Case #4.09: "Mike's POV"

A teenage boy wakes up and pours himself a bowl of Ninja Turtles cereal while he watches a Jane Fonda workout show. He gets on his bike and starts his ride to school. Nearby, a woman pulls out of her driveway and honks. A man, presumably her husband, comes down the front steps and heads for the car.

The bicycling boy pulls a ski mask down over his face. He stops next to the car, takes out a gun, and fires it twice. He rides away casually. In a classroom, a teacher calls roll. Mike, the boy who just killed someone, is sitting in the back of the room. Theme song.

Mike is ignoring the teacher as he lectures. From the mentions of Reagan and Nixon, I assume it's an American history or government class. The teacher hears a commotion across the hall to investigate. "Mr. Tompkins didn't show up today," a boy explains.

Later, Mike rides past the Tompkins' house. There are several police cars out front and it's cordoned off with crime scene tape. That night, Mike is either celebrating or having a fight of rage in his living room. He's throwing his textbooks, homework, and pillows off the couch and knocking a candy dish off a table.

In class the next day, students gossip about Mr. Tompkins' murder. A boy, who I realize is a young Vince Vaughn, says, "The neighbors said it was a kid who rode away on a bike." He wonders if it could be someone from school. This worries Mike. The murderer tried to shoot Mr. Tompkins, missed, and killed his wife. "Just because he was on a bike don't mean it was a kid," another boy points out.

A red-haired girl can't believe what happened. Young Vince has heard that "Tompkins was into some pretty weird stuff." An announcement is made over the PA asking any student with information about what happened to Mrs. Tompkins to come forward. Tom hands the teacher a note. The students observe a moment of silence for the teacher's wife.

After class, Mike goes to his locker. Tom bumps into the red-haired girl and helps her pick up her books. After school, Mike asks the redhead, Helen, is she's going to Mrs. Tompkins' funeral. Helen says probably, but she's riding with a guy named John. Mike admires Doug's yellow truck in the parking lot. Doug tells him not to drool on the paint job.

Mike asks how Doug got the truck. Doug proudly says that he rebuilt the engine. Mike offers to buy it. Doug says, "I'd sooner sell my pancreas." Mike wonders if they can talk shop sometime. Doug agrees and says he's easy to find; he's the substitute gym teacher. Mike goes to the bank and gets a safe deposit box. He puts a stack of $100 bills in it. 

Mike, now in a suit, parks his bike outside a church. Doug approaches. Mike confides that he's nervous; he's never been to a funeral before. He asks if you have to pray. Mike's family has never been to church and he doesn't know how to pray. Doug tells him, "You're just here to pay your respects, however you do it." 

Mike notices Tom is there, who he thinks is a "brown noser who tries too hard to make friends." He introduces himself to Doug and they go inside the church. Helen passes out pink carnations for the students to put on the casket. Mike doesn't get one because Helen didn't know how many people from school were coming. She tells him not to worry. Mike apologizes to Mr. Tompkins for not having a flower, then leaves immediately. Outside, Mike sees Tom near his bike and tells him to get away. He rides off.

Mike goes to the bank, counts his money, and goes to another teen's house. There's a red sports car with a FOR SALE sign on it in the driveway. Mike asks the owner if people think it's a cool car and how much he wants for it. The kid wants $2,000 but Mike only has $1,500. The owner agrees to accept it.

That night, Mike drives his shiny new car to an alley and throws his bike into a Dumpster. At home, Mike's mom is sitting at the kitchen table smoking a cigarette and drinking. She asks where he got money for a car. Mike earned it working at the ice rink. Mike's mom cracks open another beer and says, "It's a nice car."

In American history or government, Mike is watching the classroom across the hall. Mr. Tompkins is back at work. After school, Mike poses next to his car in the parking lot, hoping Helen will notice it. She smiles but keeps walking. Mike smiles back. Doug asks what kind of car Mike has. He answers that it's a '68 Mustang. Doug congratulates Mike and agrees to go for a ride with him.

Outside a cafe, muscle cars dominate the lot. Mike explains to Doug, "You're not anybody until you have a car. The cooler the car, the cooler the guy." He doesn't know any of the other people with sports cars. Doug asks if Mike plans on talking to any of them. Mike doesn't; "it's enough just to be here."

A car is Mike's first step to getting what he wants. He has a crush on Helen. Doug asks, "Why don't you take the next step now, killer? You're almost at the top of the stairs." Mike still has another step.

