The Number 23 (2007) Script

WALTER: A week ago, the only thing I thought was out of the ordinary...

...was that it was my birthday.

[SIGHS]

[MEOWING]

[BARKING]

Sorry.

I'm just bored.

Oh.

Come on.

WOMAN [OVER RADlO]: Unit 5, come in.

Unit 5, come in.

Do you read me, Unit 5?

WALTER: Of course, things didn't really start here.

[DEAN MARTIN'S "BLUE CHRlSTMAS" PLAYlNG ON STEREO]

How do l look?

ROBlN: The truth? -l look like a rock star, don't I?

ROBlN: You look great. -Hey, what's going on with you?

-What? -Why you acting weird?

-What do you mean? -You got drugs on you? Smoking cigarettes?

-Just holding them for a friend? Ha-ha. -Have a good time. Have a good time.

Aggie, are you okay?

[AGATHA LAUGHS]

Sexy.

-Do you hate me? -As much now as the day l met you.

-You know, l might be contagious. -l could be immune.

AGATHA: What about the party?

-Like they're gonna miss me. -What about the cake?

I'd like two words on my tombstone:

"What if?"

What if l had said, "Screw the cake"?

Single tonight, Walter?

Not actually, no. Ah, hey....

SYBlL: Oh, come on. Why don't you wag your tail at me...

-...in the bitches' room? WALTER: Whoa. Sybil.

What if l had been a bit more--

I wouldn't wag my tail in the bathroom with you if you were the last bitch on Earth.

[PEOPLE MURMURING]

--tactful?

SYBlL [OVER RADlO]: Sparrow, I repeat...

...we have an unidentified scavenger sighting.

It's one minute to 5, Sybil.

Oh. Then we're agreed, you're still on duty.

[SPEAKING IN CHlNESE]

Mm-hm. Yeah. Sure.

Sounds delicious. Can l get it to go?

Right. Okay, okay.

[GROWLlNG]

[WALTER CHUCKLES]

Come to Papa.

Maybe you'd like to hear a story.

[DOG BARKS]

Hmm? Yeah.

Once upon a time there was a dog...

...who lived a life of terror, feared no one.

But although his teeth were sharp and his belly full...

...his heart was empty.

He decided to go on a journey to a land far, far away...

...where he came upon a wooden shack one day...

...with a thin old man inside.

And he invited him in.

The dog was overjoyed.

And that night, warm smoke billowed from the chimney above.

But, oh, what odd-smelling smoke this was.

You see, the land was China.

And in China...

...they eat dog.

[DOG BARKlNG]

Ah, ah. Ooh.

Let me see who your irresponsible owner is.

[WALTER GRUNTlNG]

Damn it.

Didn't like my story, huh?

That's all right. I can take criticism.


I don't believe this shit.

All right, buddy, pick a spot.

Now where'd you go?

[DOG BARKlNG lN DlSTANCE]


WALTER: Destiny.

Maybe that's too big a word for it.

If I'd been nicer to Sybil, she never would have sent me after that dog.

I wouldn't have been late to meet Agatha, and none of this would have happened.

But l was late.

And that's all it took.

Ahh.

Take a look at that. Yeah, try not to throw up.

Oh, God.

"Nasty evil dog." That's what "Ned" stands for.

If l ever see him again, he's gonna be Ned with two D's. "Nasty evil dead dog."

-All right, now take a deep breath. -Dead Ned. That's what he's gonna be.

-And remember, it's your birthday, okay? -Yeah, I've been thinking about that.

Why is it we go and see your friends on my birthday?

Um....

Probably because you don't have any.

Oh.

Makes sense.

So l'm older, l'm disfigured, and l'm spending an evening in hell.

No.

I suppose I'm buying that for you too.

Actually, I've had a good long time to flip through it. Why don't you give it a try?

Have some writer fill my head with nonsense? I'll wait for the movie.

You don't know what you're missing.

And yet, life goes on.

[WALTER READS COVER]

Hmm.

"A heart-wrenching odyssey into paranoia.

One of the most horrifying metamorphoses ever told.

Beware the dog next door."

Get out of here. Are you kidding me?

I'm buying this for you, okay?

-Would you get the cake? -Yeah.

February 3rd, that makes me Aquarius. Experts say friends are vitally important.

AGATHA: Hi. -Hello.

WALTER: Hi. -Hey.

AGATHA: Hello. WALTER: Hey.

I'm sorry we're late.

-Nothing a kiss won't cure. -Oh.

I am living proof of the fallacy of astrology.

-Hi. -How's your arm, birthday boy?

WOMAN: Good to see you again.

-You okay? -Waiting for it to fall off.

Good thing it didn't bite you somewhere else.

WOMAN: Five seconds. AGATHA: Fourth word.

WOMAN: Five seconds. AGATHA: Birds, butterflies.

MAN 1 : Flies, bees-- MAN 2: Flies. Flies.

Lord of the Flies.

[ALL CHEERING]

WOMAN: Okay, you're next. ISAAC: Thank you.

"All the characters in this book are fictitious...

