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John Q (2002)

by James Kearns.

More info about this movie on IMDb.com


FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY


ON BLACK:

If I didn't have enough money, I'd be dead right now.

- Carroll Shelby

FADE IN:

EXT. TWO-LANE HIGHWAY - DAY

Mancini's "Ave Maria" fills the screen as a white BMW speeds
along the road.

CREDITS ROLL

A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN is behind the wheel. We never see her
face. Hanging from the mirror is a rosary with a crucifix.
Her porcelain hand turns up the volume and the music swells.
A silver bracelet dangles from her wrist.

EXT. TWO-LANE HIGHWAY - CONTINUOUS

A slow-moving semi obstructs her path. The woman leans out
the window to see if the road is clear before moving into
the oncoming lane. She steps on the gas. She's in the wrong
lane and can't get over. There are headlights in the
distance and the moan of an airhorn is heard.

EXT. TWO-LANE HIGHWAY - CONTINUOUS

Suddenly, the headlights are upon her. And airhorn blasts
and she's trapped between two monstrous big rigs. She cuts
the wheel hard, but too late. The oncoming truck clips her,
sending her car end over end.

SLO-MO

The accident is violent and horrible. The BMW cartwheels
along the highway in a grotesque ballet of destruction. The
music crescendos and sparks fly as the car skids along the
pavement on its roof. And as the BMW violently smashes
headfirst into the embankment, the beautiful woman is
slammed into the windshield like a crash-test dummy.

EXT. MIDDLE AMERICAN TOWN - PRE-DAWN

The indigo horizon shimmers with the first light of morning.
Vapor spewing smokestacks dwarf brick and mortar homes.
Dairy Queens, Hardee's, and Walmarts line the main drag.
Stars and Stripes flutter from lampposts.

INT. ARCHIBALD HOUSE - BEDROOM - MORNING

A man sits propped up against pillows, his sleeping wife
snuggled next to him. His name is JOHN QUINCY ARCHIBALD. His
strong, handsome face is beginning to show wear and tear.
From across the room, last night's news broadcast drones on
the TV. The President is telling everybody how wonderful the
country is doing.

JOHN Q. watches impassively, the irony not lost on him.
Suddenly, he hears a noise. Something's not right. He jumps
out of bed, wearing only a pair of BVDs.

WIFE
Honey, what is it?

EXT. ARCHIBALD HOUSE - MORNING

The screen door bangs open. John Q. bursts onto the porch to
find a tow truck parked in front of his house. TWO TRUCKERS
are winching a hook and cable to a ten year old Chevy.

J.Q.
Hey, what the hell are you doing?

TOW TRUCK DRIVER #1
What does it look like?

J.Q.
Aw, come on. That's my car.

TOW TRUCK DRIVER #1
Yeah? That's not what the bank says.

The truckers quickly circle to the front and hop in. John Q.
just watches as the truck speeds away, dragging the car
along the cement.

The neighbors now stand on their porches, staring. J.Q.
turns to see his wife, DENISE, standing in the doorway.
She's not a happy camper.

Their nine year old son, MIKE, appears at his mother's side,
wiping the sleep from his eyes.

MIKE
What's going on?

INT. ARCHIBALD HOUSE - KITCHEN - MORNING

CLOSE ON a hand circling want-ads in red ink. J.Q. sits at
the kitchen table drinking a half-filled cup of coffee, his
eyes scouring the classifides.

Denise enters, dressed in her brown and red supermarket
cashier's uniform. Without speaking, she passes J.Q. and
starts making breakfast.

J.Q.
Sorry.

Denise doesn't respond. A chill fills the air.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
I talked to the bank. They promised they'd work with me.

DENISE
Okay.

J.Q.
I did.

DENISE
John, that was two months ago.

J.Q.
We've got enough money for next month's rent. That's it. It
was either the car or the house, so I thought...

DENISE
You thought.

J.Q.
What did you want me to do? Have us put out on the street?
I'm down to twenty hours a week a the plant. They shipped
off half the damn jobs down to Mexico.

DENISE
My car is gone, John.

J.Q.
You know I'm out there trying to find a second job.

DENISE
What do you want me to say? That it's fine? Alright, it's
fine.

J.Q.
The car's still ours, Denise. We own it. All we have to do
is wait two weeks until my check comes in.

Mike enters dressed for school. He strikes a body builder's
pose, flexing.

MIKE
Yah! Ronnie Coleman, Mr. Olympics two years running. Yah!

He moves to the bread box and grabs a donut.

DENISE
Sit down, honey. Eat some breakfast.

MIKE
(mouthful of food)
I am eating.

J.Q.
A donut isn't breakfast.

MIKE
Yeah it is. It's a continental breakfast.

J.Q.
Yeah, well, you're not a continent right now.

MIKE
Uh, Dad, what do you call North America?

Denise sets down two plates of hot food.

DENISE
Enough about that. You're not going to school without
breakfast. Now eat. Both of you.

Mike and John Q. wolf down their food three bites at a time.

MIKE
I can't believe those jerks took our car, can you, Mom?

Denise gives J.Q. the hairy eyeball.

DENISE
No, I can't.

MIKE
What are we going to do? You're not going to do something,
right, Dad? You know what I'd do? I'd get so big and mad,
I'd just go crazy and kick someone's butt.

J.Q.
Watch your language.

MIKE
I would. I swear. When I grow up I'll be so strong no one
will ever take nothing from us.

J.Q.
You've been watching too much of that W.W. wrestling.

MIKE
Not wrestling, Dad. Body building. There's a big difference.

DENISE
Alright, alright. Get your books. You're going to be late.

Mike runs out of the room. Denise starts to clear the table.

DENISE (CONT'D)
Give me a ride to work?

J.Q.
Sure.

J.Q. takes her arm.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Baby, things will get better. I promise. I've just got to
get a few paychecks ahead, that's all.

INT. COMPUTER ROOM - SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA - NIGHT

An amber light flashes through the darkness, followed by a
rapid buzzing sound. The CAMERA PUSHES IN on a mammoth-sized
printer, furiously pounding letters onto a fact sheet. We
catch glimpses of peoples' names, hometowns, other vital
information. Vernell Tilson, Des Moines. Arthur Friedlander,
Jefferson City. Amy Podgorsky, Topeka.

INT. JOHN Q.'S TRUCK - DAY

John, Denise and Mike. Denise in the middle. John and Mike
are playing Speedy Gonzalez. The object of the game is to
pick something and then say it so fast it's almost
indecipherable. Mike's got a good one.

MIKE
Rdshxshn.

J.Q.
Reddish Stick?

MIKE
No. Rdshxshn.

J.Q.
Radishes?

MIKE
Rdshxshn.

J.Q.
I swear to God, I'm hearing reddish stick.

MIKE
It's a radio station.

J.Q.
Oh, brother. You got me.

It's Dad's turn.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Ydugskew.

MIKE Yogurt and stew?

J.Q.
Yogurt and Stew?

MIKE
Well, I don't know. Do it again.

J.Q.
Ydugskew.

MIKE
I give up.

J.Q.
You're going to school.

MIKE
Dad!

J.Q.
Okay. One more.

It's the longest one in history.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Iplglgnstheflgvthntdstscvmrcndthrpblcfw
chtstndsnntnndrgdndvsblewithlbrtyndjstc rll.

Mike gives him a look.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Pledge of allegiance.

MIKE
Wow. That's a good one. How about you, Mom?

DENISE
I don't want to play. You guys always make fun of me.

MIKE
Come on, Mom. It's fun.

J.Q.
Yeah, Mom.

DENISE
Okay.

Mom's not very good. You can always understand her clearly.

DENISE (CONT'D)
Dashboard.

The boys giggle.

DENISE (CONT'D)
What? No good? Okay. Okay. Hold on.

She tries to be tricky, but still it's clear as a bell.

DENISE (CONT'D)
Antenna.

The boys laugh at her.

DENISE (CONT'D)
See. That's why I don't play.

The car stops in front of the small, red brick elementary
school. Kids everywhere. Mike kisses his mother goodbye.

EXT. THOMAS EDISON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - DAY

John walks Mike to the gate. Mike turns, serious.

MIKE
Hey, Dad? I've got forty-six dollars I saved from my
allowance. You can have it if you want.

J.Q.
Yeah?

MIKE
We're a family. We've got to stick together, right?

John rubs his son's head. He's a good boy.

J.Q.
Right. But you earned that money. You keep it.

Mike runs toward the schoolhouse.

MIKE
Okay. See you later!

J.Q.
Goodbye.

Mike turns around.

MIKE
No, Dad. See you later. I hate goodbye.

J.Q.
Okay, okay. See you later.

Mike does the crab before running inside.

MIKE
Flex Wheeler, 275 pounds. Two percent body fat. Yah!

INT. NEIMAN MACHINERY PLANT - DAY

Sparks. Fire. Goggles. Tires as tall as two-story buildings.
John Q. and his best friend, JIMMY PALUMBO, work the
assembly line. John holds a giant riveter.

INT. NEIMAN MACHINERY PLANT - EMPLOYEE LOCKER ROOM - DAY

Quitting time. Employees are showering, towling down,
changing. John Q. is putting on a tie.

JIMMY
What's the deal with the jacket? Who died?

EXT. NEIMAN MACHINERY PLANT - DAY

Cement and huge. Smoke billows from the stacks. John Q. and
Jimmy make their way to their trucks.

J.Q.
I've got a job interview at the machinery plant over in
Otisville.

JIMMY
What job? There are no jobs.

J.Q.
I saw it in the paper.

JIMMY
Forget it.

J.Q.
I've got to go. Denise is going to kill me if I don't find
something. They repo'd her car this morning.

JIMMY
Oh, boy. You want me to go with you?

INT. OTISVILLE MACHINERY PLANT - WAITING AREA - DAY

The waiting room is packed. A lot of people needing work.
John fills out the application.

JIMMY
This is a waste of time. Four hundred people for one job.
Give me a break.

John keeps filling out his paperwork.

JIMMY (CONT'D)
I'm telling you, somebody's son, cousin, uncle has already
got this job sewn up.

J.Q.
Jimmy, why do they put it in the paper if they're not
hiring?

JIMMY
They've got to put it in the paper to make it look good.
State law or something.

J.Q.
Give it a rest, will you?

JIMMY
I'm just saying, it's the run around. Mark my words. It's
either, 'We'll keep your application on file.' That's the
kiss of death. Or they tell you that you're overqualified.
Either way, you're screwed.

A PERSONNEL MANAGER emerges from his office and reads from a
clipboard.

PERSONNEL MANAGER
John Archibald?

INT. OTISVILLE MACHINERY PLANT - PERSONNEL OFFICE - DAY

John Q. sits across the desk from the P.M.

J.Q.
I've been working heavy machinery for fifteen years. I
really want this job. Whatever you need, I can do.

PERSONNEL MANAGER
I see.

J.Q.
Hey, I could start today.

John Q. laughs nervously as the P.M. reviews his
application.

PERSONNEL MANAGER
Your resume is very impressive. You've certainly got the
experience. Frankly, you might be overqualified.

John Q. gets the message. He pushes his chair back and
starts to get up.

INT. COMPUTER ROOM - SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA - NIGHT

The daisy wheel buzzsaws across the page. WE SEE more names,
columns, entitled STATUS, ENTRY DATE. Underneath the Entry
Date heading, months and days appear: June 19, April 30.
February 6.

INT. ALL SAINTS CHURCH - DAY

Sunday services. The congregation sings. In the third row,
Mike elbows his Dad.

MIKE
The game starts in fifteen minutes. We're gonna be late.

J.Q.
I know.

A few rows back, John sees Jimmy Palumbo tapping his watch.
Denise gives her husband a disapproving look. John sticks
his head back in the hymn book and continues singing.

EXT. ALL SAINTS CHURCH - DAY

The congregation pours out of the church and parishioners
run to their cars. Denise stops to talk to the PASTOR.

MIKE
Dad!

John moves over to Denise and the Pastor.

J.Q.
Sorry, Reverend. No time for saving souls today. Big game.

PASTOR
Have you been saying your prayers like we talked about?

J.Q.
Does praying for a job count?

PASTOR
Work on him, will you, Denise?

DENISE
He's hopeless.

PASTOR
No one's hopeless. Good luck!

The Pastor waves as John grabs Denise by the hand and they
run to the truck and hop in. In the parking lot, kids put on
their uniforms, men and women change out of their Sunday
best. Cars, vans, pick-ups, "dualies" take off, tires
spinning, everybody whooping and hollering.

EXT. BASEBALL FIELD - DAY

It's a tailgate party. Parents lugging ice chests, making
sandwiches, barbecuing. In the bleachers, John, Denise,
Jimmy Palumbo, and his wife, GINA, cheer on the home team.
The wives are really loud.

DENISE
Let's go, Orioles!

GINA
Pitcher's got a rubber arm!

The Dodger pitcher stretches, fires a fastball. The batter
takes the pitch.

UMPIRE
Ball four!

Tommy trots down to first base.

JIMMY
Way to go, Tommy. Good eye. Walk's as good as a hit.

Mike steps to the plate. Family and friends cheer wildly.

GINA
Yeah, Mike! Drive him home, baby! You can do it!

DENISE
Hey, pitcher! Hey, pitcher!

The pitcher smokes one down the middle. Mike swings. Nothing
but air.

J.Q.
That's okay, Mikey. Put the bat on the ball.

The pitcher burns one on the outside corner.

UMPIRE
Strike two!

DENISE
Hey, ump, you're blind! I hate this pitcher. How old is he,
anyway?

GINA
He's supposed to be twelve.

JIMMY
Twelve, my ass. Look at him. His beard just grew an inch
between pitches!

J.Q.
Don't let him rattle you, Mikey. Wait for your pitch.

The catcher flashes fingers. The pitcher nods and fires.
Mike hits a sharp ground ball between first and second. The
second baseman moves over but doesn't have the angle.

The first baseman charges the ball, scoops it on the run,
then underhands it to the Dodger pitcher, who gallops off
the mound towards first.

Mike's foot hits the bag at exactly the same time the ball
plops in the pitcher's outstretched glove.

FIRST BASE UMP
SAAAAAAAAFFFEEE!

DODGER PITCHER
No way! He was out!

FIRST BASE UMP
Tie goes to the runner, son.

As the Dodger pitcher argues with the umpire, the Oriole
player on third base darts towards home. The Dodger pitcher
wheels around and fires. Too late, the runner scores.

HOME PLATE UMP
Saaaaaffee!

Seeing an opening, Mike races from first to second, arms
pumping, breathing hard. The Dodger shortstop sees Mike,
races to the base and calls for the throw.

DODGER SHORTSTOP
Second base!

The Dodger catcher throws off his mask and fires the ball.

CLOSE ON MIKE, slowing, suddenly clutching his chest,
gulping for air, ten feet from the base. SMACK. The ball
lands in the shortstop's glove.

Mike wobbles, doubles over and falls face first into the
dirt. The Dodger shortstop stands over Mike. He can't decide
if he should tag him. Players, spectators look on dazed,
shocked.

ANGLE - BLEACHERS
PUSH IN ON J.Q.'s FACE, panicked. TRACK HIM leaping down the
bleachers, knocking over spectators, racing onto the playing
field.

J.Q.
Mike! Jesus God.

He lifts Mike's head, holds it in his hands. Denise arrives,
hysterical.

DENISE
Mike?! Mikey, can you hear me?

Mike is semi-conscious, eyes dilated, barely breathing.

JIMMY
Somebody call an ambulance.

J.Q.
I'm not waiting for an ambulance.

J.Q. lifts Mike into his arms and races with Denise through
the crowd towards the parking lot. Denise gets in the pick
up and John lays Mike down in her lap before gunning the
engine and taking off.

EXT. HIGHWAY - DAY

J.Q.'s pick up speeds along a super highway, blurring past
rural pastures, farmland and cornfields. Up ahead, the
oppressive skyscrapers of the city.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - DAY

A monolithic maze of glass and stone. John's truck screeches
to a stop at the E.R. entrance.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

It's standing room only. Bodies everywhere. Doctors and
nurses move purposefully through the suffering masses. Mike
in his arms, J.Q. and Denise run double-time through the
crowded corridors.

J.Q.
Help! My son can't breathe! I need help here! Can somebody
please...

A male nurse, LEO MAGUIRE, leaves what he's doing and moves
towards them. He clutches Mike's wrist, taking his pulse.

MAGUIRE
What happened?

J.Q.
I don't know. He had a baseball game. All of a sudden he...

Maguire passes a female nurse in the hallway.

MAGUIRE
I need a doctor right away. Room 6.

INT. RESUSCITATION ROOM - DAY

Maguire helps J.Q. lower Mike onto an examination table, and
immediately several emergency technicians start applying the
resuscitation equipment. Their movements are swift and
precise. A blood pressure cuff is wrapped around Mike's arm,
an oxymeter to the tip of his finger, and sensors are stuck
all over his chest.

