2 minus 1.
At the same time mathematically he
had one more positive. 7 plus 1.

The WOMAN looks up at the YOUNG MAN. She hands him the
chip.

WOMAN
Bring me some luck.

The YOUNG MAN smiles. Takes the chip and puts it on 21.

The MIDDLE-AGED MAN puts his chips on 8 and 11. He prays
silently.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

The roulette table. The ball is bouncing in and out of
numbers.

JACK
No more bets.

The MIDDLE-AGED MAN closes his eyes. The WOMAN puts her
hand on the YOUNG MAN'S arm.

JACK'S VOICE
Next stage. He had to be secure at
8 to 1 against having to give the
money back, so he wouldn't spend
it. If after one month no one had
approached him, he calculated the
odds of keeping it at 20 to 1.
After three months he figured 100
to 1 no one would turn up.

The ball bounces into 21. The WOMAN gives a cry of joy.
She grips the YOUNG MAN's hand. He leans over to her, eyeing
her diamond necklace, and whispers something seductive in
her ear. She stiffens with apprehensive pleasure.

The MIDDLE-AGED MAN opens his eyes, there is a look of
misery on his face.

JACK sweeps away the lost chips, pays out five minor
winners. He calmly counts a small pile of chips and slides
them to the MIDDLE-AGED MAN by sleight of hand. Then he
prepares to pay out the WOMAN.

No one has noticed the pay-out to the MIDDLE-AGED MAN. The
MAN looks at JACK incredulously. JACK smiles mechanically.
The MAN mouths the words 'Thank you' to JACK.

The WOMAN looks up at the YOUNG MAN. She gives him a pile
of chips. He gives them back. He kisses her neck.

YOUNG MAN
How about a drink to celebrate?

The MIDDLE-AGED MAN stands up, his face creased in emotion,
relief.

MAN
(to Jack)
Cash me in.

JACK converts the green coloured chips to 35 in house
chips. The MAN nods at JACK, who smiles formally.

The MAN leaves the table. PUNTERS place their bets for the
next spin. JACK sees the MAN stop by the next roulette
table.

JACK'S VOICE
Jake's experiment with the man
would prove the point.

The MAN hesitates. He can't resist.

In CLOSE-UP: the MAN puts two of the chips down.

JACK'S VOICE
People don't change.

INT. JACK'S KITCHEN - NIGHT

MARION drops a plate as she's drying the dishes. She swears
and bends to pick up the pieces.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - BEDROOM - NIGHT

MARION, undressed, pulls the old nightgown from the laundry
basket. She lets it fall back, goes to look in the chest
of drawers for another. She can't find one among the
underwear.

She goes on to JACK'S drawer and pulls out a shirt. She
unfolds it. Out drop the four packets of 2500.

She bends to pick them up. She looks at them incredulously.

INT. CASINO - BLACKJACK TABLE - NIGHT

JACK pushes several 50 notes into the slot and counts out
two piles of chips for a PUNTER in front of him.

JACK'S VOICE
He watched their faces as they
lost hour after hour, night after
night, relentlessly.

JACK'S FACE as he deals.

JACK'S VOICE
He questioned the conventional
wisdom that gamblers are self-
destructive...

INT. CASINO - ROULETTE TABLE - NIGHT

The FACES of PUNTERS around the table: concentration,
grimness, apprehension...

JACK'S VOICE
He had come to believe that in
reality, they want to destroy
everyone else - their families and
loved ones, everyone. Fuck over
the whole world...

The white balls lands. The FACES of the LOSERS, resigned,
desperate, angry....

The PUNTERS who are cleaned out get off their chairs, tear
up their sequence cards, turn and walk away, quickly,
slowly.

ON JACK'S FACE:

JACK'S VOICE
Without emotion he watched them
go. Jake stayed.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - NIGHT

MARION is lying awake alone in bed. The phone rings. She
leans over to pick it up, then doesn't. From the sitting
room comes the message:

JANI'S VOICE
It's set. The day after tomorrow.
The twenty-fourth. Good luck.

