“THINGS FALL INTO PLACE”
“Take up the White Man's burden, send forth the best ye breed. Go bind your sons to exile to serve your captives' need; to wait in heavy harness, on fluttered folk and wild--your new-caught, sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child”
(We start with a thirteen-year old Ethan Donahue in November 1978. He is sitting around a table at Thanksgiving. 41-year old Lynn Donahue, 19-year old Paul Donahue, 15-year old Allison Donahue, 81-year old Morgan Donahue and 32-year old Thaddeus Donahue are also sitting around the table)
THAD: Where’s that hefty bird? I am going to eat it like we ate the Indians.
ETHAN: We ate the Indians?
PAUL: Yeah, we did.
LYNN: Stop, he’ll believe anything.
ETHAN: I’m thirteen, I can discern truth from reality, mom. You need to realize that, because you told me that the massacre in Jonestown last week was “nap time gone wrong”, which, doesn’t even begin to describe it.
THAD: Don’t worry kiddo, I’m the youngest, so your father would always try to convince me of the wackiest things.
ETHAN: Like what?
THAD: Like, I was adopted, or I was a mistake.
MORGAN: And he was only right about the second part. And a whole lot of other things.
(43-year old Leonard Donahue walks in carrying the turkey)
LEONARD: This trimmed bird is my pride and joy. (He puts it on the table and pulls up a chair) Also, feel free to help yourself to the bowls of macaroni and cheese we have around the table.
LYNN: Since when do we eat macaroni at Thanksgiving?
LEONARD: At the firm we’re trying to make Kraft Macaroni a Thanksgiving classic. They didn’t exactly respond well to our first attempt to conduct research on the product. (Cut to Leonard in October 1978 in a 70s era brown suit with a wide tie and side burns pitching copy to Kraft executives) We have determined your target market, Mr. Kraft.
KRAFT EXEC: None of us are named that.
LEONARD: Your target market is macaroni and cheese lovers. (He pulls a sheet off of a pie chart that is basically just a yellow circle that says “Macaroni and cheese lovers 100%”) I can tell you, that of the people who buy Kraft macaroni and cheese, all of them fall into this specific category.
KRAFT EXEC: We paid you 5,000 dollars to conduct market research.
LEONARD: And we appreciate it.
LYNN: Anyway, I think we would be remiss if we didn’t mention something.
LEONARD: Yes, this is our first Thanksgiving without Grandpa Nicholas. (They all go “aww”) Yes. It is tough. But he was a good man and I’m sure he’d love to be here.
MORGAN: He really wasn’t there by the end. He died years before he actually did, he was like a living obituary. His last words to me were “have a good day”.
ETHAN: …Those mashed potatoes are getting mighty cold…
LEONARD: Alright, Ethan, hold on. Let’s say our prayers. (They all hold hands and close their eyes) First up, Ethan should let go of my hand and his brother’s hand because that’s queer. (Ethan and Paul let go of each other’s hands and Ethan lets go of his dad’s hand) Secondly, we thank you Jesus for this beautiful bounty we’re about to receive AND we hope that your providence will help God’s favorite country, America, not pass the Equal Rights Amendment, amen.
(They open their eyes and lift up their heads)
LYNN: You had to make that political, didn’t you?
LEONARD: The Equal Rights amendment is supported by women who are bitter and dissatisfied with their lives.
LYNN: Yeah, because they’re treated unequally in the workplace, income levels, education, the medical field, but, (sarcastically) yeah, also because the neighbors have a better TV than us!
LEONARD: Exactly right.
PAUL: Ugh, stop talking about boring political stuff.
(Gerard Cosloy, their neighbor, walks in)
GERARD: Hey neighbors! I’m not interrupting anything am I?
LEONARD: Gerard! (Leonard stands up and shakes Gerard’s hand as the rest of the family stands up) Guys, you’ve met Gerard, right?
ETHAN: Of course.
MORGAN: I can’t say I have, son.
LEONARD: Oh, my mistake, mom, this is Gerard Cosloy, he is a business associate of mine, he did research on advertising to children for the firm until he left in ’76 to work for the Ford campaign.
GERARD: And now I’m unemployed! (They all laugh, except for him) For real.
LEONARD: So, please, join us.
GERARD: Oh, I don’t want to impose.
LEONARD: Nonsense, I invited you.
GERARD: That’s true, I guess I’ll take a peck at these mashed potatoes.
(They all sit down)
ETHAN: I wouldn’t, they’re getting colder and colder every minute.
GERARD: Ethan, you’re getting pretty big there kid, what are you, twelve, eleven years old now?
ETHAN: I’m thirteen.
GERARD: Did you say ten?
GERARD: Thirteen? Oh, okay. Was your birthday yesterday?
ETHAN: A couple weeks ago.
GERARD: Good. Terrific, you look good.
LEONARD: He’s been skateboarding, which despite its anarchistic tendencies, is considerably good exercise.
ETHAN: It sure is.
GERARD: If you ever need any help with repairing a skateboard, or even, shooting a skating video, don’t hesitate to ask me for help.
ETHAN: Sure. I have a camera now, so maybe I could get a video camera too.
LYNN: Yes, Ethan is in photography in his school.
GERARD: Is that right? I love taking photos too.
ETHAN: Yeah, it’s pretty fun. I was thinking about making, like, a public forum where a bunch of people could post their pictures and see if anybody else likes their pictures and stuff like that, so I could, instantly diagram, or insta-gram, all these photos and stuff, but uh, it turns out it costs like, a dollar each to get pictures developed, so I abandoned the idea.
LEONARD: Regardless, photography is not a man’s profession unless he’s photographing the President himself. And not nude!
LYNN: Did anybody have that in mind?
LEONARD: You need to become a businessman, or a, politician or maybe even an ad man like your old man.
PAUL: I could become one of those things too, right pop?
LEONARD: …Sure. You could also clean off the table when we’re done.
ETHAN: Speaking of which.
(Ethan points to the mashed potatoes and folds his arms and swivels back and forth to indicate coldness. Cut to a twenty-year old Leonard Donahue in December 1955 smoking a cigarette in his dorm room at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. His dorm mate walks in with a newspaper and a book and puts the newspaper on the desk and the book in a drawer)
DORM MATE: Good morning.
