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Reindeer Games Movie Script

Writer(s) : Ehren Kruger

Genres : Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller

Search IMDb : Reindeer Games


                                     "REINDEER GAMES"

                                      Screenplay by

                                       Ehren Kruger

                

               FADE IN:

               FIGURE IN A SANTA CLAUS SUIT

               lies face-down in a nighttime expanse of snow. One of the 
               body's red-sleeved arms is twisted at a sickening angle. The 
               white snow beneath the figure is spreading with red.

               REVEAL EXT. SNOWY ROAD - NIGHT

               The figure in the suit lies motionless. Snowflakes drift.

               INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT

               Dark, rustic wood, an office with broken windows and whistling 
               winter beyond. A second BODY in a Santa Claus suit lies dead 
               in the doorway.

               It's a man with a large build. The suit is riddled with holes. 
               His face is missing.

               EXT. PARKING LOT - NIGHT

               More snow falling. A handful of cars in the lot. A third 
               BODY in the same red-and-white outfit lies atop the hood of 
               an old Pontiac. His head is not visible, having smashed 
               through the windshield. His suit is charred and blackened.

               A halo of broken glass outlines him. His black boots hang 
               off the front bumper. The parking lot is silent.

               INT. ROOM - NIGHT

               A floor scattered with shiny silver quarters. Reflections of 
               neon. There's a fourth SANTA here, face-down in a red pool. 
               The suit is far too big for him. Not that it matters now.

               EXT. SNOW-FILLED RAVINE - NIGHT

               where the fifth and final Santa lies at the edge of a ravine, 
               which plummets a hundred feet down. The man rests precariously 
               atop the slope, upside-down, eyes closed.

               His burned suit is smoldering. He has a sly but tired face, 
               late-20's, sandy hair, cold and scarred. This is RUDY DUNCAN.

               He opens his eyes.

                                     RUDY (V.O.)
                         I never was much for the holidays.

                                                              CUT TO BLACK:

               THE SOUND OF A WINTER WIND

               rises, as a TITLE appears: "SEVEN DAYS BEFORE..."

               And then, to complete the sentence: "...XMAS."

               FADE IN:

               EXT. IRON MOUNTAIN STATE PRISON - DAY

               Snow drifts down onto the stone walls and wire fences of the 
               Iron Mountain, Michigan S.I.C. Winter's been here awhile.

               INT. PRISON CELL - DAY

               Rudy Duncan lies in his top bunk, staring at his ceiling -- 
               where a handful of paper-cut snowflakes have been pasted.

               The sounds of YELLING INMATES and GATES slamming shut echo 
               through the fortress. Rudy watches a spider scurry across 
               the paper snow. It's his excitement for the day.

               He turns to the wall, where there's a photo of his teenage 
               self with some co-workers at an auto body shop. And a family 
               photo, cheery Midwesterners, with Rudy a scowling Artful 
               Dodger.

               A WALL CALENDAR

               Shows the dates have been crossed off up to December 18th.

               December 22nd is circled again and again.

               Rudy muses at the calendar, then hops out of his bunk. Drops 
               to the floor, crosses to a desk, finds a chewed-on pen. 
               Turning back to the beds we reveal --

               THE LOWER BUNK

               where Rudy's cellmate, NICK MASON (32), rugged, mustached 
               and well-built, sleeps soundly. In contrast, his bed-wall is 
               a COLLAGE OF PHOTOGRAPHS, twenty, maybe thirty of them. Almost 
               a mural.

               All of them photos of A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG GIRL, mid-twenties, 
               smiling out from beaches, parties and snowy scenes. Gorgeous 
               brown hair, heartbreaking smile. Effortlessly sexy.

               RUDY

               stares at the pictures for a moment, wistful. Nick snores, 
               turns over. Rudy climbs atop his bunk again, with the pen 
               this time. And crosses December 18th off the calendar.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. PRISON YARD - DAY

               The two of them, Nick and Rudy, shivering by the fence. Nick 
               absently whistles some "Silver Bells," then digs for a smoke.

                                     NICK
                         What's the first thing, man? What's 
                         the first thing you're gonna do?

                                     RUDY
                         Haven't thought about it.

                                     NICK
                         Hell you haven't.

                                     RUDY
                         Get to thinking about it, it won't 
                         happen.

                                     NICK
                         We walk outta here, we hit that road, 
                         what's the first thing you're gonna 
                         do.

                                     RUDY
                         Ain't there yet.

                                     NICK
                         Three days, man.

                                     RUDY
                         Not yet.

                                     NICK
                         Fuckin' Christmas, man. Fuckin, 
                         Christmas on the outs.

               Dozens of uniformed INMATES wander the yard, stamping feet, 
               hands tucked away, breath frosting. Nick tries to light his 
               cig, but the wind plays havoc. Nick curses, tosses it.

                                     RUDY
                         Hot chocolate.

                                     NICK
                         What?

                                     RUDY
                         Get a hot mug of chocolate.
                              (nods)
                         First thing I'm gonna do.

                                     NICK
                              (smiles)
                         And a slice of pecan pie, right?

                                     RUDY
                         And some pecan pie.

               Nick laughs, stares through the fence at the gates of the 
               prison's entrance road. Longingly.

                                     NICK
                         She's gonna be out there, man. Right 
                         there. Right there waiting.

                                     RUDY
                         Yeah.

                                     NICK
                         Gonna walk out of this shitstorm and 
                         right into her arms.

                                     RUDY
                         Yeah.

                                     NICK
                         Got us a motel out Highway 5, bringing 
                         her own damn sheets, you read that 
                         part? Silk damn sheets. Lock ourselves 
                         in the whole week, drinking wine, 
                         taking baths, man, see if they got 
                         those room service steaks... anything 
                         I want to do. Remember when she wrote 
                         that? Anything I want...

                                     RUDY
                         Yeah. Fuckin' Christmas.

               Nick grins. They stand there, shivering. It's freezing, but 
               the time they get outside is too precious to give up.

                                     RUDY
                         All those pictures she's sent... 
                         y'know... you sure they're all of 
                         her, Nick? You hear sometimes they 
                         don't send their real pictures. Could 
                         be her cousin or something.

               Nick studies him.

                                     NICK
                         Why you gotta say a thing like that.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm just saying.

                                     NICK
                         Why you gotta. We were gonna give 
                         you a ride someplace, man. Now I 
                         just don't know.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm just talking.

                                     NICK
                         Fuck your hot chocolate, Rudy.

               They trail off in silence. Nick looks out at the prison road 
               again. A snowy wasteland.

                                     NICK
                         I'm gonna marry this girl.

               INT. PRISON CELL - DAY

               Rudy lies in his bunk, staring at the same paper snowflakes.

                                     NICK (O.S.)
                         Hey, hey, listen here. "I've made my 
                         list and I've checked it twice, and 
                         as long as you're naughty, it's gonna 
                         be nice. These cold winter weeks 
                         have been killing me, Nick, as I lie 
                         here alone. It's not enough to have 
                         your warmth in my heart anymore; I 
                         need your warmth next to me. Work at 
                         Penney's has been busy because it's 
                         Christmas and that's when we do almost 
                         half of our business for the whole 
                         year -- ", okay, whatever, whatever --
                              (skipping on)
                         " -- my manager's still mad at me 
                         for asking for the whole week off," 
                         whatever, whatever --
                              (smiles)
                         Here we go. "And all that gets me 
                         through the day is to close my eyes 
                         and imagine holding you, and kissing 
                         you, and touching you, and tasting 
                         you everywhere because I know at 
                         that moment, I'll feel I've found 
                         the reason for my whole entire life."

               Rudy still stares at the stone ceiling.

                                     RUDY
                         For twenty-five, she sounds pretty 
                         mature.

                                     NICK
                         Yeah. You grow up in Detroit, you 
                         get matured real quick.

               Nick's doing pushups on the floor below, smoking a cig, 
               reading sheets of pink stationery. With a new photo: of the 
               same GIRL, in a bikini by a lake. Vamping a childish pose.

                                     NICK
                         Sure as hell don't make me miss Millie 
                         Bobek. Guess I owe Millie, though. 
                         If I hadn't been rollin, her, I woulda 
                         never ended up here. And I woulda 
                         never met Ashley.
                              (studies photo)
                         That's the world for ya.

               Nick climbs off the floor, paces back to the bunks, marvelling 
               at the latest letter.

                                     RUDY
                         What if she sees you, man, sees what 
                         you look like... and it's not there.  
                         You just don't do it for her.

                                     NICK
                         Me and her got a connection.
                              (hands page to him)
                         Read this part. Read the part about 
                         stuffing her stocking.

               Nick drops the page on his stomach. Rudy sighs, picks it up, 
               brings it to his nose.

                                     RUDY
                         She's using a new perfume.

                                     NICK
                         No, I think that's just oranges. She 
                         writes here she's eating oranges.

                                     RUDY
                         Oh.

                                     NICK
                         Shoulda written to that magazine, 
                         Rudy. I'm gonna walk outta here, 
                         walk right into a relationship. Not 
                         some one-nighter, man... a 
                         relationship. You? You're gonna walk 
                         outta here with bus fare. Searching 
                         for the drunkest skirt in the room.

                                     RUDY
                         Mornin', gorgeous. More egg nog?

                                     NICK
                         Shoulda written, Rudy...

               Nick drops back to his bunk, pasting the new lakeside photo 
               among his collage of pictures. Admiring his pen pal:

                                     NICK
                         Shoulda got yourself a girl.

               Above, Rudy peruses the page Nick gave him. Some lipstick 
               marks pressed to the paper. He passes it back, closes his 
               eyes.

                                     RUDY
                         All I want... is to make it to Sidnaw, 
                         and sit down for Christmas dinner. 
                         Watch some ball with my old man, 
                         sleep in my old bed, and have 
                         leftovers for bout six months.

                                     NICK
                         Thought you hated Sidnaw.

                                     RUDY
                         Just taste that Christmas turkey.

                                     NICK
                         Thought you hate your old man.

                                     RUDY
                         Five years, Nicky. Five years.
                              (shrugs)
                         I just want to go home.

               There's the echo of CRASHING metal gates. Prisoners YELLING. 
               Nick smiles, still staring at his girl.

                                     NICK
                         Well, man. Me and Ashley. We'll be 
                         thinking about you.

               INT. MAIN PRISON FLOOR - DAY

               GUARDS monitor PRISONERS as they file out of their cells for 
               the afternoon meal. Rudy and Nick are motioned out by a MEAN 
               GUARD, his bitter world etched in his face. They join the 
               line.

                                     RUDY
                         Shit. Alamo's back.

               Across Broadway, a parallel line is forming. A tall, tattooed 
               Native American, THE ALAMO, steps out of his cell. His hands 
               are the size of a man's skull.

                                     NICK
                         Don't look like he missed the 
                         sunlight.

                                     RUDY
                         Pinscher told me Alamo thinks I'm 
                         the one ratted on him beating up 
                         Cree. Since I was there, I saw it, 
                         he thinks I got him sent to solitary.

                                     NICK
                         Aw, Rudy.

               At that moment, Alamo glances over. Finds Rudy's eyes. Rudy 
               swiftly looks away --

                                     RUDY
                         Count me outta mealtime --

               He slaps Nick an the back, heads back for their cell --

                                     MEAN GUARD
                         GET BACK IN LINE!

                                     RUDY
                         I'm not hungry, I'm gonna --

                                     MEAN GUARD
                         SHOULDA STAYED IN YOUR HOLE! GET 
                         BACK IN FUCKING LINE!

               The mean guard pulls his blackjack. Another guard's ready 
               behind him. They want Rudy to give them trouble.

               Rudy stops. Slides back into the line of prisoners. Looks 
               across Broadway. The Alamo's walked on up ahead. Rudy 
               swallows, heads toward the mess hall.

               INT. MESS HALL - DAY

               A GLOOPY SPOON of CHUNKY RED AND GREEN JELLO gets splooshed 
               on Rudy's plate. Same with Nick. It's the cafeteria line.

                                     NICK
                         What the fuck is this?

                                     UGLY STAFFER
                         Holiday jello.

                                     NICK
                         What's this shit in it?

                                     UGLY STAFFER
                         Swallow and see.

               The ugly staffer grins from under his plastic hairnet. Nick 
               looks to Rudy, then turns back to the help:

                                     NICK
                         Just so you know, this man and I are 
                         outta here in two days. So while 
                         we're inhaling London broil and 
                         lobster bisque, you're gonna still 
                         be standing here smelling up the 
                         mystery creamfuck.
                              (nods)
                         Who's in prison now?

               The ugly staffer curls his lip. Nick smiles. Rudy moves on, 
               taking his tray off the rail and turning --

               -- right into the chest of The Alamo. He looks up -- into 
               the most scarred and vengeful face a man could ever dread to 
               see. The Alamo's a lifer. Many times over.

                                     THE ALAMO
                         When you don't expect it.

                                     RUDY
                         It wasn't me, Alamo --

                                     THE ALAMO
                         That's when.

               The Alamo strides into the cafeteria line. Rudy finally takes 
               a breath, as if he's dodged death. Nick's at his shoulder. 
               They share a grave and worried look. Trying to help:

                                     NICK
                         Two days.

               INT. MESS HALL - TABLES - DAY

               Rudy and Nick sit at a cafeteria table. Beside Rudy is a 
               frail, nervous, fiftyish inmate, ZOOK. Zook sits alone, talks 
               to no one, always has the shakes.

                                     NICK
                         So maybe after our week beneath the 
                         sheets, we'll head down to Motor 
                         City for New Year's. She says her 
                         roommate's skipping town for a few 
                         days, have the place to ourselves.  
                         Remember how her brother's a truck 
                         driver down there? I'm thinking he 
                         might be able to help get me some 
                         work.

                                     RUDY
                         What, working security?

                                     NICK
                         No, I'm through with that shit. 
                         Ashley's right. Gotta start doing 
                         something I got a stake in. Get a 
                         business going.

                                     RUDY
                         I don't know, I've seen the business 
                         world.

                                     NICK
                         Hotwiring cars, Rudy, does not qualify 
                         as a small business. Chop shop 
                         consultant; doesn't work on a resume.

               Rudy shrugs. He checks across the room, on the whereabouts 
               of The Alamo. The big Indian has his back turned.

                                     NICK
                         Ashley's talking about maybe we can 
                         start something up together...

               Next to Rudy, Zook has stopped eating. He is still as stone, 
               staring at his tray.

                                     NICK
                         Whatsa matter, Zook?

               They both watch Zook put down his utensils and reach into 
               his red-and-green jello with his bare hand.

                                     RUDY
                         The hell you doing, Zookerman?

               Gloppy gelatin drips from his hand, as the frail man lifts a 
               large black cockroach out. Zook's shaking.

                                     NICK
                         Just a roach, Zook.

                                     RUDY
                         Good for you. Protein.

                                     ZOOK
                         Monsters in the gelatin...

                                     NICK
                         It's a roach, guy --

                                     ZOOK
                         There are monsters...
                              (voice rising)
                         ...in the gelatin...

                                     NICK
                         Oh, man --

               Zook stands up, holding jello aloft:

                                     ZOOK
                         THERE ARE MONSTERS IN THE GELATIN!

                                     NICK
                              (shakes his head)
                         Fuckin, Zookerman --

                                     ZOOK
                         THERE ARE MONSTERS! IN THE GELATIN!  
                         THERE ARE MONSTERS! IN THE GELATIN!

               A GRUMBLING MURMUR sweeps through the cafeteria as inmates 
               sift through their jello, searching for --

                                     DISTANT INMATE
                         Sonofabitch!

               He pulls something bug-like out of his dessert, holds it 
               aloft, and then HURLS it at the cafeteria line. A STAFFER 
               ducks away. The inmates LAUGH and suddenly they're all on 
               their feet --

                                     ZOOK
                         THERE ARE MONSTERS! IN THE GELATIN!

               -- grabbing handfuls of jello and throwing it at the cafeteria 
               line. Inmates get errantly SPLASHED, and respond by wheeling 
               on their fellow inmates -- red and green globs flying to and 
               fro!

                                     GUARDS
                         SIT DOWN! SIT THE FUCK BACK DOWN!

               As GUARDS immediately rush in to restore order --

                                     NICK
                         Rudy, don't move --

                                     RUDY
                         Two days, we got two days! Don't do 
                         nothing. Don't touch nothing --

               An INMATE at the end of their table picks up their table and 
               overturns it, sending food flying. Rudy and Nick stand back, 
               hands raised in surrender. Jello HITS Rudy in the face.

                                     NICK
                         Don't move, Rudy!

                                     RUDY
                         Standing right here, man!

               Zook is still SHOUTING until a GUARD clubs him senseless 
               with a blackjack. WHISTLES are blowing. Guards SCREAM for 
               order.

                                     NICK
                              (as a GUARD eyes them)
                         Ate the jello, jello was fine!

               The guard leaves them alone, runs on. The melee's still out 
               of control. As Rudy turns --

               -- and suddenly sees The Alamo charging across the room, 
               with murderous eyes, a metal shank in his hand! Five feet 
               away!

                                     NICK
                         RUDY, LOOK OUT!

               Nick grabs him, trying to push him out of the way --

               -- and The Alamo's shank plunges deep into Nick's stomach 
               burying between his ribs. Blood splashes. Nick slumps.

                                     RUDY
                         NICK!

               The Alamo pulls the blade out with a ferocious YELL, pushes 
               Nick to the floor and spins on Rudy! Rudy blocks with a chair, 
               stumbling back, cartwheeling over a table as The Alamo roars 
               over him for the kill --

               -- and two GUARDS tackle the big Indian out of nowhere! 
               Knocking the knife away, hammering him with blackjacks. It 
               takes another three guards to keep The Alamo down.

               Rudy scrambles across the floor. Nick's on his back, blood 
               pumping freely from his gut --

                                     RUDY
                         GUARD! GUARD!

                                     NICK
                              (in shock)
                         Alamo...

                                     RUDY
                         GUARD!!!

               No one's helping, the guards nearby all subduing The Alamo. 
               Nick grabs Rudy's shirt, gasping to speak --

                                     NICK
                         Jesus, Rudy --

                                     RUDY
                         Take it, man! You're all right!  
                         Hold it in! GUARD!

                                     NICK
                         Oh, fuck, Rudy... oh Jesus...

                                     RUDY
                         GUARD!!!

                                     NICK
                         Ash... Ashley...

                                     RUDY
                         No, man! No, no, no!

                                     NICK
                              (choking)
                         Tell her... I'll be there ...

                                     RUDY
                         You're GONNA be there! We're getting 
                         outta here! TAKE IT!

                                     NICK
                         Tell Ashley... I...

                                     RUDY
                         YOU TELL HER!

                                     NICK
                         ...be with her...

               Blood spills out Nick's mouth. His eyes go vacant.

                                     RUDY
                         NO!!!

                                     NICK
                         ...for Christmas...

                                     RUDY
                         NICK!!!

               And Rudy's suddenly hauled backwards. A trio of GUARDS 
               descend, grabbing Nick's body as his life fades away. Dragging 
               his figure out of the melee. WHISTLES are blowing.

                                     GUARDS
                         GET HIM OUT OF HERE! LOCK DOWN!

                                     RUDY
                         NICK!!!

               Rudy struggles, enraged, and gets blackjacked across the 
               skull for his trouble. He hits the jello-covered floor.

               And the world goes dark.

               INT. PRISON CELL - NIGHT

               Darkness and shadows. Rudy sits in a corner, holding his 
               head. The cell block silent for the first time.

               Bootsteps from down the row. A SHADOW falls across Rudy's 
               somber figure. It's the Mean Guard. He stares at Rudy with 
               distinct pleasure.

                                     RUDY
                         The man had two days...

                                     MEAN GUARD
                         Well. Least he won't be coming back.

               The guard grins a gold tooth. Rudy looks at him --

               -- and then springs to his feet, charges the room, grabbing 
               through the bars. The guard takes a calm step back. Keeps 
               the cruel smile.

                                     MEAN GUARD
                         You need company tonight, Rudy... 
                         you just give a holler.

               He puckers a kiss and walks on. Starts whistling "Are You 
               Lonesome Tonight?" Several shadowed VOICES request that he 
               shut the fuck up. The bootsteps and melody drift down the 
               row.

               RUDY

               turns back, starts toward his bunk. And stops. His eyes on 
               Nick's empty bed. And the wall behind.

               THE PICTURES OF ASHLEY

               Smiling, laughing, playing kissy-face. Hearts drawn on the 
               photos. All colors of stationery taped to the wall.

               RUDY

               takes a seat on Nick's bed. There's a shoebox at the foot of 
               it.

               Rudy opens it. It's filled with Ashley's letters.

               He trails a finger along them, must be over a hundred pages. 
               He selects the one nearest the front. Surveys it.

                                     NICK (V.O.)
                         Rudy, man, here we go, here, what 
                         she wrote here: "The car's waiting. 
                         The motel's waiting. And I'm waiting.  
                         I've waited for so long. I'm burning 
                         for you, Nick. My whole body. My 
                         whole heart. I'm burning for you..."

               Rudy turns to the wall. To the lakeside picture of Ashley, a 
               swimsuit siren. Rudy stares sadly.

                                     RUDY
                         He was burning for you too...

               And puts the letter away.

               CLOSE ON RUDY'S CALENDAR - NIGHT

               As his hand slashes through December 21st. Prison's over.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. IRON MOUNTAIN PRISON - DAY

               Snow swirls. Near blizzard conditions. A heavy steel door 
               BANGS open, held by an EXIT GUARD. And FIFTEEN CONVICTS, 
               make that EX-CONVICTS, trudge onto a fenced drive, covered 
               in snow.

                                     EXIT GUARD
                         Your world and welcome to it, 
                         dumbfucks! Don't be a stranger now! 
                         We'll keep the lights on for ya!

               Rudy stumbles out with the group, shivering in a Goodwill 
               hand-me-down coat. Thin canvas, wouldn't keep him warm in 
               summer.

               Secondhand shoes. No possessions.

               He clutches his sides with his hands, hunched over. All 
               fifteen huddle and herd toward the gate at the end of the 
               fenceway.

               BEYOND THE GATE

               There are a dozen FRIENDS and RELATIVES waiting. A few MEN, 
               several WOMEN, a couple KIDS. Bundled in winter coats, hats 
               and hoods. A prison shuttle bus is parked behind them.

               The released cons reach the gate, where a GATE GUARD unlocks 
               the fence to the outside world. Fifteen men are free.

               The ex-cons and relatives scan each other's faces. Wives 
               rush over to embrace their men. Pals nod to ex-cons and trade 
               slaps on backs. Reunion time.