The E.R. doctor is MARJORIE KLEIN, early 30's. Klein is all
business, assessing Mike's condition.

MAGUIRE
Pulse is 150. B.P. 68 over 34. Collapsed playing baseball.

J.Q. notices Maguire glancing worriedly at Klein.

J.Q.
He was running. Next thing we know he keels over.

DR. KLEIN
Anything like this ever happen before?

J.Q.
Never. No, ma'am. Never.

MAGUIRE
Pulse is seventy-eight percent.

DR. KLEIN
Let's get him on some oxygen.

Maguire reaches for the Oxygen tank, lays the mask over
Mike's nose, turns the screw. As Mike inhales the hissing
air, Klein turns Mike on his side, probes his lung and lower
back areas.

J.Q.
He's going to be alright, isn't he?

DR. KLEIN
The lungs are wet and his liver feels enlarged. Five mil
I.V. Digoxin, stat.

Maguire moves to the counter, finds an I.V. needle, fills it
with Digoxin.

DENISE
What's the matter with him?

Just then, another R.N. charges in. Klein "eyes" the nurse
who immediately picks up on the look.

R.N.
Mr. and Mrs. Archibald, would you come with me?

J.Q.
What?

R.N.
He's in good hands. Please, there's a few procedures we need
to go over.

J.Q.
What kind of procedures?

The R.N. gently takes J.Q.'s elbow. J.Q. pushes her hand
away.

R.N.
We're going to be admitting your son, sir. You'll need to
fill out the proper forms.

DENISE
For godsakes, can't the forms wait?

John and Denise watch helplessly as Maguire stabs an I.V.
needle into Mike's vein.

R.N.
Please, Mr. and Mrs. Archibald. It's possible your son may
need a transfusion. We'll need to test you both for blood
types.

The R.N. edges them out as SWOOSH, the divider curtain is
pulled shut.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

J.Q. and Denise are escorted by the R.N. to the admitting
desk. Arms bent, fists clenched, they're pressing sterilized
gauze pads to their inner elbow joints.

ADMITTING NURSE
First name, Mr. Archibald?

J.Q.
John.

The admitting nurse's fingers glide over the computer
keyboard, inputting all vital info.

ADMITTING NURSE
Middle initial?

J.Q.
Q. Quincy.

ADMITTING NURSE
 And the name of your insurance company?

JIMMY (O.S.)
John!

J.Q. spins and sees Jimmy and Gina rushing through the E.R.
doors.

GINA
Where is he, is he okay?

J.Q.
I don't know. They're running tests. We're waiting to find
out.

GINA
What can we do?

Gina throws her arms around Denise, consoling her.

ADMITTING NURSE
Your card, Mr. Archibald?

J.Q.
Huh?

ADMITTING NURSE
Your insurance card. I'll need to make a copy for our files.

J.Q. pulls out his wallet, fumbles for his card, hands it to
the admitting nurse. INT. PEDIATRIC I.C.U. - DAY

J.Q. and Denise walk past rows of quiet, glassed-in rooms
full of patients and life-support machines. They enter
Mike's room to find REGGIE, a twenty-four year old nurse,
hooking Mike up to the high monitor above the bed.

Mike is lying supine, awake but groggy, hooked up to a heart
monitor, IV drips, hideous plastic tubes up his nose, down
his throat, on full inotropic support. Denise leans over,
kisses Mike.

DENISE
Hi, sweetheart.

J.Q.
Hey, slugger, how are you doing?

Mike smiles weakly, struggles to speak, points to the tubes.

MIKE
I can't...talk.

J.Q.
Relax, buddy. Get some rest.

Mike closes his eyes. He's really out of it.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
I love you, kid.

Denise reacts to all the flashing numbers on the monitors.

DENISE
What's all this?

REGGIE
This is so we can monitor Mike's vitals. Respiratory rate.
Pulse oximetry. Heart rate. And this one is blood pressure.
Diastolic and systolic.

Reggie points to a bank of monitors. In the middle is a
flashing number 88.

REGGIE (CONT'D)
We'd like this top number to stay above ninety, but between
eighty-five and ninety is acceptable for now. Anything less
than eighty is dangerous. If his blood pressure drops, we're
going to have to do something. We can't have him going below
seventy again.

DENISE
What would that mean?

REGGIE
Seventy and below, he's in heart failure.

Reggie exits. J.Q. and Denise watch the blood pressure
monitor, holding steady at 88. Plink. Suddenly, the number
drops a notch to 87.

INT. COMPUTER ROOM - SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA - NIGHT

Growing. Names multiplaying. Jones, Baker, Azbirjari,
Hererra. The daisy wheel pounds incessantly.

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM - CARDIO-THORACIC DEPT. - DAY

Eight members Hope Memorial Hospital's administrative staff
are seated at a long conference table. Among them are DR.
RAYMOND TURNER, mid-40's, REBECCA PAYNE, Hope Memorial
Hospital's Administrative Supervisor, and Dr. Marjorie
Klein.

PAYNE
The father works part-time. Mother's a cashier in a
supermarket.

DR. KLEIN
how's the family's insurance?

She shakes her head - "we've got a problem." Payne sees J.Q.
and Denise enter and she is immediately on her feet.

PAYNE
Ah, Mr. and Mrs. Archibald. Rebecca Payne, hospital
director. This is Doctor Turner, head of our cardiology
department.

J.Q.
How's our boy doing?

PAYNE
Please sit down.

John and Denise sit, and the lights are dimmed. Dr. Turner
approaches an illuminated display of X-rays. He uses a
pointer to clarify.

DR. TURNER
This X-ray is that of a normal, nine year old heart. This
one is your son's.

John Q. and Denise stare nervously at the fleshy fist-sized
organs on the translucent glass.

DR. TURNER (CONT'D)
There are septal defects here, here, and here, which have
induced a myopathy resulting pulmonary edema, and malignant
ventricular ectopy. As you can see, Mike's heart is
approximately three times normal size.

He points to Mike's heart, huge in comparison.

J.Q.
I'm sorry. I don't understand. Could you pout that in
layman's terms?

DR. TURNER
Of course. Basically, there's not enough blood being pumped
by the heart, so it backs up in the lungs. Sort of like a
sponge getting wet. Mike's heart is trying, but I'm afraid
it's working too hard.

J.Q.
So what's he need? An operation?

Turner gathers himself, takes off his glasses.

DR. TURNER
I'm afraid we're considerably beyond the point of corrective
surgery, Mr. and Mrs. Archibald. Your son's heart is
useless. He is going to need a transplant.

The room goes silent.

DENISE
He's nine.

PAYNE
Wait a second. There are other options.

J.Q.
What options?

PAYNE
To do nothing. Medicate him. Keep him as comfortable as
possible. You need to start thinking about quality of life
now.

DENISE
I don't understand. We were just with him. He seemed fine.

DR. TURNER
He's going to seem fine. But as his heart gets worse, he
will become increasingly fatigued, need more and more sleep,
until one day, he'll go to sleep and he won't wake up.

PAYNE
I know it's difficult, but you must face the fact that your
son may not have much time left. You might want to make it a
happy time. Say goodbye.

DENISE
Oh my God.

PAYNE
And transplantation is a high risk operation. You could lose
your son on the table. You may not want to take that chance.

J.Q.
What do you think, Dr. Turner?

DR. TURNER
This isn't my decision.

J.Q.
I know that. I'm asking for your opinion. Without surgery,
how long does he have?

DR. TURNER
Not long. Months. Weeks. Days.

This is too much for Denise. She breaks into tears. John
puts his arms around her, steadies her, gathers his
thoughts.

J.Q.
What would you do if it was your son?

PAYNE
Mr. Archibald...

J.Q.
Not you. Him.

DR. TURNER
I'd do the transplant. Absolutely.

J.Q. looks at Denise, who nods.

J.Q.
Okay. Let's do it.

DR. TURNER
The first step is to get Mike's name on an organ recipient
list. Once he does, his chances are very good. Your son's an
extremely rare type so there's less demand. With B-positive
blood, Mike could go to the top of the list right away.

PAYNE
It's not that simple. There are other considerations before
a prospective recipient is placed on the donor list, Mr.
Archibald. The cost of transplant surgery is expensive. In
most cases, prohibitively so.

J.Q.
I've got major medical. Don't worry, I'm covered.

PAYNE
Actually, we've already checked with your carrier. There's
no provision in your policy for a procedure of this
magnitude.

J.Q.
There must be some kind of mistake. My son is covered. I've
got full medical. He's covered.

PAYNE
What about you, Mrs. Archibald? Do you have coverage?

DENISE
No. I've only been working at the market a short time. You
need to be there two years before you get benefits.

Payne flips through the Archibald family file.

PAYNE
I see that you don't own your own home. No investments,
stocks, bonds. And you have a little over one thousand in
savings.

J.Q.
Did you hear what I said? I'm telling you, I'm insured.

PAYNE
That may very well be, but you'll have to check with your
carrier on that. In the meantime, I'm afraid we're going to
have to treat you as a cash account.

DENISE
How much does a transplant cost?

PAYNE
Transplant surgery, doctor fees, post operative treatment
and immunosuppressant drugs, you're looking at two-hundred
and fifty-thousand dollars minimum.

J.Q.
What are you saying? If I don't come up with a quarter
million dollars you're not going to treat my son?

PAYNE
We have treated him. We continue to treat him. Now I
understand how upset you are, sir. But with other options
available, we are not obligated to cover a procedure this
costly. If you opt for replacement surgery, that's your
choice. But the hospital maintains a very strict policy with
respect to cash patients. We require a down payment before
the patient's name can be placed on the receiver list.

DENISE
What kind of down payment?

PAYNE
Thirty percent. Seventy-five thousand.

J.Q. Seventy-five thousand dollars to put my kid's name on a
list?

DENISE
Our son is upstairs dying and all you can talk about is
money?

PAYNE
Yes, it takes money to provide health service. It's
expensive for you and for us. My job is to keep this program
alive. For everyone. Now, I'm sorry, but we need you to
guarantee payment before we can place your son's name on the
list.

INT. HALLWAY - CARDIO-THORACIC DEPT. - DAY

J.Q. and Denise move down the hallway towards the elevators.

DR. KLEIN (O.S.)
Mr. and Mrs. Archibald?

They turn.

J.Q.
You don't want to treat my kid? Fine. I'll take him over to
County Memorial.

DR. KLEIN
Trust me. You don't want to do that.

J.Q.
I don't, huh? Watch me. It's a county hospital. They have to
treat him.

DR. KLEIN
No they don't. Transplantation is always considered an
elective procedure. This hospital's politics are
particularly infuriating, but you're in the right place.
Believe me. You want Dr. Turner. His bedside manner is
terrible, but he's one of the foremost surgeons in the
country.

J.Q.
What do you want us to do? You heard Payne. We're a cash
account.

DR. KLEIN
I know it's outrageous, but don't give up. Talk to your
insurance company. Check with our Human Resources Department
for medical assistance, State Children's Services, Medicaid.
Just don't take no for an answer.

INT. NEIMAN MACHINERY PLANT - EMPLOYEE SERVICE OFFICE - DAY

John sits in a cubicle across from his employer's insurance
representative.

INSURANCE REP.
You coverage has changed, Mr. Archibald.

J.Q.
Changed?

INSURANCE REP.
We've recently switched carriers from a PPO to an HMO. It's
a less expensive policy, but unfortunately it has some
restrictions.

J.Q.
What kind of restrictions?

INSURANCE REP.
This is how it works. Non-management, part-time employees
such as yourself only qualify for second tier catastrophic
coverage.

J.Q.
But I'm not part-time. I'm a full-time employee. It's just
slow right now.

INSURANCE REP.
Sure. But your coverage is based on house worked. Like I
said, you only qualify for second tier, and that has a
maximum payout limit of twenty-thousand dollars.

J.Q.
Wait a minute. I've been paying for my coverage for years.
You take it out of my paycheck every week.

INSURANCE REP.
And that's why we're going to cover you for the full twenty.

J.Q.
Let me get this straight. You drop me from full-time to
part-time, switch carriers, and now you're telling me I'm
not fully covered even though I have a policy that says I
am.

INSURANCE REP.
Doesn't seem right, does it?

J.Q.
No, sir. It doesn't. My son is very sick. If I'm not
covered, I've got a serious problem.

INSURANCE REP.
I understand that, but there's nothing I can do. You might
want to try State Services. Either that, or you can file an
appeal.

J.Q.
Yeah?

The insurance rep pushes a stack of papers towards J.Q.

INSURANCE REP.
Here are the forms. It'll take about seven working days.

INT. STATE SERVICES - DAY

J.Q. and Denise at a window counter, talking to a STATE
EMPLOYEE, who only knows what's on the computer screen in
front of her.

STATE REP
Says here you already have medical insurance.

J.Q.
Not enough.

DENISE
What little we have is already used up.

STATE REP
I understand that. But then you don't qualify. We only give
assistance to patients without coverage. Are you on Welfare?

J.Q.
No.

STATE REP
You should be on Welfare.

DENISE
Welfare? We both have jobs.

STATE REP
Oh, that's too bad. Sorry, I can't help you. Try MA.

INT. COUNTY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE - DAY

A county worker flips through J.Q.'s paperwork.

COUNTY EMPLOYEE
It says here your son's condition is congenital.

J.Q.
Yeah?

COUNTY EMPLOYEE
Not congenitive.

J.Q.
So what? What's the difference?

COUNTY EMPLOYEE
Big difference. It means it's a pre existing condition, one
your son was born with. A birth defect. Obviously, it
pre-dates your coverage. Otherwise we could help.

J.Q.
That's impossible. He's had clean check ups every year.

COUNTY EMPLOYEE
I don't know what to tell you. It's right here in the
report. Have you tried Medicaid?

INT. MEDICAID OFFICES - DAY

Another state run facility. Another employee. Another
excuse.

MEDICAID OFFICER
No.

J.Q.
No, what?

MEDICAID OFFICER
You don't qualify.

J.Q.
Don't qualify? I've got a kid who's dying and I'm broke. If
I don't qualify, who does?

MEDICAID OFFICER
Lower your voice, sir.

J.Q.
I mean, what do you guys do, anyway? Why does this service
even exist?

MEDICAID OFFICER
I'm sorry.

J.Q.
I don't need you to be sorry. I need some help.

INT. COMPUTER ROOM - SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA - NIGHT

We see more of the list this time. Boldfaced columns appear:
HOSPITAL/CENTER, CROSS MATCH, WEIGHT RANGE, BLOOD TYPE.

Vernell Tilson, Des Moines, Metropolitan Hospital, Entry
Date: Feb. 5, 215-240 lbs. Type "O". Status 2. Arthur
Friedlander, Jefferson City, St. Joseph's Medical Center,
Entry Date: April 30, 160-175 lbs. Type "O". Status 2. Mike
Archibald...

INT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - ELEVATOR - DAY

John Q. takes the trip down with Rebecca Payne.

PAYNE
No, no, no. You filed an appeal? An appeal is for an already
existing claim. What you needed to file was a grievance.
You'll have to resubmit. But that could take up to thirty
days.

J.Q.
I don't have thirty days.

PAYNE
I know that.

J.Q.
And, frankly, I'm tired of getting the runaround. I need my
son's name on that list.

PAYNE
Mr. Archibald, your hospital bill is in excess of thirty
thousand dollars. So far, we haven't received any kind of
payment. We have bent over backward to help you.

J.Q.
Oh, is that right?

PAYNE
Yes, sir, that is right. But there is a limit to this
hospital's generosity. Once and for all, you are not covered
by insurance. We will need to guarantee payment.

J.Q.
You want money? Alright, I'll get you your money.

INT. ARCHIBALD HOUSE - DAY

John selling everything. Television, washer, dryer, sofa.
Strangers walk through the house and make offers. Jimmy
Palumbo shakes his head.

JIMMY
You know what you should do? You should try that newsguy
that does all those special investigative reports. You know
the one. The guy with the hair.

J.Q.
Yeah, yeah.

JIMMY
The trouble shooter. Channel eight. What's his name?

A woman offers twenty dollars for the coffee table. J.Q.
takes it, pocketing the money.

JIMMY (CONT'D)
Lampley. Tuck Lampley.

INT. MAKE-UP ROOM - STUDIO CHANNEL 8 - DAY

TUCK LAMPLEY, 38, with plastic hair, sits at his desk, his
lunch spread all over the table.

LAMPLEY
Tuck Lampley. Hope you don't mind if I eat while we talk.
I'm up to here today, you know? Go, go, go.

J.Q.
No, that's fine. Thanks for seeing us.

LAMPLEY
So, what can I do you for?

J.Q.
My son, Mike, went into heart failure playing in his little
league game. I have full insurance through my work, but now
they're saying they don't have to pay.

LAMPLEY
Why not?

JIMMY
Lots of reasons. He don't even understand half of them.

LAMPLEY
What about the hospital?

J.Q.
Hope Memorial Hospital.

