Productive Cough

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Dr. Alan Mitchell's patient Grant is finally opening up to his therapist. But, what if his confession is too much for Dr. Mitchell to handle?

Submitted: March 15, 2010

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Submitted: March 15, 2010

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Productive Cough

DR. ALAN MITCHELL:

Man, in his late thirties.

SOPHIE:

Woman, in her late twenties.

GRANT:

Man, in his late twenties.

Act One

Scene One

Setting:

A very empty kitchen, with only one chair

at the little table. A woman in bustling around,

cleaning and making some sort of food. A man

enters ready for work.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Good morning, Dear.

SOPHIE

Morning.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I just had a wonderful shower.

SOPHIE

That's nice, hon.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Are you okay, Sophie? Did you sleep well?

SOPHIE

Coffee?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Please.

SOPHIE

Let's say that I had an awful shower this morning.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

You didn't take one.

SOPHIE

Exactly.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I suppose that explains it then. You could just take one.

SOPHIE

Not yet.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I'm glad you stayed last night.

SOPHIE

I stay every night. Whether I want to or not.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

No you don't.

SOPHIE

Yes I do. But either way, it's almost time for work.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I could stay home today.

SOPHIE

We both know very well that you can't. Skip one day and all the crazies will be having nervous break downs.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

They aren't crazy. My patients are just people who are a little lost. People who need a little help finding the right way.

SOPHIE

Everyone needs a little help.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Some more than others.

SOPHIE

Sure. Sure.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I should be going.

SOPHIE

Have a good day.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

You too.

SOPHIE

Bye.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Bye. (Pause.) Sophie?

SOPHIE

Hmm?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I'm really happy. With you. With dating you.

SOPHIE

(Smiling)

I'm happy with dating you, too. Now scram, Dr. Mitchell. Or you'll be late.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Alright. (Pause.) Bye. (Pause.) I love you.

SOPHIE

That's the first time you've said that in a long time, huh?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

(Blushing)

Yeah.

SOPHIE walks over to him and kisses his cheek. DR. ALAN MITCHELL exits

Scene Two

Setting:

A therapists office, two men are sitting opposite each other. The therapist looks at his notes on his patient and frowns at the lack of them. The patient looks bored.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

You've been seeing me for a long time, Mr. Dodson. I-

GRANT

Six months. As ordered by the Honorable Judge Watson.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

That is actually what I'm referring to, Mr. Dodson. You and I have spent hours together, as ordered by the Honorable Judge Watson, discussing the weather and debating the philosophical ramifications of everything from adultery to tying ones shoes. But my job is to learn about you, to let you blow off steam, so to speak, in a non judgmental environment.

GRANT

And if you find out that I'm insane or guilty, that's just a little bonus for you, isn't it?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Mr. Dodson-

GRANT

You can start by calling me Grant

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Grant, then. (Pause)

GRANT

What?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Tell me about yourself.

GRANT

I'd rather not.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Grant, we've seen each other for an hour everyday for six months. Today is your last session with me and I can't even say that I know where you were born or where you're from. Not a single fact about you.

GRANT

Would that help you understand me? Figure me out? Put me in a little box in the corner of your mind, safe, and secure box. A box that's easy to open and close at will? An oddly colored box perhaps, but a recognizable shape at the least.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Grant, I-

GRANT

Will you learn so much about me from such a simple fact?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Perhaps not, but my point is that I know more about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt than I know about you. I can tell you more about-

GRANT

New Jersey.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I'm sorry?

GRANT

I was born in New Jersey.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Excellent! So tell me a little about your parents? What did your father do for a living?

GRANT

I'd rather not say.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Now, Mr. Dodson- Grant, I understand that this is hard for you. It would be hard for anybody. But I am here for a reason. And that reason is that you are not alone. I am here for you. You can tell me anything you want. I won't judge you in anyway.

GRANT

You won't judge me? My God. I didn't realize that you were so powerful. So inanely special. To think that I wasted six months, two weeks and three days worth of sessions, not speaking to the almighty, non judgemental psychiatrist. Whatever should I do about my lost time?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Perhaps I am judgemental. And it is a bit foolish of me to say otherwise, I admit to that. But you should know that I am here, and I can help you.

GRANT

Help me? Help me how? Have you got a magic wand? Are you going to fix everything with it? What will you fix, Dr. Mitchell? How will you find out what needs fixing in this twisted soul of mine? What if it turns out you are the one in need of repair? What happens then?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I-

GRANT

And you're here, with your own flaws. Distancing yourself from everything, everyone. And you're going to fix me? Lovely.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Grant-

GRANT

Everything has flaws, and everything falls eventually, you know. It's just a matter of destroying the support beams. Nibbling, piece by piece. I will fall, I suppose. And you too, Dr. Mitchell. Just like me. Alone.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I am not alone! And neither are you!

