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THE NIGHT DOCTOR Salvator Rivera and his wife Carlotta have just sold their home in Agua Prieta, Mexico, and he’s closing his veterinary practice there to open a new one up north in Tucson, AZ. They’ve planned to meet for lunch in the plaza, to see the Day of the Dead festivities, when without warning a gang battle erupts. Carlotta and their daughter Alma are killed by a man with a tattoo of La Santa Muerte, accidental victims of gang-related violence. After their double funeral, Salvator goes to the funeral of a slain gang member; the man’s brother tells Salvator, if their killer shows up again in Agua Prieta, he intends to kill him. Still grieving, Salvator moves on to Tucson alone and opens a clinic. He’s befriended by Ricardo Rodriguez, a vet who treats horses for wealthy businessman Juan Gordo, and also by Ricardo’s cousin, Marta Rodriguez, a pediatrician. Next, Salvator hires a young woman, Sofia Torres, to be his assistant, and his new practice begins to pick up. A pitbull owner named Diego turns up at the vet’s with a knife wound and convinces Salvator to stitch him up. Soon, Diego returns with other illegal immigrants in desperate need of medical care. Salvator is won over by one elderly woman’s easily treatable condition, and agrees to become the Night Doctor, after his practice closes each day. Sofia asks Salvator to let her have some morphine from Diego (who supplies the night clinic) to give to her dying grandfather. Sofia’s friend Fidelia turns up wanting to volunteer at the night clinic. After Marta learns of this secret clinic, she agonizes, wondering whether to report it, but eventually decides to see children there for free, too. Meanwhile, the brother of the slain gang member has come north looking for the killer; like Salvator, he haunts the small shrine of La Santa Muerte until he finds him there, and giving chase, manages to wound him before the man with the tattoo of Saint Death eludes him. Diego finds the wounded man in an alley near the office, and brings him to Salvator. Salvator, having just prepared a syringe with a lethal injection for a horse, as a favor to Ricardo, recognizes the killer of his wife and child by the tattoo on his arm, and has to struggle with his conflicting emotions. The deadly syringe lies tantalizingly within reach. The Choice: Salvator removes the bullet for the killer. Soon after, a U.S. Border Patrol officer bursts in after the fleeing Juan. Amidst the chaos, Ricardo arrives at last to pick up the horse syringe. Outside, after everyone else has gone, Salvator sees a ladybug, like a sign from Alma, who loved the ladybug song, and he knows he made the right choice. Melanie McDonald www.melaniejmcdonald.com 703-942-6991 6905 Custis Parkway Falls Church, VA 22042
10 Sample Pages - Full Screenplay Available Upon Request “THE NIGHT DOCTOR” Written by Melanie McDonald MELANIE MCDONALD 6905 Custis Parkway Falls Church, VA 22042 703-942-6991 email@example.com “THE NIGHT DOCTOR” FADE IN: EXT. AGUA PRIETA, MEXICO - DAY OF THE DEAD - (2007) A ladybug crawls out of a sugar skull’s eye socket and flies off. INT. FAMILY DINING ROOM - MORNING Veterinarian SALVATOR RIVERA is having breakfast with his wife CARLOTTA and daughter ALMA. On the front page of his newspaper, dated Nov. 2, we see a headline about drug gang-related deaths. CARLOTTA (slicing a mango for Alma) Busy morning? SALVATOR (a beat - sipping coffee) Not bad. One cancer patient. El Jefe. His nine lives are nearly up. CARLOTTA Poor Jefe. (continues) Maybe we could meet for lunch at the plaza? Alma wants to see the festival decorations. . . ALMA (holding up a ladybug on her finger) Mommy, Daddy, look. SALVATOR It’s a ladybug, sweetie. A kind of beetle. . . CARLOTTA Do you remember the old rhyme? Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home. . . SALVATOR (joining in) . . .your house is on fire, and your children will burn. ALMA Don’t worry, ladybug. You all can move to Arizona with us. SALVATOR That’s very kind of you, Alma. CARLOTTA She takes after her daddy that way. (speaking now to Salvator) I know it will be hard giving up your practice here, but. . . SALVATOR I agree with you, Arizona will be a better place for. . .everyone. (stands and tosses napkin onto table) SALVATOR (continues) I’ll see you ladies at noon. He kisses Alma and Carlotta, and leaves the dining room. INT. EXAMINING ROOM - MID-MORNING SALVATOR in his white coat and a stethoscope is examining an elderly cat while its owner, MRS. RODRIGUEZ, watches. SALVATOR I’d say he has another couple of good weeks, at best, Mrs. Rodriguez. Whenever you think it’s time. . . MRS. RODRIGUEZ When his pain’s too bad, I’ll bring him back. I wish my doctor could do the same for me. SALVATOR (removing stethoscope from his ears) It’s different with humans, Mrs. Rodriguez. . . MRS. RODRIGUEZ Is it? We’re just animals, too—and those drug gangs, they are lower than animals. You’re wise to take Alma away from here. SALVATOR So Carlotta keeps telling me. MRS. RODRIGUEZ You don’t want to leave then? Salvator takes a pen from the “Papa #1” cup on the desk and writes a prescription for El Jefe. He hands it to Mrs. Rodriguez. SALVATOR At Alma’s quinceria, I want her to know she’s the most beautiful girl in the world. Not inferior to some blue-eyed blonde. MRS. RODRIGUEZ Nor do you want her to grow up a bigot. Salvator laughs, rubbing El Jefe, who purrs loudly. SALVATOR I just don’t want my daughter to grow up outside her own culture. I don’t want her to become a stranger to Mexico. MRS. RODRIGUEZ But in Arizona, at least she has a chance to grow up, unharmed. . . Salvator returns the cat to its carrier, and carries it out front for Mrs. Rodriguez as they walk through the main office. At the front office door, he hands back the carrier and opens the door for her. MRS. RODRIGUEZ (continuing) . . .My nephew Ricardo lives in Tucson; doctors race horses for Juan Gordo—I must introduce you two sometime. EXT. BESIDE RIVERA MAILBOX - NOON Salvator sorts through the mail while standing beside the mailbox. Next to the mailbox is a real estate sign with “vendido” (sold) on top. INSERT Passports and paperwork for their travel to the United States. BACK TO SCENE Salvator puts the papers in his pocket and begins to walk to town. EXT. PLAZA, FESTOONED WITH COLOR - NOON At one side of the plaza, near an alley, we see several men arguing, and a potential KILLER shows a gun, then looks around for someone. Next, we see Carlotta waiting beside the door of a little school house. The hands on the face of the school house clock both point to twelve. When Alma comes out of the school, Carlotta walks over to meet her. CARLOTTA Ready to go meet Daddy for lunch? ALMA Yep. They begin to walk toward the center of the plaza, Alma skipping. CARLOTTA Did you have fun at kindergarten today? ALMA Yes, but my ladybug didn’t. She flew away. CARLOTTA Did she? I’m sorry, but maybe she’ll come back and visit with you some other time. ALMA I hope so, Mommy. INTERCUT between Carlotta and Alma strolling across the plaza and a GANG MEMBER pursued by the Killer, running in their direction. Now Salvator, arriving at the plaza, sees Carlotta and Alma and waves the papers at them. Carlotta sees him and waves back— BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG —the Killer, shooting at the gang member, hits Carlotta and Alma with the barrage of bullets. As his arm recoils from the gunfire, we see a tattoo of La Santa Muerte emblazoned on his forearm. INSERT TATTOO OF LA SANTA MUERTE ON RECOILING FOREARM BACK TO SCENE Time slows as they fall to the ground in stricken silence. Now we see Salvator’s face register this; the passports fall from his hand, forgotten. INSERT PASSPORTS AND PAPERS FALLEN ON THE GROUND BACK TO SCENE Salvator rushes across the plaza, shoving through screaming chaos. Now a stricken animal, he cradles his wife and his daughter and howls his grief. EXT. CEMETERY - MORNING Two caskets, one polished wood, one small, white. From a distance we see the larger casket lowered into the fresh grave, and the smaller one is lowered in on top. Salvator stands by Carlotta’s MOTHER and FATHER. CARLOTTA’S MOTHER Oh, my baby, my girl. . .my poor babies. . . We see many people coming past in a line to offer their condolences. Up close, we see Salvator’s face is scoured, transfigured with grief. CARLOTTA’S FATHER