This is how an episode of Just Between Us should be written.
What follows is not how an episode of Just Between Us should be written. However, part of me was resisting the predictable and part of me wanted to stick to exactly the predictable. The end result was the mad stupidity below. You will note there are places where the characters do not act the way they should. This is a fault on my part. I’m doing this as much as an education exercise as anything. Learning the hard way what works (nothing) and what doesn’t (everything).
[Second draft. First draft was on dead trees.]
[This is an unsolicited manuscript for the web series Just Between Us. All rights belong to their respective owners. No money is to be made from this unless its GALLISON LLC or its affiliates. This is a fan-based work. No infringement on copyrights are intended nor should they be inferred. If GALLISON wants to use it as is, or in any capacity whatsoever, I would request only proper due credit and nothing more, but I’m not writing this to get it produced and I’m in no position to make demands. I’m writing this cuz I had to follow the muse wherever it took me, whether it worked or not. Just had to get it out of me. Where it goes after that is not in my control. I’m open to constructive criticism, and this doesn’t have to be the final draft. I reserve the option to revisit this in the future and improve upon it, but for now this is the best i got in me. Hopefully you’ll get a laugh or two out of it, whoever you are.]
TITLE CARD (standard w/music stinger): JBU PRESENTS..
TITLE CARD (Same. Stinger continues) INTO THE LATE AFTERNOON
Music stinger ends
INT. APARTMENT. FRONT DOOR (closed)
Door immediately swings open revealing ALLISON wearing RUNNING OUTFIT preferably with shorts and sneakers. She should look like she’s had a rough day so far, but she’s uncharacteristically smiling broadly. Breathless but enjoying herself. Over the running outfit is a BULLET PROOF VEST that is noticeably larger than would fit her, as if a large male is letting her borrow it. It’s vital she keep the vest on through the story until the end. She is also wearing POWDERED GLOVES that will probably remain on until the end of the episode. As Allison enters the apartment, she LEAVES THE DOOR WIDE OPEN which is again not at all like her. As Allison says the next line, she makes her way past the foyer into the living area (couches).
ALLISON (sarcastic. singing) Honey! I’m home! (more conversational, to nowhere in general) Gaby, you will not believe the day I’ve been having!
As she says end of this line, Allison turns into living area and expresses mild SURPRISE at what she sees.
QUICK CUT: ALLISON’S POV
In the LIVING AREA on one of the COUCHES we see GABY dressed in jeans and a hand made T-shirt that reads “TOO SEXY FOR THIS SHIT.” Purple accents on tips of blonde hair. Roots can be showing. Preferred, actually. She is with a new character named MARIA RAMIREZ. Hispanic female age 25-45 capable, well-traveled, world-weary, smoking hot. I’m thinking a Michelle Rodriguez type. Exudes allure and danger. Thick spanish accent that’s sexy and earthy, reveals a lower class childhood but she’s also got upper class tastes and traits. Seems like she fits in more than one world, but hasn’t left a rough upbringing behind. Maria has a WOUNDED ARM that should read to audience as probable gunshot. She also has a BADGE hidden in her cleavage but it is not currently visible. There is a FIRST AID KIT on the COFFEE TABLE. Gaby’s CELLPHONE is also on the coffee table. Gaby had been administering first aid to Maria, who is already bandaged up, but the two of them were KISSING when Allison caught them. We see Gaby and Maria look up and towards Allison. Both girls look exhausted but generally relieved to be alive. If Gaby has blood on her, it’s Maria’s. Neither of them take note of it. For continuity purposes this may need to be optional. If blood is visible on either Gaby or Maria in this shot, please keep it identical throughout the shoot. If you know you can’t do it, drop the blood idea. Gaby was just uncharacteristically clean for once.
QUICK CUT: ALLISON REACTION CONTINUED
Allison continues to look surprised as she takes in Gaby and Maria.
