The Little Things (2021) – Transcript

Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto star in the psychological thriller “The Little Things.” John Lee Hancock directed the film from his own original screenplay.
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The Little Things (2021)

Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon (Washington) is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes embroiled in the search for a killer who is terrorizing the city. Leading the hunt, L.A. Sheriff Department Sergeant Jim Baxter (Malek), impressed with Deke’s cop instincts, unofficially engages his help. But as they track the killer, Baxter is unaware that the investigation is dredging up echoes of Deke’s past, uncovering disturbing secrets that could threaten more than his case.

 

 

[crickets chirping faintly]

[dog barking distantly]

[The B-52’s “Roam” playing on car radio]

[singing along] ♪ Roam if you wa-ha-hoo ♪

♪ Without wings, without wheels ♪

♪ Roam if you want to ♪

♪ Roam around the world ♪

♪ Roam if you want to ♪

♪ Without anything but the love we feel ♪

[tires screech]

[engine revving]

[breathing heavily]

♪ To the target, one ♪

♪ Take it hip to hip ♪

[breathing heavily]

♪ Rock it through the wilderness ♪

♪ Around the world the trip begins with a kiss ♪

[engine revving]

♪ Roam if you want to ♪

♪ Roam around the world ♪

♪ Roam if you want to ♪

♪ Roam if you want to ♪

♪ Without anything but the love we feel ♪

[panting]

[car indicator beeping]

[door rattles]

No, no, no. Hello! Hello! Somebody! No, please, no, no, please! No, no, no, please!

Please, please, please! Please, please, please!

[music continues playing on car radio]

Please. Oh, God.

[crying] Please, please, please, help me!

[whimpering]

♪ Take it hip to hip ♪

♪ Rocket through the wilderness ♪

[clicks button]

[music stops]

[ominous music playing]

[whimpering]

[grunts]

[girl whimpering]

[breathing heavily]

[grunts]

[horn blaring]

[whimpering]

[brake squeals]

[crying]


[indistinct police radio chatter]

[Deke] Yeah, it’s blood.

[man] Good. I hope they bleed to death. It’s the third time in two months. There are 47 bulbs in the letter “G.” It’s $3.10 a pop. That’s $145.70, every time. That’s an additional 13 dinners I gotta sell just to float. Are you listening to me?

[grunts] Yes, sir.

Half our take is from the interstate. You drive by, you look up…

[Deke] Not exactly a Happy Meal.


[indistinct chatter]

[officer] Morning, Deke.

Hey, Deke.

[Deke] Yes, sir.

You remember a punk named JJ Kendricks? Robbed the Quick Mart? We’ve got a witness who ID’d him, but she’s getting the guilts. All she knows for certain is that he was wearing a really nice pair of boots. Fancy stitching. “Unforgettable,” she says. But Kendricks is a suspect in a robbery down in LA.

[Deke] Down in LA?

Yeah.

[Deke] Is this headed somewhere?

Yeah. And so are you. There’s a prelim day after tomorrow with a motion to dismiss. You drive to LA and bring back the bloodstained boots, she ID’s them, and the judge sets the trial date.

[Deke] The blood, they definitely ran the ABO on the blood?

That’s correct.

[Deke] [hesitates] Then that means this is a DA problem, Captain, not ours.

Oh, no, it’s our problem. No evidence, no conviction. I got nobody else.

[Deke] Yes, sir.

[indistinct conversation]

[exhales deeply]


[grunts softly]

[Deke chuckles]

[Deke] Don’t look at me like that. You the one been gone for the last two weeks.

[dog whining]

[Deke] Ah… I’ll see you tonight.

[engine starts]


[indistinct conversation]

[Deke] I’m, uh, here to pick up seized evidence. Property said it was here.

Yeah.

Excuse you. Evidence is here, but it’s not leaving without a signature.

[Deke] Ah.

Uhuh. Not yours. I need authorization from Homicide to release.

[Deke] There’s a preliminary tomorrow.

Captain Farris put a lock on this item for testing.

[Deke] It’s already been tested.

Don’t I know it. He wants it re-tested. Become a thing.

[Deke] So I hear.

Hey, look. You get me a signature and, uh, wearing the damn things for all I care.


[machine whirring]

[grunts]

[Deke] Hey. Hey.

This yours?

[Deke] Yeah, unhook it.

You blocked me in.

[Deke] Why didn’t you just ask me to move it?

‘Cause I don’t have time. You want special treatment? Go back to Kern County.

[Deke] Unhook it.

[tow hook clanks]


[Jim] …all-hands-on-deck approach to this case. To these cases. Our city, our communities, our citizens, and above all else… these innocent victims deserve no less.

[Rogers] I don’t know how many times I need to tell you, man.

Take it out of the file. Please.

[tapping]

[Jim] …is that we’re asking for your help. If anyone has seen or heard from anyone that might somehow be related to these cases…

[Deke] Carl. I see Brother Love’s… [clears throat] salvation show’s still in operation.

Everybody needs a little faith. Even you.

[Deke] Got yourself a new disciple.

[Carl] Great detective, great guy. You should listen in, you might learn something. On both counts.

[Deke] Anyway…

The lab called. Are you leaving town when you’re done?

[Deke] You wanna take me to dinner?

Want you out of here. They’ll run the test first thing in the morning and if there’s no match, you’re gone.

[Deke] Tomorrow’s no good. My CO told me…

Ah, I called your CO. He says you should hang until the tests are complete, deliver the evidence tomorrow. Okay?

[Deke] Good to see you, Captain.

Look at it this way… give you a chance to visit all those friends you left behind.

[Rogers] Who says that bad guys don’t return to the scene of the crime. How’s it feel to be back in uniform?

[Deke] Still padding your overtime, Rogers?

Ooh. That’s, uh, Sergeant Rogers now, Deke. Yes.

[Deke] Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Hmm.

[phone ringing]

[Deke] Your phone’s ringing.

Yeah, I know.

We are being meticulous and methodical in our efforts.

Sergeant Rogers. Yeah, but what did he say?

[Jim] …and we are in the process of evaluating…

Nice to see you, Deke.

[Deke] Good to see you, too.

…and gathering additional evidence. I can assure you all, we are taking a 24/7, all-hands-on-deck approach to this case. These cases.

[imperceptible]

Questions.

[journalists clamoring]

Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I’m hearing is after two months and four victims, you don’t have a suspect.

None that I can discuss.

[journalists chattering]

[Carl] Four dead girls, Jimmy. We haven’t been under this much scrutiny since the night stalker. There’s talk. Sheriff hinted that we might wanna reach out to the feds for help.

Are you kidding me?

Some point. Some point, Jimmy. Not today.


Deke? Son of a bitch. The man, the myth, the legend.

