Stacie McCall Whitaker - Stone Coast, Maine

The Prodigal Daughter

Written By: Suri Parmar

FADE IN:

INT. GOVERNMENT OFFICE – DAY

CHRISTIANA (20’s), carelessly lovely, stands at a counter
with an overhead sign: MUNICIPAL BUSINESS LICENSING. A CLERK
behind the counter leafs through Christiana’s application.

ORSON (18), Christiana’s faithful devotee, appears next to
her. She flicks her fingers and he retreats.

CHRISTIANA
Everything’s in order. I checked
the requirements, there’s a money
order—I know you guys hate personal
checks…

CLERK
So if I’m to assume correctly,
you’re applying to be a…serial
killer?

CHRISTIANA
In essence. I know the title could
use some tweaking.

ORSON
Euthanist, contract killer.

CHRISTIANA
Let me handle this, Orson.

Silence.

CLERK
I need to speak with my manager.

TITLE CARD: THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER

EXT. STREET — EVENING

Orson ponderously bikes down the street. Christiana is
perched on his handlebars, an exalted smile on her face.

INT. DINING ROOM — EVENING

Christiana’s family is seated around a massive table. MR.
PETRIE (50’s)—silver-haired, distinguished—carves turkey. He
pauses to check his blackberry. MRS. PETRIE (50’s) is at his
right, dishing food onto plates.

Their other DAUGHTERS(20’s): ELEANORA, the oldest, sports a
power suit and a bun. GRETCHEN, next oldest, is radiantly
pregnant; a diamond glints on her ring finger. MADELEINE,
who’s second to youngest, is in cricket whites, black
stripes beneath her eyes.

Through an archway, we see a living room emblazoned with
Madeleine, Eleanora, and Gretchen’s numerous trophies,
medals, diplomas, and wedding pictures.

Christiana’s lone award is a teeny tin cup for “Most
Improved Penmanship.”

Christiana makes a dramatic entrance, trailed by Orson. She
flops in a chair. He stands, shifting his weight.

CHRISTIANA
Sorry I’m late.

MR. PETRIE
(checking his blackberry)
Son of a bitch! Breakaway’s down
two points!

ORSON
Hello Mr. and Mrs. Petrie, ladies.
I guess I should be off.
(beat)
I have to say, that is quite the
spread—

MRS. PETRIE
Just sit down, Orson.

She hands Orson a heaping plate. He sits.

ELEANORA
So, Christiana. You’ve dropped out
of school. Again.

MADELEINE
I had a feeling Postmodern
Mid-Australasian Pop Culture wasn’t
her thing.

MR. PETRIE
Dentistry—now there’s where the
future lies. People will always
have teeth. We’ll enroll her
tomorrow.

CHRISTIANA
I don’t want to be a dentist.

MRS. PETRIE
She’s just a late bloomer. I didn’t
come into my own until you all were
grown.

GRETCHEN
Daddy, you know she hasn’t the head
for techy stuff. Though dentistry
would be good for meeting guys.
Cute, rich guys.

CHRISTIANA
That’s revolting. And for
everyone’s information, I dropped
out because I found my true
calling—

MADELEINE
—because we haven’t heard that
before—

MRS. PETRIE
Honey, we’ve been through this. You
announce you’re pursuing something
outrageous, and then, when things
get real, you quit.

CHRISTIANA
I was at the school library the
other night. There was a news
article. About that guy who
dismembered people and fed them to
his pet turkey.

BEGIN FLASHBACK:

INT. COMPUTER LAB — NIGHT

Christiana sits before a glowing green computer monitor in
an empty darkened lab. She clicks a series of internet
links. One features a picture of Richard Speck, another of
Ed Gein.

CHRISTIANA (V.O.)
It linked to all these stories
about other murderers. Something
compelled me to read them all. Each
and every one.

INT. COMPUTER LAB — LATER

Sunlight streams in through the windows. Christiana’s
attention remains focused on her computer.

END FLASHBACK.

She braces for an reaction. Her family continues eating. Mr.
Petrie barks into his blackberry.

MR. PETRIE
Sell, sell, sell!

Christiana kicks Orson under the table. He GASPS.

ORSON
My God, Christiana! Say it isn’t
so!

CHRISTIANA
I’m wrangling with the city for a
license. It’ll be a legitimate,
tax-deductible enterprise.

After a moment of silence, her family LAUGHS. The sisters
double over, wiping their eyes with napkins.

MADELEINE
Chrissie, you don’t even kill
spiders!

Christina huffs and leaves. A few seconds later, she returns
to haul a still-eating Orson from his seat.