GABY: (v.o.) Ditto kiddo. (goes to say something else but is interrupted)
ALLISON: Oh, not again. You know this is NOT the first gunshot wound I’ve seen today-
GABY: Allison, lemme introduce you to Maria. (inhales and goes to say something else but is interrupted)
MARIA: (to Allison) Nice to meet you. (to Gaby) We need to go.
Gaby tries to object but–
ALLISON: (cordial. not putting pieces together yet) Maria, huh? What a coincidence, you know a friend of mine’s been–
ZANE: (v.o) Hey Backalley?
CAMERA CUTS to show a new character ZANE JONES sauntering into OPEN FRONT DOOR with his GUN out pointed upwards as if he was just thinking about putting it away into his SHOULDER HOLSTER inside his JACKET. Zane is black male age 25-45. I’m thinking an Aldis Hodge type. Quirky but capable Los Angeles police detective. Dressed casual but functional with better fashion sense than most men. Kinda metrosexual. He’s conscious about his appearance. Badge should be visible in first shot if possible on belt or hanging off chain, whatever looks believable. This guy should feel like the real deal, but he’s a little green. Wearing POWDERED GLOVES like cops use in crime scenes. He’s a bit of a germaphobe.
ZANE: (continuing thought) I think we gave those guys the slip but just the same if you don’t mind I’d like to stick around and make sure you’re okay–?
The gun should almost be back in its holster when he turns to join Allison standing in the living area but he sees Maria and Gaby.
QUICK CUT: MARIA’s reaction
The instant Maria sees Zane, she pulls a gun out of her convenient place (aside from “not shoulder holster” or cleavage, whatever reads well and is comfortable for the actress) that this character has obviously drawn on people many times. Smooth and fluid. No nonsense here. She aims the gun immediately at Zane. This causes Gaby to take half a step back but she remains in frame if possible. Maria’s face should be difficult to read, like a poker face.
QUICK CUT: Zane’s reaction
The instant Zane sees Maria, he uses his free hand to instantly position Allison behind him and also trains gun on Maria. The look on Zane’s face is one of a man who feels like he’s been caught with his pants down. He’s not quite as flawless and fluid as Maria. Again, capable but quirky.
QUICK CUT: ESTABLISHING “STALEMATE” SHOT TABLEAU
This shot’s kind a big deal as it sets up the rest of this script’s gag. We cut to a shot of as much of the room as we can get in. Zane and Allison are behind the couch closer to the bedrooms. Maria and Gaby are on the other side of the couch below the kitchen. As much distance as possible in the space is between us, with Gaby and Maria on the left side of the screen and Allison with Zane on the far right. Gaby’s behind Maria. Allison is behind Zane. Maria and Zane have their guns drawn on each other and they both mean business. It should read both funny and serious at the same time. The absurdity that this is happening in this apartment is not lost on anyone, but it’s clear Maria’s been shot and it reads as if Allison’s been shot at earlier. No one’s laughing. In a way it should feel like a spaghetti western shot or an Akira Kurosawa tableau but at the same time this the Just Between Us living area. This is the dumbest place for two characters like this to have their guns drawn on each other. Silly. Funny. Scary. Awkward. And other words that escape me at the moment. It’s all that.
ZANE: (to Maria.) Suelta la arma! Bajáse, boca abajo!
MARIA: (to Zane) I speak English, asshole!
During the following line, Gaby reaches down and almost picks up her cellphone, but thinks better of it when her move seems to freak out Zane.
ZANE: (to Allison) Backalley! Stay behind me! (to Gaby and Maria) No sudden moves, ladies. I’m wearing powdered gloves, which tends to make accidentally pulling triggers happen frequently.
ALLISON: (to Zane) you use that a lot.
ZANE: (to Allison) Backalley not now–
ALLISON: (to Gaby) he mentioned his gloves earlier today and then he shot a guy in the foot.
ZANE: (to Allison) That wasn’t an accident that was intentional.
ALLISON: (to Zane) You said you were aiming for his butt.
