~The Bicycle~{a Christmas tale-screenplay}~

WordWulf By WordWulf, 13th Dec 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

~8 year old Lonnie writes a letter to Santa~maybe you can get together with God or somethin’~l’il girl smiles~a glass blue eye in her hand~empty socket in the doll’s face~“Hey, it’s been a tough year but I’m gonna get that bicycle for my boy.”~

~Act I~

FADE IN: Night. A young boy (Lonnie – 8-9 years old) lying on his stomach in bed writing in a tablet.

(voice over) Lonnie’s voice: “Dear Santa, I’m too old to be writin’ you these letters. Truth is, I’ll be nine in a few months and I been thinkin’ for awhile that maybe you ain’t real. But just in case you are, there’s this cool chopper bike at Wal~Mart I’d like to have.”

CUT to girls’ bedroom (upper bunkbed).
Seven-year-old girl (Lily) sleeping, arms around a raggedy ann doll.

(voice over continues): “My l’il sister, Lily, wants a Cabbage Patch Doll (she likes cat things too and race cars). She’s seven.”

CUT to the bottom bunkbed.
A tiny girl, one-and-a-half-years-old, asleep, a naked doll next to her, one glass eye open.

(voice over continues): “The smallest of the Lanes is baby Lisa. She’s one-and-a-half years old. She likes those dolls with the blinky eyes (sometimes she pokes ‘em out).”

CUT to six-year-old boy’s bedroom. Louie, asleep crossways in a small bed, untidy room, a poster of a firetruck on the wall at the head of his bed.

(voice over continues): “my brother, Louie, is six-years-old. Louie’s just about crazy for firetrucks. That’s all he thinks about.”

CUT back to lonnie (he continues to write)

(voice over continues): “Like I said before,”

CUT to memory sequence
The four children and their parents (Larry and Laurie), an attractive couple in their thirties, the previous Christmas. A typical American family Christmas morning, brightly lit tree in a modestly furnished living room. Everyone is happy. Lonnie and Louie are examining a toy race car with Lily. Baby lisa is sandwiched between two pillows from the couch playing with a rattle. Mom and dad are arm in arm, watching the children, dressed in their pajamas.

(voice over continues): “If you’re too busy or you ain’t real, just forget about this letter. I’m gettin’ so old, it’s probly the last one you’ll get from me. Seems to me like good ‘n bad don’t have as much to do with presents as Daddy’s job. When he has work you always bring lots o’ stuff. When he don’t you don’t.”

CUT to father (Larry) sitting on a recliner in the living room by himself, lower right leg and foot in a cast. There’s a bottle of beer on a side table next to the chair nestled amongst prescription bottles. Larry is stroking his lower face, a week’s worth of whiskers. The room is dark, reflections from a television screen lightening and darkening his haggard face. Laurie enters the room. She’s wringing her hands and shaking her head slowly from side to side.

(voice over continues): “Santa, he ain’t been workin’ much at all this year. His foot got hurt on a roof and he started takin’ pills. Then the doctor wouldn’t give him no more but it still hurt a lot. Well, he started drinkin’ whiskey and beer and goin’ to the bar. Him and mommy took to fightin’ all the time. She cries a lot and that makes my l’il brother and sisters cry. I try to wait and do it by myself when nobody can see me. If you pray Santa could you say one for Larry and Laurie and lonnie (that’s me) and Lily and Louie and baby Lisa? Yeah, that’s us, the ‘L’ family. Kids in school use to tease me ‘bout the L’s and I’d get mad at Mommy ‘n Daddy for namin’ the whole family like that. Lately I been writin’ our names down in a row over ‘n over and now I think maybe it’s kinda neat that they got together and decided to have all us l’il L’s.”

CUT to a previous time. The family in a mountain park. Lonnie is holding baby Lisa, watching his parents dance by a campfire. Lily and Louie are roasting marshmellows.

(voice over continues): “And that’s my real wish, Santa. That mommy ‘n daddy’ll be like they use to. Never mind the bike and toys. Maybe if you’re real you could get together with God or somethin’ and sort o’ teach ‘em to smile again like they use to at each other and us kids. I know it sounds sappy and I use to hide my eyes when I was a kid so I didn’t have to watch ‘em makin’ eyes at each other and kissin’ ‘n stuff. Now I’d like to see ‘em do that again. Well, I’ll let you go for now. You probly won’t hear from me no more since I’m gettin’ so old now. Your friend (if you’re real or not), Lonnie Lane.”