LAMPLEY
Yeah, Hope Memorial. Don't they have to cover it?

JIMMY
Right, right? That's what I thought.

J.Q.
No. The hospital says I have to pay cash. Otherwise the only
thing I can do is bring Mike home and watch him die.

LAMPLEY
Jesus.

J.Q.
Yeah.

Lampley is already working on the story in his head, putting
all the pieces in the right place.

LAMPLEY
Bureaucracy of the medical establishment, American family
caught in the middle.

JIMMY
Right. Big guy versus little guy. We were thinking you could
do one of them special interest pieces, you know? Send
donations, write your congressman. That kind of thing.

J.Q.
Anything would help.

LAMPLEY
What they've done to your son is outrageous, and I want to
help. But I've got to run it by my producers. I've got
bosses, just like anyone else. So, leave me your phone
number, and I'll get back to you.

EXT. ARCHIBALD HOUSE - DAY

The fire sale continues. The Archibald refrigerator is
carried out the front door.

EXT. ALL SAINTS CHURCH - DAY

After Sunday services, The pastor hands John and envelope of
collection money, and the congregation wishes him luck.

INT. MIKE'S ICU ROOM - NIGHT

Mike is sitting up in bed. He's pale, but he's in a good
mood, joking around with his he-man poses. John and Denise
react to something funny he says, and the three of them are
laughing. John looks at the monitor. It now reads 86.

INT. DINER - DAY

John, Jimmy and Gina go door to door, soliciting donations.

INT. MIKE'S ICU ROOM - NIGHT

J.Q. reads to Mike from a book. Mike's eyes close and John
smiles as he falls asleep. As John closes the book,
something catches his eye. At the far end of the ICU, a man
in a coal black suit stands over a boy in a hospital bed. He
is the HOSPITAL CHAPLAIN, and he is performing last rites.
The boy's distraught parents hang on to each other for
comfort. The chaplain kisses the crucifix, touches it to the
boy's forehead, and begins to pray.

John and Denise exchange a look. The chaplain whispers
incantations and he makes the sign of the cross over the
dying child. Plink. John and Denise turn. The monitor now
reads 84.

INT. ILLINOIS TRUST - DAY

John and Denise are refused for a loan.

INT. ROYAL GOLD & JEWELRY - DAY

Tight on a diamond ring through a lapidary's eyeglass. There
are two gold wedding rings on the counter. The jeweler nods
his head, and John takes the cash.

INT. MIKE'S ICU ROOM - NIGHT

Mike, oxygen tubes in his nostrils, is fast asleep, the
monitors chirping quietly. Denise sits by Mike's bed, hands
clasped and head bowed, praying hard. John Q. walks in,
catches the anxiety on her face, before seeing the cause.
The monitor now reads 80.

EXT. ARCHIBALD HOUSE - DAY

John selling the truck. A prospective buyer inspects as J.Q.
waits. He'll take it. J.Q. takes the money, drops the keys
in the buyer's hand, and watches his truck drive away.

From inside the house, the phone rings. J.Q. hurries inside
to get it.

INT. ARCHIBALD HOUSE - DAY

INTERCUT

It's empty. Furniture, appliances, everything's gone. Just a
few boxes. John picks up the ringing phone.

J.Q.
Hey, sweetheart. How's Mike?

DENISE
They're releasing him.

J.Q.
What?

DENISE
Dr. Turner just left. They're sending Mike home in the
morning.

J.Q.
What are you talking about? They can't just send him home. I
gave them money yesterday.

DENISE
It doesn't matter. They're releasing him.

J.Q.
But I spoke to the hospital. I took care of...

DENISE
Yeah, you always take care of it. But it's never enough, is
it? You need to do something, John. Do you hear me? Do
something.

INT. ARCHIBALD HOUSE - MIKE'S BEDROOM - DAY

John stands in Mike's bedroom, looking at his son's things.
Each thing with a memory. The pictures. The toys. The body
builder posters. He picks up a photo of John, Denise, and a
seven-year old Mike clowning around. Better days.

PUSH IN ON

J.Q.'s face, thinking, thinking.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - MORNING

J.Q. steps off a city bus carrying a gym bag. Windbreaker
buttoned, baseball cap pulled down tight, he moves with
purpose toward the hospital.

INT. EMERGENCY WAITING ROOM - MORNING

The broken, battered and bloodied sit on chairs waiting to
be seen.

A BABY BOY wails in the arms of his Hispanic mother, ROSA.
MIRIAM, 28, hugely pregnant, sits next to her husband,
STEVE, a contractor, dressed in paint-stained coveralls.
LESTER, 23, a blood-soaked towel wrapped around his hand.

MITCH, 30's, black jeans, shades, and a huge hangover, sits
with his arm around his girlfriend, JULIE, a platinum
bombshell. She's hurting. Her face is cut, her eyes swollen.
DEBBY UTLEY, a young, sensitive nurse sits behind the
admitting desk.

MITCH
What's going on? Are we going to get seen or what?

DEBBY
The doctor will be with you shortly, sir.

MITCH Shortly? Shortly we could all be dead. We've been
waiting damn near an hour.

The electric doors slide open and J.Q. enters and looks
around before moving quickly through and disappearing into
the main hospital entrance.

INT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - CORRIDORS - MORNING

J.Q. moves through the corridors intently, a man on a
mission. Dr. Turner escorts a wheelchair to the hospital
exit. In a wheelchair is a middle-aged man, dressed in
designer casuals, a Rolex wrapped around his wrist. His name
is CARROLL SHELBY, and he is a transplant patient. One of
the lucky recipients. His elegantly dressed WIFE walks
alongside.

DR. TURNER
You're doing great, Carroll. You've already gained back five
pounds. I think you're the only patient I have who actually
eats the food here.

SHELBY'S WIFE
Thanks for everything, doctor.

J.Q. approaches the group. His face reveals nothing.

DR. TURNER
Hello, John. This is Mr. Archibald. His son's a patient of
mine.

SHELBY'S WIFE
Well, you're certainly in good hands.

J.Q. forces a smile. The Shelbys say goodbye before leaving.

J.Q.
Denise said you're letting Mike go home.

DR. TURNER
Mr. Archibald, I'm a physician. I don't make policy
decisions. That's handled by the board of trustees.

J.Q.
You're head of Cardiac Surgery, Doctor. You're telling me a
person in your position makes a recommendation, no one's
going to listen?

DR. TURNER
I make recommendations all the time. The final decision
rests with the board. Not me.

J.Q. wags a Hope Memorial brochure at Turner.

J.Q.
You and your staff did over three hundred operations last
year. It's right here on page 4 of the hospital brochure.
Nice color pictures, happy faces. Three hundred plus
surgeries at a quarter million a pop. That's seventy five
million dollars your department took in. Couldn't you do
just one on good faith?

DR. TURNER
Please take your hands off me.

J.Q.
I'm not asking for charity, Doc. I'll pay. I don't know how,
but I swear to God, if it takes me the rest of my life, I
will. You have my word as a man.

DR. TURNER
I'm sorry. I tried to help. But it's out of my hands.

Something in J.Q. snaps. Heart pounding, he pushes Turner
through a pair of heavy metal doors and into the Emergency
Room.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - MORNING

J.Q. shoves Turner inside, pulls out a Baretta .9mm, points
it at Turner's head.

J.Q.
I'm not asking anymore, Doctor. I'm telling. Now I want a
new heart for my kid. You understand?

J.Q. drops the gym bag on the floor, unzips it, pulls out a
length of heavy chain. Quickly, he wraps the chain around
the power bar, threads a lock and clamps it shut. Turner
marches over to a phone and picks it up. J.Q. sticks the
weapon in his face.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Don't even think about it.

Turner hangs up the phone.

SECURITY GUARD
Hey, what are you doing?

J.Q. sees the stocky SECURITY GUARD, trains the gun on him.

J.Q.
Hands over your head. Do it.

The security guard nervously raises his hands above his
head. This part wasn't covered in his training manual.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Give me your gun.

SECURITY GUARD
I, uh, don't have a gun.

J.Q. reacts awkwardly, wasn't expecting this response.

J.Q.
Okay. Then sit down. And stay down.

The guard obediently drops into a chair.

DR. TURNER
Mr. Archibald, I understand how upset you are, but this is
not the right way to handle it.

J.Q.
I tried your way, Doc. It didn't work. Now we're going to
try it my way.

In one of the treatment rooms, Dr. Marjorie Klein and Leo
Maguire attend to a man in motorcycle leathers with a
bloodied head wound. They watch J.Q. lock the ambulance
entrance.

DR. KLEIN
Mr. Archibald. What are you doing?

J.Q.
I took your advice, Doctor. I'm not taking no for an answer.

Several patients and medical personnel see the gun and bolt
out the front door. With Turner still in tow, J.Q. hurries
to the ER entrance, pulls more chains from his gym bag and
secures both doors. Turning back, he sees Lester at the
admitting desk arguing with Debby Utley. A clipboard with
medical information forms sits in front of him.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
What's going on here?

Lester removes the blood soaked towel. The tips of three
fingers have been severed from his right hand.

LESTER
They want me to sign.

The pen. The hand. It's not going to work.

DR. TURNER
Mr. Archibald, these people have nothing to do with this.
You have got to let them go. They need treatment.

J.Q.
This is a hospital, isn't it? You're a doctor. Treat them.

J.Q. points to Lester.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Start with him.

Turner stands frozen.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
What's the matter, Doc? You want to see his insurance card
first?

J.Q. stands on a table addressing the room. A madman with a
gun.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
This hospital is under new management, ladies and gentlemen.
From now on, free care for everyone.

Various reactions from the people in the room.

LESTER
Far out.

J.Q. points to the security guard.

J.Q.
You. Come with me.

J.Q. leads the security guard to the elevators.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Kill the power.

SECURITY GUARD
I don't have a key for that.

J.Q.
You've got the keys to the city. Now do it.

Decision time. Finally the guard inserts an Allen wrench
into the lock and kills the power. J.Q. takes a crowbar from
his bag and jimmies the elevator control box, busting fuses
and yanking wires. The elevator looks sick. It's not going
anywhere.

J.Q. looks around and sees a snake-eye security camera
bolted to the ceiling.

INT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - SECURITY DESK - DAY

A skinny, pimple-faced KID with a big chrome badge sits in
front of a dozen closed circuit monitors. On one, a man in a
baseball cap is now bashing the camera with a crowbar. Ssss!
A blizzard of white snow crackles on the monitor. Confused,
the pimply faced kid picks up the phone.

PIMPLY FACED SECURITY GUARD
Uh. This is the security desk at Hope Memorial Hospital. I
think you guys better get down here. We may have a
situation.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

J.Q. paces next to the windows, sizing up the room. Nearby,
the Hispanic baby wails.

J.Q.
Everybody does exactly what I say and nobody gets hurt.

He looks around the room, everybody battered, bloodied, and
bruised.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
...more hurt.

INT. CONTROL ROOM - CHANNEL 8 - DAY

FREDDY B., a superbright techie-geek, pokes his head into an
office where Tuck Lampley is having a meeting with his
BOSSES.

FREDDY B.
This just came in over the police radio. Someone is holding
Hope Memorial hostage.

Realizing, Lampley stares at the TV executives.

TV EXEC
Hope Memorial Hospital? Isn't that...?

Lampley is already up and on the move.

LAMPLEY
Is it a good enough story for you now, George?

FREDDY B.
Do you think it's that guy with the kid, boss?

LAMPLEY
What do you think?

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

Maguire leads Lester back to the treatment area. Lester
hands him a baggie filled with three-severed fingertips.

LESTER Don't lose my fingers, man. Had them fingers my whole
life.

MITCH
(under breath; to Julie)
We were here before that guy.

J.Q.
You'll get your turn. Nobody's going anywhere for a while.

J.Q. glances at the admitting desk and sees the chair move.
He lifts his weapon and moves towards it. He jumps around
the corner of the desk to find Debby Utley underneath,
scared to death.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
I'm going to have to ask you to join the others, Miss.

The sound of a screaming baby is cutting through the room
like nails on a blackboard. J.Q. approaches Rosa, who
clutches her child defensively.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
What's the problem?

Rosa shakes her head. She doesn't speak much English.

ROSA
Yo no se que pasa. El llora por toda la noche.

J.Q.
Yo pienso que tiene dolor en su oreja.

ROSA
Si? En su oido?

J.Q.
Porque lo toca. Mira.

The baby's tiny fingers reach for his ear. J.Q. singles out
Debby Utley.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
This kid's got an ear infection. You.

With J.Q.'s finger pointed at her, Debby falls apart,
bursting into tears.

DEBBY
I can't.

J.Q.
Why not?

DEBBY
I don't know anything. It's my first.

J.Q. gives her a look. "Oh, Jesus."

MAGUIRE
I got it. Give him this.

Maguire hands a bottle of gooey pink Amoxycillin to Debby.

MITCH
Unbelievable. This place is a joke. Good think I'm not cut.
I'd bleed to death in this joint. Am I right, my man?

Mitch tries to engage J.Q. with a wink and a big flashy
smile. J.Q. ignores him.

MITCH (CONT'D)
Excuse me? Hey, brother?

Mitch. They crying baby. The tension. It's all getting to
J.Q.

MITCH (CONT'D)
My girlfriend's in a lot of pain here. How much longer
before she sees a doctor?

Mitch gets up and tries to approach J.Q.

J.Q. Sit down.

MITCH
That's cool. You and me ain't got no problems. You know what
I'm saying? But do me a favor, huh? Baby's pretty banged up,
and we've been waiting for hours.

J.Q. I told you once already. Sit tight.

MITCH
That's what we've been doing.

J.Q. shoots Mitch a look before moving to Miriam and Steve.

J.Q.
When is the baby due?

MIRIAM
Any minute.

Oh, boy. J.Q. rubs his head. What else? CLANK. CLANK. The
sound of the automatic doors banging against the chain is
heard.

J.Q.
What's that?
EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - ER ENTRANCE - DAY

A red & white ambulance is parked outside. THREE PARAMEDICS
are pushing against the locked doors, pounding on the glass.
J.Q. runs from the treatment area, sees a body laying on a
stretcher.

PARAMEDIC #1
Open up. Got a gunshot victim here. Lost a lot of blood.

J.Q.
Take him to another hospital.

PARAMEDIC #2
He won't make it. Come on. We're losing him. Open the door.

J.Q.
(to Maguire)
You recognize these guys?

MAGUIRE
Yeah, they're here all the time.

Paramedics #2 and #3 are wearing blue jackets, blue pants,
cordovan, cushion-soled shoes. Paramedic #1 wears the same
blue jacket and pants, but his shoes are black, with leather
soles.

J.Q.
That one's a cop.

MAGUIRE
I was here when you brought in your son. Remember me? I shot
straight with you then. I'm shooting straight with you now.
I'm telling you, these guys are cool.

J.Q. studies Maguire's eyes, measures his honesty, and then
unchains the door and opens it, pointing the weapon. The
paramedics see J.Q.'s gun and their hands go up.

J.Q.
You, open your coat.

PARAMEDIC #1
What?

J.Q.
You heard me. Take the coat off. Cop.

Paramedic #1 takes off his coat. There's nothing underneath.
He's not police.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Alright, then. Leave the stretcher. Go. Beat it.

The paramedics back away and take off. Maguire rolls the
stretcher inside, and J.Q. re-locks the doors.

MAN ON STRETCHER
(name's STAWITZKY)
I gave them all the money in the register. They shot me
anyway.

J.Q. peels back a corner of the blanket, looks for weapons,
recoils at the sight of the man's blood. Maguire moves in,
squeezes the man's wrist, takes his pulse.

MAGUIRE
We need to prep this man for immediate surgery. He's in
boo-koo trouble. Doctor?

DR. TURNER
No, no. This is out of my department. I'm a heart surgeon.
I'm not an emergency room physician.

MAGUIRE
You are now.

J.Q.
Come on, Doctor. It's like riding a bike. Pretend you're
getting paid.

Turner and J.Q. lock eyes.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Do it.

DR. TURNER
Seventy-five milligrams Demerol IV Lidocaine, local. Two
percent.

Turner takes the man's pulse as they roll the stretcher
towards the trauma room. J.Q. watches the anesthesia cup
placed over the man's nose and he goes down for the count.
Mitch fires a look at the stocky security guard.

MITCH
When I get out of here, I'm suing this hospital and your
security company.

Unseen by Mitch, J.Q. has moved behind him.

J.Q.
What makes you so sure you're getting out of here at all?

Mitch sits back down. J.Q. leans against a wall, takes a
breath. Suddenly, he hears the woop-woop of police sirens.
He looks out the window and sees police cars storming the
front of the hospital. The cavalry has arrived.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Here we go.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - DAY

The summer sun beats down as cop cars careen into the
parking lot. Behind them, an unmarked Crown Victoria plows
slowly through a growing crowd. LIEUTENANT FRANK GRIMES
bails out before the car stops, smoothing out the wrinkles
in his rumpled suit. He reacts with surprise when he sees
veteran, on-the-spot news reporter, Tuck Lampley, already on
the scene with his camera crew.