...and anyone finding a resemblance to actual persons, living or dead...

...should proceed no further."

WALTER: Now it's time for birthday sex.

I need a lot of birthday sex.

-You know what? -What?

Let's sit out here for a while.

-Oh, honey. -Come on, it'll be romantic.

-Yeah, but it's also cold. -Here, take my coat.

Your jacket, take it. l'll call you.

Mom, Dad. l thought l heard voices.

You know, if someone was in bed asleep the way they were supposed to be...

-...they wouldn't hear any voices. -ln bed? Okay.

AGATHA: You're supposed to be in bed.

ROBlN: Oh, Dad. Dad, l forgot to give you this.

-Here. -Oh, cool.

-Yeah, I wrapped it myself. -Yeah.

I accept bribes any time of the day or night.

-Back door? -She went down the alley.

Wow, that's cool.

Robin, she's a nice girl.

Make sure she stays that way.

-All right. Good night, Dad. -Night.

-Happy birthday. -Thanks.

"Chapter 1 . You can call me Fingerling.

It's not my real name. lt came from a book I read as a child:

Fingerling at the Zoo.

Paper flap long gone...

...it had a green hardback cover and mottled texture.

It was possibly my very first book.

Funny, l can't recall what it was about.

The only thing l remember is the name. Fingerling.

I wished it was mine...

...and now it is."

This is your first bite?

First animal one, yes.

My wife, she has these gnawing urges in her sleep and....

Tell me about this canine. Ned. What would you do if you came across him again?

If l was in my truck, I'd accelerate until I heard a thud.

I'm sorry, I'm just-- I'm joking. I just-- This is just silly.

Mr. Sparrow, animal control regulations state...

...that any officer suffering at the hands of an animal...

...must undergo psychological counseling within seven days...

...to evaluate their state of mind.

I gave him my arm on a platter.

Can't blame a creature of lower intelligence for that.

I made a mistake, okay? Write that down. I made a mistake.

It's my fault, like when I told my wife...

...she could choose the color for the living-room walls, you know?

Not that women are of lower intelligence, just....

Have a good day, Mr. Sparrow.

No, I'm so-- No. Agatha's the most intelligent person l know.

What she sees in me, l'm not sure.

Look, l love my job, and I'm good at it.

-Ned got away. -Well, yeah, but--

Don't worry. Apart from a flawed sense of humor...

...l'm giving you a clean bill of health. You're not a danger to anyone.

That's why you can go, and have the whole day off.

Really?

I'll take it.

-Mr. Sparrow. -Yeah?

What color did your wife choose for the walls?

Red, blood red.

"Chapter 2.

Imagine me, if you must, as someone you once knew.

Someone perhaps you liked.

Or better yet... As a kid, l was top of my class.

Not because I liked studying, but because l realized...

...that an education was my best shot at getting out.

See, the stork dropped me in a small dust bowl of a town.

There wasn't anything wrong with it.

As far as boring towns go, I'm sure it ranked above average. l had friends...

...but I always felt alone.

No one ever left...

...but I wasn't gonna die here.

As much as I loved him, I didn't wanna be anything like my dad.

He seemed so distant and sad.

Numbers were his life. He was an accountant.

And l guess he expected me to take over the business he had built...

...but I had other plans.

My mom was tickled pink on my 8th birthday...

...when l announced I wanted to be a detective.

Can't say the same for my father.

It really put the kibosh on his master plan...

...and it fueled his hatred for the Widow Dobkins.

She lived next door.

It sounds odd, but her dog, Alfie, is the reason l became a detective.

The grass is always greener on the other side.

At least, according to Alfie.

That's why he was always in our yard, and it was my job to catch him.

But l never crossed the fence into the Widow Dobkins' yard.

That was my father's rule.

On my 8th birthday, I broke the rule.

Now, I must admit that my loneliness...

...and obsession with detective stories had fueled fantasies.

So I'm not sure of all the details, except one.

The Widow Dobkins was dead.

It was a whole hour before the doctor arrived...

...and in that uncertain hour my 8-year-old mind raced.

I decided that the Widow Dobkins was killed by a man with a deranged mind.

A mind such as our town had never seen before.

No one would be safe from him, not even his loved ones.

Especially his loved ones.

Of course, the doctor later concluded it was suicide, but I never believed it.

By then, my mind had been opened to a whole new existence.

From this, a detective was born.

Detective Fingerling."

Hey, there you are. What are you doing?

-l'll clean this up later. -Filling your head with nonsense, are you?

-Did you read this? -Most of it. lt's very creative.

This Fingerling guy....

-Yeah, it's a cool name. -Yeah, what did you make of him?

AGATHA: l loved him at the-- Well, at the beginning l did.

WALTER: What do you mean "at the beginning"?

-Well, he-- How far have you gotten? -Oh, two chapters.

Oh. Honey, will you move this ladder for me, just right over here?

You know, hon, this Fingerling guy reminds me of my life. It's so weird.

Like, it's like my childhood, my memories, you know?

Honey, will you hand me that blue paint?

