Sunday, February 04, 2007

Christmas Eve

Here's another one from the land of shorts that we've done. This one actually got shot, but the footage and all remaining copies have been lost somewhere to the sands of time.

INT. BREAK ROOM -- CHRISTMAS EVE -- EVENING

There is no sound in the room except for the percolating of cheap Folgers coffee.

The coffee maker sits on a counter with nothing else but a score of empty unwashed coffee mugs.

A refrigerator is humming quietly in the background as well.

A rectangular table rests in the middle of the room surrounded by six or seven folding chairs. A few days worth of newspapers are festooned about it.

A few beats of this silence until the door bursts open. In comes two neatly dressed ELECTRONICS SALESMAN.

The first through the door, RICHARD, comes in pissed and in a hurry. He's followed by TOM, who enters casually.

RICHARD
I can't frigging believe these people...

TOM
You can't get so worked up Richard... You missed
one, you hit a bad spell, the world's not ending...

Tom goes to the coffee maker and starts to pour himself a cup.

Richard paces around the table once, not sitting down, but only encouraging his fury...

TOM
What model were you selling him?

RICHARD
This guy was going for the Intellitron. All the
way, I was gonna make two-hundred, easy...

Tom opens the fridge and withdraws cream for his coffee...

TOM
Why did he back out?

RICHARD
Checked with his wife...

TOM
You let him do that?

Tom pulls himself up a folding chair and sits down, stirring his coffee all the while.

RICHARD
What was I supposed to do?

TOM
What are you up to on the board?

RICHARD
Nothing.

TOM
Nothing?

Tom, still stirring, is trying to track Richard around the room. He gives up and pulls the sports section from the mess of newspaper on the table.

RICHARD
Nothing. I got nothing.

TOM
All week?

RICHARD
All week. Who shops for this crap but won't buy it?

Tom replies as he sips his coffee:

TOM
I'm not doing too bad...

RICHARD
You never do too bad...
(beat)
I'm goin' back out.

He finishes his lap around the table and walks out the door.

TOM
Good luck.

Tom is able to enjoy the paper for a few beats until another salesman comes through the door.
This time it's BILLY THE KID. He's got slicked back hair and wears suspenders. He looks like a yuppie thrown back from the early '80's.

BILLY THE KID
Hey Tom, how's it going?

Tom doesn't even look up from the sports page.

TOM
Not bad.

BILLY THE KID
Takin' a coffee break?

TOM
Yup.

Billy the Kid goes to the refrigerator and withdraws a power bar from the freezer and an energy drink from the fridge.

BILLY THE KID
No time for breaks today. I am on fire.

He closes the fridge and turns to Tom, leaning against it. Tom still doesn't look up, but remains polite:

TOM
I take it you sold that old lady on the H-D?

He's unwrapping the power bar...

BILLY THE KID
Extended warranty, protective screen coat
and every other bell and bloody whistle...

Billy the Kid devours the power bar in a bite and half, and for the next couple of lines chews it on one side of his mouth.

TOM
Wow. Nice...

BILLY THE KID
I'm gonna take home a grand in commissions tonight already.
(beat)
Fifteen by closing for sure.

Another salesman walks through the door. HARRY. He's the oldest salesman on the force. The Jack Lemmon sort.

HARRY
Tom. Billy, how you guys makin' out?

Still not looking up from the racing form...

TOM
Not bad.

Billy the Kid cracks open his energy drink and gulps it down in one breath.

HARRY
What's got Richard? He's like a maniac out there...

Billy the Kid belches...

TOM
He's havin' a dry week.

BILLY THE KID
Back to the killing floor.

Billy the Kid walks out of the door and back onto the sales floor.

Harry pours himself a coffee...

HARRY
Oh yeah. How dry?

Harry sits down opposite of Tom.

TOM
Nothing.

HARRY
Nothing?

TOM
Nothing.

HARRY
For heaven sakes it's Christmas tomorrow.
He should be mopping up.

TOM
I know.

HARRY
I wonder what his wife's gonna say...

Tom finally finishes up with the newspaper.

TOM
What can she say? Her husband works a
sales job. He's not closing these people...

HARRY
Sometimes it's easy to forget how cutthroat
it can get.

TOM
Yup.

Tom is finished with his coffee, he stands...