[Deke] Hey, Sal. You still hanging around?

No rest for the ugly.

[Deke] [chuckles]

What are you doing here?

[Deke] Eh, don’t ask, don’t tell.

I’m just going across the street, let me buy you a cup. Come on, what’s one cup of coffee?

[Deke] All right.

Yeah.

Who is that, talking to Sal? Kern County patrol dep.

That’s Joe Deacon.

You’re kidding.

No.

[Sal] They’re a bunch of nancies. End of shift, I gotta beg for somebody to grab a beer with. They got no soul, these new guys. They weeded all the heart out of the place. But then, you know that better than anybody.

Hey, Sarge.

Sal. You know Joe Deacon? Get what you came for?

[Deke] I will.

You got nothing better to do than to bust my balls in the meantime?

Nothing personal. Deke busts everybody’s balls.

[Deke] You wanna bullshit John Q. Public into thinking that the worst is behind us, that’s your business, until the next time, but, hey, it’s your shift, right?

Yeah, it is.

[Deke] I hear you’re a good cop.

I hear things, too.

[taps on glass]

[Sal] He is a good cop, Deke. College boy, bit of a Holy Roller, but, hey, I’ve been thinking about joining him myself. Get on the fast track for a promotion.

[Jim] Sal, we’re up.

You wanna stay with me and the wife tonight?

[Deke] Ah, nope. Thank you, though.

Good to see you, Deke.

[Deke] Good to see you, too, brother.

[door opens]

Why don’t you ride over with me? Maybe you can even give me a few pointers.


[siren whoops]

[helicopter whirring]

[indistinct police radio chatter]

Everybody outside, nobody in. Dollar to a dime,

Baxter. 362071. What’s everybody waiting around for?

Power’s off inside the victim’s building.

You call Edison?

They’re working on it now.

You been inside?

How big’s the place?

Two-room efficiency. Due to the victim’s body position, access is through the adjacent apartment’s fire escape.

We got generators on the truck.

Nah, let’s let the wazoo boys go to work.

You wanna superglue the whole apartment?

Why not? We’re dead in the water until the power comes back on.

You familiar with all of this?

[Deke] I’m not.

Things probably changed a lot since you left.

[Deke] Still gotta catch him, right?

Yeah.

[Deke] Hmm. Not that much has changed, then.


Anybody want some menthol? [sniffs]

Everyone eat?

[woman 1 sobbing]

[woman 2 speaks indistinctly]

[Jamie speaks Spanish]

[woman muttering indistinctly]

[Jim] All right. Lights off.

Holy shit!

[“Don’t Watch TV” by The Cucumbers]

♪ Don’t watch it Don’t watch it ♪

♪ Don’t watch TV Don’t watch it ♪

[Jim] Arterial wound… stab wound, body cavity. Another stab wound. She crawled to here… all the way to here. This is where she died. So, why is she there?

[Deke] They lift prints from this window?

Hey, Jimmy, they dust that ledge yet?

Get me the first officer.

[Deke] Still making house calls, eh, Flo?

Oh, good Lord. You in town for a while?

[Deke] No.

Stick around till I’m finished.

[Deke] [hesitates] Okay.

Joe Deacon, meet Julie Brock. Julie’s 5’4″, a buck 20, and hails from This job sucks.

[Jim] Hey. Our killer exited the same way we came in. It’s your responsibility to secure and protect the premises from anyone who might spoil it. From the moment she expired to the time I cuff whoever did this, we work for her.

Yes, sir.

Get out of here.

[technician 1] It’s starting to look a lot like Illinois.

It’s Michigan.

Cut it out.

[Sal] This been dusted?

[technician 1] Yeah, but it’s broken.

[Sal] Not all of it.

[sniffs]

[indistinct conversations]

Hey. When’s your boy, Columbo, gonna break my case for me?

[Sal chuckles]

Deke’s got his own style.

[female officer] We’re still processing out that room.

What do you got, Flo?

She assumed room temperature two or three days ago. We’ll know more when we take her in.

[female officer] Check the closets.

Postmortem lividity. She was moved.

[indistinct police radio chatter]

[camera clicks]


All right, canvass the block, knock on every door, quiz every hooker. Find out Julie’s habits, friends, suitors, enemies.

They get anything across the alley?

[Jim] They lifted a print, tested stains on the floor of the scene, all negative. Pull files on any known sex offenders in the area. Peeping Toms, neighborhood arrests, [?] included. Lean on the lab for prints, all right?

Mm-hmm.

Jamie, lean on ’em.

Okay.

Awfully quiet back there, Kojak.

[Deke laughs]

Am I missing something?

[Deke] Any of the other girls have bites?

Carrie Holland.

One of ’em. Why?

[Deke] Similar to a case up north, that’s all.


[grunts softly]

Deacon.

[Deke] Yeah?

Sal says you’re here overnight. How about you buy me breakfast?

[Deke] Why would I wanna do that?

[Jim] All right, I’ll buy.

Nick’s, 0800.

[Deke] If I’m still here.


[soft music playing]

[indistinct chattering]

[siren wailing nearby]

[both panting]

Go again on Wednesday?

Yeah, sure. I’ll run you home.

Three blocks. I’ll be fine. Night.

Bye.


[indistinct chatter]

[Henry on phone] Yeah, surprised the DA, too. She made a second-degree offer.

Kendricks copped a plea.

[Deke] What about the unforgettable boots?

Forget ’em. Don’t need ’em. Neither will Kendricks. Not where he’s going. I’ll see you tomorrow.

[Deke] All right.

Morning.

[Deke] Morning.

Look, I know it was you spotted the observatory across the street last night. Might have missed that one without you.

[Deke] You’re welcome.

When you leaving?

[Deke] Right now.

[Jim] Oh, that’s a shame. I got something you might want to see [?]. He got picked up twice for peeping in the victim’s neighborhood. Sheet says he’s a KSO. Stan Peters. Picked up this morning on a Ramey warrant. Letting him stew a bit. He wants a mouthpiece. You might wanna stay. Nice boots.


[Deke munching]

[door thuds]

Hi, Stan. Jim.

Where’s my lawyer?

In the building. Takes a while.

A girl from your neighborhood… dead. And you, a known sex offender…

I was taking a piss and I was in the alley.

You had your dick out.

[Stan] This girl…

[Jim] Teenage girl, Stan.

[Stan] She was just walking by. You gotta believe me.

I want to.

I got nothing to do with this.

[Jim] Yeah.

What can you tell me about Mary Roberts?

What? [sobs]

Mary Roberts.

[uneasy music playing]

[Stan shuddering]

[Jim] Mary Roberts, Stan Peters?

[Deke] Dead girl, suspect.

Was he your boy?

[Deke] You never know. Just saying hello to an old pal.