LEONARD: Good morning, Arthur.
ARTHUR: You’re not supposed to smoke in here, you know.
(Leonard turns around)
LEONARD: I have a window open.
ARTHUR: Still, you’re not supposed to.
LEONARD: As far as I’m concerned, they have no right to tell me what to do as long as they spread communism in the manner that they have.
ARTHUR: How do you mean?
LEONARD: All these goddamned professors, they’re all communists. Reds. Enemies.
ARTHUR: Well, how so?
LEONARD: They praise the Bolshevik bullshiVIT known as Social Security, they go over books like the Communist Manifesto, they talk about “rising up” and “worker’s rights”.
ARTHUR: I’ve never heard them discuss “rising up” before.
LEONARD: Then why is it that every time I’m in class, I get an uncomfortable boner?
ARTHUR: Um, I guess because you’re tired?
LEONARD: OR the Ruskies have put a chip in my dick to erect every time I hear socialist dribble.
ARTHUR: I actually think it may be because you get off on crushing commies, you sick fuck.
LEONARD: Hey! You have that guilty look on your face! The same one you had when you put the sentence “don’t be defeated by defeat” in one of your term papers.
ARTHUR: God, that was bad.
LEONARD: What is it, Arthur?
ARTHUR: For once, mind your own business, Leonard.
LEONARD: That’s not on my resume, Arthur. (Leonard opens one of his drawers and Arthur wrestles the book he picks up away from him) is that what I thought it was?!
LEONARD: That was the manifesto!
ARTHUR: So what if it was?! It’s an important piece of literature! (Leonard gasps) Leonard, it inspired the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, The August Revolution and even the
short-lived Revolution of Oz! It has historical significance!
LEONARD: I’m shocked! What else are you hiding?! (Leonard gets on the ground and looks under Arthur’s bed, gasps, and then stands back up) You have a puppy sleeping in a cage under there! That is clearly against college policy!
ARTHUR: He’s a good boy, okay? He hasn’t caused any trouble!
LEONARD: Well, what is he dreaming about, huh?! Karl Marx tossing a tennis ball around for him?!
(Cut to Karl Marx running around a field holding a tennis ball chasing after a puppy)
KARL MARX: No, boy! All the dogs get an equal slice of the ball!
(Karl cavalierly rips the tennis ball into four parts and throws it every which way as three other dogs show up and chase after those)
ARTHUR’S PUPPY: You tore that apart pretty cavalierly, none of those pieces are even remotely equal-
KARL MARX: Now we’re all happy!
(Cut back to Leonard and Arthur talking)
ARTHUR: That must’ve been Marx near the end.
LEONARD: I am doing something about this!
(Leonard leaves the dorm room. Cut to Leonard speaking to the dean, Jonathan Schornack, in his office)
DEAN SCHORNACK: What has got you troubled, Mr. Donahue?
LEONARD: Well, if I could be frank with you, Dean Schornack-
DEAN SCHORNACK: You may not.
LEONARD: This entire college is teeming with communists.
(Dean Schornack is inexplicably on a telephone)
DEAN SCHORNACK: I am calling the House Un-American Activities Committee as we speak.
LEONARD: Wait, no!
(Dean Schornack hangs up the phone)
DEAN SCHORNACK: Why? Is the phone being bugged by the Soviets? Is that why I have a hard-on right now?!
LEONARD: Listen, I think the best way to address this red menace is to let me investigate the student body and the professors, sort of, undercover-like. But also over-cover like, do you understand?
(Dean Schornack disconnects and throws his rotary phone out his open window)
DEAN SCHORNACK: I understand! (He closes the window and sits down) And I realize that communists are best dealt with in a speedy manner without too much time being cluttered up by thought, so I
indeed appoint you lead communist investigator of Champlain College!
LEONARD: Thank you so much, sir! (Leonard stands up and shakes Dean Schornack’s hand) Do I get tenure?
(Dean Schornack retracts his hand)
DEAN SCHORNACK: Get out!
(Cut to a professor in a Champlain college class room on a typewriter)
PROFESSOR: My Magnum Opus, chapter one. (He stops typing) I probably shouldn’t name it that. But, I don’t know how to go back on this thing, so, whatever.
(He continues typing as Leonard walks into the classroom wearing a suit and fedora hat with a feather in it)
LEONARD: Good morning, Professor Riley.
(He stops typing)
PROFESSOR RILEY: Morning, Lenny. How are your folks?
LEONARD: They’re well. In their late fifties and early sixties, both of them. Almost Social Security age.
PROFESSOR RILEY: That’s…okay? Great. Good for…them.
LEONARD: What do you think about Social Security, Professor Riley?
PROFESSOR RILEY: I tend to think it’s a good thing, Leonard, why?
LEONARD: Oh, no reason, Professor Riley. No reason at all. Just a question though, how many times have you traveled to the Soviet Union in the last month?
PROFESSOR RILEY: No times.
LEONARD: Alright, how about the last fifty-three years?
PROFESSOR RILEY: Same answer.
LEONARD: I’d love to see if you’ve ever written a screenplay of any sort, Professor.
PROFESSOR RILEY: Whoa. For a second I was thinking this was some sort of communist witch hunt by some annoying prick student, but now, you’re actually asking me-huh-about my screenplays?
PROFESSOR RILEY: I have DOZENS! (Professor Riley pulls out a huge stack of screenplays) I have written them over the past twenty years and have not a SOUL has seen them, and now FINALLY someone is interested!
LEONARD: Yep. I will read them all.
PROFESSOR RILEY: Go ahead. (Leonard takes one of the screenplays) This one is about a rugged boy fighting for the proletariat through subversion of the US government, I’m thinking about getting James Dean for the leading role.
LEONARD: You might want to hold off on that, Mr. Dean is…unavailable.
