NERO'S PUNISHER MAX: IN THE DARK WOODS PART II
The continuation of my Garth Ennis adaptation, based on his "In the Beginning and "Up is Down, Black is White." WARNING ADULT CONTENT
PUNISHER MAX PART TWO
The Story up to now and casting:
SCENE V -Silent enim leges inter arma
Punisher is walking down an alleyway sneaking up on a lone figure at the end of the alley. He stands behind the man for a moment.
Frank: How’s the Punisher Task Force doing, Detective Soap?
Soap: Jesus Christ, Frank!
Frank: Since when does one man become a task force?
Soap: I don’t know. You seem to qualify as one. The Anti-Italian League.
Frank: I’m Italian.
Soap: A self loather, eh Mister Castiglione? Figures. Then again you hate everybody.
Frank: Depends on what they’ve done. Are we having this conversation again?
Soap: No. The less time I spend with you the safer I’ll be.
Frank: What have you got on the Cesares? Word is they’ve brought someone in from Boston to take over. Who is he?
Soap: What Cesares? There is no more Cesare Family. You went too far, Frank. 62 people are [frick]in’ dead. Do you know how that sounds?!
Frank: Sounds like progress.
Soap: Sounds like a [frick]ing psycho killer! In front of their families, man. [frick]in’ kids will have nightmares the rest of their [frick]in’ lives about seein’ that shit. Joe Q Public hates these [frick]ers and doesn’t care if you put down a few mob guys here and drug dealers and pimps there and a baby rapist for good measure they love that, but they don’t wanna hear that kids see the shit. Look, the city and the police put in minimal effort to find you, I’m proof of that, and the average cop would look the other way if he caught you blasting a scum bag. You keep the scum scared and outta and their heads down, but the feds are all over this. The next task force assigned to find your ass might actually try.
Frank: Like I give a shit.
Soap: Damn it Frank, sometimes I think you’d enjoy being locked up. You wouldn’t have to hunt, just kill everybody in front of you in the chow line.
Frank: The name, Soap.
Soap: I don’t know. If your informants don’t know mine sure as hell don’t.
Frank: You let me know.
Frank turns to walk away.
Soap: Hey! What do I get?
Frank: Spanish Harlem, I’ve got a small weapons stash in the basement apartment under the San Laguna del Sol restaurant. I’ve cleared out the good stuff and debooby trapped it so feel free to bust the door down and say you’re hot on my heels to the Bugle.
Soap: Thank you. [Walks away muttering to himself] S’like makin’ a deal with the prince o’ [frick]in’ darkness.
SCENE VI -Consensus audacium
An old fashioned men’s club in Little Italy. The walls are paneled in fine woods and moldings, the chairs are 19th century wingbacks upholstered in red leather. Pictures of famous Italians hang on the walls including a portrait of Don Massimo with a black cloth draped on the corner.
Cavella sits at the head of a table in a small dining room listening to seven other men argue about him.
Cavella: So Here it is. We can rebuild. We can put everything like it was, but the Punisher will just tear it down again. What’s the point, Eh? The first thing we gotta do is take that son of a bitch out.
Zaso: You think we ain’t never tried that? Christ six years the [frick] has been toe taggin’ our people. You been safe up in Boston. Whatd’ya know for nothing about the [frick]in’ Punisher. If it was as easy as saying it; it’d be done already. He’s some kinda’ Green Beret/Marine Recon/SEAL something’.
Cavella: Exactly. He’s a soldier. He looks at this like a [frick]in’ war an’ we’re fighting like mooks. What happens when we go to war? A couple of fat [frick]s get their skulls ventilated in front of a pizzeria by some other fat [frick] they think is their friend. That’s not war. Not the way he does it. You think when he hit Donny he didn’t have nine ways ta get outta there planned out? The [frick]er walked into a room with a hundred wise guys and walked the [frick] out after he dropped two dons without a single hand raised to stop him! You all act like he’s the [frick]in’ boogeyman. And what are you Zaso twelve? Look at you. Sittin’ there in those expensive suits you don’t even know how ta [frick]in’ wear. None o’ youse woulda’ made capo if Frank [frick]in’ Castle hadn’t whipped everybody above you out. None of ya.
