|Inflating a Dog Screenplay
Chapter 23: The Power of the Press (in which we build a business on ifs)
by Eric Kraft
The screen rights are available.
|TRANSITION. WHIRLING COPY OF THE BABBINGTON
REPORTER. When it stops whirling, we see the headline:
“ELEGANT EXCURSIONS” MAKES A SPLASH
There’s a large photograph of Porky White, standing in the water, holding the mayor’s wife.
CUT TO:INT. THE LEROY KITCHEN AND DINING ROOM. THE NEXT MORNING. Ella pickes the paper up and beams at it.
Patti and Ella nod their heads in perfect understanding.I bet all Babbington is talking about us this morning!ELLAI . . . um . . . well . . . I guess you’re probably right.PETERLet’s see how much money we took in.ELLAWait a minute . . . We didn’t take in any money. Everybody was a guest.PETER(hating to have to say it)But let’s figure out how much we would have taken in if everybody had paid.ELLAWhy?PETERBecause that way we’ll know how much we will take in . . .ELLA(girlishly). . . when people are paying.PATTI
They work at it, adding up what would have been their gross, and deducting costs and payments for their investors. . . .Okay.PETER
Bert walks with the dullness of sleep into the kitchen in his underwear and pours himself a cup of coffee. He winces when he hears Peter’s prediction, as if he had foretold a disaster.Wow! . . . We’re gonna be rich!PETER(his eyes wide and bright)
There is an awkward and painful silence. Patti breaks it:If . . . if . . . we can keep it going as well as it went last night.ELLA(the practical one?)You can’t build a business on ifs.BERT(with a sigh)
Oh? . . . I think all the best businesses are built on ifs.PATTIOh, yeah? Name one.BERTThe Studebaker Corporation.PATTIWhat?BERTHenry and Clem Studebaker went into business together on February 16, 1852, with no more capital than sixty-eight dollars and two sets of blacksmith tools . . .PATTI
DISSOLVE TO:INT. BABBINGTON HIGH. A CLASSROOM. Mrs. Tillnell’s civics class at Babbington High, where prissy Mrs. Tillnell is teaching the lesson of the Studebaker brothers. Patti is pretending not to listen, but she’s actually fascinated.
. . . and forty dollars of that they had borrowed from Henry’s wife. On their first day in business, they made twenty-five cents. Twenty-five cents! But did they give up? No, they did not. They said to themselves, “If we can just do ten percent better tomorrow, and ten percent better the day after that, and so on and so on . . . we’re gonna be rich!”MRS. TILLNELL(shows Conestoga wagon)And just eight years later they were turning out thousands of the Conestoga wagons that carried hopeful settlers westward, looking for a place to plant their future . . .
CUT TO:INT. THE LEROY DINING ROOM.
Ella knits her brows and pouts like Patti.. . . and today . . . well, you tell me, Mr. Leroy . . . is there a single working stiff in America who doesn’t dream of putting a Golden Hawk in the garage? I know my pop does.PATTIWell . . . maybe you’re right, but . . . but if you want to sell excursions to the average working stiff, you’ve got to have the common touch.BERTThe common touch?ELLA(not quite gagging)Yeah. Your father may dream of driving a Hawk, but the last time I saw him, he was driving a Transtar half-ton pickup. People may have their dreams, but they don’t buy dreams. They buy pickup trucks. You’re not selling pickup trucks, the way it is now.BERTPickup trucks are not . . .ELLA. . . elegant. I know. But take it from me, if you want to fill that boat, you’re going to have to . . .BERT. . . not be elegant?ELLAWell, maybe you don’t have to go that far . . . but you should think about dropping those little sandwiches.BERT
Well . . . at least the colored bread.BERT
1956 Studebaker Hawk
|EXT. ARCINELLA’S SLIP. THE NEXT NIGHT.
Ella, Peter, and Patti arrive to find about thirty people waiting.
Some are snapping pictures of one another with Arcinella in the background.
Ella hands Doris aboard; Doris stands where Sweetie stood.The power of the press!ELLAWhere was she standing when she went over?MAN ABOUT BERT’S AGE(to Ella)Who? . . . Oh, the mayor’s wife? . . . Just about here.ELLAMind if I get a picture of Doris there?MAN ABOUT BERT’S AGENo, of course not.ELLA
Doris widens her eyes and opens her mouth and throws her arms in the air and leans over the side and very nearly loses her balance but her husband gets the shot he wants.Make like you’re going over, Doris.MAN ABOUT BERT’S AGE
Ella extends a hand to him, assuming that he’ll come aboard, but instead Doris squeezes past her and back onto shore. Off they go. Others drift off, too.Great! Thanks!MAN ABOUT BERT’S AGE
CUT TO:EXT. THE RIVER. A FEW MINUTES LATER. The excursion is underway. Only eight people have come along. About six people are snapping pictures from the shore.
I thought we’d have more.ELLA(whispering to Patti)Tomorrow night. You’ll see.PATTI
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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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