Click. MARION gets out of bed. She goes into the sitting
room.

INT. SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

MARION replays the message. She stares at the phone. Then
carefully she presses the ERASE button, wiping the message.
She goes back into the bedroom.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - DAY

JACK is at work. MARION'S hands are massaging his shoulders.
The little book charm dangles round his neck.

MARION
Aren't you ever tempted to gamble?

JACK
(looks up)
Never. Why do you ask?

MARION
I can just imagine, being around
so much money all the time...

JACK
Gambling's not about money.

MARION
Really?

JACK
Gambling's about not facing reality.
Ignoring the odds.

She takes her hands away from his neck.

MARION
I must be a fool. I never think
about the odds.

The sound of an underground train.

INT. UNDERGROUND - NIGHT

JACK sits impassively among noisy Christmas TRAVELLERS.
The train stops. SOMEONE pops a balloon. JACK gets up and
alights, followed by a streamer. He disappears into the
crowd.

INT. CASINO - CHANGING ROOM - NIGHT

JACK hangs up his hat and coat, examines himself in the
mirror. He picks up a small roll of paper. He unfurls it.
A Christmas party hat.

JACK'S VOICE
Chapter Twelve...

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

A Christmas festive atmosphere. The casino interior is
decorated with red and green balloons, silver and gold
streamers, a large tree hung with 1000 chips.

JACK is dealing at a blackjack table. Like the other
croupiers and dealers, he is dressed in a fancy red coat
with green trim. He wears a silly paper hat.

The PUNTERS at Jack's table include MR TCHAI and four
expensively dressed CHINESE MEN. The BODYGUARD stands behind
them. They are gambling big money. Wads of 50 notes are
changed into 100 chips.

JACK is coolly winning for the house. REYNOLDS looks on
impassively in his Santa Claus suit. Three or four PUNTERS
are watching the CHINESE lose heavily. MR TCHAI and his
friends occasionally exchange a phrase in Chinese but they
show no emotion as they lose. With each hand they prepare
to lose even more. JACK pushes hundreds of pounds into the
box beneath the table.

REYNOLDS signals a SECURITY MAN to collect the cash which
is building up. He comes over with a safety cart. During a
short break the money is taken from under the table in a
box, loaded into the cart and wheeled away.

INT. CASINO - BAR - NIGHT

TWO COLD-LOOKING MEN in suits are drinking mineral water
at the bar. They watch the SECURITY MAN with the cart pass
by and disappear through a green baize door marked PRIVATE.
One of the SUITS looks at his watch: five minutes to
midnight.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

JACK is now at a roulette table. He sees a PUNTER's watch:
2.45. The atmosphere around the crowded table is noisy,
laughter, loud voices. 1 One of the two MEN in suits from
the bar eases himself into a chair. JACK sees him. The
SUIT throws him 500.

SUIT
Fifties. Ten of them.

JACK
What colour chips?

SUIT
Whatever.

JACK gives him ten pale blue chips and puts another pale
blue chip into the rack alongside the rainbow of colours
used by the other punters. The SUIT looks at his watch.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

Two men in raincoats, DETECTIVES, approach REYNOLDS and
talk to him. REYNOLDS becomes nervous, looks around the
casino. The table at the bar where the SUITS sat is empty.
The PRIVATE green baize door slowly closes.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

The ball bounces into number 5. There are cheers of delight
from the winners, 5 is heavily covered.

The SUIT casually slides a pale blue chip onto the number
at the side.

JACK Sees the obvious cheat. So do other PUNTERS.

JACK
(stiffens)
Sir, I can't accept that bet.

The SUIT gets up and comes around the table to JACK.

SUIT
Are you calling me a cheat?

PUNTER
You are a cheat. I saw you.

SUIT
(grabbing Jack's
lapel)
I'm talking to you.

JACK pushes him away. The SUIT hits JACK'S face with his
fist. Uproar around the table. JACK hits the man. The SUIT
grabs JACK and pushes him backwards across the table,
knocking all the chips over. The PUNTERS start shouting.
They grab their chips, especially the losers. One PUNTER
tries to restrain the SUIT. JACK kicks the SUIT hard. They
fight, trading blows.

