The Tinning of Dorian Gray, Part 1 (of 5)

The Tinning of Dorian Grey, by <a href="http://bruesselbach.com">Janet Brusselbach</a>
The Tinning of Dorian Gray, by Janet Brusselbach

This is a screenplay I wrote in 2002.  I thought I’d share it with y’all over this holiday week, mainly so I don’t have to do any real, actual new content or anything.  So, check it out, and I hope you enjoy this story about, living, loving, learning and tinning.

TITLE SEQUENCE

 

On black, the titles crawl across the bottom of the screen, similar to the ending of certain UK television programs.  As the crawl ends, restaurant sound effects fade in on the sound track.  

 

TOM

(quizzically and lackadaisical)

…oh?

 

FADE IN.

 

We see DORIAN sitting at a table in a relatively fancy restaurant, smiling, slightly sinisterly – the smile of a person with a non-standard sense of humor, about to drop a big joke that only he will find funny and likely offend the recipient of said joke.  He finishes stirring his coffee with a small spoon, looks up at TOM, still smiling.

 

DORIAN

I’m dying of cancer.

 

TOM

(shocked)

What?

 

DORIAN

(still smiling, matter of fact)

I’m dying of cancer.  The doctor says I probably only have maybe 6 months left.  No known cure and all that.  Chemo won’t help, so they’re not going to try.  They asked me, but I didn’t see the point in it, y’know.  Just another excuse for them to get more of my money, eh?

 

TOM

There’s nothing they can do?  You wouldn’t let them do chemotherapy?  What?  Why?

 

DORIAN

I don’t really see any point in it, really.  No reason.  I mean, really, what are they going to tell me?  I don’t.. see the point in it, spending your last days in a bed, bald and in immense pain.

 

TOM

But, but, but… don’t you want to live?  Don’t you want to fight this?  Didn’t you learn anything from those books no one ever reads?  About famous people who beat cancer and now they can go on and win the Olympics and I don’t know, start a wig store and write heartwarming tomes about their victories in the face of adversity?  Have you learned nothing from Erma Bombeck?

 

DORIAN

She died.

 

TOM

(pause) Well, not for a while.

 

DORIAN

Anyway, I’m having a party in a couple days, you want to come?  My place as always.

 

TOM

Oh, OK.

 

 

INT. DORIAN’S HOUSE

 

A party is going on.  It’s very dark, and there’s a band playing very loudly causing everyone to shout over the din. Most of the lighting appears to be from candles or other wall-lamps that don’t provide light so much as ambience. The BAND is a rather nightmarish group, featuring a writhing, overly-sexual androgynous SINGER, singing a relatively straight cover of “Hands 2 Take” (originally by The Flying Lizards).  In the background, like at all the parties, we see DORIAN’S MAID wandering about, picking things up and making sure nothing gets too awfully broken.  DORIAN is sitting on the couch, same basic expression as his conversation with TOM, talking to NAOMI, a pretty girl.  DORIAN and NAOMI have a close friendship, although it does not go past friendship.  We come in at the middle of their conversation.

 

NAOMI

(shocked)

That’s horrible!

 

DORIAN

Well, it’s true.

 

NAOMI

You’re going to Hell.

 

DORIAN

Well, I suppose we’ll see.  Rather soon, in fact!

 

NAOMI

Don’t you think you should be working to do something?  Anything?  At all?

 

DORIAN

Nah, it’s cool.  Right now, it doesn’t hurt so much, and I get a lot of awesome sympathy.  That and, well, I’ve been thinking things over.  It’s too soon to say anything, but, well, you know how they go.

 

NAOMI

I’ve known you for years!  You won’t even tell me!  I can’t believe this!  I think I deserve better than this!  Come on!

 

DORIAN

Look, it’s just one of those things.  I don’t want to… jinx it.

 

NAOMI

Will you at least give me some sort of vague gist of what you’re getting to?

 

DORIAN

No, I can’t.  I love you dearly, but, well, there’s just some things that.. can’t be said. At this time, anyway.  You’ll probably take it the wrong way or something, and I’ll have to (pauses) yeah.  You’ll know in due time, I promise.

 

NAOMI

Yeah, when it’s too late to do anything.

 

DORIAN

(getting up)

No, actually, I’ll need your services!

 

DORIAN wanders away leaving NAOMI on the couch in a state of a mixture between confusion and fuming. DORIAN mingles with the other guests, shouting pleasantries without actually staying to hear them answered.

 

DORIAN

Hey, glad you could make it!  Thanks for coming!  Hey, you look great!  Whoa, watch out for YOU!  Would anyone like something to eat?  I’m up!  And riddled with cancer!  Hey, you’re new!  Hope you’re having a good time!

