Monday, April 05, 2010

The Problem. ACT IV, Scene One




Preamble to Act IV, Scene One, my play, THE FIRE IN BRADFORD.

It is sort of a Doris Lessing construct: Five into four won't go. It if obvious that my Celia has taken up with another lover, not the professor, and her husband, Lief, has taken up with somebody else...And the professor is suddenly a fifth wheel; they have made a chump of of old Mr. Chips. ...And he was supposed to have been the intelligent one.

The plot, as they say, thinkens.

So here is Act IV, Scene One of my play, THE FIRE IN BRADFORD.

INT. NIGHT.
WE ARE IN THE PROFESSOR'S STUDY.
HE IS LYING ON HIS LEATHER COUCH IN THE STUDY, READING, STRANGELY, SOREN KEIRKEGAARD'S Either/Or.

THE PHONE TRILLS.
THE PROFESSOR GETS UP TO ANSWER. HE SCRATCHES HIS HEAD AS HE PICKS UP
THE RECEIVER.

VOICE ON PHONE

David.Is this David?

THE PROFESSOR:

Yes. Who is this?

VOICE ON PHONE, SUDDENLY MENACING:

You have a problem, David.

THERE IS A PAUSE

You have a problem, David.
If you don't fix the problem I will.

THE PROFESSOR

Aha. So it's Bathgate! Checked you out on the call display.
What are you doing with a name like Bathgate? Bathgate Gambino...
You trying to be a Wasp with two last names or something?

THERE IS A PAUSE, BUT NO IMMEDIATE ANSWER.

PAUSE.

BATHGATE
...You have a problem, David. If you don't fix the problem, I will.

PROFESSOR

You are repeating yourself, Bathgate. Good drugs, no?

BATHGATE

You have a problem, David. If you don't fix the problem, I will.

PROFESSOR

Come on Bathgate, you can do better than that (HE FLICKS ON THE TAPE RECORDING DEVICE).

BATHGATE

You have a problem, David. If you don't fix the problem, I will.

BATHGATE
AGAIN

You have a problem, David, if you don't fix the problem I will.

THE PROFESSOR QUIETLY HANGS UP.

THERE IS AN IMMEDIATE RING AGAIN ON THE PHONE.

THE PROFESSOR, A LITTLE MIFFED, PICKS IT UP.

BATHGATE ON PHONE AGAIN

You have a problem, David. If you don't fix he problem, I will.

THE PROFESSOR HANGS UP. HE GOES TO LIGHT A CIGARETTE.

THE PHONE RINGS AGAIN.

VOICE ON PHONE

You have a problem, David. If you don't fix the problem, I will.

THE PROFESSOR SLAMS THE PHONE DOWN.

PAUSE.

AGAIN THE RING

THE PROFESSOR SPEWS OUT A CLOUD OF SMOKE.

IT IS BATHGATE AGAIN.

You have a problem, David. If you don't fix the problem, I will...I will, David.

THE PROFESSOR SLAMS DOWN THE RECEIVER AND GOES BACK TO HIS COUCH. HE REACHES FOR A BOTTLE FROM HIS LAZY SUZAN CABINET. HE POURS A DRINK AND LIES DOWN, SMOKING AGAIN

ANOTHER TRILL ON THE PHONE. THE PROFESSOR PUTS ON AN AUTOMATIC SPEAKER.

IT IS BATHGATE'S VOICE.

You have a problem, David. If you don't fix the problem, I will. I will, David.



THE PROFESSOR CLICKS OFF THE RECORDER AND YELLS OUT LOUD

Bathgate, this is from the School of Repartee. Wil you just fuck off!

THE PROFESSOR SWITCHES OFF THE PHONE.

THERE IS ANOTHER RING, BUT THE PROFESSOR IGNORES IT.

THE PROFESSOR TRIES TO GO BACK TO HIS READING.

AGAIN THE PHONE CALL.

THE PROFESSOR SNAPS ONTO CONFERENCE.

VOICE ON PHONE

You have a problem David. If you don't solve the problem I wil....I will, David.

THE PROFESSOR SNAPS OFF THE MACHINE.

HE GETS OFF THE COUCH. GOES TO HIS WORK STATON WHERE THE PHONE IS. IT IS OFF THE HOOK.

HE BEGINS TO TYPE.

FADE

LIGHTS BACK UP.


THE PROFESSOR IS STILL WORKING ON HIS COMPUTER, BUT HE IS SUDDENLY SNIFFING AT THE AIR IN HIS STUDY.

HE TURNS AROUND TO FIND SMOKE COMING FROM HIS REAR ENTRANCE. HE GETS OFF THE MACHINE JUST IN TIME TO HEAR A LIQUID WHOOSH AS FLAMES BURST THROUGH THE BACK DOOR.

HE YELLS:

Jesus Christ!

HE RUNS TO THE FRONT DOOR TO GET OUT AS FLAMES SEEM TO PURSUE HIM.

....end scene.

16 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, that dude's got a rather serious problem with repeating himself. I wonder if it would have been more effective if the caller never used "David's" name. It makes it less intimate, perhaps, and more threatening.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Charles,

I think you're right --if the call were not David-specific. Yes, more threatening that way!

the walking man said...

For the same reason I would have left the caller anonymous as well and expanded the dialog to include exactly, even though we know, what the problem is.

Maybe have the caller say he is making the call at the behest of Celia and not her new (old) lover. Give David future pause to think about his relations with the troubled and troubling Celia.

What does the professor grab as he runs from the inferno? Manuscripts or the typewriter that writes them?

ivan@creativewritting.ca said...

Yep. You and Charles are right.

The call has to be stark and ominous.

Mona said...

what does it matter whatever he calls him... what's in a name...

..a name is just a utilitarian necessity...

the caller seems more like sixth sense personified...

ivan said...

An insight, Mona.

Almost uncanny.

TomCat said...

Ivan, you seem to have installed a Republican into your play. ;-)

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

TomCat,

Not sure what card John Gotti had been carrying. :)

ivan@c reativewriting.ca said...

TomCat,

Whoops! I almost fell asleep at the switch there.

Yeah.Stephen Colbert. "Republican"?....The tao of Stephen? :)

TomCat said...

Heh heh. :-)

ivan said...

A "Wag of the Finger" and not "a tip of the hat" to Republicans. Especially if they try try to filibuster any Obama Supreme Court nomination--any nomination... But it's your country.
Our country has a Supreme Court that has more clout than any little postcard Constitution we might have after that misguided Trudeau scuttled the British North America Act.
Now we have all ten lines of our Bill of Rights...That's it. It's all up to the Consitution Committe to decide who has the Constitutional rights and freedoms, I guess. And it looks like it's Them!

Middle Ditch said...

Gripped from beginning to end

TomCat said...

Ivan, Harper has been in power, your human rights status seems to have deteriorated somewhat. It's too bad your NDP is so small.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Why,thank you Monique.

Coming from a real script writer, it encourages.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

TomCat,

Thanks.
Seems to be the case.
But when the NDP gets into power, as they once did in Ontario, they push so-called human rights right over the top. Like gay marriage as pretty well the only waya to go, or where a printer might refuse to publish material which goes exactly against his own religion. Fie! Print the stuff or we'll run you right out of business!
Touch of social engineering whenever the NDP gets into power.

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