A CIRCUS FLIER:
Floating in the night air like a falling Autumn leaf.
“Shiv” is the name of the KNIFE THROWER, written in sharp,
gleaming font. A stylish illustration depicts a hooded man
hurling knives at us, blades reflecting a cheering crowd.
A sharp WHISTLE - the poster TEARS as:
A REAL KNIFE:
Cuts right THROUGH it...
Time slowing down as we follow it FLY...
WHOOSH! WHOOSH! - twisting and turning...
WHOOSH! WHOOSH! - the blade reflecting fleeting GLIMPSES of
Circus tents BURNING in the night...
I hear them talk. They all talk so
much. About the war.
Shadows outlined against crackling flames... GANGBANGERS
I hear them say it was about
Carnival PERFORMERS defending their territory... a LION TAMER
cracks her WHIP at a chain-wielding THUG arching in pain...
That it was about betrayal.
A FIRE BREATHER blows a plume of FIRE... torching two THUGS
The KNIFE keeps flying... STABS into a THUG’s neck...
But that’s just part of it.
Blood SPURTS against the side of a trailer, and the CIRCUS
FLIER glued to it: “Zodiac” is the name of the FORTUNE
TELLER, written in sensual red font.
It was also about fate...
The poster depicts a gypsy beauty holding a fan of tarot
cards. Wild eyes reflect flickering flames. A jewel-encrusted
circlet adorns her head.
And about love.
EXT. THE CARNIVAL - NIGHT
CIRCUS TENTS clustered together like a mountain range,
surrounded by trailers and rides. An oasis of color nested in
a high DESERT AREA.
Bright. Loud. Sword swallowers and beds of nails. Music and
laughter. Rigged game stands with stuffed animal prizes.
Carnies conning money out of townies.
A knife THRUSTS between two fingers spread on a table. We’re
INT. BACKSTAGE TENT - NIGHT
A hooded man sits in darkness playing five-finger fillet.
CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! - he stabs back and forth - faster and
faster while muttering something to himself.
It’s the knife thrower from the flier. SHIV (20). One of the
carnival’s star performers. We will never see him smile.
The knife CHANGES hands - now he stabs with his left - his
blade a BLUR of speed as he effortlessly repeats tongue
I thought a thought. But the
thought I thought wasn't the
thought I thought I thought. If the
thought I thought I thought had
been the thought I thought -
-- then I wouldn't have thought so
AYLEEN (22), his ever-cheerful sister and assistant, walks in
and places her hand by his -
The knife now flies over TEN FINGERS as:
We’re up, bro. Crowd is huge. Crowd
is hungry. How about we give them
something special tonight?
We do that every night.
Not talking about your knives. I’m
She pushes the corners of his mouth up with her fingers,
forcing a smile.
There we go.
But the smile doesn’t last long.
She pulls his hood back.
And stop hiding that pretty face of
INT. BIG TOP - PERFORMANCE RING - LATER
A spotlight slices the darkened ring with white light. It
follows Ayleen as she enters alone, speaking through a
CHEERS from the public, an eclectic mix of scum:
Gangsta types too young to afford the gold they wear. Chronic
drunks holding hipflasks. Rich assholes with silicone trophy
wives seated on their laps.
Ayleen’s mood suddenly darkens as...