Mike goes to a ticket agency and asks the woman what concerts are in town next week. She lists Bo Dean, 10,000 Maniacs, and Whitesnake. Mike asks which band girls like best. The woman says it depends on the girl. Mike asks which concert he can get the best seats for. The woman can get him 4th row seats at Whitesnake for $100 each. Mike wants them. This character reminds me so much of my dad: same first name, sports car, same method to impress a girl. Helen isn't my mom's name; however, it is the name of my dad's mom.

After school, Mike spots Helen leaving with her friend Marcy. He asks what she's doing Thursday night. Helen says, "That's the night we put the school newspaper together." Mike asks if Helen wants to go to the Whitesnake concert with him. "I'll go!" Marcy says eagerly. Helen parrots, "Marcy will go." Mike is obviously disappointed. Helen apologizes; she doesn't want to back out on the paper after promising Mr. Tompkins it would be finished. Marcy thanks Mike for giving her the extra ticket.

Mike walks over to his car. Tom asks what happened to his bike and offers to buy the bike. Mike says it's not for sale. That night at home, Mike lies awake in bed. He gets up and drives his Mustang to the alley seen earlier. He climbs in the Dumpster to try to retrieve his bike, but it's no longer there.

The next morning, Mike goes to Mr. Tompkins' classroom. He wants to talk about what happened to Mrs. Tompkins. Mike has a feeling someone knows the truth, then says, "I did it." Mr. Tompkins doesn't seem to believe him. Mike leaves.

In the parking lot before school, Mike scans the rows of bikes chained to the racks. In class, Mike doesn't so much as pick up his pencil during the test they're taking. He locks eyes with Mr. Tompkins across the hall. Mr. Tompkins pulls his classroom door shut and yanks down the window shade.

At lunch, Young Vince and Mike discuss the test. Young Vince asks Mike about his job at the ice rink that Tom had mentioned. He implies he doesn't believe Mike works there. Mike says, "Did he ask you to ask me that?" Young Vince wants to know if Mike would let him and some guys in to play broom hockey one night after closing. "Helen wants to play too," adds Young Vince, "You could be center and she could be your left-winger." Mike will check with his boss. He tells Young Vince not to invite Tom.

At the ice rink, Mike's boss tells him that insurance won't cover anything that happens past normal business hours. The kids would have to rent the rink for $50/hour. Mike offers his boss $200 in cash to rent the rink from 11 at night 'til 1 in the morning. The boss agrees. Mike goes to the bank to get the last of his money out of the safe deposit box. Mike drops groceries off at home.

Mike tells Helen and friends that he got the rink rented for Friday night. Young Vince joins the crowd at the cafeteria table. He heard a rumor that Mrs. Tompkins was killed by a hitman. Another guy pipes up that the neighbors said it was a kid. "Some kid from out of town," Young Vince theorizes, "He flew in, he killed her, he took off." Tom wonders who'd want to kill her. Mike says whoever did it tried to shoot Mr. Tompkins but missed.

Young Vince's face lights up. "Whoa!" he exclaims, "What if Mrs. Tompkins was trying to kill her husband and the guy double-crossed her?" Helen doesn't think so. Mike had done yardwork for the Tompkins and heard them fighting a lot. The kids discuss who they would make disappear if they could. Mike would go for his dad, since his dad isn't in his life anyway.

The kids run across the ice rink in their street shoes, shouting and laughing as they play broom hockey. Tom is there too. Someone invites him to join the game at the next face-off. Mike is obviously angry. When they start playing again, he hip-checks Tom rather hard. Mike's boss waves him down: "It's after 1. Rates go up. $125 an hour instead of $100." Mike asks if they can finish the last period.

The rink owner tells the kids to leave. Helen tells Mike that broom hockey isn't worth getting fired over. "Fired?" says the rink owner, "He doesn't work here." Everybody is surprised. The rink owner hustles the kids out. Mike stays where he is. He's on the ice by himself when the owner turns off the rink lights. 

At school the next day, Mike ignores a girl who calls out to him. He once again goes over to stare through the window into Mr. Tompkins' class. Later, Mike catches the teacher alone and asks why he doesn't go home. "I don't like it there anymore," says Mr. Tompkins. Mike tells Mr. Tompkins he has a problem. When the teacher tries to leave, Mike blocks the door and shouts, "Don't turn your back on me! I am not Mrs. Tompkins. I won't go away that easily. That's what you want, isn't it?"

