The Deep-Frozen Spark of Life
by Bertil Falk
part 1 of 4
Preferably: Sporting Dynasty 1
EXT UNION TURNPIKE, QUEENS - DAY
Normal traffic. Bus Q64 drops people at bus stop.
EXT CLOSE UP - DAY
A boy, about 16 years old walking from the bus.
EXT CLOSE UP - DAY
Street sign 77th Road
EXT LONG SHOT- DAY
The boy walks along the street.
EXT TWO-STOREY HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE OF QUEEN’S - DAY.
The boy walks up the step, opens door.
INT KITCHEN - DAYTIME
Boy walks inside. Woman turns to him.
Ursula Brand: You’re late, Jim.
Jim Brand: We had to wait at Lexington Avenue for more than an hour before the E-train came. That’s why, mom.
Ursula Brand: You found what you looked for?
Jim Brand: Yeah, so now I can fix the computer.
Ursula Brand: Your aunt Cathleen called.
Jim Brand: Great. What did she say?
Ursula Brand: She’ll have dinner with us on Sunday.
Jim Brand: Great. Where?
Ursula Brand: Here.
Jim Brand: Why can’t we go somewhere for a change?
Ursula Brand: You know we can’t afford the luxury of dining out.
Jim Brand: I wanna go to the pancake house. Anyhow it’s great that she’s coming.
Ursula Brand: You miss her?
Jim Brand: She hasn’t been here for a month. She’s so busy.
Ursula Brand: I know, but ever since your father died, she has tried to come as often as she can. She was your father’s favorite sister. And she loves you. She works very hard.
Jim Brand: I guess that asshole she works for is very demanding.
Ursula Brand: Watch your language, Jim.
Jim Brand: I don’t like him. He’s bad.
Ursula Brand: And I don’t like that you use words like that.
Jim Brand: Dad always said that one should use proper vocabulary. Remember?
Ursula Brand: How can I forget.
Jim Brand: When it comes to Anthony Bensen, asshole is a proper description.
Ursula Brand: You’re impossible.
Jim Brand: No, mom. I’m possible. Very much so!
Ursula Brand: (Sighs.) I got you for my sins.
Jim Brand: No, mom. You’ve gotten me because you’re a saint. You gained distinction when you got me.
Ursula Brand: See, you’re impossible.
INT AN EXTRAVAGANT OFFICE IN NEW YORK CITY WITH A SCENIC WINDOW - DAYTIME
Cathleen Brand by a desk. Camera pans to door. Anthony Bensen enters. He does not seem to recognize Cathleen Brand.
Cathleen Brand: Hi! (No reaction.) Mr. Anthony Bensen! Hello! Remember me? Cathleen Brand, your secretary?
Anthony Bensen: Cathleen, please. Not now!
Cathleen Brand: Something’s wrong, Anton. When you walked in here this morning, it was written all over your face. And now you look the same again.
Anthony Bensen: How do you know something’s wrong?
Cathleen Brand: Oh, come on! I have known you for twelve years. I’m probably the one person in the whole world who knows you better than anyone else. What’s going on?
Anthony Bensen: Last year when they took my cancerous kidney, I began to ponder on things. I was on the verge of death.
Cathleen Brand: You pulled through.
Anthony Bensen: It made me think.
Cathleen Brand: Well?
Anthony Bensen: I realized that I’m forty-nine years old.
Cathleen Brand: So what? Does it make any difference? And why now? It took one year for you to arrive at the conclusion that you’re forty-nine?
Anthony Bensen: Things like these take some time to sink in. What bothers me is that... well, how to make you understand this?
Cathleen Brand: Give it a try.
Anthony Bensen: Well, you know I made my fortune in the stock market and I have invested my money wisely and according to the book, putting my eggs in more than one basket. You know I’m a very wealthy man.
Cathleen Brand: I’ve never complained about my salary. You’ve always been very generous. I’ve only complained about...
Anthony Bensen: ... your workload and working hours. I know. My problem now is that I’ve no inheritor, no heir. I’ve unfortunately, and I’m sorry about that now, paid three women to have abortions over the years. In all three cases I was actually, to use your words, very generous with my money. After my operation I realized that it’s about time to do something about my childlessness.
Cathleen Brand: Considering that you’ve been described in The New York Timesas the most eligible bachelor of... well, your age group about town, that is.
Anthony Bensen: It was The New Yorker.
Cathleen Brand: Whatever. You could easily marry and... well, you don’t even have to marry to have a child...
Anthony Bensen: That’s the problem! I went to Phyllis Gilbert the other day.
Cathleen Brand: That bitch! Oh! That reminds me that her father, Hugh Gilbert, called. He wants to see you.
Anthony Bensen: Gambling debts as usual, I guess.
Cathleen Brand: Did he ever pay back anything?
Anthony Bensen: He certainly did.
Cathleen Brand: Really?
Anthony Bensen: A thousand dollars.
Cathleen Brand: I don’t believe it.
Anthony Bensen: The next day he borrowed another two thousand dollars.
Cathleen Brand: That I believe. Why do you put up with him?
Anthony Bensen: You very well know that he was my playmate when we were kids. We went to college together. We were army mates. He has always been my best friend. He may even know me better than you do.
Cathleen Brand: So you went to his daughter, Dr. Phyllis Gilbert. The mood you’re in; has it something to do with that visit?
Anthony Bensen: Well, yes, you see. She told me....
INT DOCTOR’S OFFICE - DAYTIME
Dr. Phyllis Gilbert. Anthony Bensen
Phyllis Gilbert: Nice to see you, Anton. Seen dad recently?