Well, your old pal says you broke his jaw once.

[Deke] You gotta kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.

[Carl] What are you still doing here?

[Deke] Just leaving.


Order up the poor boy on a Mary Roberts. I’m going for a sandwich. You want one?

Nah, I’m good.

The Rathbuns are waiting.

[Jim] Missing person.

Yeah, they think their daughter Ronda’s a stat.

We got a corpse? Then it’s still Missing Persons.


[girl 1] So crazy, girl. You’re gonna fly out of here.

[girl 2 squeals]

[laughter]

[soft music playing]

[mouthing]

[Deke] Don’t you ever get tired of looking at dead bodies?

[Flo chuckles]

I could ask you the same.

[romantic music playing on radio]

What’s this all about, Joe?

[Deke] [grunts] Similar case up north. Thanks for doing this for me, Flo.

No Problem. She won’t see the knife till tomorrow. Well, she won’t see another knife. General proximity, similar pattern and depth to our other four. The garbage bag was an adornment, placed in her head post mortem. Maybe when the guy came back.

[Deke] Came back?

Unless he was a babysitter, he made a return trip, moved the girl and propped her up against the door. Now, turn that up for me.

[Deke] [chuckles] Okay.

[increases volume]

Mm… KHRT. Love songs of the ’50s and ’60s. Mm.

[Deke] You get a dental on the bites?

Right. Uh… Yeah, we did a rush on it. Inconclusive. It could be the same as we found in the [?] girl. More sucking, less biting.

[Deke] Any saliva samples?

Funny you should ask. I found traces of sodium benzoate in the [?].

[Deke] What’s that?

Used in mouthwash. Toothpaste. And check this out. He gave her a postmortem shave. Nicked her, no blood.

[Deke] What about her D-tract?

She had one good meal before she died. Speaking of which, you hungry?

[Deke] I’ll buy if you pull up an old file for me.

Yeah. Case up north, my ass. The fuck is going on, Joe? I’ll pull your file. But if something goes wrong, I can’t be there for you again, okay?

[Deke] Okay.

[volume decreases]

[Deke] You knew him, didn’t you? At least, he knew you. [scoffs] That’s why he did that to your face. You let him in. You thought… “Eh… Not my type,” but… maybe he could be a friend. I mean, you can’t get enough of them. But then you had that one little feeling. You thought, “What if?” But you waved it away. Thought, “Ah, what the hell? Life’s too short.” And you were right. Life is too short, Julie. And you should’ve listened. You should’ve listened to that one little feeling, but… Just like I’m listening to you now. You can talk to me. I’m all the friend you got.

 


[Flo] You know my take on the world, Joe? There’s good and there’s bad, but you gotta fight.

[music playing faintly on speaker]

Because, brother… when I look in your eyes, what I see… it ain’t good. To remind me of what I did. For what we did.


[door creaking]

[muffled chattering]

[woman] I thought you guys were finished.

[Deke] How long has this, uh, fridge been broken?

I don’t know. A week, maybe.

[Deke] You’re responsible for repairs?

Oh, are you thinking about moving in?

[Deke] [laughing] No, ma’am.

I called a guy to come fix it, but, uh, then, you know, the girl got killed. So, suddenly, it didn’t seem so important. And, I mean, look. I gotta paint the walls, get rid of the mattress…

[Deke] Who’d you call?

[sighs] Uh, a place around the corner. AB… ABC Appliance. Something like that. ABC Appliance.

[Deke] And the stuff in the fridge was already rotten?

Yeah, yeah.

[Deke] Mm-hmm. Except the milk?

My kid drank it, so cuff me.

[Deke] Oh. Anything else?

In the fridge? There were a few beers. Why?

[Deke] I’m gonna need it for evidence.

For evidence. Yeah, okay. Coming right up.

[Deke] All righty.

[grunts]

[sighs]

[somber music playing]

[door opens]

[landlady] How do you ever get used to it?

[Deke] What’s that, ma’am?

The smell.

[Deke] You know, if you’re lucky, you don’t get used to it.

[landlady sighs] Here. Close up when you’re done, okay?

[door closes]


[indistinct chatter]

I don’t want any trouble. I have no connection to the girls out front.

[Deke] Just need a room.

Oh. $20 a night, $100 a week. There are some things in there from the last guy.

Just toss ’em in the hallway.

And don’t worry, the sheets are clean.

Hey! Do you want some company?


[keys clinking]

[sighs heavily]

[sirens wailing in distance]


[Jim] Good night. I love you.

[Chloe] Love you.

I love you.

Love you.

Did you say your prayers?

Yep.

I’ll see you tomorrow.

[Chloe] Night.

[Jennifer] Good night.

[Ana] Hey.

[Jim] Mm?

Did you set the alarm?

Yeah.


[soft music playing]

[whispers] It’s never over.


Re-interview the immigrants in the Brock apartment.

Jimmy.

All of ’em.

Close it. Stan Peters.

What about him?

Killed himself last night.

That’s not good.

What the hell’s this got to do with Kern County?

Deacon watched through the glass. He’s got a similar case up north. It’s just a little interagency cooperation.

Guy hasn’t worked a murder since we ran him off five years ago. Do you know the book on him?

A great detective, has a heart attack, leaves town for a post in the sticks.

The guy worked the case so hard, he got a suspension, a divorce and a triple bypass, all in 6 months. Complete meltdown. He’s a rush-hour train wreck.

That’s a tad dramatic.

Only good came out of it, we got you.

What are you saying? I took his spot?

Manner of speaking, yeah. Piece of personal advice, Jimmy, you got a good thing going here. Don’t get mixed up with this guy.

What’s the big deal? He’s gone.

His CO says he’s taken vacation days.

Yeah, so what?

Does he strike you as the kind of guy that plays golf?


[suspenseful music playing]

Employee list. Repair appointment book. Look for yourself.

[engine starts]

[chuckles]

[store owner] So, I could even have it delivered to you tomorrow. All you gotta do is go out and get some food, put it in there, your kids are gonna be happy, you’re ready to go. Excuse me a minute. What can I do for you?

[Deke] I’m Joe Deacon. I need to see all repair orders for the last two weeks, and a list of all your employees. Thank you. It’s okay. You’re not under arrest. Yet.

[indistinct conversation]

Here you go.

[Deke] Thank you very much. This one’s crossed out.

It’s a cancellation.

[Deke] Yeah?

That’s before I can get a man out.

[Deke] And it always takes that long?

Hey, we’re busy.

[Deke] Yeah. Yeah, I see. And this is the list? Mm… Mm. And your name is?

Jack.

[Deke] You all right, Jack?

[Deke chuckles]

[Deke] What’s your last name, Jack?

Aboud.