GRIMES
What are you doing here, Lampley? Shouldn't you be out
exposing tragic miscarriages or justice or something?

LAMPLEY
Yeah, well, screw you, too.

Grimes pushes past, but Lampley dogs him.

LAMPLEY (CONT'D)
There's a rumor floating around, Frank. Some guy's holding
the hospital hostage. Needs an operation for his kid. Any
truth to it?

GRIMES
You know more than I do.

LAMPLEY
You're full of shit.

GRIMES
Hey, then we're even. I never believe a word you guys say
either.

LAMPLEY
This is big, isn't it, Frank? I can feel it. Come on, what
do you got?

GRIMES
Zip. Nothing. Read my lips. I just got here. But I promise,
as soon as I know anything, you'll be the last to know.

LAMPLEY
Hey, Grimes. You're a real horse's ass. You know that?

GRIMES
Yeah, well...

Grimes chuckles as he moves past the police barricade,
sizing up his territory. He runs into swat team SERGEANT TIM
MOODY, already on the scene. Moody's accompanied by the
pimply faced security guard who phoned it in.

MOODY
This guy's in for the long haul, Lieutenant. He locked down
the ER, barricaded himself inside, killed the power on the
elevators. We could bust down the door, but the sonofabitch
might start killing everybody.

GRIMES
Any other way in?

MOODY
I'm working on it.

GRIMES
How many hostages?

MOODY
Security guard here said there could be anywhere from ten to
twenty.

GRIMES
Any security cameras?

PIMPLY FACED SECURITY GUARD
The guy took out the one in the ER, sir. But the hospital
has two covert pinpoints hidden inside the treatment
facility.

GRIMES
Pinpoint cameras? I don't understand.

PIMPLY FACED SECURITY GUARD
The hospital's own private security. Every hospital has
them, in case a mental patient goes crazy or an employee
starts stealing pharmaceuticals.

MOODY
They're hidden in the walls throughout the hospital. There's
two inside the ER area.

GRIMES
Can we get them?

MOODY
We're setting up a video tap right now. Should be up and
running in a few minutes.

Grimes looks at the pimply-faced kid.

GRIMES
Are you in charge of security?

PIMPLY FACED SECURITY GUARD
No, sir. That'd be Wally Pitoniak. He's at home. It's his
day off.

GRIMES
Not anymore it ain't. Get him down here.
(to Moody)
I need to make contact with this guy. Can you get me a
secure line?

PIMPLY FACED SECURITY GUARD
Lieutenant? One of our guys is on the inside. He's got a
walkie-talk. You might want to give this a shot.

The kid hands Grimes his walkie-talkie.

GRIMES
Alright, but put a clamp on all phone lines to the Emergency
Room. If he picks up the phone, I want him talking to me.

MOODY
Got it.

Grimes looks around, sees more news vans arriving.

GRIMES
And keep the media on a need to know basis. Until I say so,
the press doesn't need to know nothing. Now who's in charge
of this hospital?

PIMPLY FACED SECURITY GUARD
Rebecca Payne, sir. She's off today, too.

GRIMES
Jesus Christ. Does anyone work at this hospital?

PIMPLY FACED SECURITY GUARD
It's Saturday.

GRIMES
So what? People get sick on Saturday, don't they?

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

J.Q. watches the police build-up outside. Rosa is holding
her baby, who is quieter now, not crying.

J.Q.
How old is he? Cuantos anos?

ROSA
Ocho meses. Eight month.

J.Q. nods. Memories.

J.Q.
Eight months. Great age.

Dr. Klein approaches J.Q. with Miriam.

DR. KLEIN
I'll need to do an internal examination on this woman.

J.Q.
Go.

J.Q. sees Steve, the woman's husband, picking at his
fingernails, anxious.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Why'd you come to an ER? Why not go right to Maternity?

STEVE
Miriam went into labor early. Her water broke, we called our
doctor, got the service.

MITCH
Excuse me, but I think my fiancee broke her arm. Could
somebody take a look at her, please?

J.Q. moves over to Julie, regards her black eye, her swollen
face.

MITCH (CONT'D)
She's fine, ain't she? All that and twenty-two years old.
Little slice of heaven. Must be doing something right, am I
right?

J.Q. looks at Mitch. Is this guy for real?

J.Q.
(to Julie)
What's your story?

MITCH
Car accident. What does it look like?

J.Q.
I was talking to her.

JULIE
A drunk ran a red light and slammed into us. It was an
accident.

A muffled voice suddenly squawks on the security guard's
walkie-talkie.

GRIMES (O.S.)
Hello? Hello? Anyone there?

J.Q. grabs the guard's walkie-talkie, presses TALK.

J.Q.
Yeah.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - COMMAND POST - DAY

INTERCUT

The police have cordoned off a section of the parking lot
and transformed it into a command post. Police personnel
invade the area. Tables, phones, and monitors are being set
up.

GRIMES
This is Lieutenant Frank Grimes of the Chicago Police
Department. Are you the man in charge?

J.Q.
That's right.

GRIMES
Who am I speaking to?

J.Q. pauses.

GRIMES (CONT'D)
Come on, my friend. We're going to be doing a lot of talking
today. You don't have to give me your real name, but I've
got to call you something.

J.Q.
Call me John Q.

GRIMES
Alright, John Q. Again, my name is Lieutenant Grimes. But I
want you to call me Frank. Can you do that?

J.Q.
Sure, Frank.

GRIMES
I'm the hostage negotiator. I've been a cop for thirty-five
years and this is all I do. I don't play games. And I don't
fool around. So if I say something, you can take it to the
bank. Now, let's get down to it. Is anybody hurt?

J.Q.
It's an Emergency Room, Frank. Everybody's hurt.

Frank smiles. This guy's a comedian.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
They're fine.

GRIMES
Good. As long as it stays that way, we can keep talking.

Grimes walks along the perimeter of the police barricade. A
crowd of lookie-loos is starting to gather.

GRIMES (CONT'D)
Murphy's Law, John. You picked the hottest day of the year.
It's a hundred degrees out here. And I'm allergic to the
heat. So let's wrap this up as quickly as possible. Now,
what exactly is it you want?

J.Q.
Find Rebecca Payne, Hope Memorial's Administrative
Supervisor. Tell her I want my kid's name on the donor list.

GRIMES
Kid? Boy or girl?

J.Q.
Boy.

GRIMES
How old? You know, I've got two boys. Two girls and two
boys.

J.Q.
Don't handle me, Frank. I don't want to be handled. It
insults my intelligence. If I don't get what I want, you're
going to have a lot of dead bodies on your hands. You only
need to remember two things. My kid and the donor list. You
got that?

GRIMES
Take it easy, John. The idea's not to get too excited.

J.Q.
Mike's name goes on that list or there's going to be a blood
bath in here.

GRIMES
Alright. I hear you loud and clear. Rebecca Payne, right?
I'm writing it down. Lot of cops out here, John. Are you
sure you want to go through with this?

J.Q.
I'm sure.

GRIMES
Alright. Sit tight. You're in a tough spot, John. A lot of
trouble. But if you work with me, if you're reasonable,
we'll figure a way out of this. We have to have a little
faith in one another.

J.Q.
Why?

GRIMES
Why? Because that's what faith's all about. Believing when
you don't want to believe. Besides, what else are you going
to do?

J.Q.
Just tell Payne. Donor list. She'll understand. EXT. HOPE
MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - COMMAND POST - DAY

The line goes dead.

GRIMES
Alright, what the hell is a donor list?

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

J.Q. paces the floor. It's slower now. Everyone just sitting
around, waiting to see what will happen. Debby has pulled
herself together for the time being. She calls out to John.

DEBBY
Mr. Q? Would you really do it?

J.Q.
What?

DEBBY
What you said about the bloodbath? Would you really shoot
us?

J.Q.
I'll do what I have to do to help my kid.

MITCH
Aw, bullshit. He can't shoot us all. There's only eight
bullets in that weapon.

J.Q.
First one's got your name on it, Mitch.

Mitch mumbles and kicks his feet up, sparking a cigarette.
J.Q. keeps pacing back and forth, and Steve is still picking
them fingernails.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
First child?

STEVE
Yes, sir. You know how it is, kind of nervous.

J.Q. nods, understands.

J.Q.
What are you hoping for? Boy or girl?

STEVE
Miriam wants a baby girl. Doesn't matter to me, as long as
the baby's healthy.

Steve stops short. Realizing his faux pas.

STEVE (CONT'D)
I'm sorry. I didn't meant --

J.Q. shakes it off: "Not to worry." John notices Julie, her
arm now in a sling, not broken.

J.Q.
Who was driving?
(off Julie's look)
The car.

MITCH
I was. What's that got to do with it?

J.Q.
How come she got all banged up and you didn't?

MITCH
What do you call this?

Mitch pulls back his hair, shows off his wounds. Surface
scratches on his arms and around his neck and face.

LESTER
Somebody get this man a band-aid.

MITCH
Shut up, smart ass. It hurts.

JULIE
His airbag went off. Mine didn't.

J.Q.
What kind of car do you drive there, hot shot?

MITCH
Mercedes 500.

J.Q.
A Benz, huh?

MITCH
Sixteen valve. One point six liter. It does about a hundred
and eighty in reverse.

J.Q.
Wow. Pretty snazzy. What year?

MITCH
1986. It's a classic.

The other hostages study J.Q. Where is he going with this?

J.Q.
Yeah, well, I've got news for you, Mitch. Mercedes didn't
install passenger airbags until 1988.

A long uncomfortable silence ensues as the group looks at
Mitch, realizing the obvious. Busted.

MITCH
I was drunk. Alright?

Tears stream down Julie's proud face, for the first time,
Mitch is speechless. He looks like a car that won't start.
Finally, he gets up and walks away.

LESTER
Well, well, well. My man, Mitch. Mister girlfriend beater.
What do you got to say now, bitch?

Maguire and Turner enter. Maguire's got a big smile on his
face.

J.Q.
How's Stawitzky?

DR. TURNER
He's going to make it.

J.Q.
How's it feel, Doc? Saving a life? Feels pretty good,
doesn't it?

INT. MIKE'S ICU ROOM - DAY

CLOSE ON

Monitor. Plink. Mike's blood pressure drops from 75 to 74.
Mike is resting, eyes closed. Denise stands vigilantly by
Mike's bedside. Reggie enters. Carrying an armload of
medicine. He replaces the IV bag and starts to administer
the meds. One after the other, Reggie injects them into the
IV line, and Mike stirs.

DENISE
What's that?

REGGIE
Lasix. It's a diuretic to help get rid of some of the fluid
build-up. But it's potassium sparing, so he needs this one
to supplement.

DENISE
And those?

REGGIE
Dopamine. For his blood pressure. Dig for his heart.
Primacor.

DENISE
Gosh, it seems like so much.

REGGIE
Yeah, it's a lot. This is antibiotic.

DENISE
What for?

REGGIE
It's prophylactic. Just in case. These two, I don't really
know what they're for. Pain, maybe.

DENISE
Pain?

REGGIE
I don't know, Mrs. Archibald. I just do what they tell me.

Mike groans. He feels queasy and his mouth is bone dry.

MIKE
I don't feel good.

REGGIE
This is going to make you feel yucky for a few minutes,
buddy. But I'm going to get you some of those crunchy ice
chips to chew on. How does that sound?

Mike forces a smile, dips his head slightly. "Sounds good."
Reggie leaves the room. Something catches Denise's eye. Down
the Pediatric ICU, she sees the hospital chaplain again.
There is a commotion. The parents are crying. And a sheet is
pulled over her face of the now dead child. The chaplain
tries to console the devastated mother, who screams as her
child is wheeled out of the room.

MIKE
Mom? Is Dad coming?

DENISE
Yeah. He's coming.

MIKE
Where is he?

Denise steals a final look at the parents overcome with
grief.

DENISE
I don't know, sweetheart. I don't know.


INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - DAY

Mitch is snooping around one of the treatment rooms, always
careful to keep an eye on J.Q. He nearly jumps out of his
skin when he sees the security guard standing next to him.

SECURITY GUARD
What are you up to?

MITCH
Never mind me. You're worthless. You know that? Some
security guard. You should have zapped the bastard.

SECURITY GUARD
With what? Besides, I'm not putting my neck on the line. Not
for eight-fifty an hour.

Mitch reaches, pulls a cas cart closer. He carefully slides
open a drawer, steals a sharp-edged scalpel, slips it into
his pocket. Next he spots a spray top cannister marked
Ethychloride.

SECURITY GUARD (CONT'D)
What the hell are you doing?

MITCH
Looking out for number one.

SECURITY GUARD
You want to stay alive? Sit tight and wait for the cavalry
to get here.

MITCH
Wake up, fat boy. The cops are coming in shooting. They
don't give a shit about his kid. And as soon as he realizes
that, we're history.

SECURITY GUARD
Yeah? He finds out you got a scalpel, you're the one that's
history, asshole.

MITCH
Really? He doesn't look so bad to me.

SECURITY GUARD
Listen.

MITCH
No, listen to me, you stupid rent-a-cop. I'm not a slob.
I've got a life, and it means something to me. I'm not dying
in this shithole.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

The vending machines have been jimmied open and a huge pile
of candy bars and soda cans sit on the waiting room table.
Everybody is chowing down.

J.Q.
The thing I don't understand is why no one caught it before.
Mike had check ups every year since the day he was born. Why
didn't his doctors pick it up?

DR. TURNER
Was he ever diagnosed with a murmur?

J.Q.
Yeah, he was. About a week after he was born. But his doctor
said that was normal. That it happens all the time.

DR. TURNER
He might not have been tested thoroughly enough.

J.Q.
Why not?

MAGUIRE
You got an HMO, right? There's your answer. HMO's pay their
doctors not to test. Their way of keeping costs down. Let's
say Mike needed additional testing, insurance says they
won't cover them. The doctor keeps his mouth shut and no
one's the wiser. Little Mike falls through the cracks, and
come Christmas, the HMO sends the doc a big, fat bonus
check. J.Q. looks at Turner.

J.Q.
Is that true?

DR. TURNER
Possible. Not likely, but possible.

J.Q.
Then Mike's doctors could have known about his condition all
along? And he could have been treated years ago?

DR. TURNER
Who knows?

LESTER
Nothing personal, Doc, but you all are a bunch of damn
crooks.

MAGUIRE
You see,here's the problem. Over here, you've got your
insurance companies who basically want you healthy or dead.
That's how they make money. And over here, you've got your
medical establishment, doctors, pharmaceutical companies,
who don't want you healthy or dead. They want you sick.
That's the way they make money.

LESTER
It's all about getting paid, man.

MAGUIRE
And the individual is caught in the middle of this gigantic
tug-of-war. It's a game. And the end result is, people don't
get the treatment they deserve.

LESTER
Because then no one gets paid.

JULIE
But what about that thing you guys take? That promise? What
do they call it?

STEVE
The Hippocratic oath.

LESTER
More like the hipp-crit-cial Oath to me. How's that go, Doc?
"I solemnly swear to take care of all sick folk, except
those without major medical?"

MAGUIRE
I'm telling you, it's not that far from the truth. The shit
happens all the time. Paramedics bring in some accident
victim gasping for his last breath. Big boys in accounting
find out they can't pay, they send them packing.

JULIE
Hospitals can't turn people away.

STEVE
Yeah. I thought there were laws about that.

MAGUIRE
There are laws. But there are also ways around the laws. All
we have to do is stabilize them. After that, we're off the
hook.

Turner is getting hot.

DR. TURNER
That's not how it works.

MAGUIRE
That's exactly how it works. Maybe not up there on the fifth
floor, but down here, if you ain't got no money, you get a
band-aid, a foot in the ass, and you're out the door.

MITCH
Is that how you paid for that Armani suit, Doc?

Finally, Turner explodes.

DR. TURNER
Shut up. Enough already. I've heard all the bitching and
moaning I can stand. Sure, the system sucks. There's red
tape and there's worse. There's tough luck. And if you're
looking for kindness and compassion, they're in short supply
these days. But some of us got into medicine to do something
about it. I break my ass every day trying to make a
difference, trying to plug the dam. I'm in it up to my
elbows. I've seen people live who shouldn't, and the other
way around. And when I say I do my best, I mean it. So don't
tell me about doctors, because they're the last stop between
you and six feet under. And if you all want to regard me as
some blood sucking vampire, fine. I'm the bad guy. But who's
holding the fucking gun?

Turner gets up and walks into the treatment room.

JULIE
Wow.

MITCH
What's his problem?

STEVE
I've got to be honest, if my kid was dying and I couldn't
get help, I don't know what I'd do.

DEBBY
Me, neither.

STEVE
But I'd do something.

