Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Week 11, Day 73 - “A Ghost’s Story”

“A Ghost’s Story”
Written by Joe Janes
4/1/09
73 of 365

CAST
Franklin, 30s
Jenny, 30s
Victor, 70
Mata Hari, 30s

(Lights up on Franklin in bed, looking over mail, including a large, stuffed manila envelope. Jenny gets in to bed for the night.)

JENNY
Any good news?

FRANKLIN
Just bills.

JENNY
What’s that one?

FRANKLIN
Another returned manuscript.

JENNY
Not your new novel?

FRANKLIN
No. My agent’s on top of that. It’ll get picked up. This is, you know, Victor’s memoirs. “An Admiral’s Life.”

JENNY
An admiral’s long, boring, tedious life. At least you kept your part of the bargain and, thank God, so did Victor.

FRANKLIN
Yeah. You’re right, Jenny. At least he’s resting peacefully, now. Good night.

JENNY
Night, sweetie.

(They kiss and turn off the lights. After a moment, they hear ghostly wailing.)

JENNY (continuing)
Franklin…Franklin…Did you hear that?

(Franklin sits up. There’s another low wailing sound.)

FRANKLIN
Please let it be the wind.

JENNY
I don’t think it is.

VICTOR
Oh-h-h-h-h-h…Oh, hell. Wake up, would you?

(Franklin turns on the light. Standing at the end of the bed is Victor, a retired Admiral from World War I, in uniform. Oh, and he’s dead. And by that, I mean, a ghost.)

FRANKLIN
Hello, Victor.

JENNY
Victor. Long time no see.

VICTOR
Mrs. Delarose. Sorry to awaken you.

(Long pause as Victor looks off and Jenny and Franklin exchange glances.)

FRANKLIN
Victor. We had a deal. I write your memoirs and you stop haunting our house.

VICTOR
That is correct. We are men of our word, aren’t Franklin?

FRANKLIN
Then what brings you here?

VICTOR
You wrote the book, but where’s the book?

JENNY
There’s one right here.

VICTOR
I see it here. I only see it here. Why am I not seeing it at Borders?

JENNY
You go to Borders?

FRANKLIN
Books don’t just magically appear at Borders, like you apparently do. A publisher has to publish it and then distribute it.

VICTOR
Oh. I see. I’m just being impatient, is that it?

FRANKLIN
Yes, and, perhaps, a little unrealistic.

VICTOR
How do you mean?

FRANKLIN
My agent won’t touch it. I’ve piled up twenty rejection slips peddling this book on my own. Publishers don’t seem too keen to get your story out to the people.

VICTOR
But, I was an admiral in The Great War.

FRANKLIN
Yes, but…

JENNY
Just tell him, Franklin.

VICTOR
Yes, Franklin, tell me.

FRANKLIN
You were the most mind-numbingly dull admiral in the history of the world.

VICTOR
How dare you!

FRANKLIN
Let me read some of the rejection slips…(He picks up a pile of letters from a desk)…Ho Hum… Interminable… Vapid… Monotonous… Didn’t this guy do anything?...Too dry for our tastes…This would be great if we wanted our business to fail…Sorry about the blood stains, I stabbed out my eyes… And you know what, Victor? They’re right.

VICTOR
You just haven’t found the right one, yet. What’s the one that Oprah likes?

JENNY
Victor, you’re not listening. Here’s your book… As dictated by you to my husband… I’ll just flip through and read at random… “Monday morning, Sept 17th, 1910. Today I drank six ounces of tomato juice. It upset my tum-tum. I will try it again tomorrow. After that, it’s back to reliable old orange juice, sans pulp.”… “Thursday afternoon, May 13th, 1915. Today, I was to meet with the president of the United States…

VICTOR
That’s interesting!

JENNY
…but he cancelled and I ended up having tea with Army Colonel Jessup. He drinks his oolong straight. I don’t know how he does that.” And then it goes on about how you don’t remember what you talked about because you were busy wondering why the lemons were sliced so thin. For two pages.

VICTOR
They were absurdly thin. Try again. The good stuff’s near the end.

JENNY
…”As I got older, I realized it is the little things I will miss the most. On this one spring morning in 1928, I had a rough go at having a pleasant bowel movement.”

VICTOR
I still miss that.

FRANKLIN
Victor, I’m sorry. Your life was mundane. You didn’t fight in any battles, you weren’t married, no children. No rocking the boat. No out-of-control substance abuse. There’s no story here.

VICTOR (tearing up)
Well… Here, I thought… I just wanted people to remember me… At my funeral, the only people who were there were the ones who had to officially be there. None of them knew me, personally.

JENNY
We’ll remember you, Victor.

VICTOR
As a dullard.

FRANKLIN
Not true. You scared the hell out of us when you started showing up. I’ll never forget that.

VICTOR
You’re just trying to be nice.

(Mata Hari enters.)

MATA
There you are, Victor! Oh, hello.

VICTOR
Mata Hari, this is Franklin and his lovely wife, Jenny.

FRANKLIN
Mata Hari?

MATA HARI
Yep. Victor, Marilyn Monroe is trying maraschino cherry stems with her tongue. Thought you’d want to be there.

VICTOR
Just the thing to cheer me up.

FRANKLIN
You party with Marilyn Monroe and Mata Hari?

VICTOR
Sure. It’s the afterlife. Eternity. No hangovers. What else are we suppose to do?

MATA HARI
Some of us get hung up on legacy, from time-to-time. Are you done worrying about that silly book?

VICTOR
I do believe I am. Let’s go, pet.

FRANKLIN
Wait. Victor. This is your book.

JENNY
Your afterlife is far more interesting than your life ever was.

VICTOR
Oh, the stories I could tell. Stalin and Gandhi experimenting. Saucy stuff. The party really kicked in when Reverend Falwell hit the scene.

MATA HARI
But this guy’s the real party animal. I can’t keep my hands off him.

VICTOR
It’s the uniform.

FRANKLIN
Victor – let me write the story of your afterlife. I promise you I can get that published.

(He looks at Mata Hari for a moment.)

VICTOR
Nah – I’m not one to kiss and tell. See you on the other side.

MATA HARI
Tah-tah!

(They exit. Franklin and Jenny look at each other dumbfounded.)

JENNY
He is pretty hot in that uniform.

(Blackout)

2 comments:

idjar said...

Makes me want to start my autobiography. Naturally, I'd write it about someone else.

One typo:
". . . trying maraschino cherry stems with her tongue."

Joe Janes said...

Thanks for catching that!