[Deke] Thank you, Jack Aboud. You don’t mind if I take your list, do you? Salaam alaikum. Thanks, Jack.

[store doorbell chimes]


Did you look at my print from the Brock apartment?

It’s no good without one to compare to. The center’s missing and the computer can’t work without the centre. Look on the bright side, the guy finally left a partial.

What exactly is it you guys do?

We make you look good in court.

[door slams]

[laughter on video]

Dad!

[Jim] Anything else? Jewelry, maybe?

[Mrs. Rathbun] A red barrette. When she ran, she always used to wear a red barrette

[Jim] I’m gonna find her.

[sighs]

[“At Last” by Etta James playing]

[pager beeping]

♪ At last ♪

[beeping stops]


♪ My love has come along ♪

♪ My lonely days are over ♪

♪ And life is like a song ♪

♪ Oh, yeah, yeah, at last ♪

♪ The skies above are blue ♪

♪ My heart was wrapped up in clover ♪

♪ The night I looked at you ♪

Jesus.

[helicopter whirring]

[police radio chatter]

[Jim] It’s not her. Really? This how you spend your time off?

[Deke] When’s the last time you saw two hoop-dees and a meat wagon going 20 miles an hour?

They didn’t wanna come any more than I did.

[Deke] What have you got?

[Jim] Deceased fits the MO. Stab wound, ligature, killed elsewhere.

[Deke] She a floater?

Yeah. But they dumped overflow in here a few days back. Guessing there’s mud in her cavities. Shallow grave, most likely. You ready to tell me about Mary Roberts? Your boy, Stan Peters, swallowed a 12-gauge last night.

[Sal] Hey, Jimmy, come give a look.

[indistinct police radio chatter]

[Jim] If you didn’t know any better, from up here… you might say it’s beautiful.

[Deke] Sal told me you went to bat for me with Farris. It’s not a wise career move.

You’re not exactly a department favorite.

[Deke] Maybe I can make it up to you. You might wanna run these names. A couple of possible [?]. They were working in appliance stores It’s a long shot.

Aren’t they all? Thank you. Something I gotta know. How’s a guy with the best clearance rate in the department work 15 years without a promotion?

[Deke] Maybe I didn’t go to the right church.

[Jim] Hm. Do you believe in God, Joe?

[Deke] When I see a sunrise or thunderstorm or dew on the ground, yes, I think there’s a God. When I see all this, I think he’s long past given a shit.

I still owe you breakfast.

[Deke] Yes, you do.


[Deke] This is great. Thank you.

You’re welcome.

Joe’s in Kern County now.

Mm. Your wife drag you away?

[Deke] I’m divorced.

Oh. Well, I’d like to get out of the city, but Joe won’t [?].

[chuckles]

Hm.

You work homicide there, too?

[Deke] Uh, no, ma’am. I’m just a… a dep.

[Chloe] Hi.

[Deke] Hi.

My precious.

That’s Mr. Deacon, Chloe.

How do you do?

[Deke] Very well.

Do you have any kids, Joe?

[Deke] Uh, two girls. They’re… they’re all grown now. All grown up.

I’m gonna be late.

We ready to take Jen to school, baby? Got a parent-teacher conference until 5:00, so the girls are gonna stay at Mom’s until dinner.

[Jim] That’s fine.

Okay. I love you.

[Jim] Where are you going?

Nice to meet you, Joe.

[Deke] Thank you. [clears throat]

[door opens]

[Deke] She’s beautiful. They all are.

Yeah.

[door closes]

I’ll run the names on the list. Where can I reach you?

[Deke] St. Agnes.

I’ve heard of living on the beat, but that’s above and beyond. Wanna meet after shift, compare notes?

[Deke] You may have to ask the Reverend Captain about that.

It’s my case.


[Deke] You look good, Marsha.

You too, Joe.

[Deke] Thank you.

I was just on my way to work. If I’d known you would coming by…

[Deke] Gotta get going anyway.

Let me… let me grab my purse.

[Deke] Okay.

[door closes]

[Deke] House looks good. Glad you kept it. Lawn, too.

Yeah, well, Tom’s a… He’s a wiz in the yard.

[Deke] Better than me.

Well, you never really had time for that kind of thing.

[Deke] How are the girls?

Good.

[Deke] Good.

You ought to give ’em a call.

[Deke] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I should.

You all right?

[Deke] You know me.

Yeah. I know you. Well… I gotta…

[Deke] All right.

Bye, Joe.

[Deke] Bye, Marsha.


[Jamie] Mary Roberts. Paige Callahan, Tamara Ewing.

I only asked for Roberts.

Yeah, well, all the victims were hookers, they were all found drugged and stabbed to death on the same night in the same location.

You gotta be kidding me.

Yeah, I’m hilarious.


[rock music playing]

[indistinct chatter]

I never figured you to be so hip.

[Deke] [chuckles] Yeah, they must have… must have changed owners. You want something to drink? Don’t worry, I won’t tell. Where are you from? Originally.

The Valley. Where are you from? Originally.

[Deke] Mississippi Valley. Alabama, Birmingham.

Well, here’s to being from somewhere. Cheers.

[Deke] Cheers.

All right, last night’s victims… so we got six now. One, Julie Brock, never left home. Three from the north county, bodies dumped here. Two from here, bodies dumped in north county.

[Deke] And who said busing doesn’t work?

All knifed, all gagged, all bound, all very organized killings. Not a lot of wasted motion. So, I got a question. Why?

[Deke] Why what?

First, geography.

[Deke] Yep. Guy’s a shark. If he stops, he dies. He likes to drive. Probably has a decent car. Maybe two. High mileage. Can’t find one in the neighborhood, a victim, then, uh, he goes wherever opportunity knocks.

All right, next “why.” Why the extreme torture, [?].

[Deke] Turns him on.

No rape, no sodomy, no genital mutilation. Hm.

[Deke] He kills for sexual pleasure.

Was Stan Peters our boy?

[Deke] God, I hope not.

All right, back to the living. Our boy.

[Deke] He’s got balls. I’ll give him that. [scoffs] He goes back to Julie’s house, a few days after he kills her, moves her body, shaves her legs, poses her, he brings beer, milk, food. Just threw himself a little party.

And they found partially digested meat in her stomach. But she was a vegan. Strict vegetarian. She’d never touch it. Same as Ana. No way.

[Deke] Not even with a knife to her throat? Nobody wants to eat alone.

[Jim] Mm. One last “why.” Why are you trying to solve a five-year-old case that everyone else has forgotten about?


[suspenseful music playing]

[Deke] Farris and I were… a couple of miles away. We heard a call over the radio. Screams reported. Sal was first one on the scene. No lights. Switching problem. Guy from Edison said it happens every decade or so. Now, you see the woman behind me over my left shoulder?

Yeah.

