the gambler’s deed
by Maximiliano “Max” Gonzalez
We open with a man’s (THE GAMBLER’S) voice over on a darkened screen:
(slowly, hauntingly) Yes… Yes… I killed him.
INT. LEOPOLD’S BEDROOM — NIGHT
The lights then suddenly flicker on, and we are treated to the bleeding corpse of a MAN, wearing only his pajamas. Red blood is splattered everywhere on the white sheets of the bed where the dead man lay. The narration continues.
What caused me to commit this horrid,
despicable act? What on Earth pushed
me over the edge in this sudden act of
destruction, this act of murdering the
body and eliminating the soul of
another human being and sending it to
the lost sands of time and history?
Well… it all began on the day he
invited me to be his friend.
CUT TO: EXT. SIDEWALK — DAY
We then cut to the gambler lying on the sidewalk with nothing more than a small blanket, an undershirt, and some shorts.
I was recently released from what the
doctors there called a “mental
hospital”. They said I was sent there
in the first place so I could be cured
of my “paranoid tendencies”. I know
they’re lying. Why else would they
just imprison me, an innocent man, for
no reason and send me out with nothing
more than a spare change of clothes
and a blanket? I swear I’m innocent. I
swear I was innocent of everything!
Well… until now….
We cut to a close-up of the gambler’s face, eyes wide open staring at the evening sky.
I was busy contemplating the
circumstances of my current situation,
Suddenly, the shadow of another man appears right in front of him. He proceeds to sit up and acknowledge him.
… he showed up.
(generally cheerful and good-natured)
The man is dressed in a suit. The gambler treats him with indifference at first.
I was just taking a walk around, when
I noticed you lying on the cold floor,
all alone and with absolutely nothing.
The gambler now perks up, having now great interest in the man.
The man was a fool of the highest
degree. Why would he, a complete
stranger to me, come all this way just
to speak with a lone, dirt-poor man
without a home? Who was he? Has he
come for me? Is this the manifestation
of Death appearing right before me
with a cheerful smile and a joyful
disposition? I ask again, who was he?
Nevertheless, while he spoke, I
noticed he had some sort of charm
that… intrigued me.
Listen, I run a boarding house nearby,
but I’ve never received any occupants
willing to stay. Would you like to
stay at my place? (stuttering) A-at
least for the next couple of days.
It’s clear that this sidewalk is no
suitable place to stay. You could very
The gambler becomes very pensive.
My life transpired into a cross-roads
at this point. Now I am sure Death is
standing with me. I could either die a
slow and agonizing death from the
forces of Nature and the impulses of
Hunger, or die a much more quick death
at the hands of this stranger. This
stranger who came from Nowhere and is
now the decider, the judge, the
executioner of my fate.
Suddenly, the gambler gets up.
You want to come?
The gambler nods.
Oh, how wonderful! Maybe I’ll make a
new friend in you.
The two proceed to walk together along the sidewalk.
But I couldn’t resist. I needed to
know what would become of me. I’m
tempting fate just so I could attain
knowledge. Knowledge of his identity.
Knowledge of what this madman would
do–will do… to me. Who was he?
INT. LEOPOLD’S LIVING ROOM — EVENING
A wipe transition occurs. We see the gambler, apparently having been given great hospitality by the man, complete with a sandwich, a bowl of crackers, and some apple juice. He is sitting at a table with a good view of the outside. The gambler, however, has a rather apprehensive look on his face. The man approaches the gambler.
How’s everything going with you? Are
you doing alright?
The gambler nods.
Would you like anything else to eat?
The gambler shakes his head.
Okay. (pause) Listen, I have a deck of
cards in my room where I often play
Solitaire. I don’t often get the
opportunity to play with other people,
so–and I’m just asking out of sheer
curiosity–would you like to play a
card game with me?
The gambler gives a pensive look. The man leans closer to him.
I mean, we could even make it into a
casino-type game. I could get a cup,
fill it with a bunch of quarters, and
then we could…
The man’s voice fades out while he continues talking.
Why is he acting like this? I still
can’t fathom why he is acting so
kindly to a hobo like me. I was
convinced that this man was going to
kill me. He’s just luring me into a
false state of comfort, setting the
trap for my inevitable demise at the
hands of this madman. But my desire to
learn about him was insatiable. I
wanted to know more. I needed to know
…be fun! So what do you say?
The man reaches his arm as if he is asking for a handshake. The gambler reaches out his hand, reluctantly at first, but then confidently shakes his hand.
Oh, splendid! Let me get the cards.
I’ll be right back.
The man leaves the table to get the cards.
Well, after all, I supposed that a
card game would help sooth my desires
and fears for a little while. Besides,
I needed the money.
We then cut to the man setting the cup of quarters onto the table. The man places the deck of cards onto the table, and begins shuffling.
Do you know how to play War?
The gambler nods.
Alright then. The winner gets to keep
all of the coins in the cup. Aces are
high; 2s are low. Shall we begin?
The gambler nods again.
He gives the gambler his portion of the deck. The two proceed to play.
I admit that I did find some… relative
enjoyment with playing a simple little
card game with this man. But my mind
was as active as ever, desperately
analyzing his every move for
anything–ANYTHING–that would seem off.