ZANE: (to Maria) Drop the gun, Maria! Hands behind your head! You know the drill!
MARIA: (to Zane) Oh so you a cop now?
QUICK CUT: TWO SHOT ZANE AND ALLISON
ZANE: Yeah! Detective Zane Jones, L.A.P.D.
Camera goes slowly during last line and next line from two shot to one shot of Allison as she makes eye contact with Gaby. She tries to communicate nonverbally but is unsuccessful. With mostly her eyes and a vain attempt at incognito hand gestures and mouthing her words, Allison tries to tell Gaby everything that’s happened today from her run this morning to meeting Zane in a back alley which is why he calls her Backalley, which would normally annoy her but she kinda likes it but only coming from him. The audience shouldn’t be able to pick up on any of this but Allison is desperately trying to say it all in about three seconds.
MARIA: (v.o.) Detective Zane my ass! Fuck that. (to Gaby) Gabrielle do not trust this man. I seen him around. He lies. He works for drug dealers, or he is a drug dealer.
ZANE: (to Maria) You lie! (v.o. to Allison) Backalley this is the Maria I told you about!
MARIA: You sell drugs, you work for Rico.
QUICK CUT: CU GABY
During the next line, Gaby uses hand gestures and facial expression to tell Allison that Maria is okay. Should be smooth so audience picks up on it too. Gaby points to Maria off screen with Gaby’s fisted thumb, then makes an okay sign. It’s important though that Gaby does not smile here. She’s scared and sad and wants this to be over, but there should be a sense that Gaby knows more than she can say right now.
ZANE: (v.o.) Rico! That’s my cover! You just blew my cover, thanks a lot!
QUICK CUT: CU ALLISON
During the next couple lines, Allison uses similar hand gestures and face expressions to tell Gaby that she trusts Zane as well. Similar fisted thumb pointed at Zane off camera, similar okay symbol. She thinks for a second then puts up a peace symbol meaning the number two: Zane’s okay too. She mouths it as she goes. Audience should be able to read it this time.
MARIA: (v.o.) Yeah well you blew my cover this morning!
ZANE: (v.o.) What cover!? You’re Domingo’s girlfriend!
RETURN TO ESTABLISHING TABLEAU SHOT
ZANE: (to Maria) I been following you for three days!
MARIA: (to Zane) You been following me?
MARIA: You couldn’t follow your head out your ass!
ZANE: Oh izzat so!?
ZANE: Just drop the gun and put your hands behind your head and we can straighten all this out at the station.
QUICK CUT: TWO SHOT GABY AND MARIA
At beginning of this shot, GABY is sad but under control. She reaches down and picks up her cellphone. Then crosses her arms with it in her hand. As shot progresses, she’s rapidly losing control, because her thoughts drift and she can’t stop it and she feels helpless and she doesn’t know what to do, it’s all bubbling to the surface like a pressure cooker and she can’t fend it off anymore. The cellphone becomes like a talisman that has no mojo.
MARIA: (like it matters now you son of a bitch but) I got a badge too!
ZANE: Oh yeah?
MARIA: (pulls badge out of cleavage) Agent Maria Ramirez, state department! —
As Maria continues her line, camera slowly zooms in on Gaby, who is trying not to cry with every fiber of her being but her many layers of control and cool are melting away and she’s run out of ways to combat it.
MARIA: (continuing from previous delivery without break) — I been under cover after Domingo’s boss for six months! If you are what you say, Internal Affairs is gonna have your badge cuz you’re probably why my cover got blown this morning! Domingo knows I’m his mole, now. I been on the run all morning!
ALLISON: (v.o. fake happy) Okay! So! We’re all on the same side! Can we put down the guns now?
GABY starts crying. If possible, should be funny and gut wrenching at the same time. We’ve never seen this character in this emotional state before. It’s a plaintive wail like a lone train in the distance. One whimpering tone that then after a beat withers and reverberates into whatever actress Ms. Dunn has up her sleeve. This goes on for anywhere from five to ten seconds whatever works, before Maria breaks the mood.
