M O R E   I N F O R M A T I O N

Nature Island Literary Festival and Book Fair
www.dominicalitfest.com
Nature Island Literary Festival & Book Fair Nature Island Literary Festival

Clement Richards was the winner in the Short Screenplay category in the Nature Island Literary Festival and Book Fair Writing Competition.




SHORT SCREENPLAY

Cigarette Trade

FADE IN:

EXT. BUSHES. NIGHT
The light from a cigarette glows briefly in the bushes. BENJAMIN ďBENGIEĒ JOSEPH, an athletic looking 30 year old man, takes a deep pull and exhales slowly, cupping the light so it canít be seen. He is dressed in black jeans, black T-shirt and black sneakers, with a black bag slung across his shoulder.

From the cover of the bushes he is watching THOMAS, a 45 year old man through the window of a house a little way off. Thomas is dressed in a white Afro-type shirt with madras trimmings on the sleeves and collar, and black jeans. Bengie looks at his watch which shows 8:25 pm.

At the same time Thomas glances at his own watch somewhat impatiently, then looks at a large flat screen HD TV on the wall which is tuned to a local radio station.

RADIO ANNOUNCER
Yes Folks, there are thousands of people in the park for the start of this yearís World Creole Music Festival, and the show is just about to start!

Creole music is heard from the speakers as Thomas shouts towards the room upstairs and starts locking up.

THOMAS
Hurry up, Jasmine! Youíre making us late again!

In his haste he fails to properly lock one of the windows. JASMINE, a 43 year old well-dressed woman, emerges from an upstairs bedroom. She has on a World Creole Festival T-Shirt, jeans, large gold ear rings and a gold chain. She pouts.

JASMINE
Donít burst a blood vessel, Thomas. Iím ready.

Thomas turns off the TV and the lights as they go outside. He locks the front door, and they get into a car parked in front of the house and drive off.

EXT. BUSHES. NIGHT
Bengie waits in the bushes for a while before emerging from his hiding place. He retrieves a pair of gloves from his bag, put them on, then goes around the house testing the windows. When he eventually spots the unlocked window he smiles.

BENGIE
Why they make things so easy?

He enters the house and proceeds to the bedroom where he riffles cupboards and drawers. In the process he finds a new cell phone and some US dollars which he put in his bag.

He takes 2 gold chains and some gold and silver bracelets from the bedroom table, then reads the inscription at the back of the pendant of the largest chain, ďWith Love From Your Darling MotherĒ. The chain has a broken link.

He returns this chain to the table and put the other chain and the rings in his pocket. He goes downstairs to the TV on the wall and unscrews it using tools from his bag. He also takes a TV remote and manual which are on a nearby table, and wraps the TV in a cloth from his bag.

He leaves the house with his loot the same way he entered and runs down the road at an easy pace, staying mostly in the shadows. He eventually stops in some bushes close to a big tree and dials a number on his phone.

(The above sequence is scored with Creole music)

GRAVEYíS VOICE
Gravy boiling… you want some?

BENGIE
Yah… I by the big tree in Citrus Ville.

GRAVEYíS VOICE
Oh say-ou. Mwen ka veni (Oh itís you. I am coming).

Bengie smiles as he ends the call. He lights a cigarette, cups it in his hand, and settles down to wait.

INT. BENGIEíS ROOM. DAY
Bengie is exercising in a starkly furnished room. In a corner are 3 large Flat Screen TVs with remotes, 3 TV manuals, 2 speakers, 6 cell phones. On a nearby table are some jewellery.

On the wall is a photograph in a heart shaped frame of a 65 year old woman who appears to be in a house in England. A caption at the bottom reads ďWith ALL My Love, MomĒ.

He finishes his routine, wipes his face, and dials a number on his phone

BENGIE
Captain, I want a Cigarette.

CAPTAINíS VOICE
Who is this? Oh I know, my friend from… overs. So you want a Cigarette?

His speaks with a St. Lucian accent.

BENGIE
Yah—anytime from now.

CAPTAINíS VOICE
OK, make it Friday—at the usual place.

BENGIE
Iíll be there.

CAPTAINíS VOICE
And make sure you bring enough because last time…

BENGIE
Hold on—letís leave that for when we bounce, OK?

CAPTAINíS VOICE
OK—see you Friday.

Bengie ends the call and lights a cigarette, inhaling deeply. He exhales and gazes pensively at the stolen items while the smoke from the cigarette rises slowly to the ceiling.

EXT. ROAD. NIGHT
Bengie is in a vehicle being driven by 20 year old GRAVEY, dressed in jeans and dark T-Shirt. Bengie, dressed in black jeans and dark T-Shirt, looks at his watch which reads 10:10 pm.

BENGIE
Faster Gravey, faster! We going to be late, man!

GRAVEY
Pa pere, Fwere—nou kay wevay. (Donít fret, Brother—weíll reach)

They continue driving and eventually turn into a side road and reach a secluded beach where a man is standing in the shadows. A sleek black cigarette boat named ďFantôme de la MerĒ (Sea Ghost) bubbles gently in the surf.

