A WHISKER PAST MIDNIGHT, Part One

A WHISKER PAST MIDNIGHT
by
Andrew Garrett

                                                        FADE IN:

               EXT. PORT TOWN IN POLAND, DOCKS -- MORNING

               It's snowing, but a grey light filters through the clouds.
               Huge tankers and cargo ships brush up near each other, their
               crews calling greetings and curses.  Most of them are slick
               furred otters, puffing frozen clouds as they haul lines and
               scurry about deck.  Cranes shift huge boxes onto and off the
               ships.  One box bears a stencil: "AMMUNITION!  DANGER!" in
               Polish.  The subtitle shows:  "POLAND, DECEMBER 1938."

               EXT. PORT TOWN IN POLAND--RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT

               A large car, burdened with luggage, stops in front of a
               townhouse and sags against the snow-crusted curb.  Other
               houses are slotted in close, like books on a shelf.  A jovial
               NEIGHBOR sticks his furry head out a high shuttered window
               (this is a mouse neighborhood).  He cups his paws and calls
               to the two figures who emerge from the car.

                                   NEIGHBOR
                         Hey, there, Stephan!  Watch they
                         don't steal your hubcaps!

               STEPHAN, a dark-furred mouse in a scarf and heavy overcoat,
               waves at the neighbor, who laughs and ducks back inside. 
               Stephan bends to whisper to LAURA, a mouse about seven years
               old.  Her nose is a dot of pink, her ears glowing through her
               white fur.  She moves naturally, but warily for her age.  She
               scrunches up her nose as her father whispers in her ear.

                                   STEPHAN
                         He means his own sons.  A pack of
                         rascals, and I'll bet he's got
                         fifty more by now.

               Laura giggles appreciatively, takes one graceful paw out of
               her paw-warmer, and grabs his much larger, tight-gloved one. 
               She pulls him toward the big house as he pretends to resist.

                                   LAURA
                         Come on, let's meet Auntie Lydia!

                                   STEPHAN
                         Don't you want your things, Laura?

                                   LAURA
                         Later.  I'm froze.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Oh, a little cold's good for the
                         bones.

               He gives in and lets her pull him along.  At the door, he
               lifts her off the steps with one arm and lets her push the
               doorbell.  At this, there's a rustle of someone flying down
               stairs inside the townhouse.  The door pops open as Stephan
               gently sets Laura down--it's short and portly Auntie LYDIA,
               in an apron.  With a yelp of delight she stoops (but not
               much) and scoops up Laura, pulling her through the door.

                                   LYDIA
                         Happy Hanukkah!  Ooh, Stef, you've
                         brought my little American niece.
                             (eyeing Stephan)
                         She's so thin!  She needs some
                         cooking from the home country.

               Stephan grips the door.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Enough of your cooking, sister, and
                         she'll be as big as the home
                         country...

                                   LAURA
                         Load me up, I'm starved.

               Lydia titters with delight, and has already got Laura in the
               kitchen.  Stephan shakes his head good-naturedly, steps
               inside, and shuts the door.

               INT. TOWNHOUSE--KITCHEN

               Laura is sitting on a three-legged stool, a cookie in both
               paws.  She balances a glass of milk on her knees, quite well.

                                   LAURA
                             (through her cookie)
                         I like Poland.

                                   LYDIA
                         Well said!
                             (serious)
                         Now, what's all this I hear about
                         these horrible jokes American
                         youngsters like to tell about us?

               Laura cocks her head to the side, but then nods knowingly.

                                   LAURA
                         Oh!  Mouseki jokes.

               Stephan crosses his arms and growls at her.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Laura, that won't be necessary--

                                   LYDIA
                         Oh, hush, Stef.  Just one--

               Stephan puts a paw to his brow and waves Laura on.  She
               gestures with her cookies like a baker doing sign language.

                                   LAURA
                         Okay.  Did you hear the one about
                         the--
                             (looks to Stephan)
                         --um, dumb mouse who went ice
                         fishing in summer?

               Lydia, not getting it, shakes her head.

                                   LYDIA
                         No.

                                   LAURA
                         Well, he didn't catch any ice.

               Stephan pretends to faint, and Lydia pops up to support him.

                                   STEPHAN
                         No, no, I'll be all right, it's
                         just Yankee humor turning my
                         stomach.

