The Spirit: Broken Vows

Story by Jeff Gwinnup

The Spirit created by

Will Eisner

INT.- The Office of Dirk McConnell, P.I.---Night The room itself looks clean except for the body of Dirk McConnell, a middle-aged white male leaning back in a chair behind a desk full of papers. Alan Johnson, a CSI lab technician examines the body and we see a gunshot wound on the man's forehead.

Johnson

Well, C.O.D's a gunshot wound. No signs of a struggle.

Camera pans out to find Eustace T. Dolan standing on the right side of the desk narrowly staring at the technician.

Dolan

Got anything on time of death?

Johnson pulls off his forensic latex gloves and stuffs them in a small metallic attaché case.

Johnson

It wasn't too long ago. I'd say an hour.

Dolan feels and hears the vibrations on his cell. He knows who it is and knows what he has to do.

Dolan

Alright good job, guys. Johnson, get this guy to the M.E.'s and dot all the I's and cross all the T's. I'll wait here for the meat wagon to pull up.

The officers quizzically comply with Dolan's request. With his back to the doorway, Dolan leans over his shoulder. A figure in a familiar fedora and overcoat appears in the doorway.

Dolan

'Bout time you showed.

Dolan turns around and sees The Spirit standing in the doorway. He walks in and looks around at the crime scene.

Spirit

Traffic. What have we got?

Dolan

Victim's name is Dirk McConnell. Low end private investigator. Used to be blue but retired early and got in the "see if they're cheating" business.

Spirit

That kind of work can be every bit as dangerous as being on the force.

Dolan and Spirit take a look at McConnell's corpse still in the chair.

Dolan

So I noticed.

Spirit

Evidence?

Dolan

Gun's nowhere to be found. No sign of breaking in or a struggle. We'll go down his client list and phone records.

Spirit

Seems like a pretty straightforward case. Why the need to call me in?

Dolan

I'll be honest with you. Octopus is nowhere to be found. All your other repeats are either laying low or having a stay on taxpayer's dime. Organized crime's been kind of hush-hush for a while, too. I figured you could use a chance to do some actual detective work and not just go around breaking your knuckles on crook's faces.

Spirit

Still treating me like a rookie, huh, Dolan?

Dolan

Still acting like a rookie. Clear on out. Boys'll be back any second.

Spirit walks out through the office door. Continuous shot down flights of stairs.

Spirit (V.O)

My name is Denny Colt. I was once a cop for the Central City Police Department. That was...until I was gunned down in the line of duty.

Ext. Brick office building alleyway---Night time Spirit makes a brisk walk into the shadows.

Spirit (V.O. Cont.)

Then the funniest thing happened. I died.

Ext. WildWood Cemetery----Night. Continuous close up of a crypt with the name Colt on the top.

Spirit (V.O.)

But for some reason; a miracle, an accident, maybe even a divine clerical error…I came back. It was then I decided to fight crime where it lives. In the darkness just outside the law. Only a few people know that Denny Colt is alive and for their sake, it must stay that way.

Int. Denny Colt's Crypt. Night--- A well furnished gray room with a bookcase, radio, refrigerator in the far corner. Spirit sits in a chair and opens a magazine with the cover of "Who is The Spirit?"

Spirit (V.O. cont.)

I used to fight for justice behind a badge. Now, I fight crime as Central City's Midnight Marauder. It's guardian. It's Spirit.

Ext. Manheim Estate, Central City---Day

Dolan walks inside the main foyer, looking around the place.

Spirit (V.O)

Dolan followed McConnell's phone records to the residence of Marco Manheim; Industrialist, socialite and all around lecher. The press painted his wife Gloria as a long suffering spouse who handled Marco's numerous alleged affairs with poise. It was the type of situation that's the bread and butter of P.I.'s like McConnell.

Int. Manheim Estate Foyer ---Day

Dolan is speaking with Marco Manheim, a handsome middle-aged man wearing a polo shirt with casual khakis and brown dress shoes. They walk through the main foyer.

Dolan

Mr. Manheim? Thank you for meeting me.

Marco

Not a problem, Commissioner Dolan. What can I do for you?

Dolan

Did you hire a private investigator by the name of Dirk McConnell?

Marco pauses for a split second then continues walking toward the study.

Marco

Yes. I hired him to look into a personal matter.

Dolan

We found Mr. McConnell in his office late last night. He was shot. The last phone call he received was from your home.