GRANT

Are you sure about that? Everyone I meet disintegrates. Turns into ash. And scatters to the winds.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Now, Grant. That's impossible and you know that.

GRANT

Is it impossible? Then how you explain this predicament I'm in? That I need you, to make me feel less alone? Maybe I don't want to be wanted. Maybe what I want is loneliness. I want to lie in the center of an empty room and wait. I want my body to decay. I want flies and maggots and roaches to devour my skin and climb though every empty orifice. Then let my bones disintegrated into the floor. No one will even notice. How long will it take for the stench to reach someone's occupied nostrils?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Stop it! Just stop!

GRANT

Why? That's what will happen to me. And to you. Oh, what am I saying? You must have a wife, kids, friends? A cat, at least. (Pause.) Don't you? ( Silence.) Or not.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

We are here to talk about you, Grant.

GRANT

Huh. I'd rather not.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I know what we are not talking about! We are not talking about my life!

GRANT

Ah. Do we have a little more in common than I thought.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

No!

GRANT

Did you learn that lovely manner in graduate school? You find it... troubling, to be like me?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I-

GRANT

I wonder why.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I don't. You are murder after all.

GRANT

Now you're just hurting my feelings. Alleged murderer.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Sorry, but that is why you're here.

GRANT

We have been dancing around the subject for six months.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Six months, two weeks and three days.

GRANT

And 45 minutes.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

But you won't say word, will you?

GRANT

I'd rather not.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

( After a long pause)

Fine then, let's speak hypothetically. Let's say that, hypothetically, a man were to go to work everyday, buy gas every week, pay his bills every month, change his oil every three, flip his mattress every six, send in his tax forms each year and then suddenly, abruptly he changes. He starts following his neighbor around, starts making trouble for her. Leaves things on her door step. Flowers, stuffed animals, rotting carcasses. The man, sneaks into her house, leaves bizarre messages on her machine, eventually kills her. Why would a man do that?

GRANT

Don't you mean allegedly kills her?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Yes, allegedly kills her. What would possess him to do such a thing?

GRANT

Hypothetically?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Of course.

GRANT

I think that you are awfully chatty for a therapist.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

(Sighs)

Of course. You aren't required to talk... but I must put it in my review to Judge Watson. I don't think he'd take kindly to that. He'd surely recommend more therapy.

