NEW YORK CITY - AERIAL VIEW OF DOWNTOWN MANHATTAN - DAY
MULTIPLE STREET SCENES - DAY
The sidewalks crowded as usual. A sea of humanity. People
come and go -- always in a hurry. Oblivious of one another.
A TRAFFIC JAM -- A STREET being torn up by construction
workers; A SANITATION TRUCK loading up refuse; VENDORS
PEDDLING nuts and salted pretzels; PANHANDLERS blocking a
passerby. Intimidating. Demanding. Almost mocking.
We're surrounded by the teeming life of the city as we've
come to expect it -- complete with a cacophony of sound.
MULTIPLE CUTS -- Phone kiosks and phone booths on the East
Side and West Side -- uptown and down.
One frustrated caller has lost his money in the slot and he
takes it out on the equipment -- smashing the receiver
violently against the coin box until the instrument splinters
into a dozen pieces.
There are 237,911 pay telephones in
the five burroughs of the city of
New York. Many of them are still in
DOZENS OF QUICK CUTS --
NEW YORKERS on the phone in extreme close up. We don't hear
the words. Only the facial expressions inform us that these
are human beings under tremendous pressure. Life in the city
is wearing them down.
MULTIPLE SHOTS - JUST MOUTHS
Lips jabbering into receivers. Cross-cut against one another.
Despite increased usage of cellular
devices, an estimated four and a
half million New Yorkers and two
million visitors still utilize pay
telephones on a regular basis. At
thirty-five cents a pop... for the
first three minutes.
ANGLE ON CORNER IN MID-MANHATTAN - DAY
There's a phone booth situated on the southeast side of the
You're looking at the telephone booth
at the corner of 45th Street and 8th
Avenue in the heart of the Manhattan
theatrical district. It has been
scheduled to be removed and replaced
by a kiosk. It's one of the few
remaining phone booths left in the
CAMERA MOVES IN on the irate caller in the booth -- a very
well-dressed gray-haired lady -- totally conservative in
WOMAN IN BOOTH
You have lied to me for the last
time, you lowlife prick bastard! I
don't ever want to hear the sound of
your fucking voice again.
Yes, well fuck you, too!
She slams down the receiver and exits. The booth remains
vacant for a brief interval.
At least three hundred calls daily
originate from this booth. The coins
are collected twice a day. This booth
has been burglarized forty-one times
in the last six months.
Someone is approaching the booth, fishing in his pocket for
coins. This is STUART SHEPARD, snappily dressed, his hair
styled and his nails manicured. Here is a man who clearly
takes excellent care of himself. He sports a Donna Karen
suit and silk Armani tie.
He's about to step into the booth when he's accosted by a
middle-aged man in a soiled apron who's run out of a nearby
restaurant and has finally caught up with him.
Stu, we got to talk.
Wish I could accommodate you, Mario,
but this is my busy time of day.
How come you cross the street every
time you go past the restaurant?
Why don't I stop in later for some
There's no more drinks or free meals
until the restaurant starts showing
up in the columns like you said.
I'm doing my level best for you
One lousy mention in the Post and
you expect to eat for six months!
I got the food critic from the Village
Voice all lined up to give you a
That's what you tell me last July.
And he never shows.
I was allowing you time to expand
the menu. Wallpaper the bathrooms,
for God sakes. You get only one shot
with these fucking critics and I
don't want you to blow a rare
You the one blowing it. How long you
think you can fuck everybody?
Hold on right there. I've got a very
excellent reputation around this
So how come you take two nice suits
of clothes from Harry and never get
his daughter on David Letterman?
Hell, I'm not an agent. I'm a
Mister, you're nothing!
Believe me, Valerie's on the waiting
list to audition. Harry's got no
complaints. He just let me pick out
this tie the other day.
That Harry's a damn fool!
Mario, please let me make this up to
you. How about I arrange for the
opening night party for this new off-
Broadway show I'm handling -- to be
held at your place with local TV
coverage on nine and eleven? I mean
I had it promised to another client --
who actually pays me money. But it
isn't firmed up yet. And I could
throw it your way. Maybe.