HARRY
I remember one Christmas, same thing happened
to me. I couldn't afford to buy a Christmas
tree until Christmas Eve. By that time all the lots
were all closed so I had to steal the damn thing.
(beat)
Glad the kids didn't know the difference...

Tom rinses out his coffee mug in the sink and heads for the door.

TOM
I'd love to hear all about it Harry, but I'm not
going to be in any better shape than that
if I don't get my ass out there...

HARRY
Of course, of course...

Tom is out of the door...

Harry, about to sip his coffee, muses to himself:

HARRY
Christmas Eve and nothing...

Harry looks around at the papers for a second before Richard comes back into the break room...

HARRY
Dick...

Richard goes straight for the coffee...

HARRY
Tom told me you've been having a dry week...

Richard pours himself a cup...

RICHARD
Dry week? That's putting it frigging mildly.

He drinks the cup down, as quick as he can.

HARRY
What's the matter?

Richard pours himself another cup.

RICHARD
I can't close these people. I can't
even sell the clearance crap...

He drinks the second cup down, once more as quick as he can.

HARRY
You think gettin' pumped full of
caffeine is gonna help you?

RICHARD
I've got no frigging clue what's
going to help me or not.

HARRY
Relax. These people aren't in here for
their health. You'll sell 'em something...

On his way out the door:

RICHARD
You could've fooled me.

HARRY
It's worse than I thought...

A few beats of silence.

The door opens again. It's another salesman: SEAN. He's dressed in nice clothes but you can tell he's been wearing them for a couple of days now.

HARRY
Hey, Sean! How's it going? You making out okay?

SEAN
Can't complain. I should make my rent this month...

Sean pulls a diet soda out of the fridge.

HARRY
Things tight?

SEAN
You know how it is...

Harry sips his coffee.

HARRY
Don't I know. I've been there. I was here twenty
years ago when they were giving out a
fifteen percent commission. Can you imagine
that? Fifteen percent...and I still wasn't makin' it.

SEAN
Fifteen percent? Gee whiz. What do you
think'd happen if we asked for fifteen percent?

HARRY
We'd get thrown out on our ear.

SEAN
That's a damn shame, I could use fifteen percent...

Harry nods, agreeing:

HARRY
Damn shame.

Sean takes a big gulp out of his diet soda.

SEAN
I sold a family that satellite system package...

HARRY
Really? I didn't think anybody was
trying to sell those anymore...

SEAN
They'll figure it out the hard way to switch to
digital, but by that time my commission'll be well spent...

They nod, agreeing to that...

Harry laughs. Already, he's laughing about the joke he's going to tell:

HARRY
I sold a guy a VCR tonight.

SEAN
A VCR? Wow, that guy must've been
hard up. You even try the DVD route?

HARRY
Yeah. He's got a big collection.
Doesn't want to switch.
SEAN
Sometimes I forget we even
stock those damn things.

HARRY
Only the really high end ones...

SEAN
How much was the one you sold him?

HARRY
Three hundred...

Sean almost loses his drink...

SEAN
Three Hundred!?

HARRY
Huh. Yeah. Three hundred. Most of it warranty,
but still. Easiest fifteen bucks I ever made.

A beat. They aren't laughing anymore. Sean turns serious.

SEAN
You ever feel like we're doing something wrong
when we sell people cheap, outdated
stuff and dress it up as cutting edge?

HARRY
Sometimes. Most of 'em had it coming though.
Take this VCR guy tonight. I sold him exactly
what he wanted to buy. He came in and he
already knew he wanted a VCR. I tried the
DVD shtick, but it was a VCR he wanted and it was a
VCR I sold him... What about these satellite people?
I bet ten bucks they were coming in here with
every intention of buying a satellite, weren't they?

Sean takes a sip of his drink.

A few beats, then:

SEAN
Actually they came in to have a camera I sold a
few months ago fixed. His kids were hanging around
by the satellite display watching cartoons and
I happened to remember his name...

Harry and Sean can't really say anything to each other after that.

Harry stands, having finished his coffee...

HARRY
Well, see you out there kid...

Harry gets to the door--

SEAN
Yeah...

--And leaves the break room.

Sean takes another sip of his diet soda.

A few beats.

He pours the rest of the can out into the sink and walks out of the break room.

It's empty now, though not for long. Into the room comes Billy the Kid.

He's on cordless phone.

