Waiting


INT. LIVING ROOM. DAY

It looks like your typical suburban living area. There is a sofa, coffee table, lamp-stand, magazine rack, an urn of ashes and a vase or two.

JEFFREY, early 30s, sits on the couch. He wears wrinkled Khaki pants and an un-tucked pin-striped shirt, white T-shirt underneath. His burly hair is ungracefully combed to the side.

JEFFREY stares down a cordless phone placed atop the coffee table.

And stares...

...and stares some more, like a predator at its prey.

JEFFREY
One...two...three...RING!!!

The phone doesn’t make a peep.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Five...four...three...two...one...

He leans towards the phone.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
...RING!!!

Nothing but silence.

JEFFREY rips a sheet of paper off a note pad placed beside the phone.

He crumples up the paper and gets ready to shoot it into a wastebasket placed on the opposite end of the sofa.

But before he shoots, he looks up into the ceiling...

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
OK, okay. Listen up, guys. If I make this shot, the phone’ll ring within, let’s say, five minutes. You register that? OK...here ‘goes.

JEFFREY makes a nice little shooter’s wrinkle in his wrist and shoots the crumpled piece of paper into the wastebasket.

But misses.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Miserable circumstances!!!

He tears another sheet of paper off the pad, crumples it up and gets into position for another shot.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
All right. Listen up. If I get THIS shot in, the call will come in the next ten minutes. You guys register that? If I sink this shot, the call will come in ten minutes.

He aims, shoots, follows through with a well-formed goose-neck, but...

...misses.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
You guys suck. You really suck, know that?

But a thought strikes him.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Wait a minute. Best out of three? Is THAT what you twisted assholes are saying?

He takes another sheet of paper and crumples it up. 

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Register this: if I sink two outta three of these shots, the call will come in, let’s say, fifteen minutes or so.

He forms his shooter’s wrinkle.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Our father who art in heaven, hollow be thy naaaaaaaaa...

He shoots and misses.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
O misery!!!

He chucks the entire pad of paper at the waste basket and leaps to his feet.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Screw this! I coulda written a whole ‘nother script by now.

He paces the area behind the couch.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
(to himself)
I mean, who does this guy think he is, anyway?
(in a high, sing-songy voice)
I’m Burt Bastorach. I’m an A-list Hollywood agent. I live in the Hollywood Hills. I have a BMW and a wife with big boobies. Whenever I go to my high school reunion, people envy ME! I’m Burt Bastorach.   

He looks up towards the ceiling.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
All right, know what? I’m leaving, I’m leaving right now. 

He walks to the edge of the room.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
If you guys have anything to say about my leaving this house, ya better show me a sign. Hear that? Show me a sign, or else I’m leaving this house and missing the phone call, which means my art will NEVER proliferate the culture and NEVER change my human family! 

He puts his right leg outside of the room and keeps his left leg inside. 

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
It’s YOUR loss, guys, not mine. I never wanted this job, anyway. You’re the ones who insisted that I do it. So...SCREW...YOU!!! I’m gonna go pick up some girls and get some pizza. 

He listens to the silence of the room.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
That is, if you don’t show me a sign. Show me a sign or I’m outta here. I swear I am!

He searches the room for a sign.

But sees nothing.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
I don’t see a sign, guys, so I’m outta here in five...four...three...two...one...

He lifts his left foot off the ground.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
...one-thousand...

He hesitates.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Hail Mary Full of grace, the Lord is with theeeeeeee...

He gives one last look, and then leaves.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Screw this!

He leaves the room.

Then, there is a rippled chirping noise. It’s the phone!!!

Two seconds don’t go by before JEFFREY bolts back into the room, jumps over the arm of the couch, lands on the middle cushion, picks up the phone and looks at the caller ID window.

His face lights up like the sky on the Fourth ‘o July.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Blocked call! It’s him!

He takes a couple of deep breaths.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
(practicing)
Hello? Huhllo? Yeah, hello?

The phone keeps ringing.

JEFFREY looks up at the ceiling and smiles.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Thanks, guys. I was only kidding around with you before. Bless this call, guys. One-two-three bless this call, OK?

JEFFREY answers the call.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
(overly loud)
Hello?!

The light in JEFFREY’S face quickly dims.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Oh hi, Ma. Yeah, I was...I was in the bathroom, Ma. Where you callin’ from?

He listens.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
No, just because it said ‘blocked call.’ The caller ID. Yeah, it said ‘blocked call.’ Never mind.

He listens some more.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Yeah, trash is takin’ care of, Ma. It’s all set.
(pause)
Recyclables were last week. Every other week for recyclables, remember? Yeah, that’s what I’m sayin’. We’re safe for another week.