               The snow batters them, wind whipping. Rudy keeps his head 
               down, leaning forward, keeps walking. Toward the bus. But he 
               can't help himself -- he glances up --

               TO SEE A YOUNG WOMAN

               bundled in a silver ski jacket, pink wool hat with a poofball 
               on top, scarf and mittens. Scanning the released prisoners.

               RUDY

               drops his head, looks away. Climbs onto the shuttle bus.

               INT. BUS - CONTINUOUS

               Rudy shakes his arms, basking in the vehicle's warmth. Takes 
               a seat at the back. A couple other lone ex-cons climb aboard. 
               Then the cons with relatives start to pile in.

               Rudy's window is steamed against the cold. He stares into 
               his lap, then reaches for his coat pocket. Takes out the 
               picture of Ashley, in her bikini by the lake. Stares at it.

               He rubs his window with his sleeve.

               Outside, the woman in the silver coat turns this way and 
               that, troubled. She's watching the other ex-cons climbing 
               onto the bus with their loved ones.

               The woman looks back to the prison. The guard closing the 
               gate. The steel door has been shut. No one else is coming.

               Rudy watches her sadly.

               Aboard the bus, the seats fill up. Ex-cons are feeling up 
               their wives, kids are climbing on their absent daddies, 
               buddies are jawing loudly 'bout how the neighborhood's 
               changed.

               The woman outside is now alone. Silver coat, pink poofball.

               Rudy looks at the bikini picture again.

               Then at the shivering bundle.

                                     RUDY
                         Don't do it, Rudy...

               The bus ENGINE starts up. In the seat beside Rudy, an EX-CON 
               makes out with his WIFE while his bratty KID punches his 
               leg.

               Out the window, the young woman is scanning the bus windows. 
               Then the prison again. She turns in a worried circle. Rudy 
               looks swiftly away. Closes his eyes.

                                     RUDY
                         Don't do it ...

               The bus door closes. It REVS and starts forward. Rudy sighs 
               with relief. The photo of Ashley falls to the floor.

               EXT. PRISON RELEASE GATE - CONTINUOUS

               The young woman watches the bus pull away, down the snowy 
               road. But it doesn't get fifty feet before it suddenly stops.

               The door opens. And Rudy steps out.

               The bus REVS up again and GROANS OFF into the winter.

               The young woman pushes her poofball hat out of her eyes. We 
               get a look at her face for the first time. Skin pale, lips 
               turning blue, but it's the girl from the pictures. It's 
               Ashley.

               She watches Rudy's figure trudge back toward her. Snow 
               obscuring him until he's right in front of her. Both of them 
               shivering. Both of them standing there.

               And finally:

                                     RUDY
                         You Ashley?

               Ashley nods. And Rudy sadly smiles.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm Nick.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. TRUCK STOP - DAY

               Rudy and Ashley sit at a coffee shop booth. Coats still on. 
               Big rigs bluster by on the highway outside.

               Two untouched cups of coffee sit before them.

               She's watching him in silence.

                                     RUDY
                         I like your coat.

               Ashley says nothing. Rudy looks at his own:

                                     RUDY
                         This -- this is just something they 
                         gave me at the door. Wasn't snowing 
                         when we signed up, y'know?

               Ashley nods.

                                     RUDY
                         How's your coffee?

               Ashley looks at it, like she's just realizing it's there. 
               She lifts the cup, takes a sip. Puts it down.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Good.

               Rudy nods. Silence again.

                                     RUDY
                         Gotta be ten degrees out there.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Radio said negative five.

                                     RUDY
                         Negative five?

                                     ASHLEY
                         Yeah.

                                     RUDY
                         I don't think it's negative five.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Radio said.

               Beat.

                                     RUDY
                         Wind chill. That's probably what 
                         they meant.

               Ashley nods. Rudy bites his lip.

                                     RUDY
                         I was scared. Scared you were gonna 
                         take one look at me and change your 
                         mind. Scared I was walking into 
                         heartache. All those words... you 
                         put a picture in your mind of where 
                         they come from and when you see where 
                         maybe it's not the same as your 
                         picture.

               He trails off.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I figured you walked outta there and 
                         saw me and walked right the other 
                         way --

                                     RUDY
                         No, no --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Saw my outfit or something, my coat --

                                     RUDY
                         No, hey, I like your coat --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Saw me --

                                     RUDY
                         Ashley, no. That was me, that's what 
                         I was scared of. I mean, be serious...  
                         I ain't exactly looking like Mr.  
                         Universe here.

                                     ASHLEY
                         You are to me.

               Rudy goes silent. Whoa. Ashley considers.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Thought you wrote you had a mustache.

                                     RUDY
                         I can get another one going. Y'know, 
                         hey, whatever you want me to --

                                     ASHLEY
                         No, no, no. Be like you want to be.

               Another awkward pause. Rudy picks up a milk dispenser beside 
               the coffee, puts it to his lips. It gives him a wide white 
               mustache. He stares straight-faced.

               Ashley gives a bashful smile, covers it.

                                     RUDY
                         Do that again.

                                     ASHLEY
                         What.

                                     RUDY
                         Smile.

               Ashley smiles again, blushing now.

                                     ASHLEY
                         No --

                                     RUDY
                         One more. Smile. One more.

                                     ASHLEY
                              (trying not to)
                         No, c'mon --

                                     RUDY
                         I've been dreaming about that smile, 
                         Ashley Mercer. For a long time.

               They stare across the table, drifting into one another's 
               eyes.

                                     ASHLEY
                         You're better than the picture in my 
                         mind, Nick...
                              (softly)
                         You're real.

               Outside, another truck rumbles by, whipping up snow.

                                                              SMASH CUT TO:

               INT. INTERSTATE MOTEL ROOM - DAY

               And Rudy and Ashley SLAM inside, kissing passionately, limbs 
               intertwined, pawing at each other's coats. Rudy kicks the 
               door closed. Mouths devouring, hands lost in snowy hair.

               They collide with a side table, knocking over a lamp, tumbling 
               onto the lumpy bed. Rudy tears at her silver coat and sweater 
               and turtleneck and capilene and whatever else's she got on, 
               as Ashley's lips explore his neck and body. Writhing and 
               wrestling and rolling off the bed. Bang.

               INT. MOTEL ROOM - LATER

               Rudy and Ashley fuck like lovers in R-rated movies.

               INT. MOTEL ROOM - DAY - LATER

               The bed sheets lie tangled on the floor. Rudy and Ashley 
               rest naked amidst them. Her pretty young head on his chest, 
               all their inhibitions gone. Rudy strokes her arms.

                                     RUDY
                         Tell me something. This the first 
                         time you've ever done this?

                                     ASHLEY
                         Go to hell, Nick Mason, what's that 
                         supposed to mean --

                                     RUDY
                         No, not that, no...
                              (laughs, kisses her)
                         I mean this, the whole thing. Start 
                         writing to a guy, guy in the bricks. 
                         Get a boyfriend like this. Tell me 
                         the truth.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Well. You're not the first guy I 
                         wrote to. But you're the only one I 
                         kept writing to.

                                     RUDY
                         Yeah. Me too.
                              (considers)
                         Why? I mean I know why for me, why I 
                         paid for the ad. But you... why start 
                         writing to some guy -- some con -- 
                         you don't even know?

               Ashley studies his face, smiles in reflection.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I told you, Nick. Remember?

                                     RUDY
                         Tell me again.

                                     ASHLEY
                         All the guys I've ever been with... 
                         they never want to know me. Who I am 
                         on the inside. They just want to qet 
                         inside. When they do, they think 
                         that means they know who I am. That 
                         I trust them. That they know me. 
                         That there's nothing left to learn.
                              (beat)
                         A guy like you, Nick -- six months 
                         before you can even touch my face. I 
                         figure a guy in that kind of bind, 
                         he's gonna hafta work to get to know 
                         me some other way.

                                     RUDY
                         Had some bad relationships, didn't 
                         you.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Not bad. Just regular.
                              (smiles)
                         You wrote me wonderful things, Nick.  
                         Personal things.

               She turns to him, kisses his chest --

                                     RUDY
                         Well, wasn't all me, y'know.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Yes it was all you --

                                     RUDY
                         Guy I was in with... he helped 
                         sometimes... some of the romantic 
                         stuff, actually... you'd like him --

                                     ASHLEY
                         I'm talking about the heart, Nick. 
                         I'm not talking about the words.

                                     RUDY
                         Y'know, some of the heart mighta 
                         been his too...

                                     ASHLEY
                         Then he shoulda signed his name.

               She turns over playfully, eases herself back atop him. Ready 
               to make up for lost time. With a kiss:

                                     ASHLEY
                         And he'd be here right now.

               INT. SHOPPING MALL - DAY

               Ashley runs through an Xmas-decorated megamall, dragging 
               Rudy behind her. Both of them laughing, as she hauls him 
               over to some cookie bakery company:

                                     RUDY
                         Where the hell are you going?

                                     ASHLEY
                         Provisions! We are not leaving that 
                         motel room again till after New 
                         Year's: we need ten days worth of 
                         provisions!
                              (to cookie matron)
                         What's good?!

                                     COOKIE MATRON
                         Oh my, we've got a special on our 
                         chocolate crunchie elves, they're 
                         shaped like little helpers --

                                     ASHLEY
                         THIS MAN... has not had a cookie in 
                         two goddamn years! Get him two of 
                         everything!

                                     RUDY
                         Ashley, Jesus --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Can't survive on our bodies alone, 
                         Nick.
                              (to cookie matron)
                         Hurry up!

                                     RUDY
                         Ash... didn't you write me that you 
                         don't eat chocolate?

                                     ASHLEY
                         Yeah, well you wrote me you were six-
                         foot-four, baby.
                              (teasing smile)
                         So don't talk to me about little 
                         white lies.

               INT. J.C. PENNEY'S DEPARTMENT STORE - DAY

               Teddy bears with nightcaps, green bows, red ribbons. Ashley's 
               tearing through men's clothing racks, all love and confidence.

               Rudy's got a bunch of purchase bags weighing him down:

                                     ASHLEY
                         You need a COAT!

                                     RUDY
                         Ash, you've gotten me enough --

                                     ASHLEY
                         No boyfriend of mine is going to 
                         walk around in negative-five degree 
                         wind chill without a goddamn good-
                         looking coat!

               She pulls out a hellacious black leather fringe number.

                                     RUDY
                         Baby, c'mon, all this stuff... I 
                         haven't gotten you anything --

                                     ASHLEY
                         You got out, Nick. You're here.  
                         You're my Christmas.

               She puts the jacket against his chest, smiling. Rudy sighs.

                                     RUDY
                         It's two hundred dollars, Ash --

               She whips a Penney's card from her purse, grins wickedly:

                                     ASHLEY
                         You forget where I work?

                                     RUDY
                              (beat)
                         Beauty and fragrances.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Fifty percent off, motherfucker. Ho 
                         ho ho.

               She runs off with the jacket. Rudy turns to a dressing mirror, 
               left to stare at his reflection. An ex-con in rags, with a 
               half-dozen holiday shopping bags. To himself:

                                     RUDY
                         Just for the holidays, Nick. Then 
                         we'll tell her. We'll let her... 
                         have her holidays...

               Rudy nods till he convinces himself. Can't help but smile.

               INT. TOY STORE - DAY

               Puzzles, Barbies and dinosaurs. KIDS scurrying, PARENTS 
               chasing. Rudy and Ashley with a scared TEEN CLERK:

                                     TEEN CLERK
                         You can't find... what?

                                     ASHLEY
                         Toys for adults. Where are your toys 
                         for adults?

                                     TEEN CLERK
                         Toys for... adults?

                                     ASHLEY
                         C'mon. How old are you, sixteen? 
                         C'mon.

                                     TEEN CLERK
                         We sell children's toys --

                                     ASHLEY
                              (slams money down)
                         I got fifty dollars to spend in your 
                         store, Jesus of Nazareth. Can you 
                         help me or not?

               The clerk glances around, then, low:

                                     TEEN CLERK
                         Slinky's in aisle five, Twister's in 
                         aisle one, Moon Mud's in aisle four.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Thank you.

               INT. SUPERMARKET - DAY

               CLOSE ON CONVEYOR

               As bottles of wine, vodka and rum, cartons of egg nog and 
               orange juice, and countless prepackaged sandwiches come 
               scrolling past.

                                     ASHLEY (O.S.)
                         You know what I was thinking, after 
                         our holiday hideaway? Instead of 
                         going back to Detroit, maybe we could 
                         go gambling. Y'know? Drive up to 
                         that Indian place you worked at. 
                         Wouldn't that be fun? I haven't gone 
                         gambling in forever!

               EXT. SUPERMARKET PARKING LOT - DUSK

               Light snow falls. Rudy, in his new black fringe eyesore, and 
               Ashley carry grocery bags across the icy asphalt:

                                     RUDY
                         Well, I don't know about that --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Blackjack, Nick, blackjack I am good 
                         at. I mean, they'd give us some free 
                         games or something, wouldn't they? 
                         Since you worked there?

                                     RUDY
                         Security, Ash, I just worked security.  
                         They wouldn't be rolling out the red 
                         carpet --

                                     ASHLEY
                         And the slots, slots I'm good at 
                         too. Wouldn't that be fun?

                                     RUDY
                         We'll have more fun in Detroit.

                                     ASHLEY
                         We could live it up and --

                                     RUDY
                         Ashley. We're not going anywhere I 
                         used to work.

               It comes out too harsh. Ashley stops, a little hurt.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I just... I thought you'd have friends 
                         there...

               Rudy softens, touches her arms:

                                     RUDY
                         Hey. I been in prison for two years, 
                         Ash. Believe me. Those guys wouldn't 
                         want to see me.

               He kisses her. She nods, dismisses it, kisses back.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Well, they don't know what the hell 
                         they're missing.

               EXT. MOTEL - NIGHT

               Ashley's Chevy Nova pulls back into the lot of the roadside 
               joint. There's an artificial (silver) Christmas tree tied to 
               the roof.

               She and Rudy climb out; she heads for the office:

                                     ASHLEY
                         Baby, I'm gonna go tell 'em not to 
                         disturb us for the rest of the year. 
                         I get back in that room, you better 
                         be wearing nothing but a candy cane.

                                     RUDY
                         I'll see what I can do.

                                     ASHLEY
                         No, lover. I'll see what you can do.

               She smiles, sashays sexily away. Rudy watches her go, admiring 
               his good fortune. Then pops the trunk, collects some of their 
               shopping score. Gifts and goodies.

                                     RUDY
                              (sings, sotto)
                         I have no gifts to bring, parum-pum-
                         pum-pum. No treasures for the king, 
                         pa-rum-pum-pum-pum...

               Loaded down, he struggles to the motel room, balances bags 
               on his knee, gets the key in the door, and heads inside.

               INT. MOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

               Pitch dark. Rudy fumbles his way in:

                                     RUDY
                         ...but I got a girl to be with, rum-
                         pum-pum-pum...

                                     MERLIN (O.S.)
                         Hi, Nick.

               Rudy drops the shopping bags, whirls around, as a stocky 
               black shadow, MERLIN, all 280 pounds of him, KICKS the door 
               shut --

                                     RUDY
                         What the fuck --

               -- and SWINGS a baseball bat toward Rudy's chest. Rudy gets 
               an arm down to deflect the blow, but it still stings like a 
               mother. Rudy HOWLS. Merlin comes at him again --

               -- and this time Rudy slips by. Merlin's bat SHATTERS a 
               dresser.

               Rudy grabs him by the neck, kicks out his knees and wrests 
               him to the ground. Grabs the bat --

               -- and gets DECKED from behind by another shadow, PUG, a 
               little white guy with a snarl. They go CRASHING onto the 
               bed, grappling for leverage, and then to the floor --

               -- where Rudy grabs a champagne bottle from the groceries 
               and BASHES it backwards, shattering it over Pug's head!

               Pug lets go, as Rudy scrambles up, and Merlin's got him again 
               in a bear hug. Rudy's struggling, whirling with him, crashing 
               into one wall, then another, YELLING for help --

                                     RUDY
                         HEYYY!!! IN HERE!!! HEYYY!!!

               -- until he hears the PUMP-LOAD SNAP of a shotgun.

               Rudy stops still. A lamp clicks on.

               Standing in silhouette, a figure in a leather duster holds a 
               sawed-off on him.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Welcome home, Nick.

               Another lamp comes on. Rudy, still in Merlin's choke-hold, 
               gets a look at the gunman, GABRIEL. Weathered face, stringy 
               hair, early 30's. Handsome in a scuzzy way. He's seen a lot 
               of road.

               Rudy stares, totally thrown. Pug, the little guy, bad teeth, 
               bad hair, bad skin, gets up spitting blood and champagne.

                                     PUG
                         I owe ya a drink, ya fuck --

               -- and slugs Rudy in the gut. Merlin yanks him back up. 
               Merlin's a black widebody, wears a goatee and brass knuckles. 
               Behind Merlin stands a fourth intruder, a stone-faced Indian 
               in a Grateful Dead longsleeve. JUMPY. Guarding the door.

               Gabriel's studying Rudy, up and down. Nods. Merlin relaxes 
               his choke-hold so Rudy can breathe.

                                     RUDY
                         You... you don't know me --

                                     GABRIEL
                         Oh, I know you, Nick. I know you 
                         real well.

                                     RUDY
                         No, you can't --

                                     GABRIEL
                         The hell I can't.

               As the room's door gets kicked open --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Watch out, baby! I'm bringing in the 
                         fucking tree!

               and the silver fake evergreen fills the doorway, getting 
               forced through with Ashley's grunts and groans --

                                     RUDY
                         ASHLEY!

               Merlin traps his jaw shut. The tree comes squeezing through, 
               followed by Ashley, face in branches --

                                     ASHLEY
                         I'm telling you, we got the best one 
                         in the store... I don't know why 
                         people want their houses smelling 
                         like the stupid woods...

               She's GRABBED from behind by Jumpy. Ashley screams, but he 
               slams her against the wall. The tree hits the ground.

                                     RUDY
                         NO!

                                     ASHLEY
                         NICK!

               Rudy fights to help her, but Merlin's got him. Pug locks 
               Ashley's arms. She fights, muffled cries, but Jumpy and Pug 
               have her held firmly. Her face to the wall --

                                     GABRIEL
                              (re: the silver tree)
                         Hope her taste in men's better than 
                         her taste in Christmas.

               Ashley's turned to face him. Her eyes widen. Gabriel nods.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Hey, sis. Happy holidays.

               Rudy's jaw drops. He looks to Ashley. Then to Gabriel.

               Ashley YELLS, enraged, kicking and clawing. Jumpy slams her 
               back against the wall for her trouble --

                                     GABRIEL
                         Jumpy, don't hurt her, now.

               Gabriel steps to Rudy. Studies him.

                                     GABRIEL
                         So. This is the guy you been waiting 
                         for. Man of your dreams.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Gabriel -- !

                                     GABRIEL
                              (unimpressed)
                         Must have a way with stationery.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Gabriel, what are you doing!

               Gabriel raises the sawed-off to Rudy's chest. Rudy flinches, 
               but Merlin's got him.

                                     ASHLEY
                         GABRIEL!!!

               Gabriel fixes her with a stare. She shuts up. To Rudy:

                                     GABRIEL
                         You better be here to be good to 
                         her, loverboy. 'Cause she's been 
                         good to you.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Gabriel, let him go --

                                     GABRIEL
                         Read a lot about you, Nick.

                                     ASHLEY
                         What are you doing here?!

                                     GABRIEL
                         Read you're a man of some knowledge.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Gabriel!

                                     GABRIEL
                         A man of some travels.

                                     ASHLEY
                         GABRIEL, I LOVE HIM!

               Rudy's trying to speak, voice CHOKED. Gabriel nods to Merlin, 
               who again eases his hold. Rudy coughs.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm... not... Nick...

               Gabriel frowns. Rudy turns to Ashley.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm not him. I...
                              (then to Gabriel)
                         You want something from Nick, you 
                         got the wrong guy.

                                     ASHLEY
                              (hurt)
                         Nick...

               Gabriel looks from her to him, then lowers his sawed-off, 
               and SWINGS it into Rudy's stomach. Rudy buckles. Panicked.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Who are you now.

                                     RUDY
                         You got the wrong guy! She thinks 
                         I'm Nick, I'm not!

                                     GABRIEL
                              (to Merlin)
                         Put him in the truck.

                                     RUDY
                         I was in the joint with him! I knew 
                         about him and her, okay!? I took his 
                         place!

                                     GABRIEL
                         You what...

                                     RUDY
                         I got out, Nick didn't! I pretended 
                         I was him! I knew about her letters!  
                         Jesus Christ, whatever you want from 
                         him -- I'm not Nick!
                              (to Ashley)
                         I -- I just wanted to be --

               A glance of regret amidst his desperation. Ashley stares 
               back, confused, searching his eyes.

                                     GABRIEL
                         You're not Nick Mason...

                                     RUDY
                         I shared his cell!

                                     GABRIEL
                         But you were saying you were...

                                     RUDY
                         Yes!

                                     GABRIEL
                         So you could get with my sister.

                                     RUDY
                         Yes!

                                     GABRIEL
                         So you could get down her chimney.

                                     RUDY
                         Yes!

                                     GABRIEL
                         And you think telling me that's gonna 
                         help your cause.

               Gabriel RATCHETS him across the chin with the gun butt. Rudy 
               hits the floor. Gabriel spins on Ashley, enraged:

                                     GABRIEL
                         Is this him!?

                                     ASHLEY
                              (reaches for Rudy)
                         Don't hurt him...

                                     GABRIEL
                         Is this the fucker you been writing 
                         all year!?

                                     ASHLEY
                              (reaches for Rudy)
                         Please, Gabriel, don't...

               Gabriel puts the gun to Rudy's head.

                                     GABRIEL
                         IS THIS NICK MASON!!??

                                     ASHLEY
                         YES!!!

               Gabriel doesn't shoot. Studies Rudy.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Well, he's gonna have to learn to 
                         give you some respect.

               Gabriel KICKS Rudy in the jaw. Ashley screams. Gabriel motions 
               to his boys: Jumpy and Pug drag her outside. Gabriel KICKS 
               Rudy again. Rudy lies there and takes it.

               Merlin lights a cig, examines Rudy and Ashley's grocery bags:

                                     MERLIN
                         Hey. They got a shitload of cookies.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Take 'em.

                                     MERLIN
                         How 'bout the tree? You want the 
                         tree?

                                     GABRIEL
                         Leave the tree.

               Merlin nods, tucks the bags under his arms, leaves the room.

