FADE IN:                "A BLUEBIRD BETRAYED"


EXT. CALIFORNIA COASTAL CLIFF -- DAY

JESSICA McCOOL, 25, unassuming yet with a keen sense of what is just, 
and love of her life MATTHEW, 27, climb the cliff face above the ocean.

From the crest, Matthew stretches down the cliff to help Jessica.

Jessica reaches for his hand, but loses footing; pieces of sandstone 
crumble and fall, far into the waves below.

She regains her footing, and Matthew grabs her hand.


EXT. CLIFF TOP

Matthew spins Jessica victoriously.  They laugh and kiss passionately.


EXT. CLIFF TOP -- LATE AFTERNOON

Matthew and Jessica sit against a rock, gazing at the ocean.

Matthew takes a cigar from his pocket and lights up, assessing it.

                                MATTHEW
                        Good stuff.  But today was your day, 
                        you shouldnít be buying me gifts.

                                JESSICA
                Today would never have come
                without you.

                                MATTHEW 
                        I love you so much.

He kisses her.

                                MATTHEW
                        If I died right now, I'd have 
                        lived a full and perfect life.

He jumps up, lifts his collar up and clamps the cigar in his teeth.  
Assuming a grim expression and a bureaucratic posture he imitates a 
Congressman:

                                MATTHEW
                        No, Ms. Jessica Justice, Reporter 
                        Extraordinaire, Honors-Graduate McCool, 
                        I have no comment at this time.

Spinning around, Matthew takes the cigar from his mouth and holds it 
like a microphone in the imaginary Congressman's face, imitating Reporter 
Jess.

                                MATTHEW
                        Isn't it true, Mr. Bureaucrat, 
                        Mr. Beltway-Bandit Politician Man, 
                        that you never intended to repay 
                        the five gazillion dollar mortgage 
                        on your worthless desert sand- 
                        land that you borrowed from your 
                        conniving, corrupt banker buddy 
                        in Oklahoma City, you self-serving 
                        sellout?

Matthew resumes the posture of the Congressman.

                                MATTHEW
                        Where did you get that from? 
                        I never said such a thing.
                                (imitating reporter Jess)
                        Oh but you did, you gutless, 
                        greedy, corner-cutting Congressman -- 
                        you said it to the water girl 
                        behind the 12th hole at Kualihali 
                        Maui Waui after you showed her 
                        how you could crush a dixie cup 
                        with your bare butt.  I know you 
                        said this; I had the dixie cup wired!
        
Matthew, imitating the scared Congressman trying to get away from the 
reporter, hurries toward the edge of the cliff.

                                MATTHEW
                        I never said this, I don't remember, 
                        I don't know anything about it.  
                        It would never stand up in a 
                        court of law.
                                (as reporter)
                        Ah, but I'm not going to use 
                        it in a court of law, I'm going 
                        to use it in a newspaper, and 
                        newspapers are allowed to use 
                        all facts to expose the truth!
                                (imitating Congressman)
                        Oh God, please don't print that, 
                        it'll ruin me.  I've got a 
                        family, you know!
                                (as reporter)
                        Unfortunately for your family, 
                        Sir, you've got no integrity!

Jessica laughs uproariously.

Matthew, as the triumphant reporter, turns on his heel, chin up, and 
steps right off the cliff.

Jessica wipes tears of laughter from her eyes, looks up to see the cigar 
bounce on the ground in a flurry of flaming ash, but no Matthew.

She laughs once more, subdued, questioning; it doesn't register.

                                JESSICA
                        Matthew?

       
INT. CORPORATE LOBBY, SANTA MONICA -- ONE YEAR LATER -- DAY

The lobby is grey, cold, vast.

Jessica sits at a reception island that almost swallows her.  She peers 
over the high counter to glimpse out of the darkly-tinted windows.

The PHONE RINGS, she answers it.

                                JESSICA
                        Good morning, Hurth Heath Howard 
                        & Pister, how may I help you?
                                (pause)
                        Yes, Aunt Peg, I'll find a gift.

A short, balding young man in a suit, SNEPP, enters the lobby.

                                JESSICA
                                (phone)
                        Tonight.  Have to go now.

Jess hangs up and watches Snepp with dislike as he leans on the counter, 
invading her space.

Jessica picks up the phone, dials.

                                JESSICA
                                (phone)
                        Hi, Loretta. Snepp is here 
                        to see Mr. Heath.

Snepp smirks down at Jessica as she hangs up the phone.

                                JESSICA
                        Have a seat. It'll be 
                        just a minute.

                                SNEPP
                        Come on, Jessica, call me Sir, 
                        just once.

Jessica swivels her chair to work on the computer.

                                SNEPP
                        Well you might want to practice: 
                        "Yes, Sir, Mr. Snepp, right 
                        away, Sir."  Because after this 
                        meeting, I'll be Mr. Burt Snepp, 
                        Vice President of Operations.  
                        And I'll need a good assistant.  
                        Did you hear me?  There'd be bonuses.  
                        Tell me the truth, don't you get 
                        bored in this job?  Sitting here 
                        all by your lonesome, nothing to 
                        do but write love letters?

The elevator doors open across the lobby.  LORETTA steps out.  She's 
forty-something, British, tall, and exudes the hard cynicism of a career 
executive assistant.

                                LORETTA
                        Mr. Snepp?  Mr. Heath is ready to 
                        see you, Sir.

Jessica looks up at Snepp and he winks at her.
        