(Cut to someone holding a “Burdenia Times” newspaper for the 15th of September, 1901 that reads “AMERICAN PRESIDENT MCKINLEY DIES OF GUNSHOT INJURIES, AGED 58, THEODORE ROOSEVELT IS NOW US PRESIDENT” and the sub-headline “King Edward VII thinks that is sort of nifty”. Zoom out to reveal Caleb Sarandon, an imperial colonist, reading the newspaper while a hut is being torn down behind him. He is wearing a safari jacket, boots and safari hat and pants. He is portly with a moustache and a whip for some reason)
CALEB: (British accent) How do we have a printing press here?
(An assistant walks over)
ASSISTANT: Mr. Sarandon, some of the negros are upset that you’re tearing down their huts.
CALEB: You know what they’re going to love, though? Brick houses. Brick ovens. Brick in general. Imagine a fresh pizza coming out of a brick oven and the beautiful little fat African boys gathering around it in excitement, Albert.
ALBERT: Mr. Sarandon, we don’t have pizzas here.
CALEB: Fish and chips then. Also, no more excitement. And this time no ovens.
ALBERT: They’re also concerned that we’re tearing down their sacred monuments.
CALEB: Well, some of them are extremely graphic.
ALBERT: They insist that the statue of the man with the basket on his head and the extremely long penis was just part of their culture because they walk around naked all the time, just because we don’t doesn’t mean we should impose their culture on them-
CALEB: Right, I get that, but I’ve seen the people who walk around here, they wear loin cloths and I walked in on one of them urinating and he was so insecure about the size of his dick that he tried to beat me to death with a sculpting hammer-and guess what? He’s a sculptor! Do you see the connection here?!
ALBERT: I guess so.
CALEB: Good. Because we need to teach these backwards people how to act. Take up the white man’s burden.
ALBERT: You don’t have to do this-
CALEB: The savage wars of peace-fill full the mouth of famine and bid the sickness cease; and when your goal is nearest the end for others sought, watch sloth and heathen folly bring all your hopes to nought.
ALBERT: I know the poem.
CALEB: GOOD! Now go help the local children learn how to tie neckties.
ALBERT: Yes sir.
(Albert walks away. Cut to a negro standing before a British magistrate in a turn of the century court building. The British magistrate is wearing wigs and all and the negro is bruised and has a black eye)
MAGISTRATE: Alright Mr. Funnypants, what manner of ridiculous hijinks have you been engaging in?
NEGRO: (Heavy Nigerian accent) I am being accused of attempted murder, sir. But I have no lawyer! And even if I did it wouldn’t matter, because look at the jury!
(Pan to the jury, which is made up of Caleb Sarandon alone, sitting in one chair in a jury box full of chairs)
MAGISTRATE: We have assured his impartiality, Mr. Onawongo.
(Caleb spins around in his jury chair)
ONAWONGO: Sir, he is the alleged victim! This cannot be how British justice works!
MAGISTRATE: Yes, there are usually more hags holding pigs and shouting nonsense accusations.
(Pans to an old hag wearing a dirty brown robe. She has greasy hair and skin and awful teeth and she is holding a pig)
OLD HAG: (Heavy British cockney) THA’ OL’ SON OF A BITCH UP AND TOOK MY PIG OU’ A PASTURE I TELL YA, I’ A TRAVES’Y! I’M GONNA- (Unintelligible)
MAGISTRATE: Well, now it’s exactly the same. Satisfied?
ONAWONGO: No! Absolutely not!
MAGISTRATE: I agree. I hereby sentence you to death by hanging.
(The magistrate slams the gavel)
ONAWONGO: (Crying) NO!! Where will the hanging take place?!
CALEB: Your hut!
MAGISTRATE: I don’t know if that’s a good idea.
CALEB: He deserves to die the way he lived, just another hut-residing, dirty, lowlife ni-
(Cut to Caleb, the Magistrate and others watching as a hut collapses on itself)
MAGISTRATE: I guess it’s not easy to hang someone in a hut without the whole thing coming down.
CALEB: Yeah, didn’t really consider that angle.
MAGISTRATE: You didn’t consider any arithmetic at all, I think.
CALEB: Yeah, no angles. Could someone clean this up? (Cut to Caleb speaking to African children in loin cloths. He has a chalk board and chalk) Alright, children. Let’s talk about Jesus. Who was Jesus? (He draws Jesus as a white man with a beard and long hair in a white robe on the chalk board) There’s who Jesus was. He was born upon Immaculate Conception, now what is that?
AFRICAN CHILD (Heavy accent) When you are molested by Anansi, the Trickster God who comes in the form of a spider and spins his web in the genitals.
CALEB: Wha-no. You’re confusing that with my lonely wife back in England. There is only one God, and Mary was molested by Him. Or, impregnated, rather. There is no trickster God or anything like that.
AFRICAN CHILD: Then why did our penis statue get torn down? Was it not the work of Anansi?
CALEB: No, it was us.
OTHER AFRICAN CHILD: YOU MUST NOT ANGER ANANSI!! HE WILL COME AFTER YOU!
CALEB: Anansi isn’t real, you don’t have to “better watch out” or “better not cry”, I’m telling you why, Anansi is not real! I don’t know what kind of crazy jungle prophecy says that Anansi is going to harm me, but, I assure you, it’s not the case.
(That African child stands up)
OTHER AFRICAN CHILD: YOU HANGED A GOOD MAN!! DOES JESUS APPROVE OF THAT?! BECAUSE IF SO, I DON’T WANT HIS LOVE OR HIS CHISELED GOOD LOOKS!
CALEB: HEY! DON’T TALK BACK TO ME! DO YOU WANT ME TO GET THE LION IN HERE?!
(They all stand up)
AFRICAN CHILD: We could all take him down!
CALEB: No, that’s not-happening, it’s not happening! (They charge toward him and tackle him to the ground as he struggles to get free without hurting them) AHHH! WHITE MAN’S BURDEN ALRIGHT! (Caleb chuckles as one of the kids punches him in the face) OW!
(Cut to Caleb with a frozen piece of meat on a swollen face, talking to High Commissioner of the Protectorate of Nigeria, Frederick Lugard, in Caleb’s residence in the colony)
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: That’s quite a tale.
