The Tinning of Dorian Gray, Part 5 (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.

EXT. – SIXTH CANNERY – DAY

 

We actually can’t see the name of the cannery.  There once was a sign, but only the letters “H, O, D, O” are remaining next to the words “CAN  RY”.

 

The cannery is in a dirty part of town, and the sky is gray and overcast.  It’s, in all actuality, not the best place in the world to be.  

 

DORIAN and TOM are again walking to the car.  TOM attempts to put a good spin on the entire ordeal, even though both know that, while they got an affirmative, it’s not the one they’d really, really want.

 

TOM

So, Dore, looks like your arrangements are about complete!

 

DORIAN

I don’t know, Tom.

 

TOM

He said they’d do it for you.  They’ll put the labels on and everything.

 

DORIAN

I don’t know.  I bet they’d just take my money, and chuck me in the dumpster out back.  I don’t think I trust them.

 

TOM

I’m not sure I would either, but, well, they’re the last ones, and they said they’d do it.  It’s about the best thing you’ve got.

 

DORIAN

I guess.  I don’t know, though.  I think if I have to do it through these guys, I don’t think I’ll do it at all.  Maybe I’ll just have a mausoleum erected.  I mean, that’d be pretty cool, people’d think I’m all important, I guess.

 

TOM

I suppose you could do that.  People would probably like that better.

 

DORIAN

Still, though, it’s disappointing.  You’d think that in a fishing town, we’d find a good cannery that’d help us out.

 

TOM

Well, we did find one that’d help, but, well, I don’t know if I’d call them good.

 

DORIAN

I guess.  Whatever.  Anyway, I need to think about this.  I’m going to go home.

 

INT. – DORIAN’S BEDROOM.

 

We see DORIAN lying on his bed, sort of dejected, bouncing a tennis ball off his ceiling and playing catch with himself.  He’s got a bottle of gin next to him, a bottle of vermouth and a jar of olives.  Music is playing rather loudly (but not so loudly that we don’t hear the ball hitting the ceiling), it’s some early Barnes and Barnes (the Spazchow album, on Shuffle Mode, which happens to be hitting some of the more seriously toned tracks – for example: “Spooky Lady on Death Avenue”, definitely “Fletchy’s Revenge”, “The Longest Dream”, “Roadblock”).  DORIAN doesn’t seem to notice that he’s scuffing the ceiling from the force of his throwing the ball, and every so often, he’ll grab an olive or two from the jar, pop them in his mouth, pour a little vermouth in, and take a swig of the gin.  This goes on for a minute or two – to the point where the audience is thinking the scene is going on a little too long, and then just slightly past that point.  At such time, we hear a knock on the bedroom door, and it swings open, and NAOMI enters.

 

DORIAN continues his pattern of bouncing the ball, drinking gin and eating olives throughout this entire conversation.  He is very passive, and answers sort of deadpan, although there’s a slight irritated sound in his voice.  He never actually looks at NAOMI, just talking to the ceiling, who also happens to be named “Naomi”, and is asking the same questions NAOMI is.

 

NAOMI

Dore, how’s it going?

DORIAN

All right.  What’re you doing here?

 

NAOMI

You invited me over a couple days ago.

 

DORIAN

Oh yeah. How’s it going with you?

 

NAOMI

Pretty good.  What’re you doing?

 

DORIAN

Thinking.

 

NAOMI

Ah.  Mind if I sit down?

 

DORIAN

Go for it.

 

NAOMI goes to lie down on the bed, although the way she does, her feet are by DORIAN’S head, and his are near her head. There’s a fair amount of distance between the two of them. It’s an entirely non-romantic position.  It’s even a little distant from a friendship standpoint, but more expected for two people who are just friends, as DORIAN and NAOMI are.

 

NAOMI

Toss me a pillow.

 

DORIAN

Huh?

 

NAOMI

A pillow.

 

DORIAN

Oh, OK.

 

DORIAN grabs one of the unused pillows from the head of the bed, and tosses it to NAOMI.  She catches it, and props herself up with it, so she and DORIAN can look at her, even though DORIAN is looking more at the ceiling, where the ball is hitting.  NAOMI, though, is looking at DORIAN’S face.

 

NAOMI

So, what’re you thinking about?