Vincent: [frick] you Cavella.
Cavella: Yeah, [frick] me. You chicken shits couldn’t even whack a one legged guy in the hospital yerselves. What was that? A [frick]in’ test or something? I shit bigger’n Jackie Paladore.
Vincent: You shouldn’t oughta’ killed the kid. Family is off limits.
Zaso: That’s the kind’a shit gotcha sent to Boston to begin with. If it wasn’t for the respect the Cesares had for your dad you’d have been in pieces.
Cavella: [frick] you both, you don’t like my methods. The first thing you gotta do now is settle in, you wanted me you got me. I do things my own way. The first thing we do now is deal with Castle.
Rossi: You think that’s so [frick]in’ easy?
Cavella: You fear him because you don’t understand him.
Vincent: I fear anybody waves a [frick]in’ M60 in my face.
Cavella: Like I said Castle is a soldier who is fighting this like a war, he attacks our supply lines in coke and H, whores, and numbers then he pumps for info before he kills, moves up the chain, but he ain’t really doin’ much damage, until finally like a buncha’ ignorant assholes the Cesares invite half the east coast mafia under one roof with minimal means of protection all because in good faith you can’t have a hundred [frick]in’ guns in a room. They asked for this; gave him the perfect opening to lop the [frick]ing head off the whole thing. [frick]in’ stupid was that? They didn’t see this as a war.
He doesn’t have any rules beyond getting the job done and not killin’ someone he sees as not deserving a bullet. He is collected, he’s calculated, and he’s lethal as [frick]. He doesn’t walk in a place unless he knows six ways out and has killed more men than the plague. We can’t go toe to toe with him, not the way he is. But if we throw him off balance, if we shake up his focus we can use that. Make him reactionary, piss him off to the point that we know exactly where he’s gonna take the fight; give him a target and pull him into a trap.
Zaso: Who’s the lucky guy?
This catches the capos off guard and they all quiet and stare at Cavella. He looks at the men’s faces.
Cavella: You’re parta’ the problem or the solution, I’ll be outside. But you do this, and we’ll have the [frick]s head on a silver platter and then we go back to business without having to look over our shoulder. You got an hour to decide. Nothing moves forward until Castle’s dead you know that.
Cavella leaves the conference room and settles into a chair in the men’s club’s main smoking room to wait out the argument. Pittsy and Ink stand beside the door to the conference room listening, Ink is playing with a grenade.
Pesci as Pitsy
Pittsy: [frick]in’ put that [frick]in’ thing away for ya blow my nuts off, [frick]in crazy cross eyed bastard. Why the [frick] ya always carry that for anyways?
Buscemi as Ink
Ink: You never know.
Pittsy: Well yer a [frick]in’ Boy Scout aintcha?
As Cavella drifts off in one of the wingbacks we see his past with Auntie Mo.
A room full of mobsters, Mo sits at the head of her and her brothers’ crews. A ten ear old Nicky sits beside her.
Mobster #1: Mo, the kid don’t need to hear all this stuff.
Auntie Mo: You shut the [frick] up! Nicky is gonna run this crew one day, maybe the whole town, the sooner he learns how it’s done the better boss he’ll be. Question me again and I’ll put yer nuts in a cup got it?
The young Cavella stares intently at the man, an odd placid grin on his face.
Now we see Mo standing over a bloodied old man, screaming clubbing him with a bat. She starts to walk away and hands the bat to Nicky and motions for him to continue. The thirteen year old boy viciously beats the man. Mo watches from the corner her body guards look on disturbed.
Again we see the boy this time putting on a leather apron three sizes too big for him and goggles. We see him walk into a room carrying a hack saw and a butcher knife. We see the room he is waking into is lined with sheets and a body lies bloodied on the floor.
Finally we see a fifteen year old Nicky standing in front of Mo in his underwear. Mo sits on a large pink bed she is draped in a loose robe which she drops. We then see the young boy atop the fat woman as she sweats profusely screaming
Auntie Mo: That’s good, [frick] yeah. That’s my little soldier. [frick] Auntie Mo! [frick] Auntie Mo!
She scratches his back leaving deep claw marks on his sides.
