Chapter 2, Scene 1: Heat

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

We see the dark living room in the middle of the night.

We hear the steady sound of a LOUD WINDOW A/C UNIT.

The street lights manage to sneak some light in around the blinds covering the 2 small windows. We’re barely able to make out a COUCH, the PIANO, and a small TABLE being used as a makeshift desk in the corner where all of this used to be stacked to the ceiling.

From that same POV, we see a brighter light appear from off-camera, switched on from the bedroom. Then Mitch comes into view, wearing only his underwear. He makes a bee line to the window to check the A/C unit.

He bends down to look at the settings but can’t see them.

He steps to a small TABLE near the couch and turns on a LAMP.

Back at the A/C unit, he still can’t make out what it says.

He leaves the room. After a few beats, he returns into view with his READING GLASSES in hand.

With vision restored, he inspects the controls on the unit.

INSERT: CONTROL PANEL OF UNIT, SET ON 65 degrees.

But a closer shot shows moisture on Mitch’s brow.

He moves to the nearby kitchen, takes some ICE out of the freezer, and fills a GLASS with ice-water.

As he swirls the ice in the glass, he slides the BLINDS away from the window slightly and looks outside.

He watches a small group of younger Hispanic people, mostly 20s or early 30s, sitting on the steps across the street near the entrance to a walk-up apartment building. They pass JOINTS around with each other — simply escaping the heat and hanging out in a gentle manner.

He chugs the water and puts the glass in the sink.

Then he moves one end of the couch around so it sits directly in front of A/C, even if it’s not that cool.

He adjusts a few PILLOWS on the couch, then lies down, propping up his torso seeking relief and some sleep.

He settles into the repose, closing his eyes, feeling the air flow around his face.

After a few beats of this solitude, an AMBULANCE SIREN SCREAMS down the street outside, overwhelming the soothing sound of the A/C unit.

Mitch’s eyes open again from the distraction.

He leaves the couch, then returns with his CELLPHONE and EARBUDS. He nestles himself back into position, inserts the earbuds, and cues up some music.

CUE MUSIC: Landing Cliffs by Explosion in the Sky

The ethereal music lulls him back to sleep.

We linger on this placid moment:

… Mitch’s breathing slows gradually …

… His shoulders sink …

… Then his head falls to the side as gravity eventually convinces his muscles to give in.

CUT TO:

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

The alarm clock on Mitch’s phone gives him an explosion in his ear.

He jolts awake and jumps from the couch.

RAPID SHOTS OF

… Mitch pulling an electronic SHAVER across the reflection of his yawning face in his bathroom mirror.

… Shampooing in the shower

… Half-dressed in undershirt, underwear and socks, cooking BACON AND EGGS for breakfast

… FLOSSing his teeth.

… Choosing a dress SHIRT from his closet, the light blue one, to match his eyes.

… Grabbing his BACKPACK and KEYS from a small SHELF by the front door.

EXT. 95TH STREET – MANHATTAN – DAY

Despite the disrupted sleep, Mitch strides up the sidewalk with a chipper and energetic gait, dressed in SUIT and TIE, with the backpack slung across his shoulder.

He approaches a garbage truck stationed in the same spot where he recently slept overnight in the U-Haul truck.

Two GARBAGE MEN rapidly hoist garbage bags into the truck from a tall pile of bags, longer than a graduation speech, stacked on the sidewalk. In addition to the mountain of bags, we see discarded MATTRESSES, COUCHES and DRESSERS.

As Mitch passes the truck, the smell hits him. He recoils from the stench as it bounces off the hot city pavement.

EXT. STREET – SUBWAY STATION ENTRANCE – DAY

Mitch approaches the street-level entrance to the subway.  The wall of heat hits him as soon as he descends the steps.

INT. SUBWAY STATION – DAY

Mitch waits for the train amongst a crowd of commuters. A short woman, 50s, fans herself with a NEW YORK POST.

Mitch wipes the sweat from his forehead.

The woman drops the newspaper and we see the cover:

INSERT — COVER: THIRD HEAT WAVE — LAST ONE?

Mitch picks up the paper and hands it to her.

       SUBWAY WOMAN
Thanks.