               Gabriel drops beside Rudy, with a sick smile:

                                     GABRIEL
                         I've read your letters, motherfucker.  
                         Don't play no reindeer games with 
                         me.

               EXT. INTERSTATE - NIGHT

               As we SWOOP DOWN onto a four-lane stretch of winter highway, 
               arcing into the blackness.

               CLOSING ON an 18-wheel tractor trailer, RUMBLING onward, 
               emblazoned with "Great Lakes Trucking." There's an airbrush 
               painting on the door to the cab, of a skeleton looking thru 
               a flaming radial tire, and the legend "Motor City Monster."

               INT. GABRIEL'S RIG - CAB - NIGHT

               Gabriel at the wheel, Merlin smoking, Jumpy eating cookies. 
               A TRUCK passes; Gabriel waves. A moment later, the CB 
               crackles:

                                     PASSING DRIVER (OVER CB)
                         Hey there, Monster! What're you 
                         hauling this far north?

                                     GABRIEL
                         Hell, Bugeye. How you doin'? Ain't 
                         hauling, man, I'm up for the holidays. 
                         Gonna have myself a holiday... for a 
                         goddamn change...

               INT. GABRIEL'S RIG - TRAILER - NIGHT

               CLOSE ON RUDY

               eyes closed, dried blood, head rocking side to side. He 
               winces, waking, with the headache to end all headaches.

                                     ASHLEY (O.S.)
                         Shh, Nick, shh. They won't hurt you 
                         now. You're okay...

               Her hand strokes his face. Rudy's eyes struggle open.

               ON FULL SCENE

               They're in the back of the truck. There's some packing mats, 
               rope, two tall storage lockers, and Ashley's Chevy Nova.

               Rudy's head is in her lap. He struggles to sit up, finds his 
               wrists tied with cord. He looks at Ashley, follows her gaze.

               In a corner, Pug sits guard in a beanbag chair. He's dipping 
               chewing tobacco, reading Road & Track, headphones on. Gives 
               Rudy a bored glance, then back to his magazine.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I won't let 'em, Nick. They won't 
                         hurt you anymore.

                                     RUDY
                         Your brother...

               Ashley nods. Rudy looks around, remembering.

                                     RUDY
                         ...the truck driver...

                                     ASHLEY
                         He's not a bad person, Nick... he's 
                         not...

               From the corner, Pug spits some chaw. Ashley wheels.

                                     ASHLEY
                         You're not gonna hurt him anymore!

               Pug doesn't even look up. Still stroking Rudy's face:

                                     ASHLEY
                         Since Janey moved in... Gabriel... 
                         he's come over more and more. To the 
                         apartment. Janey's the divorced one, 
                         'member, with the tit job --

                                     RUDY
                         What the fuck is going on.

                                     ASHLEY
                         He read the letters, Nick. Some day 
                         I wasn't there. He went through my 
                         room. He found your letters.

                                     RUDY
                         What's going ON!!!

               The truck shakes.

                                     ASHLEY
                         He knows you worked in that casino.

               Rudy stares at her. She's scared

                                     RUDY
                         You motherfucker.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick, no --

                                     RUDY
                         You sold him out.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick --

                                     RUDY
                         When'd you decide to do it, Ash?  
                         After which of his letters, huh?  
                         The fortieth? The fiftieth? The 
                         first?!

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick, what are you --

               She reaches out for him; Rudy scrambles to his knees, tumbles 
               against the opposite wall of the trailer.

                                     RUDY
                         I'M NOT NICK!
                              (raging)
                         You thought you'd fuck him over?!  
                         Well he's fucked you! I've never 
                         worked at some casino! I can't help 
                         you! Because he's not me!

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick, I love you --

                                     RUDY
                         JESUS CHRIST!

                                     PUG
                         Watch your mouth, man. It's Christmas.

                                     RUDY
                         I'M NOT NICK!

               Ashley runs at him, wraps her arms around him tightly. He 
               tries to fight her off. She won't let go.

                                     RUDY
                         Get the hell off of me!

                                     ASHLEY
                              (hard whisper)
                         Nick, it won't work. It won't work!

               Rudy stops fighting. She has a terrified look in her eye. 
               Checks to Pug: he's watching them now, chewing slower. Ashley 
               turns them away from the little guy's view

                                     ASHLEY
                         He'll kill you.

                                     RUDY
                         You're not hearing me here --

                                     ASHLEY
                         My brother's killed people, I know 
                         he has. Truckers. If you talk him 
                         into thinking you're not you, you'll 
                         only get yourself dead.

                                     RUDY
                         He didn't "find" Nick's letters, did 
                         he.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick, please, it's me --

                                     RUDY
                         You told him about Nick's letters.

                                     ASHLEY
                         No, Nick, no --

                                     RUDY
                         You're in on this.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I love you!

               Rudy stares at her coldly.

                                     RUDY
                         Y'know, in a way, I'm glad it's me. 
                         'Cause you woulda broken his heart.

               Ashley stares, panicked. Pug's still watching them.

                                     RUDY
                         Your pen palls dead, lady.

                                     ASHLEY
                         If you say that, if you keep saying 
                         that, they will kill you. If they 
                         think you're not you, they will kill 
                         you. Don't you see? I know what you're 
                         doing, but it won't work!

                                     RUDY
                         Nick died for me....

                                     ASHLEY
                         I won't let him hurt you! He just 
                         wants what you know!

                                     RUDY
                              (ruefully)
                         ...maybe I die for Nick...

                                     ASHLEY
                         Just tell him what you know, Nick! 
                         That's all they want! And we'll get 
                         out of this!

               Rudy gives her a stone cold stare. Ashley crumbles, touching 
               his face, shaking her head, tears. Devastated.

                                     ASHLEY
                         He found them... I swear, Nick...
                              (helpless)
                         ...he found them...

               The truck shudders through downshifts, to a groaning stop. 
               Ashley embraces Rudy fiercely, holding on for the last.

               The trailer gate RATTLES open into the truck's roof.

               Ashley shuts her eyes.

               EXT. REST STOP/INT. GABRIEL'S RIG - CONTINUOUS

               The rig all alone at a snowy rest area. Gabriel, Merlin and 
               Jumpy climb inside as silhouette sentries. Gabriel surveys, 
               then lifts a piece of paper:

                                     GABRIEL
                         "My sweet, sexy Ashy-lashy, I have 
                         been dreaming of you constantly, and 
                         knowing you are out there makes these 
                         walls not seem so close or so strong 
                         or so cold..."
                              (to Merlin/Jumpy)
                         Women live for this stuff.
                              (reads on)
                         Dreaming 'bout your this, dreaming 
                         'bout your those, gettin' X-rated on 
                         me here, Nicky... where are we... 
                         oh, right, other side...
                              (turns paper over)
                         "Someday I'm gonna take you up by 
                         Lake S. Before I went in, before 
                         goddamn Millie, 'fore I had my 
                         situation, I used to work up at this 
                         casino, working security. Used to 
                         watch for people stealing chips, 
                         counting cards, getting piss-drunk, 
                         that kinda shit. Indian place, they 
                         hired this reject outta Vegas to run 
                         it, got about as much business sense 
                         as a buffalo patty. Anyways, it's a 
                         fun place to run some numbers and 
                         play."

               Gabriel puts the letter down.

                                     GABRIEL
                         You're a good writer, Nick. I give 
                         this writing an A-plus.

                                     RUDY
                         I never worked at no casino.

                                     ASHLEY
                              (hopeless)
                         Nick...

               Rudy steps out of her hold and stalks forward:

                                     RUDY
                         That's the guy I was in with, I did 
                         my last ten months with him. He rode 
                         a two-year bit for manslaughter -- 
                         split a guy's skull open at a bar 
                         for harassing his girl. That's Nick 
                         Mason. He worked at that casino. 
                         He's the one who wrote her letters.  
                         Me, I'm a damn mechanic, my last job 
                         was a Quickie Lube, I did five for 
                         lifting cars. I don't know shit about 
                         blackjack, I don't know shit about 
                         Indians. I'm not him.

               Gabriel stares at him. Then crumples the letter.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Bury this guy.

               Merlin and Jumpy grab Rudy and THROW him from the truck. He 
               HITS the snowy parking lot on his side, hands bound.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Gabriel, you promised!

                                     GABRIEL
                         I promised that when he helped us, 
                         we'd be gone! When he helped us!  
                         Loverboy don't want to play!

               Merlin and Jumpy drop to the snow, picking Rudy up.

                                     ASHLEY
                         You promised me!

                                     GABRIEL
                         And you promised me you'd get your 
                         sweetheart to help!

               Rudy meets eyes with Ashley. She's caught.

                                     GABRIEL
                         He'd rather die than be with you, 
                         he'd make a fucked-up boyfriend 
                         anyway.
                              (to Merlin/Jumpy)
                         Bury him all over the place.

                                     ASHLEY
                         NO!

               She charges at her brother. Gabriel grabs her, spins her 
               into control and PUNCHES her in the jaw. She goes flying out 
               of the truck. HITS the ground hard. In shock.

               Merlin and Jumpy march Rudy across the lot. A stand of dark 
               and snowy woods ahead...

                                     MERLIN
                         Beats prison, I guess.

                                     ASHLEY (O.S.)
                         NICK!!! NICK!!! NOOOOO!!!

               Rudy struggles, desperate but held firm. Jumpy loads a 
               handgun, as he muses for the very first time:

                                     JUMPY
                         The problem with prison... is that 
                         it is founded on the fundamentally 
                         flawed perception of rehabilitation 
                         through punishment. A society can't 
                         hope to create a "changed man" by 
                         surrounding him with the worst in 
                         his fellow man; what it 
                         "rehabilitates" is solely a conviction 
                         that if he can survive the inhumanity 
                         of prison, what then, can he not 
                         withstand? He has seen man's darkest 
                         soul and kept his sight: what is 
                         left for such a man? What faith? 
                         What fear?

               At the woods' edge, Jumpy gives the gun to Merlin --

                                     JUMPY
                         Don't get no blood on my boots --

               The gun goes to Rudy's head. A bullet fills the chamber. 
               Ashley SCREAMS. Rudy shuts his eyes tight and --

                                     RUDY
                         WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW!

               Merlin and Jumpy stop. Ashley stops screaming. Gabriel turns.

                                     RUDY
                         About the Tomahawk! What the hell do 
                         you want to know!

               His guards look to Gabriel. Rudy nods, sweating.

                                     RUDY
                         I spend six months writing poetry 
                         and my goddamn pen pal fucks me over. 
                         Thanks for the stamps, Ash. You want 
                         me, you got me. Whaddya want to know.

               Ashley gasps relief. Gabriel smiles.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Everything.

               Merlin and Jumpy march Rudy back. Still on the ground:

                                     ASHLEY
                         I love you... Nick, I love you...

               Rudy won't meet her eyes.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Hey. She says she loves you, Nick.

                                     RUDY
                         She says a lot of things.

                                     GABRIEL
                         She's getting you to help us... 'cause 
                         she knows if you don't, you're dead. 
                         You just tell us what we need to 
                         know, you two live happily ever after.  
                         My sister loves you, motherfucker, 
                         and I ain't gonna have you break her 
                         heart.

                                     RUDY
                         Wish I had a brother like you.

                                     GABRIEL
                         A girl says she loves you, you say 
                         something.

               Rudy looks at Ashley. Her eyes plead forgiveness.

                                     RUDY
                         I had better sex in prison.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Heyyy. Be nice, convict. We're gonna 
                         be working together here.
                              (to his boys)
                         Get him back in the rig.

               Merlin and Jumpy wrench Rudy backward. Ashley reaches out to 
               him, starts to speak. He looks right through her. She goes 
               silent, casts her eyes to the snow.

                                     PUG (O.S.)
                         He's not the guy, Monster.

               Everyone looks to the truck. Weasel-faced Pug has sidled 
               next to Gabriel. Spits some chaw.

               It hits Merlin's boots. Merlin growls.

                                     PUG
                         Whole time you were driving, he was 
                         telling her he's not the guy, he's 
                         not the guy. I know why he'd tell us 
                         he's not the guy. why's he telling 
                         her he's not the guy? What if he's 
                         not the guy?

               Gabriel considers, jumps off the truck. Walks to Rudy:

                                     GABRIEL
                         The man who wrote those letters loved 
                         Ashley, boys. He lived for her love.
                              (nods)
                         Let's see him live for love.

               Gabriel puts a gun under Rudy's chin. Rudy flinches.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Where's she work?

                                     RUDY
                         What?

                                     GABRIEL
                              (forces gun harder)
                         Wrote you a hundred letters, didn't 
                         she? Where's she work?

                                     RUDY
                         J.C. Penney. Beauty and fragrances.

                                     GABRIEL
                         What's her middle name?

                                     RUDY
                              (thinking hard)
                         Samantha.

                                     GABRIEL
                         What'd they call her in high school?

                                     RUDY
                         Bam Bam.

                                     GABRIEL
                         What'd they call her in college?

                                     RUDY
                         What college.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Where'd she drop her cherry?

                                     ASHLEY
                         Gabriel!

                                     RUDY
                         Canada.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Be more specific.

                                     RUDY
                         A station wagon in Canada.

                                     GABRIEL
                         What's her greatest fear?

                                     RUDY
                         Her brother.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Wrong, Nick. It's drowning.

                                     RUDY
                         No. It's her brother.

               Rudy stares him down. Gabriel shrugs.

                                     GABRIEL
                         That's love.

               He puts the gun away. Ashley regains her breath.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Let's get back on the road. It's 
                         time to start talking, Nick. Time to 
                         start telling tales --

                                     RUDY
                         Nick don't talk till Nick gets 
                         something.

               Gabriel gives a challenging stare. Rudy stares right back.

               It's a showdown.

                                     RUDY
                         Hot. Chocolate.

               The trucker slowly smiles. His crew chuckles.

                                     MERLIN
                         You want that for here or to go?

                                     RUDY
                         I been in Iron Mountain for two years, 
                         truck driver. I do one more crime, 
                         I'm back there for good, so fuck you 
                         and fuck your sister and fuck your 
                         trucker friends. You want to hear 
                         about some goddamn job of mine? I 
                         want some hot-goddamn-chocolate.

               They've stopped laughing.

                                     RUDY
                         And some pecan-fucking-pie.

               INT. TRUCK STOP - NIGHT

               CLOSE ON HOT CHOCOLATE AND PECAN PIE 

               The six of them sit in a booth, Ashley leaning on Rudy's 
               shoulder apologetically. The four truckers watch him scarf 
               his pie. "White Christmas" plays over the speakers.

                                     GABRIEL
                         So when you worked there --

               Rudy raises a finger sharply. Silence. He continues eating.  
               Scrapes the last of his pie crumbs.

                                     GABRIEL
                         You knew the place --

                                     RUDY
                         Hey.

               Rudy stares hard. Gobbles the crumbs, washes it down with 
               his hot chocolate. Savors it. Sets the mug down.

                                     RUDY
                         Y'know, I could really go for some 
                         onion rings.

               Gabriel nods to Jumpy, who snaps his arm up, SMASHING his 
               knuckles into Rudy's face.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Gabriel! You said talk to him. That's 
                         all you ever said...

                                     GABRIEL
                         We're talking, aren't we?

               Rudy holds his nose. Blood trickles.

                                     GABRIEL
                         How much money's in that casino?  
                         Day-to-day.

                                     RUDY
                         I don't know.

                                     GABRIEL
                         The hell you don't.

                                     RUDY
                              (sighs, a guess)
                         Five million?

                                     GABRIEL
                         You wrote Ash that letter, you told 
                         her that story 'bout working Christmas 
                         Eve, bout how they'd send half the 
                         security guys home, nobody comin, in 
                         that night. And the rest of you got 
                         shit-faced drinking hot buttered 
                         rum. That a true story now?

                                     RUDY
                         Christmas... Eve...

                                     GABRIEL
                         You know where the guards are. You 
                         know how to get in and out. You know 
                         where the money is.
                              (nods)
                         We're taking down that casino, 
                         convict. You're the guy gonna tell 
                         us how.

               Rudy turns slightly pale.

                                     RUDY
                         Hey, it's... been two years --

                                     GABRIEL
                         We got faith in you, Nick Mason.
                              (smiles)
                         You're our inside man.

               INT. TRUCK STOP BATHROOM - NIGHT

               Rudy slams in, letting the door smack shut behind him. It's 
               a tiny windowless closet. Rudy kicks a stall door, pacing.

                                     RUDY
                         ...goddamn it, Rudy... goddamn it... 
                         goddamn girl, goddamn Nick... you're 
                         so smart, so fucking smart...

               He stalks a circle, grabs a sink, and stares at his reflection 
               in the mirror. He looks a wreck. He settles down.

                                     RUDY
                         Where's your Christmas dinner now...

               INT. TRUCK STOP - MOMENTS LATER

               A COUPLE leaves the booth behind Gabriel's crew. Pug and 
               Merlin reach over, steal their leftovers and dig in. Ashley 
               fidgets.

               Jumpy regards the garlands painted on the windows beside:

                                     JUMPY
                         I've read where the retail industry 
                         does fifty percent of its business 
                         between December 1st and December 
                         25th. Half the year's business, in 
                         one month's time. It seems to me an 
                         intelligent society would legislate 
                         a second such gift-giving holiday, 
                         create, say, a Christmas Two -- late 
                         May, early June -- to further 
                         stimulate growth and prosperity. For 
                         who would protest such a holiday? 
                         Taking the fifty percent model, a 
                         Christmas Two would grow this 
                         country's annual per capita income 
                         by close to one-third.

               Everyone stares at Jumpy.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Christmas Two.

               The Indian nods. Gabriel shakes his head.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Ever since you started night school, 
                         you been givin, me headaches, Jumpy.  
                         Headaches.
                              (to Merlin/Pug)
                         Go see what's taking him.

               INT. BATHROOM - SAME

               Rudy crouches behind the door, a piece of iron pipe in his 
               grip, ready to strike. Listening... listening...

               AS the door SLAMS open, swinging fast and BASHING him in the 
               head.

               Rudy tags the floor, drops the pipe, knocked out.

               Merlin and Pug gaze down on him, shaking their heads. Pug 
               spits tobacco. Hits Merlin's boots again.

               INT. TRUCK STOP - MOMENTS LATER

               Rudy's back, with a new facial bruise. Ashley reaches for 
               his hand; he pulls it away. Gabriel unfolds a piece of paper -- 
               it's a crude map.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Here ya go, convict. We cased the 
                         place in the fall, got the layout 
                         down. What you're gonna do is show 
                         us where each of these doors go, 
                         what the upstairs level looks like, 
                         where they got the alarms, all of 
                         it.

                                     MERLIN
                         And where they hide the real money.

               Merlin exhales some smoke in Pug's face. Pug hacks, shoves 
               him.

                                     GABRIEL
                         And Nick? If you even think about 
                         setting us up, giving us some bad 
                         information? We go down... you go 
                         down...
                              (lets it settle)
                         Now. Christmas Eve. How many guards 
                         are there gonna be?

               Rudy surveys the table. All five waiting for him. Sighs.

                                     RUDY
                         Hell. Ten?

                                     GABRIEL
                         And which of these doors here lead 
                         up to the security level?

               Gabriel passes the map across the table. Rudy stares at it.

                                     MERLIN
                         Start talking, Nick.

               Rudy's still staring.

                                     PUG
                         Start talkin

                                     RUDY
                         Who the hell made this map.

                                     GABRIEL
                         What?

                                     RUDY
                         I said, who the hell made the map?

                                     GABRIEL
                         I did.

                                     RUDY
                         This isn't the Tomahawk.

                                     GABRIEL
                         What the fuck are you talking about.

                                     RUDY
                         This is the front entrance, right?  
                         You get through the slots, you hit 
                         craps here, not blackjack. Blackjack's 
                         here to here -- lined up. What's 
                         this, the cage? Cage is over there, 
                         hard to get to, you got it all mixed 
                         around --

                                     PUG
                         That's what it looks like!

                                     RUDY
                         Since when? What the hell is this 
                         room?

                                     MERLIN
                         Buffet. Whaddya think it is?

                                     RUDY
                         Buffet is by the goddamn bar! What 
                         the hell kind of map is this?!

               Gabriel reaches across the booth, grabs Rudy's shirt, pulls 
               his face to table level:

                                     GABRIEL
                         We walked the place for a week.

                                     RUDY
                         And I worked there. For a year.

               Neither man blinks.

                                     PUG
                         Map is kinda dirty, Monster...

                                     RUDY
                         They changed the layout.

                                     GABRIEL
                         What?

               Rudy nods, pretending to be dawned upon.

                                     RUDY
                         They changed the layout -- whadda 
                         they call you? Mr. Monster? They 
                         remodeled the place. When I worked 
                         there -- listen to me -- guy that 
                         managed the joint, guy who ran it--

                                     ASHLEY
                         Jack. Jack Bangs.

                                     RUDY
                         Right, Jack Bangs. Uh... guy was 
                         always talking bout fixing the place 
                         up. Maybe get a better crowd. Musta 
                         gone and done it while I was in the 
                         Mountain.
                              (pushes map away)
                         I don't know this map, man. How the 
                         hell am I supposed to tell you what 
                         door goes where?

                                     GABRIEL
                         They wouldn't have changed the 
                         security setup.

                                     RUDY
                         When I worked there, this was Bangs, 
                         office. Back here. He kept a little 
                         safe in the... uh, the wall, money 
                         held take for himself, skim from the 
                         Indians. Called it the... uh...
                              (stumbling)
                         ...the Powwow Safe.

                                     JUMPY
                         The Powwow Safe?

                                     RUDY
                         His personal safe, he gave it a name.  
                         Now you're telling me they've taken 
                         his office, put the buffet there?  
                         Then who knows what else they changed.

               Gabriel stares at him, suspicious.

                                     GABRIEL
                         So what the hell good are you...

                                     RUDY
                         You'd have to get me inside.
                              (carefully)
                         Get inside, watch where the money's 
                         moving, see where the guards are 
                         going. Then I could work with your 
                         map.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Wrong, convict. You walk in there, 
                         they recognize you.

                                     PUG
                         So what?

                                     GABRIEL
                         They recognize him, they'll remember 
                         him after the job goes down.

                                     RUDY
                         They won't recognize me.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Why not.

                                     RUDY
                         Trust me. They won't recognize me.

                                     GABRIEL
                         We'll trust you when we're rich. Why 
                         not.

                                     RUDY
                         'Cause you're gonna get me a disguise.

               Rudy locks eyes with Gabriel.

                                     RUDY
                         I give you the wrong information, 
                         you're gonna shoot me. Well, I don't 
                         know your damn map. So you can either 
                         find a way to get me in there... or 
                         you can shoot me right now.