 

DORIAN

Eh, stuff.  What’s going to happen when I die.

 

NAOMI

Oh, the whole tinning thing?

 

DORIAN

Yeah.  I finally found a place, but (pause) they didn’t seem like the ideal resting place.

 

NAOMI

Well, you don’t have to make a decision now, it looks like you still have a while.  I mean, you’re holding up really well.

 

DORIAN

I want to make everything work, though.  I want to get this squared away before I keel over.

 

NAOMI

I don’t know, though, you should be more positive!  Maybe the doctor screwed up the test results.

 

DORIAN

(not possible to tell whether or not he’s lying)

No, it’s cancer, we’ve had lots of tests and everything.  It all says cancer, and that I’m dying in six months.  I guess it all sort of happens all at once or something.  I don’t know, I’m not a cancer expert.

 

NAOMI

That sounds a little odd.

 

DORIAN

Believe me, I’ve got cancer.  If you had it, you’d know, too.

 

NAOMI

(drops it)

So, uh, anyway, though, (long pause) can we turn down the music?

 

DORIAN

No.  It helps me think.

 

NAOMI

It’s a little loud.

 

DORIAN

I think better to loud music.

 

NAOMI

And with gin?

 

DORIAN

Especially with gin.

 

NAOMI

Is something wrong?

 

DORIAN

Well, other than that I’m dying and don’t really know what’s going to happen with my corpse, not really, no.

 

NAOMI

Are you angry at me?

 

DORIAN

No, why would I be?

 

NAOMI

(long pause) Wow, Dore, I’ve never seen you like this.

 

DORIAN

Oh.

 

NAOMI

It’s really bothering me.

 

DORIAN

Sorry.

 

NAOMI

Do you want me to leave?

 

DORIAN

Doesn’t matter to me.

 

NAOMI

Can I do anything to help?

 

Barnes and Barnes’ “E’s Epistle” has come over the stereo.

 

DORIAN

Probably.

 

NAOMI

What?

 

DORIAN

I don’t know.

 

NAOMI touches his leg – not in a sexual way, but in a friendly “I’m worried about you” sort of way.  DORIAN jumps slightly and shudders.

 

NAOMI

(shocked)

Sorry.

 

DORIAN

It’s all right.  I just don’t really like to be touched when I’m not expecting it.

 

NAOMI

Well, maybe if you’d look at me, you’d expect it.

 

DORIAN

You’re probably right.

 

NAOMI

What’s with it with you?  What’s your problem?

 

DORIAN

I told you, I’m thinking.

 

NAOMI

You can’t spend forever like this.

 

DORIAN

I’m not planning on it.

 

NAOMI

Well, that’s good.

 

DORIAN

I’m thinking about throwing a party tomorrow night.  You want to come?

 

NAOMI

Yeah, OK.

 

INT – DORIAN’S HOUSE

 

It’s another party at DORIAN’S, and everything’s like the other non-announcement parties, except DORIAN isn’t nearly as enthusiastic.  He just sort of floats through his duties as a host in a daze.  It’s obvious that DORIAN has other things on his mind, mainly weighing the options of the tinning procedure.  DORIAN walks through greeting guests, not even paying attention to the stock responses from the guests, delivered this time in a little bit more of a curious tone, as if they’re asking “What’s wrong” with each “Hey, it’s going good, how ‘bout yourself?” – but still, no one actually asks him what is wrong.

 

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.

 

DORIAN sees TOM sitting on the couch with TOM’S prerequisite highball of whiskey.  DORIAN goes to walk over to him.

 

DORIAN

Hey, Tom, thanks for coming.

 

TOM

(nervously)

Thanks (pause) for having me.

 

DORIAN sits down.

 

DORIAN

Good party, isn’t it?

 

TOM

Uh, yeah, yeah, it is.

 

DORIAN

That’s good.

 

TOM

Dore, what’s up?

 

DORIAN

Eh, I don’t know what I’m going to do.

 

TOM

I don’t know, either.  I mean, well, there’s got to be something.  I mean, you can always get the mausoleum.

 

DORIAN

Yeah, but that’s such a cop-out.  I don’t really want a mausoleum.  It’d be sort of neat, but, there’s not a whole lot to it.

 

TOM

Er, uh, you could make it out of, I don’t know, pressed bricks of garbage from the dump?