INT. CHRISTIANA’S BEDROOM — AFTERNOON

Christiana and Orson sit on her frilly pink bed. He has a
pile of flashcards; he holds up one to reveal the picture of
a puffy, lethargic man.

CHRISTIANA
David Berkowitz, a.k.a. Son of Sam.
Known for his sniper tactics.
Preferred weapon: 44 caliber
charter arms bulldog.

Orson holds up another flashcard.

CHRISTIANA
Benjamin Siegel, a.k.a. “Bugsy.” A
founding member of the seminal
crime syndicate “Murder
Incorporated.” Known for being
quick on the draw, and his deadly
aim.

And another flashcard.

CHRISTIANA (CONT’D)
Pauly um…
(pausing)
Orson, that’s not a killer! That’s
that guy from The Sopranos!

INT. SHOOTING RANGE — AFTERNOON

Christiana and Orson are in a booth. Christiana wears
goggles; she stares at a paper target and shoots with
ruthless precision. They contemplate the target; its crotch
is marred with holes.

ORSON
Maybe aim a bit higher?

EXT. MOM-AND-POP HARDWARE STORE — MORNING

Telephone and traffic poles are plastered with posters:
“DISCOUNT MURDERS ‘N MERCY KILLINGS: 237 FLEET STREET.

INT. HARDWARE STORE — MORNING

Orson’s dad, TOM (50’s), is behind a counter. He completes a
transaction with a CUSTOMER. Orson sweeps floors nearby.

TOM
That’ll be eighty-seven dollars,
ma’am.

She hands him a bill, he gives her change and her bagged
purchase. She nervously glances at the store’s rear as she
exits.

TOM (CONT’D)
Son?

Orson looks up from his sweeping.

TOM (CONT’D)
It’s nice of you to help your
friend and all, but…well…she’s
distracting the customers.

At the rear of the store is a booth beneath a banner:
“SERIAL KILLER/EUTHANIST FOR HIRE.” Christiana is in
skintight PVC from head to toe, festooned with gun belts and
ammunition clips. Behind her is an arsenal of weapons.

A couple of POLICE OFFICERS enter. They approach the booth.

CHRISTIANA
Can I help you?

POLICE OFFICER #1
We’ve uh, received a few
complaints. About a disturbance.

CHRISTIANA
That would be me. Here’s my card.

She hands them a card. They look at it. And smirk.

CHRISTIANA (CONT’D)
If you please, gentlemen, I wish to
exercise my Miranda rights and get
in touch with my lawyer—

The officers giggle.

POLICE OFFICER #1
Is this a joke?

POLICE OFFICER #2
We missed happy hour for this?

Their giggling swells into laughter.

CHRISTIANA
I assure you, I’m quite dangerous!

They exit, still howling. A sloppy-looking MAN (30’s)
enters, looking around fearfully. He approaches Christiana.

MAN
You the assassin?

CHRISTIANA
At your service.

MAN
My name’s Byron. I need help.
Illegal help.

Christiana smiles.

CHRISTIANA
Pull up a chair. You’ve come to the
right place.

INT. HARDWARE STORE — LATER

The store is darkened, closed for the night.

BYRON
I’ve wanted to off myself ever
since my girlfriend dumped me, but—

CHRISTIANA
—rookie move. She’d know you were
trying to get to her. If you were
murdered, on the other hand, then
she’ll really feel like shit.

BYRON
Exactly.

Christiana hands him a binder, which he peruses.

CHRISTIANA
My services cater to a variety of
predilections. Sniping, knife to
the heart, garrote—

BYRON
Oh I like the garrote.

CHRISTIANA
As a caveat, stranglers tend to
target more…marginalized members
of society. Women, visible
minorities. Someone might smell a
rat.
(beat)
Though a robbery is feasible. I
break into your home, you “catch”
me red-handed, I “panic,” shoot
you. Easy peasy.

BYRON
Not bad. Not bad at all.

CHRISTIANA
Just leave some valuables lying
around for me to “steal.” I’ll
deduct them from your payment.

BYRON
Can you…qualify your experience?

CHRISTIANA
I employ a strict confidentiality
clause with my clients. If I tell
you about them, then I’ll have to
tell others about you—

BYRON
Okay, okay. I trust you.

CHRISTIANA
Rock and roll!

INT. CHRISTIANA’S BEDROOM — NIGHT

Christiana, in a black body suit, examines herself in a
mirror. She pulls on a ski mask, loads a pistol with
bullets, and clips a gun belt around her waist.

EXT. BYRON’S APARTMENT BUILDING — NIGHT

Christiana approaches Byron’s fire escape, preparing for the
sham robbery.