What is involved?
You'd toss in the buffet for say
seventy or eighty. The producers
would supply their own vino, of
course. I'd deliver you a truckload
of celebrities. And if they like the
food, they'll all come back,
You want Liza Minelli? An Oscar
winner. Or Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.?
Is he still alive?
I saw him last night going into the
Four Seasons. I'll bring you over a
whole VIP list when we come by for
How come everybody wants to eat but
nobody wants to pay?
You can't think small like that.
Hey, you still feature musicians
Fridays and Saturdays?
At least they work for their meals.
What about Harry's daughter as an
extra added attraction? She'll belt
out five or six showtunes -- two
sets a night -- and it won't cost
you a fucking nickel.
Star Showcase! Let me handle setting
that up. And when she eventually
goes on Letterman, she'll announce
I'm currently appearing over at
Mario's fine supper club. Right over
CBS she'll say that, Mario.
You're full of shit. You know that?
That's just a vulgar word for PR.
(placing an arm around
Mario, you can't hurt my feelings.
Even when I was a kid and they hurled
certain invectives my way, it never
bothered me. Other kids would fall
apart if anybody called them a fucking
name. Me, I just loved the attention!
'Shit-for- brains' -- that's what
the bigger kids named me. And I
answered to it. Hey, 'shit-for brains'
reporting for duty. Everybody loved
me for that. I could take abuse.
After a while, I kind of wore them
down. There was nothing more they
could say to me. So they stopped. I
kind of missed it.
I'm sorry I even talked to you.
I'll bet your loving wife put you up
to this. She saw me pass by and she
sent you out in the street. But I
don't hold it against you personally --
you still serve up superior veal
(entering phone booth)
Now I got urgent business to conduct,
He slides the booth closed in Mario's face.
The frustrated restaurateur glares at him through the glass
before giving up and walking off -- talking to himself as he
goes up the block.
INSIDE THE BOOTH, Stu inserts his thirty-five cents and dials.
Hello, Mavis, sweet creature.
Where have you been? Do you think I
have nothing to do but wait around
for you to call?
I'm only a few minutes late, loveliest
individual on earth.
Stu, I'm so lonely. When can I see
Good news in that arena. Kelly goes
into rehearsal as of Monday. You
know how dedicated she is. By the
time she gets back from dancing her
ass off, she goes right to sleep.
We'll have both our days and certain
nights. Not to mention when they
take the show on the road.
How long is that for?
Four to five weeks -- minimum.
Maybe I should quit my job so we can
be together full time.
I wouldn't do that.
Sometimes I think if I have to give
one more fucking manicure...
That's how you met me.
I never saw a worse set of nails.
Bit right down to the quick.
I'm much better groomed since you've
been looking after me.
I'm glad you admit it.
Even Kelly remarked on it when I
first met her.
She could care less how you look.
She's only interested in pushing her
own career. Some wife you're stuck
The marriage is not without its
compensations. Do you imagine I could
afford that apartment on what I'm
earning? Not with everybody cutting
back on the publicity. Not to mention
a million college graduates coming
into the profession trying to cut me
out. And one thing you can't expect
from your clients is loyalty. They
get a couple of bad notices, they
dump you. Goodbye.
I wasn't saying goodbye to you. I
was saying how the clients try to
give you the wave off without even a
A conservative businessman now stands outside the booth
waiting to use it. He deliberately glances at his watch a
few times to demonstrate his impatience. This bothers Stu
who slides the booth open a crack.
What? Is your watch busted? It's
twenty after eleven and I'm gonna be
occupied indefinitely with my
transaction. So get out of my face!
He closes the booth up again and turns his back to the
gentleman who gives up and departs.
Sorry, honey. There will be no further
Why must you always be calling me
from some booth?
On account of that phone records are
regularly subpoenaed in divorce
proceedings. And I don't want some
entry showing up on my cellular bill
either. She gets the mail. She looks
these items over. Sometimes she even
dials up a strange number to see who
Then she suspects something.
