As Sue Ann swerves to avoid the semi, she heads straight for the median. She manages to slam on the breaks before she collides with the concrete structure.
She slowly lifts her head as she pants, the look of fear in her eyes.
She turns and watches the truck drive on down the street.
She picks up her phone and dials. “Can you check a license plate number?”
“Sue Ann Clark?” asks Douglas. “Why are you suddenly bringing her up?”
“She keeps getting on my nerves,” Dante responds.
Dante walks away from the window, “It seems Ms. Clark has decided to target me,” he says as he takes a seat on one of Douglas’ couches. “I think she is looking into company finances.
Douglas walks over and sits down as well, “Is there something to be concerned about?”
“Once an investigation starts, anything can be problematic,” Dante says. “I don’t feel reassured right now.”
Douglas shakes his head, “I’m sure nothing will come of it.”
“I left her alone, but she continues to want to pick a fight with me. Sue Ann Clark.” Dante turns to look at Douglas, “What do I do about her?”
The silence is awkward between the two as Douglas isn’t sure how to respond to that. His phone suddenly begins to vibrate, and as he pulls it out of his pocket, he sees it’s Sue Ann calling. He tilts his cellphone away from Dante and disconnects the call. “It was Carlos,” he says with a grin. “I can call him back later.”
Dante looks at Douglas with an expression that might suggest he doesn’t believe him.
Sue Ann’s phone begins to ring as Douglas’s name pops up on the screen. We see she’s sitting on a hospital bed. She answers, “Hey.”
“Hey, what’s up?”
“Are you okay?” she asks.
“Yes, of course. Why do you ask?”
“Does anyone else know that we met last night?” she asks.
The doctor comes into her room, “We need to take you to x-ray. We suspect you may have broken a bone.”
Douglas can hear the entire thing on his phone, “What’s going on?”
Sue Ann looks annoyed. “I’m fine. I’ll call you later. Bye.” She hangs up.
Douglas immediately makes another call. “Carlos. Check all hospital admissions since last night. Also, looking into any car accidents.”
“Anything in particular?”
“You’ll know when you see it,” says Douglas as he hangs up the phone.
Paul Young pulls up to the side of the street.
“Thanks for the ride,” says Sue Ann as she starts to get out of the car. As Paul drives off, she walks up the drive. She pauses outside of her apartment and looks up. It’s probably something she typically does to ensure her lights are still turned off, and the shades are drawn just so.
Her attention is diverted as a man walks down the long stairway towards her.
His eyes immediately go to the bandages around her hand and wrist. He looks up at her, “So, what happened?”
“A car pushed me into the path of an oncoming semi-truck. I was on my way back from meeting you,” she says.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know. I find it rather coincidental that someone tried to kill me right after our meeting.”
Douglas sighs, “I told you not to touch this without hard evidence.”
“Touch what? Who? Why shouldn’t I?” she asks. “I don’t suppose Dante Schumer mentioned to you the fact that he wants to kill me, has he?”
“Stop blaming the innocent. Get a grip on reality. Until you find out who tried to run you over, stop throwing around blame,” says Douglas.
“I just wonder,” Sue Ann says as she looks at him, “What is it they are so afraid of that they would try and run down a sitting prosecutor?”
Douglas shakes his head, “You’re the one that should be afraid. If they would do this to you, that means they’ll go to any lengths to stop you.”
“So what do you want me to do?” she yells. “Just stop doing my fucking job because some asshole is going to try and kill me? Does that sound like me at all?”
“I think you should understand who has the upper hand in this situation. If you keep poking around in this shit, they won’t stop until they get the job done.”
“I almost died, Douglas.” She looks at him, “Yet, here I am saying that I’m going to take down that piece of shit.”
Douglas looks like he’s going to say something more but then just turns and walks away.
“I don’t get it,” she says, causing him to stop walking. “Why did you even come here?”
He considers the question and perhaps decides he doesn’t like the answer, so he starts walking again.
She turns to watch him walk away and then starts up the stairs.
She unlocks her door and steps inside. She closes the door, ensures that it’s locked before she falls to the floor, and begins to weep.
Outside the apartment, standing by his car, Douglas Frost watches the window to her apartment. The window remains dark for a while, and then the light switches on. That’s the point he gets into his car and drives off.
Douglas walks into Dante’s office as Schumer Construction and immediately heads over to sit down on the couch. Dante is going over some numbers on his desk, but as he notices Douglas, he grabs the paperwork and walks over to join him.
“Something wrong?” he asks.
Douglas doesn’t look at him, “Someone nearly killed Sue Ann Clark last night.”
Dante looks up as if surprised.
“A truck nearly ran her over.”
Still not looking Dante in the eye, Douglas asks, “Was it you? Were you trying to scare her off?”
“Are you crazy?” asks Dante. “I’d never go after a sitting prosecutor. That’s suicide.”
“Then who?” asks Douglas.
Dante may be wondering the same thing himself.
Later, Dante sits across from Tenta. He pours a drink and pushes it towards the bodyguard, “Drink it.”
Tenta takes the drink and downs it quickly.
Dante pours another. “Drink it.”
Tenta drinks that one too.
Dante pours one more. This time, he picks it up. His hand is badly shaking as he brings it to his mouth and drinks it down. He sets the glass down and pushes it towards Tenta, who reaches for it and holds it out as Dante picks up the liquor bottle.
“What the fuck was wrong with you? What were you thinking?”
He pours another glass. This time it fills to the top and overflows onto the table. Dante empties the bottle and slams it down on the table angrily as he gets up and storms off, leaving the scolded bodyguard sitting there.
Tenta knows he didn’t do this, but he damned sure better find out who did.
Sue Ann is sitting at her desk. She glances up at Paul, “I need you to bring me a witness.”
“Did you get some information?” he asks.
She shakes her head, “No. But it’s fairly obvious. I should have known.”
Tenta is at Spinet Entertainment and is kicking the crap out of Stephen Spinet.
Spinet’s clothes are torn, and he has marks, blood, and bruises all over him. Tenta stomps several times on him before walking over to the desk and grabbing the glass plaque and looks like he’s going to use it on him when Spinet grabs him by the ankle, “Please. Stop. I’m sorry! I’m sorry! That prosecutor was annoying me. I just wanted to scare her!”
Tenta sets the plaque down on the desk, then picks up his watch and puts it back on his wrist. “You need to start using your head.”
“I will. I promise.”
Tenta turns and leaves Stephen Spinet there on the ground on his hands and knees. Stephen lets out a sigh of relief as he gets to his feet. When suddenly, his phone rings.
“You look like someone beat you up,” comments Sue Ann Clark as she sits in an interrogation room.
“No. I didn’t.”
Sue Ann nods her head slowly. “I have to wonder why someone would try to kill a prosecutor in such an obvious way.”
We finally see she’s sitting across from Stephen Spinet, who’s been battered and bruised. This hasn’t been his day.
He doesn’t look at her. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Look,” she says. “You made a rash decision without completely thinking it through. I wonder how many years you’ll rot in jail for attempted murder? Luckily for me, I have a dashcam on my car. I’ve just submitted it for review. I guess we’ll know soon enough. Let’s just wait here for it, shall we? I mean, I already have a good idea what I’ll find.”
Later that day, if his day hasn’t already been bad enough, Stephen Spinet is standing behind Dante Schumer. “What did she want?”
Spinet clears his throat. “My ledger. Clark wants to trace funds from Schumer Construction to Spinet Entertainment.”
Dante finally turns around to face Stephen and asks, “Have you received any money from us?”
Earlier in the interrogation room, Sue Ann is still trying to get some information from Spinet. “We know there was a murder seven years ago that involved Dante Schumer. You know it too, don’t you?”
Spinet doesn’t answer.
“What about the one from the other day?”
“I don’t know anything about that.”
“Are you ready to rot in jail for the rest of your life because that is what is about to happen? All I want is the truth, and you can go about your business and your life.”
Spinet looks at the ground as he’s asked about the money. “No, sir.”
“Good,” says Dante as he walks off.
However, closeby is Paul Young watching the entire exchange. He immediately calls Sue Ann.
Douglas is at the hospital visiting Jewel. He got a phone call asking him to come.
Her father has shown up, “Is it true the company caused her blindness?”
Douglas nods, “It seems so. There are others suffering from the same condition.”
