The Tinning of Dorian Gray, Part 4 (of 5)

The Tinning of Dorian Grey, by Janet Brusselbach
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.

INT – A LOCAL BAR

 

It’s still a bit early, so the bar is more or less empty.  The fact that it’s still light outside doesn’t stop the bar from looking like a dank pit.  We see DORIAN and TOM sitting at the bar.  DORIAN has replaced his standard martini with a large glass of hard whiskey, even more imposing than TOM’S usual drink of choice.  DORIAN is completely crushed and disheartened after his meeting at FELPAK.  He’s sobbing into his drink.

 

TOM

Sorry, Dore.

 

DORIAN ignores him.

 

TOM (CON’T)

I was really hoping it’d work out for you.  I saw this coming, but, uh, sorry, man.  I didn’t think you’d take it so hard.  I sort of thought you’d expect this also.  I thought it was just some sort of bizarre joke.  Well, until we actually got to the cannery.  If it’s a joke, well, you’re an exquisite actor.  But, man, I’m sorry.  I wish there was something I could do to help.

 

TOM and DORIAN sit in silence.  DORIAN goes between downing his booze and weeping.  TOM just sits there uncomfortably.  Finally, DORIAN speaks.

 

DORIAN

Bartender, could I have another?

 

The bartender comes into frame, places another giant glass of liquor down in front of DORIAN, who fumbles with his pockets, finds the money and pays him.  

 

DORIAN

Thanks.

 

The bartender goes back out of frame.

 

TOM

You’re (pause) – you’re drinking an awful lot, there, Dorian.

 

DORIAN

Yes, I am.

 

TOM

I know you drink a lot, but, well, this is a lot, even for you.

 

DORIAN

Yes, it is.

 

TOM

Don’t you think you should stop soon?
DORIAN

Yes, I do.

 

TOM

Here, let me have that glass.

 

DORIAN

No.

 

TOM

Dore, this isn’t good for you.  Stop it.

 

DORIAN

Ooh, no, I wouldn’t want to ruin my liver!  After all, I’m not dying in six months, and I’m not going to have my body rendered and put into cans.  Well, not anymore.

 

TOM

Dore.  Stop it.

 

DORIAN

What’s the point?  I mean, it didn’t really matter before, and it really doesn’t matter now.

 

TOM

Look, Dore, look.  Yeah, you’re going to die, and yeah, your first plan didn’t go through, but (pause) look, you haven’t been showing any signs of cancer, don’t you think you should, y’know, be aware so you can enjoy this?  Since, look, it’s not going to last for long.  I’m surprised that you’re this healthy now.  And, well, cancer’s incredibly painful, you’ve said so yourself.  You’d best enjoy it while you can.

 

DORIAN

Just (pause) shut (pause) up.

 

TOM

Dore, look.  You’ve got to stop this.  You’re giving up already?  Come on, there’ve got to me more canneries in this city.  Look, I’ll tell you what, OK?  I’ll tell my boss that I’ve been hospitalized from the salmonella, and that I’ll be out a week.  And then we’ll go to some more tinning plants, all right?  There’s got to be one out there, OK?

 

DORIAN

What’s the point?

 

TOM

Look, OK, so you can’t get Felpak.  Life is full of compromises.  There’s plenty of other canneries and there’s got to be one that’s suitable for you.

 

DORIAN

But, Felpak is the jewel of the tinning industry.

 

TOM

Yeah, but you’ve got to face it.  They’re out.  They won’t go for it.  So, you’re going to have to settle.

 

DORIAN

I don’t want to settle.  I’m dying here, don’t I get some sort of special treatment?  Don’t I get a free small sundae or anything?  This is the only thing I want, and it’s not going through.

 

TOM

Well, have you even looked at the other canneries?  Maybe there’s one that’s just as good.

 

DORIAN

I haven’t, but.. what’s the point?  They’re not Felpak.

 

TOM

Just stop it.  Let’s go home.  You’re going home, Dorian.