J.Q. glances quickly at the clock. He picks up the phone,
clicking the button, trying to get a dial tone.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - COMMAND POST - DAY

INTERCUT

A black SWAT phone starts ringing and the policemen freeze.
Where's Grimes? A COMPUTER COP runs over and calls out to
the lieutenant.

COMPUTER COP
Sir!

Grimes waves him off and cues his portable.

GRIMES
This is Frank Grimes.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM

J.Q., confused.

J.Q.
But...

GRIMES
The line is clipped, John. You pick up the phone, you get
me.
(then)
Can I help you with something?

J.Q.
Where are we at with that list?

GRIMES
I'm working on it, John. But I need some time.

J.Q.
Time I don't have, Lieutenant.

GRIMES
I want to talk about the hostages.

J.Q.
What about them?

GRIMES
What's going on in there? How are they?

J.Q.
Same as they were before, Frank. We're all just kind of
waiting on you.

At the command post, Moody is now waving his arms. Grimes
moves over and looks at the monitors. The videotape is up.
The images are wide and grainy. Giving him his first look at
the hostages. ON THE SCREEN, J.Q. moves into frame. Moody
taps the screen and Grimes nods. That's our guy.

GRIMES
I want you to let some of them go.

J.Q.
What for?

GRIMES
I do for you. You do for me. Show some good faith. We've got
a lot of nervous people out here, John. Make everybody
breathe a lot easier if we saw some happy faces.

J.Q.
Good faith only takes you so far. You see, I believe in the
merit system. And so far, you haven't earned any points.

EXT. COMMAND POST - DAY

A navy blue unmarked Crown Victoria pulls up and out steps
Rebecca Payne and POLICE CHIEF GUS MONROE. They are quickly
ushered over to the monitors where they see J.Q.'s face on
the screens.

PAYNE
That's him. His name is John Archibald. His son's on the
fifth floor, Pediatric ICU.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

Marjorie Klein moves over with a very hysterical Miriam in
tow.

DR. KLEIN
Excuse me.

J.Q. holds up a finger telling her to wait.

DR. KLEIN (CONT'D)
I need to talk to you. Now.

J.Q.
(into phone)
Can you hold on a minute, Frank?

DR. KLEIN
This woman's six centimeters dilated and the baby is breech.
I can't do anything for her here. She needs to be moved to
Maternity immediately.

J.Q. rubs his eyes and lets out a breath. He's under a lot
of stress.

EXT. COMMAND POST - DAY

Grimes has his hand over the receiver as he barks out orders
to Moody.

GRIMES
Put people on the door. Nobody talks to the wife but me.

Grimes sticks out his free hand to Monroe, who shakes it.

GRIMES (CONT'D)
Good to see you, Gus. How are you?

MONROE
Hot. What's going on?

GRIMES
You're looking at it.

J.Q. (O.S.)
Are you there, Frank?

GRIMES
Yeah, I'm here.

J.Q. (O.S.)
I changed my mind. I am going to let some of the hostages
go.

GRIMES
Great, John. That's the right thing.

J.Q. (O.S.)
But when I do, the clock starts. You have one hour to get
back to me with some good news.

Monroe is glued to the monitors. His wheels are already
spinning. Grimes covers the receiver to speak to him.

GRIMES
Isn't it a little early for you to be here, Gus? Who called
in the heavy artillery?

J.Q. (O.S.)
I mean it, Frank. If my boy's not on the list in an hour, I
promise you someone's going to die.

MONROE
This is bad, Frank. Lot of people watching this one. Big
embarrassment if it doesn't go away real quiet like.

GRIMES
Well, give me some time. I'm working on it.

J.Q. (O.S.)
Frank?

GRIMES
I got it, John. I'm hearing you. One hour.

They look on Monroe's face tells Grimes that something is
wrong.

GRIMES (CONT'D) Gus?

MONROE
There's no time on this one, Frank. This one's just got to
go away.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

J.Q. puts down the walkie-talkie and points at Miriam and
Rosa.

J.Q.
You and you. Come with me. Maguire, give me a hand.

MIRIAM
Mr. Archibald. Please let my husband go with me.

STEVE
Honey, for godsakes, just do as the man says. Get out of
here.

MIRIAM
I'm not leaving you here alone.

MITCH
Shit, I'll go.

STEVE
Shut your face. What kind of man are you?

MITCH
Screw you, Tyrone.

Steve leaps from his seat and goes after Mitch, bristling
with the racial slur. J.Q. moves in fast, trying to separate
them. But instead of going for Steve, Mitch goes for broke
and rushes J.Q. The Ethylchloride is out and Mitch sprays it
into J.Q.'s eyes, temporarily blinding him.

John tries to get his bearings but Mitch is already swinging
the scalpel. As J.Q. blocks the knife, his arm is sliced and
starts to gush. Mitch goes for the kill, but J.Q. grabs his
arm and they wrestle to the ground, the scalpel and John's
gun clattering to the floor. The element of surprise gone,
Mitch is now getting the worst of it. J.Q. is getting in
some heavy blows and no one is stepping in to stop it. Mitch
sees the gun across the floor next to Julie.

MITCH (CONT'D)
Julie, baby, get the gun.

Julie gets up.

MITCH (CONT'D)
Shoot him, honey. Shoot him.

But instead of grabbing the weapon, she picks up the
Ethylchloride, sprays it directly in Mitch's eyes from
superclose range and doesn't stop. Mitch's hands fly to his
eyes and he screams. J.Q. gets up and recovers his weapon,
sticking it in his waistband. Julie stands over Mitch, who
is still writhing in pain.

MITCH (CONT'D)
You stupid bitch!

Julie rears back, and with her go-go boot, she kicks Mitch
square in the groin.

JULIE
That's for beating the shit out of me.

She kicks him again.

JULIE (CONT'D)
That's for being an asshole.

Once more for good measure.

JULIE (CONT'D)
And that's for calling me a bitch.

LESTER
Damn.

The hostages look at Julie with newfound respect. J.Q. takes
the security guard's handcuffs, drags Mitch across the
floor, and manacles him to the radiator.

J.Q.
Everybody's a tough guy.

Grimes voice crackles over the walkie-talkie.

GRIMES (O.S.)
Where are those hostages, John?

J.Q. moves to the door, unlocks the chain, points to Rosa
and Miriam.

J.Q.
Let's go. Both of you.

Rosa launches into a rapid-fire monologue of thanks. She
speaks quickly, saying the word "Dios" over and over.

DEBBY
What's she saying?

MAGUIRE
She said she'll pray for his boy.

Miriam kisses Steve, holds him tight.

STEVE
Everything's going to be okay. The baby is going to be just
fine.

J.Q. puts a hand on Steve's shoulder.

J.Q.
Get out of here. Go.

Steve is stunned. Can't get to his feet.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Vasta. Vasta. Let's go.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - DAY

The front door opens and Steve, Miriam, Rosa and the baby
are released. We see Channel 8 reporter Tuck Lampley doing a
live "stand up."

LAMPLEY
The gunman has just freed several hostages who will
immediately be debriefed by members of the crisis team. Will
the man known as John Q. get a heart for his little boy?
Time will tell. Where this leads next is anyone's guess.
Live from Hope Memorial Hospital, this is Tuck Lampley.

The hostages are hustled through the police barricade by a
team of kevlar riot police. The media rush the hostages,
shouting out questions and frantically trying to stick their
microphones close enough.

REPORTER #1
Is it true an ambulance dropped off a gunshot victim after
the gunman took over the ER?

MIRIAM
Yes. He unlocked the door and let him in.

STEVE
If he didn't, the man would have died.

ROSA
John Q. very good man.

REPORTER #2
The gunman?

ROSA
Si. Good man, el senor.

But Tuck Lampley's attention is on the police command post
where dozens of blue uniforms crowd around a small bank of
monitors. Suddenly, it hits him.

LAMPLEY
They've got a camera in there. I don't believe it. They're
watching a video feed.

Freddy B. squints through the glasses.

FREDDY B.
How do you know?

LAMPLEY
Well, they're looking at something, Freddy. And I need to
know what it is. Can you steal it?

FREDDY B.
No problem, boss. If they got it, I can get it.

EXT. COMMAND POST - DAY

WALLY PITONIAK, Chief of Hospital Security, has arrived. He
and Sergeant Moody are standing over an unrolled building
plan that has been stretched across the command table like a
battle map. Monroe and Grimes have Rebecca Payne on the
defensive.

GRIMES
You mean all of this could have been avoided if you had just
put the kid's name on a list?

PAYNE
Don't you dare try to blame this on me. You think Mr.
Archibald is the only one with a sick child? Try the HIV
ward. There's a whole floor full of them. People get sick.
They die. That's the way it goes. I'm faced with tough
decisions every day.

MONROE
The fact is there's a man threatening to kill innocent
people because you refused treatment for his son.

PAYNE
The fact is there are fifty million people in this country
without medical insurance, sir. And there's one of me in
every hospital. That's not my fault. It's just the way the
country's set up. You want to change it? Write your
congressman.

Moody looks over from his map.

MOODY
Excuse me, but why don't we just tell him his son's on the
list? Doesn't that make sense? I mean, how's he going to
know.

MONROE
That's not a bad idea.

PAYNE
You want me to put his name on the list, fine, but it's a
mistake. You give in to this man, there's going to be guns
in every hospital in America.

MONROE
I don't personally care if you put the kid on it or not.
That's your conscience. But give us a hand, will you honey?
Work with us. Tell him his kid's going to be alright. Do you
think you can do that?

Pitoniak has indicated a spot on the schematic by circling
it with a red pen.

MOODY
Sir? Sir, take a look at this.

Monroe moves over.

MONROE
What is it?

Pitoniak points to the map, marking a red "X" through the
circle.

PITONIAK
It's a phone.

MONROE
So?

Moody points to one of the monitors. ON SCREEN, a view of
the nurse's station and beyond. And in the foreground, big
and clear as day, is the RED NURSES' PHONE.

MOODY
It's that phone.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

More waiting.

MITCH
So, what now? What's the plan?

JULIE
Mitch...

MITCH
No. I want to know. Every day you read about this kind of
shit. And now we're in the middle of it. How is it going to
end, John? This country, man. I swear to God. You can't go
anywhere anymore without getting robbed, mugged, or
murdered. Kids killing classmates, drive bys... I won't even
go into a post office anymore.

MAGUIRE
Shut up, Mitch.

J.Q.
He's right. You know how easy it was to get this gun? One
gun show. Five minutes.

MITCH
That's right. You're just a punk with a gun. I understand
your kid is sick, but what makes him better than me? I've
got a life, too.

J.Q.
Yeah, but you've got insurance.

MITCH
So, what, you're going to shoot me? Because that's what
you're telling the cops. If poor little Mikey doesn't get
the very first heart available, all of us die.

J.Q.
No, I don't want to cheat anyone. I just want my kid to have
a fair shot.

MITCH
So what's the plan, Stan? I mean, exactly? How long are you
going to hold us hostage? Until your son gets a new heart?

J.Q.
I don't know.

MITCH
Think, Einstein. Use your head. Correct me if I'm wrong,
Doctor, but hearts don't come just like that. It takes
months, years sometimes.

J.Q.
I know.

MITCH
Then what's your move?

J.Q.
I'm not letting my kid die! I'm out of options, alright?! I
have no more ideas. This is it. The end of the road. I'm
looking for an act of God. I'm looking for a miracle.

EXT. TWO-LANE HIGHWAY - DAY

The white BMW speeds along the highway, tries to pass the
semi in front of her, and smashes into the embankment. It's
the same accident as before, only this time, it's regular
speed.

INT. PEDIATRIC I.C.U. - DAY

Frank Grimes stands outside Mike's room, just watching him
through the glass.

CLOSE ON MONITOR

Mike's blood pressure has fallen to 68. He is asleep, each
breath magnified by the hollow, mechanized wheeze of the
ventilator pump. Denise sits by his side, praying hard,
tears rolling down her cheeks.

Payne arrives, and the two stand there a moment. Watching
the scene, Grimes is visibly moved. Even Payne and her super
bitch attitude are a little humbled.

PAYNE
No matter how many times I see it, this is the part I always
hate.

GRIMES
Do you have any children, Miss Payne?

PAYNE
No. No I don't.

They move to the doorway and tap lightly on the door.

GRIMES
Mrs. Archibald?

Denise's wet face turns to see the cause of the intrusion.

GRIMES (CONT'D)
Could we have a word with you?

INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - DAY

Denise, Grimes, and Payne by the elevators.

DENISE
This is my fault. When the hospital told me they were
releasing Mikey, I was furious. I yelled at John to do
something, anything. I never thought...

GRIMES
I understand. Is he a violent man, Mrs. Archibald.

DENISE
No. Heavens, no. He's gentle. He's sweet. He wouldn't hurt a
fly.

GRIMES
That's not what he's saying. He's talking about killing
people. Has he spent any time in the military?

DENISE
Hey, what is this? I get what's going on here. You want me
to tell you something you can use to hurt my husband.

GRIMES
He's in a lot of trouble, Ma'am. We're going to need you to
talk to him.

DENISE
Let's get something straight, Mister. You can't use me to
make a case against John. I support my husband. Whatever he
does. I'm on his side. Not yours.

PAYNE
Mrs. Archibald...

DENISE
You, don't talk to me. I'd tell you what I think of you but
I'm a Christian woman. Now you people leave me alone. I have
a sick child to look after.

PAYNE
I've decided to put Mike's name on the organ recipient list,
Mrs. Archibald. The hospital will pay for everything.

Denise looks at Payne, not daring to believe.

DENISE
Really.

Payne nods. This is too much for Denise. She throws her arms
around Payne, sobbing tears of joy.

DENISE (CONT'D)
Oh, thank you. Thank you so much.

Payne pats Denise on the back, awkwardly trying to comfort
her.

INT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - CORRIDORS - DAY

Grimes and Payne move quickly through the corridors.

GRIMES
You're good.

PAYNE
Excuse me?

GRIMES
With the Archibald woman back there. Quite a performance.
The sincere look, the comforting embrace. For a minute, I
almost believed you cared.

Payne's eyes flash with anger. She looks like she wants to
say something, but she just turns and walks away.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - DAY

A restless crowd encircles the hospital, cordoned off by
police blockades, uniformed cops forming a human wall around
people. EMS rescue vehicles rumble onto the scene, sirens
blaring.

A police bus drives slowly into the parking lot. A SWAT
team, dressed in flak jackets and riot gear, pours out.

An armada of soft drink, hot dog and ice cream vendors smell
gold, and stake out their claims. It's Saturday afternoon,
and the circus is in town.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

J.Q. and the hostages watch Tuck Lampley on an overhead TV.
Jimmy Palumbo is being interviewed. ON SCREEN, J.Q. sees the
massive police build-up, swallows. He looks at the clock.
5:05 PM. Ten minutes and counting.

EXT. TWO-LANE HIGHWAY - LATE AFTERNOON

A red and white medical helicopter descends from the sky.
The accident scene is now secured by the flashing lights of
police and medical teams. The screeching sound of cutting
metal is heard as the rescuers use the jaws of life. As we
see the car more closely now, we notice that the woman's arm
rests out the open window. On her wrist is a silver donor
bracelet.

EXT. COMMAND POST - LATE AFTERNOON

Grimes returns to find the post empty. Nobody there except a
few policemen and Sergeant Moody, who is doing a check on
his walkie.

GRIMES
What's going on? Where is everybody?

Moody indicates the map and the monitor.

MOODY
We're sending in one of ours through the ventilation ducts.

ON SCREEN

He indicates the red nurses' phone.

MOODY (CONT'D)
If we can get the target to that phone, it's a clear shot.

GRIMES
Is that right?

MOODY
Yes, Lieutenant. That is right.

GRIMES
On who's orders?

INT. UNDERGROUND PARKING GARAGE - LATE AFTERNOON

Police Chief Gus Monroe, Wally Pitoniak, and a SWAT Team are
in strategy session. They surround a sniper decked out in
HBT regalia. A green video mini-monitor is being checked and
fastened to the front of the sniper's vest. In the distance,
Grimes bursts into the parking garage.

GRIMES
Gus...

MONROE
Not one word. I don't want to hear one goddamn word out of
you, Frank.

GRIMES
I'm not going to say anything. I'm just going to go get you
your red nose.

MONROE
What did you say to me? Are you calling me a clown?

Monroe goes after Grimes and has to be restrained.

MONROE (CONT'D)
I swear to God, I'll kill you.

Boys. Boys.

GRIMES
You going to do this behind my back, you sonofabitch?

MONROE
Check the time, Frank. Look at your watch, Frank. The guy
said at a quarter after he was going to start killing
everybody, and we don't have any reason not to believe him.

GRIMES
So goddamn stupid.

MONROE
Yeah? What's your great idea?

GRIMES
There are no great ideas!

MONROE
Right! Exactly. But right now I've got a shot at this guy. I
don't even know what we're talking about. You know the
score. You always take the clear shot.