 

Various GUESTS return DORIAN’S pleasantries with the expected replies and laughter.  By this time, the SINGER of the band has hit the solo of the song, and is working on an overly-extended guitar solo, to match the way the entire BAND over-extends their shtick and welcome.  The SINGER, at this point is sort of straddling and rolling with the guitar while soloing and shrieking.  A few of the GUESTS watch intently, while most look away awash with shame and disgust.  DORIAN looks at the BAND, shrugs and continues on his way.  He spies TOM, finishing up a conversation and walks over.

 

DORIAN

Hey, Tom.

 

TOM

Dorian.

 

DORIAN

Enjoying yourself?

 

TOM

Well, to the extent that one can upon learning that their best friend is dying of cancer and doesn’t care to do anything.

 

DORIAN

Well, I wouldn’t say anything.

 

TOM

What’s that supposed to mean?

 

DORIAN

Nothing that I can talk about yet.

 

TOM

I don’t know, thing I don’t get is that, well, you’re wealthy.  Most rich guys when they get some disease is try to find some stupid cure for whatever it is, when, y’know, they wouldn’t care otherwise when it was just a thing the plebes had to deal with.  But you, you’re ready to give up.  Roll over and die, as it were.  I don’t get it, man, I just don’t get it.

 

DORIAN

Well, I don’t have kids, right?

 

TOM

No, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.

 

DORIAN

Exactly, so, basically, no one’s going to get this when I croak, so I figure I might as well enjoy it when I can, eh?

 

TOM

Well, knowing your hatred for children, you’d probably do that anyway.

 

DORIAN

(laughs) Yeah, I would, wouldn’t I?  Stupid kids.  I’ll show them to have a dead dad.

 

TOM

Do you even listen to yourself sometimes?

 

DORIAN

Well, everyone always said I had more money than sense, and I intend to prove them right.

 

TOM

What does that have to do with anything?

 

DORIAN

Just sayin’s’all.  You digging the band?

 

At this point, the song has just devolved to the DRUMMER pounding out a 4/4 beat while the SINGER shrieks and moans over the guitar.

 

TOM

(pauses) Can’t say as I am, really.

 

DORIAN

(legitimately into the band)

Awww… but they’re great!  I love these guys!  They rule!

 

TOM

(pause) So, uh, what’s next on the agenda?

 

DORIAN

I have no idea.  Perhaps I’ll take a thousand out of the bank, go down to the middle of downtown with some bodyguards, and light it on fire in front of that one bum who creeps me out.

 

TOM

They all creep you out, Dore.

 

DORIAN

Yeah, they do.  Want to watch?

 

TOM

No, I’ll be at work. (pauses)  Hey, I got an idea.  Why don’t you give me the grand, and I can burn it in front of bums for you?

DORIAN

Hah, I’m not falling for that again, you’ll just spend it on food and toys.

 

INT – TOM’S OFFICE

 

We see TOM working at a computer in a cubicle near a second floor window.  He’s wearing a white dress shirt and striped tie.  He works, and after a short while, we see light coming from the window from the street below, flickering light like fire.  TOM feels the slight amount of heat coming from the window, since the fire isn’t that big – just enough to see the light coming from it, but not the actual flames.  He sits up, stiff, ready to evacuate the building if the alarm goes on.  As he sits upright, he hears, through the closed window, DORIAN’S voice shouting unintelligibly.  TOM sort of shudders, and goes back to work, although more diligently.  Soon the fire goes out and the shouting dies down.  Shortly after this, TOM’S phone rings.

 

TOM

(answers it)

Hello, Service Desk, this is Tom, how may I help you?

 

DORIAN

(on phone, V.O.)

Hey, Tom, it’s me.

 

Now that DORIAN isn’t talking face to face with TOM, we see that he’s much more facially reactive to what he actually thinks about DORIAN’S ideas and such.  We see TOM grimace more during the conversation.

 

TOM

I had a feeling.

 

DORIAN

You’re not going to believe what I did!

 

TOM

I – heard.

 

DORIAN

(laughs) Wasn’t it great?!

 

TOM

(bored and disgusted)

I suppose.  Nothing like taunting the downtrodden to lift your own spirits, is there?

 

DORIAN

(not catching the sarcasm, either that, or not caring)

Nope!

 

TOM

So…

 

DORIAN

Hey, anyway, TOM, I was thinking, you want to go for lunch in a bit?

 

This perks TOM up – he genuinely does enjoy DORIAN’S company.

 

TOM

Yeah, that’d be cool.  What time?