 

DORIAN

Is there a party tonight?

 

TOM

You’re in no condition to have another party.

 

DORIAN

I don’t care, I want a party.

 

TOM

Fine, there’ll be a party there.

 

DORIAN

Good.  Now let’s go, I’ve got to get ready.

 

TOM

OK, then.

 

DORIAN shakily stands up, fishes his keys out of his pocket and holds them up.  TOM goes to take them, but DORIAN pulls them away at the last second.  TOM’S a bit drunk also, but not even half as so as DORIAN.

TOM

Here, let me drive.

 

DORIAN

No, it’s my car, and you’re drunk.

 

TOM

You’re drunk, too.

 

DORIAN

Yeah, but it’s my car and I’m drunker.  I got trump.

 

EXT – DORIAN’S HOUSE – LATE AFTERNOON

 

It’s about We see DORIAN’S car parked, for lack of a better word, on the pathway to his front door.  The car’s not in the best of condition, but it doesn’t have any trouble running. We pan over and see TOM leading DORIAN into the back door. 

 

INT – DORIAN’S BEDROOM

 

TOM is frog marching DORIAN into the room, and sort of throws him on the bed. TOM looks at him and makes sure DORIAN’S safe on the bed.  TOM staggers out into

 

INT – DORIAN’S LIVING ROOM

 

…and passes out on the couch.  

 

FADE TO BLACK

 

INT – DORIAN’S LIVING ROOM

 

It’s the next morning.  DORIAN is already up, and sort of staggers around.  TOM is still asleep on the couch, even though he had much less to drink.  DORIAN staggers to the liquor cabinet and pulls out a bottle of whiskey.  He takes a couple of gulps and replaces it.  TOM stirs.

 

TOM

Ugh, what time is it?

 

DORIAN

I don’t know.

 

TOM

Man, that couch isn’t comfortable.  It’s like, I sleep for longer on it, but it’s a much more unsatisfactory sleep.

 

DORIAN

Hey, you didn’t need to sleep here.

 

TOM

Beats the floor.

 

DORIAN

Anyway, uh, why are you still here?

 

TOM

Do you want to take me up on my offer?

 

DORIAN

What offer?

 

TOM

The thing where I call in hospitalized to work, and we go find other tinning plants.

 

DORIAN

Yeah, I guess.  Maybe we’ll find something.  I hate to compromise though.

 

TOM

OK, cool then.  Give me the phone.

 

DORIAN hands him the receiver of a cordless phone.  TOM dials.

 

TOM

Uh, hello, sir.

 

TOM’S BOSS

(on phone, V.O.)

Hello, Tom.  How are you feeling?

 

TOM

Not so good, sir.

 

TOM’S BOSS

You sound awful.

 

TOM

It looks like I’ve taken a turn for the worse.

 

TOM’S BOSS

Oh?

 

TOM

Yeah, they put me in the hospital.  I think I’m going to be laid up for a week.  This salmonella’s really got me around the ankles, here.

 

TOM’S BOSS

(pauses)  It sounds it.  Where are you staying?

 

TOM

(long pause) Uh, the big hospital.  They say no visitors or anything though.  Too many, uh, outside germs.

 

TOM’S BOSS

(pause)  Are you sure you’re not just nursing a hangover?  You didn’t just go on a day and a half long bender?

 

TOM

No, sir!  Salmonella.  From my lunch.

 

TOM’S BOSS

Whatever, I don’t care.  I’ve got bigger things to deal with.  Just remember, this is unpaid, since you’ve already used up your sick days.  If you hadn’t, I’d probably care more, but, as it is, you’re probably saving us money.  So, enjoy your “salmonella”.

 

TOM

Thanks, sir.

 

TOM hangs up.

 

DORIAN

How’d it go?

 

TOM

Pretty well.  I would have thought he’d have cared more, but oh well. Do you got any whiskey? Hair of the dog and all that.

 

DORIAN

Yeah, just a sec.