 

DORIAN

No, that’s stupid.  That doesn’t have any reason, it doesn’t say anything.

 

TOM

Well, uh, I don’t know, I’m just trying to help.
DORIAN

Whatever.  I’ll figure something out, I guess.

 

TOM

You could always go with –

 

DORIAN

I’m not giving them my money to give me the most expensive case of tuna ever.  If I wanted to be buried at sea, I’d jump into the river myself, instead of having them chuck me in while scamming me posthumously.

 

TOM

Why don’t you just buy your own tinning plant?

 

DORIAN

I don’t know how to run a cannery.  That’d be a ton of money, buying everything, and hiring everyone.  I don’t think I have enough.  I have a lot, but I’d think that’d be more than I could afford.

 

TOM

(laughs) You could probably afford –

 

DORIAN

I told you, I don’t want anything to do with those liars.  I don’t want to give them any money – to tin me, or to buy their cannery.

 

TOM

Sorry, Dore, I was just joking.

 

DORIAN

Whatever.

 

TOM

Too bad you just can’t get in there anyway.

 

DORIAN

Yeah, I know.  Thing is, if I did it unauthorized, I’d be in with all that tuna.  It wouldn’t be pure.

 

TOM

Well, sometime you have to make sacrifices.

 

DORIAN

I know, but it’s so lame.

 

TOM

I mean, look, it’s looking like it’s that or nothing.

 

DORIAN

I don’t want to be with fish.

 

TOM

Well, we can’t always get what we want out of life, can we?

 

DORIAN

But I hate tuna!

 

TOM

I’m just throwing out ideas here, anyway.

 

DORIAN

I know.
TOM

Not like you have many options.

 

DORIAN

I know.

 

TOM

Eh, breaking in is illegal anyway.

 

DORIAN

I know.

 

TOM

Well, whatever.

 

DORIAN

Maybe I’ll see my lawyer tomorrow.

 

INT – BOB’S OFFICE.

 

We see DORIAN and BOB sitting across from each other at BOB’S desk.

 

DORIAN

Bob, when’s the earliest you do business?

 

BOB

Well, I usually come in about eight-thirty.

 

DORIAN

Hmm, all right. Can you do stuff earlier, though?  Are you married to the whole eight-thirty concept?

 

BOB

Well, sure, I can do things at anytime.  It’ll cost you extra, of course, but I figure you know that.

 

DORIAN

Of course.

 

BOB

So, uh, what’s on your mind?

 

DORIAN

Well, uh…

 

DORIAN pauses a bit and looks around nervously.  Then he sees BOB’s BOB’s notepad and pen and takes it from his desk.  DORIAN writes something down, and hands it to BOB.  BOB reads it.  He goes a little pale.  BOB opens his mouth to say something, but is shushed by DORIAN.  BOB understands, tears off the page, and feeds it in the paper-shredder.  BOB writes something else on the tablet, and hands it to DORIAN.  DORIAN reads it, tears it off, and feeds it to the shredder, and writes something new.  He hands it off, and BOB reads it, and again tears off the page, and shreds it.  This goes back and forth a few times.  We never see what’s written. Eventually, after the conversation ends and all the papers have been shredded, DORIAN sighs.

 

DORIAN

So it’s settled.  I’ll bring the briefcase around this afternoon?  Will you write up the documents?

 

BOB

Yes, I’ll have those ready.

 

DORIAN

Uh, make sure there’s nothing in there…

 

BOB

Of course, I’m not an idiot, I’ve got more to lose here than you.

 

DORIAN

All right.  It’s a pleasure doing business with you.

 

DORIAN shakes BOB’S hand.

 

BOB

Same goes for you, Dorian.

 

DORIAN

Like I said, I’ll be back this afternoon.

 

BOB

I look forward to it, Dore.

 

BOB and DORIAN both stand up.  BOB walks around and gives DORIAN a friendly embrace.  BOB has a tear in his eye.  

 

DORIAN

I just wish I didn’t have to compromise.

 

BOB

I know, Dore.

 

DORIAN

I hate compromise.

 

BOB

I know.

 

DORIAN

Sometimes, though, you just have to.  Compromise is sometimes necessary.