At the blackjack table MR TCHAI and the other CHINESE see
the fight. MR TCHAI barks at the BODYGUARD in Chinese. The
BODYGUARD heads for the fight at the roulette table.

TWO DEALERS rush over to stop the fight. Somewhere in the
distance there is the sound of a gunshot. PEOPLE start
screaming. The SUIT punches JACK in the stomach. JACK
doubles up. The SUIT breaks away, rushes across the casino,
pushing screaming WOMEN aside, heads for the door. MR
TCHAI's BODYGUARD blocks his way and fells the SUIT with a
hammer blow to the head.

The TWO DETECTIVES come up. One of them handcuffs the SUIT,
who is lying on the floor. The casino is in uproar. A
strange, violent Christmas party.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

JACK lies groaning on the floor. MR TCHAI is standing,
watching JACK. REYNOLDS'S VOICE comes over the tannoy
system:

REYNOLDS
Ladies and gentlemen, please be
calm. There's no cause for alarm.
Enjoy yourselves. It's Christmas.

REYNOLDS'S VOICE is replaced by a breezy version of 'Rudolph
the Red-Nosed Reindeer'. JACK struggles to his feet, amid
the chaos. He falls back in pain. MR TCHAI and the other
CHINESE leave the casino with the BODYGUARD.

INT. HOSPITAL - CASUALTY - NIGHT

JACK is sitting in a Christmas-decorated cubicle, a curtain
drawn round. An INDIAN NURSE is bandaging his arm. He has
two large plasters on his chest.

The NURSE finishes the job, smiles.

NURSE
There you go.

She hands him two pills and a glass of water. In the
background there are party sounds. The NURSE leaves. JACK
fingers the charm around his neck.

There is a pause. Then the curtain is pulled back. MARION
enters. She carries a bottle of wine and two cartons of
Chinese take-away. JACK is surprised.

JACK
How did you know I was here?

MARION
I thought you wouldn't want to
spend Christmas Day alone in here.

She starts to pour wine. JACK is still puzzled.

JACK
Did you go to the casino?

MARION hands him a glass of wine.

MARION
Happy Christmas.

They touch glasses and drink.

MARION
Now...noodles or rice?

As she opens the cartons, JACK watches her, still uneasy.

MARION
(quietly)
I don't want a criminal for a
boyfriend.

JACK
(suddenly)
There was a message, wasn't there?

MARION
It's probably easier for you to
eat the rice.

JACK
Marion! What did you tell the
police?

MARION
Nothing about you.

JACK
Then what?

MARION
Give up being a croupier, Jack. Or
I'll shop you. All you have to do
is keep your word. It's that simple.

JACK sinks back on the bed. She hands him the rice dish.

MARION
Here...use a spoon.

JACK
Leave me alone, Marion.

MARION
You're already alone.

JACK'S VOICE
He had always been alone. He had
always believed it would make the
decisions easier.

JACK
All right. I don't want to lose
you. I'll quit. I swear to you.

MARION kisses him.

MARION
Why did you take the money?

JACK
I hate public transport.

MARION
What?

JACK
I want to buy a car.

MARION
(laughs)
How can anyone be that naive?

INT. CASINO - REYNOLDS'S OFFICE - DAY

JACK sits in front of REYNOLDS.

REYNOLDS
How do you feel, Jack?

JACK
Bruised.

REYNOLDS
Take your time. Two weeks. Three
if you need it. We'll pay you sick
leave. I don't want to lose you.
You're a good man. Here...

He hands JACK an envelope.

JACK
What's this?

He opens the envelope. Inside is a casino cheque for 500.

REYNOLDS
(smiles)
Happy New Year. Have a drink on
the company. You've earned it.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - NIGHT

JACK is sitting at his computer, drinking vodka, dressed
in his CROUPIER'S suit.

JACK'S VOICE
Chapter Thirteen...