               Lydia's relieved.

                                   LYDIA
                         Not too turned to taste my cookies,
                         I hope?

               Stephan rallies and snags one as she holds it out.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Never.

                                   LYDIA
                         Oh, listen to me babble on.  You
                         got mail already!  Here, even!

               She sweeps a thick letter off a counter and blows flour away.

                                   LYDIA (CONT'D)
                         Must be important.  Looks like they
                         missed you in New York and sent it
                         on.  I think, look under this
                         stamp, it says to open it now.

               From outside the kitchen comes a loud, heavy knock.  All
               three mice turn to listen, and Lydia puts the letter back.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Oh, no, that can't be the investors
                         already!

               Laura jumps up and hangs on Stephan.

                                   LAURA
                         Your ship!  Your ship!  Please,
                         let's go see it!

               Stephan shakes his head and bends to tap Laura on the nose as
               she begins to pout a bit.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Later, my little mouse princess.

               He tickles her under her chin for a moment, and she
               brightens.

                                   STEPHAN (CONT'D)
                         Now, let's see who it is.

               INT./EXT. TOWNHOUSE

               The door opens to reveal three rats in long overcoats,
               identical hats, and heavy boots.  Two of them shift and
               shuffle, swinging their tails, but these OTHER RATS are
               overshadowed by a taller, more genial fellow named HERMANN
               RUST, his whiskers twisted into a handlebar mustache.  He
               carries a large folder stuffed with papers.  The three rats
               look silently in, and Stephan looks silently back.  He breaks
               the ice.

                                   STEPHAN
                         You are the investors?

                                   HERMANN
                         Of course.  Hermann Rust, at your
                         service. 

               Hermann thrusts the papers at one of his colleagues.  He
               extends one of his now-free paws to shake Stephan's.

                                   HERMANN (CONT'D)
                         Did you get my letter?

                                   STEPHAN
                         Ah, that was you?  I haven't opened
                         it.

               Hermann grits his teeth.  Stephan looks at him oddly, but
               Hermann puts the smile back on.

                                   HERMANN
                         A pity.  It could have saved us
                         some time.  These are my...
                         associates.

               Stephan's fur bristles, and he narrows his eyes.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Times like these, with the Germans
                         on our doorstep--you can't be too
                         careful.
                             (puts a paw out)
                         The papers, please.

               Hermann snaps his pawpads--the Other Rat nods and hands
               Stephan the folder.  He flips through it, relaxes and nods. 
               Laura steps up behind him, hugging his legs.

                                   LAURA
                         I want to go with you, papa!

                                   STEPHAN
                         Shush.
                             (to the rats)
                         We've just come into town.  Can we
                         at least unpack first?

                                   OTHER RAT 1
                         We're busy animals.

                                   OTHER RAT 2
                         She can come along if you like.
                         This shouldn't take too long.

               Hermann clears his throat, gives Stephan a brief but pleading
               look and mouths the word "no."  That settles it.  Once more,
               Stephan bends to talk to Laura.

                                   STEPHAN
                         My ship isn't finished, Laura. 
                         When the carpet is down and the
                         stained glass is up; when the
                         silver is polished and the flags
                         are flying, when my ship is alive,
                         little one, I'll take you sailing
                         from here to the stars.

               She grabs him tighter.

                                   LAURA
                         Promise?

                                   STEPHAN
                             (nods)
                         Promise.

                                   LAURA
                         Hurry back.

               Hermann winces and starts to say something, but bites his
               tongue.  Stephan snags his overcoat from the hall closet as
               Lydia holds Laura by the shoulders.

                                   STEPHAN
                         See you soon!

               He waves to them as he gets into the back of the long dark
               car Hermann and the Other Rats came in.  Hermann takes the
               wheel and they dart away through the snowy streets.

               INT. RATS' CAR

               Between the two Other Rats, Stephan looks a little small and
               crowded.  He shifts in his seat and watches the city streets
               through the window.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Say, this isn't the way to the
                         shipyards.

                                   OTHER RAT 2
                         Shut up.

               The Other Rats pull nightsticks from their overcoats and
               mercilessly pound Stephan.  At the wheel, Hermann curses, and
               whips the car into a deserted alley.

               INT./EXT. RATS' CAR

               Hermann flings open the driver's side door and looks around
               nervously as he jumps out--the beating continues in the back.