CUT back to Lonnie as the voice over ends. He yawns, places his letter on a night stand next to his bed. There’s a book on the table, “Call of the Wild” by Jack London. A small glass of juice and a cookie shaped like a Christmas tree are there as well and a small lamp and clock. Lonnie glances at the clock, nine:fifteen, and turns off the lamp.

CUT to Laurie standing in the hallway. There’s a grandfather clock next to her. It sounds ten o’ clock as she enters the girls’ bedroom. The room is dimly lit from the light in the hallway. Laurie stands on her tiptoes to have a look at Lily in the top bunk, then bends over and touches Lacy’s face lightly with a finger.

She goes to a small table by the door, takes a sip out of a glass there and nibbles a cookie on the table. Lily has left a picture there, Santa and two girls in dresses, big smiles on their faces. Laurie smiles a bit herself as she sees crayon scrawls around the edges, obviously Lacy’s contribution to the Santa message. She takes a scrap of wrapping paper from her pocket and writes on it: “Happy Christmas! You’ve been good girls all year long. Love, Santa.”

CUT to Louie’s room. Laurie moves to Louie’s side, touches his leg, which is still hanging over the side of the bed. She rearranges the covers so it is not bare. She smiles when she looks at Louie’s note to santa. Camera zooms in on note. There is a tic-tac-toe grid drawn on a piece of scrap paper, Santa-O and Louie-X scrawled across the top. Two squares have X’s, one an O. Laurie fills in the second O. She pulls another scrap of wrapping paper from her pocket, writes on the back: “Merry Christmas, Louie. You’re a good boy! I blocked your X run. Think about it. I’ll see you next year. Love, Santa.” Laurie takes a bit from the cookie on the messy dresser next to Louie’s bed, sips a bit from a cup of juice there, then slips from the room.

CUT to Lonnie’s room. He’s asleep now. His Christmas letter sticks out from under “Call of the Wild.” Laurie enters from the hall, approaches Lonnie and pushes the hair back from his forehead. She bends and kisses him, then takes his letter from the table. She nibbles on the cookies left for Santa and drinks from a glass of juice, takes a tattered piece of wrapping paper from her pocket, and writes: “Dear Lonnie, You’re getting to be a big boy and quite a writer, I see. Your note is so long I’ll have to take it back to the North Pole with me and read it tomorrow. Enjoy your Christmas! Love, Santa”

Laurie puts the scrap of paper under the book, lingers for a moment staring at Lonnie, then backs into the hallway. She takes a deep breath and begins to read his letter. After a few moments, tears on her cheeks, she turns off the hall light and heads downstairs.

CUT to the family living room. There’s a fire burning brightly in the fireplace, a Christmas tree with blinking lights. Larry’s voice from outside the room: “Is that you, Laurie? Want a nightcap, honey?”

Laurie bites her lip, closes her eyes.
Laurie: “Just one and make it light, please.”

Larry finds her standing next to the tree. He touches her arm and hands her a drink. She accepts it but doesn’t look at him. Lonnie’s letter is in her free hand.
Laurie: “I’m glad we have each other but this is the worst barebones Christmas we’ve ever had. We’re lucky to have gotten the tree but there’s not very much to put under it this year. We’ll make do.”

Laurie loses her composure, sobs for a moment.
Laurie: “I’ll tell you what I’ve managed to put together but first come sit down on the couch. I want you to read Lonnie’s letter to Santa with me.”

Larry (upset): “Damn it, don’t start in on me!” “It’s Christmas eve; give it a rest for once.”

Laurie moves past him, sits on the couch. Larry sits next to her. He laughs derisively.
Larry: “Isn’t Lonnie getting a little old to be writing letters to Santa? If he hopes to realize his dream to be a writer someday, ‘just like Jack London’, he’d better start writin’ somethin’ stronger ‘n letters to Santa. Not much power in Santa notes.”

Laurie is sobbing softly as she sips at her drink. she hands the letter to Larry and he slips an arm around her shoulders.