Pittsy: Nick, c’mon wake up. The Stinkin’ [frick]s’re ready.
He enters the room to see all the men standing.
Zaso: All right. You want the job it’s yours. You lead we follow. One condition though.
Cavella: And that is?
Rossi: The appointment is temporary unless you can deal with the Punisher.
Cavella: Pittsy, grab a shovel.
SCENE VII -Hostis humani generis
A bar in Hell’s Kitchen Soap sits looking over a thick file from Boston PD. Amazed at the shear craziness Cavella has been suspected of. Suddenly a news story comes on the eleven o’clock news that catches Soap’s attention, he asks the barmen to turn it up.
Reporter: Earlier this evening New York One received a video tape that we have confirmed through sources at the NYPD does in fact show a disturbing act of vandalism and desecration perpetrated last night at the grave site of the family of Frank Castle, the vigilante known as the Punisher who has been ravaging the New York underworld since 1976. We warn you, these images are disturbing. We strongly recommend children leave the viewing area.
Soap and the people around him watch as two men masked men dig up the bodies and pry open the coffins. A crowd gathers as more onlookers are drawn to the macabre spectacle. The bodies are dragged out, molted and rotting; the unmasked Nicky Cavella then leans into the frame.
Cavella: Hi Frank.
Cavella snatches a locket from around Maria Castle’s neck and then pisses on the three bodies in full view of the camera.
Soap drops his sandwich.
The bar’s patrons begin to converse in shock. The camera pushes through the crowd as we hear one man’s voice clearly through the din.
Bar Patron: Oh, man. That crazy bastard is going to go berserk when he sees that.
At this we see Frank seated at a table in the back having diner a cold stare on his face. He lays money on the table and walks calmly out. The camera leads staying equal distant from Frank as he walks down the street we see his stony demeanor beginning to crack. On the street a block down a pimp asks him if he wants a taste and pushes an underage hooker at him the girl can barely be 12. (A funny homage would be to have the pimp and hooker dressed like Harvey Keitel and Jodie Foster from Taxi Driver.)
Frank says nothing, barely looking at the man he shoves him into a wall and shoots him twice in the face twice and walks off into an alley. As a crowd gathers on the street to look at the dead pimp, we hear shouts and more gunfire from the alley.
Soap walks outside badge in hand and then thinks better of it, putting it back in his pocket he walks away.
Frank arrives at his bunker finally showing his anger he beats a metal storage cabinet until the doors fall off and knocks a table into the kitchen cabinets. He turns seething, looking at the tack board with the Caesare family’s properties and drug dens laid out as well as a calendar with dates and events marked down the camera centers on Saturday November 6, 1982 there is scribbled “Club TITular, Ceasare: Bobby Zitto’s bachelor party." Beside that board is another saying Latin Kings and another labeled John James Toomey. We then see him right the table and sit down with a set of blue prints from the front of each board. He is calm now, but the calm is almost more frightening than his outburst.
He pulls his war journal to him and writes: 11-5-1982. Mother[frick]ers.
SCENE VIII -Aegrescit medendo
We next see Soap in his disheveled office. The phone rings.
Soap: This is Soap.
Frank: I want his name.
Soap: Jesus, man. I was in the bar to give you the file and you off somebody right down the block and two more a hundred feet away?
Frank: The name.
Soap: Name’s Cavella, Nico Alphonse. Goes by Nicky. DOB 3-21-1947. This is a very [frick]ed up individual Frank. Psycho. He’s suspected in no less than twenty assaults, upwards of twenty murders, rapes extortion, witness tampering, all this and not a single incitement. Everyone either drops the charges or disappears, evidence gets lost, hell even three Staties investigating him have disappeared. I’ll drop the file at the place in Brooklyn in an hour. And Frank, there’s something else...
We flip to that evening at a strip club, there is a bachelor party going on in the champagne room.
PWJ: Soap told me Maria and the kids bodies are being held as evidence, they would be held there until Cavella was arrested for the vandalism and tampering with a human body charge. I told him that was unacceptable. I can always track down Cavella and I will. My priority is to get my family in the ground again. To do that I will need to force through the red tape. To do that I’m going to have to set an example, I’ll have to get bloody. If this helps to make the remaining mob hand over Cavella then so much the better. Soap told me again not to do anything stupid. Guess it depends on your definition of the word.