He paces around back and forth until his conversation is over:

BILLY THE KID
(into the phone, like a shark)
Yes, ma'am. I understand.

Tom walks into the room.

BILLY THE KID
(into the phone)
But if you read the fine print on the sales invoice
that we both signed, it clearly makes
what I said null and void.

Tom opens the freezer, takes out a microwave burrito.

BILLY THE KID
(into the phone)
I regret any misunderstanding, and I certainly
in no way meant to mislead you. I wasn't even
aware of it until the vice-president of the company
informed me about it this very morning.

Tom unwraps the burrito and puts it in the microwave next to the coffee machine.

BILLY THE KID
(into the phone)
Yes. Again, I'm sorry.

Tom walks back out the door, leaving the microwave and his burrito unattended.

BILLY THE KID
(into the phone)
I'll tell you what I can do. I will notify our head
of installation and see if we can send out
our specialized installation team.

The microwave is going still, but dings suddenly, gaining young Billy's attention.

BILLY THE KID
(into the phone)
And, although I can't be held to it, I would hope that it
would be at no further cost or problem to you...

Billy walks over to the door and peeks out. The coast is clear.

BILLY THE KID
(into the phone)
No. I'm sorry. We won't be able to come
out until after the New Year.

He goes back over to the microwave and opens it.

He steals the burrito.

BILLY THE KID
(into the phone)
I understand, ma'am, that it is a gift for Christmas,
but isn't it the thought that counts?
I'm sure your husband will understand.
(beat)
Let me check...

He takes a bite of the burrito and opens the fridge, taking out another energy drink...

BILLY THE KID
(into the phone)
Yes, ma'am I'm checking on it right now...

He leaves the room...

Another pair of silent beats. The microwave door is hanging half open.

Tom enters the room, now expecting his burrito...

It's gone!

TOM
Son of a bitch...

He leaves in a flash, almost knocking over SAM, the floor manager.

SAM
Watch where you're going there, Tom...

Sam comes into the office and pours himself a coffee...

He's a younger gentleman. Probably younger than most of the salesmen. He casually sips at his coffee for a moment.

It's nice to see a guy who can just enjoy his coffee in silence...

Billy the Kid cracks the door open looking inside. No one, wait, he does a double take... There is someone in here...

He enters.

BILLY THE KID
Sam. I've been lookin' all over for you. The Joneses
came back. How'd their credit check go?
That's not important: listen. Hold up on the amount,
they want to upgrade their speakers and their
maintenance warranty and a bunch of other
stuff I ain't finished making up yet...

SAM
Edgar Jones? Or Barry?

BILLY THE KID
Barry.

SAM
They cleared for twenty-five.

BILLY THE KID
Can they get three? I can get 'em up to three.

SAM
I'll do what I can.

BILLY THE KID
This night keeps gettin' better and better.

Billy leaves, pleased with himself.

Sam dumps out the rest of his coffee and slowly walks out of the door.

He maneuvers out of the way to let Sean into the room.

Sean comes in and sits down, quietly.

He holds the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefingers. It's easy to tell that he's exhausted.

He lets out a deep breath and starts to thumb through the newspapers, looking for the Sunday funnies.

As soon as he finds it he begins to relax for a moment, whistling "Jingle Bells" and reading Calvin and Hobbes.

A few bars of "Jingle Bells" later Tom walks into the room.

TOM
Sean. You see anybody around here with a microwave burrito?

Sean, suppressing a laugh from Calvin's wacky antics, looks up to Tom.

SEAN
A microwave burrito?

TOM
My microwave burrito.

SEAN
Can't say I have...

TOM
Why would someone steal a microwave burrito?

SEAN
Did you ask Sam? He was in here when I got here...

TOM
If I found out he took my burrito--

The door SLAMS open. Richard comes in.

He's... elated?

RICHARD
I did it! I nailed him!

TOM
Nailed? What're you talking about?

RICHARD
I sold one of the Big Screens...

SEAN
The Sankyo or the Optimus?

RICHARD
The frigging Optimus.

SEAN
Wow.

RICHARD
My only sale all week. This guy was too good
to be true. He came in and I didn't think
he looked right. But I went out there.

TOM
How'd you do it?

SEAN
What'd you say?