 

DORIAN goes back to the liquor cabinet, gets the whiskey, tosses it to TOM.  TOM misses, but picks up the bottle from the floor, and takes a few more gulps.  He sloshes the bottle around, to find that it’s almost empty, and polishes it off.  

 

TOM

OK, cool, now that that’s taken care of, let’s get cleaned up.  While I’m in the shower, you start calling up places and making appointments.  Go for as early as you can.  I doubt that you’d have problems, since, well, the president of a cannery can’t have a whole lot to do.

 

DORIAN

OK, Tom, will do.

 

EXT – HENNESSEY CANNING – DAY

 

We see DORIAN and TOM staring up at the side of the building, like at Felpak, although DORIAN clearly doesn’t have the same sense of awe. Both TOM and DORIAN are more curious than anything else.

 

INT – HENNESSEY CANNING LOBBY

 

The lobby for Hennessey isn’t nearly as impressive either, but it’s not shabby by any means.  It’s closer to what you’d expect a cannery’s main offices to look like.  At a smaller desk, we see a SECRETARY.

 

DORIAN

Hello, I’m Dorian Gray, and this is Tom…

 

TOM

Howesebury.

 

DORIAN

…Howesebury, and we’re here to see Mr. Hennessey.

 

SECRETARY

Right this way, sir.

 

The SECRETARY leads DORIAN and TOM down a corridor, and opens a non-descript wooden door.  She steps inside.

 

SECRETARY

Mr. Gray and Mr. Howesebury to see you, sir.

 

She beckons them inside and then leaves. TOM and DORIAN sit down.  MR. HENNESSEY is sitting behind a nice desk, but one much smaller than MR. STEEVERSON’S.  MR. HENNESSEY is also rather old, although less formal.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

So, boys, what can I do you for?

 

DORIAN

Well, sir, I was wondering if your cannery does special, limited runs.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

Hmm, we normally don’t do outside work, although, times have been a little hard lately, so, well, what are you thinking about?

 

DORIAN

It’s a little unorthodox.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

We’re rather open, I like to think that Hennessey Canning is a bit unorthodox.

 

MR. HENNESSEY chuckles.

 

DORIAN

(brightly)

That’s great!  That really puts my mind at ease.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

So, what’s the nature of your proposal?

 

DORIAN

(still rather brightly)

Well, Mr. Hennessey, I’m currently dying of cancer, and…

 

MR. HENNESSEY

I’m sorry to hear that, Mr. Gray, but I think I understand, you want us to cater your funeral?  I agree, that is a bit unorthodox, but you must really love tuna if you want to serve it to your guests, and I’d be happy to help you out, however I can.

 

TOM looks around nervously.

 

DORIAN

Actually, sir, that’s not quite what I had in mind.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

Oh, it’s not?  Well, that’s fine.  We primarily deal in tuna, although we’d be willing to help you out with a different sort of fish, if you’d like.  Of course, you’d have to provide the fish yourself, but I wouldn’t see a trouble with that.  We might even be able to handle deviled ham, or chipped beef.  I don’t think that’d be a problem – I can give the foreman a call if you like!

 

MR. HENNESSEY reaches for the phone.

 

DORIAN

No, no, sir, you don’t have to do that.  I’m not really looking for a caterer or anything of that sort.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

(pauses) What do you want then?  We primarily deal in foodstuffs, so, well, if you don’t want fish, then, well, what can we do for you?

 

DORIAN

Well, as I said, I was dying of cancer, and I’ll probably be dead in about six months.

MR. HENNESSEY

Yes, Mr. Gray, I’m terribly sorry about that.

 

DORIAN

Oh, don’t be, you didn’t do anything!

 

DORIAN and MR. HENNESSEY both laugh, DORIAN heartily, MR. HENNESSEY nervously.  TOM smiles uneasily, knowing what’s coming.

 

DORIAN (CON’T)

Anyway, though, well, what I was wondering is, well, when I die, I was hoping that maybe you could, well, chop me up and put me in cans, to put it bluntly.