Larry: “I’m sorry for blowin’ off, sweety. Don’t cry, sweetheart. Next year’ll be better for us. I’ll straighten up and fly right, I promise. I don’t know what’s gotten into me.”

Larry takes a long swallow of his drink, glances at Laurie.

Larry: “Things would be so much better for us if I could just find some work.”

Laurie turns toward him, teary-eyed.
Laurie: “Larry, honey, please read Lonnie’s letter.”

Larry leans forward on the couch, squinting his eyes, using the glow from the fireplace to read his oldest child’s words by. He finishes reading the letter, folds it and puts it in his shirt pocket.
Larry: “Ah, damn.”

Larry stands up, shaking his head back and forth sadly. He kisses the top of Laurie’s head.
Larry: “I’ll be back.”
He gets his coat from a peg on the wall and walks toward the door.

Laurie: “Please don’t go to the bar tonight.”
Her voice falls on empty ears as Larry walks out and closes the door behind him. We hear the sound of his truck starting. Laurie holds her face in her hands and weeps.

~Act II~

Larry drives his old Ford pickup into the parking lot of a local bar, the Dew Drop Inn. Other than him, there is only one vehicle in the lot, a ten-year-old Cadillac Deville. He gets out of his pickup and enters the back door of the bar. The bar is dimly lit except for the serving window to the kitchen which is just to the right of the door.

Larry, peering in the window: “Hello-o-o-o, anybody in there?”

A stout older man comes into view, drying his hands on a towel. He is red-cheeked, wearing thick glasses, and smiles when he sees Larry.

Thick italian accent: “Larry, my friend, what brings you out on Christmas eve? You want a sausage sandwich or something; can I make you a drink?”

Larry: “Merry Christmas, Papa. Nah, I don’t need anything. Michael told me he’d be here tonight, said he might be able to line me up with some side work.”

Papa: “Me and Mama, we told that boy of ours to stay home with the wife and kids. Mikey’s having us over tomorrow. How ‘bout you and the wife and all your little ones; you have big plans for the holiday?”

Larry: “Just the six of us this year. Hey, I better get going. You have a nice Christmas. Tell Michael I’ll call him day after tomorrow.”

Papa: “You too, Larry. I’ll tell Mikey.”

A concerned look comes over his face as he watches Larry exit the bar.
Papa (over his shoulder): “Mama, c’mon now, let’s go home.”

Larry sits in his truck in the parking lot. He watches as Michael’s parents lock the door, waves at them as they get in the car. As they pull from the parking lot, he takes Lonnie’s letter from his pocket, turns on the interior light and begins to read it.

A police car pulls into the parking lot. The officer, a young woman, gets out of the car and raps on the side window of Larry’s pickup with her flashlight.

Larry, rapt in the reading of the letter, is startled. He fumbles with the handle as he rolls down the window.

Larry (visibly upset): “What?”

She shines the light into the cab, across the seat and dashboard, then holds it just above Larry’s chin.

Cop: “Are you okay, sir?”

Larry: “I’m okay. How’re you tonight?”

Larry folds the letter and puts it back in his shirt pocket.

The cop purses her lips.

Cop: “Could I see your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration, please?”

Larry leans forward to retrieve his billfold from his rear pocket.

Larry (nervous and distracted): “I was just sitting here reading a Christmas letter from my son.”

Larry finds and hands her the documents.

She shines her flashlight on them, then back to his lower face.

Cop: “Sit still, sir; I’ll be right back.”

She goes back to her car.

Larry glances in the mirror, the red and blue flashing lights of the police car winking back at him.

Larry (under his breath): “What the hell now?”

Larry closes his eyes and views a kaleidoscope of memories.

Memory Sequence:
(1) Larry steps from the top of a ladder onto a roof, a bundle of shingles on his shoulder. He slips and falls to the ground.
(2) In the hospital operating room surrounded by doctors and nurses.
(3) At home with Laurie, sitting in a recliner in the living room with his foot elevated, in a cast from his hip to the end of his toes.
(4) Arguing with Laurie and throwing his prescription medicine bottles across the room.
(5) Sitting on a stool in the “Dew Drop Inn” talking and laughing with his friend, Michael, who is behind the bar.

Cop: “Have you been drinking tonight, mister Lane?”

Larry (startled from his reverie). He blurts out: “No sir, I mean ma’am.”