 

DORIAN

I don’t know, does twelve-thirty work for you?

 

TOM

Yeah, that’d work, I’ll call my lunch break then.  Meet you in fifteen at –

 

DORIAN

(interrupting)

Blast!  I forgot, I can’t, I’m meeting someone for lunch?

 

TOM

Oh?

 

DORIAN

Yeah, I’m seeing Jillian, the whole informative meeting thing and all.

 

TOM

What time are you meeting her?

 

DORIAN

Uh, noon.

 

TOM

(pause) It’s already twelve-fifteen, Dore.

 

We hear DORIAN breathe for a beat on the other end of the line and hang up.  TOM is sort of taken aback by the abrupt end to the phone call, but TOM isn’t too shocked, since it is DORIAN, after all.

 

INT – FANCY RESTAURANT, BUT A DIFFERENT ONE

 

We see Jillian sitting at a half-filled table for two looking at her watch and muttering to herself.  She’s young, although rather well off for her age, and dressed for the room. She sighs and puts her head in her hands.

 

JILLIAN

(to no one in particular)

(sigh) Where are you, Dorian?

 

As if on cue, we see DORIAN run into the restaurant, almost knocking over a waiter with a fancy expensive dessert.  This causes DORIAN to stop, look back at the waiter, and silently chuckle to himself.  DORIAN then spots JILLIAN at the half-empty table and bounds over.

 

DORIAN

(slightly out of breath, but not too badly so)

Hey, Jill, how’s it going?

 

JILLIAN

You made me wait 20 minutes.

 

DORIAN

Eh, everything always takes a long time in this restaurant.  Food takes an hour to get to you, lunch guests take 20 minutes.  Just be thankful you’re not here for dinner – dinner guests take 45.

 

DORIAN sits down, upbeat as usual, with the same expression at TOM’S lunch.  As he sits, JILLIAN kisses DORIAN hello, although it’s a very chaste kiss – not the sort a significant other would give a returning lover, but a kiss a wannabe-sophisticate would give another on their social level.

 

JILLIAN

Anyway, late or not, it’s good to see you.  Why did you request the honor of my company?

 

DORIAN

Can’t a friend just want to see another friend?
JILLIAN

Well, yes, I –

 

DORIAN

(Interrupting)

Anyway, I had something to tell you!

 

JILLIAN

What is it?

 

DORIAN

I’ve finally fulfilled my childhood dream!

 

JILLIAN

You have?  I see.  And what is that?

 

DORIAN

I’m dying of cancer!

 

JILLIAN

W-what?

 

DORIAN

I’ve got a rare sort of lung cancer!  I’m dying!  It’s very painful, or so I hear!

 

JILLIAN

T-t-that’s h-hor-hor-hor-hor-

 

JILLIAN sits stunned.

 

DORIAN

Yep!  Dead in six months!

 

JILLIAN starts crying.

 

JILLIAN

(through deep tears)

What.. what is wrong with you?

 

DORIAN

I told you, I’ve got cancer.

 

JILLIAN

(shrieks out a loud sob) NO, why don’t you care?  You’re dying of cancer!  You should care!  Why don’t you care? Why don’t you care?

 

DORIAN

Hey, I didn’t say I didn’t care.

 

JILLIAN

Then why don’t you show it?!  You’re dying of cancer, Dorian!  You’ve got cancer!

 

DORIAN

We’ve established that.

 

JILLIAN chucks a wine glass at his head, and luckily for DORIAN, her tears blur her eyes, not allowing her to aim correctly, and the glass flies harmlessly to the ground, several feet behind DORIAN’S left side.

 

JILLIAN

(shrieking)

You selfish, horrible person!  You self-centered swine!  How can you sit there with that stupid grin, just telling me you have cancer?  Just do something, just do something other than sit there!  Do something, do something, do something…

 

DORIAN

I’m having another party tonight, my place at nine.  You want to come?

 

JILLIAN

(still sobbing)

I – I guess.

 

At this point, a waiter comes bringing the food JILLIAN ordered while waiting for DORIAN.  As he places the food on the table, DORIAN scoots his chair back.

 

DORIAN

Sorry, Jill, I got to go.  Don’t worry, I’ll pay for lunch.

 

DORIAN throws a credit card on the table.

 

DORIAN (CON’T)

My signature’s on the back, feel free to forge it on the receipt.  Just bring the card back to me tonight.

 

JILLIAN continues sobbing, but nods slightly, to confirm that she heard DORIAN’s instructions. As DORIAN leaves, he passes a COUPLE, aged about 55 to 60, seated nearby, who overheard the louder parts of the exchange.