We see Frank pulling up to the strip club, getting out with a M60 slung under one arm. The door man looks at him sideways.
PWJ: Malcolm Johnson; Drugs, manslaughter, prostitution, low level thug.
He slashes the man’s throat and continues inside. He walks right to the back. People scatter as he shoves through the crowd. A bouncer tries to stop him, he grabs the big man’s wrist and twists him to the ground then stomps his heal into the bouncers arm pit and twists with all his might on the man’s wrist snapping his arm and dislocating his shoulder. The arm falls backwards and bent flopping on the floor as the bouncer screams. A second bouncer puts up his hands and backs off. Frank tramps down stairs and kicks in the door to the VIP room bringing the 60 to his shoulder. The party goers stop dead in their tracks. He scans the room there is no other way out, but through him.
He motions for the dancers and three young men he does not recognize to leave, glaring at them and saying.
Frank: Don’t let me see you again.
PWJ: No guns on special occasions the party all over again. These [frick]s are defenseless.
Frank: (To the mobsters) Get on your [frick]in’ knees!
One protests Frank blasts him with the 60.
Frank: On your mother[frick]in’ knees!
The rest comply quickly.
Frank: You! (Pointing to a very young man) You get to deliver a message for me.
He pulls the man aside. He levels the 60 at the small room full of wiseguys. There is a brief murmur of fear through the crowd.
He opens fire.
Next we see a rundown house in Bed-Stuy, Frank bangs on the door. A man slides back the rectangular slat metal peephole.
Banger # 1: Wha’ tha [frick] you want, mother[frick]er?
Frank quickly puts his Colt through the peep hole.
Frank: Open it now.
The doorman panics and we hear a deadbolt slide shut behind the door Frank shoots him in the head. Grabbing his 12 gauge from under his coat he then blows the door locks and angrily kicks his way in. He tosses in a grenade blowing the interior room where several bangers are standing grabbing their weapons. The men are shredded by the explosion. Those not killed outright are shot by Frank as he enters with the shot gun.
PWJ: [The carnage continues through the voiceover] There’s a dream I have from time to time. And in the dream I don’t stop. I kill the soldiers and the hitmen, the extortionists and racketeers, the dark old [frick]s who send them out to fight. ***Next few Passages are all Ennis***
Men rush down the stairs and open fire on Frank, he releases his shot gun to hang on its sling under his coat and draws from a sling under his left arm an AK-47 with a one hundred round barrel clip, He takes no cover, standing his ground in the hall. The firefight is intense.
PWJ: The Dream; I hold the trigger down until they’re all gone, but I don’t stop. The innocents are watching like always; the slack-jawed thousands gazing at the beast. My family lie red and shredded in the grass. I face the crowd and bring my weapon to my shoulder.
Frank takes a bullet to the top of his left shoulder. Killing the last man on the stairs.
PWJ: If my world ends, I tell them, so does yours.
He walks intently room to room shooting hiding gang members. In the end he pours gas on the drugs and takes a satchel full of cash before burning the place down. As he tosses the satchel into his van a man comes out screaming, and burning.
PWJ: The recoil starts and I wake up.
Frank casually guns him down before driving away.
PWJ: It’s just a dream, I always tell myself. It’s just a dream.
Back at the strip club paramedics are sloshing through blood three inches deep in the recessed VIP room. Soap stands there in rain shoes drinking coffee nonchalantly. The Medical Examiner and paramedics are sifting through the bodies. A rookie cop vomits outside the door.
M.E.: Looks like he knelt them down and opened up low first, lots of leg wounds couple amputations at the knee. Then he just walked around the crowd finishing them off; multiple taps to the heads, faces, and upper bodies. There’s not enough head left for dentals on some of these men. Only found a couple of pistols hidden here and there amongst them, but 20 or so guys in this small of a room all packed in. No chance. [frick]in’ slaughter.
The Commissioner Sellers arrives in a rage.
Commissioner: Soap, what the hell is this?