Jewel reaches for her father’s hand though she has to feel for it, “Don’t worry, dad. I’ll get the surgery, and I’ll be fine.”
Douglas opens up his notebook, “I’m not going to charge you for this. However, if you receive a settlement, I’m going to ask for twenty percent. If we don’t get a settlement, you won’t owe me anything.”
He lays the document in front of Jewel, but her husband steps over. “I’ll sign it,” he says, knowing she can’t see it. He scribbles his signature on the document.
Later that evening, at the bar, Dante is looking over the paperwork that Douglas had signed. “Good work,” he says as he slides it back into the envelope.
“Dante. Do you know the difference between the rich and the poor?” Douglas asks though he doesn’t wait for Dante to answer, “The poor are far more trusting than the rich. The poor don’t even realize it when they are being taken for fools.”
Ignoring the comment, Dante asks, “You’re going to inspect the factory tomorrow? You need to find a solid piece of evidence.”
“You think they haven’t already gotten rid of anything potential piece of evidence? Don’t get your hopes up.”
Dante walks onto the rooftop of Tanner Electronics, where Brandon Tanner is waiting for him. The sky is filled with dark clouds, perhaps predicting rain soon.
“Was it during the construction of this building that you first came to see me?” asks Brandon.
Dante nods his head, “That’s how I recall it.”
Brandon turns to Dante, “Douglas Frost has to play this just right. You understand that, right?”
Dante turns to meet his gaze, “This isn’t like you, to be so nervous about a court case.”
Brandon laughs. It’s a little creepy. Just as quickly as it came, the smile disappears.
As Douglas Frost pulls into the Tanner Electronics factory’s parking lot, there is already an entourage waiting for him. As he’s escorted in, the foreman begins to give him statistics. “We have 168 employees. In our history, we’ve had a total of 350 workers. Only seven of them have had issues with their eyesight. Of those seven, five admitted the issue was their fault for not wearing proper…”
“Can I see the files?” interrupts Douglas.
The foreman leads him into a room, “This way.”
Brandon walks out onto a deck where everything is set up for a board meeting. Everyone is waiting on him, “Sit. You didn’t need to stand for this long just waiting for me.”
Everyone sits down, and the vice president says, “I’d like to run an inspection on the factory.”
“Is there a problem with the factory?”
Confused, the vice president asks, “Didn’t you ask me to take care of the victims?”
Brandon shakes his head, “I asked you to get them to have the surgery immediately and then compensate them. They are our employees, after all.”
“Right, that’s why I wanted to see if there was an issue at the factory.”
“Are you aware of any problem?” Brandon asks.
“Well, no, sir…”
“I’m just trying to be courteous.” Brandon reaches for a newspaper and opens it up. “Their lawyer is down at the factory now. I want you to ensure that he doesn’t find anything wrong with our factory.”
A large dolly brings eight large boxes of files, and behind that dolly is another with eight more.
“Due to our company policy, we can’t let any of these files leave the premises. You can have until the end of the day to go through them.” Carlos has joined Douglas, who looks amused. “I hope that will be okay with you.”
“Uh, no,” says Carlos. “That’s only six hours from now.”
Douglas smirks, “Looks like they want us to fail.”
The foreman shakes his head, “We’ve been told to cooperate fully.”
Douglas changes the subject, “Is there a good sushi restaurant around here?”
The foreman looks confused, “Pardon?”
Douglas leans forward, “Look, we can make this very simple. If you can assemble the individuals we need to talk to; we will just ask a few questions and be on our way.”
The foreman seems relieved to hear this. “We can do that. While we gather them, how about we treat you to a meal.”
“That’s perfect,” says Douglas.
Douglas and Carlos are working on their sushi lunch. Another course of fish is brought to them, and Carlos looks at Douglas, “Okay, so what’s the plan then?”
“What do you mean?”
Carlos helps himself to some of the sushi, “I mean, there were more than a dozen boxes of files sitting there. The longer we wait to crack them open, the less time we’ll have. I mean, right now we only have four hours left.”
“How about this?” Douglas says as he pours a drink and slides it over to Carlos. “The meal is free. Enjoy it.”
They clink their glasses together.
A little while later, Carlos is looking more than a little tipsy. “I must say, I’m a little disappointed.”
Taken by surprise, Douglas asks, “You didn’t like the meal?”
Carlos waves that off, “I know that over time everything changes. I know you don’t consider me a friend, but aren’t we at least co-workers?”
“What’s your point?”
“If you hadn’t given me a job five years ago, I’d still be out on the street and probably would have starved to death.”
Douglas raises a hand and brushes him off, “No. No. Why are you all sappy all of a sudden? You know I hate that shit.”
“Tell me the truth about your brother’s case. You asked me to look into it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to get the work, but when you asked me to look into the actress and the delivery driver’s case, I had no idea what it was. Now, I still don’t know what happened to him, but I want you to let me help you if you want to continue looking into it. Just say the word. But what I want to know is what is the connection between the actress and your brother.”
Douglas fills his glass with more alcohol and then drinks it all down. He doesn’t answer the question. Perhaps he doesn’t know the answer.
Brenda Wright sits at the bar when Officer Bryant from before walks up, sets an envelope in front of her and sits down. “Young is working on a case of a murdered actress seven years ago. It also looks like it may be connected to a couple of other deaths as well.”
Brenda flips through the documents, “Here’s a document about money coming from Schumer Construction.”
Back at her office, she is doing a more thorough review of the items in the envelope. There are pictures from the crime scene and more documents. She comes across one document, then stands up, walks to her file cabinet, and opens the drawer. She flips through the files until she finds the one she’s looking for labeled “Unresolved Murder Cases.”
She flips through that folder, and she comes to a bio file for the murdered actress from seven years ago. She looks from that bio to a bio from the folder she just received with the name of an entirely different actress in it.
“How is Sue Ann connecting these murders to Schumer Construction?” she asks aloud to herself.
However, someone else is looking at a file of a completely different actress. The man flips through some pictures before standing up and walking over to a trunk. He opens it, and there is rope and fabric inside. He sets the pictures down, and it’s then we see the photos are of Ellen Sinclair. His phone rings, “Yes, boss? Have you decided?”
Speaking of Ellen Sinclair, she sits at her desk with her head lying on top as she stares out of the window. The broken music box sits on her desk and plays, the angel on top spinning around in circles.
Douglas and Carlos are going through some of the files. Well, Douglas is going through some of the files as Carlos has passed out in the chair next to him. Douglas reaches over and slaps him in the chest, “Wake up,” as a group of workers walks into the room and take a seat around the large conference table.
Douglas flips over a page, “Let’s go ahead and get started then. Was the company aware that methanol was used and was harmful to workers?”
The foreman shakes his head. “We weren’t aware it was harmful. That should be right there in the files.”
“I found this in box three. Is there a Mr. Stanfield present?”
“On December 7, 2017, you made a note. I’ll read it verbatim, ‘There is a risk of vision loss due to methanol use. “
Stanfield shifts in his chair, “Are you sure I wrote that?”
Douglas nods. “I even took a photo of it with my little phone here.” He continues, “Although it appears you were fully aware of how dangerous it was to your workers, the company continued to use methanol. Was it because it was 70 cents cheaper per gallon than other chemicals? I found the cost analysis in box five.” He holds up another paper. “You also failed to install multiple vents throughout the facility.”
There is a definite feeling of everyone being very uncomfortable right now.
“Oh! I almost forgot the most important question,” says Douglas. “The first vision victim was told to report directly to CEO Brandon Tanner, isn’t that right?”
Dante Schumer and three men sit around a table at Kam Loon Restaurant and are eating a meal.
“I bet Tanner is sweating balls right now,” says one of the men as Dante continues to eat.
Another turns to Dante, “You took that shit on purpose just to fuck with him, didn’t you?”
Dante shakes his head, “This happens sometimes. I’m not sure why he took the case, but I guess he felt it worth tackling.”
“But he’s defending the victims. Tanner must be worried considering he’s about to roll out his newest phone model.”
Dante just grins and continues to eat.
On a big screen, the face of Douglas Frost asking questions at the Tanner factory is displayed.
“Oh! I almost forgot the most important question,” says Douglas. “The first vision victim was told to report directly to CEO Brandon Tanner, isn’t that right?”
Brandon Tanner is watching the questioning. He clicks the remote, and the video jumps back a couple of seconds.
“Isn’t that right?”
“Isn’t that right?”