-Here. -Fingerling's nothing like you.

Oh, yeah? Look at that. Fingerling at the Zoo.

My mother read it to me when l was a kid.

-l'm sure a lot of people read that as a kid. -Did you?

-No. -Ha!

But you know what? Every time l read a book, it's like...

...the author stole a part of me that I thought only l knew.

Someday I'm gonna write a book and l'll do it to somebody else.

I don't know, hon. It's just really kind of strange.

AGATHA: You know what? There's a lot of neighborhoods with houses just like yours...

-...with streets just like yours. WALTER: Yeah? With dogs next door?

Oh, your neighbor had a dog. Well, that's shocking.

It wasn't called Alfie. It was called Chief.

"Mis-Chief" my father called it. He used to escape all the time.

-That's why l became an ACO. -Fingerling's a detective.

I used to collect detective magazines.

And the widow next door, Mrs. Dobkins...

...well, that's like my mom.

She died on my 8th birthday.

Look, l got frigging goose bumps.

Honey, keep reading, okay?

Soon you will discover that Fingerling is nothing like you.

Somebody wrote a book about Dad?

-No. WALTER: Yes.

Yes.

AGATHA: How was school? ROBlN: Horrible.

Am l in it?

I mean, if the book's about Dad, I should have a starring role or something.

Yes, you should, and yet you don't. Now, what do you think that means?

Hmm. Jeez. Who's that?

WALTER: Fabrizia.

ROBlN: Fabrizia? WALTER: Uh-huh.

[SIRENS WAlLlNG IN DlSTANCE]


[FLASHBULB POPPlNG]


[THUNDER CRASHlNG]

[THUNDER RUMBLlNG]


"Chapter 5. l meet the Suicide Blonde."

[LOCK CLICKS]


I got a tip from your neighborhood watch.

I know what you're up to.

This befriend-me crap, it won't work.

Come any closer and I'll do it.

Well, l hope you don't. It's my birthday today.

If you end up hanging yourself, it'll be the worst one ever.

You're pathetic.

I'm serious. l'll do it.

Hanging, it's a painful thing.

Most people get the noose wrong...

...end up walking around with a permanent necklace.

Agonizing reminder of how fucking pitiful they are.

Come on, let's talk.

If you're still bummed, I'll put one right between your eyes.

I'm a good shot.

Is it really your birthday?

"The Suicide Blonde tells me she was a good person once, but now...."

I'm a bad person.

I don't wanna make you bad.

You don't have that power.

Go see my ex-boyfriend. He'll show you.

"l should have gotten out of there right at that moment.

But then she said it."

It's this number! This fucking number! Twenty-three.

It rules my world.

It's my father's fault. He said he had found a way to beat the number...

...that he'd beaten it, that I was safe.

He said, "Daddy loves you.

And he's gonna do something to guarantee that you don't inherit the curse."

[GUNSHOT]

He was wrong.

His guarantee wasn't worth the blood it was written in.

I guess Daddy didn't love me enough.

It's everywhere. Dates, times...

...license-plate numbers, pages of books, even elevator floor lights.

Soon I found it was in my name. It was in the words I spoke.

Nothing, nothing is safe.

Pink is my favorite color. Do you know what pink is?

Red 27, white 65. Sixty-five plus 27: 92. "Pink" has four letters, 92 divided by four:

Twenty-fucking-three.

"l'll be honest, I didn't get it.

I asked her the only question I could muster."

Any more coffee?

"lt was important to keep her talking, so l tell her a story. l had this uncle, his name was Charlie.

And one day, he read in his stars...

...that he was gonna fall in love with a woman in red."

So he went out looking all day long and he found one.

-Six months later, they were married. -You're lying.

Two years later, the woman in red divorces my uncle...

...takes him for everything he's got.

He's out there right now...

...at this very moment...

...still looking for the woman in red.

Figures he just got the wrong one.

And this is supposed to make me feel better how?

You look smarter than my Uncle Charlie.

"She has a face meant to smile.

And as I exit the building, I figure it's another job well done.


The next day l traced the ex-boyfriend Suicide Blonde mentioned.

Burning coffee grounds is an old trick cops use...

...to take away the smell of death at a crime scene.

But somebody had used all the coffee.

When l tell Fabrizia about the Suicide Blonde...

...she begs me to take her to the apartment.

Her reaction is pure Fabrizia.

Death and sex.

What a turn-on.

As the pages fell from the walls...

...the scope of the Suicide Blonde's obsession became clear.

She had reduced everything to 23."

SUlCIDE BLONDE: It's everywhere. Dates, times...

...license-plate numbers, pages of books, even elevator floor lights.

Soon l found it was in my name. It was in the words l spoke.

It was in my name. It was in my name.

It was in the words l spoke.

WALTER: "When l found out what her name was, that added up too.

Maybe it was just a coincidence.

I mean, a name is just a name. And a number is just a number. lsn't it?"

It's self-printed, self-published...

...and it's by an author I've never heard of.

[KEYBOARD CLACKlNG]

Looks like old Topsy here hasn't written anything before or after since.