Marco's brow quirks forward in stone-faced surprise.

Marco

Oh my God. Really?

Dolan

What did you hire Mr. McConnell for?

Marco

I hired him to find out if my wife was having an affair.

Marco sits down on a chair, extending his hand out offering Dolan a seat. He waves his hand in refusal.

Marco

I know it must sound terribly hypocritical of me, considering my track record. But I love my wife.

Dolan

With all due respect, I'll take your word for it.

Marco

I didn't talk to him. I was in my study on a conference call. You can confirm this with my secretary, Miss Hawkins.

Dolan

I will. Mr. Manheim, where was your wife at about 10:00pm last night?

Marco

Gloria? She said she was going out for a while. She left at about 7:30 last night.

Dolan

Did she say where?

Marco

No. She didn't say anything except that she would be out for a while.

Dolan

One more question, Mr. Manheim. Was your wife cheating on you?

Marco stares off for a second then at Dolan.

Marco

Let's just say Mr. McConnell found out that I don't deserve a wife like Gloria.

Dolan pauses for a second, eyes weaving left to right.

Dolan

So….

Marco lets out a light chuckle.

Marco

She wasn't having an affair, Commissioner Dolan.

Dolan (under breath)

Why the hell didn't you say so? It's a yes or no goddamn question.

Marco

Beg pardon?

Dolan

Uh, have a nice day, Mr. Manheim. I'll see myself out.

Ext. Manheim Estate Driveway—Day

Dolan walks to his car, holding his wrist up, speaking into a small two-way radio.

Dolan

Get all that?

The Spirit watches with binoculars from a distance.

Spirit

Even the subtlety. You gonna speak to the wife next?

Dolan

Yeah, she's at the House of Tan day spa.

Spirit

I'll handle it.

Dolan (annoyed)

Denny…

Spirit shows a wry smile and speaks into his communicator.

Spirit

Don't worry, sir. It's strictly business.

Dolan (heavy sigh)

It better be. We got a case to conduct here.

Int. Massage room at House of Tan day spa---Day

Spirit (V.O)

Interrogation tactics vary, depending on what your goal is. If you want to get someone on their guard, you be direct. If you want someone to open up, you have to make them relaxed, calm; able to feel like they could tell you anything.

Unmasked so as not to arouse suspicion, Spirit steps into the room. He takes off his coat and sets it on the hangar on the door. Then he tops his hat off on the hangar and takes off his gloves, stuffing them in his pocket. Gloria Manheim is laying face down with her bareback exposed and a towel covering her neck, legs and backside.

Gloria

Doug, I hope you're in the mood to take me straight to the moon; because I'm tired of living on planet Earth for a while.

Spirit

I'm afraid Doug had another appointment. I'm his replacement, De---(pause)Daniel.

Gloria

No offense but I could care less right now with the day I'm having.

Spirit stares wide-eyed at her voluptuous curves and swallows a large painful gulp. Resigning himself to caressing this beautiful woman's skin in the name of justice, he begins to massage her.

Spirit

Well I hope I'm up to the task.

Gloria (pleased)

Mmmm…Nice touch

Spirit

A touch is only as good as the surface that is touched.

Gloria

I'll keep that in mind.

Spirit

So, what could possibly be troubling a woman as beautiful as yourself?

Gloria

You're getting a little personal, there, Daniel.

Spirit

Just passing the time. Without stimulating conversation all I'm really doing is getting paid to cop a feel.

Gloria

Very true.

Spirit

How about this? I'll ask you some questions, and you can tell me if I'm getting warmer or colder.

Gloria

Deal.

Spirit massages her sides, his face showing that he's very into it.

Spirit

Is it about your husband?

Gloria (grunting)

Warm.

Spirit

Is he putting a little too much pressure on you these days?

Gloria

Startin' to get chilly.

Spirit

Has he been behaving strangely to you?

Gloria

Mmmm. Room temperature.

Spirit

So he's been more distant?

Gloria

Brrrr…there's that chill again.

Spirit

So he's been nicer?

Gloria

Mmm-hmm.

Spirit

That sounds like good news.

Gloria

Cold again.

Spirit

Why?

Gloria

Whenever your man is doing something nice for you, it means he fucked up.

Spirit

Well, with the man's track record---

Gloria

Okay, now you're crossing the line.

Spirit pulls away.

Spirit

I'm sorry, ma'am. That was rude of me.

Gloria

Did I say you can stop?