[Deke] Gladys Fulcher. Spinster. Sort of eyes and ears of the neighborhood. A pain in the ass to the cops but a godsend to a detective.

And what did good old Gladys have to say?

[Deke] Said she was out. She lied about it at first but she came clean.

What was she embarrassed about?

[Deke] She went on her first date in 15 years, slept at the old guy’s house.

[chuckles]

[Deke] So, the night of the hat trick, we had no lights, Gladys getting boned… two-million-to-one long shot crossing the finish line in a dead heat. Third strike.

[Deke] Drought. No water, no mud, no prints. Ground was hard like cement. Victims were placed on that rock right there. They were drugged elsewhere, but they were brought here, and stabbed to death. Posed facing each other, bags over their heads, laid down, like the rock was a table. Like a… tea party. Where the guests fell asleep.

Warm. This just went down.

And where was your third victim?

[Deke] Close by. You work the evidence, you still come up with zeros. It’s all you can do. Happens to everybody. Then you draw the black bean. Maybe the victim looks like a kid you picked on in school or the green eyes remind you of your old lady. Or maybe it’s something else, but whatever it is, they’re your lifelong responsibility, Jimmy. You own them. You own them. They’re wherever they are, and you are their angel, trying like hell to turn the ledger from red to black. Word to the wise, Jimmy, stay out of the angel business.

[Jim] Hey. What is it you’re looking for in all of this?

[Deke] To finish the job. Just like you.


[Jim] It’s not the same boy. Guys that kill pros are a different breed than the ones that go after solid citizens.

[Deke] Yeah, nobody’s that good out of the block. This boy practiced his trade somewhere before.

Well, it can’t be the same guy. He’s a shark, remember? He stops, he dies.

[Deke] Who said he stopped? Maybe he just took his show on the road.

I’m over here on the right. Two of the five appliance store employees have records. One’s 55, the other one’s in his late thirties, lives in Hollywood. Both simple assaults. It looks like a wash to me, but you got all the info there. And for the record, your hunch? I don’t think it holds water.

[Deke] Then why all the interest?

You wanna clear your conscience, that’s your problem. But you gotta solve my case to solve yours, who am I to moan?

[scoffs]

But you piss on my leg and call it rain, [?].

[Deke] Hey, uh, what was Julie’s last supper?

It was roast beef. Why?

[Deke] It’s the little things that are important, Jimmy. It’s the little things that get you caught.


[engine idling]

[engine stops]

[man] Can I help you?

[Deke] I saw the “for sale” sign.

That was for another car.

[Deke] Got a lot of miles on it. You a… you a salesman?

No.

[Deke] How’s the trunk space?

It’s standard.

[Deke] Mind if I take a look? I’m in the market.

It’s not for sale.

[Deke] All I need to do is take a look.

You must really like my car.

[Deke] I do.

[chuckles]

[suspenseful music playing]


[indistinct chatter]

[Deke] Hey, Sal, listen. Run a DMV check on an Albert Leonard Sparma. Yeah, see if he’s sold any cars in the last few months.

[sniffs]

Inconclusive. But there are some similarities to both Brock and Ewing. Partial of an incisor on Ewing’s cheek.

[Deke] What about Brock?

Partial of a bicuspid. Something else.

[Deke] What’s that?

He’s from back east. Folds his slice.


[music continues]

[“My Guy” playing on radio]

♪ Could make me untrue to my guy ♪

♪ My guy ♪

♪ There’s nothing you could buy ♪

♪ Could make me tell a lie to my guy ♪

[yawns]

♪ I gave my guy my word of honor ♪

♪ To be faithful and I’m gonna… ♪

[engine starts]

[grunts]

[chuckles]

[engine revs]

[music continues playing]

♪ As a matter of taste to be exact ♪

♪ He’s my ideal as a matter of fact ♪

♪ And no muscle bound man could take my hand ♪

♪ From my guy ♪

[Carl] We’ll canvass over here.

[romantic ballad playing]

♪ Here we are ♪

♪ Here we are alone ♪

♪ Moon is shining ♪

♪ Moon is shining bright… ♪

You have a good night.

[Deke] We got roast beef, we got strippers…

[woman] Baby, you got anything for us tonight?

[Deke] We got hookers.

[woman talking indistinctly]

[Deke] Damn, homie. You don’t know how lucky y’all are.


[suspenseful music playing]

[car engine idling]

[suspenseful music intensifies]

[tires screeching]

[Deke] Okay.

[tires screech]

[tires screech]

[engine idling]

How’s the trunk space?

[ominous music playing]

[engine revs]


[phone ringing]

Baxter.

[Deke] The second girl, where did you find her?

Couple hundred yards after 126.

[Deke] And you didn’t leak it to the press?

No.

[Deke] You sure about that?

It went out over dispatch, but it was never given out to the press. Why?

[Deke] What’s the nearest mile marker?

Hang on. 467.

[over phone] 4-6-7.

There’s this guy Deke asked me to run a vehicle check on. Sparma. Seems that Topanga Tow has a car registered to him. Found it abandoned two weeks ago.

Reported stolen?

No.

Well, tow that sucker in.


[machinery whirring]

[indistinct chatter]

Wine.

[whispers] Damn it.

Sal, what do you got?

Clean. 22,000 miles.

A rollback?

Definitely.

All right, keep at it. Let me know if you find anything.

[Jim] Here we go. I’ll take the prints. Call the lab, tell them I’m on my way. Grab Deke and a patrol dep, pick up Sparma.

What about Tina Salvatore, the potential witness?

Get her a magazine.


What are the chances he’ll let us in?

[Deke] Yeah. Just keep him busy, keep him talking. Tell him to take his time, change his clothes, whatever.

Match is inconclusive.

Conclude it.

Eleven identifiers. County requires 18 for an ID, LAPD requires 12.

So, we’re one short of somebody’s legal requirements? That says something.

It says you’re seven short.

Look me in the eye and tell me this isn’t my boy.

This other fella… let’s call him Mr. X… he’s got eight identifiers. Only three less than Sparma. Maybe he’s the killer.

Who?

[yelps]

Thank you.

[slams door]


Are we ready to go?


[Tina] It’s like I told the police… it was dark, he was wearing glasses, a hat…

If I showed you some photos, do you think you’d be able to identify him?

Maybe. Probably not.

Nothing. It was like he was expecting us.

Get her something to drink. Keep an eye on her.

I have to use the restroom.

Yep. [sighs] Come on. It’s, uh, right over here, to your right. I’ll wait for you.

Hey, you got a second, Jamie?

It’s okay. I can find my way back to your desk.

All right, do you want anything to drink?

Uh… Diet… anything.

Just come straight back, okay?

What’s up?

Thanks.

The Harvester was clean as a whistle.