Anthony Bensen: A couple of weeks ago.
Phyllis Gilbert: He wanted money?
Anthony Bensen: He borrowed a few bucks.
Phyllis Gilbert: You should not give it to him.
Anthony Bensen: I have more money than I need, Phyllis. And now, what about my sperm test?
Phyllis Gilbert: Impatient for an answer?
Anthony Bensen: I can’t deny it.
Phyllis Gilbert: Anton, you’re one of the most eligible men for sleeping with me. You are a walking contraceptive. There is no risk of getting pregnant by sleeping with you. Your seminal fluid is useless. You know, I always had a soft spot for you and...
Anthony Bensen: Are you sure?
Phyllis Gilbert: One hundred per cent. I always had a soft spot...
Anthony Bensen: Oh, come on. You know what I mean.
Phyllis Gilbert: Anton, listen to me. Somewhere along the line your sperm lost its sting. Another option is that it never had any sting.
Anthony Bensen: What are you talking about? I made three women pregnant over the years.
Phyllis Gilbert: Then we’ll go for the first option.
Anthony Bensen: But tell me, Phyllis. Isn’t it possible to use my sperm for at least artificial insemination?
Phyllis Gilbert: No way, Anton. It’s worthless. I know. Being a gynaecologist, I’m a specialist.
INT BENSEN’S OFFICE - DAYTIME
Cathleen Brand: That’s what she told you?
Anthony Bensen: Yes. That’s what she told me. This is a catastrophe beyond human experience.
Cathleen Brand: Oh, come on.
Anthony Bensen: To me it is.
Cathleen Brand: There are so many orphans in the world.
Anthony Bensen: I want a child of my own flesh and blood to inherit me. I want an offspring to pass on my genes and my fortune to succeeding generations.
Cathleen Brand: He wants his “genes to be passed on to succeeding generations”. That is certainly a male chauvinist pig argument. “My genes.” What the heck is so important about your genes, Mr. Bensen?
Anthony Bensen: (Ignoring.) And as far as orphans are concerned, to adopt, one has to be married, I think.
Cathleen Brand: I can marry you. On one condition...
Anthony Bensen: Separate bedrooms, I guess.
Cathleen Brand: Separate residences. Separate towns would be even more satisfactory.
Anthony Bensen: You’re teasing me. Did Hugh Gilbert say where he is?
Cathleen Brand: He’s downstairs in the bar.
Anthony Bensen: I better go see him.
INT A BAR
Hugh Gilbert. By the counter with a drink. Anthony Bensen enters.
Anthony Bensen: Hi, Hugh.
Hugh Gilbert: Thank heaven.
Anthony Bensen: How much? (To the bartender.) A whiskey sour, please?
Hugh Gilbert: One thousand would do.
Anthony Bensen: Well, well. Do you realize that you’re a lucky guy?
Hugh Gilbert: Me? I’m a loser. You should know that.
Anthony Bensen: You’re a compulsive gambler, that’s for sure, but I’m not talking about that. You’ve a daughter.
Hugh Gilbert: It makes me a lucky guy?
Anthony Bensen: I think so.
Hugh Gilbert: What’s the matter with you?
Anthony Bensen: (Gets his whiskey sour.) The matter with me is that I have no children.
Hugh Gilbert: What’s this supposed to be?
Anthony Bensen: You heard what I said. I don’t have any children.
High Gilbert: That has never bothered you.
Anthony Bensen: Never before.
Hugh Gilbert: On the contrary.
Anthony Bensen: Yes, I know.
Hugh Gilbert: So why now?
Anthony Bensen: You know, after that operation, well, realizing that I’m not immortal...
Hugh Gilbert: For heaven’s sake... (Pauses) Oh, I see what you’re driving at. You want an heir or an heiress. Is that so?
Anthony Bensen: Yes.
Hugh Gilbert: So go get one! You are supposed to be the most...
Anthony Bensen: ... eligible bachelor... come on, Hugh... Did you know that your daughter always had some kind of a crush on me?
Hugh Gilbert: I don’t think that her feelings for you can be described as a crush. Phyllis was almost born crazy about men. She’s a real man-eater. She grew out of the crush stage at the age of fifteen. Ever since, it has been straight ahead. Touch and go. Anyhow, yes, I know. Phyllis told you?
Anthony Bensen: In a very brutal way. I went to her and asked her to get my sperm tested. It turned out that my seminal fluid is unusable.
Hugh Gilbert: Interesting.
Anthony Bensen: I would say damaging.
Hugh Gilbert: I would repeat, interesting. Do you remember our days in the army?
Anthony Bensen: It was a great time.
Hugh Gilbert: Don’t you remember that we were asked to donate sperm for some kind of research?
INT MILITARY HOSPITAL
Naked young men standing in line outside a door, young Bensen and Gilbert at the very front of the line.
Young Anthony Bensen: This is ridiculous, Hugh.
Young Hugh Gilbert: It sure is, Anthony.
Young Anthony Bensen: Staying in line in order to wank off in a test tube.
Young Hugh Gilbert: Mom won’t believe this when I tell her. If I tell her, that is.
Young Anthony Bensen: Do we have to put up with this?
Young Hugh Gilbert: At least I will. Cheerfully! I won’t do anything that makes me look deviant from the rest of us. And it’s voluntary.
Young Anthony Bensen: You heard what the captain said. It’s voluntary as long as we all agree to it.
(Door opens, uniformed man.)
Uniformed man: You’re next, Bensen.
Young Hugh Gilbert: Seems to be your turn to agree to it, Anthony.
Copyright © 2008 by Bertil Falk