CHRISTIANA
Here goes.

Suddenly, a hand clamps over her mouth. She struggles,
relaxing when she sees her assailant: Orson. His bike is
parked nearby. She pulls up her mask.

CHRISTIANA (CONT’D)
What the hell is wrong with you?

ORSON
I didn’t think you’d actually go
through with this.

CHRISTIANA
Why? What’s the problem?

ORSON
You’re a wonderful person with the
gift of personality.

CHRISTIANA
Meaning?

ORSON
You don’t have to do this. I get
that you want to be good at
something. But you don’t need to!

CHRISTIANA
So what are you saying. That this
is just an ego thing? Me trying to
impress my family?

ORSON
Well—

CHRISTIANA
You think they’re better than me.
No. You think I think they’re
better than me!

ORSON
Come on—

CHRISTIANA
I don’t need this! Or you, or your
dad’s store. Find yourself another
best friend.

ORSON
Christiana!

She pulls down her mask and climbs the escape, leaving a
dejected Orson behind.

INT. BYRON’S APARTMENT — NIGHT

Christiana tiptoes in a darkened, sparsely furnished room. A
fish tank with a lone goldfish glows neon blue.

On a wall, she spies a hideous cuckoo clock marked with a
sticky tab: “VALUABLE— STEAL ME.”

CHRISTIANA
(disgusted)
That’s it? Really?

She shoves the clock in a burlap sack and deliberately steps
on a creaky floorboard. Nothing. She jumps on it a few more
times. Finally, Byron emerges from his bedroom, looking
disheveled and rubbing his eyes.

CHRISTIANA (CONT’D)
(whispering)
You’re late!

BYRON
You took too long. I fell asleep.

CHRISTIANA
(whispering)
Whatever. Let’s get this show on
the road!
(screaming)
On your knees, buddy!

BYRON
Huh? Oh..who are you? How’d you get
in here?

CHRISTIANA
I said down!
(whispering)
Seriously. Get on the floor.

He awkwardly complies.

CHRISTIANA (CONT’D)
One move and I’ll blow your brains
out!

BYRON
Don’t hurt me! Please!

CHRISTIANA
Shut up! Just…shut up!

She aims her pistol at Byron, removes the safety, and
prepares to shoot. Byron motions at her to go ahead. Her
trigger finger tightens.

She falters, closes her eyes, aims aside, and FIRES.  The
fish tank shatters, gushing water. The goldfish flops on the
ground.

BYRON
Daphne!

He dashes to the tank and cradles the fish.

BYRON (CONT’D)
What are you? Some kind of monster?

CHRISTIANA
No!

She grabs the dead fish, tries giving it mouth-to-mouth
resuscitation.

BYRON
Get your murdering hands off her!

He yanks Daphne away.

CHRISTIANA
It was an accident! I swear.

BYRON
You aimed on purpose! I saw you!

CHRISTIANA (CONT’D)
I choked, no biggie. We can still
do this!

Byron stares daggers.

BYRON
Just leave.

CHRISTIANA
Can I keep the clock?

BYRON
NOW!

Christiana sadly climbs out his window.

EXT. BYRON’S APARTMENT BUILDING — CONTINUOUS

Christiana finishes descending the fire escape. Orson, on
his bike, waits at the foot of the stairs. She silently
climbs atop his handlebars, and he pedals away.

INT. DINING ROOM — EVENING

Christiana’s family sits around the dining table, eating
dinner. Christiana enters, still garbed in her killer gear.

MRS. PETRIE
How was your first day at work,
honey?

CHRISTIANA
Okay, I guess.

MADELEINE
It’ll get easier.

She pulls off her ski-mask and sits. Mrs. Petrie hands her a
plate of food.

CHRISTIANA
I was thinking of quitting contract
killing. Maybe dentistry isn’t such
a bad idea.

MRS. PETRIE
Oh?

CHRISTIANA
Or something more…helpful.
Veterinary studies, or being an
animal paramedic.

ELEANORA
That’s…different.

CHRISTIANA
They’re viable options.

MR. PETRIE
Whatever you do, you know we’re
here for you.

Christiana smiles. She picks up her fork and takes a bite of
food. The others continue eating in silence.

FADE OUT.

About the Author

Surita Parmar / Stonecoast Review / Issue 7 / Summer 2017 / Dramatic Scripts / The Prodigal Daughter
Suri Parmar is a writer and filmmaker with a background in design and a near-encyclopedic knowledge of random movie trivia. She is an alumna of the Canadian Film Centre and the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing. Her short films have screened at film festivals around the world.

 

Twitter: @SOTEfilms