 

DORIAN leaves.  As DORIAN leaves, BOB takes the small bin of shredded paper, removes a bottle of lighter fluid from his desk drawer, douses it, and lights it on fire.

 

INT – DORIAN’S BEDROOM

 

DORIAN’S standing in the dark.  He grabs the phone and dials.  

 

DORIAN

Hey, Tom, can you do something for me?

 

TOM (on phone, V.O.)

Sure, Dore, what?

 

DORIAN

I need a ride.

 

TOM

(a little confused)

Uh, sure, I’ll be there in a little bit.

 

DORIAN

Cool, thanks.

 

DORIAN hangs up.  He walks over to his bureau, and pulls a pill-canister from the top of it.  He opens it, and swallows a small handful of the pills inside. On the soundtrack, music plays from this sequence to the end of the film, fading down for dialogue. DORIAN then closes the canister and pockets it. He walks out to

 

INT – DORIAN’S GARAGE

 

DORIAN gets some large bolt-cutters, puts them in the trunk of his car, and then goes outside.

 

EXT – DORIAN’S HOUSE – LATE NIGHT

 

DORIAN stands, dressed completely in black, and soon TOM pulls up in his car.  DORIAN reaches in his pocket, and pulls out his car keys, and tosses them to TOM as he gets out of his car.  The two of them walk to DORIAN’S car, and get in.

 

EXT – DORIAN’S CAR – LATE NIGHT

 

TOM is driving DORIAN.  The top is down on the convertible.  DORIAN is telling TOM something, but we can’t hear what it is.  TOM looks a little shocked, but continues driving.

 

EXT – FELPAK CANNERY – LATE NIGHT

 

TOM drives DORIAN’S car around to the back of the cannery. As he goes around, it’s revealed that while the front of the building looks very nice, the back isn’t as well maintained.  DORIAN exits, unlocks the trunk and gets out the bolt cutters.  He looks around, and sees no one around, guarding the area.  DORIAN waves at TOM and TOM drives off.  With the bolt-cutters, DORIAN cuts the lock holding the chain link gate shut.  He opens it and walks inside.  

 

In the compound, he sees an old wooden door, held together by another wooden padlock.  He cuts it as well, and walks inside.  

 

INT – FELPAK CANNERY – CANNING AREA

 

The canning area is a mass of machinery, catwalks and dead fish.  DORIAN, even though the pills he took are beginning to kick in, knows he must work fast, to avoid being detected by night security.  He sees the ladder to a catwalk, and scurries up it.  Now, on the catwalk, he runs across to the holding vat of dead fish.  They’re waiting in a hopper for a machine that cuts them up, de-bones them, and prepares them for the machine that puts the meat into cans.  DORIAN is directly above it, opens up his canister of pills and downs the rest of them.  He takes a flask out from under his shirt and washes them down.

 

With that done, DORIAN then lets himself fall onto the pile of dead fish.  In case the security should check in the tank, he shoves fish over to cover him.

 

With that, DORIAN goes to a heavily sedated sleep.

 

EXT – FELPAK CANNERY – EARLY MORNING

 

We see the sun rise over the Felpak Cannery. As the music fades out, we hear the hum of machines starting up.

 

INT – FELPAK CANNERY – CANNING AREA

 

We see the machines lurch into action.  We can hear the first machine start to grind and prepare the fish, to ready them for the cans. A crane drops another load of fish into the hopper. After watching it work for a bit, we cut to the tinning machine closing the filled cans, which then sends them to the labeling machine, which we then cut to.  After seeing cans get labeled, we cut to the machine that puts the finished cans in boxes, and then cut to the boxes being loaded onto trucks.

 

INT – STEEVERSON’S OFFICE

 

In MR. STEEVERSON’S office, we see BOB at his desk, with a large briefcase.  The music fades back in again to provide a music bed.

 

BOB

I represent a client who wants to buy your entire output of the morning.

 

MR. STEEVERSON

Well, we’re on a schedule, these tuna cans are already spoken for.

 

BOB

My client is willing to pay handsomely.

 

MR. STEEVERSON

I’m sorry, I would be happy to move you up in our job roster, but I can’t let you have the morning’s fish.

 

BOB

Please, it’s essential that we get this particular output.  Tomorrow’s won’t do.  I’m prepared to pay quite a great deal of money.