CALEB: Isn’t it, though?
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: The obstreperous negro children need to be taught a lesson to obey adults. Otherwise they’ll never learn to not maul white men half to death. What do you have on that, by the way?
CALEB: Tiger meat.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Use Leopard meat, it makes it heal faster.
CALEB: That’s funny, Sir Frederick.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Thanks.
CALEB: Congratulations on being knighted, by the way.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Thank you.
CALEB: As a Knight, what do you suggest we do about the whole, rebellious attitude around here if things come to a head?
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: I say we crush them, militarily.
CALEB: …Wait, really? We can’t even try diplomacy?
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: I’m a knight, Caleb! I can, grab a sword and slay the negro dragon if I want.
CALEB: I think we did that when we tore down the penis statue.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: True.
(Cut to Leonard and Lynn Donahue watching Albert White report the news on the TV in their living room)
ALBERT WHITE: We have breaking news, it is was just minutes ago that the President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Dianne Feinstein, informed news media that San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Board of Supervisors member Harvey Milk, have been assassinated by former Supervisor Daniel White. (Lynn gasps while Albert pinches his face) Details are sketchy at this point, but it does appear to be the case that Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Milk are dead at the ages of forty-nine and forty-eight respectively. Supervisor Milk was known especially for being the only homosexual person ever elected anywhere for any reason.
LYNN: My God, when will the bad news end?
LEONARD: You know, I hate to say it, but I bet Milk was killed because of his perversion.
(Ethan walks in holding a camera)
ETHAN: Hey, what’s going on?
LYNN: The Mayor of San Francisco has been shot and killed, along with some member of the Board of Supervisors.
ETHAN: Oh my Gosh. Why?
LEONARD: Because Harvey Milk is sick. His death is a tragedy, but being open about being queer is disgusting, keep it to yourself. What if President Carter just revealed on national television that he was a vagina?
LYNN: Jesus, Leonard.
LEONARD: I’m just saying! We all know it’s the case, but don’t say it!
ETHAN: I’m going to go…skate board.
LEONARD: Oh really, then why do you have the camera?
ETHAN: …To, uh…photograph the queers in compromising positions so I can, you know, blackmail them later and punish them for being so queer, you know?
LEONARD: You just tried to get in my good graces by saying you’re going to photograph homosexuals having sex?
LEONARD: Just go.
(Cut to Ethan outside on his skate board, holding his camera. He flips up his skate board and catches it)
ETHAN: This piece of crap, huh? (He throws it down and jumps on it, propelling forward for several feet) Was that a trick? I need a ramp or something. (He jumps off it and looks over to see Gerard’s mail box) That’s a ramp, sort of. I could grind that sucker. Watch me. (Ethan walks over there with his skate board and gets on it) The key is, for all you kids at home, to jump on the board and get lift with your hands. For example. (He grabs the bottom of the skate board and attempts to jump, but just falls over) OW! Goddamn. (He takes the skate board and angrily hits the mail box repeatedly with it) ASS! ASS! ASS!
(Gerard comes out of his house as Ethan stops)
GERARD: Whoa, what are you doin’ there, kiddo?
ETHAN: Oh, sorry, I was just, trying to, adjust the truck. The truck is loose.
GERARD: Probably because you hit my mail box with it.
GERARD: Let me see if I can’t fix the truck for you, son.
ETHAN: Uh, sure. Okay.
GERARD: Come in, I have chips, dips and unfinished board games lying around my house.
(Ethan and Gerard walk into his house to see exactly what he described. Unfinished games of Monopoly, Life, Chess and various other games litter his house, as well as chips and dips)
GERARD: This is my casa, of sorts.
ETHAN: It is a house. Who were you playing these games with and why did you not finish playing them? Or at least put them away?
GERARD: Call me sentimental.
GERARD: That’s it. Come in my garage and I’ll fix your truck.
(They go into Gerard’s garage to see a bunch of filing cabinets)
ETHAN: These are a lot of filing cabinets.
GERARD: Yes. You know how I said I’m into photography?
ETHAN: Yeah, I remember.
GERARD: Well, I really am. I actually run a little photography studio in here in my spare.
ETHAN: What do you take pictures of?
GERARD: Mostly just…well, let me ask you something, in Star Wars, does C-3PO wear clothes?
ETHAN: …That doesn’t even begin to answer my question, but, no he does not.
GERARD: Don’t you want to be like C-3PO?
ETHAN: No, he’s a faggot.
GERARD: …Fair point.
ETHAN: Can you please just fix my truck?
(Gerard nods his head)
GERARD: Sure. (Gerard takes the skateboard and flips it over) It seems like your transmission’s…gone.
ETHAN: …How do you figure?
GERARD: Let me just lube up this skateboard with some transmission fluid. (Gerard takes out some pancake syrup and smothers the skateboard in it) You want some?
ETHAN: You’re syruping my skate board!
GERARD: Trust me kid, this’ll do the trick. (He stops syruping the skate board and puts it down) You’ll thank me fairly soon for this.
ETHAN: Shouldn’t you get a screw driver?
GERARD: Of course. (Gerard gets up and goes to his filing cabinet and opens it, rummages through it and takes out a screw driver) This will tighten your truck real nice. (Gerard walks back over there and starts tightening Ethan’s truck. Once he finishes, he pulls on it to show that it’s tight) There we go. Tight as a… (He clears his throat) anyway, very tight.
ETHAN: Hmm. (Ethan pulls on it) It is. Thanks, Mr. Cosloy.
GERARD: Now how about a nice little reward for the time and energy I’ve expended?
ETHAN: …We could watch Star Wars.
GERARD: I’ve never seen that movie. Let me show you some movies I have seen, though.
(Gerard leads Ethan out of the garage and Gerard slams the door behind him. Cut to Leonard Donahue in 1955, reading the Professor’s screenplay in his dorm. He is smoking a cigarette and is tearing up)
LEONARD: Oh my God. (Sniff) This communist propaganda is the most beautiful thing I have ever read. I haven’t cried in sixteen years.
(Arthur walks into the shot)
ARTHUR: You haven’t cried since you were four?