               A WAITRESS comes over, drops their check on the table. It 
               rests near Rudy. Rudy locks eyes with Gabriel.

               And pushes the check his way.

               EXT. SNOWY HIGHWAY - NIGHT

               The "Motor City Monster" RUMBLES along a two-lane blacktop. 
               Across barren Michigan tundra. A sign reads "You Are Now 
               Entering Powahachee Indian Lands. No Littering."

               INT. GABRIEL'S RIG - CAB - NIGHT

               Gabriel drives, with Ashley beside him. Rudy sits in the 
               sleeper, Jumpy sitting guard.

               OUT THE WINDOW

               they pass a brightly neon-lit building, with a parking lot 
               full of cars. The Tomahawk Casino, with a red neon axe 
               pointing the way.

               And a marquee which reads: "10X ODDS ON CRAPS. $5.95 PRIME 
               RIB. PERFORMING TONIGHT: DAKOTA!"

               The truck motors on by. Gabriel nods to Rudy:

                                     GABRIEL
                         Bring back some memories, Nick?

                                     RUDY
                         More than you know.

               EXT. KNIGHTS INN - NIGHT

               A Midwestern castles-and-Camelot-themed chain hotel, amidst 
               an outcrop of roadside exit civilization: fast food and gas. 
               The Great Lakes Trucking rig parked in the hotel's lot.

               INT. KNIGHTS INN - HALLWAY - NIGHT

               Faux stonemasonry and torches. "Regal" purple carpets. Gabriel 
               and his crew escort Rudy into --

               INT. HOTEL ROOM

               -- his quarters. Jumpy marches Rudy to the bed, snaps a 
               handcuff around his ankle --

                                     RUDY
                         What the hell is this? What happened 
                         to working together?

               -- and snaps the other cuff to the bedframe.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Rather be back in the Mountain?

                                     RUDY
                         Might as well be.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Don't have Weather Channel in the 
                         Mountain, Nick.

               Gabriel tosses him a TV remote. Merlin rips the room's phone 
               out of the wall, takes it. They return to the hallway.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Sleep good, loverboy. Tomorrow you 
                         got singing for your supper to do.

               The truckers leave. Rudy tugs at his ankle cuff, sighs, 
               collapses back on the bed. Ashley has remained.

               Rudy sits up, sees her.

                                     RUDY
                         Get your own room.

               She approaches instead. Sits beside. Gently:

                                     ASHLEY
                         He said he wanted to talk to you.  
                         When he found the letters... he said 
                         "when your boyfriend gets out, I 
                         wanna talk to him." I thought he 
                         meant back in Detroit. I thought he 
                         meant --

                                     RUDY
                         But you knew why. Knew why, didn't 
                         ya.

               Ashley stands her ground, guilty.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I thought we'd have a few more days.

                                     RUDY
                         For what? You to talk me into 
                         "helping"? What, he promise you a 
                         share of the winnings?

                                     ASHLEY
                         No!

                                     RUDY
                         Well, shit, Judas, you shoulda at 
                         least gotten that --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick! He wants to know how to rob 
                         it, and he'll leave you alone! That's 
                         all he wants!
                              (breaking down)
                         I hate him, Nick... you know how...

                                     RUDY
                         So get him outta your life. Get out 
                         of Michigan. They got perfume counters 
                         in Chicago, don't they?

                                     ASHLEY
                         Not without you.

               She reaches to touch him. Rudy turns his back on her.

                                     RUDY
                         Since when do some trucker pals start 
                         thinking big, anyway?

                                     ASHLEY
                         They run routes mostly east, retail 
                         stuff, warehouses. But Gabriel knows 
                         some guys in New York, Miami, guys 
                         he helps get guns to Detroit. Hides 
                         'em with his regular loads.

                                     RUDY
                         He working for them on this one?

                                     ASHLEY
                         No. He wants to be working for himself 
                         someday.

                                     RUDY
                         And I'm his ticket.
                              (considers)
                         What's the last place they took down?

                                     ASHLEY
                         What?

                                     RUDY
                         Gabriel and his guys. What's the 
                         last place they robbed?

               Ashley frowns.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I don't think they've ever robbed 
                         anything before. I think they've 
                         just driven guns.

               Rudy looks at her with new interest.

                                     RUDY
                         They've never done a robbery?

                                     ASHLEY
                              (shrugs)
                         They're truck drivers.

               For the first time in a long time... Rudy smiles.

                                     RUDY
                         Then they do need me, don't they.  
                         They really need me...

                                     ASHLEY
                         We're gonna get out of here, Nick.  
                         We're gonna get out of this...

                                     RUDY
                         We? What "we"...

               Rudy stares at her. The smile gone.

                                     RUDY
                         Get your own room, Ashley.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick...

                                     RUDY
                         Get your own room.

               Ashley pulls away, walks to the door. Turns back, wanting to 
               say something, but Rudy's not even looking her way.

                                     ASHLEY
                         If I'd told you what he wanted, you'd 
                         have been gone. You'd have gotten on 
                         that bus and stayed on it. And if 
                         that's selfish, I am. If that's lying, 
                         I'm a liar. But I been dealing with 
                         fucked-up brother and his fucked-up 
                         friends for a long time, and I was 
                         stronger than him then and I'm 
                         stronger than him now. 'Cause he 
                         showed up for money. I showed up for 
                         love.
                              (hard)
                         And if you're so ready to make me 
                         your enemy... then what did you show 
                         up for, Nick. What did you really 
                         want... with me...

               With a fiery look, she strides from the room.

               Rudy stands, can't get far cuffed to the bed. Checks the end 
               table, finds a Bible and a deck of cards.

               Out his second-floor window is a view of the rear parking 
               lot.

               Rudy watches as a Chevy Blazer parks and two drunk FISHERMEN 
               get out. The truck's bumper sticker reads "Ice Fishermen Do 
               It All Year Long."

               Rudy watches the good ol' boys stumble toward the hotel. He 
               turns back, surveys his new prison cell

                                     RUDY
                         They've never done a robbery...
                              (nods)
                         Christmas is looking up.

               INT. RUDY'S ROOM - MORNING

               The bed has been dragged to the door to the bathroom, the 
               comforter and pillow are on the floor, "Miracle on 34th St." 
               is on the TV, and Rudy lies asleep on the ground, ankle still 
               cuffed.

               Two SHADOWS fall across him.

               INT. HALLWAY - MORNING

               Rudy is brusquely dragged out by Jumpy and Merlin, passing 
               Ashley, who lies asleep in the hall, head on a pillow.

                                     MERLIN
                         Having romance problems, Romeo?

                                     RUDY
                         Not with you.

               They march him onward. Rudy glances over his shoulder at 
               Ashley.

               Who spent the night at his door.

               INT. GAME ROOM - MORNING

               A wood-panelled room adjacent to a small indoor pool, with 
               arcade games and a dart board. Gabriel's with Pug, tossing 
               darts, as Jumpy and a chain-smoking Merlin haul Rudy in.

                                     PUG
                         Goddamn, Merlin. There any part of 
                         the day you don't smoke?

                                     MERLIN
                         There anytime you don't got a mouthful 
                         of shit?

                                     PUG
                         Cancer-sucker.

                                     MERLIN
                         Acid-chewer.

               Gabriel THWAPS a dart into the board, to shut them up.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Take a look what Pug's bought for 
                         ya.

               Pug empties a shopping bag on a pinball machine. Cowboy boots, 
               spurs, a black cowboy hat, a black rhinestone jacket and a 
               longhaired wig tumbles out.

                                     RUDY
                         A cowboy. You're going to send me 
                         into an Indian casino disguised as a 
                         cowboy. Have you thought this entirely 
                         through?

                                     GABRIEL
                         Put it on.

               Merlin and Jumpy shove Rudy toward the merchandise. Gabriel 
               slams another dart into the board, then turns:

                                     GABRIEL
                         You're a country-western singer up 
                         from Nashville for the the holidays. 
                         Visiting your Grandma on the lake, 
                         driving into the Tomahawk for some 
                         scotch and slots. You only play the 
                         slots, you got that? Don't want no 
                         dealer friend of yours recognizing 
                         you, you sidle up to shoot some craps.

                                     RUDY
                         What kind of half-ass cowboy plays 
                         the slots?

                                     GABRIEL
                         You do.

                                     RUDY
                         At least gimme video poker.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Shut the fuck up. You play what your 
                         girlfriend plays. Ashley's going in 
                         with you. You talk to her, otherwise 
                         you don't talk to nobody. You walk 
                         the room as many times as you want, 
                         but the second you come out, I want 
                         to know the run of the place.

               Rudy examines his new hair and cowboy gear.

                                     RUDY
                         Do I get a country-western name?

                                     GABRIEL
                         You get recognized, convict, You get 
                         a country-western funeral.

               EXT. TOMAHAWK CASINO - DAY

               The Chevy Nova crunches into the parking lot in the shadow 
               of the gaudy neon axe.

               INT. NOVA - DAY

               Rudy's in "disguise": paste-on goatee, tinted shades and 
               black cowboy gear. Very Nashville Network.

               He's wedged between Jumpy and Merlin, wearing handcuffs. 
               Gabriel, Ashley and Pug in the back.

                                     RUDY
                         Y'know what, guys? I woke up this 
                         morning, I got a really lucky feeling 
                         going on. I mean it, I'm feeling 
                         that good. I wouldn't be surprised 
                         if I walk in there, pull a handle 
                         and hit jackpot. Hell, we wouldn't 
                         even have to --

                                     GABRIEL
                         Get out.

               EXT. PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS

               Rudy stamps feet, shivering in the cold, as Merlin unlocks 
               his cuffs. Gabriel reaches to help Ashley out --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Get your goddamn hands off me --

               She edges toward Rudy, then stops. A chill still there.

                                     GABRIEL
                         You got one hour.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm gonna need some money.

               Gabriel hands a bill.

                                     RUDY
                         Ten dollars? What do I do with ten 
                         dollars?

                                     GABRIEL
                         Don't tip.

                                     RUDY
                         Monster. If we're working together 
                         here, we gotta be working together. 
                         I can't walk in there looking like 
                         the Lone Fucking Ranger with ten 
                         bucks to throw down. You don't want 
                         me getting noticed, right? Not getting 
                         noticed costs a guy at least a couple 
                         hundred.

               Gabriel glares, turns to his crew. Mutters, rubs his fingers 
               together. Merlin, Pug and Jumpy reach for their wallets, 
               grumbling. Gabriel takes a few twenties from each.

               Rudy nods thanks as Gabriel hands him the cash --

                                     GABRIEL
                              (threateningly)
                         Don't. Lose.

               Rudy pockets the wad, hooks his elbow for Ashley to slip her 
               arm through. Grins with a drawl:

                                     RUDY
                         You ready to gamble, darlin'?

               She regards him warily, but puts her arm in his.

                                     RUDY
                              (to the boys)
                         Y'all take care of my guitar.

               He tips his hat, and strides for the casino entrance. Gabriel 
               and his truckers watch them go.

                                     MERLIN
                              (grumbles)
                         Who's robbin' who here, Gabriel...

                                     GABRIEL
                         Get in there and watch 'em. Watch 
                         their every fuckin' move.

               INT. TOMAHAWK CASINO - DAY

               The cascade of JINGLING and JANGLING COINS fills the brightly 
               lit, horrendously-carpeted space. Wooden-beamed ceilings 
               suggest a rustic theme, but the neon slots, lush green tables 
               and red wheels of fortune are pure Midwest Vegas.

               The Tomahawk is tiny by Nevada standards, about the size of 
               a large bingo hall. This morning, about FIFTY GAMBLERS mill 
               about.

               Skimpily-dressed COCKTAIL WAITRESSES, most of them Powahachee 
               Indians, pimp drinks. Bored DEALERS deal.

               As the sound of slot machine payoffs suddenly go silent --

               INT. JACK BANGS' OFFICE - DAY

               CLOSE ON STEREO SYSTEM

               And some scattered cassettes, labeled "Big Winners," "Little 
               Winners," and "Medium Cash." A HAND pops the tape currently 
               in the system -- "Big, BIG Winners" and flips it over. Presses 
               play. The sounds of JINGLING and JANGLING return.

               ON FULL SCENE

               An office overlooking the casino floor through smoked glass. 
               JACK BANGS, late 50's, silver-hair, capped teeth, shark suit 
               and high blood pressure, paces his office. He's got the air 
               of a washed-up gameshow host, Wink Martindale, Peter 
               Tommarkin, one of those hacks. Right now he's all caffeine.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         There's an S-word I'd really like to 
                         throw in the discussion here, guys, 
                         cause it's a big part of what's going 
                         on. Big element, 'kay? S-word. It's 
                         a serious issue, serious factor, so 
                         I'm just gonna get it out there, 
                         throw it an out there, so we can 
                         know it, we can talk about it, we 
                         can get things done...
                              (big pause)
                         Snow. Are you with me, guys? Snow. 
                         Big time, fucking, grade-A, God-
                         quality, S-N-O-W-snow.

               Two INDIAN GOVERNORS sit before him. Business-dressed, with 
               overcoats, ponytails. One gray-haired, one jet-black.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         There's no snow in Vegas, 'kay? They 
                         don't know it, they don't want it, 
                         they got laws against the stuff. 
                         They got Egypt down there, right, 
                         they got Monte Carlo, Hawaii, they 
                         got ancient Rome, but where's the 
                         Winter Castle, right? Where's the 
                         Swiss miss Chalet? Where's the Big 
                         Fucking Igloo?

                                     YOUNG GOVERNOR
                         We understand you, Mr. Bangs.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Capades? They don't do it. Mittens?  
                         Outlawed. Why?

                                     YOUNG GOVERNOR
                         We're aware of your position.

                                     JACK BANGS
                              (picks up a chip)
                         Because down there this is money.  
                         Up here this is heat.
                              (pleads)
                         You wanted Vegas quality, I brought 
                         it to you. You wanted Vegas press, I 
                         gave it to you. But guys, please, 
                         guys... I can't get you Vegas 
                         profits... till one of ya does some 
                         spirit dance and does something about 
                         this snow.

               The tribal governors stare him down.

                                     OLD GOVERNOR
                         We understand the Paiutes' casino 
                         saw a net profit of twelve million 
                         dollars last year.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         The Paiutes, they cook their books.

                                     OLD GOVERNOR
                         The Waitela reservation made seventeen 
                         million.

                                     JACK BANGS
                              (sobers)
                         Seventeen?

                                     OLD GOVERNOR
                         Perhaps you have researched this, 
                         Mr. Bangs. Is the snowfall on our 
                         side of the lake that much greater 
                         than the snowfall on theirs?

               Jack Bangs stares at them both. Considers his next move --

                                     JACK BANGS
                         I'm bringing in this great showroom 
                         act next week; these three Russian 
                         girls, they look like Meryl Streep, 
                         they can juggle anything.

                                     YOUNG GOVERNOR
                         Mr. Bangs.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Guys. We're doing it right, here. 
                         $5.99 prime rib? Nobody does that in 
                         Michigan. Nobody.

                                     YOUNG GOVERNOR
                         The tribe is concerned that many of 
                         your... new ideas are not resulting 
                         in any new venues.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         I'm putting liquor in the drinks, 
                         I'm giving 10-times odds on craps, I 
                         got the girls showing sixteen-percent 
                         more skin! Show me another buffet's 
                         gonna offer you Coke and Pepsi! 
                         Whaddya want me to do?!

                                     YOUNG GOVERNOR
                         We want to see our casino making 
                         money again, Mr. Bangs. Making money 
                         for our community.

                                     OLD GOVERNOR
                         Like the Paiutes and the Waitela.

               The young man stands, stares Jack Bangs in the eye.

                                     YOUNG GOVERNOR
                         We want you doing the job... that we 
                         brought you here to do.

               INT. TOMAHAWK - DAY

               Rudy and Ashley move away from a change booth, with a bucket 
               of quarters. Rudy messes with his cowboy getup, noting two 
               SECURITY GUARDS punch a code in a private door, step inside:

                                     ASHLEY
                         So does it look a lot different?

                                     RUDY
                         Here and there. Restaurant, uh, that's 
                         the main expansion. Tables've been 
                         moved around; the big man's office, 
                         I dunno, might be upstairs now.

               They settle at a slot machine. Another SECURITY GUARD walks 
               past them. Rudy turns his back. Ashley notices.

                                     ASHLEY
                         That guy knows you?

                                     RUDY
                         Yeah, uh. Mike. That's Mike.

               At the door, Merlin and Jumpy enter, wandering through the 
               slots.

               Rudy sees them.

                                     RUDY
                         You start spending your brother's 
                         money. I'm gonna take a circuit around 
                         the joint, check for any new ins and 
                         outs. I'll snag us some drinks.

               As he strides away --

                                     ASHLEY
                              (sotto)
                         Be careful, Nick...

               MOVING THROUGH THE CASINO

               with Rudy, ambling among the tables, making a show of checking 
               out the layout. In reality, he's surveying the GAMBLERS.

               Passing the cage, he walks right by Jack Bangs and the Indian 
               governors. Jack Bangs is all smiles, while the governors 
               turn their backs an him and storm out.

               ARRIVING AT THE BAR

                                     RUDY
                         Couple rum and Cokes, please.

                                     INDIAN BARTENDER
                         You want that rum and Coke or rum 
                         and Pepsi?

               Rudy gives him a strange look. The bartender shrugs. Rudy 
               still scans the tables, settling on --

               A BLACKJACK TABLE

               where a trio of COLLEGE KIDS are forking over chips. One of 
               them's dark-haired with a goatee, a sweatshirt and jeans. 
               Rudy studies this kid for moment.

                                     JACK BANGS (O.S.)
                         Gimme a goddamn bottle of anything.

               BACK AT THE BAR

               Jack Bangs sidles up, distraught. The barkeep hands him a 
               bottle. Bangs takes a swig.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         I can't go back to Vegas, Bear. 
                         They'll fuckin' kill me, 'kay? I 
                         can't go back...

                                     BARTENDER
                         What does the tribe want?

                                     JACK BANGS
                         They want gold-paved roads is what 
                         they want. Talking 'bout the fuckin' 
                         Paiutes. Fuckin' Paiutes are on the 
                         interstate. Nothing I can do about 
                         that, man, I didn't pick the spot 
                         for your reservation.

                                     BARTENDER
                         Neither did we.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Yeah, yeah, whatever.

               Rudy gets his drinks, as Jack Bangs turns his way:

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Hey. Hey, cowboy. Jack Bangs, I run 
                         the place. Nice to have you in the 
                         Tomahawk. Tell me something...

               Rudy winces, glancing to see Merlin and Jumpy watching him. 
               Frowns on their faces.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         ...does upstate Michigan need another 
                         roadside casino or does upstate 
                         Michigan need an international gaming 
                         destination?

                                     RUDY
                              (wants outta here)
                         Roadside casino?

               Jack Bangs, smile falls flat.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Well, so how'd you hear about this 
                         place, then. Word-of-mouth? Mass 
                         mailings? Cable TV?

                                     RUDY
                         Prison.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Prison?!

               Rudy shrugs, smiles, takes off with his drinks. Bangs looks 
               sick, turns to a FAT GUY on the next stool over. But before 
               he can ask, the guy shakes his head --

                                     FAT GUY
                         I just stopped in to use the can.

               Bangs turns to the bartender, puts his head in his hands:

                                     JACK BANGS
                         I can't go back to Vegas, Bear... I 
                         can't...

               From the slots, we hear a JACKPOT PAYOFF.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Aw fuck.

               THROUGH THE TABLES

               walks Rudy, as Merlin sidles up next to him:

                                     MERLIN
                         What the hell was that about --

                                     RUDY
                         He didn't recognize me. Back off, 
                         willya? He didn't recognize me.

               Merlin eyes him darkly, but lets him walk on into the slots. 
               As he nears Ashley, he glances to the blackjack table, where 
               the College Kid has left... heading for the bathroom --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Hey Nick! We're up fifty cents!

               -- and as a barely-dressed COCKTAIL WAITRESS crosses between 
               Rudy and Ashley, blocking her view of him --

               Rudy pretends to crash into her, splashing the rum and Coke 
               into his own face --

                                     RUDY
                         Heyyyy!

               Reaching Ashley, his goatee is dripping --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick, what happened --

                                     RUDY
                         There went my... damn... well, doesn't 
                         seem like security's all that 
                         switched... Ash, shit, this mustache 
                         is starting to fall off. I gotta fix 
                         this thing --
                              (hands her his glass)
                         -- drink this for me.

               He hustles for the bathroom. A moment later, Jumpy storms 
               by.

               Stops at Ashley.

                                     JUMPY
                         What happened?

                                     ASHLEY
                         He started losing his hair.

               INT. CASINO BATHROOM - DAY

               The College Kid is zipping up when Rudy SLAMS into his back, 
               money in hand, crashing him against the wall:

                                     RUDY
                         Hundred bucks to wear this jacket --

                                     COLLEGE KID
                         Jesus, man, don't kill me!

                                     RUDY
                         Nobody's killing you, kid. Santa's 
                         giving you a rhinestone jacket and a 
                         hundred bucks.

               INT. TOMAHAWK SAME

               Merlin's at a slot machine, watching the hall to the 
               bathrooms. A WAITRESS arrives, hands him a beer:

                                     MERLIN
                         Thanks, sister. How are ya.

                                     WAITRESS
                         Fuckin' freezing.

                                     MERLIN
                         Hell yeah. You work here long?

                                     WAITRESS
                         Five years. Since it opened.

                                     MERLIN
                         How long ago was your makeover?

                                     WAITRESS
                         My what?!

                                     MERLIN
                         No, the place. The remodeling. moving 
                         everything around.

               The waitress frowns.

                                     WAITRESS
                         The Tomahawk's looked the same since 
                         I started, mister.
                              (shrugs)
                         Only the losers change.

               Merlin stares at her. Then drops his drink to the floor, 
               charging for the bathroom.

               INT. BATHROOM

               As Merlin crashes in, seeing the cowboy hat and jacket, back 
               turned, adjusting a belt. As the figure turns around.

               It's the College Kid. Merlin stops in his tracks --

               -- as Rudy CRASHES into him from a stall, kicking his legs 
               out, driving his throat into a countertop. Merlin hits the 
               ground, gagging. Rudy wears the kid's sweatshirt:

                                     RUDY
                         GO! GO!

               The College Kid, shaking, hustles out the door.

               INT. TOMAHAWK - CONTINUOUS

               As the College Kid, in Rudy's black getup, strides out of 
               the bathroom hall, walking for the casino exit.

