Monday, October 12, 1998

Scottish Inn


Somewhere in Georgia. A few miles from a poorly marked, forgotten exit off the I-75 corridor at an indeterminate location between Atlanta and the Ninth Circle of Dante's Inferno.

A car drives down a creepy dirt road, probably lost. It approaches a neon motel sign — SCOTTISH INN. The sign is unlit, except for an awkwardly hanging hurricane lamp illuminating the word: VACANCY. The motel behind the sign is completely dark.

The car slows and stops.


Cloudy night, wind but no rain. A hole in the clouds opens, revealing the moon.

The moon briefly illuminates an unpleasantly grinning SCOTSMAN on the sign. The sign goes dark again, except for the word VACANCY in the flickering light of the lamp.

The car just sits there, idling.

The dome light goes on. Somebody’s looking at a map. Muted sounds of cursing, a couple arguing. The dome light goes off.

The car reluctantly moves again, slowly pulls into the motel.

The car is a 1995 Hyundai. But who cares?


A MAN enters, walks up to the desk. He looks very tired.

A SCOTSMAN appears, carrying a candle in a sconce. He looks exactly like the icon on the sign, except he’s not grinning.

SCOTSMAN: Scottish Inn. What do ye want?

MAN: Well, your sign says "vacancy."

SCOTSMAN: Are you calling me a liar?

MAN: Well, no …

SCOTSMAN: Would I put it on me sign if it were nae true?

MAN: No. I didn’t say …

SCOTSMAN: No, you didn’t fancy man. Ye want a room or nae?

MAN: Yeah, I want ...

SCOTSMAN: Then a room ye shall have. Dollar a night, cash in hand.

MAN: Dollar a night? Seriously?

SCOTSMAN: It’s the Scottish Inn, man.


Hands him a dollar. SCOTSMAN studies it, holds it up to the light, finally takes it.

MAN: My car …

SCOTSMAN: Will be safe where it is. Ye’ll not get past the debris field.

MAN: But …

SCOTSMAN: I’ll lead the way, laddie.

SCOTSMAN puts hand over candle to shield it from the wind.

MAN: Is …

SCOTSMAN: Follow or be left behind.

SCOTSMAN walks out brusquely. The MAN follows.

The SCOTSMAN leads him to a room. Strange journey, full of strange sights.

This motel, evidently, was part of a major chain at one time, but now looks like it’s been abandoned for years. The pool is filled with weeds and dirt. No lights anywhere. One wing seems to have been blown up. Huge chunks of concrete are scattered on the parking lot. The SCOTSMAN was right about the debris.

SCOTSMAN finally stops before the door of one room.

SCOTSMAN: Here t’is.

SCOTSMAN barges in. The MAN follows.

MAN: Is …


Inside is as dark as outside.

SCOTSMAN holds up candle to illuminate the space. No bed. Broken mirror. Battered motel furniture, three candles on top of one dresser next to a sconce.

SCOTSMAN: It is what it is. No refunds. Three candles a night. Matches are your own look out.

MAN: (daring to ask the question) Is the power out?

SCOTSMAN: The power? That's nae specific. Wha sort of power? Political power? The power of prayer?

MAN: You know, electricity?

SCOTSMAN: Oh, it’s electricity, you’re wanting! Candle’s not good enough for the likes of ye? (sticks it in his face) Nay. Bonnie Prince Charles has come back from the grave! Only the finest for your majesty! I bow before ye! Break out the good china and kill the fatted calf!

MAN: No, no…it’s OK.

SCOTSMAN: Oh .. It’s OK! It’s OK, is it? Christ, I’m so relieved.

MAN: Yeah, yeah. OK.

SCOTSMAN: (bowing) If it please your majesty.

MAN looks around.

MAN: Where do I sleep?

SCOTSMAN: Wh ... Are ye blind, man? (holding up candle — illuminating pile of straw in the corner) What do ye think that’s for?

MAN: Straw?

SCOTSMAN: Mind ye keep the candle away from it.

MAN: (sees it, but can’t believe it) There’s no bed?

SCOTSMAN: No bed? No bed? Oh. Fancy man! He wants a bed! Straw’s not good enough for his royal highness! Nay. The bedbugs might bite him on his royal arse! He’s used to finer accommodations! A bed to tuck his arse in, a mattress fit for kings far softer than any cloud in the sky. Oh, aye, but God forbid there’s a fucking pea below the mattress. His majesty’s arse is a sensitive one. He’d be tossing and turning all night! I suppose it’s air-conditioning ye’ll be wanting next!

MAN: No …

He looks around again.

Reluctantly. But he has to ask –

MAN: Where’s the bathroom?

SCOTSMAN: It’s well and truly boarded shut, ye daft fool. Bathroom! A prodigal waste if ever there be one.

MAN: No … No toilet?

SCOTSMAN: A toilet! I fall on my knees before your majesty! (he does) Fall on my knees and worship him! You’d like that, wouldn’t ye?