 

FEMALE DINER

(whispering to her companion, while quietly pointing at DORIAN)

He’s so brave.

 

MALE DINER

Mm-hmm.

 

FEMALE DINER

A true American hero.

 

MALE DINER

That’s right.

 

INT – DORIAN’S HOUSE

 

Another party, much like the last night’s.  No band this time, just standard music from a stereo.  The music is much less likely to annoy, irritate and offend this time, but still is obviously from DORIAN’S library, in that it is eclectic, odd and unsettling, but at least it has a danceable beat this time, something like late-era Residents, from Stars and Hank Forever or later.  We see JILLIAN, TOM and DORIAN sitting on the couch  JILLIAN is holding an elegant cocktail, DORIAN is holding a martini with olive, TOM holds a highball of hard liquor.  JILLIAN’S still upset from earlier, but is maintaining composure beautifully.  They sit sipping their respective drinks throughout their talk.

 

JILLIAN

(icily)

So, Dorian, the party’s going (pause) well.

 

DORIAN

Yeah, I know.  (shouts at someone off screen) Hey, how’s it going?

 

TOM

Yeah, cool party, Dore.

 

DORIAN

Yeah, I know.  (shouts again) Hey, long time no see!

 

PARTYGOER (O.S.)

Yeah, since yesterday!

 

DORIAN

(shouts)

Shut up!

 

DORIAN begins to stand from the couch.

 

DORIAN

Hey, there’s someone over there I got to talk to, they don’t know yet.  (shouts) Hey, dude!  Did I tell you? I fulfilled my childhood dream!

 

DORIAN exits.

 

TOM

(awkwardly)

So…

 

JILLIAN

(distant)

Why, Dorian?

 

TOM

What?

 

JILLIAN

Did he do that to you, too?

 

TOM

Do what?

 

JILLIAN

That whole “childhood dream” thing.

 

TOM

Oh yeah.  He thinks it’s funny.

 

JILLIAN

How could he?

 

TOM

Just his sense of humor I guess.  The whole idea of it being his childhood dream to die slowly and painfully.  He’s (pause) dark.

 

JILLIAN

I gathered.

 

TOM

I mean, you should know by now.  You’ve known him for a long time.

 

JILLIAN

Not as long as you, though.  Has he always been like this?

 

TOM

Pretty much.

 

JILLIAN

Hmm.

 

TOM

Yeah.  He (pauses) – It was odd.  He’s always had a pitch black sense of humor, but it’s sort of like the Elvis records.  Well, the Elvis that counts, I mean.  He has a lot of free-floating anger, but no one is spared from it.  Least of all himself.

 

JILLIAN

It’s sad.

 

TOM

Not to me.  But I’m used to it, so it doesn’t bother me anymore.  It’s just (pauses) what happens.  It’s what he (pauses) does.

 

JILLIAN

Doesn’t he realize that it’s incredibly painful to watch?

 

TOM

I’ve (pause) never figured that out.  I like to think he’s oblivious, just because I don’t know if I like to think of him as so (pause) sinister.  But, well, quite frankly, I don’t really care enough.  I like him a lot, he’s my best friend, but, well, it just happens.  He doesn’t really faze me anymore.  I mean, I’ve known him since junior high, though, so I’ve had years to get (pause) acclimated to him.

 

JILLIAN

I’ve known him for years too.

 

TOM

Yeah, but not nearly as long.  That, and, you don’t see him as much.  I’m with him all the time.  You’re a little bit (pause) – You’re a bit of a lightweight for Dore, too.  No offense or anything, it’s just why he affects you more.  You take things a bit more personally.

 

JILLIAN

I’m just not used to that sort of behavior, I suppose.

 

TOM

And it’s no big deal or anything.  If it’s any consolation, I don’t think Dore notices.  I don’t think his brain works in the way that you’ve got to treat different people.. differently.  He doesn’t understand that some are more (pauses) sensitive than others.

 

JILLIAN

It drives me mad.

 

TOM

I know, but I’m never sure if he does.

 

DORIAN (O.S)

(shouting loudly – unclear whether or not he’s drunk or just himself)

Comin’ through!  My cancer demands pie!  See, see, see, if there’s more of me – if I eat more, then there’s more for the cancer to feed off of!  See, the cancer wants pie!  GIVE THE CANCER PIE!   IT DEMANDS PIE!

 

The crowd starts to laugh, some uncomfortably, some heartily.  Upon hearing the word “cancer”, though, JILLIAN begins crying again, but not as intensely as in the restaurant.  TOM goes to comfort her.  JILLIAN ignores TOM, but allows him to put his arm around her.

 

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