               From the slots, Ashley and Jumpy glance up, seeing him go. 
               From their vantage, it looks like Rudy. They frown.

               As they're watching the Kid hit the door, Rudy darts out of 
               the hall, heads the other way.

               EXT. PARKING LOT/INT. NOVA

               Gabriel and Pug sit sentry, seeing the cowboy figure leave 
               the casino. wandering into-the parking lot... away from them.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Where the hell's he going?

                                     PUG
                         Where the hell's your sister?

               As the figure unlocks the driver's door of a Trans Am --

                                     GABRIEL
                         Get him!

               Pug REVS the engine, speeds through the lot, cutting off the 
               Trans Am from backing away.

               Gabriel jumps out, HAULS the cowboy from his car and sees 
               it's the College Kid. Rudy's gone.

                                     COLLEGE KID
                              (scared shitless)
                         Oh man. It's your jacket, isn't it...

               INT. TOMAHAWK

               Merlin stumbles out of the bathroom, holding his throat. 
               Catches Jumpy and Ashley's eyes from the slots:

                                     JUMPY
                         Trouble.

               INT. CASINO KITCHEN

               As Rudy charges toward COOKS, holding a buffet plate aloft --

                                     RUDY
                         MEDIUM RARE?! You call this MEDIUM 
                         RARE??!!

               -- hands them the plate, hurries past them, and out the --

               EXT. REAR OF CASINO - DAY

               -- to the back of the building. In his stolen clothes, he 
               charges across the staff parking area and into the snowy 
               expanse of meadow beyond.

               Running for a thicket of winter woods.

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               Merlin and Jumpy stride out to join Gabriel and Pug. Ashley 
               follows, stumbling to keep up.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Where the HELL did he go?

                                     MERLIN
                         Monster. There never was a structure 
                         change. This place was built the 
                         same from day one.

                                     PUG
                         That motherfucker --

                                     MERLIN
                         And Monster... he was talking with 
                         the casino manager. Nick was talking 
                         to him.

               Gabriel darkens.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Get. Him. Back.

               EXT. SNOWY MEADOW - DAY

               Rudy races as best he can through the waves of snow. He keeps 
               struggling, losing his footing, fighting his way toward the 
               cover of trees. From far away...

                                     ASHLEY (O.S.)
                         Nick! Run! RUN!!!

               Rudy turns back to see Merlin, Jumpy and Pug round into view 
               back at the parking lot. They see him.

               And charge into the snowfield.

               Rudy breaks into the trees.

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               Gabriel pushes Ashley into the Nova and peals out of the 
               parking lot. Onto reservation roads.

               EXT. WOODS - ON CHASE - DAY

               Rudy darts among barren oaks and brush pines, crunching deeper 
               into snowdrifts, slowing him down. Stumbling forward, 
               shivering, breath frosting --

               -- as Merlin, Jumpy and Pug reach the treeline. Gaining but 
               struggling too. With guns held.

               Rudy keeps battling through the drifts --

               -- as GUNSHOTS start to ring out. Rudy glances back to rest; 
               the truckers are a hundred yards distant. But as he turns to 
               struggle on, treebark SPLITS apart beside him.

               Rudy keeps running.

               INT. NOVA

               Bouncing over a snowy dirt road, having found a shortcut 
               into the woods. Gabriel searches the trees, Ashley too.

               EXT. WOODS

               Merlin, Jumpy and Pug keep up their steady march. Rudy's 
               running figure now only fifty yards distant.

                                     MERLIN
                         You keep running, Nick! Keep running 
                         now! Can't keep warm if you don't 
                         keep running! We'll just be right 
                         back here... keeping track of your 
                         trail.

               ANGLE to show Merlin's striding right in Rudy's bootprints. 
               Pug FIRES off two shots.

               They KICK UP snow just behind Rudy, struggling, panting...

                                     MERLIN (O.S.)
                         Wherever you run... we'll get there. 
                         Fast as you want... we'll be there.  
                         We drive for a living, Nick. Twelve, 
                         fifteen, twenty-hour days.

               Rudy's anguished, ducking behind some pines, trying to brush 
               away his footprints. Realizes it's useless.

               A BULLET whistles through the pine branches.

                                     MERLIN (O.S.)
                         We got nothing but time.

               Rudy takes a breath, crashes onward --

               -- then stops at the sound of a RUMBLING. Getting louder. 
               Closer. It's a car's engine.

               Rudy spins for the source, focuses, and manages to make out 
               a snow-covered dirt road fifty yards away, down a swale. 
               Another BULLET smashes treebark. Rudy runs for it.

               EXT. WOODED ROAD - DAY

               As Rudy leaps out to wave down the car, as around the corner 
               comes a Chevy Nova --

               -- with Gabriel and Ashley inside. Gabriel's eyes widen, he 
               floors the gas, RACING right for Rudy.

               Rudy scampers toward the opposite roadside, a steep wooded 
               slope cradling a meadow and frozen river --

                                     ASHLEY
                         No!!!

               -- as Ashley grabs Gabriel's steering wheel, swerving the 
               other way. Gabriel fights her for control --

               -- as the Nova just misses Rudy, who dives off the road, 
               hits the slope and tumbles head-over-heels toward its bottom, 
               a hundred feet down, kicking up geysers of snow!

               On the road, the Nova skids to a stop. Ashley and Gabriel 
               leap out, as Merlin, Jumpy and Pug reach the road.

               AT THE SLOPE'S BOTTOM

               Rudy pops to his feet, a dazed snowball.

               BACK UP AT THE ROAD

               Gabriel grabs a rifle from the Nova, steps to the slope-top 
               edge and takes aim --

                                     ASHLEY
                         RUN!!!

               -- as Ashley suddenly slams into him from behind --

               Sending the both of them tumbling down the slope! Sliding 
               and tangled, the rifle flying from Gabriel's grasp --

               TO THE BOTTOM

               -- where they come to a tangled, snowy halt. Gabriel struggles 
               to clear the ice from his face --

               -- as the butt of his rifle cracks him in the jaw.

                                     RUDY
                         That's for reading her mail.

               He extends a hand to Ashley --

                                     RUDY
                         Come on.

               -- and hauls her to her feet. Ashley beams. As Gabriel howls, 
               the two of them scramble away from the woods, Rudy with the 
               rifle, toward the meadow and its frozen pond.

               More GUNSHOTS ring as Merlin, Jumpy and Pug slide their way 
               down the ravine.

               EXT. FROZEN RIVER - CONTINUOUS

               Rudy and Ashley race out across the ice. The traction's 
               slippery, but there's no way around. There's a highway bridge 
               two hundred yards away, with sparse truck traffic.

                                     RUDY
                         We get to the bridge, we're all right!

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick, the ice is --

                                     RUDY
                         Get to the bridge!
                              (waving at traffic)
                         HEY! HEY! DOWN HERE!

               He grips her hand tighter, as SHOTS crash into the ice at 
               their feet. Suddenly, the ground splinters and gives way --

               -- and Ashley goes plummeting through to the river! She 
               vanishes from sight in an instant!

               Rudy scrambles back, onto sturdy ice. He stares, stunned, at 
               the ripples in the freezing water.

               Ashley's not coming up.

               RUDY

               Looks to the truckers in pursuit. Coming down the ridge.

               Then the highway. Safety within sight.

               But he can't run. Cursing himself, he grips the rifle tightly 
               and LEAPS into the ice-hole --

               EXT. RIVER BENEATH THE ICE

               -- plummeting underwater, the temperature hitting his body 
               like needles. He writhes, spinning around --

               -- and sees Ashley ten yards away, desperately pounding at 
               the ice above her. Strength giving out.

               Rudy struggles to her, wrapping an arm around her. She fights, 
               panicked, clawing at the ice, both of them pulled further 
               away from the opening.

               With Ashley safely in hand, Rudy raises his rifle-arm, 
               pressing the barrel against the ice above them --

               -- and FIRES. A HOLE blasts a shaft of light into the gray-
               blue. Rudy FIRES again. Another HOLE caves in. Ashley reaches 
               for a sheath of ice, splashing --

               TO THE SURFACE

               -- clutching frozen ground, treading water. Rudy surfaces 
               beside her, the both of them gasping, facing the bridge.

               Instinctively, they spin around --

               TO FIND GABRIEL, MERLIN, JUMPY AND PUG

               -- standing right behind them. Guns trained.

                                     GABRIEL
                              (rubs his jaw)
                         At the rate you're going, Nick...  
                         I'm gonna have a hard time ever 
                         considering you family.

               He extends his hand, a gesture of help. But menacing.

                                     GABRIEL
                         How lucky ya feeling now.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. GABRIEL'S RIG - DAY

               Pitch black. We can barely make out a huddled, fetal form, 
               quaking and trembling. It's Rudy. Dripping wet, on the verge 
               of hypothermia. Trying to stay conscious:

                                     RUDY
                         I-I-I-I have n-n-no g-g-gifts to br-
                         br-bring, pa rum-p-p-p-p-p
                              (struggling)
                         ...pum-pum-pum. N-n-no treasures for 
                         the k-k-k
                              (waits)
                         ...king.

               The trailer doors swing open, crashing harsh light upon him. 
               He squints into the light, shivering madly.

                                     RUDY
                         Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.

               INT. KNIGHTS INN GAME ROOM - DAY

               Gabriel is hurling darts again, focused, expressionless. 
               Bullseye.

               Merlin and Jumpy haul Rudy in. He collapses at Gabriel's 
               feet, unable to stand. Still trembling.

               A couple KIDS scamper into the doorway --

                                     MERLIN
                         Game room's closed.

               -- and Merlin slams the door in their face. Gabriel hurls 
               another bullseye, then retrieves his darts from the board.

                                     GABRIEL
                         A for effort, Nick, honestly, A for 
                         effort and an honorary degree. I'm 
                         surprised you never escaped from the 
                         Mountain.

                                     RUDY
                              (teeth chattering)
                         ...never... tried...

                                     GABRIEL
                         Nick, here's what we're gonna do. In 
                         the spirit of the season, I'm going 
                         to give you a chance. I understand 
                         you're unhappy. Right outta the 
                         lockup, here against your will, it's 
                         the holidays and there's reruns on 
                         TV.
                              (beat)
                         So we're gonna have a contest.

               Gabriel strides back to him, with two darts.

                                     GABRIEL
                         We're each going to get one of these. 
                         Whichever one of us hits closer to 
                         the bullseye... gets what he wants.
                              (beat)
                         You land closer, you get Ashley.  
                         And you guys get to go free. I land 
                         closer... and we start getting your 
                         help.

               He lifts Rudy's shaking hand, puts a dart in it. Rudy's 
               fingers are half-frozen, they don't bend. Gabriel has to 
               wedge it in.

                                     GABRIEL
                         May the best sportsman win.

               Gabriel turns to the board, ten feet away, and tosses his 
               dart. It thunks in the "13" wedge of the outermost ring.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Damn.

               He steps aside for Rudy. Rudy struggles to raise his hand, 
               trembling badly. He focuses on the board, teeth chattering, 
               tries to reposition his fingers, rears back and throws --

               -- except the dart remains in his frozen grip. He brings his 
               icy hand back, tries to move his fingers. And the dart finally 
               tumbles out and hits the floor at his feet.

               Gabriel smiles, steps close.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Got something to say to me, Nick?

                                     RUDY
                         ...ttt..tt... two out of three?

               Gabriel grabs his jacket and hurls him backward. Rudy CRASHES 
               into a chair, flanked by video games.

                                     GABRIEL
                         What'd you tell that casino manager?

                                     RUDY
                         Nnn... nothing...

                                     GABRIEL
                         You were talking to him! What'd you 
                         tell him!?

                                     RUDY
                         Nothing... I promise-nothing...

                                     GABRIEL
                         MAYBE SOMETHING ABOUT A ROBBERY?

                                     RUDY
                         NO!

               Gabriel spins to the dartboard, pulls out a fistful and 
               wheels. He whistles a dart at Rudy's head. it SMACKS the 
               wall beside his ear.

               He whistles another. It TRUNKS right above his head. A third 
               HITS the wall by his chin.

                                     RUDY
                         He thought I was some gambler... he 
                         didn't know me... he didn't recognize 
                         me!

                                     GABRIEL
                         I been driving rigs a long time, 
                         Nick. Four, five million miles of 
                         road. Worked for people who wouldn't 
                         keep me on less I was driving fifteen 
                         hours a day. Tell 'em I needed sleep, 
                         I needed rest, shit, they'll hire 
                         someone else...

               Gabriel flings another dart. Just misses Rudy's other ear.

                                     GABRIEL
                         ...Dispatcher's screaming for me to 
                         haul ass, he's got a load on the 
                         runback for me. Shipper's making me 
                         wait for the pickup, receiver's 
                         bitching 'bout the count...

               Another dart NAILS the wall, right through Rudy's hair.

                                     GABRIEL
                         ...Got the cops at the bottom of 
                         every mountain, got the DOT at the 
                         top. And every day, every day, I see 
                         all those faces in their little airbag 
                         Hot Wheels, moms and pops and jam-
                         faced kiddies, giving me that look 
                         to go to hell and get off their happy 
                         goddamn highway. Hey. They don't 
                         gotta get two thousand miles by 
                         sundown, or the gang don't eat come 
                         sunrise.

               Gabriel strides to Rudy, sitting stock-still, his head ringed 
               by darts. Stares him down.

                                     GABRIEL
                         It's time for me... to be working 
                         for me. I want mine, Nick. And I 
                         need you.
                              (frightening calm)
                         Did you tell your manager there's 
                         gonna be a robbery?

                                     RUDY
                         No, Gabriel... no...

               Gabriel pulls the darts free. Backs away again.

                                     RUDY
                         ...he... he asked me... how I'd heard 
                         about his place... he didn't know it 
                         was me...

               GABRIEL RAISES A DART TO THROW

                                     RUDY
                         I PROMISE YOU HE DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS 
                         ME!

               -- and then lowers it. Believing he's gotten a reprieve, 
               Rudy relaxes, his shivering coming under control.

                                     RUDY
                         Man, Monster... just... just don't 
                         start trying to hit me...

                                     GABRIEL
                         Nick. I been trying to hit you.

               Gabriel rears back and WHISTLES another dart. It plugs into 
               Rudy's chest. Rudy screams. Gabriel FIRES another, skewering 
               him in the ribs. Then a third, fourth and fifth.

               Rudy howls in pain, his body too numb to defend itself. Five 
               darts protrude from his chest, colorful plastic feathering 
               and spreading rivulets of blood.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Maybe that'll help sharpen your 
                         memory.

               Gabriel stalks close.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Tonight we're gonna take another 
                         look at that map. And this time you're 
                         gonna tell me what I need to know.

               INT. RUDY'S ROOM - DAY

               Rudy gets hurled inside by Merlin and Jumpy. He hits the 
               floor beside the bed, where Ashley sits prisoner. Pug sits 
               guard, watching "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" on TV.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick! Jesus, Nick --

               She falls to his side. Merlin cuffs Rudy's ankle again to 
               the bedframe. He and Jumpy head out --

                                     MERLIN
                         Pug.

               Pug's engrossed in the cartoon. They're singing in Whoville.

                                     MERLIN
                         PUG!

               Pug snaps to. Shuts off the TV, spits some chaw on the floor 
               and gone. Rudy and Ashley are left alone.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick, oh my God, what'd he do to 
                         you? What'd he do?

               She touches his bloodied chest. Rudy winces badly.

                                     RUDY
                         He had some points to make...

               Ashley helps pull his shirt off, sees the wounds:

                                     ASHLEY
                         Jesus Christ, stay here, don't move, 
                         stay right here --

                                     RUDY
                              (near-delirium)
                         All I wanted... was to make it home... 
                         for a little of Dad's turkey, and 
                         Mom's stuffing... Aunt Lisbeth's 
                         acorn gravy... Aunt Mary's cranberry 
                         buns...

               Ashley has leapt to the bathroom. She brings wet washcloths 
               back to clean and dress --

                                     ASHLEY
                         We'll get there, baby... we'll get 
                         there...

                                     RUDY
                         ...Haven't had cranberry buns... in 
                         five whole years...

                                     ASHLEY
                         Shh, now. Rest now. Two years, Nick. 
                         You haven't had cranberry buns in 
                         two years.

               She kisses him softly. Rudy meets her eyes. Staring to get 
               his bearings back...

                                     ASHLEY
                         You saved my life.
                              (beat)
                         You could have run, but you didn't. 
                         You saved me.

                                     RUDY
                         You saved me.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I saved you because I love you, Nick.
                              (smiles)
                         Why'd you save me?

               Rudy studies her hopeful face, attending to his wounds. still 
               weak and distant:

                                     RUDY
                         Guy I was in with... car thief... I 
                         used to read your letters to him. I 
                         know they were private... I know, 
                         but... you spend twenty-four hours a 
                         day with somebody, you gotta talk, 
                         y'know? You gotta share. Or the room 
                         gets even smaller.
                              (beat)
                         And sometimes, I'd be reading them, 
                         and he'd close his eyes, get a smile 
                         on his face... and I'd know somewhere 
                         inside he was pretending you were 
                         writing to him -- He'd see your face, 
                         your pictures on the wall...
                              (beat)
                         Some nights I think he fell in love 
                         with you, too.

               Rudy touches a hand to her hair.

                                     RUDY
                         You gave a couple guys hope, Ashley.  
                         And with hope, there ain't nothing 
                         you can't survive.

               Ashley stares, touched, still kneading the cloth into his 
               chest.

               Rudy struggles up, his face level with hers. She kisses him 
               tenderly. Lingering.

               And this time Rudy responds, mouth seeking, working down her 
               neck.

               Her eyes flutter closed.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I'm sorry, Nick... I'm so sorry...

                                     RUDY
                         Don't say my name...

                                     ASHLEY
                         I love you, Nick...

                                     RUDY
                         Ash. Don't say it. Don't say my name.

               Ashley hesitates. Carefully strokes his chest. He's still 
               kissing her, softly, still somewhat delirious.

                                     ASHLEY
                              (a small frown)
                         I love you...

               As he returns to her lips, mouths joining. Ashley's eyes 
               close again, as they fold into each other...

               ...and move slowly, tenderly, back to the floor.

               EXT. KNIGHTS INN HOTEL - DUSK

               A bitter cold sunset. Through a room's window, Rudy and Ashley 
               lie tangled in sheets on the carpet.

               INT. RUDY'S ROOM

               Ashley nestles against him. Rudy stares skyward. Hard.

                                     RUDY
                         They'll have guns.

                                     ASHLEY
                         What?

                                     RUDY
                         You said they've run guns, in their 
                         trucks. So they'll have guns. To do 
                         this robbery. They'll have serious 
                         guns.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I don't know...

                                     RUDY
                         We'll need one.

               Ashley frowns. There's a new look in Rudy's eyes.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm going to have to be inside that 
                         casino. When it happens. I'll need 
                         to be part of it. I can't just be 
                         drawing some map.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick, what are you talking about?

                                     RUDY
                         We need to find a way to make me 
                         part of it.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Part of... with them?

               Rudy meets her eyes.

                                     RUDY
                         If we're helping them with their 
                         robbery, we're gonna be doing more 
                         than just walking away. Like that's 
                         some Christmas bonus.

               He nods, scheming the way he's always known.

                                     RUDY
                         You want him outta your life? You 
                         want a real New Year to look forward 
                         to?
                              (bravely)
                         If we're gonna do this... we're gonna 
                         do it to get it all.

               INT. KNIGHTS INN RESTAURANT - NIGHT

               A medieval-themed biergarten. A happy FAMILY of five sits at 
               a booth, singing along to "Good King Wencelas."

               In the booth beside, Merlin and Pug are holding court. 
               Merlin's puffing smoke rings. Pug watches dully, chewing:

                                     PUG
                         Knew a guy in Joliet, smoked ten 
                         packs a day like you. His lungs got 
                         so black they couldn't find 'em with 
                         an x-ray.

                                     MERLIN
                         That right? Shit. I used to run rigs 
                         for a guy loved your chaw there. 
                         Shit rotted out his tongue, had to 
                         build him one outta silicon so the 
                         poor boy could talk. You ever see a 
                         motherfucker with a silicon fucking 
                         tongue?

               The Happy Family stops singing. Pug considers, spits a wad.

                                     PUG
                         Hell. The guy from Joliet, those 
                         black-ass lungs were the least of 
                         his problems. Got so much smoke in 
                         him his lungs couldn't even hold it. 
                         Got into his system, man. Into his 
                         blood. Coming out his ears, man, 
                         coming out his eyes. Guy'd be walking 
                         the row, smoke'd be puffing out his 
                         skin.

               The Happy Family trade discomfited looks. Merlin shrugs, 
               takes another drag.

                                     MERLIN
                         This trucker? Met a girl in a bar 
                         one night, she didn't know his 
                         situation. He's drunk, she's drunk, 
                         they get to mackin' hot and heavy 
                         and the woman swallows it. His tongue. 
                         Sucks it right down.

                                     PUG
                         My guy would walk into a room, set 
                         off the goddamn sprinklers.

                                     MERLIN
                         His lips went next. You ever see 
                         some silicon-fucking-lips?

               The Happy Family flees their booth. Pug and Merlin glance 
               over. And grab their leftovers. Rifling the grub:

                                     MERLIN
                              (with disgust)
                         Vegetarians...

               Behind them, Gabriel and Jumpy file into the biergarten, 
               leading Rudy and Ashley to the booth. Meeting commenced.

               Rudy, battered and freezer-burnt, gets shoved in first. 
               Gabriel throws down the casino map:

                                     GABRIEL
                         Start singing.

                                     RUDY
                         I have no gifts to bring, pa-rumpum-
                         pum-pum

                                     GABRIEL
                         Sing it in pictures, Nick.

               Rudy takes the map, glances at Ashley, and then takes charge. 
               For the first time, he's giving the orders:

                                     RUDY
                         What you gotta worry about first is 
                         the guards. Place doesn't look much 
                         richer than when I worked there, so 
                         let's figure you're gonna have to 
                         deal with ten of 'em. There'll be 
                         two on the floor, walking the room, 
                         that leaves eight up above. Eyes in 
                         the sky. They see something up, 
                         they're the ones who'll hit the silent 
                         alarm and you're fucked.

                                     MERLIN
                         How do we take them out?

                                     RUDY
                         You gotta get someone upstairs.

                                     MERLIN
                         How do we do that?

               Rudy takes the map, points to the gaming tables area:

                                     RUDY
                         Across from blackjack, there's a 
                         security doorway. Keypad access.

                                     GABRIEL
                         What's the code?