MAN: No –

The SCOTSMAN leaps up, enraged. Gets in the MAN’s face.

SCOTSMAN: Did the Lord Jesus Christ have a toilet? There were nae toilets in His day, man. Or fancy toilet paper! Just the trees that God Himself created and the grasses of the field. Aye! That’s your toilet and your wiping accommodations. It were good enough for Him! Are ye better than the Lord Jesus Christ?

MAN: No.

SCOTSMAN: I’ll take a stick to your —

A young WOMAN enters.

WOMAN: Is everything all right, honey?

The SCOTSMAN recoils with Calvinist horror.

SCOTSMAN: What manner of sin is this? Ye dare to bring a woman here?

MAN: She’s my wife.

SCOTSMAN: Ye think I was born yesterday?

WOMAN: I was waiting in the Hyundai and I saw you --

SCOTSMAN: Strumpet!

WOMAN: What’s his problem?

SCOTSMAN: Harlotry!

She rolls her eyes, holds up hand, shows wedding ring.

SCOTSMAN: That proves nought.

Two CHILDREN burst in. Crying.

SCOTSMAN: And here be the wee bairns. (gives them the stink eye – decides they’re not bastards) Aye, all right then, she’s nae trollop. I meant no calumny.

KIDS: (whining) We’re hungry.

SCOTSMAN: Hungry? You? (to the PARENTS) You disgust me, the two of ye. Christ, they’re fat as pigs. You call yourselves parents?

IRISHMAN: (OS) Are we having a problem, then?

SCOTSMAN: (whirling around) Stay out of this! This does nae concern you!

Framed in the doorway, the IRISHMAN stands grinning, like an Irish Spring ad come to life.

MAN: Who are you?

IRISHMAN: (answering the MAN but looking at the WOMAN) I’m Lord and Master of the Irish Inn. (smiling) Just next door. Pleased to make your acquaintance.

SCOTSMAN: I’ll make the acquaintance of me claymore with your spotted Irish arse.


SCOTSMAN: Oh I will.

IRISHMAN: (he points, still looking at the WOMAN) You may be wondering about the lights above the trees where I be indicating.

SCOTSMAN: Get out!

IRISHMAN: Sure we got electricity then. And plenty of whiskey.

SCOTSMAN: Shut your hole.

IRISHMAN: Not consumed with martyrdom like this psychotic specimen.

SCOTSMAN: Get out!

IRISHMAN: (winking at her) Always room at the Inn. You are invited.

SCOTSMAN: Ye dare… Ye dare …

IRISHMAN: Spit it out.

SCOTSMAN: (with much spittle) Ye dare to come into me establishment with a mind to filch me guests?

IRISHMAN: Is that what you say I’m doing?


IRISHMAN: (indifferently — winking at the WOMAN) I suppose it is.

SCOTSMAN: (pulling a nail-studded cudgel) I’ll kill ye where you stand!

IRISHMAN: (pulling a knife) Not if I kill you first.

They start fighting, take it into the deserted parking lot.

A ROMAN CENTURION appears in the doorway. Fully decked out.

He makes a Roman salute.

MAN: Who the hell are you?

CENTURION: Centurion Reetus Alrightus, fifth cohort of the Roman Inn.

SCOTSMAN: (OS) Knife. You think I'm afraid of a fucking knife?

IRISHMAN: (OS) Not at all.

Automatic weapons fire. (OS) The FAMILY automatically ducks down. CENTURION doesn't blink.

CENTURION: Caesar has charged me with bringing you to safety.

WOMAN: (not buying it) Caesar. You mean like the salad?

Gunfire stops. Silence. (OS)

SCOTSMAN: (OS — distantly) That all ye got?

Violent explosion. (OS)

The SCOTSMAN’s singed, severed hand flies into the motel room.

Hold a beat.

SCOTSMAN: (OS) That all ye got?

CENTURION: Follow me if you wish to live.

They do.


The CENTURION leads the FAMILY across the parking lot, which now resembles a battlefield.

Cut back to -- the SCOTSMAN who, insanely, makes a perfect target of himself. He stands up behind a pile of shattered concrete at one end of the ruined courtyard, holding the bleeding stump where his severed left hand used to be under his right armpit. No weapon in his right hand. But he’s holding something.

SCOTMAN: Ye want to know what I got, laddie?

IRISHMAN: (smiling, holding an AK-47 and all the cards) I burn with curiosity.

SCOTSMAN: A fucking dog whistle.

He blows it silently. An army of pit bulls appears behind him—lunging at the IRISHMAN

IRISHMAN: Well. Here’s a doggie treat then.

He starts blasting the dogs with an AK-47. But the dogs keep coming.

The FAMILY runs.

Explosions. Screams. Barks.

CENTURION: Let us make haste, good people. These are barbarian lands.

The FAMILY keeps running.

They run out of the SCOTTISH INN.