AGATHA: Walter, what are you doing? -Check this out.

"Walter Sparrow" doesn't work, but if l use my middle name...

-Walter. -...51 1 97.

-lsn't that amazing? AGATHA: What?

It's all 23. My birthday: 2-3...

...driver's license, social-security number, everything.

I was born at 1 1 :12 p.m. Eleven plus 12.

It's like it's imitating my life.

-You can't be serious. -The author knows so much about me.

-lt's as if he chose me. -ls this what you've been doing all day?

-Have you finished the book? -Not yet.

You've concerned yourself with minutiae and drawn wild conclusions from them.

What about the fact Fingerling becomes a killer?

-A killer? -And just how many people have you killed?

Wait, who gets killed?

Ask Mr. Fingerling.

I'm sorry, honey.

WALTER: Why this color?

Why did you choose this color?

I don't know, you tell me.

Red Number 5. R-E-D is 27, plus five is 32 which is...?

-You're reaching now. -Sure, there are differences.

Fingerling's a detective, I'm a dog catcher.

He met Fabrizia when he was 32, whereas l met you when I was....

-Twenty-three. -And the day we met was?

-September 14th. -Nine-14.

-Fourteen plus nine is...? -Twenty-three.

We married October 1 3th, 1 0-1 3: 23.

Suicide Blonde said it ruled her world. She killed because of it.

She handed it on to Fingerling on his 32nd birthday. Twenty-three reversed.

Fingerling called it fate. Do you know what "fate" is?

Thirty-two. l rest my case, Your Honor.

Honey, l think you're taking this too seriously.

Wait, wait, wait. We live at 1 814.

I mean, 1 8 is one plus eight, which equals nine.

And nine plus 14 is also 23.

Fourteen is one plus four which equals five, and five plus 1 8 is 23 too.

Oh my God.

All right, Robin, please don't start this nonsense.

This is not nonsense. I mean, five plus 1 8 is 23.

Well, if the book were 27 or 1 50, you could do the same thing.

Eighteen plus 14 is 32.

Twenty-three reversed.

Spooky, huh?

"Chapter 7.

The Suicide Blonde had given Fabrizia a taste for new thrills.

I played along, but all l could think about was the number."

Thanks.

"l didn't tell her that the clock behind the desk read 9:1 4."

[FABRlZIA GASPS]

Just rip it open. Just rip it off.

[FABRlZIA MOANlNG]

Pretend you have a knife. Pretend you have a knife.

Come on.

I know you're gonna hurt me.

You shut up, bitch...

...or you die.

"Of course, I would never really hurt Fabrizia.

I loved her.

And l thought she loved me."

FABRlZlA: Oh, yeah.


"But l started having terrible nightmares."


WALTER [WHlSPERlNG]: Eight, nine, 1 0, 1 1 , 1 2, 1 3....

What are you doing?

[IN NORMAL VOICE] Reading.

You're insane.


AGATHA: Isaac.

ISAAC: Simply put, it's a box that collects orgone energy.

[ISAAC CHUCKLES]

We'll talk about Wilhelm Reich next week. Thank you for coming.

Well, it sounds like a fascinating read.

Of course, there exist far too few books...

...where the main character plays a saxophone.

-l wasn't aware you also played. -l don't.

That's just it, it doesn't all match. It's the number. l'm seeing it everywhere.

Well, conspiracy buffs would say, "Of course.

After all, the world spins on an axis of 23 degrees."

When you tell them it's actually 23.5, they say, "Five is simply two plus three."

Twenty-three is very good at this particular game.

-Game? -Yeah, paranoia.

There's a fair bit of literature on the 23 enigma.

There is?

There are 23 axioms to Euclid's geometry.

The human body consists of 46 chromosomes.

Twenty-three from each parent.

Blood takes 23 seconds to circulate.

The Mayans believed the end of the world would occur December 1 2th, 2012.

Twenty plus 12 is?

Twenty-three reversed.

Or 20 plus one plus two.

So what is this? What is 23?

Is it...

...God?

Two divided by three: 0.666. 666, the number of the devil.

There are only 22 chapters in the Book of Revelations.

We all know how that ends.

So is 23 a blessing or a curse?

What's true is there's a group of people that take delight...

...in perpetuating the number's infamy.

Lucky seven, unlucky 1 3, A ballplayer's lucky shoes.

People only pray because they believe that God will help them if they do.

This is magical thinking, non-scientific causal reasoning.

Now, you're looking for 23 so you're finding it.

Agatha thinks l'm nuts.

[ISAAC CHUCKLES]

Finish the book.

And if after reading it in its entirety, you still believe the subject to be you...

...then whoever wrote it knows you well. And only they can give you your answer.

That's a good idea.

And in the meantime, I can speak to Agatha, if you like.

WALTER: Hmm.

[FABRlZIA MOANlNG]

"The number was everywhere."

You have 23 pairs of shoes.

You're counting my shoes?

AGATHA: What are you doing? -Reading.

You're insane.

"Night after night, I killed Fabrizia in my dreams.