Damn it.

[Deke] Got this off your desk. You don’t mind if I move the table, do you?

Do your thing.

[Deke] Grab the other end.

[Sal] All clear.

Bring him in.

Okay, Jerry.

[elevator bell dings]

Well, what did you have to do to get a job like this? Kind of a demotion, huh?

[door opens]

No, we’re not gonna need those.

Where’s big Dick Tracy? Is he joining us for dinner? Ow. Man…

Hello, Albert. I’m Detective Sergeant Baxter.

I know who you are. You’re famous. On television and in the papers all the time.

Thank you so much.

I’m kind of a crime buff.

[Jim] Hm.

[door closes]

Well, then you know if you’re innocent, you should talk to me, clear your name.

Is that it? Not gonna work me over, Mr. Clean? Okay. I invoke my Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. Just kidding.

[Albert chuckles] You should see the look on your faces. Come on, it’s hilarious. But I would like my rights waiver card. I know I’m not officially in custody, but… better be safe than sorry, huh, guys?

Hot damn. This is awesome. Can I keep this?

No, I’m afraid not.

No fun. Hey, you wanna know something? Ernesto Miranda… [whispers] was actually guilty.

Why did you abandon your car, Albert? The Harvester. Had a big back end, was good for [?].

Look, Jimmy.

Detective Baxter.

Whatever. Like I said, the car was stolen. Thank you for finding it. I’ll drive it home.

We’ll be hanging on to it for a few days.

Well, that’s not very nice of you.

Why didn’t you report the theft?

Well, you see, that’s the funny thing. I did. Somebody’s got some homework to do.

Mm. Cute little thing, wasn’t she?

Who said she’s dead?

I know the drill, Jimmy. But the truth is… I’m not the guy. Besides, if you had anything… anything at all… I’d be under arrest… wouldn’t I?

Do you want to be?

I wouldn’t mind getting a peek at all that evidence you say you got.

[whispers] Is that for me?

You get the feeling he’s enjoying this? Oh, yeah.

Pineapples and jalapenos, please.

[Deke] Can I come in?

Eleven more, you can make a calendar. Uh-oh. Oh, hey, stranger. Tired of steaming up that glass? Pressies?

Oh, yeah.

This is the part where I start feeling like it’s a trap.

Open it up, find out.

[chuckles softly]

It’s not a pair of mittens.

[sighs]

[clicks tongue] Wow.

[Deke] Go on, take a look. You know you want to. Open it, you fucking weirdo.

Holy guacamole. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a dead girl by her toe. Oh…

[Albert inhales deeply]

The contrast is all off. It’s no Weegee.

[Albert scoffs]

My God.

[Deke] Let me ask you a question. Why is that?

Huh?

[Deke] Why is that? Hm? Come on, you’re a smart man. You know every exit on the highway. Let me help you.

[chair slides]

I mean it. Why?

Why not?

Son of a bitch. Your dick is as hard as [?].

Shit.

Son of a…

[Jim] Deke! Hey, Deke!

[Deke] That’s why. That’s why.

[Jim] Back off!

[Deke] Why is that? Why is that?

[Sal] Deke! Hey! Whoa!

[Deke] That’s what I wanna know.

[Jim] Back off.

[Sal] Hey. Hey.

[Deke] It’s all right. It’s all right, Sal.

[Deke] We know, you know…

[Albert giggles]

[Deke] …we got you by the balls, small as they are. You son of a bitch.

You lost control.

[Albert exhales]

[door closes]

[phone rings]

Rizoli. Huh. Jimmy, it’s your wife.

Take a message.

[breathes sharply]

What do you think?

Maybe if I could get a better look at him.

[Jim] What do you mean, a better look?

[hesitates] Well, at this guy. I mean, you have him here in the station, right?

Thank you, Tina.

[slams on chair]


[Jamie] Look, I’m sorry. What about a lineup?

We’ve got no cause. I mean, the ID is tainted beyond repair. She saw him in cuffs, for God’s sake.

[Carl] I told you. I warned you.

[Jim] I take the heat. I’m the primary.

For now.

What the hell does that mean?

It means I got six bodies, no witnesses, no evidence, no killer. Two guys questioned, and why are they suspects? One, who later sucks on a 12-gauge, for malicious unzipping. The other, for carrying a concealed hard-on. What do you want the DA to do?

He was visualizing the crime. His crime. Well, sheriff’s calling in the feds. They got a guy coming in on Monday. That point, we back off, we revamp.

Revamp?

They take charge. Hey, uh, one more thing. Were you aware Sparma confessed to a murder eight years ago?

[Rogers] Guy walks in… and we spent ten hours going over the thing. He signs a confession. Next morning, we had to cut him loose.

Why?

[Rogers] He was lying. I mean, he knew all the details, but he wasn’t within ten miles of the killing.

Still got two days, right, Cap?

Hey, what is it with you and Deke? You wanna be the one that finds him after his next heart attack? It’s his destiny, don’t make it yours.


Deacon.

[doorknob rattles]

[tense music playing]

[Deke] Boo.

What is… what is all this?

[Deke] The past becomes the future, becomes the past… becomes the future, becomes the past, becomes…

Hey. Look at me.

[Deke] Becomes the future.

This is sick. You need to get some help.

[Deke] Don’t point fingers. I know all the symptoms. Congratulations. We got a suspect.

Oh, we do, do we?

[Deke] Yeah.

Are you aware that Sparma confessed to a murder eight years ago?

[Deke] So what?

He walked in, jerked Rogers’ chain for an entire shift. He’s a crime buff, he said so himself. Walk-in confessors aren’t killers. We don’t have shit!

[Deke] You got the same ache in your gut as I do, don’t you? We got something, we just don’t know what it is. If I can get in Sparma’s apartment for just five minutes…

We don’t have enough for a warrant.

[Deke] …like I’m standing in front of you. I know.

Know what?

[Deke] I know that the answer is inside Sparma’s place. I know. Let me ask you something, Jimmy. What do you want?

I wanna nail the bastard.

[Deke] For who?

For all of the girls he killed. And for Ronda Rathbun, wherever she is.

[Deke] Well, I wanna nail the bastard, too. Difference is… I’m doing it for me. Just five minutes, Jimmy. Please.


[Jim] I’m sorry about what happened today, and I’d like to make it up to you in person. Meet me at Pike’s, near your place, on the bully.

[Albert] That the place with potato skins?

[Deke] We’ll see.

[suspenseful music playing]

[Jim] He comes back, I’ll hit the horn twice.

[door closes]

[water dripping]

[dispatch over radio] 7-0, respond.

Code seven, Fifth and Main.

[pop music playing on speakers]

[Albert] Hey, you got a phone?

[bartender] Yeah.

It’s local. And a Shirley Temple to go.