It's only because her last husband,
the choreographer, ran around on
her. She can't get that out of her
head. That's how she caught onto
him. The phone bills.
She hasn't developed much skill at
holding a man.
You know what a self-fulfilling
prophecy is? She was so sure I was
going to find me a woman that she
finally drove me back to you. I
thought I'd feel all guilty about it --
but I guess it hasn't kicked in yet.
Still, I wouldn't do anything to
hurt her. Basically, Kelly's a decent
What about hurting me? Like last
Hurt? You were glad to be rid of me.
For a while I was, 'til I took stock
of what was around. You're the lesser
of many evils.
That's about the nicest thing you
I'll have it engraved.
We've been up front with each other
from the beginning. Let's keep it
that way. How about a drink? Say
seven o'clock? The Monkey Bar?
Meet me in front. I don't like walking
in there unescorted.
Yeah, you're great enough looking to
be mistaken for one of those thousand
dollar a night girls.
It happens all the time lately.
And wear that short black number I
bought you from Bendel's.
Again? I don't know if it's me or
that dress you like.
Have a good day. Make plenty of tips.
And leave the whole evening open.
She thinks I've got Knicks tickets.
He hangs up. Then whips a tiny cellular phone out of his
jacket pocket, flips it open and dials. Someone answers on
the first ring.
It's your boy Stuart. When was the
last time I called you for a favor?
The column is already full.
I just need one line. Anybody you
wanna say was seen dining out at
Mario's Stromboli restaurant.
Maybe you don't hear so good? I got
no space for you.
Who's asking any favors? I'm offering
Since when were you ever a reliable
Check it out. Tony award-winning
producer Willie Beagle tossed his
wife back into rehab again following
her third attempt at diving off the
terrace at their plush eighteen room
residence at the San Remo. I got it
from the doorman.
I got it from their maid yesterday.
It's in the paper today. Or don't
you bother to read my shit?
Louis, my intentions were entirely
I'll drop your item in sometime next
week. If you promise not to call me
for a month.
He hangs up. Stu looks pleased as he folds the cell phone
and tucks it away.
Then he starts to vacate the booth. The phone rings. And
rings. Curious, he picks up the receiver. There's a voice on
the other end of the line. A DISTINCTIVE MALE VOICE.
Don't even think about leaving that
Stay exactly where you are and listen
I've got a heavy day, mister.
You know better than to disobey me.
I don't know you at all.
Are you absolutely sure?
Who is this?
Someone who's watching you.
Love the gray suit. That red and
black tie makes a nice combination.
Stu is taken back by the accurate description of his apparel.
He looks around nervously.
Where? Where are you?
Closer than you think.
I don't see you.
There are any number of windows.
Check them out.
Indeed that street corner is surrounded by high rise buildings
Okay, you had your little joke.
I'm not sufficiently amused. Not
yet. We have more to talk about.
Stu knows he should simply hang up but something tells him
not to. Perhaps it's the strange tone of the man's voice.
Do me a favor. Call up somebody else.
But it's you I'm interested in. You
know how many people use that booth
Why don't you tell me?
Better than two-hundred people on
Is that what you do? Count them?
What else do I have to do? It's
interesting watching people. Trying
to guess who they are. And what
they're up to.
What are you -- a shut-in of some
You might say that. I can't go out.
I might be seen.
Somebody's looking for you?
The ex-wife. What'd you do -- run
out on child support?
What kind of man do you think I am?
Frankly, I could care less. You had
your fun. Now goodbye.
It's not in your best interests to
hang up on me. That would make me
Isn't that just too bad?
There's ten million names in the
phonebook. Pester somebody else.
I never talk to people I can't see.
I need to study their reactions.
Alright, bullshit artist, what am I
doing right now?
Scratching your forehead with your
left hand. Now you're brushing your
Okay, okay, you got me in your
scrutiny. So what?
So let's talk.
