The Minus Man (1999)
[Vann talks to the imaginary agents Graves and Blair]
Vann Siegert: Once when I was young... I was laying in the grass, and a spider crawled in my ear. And...
Graves: Well, he crawled out again. Nobody home.
[Vann smiles a big smile]
[Vann talks to Irene at the diner when he thinks to himself]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] Some people die in less than a minute. Others it takes ten. I guess it's what they call metabolic. If it wasn't closed, I'd go to the library and get clear on this.
[Vann wakes up from fainting on his bedroom floor, as Jane appears over him]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] I feel like a light in the dark. They come at me like moths because I shine.
[Ferrin asks Vann why he doesn't like lakes]
Ferrin: I'm not comfortable swimming in the ocean. I like lakes.
Vann Siegert: I don't really care for lakes.
Ferrin: You don't care for lakes?
Ferrin: [Ferrin giggles] Why, why do you not care for lakes?
Vann Siegert: I don't know, lakes are like stepping into somebody else's underwear.
[Ferrin laughs pushing Vann on the shoulder]
Vann Siegert: [Vann walks into a bar, seeing only a lady and a bartender] Do you have any pie?
Vann Siegert: Hmm.
Bartender: No pie. No pizza. No kitchen. Just booze.
Laurie Bloom: You got pickles.
[the three of them look at the pickle jar that's full of yellow juice and yellow pickles]
[Laurie begins coughing all over the bar when Vann suggests corn for her cough]
Laurie Bloom: Fucking allergies. I'm not even 30, and I got six different things wrong with me. Shit.
Vann Siegert: Corn is good.
Laurie Bloom: What?
Vann Siegert: Corn, if it's fresh.
Laurie Bloom: [Laurie coughs again] Corn.
Vann Siegert: Sometimes it'll make you feel better. Really.
[Vann has a pickle conversation with the bartender and Laurie]
Laurie Bloom: You think anyone's ever made a pie out of pickles?
Vann Siegert: I hope not.
Laurie Bloom: There are people that eat pickles with ice cream.
Bartender: Pregnant women maybe. But I never heard of anybody making a pie out of pickles.
Laurie Bloom: [Laurie holds up her drink] Well, then who buys them? I'd like to get pickled.
Bartender: You are, baby.
[Vann finds out Laurie's name is not Casper]
Vann Siegert: 'Casper'? Like the ghost?
Laurie Bloom: 'Casper' like shit. That's not my name. My name's Laurie.
Vann Siegert: Laurie, that's a nice name.
Laurie Bloom: L-A-U-R-I-E. Laurie. Four vowels and two consonants. That's rare, you know? Almost all the vowels, A-E-I-U. The only one I don't have is an 'O'. So if your name was Tony, you'd be perfect. What is your name?
Vann Siegert: Bob.
Laurie Bloom: Nuh-uh. So you got the 'O'.
Vann Siegert: Got the 'O'. Guess that makes me okay.
[Vann chuckles as Laurie cheers]
[Vann drives on after leaving Laurie's dead body at a rest stop]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] I've never done anything violent to anybody. Just the minimum that was necessary. No fear, no pain. They just go to sleep. But after it's done, there's no going back. No second chance. If I've made a mistake, I'll pay for it. You don't always choose what you do. Sometimes what you do chooses you. That's where discipline comes in. I like the details of a thing. Especially if it's got a purpose.
[Vann checks out the bedroom for rent at the Durwin's house]
Jane: [Jane opens the bedroom blinds] In the Spring it's quite lovely. The light in here.
Vann Siegert: It's nice right now. I like the fall.
Jane: [Jane goes to the bathroom] This has got a shower. But also there's a bath down the hall which is private because we never use it.
Jane: [Vann looks at the picture on the dresser] That's our daughter. This was her room. She's in college now.
Vann Siegert: She looks smart. She looks like you.
[Doug talks to Jane about inviting him down for dinner]
Doug: Is Vann having dinner with us?
Jane: Of course not.
Doug: Maybe we should invite him down his first night?
Jane: No, no. Doug, the last thing you want is for your tenant to become your guest. Keep your distant.
Doug: I suppose.