She shines the flashlight in his face and takes a step back.

Cop: “Step from the vehicle please.”

Larry gets out of the truck and she moves toward the front of it.
Cop: “Please face the vehicle, stand with your feet apart, and hands on the hood.”

Larry does as he is told and she, quick and professional, frisks him top to bottom, then steps back.

Cop: “Turn around now, Mister Lane.”

Larry turns around to face her.

Larry (still nervous and agitated): “I just came by here to see a friend about some work. I haven’t been drinking or anything. I…”

She holds up a hand and he stops talking.

Cop (tersely): “I haven’t accused you of anything. Stand up as straight as possible and touch the tip of your nose with your right hand, Sir.”

Larry is visibly frustrated but does as he is told.

Cop: “Drop your right arm to your side. Keep it there and touch the tip of your nose with your left hand.”

Larry touches the tip of his nose and she takes a few steps back.

Cop: “Walk in a straight line toward me, one foot in front of the other. When I raise my arm, turn around and walk back to your vehicle.”

Larry walks toward her, turns around and walks back to his pickup when she raises her hand. He turns around to face her.

Larry: “Well?”

She rubs her hand on her chin.

Cop: “You did okay on the nose part. You didn’t walk very straight though.”

Larry leans against the door of his pickup.

Larry: “I was in an accident a little over a year ago, broke my foot and leg in a number of places. I doubt I’ll ever walk straight again.”

The cop nods her head.

Cop: “Would you consent to a blood or breath analyzer?”

Larry sighs as if he is about to give up.

Larry defeatedly): “If I have to. Listen lady, my oldest son wants a bike. I got fifty dollars in my pocket and I’m hopin’ Wal~Mart is open so I can go try to talk them out of one for fifty bucks. I’m not sure they’ll stay open all night, it bein’ Christmas eve and everything.”

The cop relaxes a bit.

Cop (irony evident in her voice): “Good luck with that.”

She approaches Larry, hands him his paperwork, then surprises him by squeezing his shoulder.

Cop: “Go get that bicycle, Mister Lane. And hey, Merry Christmas.”

Larry (still a bit befuddled and surprised at her sudden change of attitude): “Thanks and merry Christmas to you.”

Larry (as cop is getting into her car): “Hey, it’s been a tough year but I’m gonna get that bicycle for my boy.”

Larry climbs into his pickup, takes out his billfold and puts his paperwork away. He pulls a folded fifty dollar bill from behind a flap in the billfold, holds it up and smiles.

Larry (to himself): “My rat-hole.”

He shoves the bill back into the front pocket of his jeans, puts his billfold in his back pocket, starts the pickup and pulls out onto the street.

Cut to the parking lot of a Super Wal~Mart.

Larry parks and gets out of his pickup. There are only a dozen or so cars in the parking lot. The “open” sign is blinking off and on. Larry smiles when he sees it.

Larry: “Yes!”

He enters the store and goes straight to the toy section, starts looking over the bicycles in the three-tiered bike rack. A young woman in a blue vest approaches.

Young woman: “May I help you?”

Larry turns to face her, smiles hopefully.

Larry: “I sure hope so. My son wants one of those chopper bikes for Christmas, the ones with the fat back tire. I probably don’t have enough money to buy it but maybe I can work out somehin’ with the manager of the store to make up the difference. I’ll shovel snow, sweep the floor, unload trucks… anything. I gotta have one o’ those bikes for my boy.”

The clerk takes a step back, eyes him warily.

Clerk: “I’m sorry, Sir. Those bikes were a big hit this season. All the stores in town have been sold out of them for over two weeks. Would you like to look at some of the others? We have a couple of good mountain bikes left.”

Larry stares at her, disbelief and defeat evident on his face. Tears fill his eyes.

Larry: “No, it has to be that bicycle. I told you I’d work. I’ll do anything if you could just…”

The clerk is startled by his desperate behavior. She edges away, smiles at him nervously. There’s a fearful but consoling edge to her voice when she speaks to him.

Clerk: “I’ll get the store manager. Maybe there’s something he can do to help you. Just wait here; he’ll be right with you.”

Larry is pacing back and forth in front of the bike rack when he hears a voice over the store public address system:

Loud P.A. voice: “Customer service needed in the bicycle department. Request a manager as soon as possible.”