I explained to the department shrink what her full name added up to."

-Twenty-three. -What do you think that means?

I don't know, Miles.

Maybe I should be a fucking accountant.

"The wise Dr. Phoenix recommends l take a break."

Maybe you should take a break.

"Like time is gonna heal me."

Time is a-- A gentle man.

"Time is just a counting system, numbers with meaning attached to them.

Still, a break is what he prescribes. He called it--"

Emotional leave.

So you're not a detective anymore.

"Fabrizia was not impressed."

I'm a detective on vacation.

And you don't have a gun?

I still have these.

Maybe you should just get some sleep tonight.

"The number was everywhere.

At this point, l don't need to tell you how many pairs of shoes she had."

FABRlZlA: What are these shoes doing in the trash?

FINGERLING: Did you know you had 23 pair?

[GRUNTS]

You're insane!

FINGERLING: The Hiroshima bomb was dropped at 8:1 5.

Eight plus 1 5 is 23.

Waco, Texas, and the Oklahoma City bombing both happened on April 1 9th.

Four plus 1 9 is 23.

Tropic of Cancer, 23.5 degrees north, Capricorn 23.5 degrees south.

1 0886 is the number Al Capone wore on his uniform in prison.

Ted Bundy was executed on the 23rd of January.

It's all 23.

"She didn't understand, which was fine because neither did I.

All l knew was the number had gone after Suicide Blonde...

...lsobel Lydia Hunt.

And now it was coming after me."

I can speak to Fabrizia if you like.

"l believe he said it in total innocence at the time.

[INAUDIBLE DlALOGUE]

But looking back...

I can speak to Fabrizia if you like.

...I wish l had reacted differently.

[SCREAMlNG]


[INAUDIBLE DlALOGUE]

I should have realized the truth.

I know it's absurd...

...but even the color of his tie betrayed him."

Do you know what pink is?

SUlCIDE BLONDE: Red 27, white 65. Sixty-five plus 27: 92.

"Pink" has four letters, 92 divided by four:

Twenty-fucking-three.

In the meantime, I can speak to Agatha if you like.

ISAAC: Paranoia. Twenty-three is very good at this particular game.

Paranoia, paranoia.

In the meantime, I can speak to Agatha--

Two divided by three: 0.666.

Axis of 23 degrees. When I told them it's actually 23.5...

...they say, "Five is simply two plus three."

[SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY]

ISAAC: ln the meantime, I can speak to Agatha, if you like.

WALTER: "Chapter 21 ."

[BOTH PANTING]


Oh, God.

Ag?

Oh, God. Oh, God.

It's a nightmare. lt's a nightmare.

It's a nightmare. lt's gonna be all right.

No! No!

[GASPlNG]

[SIGHS]


[CAR ENGlNE STARTS]

Ag, I don't want you to be worried.

I just need one night to clear my head.

Please don't give up on me.

Your loving dog-catching husband, Walter.

"Why that street? Why that hotel?

Like it was my choice."


WALTER: Morning. -What can l do for you?

WALTER: Yeah, um, l'd, ahem...

-...like a room. CLERK: Sign the register.

Twenty-seven's the quietest.

WALTER: What about 23?

We've been experiencing some plumbing problems with 23.


Chapter 22 was as l feared.


[GASPS]

[SIRENS WAlLlNG IN DlSTANCE]

[MUTTERING]

Plus 1 5. Tropic of Capricorn.


It wasn't the happiest of endings.

It wasn't an ending at all.

After Chapter 22, there was nothing but the question:

Had the number lived to kill another day?

The number had gone after Fingerling.

And now it was coming after me.

[DOG BARKS]

You.

It's all your fault. If you hadn't made me late....


All right, this suits me fine.

A place to rest in peace.

[GROWLlNG]

Yes!

I got you, you son of a bitch.

It's okay, boy.

You'll get up in a couple of hours with a bad headache. That's all.

Not so tough now, are you, nasty evil dog?

[WALTER READS DOG TAG]

L, M, N-- 14.

A, B, C, D, E....

Shit.

MAN: Ned? Ned.

I'm Father Sebastian. I trust there's an explanation for this.

He's just sleeping, Father.

I'm an animal control officer. Is this your dog?

It belongs to Barnaby, my gardener.

Don't worry, Barnaby, he's all right. He's just sleeping.

[NED GROWLlNG]

-Why did you name him Ned? -He didn't. He took Ned in as a stray.

He likes graveyards. He sits and watches the stones...

...like he was watching over them.

That's how he got his nickname, "guardian of the dead."

Lately it's been this one.

Oh, no way.

What's wrong, son?

She died on her 23rd birthday.

Well, we can only assume.

-What? SEBASTIAN: That she died.

They never found her body. This is only a marker.

ROBlN: Where have you been? -Library. It's not just a book, it's true.

The number screws with your mind, makes you do--

Terrible things.

Perhaps I should be going.

No, I want you to see this, all of you.

There was a college girl named Laura Tollins who was murdered.

They never found her body, but her bed was soaked in so much blood.

This is the man who killed her, Kyle Flinch.

