|Inflating a Dog Screenplay
Chapter 14: A Real Blowtorch (in which Bert, thinking that Ella’s horse is Porky’s, bets on it)
by Eric Kraft
The screen rights are available.
|INT. THE LEROY FAMILY LIVING ROOM,
EVENING. Bert is slumped in his favorite chair, staring blankly at
the black-and-white TV, where an episode of “Video Rangers” is underway.
It’s a locally produced adventure serial set on a spaceship somewhere in
another galaxy sometime in the future. It’s a kids’ show. The
production values are poor; the budget is tiny; the actors are comically
inept. Several empty beer bottles are on the table beside Bert, also
a jar of pickled cherry peppers. He burps and pokes in the jar for
the last of them.
CUT TO:The back porch, where Ella, Peter, and Patti creep up the stairs. Ella puts on a brave smile and crosses her fingers.
Ella opens the door and immediately calls out to Bert.
Hello-oh-oh! We’re home! I’ll bet you thought we’d never get here.ELLA(brightly, forced)
CUT TO:The living room. Bert scowls.
CUT TO:Bert’s point of view, looking toward the kitchen. Ella comes through the doorway.
He is struck dumb by the sight of Patti.Where the hell have you two been . . .BERT(fuming)
CUT TO:Bert’s point of view. Patti stands there looking luscious, playing at being sweet and shy.
She reaches into the bag of clamburgers, pulls one out, and tosses it to Bert, as if flinging a steak into a cage. Startled from his fixation on Patti, Bert catches it.Hi. I’m Patti. Peter’s friend.PATTI(a beat)Ella’s friend.Isn’t she cute?ELLA(teasing Bert)
Hey . . .BERT(smelling the burger). . . mmm, clamburgers.
CUT TO:A few minutes later. Everyone’s eating and, halfheartedly, watching “Video Rangers.” The dialogue coming from the television set is murmurous and mostly unintelligible, though now and then a word or phrase comes through: “anti-gravity drive,” “creatures from another world,” “sabotage.”
They eat in silence for a moment. Ella is searching for a way to take the conversation where she wants it to go.Oh! I forgot to tell you . . . Porky White is investing in a new business.ELLA(suddenly eager)What sort of new business?BERT(suspiciously, enviously)Elegant Excursions.ELLAElegant Excursions?BERT(mystified)It’s going to be a boat that takes people on excursions. Cruises on the bay. In the moonlight.ELLAEating clamburgers?BERTOh, no, no. Hors d’oeuvres. Canapés. Little sandwiches on colored bread.ELLAWhat?BERT(recognizing a theme)He’s going to work up a clam spread. Cream cheese and chopped clams.ELLADon’t tell me: in pastel colors.BERTWhat a good idea, Bert!ELLAOh, yeah. I wonder where I got it.BERT
Bert looks at his second clamburger, sneers at it.You’ve got to hand it to Porky.ELLADo I? Why?BERTThat clam bar is a big success.ELLALuck. Just luck. In Porky’s case, Dumb luck.BERTOh, Bert . . .ELLAHe just happened to get into the clam-bar business at the right time . . . right before the clam fad hit.BERTThe clam fad?ELLASure. Clams are the cat’s pajamas now . . . or whatever it is kids say.BERT(to Patti)What do you say? The cat’s pajamas . . . great . . . terrific?A pump. Or a blow jo— . . .PATTI(she catches herself)What?BERT. . . blow . . .PATTI(looking to Peter)Torch. A blowtorch.PETER(inspired)Blowtorch. Clams are a blowtorch.BERT(trying it out)A real blowtorch.PETER(improvising)Clams are a real blowtorch now.BERTYou’ve got it Mr. Leroy.PATTIA real blowtorch! Look at us. We’re the proof of it. We’re all eating clamburgers. Q. E. D., right Peter?BERTI guess so.PETER
He opens another bottle of beer and takes a long swallow.Luck. . . . Dumb luck. . . . It’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. . . . And for some reason that I will never understand, Chester White, Chester White, who wasn’t even in the right line when they were handing the brains out, has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.BERT
Another long swallow.The son of a bitch . . . pardon my French . . . the son of a gun . . . is a lucky son of a bitch.BERT (CONT’D.)
Bert gives Ella a dismissive look and takes a swallow.Some people have luck, and some do not. He’s got it. I wish I did.BERT (CONT’D.)Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to get some of it to rub off on us?ELLA(playing a part)
She sighs as if she can’t see how that might help them get a ride on Porky’s luck. Patti sees what she’s up to.Pffff.BERT(through beer foam)How does that go, what you say about getting a ride on somebody else’s luck?ELLA(maneuvering)Bet on his horse.BERTOh, yes. That’s right.ELLA
He pantomimes this for Patti’s benefit, and Ella, Patti, and Peter manage somehow not to laugh.Gee, I might have an idea.PATTI(with her famous pout)But it’s probably stupid.An idea is like a little bird, young lady. You’ve got to give it a push out of the nest and see if it can fly.BERT
She pantomimes a fluttering little bird.Well, okay.PATTI(as if awed by his wisdom)
Inspiration strikes. She will let Bert come up with the idea of investing instead of suggesting it herself.I was just thinking that maybe we could get a ride on Porky’s luck if we . . .PATTI (CONT’D.)
Patti obliges him and flutters her little hands. Bert flaps his hands like the wings of a bird of prey, and suddenly his hands swoop down on Patti’s and grab them.. . . asked him for jobs or something.PATTI (CONT’D.)(weakly)That’s very good.BERT(smiling indulgently)(pantomiming again)Let’s see it fly.
Patti smiles winningly, but when Bert turns aside to reach for his beer, she lets her dislike show for just a moment.Aw, gee, . . . the little thing didn’t get very far. A nasty crow got it. . . . Let’s try something else.BERT (CONT’D.)(almost brutally)(mimes another fledgling)Suppose we invest, too!Oh, Bert, that sounds risky.ELLA(apparently concerned)Ella, you don’t know anything about it. We’ll put in as much as Porky does. Why should he make all the money?BERT(with a wink at Patti)We’re going to bet on Porky’s horse.
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Copyright © 2001 by Eric
The screenplay for Inflating a Dog is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this teleplay may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.
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