He types... On the SOUNDTRACK we hear the CASINO noise.

JACK'S VOICE
It's all numbers, the croupier
thought. A spin of the wheel. A
turn of a card. The time of your
life. The date of your birth. The
year of your death. In the Book of
Numbers the Lord said: 'thou shalt
count thy steps'.

There's a ring at the doorbell. He looks at his watch:
2.15a.m. The I ring comes again.

JACK'S VOICE
Jack thought, this is it. The famous
two in the morning knock at the
door. It wad pay-back time.

JACK goes to the door.

At the door. It was pay-back time. JACK goes to the door.

JACK'S VOICE
But he wasn't afraid. He hadn't
spent one penny of the ten grand.
He'd covered himself. He knew the
odds.

JACK calmly opens the door. A UNIFORMED POLICEMAN stands
there. JACK hadn't expected this.

POLICEMAN
Mr Manfred?

JACK
Yes...

The sound of the roulette ball bouncing against the numbers.

INT. MORGUE - NIGHT

A POLICE DOCTOR uncovers a body on a gurney. The sound of
the ball find-ing a number. JACK can hardly bear to look.
It is MARION. With emotion...

JACK'S VOICE
What were the odds of being killed
by a car... on New Year's Eve?

MAN'S VOICE
She was on her way home... to you.

JACK
No. She wasn't.

JACK looks away from MARION'S face. He sees the MAN with
the moustache, standing on the other side of the gurney,
the MAN he saw with MARION on the street. He is DETECTIVE
INSPECTOR ROSS. JACK is disorientated.

JACK'S VOICE
Marion had been visiting his
mother...no, no, not his mother -
her mother.

JACK
(to Ross)
She was visiting her mother. Her
mother.
(suddenly)
Who are you?

ROSS
Detective Inspector Ross.

JACK
Who...

ROSS
Ross.

JACK
Who did it? Tell me!

He grabs ROSS'S lapels. ROSS carefully removes JACK'S hands.

ROSS
We think it's a hit-and-run. A
drunk driver, probably, But there
is a possibility of a revenge
killing.

JACK'S VOICE
(distraught)
Revenge? For what? Whose revenge?

ROSS
As you know, she was a WPC with
the Met. up until two years ago.

JACK fumbles in his pocket for a cigarette. There is a No
Smoking sign on the wall. ROSS produces a Zippo and lights
JACK'S Gitane.

ROSS
She called me last week. She'd got
wind of a planned robbery at your
casino.

JACK'S VOICE
What had that got to do with her
death?

ROSS
You didn't recognise the man who
attacked you, did you?

JACK
(loudly)
Of course I recognised him!

ROSS
(surprised)
You did?

JACK
I know a cheat when I see one. The
man was a cheat.

ROSS sighs, looks at MARION.

JACK suddenly reaches down and pulls the white sheet back
over MARION'S face.

JACK
(to Ross)
Do you gamble?

ROSS is puzzled. JACK drops his cigarette on the floor,
grinds it with his shoe. ROSS gives JACK his card.

ROSS
If anything occurs to you, call
me.

JACK walks away from ROSS without a word. The DOCTOR is
now filling out a form.

From the door JACK looks back. ROSS waits for him to say
something. JACK doesn't speak.

ROSS
I was in love with her, you know.

There is a REPRISE of JACK covering MARION'S face with the
sheet.

EXT. STREETS - NIGHT

In his croupier's suit JACK walks the night streets.

JACK'S VOICE
(quoting)
'The world breaks everyone, and
afterward many are strong at the
broken places. But those that will
not break, it kills. It kills the
very good and the very gentle and
the very brave impartially. If you
are none of these, you can be sure
it will kill you too but there
will be no special hurry'.

He passes a poster for the National Lottery bearing the
legend: 'IT COULD BE YOU'. JACK doesn't see it.

INT. GREEK RESTAURANT - NIGHT

A WOMAN smashes a plate over a MAN'S head. It's plate-
smashing party time, Greek-style. TWENTY drunk PEOPLE having
fun. Zorba music. Plates are thrown, stamped on, smashed.