                                SNEPP
                        See?  Just takes a little practice.
                                (turning to Loretta)
                        Loretta!  How was your vacation?

Loretta holds the elevator door for Snepp and steps in next to him. The 
doors close on her reply:

                                LORETTA
                        Too short, but thank you for asking.
                        
Alone again, Jessica stares angrily at the keyboard.  The PHONE RINGS, she 
answers with a strained voice.

                                JESSICA
                        Hurth Heath Howard & Pister, 
                        how may I help you?


EXT. BEACH BOARDWALK -- LATE AFTERNOON

Jessica leans against a wall, smoking a cigarette, glumly watching happy 
beach people roller and bike by her.


INT. BEACH BOOKSTORE -- NIGHT

Jessica looks through coffee table books.  She picks up a BIRD BOOK, with 
an illustration of a bluebird on the cover.

The bookstore is large, modern and busy.  Small groups of people stream 
past Jessica toward the back of the store, TALKING heatedly to each other 
and carrying copies of a RED-JACKETED BOOK.



INT. BOOKSTORE

At the register, Jessica waits for the CLERK to copy her drivers license 
number on the check.  

A red sign on the counter catches her eye.  The sign reads:

                "TONIGHT:
                 Hear the author of RedBird Rising speak 
                 out against government corruption!"

Below the announcement is a PHOTOGRAPH of a handsome man, late thirties, 
with intense eyes.

The clerk sticks the receipt inside the book and slides it across the 
counter to Jess.  Jessica lingers an instant, riveted by the author's 
photograph.

                                CLERK
                        They're in the back room.  
                        It's free.

Jessica glances to the back of the store to see the last red-book-toting 
customer file into another room.

She takes her book.

                                JESSICA
                        Thanks.


INT. BOOKSTORE BACK ROOM        

The room is packed -- all the chairs are taken.

CARL McGRUDER stands beside a podium at the head of the room, drinking water.  
A table lined with RedBird Rising books shares the stage with Carl.

Jessica enters the room and stands against the back wall.

Carl sets the glass on the podium and waits for everyone to settle. 

                                CARL
                        If truth is stranger than fiction, 
                        I'm sure you'll agree that my 
                        story is truly strange.  This 
                        is a story about murder and 
                        betrayal: the murder of a good man 
                        and the betrayal of a nation, 
                        of your nation, of all of you.

Carl drinks water and looks over the audience.  His gaze lingers on Jess.

                                CARL
                        Years ago I co-owned a small air-
                        freight service based in New Mexico.  
                        My best friend Tommy Danforth crunched 
                        numbers, I flew the freight.  Mostly 
                        to Central America, mostly for the 
                        same customers. One day I got curious 
                        about what what nature of freight I 
                        was moving, so  I checked it out: and 
                        you guessed it: it was guns and cash 
                        going out, cocaine coming in.  

Members of the audience gasp.

                                CARL
                        That's what I thought.  Tommy said, 
                        don't sweat it, this is undercover 
                        stuff.  He insisted on taking the 
                        next run himself.  Tommy was a helluva 
                        flyboy.  But on that next run, his plane 
                        went down.  I know they killed him.


INT. BOOKSTORE  BACK ROOM -- LATER THAT NIGHT

A line forms at the signing table.

Carl sits at the table and signs books.

As he hands a signed book to someone, Carl notices Jess looking 
through a copy of RedBird Rising. 

                                CARL
                        Should I sign it?

                                JESSICA
                        I didn't buy one.

                                CARL
                        Would you like one?

                                JESSICA
                        That's okay.

                                CARL
               After listening to me for two 
               hours you've decided you're not 
               interested?

                                JESSICA
                        It's not that I don't want one, 
                        I just don't have one.

Carl hands her a book.

                                CARL
               Take this one. It's on me.

                                JESSICA
                        You don't have to do that.

                                CARL
                                (setting the book down)
                        What book did you buy?

Jessica lowers the bird book so Carl can see the cover.
        
                                CARL    
                        You prefer bluebirds to redbirds?

                                JESSICA
                        It's a gift for someone.

                                CARL
                        You're smarter than most.

Carl resumes signing books.


EXT. BOOKSTORE PARKING LOT -- NIGHT

Jess hurries through the lot to avoid detection by a group of raucous, 
partying surfers.

She is startled by a hand, from nowhere, grabbing her shoulder.

                                CARL
                        Alone out here, you should be 
                        careful.

                                JESSICA
                        This is my car.

Still slightly spooked, Jess manages to open the door of her tired-looking 
but vintage VW Bug.  Carl helps her in.

                                JESSICA
                        Thanks.

                                CARL
                        My pleasure.

                                JESSICA
                        Thanks also for everything youíre 
                        doing, with the book.  I wish I was 
                        as brave.

She shuts the car door and starts the engine.

Carl taps on her window, she cracks it.

                                CARL
                        I could use your help.

                                JESSICA
                        Canít imagine how.

                                CARL
                        On a piece Iím doing for the 
                        Washington Post.  High level 
                        corruption.  Sensitive stuff.

                                JESSICA
                        The Post?

                                CARL
                        Okay, you caught me. I do have an 
                        ulterior motive.  Iíd like to spend 
                        some time with you.  Whatís your 
                        name?

                                JESSICA
                        How could I possibly help you?  
                        You donít know me.

                                CARL
                        What is your name?

                                JESSICA
                        Jessica.
                                
                                CARL
                        Jessica, I think Iíd like to know 
                        you.  Would that be so bad?  Take a 
                        risk, invest a little time, make a 
                        new friend?