RETURN TO ESTABLISHING TABLEAU SHOT – GABY STILL CRYING
MARIA: (gun slowly goes to her side) Gabrielle, I’m so sorry.
Maria reaches out to Gaby, but Gaby takes a step towards Allison, who jumps over the couch and runs the rest of the way as Gaby’s legs buckle and they end up falling into each other’s arms onto the floor. Maria puts her gun back where it goes and motions for Zane to do the same.
ALLISON: What is it, what is it? Oh my God I don’t think I’ve ever seen you cry before not like this. You get sad but you don’t- What’s going on. What’s —
QUICK CUT FLOOR HUG: MARIA POV
Gaby and Allison are in each other’s arms. Allison’s face is away from us at first. Then she turns to face Maria and it’s suddenly the look of a woman who is missing her child and is about to pull out a can of whup ass on whoever gets in her way.
ALLISON: –Where’s Sugar? Where’s my dog!?
QUICK CUT to Maria. During this shot, she walks towards Zane, who walks into the shot. They both turn to face Allison.
MARIA: (to Allison) This morning when you didn’t return, Gabrielle went to take your dog for a walk. We met at the dog park. I’d gone there to walk Domingo’s dog. I didn’t know my cover was blown yet but I suspected and just needed to get some air to think. Gabrielle and I met and struck up a conversation. Gabrielle was playing with Buster and I had Sugar in my arms when Domingo’s men found me. Turned out (refers to Zane unhappily) someone must have tipped him off that I was the mole in his organization.
ZANE: (to Maria) Hey, it wasn’t me!
MARIA: One of Domingo’s men shot me and took both dogs. Said I had to return what I had taken or the dog gets it. I tried to tell them she wasn’t mine but it didn’t matter. Domingo knows me well enough to know I’d do anything for any dog. The problem is what he’s looking for? I’ve already turned that over to the feds. There’s nothing to give him. I know my superiors won’t let me give it back now. We’re building a case on his boss. Gabrielle offered to patch me up back here.
ZANE: (to Maria) What time was that?
MARIA: (to Zane) About an hour ago now, maybe less.
ZANE: (to Allison) The guys who accosted you, Backalley. Did they say anything to you? Can you remember?
ALLISON: (tears but she’s not crying. She’s furious, but not at Zane) it was mostly in Spanish. One of them laughed about me changing clothes so fast. Didn’t make sense at the time. I seen em around. One of the guys I’ve known for years. I didn’t know he was in a gang. Thought he worked at the dry cleaners.
ZANE: (to Maria) There’s a girl about Backalley’s build in Domingo’s organization. Same length of hair.
MARIA: (to Zane) Yvette? No way. Dom is not that stupid.
ZANE: (to Maria) His men are though. Rico jokes about that all the time. Maybe they thought there’s two moles. You and Yvette. When they saw Backalley they thought she was Yvette, but I happened upon them so they ran. I’ve been with her ever since. They’ve been trying to get to her. We were confronted when I tried to walk us back to the station. They slashed my tires. So long story short we made it here.
MARIA: When they found us near the dog park there were too many people. They shot me then left in a car. I couldn’t stop them from taking the dogs. And they still think I have what Dom wants.
YVETTE: (v.o.) Well you better find it.
QUICK CUT: OPEN FRONT DOOR. FEET TO HEAD PAN
Framed in the doorway is a woman who looks a lot like Allison, but isn’t. Ideally we can have Allison Raskin dressed up as Yvette. Maybe a different accent. Doesn’t matter what just don’t make it spanish. Yvette works for Domingo but she’s not hispanic. If this is too on the nose, hire an actress who has roughly the same build as Allison and similar skin tone. Same length of hair. Close enough to where it’s legit that a handful of guys probably going off descriptions might mistake one for the other. Yvette is holding Sugar in her arms. Sugar is content in her arms. Not struggling. She’s been unharmed and is unfazed. As the next line is given, camera slowly pans up from her feet melodramatically to a bust shot that puts both Sugar and Yvette in the frame. Maybe Sugar is even licking Yvette’s face but that’s not necessary.