He was gleefully counting the minutes
I had left on this Earth before he
sent me to the netherworld, I swear.
His smile says it all.
(plays down a card) Oh look! We have
the same face value. You know what
The gambler looks up sharply, with fear. He stares directly at the man. The man places three cards face down, and then one face up. The gambler follows suit.
I. De. Clare. War! Oh, look! (with a
genuine smile) You won the war!
(chuckles) You’re pretty good at this
game, who knew.
The gambler gives a nervous look, and then resumes the game.
I can tell that his defense was
starting to fall. He’s trying to
initiate a conversation with me so
that my mental fortitude stoops to his
level. He’s a fool! He can never
outsmart me in this game of death, no
matter how smart he pretends to be.
His nonsensical comments only grew
(while shuffling his cards) Do you
want to know why I established this
boarding house? Well, it’s quite
simple. I’ve always wanted to do some
goodwill to people in this relatively
cruel world, and perhaps establishing
a place where the homeless and
economically destitute can temporarily
stay is a good start. I even have an
official legal permit, although I
don’t currently have it at hand. It’s
somewhere in this house, I swear.
The man places his now-shuffled cards on the table and continues playing.
Lies. All lies! He’s just like all
those doctors back at the medical
prison. It made me wonder whether… all
humans are liars. I’m I a liar? No.
No, no, no. Impossible! He’s the liar!
And all good liars know how to
manipulate their brethren.
At this point, the two men have finished playing, with the gambler emerging as the victor. The man proceeds to give the cup of quarters to the gambler.
Congratulations on winning! That was
fun, wasn’t it?
The gambler says nothing, only with eyes staring perpetually at him.
Hmm, not the type who talks often, I
see. Very well then. (the two get up
from their chairs, and walk towards
the stairwell) I suppose it’s time for
us to go to sleep. Your room is
upstairs; second door to the right.
The gambler proceeds to walk up the stairwell.
Oh, and by the way. My name is
Leopold. Let me know if you need
The gambler holds onto the railing as he climbs up the stairs, continually staring at Leopold. Leopold walks in the direction of his room, but not before turning off the living room light switch, leaving the house in perpetual darkness.
FADE IN TO:
INT. THE GAMBLER’S BOARDING HOUSE ROOM — NIGHT
We are now in the gambler’s boarding house room. The clock in his room ticks on as the minutes pass by. The gambler has not gotten any sleep, and he is just staring at the door of his room, in anxious fear.
I was expecting him. I’ve never felt
so excited before. This sense of
adrenaline rushing through my veins,
the all-intrusive and recurring
desires and thoughts of my brain
racing around within the confines of
my own mind was all so foreign to me.
And as I lay there on that bed I
couldn’t help but think that my life
had just come full circle. I was born
on a bed in the hospital, and now I
was going to die on a bed, whether it
be this one or, assuming that the man
downstairs fails to kill me
immediately, on a bed in the ambulance
or the hospital itself. I was ready to
die. But when would he come?
The gambler turns to look outside.
But I looked. I looked at the beauty
of the outside, the beauty of the
brightly-lit moon, the beauty of
neighbors in peaceful slumber awaiting
or dreaming about the opportunities
life has to offer, the beauty of all
the stars in the universe, individual
worlds we have yet to conquer and fill
with our wildest imaginations and
visions. (pause) And yet I won’t have
the chance to experience any of it.
He’s going to rid me of the
experience. The experience of being.
The gambler then proceeds to get up, with a neutral, yet petrified face towards the door. As the gambler continues to narrate, he walks through the door, down the stairwell, and towards Leopold’s room.
INT. THE HALLWAYS OF THE BOARDING HOUSE — NIGHT
Well, no matter. Death is only a
natural process one must go through at
some point in time, as is birth. I was
never asked to be born, and I
certainly wasn’t asked to be killed.
But then again, neither was he. Quite
honestly I felt a twinge of pity for
this man who helped grant me some
respite from the cruel forces of the
outside. He truly seemed to be at
peace with the beauty of life in a way
that I never would be. But then again,
doubt always crept in.
INT. LEOPOLD’S BEDROOM — NIGHT
The gambler is now in Leopold’s room, and is now slowly walking towards his bed.
I’m known for being doubtful, dare I
even say paranoid. The wardens at the
prison would always mock me for it.
But, like they say, every human being on this planet has one ultimate end
goal: to survive. Whether it be
through tactics such as lying,
stealing, or even killing, humanity,
much like all the other animals, have
always desired to survive and outlive
each other in order to explore, and
then control the universe.
The gambler is now standing directly in front of a sleeping Leopold.
I’m, sadly, no exception to this. I’ve
gambled my life away in a frugal
attempt to survive.
At this point the gambler is staring directly at Leopold, sleeping away peacefully on his bed. He stands there for about ten seconds, and then suddenly leaps onto the bed with Leopold below, letting out an anguished, bloodcurdling scream in the process. Leopold jumps in fear as the gambler lands on top of him. When that happens, the screen cuts to black, and the sounds of banging, struggle, and the bed moving are heard. This lasts for another 8-10 seconds until the noises stop. Roll credits.