LEONARD: Yep. And I was not proud of it then.
ARTHUR: Why were you crying?
LEONARD: Because my dad was shot in the line of duty.
ARTHUR: That is a totally legitimate reason to cry!
LEONARD: Pussy. Listen, man, a piece of writing has never affected me like this before! It may have a communist message of the proletariat rising up, but shit, it is a good goddamn flick!
ARTHUR: Well, then, what are you gonna do?
(Leonard takes a drag off his cigarette)
LEONARD: I’m going to give the screenplay back to him, tell him what I think, and then focus on the other communist influences in the school.
ARTHUR: Like the fact that it’s a northeast academic establishment? You know there are many other movements that are much nobler than this you could be a part of, did you hear about that Rosa Parks woman who refused to give up her seat to a white man? It has started a boycott of the entire bus system in Montgomery, Alabama.
LEONARD: We can focus on giving negros their rights when we are done taking away the rights of communists.
ARTHUR: Oh my God…
(Leonard picks up a rotary phone in his room and dials a number and puts the phone to his face)
LEONARD: Hello? Yes, Professor. I just wanted to say, I read one of your scripts, yeah, the Roman one. It was AMAZING. It was really remarkable, sir. You have a real talent. Okay, just, stop crying. It’s fine. Just uh…yeah, stop crying, I guess. Okay, good job, I’ll see you tomorrow. (Leonard hangs up. Cut to Leonard heading up a hearing with numerous witnesses and numerous committee members. Leonard, along with everyone else, is wearing a fifties style suit. Leonard bangs a gavel) The Committee on investigation of communist influence will please come to order. (People quiet down) Today we will hear several testimonies of people who know that our other witnesses are communists and you will hear testimonies of people who claim that they are not communists. We’ll try to get to the truth. First witness, Henry Appleby.
HENRY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am here today to assure you that Todd Craft, the gentleman to my left, (Todd, who is a thin negro, waves and smiles) is a Soviet Spy of the highest order.
TODD: I thought you were going to have my back here!
HENRY: I’m the one who said you were a commy.
TODD: With all due respect, Mr. Donahue, this is a complete lie! I have had nothing but allegiance to the United States, which is admirable, considering how poorly this country has treated
HENRY: Look at that! He’s insulting America! How’s that for fair?!
LEONARD: Mr. Craft, have some deportment, please, you’re representing Champlain College, ass!
HENRY: You just called me an ass and you’re asking me to have deportment?
LEONARD: Mr. Appleby, what is your evidence of Mr. Craft’s communist tendencies?
HENRY: How about the fact that he’s a dirty goddamn commy? I once mentioned that the Soviet Union’s most important belief is that there is no God, and he wasn’t even listening! So either he’s a
commy or just a shitty friend who doesn’t listen!
LEONARD: That is, striking.
TODD: Listen, Mr. Chairman, what even gives you the authority to conduct this hearing? Have you no decency?
LEONARD: Kiddo, my-
TODD: I’m older than you!
LEONARD: I was appointed lead communist investigator by the Dean, okay? Plus, my dad is a former detective and he has a buddy in the FBI. Not just a buddy, but a best friend. They stay up late on the phone and gab about state secrets, alright?! So shut it. (Arthur walks up behind Leonard and whispers in his ear) Um, I’m kind of busy here, is it urgent? (Arthur nods his head) Fine. This hearing is in recess until I am done attending to some business.
(Leonard slams the gavel on Arthur’s hand)
(Leonard gets up and follows Arthur out of the room. A rabbi walks in with a twelve-year old Jewish boy in a suit and a yarmulke)
RABBI: This room has a bar mitzvah scheduled for four! Don’t forget that!!
(Cut to Leonard walking into his dorm to see his phone hanging there. He picks it up)
VOICE ON OTHER LINE: Hello, Leonard. Be aware, I am only telling you this because Director Hoover is asleep right now.
VOICE ON OTHER LINE: The FBI is about to come and surreptitiously place a bug on your phone.
LEONARD: What? Why? Who are you?
MYSTERY PERSON: Because you talked to the professor, Leonard.
LEONARD: No, no, no, that wasn’t-
MYSTERY PERSON: This conversation did not happen.
(He hangs up as the dial tone seems to play)
LEONARD: Hello? Hello?!
MYSTERY MAN: Sorry, I was clearing my throat.
LEONARD: Clearing your throat sounds like a, dial tone?
MYSTERY MAN: Goodbye.
(He hangs up)
LEONARD: Hello? HELLO?! (He hangs up) Shit.
(Leonard turns around and sees Arthur)
ARTHUR: What’s the deal?
LEONARD: The FBI is about to tap my phones, I think that was my father’s FBI buddy.
ARTHUR: Why would they want to tap your phones?
LEONARD: Because I’ve spoken to a known communist on the phone! Professor Riley, specifically. And what is a better cover for a communist infiltrator than a supposed anti-communist crusader? Huh? Right?
ARTHUR: Why are you implicating yourself?
LEONARD: I’m just saying this changes everything. This is how the FBI thinks. I need to turn over Professor Riley before it’s too late.
(A knock is heard at the door)
ARTHUR: WHO IS IT?!
LEONARD: The door is not that far away, you don’t have to yell.
VOICE ON THE OTHER SIDE: It’s a ghoooost! (Laughter) I’m kidding, I’m just the plumber.
(Arthur turns to Leonard)
ARTHUR: We don’t have a bathroom in here.
ARTHUR: Okay, just, don’t panic.
(Arthur opens the door to see the plumber in overalls and holding a plunger. He walks in)
PLUMBER: Why hello, there.
LEONARD: There’s no bathroom in here, there’s a bathroom down the hall everyone uses.
PLUMBER: Well, I also need to fumigate this room, there’s been reports of…bugs.
(The plumber smiles)
LEONARD: Be more obvious about it.
PLUMBER: More obvious about what? But yeah, since I’m fumigating, you two need to split.
LEONARD: So we need to leave for a fumigation, but you can go ahead and stay in here and poison yourself?
PLUMBER: I have a mask, just LEAVE!