                                   HERMANN
                         Too soon, dammit!

               He rips open the right rear door and pulls one of the
               astonished Other Rats out.  He flings the Rat against the
               wall of the alley and he snaps like twigs.  Stephan slumps
               against the seat, bloody and dazed, as the remaining Other
               Rat recoils against the door, fumbling at the handle.

                                   OTHER RAT 1
                         What are you doing, Hermann!?

                                   HERMANN
                         I'm not sure, but it feels good.

               He starts to crawl into the car, but the Other Rat has the
               door open and has snagged Stephan.

                                   OTHER RAT 1
                         You've betrayed your Führer!  I'll
                         see you shot for this!

                                   HERMANN
                         Better move fast, then.

               Hermann rockets through the car.  The Other Rat just barely
               has time to drag Stephan out onto the street before Hermann
               bashes him across the snout with a powerful paw.

                                   HERMANN (CONT'D)
                         Down, scum!

               The Rat collapses against a collection of garbage cans, but
               his paws come up with a revolver.  Hermann freezes as the Rat
               zeroes in on him.

                                   OTHER RAT 1
                         If Hitler can't have your ship
                         builder, no one can.

               He swivels the gun around and sights in on Stephan, who is
               trying to crawl back into the front of the car.

                                   HERMANN
                         NO!!!!

               The Other Rat fires.  Stephan cries out and falls back onto
               the street.  Hermann leaps at the Other Rat, who manages to
               bring the gun around and fire. Hermann is hit in the
               shoulder, but lands a cracking left to the rat's jaw.  The
               rat slumps, breathes two frozen puffs into the chill air,
               then breathes no more.  Hermann falls to his knees, blood
               running through his paw as he clasps it to his shoulder.

               INT./EXT. RATS' CAR.

               Hermann stifles a groan as he hefts Stephan onto the seat,
               face-up.  A dark red stain creeps over the front of Stephan's
               overcoat.  He looks Hermann in the eyes.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Why... are you helping me?

               Hermann shakes a labored head.  Stephan coughs.

                                   HERMANN
                         I fight Nazis.  Sometimes I lose.

               Stephan nods, but twists in pain.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Am I dying?

               Hermann mulls it over but gives it to him straight.

                                   HERMANN
                         Yes, my friend.

               With strength born of terror, Stephan pulls Hermann close.

                                   STEPHAN
                         My daughter!  Please--

                                   HERMANN
                         --Laura will be safe.  They were
                         after you this time.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Will you--make sure?  Will you-
                         watch out for my--for Laura?

                                   HERMANN
                         I'll do all I can.  I promise.

               Stephan smiles at this.

                                   STEPHAN
                         Wish--I'd known you better--

               He chokes and trembles, gripping Hermann's arm and squeezing
               his eyes tight.  He gasps, lets go, and is still.  Hermann
               holds Stephan's paw tight with both of his own.

                                   HERMANN
                         That was the idea.

                                                       CUT TO:

               EXT. PORT TOWN IN POLAND, DOCKS
               MONTAGE:
               A huge ship is readied.  Welders rivet away, carpenters work
               on the super-structure, cranes swing and hawsers lift.  Huge
               timbers crash into place, and shipyard workers rub them down
               with buckets of oil and soap.  The bulk of the ship creaks
               down toward the water on these huge slabs of wood, dragging
               massive chains.  It hits the water, and steam rises around
               its hull as it settles in.

               There should be a cheering crowd, but there isn't.  There's
               only a large contingent of Nazi rats in their black and
               silver dress uniforms, flanked by ceremonial drums. 
               They give the ship a "Sieg Heil!" and again "Seig Heil!" as
               poor and cheerless substitute for a christening.

                                                       CUT TO:

               EXT. PASSENGER SHIP TERMINAL

               SUBTITLE:  SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND -- TEN YEARS LATER

               A pink nose sticks out from underneath a floppy, wide-brimmed
               hat.  Wind makes the hat flap mercilessly about its wearer's
               eyes.  She sets down her large, battered brown suitcase, and
               rips off the hat.  She shakes her head to free up her hair. 
               It's Laura, around eighteen now.  Ten years have refined her
               surety and grace.  A passing WOLF in a pinstripe suit
               whistles--Laura turns to look, but he spins and fades into
               the crowd, paws jammed into pockets.