“Isn’t that right?”
“Look, Tanner is probably shitting his pants right now. He couldn’t possibly think I could go through all those boxes of files in such a short amount of time,” Douglas is on his cell phone sitting in his office. “I think I can win this.”
Dante is on the other end of that line. “That’s great,” he says, though his face seems to think otherwise. “I didn’t think it would be easy for you.”
“Didn’t you know? I’m a hell of a lawyer. You say the word, and I’ll get the results.”
“That’s great. Good job,” Dante says before slowly lowering his phone and hanging up.
Douglas sets his phone down when someone knocks on the door. “Come in.”
A man walks in, “I’m Mr. Lee. I represent Tanner Electronics.”
Darkness has settled in, and Douglas is being driven, though it appears he isn’t sure where he’s being taken to as he looks around at landmarks. The area is mostly forest, it seems.
The car pulls up to an expensive mansion and stops in front of the home. The door is opened, and Douglas gets out of the vehicle. He looks around with an impressed look on his face before he walks up the steps into the home.
He’s led into a dimly lit room where he is asked to wait. He continues to look around curiously when he notices a painting over a fireplace. He seems to take a keen interest in it.
“If a human loses their soul, do you think they are still human?” Brandon Tanner asks as he walks up behind Douglas.
Douglas turns to look at him, though Tanner is also staring at the painting now. “If they desire to get back their soul, are they human?” Douglas asks in return.
“Get it back?” Tanner asks. “Is that possible?”
Douglas turns to look at him. Brandon chuckles, “Sorry, I left you standing here.”
“What is it you want?”
The two men turn to face each other, “There’s something I needed to tell you, but with so many eyes and ears out there, I felt it best to do it here. I apologize for the cloak and dagger routine. Let’s head into my office.”
Brandon turns and starts to walk away. Douglas remains where he’s standing for a moment, a curious look on his face before he finally turns and follows.
Moments later, Douglas has a drink in his hand. He is sitting across from Brandon. “Is this about the lawsuit?” Douglas asks.
“I need to ask you to persuade the victims to drop this lawsuit,” Brandon says matter of factly. “I’ll pay you whatever you think your time has been worth plus a nice bonus.”
Douglas seems confused, “Earlier, you told me to do my best for them.”
“I also said I needed to determine what the issue was at the factory. I didn’t ask you to win this lawsuit.” The two men look at each other as Brandon brings his drink up, “I guess you misunderstood my intentions,” he says, then takes a sip.
Douglas has this ‘you have to be shitting me’ look on his face. “I can’t do what you want. First, there’s the ethics involved. Second, my clients need money for their operation. Third, something in your factory is blinding workers.”
“It really would be better if you dropped this,” insists Brandon.
Douglas stands up and adjusts his suit, “I guess we have nothing further to discuss.” As he walks towards the door, he stops and looks surprised when he sees Dante wanting into the room.
“If Mr. Schumer asked you to win this case, perhaps we have a little more to talk about after all,” says Tanner as he continues to drink.
Douglas looks from one man to the other, wondering what the fuck is going on here. He looks at Dante, “What the hell is he talking about?”
“Let me explain,” says Dante.
Douglas realizes he’s been had as he doesn’t answer but storms out of the room. Dante turns to follow. Brandon doesn’t move from his seat.
“Douglas,” Dante says as he catches up to Frost.
“Was this your plan?
“This case is very high profile. Maybe too high of a profile. There’ll be press and human rights advocates that will start to get involved. Someone will discover that our interests were on Tanner Electronics side all along,” explains Dante.
“You could have told me all of this!” shouts Douglas.
“You wouldn’t have gone as hard as you did if I had. You said there was no way you could win. And now you’re telling me you can win. That wasn’t what I wanted. I thought if you took the side of the victims, you’d get good press. There’d be a settlement, and it would all be over quickly. Tanner would have to fix his factories, and that would be that.”
Douglas shakes his head, “I thought this was strange from the start. You have never once had me represent victims, always the corporation CEOs or asshole politicians. You’ve always been upfront with me about everything. Why not this one?”
“Tanner wanted this to happen and told me not to let you know,” says Dante. “This is corporate litigations. Not personal litigations you’ve been doing up until now.”
“This is all horse shit, Dante.” Douglas points back into the house, “You took that jerk’s side over me? You deceived me on this. Why? Nothing you’re saying right now makes a goddamned bit of sense, so explain it to me in a way I can understand.”
Dante can’t seem to find that particular way, so he says nothing. Douglas just scoffs ugly at him and turns and walks away.
Dante watches him leave, and then something catches his eye. He turns to look back inside the mansion, and Brandon Tanner is watching him.
Douglas walks into his apartment and slams his briefcase down on the counter before taking a seat on the stool. He tries to piece everything together in a way that makes sense. But nothing comes to him.
“Why are you lying to me now, Dante?” he asks out loud.
He gets up and walks over, and pulls out a drawer. His brother’s cell phone is inside. He sits down at his desk and picks up the phone then powers it back on. For a long moment, he stares at the wallpaper—a picture of himself and his brother.
“Do we have any leads?” asks Sue Ann Clark.
Young spreads out some papers on the table. “These are the two murder victims who are both from Spinet Entertainment died seven years apart. Remember these other two? They are from different entertainment agencies. But, there’s a connection. This man here used to work for Spinet Entertainment. He left and started Williams Entertainment. And this man here, guess where he used to work.”
Sue Ann takes a wild guess, “Spinet Entertainment?”
“Correct. He left and started Concord Agency. Guess what else?”
Sue Ann waits.
“Remember Spinet’s mistress? Her last name is Concord.”
“Everything connects,” says Sue Ann. “But it’s all circumstantial.”
“Concord and Williams have closed up shop, but Spinet, as you know, is still going strong. There are at least two actresses who have been with Spinet since the first murder seven years ago.” Paul digs out two profile pictures. “This is Deliah Loper, and this is…”
“Ellen Sinclair,” Sue Ann immediately recognizes her from the trial.
“Correct. And they have three years left on their contract.”
Sue Ann looks over the two photos.
Deliah Loper and Ellen Sinclair are being led into a room by Stephen Spinet, who still looks worse for wear after his encounter with Tenta. There appears to be a business lunch going on.
Ellen Sinclair looks like she’d rather be anywhere but here.
“I’d like to introduce you to the girls,” says Stephen.
The two men look up at the women; one takes a keen interest in Ellen. “You. Come here.” When she hesitates, Stephen puts his hand on her back and pushes her forward. She slowly takes a seat next to the man.
The other grabs Deliah by the wrist and pulls her onto his lap, “And you should sit right here,” he says with a grin. She’s caught by surprise at first but then smiles as she’s supposed to.
Stephen grabs a bottle of liquor, “Let me pour you all a drink.”
Deliah has slid off the man’s lap and is sitting next to him. He makes sure she doesn’t go far by putting an arm around her and holding her next to him while his free hand reaches for her knee.
Suddenly, Ellen begins to wretch. She brings a hand up to cover her mouth and flees the room as Stephen looks on.
The man she abandoned is surprised, “Where is she going?”
“She’ll be back. She just had to use the restroom,” explains Stephen. He looks over at Deliah and gives her a stern glare, to which she gets it, “Excuse me. I’ll be right back.”
Stephen says, “Continue with your business; they’ll be right back.”
Ellen is leaning against the restroom counter when Deliah walks in to check on her. Deliah turns on the water and runs her hands underneath.
“What am I supposed to do?” asks Ellen.
Deliah reaches for a paper towel, “Look, I get it. Just tell them you’re sick and go home” She adjusts her dress, takes one more look at Ellen in the mirror, and takes a deep breath before she turns and walks out, leaving Ellen to herself.
Douglas is in his office the next day. He’s looking over photos of his case when his phone rings.
“I’ve restored the phone,” says the voice on the other end.
“I’ll be right there.”
A while later, he walks into the small shop; the owner walks over and hands him a phone. “I was able to put the memory chip into another similar phone. It wasn’t easy, but I’ve recovered what I could.”
“By the way,” the owner says, “There was something very interesting on that phone. I kinda saw it accidentally.”
The owner quickly disengages to help another customer as Douglas looks at him curiously.
A little bit later, he sitting in his car. He powers on the cell phone and clicks on an icon that brings up a series of videos. He pauses as he randomly picks one then watches.