(Cut to Caleb and Commissioner Lugard walking around their encampment in Nigeria)
CALEB: All I’m saying is, give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they will not resort to violence. In fact- (Caleb is suddenly hit in the head with a rock, which careens him to the ground, out like a light. Cut to a delirium-induced flashback. Caleb is teaching a class on religion to the natives in this flashback) Accept Jesus into your heart. He is much more filling than any bag of rice you’ll ever see, especially since you won’t see very big bags of rice in your life, I mean, we need to eat too, right? The point is, Jesus is everything that is and ever will be and everything that was. He died for your sins and when you die, you will join Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. (A negro child raises his arm) Yes, Anuaka?
ANUAKA: (Heavy accent) How do we know the Virgin Mary was telling the truth?
(A lot of them laugh, but Caleb is not amused)
CALEB: …I need to use the restroom. (Caleb walks out of the building to see an African man urinating on the building) Hey, what the blood hell are you doing?!
ONAWONGO: Leave me alone, I am urinating.
CALEB: This is a Sunday school for Christ’s sake, go use an outhouse, you pig!
ONAWONGO: I almost done, don’t look at my penis please!
CALEB: Oh, fuck you.
(Caleb pushes the guy, revealing his penis and also making him fall to the ground)
CALEB: Now where are you gonna piss, asshole?! Although you should be embarrassed by your little friend there.
(Caleb kicks the man in the rib)
ONAWONGO: OHHH!! (Caleb gets on his knees and punches Onawongo in the eye) SHIT! STOP, YOU LUNATIC! (Onawongo punches Caleb and then Onawongo reaches for his sculpting hammer and prepares to swing it, but Caleb stops his arm and forces the hammer down to hit his genitals) DIT HAT SEERGEMAAK BAIE, BAIE DANKIE!
CALEB: HOW’S THAT FOR FAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIR?!
(Cut to Caleb waking up on a cot in a medical tent being tended to by a nurse. Commissioner Lugard is by his side)
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Caleb, are you alright?
(Caleb is crying)
CALEB: No…what happened?
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: The negros have engaged in armed revolt. And by armed, I mean armed with sticks, rocks and zebra bones. I have ordered an armed response and it appears to be working.
CALEB: Wait…how many threw rocks?
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Severals of people.
CALEB: How many though?
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Well, three people.
CALEB: THREE people?! That’s not a riot, that’s just, what my friends and I used to do down at the quarry! You should’ve just had them arrested!
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: We did. But then we sent in the troops and now severals of people are dead.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Twenty-four and counting.
CALEB: Jesus, this is ridiculous! You’ve made the problem worse, not better!
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Hey, they’re OUR burden and they’re not reciprocating with appropriate gratitude! Huh? We had to respond accordingly. With force. Guns, lynching, sword fights and one of the safari types was hacking through negros with a machete like they were jungle weeds, you should’ve seen it!
CALEB: Dear God, let me survey the damage.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: No, you need your rest. I got you (He holds up a cup of blood pudding) blood pudding!
CALEB: Is that the most appropriate dish considering the actual blood shed going on outside?
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: It’s not human blood, chap!
CALEB: Still, though!
(Cut to Caleb and Commissioner Lugard walking across the encampment as bodies litter the ground)
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: This here, is a flesh wound.
CALEB: Jesus, there are dead people everywhere!
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Hey. (Lugard turns to Caleb) Are you saying that you don’t think unleashing our military strength upon these animals was a good idea?
CALEB: Yes! I think I’ve made that fairly clear!
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Have you seen your forehead? It remains bruised.
CALEB: These people remain dead. I’m beginning to think we shouldn’t even had had Onawongo hanged. (Commissioner Lugard grimaces and then huffs and walks away) Don’t step on the dead-okay. He stepped on the dead bodies.
(Cut to Lugard speaking to members of the encampment’s government in a meeting room, of sorts)
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: I want to talk about Caleb Sarandon.
MEMBER: What about him? I sent him flowers, did he get them?
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: You might want to make those flowers a wreath instead.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: He’s trouble. Caleb is. He doesn’t believe in the military mightiness we have unleashed on these backwards devil children.
(One of the members spits a silver spoon out of his mouth in shock)
MEMBER 2: Wha? No! Wha? I’m appalled! He’s a traitor for this I think!
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Exactly. He’s a danger to the mission. So. (Commissioner Lugard leans back) What do we do about it? Sit back, and, and, wipe our arses?
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Sit on our arses I said!
MEMBER 3: I move that we kill him.
COMMISSIONER LUGAR: I second that, all in agreement will indicate by saying “jolly good”?
MAJORITY OF MEMBERS: JOLLY GOOD!
COMMISSIONER LUGAR: All opposed will indicate by saying “not bloody likely”?
FOUR MEMBERS: NOT BLOODY LIKELY!
MEMBER 4: Mr. Sarandon may be misguided, but his death is not the answer! Consider this, Caleb’s brother Jeffrey is the treasurer of a mid-sized city in the American state of Vermont, imagine what would happen if he used his pull to investigate Caleb’s death?
COMMISSIONER LUGAR: Councilman Meyer has a good point, what method will we use to kill him?
COUNCILMAN MEYER: That is not even close to what I said!
MEMBER 2: I say secret beheading.
MEMBER 3: Let’s keep it simple. Spike his drink. Hm?
COMMISSIONER LUGAR: I agree. All in favor?
MAJORITY: JOLLY GOOD!
COMMISSIONER LUGAR: All opposed?
FIVE MEMBERS: NOT BLOODY LIKELY!
COMMISSIONER LUGAR: Wait, why did we lose one?
MEMBER 2: Because I still say secret beheading!
(Cut to thirteen-year old Ethan leaving Gerard’s house with his skateboard in hand. He looks traumatized as Gerard waves goodbye)
GERARD: Bye Ethan! Treat that skate board well, ya hear?
(Ethan walks quickly away. Cut to Ethan lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling with tears in his eyes. A knock is heard at the door)
LYNN: (Outside the door) Ethan? (He stays silent) Ethan?! (Silence) ETHAN!
(Ethan wipes some tears off his face)
LYNN: Can I come in?