 

MR. HENNESSEY laughs again, although a bit looser, this time.  DORIAN joins in.  TOM chuckles a small amount.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

Oh, that’s very good!  Seriously, though, what services do you want us to provide?

 

DORIAN

I (pause) was being serious, sir.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

Pardon?

 

DORIAN

I was serious.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

(pause)  You want us to render your corpse, and then can you?

 

DORIAN

Yes, so that way my friends can have a little bit of me.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

(pause) Have you considered cremation?
DORIAN

Why does everyone say that?

TOM

Because it’s the more socially acceptable option?

 

MR. HENNESSEY

I’m sorry, Mr. Gray, but we can’t really.. do that.  It’s, well, we could lose our license.  That’s incredibly unsanitary, if also (pause) very (longer pause) unsettling.

 

DORIAN

Well, I’m not going to feel it, I’m not saying to do it now.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

I suppose that is true, but, just the same.

 

DORIAN

Please, sir?  I’m very wealthy, and I’d pay for not only the labor and materials, but also for the cleaning of the machinery.  I know you’d want to clean it before and after.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

I (pause) appreciate your generosity, but I don’t think I could (pause) inflict that on my workers.  Don’t you think it would be a little traumatic for them to see a human body being put into tins?  Many tins?  I mean, I’d say that you’re about (pauses as he sizes up Dorian), oh, maybe a hundred cans or so.  As a rough estimate.

 

DORIAN

Wow, a hundred?

 

MR. HENNESSEY

Maybe a little less.  I don’t know, I’ve never tinned a person before.

 

DORIAN

(to himself) Man, I must be really putting on the weight. (to MR. HENNESSEY) Are you sure?  Is there anything that I could do?

 

MR. HENNESSEY

I don’t think so, Mr. Gray.  I could phone down to the foreman, but, well, I’d prefer not to.  I think you’ll understand.

 

DORIAN

(sighs) I suppose.  Thank you for your time.

 

MR. HENNESSEY

I’m sorry, gentlemen.  I hope you have better luck in your quest.

 

DORIAN

Thank you, Mr. Hennessey.

 

DORIAN leaves MR. HENNESSEY’S office dejected.  TOM stands up, shakes MR. HENNESSEY’S hand goodbye, and follows him.

 

EXT – DORIAN’S CAR – DAY

 

Again, the top is down, and TOM and DORIAN are speaking loudly to be heard.  The car moves a little slower this time, and a slight clunking noise is heard emanating from the car.

 

TOM

Well, that went better.

 

DORIAN

Yeah, at least he listened to us.

 

TOM

I’m just glad he didn’t throw us out.

 

DORIAN

He was a pretty good egg.  If I couldn’t get into Felpak, I’d like to be a Hennessey.

 

TOM

You couldn’t get into either.

 

DORIAN is silent.  TOM’S comment has hurt him a little.

 

TOM (CON’T)

Anyway, I’ve got an idea for this one.  A different approach.

 

At this point, DORIAN’S CAR drives past the Kone Cans & More building, and turns into a nearby parking lot.

 

INT – KONE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

 

Another president’s office, much like the other two, although closer to MR. HENNESSEY’S office in the amount of opulence, although where HENNESSEY’S was more classical and traditional, MS. KONE’S is modern. MS. KONE herself is young for a CEO, perhaps in the beginning of her 40s.

 

TOM and DORIAN are already sitting in front of her desk.

 

TOM

Hello, Ms. Kane, I’m Tom Howesebury, and this is Dorian Gray, and we’re here to make a business proposition for you!

 

MS. KONE

What sort of business proposition?

TOM

One where by just taking this contract, you can generate lots of publicity for yourself – and we’ll pay you!

 

MS. KONE

This isn’t illegal, is it?

 

TOM

Legality’s such a gray issue – a gray issue, much like Dorian Gray, here!  Tell her, Mr. Gray, about this chance to get the name of Kone Cans & More in papers worldwide as a synonym for generosity!