Jane: Well, don't. Don't. Leave him alone. Let's... let's give him a chance to get adjusted first.
Doug: With the skins still on? The potatoes.
Jane: Yes. Just the way you like them.
[Vann talks about how he sees people like Doug in the world]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] I take the natural momentum of a person and draw it towards me. The most important part of understanding someone is knowing if they can hurt you or not. Doug can't hurt anybody. Not as he is.
[Vann lays in the grass thinking about having a job as a postman]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] Thing about other jobs, like being a doorman somewhere in a city with tall buildings. The kind of job where you take care of the people who rely on you for certain things. You stay out of their business, but you're also expected to know what's going on, so you can help. Plus, on the holidays you get big tips. I guess there's other benefits, too. I feel normal now.
[Vann talks to Gene about football before giving him a sip of his poison booze]
Vann Siegert: What happens if you get an injury?
Gene: Coach wants us to. The problem is if we don't get injured, he thinks we're not giving 110%. You know?
Vann Siegert: He does? That's asking a lot.
Gene: Supposed to raise our pain threshold or something.
Vann Siegert: I bet it probably does.
Gene: Did you ever play?
Vann Siegert: Me? I played a little.
Vann Siegert: I was a scat back.
Gene: A scat back!
[both Vann and Gene chuckle together]
[Vann see's Doug standing outside the house practicing a Drunken Monkey Kung Fu pose]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] Maybe I was wrong about Doug. Maybe he could hurt somebody.
[Vann is shown digging a grave in the woods]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] I never make a plan. Like a comet shooting across the sky. It just happens. Nobody knows where it'll land.
[Vann see's Blair and Glenn stand over him as he's standing in an empty grave]
Blair: How about the carpet salesman, Glenn Skile? Was that your first? They never find the corpses, do they, Vann?
Graves: Nobody will know shit, except the soft, dead Earth. Right, Vann? That where you keep 'em?
[Jane wakes up Vann from the floor of his bedroom]
Vann Siegert: What happened?
Jane: You must have passed out. You must have fainted.
Vann Siegert: [Jane props Vann's head up on her arm] I never did that before. I put that vacuum away. When everything went black.
Jane: It can happen. I fainted once.
Vann Siegert: You did?
Jane: When I was pregnant.
Vann Siegert: [Vann makes a joke] I hope I'm not pregnant, Mrs. Durwin.
[Ferrin works beside Vann in the mail room of the post office]
Ferrin: [Vann holds up a grand opening flyer with a clown on the page] You like clowns?
Vann Siegert: Yeah, but I don't eat sausages.
Ferrin: That one is so creepy. I don't really understand how anybody is gonna sell stuff with it.
[Ferrin and Vann talk on their lunch break at work]
Ferrin: How old are you?
Vann Siegert: That's so funny. I was just gonna ask you the same thing. I'm 34.
Ferrin: Oh, my god. I thought you were, like, 28 or something.
[Vann asks Ferrin if she ever delivers the mail]
Vann Siegert: Do you ever get to deliver the mail?
Ferrin: Oh, no.
Vann Siegert: But you get to sell stamps.
Ferrin: Well, a carrier can't clerk, and a clerk can't carry. We don't really cross graphs at the post office.
[Ferrin asks Vann if he wants to go out for a drink with her]
Ferrin: Do you want to get a beer with me after work?
Vann Siegert: [Vann lowers his 7 Up can from taking a drink] I don't drink.
Ferrin: [Ferrin pauses before commenting on the Oregon sweater Vann's wearing] What's 'Oregon' for?
Vann Siegert: I used to live there once just for a while.
Ferrin: Doing what?
Vann Siegert: I sold stereos and worked in a shop.
Ferrin: On account of what don't you drink?
Vann Siegert: I don't know. On account of nothing I guess.
Ferrin: Well, if you want, I'll be at Hobie's after work.
Ferrin: [Ferrin takes a drink from Vann's 7 UP can] You can watch me.
[Vann stands with a group of volunteers who are going to search for Gene who's missing]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] If I never came to this place, these people would be somewhere else right now. Out shopping or watching TV. But instead, they're here looking for Gene. Afraid something bad has happened. But who could say?