stands by a portrait of Salvator’s family. INSERT - PORTRAIT BACK TO SCENE Carlotta’s father touches the frame beside his daughter’s face, then turns back toward the other two. We see all three begin to slowly walk out of the cemetery, being consoled by a priest. EXT. DIFFERENT, SMALLER CEMETERY - LATER THAT DAY We see Salvator at the back of a smaller funeral for the slain gang member. After the service ends, Salvator approachs the BROTHER. SALVATOR (shaking his hand) I’m sorry for your loss. BROTHER And I’m sorry for yours. SALVATOR Do you know who did it? Did the police tell you anything? BROTHER Some bastard from Paraguay, Guatemala. . . Gone up north with the smugglers now. I warn you—he comes back here, he’s mine. He and Salvator look at each other, each understanding the other’s grief and desire for vengeance. Now Salvator walks away, alone. INT. EXAM ROOM - A FEW DAYS LATER We see the veterinary office is being packed for the move. Salvator sits looking at the framed family portrait, a nearly empty bottle of Herradura tequila by his “Papa #1” cup. He pours the last dregs into the cup and drinks, then tips up the bottle to his mouth. Empty. In his raging grief he hurls the bottle at the wall, and the cup to the floor, shattering them. ACT II EXT. TUCSON, ARIZONA - A SUNNY WINTER DAY (2008) INT. - NEW, SMALLER VET OFFICE - DAY Salvator is setting up for his new practice—we can see the “Papa #1” cup, glued back together, minus the handle, sitting on his office desk, and the family portrait now atop a cabinet in the front room. There’s a KNOCK. SALVATOR Come in. Another vet, RICARDO, Mrs. Rodriguez’s nephew, enters. RICARDO Dr. Rivera, I’m Ricardo Rodriguez. Welcome to Tucson. Looks like you’re almost finished unpacking. SALVATOR (shaking his hand) Please, call me Salvator. RICARDO My aunt Rosita speaks highly of you. She appreciated how you took care of El Jefe. SALVATOR He was a good cat. . . RICARDO Have you received your invitation yet to Juan Gordo’s party on Saturday? I hope you can make it. . . SALVATOR Yes, thank you for getting me invited. . . Ricardo smiles and makes a self-deprecating gesture. SALVATOR (continues) . . .also, I was wondering, can you tell me if there’s a shrine or something here in Tucson for worshipping La Santa Muerte? RICARDO You don’t strike me as one of her usual customers, if you’ll excuse my saying so. SALVATOR No, I’m not. Just curious—she seems to have a growing following, at least among the poor and the drug gangs, that’s all. . . RICARDO Down in the Mercado, most likely—there’s everything you could want from back home. Ricardo begins to walk toward the front door to leave. RICARDO So, I’ll see you at the party on Saturday. SALVATOR See you then. EXT. OPEN AIR MERCADO - DAY We see Salvator walking through a colorful market outdoors, taking in the crowd, searching for the shrine of La Santa Muerte. He soon finds it, blazing with candles, flowers, and offerings, tended by an ANCIENT MAN. SALVATOR Buenos dias. ANCIENT MAN Buenos dias. Have you come in search of Our Lady Death? I can leave you alone with her if you need privacy. . . SALVATOR No. I just want to know a little about her, about the people she draws to her. . . INSERT CLOSER LOOK AT SAINT IMAGE ON THE ALTAR—APPEARS MUCH LIKE IMAGE OF KILLER’S TATTOO SEEN EARLIER BACK TO SCENE ANCIENT MAN La Santa Muerte is the most merciful lady. Refuge of the dying, lost and desperate. Our Lady Death turns away no one. SALVATOR She must have many followers, then. ANCIENT MAN Many, yes—you might be surprised. Salvator takes a few bills from his wallet and hands them to the keeper. SALVATOR Please light a candle for my loved ones. . . ANCIENT MAN I pray that they have found great peace in the welcoming arms of Our Lady. And that her peace will come to you, too. EXT. POOLSIDE AT JUAN GORDO’S PARTY - DAY We see Salvator, a glass of wine in hand, looking around the place. Ricardo walks up to him with a lovely woman, MARTA, on his arm. RICARDO Marta Rodriguez, I’d like you to meet Salvator Rivera. He’s a veterinarian. Marta is Juan Gordo’s pediatrician. SALVATOR Delighted to meet you, Mrs., er, Dr. Rodriguez. . . Marta and Ricardo both laugh and exchange looks.