Bengie leaves the vehicle and walks over to the man. He shakes his hand warmly

BENGIE
Whaí go on Captain! Good to see you again, Bro!
CAPTAIN is a tough looking 40 year old man wearing a worn Captainís hat, black T-shirt, and worn camouflage jeans. He glances at his watch, which reads 10:30 pm.

CAPTAIN
Mate you late again! Letís load your shit fast because I want to be back on my own rock well before sunrise.

BENGIE
I even more busy to get back than you so I can check the Creole Festival tomorrow! In fact thatís why I decide to move tonight.

Captain pulls the boar in and get on board and Gravey and Bengie pass the items to him. Afterwards Bengie walks Gravey back to his vehicle while Captain secures the cargo. Bengie gives Gravey some money.

BENGIE
We should be back in around 4 hours, so expect a call around 3 oíclock, OK?

Gravey nods and checks the money. He looks up at Bengie sullenly.

GRAVEY
Say-ou ka fere mwen?… Ou par bar mwen assay encore! (What you doing me? You didnít give me enough again!)

Bengie smiles and pats him on the back.

BENGIE
I know—Iíll set you up when I come back, Bro.

GRAVEY
OK… epi marche bon (and walk well)

They embrace briefly then Gravey gets into his vehicle and drives off while Bengie returns to the boat Bengie climbs on board and he and Captain strap themselves in. Captain starts the engines and the Fantôme de la Mer quietly leaves the deserted bay. As it reaches open sea Captain guns the engines and the Cigarette surges to full power. Dominica gradually fades in the distance.

After a while Captain suddenly cuts the engine, quickly releases his seat belts, and stands next to Bengie who is still strapped in.

CAPTAIN
Before going any further I want to know how I getting paid—both for this trip and the 300 US you owe for last month.

BENGIE
Hold on pardner… Why you so hasty, nuh?

Bengie tries to release his own belts but Captain pushes him back into his seat. Captainís face stiffens and he growls.

CAPTAIN
Pay up our Iíll throw your tail overboard! And I know you cyan swim

He laughs menacingly and his right hand hovers over a large knife strapped to his thighs. Bengie looks at the knife and smiles nervously.

BENGIE
OK, OK, but I want you to take out a hundred from what I owe.

CAPTAIN
Nah man, I want all my money! Cigarette business eh have sale an ting, you know… this is strictly cash on delivery!

BENGIE
No problem, My Brother. Iíll settle everything when we get back, OK? Everything!

CAPTAIN
Now you talking… And always remember one thing about Captain: when people owe me I eh have face—not even for me Mother! Now letís see how fast this ghost can fly.

He returns to his seat, straps in, and guns the engines to life. The Fantôme jumps forward and disappears into the night.

EXT. BOAT. NIGHT
The men ride in the thunderous roar of the boatís high-powered engines until they reach their destination in St. Vincent some time later.

As they pull into a deserted cove they are met by 3 persons who quickly load the loot from the boat into a waiting van. The leader of the group, JOSHUA, motions the pair to accompany him in a shiny posh SUV, while the 2 other men get into another SUV and follow them. Joshua is 40 years old and is has on jeans, Nike sneakers and a polo shirt. He speaks with a Vincentian accent.

JOSHUA
OK, letís go to the warehouse.

INT. WAREHOUSE. NIGHT
The vehicle arrives at a darkened house close to the sea. Joshua escorts the pair into the a large room filled with electronic items and other contraband, some still in original packaging.

A 60 year old man dressed in a long sleeve open-necked shirt, dark pants, and shinny leather shoes, sits at a corner table. His face is in the shadows.

Joshua signals his men to bring Bengieís items to the shadowy figure as he joins him and they both examine the loot. Bengie and Captain waits patiently a little way off, and after a while Joshua returns and pulls Bengie slightly away from Captain.

JOSHUA
Your stuff is top notch, as usual. Boss says he giving you 15 hundred US, 3 lbs of high grade weed, and a Glock 34 pistol loaded with ammo… That cool?

BENGIE
Yah, thatís cool. And I see you remember I want a Glock… .thatís like icing on the cake, man! But I have something special for you too.

He hands over 3 gold chains, 6 pairs of gold and silver bracelets, and some rings. Joshua takes the jewellery over to the Boss, and after a brief consultation returns.

JOSHUA
They look real good. Boss says to give you 500 US and 8 once of coke for this—what you say?

BENGIE
Nah man, I doesnít deal with the white lady. Give me the US and 2 pounds of high grade and I fix.

JOSHUA
Thatís even better for us—ganga is our real currency! Come, let me set you up.
As they move over to a side the Boss signals Captain to join him at his table. They shake hands warmly as Captain sits.

CAPTAIN
Good to see you again, Boss

The Boss takes a bottle, 2 glasses and an ice flask from a bottom desk drawer. He pours them both a drink of Black Label Whiskey.

BOSS
And me too, Captain. Cheers.

They knock glasses.

BOSS
Look I need a favour from you, Capt. My boat have a engine problems so I want you do drop off a shipment to Claude for me.

CAPTAIN
No problem Boss—thatís right before I drop mate off.