       MITCH
Sure, sure.

He offers her a polite smile. She returns it halfway… Half-grateful and half-guarded against creeps on the subway.

He checks his phone:

INSERT SHOT OF PHONE: 7:55 a.m.

The train approaches the station. The lead car zips past Mitch and his fellow travelers passing only a couple of feet from where they stand. The blowback air blasts their hair and clothing away as the train nears its stopping point.

The crowd on the train prepares to exit. Mitch stakes out the best spot to get on the train.

The train riders depart. The vacuum left behind is quickly filled, with Mitch included. His reward includes the much cooler air on the train from it’s onboard A/C. He raises his face to the air duct just above his head.

       TRAIN CONDUCTOR
Stand clear of the closing doors, please.

The broadcast system DINGS, the doors close, and the train is once again zipping along as swiftly as it arrived.

INT. SUBWAY TRAIN – DAY

Mitch stands holding an upper railing for support. The train is crammed with people, shoulder to shoulder, in this metal box, deep underground.

The train brakes suddenly and the entire crowd lurches forward, caught off-guard, but taking it in stride.

Then the train does the lurching forward, and the crowd holds on so they don’t fall backward.

       TRAIN CONDUCTOR
Fifty-ninth street next. Transfer to the A, B, C, D trains.

The train approaches the station, and Mitch can see another large crowd waiting on the platform.

The train stops. The doors open. The herd on the train jostles for a path to get off the train as the throng of folks on the platform position themselves for the best “getting-on” slot.

In all of this bustle, no one ever says a single word to anyone else.

INT. LOBBY – ROCKEFELLER CENTER – DAY

Mitch scans his ID badge on the turnstile under the watch of five different security guards.

       MITCH
Good morning.

None of them return the greeting.

INT. CUBICLE BANK – OFFICE BUILDING – CONTINUOUS

Mitch walks through a sea of office cubicles. About half are empty, and the other half are mostly occupied by young men from India or China.

He reaches his assigned workspace, sets his backpack on the floor, and takes off his suit coat. His shirt is drenched with big splotches of sweat showing from his underarms.

He picks at the shoulders of his shirt, trying to get some air in there.

ANTHONY VITALI, late 40s, a co-worker, Caucasian, life-long New Yorker notices from his nearby cubicle.

       ANTHONY
Frigin’ hot out there, right?

       MITCH
Like a witch’s cauldron, man.

       ANTHONY
Shit’ll get to you, won’t it?

       MITCH
Are you kidding? I love it.

       ANTHONY
Yeah. Wait ’til you been here a few years. You’re still on your New York honeymoon.

       MITCH
Let’s hope this one ends better than the first one.

Mitch takes a seat in his chair and turns on his computer.

       ANTHONY
Don’t get too comfy. We gotta go
see Helen.

       MITCH
What does she need?

       ANTHONY
She’s not callin’ in to wish us a
cheery good morning, if that tells
you anything.

Mitch exhales a big breath.

       MITCH
I’m not going in there until I have my first cup of coffee.

INT. ELEVATOR – ROCKEFELLER CENTER – DAY

Mitch and Anthony ride up to the 68th floor of 30 Rock.

       ANTHONY
Yeah, they got so frigin’ close. They went into Fenway and swept the Red Sox. Nobody thought they’d be in it as long as they were. Shit, they traded away their talent to build for the future, but Girardi’s a hell of a manager, and they made a run at it.

       MITCH
So they’re out?

       ANTHONY
Yeah. The Mets are in, though. I’m trying to get tickets to the first game.

       MITCH
I haven’t been to a Major League game since nineteen ninety-six — the last time they went on strike.  I got so pissed. Those guys are like spoiled children. But it would be great to be part of that October fever in Yankee stadium.

       ANTHONY
They’ll be back in it next year.

       MITCH
Maybe I’ll give it another chance.

       ANTHONY
I’m just sick those Boston bastards are in it.

Mitch chuckles.

       ANTHONY (CONT’D)
I’m serious. I hate those guys.

The elevator DINGS.

