Work in Progress

An idea for a sketch is usually bumping around in my head before I write it down.  Some turn out great and others wind up unworkable.  I remember an idea I was in love with about a crazed doctor making house calls.  It was the funniest bit in the world until I sat down to write it.  I came back to it multiple times before giving up on it.

I thought it would be fun to post a first draft I wrote a couple weeks ago.  With all my other work going on, I haven’t been able to revisit it.  I thought it might be fun to throw it up on this blog to see if folks think it has any promise.  If it does work out and makes it into my show, it might be fun to come back here and see how it’s changed.  It’s called Last Letter. 

A man (Chris) lays in a hospital bed, staring at the ceiling.  Dr. Rex steps in holding a clipboard.

Rex:  Hello, Chris.
Chris:  Oh.  Hello, Dr. Rex.  Is it almost time?
Rex:  Yes it is.  Is your wife still stuck inDenver?
Chris:  She is.  It doesn’t look like she’ll be making it in time.
Rex:  Well, this is a standard procedure.  The risks are slight.
Chris:  But there are risks just the same.  Could you do me a favor, doctor?
Rex:  What is it?
Chris:  I wanted to write her a note but my hands are shaking too much.  Could you write it for me?
Rex:  Sure.  I have a few moments.

He pulls up a chair and grabs a notepad that was sitting next to Chris.

 Rex:  I’m ready when you are.
Chris:  “DearCharlotte.  I’m writing this to you at the hospital.  I’m about to go in for the procedure and though chances are slim something will go wrong, I wanted to write you in the event the worst happened.  So please don’t worry about me…”
Rex:  Okay, stop.
Chris:  Is there a problem?
Rex:  Yes.  You’re boring the shit out of me.
Chris:  What?
Rex:  These could be your last words to your wife and this is the best you can come up with? 
Chris:  I never said I was a writer.
Rex:  It doesn’t matter.  If they made “Sorry I’m Dead” Hallmark cards I’d just buy one of those and get it over with.
Chris:  That’s a little rough.
Rex:  Look, I’m with people in your situation all the time.  If I’m rough it’s only because I want your last message to be as good as it should be.  If you want, I have some suggestions.
Chris:  Okay.
Rex:  First off, don’t waste time telling her where you physically are.  She knows you’re at the hospital.  Instead, tell her how you’re feeling.
Chris:  Okay.  “Dear Charlotte.”
Rex:  My dearestCharlotte.
Chris:  “I’m about to go in for my procedure and am nervous but confident at the same time.”
Rex:  Oh my god.
Chris:  What now?
Rex:  Nervous but confident at the same time?  Is that supposed to inspire her?  How about, “I’m filled with dread but thoughts of you keep me inspired?”
Chris:  I’m not filled with dread.
Rex:  Do you want this letter to be compelling or honest?
Chris:  Can’t it be both?
Rex:  Not with you.  I’m writing “filled with dread.”
Chris:  No.  It’s my letter.  Tell her I’m nervous but take comfort in thoughts of her.
Rex:  Not as good as mine but a definite improvement over the original.
Chris:  “I keep thinking back to our times together and know there’s no one else I would’ve wanted to spend them with.”
Rex:  Get specific.
Chris:  Why? 
Rex:  Because that’s what she’ll want.  Trust me.
Chris:  Okay.  “When I think back on our times together from our honeymoon in Bermuda to our summer inNebraskato canoeing inColorado…”
Rex:  This isn’t a travelogue.  Get intimate.
Chris:  I’m not telling you intimate stuff.
Rex:  You’re not telling me.  You’re telling her.
Chris:  Yeah but you’re here in the meantime.
Rex:  I’m a doctor.  I can handle it.
Chris:  I know my wife.  She doesn’t want a letter full of intimate details.
Rex:  That’s too bad because I’ve already put them in.
Chris:  What did you write?
Rex:  “When I think back on our times together from our passionate honeymoon in Bermuda, where I taught you what a man can do to a woman, to our summer inNebraska, where our fierce love making filled up the nights…”
Chris:  Hey!  That’s not what happened.
Rex:  Well this is better.
Chris:  She was there.  She’ll wonder what the heck I’m talking about.
Rex:  Are you saying you didn’t do anything on your honeymoon?
Chris:  Yeah but I didn’t “teach her what a man can do to a woman”.  Who talks like that?
Rex:  Men who have taught women what a man can do to a woman. 
Chris:  Take it out.
Rex:  Fine.
Chris:  “I want you to know the only regrets I have are the times I could’ve been with you but wasn’t.”

A moment of silence.

Rex:  Yes?
Chris:  I was waiting for you to say that line sucks.
Rex:  No.  It was pretty good.
Chris:  Okay.  “I know I’d be at peace right now if only I could see your face before going in.”
Rex:  Now we’re getting somewhere.
Chris:  “Just know I honor and respect you above all others.”
Rex:  And we’re sunk.
Chris:  What’s the problem now?
Rex:  You haven’t told her how hot she is.  Women like to hear that.  Do you think she cares if you honor and respect her?
Chris:  Yes.
Rex:  I doubt it.
Chris:  Have you ever been in a long-term relationship?
Rex:  Yes.  I’ve had a “friends with benefits” arrangement with a nurse for four years.
Chris:  That’s not a relationship.
Rex:  I tell her it is.
Chris:  You know what?  Just tell my wife I was thinking about her and we’ll call it a day.
Rex:  Oh, come on.  You can’t leave her hanging like that.
Chris:  I wanted to write her a nice note telling her how I feel but you keep trying to make it a letter to Penthouse.
Rex:  You’re overstating it.  I promise I’ll hold back.
Chris:  Fine.  “My dearestCharlotte.  As I write you this letter, I’m able to keep from feeling too scared because the thought of you still inspires me.”
Rex:  Nice.
Chris:  “Looking back, the only regrets I have are that I wasn’t able to spend even more time with you.  When I think back to the times we’ve spent together, from our honeymoon in Bermuda to canoeing inColorado, I know that my life has been well spent because I was with you.”

He stops speaking for a moment and Rex keeps writing.

Chris:  You’re writing a lot more than I was saying.  Let me see what you put down.
Rex:  That’s not necessary.
Chris:  Hand it over! 

He does and Chris reads over what’s there.

Chris:  First off, my wife is not a red head and second, we’ve never even walked throughCentral Park, much less made “angry love” on a carriage there.
Rex:  Poetic license.
Chris:  And though I’m not always good on details, I think I’d remember “taking her like a stag” in a Burger King Playland.
Rex:  I think my prose is strong enough for her to take it as genuine.
Chris:  How could she take it as genuine?  It didn’t happen.
Rex:  I’ll just put in a piece about it being so intense it wiped her memory.
Chris:  Could you please just write what I say?
Rex:  Fine but I’m not going to take the blame if she thinks it’s dull.
Chris:  No one will blame you.
Rex:  I just wanted it to count.  There’s a good chance she won’t be seeing you again.
Chris:  I thought you said the procedure was safe?
Rex:  Comparatively but I’m going to share a doctor secret with you: when the knife comes down it’s all a crap shoot.  I lost a guy last week taking his tonsils out.
Chris:  Oh my god!
Rex:  Chill out.  I’m sober this time. 

A woman (CHARLOTTE) comes rushing into the room.

Charlotte:  Honey!
Chris:  Sweetheart!

Rex gets out of the way as she runs to her husband to hug him.

Chris:  I can’t believe you’re here!
Charlotte:  Looks like I made it just in time.
Rex:  Good.  We don’t have to worry about the letter any more.
Chris:  I guess not.
Rex:  Sorry about writing you two did it in a Burger King Playland. 

She turns to the doctor, then back to Chris.

Charlotte:  You told him about that?



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