Only I got nothing to say.
Oh, you will. You'll do a lot of
talking before this conversation is
over. And it'll only end when I want
Is that a fact? Well if you watch
closely, you will see me hang up.
I don't think you will.
I interest you.
Why should I be interested in some
creep who gets his jollies spying on
strangers in phone booths?
But you're not a stranger, Stu.
The sound of his own name sends a chill through him.
Who put you up to this?
You were my very own selection.
Why me in particular?
Because you're so afraid.
Ha! What've I got to be afraid of?
Just about everything. You have so
much to hide.
How do you figure that?
Why else would a man with a perfectly
good cellular bother to make calls
from a pay booth?
That's my business.
I've made it mine.
All of a sudden I'm required to give
explanations to you?
In explicit detail.
What is this? Some kind of candid
camera gag? Or like that thing on
HBO where the cab driver is taping
what goes on in the back seat?
This is not showbusiness, my friend.
This is reality.
Your reality. Not mine, you lowlife
Stu, you'll be made to suffer for
your attitude, so let's dispense
with the vulgarities.
Now you're threatening me! Fuck you.
Could that be any clearer?
You're only making it easier for me
to do you harm.
Oh yeah. Right. Can you see how I'm
You will be.
Shit, this is a new one. Fucking
threatening calls in a goddam phone
booth. When are you going to start
with the heavy breathing.
I'm not the degenerate. You are,
You don't know anything about me.
Infinitely more than you know about
Like the number you dialed when you
first entered the booth.
How would you know that?
I'm watching through a scope and I
could clearly read the buttons you
pushed. I have another extension
here by the window. Shall I dial
that same number back for you? Would
that convince you?
Stu nervously cranes his neck, looking around at all the
tall buildings that surround the street corner.
PANNING up at thousands of windows. The Voice could be coming
BACK TO STU IN THE BOOTH
Let's see who's on the other end of
It's already ringing. I'll hold the
receiver up so you can listen in.
Stu can hear the beeping as the other line rings.
Then Mavis' voice can be heard answering. Stu listens
Who is this?
Someone who's really tight with your
boyfriend -- who just called you
from his favorite phone booth.
You know Stu?
Stu? Oh, I know him better than
anyone. What he does -- how he thinks.
How he lies.
Who the hell is this?
Stu is listening in. He knows what
we're both saying.
Stu? Is that true? Are you there?
He doesn't feel like talking.
Mavis! Just hang up the goddam phone.
She can't hear you, Stu. Only me.
Mavis, I'm afraid Stu hasn't been
totally honest with you. But then he
can't be honest with anyone, can he?
What's your name? To whom am I
You've never heard of me, Mavis. He
doesn't want you to know I exist.
He wishes I didn't exist. But there
isn't anything he can do about that.
Still there, Stu? All you can do is
Mavis -- the guy is a fucking nutcase!
Hang the fuck up.
She doesn't want to. She wants to
know all about us. Don't you, Mavis?
Did his wife put you up to this?
That bitch, Kelly?
Oh yes, the bitch wife, Kelly. My
very next call.
He doesn't know my wife! Don't tell
him anything else.
Outside the booth, a huge, heavy-set black woman in a too
tight dress, now appears with the clear desire to use the
phone. Her name is FELICIA. She taps on the glass.
Could you hurry it along?
Stu ignores her and Felicia glares at him through the glass
Stu has no inclination to deal with anybody else. He's too
distracted by the madness happening over the telephone.
Can you hear me, Mavis? Keep your
big mouth shut.
Is that any way to talk to a woman
Mavis, is he always that abusive to
You're getting me all upset. I don't
know who you are or how you know all
I find out things -- from watching
people and listening to them.
Just what is your relationship to
Stu? That's all I want to know.
Well, what do you think?
Answer me, goddam it!
Well alright. Stu and I are --
longtime companions. A pair. Two of
a kind. Closer than close. Peas in a
pod. Spoons in a drawer.