                                   LAURA
                         Oh, pick on your own species.

               She retrieves a roll of ship's blueprints jutting from one of
               her bags, unrolls it, and holds it up against the profile of
               the ship ahead. It's a perfect match.

                                   LAURA
                         Gotcha this time, you thieving...

               She smirks, sets the hat back on tight, and stalks toward her
               prize, rolling her blueprints.

                                   LAURA (CONT'D)
                         Gonna make 'em pay, daddy.

               EXT. PASSENGER SHIP TERMINAL -- STAIRWAY ENTRANCE

               Laura starts toward a staircase leading into a long building
               beside the ship--a sign by it reads "2A".  It's roped off,
               and littered with newspapers--one has a huge NEW YEAR'S EVE
               headline.  Laura frowns and checks her ticket. 

                                   LAURA
                         That can't be right...

               She sighs, stuffs the ticket into her pocket, and heads
               closer to the water, where a few crew-members are trying to
               get a large car across a gangway and into a hatch in the side
               of the ship.  

               EXT. PASSENGER SHIP TERMINAL -- AUTOMOBILE ENTRY

               A big car's engine purrs as the driver--a low-ranking CREW
               RAT in duty clothes--inches it along the gangway and closer
               to the ship. 
               There's a long drop below to the docks, and the Crew-Rat
               gulps nervously.  From below, an OFFICER RAT puffs menacingly
               away at a cigarette.  He snarls orders up at the driver and
               the SECOND CREW-RAT, who stands in front of the car and
               fearfully motions the driver forward.

                                   OFFICER RAT
                         HOLD THAT CAR!

               Both Crew-Rats jump nearly out of their skins.  The driver
               stomps on the brakes, making them squeal.

                                   OFFICER RAT
                         What are you doing, you idiots? 
                         You'll drop it off the side!

               EXT. PASSENGER SHIP TERMINAL -- BELOW AUTO ENTRY

               Laura watches the Officer Rat pace, fret, and groan at every
               move his underlings make above.

                                   OFFICER RAT
                         You'll peel potatoes tonight, I
                         swear!

                                   LAURA
                         Excuse me, sir, but--

               The Officer Rat flicks a glance in her direction and ashes at
               her shoes.  She takes a step back to avoid both.

                                   OFFICER RAT
                         Go to Information, back that way.

               He waves her off and looks skyward, shaking his head at the
               demands of this unfair world.  Laura retrieves her ticket.

                                   LAURA
                         I know where my cabin is, it's just
                         the stairs--

                                   OFFICER RAT
                         Quit babbling and show me your
                         ticket.

               He grabs it, still not looking at her.  His eyes drop to the
               ticket--he does a double-take, flipping the cigarette away. 
               He makes a great show of tugging his uniform into shape.

                                   OFFICER RAT (CONT'D)
                         Well!  First Class, Miss Weiss! 
                         How'd you get down here?

                                   LAURA
                         Two tired paws and a late train--

                                   OFFICER RAT
                         --whatever.  Come on, I'll see you
                         there myself.

               He picks up Laura's suitcase and takes a few swift steps
               toward a stairway.  Laura scratches her head but starts off
               after him.  He pauses and looks up at his unfortunate
               subordinates.

                                   OFFICER RAT (CONT'D)
                         Scratch that car and you can spend
                         New Year's in the brig!

               EXT. FIRST CLASS EMBARKATION AREA

               FRANKIE, a mouse about Laura's age, but of stockier build,
               ears a little big for his head, and with fur of a darker hue,
               emerges with his GRANDFATHER from a staircase.  Grandfather
               is spry and wiry, though he leans a little on his round
               knobbed walking cane.  As Frankie hefts his drawstring
               rucksack and starts up the last, steeper stair, Grandfather
               pulls him up, almost without effort.

                                   FRANKIE
                         I'm glad you know your way around. 
                         This place is nuts.

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         Well, you know how I navigate.  I
                         just shut my eyes and point. That's
                         how I ended up with your grand
                         mother, now that I think about it.

               Grandfather spots Laura, escorted by the Officer Rat up
               ahead.  He taps Frankie with his cane and points her out. 
               Frankie does a classic double-take, and his jaw drops.

