40 Minutes – A Commercial Script on Spec.

40 Minutes – A Commercial Script on Spec.

INT. HOME OFFICE – DAY

A young man, LAWRENCE, sits quietly reading in a comfortable chair in his home office. There’s a cup of tea on a small table by his side, a decorative lamp emits a warm, soft light nearby, and classical music plays in the background. He’s wearing a comfortable sweater, and the book he is reading is “How The Mind Works,” by Steven Pinker.

Behind him his bookshelf reveals Lawrence’s taste in literature: philosophy, English history, a large volume of Shakespeare’s works. Several tasteful pieces of framed art decorate the walls around him, and a small window overlooks what appears to be a well-groomed garden.

It is the room of a scholar, an academic – a man of refined tastes.

The door opens and Lawrence’s wife SANDRA enters quietly.

SANDRA: Hey hon – sorry to bother you…

Lawrence finishes the sentence he’s reading before responding. He closes his book and smiles.

LAWRENCE: No, you’re not bothering me. I was just taking a bit of a break from all my blasted research.

SANDRA: Oh, poor you. Any breakthroughs?

LAWRENCE:(shakes his head)Not yet. I’ve gone through everyone – Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, the Earl of Derby, the Earl of Rutland, the Earl of Southampton, the Earl of Essex, Sir Walter Raleigh…

SANDRA: What about Bacon?

He waves a dismissive hand.

LAWRENCE: Don’t mention that name! He’s old news honey – old news. There are already volumes and volumes –

SANDRA: (interrupting)Um — sorry. I just wanted to tell you that I’m going to meditate now in the sunroom.

LAWRENCE:Oh, fine…that’ll do you some good. Sorry love, here you are trying to break away and I’m just rambling on…

SANDRA: No, really, I love to hear about your work! I just want to start now so that I’ll be done before the duck is finished.

LAWRENCE :(nodding)Sure. So, forty minutes?

SANDRA: Yep. Twice a day!

LAWRENCE: Well you go meditate, and don’t worry about that duck. I’ll check on it – you just enjoy your nirvana!

She chuckles.

SANDRA: Yeah, right. I’m lucky I can remember my own mantra!
They both laugh heartily for a sustained beat. Eventually the laughter trickles off.

LAWRENCE: Alright, go on now. There’s a small chance I may be napping later, but if not I’ll see you in forty minutes.

She blows him a kiss.

SANDRA: (smiling warmly)Thanks, hon.

She closes the door quietly behind her.

Lawrence looks at the door thoughtfully for a beat, smile still on his lips.
Suddenly, in one motion, he loses the smile, tosses the book aside and jumps out of his chair.

He tiptoes excitedly over to the door, holds his breath, and carefully opens it. He peeks out.

INT. LAWRENCE’S HOUSE – DAY

At the end of the hallway and through the house a bit of the sunroom is visible. Sandra, who has just entered the room and is partly visible, puffs up a pillow on the couch by the window, sits down, and settles in for her meditation.

INT. HOME OFFICE – DAY

Lawrence slowly and noiselessly closes the door and exhales. He looks around the room, then rushes over to his desk. He opens a small drawer, digs around inside, and pulls out a hand-held digital stopwatch.

He sets the stopwatch to 40:00.

He pushes START.

CU OF STOPWATCH

It immediately begins to count down: 39:59…39:58…39:57…

He rests the stopwatch on the desk, then opens a different drawer. He quickly tosses its contents onto the floor, winces as the noise, and reaches deep inside, to the back of the drawer.

LAWRENCE: C’mon…

His eyes widen as he pulls an unopened pint of whiskey out of the drawer.

LAWRENCE (CONT’D): Yes!

He turns to the bookshelf and removes the volume of Shakespeare. He reaches into the gap between books and pulls out a large pack of cinnamon gum. He quickly places the gum and whiskey on the small table next to his cup of tea. He picks up the mug, drains it of any remaining tea, cracks open the pint of booze and fills the mug, with the used tea bag still hanging out of it, to the brim.

It’s too full to move without spilling, so Lawrence takes a long, careful slurp from the mug before putting it back down on the table.

He sits down in the chair, rubs his face with both hands, and exhales.

LAWRENCE (CONT’D): Forty minutes.

He takes another swig of his booze.

CUT TO:

INSERT – CU ON STOPWATCH

It reads 36:00

Lawrence is on his chair, laptop obscuring his middle. There’s a large bottle of lube on the table next to his mug of booze. Classical music is still playing softly in the background.His arm is clearly moving in his lap and he appears to be in a state of deep concentration.