Don't believe a word of it. It's all
Too late, Stu. She already believes
You can tell that scumbag never to
bother me again.
He won't care. He'll still have me.
It's not true. I do care.
From outside the booth, there's a louder rapping on the glass.
Felicia really wants in.
Get done in there, mister. I got me
an important call.
Shit I will! Finish up!
She continues to rap on the glass as Stu tries to focus on
the two-way phone call.
Why don't you tell me what you think
You're both disgusting.
That's what he said about you. Well,
if Stu didn't have the balls to come
out and tell you the truth, I felt
it was my responsibility to clear
the air. Goodbye now, Mavis. Thanks
for your time.
(the phone clicks
off; we hear only a
Back to you again, Stu.
You total asshole! How could you do
Speaking of females, that woman
hovering outside the booth -- may as
well tell her that you'll be on the
Like hell I will.
I'm ready for you to take out your
cellular and phone home. And this
time, I'll listen in.
There's no chance of that.
Or should I call Kelly and make up
something totally outrageous? You
must realize by now I have a vivid
You don't know our phone number!
Are you absolutely sure? I may have
been watching you on a regular basis.
Keeping track of all the numbers I
see you dial.
And I'm supposed to believe that?
I've put a great deal of preparation
into this -- prior to actually saying
hello. Now do you want to dial 832-
7165 -- or should I?
The sound of the actual number being spoken shocks him even
more than the earlier mention of his name.
What are you going to tell her?
You'll do the talking.
What am I supposed to say?
Try telling her the truth.
Look, I don't want to hurt Kelly.
She's always there for me. It's just
my nature to have a little 'strange'
on the side. It doesn't mean shit.
But you still find it necessary?
Kind of like having a beautiful home.
With everything you ever dreamed of.
But you still need that vacation now
and then. Some nice hotel room with
a great view. Maybe a pool. Only you
wouldn't want to spend more than a
few days in any hotel. Eventually,
you want to go back to your home and
all your stuff. You're real glad to
Kelly is home and Mavis is a hotel?
I'm sure they'll both appreciate
You're ruining my fucking life, you
Didn't I warn you about calling me
names? It makes me vindictive.
What else can you do to me?
We haven't even begun.
She's not home. She went out.
I'll bet she's back. Now hold the
cellular up where I can see it -- so
I can be certain you don't misdial
A little higher and to your left.
Now I have it in perfect view. Dial
More violent rapping on the glass from the persistent black
If you got you a cell phone, how
come you taking up the whole fucking
booth! This here's an emergency!
There's another booth on the next
It's busted. Every damn phone on
Eighth Avenue is busted but this
Well, I'm not through! Go in a
restaurant or someplace, but get
away from me!
I'm gonna pull you out of that booth
and snatch you ballheaded!
She tries to pull open the sliding door to the booth but Stu
jams it shut, right on her hand.
You assaulted my person.
Let me hear from your lawyer!
You're hear alright. I'm coming back.
And your ass better not be around.
She stalks off obviously in search of assistance.
Good work, Stu. Now let me see you
dial. Tuck the receiver under your
chin and dial your remote.
I'm doing it.
He punches in the digits. The phone rings -- and rings.
I told you she was out.
Let it ring.
Then a girl's voice is heard.
Hold it close to the receiver so I
Honey, it's me.
What's taking you so long? I thought
we were having some lunch at Mario's?
Change of plan. We're not eating in
that dump any more.
The Health Department gave them a
'C' rating -- that's how come. Here
I'm trying to put the place on the
map and he fucks it all up with a
major roach problem.
That's disgusting. Okay, I'll fix us
a sandwich. Where are you now?
Just in a phone booth.
How come? The caller ID says you're
on your cellular.
Oh yeah, I am.
But you're also in some phone booth?
Explain that one, Stu.
I only stepped in because the traffic
was so loud outside.
Well just hurry on back.
Tell her you can't.
Not for a few minutes.
Are you sure you're alone? I hear
somebody in the background.
The guy in the next booth. He's got
a bad connection and he's hollering
his fool head off.