GRIMES
The wife has agreed to speak to him. Let her talk him down.

MONROE
That's exactly what we're going to do.

GRIMES
What? You use the man's wife to set him up?

MONROE
Whatever works. Let me paint a picture for you. And I hope
it's clear. What we've got is a lose/lose. If this guy
starts whacking out the hostages, it's bad, right? But if we
give in to this asshole, it's also bad.

GRIMES
Bad for who?

MONROE
It's an election year. Do you want me to spell it out for
you? A, B, C. However it goes down, this guy's not going to
make it.

GRIMES
So, you kill him? That's a P.R. bonanza.

MONROE
There's not going to be a slaughter in there. Not on my
watch. You're out, Frank.

GRIMES
Out?

MONROE
Out. No hard feelings. But you're officially relieved of
duty. I'll handle it from here.

GRIMES
You?

MONROE
It's not my first trip around the dance floor, you know.

Grimes laughs out loud.

GRIMES
Yeah.

MONROE
Hey, I don't like it any better than you do, but I'm under a
lot of pressure here. Everyone is wetting their pants on
this one. Believe me, my ass is swinging in the breeze.

Monroe turns and walks away. Grimes calls out after him.

GRIMES
What about the hostages?

MONROE
They better keep their heads down.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

J.Q. paces back and forth looking at the clock. His level of
irritation is growing exponentially.

J.Q.
Where the hell are these guys?

Mitch is now contrite and trying to reconcile with his
battered girlfriend.

MITCH
Julie...

JULIE
Leave me alone.

MITCH
I'm sorry. I'm a lousy drunk, okay? I get out of control. I
don't mean to, but I do and I lose my mind. But that doesn't
mean I don't love you. And I'll change. I swear to God, I
will. It's you and me, baby. All the girls in the club, they
don't mean shit to me. It's only you. I'll get down on my
knees if you want me to. Look, I'm on my knees in front of
everyone. I'll even forget you kicked me in the nuts. Come
on.

JULIE
No, Mitch. This is always how it goes. You treat me like
shit, then come crawling back to me like Prince Charming.
Not this time. It's over.

She takes off a big diamond from her finger and drops it on
the floor. It bounces and disappears under a table.

MITCH
Aw, come on. Don't do that. That ring cost me twenty grand.

JULIE
Poor little rich boy. Used to getting everything he wants.
Buying his way in and out of everything.

Lester bends over and tries inconspicuously to look for the
ring. The security guard gets on his hands and knees. Even
Debby sneaks a peek.

MITCH
Do you mind? Stay away from the ring, please.

SECURITY GUARD
Hey, she don't want it.

LESTER
yeah. Finders keepers, man.

The hostages laugh and Mitch goes crazy.

J.Q.
Hey, what's so funny? Does everybody think this is a joke?
You all should be thinking about your own lives, hoping that
phone rings with some good news. Because in about five
minutes, the road is going to get a lot narrower.

EXT. COMMAND POST - LATE AFTERNOON

Monroe moves outside and joins the other SWAT team personnel
at the video tap. Grimes follows to plead his case.

GRIMES
But he's not a wacko, Gus. Married with a family, no history
of mental illness. No radical political views. He doesn't
fit the profile.

MONROE
Don't matter. You know as well as I do that anybody can fit
the profile at any time.

MOODY
He's got a gun and he's got hostages. That's a profile.

GRIMES
How long have we been doing this? You've got to trust me on
this one. Gus, I like the guy.

MONROE
Well I don't. I don't like nut jobs who point guns at
innocent people. It pisses me off.

GRIMES
He's not a nut job.

MONROE
Maybe you're right. Maybe he's bluffing. Maybe he's just a
nice guy with a problem. Maybe he's misunderstood and needs
to blow off a little steam. Hey, it's possible. But I can't
depend on that, Frank. This asshole has raised the stakes
real high. And I need to match it, just in case he's not
bluffing. Now, we've got five minutes before he starts
throwing bodies out the door. I've got a chance to end this
right now and I'm taking it.

GRIMES
I'm telling you, you're making a mistake.

MONROE
Yeah, well. We try harder.

GRIMES
I want to be on the record. Monroe hands Grimes a set of
headphones.

MONROE
You can be on whatever you want. Now I got you a chair. Put
these on and have a seat.

GRIMES
Gus...

MONROE
Will you stop already? Jesus, Frank. You're so emotional.

On one of the monitors WE SEE the ER room and hostages. On
the other, the red nurses' phone. The images are black and
white and grainy.

MOODY
(into walkie-talkie)
This is Moody. Let's go.

INT. HOSPITAL ENGINE AND POWER ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

Pitoniak climbs along the narrow catwalk until he reaches
the area that houses the air-conditioning unit. We hear the
thunderous sound of an enormous compressor. Pitoniak reaches
for the AC on/off switch.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

J.Q. paces. Everyone keeps looking at the clock. 5:12 PM.
Three minutes to go.

J.Q.
Some first day, huh?

DEBBY
A little more stressful than I thought it would be.

J.Q. cracks a smile. Just then, a loud rattle echoes through
the ER, pipes clanging.

J.Q.
What was that?

SECURITY GUARD
Air conditioning unit just shut off.

J.Q.
Yeah? Why?

SECURITY GUARD
The power automatically shuts down when the thermostat hits
a certain temperature.

TIGHT ON J.Q.
Something doesn't feel right.

INT. DUCT SYSTEM - LATE AFTERNOON

INTERCUT

An armed SNIPER pops his head up and slithers along the
plated aluminum floor of an AC duct, a remote mini-monitor
in the palm of his hand.

EXT. NEWS VAN - LATE AFTERNOON

Snipers lock and load assault rifles, and Tuck Lampley's
crew frantically unspools fiber optic cable line to a
hospital outsource, cutting and splicing it back to the news
van.

LAMPLEY
Where's my picture?

FREDDY B.
Coming. We just need to unscramble the police encryptment.
We're almost there.

LAMPLEY
Well, hurry up. I've got a contact in cardiology. The cops
are setting up a phone call with this guy and his wife. This
is going to be unbelievable.

INT. DUCT SYSTEM - LATE AFTERNOON

The sniper continues to crawl through the duct toward a
light emanating from a louvered grill.

EXT. COMMAND POST - LATE AFTERNOON

Moody looks at his watch, synchronizes. Monroe does.

MOODY
(into walkie-talkie)
Are you with a wife? Good. Let's patch it through.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

5:14 PM. All eyes on the clock. Hostages tired, hot,
emotionally spent. Suddenly, a phone clangs. J.Q. looks
around, surprised. He sees a desk phone, picks it up. Dead.
He moves to another phone. Nothing. But the mysterious phone
continues to ring.

J.Q.
Where's the phone? Which phone is it?

INT. NEWS VAN - LATE AFTERNOON

News monitors cackle with white snow. No picture. Freddy B.
works the equipment. Lampley pokes his head in.

LAMPLEY
Come on, goddammit. They're putting the call through.

Suddenly, an audio hook-up. The phone clanging like an alarm
bell.

FREDDY B.
Oh, yeah. We got sound.

LAMPLEY
Good. Good. But where's the video? Come on. I need picture.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - LATE AFTERNOON

J.Q. moves from phone to phone with no luck. The phone keeps
ringing. Finally he moves into the corridor, spotting a red
phone at the nurses' station.

EXT. COMMAND POST - LATE AFTERNOON

CLOSE ON VIDEO TAP

Surreal, distorted focus, like a funhouse mirror. Suddenly,
J.Q. races into frame and snatches the phone.

J.Q.
This better be good, Frank.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - LATE AFTERNOON

DENISE (O.S.)
John?

J.Q.
Denise?

DENISE (O.S.)
Hi, baby. We're on the list!

J.Q.
What?

DENISE (O.S.)
Payne was just here. Mike's name is on the list. You did it.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

The hostages are glued to the TV, watching covering from the
outside about what's happening on the inside.

J.Q.
Okay. Great. We're on the list. Wow. How's Mikey doing?

DENISE (O.S.)
Not so good, baby. He looks like he's going away.

EXT. COMMAND POST - LATE AFTERNOON

Cops are glued to the monitor. Grimes looks on, disgusted.

INT. MIKE'S ICU ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

DENISE
They've done everything they can but he keeps getting worse
and worse. Oh my God, our poor baby.

Denise cracks. Tears come and there's no stopping them.

INT. CRAWL SPACE - LATE AFTERNOON

The sniper pops off the grill, revealing the acoustic tile
of the ceiling below. He raises the microphone to his mouth.

SNIPER
Two zero to base camp. I'm in position one.

MOODY (O.S.)
Go.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - LATE AFTERNOON

John rests his head and closes his eyes as he listens to his
wife falling apart.

DENISE (O.S.)
You know, sometimes I think he's an angel. A real angel,
sent down to keep us company for a while.

J.Q.
It's going to be alright, sweetheart.

DENISE (O.S.)
Are you praying for him? Are you praying for our boy?

J.Q.
Yeah, baby. I'm praying.

DENISE (O.S.)
Oh my God, what are we going to do?

J.Q.
I don't know.

DENISE (O.S.)
Maybe we should let him go. Maybe it's meant to be and we
should accept it.

J.Q.
No. Don't say it.

DENISE (O.S.)
I don't know what else to think. The priest keeps coming. He
wants to give him last rites.

J.Q.
Denise, don't you lose faith now. Not you. You can't give
up. Mikey's going to make it. I swear on my life, he's going
to make it. You've got to believe.

DENISE (O.S.)
Okay, baby. I'll believe.

J.Q.
Is he awake? Can I talk to him? INT. NEWS VAN - LATE
AFTERNOON

On the monitors, the blizzard of white snow morphs into a
clear picture of J.Q. on the phone. Mike's tired voice
suddenly comes over the audio.

MIKE (O.S.)
Dad?

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - LATE AFTERNOON

INTERCUT

Lampley is giving the thumbs up. They have picture.

LAMPLEY
Are we good? Beautiful baby. You're a genius.

Lampley puts on his most sincere look as the Channel 8 news
team goes live.

LAMPLEY (CONT'D)
This is Tuck Lampley at Hope Memorial Hospital, where we are
bringing you exclusive live coverage of a phone call between
the father and the son he is fighting so desperately to
save.

ON POLICE VIDEO TAP CAMERA

WE SEE J.Q.

Leaning against the wall. Father and son's 911 static
scratched voices crackling.

J.Q.
Mike? How you doing, buddy? You hanging in there?

MIKE (O.S.)
Uh-huh. How are you?

J.Q.
Me? I'm fine. Don't worry about me.

INT. DUCT SYSTEM - LATE AFTERNOON

The sniper crawls from the louvered grill, moving along two
metal support rails. He takes a crouching position over the
acoustic tile.

INT. MIKE'S ICU ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

Mike is propped up in bed, now breathing with some
difficulty. He's so weak, Denise has to hold the phone.

MIKE
How come you're not here, Dad? Where are you?

J.Q. (O.S.)
Oh, I'm kind of tied up right now. I can't get away.

INTERCUTTING SHOTS OF TV SETS AROUND THE NATION

Quick, jagged CUTS: American families. People in bars. TV
appliance stores. Even the hostages in the ER. Awestruck at
what they're witnessing.

INT. MIKE'S ICU ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

MIKE
Mom says I need a new heart.

J.Q. (O.S.)
That's right, champ.

MIKE
What's wrong with my heart?

J.Q. (O.S.)
Not a thing, buddy. Not a thing. We just have to put a new
one in so you can be stronger, okay?

MIKE
Okay.

INT. DUCT SYSTEM - LATE AFTERNOON

The sniper lifts a ceiling tile, exposing the treatment room
below. There, across the room, is J.Q. talking on the phone.

INT. MIKE'S ICU ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

INTERCUT

Mike stops to catch his breath. He's really on his last
legs. He just lays there a second before asking the big one.

MIKE
Hey, Dad?

J.Q. (O.S.)
Yeah, Mike.

MIKE
Am I going to die?

Denise's hand flies to her mouth.

INT. DUCT SYSTEM - LATE AFTERNOON

CLOSE ON THE SNIPER

He pushes the barrel of his weapon through the opening in
the ceiling and puts his eye to the scope.

SNIPER POV

Through the scope, J.Q.'s tormented face racks into focus,
but he moves behind a partition. The shot is not clear.

J.Q.
No, Mikey, you're not going to die.

MIKE (O.S.)
How do you know?

J.Q.
Hey, what good would the world be without you? Without you,
there is no world.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - LATE AFTERNOON

Lampley stands by the news van watching the drama unfold on
the monitor before him. He's a little choked up.

LAMPLEY
Oh my God. This is the greatest thing I've ever seen. This
is my white Bronco.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - LATE AFTERNOON

J.Q.
Hey, Mike.

MIKE (O.S.)
Yeah, Dad?

SNIPER POV - SCOPE MATTE

J.Q. moves out from behind the partition and into the open.
He's a sitting duck now.

INT. DUCT SYSTEM - LATE AFTERNOON

The sniper cues his mic.

SNIPER
On your call.

INT. EMERGENCY WAITING ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

INTERCUT

The hostages are glued to the TV set. Maguire, Julie, Debby,
Marjorie Klein hang on J.Q.'s every word.

J.Q.
You know how much I love you, don't you? How proud I am of
you?

MIKE (O.S.)
Yeah.

EXT. COMMAND POST - LATE AFTERNOON

Monroe nods at Moody. It's time.

MOODY
(into walkie-talkie)
Take the shot.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - LATE AFTERNOON

From across the room and through the ceiling, a small red
light snaps on. WE ZOOM IN to see what it is.

J.Q.
Yeah, well, I wanted to tell you that. Just in case I
forgot.

INT. DUCT SYSTEM - LATE AFTERNOON

SNIPER POV

J.Q. is in the crosshairs. Dead center. The red laser dot
square in the middle of his back.

J.Q.
Give me a Chris Cormeir, will you? Yah!

MIKE (O.S.)
Oh, yeah. Chris Cormeir. He's great.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

The hostages attention has been so focused on the screen,
none of them have realized that for John to be on TV, there
has to be a camera inside the ER. Suddenly, it hits Lester.

LESTER
What the hell. Oh, shit...

INT. DUCT SYSTEM - LATE AFTERNOON

TIGHT ON THE TRIGGER. As the sniper squeezes --

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - LATE AFTERNOON

J.Q.
Get some rest, buddy. Okay?

MIKE (O.S.)
Okay. I love you, Dad.

J.Q.
Yeah. I love you, too.

As J.Q. hangs up the receiver, the sniper pulls the trigger.

LESTER
Hey, John. You're on the TV, you know that?

BANG!

John turns as the bullet explodes from the chamber, muzzle
flashing. A bullet blows through J.Q.'s shoulder, knocking
him backwards against the wall.

EXT. COMMAND POST - LATE AFTERNOON

The echoing gunshot rumbles through the air like a
thunderclap. Monroe, Moody, Grimes and Payne react as the
hostages scatter.

MOODY
He's down. We got him. He's down.

Grimes pulls off his cans.

GRIMES
Your kids are lucky, Gus. Their father's coming home
tonight.

MEDIA MONITORS, POLICE VIDEO TAP, TV SETS

The cops. Lampley. America. All tuned into the --

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - LATE AFTERNOON

Sheer pandemonium. Hostages run for cover. The phone
receiver swings back and forth, and a bloody J.Q. is slumped
against the wall.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - LATE AFTERNOON

Lampley continues his live coverage as horrified crowds move
around him.

LAMPLEY
All we know at this point is that an attempt has been made
on the gunman's life. Repeat. John Q. has been shot.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - LATER

J.Q. sits, his shirt soaked in blood. Among all the madness,
something funny happens.

INT. DUCT SYSTEM - LATE AFTERNOON

The sniper loses his balance and his leg crashes through the
acoustic tile ceiling. He is momentarily stuck.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - LATE AFTERNOON

J.Q. blinks. The wound, the hysteria, the events of the day,
and now a leg sticking through the ceiling. It's all very
surreal. He gets up, moves to the leg, and pulls. And the
ceiling comes crashing down.

EXT. COMMAND POST

Stunned, Monroe, Moody, Grimes and Payne grimly watch J.Q.
subduing the sniper on the video tape monitors. Their faces
are in stark contrast with the chaos that surrounds them.

MOODY
He's not down.

GRIMES
This is very bad, Gus.

A UNIFORMED POLICEMAN runs up with a cell phone and hands it
to Monroe.

MONROE
Not now.

POLICEMAN
It's the Mayor, sir. And you better kill that video feed.
The media's pirated the signal and the whole thing just went
out live over national TV.

As Monroe takes the phone and Moody starts barking out
orders, the feed is disconnected, and the monitors go blank.

EXT. TWO-LANE HIGHWAY - GOLDEN HOUR

The beautiful woman's body is loaded onto the medivac. The
helicopter lifts off and disappears into the darkening sky.