GRANT

Fine, Dr. Mitchell. We could say that, hypothetically of course, that a man was born in New Jersey. And that his hypothetical parents were a hypothetical doctor and a hypothetical teacher. And that they were thrilled with having a son. Their only son, their only hypothetical hope, to enrich the genetic line. And they must have hypothetically loved him, at one point. That is until he began to question the world. To question life, to question death. His favorite study was roadkill. (Pause) Yes, roadkill. Maggot ridden flesh and rotting meat. It's a beautiful thing, to see so much life grow from death. His parents didn't see it that way, of course. Their expressions were hypothetically lovely. And the boy was punished. (Pause) And the boy didn't care. The stench wafting from the boy's hypothetical room went ignored. It never stopped, of course. He began to kill things on his own, small animals at first. Just to watch them die, to see the terrified eyes of the hypothetical prey. To see the blood drip slowly from the nose, there is nothing lovelier than the last spasm of life in flesh. How many times have those Christian ideals been beaten into poor boys and girls? Thou shalt not... fill in the blank. It seems to work, not every child grows up a killer. But for our hypothetical it must have had an opposite effect. Raising questions and hopes for an omnipotent future (Pause) So the boy, yes, he would have to have been cast out, at some point, by those hypothetically perfect parents. Perhaps a prep school for disturbed children, which he escapes from. Otherwise he would no longer have been disturbing, would he? (Pause) Yes, he ran away and pretended to be normal. Found work, amenities, and everything he could have wanted. Except perhaps, the power of God. The power to take life, a human life, which, surely he did on a few isolated occasions. A yappy dog down the street, a stray cat, perhaps he even bought animals from the pet store. Careful to conceal the remains, of course. (Pause) So careful. (Pause) Until one day, our hypothetical woman moved in to the apartment one door over. (Pause) Did you think I forgot her? I didn't. (Pause) And our hypothetical boy took stock of his empty life. The four sanitary white walls of his living room, the single recliner, that needed no companion, the cold wood floors. No table, no need for one, no plates or napkins or silverware, no need for those either. Why try to keep up the appearances of a normal life in this sanctuary? Why try to keep things tidy? As long as water ran from all the faucets in that empty apartment, every sin, every speck of dirt could be sent straight to Hell. But then he saw her, a perfect woman. Well, not perfect by any means. But, perhaps, that was her appeal. Hair, brown, much too short. Spiky. Eyes, also brown, were lopsided somehow. Too fat, breasts too small, barely worth mentioning. But her smile, that genuine and glittering row of teeth over perfect lips. She would thrash in the most lovely way as life left her her slowly dying corpse. (Pause.) You know, they say time slows down when you are about to die, or not that time slows really, but that your brain is able to process events faster. Your mind would feebly try to resist death were I to kill you right now Dr. Mitchell. And as every last atom of oxygen left your body, you would see it, feel it. Feel the unimaginable pain of carbon dioxide flooding your lungs. And lactic acid would pool in your muscles as you tried to fight. You would feel that too Dr. Mitchell. It's seems sort of cruel to me, that your body would do such a thing. Make the inevitable so very painful. (Pause) Or perhaps our hypothetical boy wanted to become a hypothetical man. So he did what any normal boy would do when in love. He left flowers, candy and all sorts of tokens for her. She knew who it was, it was obvious. But how she loved to be coy. Always asking him if he had seen anyone in the hall, and slamming the door in his face if he coyly replied "I didn't see a soul." They played that game for quite a while. She loved him, of course. And he loved her. She would understand him. Surely she would, if no one else. One day she found a dead animal corpse on her door mat. He thought she would have loved to see that poor beast. He had died well. She did not like that. She discovered it then, the dirty truth. That he had been sneaking into her apartment, leaving the gifts. She threatened to call the cops. Nasty words she flew about, restraining order, prison. Couldn't have that. She shrieked and squirmed as I wrapped my hands around her- (GRANT looks at his watch.) Well Dr. Mitchell. It looks like our time is up. (pause.) Well? What do you have to say Doctor? I've granted you're wish, haven't I? Don't you want to assure the room that I'm not crazy? That I'm not fucked up? Or would you rather not? (GRANT turns to exit, but stops.) Oh, and no one flips a mattress every six months, hypothetically or not.

Scene Three

Setting:

The kitchen.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Sophie? Soph? You here?

SOPHIE

Of course, I'm here, Alan. I don't leave the kitchen.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

You leave the kitchen.

SOPHIE

Are you sure about that? I don't think so.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Yeah.

SOPHIE

You okay hon? You look pale.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Where's Oscar?

SOPHIE

I haven't seen him since I set out his dinner. I'm sure he's sleeping under the sofa again. He got my ankle yesterday, big scratch, my screechy voice, blood on the new runner, all in all a big day for me.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I didn't see any blood on the runner.

SOPHIE

Most of it came out. We need to get that cat de-clawed, Alan. Please stop putting it off.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Yeah. Sure.

SOPHIE

Are you hungry? Maybe some good food will put some color in those cheeks.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I guess.

SOPHIE

The sit, sit! Here's a plate for you.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

You're not eating?

SOPHIE

I never eat.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

You do, too.

SOPHIE

Either way you're alone tonight. (Pause.) Alan? Alan! Oh my god! What's wrong with you?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Don't go, Sophie!

SOPHIE

I'm not going anywhere! Stop it! Snap out of it!

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I'm sorry, I just. I had a weird day. My paitent-

SOPHIE

Alan. You aren't really supposed to tell me this stuff. And you know any little bit gets me so curious. I'm just like you that way.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Yeah. Sorry.

SOPHIE

Maybe you should skip dinner and get some sleep, Alan. You look like you might be catching some kind of bug.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I'll take a little dinner. I'm fine, really.

SOPHIE

Yeah, you're fine, you're shaking.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I'll have dinner and get to bed, Soph. Promise.

SOPHIE

Fine, fine.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

How long have we known each other, Sophie?

SOPHIE

Keep your eye on the sandwich, you're about to drop it.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

How long have we been dating Sophie?

SOPHIE

Oh, about... six months.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

(Laughs crazily)

Six. Months.

SOPHIE

Um. Yes. (Pause) Alan? (Pause) Should we maybe take you to the hospital?

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

Sophie. Sophie. Don't leave me alone, Sophie. Stay with me forever, Sophie. Marry me, Sophie.

SOPHIE

You don't mean that, Alan. You don't want to marry me.

DR. ALAN MITCHELL

I do. I want you to be Sophie Mitchell. I want to be with you.


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