You've got an answer for everything.
I love you, baby.
You know that.
Stu -- who was that man?
Some person who phoned fifteen minutes
ago -- just after you went out.
I don't understand...
This total stranger rang up and told
me to wait by the phone -- because
you'd be calling me in a few minutes --
from a booth. And I said what would
he be doing in any phone booth?
And what did this guy say?
He said you'd be making phone calls.
Making calls is part of my business.
Clients. People. Planting items like
Once in a while one of them could be
a woman. I just called "Elaine's"
and talked to her to see who was in
there last night.
You know exactly what I mean.
You're not going to start that shit
I just feel something is wrong.
What could be wrong?
The way you sound. You don't sound
Yeah? Who do I sound like?
Someone who's scared. There's fear
in your voice like I've never heard
See, Stu? Kelly agrees with me.
I want you to come back home. Now!
I told you. In a while.
No. I want you here now. In case he
calls back, I don't want to answer
Why should he call back?
I feel like he's going to.
You're the one that sounds frightened.
And of nobody.
He's not a nobody. He knows about
You're not telling me all he said.
What are you holding back?
I can't discuss it on the phone.
Just get over here!
CLICK! She hangs up.
(into pay phone)
Why did you do that to her? She never
did you any harm.
How would you know? Everybody does
harm to somebody. And then they try
their best to forget it.
Maybe me -- but not her. Whatever
I've done, there's no reason to take
it out on her.
Suppose that's the only way I can
get to you? You claim you love her.
Yeah, I do.
You don't even love yourself.
But Kelly... I would never hurt.
Still you have to uphold your status
as an honorary asshole.
Listen, I've treated all my women
decent. I never laid a hand on any
of them, even when provoked. And I
always let them down easy.
I'm not ready to let Kelly go. Maybe
I never will be.
What if she dumps you first? What's
the odds she's already taken up with
somebody? One day soon you'll come
home and find her gone along with
the CD player and the VCR.
I'm not gonna let you mind-fuck me
all day! That's it. This call is
Not until I say it is.
What happens if I hang up?
You don't really want to find out.
I'm dying to hear this!!! What the
fuck can you do about it -- up in
your fucking high window with your
I never indicated I had binoculars.
I said I had a highly magnified
telescopic image of you that brought
you up so close I could see where
you nicked yourself under the chin
shaving this morning.
Oh -- while you're at it, have a
look up my ass.
I may very well do that, Stu. In the
meantime, think about what kind of
device has a telescopic sight mounted
What? You mean... like a rifle?
A high-powered .30 calibre bolt action
Remington 700 with a carbon one
modification and a state of the art
Henzholdt tactical sniperscope. And
you're in the cross hairs, Stu.
I'm supposed to believe that?
There's only one way I can prove it
to you. Hang up the receiver and
find out. At this range, the exit
wound ought to be about the size of
a small tangerine.
And you're just going to kill me for
For plenty of reasons! Because you
hung up. For years I hated people
hanging up on me. Ex-girlfriends.
Women I didn't even know. Prospective
I get hung up on all the time. You
get used to it.
Or else you don't. I worked for months
getting people to switch to MCI --
being insulted at and being hung up
on hundreds of times a day. The ones
that cursed me out for invading their
privacy never bothered me as much as
those that clicked off without even
bothering to reply.
Then why didn't you go after one of
Maybe you are one of them.
Hey, I have worked in a boiler room
myself peddling "Term Life." I would
never be rude to a fellow salesperson.
Can you feel it on you now? The heat
of it. I'm moving the strike zone
down to your stomach area. Now I'm
raising it up again. Directly above
the chest cavity -- sliding up to
the forehead just above the left
Shit -- I do feel it.
Tell me where I'm going with it now.
Across my forehead -- now back where
it was before.
I'm amazed how you can do that. You're
Now I know what you're thinking. If
I drop down on the floor of the booth
and flatten myself out...
No, I'm not thinking that.
Oh yes you are. Can I crawl out using