                                     RUDY
                         Uh... they change it every month. I 
                         wouldn't know.
                              (beat)
                         If there's trouble on the floor, 
                         you'll get security coming through. 
                         what you gotta do, is get inside 
                         that doorway once they do. You gotta 
                         draw 'em out.

                                     PUG
                         Without having them hit the alarms.

                                     RUDY
                         I got an idea on that one. Once you're 
                         up there, you gotta hold those guards 
                         down till some backup can get there. 
                         There's a security camera room that 
                         videotapes everything. You've gotta 
                         destroy every last one of those tapes.

                                     MERLIN
                         What about the money?

                                     RUDY
                         You lock down security, you move 
                         behind the cage. You hit the Count 
                         Room. There'll be a guy in there but 
                         he's got no guns; room's accessed by 
                         another code. Cashiers'll know it. 
                         They'll have alarms.

                                     JUMPY
                         What about the Powwow Safe?

                                     RUDY
                         What?

                                     JUMPY
                         The Powwow Safe. The secret safe.  
                         You said the manager's got a safe in 
                         his office where he hides skim money.

                                     RUDY
                         Oh. Right. Yeah. That's, uh upstairs. 
                         Uh. Here. Powwow Safe.

               His confident manner wavers. Gabriel notices, narrows his 
               eyes. Rudy quickly grabs the map again:

                                     RUDY
                         So. You're gonna need a man through 
                         here, two men at the cage, one to 
                         cover the count. You're gonna need a 
                         lookout outside, a sweeper through 
                         the back, and a gun guarding the 
                         front.
                              (beat)
                         You need six.

                                     GABRIEL
                         We got five. Putting Ashley outside.

                                     RUDY
                         You need six.

               Gabriel eyes him darkly.

                                     GABRIEL
                         NO.

                                     RUDY
                         You go in with five, you're either 
                         leaving an alarm free or an exit 
                         free. Someone hits an alarm, you're 
                         fucked. Someone gets to a phone, 
                         gets outside, 'cross the street, 
                         whatever, you're fucked. You need 
                         six.
                              (nods)
                         Six is me.

                                     GABRIEL
                         No.

                                     RUDY
                         You guys get caught, I go away for 
                         good. I got an interest in making 
                         sure you don't. You need a sixth man 
                         covering an exit. What're you gonna 
                         do about it.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Yeah. What're you gonna do about it.

               She puts an arm around Rudy, smiles. That's her man.

                                     GABRIEL
                         I want a map of that security level.  
                         Every room, every guard, every thing.

                                     RUDY
                         Six men means six guns.

                                     GABRIEL
                         No way.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm no threat without a gun.

                                     GABRIEL
                         No, you're not.

                                     RUDY
                         There'll be people in that casino.  
                         I can't keep them from leaving if I 
                         don't get a gun. I don't need bullets, 
                         Monster... but I gotta be a threat.

                                     ASHLEY
                         What's the matter, Gabriel? This is 
                         what you wanted him for, isn't it?

               Gabriel's eyes don't leave Rudy's.

                                     GABRIEL
                         No gun.

                                     RUDY
                         Well. What you guys have to plan 
                         out, then... is how you're going to 
                         get to that cage and that security 
                         level before anybody realizes 
                         anything's wrong. Running in with 
                         ski masks and bullets flying ain't 
                         gonna do it.

                                     GABRIEL
                         That part, Nick... was planned out 
                         the day I read your letters.

                                     RUDY
                         What. We all gonna dress up like 
                         cowboys?

                                     GABRIEL
                         Not cowboys, Nick. Not cowboys.

               Gabriel smiles.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Not on Christmas Eve.

               INT. GABRIEL'S RIG - TRAILER - NIGHT CLOSE ON STORAGE LOCKER

               Pulled open to reveal FIVE SANTA CLAUS SUITS, hanging side- 
               by-side. Red polyester coats and pants, white felt trim and 
               black buckles, black boots and red caps.

               WIDEN TO REVEAL TRAILER

               As Gabriel lifts a Santa Claus suit and presses it against 
               Rudy. Ashley, Merlin, Jungy and Pug look on.

                                     RUDY
                         You gotta be kidding me.

                                     GABRIEL
                         'Tis the season, convict.

               He puts the suit back in the locker, pulls another. Finding 
               Rudy's size.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Can't be attracting attention, right?

                                     RUDY
                         What, we walking in there and 
                         delivering toys?

               He turns to see Merlin open another locker. This one stacked 
               with rifles, carbines and handguns.

                                     MERLIN
                         Hell yeah.

               INT. RUDY'S ROOM - NIGHT

               CLOSE ON SKETCH

               of a floor plan, a sheet of paper overlaid on Gabriel's map 
               of the casino. A pencil draws a boxy room and labels it 
               "Security Video Room." Then an eraser wipes it out.

               WIDEN TO REVEAL RUDY

               still cuffed to the bedframe, pulled close to a desk. He's 
               sitting, working on the security level map.

               The door opens; Ashley enters, looking worried:

                                     ASHLEY
                         He wants to see your map.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm almost done.

                                     ASHLEY
                         He says he wants it now.

                                     RUDY
                         If he wanted a photographic memory, 
                         he shoulda kidnapped one. I'm working 
                         on it here.

               Ashley walks over, puts her arms around his neck. Whispers:

                                     ASHLEY
                         How are we gonna do this, Nick?

                                     RUDY
                         You're the getaway girl. The money's 
                         gonna get to you eventually. Gonna 
                         be my job to be the guy who walks 
                         outta there with it. But I can't do 
                         that without a gun. Any luck talking 
                         to him?

                                     ASHLEY
                         Bullets or no bullets, he won't do 
                         it.

                                     RUDY
                         Is there any way you could get into 
                         his truck?

                                     ASHLEY
                         No.

                                     RUDY
                         We need a gun, Ash. We need a gun...

               Rudy studies his map, then quickly pencils in the "Security 
               Video Room," in a totally different place than he drew it 
               before. Hands the paper to her.

                                     RUDY
                         Here's the Picasso. Is he in his 
                         room?

                                     ASHLEY
                         They all are. Football's on.

                                     RUDY
                              (nods, thinks)
                         Keep 'em there for a little while.

               Ashley takes the map, frowns. Rudy kisses her gently.

                                     RUDY
                         We're gonna get you out of Detroit, 
                         Ash. Get you out of beauty and 
                         fragrances.
                              (smiles, then)
                         Remember that. After all this is 
                         over, when you know me, when you 
                         really know me... remember it was 
                         me.

               She searches his eyes, not quite understanding. But smiles. 
               Rudy smiles back, nods toward the door. Ashley slips out.

               When she's gone, Rudy stands and turns to the window. Outside, 
               the Blazer with the "Ice Fishermen Do It All Year Long" bumper 
               sticker still sits parked.

               Rudy reaches for his jeans pocket, and pulls out-one of the 
               game room darts, flecked with blood.

               HE GIVES IT A SOLEMN STARE

               INT. RUDYS ROOM - MOMENTS L&TER - NIGHT

               Rudy lies on his back, under the bed frame, dart in hand. He 
               tears off the plastic feathering, to get at the cross-shaped 
               end, furthest-from the tip. Four protruding metal edges.

               He finds the Phillips screws on the bedframe, and tries to 
               work the dart-end into the grooves. It scrapes and jags, but 
               with pressure he's able to do a quarter-turn at a time.

               The screw starts spiraling out.

               ANGLE ON BEDFRAME

               As two metal pieces split apart, and Rudy wriggles his ankle 
               handcuff off the frame.

               ANGLE ON CLOSET

               As Rudy's hand grabs a paper-covered wire hanger and rips 
               the paper off, untwisting the wire.

               ANGLE ON ROOM'S WINDOW

               As Rudy slides it open, and climbs outside.

               EXT. KNIGHTS INN PARKING LOT - NIGHT

               Light snow falling. Rudy drops from the second floor window 
               into some snowy shrubs and an empty parking space. He 
               stealthily darts ahead to the ice fishermen's Blazer.

               AT THE FISHERMEN'S BLAZER

               Rudy peers in the windows, spotting fishing rods, tackle and 
               gear boxes in the back seat.

               He takes his wire coat hanger, now stretched straight, and 
               slips it between the driver's window and moulding, jamming 
               it around until it trips the door lock.

               The lock pops up; Rudy pops in --

               INT. BLAZER

               -- and raids the gear box. Bait, reels, fishing wire. Boning 
               knives. A compass. A first aid kit. A switchblade.

                                     RUDY
                         Gun, gun, c'mon, boys like you gotta 
                         be keeping a gun...

               He rustles around in the backseat. Ice cooler, open bag of 
               pork rinds, another gear box. Nothing.

               Some HEADLIGHTS sweep past the Blazer. Rudy ducks down, 
               pockets the switchblade. Munches some pork rinds.

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               Rudy scrambles out, heads to try another car, a pickup truck. 
               And then suddenly drops to the ground, seeing

               MERLIN AND JUMPY

               stride outside, talking casually, kicking snow on their way 
               toward the Nova. Voices too low to hear.

               ON SCENE

               Rudy crouches behind the pickup, slips around the other side.  
               Merlin and Jumpy walk right by him.

               Rudy criss-crosses through the parking lot, hidden by cars, 
               heading away from his room's window. His window. Rudy glances 
               back to see if the truckers notice that, but they don't seem 
               to. They stand at the Nova, talking.

               Rudy shivers, waiting. They're not leaving. When their backs 
               turn, Rudy dashes twenty feet to the cover of the building. 
               He slips around the corner, out of sight.

               AROUND THE SIDE OF THE HOTEL

               Rudy hops through snowdrifts, pressed to the wall, moving 
               toward a side entry --

               -- when he stops, hearing a woman's LAUGHTER.

               Above his head are a row of windows. Reflections of rippling 
               water on the ceiling inside. It's the hotel pool behind this 
               wall.

               Sounds of SPLASHES. Murmured VOICES.

               Rudy stands absolutely still. His breaths stop frosting. 
               Because his breathing has stopped.

               INT. HALLLWAY TO INDOOR POOL - NIGHT

               Rudy creeps down the darkened hall, past a sign that reads 
               "Pool CLOSED. Open 9 am to 9 pm, No Lifeguard on Duty."

               Rudy steps closer, back to a wall, standing in shadow. The 
               small pool becomes visible, flickering blue water. From an 
               unseen end, a figure splashes backwards into view --

               It's Ashley. Hair wet, naked beneath the surface. Smiling 
               and splashing someone offscreen --

                                     ASHLEY
                         ...and he's saying "We're not gonna 
                         help him just to walk away. If we're 
                         gonna help him... we're gonna get it 
                         all...

               She splashes again. Taunting --

                                     ASHLEY
                         ...he wants to help now, he wants to 
                         rob it now we could probably stay 
                         right here, he'd go on and rob it by 
                         himself --

               As Gabriel steps into view, also undressed, moving toward 
               her in the pool.

                                     GABRIEL
                         He wants the money.

                                     ASHLEY
                         No, baby. He wants me.

               Gabriel reaches her, puts his arms around her. She smiles.

                                     ASHLEY
                         He wants... your "sister"...

                                     GABRIEL
                         ...whoever she is.

               And they kiss, entwining together, reflections and ripples. 
               A steamy embrace.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Nick Mason's gonna help us more than 
                         we ever dreamed.

               ANGLE ON RUDY

               in the shadows, hearing them. Staring into darkness.

               IN THE POOL

               Gabriel turns with Ashley, wrapped together. Moving slow.

                                     GABRIEL
                         All those letters are about to pay 
                         off, baby... all those letters...

                                     ASHLEY
                         To all those cons...

                                     GABRIEL
                         Searching for a money man...

                                     ASHLEY
                         We musta written what, twenty of 
                         'em? And they were before this guy.  
                         One, two letters apiece, ten to the 
                         racetrack guy in Leavenworth --

                                     GABRIEL
                         -- till he fucked his parole --

                                     ASHLEY
                         -- plus the forty to Mason... how 
                         many letters is that?

                                     GABRIEL
                         That's a book, baby.
                              (presses closer)
                         That's a book of love.

               They kiss again. Gabriel strokes her wet hair:

                                     GABRIEL
                         I can't take watching you touch him.  
                         I can't take his hands on you.

                                     ASHLEY
                         One more day, baby. One more day to 
                         Christmas.

                                     GABRIEL
                         I've been doing good, though.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Didn't have to hit me so fucking 
                         hard. Didn't have to throw me outta 
                         the goddamn truck.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Didn't have to send me down a fucking 
                         mountain.

                                     ASHLEY
                         What, he should see me help you catch 
                         him?

               ON RUDY

               still in the shadows, welling with betrayal.

                                     ASHLEY (O.S.)
                         He's shown us the setup, he's drawn 
                         us the map, he's helped us do the 
                         plan. He wants a gun, give him a 
                         gun. Take the bullets out, whatever, 
                         but give him the gun. The more 
                         manpower we've got in there, the 
                         better. He won't try and make his 
                         move till the money's in hand.

                                     GABRIEL (O.S.)
                         He'll be dead when he does.

               BACK IN THE POOL

               Gabriel and Ashley rock slowly, coupled, in the water.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Y'know something, baby? If you were 
                         my sister? I'd still want to wake up 
                         Christmas morning with you...

                                     ASHLEY
                         Mmm, baby. And I'd still want to be 
                         the tinsel round your tree...

               And as their words turn to moans and murmurs...

               IN THE SHADOWS

               Rudy is gone.

               INT. FIRST FLOOR HALLWAY - NIGHT

               Rudy strides a corridor, eyes dead ahead, passing a stairwell 
               on his way toward the "Exit" sign posted above a door. He's 
               almost there, marching fast --

                                     RUDY
                         Here's my present to you, truck 
                         drivers --

               AS THE EXIT DOOR OPENS

                                     MERLIN (O.S.)
                         Where the hell's Gabriel?

               -- and Rudy dives to the stairwell, out of sight just as 
               Merlin and Jumpy stride back inside.

                                     JUMPY
                         With his girlfriend. Making up for 
                         "Nick" time. I'm going down to the 
                         bar, you want something?

                                     MERLIN
                         Get me a brew. I'm gonna check on 
                         our convict.

               They separate, Jumpy down the hall, Merlin to the stairs --

               INT. STAIRWELL

               Merlin trudges upward, while Rudy steps from hiding one flight 
               down.

               Checks the hall for Jumpy, then races out --

               EXT. PARKING LOT - NIGHT

               Rudy slams out the side door, scrambling straight for the 
               same Blazer. He jimmies the lock again, leaps in, tears free 
               the engine panel and searches for ignition wires like a pro.  
               Stripping the plastic, trying to spark contact --

                                     RUDY
                         Catch, dammit, catch! Like riding a 
                         bike, it's like riding a bike!

               But there's nothing. The engine won't start.

               INT. STAIRWELL

               Merlin reaches the second floor, steps into the hall.

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               Rudy jumps from the Blazer, looks at the lot, the highway, 
               the woods. His own footprints in the dusting snow.

                                     RUDY
                         How far you gonna get, Rudy...

               Realizing the answer, Rudy looks to his room's window. Forced 
               to race back. He tries clambering the wall, standing an 
               shrubbery, but he can't reach. He whirls, desperate.

               And his eyes find the Blazer.

               INT. SECOND FLOOR HALL

               Merlin ambles the corridor. Approaching Rudy's room.

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               Rudy flings open the Blazer door, slams the emergency brake 
               down. Forces the gearshift into "Reverse."

               INT. SECOND FLOOR HALL

               Merlin reaches Rudy's door. Searches his pockets for the 
               key.

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               Rudy darts to the front of the Blazer, slipping and sliding 
               on asphalt ice. He drops to his knees, pushing on the front 
               bumper.

               The wheels start to move.

               INT. SECOND FLOOR HALL

               Merlin finds a room key. Puts it in the lock. Turns the handle 
               but the door won't open. Merlin checks the key.

                                     MERLIN
                         My room.

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               The Blazer starts to roll backwards, toward the snowy shrubs 
               ringing the building. Headed for the empty parking space 
               below Rudy's window. Rudy keeps pushing. The Blazer picks up 
               speed, rolling on its own.

               INT. SECOND FLOOR HALL

               Merlin searches his pockets again, finds the right key.

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               The Blazer rolls toward the building. Rudy scrambles to his 
               feet, runs after it, leaps his left foot onto the bumper, 
               the right foot onto the hood, then onto the roof --

               -- getting two roof-steps worth of running start --

               -- as the Blazer slows to a rest against the snowy shrubs --

               -- and Rudy dives into the air, torpedoing himself right 
               through the window to his room --

               INT. RUDY'S ROOM

               -- where he crashes headlong to the floor, turning a 
               somersault and landing sprawled across the carpet.

               INT. SECOND FLOOR HALL

               The key in the lock, Merlin hears the crash --

               INT. RUDY'S ROOM

               -- and as Merlin opens the door, he finds Rudy sitting calmly 
               on the floor, ankle-cuff locked once again to the bedframe. 
               Spreading a deck of cards out before him.

               Starting a game of solitaire. He looks up.

                                     RUDY
                         Hey.

               Merlin frowns, takes a suspicious look around the room. The 
               window's open. Rudy continues his card game.

               Merlin watches him for a long time. Then pulls the door shut.

               Once he's gone, Rudy collapses to the floor. Breathing hard, 
               heart pounding. The cards go flying.

               INT. RUDY'S ROOM - MOMENTS LATER

               The LIGHTS go out. Rudy creeps back to the window, checks 
               outside... and stops still. In parking lot...

               ...a cigarette glow burns inside the Nova. From the driver's 
               seat. It's Merlin. Now watching.

               Rudy steps back into the shadows. Closing window and watches 
               the falling snow. Caged again, after all.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               INT. RUDY'S ROOM - NIGHT - LATER

               Pitch dark. Rudy asleep on the floor, as Ashley creeps back 
               in.

               Seeing he's asleep, she lies beside him, pulls a blanket 
               over them both, nestles into his body and kisses him.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Merry Christmas-Eve, my love. My 
                         love, my love. Merry Christmas-Eve...

               Ashley closes her eyes. With a smile.

               A moment later, Rudy's eyes open. Turning to look at her 
               smiling, sleeping face... with a convict's vengeful stare...

               INT. KNIGHTS INN LOBBY - DAY

               CLOSE ON DESK CLERK

               In a elfin cap, smiling cheerfully:

                                     SMILING DESK CLERK
                         Hello, gentlemen. And how can we 
                         help you on this holiday morning?

               CLOSE ON GABRIEL, MERLIN AND PUG

               Three grim faces.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Checking out.

               EXT. KNIGHTS INN PARKING LOT - DAY

               The three truckers stride to the Nova, where Jumpy guards 
               Rudy and Ashley. In the b.g., the Ice Fishermen are by their 
               car, wondering how the hell it switched parking spaces 
               overnight.

               Gabriel marches straight to Rudy and SLUGS him in the gut. 
               Rudy hits the snow --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Gabriel!

                                     GABRIEL
                         That's for the hundred bucks worth 
                         of pay-per-view.
                              (then KICKS him)
                         And that's for the two hundred you 
                         took outta your minibar.

                                     RUDY
                              (chokes, pained)
                         You guys were paying for the room, I 
                         just figured --

               Gabriel KICKS him again, then pulls a handgun, points it at 
               Rudy's head. Ashley screams, rushes him --

               -- as Gabriel's gun SHOOTS a thin stream of water into Rudy's 
               face.

               It's a forty-five caliber squirt gun.

                                     GABRIEL
                              (cruel smile)
                         You wanted a weapon, convict? You 
                         got one.

               Gabriel tosses the water pistol onto Rudy's chest. Jumpy and 
               Pug haul him up. With venom:

                                     GABRIEL
                         Merry Christmas-Eve.

               EXT. HIGHWAY - DAY

               The Motor City Monster cruises the snowy landscape, with 
               Lake Superior beyond. Pug drives the Nova in convoy.

               INT. GABRIEL'S RIG

               Gabriel hands copies of Rudy's sketched map to Merlin and 
               Jumpy.

               Rudy and Ashley are in the sleeper.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Commit this thing to memory. Every 
                         guard, every exit... don't tape it 
                         to your fuckin, wrist: remember it. 
                         That's the Gospel right there. The 
                         Gospel. Matthew, Mark, Luke and 
                         John...

               Rudy watches them studying his made-up map. Ashley strokes 
               his arm, gives a loving smile. Rudy stares at her.

               He smiles right back.

               EXT. HIGHWAY - DAY

               The rig and the Nova blow by a roadsign: "Now Entering 
               Powahachee Indian Reservation Lands."

               INT./EXT. TRAILER DAY - PREPARATION MONTAGE

               The storage locker with the Santa suits SLAMS open.

               Merlin's hands PULL automatics and shotguns from the weapons 
               chest. Pug's hands UNLOAD ammo.

               A red-and-white Santa coat gets PULLED ON and BUTTONED UP.

               Jumpy's hands apportion GUNS and AMMO on a picnic table.

               Black Santa boots STAMP TIGHT in the snow.

               A shoulder-strap ASSAULT RIFLE gets hidden under a Santa 
               coat.

               AMMO CLIPS are taped inside a fat black buckle-belt.

               A HANDGUN gets tucked under a Santa hat.

               And the rig's trailer doors come CRASHING SHUT.

               EXT. LAKESIDE REST AREA - DUSK

               Lake Superior shimmers in the dying light. The rig's in the 
               empty rest area lot. On a nearby bank, four men in Santa 
               Claus suits and one woman without sit scattered at picnic 
               tables, guns at their sides. Staring out at the lake.

               RUDY AND ASHLEY

               sit apart from the rest. Rudy in a red suit, black boots, 
               cap in hand. Ashley's head is in his lap, watching the sky.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Where should we go, Nick? When we're 
                         gone from here... where should we 
                         go...

               The Nova drives into the lot. Pug gets out, carrying several 
               fast-food bags. Hurrying to stay warm:

                                     PUG (O.S.)
                         Okay, who had the cheeseburger with 
                         bacon; what about a roast beef, I've 
                         got two roast beefs here --

                                     JUMPY (O.S.)
                         Cheeseburger 'n bacon's mine --

                                     MERLIN (O.S.)
                         I got a bacon too; there another 
                         bacon in there?

                                     PUG (O.S.)
                         I got a bacon for him and a bacon 
                         for me; there's four cheeseburgers 
                         and two roast beefs --

                                     MERLIN (O.S.)
                         Somebody better give me something 
                         with some goddamn bacon --

               As they continue chow dispersal, Rudy stares over the lake.

               Distant. Not even aware Ashley's there.