RICHARD
He kept staring at it. And he... We just started
talking and he mentioned how he always wanted one.
(beat)
It was unbelievable. I told him that now was
as good a time as any to make that dream come
true. I said, this is what I said, I said, "Listen Bruce.
This is the time to act. I can have this in your
living room before Late Night comes on, but only
if you make your decision now. The delivery
crews are going home. Now are you a
man? Or are you a man of action?"

SEAN
What'd he say that?

RICHARD
Well, he didn't say anything at first. He just kind
of chewed his lip, like he was thinking about it.
And he must have taken five minutes. A full five
minutes. Before he goes, this is how he goes,
he goes, "I'm a man of action. Let's do this."

TOM
He said, "I'm a man of action?"

RICHARD
"I'm a man of action." I could not frigging believe it.

SEAN
That's a good sale.

RICHARD
Good sale? It's a great sale. I'm going to
be able to feed my kids this week.

SEAN
You've got kids?

RICHARD
Jimmy, 2, and little Mary. She's four months old.

SEAN
Wow.

At that moment, Harry comes into the room...

HARRY
Hey. I didn't expect you all in here, what's going on?

TOM
Richard finally broke his dry spell.

Harry's face lights up for his fellow salesman.
HARRY
Well, good job. I really knew you had it in you...

Harry grabs Richard's hand and shakes it while patting him on the back with his other hand...

TOM
He sold an Optimus...

Harry's grin gets even wider and his shake gets even more furious...

HARRY
Holy smokes. You got rid of an Optimus? I've
been working on those all week and nothing...
You deserved it Dick, you really did...

RICHARD
Thanks...I knew it was just a matter of time...

The door cracks open...

It's Sam. He's poking his head into the door. He clearly has no intention of stepping in the rest of the way...

SAM
Hey, Richard, could you come out here for a second...

RICHARD
I'm celebrating. Just tell me...

SAM
You sure?

RICHARD
Its okay. Anything you have to say you can
say it in front of everybody else...

Sam looks down at his feet. He doesn't know what to say.

Everyone else seems to know what's coming.

SAM
Well. Richard. I don't know how to say...

RICHARD
Spit it out already.

SAM
Bruce Ungerman's credit just fell through. He left.

Richard looks as though someone just kicked him in the face. All the blood has drained from it.

RICHARD
Left...

Harry lets go of his hand. It sinks slowly to his sides.

SAM
Left. Left the building, left.

RICHARD
Oh.
(beat, his throat is caught)
So he's not buying the Optimus?

SAM
Sorry.

Sam isn't quite sure what else to say...

SAM
He's not buying the Optimus.

Richard brings his hand to his forehead, as though he is frustrated, but most likely is just disguising tears.

He turns.

Away from everyone else.

He's facing the coffee mugs now.

Sam's head disappears. He doesn't want to see the pending disaster.

The heads of all the other salesman hang. Except for Harry. His outlook is perpetually cheery.
Sean quickly leaves the room with:

SEAN
I probably better get back out there.

HARRY
Hey. It's not the end of the world Richard.
We still have what, Tom... how much time
do we have left on the floor tonight?

Tom looks at his watch.

TOM
We've got about an hour and a half.
An hour and a half on the floor.

HARRY
See. An hour and a half. In an hour and a
half anything can happen. Magic can happen.

Richard is leaning over the counter now, turned away from Harry and Tom completely...

They certainly can't read his face.

TOM
He's right. We still have an hour and
a half. Best not to waste it in here....

A silence.

TOM
You coming out with us...? Richard?

Harry and Tom exchange looks that scream, "we should get out of here and leave him alone."

Tom cocks his head to the door.

Harry slowly leaves first, as he's closest to the door.

Tom gets to it, and before he closes it behind him, leaves Richard with one last remark:

TOM
If you want to. Richard. We can tag team
some people and I'll split 'em with you...

RICHARD
(sobbing)
Go.

TOM
If you want...

RICHARD
(still sobbing)
Go.

TOM
I'll be on the floor if you change your mind.

Tom leaves the room.

Richard has his back turned, we can't see him seething and sobbing.

Bing Crosby's White Christmas begins to play.

Richard sobs.

A few beats, then:

Richard, with much deliberation, smashes all notion of a peaceful Christmas eve as he takes his coffee mug and launches it across the room.

RICHARD
(through tears)
Christmas fucking eve!

The ceramic mug shatters into a million pieces.

CREDITS ROLL over SOUNDS of Richard tearing apart the break room.