Desiree Schumer is sitting out on the patio with a book. She occasionally reaches down to massage her knee.
Dante Schumer sits across from her. They both sit in silence as Desiree enjoys her book.
The video features Douglas’ brother just singing. Douglas’s eyes tear up as he watches. Then he hears his voice. “You sound like Michael Jackson.”
“Stop,” says his brother. “I just won’t sing then.” His brother reaches for the phone. Then Douglas sees himself and his brother on the screen. “This punk thinks he can take this phone from me.”
“Give me my phone. Turn it off!”
“Keep singing, you squirrel!”
“I’ll never delete it.”
A smile curls up on Douglas’s lips as he watches. Then his face becomes severe as the video ends. He sets the phone down, “Twill deceived you. There’s nothing here,” he says to himself.
He lays his head back against the headrest and sighs.
His phone begins to ring.
Dante is standing out in his yard when Douglas walks up behind him.
“What did you want?”
Dante turns to look at him, “Look at you. Still upset. Look, I’m sorry.”
Douglas turns to him, “If you’re so sorry, tell me everything. Help me understand.”
“Fine. Fine,” Dante says. “Over dinner. There’s someone I want you to meet.” Dante pats him on the shoulder and walks towards the house.
As the two enter the home, Dante leads Douglas into a room where Desiree is seated. “This is my daughter, Desiree. Desiree, this is Douglas.”
Desiree stands up, “The Douglas? I’ve heard so much about you,” she says as she reaches out her hand. Douglas accepts the handshake.
“Isn’t this the first time you’ve met?” asks Dante.
Douglas remembers where he’s seen her before. She was the woman walking up to the grave after he visited his brother.
“Desiree? I’ve only ever seen her in photos. Much younger photos, so I never would have recognized you.”
“She just finished law school. But enough of that, let’s eat. We have something to discuss,” says Dante.
They are part way through their meal when Douglas asks, “So, Desiree. Since you’ve moved back here, have you been hired at a law firm yet?”
Dante interjects, “Douglas. I want you to take her under your wing. Teach her.”
Dante continues, “She graduated from Stamford. She’s very bright. I want you to teach her.”
“He’s biased. But I will work hard,” she says. “I think I just need a little experience.”
Dante looks like a proud papa as he smiles at her, while Douglas doesn’t look convinced that this is a great idea.
Later, Douglas and Dante are having a drink in his study.
“Why send her to me when you could place her with any big law firm in the city?” Douglas asks.
“I don’t trust those big law firms,” Dante explains. “You’re the only one in this world that I trust. It doesn’t matter to me if she becomes a great lawyer, but I will protect her for the rest of my life.”
10 Years Ago
Desiree is on a hospital bed. She has one leg in a cast that goes from her foot to her hip. She has bruises all over her face and body.
Seated next to her is Dante, and a man and another girl are sitting in the room. Dante looks up confused at the man, “You want an apology?”
“Your daughter walked out in front of my daughter’s car. Since the accident, my daughter has been distraught and hasn’t been able to study. She has failed exams because of this incident. If your daughter had watched where she was going, none of this would have happened. Your daughter needs surgery, apologize, and I will pay for it.”
Dante looks across at the girl, who doesn’t at all look distraught. His eyes go back to the man. He knows he can’t afford this surgery.
“Don’t do it, dad,” pleads Desiree. “I did not walk out in front of that car. They’re lying.”
The other girl speaks up, “You’re lying! You walked right in front of my car!”
Desiree shakes her head, “You were on your phone while driving and not paying attention!”
“If you want that surgery, you better apologize to me.”
The other father interjects, “Listen. You have failed as a father. You can’t even afford to pay for your daughter’s treatment. You’re barely making it running that little construction company. I’m offering you a way out. All you have to do is bow down, and I’ll make sure she gets her surgery. Know your position in life. Shouldn’t you be used to this by now?”
Schumer turns to look at Desiree. Desiree meets his gaze, knowing what he has in mind. “Dad. Don’t.” But she can’t persuade him as he slides from his chair onto the floor in front of the girl.
“Dad! Get up!” Desiree screams. She begins to weep, “Don’t you do this,” she begs and cries as her father humiliates himself for her sake and apologizes to the girl.
As Dante continues to tell the story to Douglas, he says, “They were right. I couldn’t even protect my daughter.
“It wasn’t as if you had a choice back then,” says Douglas.
“Failing to protect someone you love is incompetence,” Dante replies. “I decided right then and there I would never again be an incompetent father. Douglas, you’re the only one I trust to take care of Desiree outside of myself. I do not trust anyone else.”
Desiree is in the yard, earbuds in her ear and talking with someone as the two men watch her. Finally, Douglas lets out a massive sigh. “I won’t go easy on her.”
Dante laughs, “Work her as hard as you need to. She will keep up.”
Douglas nods his head. “Okay.”
“Look, I wasn’t trying to deceive you about Tanner Electronics. I figured it would be fine if we dropped the lawsuit. I am sorry. I guess I considered the matter trivial.”
“Have you had dealings with Brandon Tanner before this?” asks Douglas.
Dante shakes his head. “It’s my first time. We have been acquainted over the years, but that’s about it.”
“I don’t like this guy. He gives me the creeps. Perhaps it’s best if I just drop the whole thing.”
Dante shakes his head, “Some other lawyer will pick it up. We need to settle this, but settle it in a matter that makes Tanner happy. He has offered me the plot of land I need downtown where I’ll construct my building. It’s just like everything else we do. Business.”
Later on, Brandon Tanner is sitting at his desk on the phone, “Douglas Frost isn’t going to be a problem for me, right?”
At home, Douglas picks up his phone and dials, “Carlos. I need you to find something out for me.”
Dante is also on the phone, “Don’t worry. I’ve taken care of him.”
He hangs up the phone, picks up some photos, and flips through them before setting them back down. The photos are of Jewel and her husband, protesting.
Brandon Tanner climbs out of his pool. He is immediately brought a robe, which he slips on. A man comes running into the pool area, “Mr. Tanner. There’s another incident. Another methanol incident. Another blinding.”
Brandon ties the belt around his robe, “Let’s go take a look.”
“Are you going to the hospital yourself?” asks the man.
Instead, Brandon turns around and asks, “Is the victim completely blind?”
Stanley Clark sits in his office. He has piles of papers on his desk. Each stack is somehow labeled with the words “corruption” somewhere on them. He pulls out a stack and flips it open. It’s tagged Tanner Electronics. There’s a picture inside of a young Brandon Tanner.
Brandon is sitting quietly on a chair, watching Jewel as she rests.
Douglas has just entered the hospital and walking down a long hallway.
A few moments later, Jewel is sitting up. “Thank you for visiting me in person.”
Brandon rises from his chair and walks towards her, “How could I not?”
Jewel lifts her hand to her temple and winces.
“Are you in a lot of pain? I can call a nurse,” Tanner asks her.
Jewel shakes her head, “I’ll be okay.”
Brandon walks over to where some flowers have been placed on the window sill. On a try is a pair of pruning scissors. He reaches down and picks them up. He moves them over and slowly snips off one of the flowers before he turns to look at her.
Douglas stands outside the room. He was about to go inside when he saw Tanner through the window.
“Have you gone completely blind?” Tanner asks her as he lifts his foot and presses it down on the snipped flower that has fallen to the floor, crushing it under his heel while Douglas is watching him from the outside.
“I can make out some shapes, but I couldn’t tell you what they were,” she responds.
“Is that so?” he says as he begins to tap the scissors against a flower vase. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
He slowly walks towards her until he’s on the side of her bed, “Is it that bad?” He asks as he’s right next to her face. He slowly brings up the scissors, but she continues just to sit there, unaware of what he’s doing.
He brings the point of the scissors right to her eye. Douglas’ own eyes go wide. Then suddenly, Brandon slowly turns his head until he is staring at Douglas through the window.
Standing underneath the carport at this hospital, Douglas and Brandon are standing together.
“You must have been surprised,” says Tanner.
Douglas is not amused, though Tanner has that creepy-ass smile on his face.
“Just what were you doing?” asks Douglas.
“I wanted to be sure she was blind or if she was faking,” responds Tanner. “I guess she’s in pretty bad shape. We need to get her that surgery as soon as possible. All you have to do is drop the lawsuit, and I’ll cover the cost of the surgery. Don’t you think that’s the best way for her?”
Carlos and Douglas are having lunch.
