Venice Street: An unmarked car with a clamp-on light and siren blaring screeches to the curb behind two marked black-and-whites in front of a funky Venice apartment building. A small crowd is gathered around the front steps. Lieutenant Ed Vukovich, Homicide Division, gets out of the car and strides through the crowd.
He's fiftyish, short, but square and solid, a human bulldog gone a little to paunch. He chews Juicy Fruit gum like a maniac: a chain-chewer. He's homely as an old boot. And he's not a smart cop, he's a wise one; rarer still. The onlookers, gathered patiently for their ten second glimpse of something under a sheet, separate for him to pass.
Venice Apartment Building: Vukovich climbs the switch-back staircase two steps at a time. He passes two uniformed cops at the doorway of a second-floor apartment, and enters to find a quiet flurry of activity. Several detectives and a photographer prowl around, taking evidence, taking pictures.
In the center of the living room floor is the body of a young woman, crumpled face down in a small lake of blood. Two bags of groceries lie split open on the floor in front of her. Vukovich glances up as he is joined by Detective Sgt. Traxler. Traxler is black, lean and very jaded.
VUKOVICH: Give me the short version.
TRAXLER: Six shots at less than ten feet. Weapon was a large caliber--
VUKOVICH (looking at the body): No shit.
TRAXLER (to a passing detective): Come on. man. Don't track it all over. It's unprofessional.
He turn back to Vukovich, gesturing at the body.
TRAXLER (continuing): Okay, let's see...Got a positive on her. She's Sarah Connor, works as a legal--
VUKOVICH (interrupting): That can't be right. That's the name of the one Valley Division mopped up this afternoon.
Traxler slips something off his clipboard and hands it to the Lieutenant.
TRAXLER: Here's her driver's license.
VUKOVICH (pondering): You gotta be kidding me. The news guys'll be short-stroking it over this one. A one-day pattern killer.
TRAXLER: I hate the weird ones.
Vukovich and Traxler pass through a group of reporters. Mostly newspaper stringers but there is also one bored local TV minicam crew.
REPORTER: ...Lieutenant, are you aware that these two killings occurred in the same order as their listings in the phone book?
VUKOVICH: No comment.
He and Traxler enter their office and shut the door. In his office, Vukovich drops his gun in the wastebasket, picks up a cup of coffee from his desk and uses it to wash down a handful of aspirins. Traxler grimaces.
TRAXLER: That stuff's two hours cold.
VUKOVICH (nodding absently): I know.
TRAXLER (eyeing him): I put a cigarette out in it.
Vukovich, lost in thought, turns on him suddenly.
VUKOVICH: Did you reach the next girl yet?
TRAXLER: No. Keep getting an answering machine.
VUKOVICH: Send a unit.
TRAXLER: I already did. No answer at the door and the apartment manager's out. I'm keeping them there.
VUKOVICH: Call her.
TRAXLER: I just called.
VUKOVICH: Call her again.
Traxler picks up the phone and begins to dial her number as Vukovich sets down his coffee cup, unwraps a stick of gum and pops it in his mouth.
VUKOVICH (continuing): Got a cigarette?
Sarah's apartment: Close on phone, connected to the answering machine. The outgoing message trigger after the second ring.
GINGER'S VOICE (machine V.O.): Hi there. (long pause) Ha ha ha, fooled you. You're talking to a machine, but don't by shy, it's okay. Machines need love too, so talk to it and Ginger, that's me, or Sarah will get back to you. Wait for the beep.
As the message plays, camera dollies off the phone machine and down the corridor of the dark apartment. As the bedroom door draws near, Ginger's recorded voice fades and is superceded by cries and moans. In the bedroom, framed against the streetlit curtains, Ginger and Matt from a beautiful tableau of lovemaking in silhouette.
Their perfect bodies glisten with backlight as they strain in passion. Ginger is wearing her earphones. Matt, without breaking rhythm, reaches out to the night table and thumbs the volume higher. Ginger cries out louder, apparently enjoying his sure touch on her volume control.
Division Headquarters: Traxler hangs up the phone.
TRAXLER: Same shit.
VUKOVICH: I can hear it now, it's gonna be the goddamned 'Phone Book Killer'.
TRAXLER: I hate the press cases. Especially the weird press cases. Where you going?
VUKOVICH (heading for the door): To make a statement. I'm gonna give them the name. Maybe the jackals can help us out for once.
He looks at his watch, then straightens his tie.
VUKOVICH (continuing): If they can get this on the tube by eleven, she may just call us. (pause) How do I look?
TRAXLER: Like shit, boss.
Vukovich goes out and the Minicam light hits him as the door closes.