Soap: I’d say retribution, sir. These guys were low level Cesare men. The guy with no head or left lower leg over there was getin’ married tomorrow this was his bachelor party. Mercy killing if you ask me. Somebody’s pissed, sir.
Commissioner: Castle’s not the only one pissed off. I know you don’t seriously work on catching this man, but for the love of God we can’t keep having this kind of carnage. This was only the first of three attacks like this so far tonight. One night for [frick]’s sake.
M.E.: Quiet! I think I hear something.
He digs in a pile of bodies. There at the bottom drenched in blood is the young man from earlier. He gasps for air.
Young man: Jesus, [frick]. Oh, Jesus. Put them back! Put them back!
Soap: Oh, shit.
Young man: Put his family back in the ground! He said he won’t stop till you do. Put them the [frick] back! He said to tell the bosses to hand over Cavella. Bury them and hand over Cavella and he’ll stop!
Scene IX -Vita turpis ne morti quidem honestae colum relinquit - Horace
Two of the men from the meeting with Cavella walk under guard to their car. They have heard of the murders around town and are being taken into hiding. Frank emerges from the shadows and guns down the body guards.
Rossi: Jesus Christ!
Frank: Where is Nicky Cavella?
Stapano: W-We ain’t seen him since night before last, we didn’t kno…
Frank shoots him in the face.
Rossi: Aw, Jesus. Aw, God. Please, please don’t kill me. He never told us what he was gonna do. We knew he was a sick [frick], but this was too…
Frank blows the man’s knee apart with his .45.
He gags Rossi and throws him in his van.
Cut to Cavella and his boys are sitting around a hotel room laughing and drinking, Pittsy emerges from a side suite beating a hooker with a belt. The woman rushes topless and bleeding passed Barrucci as he enters.
Larry: Boss, we got trouble. Castle just killed Guido Stapano and we think he took Angelo. What are we gonna do he’s coming after Capos now we….
Cavella: Relax, Larry. I knew we couldn’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. I knew Punisher’d pick a few of them off rooting around for information. That’s why I didn’t tell them shit about what our arrangements were in the city.
Larry: But his comin’ for us now!
Cavella: He always was. All I did was throw him off balance, he’s in a blind rage now. All we gotta do is leak where I am when the time is right and he’ll come right to us and we’ll be ready for him. Simple as that.
Cavella fingers the locket around his neck.
Angelo Rosi awakens upside down in a dark room, he is hanging naked his hands bound behind him. He struggles in the dark. Frank’s voice echoes from nowhere.
Frank: Tell me about Cavella.
Rossi: What? What do ya wanna know?
Frank: Why haven’t I run across him till now?
Rossi: He- he was a lieutenant almost a Capo. He’s Johnny Cavella’s kid, Johnny was Don Massimo’s right hand man. Johnny and his wife and daughters got whacked by his brother back in ’58, but they missed Nicky. Nicky was raised by his aunt after that… Crazy bitch name’a Mo. She- she was as twisted as they get, always wanted to be the number two, but Massimo was old fashioned; didn’t want no woman in charge of nothing. When Donny took over he gave her a crew. She always had the kid with her. Made him be one of the boys from the time he was like 12. Weirded everybody out. She had him killing people by the time he was a teenager, beatin’ ta death, choppin’ up bodies for dumpin’ in Jersey. Kid was a psycho, but real smart. He climbed up real fast, by ‘73 he had his own crew, bunch a’ psychos and degenerates. Donny sends him to deal with the chinks in Chinatown. We was about to go to war over pushing H on their turf…
We see the scene now. Cavella sits in a dingy back room of a Chinese restaurant in front of him sits an elderly Asian man, Mr. Tai, who eats steadily from a platter of sweet and sour pork. Two of Tai’s men, his sons, stand behind him.
Cavella: Mister Tai, I appreciate the chance to sit down with you, sir. The parties I represent only want to peddle our wears here and we are more than willing to cut you in for 25 percent, on the condition we receive exclusive rights to distribute in your fine community.