INT. COMPUTER ROOM - SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA - NIGHT

The daisy wheel keeps on turning. WE SEE the words as
they're printed. Vernell Tilson. Status 2. Arthur
Friedlander. Status 3. Amy Podgorsky. Status 2. And a new
entry, Mike Archibald, Age 9, 85 pounds. It's official. He's
on the list. Status 1.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - GOLDEN HOUR

The sniper now sits restrained to a chair, his hands and
feet bound by adhesive tape. The other hostages are somber,
knowing that they are caught smack in the middle of this
mess. J.Q. sits stripped to the waist as Maguire removes the
bullet from his shoulder, his wheel spinning, spinning.

J.Q.
It's over. Mikey's not going to make it.

JULIE
But the list.

J.Q.
What list? They're shooting at me. They're not going to help
my kid. It's time to change plans.

DR. KLEIN
What about an El-vad?

DR. TURNER
No.

J.Q.
What's an El-vad?

DR. KLEIN
A left Ventricular Assist Device. It's basically a pump
inserted into the chest cavity, wired to the heart to keep
it stimulated.

J.Q.
All this time there's been a way to save his life and you
never said anything?

DR. TURNER
It's not a solution. It's only a band aid. Mike's immune
system may be too weak.

J.Q.
Will it give him time?

DR. TURNER
Not long. It's only a temporary measure.

J.Q. My kid's down to hours and minutes, Doc. Things don't
get more temporary than that.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - GOLDEN HOUR

The police are unceremoniously disconnecting Channel 8's
pirated signal, hassling Lampley's crew, and telling them
they are all going to be arrested.

LAMPLEY
You're going to bust me? Get real. You just shot an innocent
man on primetime TV.

A roar from the crowd indicates something big is happening.
J.Q. is coming outside. He's got the sniper in tow, using
him as a human shield. The crowd behind the barricade is
huge now, holding up signs like "Have a Heart," "Save Mike,"
and "John Q. Public." They scream encouragement with J.Q.'s
every move. As he comes forward, police and SWAT teams train
their rifles on him.

J.Q.
Grimes. Grimes!

Behind the barricade, Frank Grimes stands with Monroe and
Moody.

MONROE
Alright.

GRIMES
Alright, what?

MONROE
Let's go out there. See what he wants.

GRIMES
But I thought you said I was out.

MONROE
I stepped in shit, Frank. Is that what you want to hear,
goddammit? Now quit breaking my stones. I need you to save
my ass on this one.

Frank Grimes smiles before grabbing a megaphone from one of
the uniforms and stepping out from behind the barricade with
Monroe and Moody.

GRIMES
Hold your fire.

J.Q. looks around at the hundreds of weapons all pointing
right at him. They're everywhere he turns. He sees Grimes
approaches.

J.Q.
Look what I found.

The crowd cheers support for their new hero.

GRIMES
John.

J.Q.
Who are these guys? Who the hell are you? Oh, I know who you
are, the guys who tried to take me out.

J.Q. indicates his bleeding shoulder.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Almost.

GRIMES
This is Sergeant Moody and Police Chief Monroe.

MONROE
What are we doing, John?

J.Q.
You were going to call me back. I gave you your hostages and
you were supposed to call me back. But no, you want me dead.

GRIMES
I don't want you dead.

J.Q.
No, you want to kill me. You want to kill me so bad you can
taste it.

GRIMES
Nobody wants to kill you.

J.Q.
Nobody wants to kill me?
(indicates the sniper)
Who is this?

The crowd voices their displeasure in a chorus of "boos."

GRIMES
That wasn't my call. I --

J.Q.
I, I, I bullshit! You tried to kill me. You tried to kill me
while I was talking to my boy!

The crowd erupts. They're getting rowdy now. The cops are
getting jumpy, their rifles trained, their trigger fingers
ready.

MONROE
John, listen to me. Lieutenant Grimes had nothing to do with
that. It was my call.

J.Q.
Don't lie to me. I don't need to be bullshitted by some
lying flunky cops.

GRIMES
What are we, friends all of a sudden? All of a sudden, we
owe you something? You pulled the gun. You're the one that
took the hospital. What did you think would happen? You want
truth Here's some truth. This is going to end up bad for
you. There's only two ways out of here. Jail or dead.

J.Q. hears the words and they sink in. He knows they're
right.

GRIMES (CONT'D)
Look around you. Look at all of it. It's crazy. You don't
want to do this.

J.Q.
I just want my life back.

GRIMES
I understand. It's hard to be a man these days. Hard to know
what the right thing is. Put the gun down, John. It's all
over. You got everything you asked for. Mike is on the list.
Status one.

J.Q.
I don't believe you.

GRIMES
I give you my word.

J.Q.
Forgive me for being skeptical, Frank, but your word is
shit!

The crowd goes crazy, cheering and shouting out their
encouragement. The faces are those of outrage and passion.
Some even with tears streaming down their faces. J.Q. looks
out the overwhelming display of support.

GRIMES
Hey, what are you doing? Stay with me, John. You think these
people give a shit about you? They don't. You're just the
cause of the moment. Believe me, in a couple of days,
they'll be outraged about something else. Nobody cares,
John. That's the real truth. Nobody cares. Only you. It's
only you and me out here, and all these guns pointed at you.
So, what do you want to do? It's your call.

J.Q.
I want my son.

MOODY
What?

J.Q.
Bring me my son. I want my son inside with me.

MONROE
Can't do it.

J.Q.
There's an operation that could save his life. I'm going to
need some equipment but I've got two surgeons inside that
are ready to go.

MONROE
You listen to me, you sonofabitch. You give this up right
now, turn yourself in. And your son will have any and every
means of assistance. If not, if you keep this up, this is
going to be very bad for you.

J.Q.
Are you threatening me, Chief? Take your best shot. Oh, I
forgot, you already did. No, we'll do this my way. You give
me my boy, they do the surgery and then I give up. Nobody
gets hurt and everyone goes home.

Monroe studies J.Q. and considers.

MONROE
What do you think, Frank?

GRIMES
I say give it to him. He's not going to hurt his boy.

Monroe takes his time making his decision.

MOODY
Sir, the object is to get hostages out, not to let more in.

MONROE
The boy is not a hostage. He's the man's son. Do it.

INT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - HALLWAY - MAGIC HOUR

Mike's hospital bed flies down the hallway. Running
alongside we see Denise, Payne and nurses holding medical
equipment.

MIKE
Mom, where are we going?

DENISE
To see your father.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - MAGIC HOUR

The front doors burst open and Mike's bed is rolled onto the
sidewalk. COPS run alongside like secret service agents,
protecting Mike, pushing a path through the crowd.

COPS
Coming through. Let's go. Move it back, folks.

The mob swarms around the speeding bed, trying to get a look
at Mike, who considers the circus atmosphere surrounding
him. As the bed hits the police barricade, the cops take
over.

DENISE
Let me through. I'm his mother.

But she is held back as Mike is ushered through.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - MAGIC HOUR

Mike's bed is rolled slowly to a stop outside the ER doors.
The sniper is released and J.Q. stands guard as Mike is
rolled in by Turner and Maguire, before locking the door
behind them.

MIKE
Dad, where have you been?

J.Q.
Just waiting for you, buddy.

Mike looks up to see Dr. Turner walking alongside. He looks
up at him and smiles. Mike is wheeled into a Trauma room
where the monitors quickly come to life.

INT. MIKE'S TRAUMA ROOM - MAGIC HOUR

J.Q. looks at Mike as the medical team assess his condition,
just watching helplessly as the life drains out of his body.

J.Q.
How are you feeling, slugger?

MIKE
I'm okay. Tired.

Beep. Beep. The monitors whisper faintly, irregularly,
Turner steps in front of J.Q.

DR. TURNER
Out.

J.Q.
What?

DR. TURNER
I need some time to examine Mike and I don't need you
getting in the way. It's crowded enough in here.

J.Q.
I'll stay in the corner.

DR. TURNER
I'm serious, John. Let me do my job.

Turner ushers him out the door and closes it behind him.
John looks up to find the hostages staring at him.
Uncomfortable, he moves into a recovery room.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TRAUMA ROOM - NIGHT

J.Q., alone, notices the simple wooden cross hanging over
the door. He stares at it a long time before kneeling, his
arms resting on the bed.

J.Q.
Bless me, father. For I have sinned. It's been a long time,
so forgive me if I'm a little rusty. I know you do things
your own way. But I'm finding it hard to understand why you
would want Mike to be so sick.

INT. MIKE'S TRAUMA ROOM - NIGHT

Turner administers the meds and Mike's eyes glaze and roll
back in his head. With all the drugs coursing through his
system, Mike is really out of it now. But as Dr. Turner
diligently attends to Mike, the boy considers him, the
bright O.R. lights casting a halo around the doctor's head.

MIKE
Are you God?

DR. TURNER
(caught off-guard)
Yeah, kid. Yeah, I am.

Turner continues working, and as he turns his back to the
boy, he hears the question that floors him.

MIKE
Where you been?

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TRAUMA ROOM - NIGHT

J.Q.
I keep waiting for you to step in and help him. But you
never do. And I don't understand. I don't understand and I
don't forgive. So, help me, Father. Because I'm trying. I'm
really trying.

Dr. Turner appears at the doorway and sees John on his
knees.

DR. TURNER
John?

J.Q. looks up and Dr. Turner soberly shakes his head. The
news isn't good.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - TREATMENT AREA - NIGHT

Dr. Turner and John look through the glass at Mike resting
peacefully.

DR. TURNER
Mike's blood pressure has dropped into the mid-forties. His
atrial blood pressure should be in the low teens. It's
thirty-five. If I put that LVAD into him, his heart will
never be able to handle the extra strain.

J.Q.
But...

DR. TURNER
Not buts, John. Without a new heart, he's not going to make
it.

J.Q. is devastated. It takes a few moments to sink in.

J.Q.
Take mine.

Turner doesn't get it.

DR. TURNER
What?

J.Q.
You heard me. Take my heart and put it in Mike.

MITCH
John, buddy, you're talking a little nutsy cukoo, here.

DR. TURNER
You can't be serious.

J.Q.
You think I'm just going to stand here and watch my son die?
You bet I'm serious. Dead serious.

DEBBY
Wow.

JULIE
Oh my God.

Lester tries to comprehend the nihilistic existentialism of
it all.

LESTER
But that means you'll die, man.

J.Q. calmly finishes Lester's thought.

J.Q.
And my sone will live.

DR. KLEIN
John, you can't do this.

J.Q.
It's the only way.

DR. KLEIN
No, you don't understand. You physically can't do it.

J.Q.
Why not? I kill myself. You cut me open and take my heart.
It's perfect.

LESTER
The boy crazy.

MITCH
Nutsy cuckoo, I'm telling you.

DR. KLEIN
We just can't remove your heart and put it into Mike's body.

DR. TURNER
There's too many unknowns. Matching a donor and receiver is
extremely complicated. There's several critical tests that
have to be taken.

J.Q.
Like what?

DR. TURNER
Cross matches for blood type, chest cavity measurements. If
both blood tissues aren't compatible, there's a very high
likelihood of rejection.

J.Q.
Come on, Doc. I know all about compatibility. We've been
tested up the wazoo. Mike and I are both B-Positive. Our
tissues are a match. And his heart is three times normal
size which means mine will fit. You know damn well we're
compatible.

DR. TURNER
No, we don't. You're an adult. Mike is strong, but the
amount of blood your heart pumps may be too much for Mike.

J.Q.
I'll take that chance. It's better than letting him die.

DR. TURNER
Out of the question. Too risky.

J.Q.
I'm telling you, he'll make it.

DR. TURNER
Can't do it, John.

J.Q.
You're telling me that if I'm laying dead on the floor, you
wouldn't take my heart and put it in my kid to save his
life? You'd let two people die instead of one because of a
technicality?

JULIE
I think what John's trying to do is right.

DEBBY
Me, too. I think it's very brave.

MAGUIRE
Yeah, it's all very noble and brave. But what do you think
Mike would want? Or your wife?

J.Q.
Mike is too young to know what's good for him. I'm his
father. It's my job to protect him, and Denise would do the
same thing if she was in my place.

SECURITY GUARD
Are you saying Mike's life is more important than yours?

MITCH
Or that it's okay that Mike grows up without a father?

MAGUIRE
You can have more children, John.

LESTER
What happened to Mike is bad, man. It's the worst. It ain't
fair, but you can't kill yourself. Sometimes you've just got
to let go and let God take care of it. You've got to accept
it.


J.Q.
Accept what?

DR. TURNER
That Mike's going to die.

J.Q.
No. I don't accept it. I reject it out of hand.

John moves over to Dr. Turner to plea his case.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
I know you only think of Mike as a patient, but he's a great
kid. Really. He's like magic, you know? He loves
bodybuilding. You believe that? And he's funny. You'd like
him, Doc. You'd really like him, if you knew him.

DR. TURNER
I do like him.

J.Q.
Please. You've got to help him. I'm begging you. If you ever
do anything outside the rules, do this. Take a chance,
please.

DR. TURNER
I'd like to. I really would. But what you're asking crosses
the line. It's completely unethical.

J.Q.
I've crossed the line? No, you've crossed the line. The
whole system has crossed the line.

J.Q. paces around the room, his hand on his weapon, his mood
very dark and threatening.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
I don't think you understand. I'm not letting him die.
Haven't you figured that out by now? I don't care what I
have to do.

DR. TURNER
So, what, you're going to kill me if I don't operate.

J.Q.
No. I'm going to kill myself.

J.Q. puts the gun to his temple.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
And we'll just see what happens.

LESTER
Aw, man, this is messed up.

J.Q.
We all know how this works, people. In order for Mike to
live, someone has to die. I'm the father. It might as well
be me.

J.Q. and Turner's eyes meet. Turner doesn't speak for a long
moment.

DR. TURNER
Alright.

MITCH
Alright, what?

DR. TURNER
I'll do it. If that's what you want.

MITCH
Wait a minute. Are you serious?

The room goes quiet.

DR. TURNER
Once he's dead. Why not?

Dr. Klein moves to Dr. Turner.

DR. KLEIN
You're the finest surgeon I've ever known. You can't just
throw your entire career for this man.

MITCH
Yeah, you're not God. It's not up to you to decide who lives
and dies.

J.Q.
Aw, come on, Mitch. We're all going to die.

MAGUIRE
Not for nothing, Doctor. But if you do this, you're
finished.

DR. TURNER
So, what are they going to do? Sue me? Disbar me? Evict me
from the country club?

DR. KLEIN
Raymond, you're under a lot of stress. You're not yourself.

DR. TURNER
Yeah, well, what is myself? Because right now, I really
don't know. Let's see --

He takes his Patek Phillipe watch off and throws it at the
wall, smashing it.

DR. TURNER (CONT'D)
I run six miles a day, drive around in my little black
Porsche and date girls thirty years younger than me. Is the
picture clear now? I like twelve hundred dollar shoes and
I've always got a great tan. And here's the best part.
Everybody kisses my ass and acts as if that's the way
doctors are supposed to be, that's the reward. Reward for
what? What I am is a plumber. I connect valves to tubes and
tubes to valves. That's what I do. But back in that room
with your son, I got a very short glimpse of my soul. And
let me tell you, it's been long lost.

MAGUIRE
But...

DR. TURNER
This is still a hospital. There's a sick kid in there and
I'm his doctor. And if there's a heart available, I'll be
damned if I'm going to let it go to waste.

The room is stunned.
EXT. MONTANA HOSPITAL - ROOF - NIGHT

A medivac chopper swoops down, lands on the big white cross
on the helipad tarmac. The doors fly open. A medical team
quickly disembarks, lifts out a stretcher with a beautiful
woman's body and runs across the roof into the hospital.

INT. MONTANA HOSPITAL - OPERATING ROOM - NIGHT

The stretcher is rushed into the O.R. and the body is placed
on the surgical table. A MEDICAL TRANSPLANT TEAM is waiting,
ready. They take the body, prep for organ harvesting.

INT. MONTANA HOSPITAL - OFFICE - NIGHT

In another room, an UNOS OFFICIAL is notified of the
beautiful woman's arrival.

UNOS OFFICIAL
She's here?

He gets up and is on the move, securing his wireless headset
and dialing.

INT. MONTANA HOSPITAL - OPERATING ROOM - NIGHT

The UNOS Official moves into the OR. Everything the
transplant people tell him, he repeats into the phone.

MEDICAL TRANSPLANT PERSON #1
Female. Donor. Thirty-three years old. Five foot seven.
Liver, kidneys, usable.

UNOS OFFICIAL
Lungs?

MEDICAL TRANSPLANT PERSON #2
Okay.

UNOS OFFICIAL
Heart?

MEDICAL TRANSPLANT PERSON #2
Heart is good.

UNOS OFFICIAL
Type?

The transplant team are busy.

UNOS OFFICIAL (CONT'D)
Come on. Blood type?