Spirit

Very good, ma'am.

Spirit continues massaging her back

Gloria

He wasn't always like this, you know?

Spirit

Of course guys like him aren't always like that. I'd eat a gun after one day of being that big of a douche.

Gloria

When we first started, he was the sweetest guy. He would've done anything to make me happy.

Spirit

So what changed?

Gloria

Money and the knowledge that a lot of women's panties drop at the sight of a rich man. But they don't love him. I do. I've been there through every single one of his trysts. I believe that deep down, he loves me, too.

Spirit

That sounds great.

A cell phone rings. Gloria begins to get up from the massage table. Spirit freaks out, shoving her back down.

Gloria

Hey!

Spirit

I'll get it!

Spirit reaches into her robe and pulls out her cell phone. With a quick glance at the caller ID he sees the name "Alan Almeida." Handing it to her, he goes back to massaging her back.

Gloria

Hello? Yeah, I'm at the spa. (pause) WHAT?! (five second pause) Hang on. I'll be right there.

Spirit turns around while Gloria gets up, covering her buttocks with the towel and then putting on her robe. She then plants a kiss on his cheek.

Gloria

Sorry, Daniel. Gotta go. Maybe next time we can finish up.

Spirit grabs his coat and puts it on slowly. After putting on his fedora, he pulls out his cell phone and makes a call to Dolan

Spirit

Dolan? It's me. Didn't get a chance to alibi her for last night but she got a phone call from "Alan Almeida". She cleared out like the room was on fire. I don't think the investigator did enough digging, in my opinion.

Central City streets, Ebony White's cab-Int. Continuous shot.

Spirit (V.O.)

Dolan hit me with the 411 on Almeida. He's a financial attorney at the firm of Holden & Holden. Dolan checked him out and asked him about his relationship with Gloria Manheim. He said that they were just acquaintances and that she was looking for financial advice on where to invest. But the way she bolted out of that massage parlor didn't exactly look like an economic emergency to me. It was the look of someone with something to hide.

Confused, Ebony looks back at Spirit.

Ebony

Dude, why you monologuing?

Spirit

I don't know. Just seemed like the thing to do. Plus, I thought I'd…you know…bring you up to speed.

Ebony

Oh. Well, next time just say it. Don't be all "noir" on me, man.

Spirit's cell phone rings. He answers quickly.

Spirit

Hello?

Cut to:

Central City Police Headquarters---Int. Dolan's desk.

Dolan

Thought you might like to know, we picked up Gloria Manheim for speeding. You'll never guess whose number we found in her purse.

Cut to:

Spirit

Whose?

Dolan

The late Dirk McConnell.

Spirit (V.O.)

What would Gloria be doing with the number of the man her husband hired? Then suddenly it dawned on me. Perhaps she was cheating on him and had turned the tables on her husband by falsifying the report.

Ebony looks back at Spirit, anxiously awaiting his answer.

Ebony

Denny? You gonna tell me what he said?

Dolan (Over the phone)

Kid? You there?

Spirit

Oh, right. Sorry. Uh…think you have enough for a warrant?

Dolan

It'll be flimsy but I need to check with Johnson at the lab.

Int. Central City Police laboratory

Johnson stands looking into a microscope, while Dolan walks in. No sound from either.

Spirit (V.O)

Johnson gives Dolan the goods. The slug found in McConnell's cranium was a .38. The prints on the shell casings matched Gloria Manheim's from a collar in 2003 for resisting arrest during an Iraq War protest. It's a funny thing, a peace protester packing heat.

Manheim residence---Int. Master Bedroom.

Dolan enters Gloria's bedroom with Marco behind him. A uniformed police officer enters after Marco. Dolan enters the closet.

Marco

I don't understand, Commissioner Dolan. What is it that you hope to find?

Dolan

I'm afraid I can't discuss that with you at the present time, Mr. Manheim.

Dolan moves over to the dresser next to the bed. Opening shelves and rifling through them quickly, he shuts one, then another and then another until he pauses. Photos along with a .38 and a pair of gloves were found in the drawer.

Dolan

.38 revolver. Photos, too. (picks up the gloves and smells them) GSR. Bag it and tag it.

Cop

Yes, sir.

Dolan

Mr. Manheim, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to come in for questioning.

Marco sees the pictures and pulls them out. Stunned, he flips through page after page of photos of Gloria with Alan Almeida.

Marco (shocked)

I don't believe it! Why would…Why?

