INT-HALL OF CONGRESS
JOSEPH BILLS, a senator with a flair for a quick fire quip or two in the senate or at press meetings, is looking over a number of notes with his wife SANDRA. They walk past a man in a grey trench coat, he begins to follow them.
They head down the corridor, taking little notice that they are being stalked, teems of people move around them, each lost in their own little world. Finally, they make the fateful decision to stop cold in their tracks, perhaps if they had continued heading all the way to the exit, they would be spared what is to come
Hey, Mr. Comedian
Here’s a killer
The stranger opens his trench coat and produces a gun, he does not hesitate in pulling the trigger, the gun goes off and a bullet, sudden and swift, tears into the chest of Sandra. She collapses into her husband’s arms, bleeding out and tearfully doing her futile best to turn away this invitation to death.
Everyone else who had been minding their own day froze where they stood. In shock and paralyzed with fear, unsure of what to do. One would think this would be just like the movies where someone would step up and grab the gun from the stranger’s hands, throw him to the ground and keep him restrained until the security in the building could arrive to do their job, but none of this was happening. Cowards were everywhere, but of course there’d be. They’re politicians of a certain ideological and cultural persuasion; they’re not the average being let along a human being.
A dying wife and a burning question. That was all that mattered to Joseph’s world now.
You know who my hero is?
Answer me, why?
Let’s not concern ourselves with a lengthy rationalization. I’m not here to score points with one side or the other; I’m not a politically-savvy guy. I don’t read the papers for anything other than the funnies. I’ll be popular with whoever hates you, because that’s what you people prop yourselves up to be…divisive targets. No, I’m here to honour one very specific person in particular. Milton Caniff.
The cartoonist? You shot my wife to honour a cartoonist?
He knew how to get commotion going. Everyone reads the papers for a good tragedy, people reads the funnies for the laughs. That’s where the comparisons come with you funny boy. Nobody reads into you for your campaigns. The whole time you’re on TV the folks are wondering how you don’t write for Carson, or Rivers. They’re laughing, they’re having a good time, and you go and top yourself every week with another anecdote, another punch line, and they don’t stick to one important subject.
So Milton, bless him, he’s got Steve Canyon, and he does something that gets people talking for weeks at a time. The same subject, a tale told for all time, in every language, and understood by all walks and cultures. Senseless loss of a loved one. He killed Steve’s girlfriend, and saddled him forever with the resiliency of continuing on with that hanging over his responsibilities. He and his readers learned from that trick that a life lived and loved is more worthy of discussion than any thoughtless action committed in the spark of the moment.
I’m not a veteran, I’ve only watched all this from afar, I can’t possibly understand
And maybe, just maybe, that’s your problem; I hope I’ve solved it for you. It’s nice that I won’t have to see you in the funny pages
The gunman kneels down, places the gun on the floor and puts both hands over the back of his head as security finally pours in to apprehend him. We leave Joseph Bills cradling his dying wife, her last precious seconds of life ticking away. We fade to black as her eyes close forever.