Police found a murder weapon, a butcher's knife, with his prints all over it.

Well, Walter, this was nearly 1 5 years ago.

Ag, he wasn't just her psychology professor. They were lovers.

Everything they did together sexually was exactly like the characters in the book.

He said it was her idea to buy the knife.

She wanted to fake an attack.

Kyle Flinch is Topsy Kretts.

The book is his...

...warped literary confession.

Agatha said a dog told you this.

Ned isn't just a dog. He's the guardian of the dead.

But what about all these 23s in your name and everything?

-ls it all just a coincidence? -l don't know.

But l know who can tell me.

[DOOR BUZZES AND OPENS]

KYLE: Well, you're two days early.

You knew I would come?

KYLE: Reporters always come on the 1 0th.

The day you killed Laura Tollins.

KYLE: The day she was taken from me.

I'm not a reporter. My name is Walter Sparrow.

I was born February 3rd.

Happy belated birthday.

February 3rd. Two-three.

KYLE: Yeah.

Don't pretend you don't know, Topsy Kretts. l read your book.

Tell me about the number. Is that why you killed her?

I need to know. You have to tell me.

What happened to you, I'm afraid it's happening to me.

What happened to me?

You wanna know the worst thing about being in prison?

Your family, your sister, your parents, they come to visit you.

Over time, though, the visits get less and your sister stops coming at all.

Then you start to notice your mother won't look you in the eye.

Pretty soon, she stops coming too.

Eventually, your--

Your father tells you your sister had a breakdown...

...unable to deal with having a murderer for a brother.

Now, there's tears in his eyes when he says this...

...but he's not sad.

He's angry.

That's the last time you ever see him.

I didn't kill Laura.

I loved her.

And l didn't write a book about a number.

You're lying.

I'm in prison for a crime I did not commit, Mr. Sparrow.

But somehow l think your problems are bigger than mine.

Fucking liar!

No.

-Yeah. -No.

If l was to write a book...

...l wouldn't use a ridiculous name like "Top Secrets."

[DOOR BUZZES]

[DOOR SLAMS]

WALTER: He was real convincing about his innocence.

Well, killers usually are. His fingerprints were on the knife.

Her blood was on his hands when he dialed 91 1 .

No...

[DOOR BUZZES]

...he's innocent.

All because his name doesn't add up to 23?

The real killer, the author, he's still out there.

I have to find him.

Wait, l-- l know how you can find him.

ROBlN: Last night when l was reading the book...

...I found a P.O. box address in the back.

-You sure you don't want anything in this? -Just the snow.

-When do you want it to get there? -Tomorrow morning.

-lt'll have to go express. -Fine.

-ls that all? -No, no, we want--

We want 23 of them.

I dreamt that l killed you, Ag.

-Fingerling had the same dream about-- -Shh.

I'm going with you today.

And all this is gonna come to an end.

You wouldn't hurt me, Walter.

You wouldn't hurt anyone ever.

How do you know?

[THUNDER RUMBLlNG]

WALTER: There's your boxes, kiddo.

Now we'll see if somebody shows up.

This may not be the author. He may not even be a man.

Well...

...we'll know soon enough.


AGATHA: Walter, look. WALTER: What?

AGATHA: Somebody's gone in.

ROBlN: That's him. lt's gotta be him. WALTER: You think?

ROBlN: Yeah, l mean, look at him. It's gotta be him.

Game's over, Top Secrets.

You should be dead.

-You should be dead! AGATHA: Whoa!

AGATHA: Walter, no! WALTER: You bastard!

Stop!

Who are you? The number, what does it mean?

I think you know.

[GROANS]

-Get an ambulance! -Watch out!

Dear God.

Get an ambulance!

Don't you die on me. You hear me? Don't you die.

Walter, please.

He's the only person that can help us get back to normal.

Honey, you're not helping, okay?

Now, l want you to take Robin and go home.

This man needs a hospital. I'll take care of it.

But he knows, hon.

Take Robin and go home.

I said, I'll take care of it.

He knows. Shit.

MAN: Hard to get rid of.... -What?

-lt's insane. -What was driving you insane?

Hard...

...to get rid of....

[MAN SPLUTTERS]

The institute.

Go there.

You'll see.

Oh, my God.

[SIRENS APPROACHING]

[PHONE RlNGING]

-Agatha? -Walter, he didn't make it. l'm so sorry.

-Well, did he say anything? -No.

I'm sorry.

Did you find out who he was?

No.

I'll be home in a little while.


[WATER TRlCKLING]

[METAL GROANS]

[WlNGS FLUTTERlNG]

[AGATHA GASPS]


Oh, shit. You gotta be kidding me.

Robin.


[RATTLING]


WALTER: Every 23rd word on every 23rd page:

"Visit Casanova spark, dig beneath the steps to heaven."

-Who's Casanova Spark? -lt's not a person.

"I warn you, hell is waiting, sparrow man."

We need to go.


LEARY: Eighteen-- Four-- Twenty-three.

Twenty-three.

Nineteen plus four is 23.