MEDICAL TRANSPLANT PERSON #1
(checks bracelet)
B-positive.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - NIGHT

The TVs are now off. J.Q. looks out the window at the
evergrowing police build-up. There's an upbeat bound in his
step, a sense of relief with the finality of the decision
he's made.

J.Q.
Come on, guys. Let's hurry it up. They could bust in here
any minute.

SECURITY GUARD
This was your plan all along, wasn't it?

J.Q.
Last resort. You think I wanted it to turn out like this?

J.Q. pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket and unfolds
it.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
This is my will. I'm leaving my heart to my son.

He holds up a pen.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
I need two witnesses. Don't everybody jump at once.

LESTER
I ain't signing your death warrant. No way.

J.Q.
Come on, people. The sooner we get this done, the sooner we
all go home.

JULIE
I'll sign.

SECURITY GUARD
Me, too.

They do.

SECURITY GUARD (CONT'D)
You know something, man? You're alright.

J.Q.
Sure am. Only one thing can stop me now.

SECURITY GUARD
What's that.

J.Q.
Mitch here being B-positive.

MITCH
No, sir. Type-O. Swear to God.

For a moment the mood is light. J.Q. looks around the room
at Maguire, Debby, Mitch, Julie, Lester, and the security
guard. Debby can't stop crying again.

J.Q.
Hey, you.

MITCH
Yeah.

J.Q.
Do yourself a favor. Start doing the right thing, huh?
Life's too short. You had a good woman there. You're too
smart to be so dumb.

J.Q. looks around the room before he leaves.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Alright, people. See you in the funny papers.

INT. COMPUTER ROOM - SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA - NIGHT

The daisy wheel buzzes, pounding letters onto the print
page. Mike Archibald, Hope Memorial Hospital, age 9, 85
pounds. Blood type: B-positive. MATCH.

PULL BACK TO REVEAL

A man sitting alone in front of the computer. He rips the
copy from the printer, lays it into the fax machine and
dials. A piercing beep. The paper gets sucked away.

INT. PEDIATRIC I.C.U. - NIGHT

A fax machine chirps in the quiet PICU. Reggie picks up the
fax, and as he reads, a look of disbelief.

REGGIE
Oh, my sweet Jesus.

Paper in hand, he sprints out of the ward and down the
corridor.

INT. MIKE'S TRAUMA ROOM - NIGHT

John enters to find Dr. Klein checking Mike's vitals. The
heart monitor reads 30.

J.Q.
Can I have a word with him?

Dr. Klein exits and J.Q. moves to Mike and gently wakes him
up.

MIKE
Hi, Dad. You find me a heart?

J.Q.
Yeah, kid. We got you one. Look like you've got a guardian
angel.

Mike smiles and tries to go back to sleep.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Try to stay awake for a minute, will you? I just need to
tell you a few things. I want you always to listen to your
mother. Because she's your best friend and family is
important.

He's all over the place, searching for the right words.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
And girls? You're too young for them now, but when the time
comes, treat them like princesses because that's what they
are. And if you say you'll do something, do it, because your
world should be your bond. And if you have a chance to make
money, go for it, even if it means selling out once in a
while. Don't be a knucklehead like your father. Everything's
so much easier with money.

He's stumbling, trying to cram a lifetime of advice into
five minutes.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Don't smoke. And try to be kind. But if someone chooses you,
be a man and stand up for yourself. And don't get caught up
in the bad things, there's too many great things out there.

J.Q. just sits there, the tears running down his face, not
knowing what to say.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
Mike?

Mike's eyes open.

MIKE
Yeah, Dad?

J.Q.
See you later, buddy.

Mike closes his eyes before opening and closing his little
hand. Bye bye.

INT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - CORRIDORS - NIGHT

INTERCUT

Reggie races through the hospital, weaving in and out of
ambulatory and pedestrian traffic. In his hand, the all
important fax.

INT. J.Q.'S TRAUMA ROOM - NIGHT

Maguire, Klein and Turner speak in hushed tones as J.Q.
reenters. When they see him, they immediately go quiet.
J.Q.'s eyes are glassy, a look of finality on his face.

J.Q.
Let's do it.

Maguire gathers fresh, clean towels and makes a pack for the
back of J.Q.'s head. J.Q. sits on the exam table, takes the
Baretta and pops the clip. He then takes a single bullet
from his pocket, feeds the clip and chambers the round.

MAGUIRE
Wait a minute. This gun was empty the whole time?

J.Q.
Aw, I'm all talk. I would never hurt any of you. Only person
I ever considered killing was me.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - NIGHT

Reggie flies out the main entrance and into the crowd,
pushing through the sea of humanity until he reaches Payne,
Grimes and Monroe.

REGGIE
Miss Payne! You're not going to believe this! We've got a
match.

PAYNE
Are you sure?

Payne studies the fax.

REGGIE
B-positive. Michael William Archibald. The only status one
in the whole country. The heart is ours.

INSERT FAX

It's official. The heart is on the way.

PAYNE
Well, I'll be damned.

GRIMES
You really put the kid on the list?

PAYNE
I may be a lot of things, Lieutenant, but I am not a liar.

INT. J.Q.'S TRAUMA ROOM - NIGHT

J.Q. readies himself before laying back on the roll of
towels.

DR. TURNER
John. Stop. I changed my mind. I won't do this.

J.Q. regards Turner with positive affection.

J.Q.
You're a good man, Doc. I know you'll do the right thing.

J.Q. lifts the gun to his head.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - NIGHT

Reggie, Grimes, Payne and Monroe run over to Denise.

GRIMES
Mrs. Archibald? I have some very, very good news.

INT. J.Q.'S TRAUMA ROOM - NIGHT

The moment has come. Everyone's face wears the intensity of
it. John holds the gun up, his hand trembling. CLICK!
Nothing happens.

J.Q.
Sorry. Safety's on.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - NIGHT

Denise reads the fax.

DENISE
Is this for real?

REGGIE
You bet. The Lear Jet just landed at O'Hare. The helicopter
will be here in fifteen minutes.

Grimes offers his walkie-talkie to Denise.

GRIMES
You want to do the honors?

DENISE
(into walkie-talkie)
John? It's me, baby. Are you there?

INT. J.Q.'S TRAUMA ROOM - NIGHT

DENISE (O.S.)
John, honey? Pick up.

J.Q. hears Denise's voice squawking over the walkie-talkie.
SNAP. He shuts it off. Takes a deep breath. Flips the safety
off and puts the gun to his head for the final time.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - NIGHT

Denise keeps triggering the walkie-talkie.

DENISE
John? John? Oh, no.

Desperate, she grabs the list and starts running towards the
ER entrance.

INT. J.Q.'S TRAUMA ROOM - NIGHT

CLOSE ON J.Q.'s GUN

Moves closer to the temple til it touches.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - NIGHT

Denise breaks through the police barricade.

INT. J.Q.'S TRAUMA ROOM - NIGHT

CLOSER ON TRIGGER as John's finger pulls it tighter.

BLAM!

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - E.R. ENTRANCE - NIGHT

BLAM! The sound is revealed. Not a bullet. It's Denise
slapping the list up against the glass windows of the ER.

DENISE
John! It's a miracle! They found a heart! It's a miracle!!!

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - NIGHT

The crowd points and stares as a white medivac helicopter
descends from the sky, lights flashing and lands on the
roof.

PULL BACK TO REVEAL

Tuck Lampley, hand over his ear, shouting above the noise to
bring us more exclusive coverage.

LAMPLEY
The heart is here. Repeat. The heart for little Mike
Archibald has arrived. What an unbelievable ending to this
incredible, tumultuous day.

A roar from the crowd is heard as the entrance to the ER is
unlocked and the front door opens. Mitch and Debby are the
first to emerge.

LAMPLEY (CONT'D)
Oh my goodness, here we go. The first of the hostages are
being released. Yes, they're coming out. There's one, two.
They appear to be unharmed. But certainly exhausted from
what must've been an excruciating ordeal.

Julie and the security guard are next. And are quickly
ushered away to support vehicles.

LAMPLEY (CONT'D)
More, now. And there he is. John Q. is coming out.

J.Q., in baseball hat and windbreaker, emerges from the
hospital.

LAMPLEY (CONT'D)
The suspect's hands are up. He appears to be surrendering.

The police are all around him now. Pointing their weapons
and shouting commands. J.Q. puts his hands behind his head,
turns around, kneels and then lays face down on the
pavement.

LAMPLEY (CONT'D)
And they've got him. The police have subdued him. The
handcuffs are on, and it's over. It's all over.

The crowd voices their disapproval with the rough way J.Q.
is being apprehended. They cheer their support as he is
escorted to a police car.

LAMPLEY (CONT'D)
If pictures speak a thousand words, well, I'd say these
images speak volumes. And now as the bloody stand off comes
to an end, we remind you that Channel 8 was here first and
has brought you live, moment-to-moment, all-day coverage of
"Crisis at Hope Memorial.'

Frank Grimes takes in the whole scene. But as he glances at
the suspect, a funny look comes across his face. Wait a sec
-

INT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - CORRIDORS - NIGHT

Mike's gurney flies through the hospital corridors. Running
alongside are Turner, Klein, Maguire and Denise. As well as
teams of MEDICAL PERSONNEL and a man in green surgical
scrubs. As they pass a police checkpoint, we notice the
identity of the man in the green scrubs. It's J.Q.

EXT. HOPE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - NIGHT

As J.Q. is pushed into the car, Grimes sees his real
identity. It's Lester, dressed in J.Q.'s windbreaker, collar
up, baseball cap pulled way down over his eyes. Grimes
shakes his head. Top notch policework. Incredulous, he turns
and takes the long walk to the hospital.

INT. OPERATING ROOM - PEDIATRIC CARDIOLOGY - NIGHT

Dr. Turner and the team work with quiet precision as Mike
lays on the operating table, his chest wide open. Behind the
partition glass, J.Q. and Denise hold on to each other for
support as they look on. A figure in a rumpled suit settles
in next to them and watches. It's Grimes.

GRIMES
It's time, John.

J.Q. turns, knows it's over.

J.Q.
Can you give me a second, Frank? I just need to see this
thing through.

GRIMES
Sure. Put these on for me, will you?

Grimes hands J.Q. a pair of handcuffs. John puts them on and
the three watch the surgery. The replacement heart is taken
out of its container and placed into Mike's chest. But then,
something suddenly is wrong. Mike's vital signs start giving
out. The gauges dropping at once. It's bad.

NURSE #1
Blood pressure seventy over thirty-two.

NURSE #2
Acute respiratory distress.

NURSE #1
He's fibrillating.

MAGUIRE
I don't have a pulse.

John and Denise look on, helpless. Dr. Turner barks out
commands as the team scrambles to remedy the critical
situation.

DR. KLEIN
He's going.

DR. TURNER
No! Come on, goddammit! I'm not losing this boy!

Nut now the long familiar tone of the EKG is heard.
FLATLINE.

VIDEO IMAGES FILL THE SCREEN

Various news related programming. "Crossfire," "Face The
Nation," CNBC, COURT TV and "Larry King Live." Clips
dissolve one into the other.

VIDEO CLIP #1

NEWS REPORTER #1
...cannot let this man free. It sends the wrong message.

NEWS REPORTER #2
I agree. Although he's paid a heavy price, he took matters
into his own hands...

VIDEO CLIP #2

NEWS REPORTER #3
Maybe it's the wake up call this country needs...

VIDEO CLIP #3

NEWS REPORTER #4
...socialized medicine in England has worked.

NEWS REPORTER #5
Sure, to a point. Except when it's their life on the line,
the Dutch, the English and everyone else go to their private
doctors or come to America because we have the best
technology. That is if they can afford it.

VIDEO CLIP #4

NEWS REPORTER #6
I think the decision we see today will tell us a lot about
this country.

VIDEO CLIP #5

NEWS REPORTER #7
The long awaited verdict is expected today in the trial of
John Quincy Archibald, where the jury has been
deliberating...

INT. COURTROOM - DAY

SUPERIMPOSE: THREE MONTHS LATER

CLOSE ON

A gavel pounding down. The black-robed JUDGE silences the
crowd. The courtroom is standing room only. Packed with
cops, TV cameras, reporters, etc.

We see Denise next to a grim-faced Jimmy and Gina Palumbo.
As the jury flies into the jury box, the people take their
seats. The bailiff hands the verdict card to the judge who
reads it before addressing the FOREMAN.

JUDGE
Has the jury reached a verdict?

The foreman stands, faces the judge.

JURY FORMAN
We have, Your Honor.

JUDGE
The defendant will please rise.

AT THE DEFENDANT'S TABLE

J.Q. Archibald gets up and faces the judge. His attorney, a
P.D., by his side.

Standing next to Denise, we REVEAL MIKE - he looks healthy
and rosy-cheeked. He grabs his mother's hand with
anticipation.

JUDGE (CONT'D)
The jury foreman will now read the verdict.

JURY FORMAN
As to count one, Assault with a deadly weapon, we find the
defendant, John Quincy Archibald, not guilty.

The courtroom explodes in cheers. In the crowd, we see
familiar faces: Debby, Dr. Turner, and Dr. Klein. Behind
them, Maguire.

JURY FORMAN (CONT'D)
On count two, Armed Criminal Action. Not guilty.

The crowd again roars its approval. Steve and Miriam watch
from the gallery, holding a baby girl. Even Rebecca Payne
cracks a smile.

JURY FORMAN (CONT'D)
On the final count, False Imprisonment, we find the
defendant, guilty. The crowd erupts in protest. The media
rush out to file their stories.

DENISE
No!

JUDGE
Quiet! Sentencing will be one week from today.

J.Q. stares straight ahead and takes a breath. After a
moment, the public defender leads him over to the rail,
where he is greeted by Jimmy, Gina, Denise and Mike.

PUBLIC DEFENDER
He's going to do some time. But there's not a judge in the
country that will give him more than a year. And with time
served, John will be home very soon.

J.Q. leans over to talk to his son.

J.Q.
You alright?

Mike nods and stands there trying to hold back the tears.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
It's okay, slugger. I'll be home soon. If you need anything,
ask your mother. And Jimmy and Gina will be around.

MIKE
Don't worry. If anybody messes with us, I'll take care of
it.

J.Q. embraces his boy and moves over to Denise.

DENISE
A year, huh? I could have lost you forever. I guess I can
live with that.

A hand taps him on the shoulder. J.Q. looks up. Sees Grimes.

GRIMES
Time to go, John.

DENISE
John? I'm proud of you.

J.Q. smiles and Grimes starts to lead him away.

JIMMY
Give 'em hell, Johnny. Don't worry about nothing.

MIKE
Bye, Dad.

J.Q.
Not goodbye. Remember? See you later.

EXT. COURTROOM - MORNING

An enormous crowd lines both sides of the granite steps.
They cheer their support as J.Q. emerges. Grimes steers J.Q.
out through the confusion as reporters stick their mics in
J.Q.'s face. They ask ridiculous questions about justice,
health care, and politics. J.Q., uncomfortable with all the
attention, has no comment. He pushes past politely, head
down, his attention joslted when he hears a familiar voice.

VOICE IN CROWD
Hey, John. Good luck, man.

J.Q. recognizes the voice, turns and sees LESTER. Both smile
to each other as J.Q. is pushed further through when --

REPORTER
John Q.? Do you feel like your country has let you down?

J.Q.
(quietly)
No. It's a wonderful country.

REPORTER
I'm sorry. I couldn't hear you. Could you repeat that?

Grimes steps forward and speaks directly into the camera.

GRIMES
He said, "America is the greatest goddamn country in the
world." Now excuse us, I have to take this man to jail.

They push past the barricades and into the street.

MEDIA
John Q.! John Q.!

GRIMES
Look at all this. You're a celebrity, John.

J.Q.
Yeah? Check with me in a couple of days.

They move to the street and Grimes opens the car door. J.Q.
climbs inside. He looks up to see the CROWD, in all its
glory, cameras flashing, microphones pointed at J.Q.

J.Q. (CONT'D)
This is ridiculous. I don't even know these people.

GRIMES
What can I tell you? You're their hero.

J.Q.
I'm not hero, Frank. I'm just a regular guy.

GRIMES
Yeah, right.

Grimes slams the door. The "cherry" light spins, the siren
wops and the cop car rolls through the crowd of people.

INT. POLICE CAR - CONTINUOUS

On the street, J.Q. sees Mike wave to him from the sidewalk,
trying to get John's attention. Mike is saying something.
J.Q. turns to look closer and finally he gets it: EXT.
STREET - CONTINUOUS

Mike's lips say "Thank you."

INT. POLICE CAR - CONTINUOUS

John winks at his boy.

EXT. STREET - CONTINUOUS Mike makes a muscle.

INT. POLICE CAR - CONTINUOUS

John smiles, and the car picks up speed.

EXT. STREET - CONTINUOUS

The cop car pulls away. Away from the courtroom. The circus.
Finally disappearing from view and we --

FADE TO BLACK.

THE END
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