INT. HELEN’S OFFICE – 30 ROCKEFELLER CENTER – DAY

Helen, early 60s, sits at her desk, pointing at her computer monitor as Mitch and Anthony stand behind her, watching.

Her office is immaculate, organized, and sterile. Dressed in a navy-blue business suit, she’s crisp and polished, hair in a tight bun, but at least forty pounds overweight.

       HELEN
And when I add the meeting to his calendar, it’s supposed to show up on this list over here, but it
doesn’t.

       ANTHONY
It just takes some time to work through the system.

       HELEN
Well, it’s too slow.

As Anthony tries to placate their user, Mitch takes in the view from Helen’s window over Central Park.

The sun beats down over the blanket of green, with a layer of haze sitting just above the horizon.

       ANTHONY
We’re working with Microsoft to tune it. But everything runs in the Cloud now, so it’s out of our hands.

Mitch gazes at the few puffy clouds that accent the sky. He points to one.

       MITCH
See, I think I see your transaction right there.

She turns around, not amused at his pun.

       HELEN
I don’t care about Clouds, or servers, or any of that. When Frank is out at a client and needs to see his schedule, if it’s not right, I get to hear about it.

       MITCH
We’re fixing that with the new system.

       ANTHONY
Yeah, Mitch is the man on that.

       HELEN
When’s that going to be ready?

Mitch thinks… decides on how much to commit to her.

       MITCH
Right after the first of the year.

       HELEN
That does me no good. This sucks.

Mitch and Anthony exchange a glance.  The meeting went pretty much the way they expected.

INT. LOBBY – 30 ROCKEFELLER CENTER – DAY

Mitch and Anthony exit the elevator. They turn a corner and get a full view of a huge mural of NBC’s legacy of prime-time TV shows.

PAN OVER the vast mural, with specific focus on images from:

30 ROCK

FRIENDS

SEINFELD

Mitch gazes over these icons of modern media.

CONTINUE PAN:

CHEERS

CHIPS

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE

IRONSIDE

Then we stop on a small image of MITCH MILLER with the banner/logo from Sing Along with Mitch

Our Mitch smiles at the more famous Mitch.

       ANTHONY
My mother loved that show.

       MITCH
Never seen it.

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

The door opens and Mitch enters at the end of the workday.

He carries his COAT over his arm. He’s loosened his TIE, unbuttoned the top of his shirt, and rolled up his sleeves. And still, the sweat shows through.

He drops his KEYS, coat, and BACKBACK on a CHAIR, then plops down on the couch, still positioned to receive maximum airflow from the A/C, which is working as hard as it can.

       RON (O.S.)
Good gracious, son, you’re wrung out.

Mitch looks up to see Ron sitting on a BAR STOOL next to the kitchen cabinet.

       MITCH
Did you bring Hell with you?

       RON
There’s no such thing as Hell. You know that.

       MITCH
If there were, it would be jealous.

       RON
It barely hit ninety-eight today.

       MITCH
It’s not the heat, it’s the humid– oh, shit, now I’m spewing cliches.

       RON
Reminds me of my first summer in Dallas. Nineteen seventy-five. I had never felt heat like that.

       MITCH
Didn’t kill you though. And this isn’t going to kill me.

       RON
I’ll remind you of that in six months when it’s twelve degrees with howling wind.

Mitch sits up.

       MITCH
That’s what I love about this city. It’s like “weather-shmeather”. Doesn’t matter if it’s hot as hell
or cold as hell. This city hums along. A foot of snow? Plow that shit and keep on going. Heat index of one-ten? Wipe the sweat and keep on going. It’s ten million people that just don’t give a shit. Not about the weather, not about the traffic, not about how expensive it is. Every person has their own shit to deal with– somewhere to be, something to get done, somebody else they need to talk to.

       RON
Sounds lonely.

       MITCH
Show me a place on Earth that’s not lonely. At least here, there’s a communal loneliness, and it’s what makes it all okay without having to stop and talk about it. Live your life, see a fantastic show, eat great food, get over yourself.

       RON
Wow. That didn’t take long.

       MITCH
For what?

       RON
For you to sound like a real New Yorker.

       MITCH
Nah… New Yorker in training.

END OF SCENE

newyorkheatwave

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *