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SCHISM by Rich Newman

Copyright 2005 Elsinore Productions

Rich Newman 3111 Parker Lane Apt 175 Austin, Texas 78741 ricynewman@yahoo.com

FADE IN: INT - DINING ROOM We're in an upper class home decorated in a chic-mod style. Chrome and pastel colors fill the air. A black, glass top table sits in the center of the dining room. At the dinner table, a man in his early 40's, the HUSBAND, methodically shovels food into his mouth: 2 bites, 1 drink, 2 bites, 1 drink, etc. He is dressed in a smart business shirt and tie--the picture of neatness. He seems serene and carries a vague sense of satisfaction as he consumes his meal. Across from him sits his WIFE. She is the polar opposite of him. Still wearing her apron over a red cocktail dress, she has not touched her meal--her utensils sit neatly beside her full plate. She sits, disheveled and frazzled, drinking wine and smoking a cigarette with shaking fingers. She seems out of place in this sterile home where everything is in order. HUSBAND (Amused) You won't believe what I heard today. Bob from work--you remember Bob from work, right--says that Lake Chesterfield has up and disappeared! Can you just imagine? 23 acres of water, pfft, here one minute and gone the next. All those condos sitting beside a mud pit. I guess they won't be using those docks for a while, huh? He laughs heartily; she looks startled, wide-eyed, then attempts to join in half heartedly. HUSBAND (Leaning forward, conspiratorially) I guess you just don't know what you've got until it's gone. He resumes eating. She tries to fake a smile, starts to speak, then sputters to a stop, looking confused. Suddenly, she starts crying hysterically. Then, just as suddenly, she stops and wipes her eyes. She takes a long drink of wine and a drag from her smoke. He smiles at her, indulging her, then continues eating. He looks slowly to his left. There is another place setting at the table, cutlery highly polished in place, but the plate is empty of food. In the center of the plate sits a napkin neatly folded into the shape of a crown. He slowly looks back to his wife.

2 HUSBAND (Pleasantly) All hail the king! She becomes enraged and leans far across the table towards her husband, spittle flying from her mouth. WIFE Fuck you! What do you know about empty rooms and empty hours? It helps me to remember...to forget...I don't know where he's at, but if I see him...running through the room, stomping up the stairs, I can get used to it. Not knowing! She collapses back into her chair, sobs once, then resumes the wine and cigarette. HUSBAND (As if nothing happened) You know, they say that goodliness is next to Godliness. If that's true, then I say self-sufficiency is next to Heaven. To be able to survive...now that's something. Did you know that every year, thousands of lemmings rush to their deaths over cliffs into the ocean and commit suicide? Why do they do that? Nice, fuzzy lemmings... He resumes eating. She drains the glass, peers into it, then turns it upside down over her mouth and shakes out the last few drops onto her tongue. She then turns the glass, licking every drop from inside it. Then she slams both hands on the table and leers at him. He pauses, his fork halfway to his mouth, and stares at her. WIFE (Starts crying) Coward! You're hiding in there! A scar is supposed to remind you! Not keep hurting...I don't know...I don't know where he's at... She looks frustrated, wrings her hands. He sets his fork neatly, precisely back in its place beside the plate. He daintily dabs his napkin at the corners of his mouth, then places is neatly back in his lap. He pauses for a moment, then grabs his head with both hands. A spasm slowly runs through him, building until he's shaking. He squeezes his eyes closed and rocks back and forth for a moment,

3 shuddering. Then, he slowly drops his hands back to his sides, opens his eyes, and takes a deep breath. He looks displaced for a moment, then picks his fork back up and resumes eating as if nothing has happened. She watches all of this calmly, then pours herself another glass of wine. HUSBAND (Suddenly gets a great idea) Hey, whaddaya say we have some fun this weekend? You know, Bob from work--you remember Bob from work, right--visits a palm reader every weekend. Puts him in the best mood that I've ever seen. Walking on Cloud 9! Maybe we should look into that whole fortune telling thing. Sound good? She suddenly looks very weary. She starts nodding: she knows where this is going. He begins speaking, then she joins him, he sounds like an enlightened prophet preaching to the multitudes, she recites it all like a boring speech that's been repeated a thousand times. HUSBAND/WIFE What is it about the future that provides so much hope for the present? We wallow and trudge through our daily routine, comforted by the potential of unrealized dreams, not understanding that our tomorrows are lost in our todays. And that to be aware of the present, and to not be distracted by the future, is the way to avoid the tragedies that condemn us. HUSBAND (Pauses, takes a breath)

Amen!

She lets out a single, unexpected howl of frustration and kills the entire glass of wine. She pours a third glass. He watches it all with a smile, shaking his head like a father amused by a small child. He then sighs, places his fork back on the table in its correct location, then neatly folds his napkin and places it on his plate. He ponders the crumpled napkin for a moment, then looks at his wife, lovingly.

4 HUSBAND (Sounding corny) That was a fantastic meal, honey. We really should do this again sometime. He laughs in a cheesy sitcom way, then he rises and heads toward the OFFICE door, whistling as he walks. She drinks and watches him like a cat stalking its prey. WIFE (Raging) Yeah, go to your fucking cave! I won't forget, fucker! I won't! He opens the door, goes into the office, then closes the door smartly behind him. WIFE (Under her breath) I won't forget! Fucker... She takes a drink, a drag, and stares off into the distance. INT OFFICE This is a typical home office: a few bookshelves, a desk with a computer, and a comfortable leather chair. He pauses after he closes the door, then suddenly grabs his head again and begins shuddering as another long spasm of pain courses through him. After the ordeal has passed, he returns to normal once again and continues over to his desk, whistling. He sits down and turns on the monitor. He stops whistling, leans back and takes a deep, tranquil breath. He smiles, enjoying the solitude. The camera pans slowly from the husband, across the desk, over a book lying beside the keyboard. The book has the title, "Guide to Self-Hypnosis" written on the cover. The camera continues panning until the computer monitor fills the screen. The credits roll on the computer screen. FADE OUT.