All 23.

Plus nine, plus 1 8-- By 72--

Twenty-three.

AGATHA: What was driving you insane?


[GASPS]

[CAR DOORS CLOSE]

ROBlN: Wanna take bets that there's 23 of them?

WALTER: Twenty, 21 , 22....

Are you sure you wanna do this?

[WALTER GRUNTlNG]

ROBlN: What if Mom was right?

What if that man wasn't the author?

What if he was just the guy's father or something?

WALTER: Sounds like a lot of "what ifs?"

Wouldn't that mean that the real killer's still out there?

[RUSTLlNG]

ROBlN: Did you hear something?

You're starting to sound like me, kiddo.

[SHOVEL CLANKS]

Give me the light. Give me the light.

ROBlN: Oh, my--

WALTER: Okay, we gotta go. Grab the light. Go.

Here, give me the light. Let's get out of here.

[FOOTSTEPS]

ROBlN: There's one right there. WALTER: Where?

You stay here.

OPERATOR: 91 1 . What's your emergency?

You need to send someone to Casanova's Park.

Is this your idea of a joke?

It's empty.

What?

It was right there.

We're not crazy.

We circled every 23rd word on every 23rd page and it told us to come down here.

And l sound completely crazy, don't I?

Just get some sleep, okay? We're done here. 1 0-23, UTL.

Mom?

AGATHA: Oh, honey.

-Let's go home, okay? -Yeah.

Skeletons can't just get up and walk away. You were right. That man wasn't the killer.

The real killer is still out there and he knows Dad's onto him.

The book, it's got all these secret messages every 23rd page.

-He's right, every 23rd page in the book. -Stop it. Both of you, stop it.

Now listen to me. Twenty-three is a number.

There's no magical meaning. Only people can give it that.

And l don't care how many lunatics are fantasizing about 23, they're wrong.

There's no curse. There's no killer running around out there.

[TlRES SCREECHING]

It's him.

That's Ned.

Nasty evil dead dog.

Dad!

Walter!

[TlRES SCREECHING]


You.

It was you.

You moved the skeleton.

-Please don't do this, Walter. -Then how did you know, unless....

Your maiden name is Pink.

Do you know what pink is?

Red and white, 92 divided by four.

I'm gonna write a book and do it to somebody else.

-Walter. -Oh, God.

Whoever wrote it knows you well, only they can give you your answer.

You wrote it.

Isaac knew all along, didn't he?

Walter, just let it be.

-Please. -You're Topsy Kretts.

He may not even be a man.

-Don't make me do this. -Why, Ag?

Why'd you do this?

-Who have I been living with? -Walter.

[GASPS]

What's this for, Ag?

What were you gonna do with this?

I-- l took it to protect us...

...from whoever we were gonna meet at the mailbox facility.

Intending to kill that man who you got to publish your book...

...and protect your little secret?

I'll take care of it.

He was alive before you sent us away.

-Robin will hear you. -Oh, we wouldn't want that, would we?

Wouldn't want our son to know the horrible truth about his mother.

Mom, Dad, what's going on?

-She's Top Secrets. She wrote the book. -No, it's not true.

Now, your father's gonna put down the knife. Aren't you, Walter?

WALTER: Tell him the truth. AGATHA: Walter.

Tell him how you took the skeleton.

Yes, lsaac and I took the skeleton.

-You did? -And I'd do it again.

But l did not write the book.

Don't lie. Thirteen years, Ag. Thirteen years of lies!

-No more! -Don't do this to us, Walter.

-Mom, who wrote the book? -Tell him who wrote it.

Tell him.

You wrote the book, Walter.

AGATHA: I found this with the old man's things.

-You put my name on this. -No.

No, no, no.

You're lying.

She's lying. l didn't-- l didn't write that.

Then who did?

WALTER: You.

It was both of you all the way along, wasn't it?

-No. -What is this?

What are you doing?


ROBlN: Dad?

Dad, what's happening?

Walter, we can get you help.

FINGERLING: The woman in red.

SUlCIDE BLONDE: This is supposed to make me feel better how?

WALTER: Oh my God. Shit.

ISAAC: Walter.

No! Get out of here!

Get your car. Come on.

ROBlN: Let's go. -Come on, honey.


WALTER: "Chapter 23.

You can call me Fingerling...

...but my real name is Walter.

Walter Paul Sparrow.

What you have read so far is not the whole truth.

Much has been changed to protect the innocent...

...and the guilty.

I once read that the only philosophical question that matters...

...is whether or not to commit suicide.

I guess that makes me a philosopher.

You could say it was my inheritance.

After my mother's death...

...my father couldn't cope.

He didn't leave a note.

Just a number.

That number followed me from foster home to foster home...

...till college, when l met her.

Laura Tollins.

[FLASHBULB POPPlNG]

[LAURA CHUCKLES]

LAURA: Do it tight.

Pretend that you have a knife.

I got a knife.

Cut my shirt.

-l'll cut you some more. -Will you?

Yeah, l'll cut you.

[BOTH PANTING]

Cut me. Cut me.

