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Right From the Start

HOLIDAY SNEAKS

From its conception, a pivotal scene from Steven Zaillian's 'A Civil Action' went against conventional wisdom.

November 08, 1998|Patrick Goldstein

Facher moves over to Jan's bench, tugging a ragged-leather wallet from his back pocket. He extracts a $20 bill from it and sets it down between them. Jan considers it a moment.

JAN

If that's a settlement offer, Jerry, it's not enough.

Facher compliments Jan's Facher-like esprit with a smile.

FACHER

That's not what I hear.

JAN

Well, I don't know who you've been talking to, but--

FACHER

The IRS. Telling us they have a lien on any eventual settlement in order to recover over two and a half million dollars in unpaid taxes.

Nothing from Jan. Facher gestures to the $20 bill.

FACHER

Now, what if I were to put six zeros on the end of that? That's right, twenty million dollars. That would put things in perspective for you, wouldn't it? As far as truth and justice and dead children go.

They study one another. Eventually--

JAN

If you want to talk seriously about a settlement, let's call the decision-makers together and talk seriously.

FACHER

The decision-makers are here, aren't they? You're looking at Mr. Beatrice. I don't have to call anybody; do you?

(Could he possibly be serious? Would he really do this, now? On the eve of a verdict? Here?)

FACHER

It's just you and me. We're like kings. We are kings. Sitting in our castle (this courthouse) deciding important things. Deciding the fates of others. Counting money in our Counting Room.

Jan allows himself a glance to the money. He really could use twenty bucks, forget twenty million. Long silence . . .

FACHER

I'll tell you what. I'll leave it here. I'll go back to my Throne Room down the hall and await your decision.

He gets up to leave Jan to ponder; leaves him with one last thing to ponder--

FACHER

If you really want to look for truth, Jan, look for it where it is.

(a whisper)

At the bottom of a bottomless pit.

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