[flashlight clicks]

[tapping]

[flashlight clicks]

[twig snaps]

[dispatch over radio] Officer down. Repeat, officer down. 10929 San Marina Street. Repeat, officer down.

[siren wailing in distance]

[officer 1] LAPD, open up!

[officer 2] Going right.

Hey! LA Sheriff. What’s going on?

There’s an officer down. Two guys inside now. Hey, hey, hey. All respect, Detective, your jurisdiction doesn’t start for another 20 blocks. Move.

[tense music playing]

[grunting]

[officer on phone] Sheriff’s.

Baxter. 362071.

How can I help you? Detective Baxter. Detective–

[officer 2] Bathroom’s clear. Clear.

[indistinct chatter]

[straining]

[siren wailing]

[grunting]

[tires screech]

[Jim] Sparma called in an “officer down.”

[Deke] Wily son of a bitch.

Wily enough to keep his apartment clean?

[Deke] He’s got a box full of knickknacks and souvenirs.

By any chance, did you see a red barrette?

[Deke] Red barrette?

Yeah. Ronda Rathbun was wearing one when she disappeared.

[Deke] You give me five more minutes, I can find out for you.


All right, bad news first. Sparma did file a stolen on the wagon. Rogers neglected to file it. The good… Sparma left town less than six weeks after your murders.

[Deke] Where’d he go?

Detroit.

[Deke] Any unsolved bodies up there?

[scoffs] Detroit?

[both chuckle]

[Deke] Right.

[Deke] He knows we’re here. He knows we’re watching him.

Good. I want him to know.

[Deke] Do you ever wonder… that maybe, just maybe, it’s a waste of time? All this sitting, waiting… watching, spending your life in another man’s shadow.

One, wherever he goes, I mark it for search warrants. Two, he tries it again, I catch him in the act. Three, when I’m with him… nobody dies. Nobody dies on my watch.

[Deke] How long is your watch?

[door opens]

As long as it fucking takes.

[door closes]

What’s he doing?

[old timey pop music playing on radio]

How can you listen to these sappy love songs all day long?

[Deke] Reminds me of being 16 in the backseat of my car… with Marsha McConnell.

Guy’s got a car, why’s he taking the bus?

♪ I will follow him ♪

♪ Follow him wherever he may go ♪

♪ There isn’t an ocean too deep ♪

♪ A mountain so high it can keep me away ♪

♪ I must follow him ♪

♪ Ever since he touched my hand I knew ♪

[Jim] This is fucking comical. We’re running out of sand, this guy’s taking the public transportation.

[Deke] You run this place?

[Jim] Yeah. No connection.

[soft funk music playing]

[Deke] Whoa. Whoa.

Ah, fuck!

[Deke] Hey, you all right?

I’m all right.

[Deke] Okay.

Mm-hmm.

[Deke] We work the case. That’s all we can do, we work the case. It’s like fishing. You can go days without a strike, then all of a sudden, bang, you get one…

I’m fucking dying here, Deke.

[Deke] Okay. Why don’t you go home, I’ll put him to bed.

Fuck you.

[Deke] There you go. That’s what I expected.

[old timey music playing on radio]

[tapping]

[Deke] You think they got watch batteries down there?

Mm.

[Deke] All right, I’m gonna go down there. Do you want anything?

Black coffee.

All right.

[store doorbell chimes]

[indistinct chatter]

[soft music playing on radio]

[telephone ringing in distance]

[ringing continues]

[ringing continues]

Hello?

Boo.

[Albert laughs]

Get your hands in the air! Now!

Okay, okay.

Do it now! Up against the gate.

[Albert] ♪ 8-6-7-5-3-0-9♪

Move! Move!

[laughs] Okay. Is this right? This…

Forward!

Okay. Fine.

Hands on your head! Interlace your fingers.

[Albert] Excuse me?

Interlace your fingers.

Oh. Um… That sounds complicated. Mm.

Point your fingers to the sky. Now! Spread your legs.

Thought you’d never ask.

[Albert chuckles]

Where is she?

Oh. The original. How did you wrangle that, Mr. fancy pants?

[gate rattles]

[panting]

Where is she?

[chuckles]

You don’t wanna know. Not really.

[grunts] Okay, okay. Okay. You win. I’ll take you to her. Would you like that? Jeez. Are you coming? You got some serious anger issues, Jimmy. Do you know that? You almost cracked my rib.

[store doorbell chimes]

[customer] 40, 50… 60, 70…

[engine starts, revs]

[ominous music playing]

Come on. I won’t bite. Get in. We’ve got a drive ahead of us. And I’ve gotta work tomorrow. You already felt me up. You’re armed, I’m not. What are you so scared of, little boy?

Oh, PS, your buttbuddy’s not invited.

Buckle up. Safety first.

[tires screeching]

[suspenseful music playing]

You know, you’re not very good company.

Where exactly is it we’re going?

[trilling] Ronda Rathbun?

[suspenseful music continues]

You know, you and I are a lot alike. In another lifetime… uh, we could be friends. Isn’t that crazy?

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy.

You mind?

[gate creaking]

[gate clanks]

[ominous music playing]

[Albert sighs]

I knew a guy who had a hunting lease here. And we got the moon tonight.

Cut the bullshit. Where is she?

All business. You start walking that way.

[Jim] Hm.

I’m a man of my word, Jimmy.

Chilly.

[Albert] Uh… [hesitates]

Colder.

[hesitates] No, no. Cold. God, you’re really terrible at this, you know that? Let me give you a hint.

[mouthing] That way.

Okay. Uh-uh. Warm. Warmer. Hot. Hotter. Hottest. Bingo.

Now look down at the ground and say… “Hello, Ronda.”

[ominous music continues]

You’re gonna need this.

You dig.

[chuckles] The devil’s in the details, Jimmy. Witnesses, physical evidence. You’d have to get rid of my body, get rid of my car. It’s a lot to consider.

[Albert grunts]

Besides… it’s a peace offering. Okay.

Oh, you’re gonna kill me. Uh… Oh, poop. I think I made a boo-boo. Yeah. Come to think of it, this doesn’t look that familiar. But this one over here… this looks very promising.

Yeah, that’s it.

What did you say?

[Albert] Um…

“Poop.”

[hesitates] Then, “This one is more promising.” It’s not like I have a fucking treasure map.

[Jim] I keep digging, you keep talking.

[Albert] X marks the spot. Third time’s the charm.

[panting]

It’s like the cereal aisle. You want the truth? I’ve never killed anybody in my entire life. If you believe me, we can get in the car and can drive straight home. Maybe even stop for tacos. If not…

[shoveling]

That’s it. Not too much longer now. What are you, five, six deep, and no end in sight?