They crash through overgrown fields in the night …

… and enter the courtyard of the ROMAN INN, patterned after the classical, high-minded Augustan Rome. Various philosophers debate; musicians play lyres. Centurions stand strategically and discretely around the pool.

The pace slows down.

FAMILY strolls behind the Centurion. Looking around. Admiring the pagan splendor.

MAN: Hey, this place is …

WOMAN: Classy. In a classical sorta way, y'know?

MAN: (to CENTURION) Thanks for …

CENTURION: (pointing) There’s the man to thank.

CAESAR enters the motel courtyard from the door marked OFFICE. The ROMANS all kneel, but the FAMILY doesn’t.

CENTURION: (whispering) When in Rome, eh?

The FAMILY kneels.

ROMANS: Hail Caesar.


The ROMANS stand up. FAMILY too.

CAESAR walks over and addresses the FAMILY.

CAESAR: I bid you welcome, good people.

WIFE: Mr. Caesar, sir. I just want to say. This place is really, really classy. I mean, compared to that dump next door, you know?

CAESAR: I am truly honored.

He takes her hand. She blushes. CENTURION gives the MAN a keep-an-eye-on-your-wife look.

The musician strums the lyre.

WIFE: God, that’s beautiful.


WIFE: No! I'm telling the truth! I sweartagawd!

CAESAR: Of course. Woman of truth that you are.

She melts into a puddle of hormones.

CAESAR: But what is truth? What is beauty?

WOMAN: I dunno. I've never really ...

CAESAR: Here at the Roman Inn, we ask such questions. We are devoted to a life of philosophy and the cultivation of the mind. But such life is never secure. Centurion. Issue these new citizens their weapons.

CENTURION: I wish you’d let me use proper machine guns.

CAESAR: It is not the Roman way.

CENTURION: Right, then.

He hands the MAN and WOMAN Roman swords.

CAESAR: And the children.

He hands them cute little Roman swords.

MAN: What’s going on?

CAESAR: Ah. Quid agis? The eternal question.

CAESAR nods to a Centurion across the pool, who tosses him a charcoal briquette from the barbecue grill. CAESAR bends down, skillfully draws a map of the motel on the markite pool pavers.

CAESAR: Here, is our position.

Continues to draw.

CAESAR: To the north, the Celts are ever at each other’s throats. To the west, the German Inn has fallen into madness. Each night, they throw themselves in vast human waves at our defenses. Berserker hordes ...

CENTURION: Used to be polka. But this is worse.

CAESAR: Should you be captured …

CENTURION: (mimes falling on his sword) Die as the Romans do.

CAESAR: As he has said. Here. (tapping with briquette) On the eastern wing of this very motel, the pretender Caligula lays claim to title of Emperor. Rooms #22 through #115 are in his sway. Such are places of decadence and debauchery, good citizens. You are well-advised to avoid them.

CALIGULA: (OS) Oh, I dunno. What’s wrong with decadence and debauchery?

The FAMILY and the ROMANS all look up.

And see CALIGULA standing on the eastern balcony, a smirking Malcolm McDowell-type, flanked by his own Centurions and barely dressed Satyricon-types of indeterminate gender.

CALIGULA: (gesturing with a goblet of wine) We’re all dead, y’know. Let decadence and debauchery rule! Until the end.

The non-decadent ROMANS in the motel courtyard below are enraged. Various shouts of “Shut it, you!” “Go back to your boys,” etc.

CALIGULA laughs, gestures with his wine goblet towards CAESAR.

CALIGULA: What? You think he’s going to save you?

CENTURION: Come here and say that, you pissant puppet.

CALIGULA: I feel a poem coming on.

CENTURION: Here we go.

CENTURION reaches for something behind his back.


CALIGULA: Night will fall …

An arrow pierces his chest.


CALIGULA leans over the railing. Sputters. Tries to speak, but can’t.

CENTURION: Cat got your tongue?

CALIGULA pitches over the balcony. Falls, screaming, into the ice machine. The Satyricon-types scatter.

The ROMANS cheer. MAN and WOMAN look shocked. The KIDS applaud wildly.

CENTURION puts his bow away.

CENTURION: (winking to one of the kids) Ah, just a little target practice.

Hold a beat. CALIGULA isn’t quite dead. He lies on his back in a scattering of bloody ice.

CALIGULA: (bubbles of blood on his lips) Night will f –f …

CENTURION: Oh shut up.

CALIGULA dies, shuts up.


CAESAR takes advantage of the moment. Addresses the crowd.

CEASAR: Night may fall. But not yet. Not this day. Today we stand!

A cheer, then silence.

The silence is broken by sounds of horrible screaming to the west. Faint at first.

CAESAR: Stand as one!

The Centurions form a phalanx.To the west, the firestorm of inhuman rage approaches.

CENTURION: (to MAN and WOMAN) Fight or not. Guests are under no obligation. There’s HBO in the rooms.

The guttural screaming gets louder.

CAESAR: They come.