Larry pulls the fifty dollar bill from his pocket, stares at it with forlorn hope in his eyes, then puts it back. He touches his shirt pocket, fingers the letter.

Larry (under his breath, a litany): “God help me; I gotta get this bicycle for Lonnie, for all of us.”

A somewhat unkempt older man with a beard and belly, clad in a white shirt and red necktie decorated with reindeer and snowmen approaches Larry. He begins speaking right away in a deep and friendly voice.

Man: “Well hello there. Sorry it took so long to answer the call. I recognized Liesel’s voice on the system and stopped by to chat with her for a moment. She told me about your problem and asked me to have a word or two with you.”

Larry (im mumbles and stammers): “Liesel? d-did you say Liesel? L, L,L? L.. Liesel, L’s on both ends?”

The manager laughs heartily. Larry is taken aback by his gaiety. He stares at the man, dumbfounded. The manager’s eyes are crystal blue and they seem to be twinkling.

Larry’s voice (his thoughts): “Stop it, you fool! This is the real world, not some eight-year-old boy’s fantasy.”

Manager: “Sorry for my outburst. Sometimes I’m just too enthusiastic. But your response struck me as funny. Of course Liesel has two L’s, one on each end of her name.”

Larry offers him a sad smile, puts his hands in his pockets.

Larry (meekly): “Guess I got a thing for L’s.”

Larry studies the tops of his shoes for a moment, then speaks and acts with more conviction.

Larry: “Life and love, my whole family. I’m Larry. My wife and kids. All our names start with ‘L’. I guess you could say L’s have been good to me.”

The older man smiles at Larry, scrutinizes him for a moment.

Manager: “My name’s nick. And hey, about the bicycle you’re looking for; there’s one in the back that was damaged during shipping or something. I don’t remember exactly what’s wrong with it. There was something messed up that was fixable but we don’t have the resources here, especially this time of year. We needed more time, machinery, a welder, something like that. hmmmm…”

He presses two fingers to his lips and gazes pensively at Larry.

Manager: “If I remember right, there were plans to claims it out after the holiday and take it to a recycling facility with other damaged merchandise. Mind you, if it appears beyond repair, I won’t be able to sell it to you, insurance liability and all that.”

Nick laughs. lifts his arms, then drops them to his side.

Nick: “Well, that’s enough talk. Come along, let’s see what we can do for you.”

He heads for the back of the store and Larry follows close behind. Larry takes the fifty dollar bill from his pocket, glances as it as if to be sure it actually exists. He follows Nick through a door marked “Employees Only”.

Nick stops at a large metal door on the back wall, takes a large ring of keys from his pocket and begins trying them in the lock. The third key turns the lock.

Nick: “here we go!”

He pushes the door open and we see a large fenced-in area outside the rear of the store. Nick flips a light switch and the area lights up revealing stacks of damaged merchandise, a small sea of organized confusion. It is snowing lightly and everything has a light dusting of snow on it.

Larry: “Lot o’ stuff out here. Is everything damaged?”

Nick: “Pretty much.”

Nick squints his eyes, peering down the aisle of broken and damaged inventory.

Nick: “I don’t see it. I’m sure it was here.”

Larry: “I sure hope you’re right.”

Nick: “Oh, there it is, over in the corner.”

He points to the far corner of the area, then begins to make his way through the littered debris.

Nick (calling back to Larry, over his shoulder): “Go ahead and wait by the door. I’ll pull ‘er out and we’ll have us a look-see.”

Nick pushes boxes to the side and finally reaches the end of the aisle. He wrestles a bicycle from a nest of garden hoses and returns to Larry pushing the bicycle. Just as he reaches Larry the front wheel falls off the bicycle. Nick shakes his head.

Nick: “I remember now. The front tire was flat when Jim, our bicycle assembler, repaired it. The front axle threads were stripped by his assistant when he was putting it back together.”

Nick bends down and picks up the wheel. He runs his hand over the axle, disappointment evident on his kind face when he addresses Larry.

Nick: “I don’t know, Sir. It’s been sitting out here in the weather for a couple of months. Look at all that rust on the chrome and the threads on the axle are all banged up.”