CUT TO:

INSERT – CU ON STOPWATCH

33:49…33:48…

Lawrence fidgets with the stereo in the corner of the room while simultaneously wiping his hands with a decorative towel and juggling the stereo remote. After a bit of a struggle, he manages to navigate away from the classical music. He scans over several stations: Country, Jazz, Pop, Mexican Bandas music.

LAWRENCE: (under his breath)Aw, fucking shit…

Finally he finds some speed metal. He winces at the volume, taps it down a couple of notches on the remote, and nods.

He tosses the remote on top of the stereo and it tumbles, unnoticed by Lawrence, onto the floor behind it.

CUT TO:

INSERT – CU ON STOPWATCH

29:00…28:59…

With speed metal in the background, Lawrence is in the middle of finishing his mug. He looks around furtively, pours more booze into it, and drains it.

In the process the old teabag falls out onto his face. He flicks it off his cheek and flies through the air, landing with a SPLOT on a framed picture of Lawrence and Sandra that sits on his desk.

Lawrence looks at the picture.

CUT TO:

INSERT – STOPWATCH

28:00 and counting.

Lawrence, at his desk, does a rail of coke off of the picture.

CUT TO:

INSERT – CU ON STOPWATCH

24:05…24:04…

Lawrence whispers into his cellphone.

LAWRENCE: (slurring) No, no baby…I fucking love you…you know that I fucking love you, Crystal, right? You know I miss you…

He’s suddenly distracted by a restrained RAPPING sound. He looks around, startled.

LAWRENCE (CONT’D): What the fuck…(into the phone)I gotta go babe…yeah, I’ll call you tonight…

He hangs up his cell and struggles to listen over the Metal in the background.

More rapping.

It’s coming from the window.

JUMP CUT TO:

Lawrence helps a man enter his office through the window. They’re both struggling, swearing and laughing under their breath.

LAWRENCE (CONT’D):What the fuck are you doing here, Mickey? This is fucking crazy…

CUT TO:

INSERT – CU ON STOPWATCH

22:00 left.

Lawrence and MICKEY, goateed and scrappy-looking, have pulled up another chair and are playing cards at the small table.

Lawrence pulls from his pint, now nearly empty, and Mickey fishes out a bottle of his own from the pocket of his flannel shirt. They’re both smoking.

CUT TO:

INSERT – STOPWATCH

It reads 16:23…16:22…

Lawrence and Mickey pass a funky, glass-blown pipe between them. Smoke fills the room.

LAWRENCE: (really slurring now)…and I was like, “what the fuck?” I mean, there’s feathers and blood fucking everywhere, right? And I’m supposed to get out of there in time for my 10:30 class? What the fuck?

Mickey exhales with a deep cough, and nods.

MICKEY:I hear you man, I hear you…

JUMP CUT TO:

Lawrence and Mickey, a few moments later and still at the table playing cards, are frozen in their chairs, listening. Lawrence holds the pipe in one hand and the other hand rests over Mickey’s chest, as if to still him.

LAWRENCE: Shhhhh….did You hear something?

They’re both very still for a beat.

JUMP CUT TO:

Lawrence awkwardly shoves Mickey through the window and back outside. Micky is only visible from the waste down, but his voice is audible from the other side of the window.

MICKEY: Alright, alright, I’m fucking going…what the fuck, slow the fuck down, man…

CUT TO:

INSERT – STOPWATCH

12:42…12:41…

Lawrence sits on the floor near the stereo. His eyes are closed and he’s moving his head to the Speed Metal in the background.

On his lap is a plate of greasy duck bones. He has grease all over his face and hands. He’s holding a bone up to his face and chewing breathlessly.

CUT TO:

INSERT – STOPWATCH

10 minutes left.

Lawrence, his face a greasy mess, his hair and shirt disheveled, is back in his chair, laptop on his lap, his arm jerking furiously.

FADE TO:

INT. HOME OFFICE – LATER

Everything about the room is a mess – speed metal plays endlessly, there’s smoke in the air, the table is out of place, there’s a dirty plate of duck bones overturned on the floor near the stereo and the bottle of lube is laying sideways on the floor near Lawrence’s desk, leaking out copious amounts of goo onto the framed picture of Lawrence and his wife. Several of the framed artwork now hangs off-kilter on the walls behind Lawrence. The Tiffany-style shade of the decorative lamp is askew.

There’s a small, torn-up baggy with some coke still visible inside it strewn carelessly over the top of the desk.

The pint of booze, empty save several dirty, crushed cigarette butts at the bottom, sits on the floor near the office door.

Just visible behind the bottle are two feet – the camera pans up to reveal Sandra, a look of utter horror on her face.