He starts to hang up, but his mom keeps talking.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Yeah, I WILL, Ma. When did I say I wouldn’t? When did I say I wouldn’t?! I told you I’d put the hamburgs on around five. 
(pause)
I only gave you sass because you always think I have nothing better to do. 
(another pause)
Yeah, but that’s where you’re wrong. I’m NOT unemployed. I’m a writer. I write. That’s my job.

He grows agitated.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Well, that’s the risk you have to take. You work now and get paid later. That’s what it’s all about. Look, I SAID I’d put the hamburgs on, but NOT because I don’t have anything better to do. All right. Bye!

He shuts the phone off and lays it back onto the coffee table.

He stares into space for a moment, almost in a daze.

But soon, his face turns sour and he looks back up towards the ceiling.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
You guys thought that was pretty funny, huh? I bet you’re all having a good old laugh up there, that right? That’s how you spineless bastards get your jollies.

He hops up from the sofa and pumps his fist into the ceiling.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Oh yeah? Well why don’t YOU come down here, pussies? Look at yourselves, all nice and cozy up there. You don’t have the balls to come down and live like us. 

He loses his energy and collapses onto the sofa.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Assholes...you’re assholes. You created me, but you have no idea how it is to BE me.

He stares into space for a few seconds.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
How about a sign now, guys?

He looks around the room.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Three...two...one...SIGN!

He scopes the room for a sign. There’s none to be found, as far as he can see.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
One...two...three...SIGN!!!

He sees nothing.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Screw this!

He jumps up from the sofa and paces some more.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
(to himself)
I gotta be successful eventually. Otherwise, there’d be no point in any of this. All is well that ends well, right? Just wait for it to end well...that’s all.

He paces some more.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
But when’ll that be??? I’m not getting any younger down here and I kind of want a period - many years - where I can bask in my success. You know, buy nice things for myself and go on dates with girls and eat lots of pizza. 

He talks to the ceiling.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Because I think I deserve that, don’t I? Huh? How about a sign that says I deserve that?

He takes a few looks around the room, but sees nothing.  

He pumps his fists into the ceiling.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Here I am TRYING to help my human family so, yes, I think I deserve that!!!

He keeps looking for a sign.

Suddenly a clock tolls twice. It’s two o’clock.

He slowly walks toward the clock, placed on a lamp-stand.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Was that a sign? Was that a sign, guys? Holy shit, that was a sign wasn’t it? 

He analyzes and interprets the “sign.”

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
What does it mean, though? What are you tryin’ to say?

Then, something catches the corner of his eye.

It’s an urn, placed somewhat close to the clock.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Daddy’s ashes. Why...is this what you wanted me to see? Register that, guys. Is this urn of ashes what you want me to see? 

He searches his mind for meanings to the “sign.”

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Urn...ashes...crematory...wake...black clothing...tunnel of light...near-death experiences...death...

Then it hits him.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Death!!!

He jumps away from the urn and shouts into the ceiling.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Oh no...NO!!! You’d do that, wouldn’t you? You would. I KNOW you would. O horrible!!! 

He nearly starts crying.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
(to himself)
It makes so much sense, too. Success is the artist’s greatest enemy. If I’m already dead when I succeed, the success’ll never harm me. Oh, that’s tough. That’s so tough... 

His head drops into his lap and he sits still for a moment, deep in despair.

But, soon, his anger returns. 

He jumps up from the couch and screams into the ceiling. 

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Screw this! If you wanna kill me you better do it now, cuz I’m goin’ on strike. You think I’m gonna write another screenplay for you cold-blooded bastards? No way! Not if you’re gonna chew me up and spit me out like that. No way!

He paces some more.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
But hear this: as soon as I get up there, I’m gonna come looking for YOU guys! Yeah, you all can register that as a threat!

JEFFREY gets a hold of himself and thinks for a moment. 

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Of course, it would be nice if you’d let me know I was gonna die. Register this, guys: show me a sign that says I’m definitely gonna die. Ready? Three...two...one...SIGN!

He looks around and doesn’t see a sign.

But, soon, he spots the pad of paper he threw on the floor just a while ago. 

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Oh, I get it...you guys want me to shoot for it.

He runs over to the pad, swipes it off the floor and jumps onto the far end of the sofa.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
OK...if I make this shot, I’m gonna die, let’s say, sometime within the next two weeks.

He gets ready to shoot.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Hail Mary full of graaaaaaaa...

He shoots and misses.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Miserable conditions!!!

But he’s not discouraged.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Practice shot. Register that as a practice shot, guys!

He crumples up another piece of paper, shoots and...misses.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
The following shot is...

He shoots and misses.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
...a practice shot.

He crumples up another piece of paper and gets into proper shooting from.

JEFFREY (CONT’D)
Register this, guys...forget all that other stuff and register THIS...


THE END


 


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