Larry takes the wheel from Nick. He holds the axle, one hand on each side, and gives the wheel a spin with his thumbs. The wheel spins smoothly.

Larry: “The bearings are in good shape. I can re-cut those threads and knock the rust off with some double-ot steel wool.”

Larry peers out at the stacks of merchandise, studies it with a discerning eye.

Larry: “I could probably fix most the things out here. I’ve worked with tools and machinery all my life, construction, roofing, and stuff, done some garage repair and installation. Always fixed my own bikes when I was a kid.”

Camera on nick. He’s studying Larry thoughtfully.

Nick: “Hmm… I believe Liesel mentioned something about you being out of work.”

Larry bends over and leans the wheel against the bicycle. He’s on one knee, hands moving over the frame and fenders as he speaks to Nick.

Larry: “I get a side job every once in a while but nothin’ steady. Got hurt on a job a year or so ago. All healed up now but can’t seem to find any work. I’m not one to complain but it’s been tough on me ‘n my family the past year, me bein’ down ‘n out o’ work.”

Nick picks up the wheel, lifts the front end of the bicycle and rolls it out of Larry’s hands. He motions with his head for Larry to follow, rolls the bicycle through the door and leans it against the inside wall. He speaks to Larry as he is closing and securing the door.

Nick: “Well Sir, don’t know if you’d be interested but Jim’s retiring at the end of the month, been with Wal~Mart for thirty-two hears. You come in the day after Christmas, go on the computer in Customer Service, fill out a proper job application, might just be a job here for you. If you’re interested, I’ll leave the manager a note telling him you seem like an apt young man to me. That should at least get you an interview. It’d be up to you from there.”

Larry (stammering a bit): “Uh, I uh… I thought you were the store manager.”

Nick (chuckling): “Me? No I’m from the home office, in charge of international toy distribution. I’m here on a tour of the stores in Colorado, just happened to answer the call when Liesel requested a manager for customer assistance.”

Larry: (looking Nick in the eye, clears his throat, and speaks in a strong and positive voice): “I’d appreciate the recommendation. I’m definitely interested in the job. I’d be in your debt.”

Nick fiddles with his beard, obviously uncomfortable.

Nick: “No one’s ever in my debt, young man.”

He chuckles in his familiar way and the smile returns to his face.

Nick: “Well then, let’s get you back home to that family of yours, all those little ‘L’s.”

He appraises the bicycle, gives it a visual once-over.

Nick: “A lot of work there; sure you can get ‘er up to snuff?”

Larry: “Oh yeah. That bike’ll be better ‘n new when I’m finished with it.”

Nick chuckles and his eyes twinkle as he faces Larry.

Nick: “I believe you and that’s good enough for me ‘n Wal~Mart. We usually don’t sell damaged merchandise, liability ‘n all that.”

Nick reaches out and gives Larry’s shoulder a squeeze.

Nick: “But it’s Christmas eve, isn’t it? I got me a good feeling about this.”

Larry (softly): “Thank-you, sir. Me too.”

Larry looks Nick in the eye.

Larry: “How much do I owe you, Sir?”

Nick bends down to consult the price tag hanging from the gooseneck of the bicycle.

Nick: “Let’s see here. Well she has a price tag of $177.00 brand new. Hmmmm…”

Nick runs his fingers through his beard.

Larry clears his throat, speaks softly, thinking out-loud.

Larry: “Half off would make it around $90.00; that’s forty dollars more than I have in my pocket, forty dollars more than I have to my name. Sir, I told Liesel I’d work. I’ll do anything.”

Nick gives Larry’s arm another squeeze. He shakes his head and chuckles loudly.

Nick: “Slow down, son. It’s my job to set the price based on salvage and recovery value. Give me a minute to think here. I have to make some calculations.”

Nick takes a small calculator from his shirt pocket, punches in some numbers, glances at Larry, who’s standing by nervously, hands in pockets and obviously fretful.

Nick: “how about forty dollars? Does that sound fair to you? Can you swing it?”

Larry stands there, limp as a rag, as Nick takes a firm grip on his upper arms and speaks directly to him.

Nick (softly – almost a whisper): “Listen, son, I’ve been penniless and on the streets before in my life. I know how difficult life can be at times, how hard we can be on ourselves when it’s like that. Believe you me, your boy’s gonna have that bike if I have to pay for it, fix it, and deliver it myself. You can stop worrying about that little thing.”