                                     RUDY
                         This time right now... Dad's stacking 
                         wood out back, getting ready for 
                         tomorrow. Little blaze in the 
                         fireplace. Mom's setting out the 
                         good silver, hanging her cinammon 
                         sticks, up in the doorways. Getting 
                         out her scratchy old records... 
                         singing along...

               Rudy smiles to himself. He's got a faraway look.

                                     RUDY
                         I don't know where you're going.  
                         But I'm going home.

                                     ASHLEY
                         We go together, Nick. Wherever... we 
                         go together. Remember?

                                     RUDY
                         Well. I'm going home.

               GABRIEL

               sits by the water, staring over the lake too. With a white 
               cotton Santa beard resting on his chin. He unwraps his roast 
               beef sandwich, pulls his beard down to his neck, and takes a 
               savage bite.

               Munches away, stares to Rudy and Ashley. She meets his eyes.  
               Gabriel smiles. And looks again to the water.

               ON FULL SCENE

               The snowy rest stop, the glistening lake. And the six figures 
               scattered, watching day turn to night...

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. TOMAHAWK CASINO - NIGHT

               The neon axe lit up in full regalia, with Christmas lights 
               now strung along the building's roof. There are fewer than a 
               dozen cars in the parking lot.

               INT. TOMAHAWK - NIGHT

               Filled with the JINGLING, JANGLING slots, but there's only 
               two FAT WOMEN sitting at them. Three INDIANS at a poker table. 
               An OLD TIMER in his 90's playing blackjack.

               INT. SECURITY LEVEL

               A ragged headquarters, looking down to the casino level 
               through smoked glass. Desks, file cabinets, pin-up 
               centerfolds. A room with video monitors to one side. Stairs 
               to a camera catwalk that rings the casino.

               Jack Bangs is at a table of wassail and cookies. He opens a 
               battle of brandy, pours a bit into the punch, and takes the 
               bottle for himself. Walks over to his HEAD OF SECURITY, 
               watching the lack of activity below:

                                     JACK BANGS
                         And all through the house... not a 
                         creature was stirring...
                              (sighs)
                         Why don't you go ahead and send most 
                         of your guys home, Ed.

                                     SECURITY BOSS
                         Thanks, Jack. Merry X-mas.

               The boss smiles, heads off. Jack Bangs swigs his brandy, 
               eyes his high-tech security gear glumly:

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Hell. Nobody even comes here to 
                         cheat...

               EXT. TOMAHAWK - NIGHT

               The Nova pulls into the lot and parks. Merlin, Pug and Ashley 
               inside. On the road, the Motor City Monster slows to an idling 
               stop. In the cab, Gabriel turns to Rudy and Jumpy:

                                     GABRIEL
                         Go.

               Rudy gives Gabriel a withering look. He and Jumpy climb out.

               Gabriel's rig rumbles up the road.

               [NOTE: All five men, save Ashley, from now till story's end, 
               are in their Santa Claus suits.]

               RUDY AND JUMPY

               make their way across the lot, heading for the entrance.

                                     RUDY
                         Hey Jumpy, I want to ask you 
                         something. You have any problem with 
                         the fact that we're on our way to 
                         take millions of dollars from an 
                         Indian casino?

               The Native American considers. As they walk:

                                     JUMPY
                         Nick. It's true that Indian gaming's 
                         gone a long way toward restoring 
                         wealth and pride to communities who've 
                         been economically isolated and 
                         enslaved for centuries. Stronger 
                         infrastructure, better schools, higher 
                         employment... they're all the results 
                         of reservation casino success stories. 
                         Still, many natives believe that 
                         these are temples to a godless 
                         materialism and greed that will only 
                         infect the souls of indigenous peoples 
                         until their love of money has 
                         destroyed the spiritual values their 
                         ancestors died to protect and their 
                         homelands have become no different 
                         from any United States suburb, 
                         satellite city or industrial park.  
                         Destroying the Indian legacy once 
                         and for all and leaving behind a 
                         nation of selfish, angry natives, of 
                         which I, it's true, am one --

               -- as they hit the Tomahawk's doors --

               INT. TOKAHAWK - NIGHT

               -- and SLAM inside, stumbling into each other, suddenly 
               LAUGHING and slapping backs. Surveying the casino:

                                     RUDY
                         Hey-hey, egg nog for everybody!

               Rudy spreads his Santa arms wide and whoops. Jumpy laughs 
               with him, steadying his balance. Drunken and slurred:

                                     RUDY
                         Let's win some MONEY! MONEY-MONEY- 
                         MONEY!

               The few gamblers inside look up at the commotion. Bear the 
               Bartender. Two CASHIERS and one WAITRESS. Ed the Security 
               Boss strides over, smiling tightly:

                                     SECURITY BOSS
                         How you gentlemen doing tonight?

                                     RUDY
                         We're out of work tonight, that's 
                         how! Christmas Eve! We're out of 
                         work!

                                     JUMPY
                              (shakes his hand)
                         Hi, Santa Claus, how are you. He's 
                         with Sears, I'm with Wal-Mart, twas 
                         the season...

                                     RUDY
                         We're all outta gifts, boys and girls, 
                         but we got charitable donations!

               Rudy grabs a wad of bills from his pocket, drops some to the 
               floor. Jumpy retrieves them --

                                     JUMPY
                         ...bunch of us got together for the 
                         union party. Hey, how late are you 
                         open?

                                     SECURITY BOSS
                              (eyes on the money)
                         All night and all day.

                                     RUDY
                         I got wampum for the Cocktail Waitress 
                         Civil Defense Fund! Are there any 
                         representatives here present?

               A Waitress sidles close; checks with the Boss. He nods okay.

                                     WAITRESS
                         What can I get ya, Santa?

                                     RUDY
                         Santa drinks American beer.

                                     SECURITY BOSS
                              (to Jumpy)
                         What's your game, guys?

                                     JUMPY
                         Blackjack. Got a buddy from 
                         Woolworth's out parking the sleigh.

               The Security Boss stares him down. Then:

                                     SECURITY BOSS
                         Good luck, gentlemen.

               He steps aside and indicates the tables. Jumpy claps him on 
               the back, pushes Rudy on through the slots.

               EXT. RESERVATION ROAD - NIGHT

               Gabriel's truck at the roadside, hazards on, with signal 
               triangles as if broken down. Gabriel places the last one, 
               hurries back down the casino road.

               EXT. PARKING LOT/INT. NOVA - NIGHT

               Ashley sits between Merlin and Pug. Gabriel jogs by the car.

               Ashley checks her watch:

                                     ASHLEY
                         Three minutes.

               INT. TOMAHAWK - NIGHT

               Rudy and Jumpy sit at a blackjack table, beside the Old Timer.

               Jovial ad libs as the Waitress brings Rudy's beer. Rudy 
               doubles down, busts, and gets belligerent:

                         RUDY
                    (to the Old Timer)
                 That was my card, pop! 
                 My card! You hit for 
                 my card!

                         OLD TIMER
                 I... sorry, Mister...

                         RUDY
                 That was my king!

                         OLD TIMER
                 Well...sorry...

                                                       JUMPY
                                                  (to the Waitress)
                                               How are you tonight?

                                                       WAITRESS
                                               Fuckin' freezing. What can I get ya, 
                                               Santa?

                                                       JUMPY
                                               Jack and Coke.

                                                       WAITRESS
                                               Want that Jack and Coke or Jack and 
                                               Pepsi? 

               Behind them, Gabriel SLAMS through the casino doors.

                                     JUMPY
                         Woolworth's!

                                     GABRIEL
                         Hey, Sears! Hey, Wal-Mart!

                                     JUMPY
                         Saved you a seat, man. Get in on a 
                         hand here!

               Gabriel sidles to the table, claps Rudy on the back.

                                     RUDY
                              (re: Old Timer)
                         Careful. Watch out for this guy.

               They throw chips in. The Waitress circles around:

                                     WAITRESS
                         What can I get ya, Santa?

                                     GABRIEL
                         American beer.

               The Old Timer hits and stays. Rudy hits and busts:

                                     RUDY
                         POP! That was My card!

                                     OLD TIMER
                         But... I had a five...

                                     RUDY
                         You're hitting for MY cards!

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               Ashley's eyes on her watch. Nods to Merlin and Pug:

                                     ASHLEY
                         Go.

               INT. TOMAHAWK

               Jumpy has left the table, sidling to a change booth, glancing 
               at his watch. Passes a $100 bill:

                                     JUMPY
                         Could Fat-Man-With-Flying-Horse get 
                         some quarters, please?

               AT THE BLACKJACK

               Gabriel slides off his stool, punches Rudy in the shoulder:

                                     GABRIEL
                         Be back, Wal-Mart. Watch my bank.

               Rudy nods, slugging beer. He's becoming an unruly drinker. 
               The Old Timer motions to hit; but before the Dealer can pull 
               the card, Rudy slams the table, points to it:

                                     RUDY
                         That is my card, guy. My card.

                                     DEALER
                         He hit, mister.

                                     RUDY
                         He didn't hit.
                              (to Old Timer)
                         You didn't hit. You're not hitting.

                                     OLD TIMER
                         But you don't even know what it is!

               The dealer hits grandpa to twenty-one. Then hits Rudy and 
               busts him. Rudy stares darkly.

               IN THE HALL TO THE BATHROOMS

               Gabriel walks to the men's room door. Then stops. Adjusts 
               the rifle under his red coat. And turns back.

               AT THE CHANGE BOOTH

               Jumpy is handed a bucket of quarters.

               EXT. PARKING LOT - SAME

               Merlin and Pug march toward the entrance, hands in pockets.

               INT. SECURITY LEVEL

               The Security Boss returns upstairs, beside Jack Bangs, who's 
               watching the video monitors. On one screen, a parking lot 
               cam shows Merlin and Pug approaching:

                                     VIDEO GUARD
                         There's two more coming.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Hell, there we go. That's the spirit.

               He drunkenly clinks his battle to the Security Boss, wassail. 
               The Boss frowns.

                                     SECURITY BOSS
                         Jack? Is there a union for department 
                         store Santas?

               INT. TOMAHAWK - ON BLACKJACK

               Rudy bolts up suddenly, sends chips and his chair to the 
               carpet.

               Points sternly at the Old Timer, slurring:

                                     RUDY
                         Switch seats with me.

                                     OLD TIMER
                         What? No...

                                     RUDY
                         You're taking my money. Switch seats 
                         with me. Switch seats with me if 
                         you're not taking my money --

                                     OLD TIMER
                         I'm ninety-two years old --

                                     RUDY
                         Then get yourself another table!  
                         You're hitting Santa's cards and 
                         you're taking Santa's money!

                                     OLD TIMER
                         There is no other table --

                                     RUDY
                         THEY'LL OPEN ONE!

               Rudy grabs the blackjack table and wrenches with all his 
               might,

               OVERTURNING IT, cards, chips, cash scattering --

               AND EVERYTHING HAPPENS AT ONCE

               Two SECURITY GUARDS at the door (?) rush for Rudy --

               Gabriel steps from the restroom, hall, moves toward the keypad 
               door to the security level --

               Jumpy carries his bucket of quarters past the cage --

               Rudy tackles the Old Timer, fists and false teeth flying, as 
               the Guards arrive, trying to wrench him off the poor guy --

                                     RUDY
                              (hard whisper)
                         Stay down, pop! Trust me, stay down!

               As Gabriel stops just beyond the keypad door --

               IN THE SECURITY LEVEL

               The Security Boss grabs more men, while Jack Bangs merely 
               smiles at the sight. Guards wrestling a drunken Santa:

                                     SECURITY BOSS
                         Help them down there! HELP them!

               IN THE CASINO

               Three guards CHARGE out of the keypad door --

               -- right past Gabriel, who slips deftly inside --

               AND UP THE PRIVATE STAIRCASE

               -- opening his coat, pulling his assault rifle --

               GABRIEL

               Right at the top of the stairs, right at the top of the 
               stairs...

               -- charging to the top, starting right and running SMACK 
               into a wall.

               He spins, sees the doorway's on his left --

               TO A PRIVATE HALLWAY

               with three doors. Gabriel stops at the first, grips his gun --

                                     GABRIEL
                         Video room, video room --

               -- and swings open a closet bathroom. He frowns, confused. 
               Jumps to the second door --

                                     GABRIEL
                         Map said video room --

               -- and swings open a storage closet. Gabriel grumbles, leaps 
               to the third door and flings it open,

                                     GABRIEL
                         Map said goddamn video room!

               TO REVEAL THE MAIN SECURITY AREA

               -- with two Guards sitting at their posts, and Jack Bangs, 
               the Security Boss and the Video Guard in the doorway to the 
               video room. Which is on the far opposite side of the space.

               As they turn to see the furious Santa Claus with the AK-47 --

                                     GABRIEL
                         WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON??!!!

               -- as he SPRAYS the ceiling with GUNFIRE.

               INT. CASINO FLOOR

               Where the RIFLE sounds, just as Jumpy grips his bucket of 
               quarters at the cashier's cage and wheels --

               -- throwing a fragmentation grenade's worth of quarters at 
               the two Cashiers! Bits Of metal flying between the bars. 
               They SCREAM, stepping backwards in defense --

               -- and Jumpy whips a sawed-off shotgun from his coat --

                                     JUMPY
                         Step BACK from the desks!

               AT THE BLACKJACK

               The five guards wrestling Rudy spin and scramble, pulling 
               pistols from shoulder holsters as --

               MERLIN

               CHARGES through the casino entrance, shotgun held --

                                     MERLIN
                         DROP 'EM! DROP, DROP, DROP!!!

                                     RUDY
                              (from the floor)
                         DROP THE GUNS! NOW!

               But the guards don't. Whirling on Merlin --

               -- who OPENS FIRE, BLASTING two of the guards off their feet. 
               Rudy stays on the ground, covering his head, holding the 
               petrified Old Timer down --

               -- as the other three guards FIRE back, forcing Merlin to 
               race behind the slots. BULLETS rip into slot machines --

               -- as GUNSHOTS ring out from the casino restaurant. Two of 
               the Guards spin to look behind them as --

               -- PUG storms in, contorted glee, twin pistols BLAZING, 
               popping a steel flurry into an outgunned Guard.

               Merlin spins from hiding behind the slots. He and Pug both 
               OPEN FIRE, blowing away the two remaining men from both sides.

               One of the guards falls in front of Rudy, gun in hand --

               -- but as Rudy-reaches for the guy's pistol --

                                     MERLIN
                         Hold it right there, Nick. Your squirt 
                         gun's all you need.

               Merlin steps to him, gun aimed. He and Pug collect the Guards, 
               weapons.

                                     MERLIN
                         Cover 'em.

               Rudy gets to his feet, pulls the water pistol from his pocket.

               Moves to round up the Old Timer, the waitress, the Poker 
               Players and the Fat Slots Women.

                                     RUDY
                         Sorry, guys. But what the hell were 
                         you doing here an Christmas Eve 
                         anyway.

               INT. SECURITY LEVEL

               The two Guards lie on the floor, with Security Boss and Video 
               Guard. And the ruined Jack Bangs.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         No... not here... please... mister...

               Gabriel storms to the video room's doorway. Slams a new clip.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Mister. I'm begging, 'kay? I'm 
                         begging. This is not some card club, 
                         'kay? This is the Tomahawk. We're an 
                         international gaming destination. 
                         We're in guidebooks. You can't do 
                         this... you can't do this to me...

                                     GABRIEL
                         Show's over.

               He OPENS FIRE, BLOWING AWAY the wall of monitors and VCR's 
               recording the robbery. SPARKS and METAL fly.

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               Ashley waits in the Nova, checking her watch. Behind her a 
               RED WRANGLER rolls in and parks. A FIRE CHIEF and his DEPUTY, 
               just off-duty, stroll toward the casino, laughing.

               Ashley sinks low, panicked. Presses her HORN. The firemen 
               spin around but don't see her. They shrug. Keep walking.

               INT. TOMAHAWK

               Rudy forces the gamblers and employees behind the bar. Onto 
               the floor with Bear the Bartender, whispering hard:

                                     RUDY
                         Get down and stay down, and you're 
                         gonna be fine. Just don't do anything. 
                         My friends are disturbed --

               The hostages do as told. Rudy breathes relief, squirt gun in 
               hand. And then stares at the array of bottles around him.

               IN THE CASHIER'S CAGE

               Merlin and Pug force the cashiers to the floor:

                                     PUG
                         What's the security code to the Count 
                         Room?

                                     CASHIER #1
                         Security code? What security code?  
                         You just use a key!

                                     PUG
                         NICK SAID SECURITY CODE!

                                     CASHIER #1
                         Who's Nick?!

               Pug bangs the guy's head off the floor, stalks to the Count 
               Room door. Just a key lock. Pug BLOWS it away with his guns, 
               kicks the door open --

               -- and gets SHOT TO HELL by three COUNT MEN inside, pistols 
               blazing! Pug puppets, dead. A wad of chaw hits the ceiling.

               Stunned Merlin FIRES BACK.

               EXT. PARKING LOT

               -- as the Firemen hear the GUNFIRE, pulling holstered pistols --

               INT. TOMAHAWK

               -- while Merlin dives out of the cage, joining Jumpy, taking 
               cover as the Count Men FIRE AWAY --

               -- as Rudy scrambles back from the bar --

                                     MERLIN
                         You said no GUNS in there! NO GUNS!

               Merlin and Jumpy leap up, GUNS BLAZING, firing through the 
               cage bars at the Count Men. Killing all three just as --

               THE OFF-DUTY FIREMEN

               storm through the doors, pistols ready --

                                     FIREMEN
                         DROP IT! DROP THE GUNS!

               Merlin and Jumpy are caught. Trade a look. And let their 
               weapons fall, turning just as --

               THE CHEVY NOVA

               CRASHES through the casino doors, MOWING DOWN the firemen!

               The car SLAMS inside, crashing into slot machines. The slots 
               send SPARKS showering into the air. Which set off the casino 
               floor's SPRINKLERS. The room fills with watery spray.

               Ashley swiftly climbs out of the mangled vehicle. Rudy stares 
               darkly at her. She knows he knows. And she doesn't care.

                                     ASHLEY
                              (wild-eyed)
                         WHERE'S THE FUCKING CASH, NICK!

                                     RUDY
                         Yeah. That's love.

               She storms on by. The slots pay off behind her.

               INT. COUNT ROOM - MOMENTS LATER

               Jumpy, Merlin, Ashley and Rudy step inside the Count Room. 
               There are stacks and stacks of bills.

               Ashley smiles wide, throws Jumpy three laundry sacks.

                                     ASHLEY
                         MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!

               Merlin, meanwhile, slams Rudy against the wall:

                                     MERLIN
                         You knew there were guns in here!

                                     RUDY
                         Merlin, I didn't know --

                                     MERLIN
                         You got Pug killed! You tried to get 
                         ME killed! You just lost your Get-
                         Outta-Jail-Free --

                                     RUDY
                         I promise you, I didn't know!

               As Merlin puts a gun to Rudyls head --

                                     GABRIEL (O.S.)
                              (over casino speakers)
                         Santa Claus, Santa Claus, and Santa 
                         Claus... would you please bring our... 
                         mapmaker... to the security level?

               Merlin stares daggers at Rudy. Shoves the gun away.

               INT. JACK BANGS' OFFICE - NIGHT

               Gabriel stands at the windows overlooking the watery carnage. 
               The taped jingle of slots still plays.

               Poor Jack Bangs lies on his desk, beaten to a pulp. Blood 
               runs down his face and shark suit. Tears and shock:

                                     JACK BANGS
                         I can't go back to Vegas... I can't... 
                         go back...

                                     JUMPY (O.S.)
                         What the hell is with this place?  
                         Thought the video room was back there --

               Merlin and Jumpy lead Rudy in. Ashley follows. They carry 
               bulging money sacks. Gabriel stares Rudy down.

                                     GABRIEL
                         I told you not to fuck us with that 
                         map, Nick. I told you not to, and 
                         you did. How am I s'posed to keep my 
                         promises now?
                              (Ashley joins him)
                         How's she s'posed to keep hers?

               He kisses her hard. Sloppy. Grins.

               Then points to Jack Bangs:

                                     GABRIEL
                         He won't tell us where it is. The 
                         Powwow Safe.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         I don't know... what you're...

               Gabriel hammers him with the butt of his rifle. CRACK.

                                     GABRIEL
                         THE POWWOW SAFE! WHERE IS THE POWWOW 
                         SAFE!

                                     JACK BANGS
                         What... Powwow...

                                     GABRIEL
                         The Powwow Safe where you steal your 
                         money! Where you cheat your Indians!

                                     JACK BANGS
                         I don't steal any --

               Gabriel CRACKS him again. And again. Rudy winces. Gabriel 
               grabs Rudy, pulls him over.

                                     GABRIEL
                         We KNOW about the Powwow Safe! We 
                         KNOW it's in here! We KNOW how you 
                         work! Because WE know who's worked 
                         for you!
                              (smiles)
                         Remember a guy named Nick Mason!?  A 
                         security guard named Nick Mason!?

               Gabriel pushes Rudy's head toward the desk. Jack Bangs, 
               drooling blood, eyes swollen, turns his face to see.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Nick... Mason... ?

               Jack Bangs stares at Rudy. Rudy stares back.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         ...so where is he?

                                     GABRIEL
                              (laughs, mocking)
                         Where is he?! Where is he?!

                                     JACK BANGS
                         He's not Nick Mason...

               The smile fades from Gabriel's face.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         Nick Mason... worked for me two years 
                         ago. This man...
                              (a spark of recognition)
                         ...he's some cowboy...

               Gabriel grabs Rudy, slams him against a wall. He glares at 
               Ashley for answers. She stares in disbelief.

               Rudy meets her eyes.

                                     RUDY
                         Fucked the wrong guy, Ashley.
                              (shrugs)
                         Story of your life.

               BACK TO GABRIEL:

                                     RUDY
                         I did time with Nick Mason, Monster.  
                         Told you that from the start.

               Ashley's putting it all together...

                                     ASHLEY
                         You... you... YOU --

                                     RUDY
                         We still gonna spend Christmas 
                         together?

               Ashley CHARGES him. Gabriel stops her; Merlin and Jumpy help 
               hold her back. Gabriel spins on Rudy with his rifle:

                                     GABRIEL
                         You are lucky, convict. You're 
                         spending Christmas with the birthday 
                         boy himself --

                                     RUDY
                         Hey! HEY! THERE IS A POWWOW SAFE!

               Gabriel hesitates. Doesn't fire.

                                     RUDY
                         I did time with Nick Mason, remember?  
                         I knew he worked here, didn't I!?  
                         Well, some shit he told me!

               Rudy steels himself for the shot. It still doesn't come.