 

MR. STEEVERSON

I’m sorry, I can’t agree to this.

 

BOB writes a figure on a piece of paper, and slides it across the desk to MR. STEEVERSON.

 

MR. STEEVERSON (CON’T)

I believe we can work something out.  Where would you like the fish sent?

 

EXT – DORIAN’S HOUSE – EVENING

 

At dusk, a Felpak truck rolls in front of DORIAN’S house, bringing not only the cans, but the music at full volume.  BOB comes out of the front door, to sign for the shipment. Felpak workers put the boxes of cans on handcarts, and roll them into the house.

 

INT – DORIAN’S HOUSE

 

In his living room, where many parties have been held, BOB, TOM, and NAOMI sit on the couches.  The five of them sit removing the labels from the cans, and sticking on new labels on them.  At this point, we can’t see the new labels, although, we can probably guess what they are.

 

FADE OUT

 

FADE IN:

 

INT – DORIAN’S HOUSE

 

Again, we’re in his living room, but things have been moved around for his funeral and wake.  In the middle of the room, where a coffin would be, there’s a table with the tins of DORIAN stacked up in a pyramid as you would find in a grocery store.  We can now read the label.  The label features a caricature of DORIAN’S grinning, disembodied head and hand making a thumbs up. Next to that reads DORIAN GRAY, and overlapping the “Y” in “GRAY” slightly is a starburst, which has the text “NOW WITH CANCER!” inside.

 

We see all the partygoers from earlier parties standing around dressed in black.  One of the more sedate pieces of music from DORIAN’S collection is playing.  As the music plays, one by one, DORIAN’S friends give a little eulogy about him, which we don’t hear.  TOM looks as he normally does, although maybe slightly depressed, still holding the glass of liquor.  NAOMI is crying, but trying to remember the good times, BOB is giving a composed, but sad eulogy that only an acquaintance through business can, a couple of anonymous partygoers give rather anonymous eulogies, JILLIAN gives an angry rant as if she’s standing from the pulpit, which appears to be about how DORIAN has manipulated their emotions and what a bad person he is to have him just sitting, diced in cans behind her, but then she breaks down into tears and is escorted away, and another anonymous partygoer gives another eulogy.  Now that the eulogies are done, everyone lines up and takes five cans each of DORIAN (to compensate for the fact that some cans will be only fish).  Many people begin to tear up as they take their cans. 

 

INT – NAOMI’S OFFICE

 

NAOMI takes her cans, and puts them in a case showing her past work.

 

INT – BOB’S OFFICE

 

BOB takes his five cans, moves his paper shredder, and places the cans in a small 3-2 pyramid where the shredder was.

 

INT – JILLIAN’S APARTMENT

 

JILLIAN, still sobbing, takes her five cans and violently opens up a drawer of an elegant dresser, and throws them in.  She pauses, reconsiders and opens the drawer. She removes two.  One, she violently hurls out the window.  The other, she puts in the center of the mantle of her fireplace.

 

INT – TOM’S APARTMENT

 

TOM’S apartment is rather small and dingy, and he staggers in from the funeral.  He has his five cans in hand, and looks at them.  He takes them, and staggers into the corner of the apartment that acts as his bedroom.  On the wall, is a cabinet.  He opens the cabinet, and there’s a couple of trophies; one for coming third place in a bowling championship and one from a golfing tournament.  If you look closely, only the bowling trophy has TOM’S name on it, the other, he bought at a thrift shop, and it shows.  He puts four of the cans in the cabinet, and closes the door.  He grabs the other can, and tosses it a little bit.  He leaves his apartment.

 

INT – TOM’S OFFICE

 

TOM staggers in, slightly more drunk, still holding the tin of DORIAN, and looks at it for a short while, then puts it in the center of his desk.  He then stands up, staggers over to his boss’ office, and lets TOM’S BOSS know that he’ll be back in on Monday (we can’t hear this, but we can read TOM’S lips and understand the meanings from his gestures.  TOM’S BOSS looks up from what he’s doing, lazily gives TOM a thumbs up as if he really couldn’t care less if TOM ever returned to work, and goes back to his paperwork.  TOM nods his head, and leaves the office.  As the office door closes, the music begins to fade.  As it shuts, we

 

CUT TO BLACK.

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