Larry swallows deeply. A smile lights up his face. He is full of enthusiasm.

Larry: “No Sir, you’ve done more than enough. I got cash in my pocket, plenty to cover it. Let’s do it!”

Nick laughs aloud, grabs Larry in a bear hug and almost lifts him off the floor. Larry resists for a moment, then returns the hug. Nick kisses him on the cheek and lets him go. Nick’s eyes are twinkling, his cheeks red. He gives Larry an exaggerated wink.

Nick: “I’ll tell the cashier up front to price override the damaged bicycle to forty dollars. You just take it up there and hey, have a merry Christmas!”

Nick rubs his chin, fluffs his beard a bit.

Nick: “I hate to rush off but I’ve a busy night ahead of me, if you know what I mean.”

Larry bends down and picks up the bicycle wheel, turns to say something to Nick but he’s gone. Larry touches the note in his pocket, smiles.

Larry (thoughtful and preoccupied – to himself): “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I know what you mean.”

~Act III~

Cut to exterior of two-story house in middle income neighborhood. The snowfall is heavier now, big flakes, half an inch accumulation on the ground. Larry’s pickup appears, stops, and he begins to back into the driveway. Laurie comes running outside in her bare feet and stands by the garage door waiting. She is wringing her hands and is obviously upset and worried. Larry parks the truck in the driveway, gets out and sweeps Laurie off her feet. He picks her up and carries her into the house. She is crying and trying to speak but Larry smothers her face with kisses, carries her around the living room in a couple of slow circles, then sets her down on the sofa. He goes to the fireplace and tosses in a couple of small logs, then comes back to the couch and sits down next to her.

Laurie: “Larry, what?”

Larry (playfully): “What, what? I love you, that’s what! I got our Lonnie a bike, that’s what what but it needs some work, what? I’ll be busy out in the garage for a couple, maybe three hours, gettin’ it ready. You should get some socks on, my silly girl. Out in the snow in your bare feet. Your tootsies must be freezing.”

Larry holds Laurie’s face between his hands and looks into her eyes. He smiles.

Larry: “I love you, girl. Why don’t you just snuggle up on the couch and wait for me?”

Larry gets up from the couch. Laurie leaps to her feet and hugs him fiercely. He strokes her hair and she buries her head against his chest. She’s crying. He dances slowly around the room with her in his arms. He sings softly as they cling to each other.

Larry: “Take this walts, take this waltz, take this waltz.”

He stops dancing and speaks softly into Laurie’s ear.

Larry: “Don’t cry, honey. Whatcha wanna go ‘n cry for, darlin’?”

Larry’s hands are on the back of Laurie’s head, stroking her hair. Her voice is muffled as she speaks into his chest.

Laurie: “I’m scared.”

Larry: “Don’t be. Everything’s gonna be alright, it really is.”

He begins to dance and sing again.

Larry: “Take this walts, take this waltz, take this waltz.”

Laurie (choking back a sob): “I’m happy. It feels like you’re back from that awful place and I don’t ever want to lose you again. I’m happy and I’m scared; that’s why I’m crying.”

Larry dances her back to the couch. They sit down next to each other.
Larry (excitedly): “I met this really cool ol’ guy at Wal~Mart. He hooked me up with a bicycle and mentioned I might be able to get a job there fixing damaged stuff and putting things together. I got some tricks up my sleeves, babe. Remember the ooga-ooga horn I had on that ol’ Harley o’ mine? Wait’ll Lonnie gets a load o’ that. He loves that ol’ horn.”

Laurie: “I’ve prayed so hard for this. Now I’m having a hard time believing it’s true. I haven’t felt like Christmas this year until the past few minutes with you.”

Larry takes Lonnie’s letter from his shirt pocket, presses it into Laurie’s hands.
Larry: “What did I say just before I left… that Lonnie was gettin’ a little bit old to be writin’ letters to Santa Claus… “

Larry buries his face against Laurie’s shoulder and cries for a moment.

Larry (speaking softly to Laurie, his face resting on her shoulder): “Our boy’s a writer, alright. That letter, the bicycle, ah damn!”

Laurie closes her eyes, turns her head, and kisses Larry on the forehead.

Laurie: “Merry Christmas, my darling man.”

Larry gets up from the couch, touches Laurie’s face lightly with his fingers.

Larry: “Merry Christmas. Okay, no more tears tonight. It’s time to go to work. I won’t be long, believe me. You just wait and save me some hugs.”

Laurie (softly): “We always did it together.”

Larry (nonplussed): “What, sweetheart?”

Laurie: “The toys, wrapping presents for everyone and putting things together. We always shared that.”

Larry claps his hands like a child, a true and genuine smile softening his young man’s tough leather face.

Larry: “That’s right, girl, we did! We do! You better get some jeans and shoes on. And don’t forget your coat! I’ll get us a fire goin’ in the garage.”

Laurie: “Just a minute. Wait for me.”

Laurie leaves the room for a moment and Larry studies the Christmas tree.

Camera zooms in on specific ornaments with the children’s names on them: Lonnie, Lily, Louie, and Lisa.

Laurie comes back into the room and stands next to Larry. She’s wearing jeans and warm winter boots. Her face is flushed and she speaks excitedly.

Laurie: “I’ll get the fire-truck I found for Louie. We have to put it together. And I found a few things to go with the girls’ dolls at a secondhand store, even a race car for Lily. We’ll have to clean them up a bit. There’s some other stuff from the Santa Claus Shop where I volunteered.”

Larry: “You are incredible.”

Laurie (embarrassed): “Oh stop it, you. I get carried away sometimes.”
He kisses Laurie on the mouth, long and hard, takes her breath away. They break the kiss and Laurie smiles shyly.

Laurie: “Larry, I’ll make some coffee and bring everything out to the garage. We’ll do it like before.”

Larry: “We’ll do it like forever, sweet lady, forever and now.”

Laurie opens a closet door and begins digging and setting out toys and packages.

Larry goes out the door. Camera follows him to his pickup. He drops the tailgate and unloads the bicycle. He unlocks the garage, takes the bicycle in and sets it on a large workbench. He throws some scrap wood into a stove built from a fifty-five gallon drum, uses some newspaper to get a fire started. He’s humming “We wish you a merry Christmas” as he works on the front wheel. He clamps it in a vise, uses a die to cut new threads into the axle, then bolts it into the frame. He stands back to admire his work, absently reaches into the front pocket of his jeans. A surprised look comes to his face as he pulls a bill from his pocket and stares at a hundred dollar bill.

Laurie comes into the garage carrying an armload of boxes. She sets them on the bench, then goes to Larry and puts her arm around his waist, appraises the bicycle.

Laurie: “Oh Larry, you didn’t just get a bicycle, you got the bicycle.”

Camera fades out as Laurie begins to take toys out of boxes and Larry uses steel wool to shine the chrome fenders of the bicycle.

Credits roll as camera reveals Christmas morning. Lonnie is admiring his chopper bike, especially the ooga-ooga horn. Louie is extending the ladder on his firetruck. Lily has a race car with barbie perched on top. Lisa, the last child shown, has a ‘cat that ate the canary’ look on her face. We see a glass blue eye in her hand and the empty socket in the doll’s face.

Camera pulls away and cuts to a winter palace in a faraway forest. We hear familiar laughter, follow it down a country lane, past a corral full of reindeer, through the window and into a spacious room with a fire roaring in the hearth. A sweet-looking grandma type lady comes through a door carrying a tray of freshly baked cookies. The man we heard laughing rises from a large chair (its back is to the camera) and takes a cookie from the tray. He kisses the lady on the cheek. Camera zooms in on his face and nick (from Wal~Mart) winks at us.

{the end}

Tom {WordWulf} Sterner
~Nana Candle~
~The Moth/A Sign~

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author avatar Sheila Newton
16th Dec 2011 (#)

Great 3 act play. I enjoyed it.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
28th Dec 2011 (#)

How could you write too long!

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author avatar WordWulf
2nd Jan 2012 (#)

My first novel, The Warrior, is 312,000 words. I start writing & don't know when to stop;-)

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author avatar Songbird B
4th Jan 2012 (#)

Tom, this was an absolute joy to read, and so descriptive that I could almost see the visual..What a great play! Hope that your Christmas and New Year was extra special my friend..

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