                                     RUDY
                         Nick told me his manager kept a safe 
                         in his office, his stealing safe. 
                         His Powwow Safe. I swear, please...  
                         Nick told me.
                              (looks to Jack Bangs)
                         Behind the liquor cabinet.

               Jack Bangs dully meets Rudy's eyes.

               Gabriel steps to the liquor cabinet, feels at the shelves. 
               They split in the middle. And there is a combination safe 
               mounted in the back. Gabriel turns to Jack Bangs:

                                     GABRIEL
                         Open it.

               He pulls him off the desk. Jack Bangs wavers, struggling. He 
               looks at Gabriel. Then at Rudy.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         I can't go back to Vegas...

                                     GABRIEL
                         OPEN IT!!!

               Jack Bangs steps to the safe. Spins the lock. Spins back. 
               Spins forward. Click. Jack Bangs looks at Rudy.

                                     RUDY
                              (nods)
                         Pow. Wow.

               And Jack Bangs opens it --

               -- reaching inside in the same swift motion, so that as the 
               safe swings open to reveal it's a rack of WEAPONS that lies 
               inside, Jack Bangs already has an Uzi in hand --

                                     JACK BANGS
                         VEEEEGGGGAAAASSSS!!!

               BULLETS as he turns back to the room --

               -- sending Gabriel, Ashley, and Merlin diving for the floor! 
               Jumpy can't get down, as BULLETS riddle him dead --

               -- and BLOW OUT the smoked windows overlooking the casino --

               Jack Bangs keeps turning in a madman's circle --

               -- BLOWING OUT the windows to the parking lot, shattering 
               the liquor, sending Rudy scrambling under his desk --

                                     JACK BANGS
                         I CAN'T! GO BACK! I CAN'T! GO BACK! 
                         I CAN'T! GO BACK!

                                     GABRIEL
                         GO!!!

               He and Ashley both scramble for the windows, jumping out 
               with two of the money sacks --

               TO THE CASINO FLOOR

               -- and landing on poker tables below, overturning them --

               Jack Bangs keeps FIRING, into the casino, SHREDDING the tables 
               but missing Gabriel and Ashley -- as he JUMPS right after 
               them.

               BACK IN BANGS' OFFICE

               Merlin scrambles to his feet, whirling with his gun, looking 
               for Rudy --

               -- just as Rudy slams into him. Merlin's SHOT hits the 
               ceiling.

               The two of them CRASH down, wrestling and rolling toward the 
               parking lot window. Two guns spill to the floor. Rudy grabs 
               one, just as Merlin kicks out, leaping up --

               -- and freezes, seeing Rudy's got a pistol on him.

               Before Merlin can make a move, Rudy fires --

               -- and a thin stream of water shoots out. Leaving a stain on 
               his shirt. It's the water pistol. Rudy stares blankly.

               As Merlin swiftly snatches the second gun, a real gun, off 
               the floor. Rudy's dead to rights.

                                     MERLIN
                         Hell. I'm gonna take pleasure in 
                         this...

               With the gun on Rudy, Merlin finds a cigarette in his pockets.

               Pops it between his lips, raises a lighter's flame --

               -- and hesitates. Sniffing the air. Looking down.

               At the stain on his shirt. His lighter still lit --

                                     RUDY
                         Me too.

               -- and Rudy fires the water pistol again, this time catching 
               Merlin's lighter, which turns the stream into a ARC OF FIRE! 
               He's filled alcohol in the gun!

               FLAMING LIQUOR shoots into Merlin's face and eyes. He drops 
               the handgun. Rudy keeps squeezing the squirt gun, spreading 
               the fire down his neck and chest. Merlin howls wildly --

               -- and staggers back, blind and helpless, pinwheeling himself --

               OUT THE PARKING LOT WINDOW

               -- and CRASHING down on the hood of a Pontiac, head through 
               the windshield, boots on the bumper, dead. Flames flickering.

                                     RUDY
                         Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

               IN THE CASINO

               Gabriel and Ashley have scrambled to the Nova, tumbling in 
               with the money sacks. Jack Bangs gets up, stalking toward 
               them, still FIRING and babbling.

               Gabriel FIRES back, hitting Bangs in the chest. He staggers, 
               but stays upright. His bullets RIDDLE the car, shattering 
               the windshield, but Gabriel and Ashley keep their heads down, 
               slamming it into reverse --

               -- and burning rubber backwards out the casino entrance, 
               into the parking lot, and speeding out of sight.

               Jack Bangs stops shooting.

               He staggers back toward the bar, totters there, and turns, 
               gun still raised.

               Rudy stands at the base of the stairs to the security level. 
               He puts his hands up, until he sees the dying look in Bangs, 
               face. The uzi drops to the ground.

               A silence. Even the slots have stopped.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm sorry.

               Jack Bangs stares blankly. Surveys the wreckage of his poor 
               man's empire. And gives a small shrug.

                                     JACK BANGS
                         That's why they call it gambling.

               He slumps against the bar and hits the floor. Dead.

               EXT. PARKING LOT - NIGHT

               Rudy ambles out into the snowy night. The lot is quiet. He 
               takes a few wary steps toward the road --

               -- and hears a CLICK. He turns to see Ashley standing behind 
               him, with a gun. Shaking her pretty head.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Your turn.

               Rudy shuts his eyes for the end.

               EXT. RESERVATION ROAD - NIGHT

               The Nova drives up a ramp into the back of the truck, in 
               reverse. Gabriel gets out, pulls shut the trailer. Ashley 
               collects the hazard triangles. They hurry to the cab.

               EXT. MICHIGAN HIGHWAY - NIGHT

               The Motor City monster storms through the night, passing a 
               couple POLICE CARS, sirens wailing, speeding the other way.

               INT. GABRIEL'S RIG

               Gabriel and Ashley inside, with the money sacks:

                                     GABRIEL
                         With the wrong fucking guy! We took 
                         the place down with the wrong fucking 
                         guy! Is that Christmas?! Huh?! Is 
                         that Christmas?!

               He grabs Ashley, kisses her wildly. Then turns back --

               TO THE SLEEPER COMPARTMENT

               Where Rudy lies sideways, hands bound with his Santa belt.

                                     GABRIEL
                         God bless us every one...

               EXT. RIDGESIDE ROAD - NIGHT

               A winding two-lane road, overlooking a small ravine at a 
               grassy overlook. The road is dusted with snow; there's been 
               no traffic here for awhile.

               The Motor City Monster steams to a stop beyond the overlook. 
               Then starts backing up, such that the gate of the trailer is 
               fifteen feet from the edge of the ridge.

               A hundred-foot drop into the ravine below.

               Gabriel and Ashley pile out of the cab. They lift the trailer 
               gate, extend the tire ramps. The ramps run from the trailer 
               to five feet away from, the ravine drop.

               IN THE CAB

               Gabriel pulls Rudy out of the sleeper. Marches him back --

               TO THE RAVINE'S EDGE

               -- and gives him a look. Forces him to his knees. Ashley is 
               in the truck trailer, splashing the inside of the Nova with 
               a can of gasoline.

                                     GABRIEL
                         You almost got away with it, Santa. 
                         Got outta the Tomahawk, got to your 
                         car, got halfway to Canada till you 
                         caught some ice in the road. By the 
                         time you hit bottom down there, whole 
                         car was burning like a comet.  Musta 
                         burned up all that money too.

               Rudy glances to the trailer. Ashley tosses a couple handfuls 
               of bills into the car.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Buncha guys in red suits busted in, 
                         they'll say. Started shooting. They 
                         won't be able to remember... if it 
                         was three, or four... or five. Four 
                         dead Santas and some burned-up cash. 
                         Merry Christmas, The End.

                                     RUDY
                         Was it your plan, Monster? Or was it 
                         hers.

               Gabriel smiles at him.

                                     GABRIEL
                         She told me 'bout the convict 
                         magazines. Had to figure there'd be 
                         some boys in the pen with some useful 
                         knowledge. With nobody to talk to. 
                         Nobody to listen. So we stocked up 
                         on stationery.

               Ashley hops down. Gabriel puts an arm around her.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Hard life being a trucker's girl.

               Rudy eyes Ashley. She stares darkly back.

                                     RUDY
                         I saved your life.

                                     ASHLEY
                         You shouldn't have.

                                     RUDY
                         He did love you, you know. Nick. He 
                         did love you.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Who wouldn't.

               So cold. But Rudy doesn't pause.

                                     RUDY
                         Maybe this is where you wanted him, 
                         Ashley. At the bottom of a ravine, 
                         dead as ice with a burnt-up heart. 
                         Maybe. But it didn't happen. 'Cause 
                         what you did for him was make him 
                         the happiest held ever been. You 
                         showed him hope and taught him mercy.  
                         And he died a peaceful man. You wanted 
                         to destroy some convict... and all 
                         you did was save his soul. Remember 
                         that. Love your money and remember 
                         that.

               Ashley shivers, a touch shaken. But steels herself:

                                     ASHLEY
                         Merry Christmas, Rudy.

                                     RUDY
                         I'm glad it was me.

                                     ASHLEY
                         Merry Christmas.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Get in the car.

               Gabriel hauls him up. Marches him to the trailer. Rudy stops 
               at the ramp. Gabriel pushes. Rudy doesn't move.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Get in the CAR!

                                     RUDY
                         How'd you know my name...

               He turns back to Ashley.

                                     ASHLEY
                         What?

                                     RUDY
                         Rudy. How'd you know my name?

                                     ASHLEY
                         What are you talking about?

               Rudy looks at Gabriel. He's frowning. To Ashley:

                                     RUDY
                         You said Merry Christmas, Rudy.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I... you told me your name was Rudy. 
                         You told me a million times, back in 
                         the truck, telling me you weren't 
                         Nick --

                                     RUDY
                         No --

                                     ASHLEY
                         You were screaming you weren't Nick! 
                         And we just didn't fucking believe 
                         you!

                                     RUDY
                         But I never said Rudy.

                                     ASHLEY
                         You said it a million times!

                                     RUDY
                         I never told you my name.

               He stares her down. Then stares at Gabriel.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Ash?

                                     RUDY
                         How'd you know my name was Rudy.

                                     GABRIEL
                         Ash?

                                     RUDY
                         How'd you know my name.

               Ashley stares daggers. Shakes her head ruefully --

                                     ASHLEY
                         Men.

               -- and pulls a handgun, SHOOTING Gabriel in the heart.

               Gabriel falls to his knees in the snow, his mouth a ring of 
               shock. Blood spurts through his red coat. He stares at Ashley, 
               incredulous.

               She steps forward and PUTS another bullet in his neck. Gabriel 
               falls still.

               Ashley's breath frosts in the cold.

               Rudy watches her. Finally, she meets Rudy's eyes. They stare 
               each other down for a long moment, before:

                                     RUDY
                         Where is he.

               A silence.

               No one moves.

               And finally, the CRUNCH of footsteps from around the side of 
               the trailer. And WHISTLING. "Silver Bells."

               A shadow moves across the snow behind the trailer, and soon 
               steps into Rudy and Ashley's view.

               It's Nick Mason.

               Alive and well.

                                     NICK
                         Merry Christmas, Rudy.

               Ashley smiles. Her muscles-and-mustache man pen pal is here.

                                     NICK
                         I missed you, beautiful.

                                     ASHLEY
                         I missed you too, Nicky baby.

               They share a passionate kiss. Ashley malts at the sight of 
               him, embracing happily. Then turns to Rudy:

                                     ASHLEY
                         For your information. I never fuck 
                         the wrong guy.

               Rudy just stands there, his mind playing catch-up.

                                     NICK
                         Oh, hey. Have you two been properly 
                         introduced? Sweetness, this is Rudy 
                         Duncan, I did almost a year with him 
                         in the Mountain. Read him all your 
                         letters, talked about you all the 
                         time, made him feel like he really 
                         knew you.
                              (turns to Rudy)
                         My friend... wantcha to meet Millie 
                         Bobek. 'Member Millie Bobek, dontcha? 
                         My girlfriend fore I went in? Worked 
                         at that bar in Motor City, where I 
                         manslaughtered that guy? Hell. Didn't 
                         talk about her much once the Ashley 
                         letters started coming, I guess.

               Rudy doesn't notice it's started to snow.

                                     NICK
                         Millie here used to serve drinks to 
                         these gunrunning truckers, real big 
                         talkers, talking bout a real score 
                         one day. I was in the Mountain, man, 
                         what the hell, why not let her get 
                         friendly with 'em? Let her tell 'em 
                         an idea she had, 'bout writing guys 
                         in prison. Getting one who could 
                         show 'em a sure thing.

                                     RUDY
                         She set them up. All of them.

                                     NICK
                         Why not have her pretend to find me?  
                         Pretend to write me and reel me in?  
                         Tell her new trucker-man she'd pose 
                         as some sister of his named Ashley?

                                     RUDY
                         And you set me up.

                                     NICK
                         Always wanted to rob that casino, 
                         Rudy. Way back when I worked there.  
                         What better way than to get some 
                         guys to rob it for me.

               Nick shrugs. Prods Rudy up the ramp. Into the trailer:

                                     NICK
                         Paid the Alamo ten bucks to put the 
                         shiv in me. He's a lifer, what does 
                         he care. Paid a hospital guard fifty 
                         to put out the story I was dead. 
                         Once the wound healed up...
                              (notes cash-sacks)
                         Got out of the Mountain this morning.  
                         And tonight I'm a rich man.

                                     RUDY
                         How'd you know I'd do it.

                                     NICK
                         Do what?

                                     RUDY
                         Walk outta there and tell her I was 
                         you.

               Nick looks back at Ashley.

                                     NICK
                         Because every time I read her letters, 
                         Rudy... you listened.
                              (to Ashley)
                         Keep your gun on him.

               Nick forces Rudy inside, unties the belt from his wrists and 
               lashes them to the bottom of the steering wheel.

                                     NICK
                         Five Santas walked into that Tomahawk, 
                         Rudy. That's what the witnesses'll 
                         say. So we gotta have five Santas 
                         not walk out. Gotta have five...
                              (working)
                         This'll burn right away... in the 
                         fire...

               Nick gets Rudy's wrists locked to the wheel. He laughs.

                                     NICK
                         Hell, you never needed to convince 
                         Ashley you were me. Just the dumb 
                         fucking truckers. I figured I'd talked 
                         enough about the Tomahawk in the pen 
                         for you to get by --

                                     RUDY
                         Talked about the old man's weapons 
                         stash, probably forgot I'd remember

                                     NICK
                         Hm. Well. They'd have killed you if 
                         you weren't me, Rudy. We knew you'd 
                         start convincing 'em soon enough.

               Nick slams the car door, locking Rudy in.

                                     NICK
                         They had the weapons and the 
                         willpower. We just gave them their 
                         inside man.

                                     RUDY
                         You gave them me.

                                     NICK
                         I gave them me.
                              (shrugs, smiles)
                         Said some nice things about me, Rudy. 
                         I appreciate it. But don't worry. I 
                         do love her. And she loves me. You 
                         had that right all along.

               Nick reaches across him, releases the brake. Puts the car 
               into "Drive." Turns to Ashley:

                                     NICK
                         Sweetness! Let's light up the tree!

               Ashley steps toward the ramp, taking out a matchbook. Nick 
               steps further into the trailer, to the back of the Nova.

               IN THE CAR

               Rudy immediately wriggles his hands, trying to touch his 
               wrists together. Trying to press together the white cuffs of 
               his Santa suit. Trying to get the right pressure point --

               -- as a BLADE suddenly springs out of the cuff! The 
               switchblade he'd stolen from the Blazer -- it's lashed to 
               his right wrist!

               Rudy starts sawing his wrist back and forth, cutting through 
               the Santa belt --

               -- his hands at the bottom of the wheel, too low for either 
               Ashley or Nick to see --

               IN THE TRAILER

               Ashley is at the hood of the car, LIGHTING her match. Nick 
               is at the back bumper, ready to push it down the ramp --

                                     NICK
                         Goodbye, Rudy! Nice spending time 
                         with you!

               IN THE CAR

               The belt breaks! Rudy snaps his hands free! But instead of 
               trying to escape, he reaches under the steering column, 
               RIPPING its panel away and pulling wires free!

               As Ashley tosses her match onto the hood, and FIRE races 
               over the body of the car, TONGUES racing inside, over the 
               dash, over the seats, lapping at Rudy --

               -- who ducks his head beneath the wheel, frantic to locate 
               the right leads --

               IN THE TRAILER

               Ashley jumps out of the way, to the snow. Nick pushes the 
               flaming car to the trailer's edge --

               -- starting on down the ramp, the ravine ahead --

               -- and as gravity starts to take the metal bonfire --

               IN THE CAR

               Rudy sparks two wires together, FLAMES eating at him --

                                     RUDY
                         LIKE RIDING A BIKE, LIKE RIDING A 
                         BIKE, LIKE RIDING A BIIIIIKE!

               -- and the ENGINE IGNITES!

               Rudy slams the gearshift into "Reverse", grabs the wheel and 
               looks over his shoulder at shocked Nick behind him --

                                     RUDY
                         RULE ONE! NEVER PUT A CAR THIEF BEHIND 
                         THE WHEEL!

               -- and SLAMS the accelerator.

               ON FULL SCENE

               As the burning Nova races backwards up the ramp, and back 
               into the trailer --

               Terrified Nick turns to run but there's nowhere to go --

               -- and the car SLAMS into the trailer's back, CRUSHING Nick's 
               legs between metal and metal!

                                     ASHLEY
                         NOOOOOOO!!!

               Then Rudy faces front, pounds the shift into "Drive."

                                     RUDY
                         RULE TWO!

               Ashley stands at the bottom of the ramp, vengeance and rage. 
               She grabs her handgun, OPENS FIRE --

               -- and Rudy SLAMS the gas again, shooting down the ramp --

               -- as he flings open the car door, dives and rolls --

               -- while the burning Nova COLLIDES with Ashley, throwing her 
               onto the hood, and sending the tandem inferno speeding off 
               the ridgetop --

               -- arcing slowly as it PLUMMETS into the ravine, a smoking, 
               blazing shooting star with a woman's figure hanging on.

               The shooting star hits Earth and explodes.

                                                          SLOW DISSOLVE TO:

               INT. CASINO/EXT. SNOWY ROAD - MONTAGE

               The same four shots that opened the film. The Santa on the 
               floor of the cage (Pug), the Santa on the hood of the car 
               (Merlin), the Santa in the hallway (Jumpy).

               And the Santa lying face-down on the snowy road. Gabriel.

               EXT. RAVINE'S EDGE - SAME

               The last of the opening images. Rudy's motionless Santa 
               figure, upside-down on the snowy incline, bits of his suit 
               still aflame. He opens his eyes.

               ANGLE ON SNOWY ROAD

               Rudy staggers to his feet. Battered and dazed. Looks at 
               Gabriel's body. Then looks to the trailer.

               Inside, Nick is still alive, bones broken from the waist 
               down.

               He's mumbling madly, staring at the ceiling:

                                     NICK
                         ...Rudy... help me... Rudy...

               Rudy climbs the tire ramp. And pulls the trailer gate shut.

               He climbs into the rig's cab. Starts the engine. Puts the 
               truck in reverse, taps the accelerator and hops out.

                                     NICK (O.S.)
                         ...Rudy! Rudy! HELP ME!!!

               The truck rolls backwards. And into the ravine.

               Rudy listens to its TUMBLING SOUNDS all the way to the bottom. 
               He then looks up the road one way. Then the other.

               And notices the two money sacks sitting in the snow.

               He stares at them.

               A long time.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               EXT. RUDY'S JOURNEY - MONTAGE - NIGHT/DAY

               In his burnt and battered Santa suit, Rudy's figure trudges 
               the snowy night. Two sacks over his shoulder. walking empty 
               roads and highways. And passing a roadsign that reads "Sidnaw -- 
               35 Miles."

               He passes rural roads and driveways, and every time he comes 
               across a mailbox... he puts a stack of cash inside. On the 
               soundtrack, the STRINGS and RUM-PUM-PUM-PUMS of "The Little 
               Drummer Boy" start to rise --

               With snow falling, he passes a new sign: "Sidnaw -- 27 Miles."

               With the sun rising, a PAIR OF CHILDREN huddle at a window, 
               seeing the man in the Santa suit at the end of their driveway. 
               Giving them something from his sack and ambling on.

               -- and we follow Rudy's march, stuffing presents into 
               mailboxes. At every-stop on the way.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               EXT. A SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD - DAY

               A cul-de-sac of Norman Rockwell Michigan homes. Graced with 
               pines and a pristine snowfall. Christmas trees in windows, 
               lights on inside, figures of FAMILIES in holiday gear.

               No one noticing the man in the Santa suit, his sacks long 
               gone, walking up the road.

               EXT./INT. FIFTIES-ERA HOME - DAY

               At cul-de-sac's end. Where a blackened red cuff KNOCKS.

               After a moment, the door opens to reveal a smiling MOTHER 
               and FATHER in their sixties. There's a party going on inside; 
               a dining table visible beyond them.

               The Mother and Father's smiles disappear. Shock. Concern.

                                     MOTHER
                         Rudy...? Rudy?

                                     FATHER
                         Son? Is... is that you...?

               The Santa Claus shuffles inside, right past them.

               The Santa Claus sleepwalks straight for the dining room, 
               finding a dozen RELATIVES, laughing and eating. A table laden 
               with turkey and stuffing, gravy and cranberry, wassail and 
               wine.

               The relatives stop still. The room goes silent.

               The Santa Claus sits down at the head of the table.

               Yes, it's Rudy.

               Without a word, he stares at the food before him. And takes 
               a plate. He stacks it with meat and dressing and trimmings, 
               and sets it in front of him.

               And digs in. Stuffing his face in silence.

               His Mother and Father return to the dining room, gaping. The 
               other relatives look likewise.

               All staring at Rudy.

               Then, while he eats, without another sound...

               ...the Mother takes her seat at the table...

               ...and the Father pulls up another chair.

               They touch hands privately, and turn back to their plates.

               There's a CLANK of silverware, a SCRAPE of china, a CLINK of 
               glass, and one-by-one, the relatives resume their meals.  
               CONVERSATION picks up where it left off, SMILES return to 
               the table, LAUGHTER slowly rises in the room.

               There is Mr. Duncan and Mrs. Duncan, Aunt Lisbeth and Uncle 
               Ray, Aunt Mary and Uncle Pete, toddler Sasha and teenage 
               Sam, brother Mike and his girlfriend Jill, sister Stacy and 
               her husband Bill, Grandpa Walter, little Wendy Sue...

               ...and at the head of the table...

               Rudy Duncan.

               Home for Christmas.

               CUT TO BLACK.

                                         THE END