YVETTE: When Domingo caught up with me, I have to admit I was a little confused. His boys said I’d been running this morning and he knew I was his mole. I told him I wasn’t but that I knew who was. You. Agent Maria Ramirez. I’ve known for weeks. Or I’ve suspected. Since he dumped me for you. He showed me this dog, and I told him it was yours, and that I’d be happy to give it back to you in return for what you took.
QUICK CUT TO YVETTE POV
We have Yvette’s back to us now. She’s standing where Allison was at the beginning of the episode. Behind the couch. Allison and Gaby are now standing to our left holding hands. Tear streaked faces. Gaby’s crestfallen. Allison is stern & a little crazy. Maria and Zane are to our right.
ALLISON: (to Zane) Were you born in a barn?!
ZANE: (to Allison) What?
ALLISON: You left the door open!
ZANE: So did you..!?
MARIA: (to Zane) And you led them right to us!
ZANE: Hey! None of this is my fault, okay!?
GABY: (level headed. to Yvette) So you brought the dog.
YVETTE: (to Maria) It’s a fair trade.
MARIA: (to Yvette) For something you know I don’t have.
YVETTE: (to Maria) I didn’t know that until I got up here. Three stories. (to Gaby and Allison) You guys really should move.
ZANE: (to Yvette) Surely your boys are just outside that open door though, right?
YVETTE: (to Zane) Waiting in the car. Why?
GABY: (to no one in particular) I don’t see a gun.
ALLISON: (Lying. Fake smile) Sugar! I got treats! You wanna treat!?
Sugar jumps out of Yvette’s arms, onto the couch and then our gals scoop her up as Maria draws her gun on Yvette and Zane pulls out some handcuffs with a smile. Yvette puts her hands up and Zane saunters over to cuff her. I’m not sure how trained Sugar is, so yall frame and cut this sequence however it works on set.
ZANE: (to Yvette) Wow you really are that stupid.
YVETTE: Domingo’s boys are still outside.
(SFX: Police sirens. Maybe red and blue lights outside, tho this is three stories up so may not be practical or necessary.)
GABY: Probably not anymore unless they really are that stupid. (waves her cell phone) I called 911 earlier. Since Zane was too busy arguing to save our dog.
ZANE: (to Gaby) Had I known.
Zane is still holding Yvette, who is behaving herself. Zane walks her to the foyer but doesn’t leave yet.
MARIA: (to Allison) I’m terribly sorry Ms. Raskin. For everything.
ZANE: (to Allison) We both are Backalley. Really.
ALLISON: My girls are safe. That’s all I care about.
MARIA: (to Gaby) Thanks for the assist, Gabrielle.
GABY: (nods. flirting) I like it when you say my name. Special Agent Maria Ramirez.
MARIA: (flirting) I could roll the R if you like. Chicks dig it when I roll my R’s.
GABY: You got my number.
MARIA: And you got mine.
(Allison clears her throat)
MARIA: (to Allison) Sorry are you two–
ALLISON: (to Maria) No. We’re just friends. You can fuck her some other time if you like, but tonight I got dibs.
MARIA: (to Gaby) She always this direct?
GABY: (to Maria) only when we almost lose Sugar. And every other time.
Maria reacts. Sort of a cross between a nod and a shrug and a not sure how to take that but okay. She crosses over to Zane and Yvette. They do a trade of Yvette, who will actually walk her down the stairs.
MARIA: (to Allison) We might need to get statements from both of you tonight or tomorrow. Zane can take them at the station. (MARIA EXITS with YVETTE in tow)
ZANE: (to Allison) You know. My precinct is the one we almost made it to then had to double back.
ALLISON: (to Zane. Soberly) We’ll see you there tomorrow.