(Ethan turns onto his stomach and puts his face in the pillow. Cut to Leonard and Lynn outside the door)
LEONARD: Let me try. ETHAN! This is your father! I want you to open this door IMMEDIATELY!
LEONARD: Ethan, Goddamnit, open the door, NOW!
ETHAN: NO! GO AWAY! I DON’T HAVE TO DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!!
LEONARD: DO YOU WANT TO SMOKE AN ENTIRE PACK OF CIGARETTES AGAIN, KIDDO?!
LYNN: That cannot be the punishment for everything he does, Leonard.
LEONARD: It worked the first time. ETHAN! OPEN THE DOOR!
(Ethan opens the door)
ETHAN: What do you want?
LEONARD: DO NOT TALK TO ME OR YOUR MOTHER LIKE THAT! You’ve been in your room all day, what is your deal?!
ETHAN: I’m sick of you two, that’s MY deal!
LYNN: What did we do?!
ETHAN: You got me that skate board for my birthday. And I HATE IT!
LEONARD: Excuse me, young man?! That skate board is your ticket to some young girl’s heart! Not some, camera!
ETHAN: I hate the camera too, take it back.
(Ethan tosses the camera to Lynn, who barely catches it)
LYNN: Why are you being so insolent?!
ETHAN: Because you guys…
(Ethan bits his lip)
LEONARD: Us guys…?
(Ethan continues to bite his lip and it starts bleeding)
LYNN: Jesus, your lip is bleeding!
(Ethan slams the door and locks it and Leonard tries to jiggle the door knob)
LEONARD: ETHAN! I WILL GET MY BATTERING RAM! I GOT ONE WHEN I DID AD WORK FOR A BATTERING RAM COMPANY! THE CLIENT WAS REALLY NICE! WE WENT TO DINNER AND I MET HIS WIFE, SHE WAS A SWEETHEART!!
LYNN: Why are you telling this relatively pleasant story? Just stop trying to open the door!
(Leonard lets go of the door knob)
LEONARD: What am I supposed to do?! He’s being a brat!
LYNN: Call it teenage angst beginning. He is officially a teenager.
LEONARD: Yeah, but why? What happened?
LYNN: He doesn’t want to talk about it. He’ll come around. Come on, let’s let him cool off.
(Leonard sighs and they walk away. Cut to Leonard and Lynn meeting with a female teacher of Ethan’s in a school conference room in January 1979)
TEACHER: Ethan did not do well in his classes the last few weeks of the first semester. I mean, he skipped often and he was failing tests, not doing homework and acting insolently towards teachers.
LYNN: I swear, he didn’t used to be like this. Just, for the last two months he’s been…difficult.
(Leonard lights up a cigarette)
LEONARD: He’s been a little shit.
(Leonard exhales smoke)
LEONARD: I’m sorry, but he has been impossible lately! He used to be so good! And I was this close to quitting smoking!
TEACHER: Is there anything that happened two months ago that would make him act out like this? Is it a tough marriage?
LYNN: No, we’ve been married for fifteen years, and it’s been relatively happy.
TEACHER: Any recent deaths in the family?
LEONARD: My father died about a year ago, but he had Alzheimer’s and they weren’t close. My dad thought Ethan was and old war buddy and Ethan remembered my dad as the asshole who always burned him with matches to “kill the maggots that burrow you in the trenches”.
TEACHER: I see. Any other things that may be traumatizing? Pissed the bed at a friend’s house? Took two minutes to tie his shoe in a hallway? Said goodbye to a girl in a hallway, turned a corner, only to realize she was also turning that corner?
LYNN: Not that we know of.
TEACHER: Well. Then I suggest tutoring and behavioral modification therapy.
LEONARD: You know, there’s a woman at my ad firm who is a psychologist and she suggests for all her patients a method called- (Cut to Leonard and Lynn standing in front of an electroshock therapy
LYNN: Wa-holy what?!
(A Doctor walks in)
DOCTOR: Hey! You two can’t be in here!
LEONARD: Doc, you gotta help us! My son is severely depressed for reason that remain elusive.
DOCTOR: You broke into this building, we don’t open for another two hours!
LYNN: Doctor, I realize my husband jumped the gun, but we just want to explore all options.
DOCTOR: Well, I understand that. Have a seat, you two. (Leonard and Lynn sit down, as does the doctor) I’m Doctor Earthman, and yes, my brother is a new age medicine doctor.
LEONARD: Yeah, I remember seeing ads for the “Earth Man”.
DOCTOR EARTHMAN: But me, I stick to traditional medicine that works. Electroshock is a great method. Here’s how it works. FUTURE SHOCK! Let me explain. We induce a seizure through electrical shock in an anesthetized patient for symptom remission.
LYNN: So wait, the patient is not awake?
DOCTOR EARTHMAN: No, Hollywood has just made it out to be that electroshock patients are awake, but I assure you that’s not the case. (We hear intense, painful screaming in the background) Don’t worry, that’s just Mabel, she scares easy. (More agonizing screaming) Must’ve seen a mouse.
LEONARD: So wait, this helps depression right? It worked for Thomas Eagleton!
DOCTOR EARTHMAN: It did work for Thomas Eagleton. I held his feet down as he wailed in pain. So yeah, depression becomes solved. Zaps it away, I suppose.
(Doctor Earthman chuckles)
LYNN: Well, what are the risks?
DOCTOR EARTHMAN: There is a negligible risk of memory loss.
LEONARD: Excuse me?
DOCTOR EARTHMAN: Yeah, just a slight one.
LYNN: How much memory loss?
DOCTOR EARTHMAN: Um…think about the last six months of your life. (Leonard and Lynn start thinking) Now stop thinking about that. Forever. That’s what it’s like.
(Cut to Leonard Donahue in December 1955 standing in a parking garage smoking a cigarette while wearing a trench coat and a fedora. A man in an orange suit and fedora walks over to him)
ORANGE SUIT MAN: Hey.
LEONARD: Whoa! I don’t want any of your hoes! Get away from me!
ORANGE SUIT MAN: What are you talking about, kid? I’m your daddy’s FBI buddy!