Mr. Tompkins grabs Mike by the arm. He whispers, "Don't think you know what I want." Then he casually asks what the problem is. Mike doesn't want Mr. Tompkins to get mad, even though that boat has pretty much sailed at this point: "I think what I did for you was worth more than what you gave me." Mr. Tompkins says they had a deal. "You scammed me!" Mike says angrily, "It was worth $10,000! That's what I hear! That's what I want."

Mr. Tompkins isn't willing to re-negotiate. "What are you gonna do, turn me in?" he challenges, "You'll go with me." Mr. Tompkins tells Mike to do him a favor and kill him. "I already did you a favor," Mike points out. Mr. Tompkins paid Mike $5,000 to kill his wife; he doesn't think it would be hard to find someone willing to take less than that to kill Mike. Mike saw Mr. Tompkins talking to Tom and demands to know if he told Tom anything.

"Don't you get it?!" Mike yells, flipping over a desk and kicking another. He advances on Mr. Tompkins. The teacher looks scared. Mike leaves the room, slamming the door behind him. That night, Mike follows Tom. He sees him being greeted warmly by police officers outside the Chapel.

The next morning, Mike sits at the kitchen table, repeatedly playing with a spoon. Next, we see Mr. Tompkins coming out of his house with his briefcase. Mike drives up. Mr. Tompkins rolls down his car window and Mike rolls down his. Mike apologizes about asking for more money. Mr. Tompkins tells him to leave. "I know what the problem is and I'm gonna take care of it," says Mike before he drives away.

Mike hopes everyone will forgive him for what happened at the ice rink. Marcy invites him to sit down. Tom tells a stupid story about his driver's ed teacher at his old school.

At home, Mike paces in his living room. He goes to what looks like a park, opens a storm gutter, and takes out a small bundle. Inside it is the gun he used to kill Mrs. Tompkins. In the school parking lot the next day, Mike is sits in his car. Doug approaches, asking what's wrong, if Mike's in trouble.

After a minute, Mike asks, "You ever get an idea? And it seems like a good idea at first. You know, like it's gonna make your whole life better. And you start to do things. First thing goes great; second thing doesn't." Doug looks confused. "And then, like, you wonder if it was even a good idea in the first place," Mike finishes.

Doug doesn't understand. Mike babbles that it's too late to start over, that he's stuck. "Why don't you tell me what's wrong?" asks Doug. Mike plays off that it's about his failed attempts to impress Helen; he doesn't like her anymore. He knows what he has to do.

In the hallway, Marcy tells Mike how excited she is about the Whitesnake concert. Mike tells her he can't go and hands Marcy both tickets. She asks Mike if he wants her to pay for the tickets. Mike says no.

Mike stops Tom as he's leaving a classroom. He apologizes for being a jerk. He asks Tom to come over that night and help him write a paper. Tom agrees.

Close to 7:30 that night, Mike calls the operator. He thinks his phone is broken and asks to test the line. He hangs up. The phone rings once, he answers it and thanks the operator. In the kitchen, Mike's mom is smoking and watching TV.

Mike lies that Mr. Tompkins called. "The one whose wife got killed?" his mom asks interestedly. Mike picks up his coat and says he's leaving to help Mr. Tompkins with the school paper. "If this guy Tom comes by, tell him where I am and that I'm real sorry and I'll talk to him tomorrow," he says. Before leaving, he looks over his shoulder at his mom.

Mike drives over to the school, which is, of course, abandoned at this hour. He gets out of his car and uses a crowbar to pry open a side door. He goes to Mr. Tompkins' classroom, pulls the shades, and turns on the desk lamp. Mike sits at a desk, takes off his gloves, and pulls the gun out of his coat. He covers his face with a ski mask. He waits for what seems to be ours.

The doorknob starts to turn. Mike picks up the gun, aims at whoever is coming in, and fires. He runs into the hallway. "Mike! Police!" Doug calls, "Drop it!" Tom tackles Mike. Mike gets up and pushes Tom against a row of lockers. They trade punches. The gun is knocked loose. Mike runs over and grabs it. "Stop!" Doug orders. Mike shoots at him again. 

Tom manages to disarm and overpower the teen. Mike falls to the floor. Tom handcuffs him and reads him his rights. He gets Mike on his feet. "Why'd you do it?" Doug asks. Mike is panting, a tear rolls down his cheek. His perplexing answer: "I thought it was a way to get those guys to like me." 

The history/government teacher calls roll. A boy taps Marcy's arm. She looks across the hall. Two policemen are arresting Mr. Tompkins. Everyone gets up to see what's happening. The teacher tells them to sit down. The policemen, flanked by Cap'n Rufus, frogmarch Mr. Tompkins down the hall. End of episode.

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