“That thing you asked me about the other night,” says Carlos. “I looked into it. Tanner seems to be one of the better ones. Typically, rich kids like that turn out to be big assholes. He seems to be very charity-oriented.”
“What about rumors?” asks Douglas.
“Tanner Senior was a strict man. After his divorce, he focused entirely on bringing Brandon in as his successor. He didn’t even get remarried or even date for that matter. Look, Brandon might be a weirdo, but there hasn’t been a hint of scandal since he took over the company. Jerks like that…” Carlos starts to say, then stops as if just remembering something. “There was one thing that happened quite a while ago. When he was in elementary school, there was an incident, but his father was able to use some cash to keep it out of the papers.”
20 Years Ago
A ten-year-old Brandon Tanner sits in an interrogation room when a young Stanley Clark walks in and sits down across from him. “Tell me why you did that to your driver?”
With a straight face and matter of factly, Brandon responds. “I was curious if a person would die if you hit them in the head with a brick.”
Stanley is taken aback. “What were you going to do if he died?”
Brandon shrugs, “But he didn’t die. I hit him pretty hard too.” The boy looks up at the prosecutor and smiles.
Carlos and Douglas aren’t the only ones discussing that particular incident. Still, in his office, looking out the window at a Tanner Electronics billboard with Tanner’s face on it, Stanley Clark remembers that day as well.
Carlos and Douglas walk back into Douglas’ office, still discussing that incident.
“The driver ended up brain dead or something, but it was not once mentioned in the news or on the internet.”
Douglas is taking this all in.
Tanner and Dante are having drinks at Tanner’s house.
“I’m sure he’s going to misunderstand my intention, so perhaps you can speak with him,” says Brandon.
Dante leans back in his chair, “Don’t worry.”
Brandon looks at Dante, “I wasn’t worried,” then takes a drink from his glass. “How long have you two been working together again?”
Dante thinks for a moment before responding, “Five years or so.”
“How well do you know him?” Brandon asks.
Dante picks up his glass, “He’ll have everything wrapped up shortly. I just didn’t want you to be concerned.”
Brandon nods his head slowly, “Can you set up lunch with him? The three of us. Let’s clear this all up, shall we?”
“Lunch?” asks Douglas. “Why does he keep wanting to see me? I hate that guy. He gives me the creeps.”
The room is silent while Douglas waits for a reply on the phone. He finally sighs.
“Fine.” He hangs up the phone. Carlos walks in, “I’m about to head out…”
“Carlos. Do you think Tanner Electronics continued to use methanol even though they knew it was dangerous because it was cheaper? I feel there’s another reason.”
Carlos wants to get out of the office, “I’ll be happy to look into that tomorrow,” he says.
“I need it right away.”
Douglas grabs his jacket and walks out, leaving Carlos frustrated.
“Why does she have to leave?”
Douglas is at the hospital talking to Jewel and her husband. Buddy says, “They said if she’s not going to go ahead and have the surgery, there’s nothing more they can do. They want to discharge her tomorrow.”
Jewel speaks up, “It’s fine. I’ll go home. I’m sure it’ll be okay if I wait until after the trial to get the surgery. We’re going to win, right? Mr. Frost?” She seems very hopeful.
The only three customers in a fancy restaurant are Brandon Tanner, Dante Schumer. Dante and Douglas sit across from Brandon for this particular lunch.
Douglas is eating his meal as Brandon speaks, “I was worried you’d get the wrong idea.”
Still chewing his food, Douglas responds, “There are all types of people in the world.”
“During my travels, I get to meet all kinds of people. But there are times when I think that enough is enough,” explains Brandon. “I know when you have nothing; you become desperate. And when you become desperate, you’ll stoop pretty low.”
Douglas laughs, “Still, did you think she was pretending to be blind?”
Dante quietly eats his meal, letting the other two men talk this out.
“You’re right,” says Brandon. “I was too insensitive. Are your clients willing to settle?”
Dante looks over at Douglas.
“In all of my discussions with my clients, they insist on knowing what the cause is above all else.”
Brandon sighs softly, shaking his head. “What difference will that make now? I will offer them more money than they could ever dream. I’m sure they’ll settle fairly quickly. You see, people are more vulnerable to money than the truth. If their choice is the truth or money? I’m sure they’ll pick money.” Brandon seems to find that very funny as he laughs. “They’re already experiencing what it’s like not to have money when you need it the most.”
Brandon and Douglas stare at each other silently for a few moments before Brandon turns to Dante, “Don’t you think so, Mr. Schumer?”
Dante looks up at Brandon but doesn’t answer. Douglas lets out a sigh, “Don’t underestimate their desire to know the truth. I think you’ll find them very tenacious. They may be desperate now, but once they’re willing to let it go, that desire grows even stronger. Perhaps even stronger than all the money you choose to throw at them. It’s called the human spirit.” He turns to Dante, “Ain’t I right?”
Dante finds himself caught between the two men as he again remains silent.
After the meal, Brandon’s car takes off, leaving Dante and Douglas standing outside. “He’s a fucking scumbag,” remarks Douglas.
“It doesn’t help that you continue to poke him. You’re making my business dealings with him difficult,” says Dante.
“What does he have on you? Seriously. Don’t tell me he intimidates you,” asks Douglas.
“What are you talking about?” Dante seems offended.
Douglas shakes his head, “Say the word, and I’ll destroy that asshole.”
Dante smirks, “You should persuade your clients to settle. That woman needs her surgery.”
“Fine. I’ll talk to them.” But Douglas doesn’t seem happy about it. His phone rings.
“What’s up, Carlos?” Douglas answers and then motions to Dante that he’s leaving, and he heads to his car.
Carlos is sitting at Douglas’ desk with his feet up as he relays the information to Douglas.
“So, I’ve been running around all night and since early this morning. Tanner Electronics was desperate to launch on time. They were originally using ethanol but switched to methanol because it speeded up the process, and it was cheaper. A lot cheaper.”
Desiree Schumer walks into the office, and Carlos immediately moves his feet off the desk and sits up. He motions for her to go ahead and sit down. “Let me call you back, Douglas.”
As he hangs up, he walks over and sits down, “Are you here for a consultation?” He has no clue who she is or why she’s here. “You should know, Mr. Frost is very picky about the cases he takes. And he charges quite a bit.”
Desiree shakes her head, laughing. “No. I wanted to come by early to check things out. I start working here next week.”
Carlos seems confused, “You’re going to work here? Mr. Frost hired you? Are you the new investigator? That son of a bitch. If he was going to replace me, he could have told me.”
Desiree holds up her hands, “No. Not an investigator. I’m a lawyer.”
Carlos blinks. “A lawyer? Oh! You’re a lawyer,” but Carlos still seems confused, “Why would he need to hire another lawyer?”
“My father asked him to take me in if I’m honest.”
“Your father is…?”
Desiree stands up and offers her hand, “I’m Desiree Schumer.”
Carlos is immediately on his feet as he recognizes the name, “Oh! Mr. Schumer’s daughter.”
“I heard something about a methanol case?”
“Right. That’s correct, I mean,” says Carlos, now obviously flustered.
“I thought I’d look over the case files before I start next week if that’ll be okay.”
Carlos nods, “Oh, absolutely. But, can we keep that whole ‘son of a bitch’ thing to ourselves?”
Desiree grins, “I won’t say anything.”
Carlos sighs, “Thank you. Let me get those files for you.”
Officer Bryant is snooping around the police station. Paul Young just finished printing some stuff off his laptop and closes the lid, and walks away.
Bryant looks around and then sits down at the desk and opens it back up, and begins poking around.
“What the hell are you doing?” asks Paul Young, now standing behind him.
Bryant leaps to his feet, “I was just… I mean, my laptop is broken, so I needed to borrow this since you’re not using it.”
Paul Young brushes past him, picks up his laptop, and throws it on the ground, as it shatters into multiple pieces. He reaches down and picks it up and grabs his keys, “What do you know? My laptop is broken now too.”
He walks away as Bryant looks at him, “You’re fucking crazy!”
Moments later, Sue Ann Clark is holding that laptop, “Are you serious?” she asks as she tries to piece it back together while Young drives the car.
“We need to be more careful. Don’t forget about your accident,” he reminds her.
She looks at him, “Were they able to get the license plate number from the dashcam?”