[Jim grunting]

Oh…

I forgot to tell you. I’ve seen a picture of your family.

[chuckles]

You should’ve stayed out of the public eye, Jimmy. You and your ego. I mean, what kind of a father are you? How can you protect those two beautiful daughters when you can’t even begin to help one… of those poor girls or their families? You’re insignificant. You don’t matter. And this will go on and on and on. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

[Jim breathing shakily]

Hey. Hey. Hey, get up. Get up, man. Get up! Get up!

[ominous music playing]

[breathing heavily]

[gasps softly]

[Sal] Deke, what is it?

[whispers] Quiet.

[gunshot echoes]

[gasps]

Oh.

[body thuds]

[Carl] Oh, shit.

[Deke] The past becomes the future, becomes the future… becomes the past, becomes the future… becomes the future.

It was him. We got him. He was our boy. He was our boy. He as much as told me.

[Deke] Nothing you can do about it now.

We gotta call somebody. What am I gonna say? What am I gonna do?

Nothing. You’re not gonna say anything, you’re not gonna do anything.

[Deke] You’re gonna find a hole, stick him in it. Pick one at least four feet deep. I’ll be back in a few hours.


[suspenseful music playing]

[man 1] What’d she say, man?

[man 2] What’s up with homeboy there?

Hey.

[suspenseful music continues]

[digging]

[clanking]

He was our boy, Deke. I’m sure he was our boy.

[Deke] Nobody’s gonna give a damn. I’ve taken care of it. So, listen… you go back, you tell Farris that Sparma was a wash, and that you need a break. A couple of weeks. You tell him I left town Saturday, and you went home. Are you listening to me? He’s dead. He’s forgotten. He’s rotting in the ground and the only way he’s gonna come back is if you let him come back. Don’t you ever go back to his place, don’t you ever let his name cross your lips, don’t you ever pull his file, ’cause if you do… he’ll rise up out of that ground. He’ll do you in. It’s the little things, Jimmy. It’s the little things that rip you apart, it’s the little things that… get you caught. That’s my boy.

[car door opens and closes]

[engine starts]

He was… Joe…


[sighs, speaks Spanish]

[woman] Sí.

[jazz music playing on radio]

[woman on radio] And that brings to an end the world as we know it. Thanks for listening for all these many years. It’s twelve o’clock.

[man] Straight-up noon, LA. This is Bobby Saunders, and I’m saying welcome to the new KHVY, the king of talk radio, where what you have to say–

[turns off radio]

[somber music playing]

[Greg] A white male, between the ages of 25 and 40. He’s of above-average intelligence and socially competent. Works as a skilled laborer. Probably firstborn or an only child. And he follows the crimes in the media. He has at least one car in good condition, and he has a propensity for changing jobs. Picking up, leaving at a moment’s notice. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the guy we’re looking for.

What about the leads we’re following?

I think it’s safe to say we’re at square one in this operation. But I can promise you this. We’ll get the bastard.


[doorbell chimes]

Ana.

Hey, Sal. Come in.

Thanks. I gotta get going. You okay? Yeah. Well… [sighs] We miss him already. Uh… Joe Deacon gave me this. Said it was for Jimmy.

Thanks.

Take care.

You too. Thanks, Sal.

You know I love you, Dad. But go away? [laughs] You’re always around when I don’t need you.

[water splashing]

[girls giggling]

Sal brought this by. He said it was from Joe Deacon.

[girls giggling]

[somber music intensifies]

[soft music playing]

[sighs]

Cause of death, multiple stab wounds. That’s what I’m putting down.

[breathes shakily]

[sighs]

[sizzling]

[dog barking]

[door closes]


Plot

 

In Los Angeles in 1990, Kern County deputy sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon is called to the LAPD precinct to collect forensic evidence pertaining to a recent murder. Deacon, a former detective now under pressure to retire by his superiors on the force, accompanies recently appointed lead detective Jimmy Baxter to the scene of the murder. Deacon notices similarities between the M.O. of the killing with an old serial murder case he was unable to solve during his days as a detective.

That night, a woman, Ronda Rathbun, is followed by a car while jogging home and is reported missing the following morning. Baxter learns from the precinct’s captain, Farris, that Deacon lost his marriage and suffered a heart attack owing to his intense obsession with his unsolved murder case, and is advised not to involve Deacon any further in the current investigation. Deacon, however, rents an apartment space in Los Angeles so that he can remain in the city and assist in solving Baxter’s case.

The next night, the police discover the body of another murder victim washed up beneath a bridge. Baxter learns from his partner that the M.O. is consistent with both the earlier murder as well as the string of killings that Deacon was unable to solve: the victims were all prostitutes stabbed to death. Deacon begins investigating Albert Sparma, a potential suspect working at a repair store in proximity to the murders. Sparma thwarts Deacon’s attempt at tailing him; he is later brought in for questioning, where he is uncooperative and taunts the detectives. Sparma is released after provoking Deacon into nearly attacking him.

The FBI is called in to take charge of the investigation within the week, giving Deacon and Baxter less time to solve the case. Farris informs Baxter that Sparma falsely confessed to a murder eight years ago and is likely not a reliable suspect. Baxter, unconvinced, continues to join Deacon in investigating Sparma. After an unsuccessful search of Sparma’s apartment, the two tail him as he leaves a gentlemen’s club the following night. While Deacon retrieves coffee, Baxter corners Sparma alone and demands to know Rathbun’s location. Sparma offers to drive Baxter to where he has supposedly hid Rathbun’s body; Baxter cautiously accompanies Sparma in the latter’s car, while Deacon follows them.

Sparma takes Baxter to a remote area in the desert and has him dig holes in several spots on the ground before admitting that the trip was a ruse and that he has never killed anyone before. A skeptical Baxter continues digging; Sparma begins to taunt him repeatedly, until Baxter snaps and strikes Sparma over the head with a shovel, killing him instantly. Deacon arrives on the scene shortly thereafter; a flashback reveals that he accidentally shot one of the survivors of his last murder case, and that Farris and the precinct’s coroner helped cover up the incident. Deacon offers similar assistance to a shaken Baxter, instructing him to bury Sparma in the desert.

Deacon spends the night discarding all evidence from Sparma’s apartment, and returns to the desert the following morning as Baxter finishes digging Sparma’s grave. Baxter is desperate to believe that Sparma is their suspect, hoping it will justify his actions. Deacon, however, advises him to forget about the case completely lest it haunt him for life. At home, Baxter receives an envelope containing a red barrette worn by Rathbun the night of her disappearance. Baxter is relieved, believing the barrette to have been collected from Sparma’s apartment. However, Deacon is shown to have purchased and mailed Baxter an identical barrette to provide him ostensible closure on the case. The real killer is left unrevealed by the end of the film.

 

 

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