Vann Siegert: [narrating, while on the search in the woods] My opinion is you could miss a body in a search like this. We keep our eyes to the ground, but we're told to look at the trees as well. I guess in case he hung himself. I look harder than anybody. I look so hard I forget there's nothing to find.
[Vann reads from the Official Carrier's Manual after getting the carrier mail job]
Vann Siegert: [voice-over] 'Unexpected accumulations of mail can be a sign of trouble. If the carrier notices this, he takes the initiative. It either means the inhabitants have left unexpectedly, and the mail must be saved. Or it means something is wrong and should be investigated.'
[Vann sits in church with the rest of the town folk, praying over Gene's missing person]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] I can get up and speak one single sentence, and all this would come to a stop. If I ran, they'd chase me. And they'd catch me. Everybody here, and each person I talk to for a long time to come would have a story to tell. With Gene, for the first time I broke both my rules. Rule 1: Don't give a drink to someone you know. Rule 2: Don't do anybody who lives in the same town as you. Why did I? I'm not one who believes people cry out to be caught. But I did it, two rules at once.
[Vann meets Ferrin's dog The General for the first time]
Vann Siegert: [Vann looks down at the dog] It's even smaller than it looks.
Ferrin: The house?
Vann Siegert: The dog. Does he really eat cat food?
Ferrin: Yeah, he loves it. I'll show you.
Vann Siegert: Maybe that's why he's small.
[Vann asks Ferrin about the cat sitting in the mail room]
Vann Siegert: Do you know who that cat belongs to?
Ferrin: Oh, that's Zip Code. She doesn't belong to anybody. Everybody brings her food though. That's how I feed my dog.
Vann Siegert: Your dog eats cat food?
[Vann sees the inside of Ferrin's cabin for the first time]
Vann Siegert: This isn't small. This is nice. This cabin. It reminds me a lot of the cabin I used to have. It even sort of smells like it.
Ferrin: It's not mine. I don't own it.
Vann Siegert: Neither did I.
Ferrin: I feel like I do.
Vann Siegert: You ought to. But you leave your doors unlocked.
Ferrin: There's nothing to steal except for the dog.
Vann Siegert: There's you.
Ferrin: What would they do with me?
[Vann doesn't respond to the question]
[Ferrin asks Vann how his carrier route is going at the post office]
Ferrin: How's the route going?
Vann Siegert: Fine except for the Jeep.
Ferrin: What's wrong with it?
Vann Siegert: Well, there's a mechanical problem.
Ferrin: What's that?
Vann Siegert: The driver.
Ferrin: [Ferrin laughs aloud] You're funny.
[Vann drives the mail Jeep along his route]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] People take their carriers for granted, trust them not to read the sealed envelopes or postcards even. They stick on their stamps and have faith. I deliver the mail but never get any. But still, it's the best job I've ever had. I could do it forever.
[Vann sits in his bedroom looking at the stack of mail he stole on his route]
Blair: [Vann hears the voices talk behind him] What are you doing? That's a federal offense, isn't it?
Graves: Yeah. Didn't you read the Carrier's Manual? You think crime is some fucking kind of entertainment. Reading other people's mail?
Vann Siegert: You tell me.
Blair: No, no, it's not our job, Vaninsky.
[Vann shows Graves and Blair his different expressions]
Graves: Speak up, Vann. Express yourself.
Vann Siegert: I got seven expressions. but I'll show you guys two if you want to see them.
[Vann stands up in the center of his bedroom as Graves and Blair watch, Vann then makes the expression of himself getting electrocuted without any sound, then stops, turns to the side, and then expresses himself from the side view getting electrocuted, stopping, facing back to Graves and Blair]
Blair: That's not bad. Except number two looks an awful lot like number one.
[Vann talks to Doug who's drunk, about Doug's daughter Karen coming home for Christmas]
Vann Siegert: Listen, if Karen's coming home for Christmas and you want I should leave for a while, it's okay, I can.
Doug: No, I don't want you to leave for a while. She's not coming home for Christmas. 'It's okay, I can.' Halloween, or the fucking Fourth of July either.