Tai: Feh, I do not take orders from you or anyone else. [frick] your Italian asses until they bleed spaghetti sauce. China Town belongs to the Tongs. You think a crew of ignorant wops scare me. Think you are Malon Brando? HA! You watch a movie you think you know what a family is? We Chinese have family. I have three strong sons: in their veins is the bloodline of a thousand years. To us you guineas look like farmers. Now crawl back to Little Italy, Jersey, or Hell’s Kitchen whatever pig sty you woke up in this morning and stay out of here or we chew you up and spit you out.
Cavella: Two strong sons.
Cavella: Two strong sons. I know your rep, Tai. You weren’t gonna give an inch, never were I told Big Jackie and Cesare to just kill you and be done with it, but Donny is a sweat heart; didn’t want to spill blood needlessly and all. I knew you’d be the same arrogant [frick] you always are, so I had my boys run by that swank little private school and pick up Wong for a little late night supper.
Tai: Where is Wong?! Where is my son you cocksucker?
Cavella: You know Ink there took a Chinese cooking course, must’a been damn good cause you ate that right the hell up. Never even blinked. Pitts used to work in his dad’s butcher shop in Philly, guess that paid off too. And I have to thank you by the way, you answered a little bit of trivia for me… I guess human really does taste like pork.
Tai: (Looking at the plate in horror.) Mother[frick]er!
Cavella and Ink both draw down on the son to Chows right, Pittsy grabs a meat cleaver and lunges atop the one on the left all before they can recover from the shock of learning their younger brother’s fate. Cavella levels his gun at the old man.
Cavella: Now… 20 percent and free reign in your territories. Yes or no?
Tai: [frick] you wop bastards!
Cavella: (Sighs) Ink.
Ink shoots Chows son.
Cavella: One strong son. 15 percent and exclusivity.
Tai: [frick] you!
Pittsy: Cave you stupid [frick] r’I’ll cut this kids pecker off and stuffit inna paper cup.
Tai: Chinatown is ours, not for greasy Italians and…
His second son screams as Pittsy drops the cleaver. After a moment Pittys plops a blood spattered cup down in front of Tai, who looks down with tears in his eyes.
Cavella: No strong sons.
Tai: You go to hell.
Cavella: I’m sure I will. (nods to Pittsy who violently hacks away at the son under him) I was so hoping we could have a peaceful accord Mr. Tai, but you had to make this a problem. Maybe now your fellow Tong bosses will understand what we “farmers” are capable off. You and your boys just showed them the gold standard.
Cavella shoots the old man in the balls with a second gun he had in his hand under the table. The old man falls screaming.
Cavella: No more strong sons.
Pittsy: Nutless [frick]in’ [frick]. [frick]in’ cannibal.
The crew walk out as the scene fades back to the darkened bunker.
Rossi: After that the Tongs went to war… took two years to calm everything down. Dozens of our guys got whacked; ended in a stalemate nothing lost nothing gained the Tongs held their turf we held ours, big load a shit for nothing. In the end Donny and Jackie blamed Nicky, would’a whacked him but Mo begged Donny to send the kid away. Donny did and sent the kid up to Boston to help our guys beat out the Westies, he made a name for himself up there, but he was never allowed back in the city on Donny’s orders.
Frank: Where is Mo?
Rossi: Died, the night before Nicky left for Boston; he didn’t even go to the funeral. Good riddance to the last of the [frick]in’ Cavellas was the sentiment going around.
Frank: Why’d you bring him back?
Rossi: Because a’ you. We knew Big Jackie was gonna be more of the same… get us all killed. We thought maybe somebody like Cavella could go toe to toe with you. Psycho verses psycho, you know. It was Larry Barrucci’s idea mostly. He was a loyal [frick], started off under Johnny Cavella, I guess he thought he owed him er’somethin. Cavella whacked Big Jackie as a sign of good faith and… Look man, we had no idea he was gonna [frick]in’ dig up yer wife and kids. I swear on my mother’s eyes. I swear. We all shit when we saw that… we… Goddamnit, I told you what you wanna know! Please, let me go!
Frank emerges from the shadows for the first time, the downward cast light makes his face seem almost skeletal; he holds a Marine K-Bar. Rossi’s screams echo as we pull back through a skylight to reveal an abandoned area of the docks and pan toward the Jersey shore.