"l loved her."

KYLE: One...

"And l thought she loved me."

...esoteric obsession with the number 23.

Does a thing itself have a mystical power?

LAURA: Does that equation--? -Yes, that-- That's the...

"Until my father's number returned to haunt me."

Are you insane?

"That fucking number."

[BOTH PANTING]

"When I circled every 23rd letter of her note...

...it became clear.

[WALTER SOBBING]

The number had gone after me.

And now it wanted her."

[KNOCKlNG ON DOOR]

[POUNDING ON DOOR]

Laura, this room-- You gotta get out.

-lt's coming for you. l can't stop it. -What? What?

The number.

-No, don't-- No, no. -Leave me alone.

You think you have the guts to use it?

Go ahead.

Kill me.

I love you.

I've never loved you, ever.

How could I?

How could anyone?

You're pathetic.

Just like your father.

[WALTER GASPS]

-Get out. -Ah!

Laura.

Laura!

Laura! Laura! Laura!

Laura! Laura!

Laura! Laura! Laura!

"l was right.

She was in danger.

I just didn't realize the danger was me."

WALTER: It's gonna be all right.

[SOBBlNG]


KYLE: Hey, Laura.

Laura?


"What began as a suicide note turned into something more.

[GROANS AND YELLS]

Much, much more."

Twenty-three. That's a good one. That's a good one.

Twenty-three.

Twenty-three. Twenty-three.

Twenty-three. Twenty-three. Fuck it, fuck it.

I can see it. lt's everywhere. It's everywhere. lt's everywhere.

No more fun and games.

Laura.

[MUTTERING]

Shit. This fucking--

It's not true. lt's not true. lt's not true.

He does not. He does not.

I love you, more than any--

Period, exclamation.


Remember this?

[WlNDOW SHATTERS]


"They thought it was the fall."

MAN 1 : He doesn't remember anything.

MAN 2: lt's not uncommon in cases of such severe head injury.

He could recover his memory tomorrow or never.

MAN 1 : Well, you have to factor in the history...

...of mental instability in the patient's family.

His own father attempted suicide.

He just managed to be a little more successful at it.

"Because the trauma of Laura appeared to be fiction."

-And all that scribbling? -Severe graphomania.

The rantings of a delirious mind.

Some sort of a survivor's guilt mixed up with a numerology obsession.

You have your hands full, doctor.

I'll do what I can.

Say, may l have this book?

Thank you.

"My novel, my confession."

My name is Dr. Nathaniel.

"l never saw it again.

Some injuries can be healed over time.

Some are just too hard to deal with.

So my brain just blocked out the terrible thing l had done...

...and the reasons why."

NATHANlEL: Take care. -l hope l never see you again.

-l hope not. Don't come back, fella. -Okay.

Oh, my God. I'm so sorry.

Oh, no.

"Agatha knew nothing about my past."

AGATHA: Oh, you owe me a cake.

"That made two of us. l was free for now...

...but the number found a new victim.

The number left me alone for 1 3 years...

...until the night she found my book...

...or the book found her."


This is where I wrote it all.

It was me.

I'm a murderer.

I don't know what happened to you, but I do know this:

You weren't a bad person who got better...

...you were a sick person who became well.

I killed Laura Tollins.

There's an innocent man in prison because of me.

You're a wonderful husband...

...and you're the best father a son could ever have.

And what would Robin do without you?

You know I can't let an innocent man go on suffering for my horrible sin.

We're all broken, Walter.

Remember, you told me your life started when you met me?

Well, my life began that day too.

You didn't know who I was. I didn't know who I was.

-l want you to leave, Ag. -No.

-You need to leave before.... -No.

Before what?

Before you kill me?

Damn it, Walter. Look, this-- This is who you were.

This is not who you are.

-This is not who you are. -l'm a killer!

I have killed someone.

I killed someone.

I could do it again.

You think you could do it again? You think you're a killer?

Here, then take this. You go ahead and do it.

If you're a killer, then kill me!

Look around at all the beautiful 23s. You don't wanna disappoint them, do you?

Do it!

[AGATHA SOBBlNG]

I love you.

No, don't you say that.

-l love you. -No, you can't!

No one can.


[HORN BLARlNG]

Dad!

There's no such thing as destiny.

There are only different choices.

It's just a number.

Some choices are easy, some aren't.

Those are the really important ones, the ones that define us as people.

SEBASTIAN: "The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing l lack.

In green pastures, you let me graze.

To safe waters, you lead me. You restore my...."

Thirteen years ago I made the wrong choice.

"Guide me along the right path for the sake...."

I needed to put it right...

...and not just for my sake.

To die there in the street would have been easy...

...but it wouldn't have been justice.

At least, not the justice fathers teach their sons about.

I'll be sentenced in a week or so.

My lawyer says the judge will look kindly upon me for turning myself in.

Maybe it's not the happiest of endings, but it's the right one.

Someday l'll be up for parole and we can go on living our lives.

It's only a matter of time.

Of course, time's just a counting system, numbers with meaning attached to them.

Isn't it?