                                   GRANDFATHER (CONT'D)
                         You ought to introduce yourself. 
                         I'd bet my whiskers she's Jewish,
                         and she looks lonely.

               Laura glances in his direction and smiles faintly, then looks
               away as the Officer Rat guides her to the correct line.

                                   FRANKIE
                         If she's lonely, it's a crime.

               The Officer Rat tips his hat to Laura, sets her suitcase
               down, and whirls around, headed for the exit staircase. 
               His fake smile falls as he turns his back to Laura, and as he
               passes Frankie and Grandfather, he snarls under his breath.

                                   OFFICER RAT
                         Jewish scum...

               Frankie grabs him by a sleeve, stopping him.  Grandfather
               slaps the knob of his cane menacingly against one palm.

                                   FRANKIE
                         What did you just call her?

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         I should whack you a good one!

               The Officer Rat stammers and stutters, obviously caught.

                                   OFFICER RAT
                         I--I didn't mean--

                                   FRANKIE
                         --she's a beautiful young mouse,
                         and you're so far out of line they
                         ought to bust you down to a pot
                         scrubber!

               Grandfather shoulders Frankie aside, getting a better grip on
               his cane.

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         Manners be damned, I'm going to
                         knock his head clear off.

               Frankie lets go, to hold Grandfather back.  The Officer Rat
               ducks Grandfather's swipe, and hightails it toward the exit. 
               Grandfather glowers at Frankie.

                                   GRANDFATHER (CONT'D)
                         I could have taken him, you know. 
                         We have to stand up for our own.

               Frankie matches his glare.

                                   FRANKIE
                         The war's over.  Haven't you done
                         enough hard time already?

               Grandfather sighs and nods, disappointed.

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         He'll get his, sooner or later. 
                         Sooner, I hope.

               The Officer Rat slinks down the exit stairway, fur on end and
               running scared.  Frankie moves on toward the gangway, looking
               back instead of watching where he's going.

                                   FRANKIE
                         I just hope the rest of the crew
                         isn't like--

               He bumps right into Laura, who gasps and whirls around,
               dropping her suitcase squarely on Frankie's footpaw.  He
               yelps in pain and sits down hard as the latch springs open-
               clothes, books, and sundry items spill all over.  Laura falls
               to her knees, putting her paws over Frankie's as they both
               massage his bruised appendage.

                                   LAURA
                         I'm so sorry!  Are you all right?

                                   FRANKIE
                             (playing down the pain)
                         Yeah, yeah.  Let me help you pack
                         this stuff up--

               Grandfather bends to help.  Laura quickly folds clothes and
               arranges them in the suitcase with almost military
               efficiency.  Frankie hands books and clothes to Laura. He
               comes up with something very small and lacy--Laura blushes
               and snatches it away.  Frankie gulps discreetly.  Grandfather
               picks up a small brown book with a sound of delight.  He
               leafs through it, mouthing words.

                                   LAURA
                         Please give me that, it's my--

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         --prayer book.  Handy thing to have
                         on an ocean voyage.

               He graciously hands it back to her.  He mouths "told you so"
               to Frankie, who waves him off.  Laura puts the book gently on
               top of the pile of clothes in the suitcase.  She puts the top
               down and sits on the whole affair.  Frankie leans heavily on
               it and they fumble the latches closed. They wipe their brows.

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         Well, looks like everything's ship
                         shape here.

               Frankie grins at Laura.

                                   FRANKIE
                         My foot's gonna be ship-sized in a
                         second, if that counts.

               Laura groans.

                                   LAURA
                         Again with the foot.  What can I do
                         to make it up to you?

               Frankie begins to speak--but thinks it over.  His eyes and
               Laura's lock--they both know that this is an intimate moment.

                                   FRANKIE
                         Have dinner with me, and don't
                         bring the luggage.

               Laura laughs as she and Grandfather help lift Frankie up.

                                   LAURA
                         I'd love to.

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         Well, let's see you off before
                         something less fortunate happens to
                         you.  Come on, Hopalong.

               Frankie scratches his head.

                                   FRANKIE
                         See me off?  But--

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         I never said I was going with you.
                             (to Laura)
                         I'll take that as far as I can,
                         Miss...?

               Frankie shakes his head in disbelief. Grandfather easily
               hefts the foot-crushing suitcase.  Laura raises her eyebrows.