JACK sits alone at a corner table, drinking, watching the
fun, unsmiling. One plate cracks into a wall behind him. A
MAN stumbles backwards into JACK's table. JACK swiftly
moves his drink out of the way. The MAN apologises, turns
to JACK. It is MATT.

MATT
Jacko! How're you doing?
(shakes Jack's hand
vigorously)
I heard about the raid. Pity they
didn't pull it off. I wish I'd
been there.

MATT has to shout above the noise and music. JACK smiles.

JACK
(quietly)
But you were there Matt.

MATT doesn't hear.

MATT
What? You know what happened to
me, don't you? That bitch Bella
shopped me. I'd like to beat the
shit out of her.

JACK
I'd like to buy you a drink.

MATT
Cheers. Happy New Year. I really
like you, Jacko, you're so fucking
straight.
(suddenly)
Hey, you haven't changed your
clothes!

INT. GREEK RESTAURANT - NIGHT

There are four or five PEOPLE left among the debris. MATT
has gone.

JACK is still there, drunk now.

JACK'S VOICE
The music stopped, Jack was drunk...
hallucinating. He was back, as a
child, in the Wild Coast Casino.

A BLACK WOMAN comes over to him. Her name is LUCY.

LUCY
You've been avoiding me.

JACK
(blearily)
Have I?

LUCY
I'm Lucy.

JACK
And what do you do, Lucy?

LUCY
I'm a witch. A white witch. Why
don't we move on?

JACK
Are you going to put a spell on
me?

LUCY
I might.

EXT. GREEK RESTAURANT - DAWN

LUCY guides JACK to a parked car. He is drunker than she.
When he sees the car he starts to laugh. It is his Austin
Healey.

JACK
Nice car. How much did you pay for
it?

LUCY
Too much. Eighteen hundred.

She opens the door for him. They climb in. LUCY starts the
car.

LUCY
Where to?

JACK
Turn left at the lights.

They drive off.

EXT. STREET - DAWN

A deserted intersection. The Austin Healey swings around a
corner. A WOMAN steps out from the kerb.

INT. CAR - DAWN

JACK reacts. He swings the wheel. LUCY shouts. The car
swerves, missing the WOMAN.

LUCY
Hey! I saw her!

JACK looks back. The WOMAN is shouting after the car.

LUCY
You don't trust women drivers, do
you?

JACK'S VOICE
Jack didn't trust anyone. Except
himself.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - DAWN

JACK sits at his computer. He is watching the printer
unloading page after page. JACK assembles the typescript.

JACK'S VOICE
It was finally finished. He thought
of sending it to Giles. But that
wouldn't be right. He would select
a publisher at random, like a
number.

CLOSE UP: The dedication: 'To Marion'.

The sound of the ball bouncing against the wheel.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

The ball falls into 10. JACK puts the doll on 10.

No one at the table has the winning number. JACK sweeps
away the losing bets.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

A Blackjack table. The bets are placed. JACK turns over
the bank's cards: a KING and an ACE. He takes all the chips
from the five PUNTERS.

PUNTER
(to Jack)
You're wasting yourself. With your
luck you ought to come over to our
side.

EXT. STREET. BOOKSTORE - NIGHT

JACK comes up to a bookstore window. A sticker reads: 'IT'S
A WINNER'. There are quotes blown up from the reviews: "AN
INCREDIBLE INSIDE JOB...IT'S ALL HERE, THE SYSTEMS, THE
SCAMS, THE SLEAZE...A TALE OF TRIUMPHANT DISGUST...OF
EXHILARATING CONTEMPT..." The display is just one book:
'I, CROUPIER'. Number 1 Bestseller.

JACK'S VOICE
Even his publisher had no idea who
the author was. He had done the
deal through a lawyer. It gave him
a good feeling, no one knowing...

INT. REYNOLDS'S OFFICE - NIGHT

REYNOLDS is reading the book. He laughs out loud at
something.