 

DORIAN

That’s right!  When people hear of such charities like, say, the Make a Wish Foundation, their hearts are warmed?  Why?  Because they’re spending money to make the dying wishes of children come true!  How would you like to have that sort of reputation while getting money?  Sure, it might not be an actual child you’ll be helping fulfill his dreams, but –

 

Cut to

EXT. – KONE CANS & MORE – DAY

 

We see DORIAN and TOM being frog-marched out the main doors by security.

 

DORIAN

Excuse me, uh, we parked in the indoor parking lot.

 

The security guard frog-marches DORIAN and TOM back inside.  Cut to

 

INT – KONE CANS & MORE PARKING GARAGE

 

The elevator door opens and the security guard is still frog-marching DORIAN and TOM.

 

DORIAN

Ah, that’s right, this one is our floor, thanks.

 

The security guard gives the two of them a bit of a shove, and goes back on the elevator, to return to his post.  DORIAN and TOM walk to DORIAN’S car.

 

TOM

Well, we still have a few days to go.

 

DORIAN

Yeah.

 

TOM

Want to start again tomorrow?

 

DORIAN

Yeah, I’m a bit tired.  Want me to pick you up?

 

TOM

All right.

 

DORIAN and TOM get into DORIAN’S car and drive off.

 

INT. – ANOTHER CANNERY PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

 

We see TOM and DORIAN sitting at another desk, as they have been.

 

PRESIDENT 1 (O.S.)

I’m sorry, we can’t.

 

DORIAN

Thank you.

Cut to:

 

INT. – A SECOND CANNERY PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

 

The same shot, only TOM and DORIAN are wearing different clothing.

 

PRESIDENT 2 (O.S.)

No!

 

DORIAN

Thank you.

 

Cut to:

 

INT. – A THIRD CANNERY PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

 

The same shot, only TOM and DORIAN are wearing still different clothing.

 

PRESIDENT 3 (O.S.)

Good lord!  (choke)

 

DORIAN

Thank you.

 

Cut to:

 

INT. – A FOURTH CANNERY PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

 

Again, the same shot, only TOM and DORIAN are wearing another set of different clothing.

 

PRESIDENT 4 (O.S.)

How dare you waste my time?

 

DORIAN

Thank you.

 

Cut to:

 

INT. – A FIFTH CANNERY PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

 

Same thing.  Again, different clothing.  Over each iteration, DORIAN gets more depressed.

 

PRESIDENT 5 (O.S.)

You’re a horrible, horrible person!  How can you even joke about cancer?  My wife died of cancer!

 

DORIAN

Thank you.

 

Cut to:

 

INT. – A SIXTH CANNERY PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

 

Different clothing, same shot, dejected DORIAN.

 

PRESIDENT 6 (O.S.)

All right, we’ll do that.

 

DORIAN perks up a bit.

 

DORIAN

You will?  That’s great!

 

We see the camera cut to who DORIAN is talking to.  We see that PRESIDENT 6’s office is easily the most shabby.  In fact, the place is a dive.  PRESIDENT 6 is another youngish CEO, although, where MS. KONE was very professional, he’s very dirty and disheveled.  He has a bit of a mean smile.

 

PRESIDENT 6

Hey, sure, kid, y’know, anything to help out someone who’s dying.  Cancer’s pretty tough.  That’s how my parents went.  Both of ‘em.  That’s how I know.  So, y’know, anything to help out, that’s what I’m sayin’.

 

DORIAN

That’s great, thanks!  I’ll have my lawyer work something and we’ll be in touch.

 

PRESIDENT 6

Here’s my card.

 

PRESIDENT 6 hands DORIAN an off-white, almost dingy, business card.

 

DORIAN

Thank you.

 

DORIAN gets up, as does TOM

 

DORIAN (CON’T)

We’ll be in touch.

 

DORIAN and TOM leave.

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