Vann Siegert: I just thought if she was coming home from college...
Doug: College my ass. Our little Karen's not at college. Or if she is, it's news to me. I don't know where she is. Anyway... You're the daughter now, huh? Vann the Man. Fuck her. And the mother she rode in on.
[Vann takes Ferrin on a drive over the weekend]
Ferrin: Are you in a good mood?
Vann Siegert: Yeah, I'm happy. Everybody's a little happy on a Saturday.
[Vann asks Ferrin at the beach if she knows about the sailors and fisherman of the old days]
Vann Siegert: You know why in the old days sailors and fisherman never learned how to swim?
Ferrin: No, why?
Vann Siegert: Because if you knew how to swim it'd take so much longer to drown.
Ferrin: Oh. I never heard that.
Vann Siegert: You wanna go in?
[Vann sits in his truck alone at an empty parting lot]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] In my mind, I prepare for the end. Explaining myself to people I don't yet know, that I expect someday I'll meet, at a dark gray metal desk in a room with fluorescent lights. I can almost see them somewhere up ahead of me, waiting for me.
[Vann in his mind is sitting in an interrogation room, talking to Graves and Blair about turning himself in]
Graves: Don't give him shit. What's he given us?
Blair: What he means, Vann, is you're just giving us stock answers.
Vann Siegert: Well, I think one thing you guys oughta learn is that the story's mine, it belongs to me, so I think I'll tell it my way.
Graves: No matter which fucking way you tell it, gas chamber is where you're headed, Siegert.
Vann Siegert: That's one guess.
Graves: Just like Ted Bundy.
Vann Siegert: Who?
Graves: Mm-hmm. Yeah, he talked real big, too. But in the end, it took two deputies to hold him down.
[Vann talks about the houses on his second new mail route]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] All I know about these houses stops at the front door. I pick up the clues about the lives inside by the smells. Each one has its own. Not just cooking either. I have the urge to go in. But I don't. I let what they have inside remain hidden. I think about playing a larger part. Tear open their envelopes, read them their mail. 'Dear Mrs. Partucci, your son is dead.'
[Van drives his truck home at night after poisoning a business man's soda at the local diner, as Graves and Blair sit in the passenger and middle seats beside him]
Blair: Guy minding his own business. Probably on his way home from work. Why him? I mean, why would this so-called urge say, 'That guy but not this one'?
Vann Siegert: [narrating] I look for the meaning of things. Wait for a sign, an event of some kind.
[Jane knocks on Vann's bedroom door in the middle of the night to ask him one of her puzzle questions]
Jane: What's a four-letter word for little?
Vann Siegert: Small.
Jane: That's five.
Jane: [Jane aloud says] Tiny!
Vann Siegert: That's right.
Vann Siegert: I don't know.
Jane: We need eight letters. Martinet.
[Vann holds his hand up as to say I still don't know]
[Jane reads to Vann a story from the local newspaper from the town over]
Jane: Listen to this. 'A 75-year-old woman was killed last night by a 20-pound lump of concrete dropped from the roof of an apartment complex on Catharine Avenue in West Bay.' Now get this part. 'Neighbors told reporters it was fairly common for heavy objects to be thrown from high buildings in their area.'
Vann Siegert: [Van replies with a smile] I must have missed that one.
[Ferrin has Vann sign Joe the postman's get-well soon card, who's had a Triple Bypass surgery]
Ferrin: That's nice.
Vann Siegert: What'd you write?
Ferrin: 'If you don't hurry back soon, this girl's gonna die of a broken heart. No pun intended. Love, Ferrin.'
[Ferrin nervously asks Vann why he hasn't called her]
Ferrin: Are you trying to avoid me?
Vann Siegert: What do you mean?
Ferrin: Well, I was thinking that maybe you would have called me by now.
Vann Siegert: I've been so tired after work everyday. It's no wonder old Joe La Moine had himself a heart attack.
Ferrin: [Vann nods up and down] What are you doing later?
Vann Siegert: I have to go to the library. But I'll call you.
Vann Siegert: As soon as I get your number.
Ferrin: I never gave you my number?
Vann Siegert: [Vann smiles] You never gave me your number.