JACK'S VOICE
...It never occurred to anyone at
the Casino that the Golden Lion
had been his model. Why should it?
Weren't all casinos the same....

INT. UNDERGROUND - NIGHT

JACK is sitting in his croupier's suit on the crowded tube.
He sees a WOMAN reading 'I, CROUPIER'. For the first time
we see the back cover...'by ANONYMOUS'.

JACK'S VOICE
...It gave him an exquisite
pleasure, being an underground
man. With all his money, he hadn't
even bought a car. Jack knew the
truth about himself, he was a one-
book writer. A one time winner who
had quit while he was ahead...

INT. JACK'S FLAT - DAWN

Five in the morning.

JACK'S VOICE
He changed nothing in the flat,
bought nothing, spent nothing. The
only thing he did was to remove
the bars outside the window...

JACK comes in. The phone rings.

INT. SUN CITY. CASINO - NIGHT

JANI is holding a mobile phone. In the background is the
casino room, the lights, colours, rattling sounds. She
waits.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - NIGHT

JACK hesitates, then picks up.

JACK
Hello...

JANI
Jack! It's Jani.

The following conversation is INTERCUT.

JACK
Jani! Where are you?

JANI
Sun City. I've been meaning to
call you for months.

JACK
(smiles)
How are you?

JANI
Great. I'm getting married. At
least, I think I am.

JACK
Did you solve your problems?

JANI
Yes. I'm all over that now. Jack,
hold on a minute. There's someone
here who wants to talk to you...

JACK waits.

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

A MAN'S hand takes the phone from JANI.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - NIGHT

JACK SR'S VOICE
Jacko - how're you doing?

JACK
Dad!

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

JACK SR. his arm round JANI, talks into the phone.

JACK SR
I never thanked you properly for
your help. Jani told me you behaved
like a perfect gentleman throughout.
I knew you would. I know my son.

INT. JACK'S FLAT - NIGHT

JACK'S face is a mask, tight, fixed.

JACK SR'S VOICE
The woman thinks I'm going to marry
her. But you know me. It's a shame
things didn't work out. But we saw
you all right. You didn't gamble
the ten grand, did you?

JACK
(huskily)
As a matter of fact I did. But I
won.

JACK SR'S VOICE
That's my boy. How's that novel of
yours coming along?

JACK slowly puts the phone down. He takes a deep breath.
Then smiles.

JACK'S VOICE
So that was it. The final card.
Blackjack. His father, eight
thousand miles and twenty seven
years away, was still dealing to
his son Jack from the bottom of
the deck...

CLOSE-UP: A copy of the book: 'I CROUPIER'.

JACK'S VOICE
...But Jake the croupier had a
sense of humour.

INT. JACK'S KITCHEN - NIGHT

Laughing, JACK pours himself a vodka, raises his glass.

JACK
To you. To both of you.

He drinks at a gulp. He turns. Standing in the doorway is
BELLA, wearing a nightdress. She is sleepy.

BELLA
What are you laughing at? Who was
that on the phone?

JACK
A couple I know are getting married.

BELLA puts her arms around him lovingly.

BELLA
Fools.

A whistling sound...

INT. CASINO - NIGHT

We are back in the FIRST SCENE. The ball bounces around
the spinning wheel. The FACES of the PUNTERS. Frozen
expressions. They are almost still. We do not see the
croupier. Then...

JACK'S VOICE
Now he had reached the point where
he no longer heard the sound of
the ball...

Nothing moves except the little white ball in the spinning
wheel. The ball slows...

JACK'S VOICE
...the spin of the wheel had brought
him home to the place where he was
born.

JACK'S face. A hint of a smile.

JACK'S VOICE
The croupier's mission was
accomplished.

The ball falls into green Zero. JACK rakes all the chips
off the table. There are no winners. The film ends on a

CLOSE-UP of JACK'S face. A look of calm satisfaction.

JACK'S VOICE
At last he was Master of the Game.
He had aquired the power... to
make you lose.

FADE OUT:

THE END

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