“It was stolen. We are still looking into it, but there was something odd. Spinet Entertainment has never made a rookie actress into a huge star. If they needed a huge star, they brought someone who was already very famous.”
Sue Ann looks forward, “But all the ones who were murdered were rookies.”
Ellen Sinclair is sitting on a couch. “I won’t do it.”
Todd is standing nearby, and Stephen Spinet is sitting on another couch across from her. “Hand me her contract.”
Todd hands it over, and Stephen begins to look through it, then reads, “The employee must obey the directions of the employer. Suppose they fail to follow through or refuse to do as directed. In that case, the employee must pay a $100,000 fine plus any additional costs that the company loses as a result.”
He turns to look at her as he holds up the last page, “Isn’t that your signature?”
She doesn’t respond as her eyes well up.
He hands the contract back to Todd, “I’ll tell you what. Pay the fine, and I’ll release you from your contract, and you can go back to doing whatever it was you were doing in the first place. You have no desire to be an actress.”
Ellen’s gaze drops, knowing she doesn’t have even close to that kind of money.
A little later, Ellen, Stephen, and Deliah are walking down a dimly lit alley.
“Just do what I say,” Stephen says.
As they walk down the alley, we see them pass Kam Loon Restaurant.
Stephen turns and walks through a door. Deliah quickly follows, but Ellen lingers for a moment before walking through the door.
Inside a fancy room, Ellen sits on the edge of a bed, holding on to her purse. By her expression, she has no desire to be there.
The door opens, and she grips even tighter to her purse, knowing what’s to come.
A little while later, Stephen is sitting in his office, mulling over the interrogation he went through with Sue Ann Clark. He’s about to take a shot of alcohol when his phone rings, and he quickly snatches it up.
As the person on the other end speaks, Stephen sighs.
“I’ll be right there. I’m sorry.”
Ellen is in the bathroom, frantically scrubbing her hands with soap and water. She looks like she’s on the verge of crying as she slowly looks up at herself in the mirror. Tears begin to flow as she continues to scrub her hands.
Her phone begins to ring.
“What lawyer?” asks Douglas.
He’s sitting on a couch at Buddy and Jewel’s apartment. “The lawyer from Tanner came by the hospital as Jewel was getting discharged. They said they’d pay for all the medical bills along with an additional $500,000 for a settlement.”
Douglas nods his head, assuming they’d agreed to the terms, but then Jewel said, “We turned them down.”
“If we accepted the money, we would never know what caused her vision loss. I will find a way for her to have the surgery,” says Buddy.
Douglas is sitting outside of a bar on the patio. He has two beers in front of him and is deep in thought.
Ellen Sinclair walks by and then slows down as she recognizes him.
Douglas must have caught her out of the corner of his eye as he turns his head and sees her. “You live in this neighborhood?” he asks. “Care for a drink? I promise I am not here to see you.”
She gives him a sour look and starts to move on when he says, “I’ll pay you for your time. Sit and drink. You said you’d do anything for money.”
She doesn’t respond. She just continues to walk on.
“That delivery driver. He was my brother.”
That stops her. She slowly turns to face him.
“The one you met seven years ago. He took time off school and did a variety of jobs to help me get through law school. He worked ten hours a day delivering packages.”
“What does that have to do with me?” she asks.
Douglas hasn’t faced her since she walked by, though she’s staring at him now. “He died because of what he delivered to you. That USB drive or whatever it was. Twill told me he died because of that.”
“I don’t know anything about it,” she says.
“I don’t care if you know or not. I’ve decided I’m going to have to forget about it for the rest of my life.” Douglas reaches for a few dollars from his pocket and lays it on the table before standing up and starting to walk off.
“Wait,” she says. “Why would you forget about it? You said he was your brother.”
Douglas turns around to face her, “If I give up what is most precious to me, I can have everything I want. I can either keep my greed or keep digging into his death. I don’t have it in me to give up my greed.”
He meets her gaze, “Don’t live like me. It’s the worst feeling in the world,” he admits.
He turns and walks off. She watches him go, and after a few moments, her cell phone rings.
“Hello?” she answers. “The prosecutor’s office?”
Douglas gets into his car and dials his phone.
“It’s me. I guess we should get together to talk about the settlement.”
Douglas is looking out a window in Mr. Lee’s office.
“I don’t understand why you don’t want to take this to trial,” Douglas asks as he turns around. “You’ve got the best legal team in the country, bar none. You should be able to whip my ass seven times in a row.”
Mr. Lee is sitting down. “Just how much do they want? They already turned down half a million. What’s their price, Frost?”
Douglas grins, “I was thinking 200, to be honest.”
Mr. Lee laughs, “You’re gonna low ball your clients like that? That’s less than what I offered.”
Douglas shakes his head, “200 million.”
Mr. Lee’s smile fades quickly.
Douglas continues, “It’s cheaper than having to through and repair all of your dozens of factories that make your little cell phones…”
“Stop joking around.”
“… I don’t think we can settle for less than 200 million.”
“What are you doing, Frost?”
Douglas looks serious as he responds, “I’m trying to negotiate on behalf of my client with opposing counsel.”
“Does Tanner know you’re asking for this much?”
“Why would I discuss my legal strategy with Tanner? I don’t represent him. You do.”
Lee rubs his temple, “What the fuck are you doing?”
“We went to school together, so let me give you a piece of advice,” Douglas says as he walks towards the other lawyer. “If you become a slave to money, it will ruin your family. Look at me? I’m a rich piece of shit,” he grins. He leans down and pats the lawyer on the shoulder. “Prepare for trial.”
Douglas walks out of the office.
Brandon is on the phone, hearing about the meeting. He hangs up and sets the phone on his desk, and begins to laugh.
“You’re going to make this very interesting, Douglas Frost.”
Dante is sitting across from Brandon Tanner.
“I’m sure he had his reasons,” says Dante. “Let me look into it.”
Brandon shakes his head, “Looks like your boy is playing hardball. I doubt he’s going to cave now.”
“I will make sure that there are no problems,” Dante tries to reassure him.
“I warned you to take control of him.”
“I’ll fix this.”
Brandon leans forward, “How? Let’s be honest. There’s something more to this than the plot of land I am giving you.” He rises to his feet and shoves his hands into his pants pockets. He stares down at Dante for a moment before turning and walking off.
Sometime later, Dante walks into Douglas’ office and takes a seat on the couch. Douglas is at his desk. He rises and moves to sit down across from him.
“What happened?” asks Dante.
Douglas shrugs, “I can tell you’ve already heard about it. That’s the story.”
Dante is starting to look pissed. “You can’t just make these decisions by yourself.”
Douglas leans forward, “Dante. I’m going to do the best for my clients. You told me to defend the victims, and I am. This is what I do. I can win this case.”
Dante shakes his head, “This is…”
“Business, I know. You just want to make money. Fine, I’ll help you build a 200 story building if that’s what you want.”
“Tanner wanted us to handle this case.”
“Why? Because they’re going to help you build this landmark building. The tallest in all of Seattle. I just told you I’d help you. You don’t need them.”
“This just isn’t a financial relationship, Douglas. If we make them our enemies, things will get tough. For both of us,” explains Dante.
Douglas sits back in his chair and lets out a sigh, “I have evidence that Tanner used methanol, knowing it will damage the eyes of their workers. They used it because it sped up production and it was cheaper. They had a deadline to meet. The world is going to find out sometime. If we don’t take them to trial, then it will look bad for both of us when this gets out. Tanner sells his smartphones on a global scale. This isn’t a local issue.”
Dante doesn’t seem convinced.
Douglas continues, “Look at it this way. This investigation is uncovering things, and I’m sure their competitors would be very interested. Think of how much money that can bring us.”
“You think Tanner’s just gonna sit around while we sell off his corporate secrets to the highest bidder?” asks Dante.
“Let him bring it! I’m not scared of Tanner or his resources. I’m trying to help you. Why do you have to bow down to that asshole?” asks Douglas.
“I have a plan as well,” says Dante. “Drop this suit. Now.”
“I need you to go along with me on this, Dante.”
“What are you so scared? I told you I could win this case. Why won’t you trust me on this?” asks Douglas. “Why are you kowtowing to him? What does he have on you? Or are you just working with him behind my back?”
The two stare at each other for a very long moment.
Suddenly the door opens, and Desiree walks in, surprised to see her father there. “Oh, I didn’t know you were here.”
She turns to Douglas, “I’ve finished reading through the Tanner documents. I was wondering if there was more?”