Ferrin: [Ferrin blushes with a laugh] Oh. Okay. Well... hand.
[Ferrin writes down her number on the palm of Vann's hand]
[Vann narrates about the urge that tells him to kill]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] The urge erases the path it's traveled. But they will be searching for somebody. Somebody who isn't short, isn't tall. Isn't anything at all. Not yet. But I am becoming a fact.
[Vann narrates about families receiving local mail, as Gene's body is uncovered at the beach]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] 'Your US Postal Service is your carrier of news and knowledge, a constant servant of departed friends.' I wonder if Doug and Jane ever get a letter from Karen. For sure Paul and Lois won't get one from Gene. Not until there's a body are people ever certain someone is dead.
[in front of Vann, Doug slaps himself in the face after finding out Gene is dead, then apologizes]
Doug: Sorry. Uh, a person's brains is like... are like a pet. Sometimes... sometimes it gets loose, and sometimes it gets lost. Sometimes it just sort of behaves itself and stays in the yard.
[Vann watches the news as it talks about a local serial killer being suspected in the area]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] This woman on TV is telling everybody the autopsy of Gene turned up traces of the same poison found in the tissues of the man in the diner. She's telling me I should be more careful. All they need is a little flake of skin, a strand of hair, something you left behind, something for the FBI.
Vann Siegert: [Vann aloud says] My truck.
[Vann looks at himself in the bedroom mirror, as Graves and Blair talk to him about the witnesses]
Graves: Two guys just like us are gonna be taking over this case full-time. They're gonna read the coroner's report. And every time they do, they're gonna find something new.
Blair: Interview the customers, the cook, that girl at the diner. Then back to that asshole bartender. The lady with the baby. Then they'll have some artist start to make a sketch of what they describe.
[Vann talks to agent Pate and agent Creech in the back of their police car]
Vann Siegert: You guys have any leads?
Pate: Well, we think so. But then, uh, we always think so. Sometimes it turns out that we don't have shit. Thank you for your help, Mr. Siegert
Vann Siegert: All right. I'm sorta having a hard time with this door.
Pate: [Pate looks to Creech in the driver seat] Unlock the door.
[Vann watches agent Creech search around and under his truck]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] This is governed by complicated mathematical odds. The amount of mail received by each house varies from day to day, and yet it often evens out over the course of many addresses. There's a mystery here that I could one day be tempted to explore when I learn it better.
[Ferrin shows Vann the front page of the newspaper that has a sketch of the poison killer on it]
Ferrin: This is the guy they think poisoned all those people.
Vann Siegert: [Vann stares at the sketch asking] Sorta looks like me, doesn't it?
Ferrin: [Ferrin scoffs] No.
Ferrin: [Ferrin pauses] I'd like to cook you dinner.
Vann Siegert: You cook?
[the two quietly smile to themselves]
[Vann tells Ferrin what he's learned from life]
Vann Siegert: I spent a lot of time in the woods. I mean, not around here. In the north. I think if I've learned anything it's because of my time alone just listening. Being with the plants, watching things. Spiders, insects, whatever they are.
[Vann sees the birds now going to the Durwin's bird house in the backyard, just after Doug was taken into police custody]
Vann Siegert: [narrating] Now that he's gone, the birds have come. If it wasn't so sad, it could be funny.
Vann Siegert: [narrating, as Vann drives down the dark interstate] It's the light. You go into it, and out of it. I'm not surprised this country has so much violence. I'm surprised it has so little. Some people can't beat it. Doug couldn't. But I'm not Doug. If they let me get to wherever it is I'm going, I'll make a pact with myself. I guess I'll know where that is when I get there. Eventually, I can get another job. Hopefully in a post office. Now that I've got experience.
Vann Siegert: I was just worried because you're worried, because he told you he got into a fight last night?
Jane: You know who beat him up? He did. He beat himself up. I tried to get him to take medicine, but he won't do it. He won't do anything I tell him to do. He always looks for someone to admire. There's always somebody on the top of his list. Right now that person is you, so be careful.
Vann Siegert: Of what?
Jane: Be careful you don't wind up taking care of him.