BLACK FRAME - TEXT APPEARS
“Violence alone does not render bloodsports interesting.
Lovers of cockfighting take no pleasure in seeing livestock
butchered in slaughterhouses.
Only violence in the context of fair combat affords genuine
displays of fortitude and honor.
The ability to accept violence yet place limits on it, to
order mayhem with rules and a spirit of gallantry is the true
measure of a civilization and surest bulwark of freedom”
-R. Payne Knight, Eulogy of Boxing and Cock Fighting - 1806
--TEXT fades out.
From the black we hear two heavy axes chop into thick wood.
EXT. NORTHEASTERN FOREST - EVENING
Four feet off the ground, two men stand on planks notched in
a twenty-foot-wide American Chestnut, chopping with vigor.
Both Irish. One cut from steel, KIERAN. The other big and
burly, GRADY, who begins to tire.
I’ll be glad to put these damn
behemoth chestnuts behind me.
You’re too good to be joining up
with the Chichesters. A bunch of
thievin’ cutthroats, they are.
I live in the slums of Manhattan,
same as you. How else do you ward
off all those bloody top hats?
Trouble’s easy enough to avoid if
you don’t go looking for it.
Grady stops chopping, breathing heavy. Kieran’s pace is
The states have been at war for
over a year now. The streets of New
York run lawless. Trouble finds ya
all on it’s own.
Keep that axe moving, Grady. My
girl’s got her first singing gig at
the Know Nothings tomorrow and I’m
not missing it on account of your
Know Nothings? The saloon for Irish
hating bowery boys?
Grady resumes, wincing with every swing.
Aye, but it’s good money. Destine
was handpicked by Bad Jack himself.
The bare knuckle champion? You’re
the one who needs a gang, lad.
She’ll only be singing for Jack, I
assure you of that.
Destine has a grand fireside voice,
but don’t ya think maybe he picked
her for those full bubbies and that
You mind your tongue in the matters
of my bride to be.
Bride? You sly little lobcock. When
did you propose?
I haven’t, but I aim to tomorrow,
if you got the bottom to finish
Grady smiles and heaves his axe into the massive trunk.
EXT. STREETS OF NEW YORK - DAY
Bloodied and maimed working-class laborers are scattered
about the streets. The sounds of livestock being slaughtered
in public markets and the rotten stench of open sewers fill
EAST BOWERY, NEW YORK CITY, 1862
Amongst the wretched street life is a cluster of innocent
children counting out loud, swinging a jump rope for DESTINE,
a beautiful French girl in a humble dress.
Destine freezes in awe of something and the rope hits her
feet. Kieran appears with his axe slung over his shoulder.
She runs into Kieran’s arms and they kiss as sweethearts. The
children giggle. Kieran grabs a little girl and playfully
swings her around as the other kids paw for his attention.
You all minding your manners around
Don’t you be lettin’ me hear
Alright children. Go play. I have
to talk to Kieran. Go on.
The children go back to jumping rope.
What is it?
Bad Jack wants me to attend his
Not a chance. It’s all crooks and
savages at those bouts.
Surely a strong handsome lumberman
such as yourself can keep me safe.
I got no desire in watching that
spectacle for rats.