BOSS
I know I could depend on you! And I fixing you up one time… This envelope has 2 grand US, and I still giving you some grams too. Not bad, eh?

He hands over an envelope and some bills to Captain and nods to Joshua, who immediately gets on his phone. The Boss continues speaking as Captain checks the envelope and bills. Bengie observes the transaction from across the room as he collects his own goods, scowling slightly.

BOSS
The cargo will be on your boat by the time you return, Captain. Oh, by the way, the word is that there may be patrols in the area, so be extra careful when you drop him off. Run black, OK?

CAPTAIN
Thanks Boss… Thatís how I normally move anyway.

They shake hands and Captain rejoins Bengie who is taking to Claude. Claude gives Bengie a pistol which he puts it in his waistband, then the trio continue speaking for a while.

EXT. BOAT. NIGHT
The Fantôme leaps through the waves with a thunderous roar, leaving a phosphorescent tail in the dark waters. After a while Captain slows down and speaks to Bengie.

CAPTAIN
Look I have to make a quick stop to drop off a shipment at the next rock, OK? That shouldnít hold us up too much, and youíll be home before you know it.

BENGIE
I was wondering when you would tell me, because I see everything. And to tell you the truth, I think I should get s share in what Boss give you since is me that sponsor this trip—and I facing the risk too!


CAPTAIN
You mad, or something?! Just remember whose boat this is… and remember you cyan swim!

BENGIE
Look, stop threatening me, OK?

He laughs mockingly. Bengie sulks and stays silent for the rest of the journey. After a while they arrive at a deserted beach in Martinique and are met by 4 waiting men.

The ďshipmentĒ is four large packages of cocaine, which is quickly offloaded by Captain, with Bengie sitting somewhat sulkily on the other side of the boat. As Captain is about to cast off one of a the men speaks softly to him.

MAN2
Pwan gade. Gwo Cief-la asee di bagi sa bien sho cote yor. (Take care—the Boss here say things could be real hot in your area).

Captain nods solemnly, reverses the boat, turns and head out to open sea.

EXT. BOAT. NIGHT
The Fantôme de la Mer again takes to the open seas and in a short while the familiar coastline of Dominica rises on the horizon. Captain cuts the engines.

CAPTAIN
I suggest you check your cargo and call your driver because as soon as you land I gone!

Bengie nods. He unstraps and checks his cargo but just as he is about to dial on his phone Captain stops him.

CAPTAIN
In fact hold on Mate… what about my money?

BENGIE
No worries—look your money, Man.
He counts and hands over some bills. Captain counts the money slowly then waves the bills in the air angrily.

CAPTAIN
What bullshit is this? It missing the money for last time!

BENGIE
I know. I decide that since you not giving me anything from the side trip you make on my money, I cancelling that debt!

CAPTAIN
Man you didnít hear that when people owe me I have no face?! Let me show you what I mean.

He throws the bills in Bengieís face and at the same time lunges forward with his knife. Bengie moves aside, grabs his arm, and they grapple in silence, broken occasionally by grunts. In the process the bills and cocaine which Boss gave Captain falls from his shirt pockets.

Eventually Bengie manages to squeeze the knife from Captainís hand, then reaches for the pistol in his waistband. He raises it to chest height, his finger on the trigger.

On seeing this Captain makes a desperate grab in an attempt to pry the Glock from Bengieís hand. This causes the gun to discharge.

Bengie stares wide eyed as Captain slowly sinks to the floor, blood bubbling from a gaping hole in his chest. With a shaking left hand he takes a fag from the pack in his shirt pocket, lights it after a few tries, and takes a few nervous puffs. He gags after the last pull, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, then flicks the cigarette away.

BENGIE
Cigarettes are no good—I must stop that shit…

He looks from the dead man to the pistol still in his right hand, and shakes his head in a dazed manner. At that moment a 4-man marine patrol suddenly emerges from the darkness, its searchlight bathing the Fantôme in blinding luminance. An amplified voice sounds out.

PATROL LEADER
This is the Coast Guard! We have seen the flash from your gun and the light from your cigarette. Stay where you are!

Bengie moves in a dazed manner as he tries to shield his eyes with his left hand and wave towards the light with the gun in the other.

BENGIE
Turn down your light—it blinding me!!

Seeing the gun the men in the other boat think Bengie is about to shoot at them.

PATROL LEADER
Look out, gun… Fire!

The men open fire with high-powered rifles, riddling Bengieís chest with bullets. Bengie slides to the floor next to the dead Captain with blood from his chest wounds staining his shirt, and cigarettes and money falling to the floor of the Fantôme.

PATROL LEADER
Cease fire! Cease fire!! Now letís see what we have here.

The marine patrol board the Fantôme de la Mer and the Patrol Leader slowly surveys the bloody scene. He quickly feels for a pulse at the neck of both men in turn, shakes his head, and lights a cigarette from a pack in his pocket. He pulls deeply and sighs.

PATROL LEADER
What a mess… Somebody should really stop this bloody cigarette trade!

He throws the burning butt into the sea.

FADE TO BLACK