ZANE: Not tonight? (pause.) I know a Chinese place nearby.
ALLISON: (changing subject) I wish I’d punched Yvette. I’d feel better.
ZANE: You’re better at running around bad guys than staying in one place and punching. I can vouch for that. Moving target. I learned a thing or two from your moves today.
ALLISON: Me too. I never done what.. we did earlier standing up.
GABY: Did what? What did you two do?
ZANE: (to Gaby) It’s not what you think. Or maybe it is? I don’t know what you think. I was just- I mean she had–
ALLISON: (finger to his lips) Let her wonder.
ZANE: (Lingers. Almost kisses Allison. Wants to say something to her. Sad their time together is over, but there really isn’t anything he can think to do except walk to the door) Keep the vest. I can get another one. (ZANE EXITS)
GABY: Did he put the vest on you cuz of the guns? Did you get shot at?
ALLISON: Not exactly. I threw out my back fending those guys off. Zane said the vest helps him with his lumbar support. Feels good.
GABY: (looking at the bullet proof vest still on Allison) Looks hot.
ALLISON: (to the door) He’s hot.
GABY: (to the door) So is she.
ALLISON and GABY hug each other, Sugar squeezed in between them.
ALLISON: I’m just so happy you’re both okay.
GABY: You wanna double date with them next week?
ALLISON: (chuckles) Sure why not? What could possibly happen!?
QUICK CUT: CLASSIC COUCH TABLEAU
Allison and Gaby break their embrace and make their way to the couch. Each take a seat and Sugar is with Gaby as they sit.
ALLISON: (takes the bullet proof jacket off with a flourish) We’ll take turns staying with Sugar. I mean instead of the double date. I’ll stay with Sugar while you date whats her face and then I’ll have chinese with LAPD’s Finest while you babysit.
GABY: Why’d he call you Backalley?
ALLISON: (drops vest) Code yellow!
GABY: Oh, come on!
Gaby reluctantly hands Sugar over to Allison, who loves and dotes on her through the next exchange of dialogue.
ALLISON: Detective Jones called me Backalley because that’s where those guys confronted me. I was cutting through an alley to get back here when I realized I’d left Sugar at home. Those guys jumped me and I was fighting them off when he happened by.
GABY: YOU? Fending off a gang of thugs?
ALLISON: Well more like running circles around them. Avoiding getting hit. I’m very spry when I wanna be. They didn’t pull out their guns until he showed up. Guess they were under orders to bring Yvette in alive, maybe? Turned out Detective Jones had been following them cuz he thought they’d lead him back to Maria. He thought Maria was bad for some reason I didn’t follow.
GABY: Maria had infiltrated Domingo’s operation by flirting with him until he made her his girl, which seems to have pissed off Yvette.
ALLISON: Zane couldn’t figure out why those guys were after me, and I had no clue, but they persisted so he dropped everything and focused on my safety. It was very sweet.
GABY: I bet. That still doesn’t explain Backalley.
ALLISON: After he scared them off the first time, when I told Detective Jones my name was Allison, he thought finding an Allison in a back alley was funny.
GABY: You didn’t point out that’s rather insensitive?
ALLISON: What you mean?
GABY: Back alley abortions?
ALLISON: Huh? Those are weird dots to connect.
GABY: Maybe he honestly doesn’t see that either? Sounds insensitive to me. Maybe it was like a pneumonic device? A way to remember your name?
ALLISON: I hadn’t thought of any of that, but he does seem rather absent-minded. It was great having him protect me today though. Not sure what would have happened had he not been there.
GABY: I think my life woulda been better today had I never met Maria.
ALLISON: She looks your type though.
GABY: She smells nice…
ALLISON: And he’s very clean. I mean to a fault. He had wipes in his car.
GABY: You have never let anyone call you Ally before.
ALLISON: You never let anyone call you Gabrielle.
ALLISON: On second thought let’s never date those two, like, ever!
GABY (laughs) Seconded.