Lawrence is in his chair, his eyes closed. His laptop balances precariously over his knee, the screen revealing the homepage of some ghastly porn website. His pants are unzipped widely.

Sandra coughs.

Lawrence opens his eyes with a start. He looks around, disoriented, before settling on Sandra in the doorway.

He stares back.

A beat.

CUT TO:

Black screen

ANNOUNCER’S VOICE: (V.O.)Want to get away?

CUT TO:

INT. HOME OFFICE- CONTINUOUS

Lawrence stares at Sandra, his expression growing more pained.

He opens his mouth to explain.

He’s interrupted by the loud, clear BEEPING of his stopwatch.

Lawrence closes his mouth as the beeping continues.

FADE TO BLACK.

THE END.

Binge, Lather, Repeat

Here’s a confession: I’m not a fit person. I’m paunchy around the middle and I lack cardiovascular stamina. I couldn’t run a marathon or engage in any of those Iron-Man type competitions wherein the contestant has to crawl through a minefield under two inches of electrified barbed wire. Heck, I couldn’t even complete a half-hour of Svaroopa yoga without collapsing in pain.

And muscles? Put it this way: I’m 45 years old but I have the strength of a slightly larger-than-average nine year old girl. With diphtheria.

Feats of strength just aren’t my thing. My thing? Bingeing. Like, I’ll binge-consume anything. Inhaling a box of Cheez-its in front of Netflix on the couch at midnight, cradling a quart of whiskey is for me just an average Tuesday night, and when you think of it that’s three binges in one sitting. In a sense, isn’t that itself a feat worthy of praise? You’ve got feats of strength, you say? Well I have feats of binging!

On an unrelated subject, another one of my “things” is struggling to keep my weight down.

Oh, believe me, I’ve taken comfort in all the usual excuses: I’m middle aged, my metabolism betrayed me somewhere in my thirties, I’m biologically Samoan – you know, the same excuses you probably use. But if I stopped eating at night and abstained from alcohol consistently then I would be much healthier and, consequently, thinner.

But let’s just say, for arguments sake, that I don’t get around to making those changes. I can still make moderate adjustments to the old lifestyle. I mean, why throw out the baby with the bathwater, as they say.

It is in that spirit that I try to make it to the gym most weekdays. My gym is nothing fancy, just your average low-budget dive with barely enough functioning equipment to support the occurrence –however unlikely – of more than two people wanting to do “quads” or whatever on the same day. I’m sure you’ve seen gyms like this. The carpets are all worn. The lights flicker. Most of the members are in their sixties or seventies, and everyone seems really tired. It’s like an early David Fincher movie.

This is the way I like it. In fact, I like most things about my gym.

But oh, using the locker room – that I can do without. I enter that locker room every day knowing there are numerous perils awaiting me within. It’s bad enough that the floor is basically a large petri dish culturing countless new life forms, or that the hot tub is a potent soup of dead skin cells and short gray hairs, or that no one – and I mean no one – seems to wash their hands after doing lord-knows-what in the bathroom stalls. The worst aspect of the locker room for me, though, is the likelihood that there will be other men in there. They will be old-timers. They will want to chat. And they will not be wearing any clothes.

Now my workouts may not be the most intense, but it’s very difficult for me to maintain an exercise-related endorphin high, particularly after a challenging 15 minutes on the treadmill’s Belly Fat Blaster setting, when upon walking into the locker room I’m faced with several septuagenarians, all of whom seem to really love being naked. They’re not just quietly getting into or out of their clothes, either; these guys are walking around, actively puttering about. Often they’re standing up, face to face and within inches of one another, nudely chatting about things like their recent trip to Alaska or how their doctor told them to quit dairy.

Even their personal grooming at the sinks goes on while au naturel, which I find odd. Think about it – you’ve finished your shower, you’ve toweled off, and now there are two things left to do: get dressed, and spend the next half an hour over the sink plucking your nostril hairs. Which do you do first? Well I’d get dressed, of course, since being stark naked is not a requirement of doing anything other than showering. Not these guys, though. For them getting dressed is apparently the absolute last thing they plan on doing, and even then one gets the impression that they do it only under protest.

Me? I’m in and out of that locker room with zero chatting and a minimum of nudity. In fact, I’ve perfected the skill of positioning my self in such a way while quickly going about my business that to even the keenest eye it would appear I don’t even have any private parts.

And at least I wash my hands after using the restroom, even if it does mean that I’m often sandwiched at the middle sink, flanked at both sides by naked, lathered grandpas.

Now that I think of it, it’s no wonder I seek the comfort of food and drink in the middle of the night. It’s the only thing that will erase the memory of the day’s locker room experience from my brain.

Netflix and Cheez-its, anyone?