LEONARD: Well, you look like a pimp daddy. This is supposed to be a clandestine meeting, not a, traffic cone convention!
FBI GUY: Sorry, who is in this parking garage who knows who either of us are?
LEONARD: Why would you wear an orange suit anyway-just, here- (Leonard takes out Professor Riley’s script) is the script that proves Professor Riley’s communist allegiances.
FBI GUY: Thanks, Lenny. You did the right thing.
LEONARD: Yeah, whatever.
FBI GUY: Say hello to your father for me.
(He pats him on the shoulder and leaves Leonard standing there, conflicted. Cut to Leonard walking to class to see Professor Riley being escorted out by detectives)
PROFESSOR RILEY: THIS IS TYRANNY! MY RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED!!! HELP!!!
(Leonard puts his hand over his mouth in shock. Cut to Leonard in his 1953 Chevy 150, driving somewhere)
LEONARD: I had no idea they were going to arrest him! How is what he did illegal?! (Leonard rests his head against his hand on the window of his side door) How is anything I was investigating illegal? Ugh, I’m an asshole.
(Cut to Leonard walking into the Burlington Police Station. He goes up the desk to talk to the police officer there)
POLICE OFFICER: Can I help you, son?
LEONARD: Yes, I’m looking for a person named Professor Riley.
POLICE OFFICER: The professor is in a prison cell.
LEONARD: I know, I’m here to post his bail.
POLICE OFFICER: It’s sixty dollars.
(Leonard takes out sixty dollars and puts it on the counter)
POLICE OFFICER: Where did a kid like you get that kind of money?
LEONARD: My dad pays for my shit! Now release him at once!
POLICE OFFICER: Fair enough. Follow me.
(The police officer walks down a hallway as Leonard follows him. Cut to 1901, Commissioner Lugard is at the head of a table which is surrounded by members of the Royal Council of the Nigerian encampment as well as Caleb. They are having a fancy dinner)
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Thank you all, so much, for coming to this dinner. I just wanted us to reconnect in the wake of the recent tragic events. I want to, lighten up the situation. And you know us brits, we have a notoriously dry sense of humor.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Would anyone like to have a drink?
MEMBER 2: I sure would!
(A plumber walks in holding a plunger)
PLUMBER: Commissioner, your latrines are clogged.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Excuse me, what are you doing here?
PLUMBER: Oh, I just wanted to encourage everybody to drink up! I know certain people will be dying to have a drink.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: LEAVE!
(The plumber leaves)
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Anyway-
CALEB: Speaking of plumbers, I think I’m going to use the washroom.
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Very good.
(Caleb leaves the table and goes outside the building)
MEMBER: This is the perfect time! BUTLERS!
(The butlers come in and pour drinks for everybody. They find Caleb’s placemat and pour poison into his drink and they stir it. They then take a pen and make a mark on the tea glass and leave. Cut to Caleb in the bathroom, staring into the mirror. He slaps himself several times in the face. Caleb walks in and sits down)
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: I implore you, drink up! Imbibe to your heart’s content!
(They all, except Caleb, take a sip of their teas. Caleb picks up his tea and looks into it as everyone else stares daggers)
CALEB: Could I have more sugar in this?
COMMISSIONER LUGARD: Of course. NIGEL! MORE SUGAR!
(Nigel the Butler pours more sugar into the tea and backs off)
CALEB: Thanks. (Caleb sips the tea, to everyone’s relief. Cut to later, Caleb is sitting in the pew of an empty church, praying) Dear God, I pray that the bloodshed cease. I pray that we go back to basics and train our dark heretic friends to accept Jesus and use that in their lives. I ask for your forgiveness for my murder of Onawongo…and… (His stomach growls) oh…shit, that doesn’t feel good… (His eyelids relax and he delicately bobs back and forth in a delirium) what is going on?
(Cut to Caleb’s point of view shot. His vision is blurring in and out as the POV bobs back and forth slightly. However, a giant spider appears as Caleb’s hallucination)
SPIDER: I am Anansi, the trickster God. And guess what? You were poisoned! How’s that for fair?
CALEB: (Pained, distressed voice) It isn’t!
ANANSI: Exactly. I suppose that’s what you get for being half good and half bad. Bye bye!
(Anansi disappears as the POV shot goes away and it shows Caleb’s eyes rolling into the back of his head and him falling off the church pew, dead. Cut to 13-year old Ethan sitting in his living room watching TV in February 1979. Twenty-year old Paul walks in and sits next to Ethan)
PAUL: You know, Ethan, I’ve heard Leonard and Lynn gripe about you being depressed, and little bro, I totally get it. In 1972, when I was your age, I was depressed as well. But then I discovered something that helped…I don’t know, smoothen things out.
ETHAN: You’re talking about drugs, aren’t you?
PAUL: Society calls them drugs. I call them mood stabilizers.
ETHAN: Society calls those drugs, too.
PAUL: So stabilize your mood, little broseph. Here. (Paul takes out a baggie of brown powder) This is lower grade stuff, but it has really helped me out in recent weeks.
PAUL: Yep. It’s called heroin.
ETHAN: I feel like I’ve heard bad things about heroin, though.
PAUL: That’s a media thing. It’s Carter trying to control you.
ETHAN: When I was in kindergarten, I heard this rhyme that was like, “druggy wuggy was a bear, druggy wuggy had no heroin, druggy wuggy wasn’t very druggy, was he?”
PAUL: …So like, do you want a belt or a bed sheet?
(A news cast comes on TV and it goes to Albert White)
ALBERT WHITE: We have just received some breaking news. The former bassist and vocalist for the influential punk group, The Sex Pistols, has been found dead in his New York apartment at the age of twenty-one.
(Paul and Ethan gasp)
ALBERT WHITE: The coroner has said it was likely due to an overdose of heroin.
(Ethan looks at Paul)
PAUL: …I’m going to go listen to Nevermind The Bullocks, you can, uh, consider my offer.
© Copyright 2016 NEONETWORK. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Mystery and Crime
Short Story / Mystery and Crime
Short Story / Mystery and Crime
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