Douglas rises, “Let me get it for you.” Douglas walks over to his desk and picks up a file, and walks back, offering to the woman, “You’ve read the files, what do you think?”
Desiree thinks about it for a moment, “After reading through everything, it sure seems like Tanner is at fault. There are victims, and it seems they were aware of the problem and did nothing about it.”
Douglas grins, “Exactly. Time to take them down, so they fix their problems, right?” He turns to Dante, “Your daughter is an excellent lawyer,” he says, rubbing it in.
While Desiree beams at the compliment, Dante does not look happy. Not one bit happy.
Dante is trying to unwind from his previous conversation with Douglas by putting together the model of his dream building that he wants to make into a reality.
He dabs a little bit of glue to a tree and gently places it into the perfect spot but then stops as he recalls his earlier conversation, and his blood begins to boil.
“You can’t keep testing me, Douglas,” he mutters under his breath before he smashes the building once again.
Ellen Sinclair walks into a cafe where Sue Ann Clark is sitting, waiting. Someone comes and takes her order and then walks away.
“Did I surprise you?” asks Sue Ann.
“You remember me from your previous trial, right? I’m with the prosecutor’s office.”
“I need to ask you about the death of an actress a few weeks ago,” says Sue Ann. She slides a publicity photo in front of Ellen.
“Oh. Her. She had just started. I didn’t know her well,” explains Ellen.
Sue Ann nods. She moves another publicity photo in front of Ellen. “And her?” It’s the victim from seven years ago. “I heard the two of you were close.”
Ellen can barely look at the phone, but she nods, “Just a little.”
The drinks arrive and are placed in front of them, and the server walks away.
“Did you notice anything at all back then? No matter how insignificant you may think it is,” Sue Ann asks.
Ellen shakes her head, “No. I don’t recall anything.”
Sue Ann makes a few notes before looking up at Ellen, “Was she in any kind of trouble? With the agency, perhaps?”
Ellen’s hands go to her purse in her lap, and she begins to fidget. She doesn’t verbally answer but slowly moves her head back and forth.
Sue Ann doesn’t believe her, but she doesn’t want to press the issue. She’ll find time to meet her another day. She slides her business card to the woman, “If you remember anything at all, please call me.”
“Thank you for coming out,” says Sue Ann as she gathers her things and walks out of the cafe.
Ellen watches her leave and then looks down at the business card.
Sue Ann is driving and on speakerphone with Young, “She seemed very anxious, especially when we asked about Spinet Entertainment. I feel she’s holding something back.”
“I have a niece that wants to be an actress, but I’ll be damned if she gets anywhere near Spinet,” says Young. “Something is going on over there. I can’t put my finger on it, but something stinks.
“We need to keep someone on Sinclair.”
“We will. Don’t worry.”
Sue Ann isn’t the only one interested in Sinclair. Dante is looking over some freshly printed photographs of the meeting between Sue Ann and Ellen at the cafe.
He doesn’t seem at all happy.
“A web series?” asks Sinclair as she sits in the office of Spinet Entertainment. “I won’t let you down,” she says excitedly.
“Let’s take a couple more publicity shots,” says Stephen Spinet. “Let’s have one more meeting tomorrow, and we’ll consider it your final interview,” he says.
Ellen’s face slowly drains as she knows exactly what that means.
“It’ll confirm the deal.”
“Meeting?” she asks.
Spinet chuckles, “It’s not that kind of meeting,” he reassures her. “It seems no matter how often I explain myself to you, you doubt me.”
Ellen seems a bit relieved, though she isn’t quite ready to let her guard down yet.
Brenda Wright is in her office going over a file when Brent Koff walks in. She immediately slides the file from her desk, sets it into her trash can, and stands up.
“Did you happen to find out what Sue Ann Clark is up to?” he asks as he takes a seat in her office.
Brenda walks over and sits down across from him. “There’s nothing yet, sir. She’s working on another case right now.”
“I see. Well, we have other issues now. We need to make sure bail is set,” he says.
“Congressman Smith’s kid is in jail again. Drug offense.”
Brenda thinks about it for a moment, “Isn’t that his third strike? Isn’t he the one who assaulted that Uber driver last year?”
“We need to grease the right palms if we want to get anywhere in this world, Brenda. A congressman can open a lot of doors for us.”
Brenda isn’t fond of this idea at all. “If we continue to let these powerful types run over us, then we’re going to start getting bad press. You don’t think people are taking note of everyone we let someone off with a slap on the wrist?”
“Listen, Brenda,” says Koff. “Use your goddamned brain for one moment. These people can make life very difficult for us. We need to be focusing on real criminals.” He stands up and walks around behind her desk, “Just what are you working on behind my back over here?” He sees the file in the trash and plucks it out.
“Spinet Entertainment? This is like… seven years old. What is this?” he asks.
Brenda sighs, knowing she’s going to have to come clean.
Koff walks into Sue Ann’s office. There’s a clerk there doing some work, and she stands up, “Sir? Can I help you?”
“Where’s Clark?” he asks.
“She’s still out. Is there something I can help you with?” she asks.
Koff shakes his head, “No. No. Continue working.”
She sits down, but she keeps her eye on him as he begins to snoop around the office. The clerk is watching him go through the files on her desk. She also knows the files he’s looking for are on another table in the office.
He finishes flipping through the ones on her desk and moves around, and spots the files on the table. He’s about to take a look when Stanley Clark walks into the office. Koff sees him and immediately moves to greet him.
Clark turns to the clerk, “Where’s Prosecutor Clark?”
“She’s out on an investigation, sir.”
He turns to look at Brent, “And what are you doing in this office?”
“I was also looking for Prosecutor Clark.”
Stanley turns to the clerk, “You need to maintain better control of official investigation paperwork,” he scolds her.
“Yes, sir,” she says as she rushes over to secure the documents before Koff can get a look at them.
Koff doesn’t seem pleased as he excuses himself and steps out of the office.
Clark watches him leave, knowing he was up to no good.
Douglas is looking over all the paperwork on his desk regarding the methanol poisoning case when his phone begins to ring. “What’s up?” he asks as he answers.
A bit later, he is sitting in a hotel restaurant across from Mr. Lee, Tanner’s lawyer. “You really won’t settle?”
“Do you think I’m messing with you for the fun of it?” Douglas asks.
Lee smirks, “You don’t think you stand a chance going up against Tanner, do you? Listen, this is a fight you cannot win.”
It’s Douglas’ turn to smirk as he shakes his head, “I don’t think you have it in you to beat me if you want the truth. Remember back in college; you were always a step behind me.”
“Really? That was so long ago. Listen, if you want more money, just name a reasonable price, and I’ll take it back to Tanner. Not this $200 million bullshit.”
Douglas pokes around at his food, “Did you know that one of the victims of Tanner’s methanol poisoning collapsed?”
Douglas sets his fork down and leans back in his chair, “Now I see.”
“I see how irritating I can be to others.” Douglas rises from his seat and pushes in his chair, “I feel like your salary may go down after this trial. Later.” Douglas walks off.
As he’s leaving, he sees Dante and Stephen Spinet get into an elevator together. As the elevator rises, he can see them in the window. It certainly looks like Dante is scolding Spinet about something.
That seems curious to Douglas, so he walks over and watches the elevator stop on the 12th floor. A few moments later, Douglas is getting off on the 12th floor. He walks down the hallway. He comes to an impasse where the hallway splits off into six different directions. He stands there for a moment considering which way to go. He walks straight ahead, though we see down another hallway, Spinet and Dante emerge from an office.
Douglas comes back and sees them as well as he leans around the corner and watches the two. As the two begin to walk towards him, Douglas walks away from the doorway and ducks around the corner. As they approach the elevator again, Ellen Sinclair joins them. Spinet seems to introduce them.
Douglas is wondering what the fuck is going on as Dante gets back on the elevator.
Dante exits the elevator on the ground floor when Douglas approaches him.
Dante looks up.
“You seem surprised to see me here,” says Douglas.
Dante cooly shakes his head, “I’m not.”
“Having a meeting? You don’t have a secret lover I don’t know about, do you?” asks Douglas considering they were in a hotel.
Dante shakes his head, “Just a client. What are you doing here?”
“I was meeting with Tanner’s lawyers. The trial will begin soon. They keep wanting to settle for pennies. They don’t want to meet our price, so we’re going to trial, it seems.”