                                   LAURA
                         Thanks, both of you.
                             (to Frankie)
                         Oh--I'm Laura.

                                   FRANKIE
                         I'm Frankie.  American, are you?

               She nods.

                                   FRANKIE (CONT'D)
                         I knew there was some reason I was
                         going back.

               She's touched, but sizes him up.

                                   LAURA
                         Hmm.  Fairly witty, sort of cute. 
                         You know, if you were Jewish,
                         that'd be three for three.

                                   FRANKIE
                         One-quarter Jewish. That count?

                                   LAURA
                         What the heck, I'm feeling
                         generous.

               She playfully flicks his ear with a paw.  She and Grandfather
               head up toward the gangway as Frankie hobbles a few steps
               behind, whiskers twitching happily.

               EXT. GANGWAY ENTRANCE

               The three mice approach the gangway.  Hermann--who tried to
               save her father all those years ago--is checking tickets and
               luggage, waving passengers on with a friendly air.   He
               catches sight of Laura for a second and shakes his head.

                                   HERMANN
                         Seeing things, Hermann. Couldn't be
                         her.  Stuck in London for a week.

               The nearby bellhops squint and scowl--Hermann puts the smile
               back on.  A little way back in the line, Grandfather sets
               down Laura's suitcase.

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         My, that's some suitcase.  I need a
                         little fresh air.

               He steps up to the railing--closer to Hermann, too--and
               sneakily pulls a ticket out of his pocket.  It reads
               "Northern Superior Lines".  He rips it quickly into confetti
               and tosses it over the side.  Hermann notices, but
               Grandfather puts a pawpad to his lips.  Hermann just shrugs.

                                   HERMANN
                         It's your money.

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         Pocket change, I assure you. 
                         Speaking of--

               Grandfather pulls out a small wad of cash and stuffs it into
               Hermann's pocket.  He nods over his shoulder at Frankie and
               Laura, who are chatting happily away.

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         Make sure those two bump into each
                         other as often as possible.

                                   HERMANN
                         You'd have to pry them apart with a
                         crowbar, I think.

                                   GRANDFATHER
                         All the same, help them along.
                             (turns and calls)
                         This is where I get off, Frankie.

               Frankie and Laura step up near Hermann.  Grandfather shakes
               Frankie's paw, tips his hat to Laura, then turns away.  He
               heads for the exit stairway, thumping along with his cane.

                                   FRANKIE
                         Thanks, Granddad! I'll call you!

               Grandfather raises his cane in reply, then disappears down
               the stairs.  It's his way.  

               Hermann watches all of this with amusement, as Frankie and
               Laura reach him.  Frankie has the suitcase in tow--he sets it
               down gently, as if it might bite.

                                   HERMANN
                         So, are you... together?

               Laura cuts a mischievous glance at Frankie.

                                   LAURA
                         Not officially.

                                   FRANKIE
                         I'm working on it.

               Hermann turns to Laura, concerned, as he takes her ticket and
               looks it over.

                                   RUST
                         No family with you either, miss? 
                         Parents?

               Laura's smile falls and her whiskers droop.

                                   LAURA
                         They're dead.  Excuse me.

               Hermann winces.  Ears folded back and eyes downcast, Laura
               snatches the ticket out of Hermann's paw and snags the
               suitcase.  She heads up the gangway--

                                   HERMANN
                             (breathlessly)
                         Mein Gott--it is Laura--

               Frankie doesn't hear, and takes a step after her.

                                   FRANKIE
                         I--I'm sorry--

               She turns, tears beginning to streak her fur, torn between
               being fair to Frankie and getting the hell out of there.

                                   LAURA
                         Later.  Please, later.

               Frankie nods.  She flees into the ship.  Hermann comes up
               behind Frankie and puts a paw on his shoulder.

                                   HERMANN
                         For her, I think, the war isn't
                         over. I hope you can bring her some
                         happiness, my young friend.

               Frankie scratches his chin.

                                   FRANKIE
                         Say a guy wanted to send something
                         to a girl--

               Hermann smiles widely and thumps Frankie on the back.

                                   HERMANN
                         That's the spirit.  Service on this
                         ship is very quick--if you know
                         which tail to yank.

                                   FRANKIE
                             (narrows his eyes)
                         How quick?