Dolan

Mr. Manheim, I'm sorry but we're going to have to place your wife under arrest. The officer will drive you to the station. (Cop and Marco leave the room) You can come in now, Denny.

Spirit slips into the room from the bathroom.

Spirit

Do not go in there.

Dolan (disgusted)

Aw, kid, tell me you---

Spirit

So, what did you find?

Dolan

We found photos of Mrs. Manheim in a face-hug with Alan Almeida outside his apartment building.

Spirit

I suspected she was hiding something when he called.

Dolan

She was; a gun and about fifteen pages of motive.

Cut to:

Int.----Police Interrogation room.

Dolan

Can you explain your relationship with Dirk McConnell, Mrs. Manheim?

Gloria (tearful)

My husband hired him to spy on me. He was always worried that I would end up leaving him. Isn't that funny? The way the son of a bitch spread it around, you'd think he'd be more understanding if I did it only once. Once!

Dolan

We found the gun in your dresser drawer. It's a match to the bullet we found in Dirk McConnell's skull. Shell casings have your fingerprints on them.

Gloria

I practiced at the gun range sometimes but, it was only to let off steam from Marco's latest indiscretions.

Dolan

Why'd you kill him?

Gloria

I didn't! I swear!

Dolan

Then where were you last night?

Gloria

I was at Alan's. We watched "Happy Feet" until about 9:30 when Marco gave me a call and said he needed me to come home for something.

Dolan

McConnell was murdered at 10pm, and since you left before then, it's plenty of time to get back to the house.

Gloria lets out a heavy sigh of frustration and puts her head in her hands.

Gloria

I'm telling you the truth! Ask Alan, he can confirm it!

Dolan

Don't worry, we will. But one more question before I go. If your husband hired him to spy on you, why did you have McConnell's name in your purse?

Gloria

One night, I noticed a man staring at me and Alan from behind a bush. I originally thought it was nothing until he kept showing up everywhere I went. Finally I confronted him. He tried to give me some bullshit story about being a reporter. But I've seen enough reporters to know that they don't just hide in bushes and that's it. They take the direct approach. It was after a long conversation; he told me Marco had hired him to find out if I was being unfaithful.

Dolan

And he clearly did.

Gloria

Yes. But I told him I'd pay him double what Marco's paying him to take fake photos and make a false report.

Dolan

Then what happened?

Cut to:

Night---Ext. Ebony White's cab.

Spirit sits in the cab, listening to the conversation on an earpiece.

Gloria (over the radio)

I got him the money and he made it happen. He gave me the real photos and I put them in the drawer.

Cut to:

Int. Interrogation room. Close-up of Dolan, thinking to himself.

Dolan

Top right drawer in the dresser next to the bed?

Gloria

Yes, how did you know?

Dolan looks right at Gloria.

Dolan

That's where we found the gun, Mrs. Manheim.

Gloria (incredulous)

But…I always keep it locked up in a chesterfield lockbox under my bed.

Dolan

You don't say…

Cut to:

Int. Ebony's cab. Spirit pulls the earpiece off and puts his hand under his chin, contemplating what Gloria said.

Spirit

To the Manheim residence.

Ebony

You got it.

The cab pulls away.

Cut to:

Int. Marco Manheim's den-----Night

Spirit walks quietly through the room and begins opening drawers and cabinets. Once at a large cluttered wooden desk, he pulls out photos of Gloria eating at a diner, walking out of a building and getting into her car. He then picks up a phone book and begins flipping through the pages. After stopping, he dials a number on the keypad and all of a sudden, he hears the chirping noise of a cell phone. Looking for the location of the sound, he found it sitting in a drawer, plugged up to a charger cord. Pulling out his own cell phone, he dialed a number.

Spirit

Dolan, it's me. Marco's business number forwards to his cell phone. He could've been taking that conference call anywhere. Have Johnson look over the gloves, see if maybe there's some DNA evidence he can find.

Dolan (over the phone)

What do you mean? You thinking…

Spirit

I think that the real killer would've gotten rid of the evidence and the motive behind the killing as soon as possible. Instead the evidence was just sitting there, waiting to be found. It's the only other explanation that fits.

Dolan

Sure thing. I'll get Johnson right on it.

Spirit put his cell phone away in his coat pocket. All of a sudden, the lights come on. Marco Manheim is standing in the doorway with a gun in his hand aimed straight at the hero's back.

