The Missing Rent Screenplay
-Original screenplay by Richard Hine and James Cronin
INT. APARTMENT - morning
BLACK AND WHITE
A bedroom, with papers and files scattered across the floor at random. It is dark outside. A DETECTIVE is lying in bed. He is wearing two-piece pyjamas and a fedora. He wakes up, struggles to sit upright, and turns on a lamp. As he speaks in voice-over, the Detective gets out of bed and stumbles to the door.
I was feeling rougher than my Aunt Henry’s face after she’s gone three days without shaving. I was trying to convince my brain to start occupying the same space as my body, and I had no idea that I was about to receive my biggest assignment yet. But first, I needed coffee.
INT. KITCHEN - same
The Detective staggers into the kitchen, fills a pan with water and heats it over the hob. He catches his hand on the side of the boiling hot pan, then gasps and raises his hand to his mouth, sucking on his burnt finger.
I only burned myself twice. A distinct improvement.
The Detective crosses to the other side of the kitchen and opens a cupboard. Inside are the remains of a packet of biscuits, an open tin of half-eaten baked beans and a packet of coffee grounds. The Detective takes out the coffee grounds and tips the packet upside-down into a сafetière, but nothing comes out.
INT. BEDROOM - same
The curtains are still drawn and it is dark inside the room. We see the Detective getting changed - shots of him buttoning his shirt, pulling up his trousers, tying his shoelaces, and finally tightening his tie and examining himself in the mirror.
I wore my black suit, because it was the only one that didn’t smell like old people. I was dirty, bleary-eyed and a little hungover and I didn’t care who knew it.
He winks at his reflection and mimes a gun with his hand.
The Detective pulls the duvet off his bed and onto the floor to reveal it is actually a desk covered in papers. He opens a drawer under the desk and pulls out a nameplate that reads “M. WOODWARD DETECTIVE”. He pulls up a chair and sits down.
I made it from my apartment to the office in just under 30 seconds, and congratulated myself for my efficiency.
There is a notebook on top of the desk with a handwritten message on the front of it - the Detective picks it up and reads it. It says “REMEMBER TO DO THE REALLY IMPORTANT WORK!”. The Detective nods and smiles to himself.
the Detective half-sitting in the chair and half-spread over the top of his desk, asleep.
I’d only just begun the really important work when there was a knock on the door of my office.
A KNOCK is heard, and the Detective sits bolt upright in his chair.
INT. APartment HALLWAY - same
We see the door from the other side, in a brightly lit hallway. A sign on the door says “M. WOODWARD - PRIVATE DETECTIVE AGENCY”. The door swings open and the detective blinks for a few moments to adjust to the light. His mouth drops open.
A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN is standing in the hallway, she smiles seductively at the Detective.
She was beautiful, elegant, feminine… she had a look that could kill even the strongest of men—
(with a deep male voice)
Jesus, Martin! Would you quit staring at me like that?
The Detective blinks again.
The beautiful woman is now a small, mousy looking man wearing a suit jacket and an open-collared shirt - it is HOLLYBROOK, the landlord.
Oh, Mr Hollybrook… hi.
Hollybrook points at the sign on the Detective’s door.
Would you mind telling me what this is doing here, Martin? It is very clearly stated in your rental agreement that no advertisements or other publications are to be posted on the door of the apartment.
(avoiding eye contact)
Listen, Mr Detective. I got a case for you. LAST MONTH’S RENT.
A new case?
Hollybrook steps closer to the Detective.
There’s this guy who owes me some money, y’see. A real deadbeat, a guy who watched too many movies and got stuck inside his own dumb imagination.
He punctuates the last three words by poking the Detective’s forehead with his finger. Hollybrook turns and walks off down the hallway.
I’m giving you ‘til Thursday, Martin.
The Detective sighs, turns to go back into his room and shuts the door behind him.
EXT. STREET - afternoon
BLACK AND WHITE
The Detective heads down a busy street, now wearing an overcoat and fedora. His hands are in his pockets.
I didn’t want to take on the case of the missing rent. I’ve never liked being a debt-collector, but if I wanted to keep a roof over my head for the next month I knew I had no choice.
He turns off down a sidestreet and comes to the door of a small, run-down bar. He pushes it open and steps inside.
INT. BAR - same
The bar is virtually empty, except for a bored-looking bartender in black shirt and trousers cleaning glasses, and JANET, who is sitting on a barstool on her own. She is wearing a hoodie and jeans and has one earphone in. Her head is resting in one hand, and in the other is holding a coke.
My first port of call was a Ms Janet Entillo. She’s the one they call “The Snake”.
The Detective approaches her and stands behind her stool. She hasn’t noticed him yet.
I thought you might be here.
black and white
Janet turns round, and suddenly the scene changes. The bartender is now wearing a more traditional shirt, waistcoat and bowtie, and Janet is wearing a long dress and a shawl. The earphones are now a necklace, the coke is now a double whiskey, and her face is heavily made-up.
Tell me where it is, Snake.
Why do you even call me that? It’s really weird!
I didn’t come here to play games with you! I’m looking for the money!
What? Are you trying to ask me for a job?
Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you Snake? Get me on your side, keep the law offa you?
He steps towards Janet and stoops down so his face is close to hers.
Well… no dice.
The Detective turns and heads towards the door without looking back, and exits. The scene resolves back to its original look - Janet is once again wearing hoodie, jeans and earphones, and the bartender is wearing black shirt and trousers.
EXT. STREET - evening
There is a phone box in the middle of the street. The Detective is inside, fiddling with change.
int. telephone box - same
black and white
The Detective has the receiver between his ear and shoulder and is feeding small change into the phone.
If the Snake knew anything about the missing rent, she wasn’t going to tell me. There was only one person left who could help. The last resort that all men pray they’ll never have to turn to.
Finally he has entered enough money, dials in a number and waits.
Sometimes it’s necessary for a man to degrade himself. It’s what makes a good detective.
A voice answers at the other end of the line.
Hi mom, it’s me…
Oh. Hello dear. How’s the, err… detective work going?
Good, yeah… Listen, I’m working on a case at the moment. I need to track down a month’s rent.
Oh not again, honey…
It’s a rough city, mom. I need your help, and there’s not many people I can trust.
You have to promise me this will be the last time, OK? You’re 23 years old, Martin.
I promise… Thank you for your cooperation. Goodbye.
And don’t forget it’s your sister’s birthday next week!
The Detective hangs up the phone, smiles and nods his head in satisfaction. He exits the phone box. It is now dark, and the Detective pulls his coat around him to keep warm as he walks briskly along the street.
INT. APARTMENT HALLWAY - same
The Detective walks down the hallway to his bedroom/office, unlocks the door and walks in.
INT. BEDROOM - same
The Detective takes off his hat and rests it on his desk.
The case hadn’t been easy. I had to burn some bridges and sink to depths I’d never been down to before, but I finally got to the bottom of it.
He picks up the note from earlier - “REMEMBER TO DO THE REALLY IMPORTANT WORK!” - he sits down, leans back in his chair, and cracks his knuckles in front of him. He places his hands behind his head and closes his eyes.
A few weeks later, Hollybrook came back to my office with another assignment. Said he was looking for next month’s rent. But that’s another story, for another movie.