Dante doesn’t seem happy about that, “Still going through with that?”
Douglas nods confidently, “Absolutely. I can win this.”
Dante’s phone begins to ring. He picks it up and walks away from Douglas to answer. Douglas watches him out of the corner of his eye when Ellen Sinclair enters the lobby from the elevator. They catch each other’s gaze. She quickly turns away from him and walks out of the hotel, and he watches her go.
Dante walks over and taps his elbow, “Come with me.”
“What another Tanner meeting? Why do we have to drop whatever we are doing whenever he wants? I hate that guy,” says Douglas.
Dante just taps him again and walks off. Douglas stands there for a moment and then follows, unhappy about it.
Tanner is standing on his rooftop as Douglas and Dante walk towards him. “Why are we always meeting this guy?” Douglas asks under his breath.
There is no answer as they get close to Tanner, who turns to meet them. As if overhearing his question, Tanner says, “I’m sorry I keep asking you to visit. I just heard that you’ve just decided to take us to trial.”
Douglas interrupts, “You’re mistaken. I was always planning to take you to trial. I just didn’t decide.”
Tanner looks at Dante, “Didn’t I ask you to make this go away?”
Again Douglas interrupts, “I’m the lawyer here. Not him. I don’t know what’s going on between the two of you, but whatever it is, it doesn’t have anything to do with me. I make my own decisions.”
Dante doesn’t like that answer at all, “Douglas…”
Tanner interrupts Dante, “It’s okay, Mr. Schumer. You’re right, Mr. Frost.” He turns to Dante, “I guess I put too much trust in you.”
“If we’re done here…” says Douglas.
“What if I hired you as my lawyer?” asks Tanner. “Whatever deal I had with Mr. Schumer, I’ll cancel it and hire you directly. You tell me what you want, and I’ll make sure you get it.”
“Anything?” asks Douglas.
Douglas puts on an act of really thinking about this before responding, “I know it may sound funny coming from me, but you said anything. What I want, most of all, is the truth.”
The two stare at each other.
“I hope this is the last time you summon me. I’m not your genie in a bottle. I’m not going to continue to drive out here.”
Douglas grins, “I’ll see you in court.” He turns and walks off.
“I’m sorry,” says Dante. “I’ll take care of this.”
As he turns to walk off, Tanner says, “Your daughter has moved back home, right?”
Dante slowly turns to look at Tanner.
“How’s her leg doing?”
There is a death glare coming from Dante now at the mention of his daughter. He walks up to Tanner and gets right in his face, “I will take the both of us down if you ever fucking mention my daughter to me again.”
As Dante leaves the mansion, Douglas is waiting for him, “Are you going to let that jerk…”
“We’ll talk later,” interrupts Dante, obviously still upset. Douglas watches Dante get into his car before Tenta drives off.
Dante throws open the doors to his house and storms inside, still obviously pissed off. He removes his jacket and just tosses it over a chair and walks over to his record player, and turns it on, moving the needle to drop it onto the record as it spins.
He walks over and sits back in his chair at his desk and closes his eyes, perhaps trying to calm himself.
He knows if he has one vulnerability, it’s his daughter, and he’ll be damned if he lets someone exploit that weakness again. A sound causes him to open his eyes as he turns and sees Desiree walking by with a case file in her hand as she scours the contents, disappearing into her room. There are legal books all over the floor.
Tenta approaches and holds out a cell phone, “Brandon Tanner.”
Dante shakes his head, “I have no desire to speak with him right now. Hang it up.” Dante says as he watches his daughter engrossed in her reading.
Dante walks into Douglas’ office the next day.
Douglas’ can tell he’s in no better mood today than he was yesterday, “What happened up there after I left?”
“I want you to win.”
Dante sits on the couch, “You said you were confident. I want you to beat that motherfucker.”
This thing gets more curious by the moment. “Why the sudden change of heart?”
“Didn’t you say this would gain us more profit? Plus, I hate that piece of shit. And it’s not like you were going to listen to me anyway, right?”
The two men stare at each other before Dante says, “Let’s fucking do this.”
The case files are laid out on Tanner’s desk as he sits in his chair. He has a remote control in his hand, and he flicks the lights on in his office, then off again.
Then on again.
Then off again.
Then on again.
Then off again.
Soon he makes it go faster.
On. Off. On. Off. On. Off.
Then he grins.
Then as the lights go on again, he throws the remote against the wall, and it shatters. The grin is gone. He has a solemn look on his face.
Ellen Sinclair is sitting across from Stephen Spinet at his desk. He hands over a credit card to her, “Go get some expensive clothing. Shoes. The whole works.”
She seems surprised, “Really? I can get cheaper clothes.”
“It’s not for you, dummy,” he says. “It’s for my business. I won’t have you meeting clients in cheap clothing. That shit is embarrassing. Take it,” he insists.
She accepts it, “Thank you. I promise you that I won’t let you down.”
She walks out of the office, but Spinet does not look pleased. Not at all.
Later that evening, she’s walking home when her phone vibrates. The Caller ID says “Trash.” She rejects the call and starts to walk when she sees Douglas Frost sitting at the same bar that she saw him at before out on the patio. He lifts his phone and waves it. He was obviously “Trash.”
She’s sitting across from him when a drink is placed in front of her. He takes a shot when she finally asks, “What is this?”
“I’ve been calling you all day. Why did you meet with Dante Schumer yesterday?” he asks.
She looks at him for a moment. “Business.”
“Agency business. I just met him. I’m not sure yet what it’s about.”
Douglas nods though he’s not sure he believes her, “How long have you been with Spinet?”
“Seven years,” she answers, “Why?”
“Have you known Schumer that long as well?”
She shakes her head.
“Did Twill ask you to get the USB drive from my brother?”
Ellen sighs, “I thought you said you were going to bury that?”
“That was my plan,” he explains. “But things keep bringing it back up. It’s annoying the fuck out of me.”
She hasn’t touched her drink, “Look. I don’t know anything more about any of it, so stop calling me.”
“Do you really not know anything? Or are you not supposed to know anything? My brother died for reasons unknown. The same goes for those other actresses in your agency. They also died for unknown reasons. We should at least find out why somebody murdered them.”
Ellen shakes her head, “And then what? What will it change? Will it bring them back to life? I have a hard enough time taking care of myself. Why must I care what happened to them? You should put it behind you and go on living your life.”
“Have you put it behind you?” he asks.
“I don’t want to see you again. She reaches down and grabs her bags, and stands up.
She starts to walk off. He says, “If you ever happen to need my help, just call.”
She pauses, “It won’t happen.”
She finally walks off.
Later that night, the music box plays as Ellen watches it slowly spin on its pedestal. She recalls the previous day’s visit with Dante Schumer.
Stephen and Ellen are meeting with Dante. He slides a script across to her.
“I’m going to invest in this project. While I’m not too familiar with this industry, I know it’s been your dream to become an actress,” Dante says to her.
She nods her head, “Yes, it is.”
He asks her, “How desperately do you want it?”
“Good,” Dante says, “Desperate people always come in handy. It’ll drive them to do anything to achieve that goal. Let me ask you a question.”
Dante looks over at Spinet before turning back to Ellen, “I heard people have been visiting you. Asking questions. Specifically about something that happened seven years ago.”
The two look at each other, though she doesn’t respond.
Ellen picks up the music box and begins to turn it around in her hands. She removes a plate on the bottom, and she shakes it until something falls out from inside.
The USB drive.
She plugs it into her laptop and opens the cover. She begins to play the video.
It shows some people walking into Kam Loon Restaurant. As she continues to watch, though we can’t see it, it looks very uncomfortable for her to watch.
She remembers how she came into possession of it seven years ago.
The victim from seven years ago, obviously trying to hide her appearance as she wears men’s clothing and a baseball cap. She hands Ellen the music box.
“Hold on to this until I come back for it,” she says.
Ellen accepts the music box and nods, “Okay.”
Ellen’s phone begins to ring.
Douglas is in the shower and doesn’t see when Ellen’s caller ID comes up on his phone.
When he finally comes out of his shower, he sees he has three missed calls and a message from Ellen.
The message states, “I saw what was on the USB. I know why they were killed.”
He tries to call her back, but there’s no answer.
We see Ellen’s phone gets tossed into the river as it slowly sinks into the water. The screen lights up with “Trash” as the Caller ID.