Marco

Hands up.

Spirit pauses.

Marco

Put your goddamn hands up! NOW!

Spirit slowly raises his hands and turns to face Marco.

Spirit

This isn't what it looks like.

Marco

It looks like an urban legend is breaking into my home. I have every legal right to put a hole right through that mask of yours.

Spirit

I don't think someone who murdered an innocent man just to set up his wife has much room to talk about legality.

Marco paused, in shock at the revelation. A smile crept onto his face still aiming the gun at Spirit. He takes slow steps toward the hero.

Marco

When McConnell told me that Gloria wasn't cheating on me, I felt sick. Sick of all the things I'd done to her. Thinking of every single time I betrayed her made me want to throw myself in front of a bus.

Marco starts walking towards Spirit, gun trained on him.

Marco

So I decided that I was going to change my ways. Become the man she married. The man she fell in love with. I go out and buy her a diamond-studded necklace with the biggest amethyst I could afford. She's a February birthday so I figured it'd be fitting. I go to put the gift in the drawer and what do I find?

Spirit

Photos of her and Alan Almeida.

Marco begins to shake. Tears of rage stream down his cheeks as he moves in closer to Spirit.

Marco (shouting)

How dare that bitch give me shit about my affairs when she's fucking around with some wet-behind the ears desk jockey?!

Spirit

She had to pay. Right? She had to know that you weren't going to be passive about it like she was all those times you cheated.

Marco

I took the gloves. Broke open the lockbox that she thought I didn't know about under the bed.

Spirit

But you still had the phone conference, didn't you? So you had it forwarded to your cell phone. Leaving you ample time to kill Dirk McConnell and set your wife up for the whole thing. You waited until you knew she was with Alan. Then you gave her the call to come home at the time you were heading to McConnell's office.

Marco

I told him I was giving him a bonus for his due diligence. Poor dumb bastard never saw it coming until it was too late.

Spirit

And neither did you. You're under arrest for the murder of Dirk McConnell. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will---

Marco gives a quizzical look. He then bursts into boisterous laughter. Spirit looks on in confusion.

Marco

Are you kidding me? Who the hell are you to put me under arrest? No, really. Who? You gonna take off that mask and testify to all that?

Spirit

Don't have to.

Spirit reaches into his coat and pulls out his open cell phone. Close up shows "Dolan" with a timer for length of call. Marco realizes its over, lowering the gun slightly.

Spirit

I hit redial right after you came in. Commissioner Dolan can testify to everything you've just said.

Incensed, Marco raises his gun back at Spirit, standing not three feet from his face.

Marco

Least I can take you with---

With his right arm, Spirit swats the gun away from Marco and then brings his elbow back, hitting Marco in the jaw. Marco throws a punch into Spirit's ribs, head-butts him, and then throws him onto the desk. Marco tries to strangle Spirit but the hero raises his knee against Marco's head. He spins on the table and then kicks him away. Blocking a punch, he jabs Marco's stomach, throws a left cross into his face followed by a spinning right back-hand. He kicks Marco in the chest, sending him into a chair and tumbling backward. Marco then sees the gun and crawls to it. Spirit runs over and jumps dropkicking Marco in the face with both feet, knocking him out. Police sirens are heard in the distance growing louder by the minute. Spirit walks over to his fedora and dusts it off.

Spirit (V.O.)

Dolan's uniforms get here just as I finish breaking my knuckles on a crook's face. I guess Dolan was right.

Spirit puts on the fedora and exits the room.

Spirit (V.O.)

It was nice to do some actual detective work once in a while.

Fade to:

Ext. Parking lot of Central City Police Headquarters-----Daytime.

Dolan walks Gloria toward a car where Alan Almeida is standing, waiting for her. She runs to him and jumps into his arms, kissing him passionately.

Spirit (V.O.)

Johnson found a single hair in the gloves worn the night of McConnell's murder. DNA proved that it was Marco Manheim's hair. That as well as the confession Dolan heard was enough to send Marco up for life. It's a pity. I hear the girls in prison aren't that pretty.

Fade to:

Ext. Lone rooftop----Night.

Spirit stands on a rooftop with the sky above him and wind whipping his coat and tie.

Spirit (V.O.)

As for Gloria, she and Alan are getting married as soon as her divorce from Marco is finalized. They even sent me an invitation, courtesy of Dolan.

Fade to black.

Spirit (V.O.)

I considered it.

The End.