In Memoriam, Charles Schulz: A Short Autobiographical Screenplay.
BY GREG PURCELL
(Scene One. A night sky in which a comet soars past. A pair of STAR NEBULAE are shown. There are light blotches everywhere.)
STAR NEBULA ONE: Uh-oh.
STAR NEBULA TWO: What’s that?
STAR NEBULA ONE: It looks like our friend Greg Purcell is in trouble again.STAR NEBULA TWO: Trouble? What kind of trouble?
STAR NEBULA ONE: He’s having a crisis. He’s planning to take away that which is most precious to him.
STAR NEBULA TWO: Oh my. He’s going to commit suicide. That is trouble. What should we do?
STAR NEBULA ONE: Well, we’ll just have to help him. Show him how precious this gift he has been given really is. Send for Charles Schulz.
STAR NEBULA ONE: Charles Schulz . . . ? Isn’t he a little . . . ?
STAR NEBULA ONE: Yes, I know, he’s a little slow. But he has a good heart. Oh, Charles . . .
CHARLES SCHULZ (appearing as a tiny star): Yes?
STAR NEBULA ONE: Greg Purcell has lost his way.
CHARLES SCHULZ: Oh, my . . . he’s going to . . . to . . .
STAR NEBULA ONE: Yes, he is. Now go to Earth and show him beautiful things. And Charles, if you do this right, I think you’re in line for a promotion.
CHARLES SCHULZ: Well, then. Oh my goodness. Well, then…
(Scene Two. On the corner of Damen and Division, in Chicago. The OWNER of the Shell station is leaning on the wall outside, talking to his friend. It is unseasonably warm.)
OWNER: There goes Greg Purcell. Good old Greg Purcell. . . . How I hate him!
(There is a bit of tussling on the street. PURCELL overpowers SCHULZ and runs home, laughing. The owner of the Shell station and his friend watch silently as SCHULZ staggers to his feet and pursues.)
CHARLES SCHULZ: Wait! Wait!
GREG PURCELL: You’re just a crazy old man!
(PURCELL gets into his home, and turns the deadbolt. He throws a noose around the cheap light fixture in his living room. There is frantic pounding at the door. It is SCHULZ, recovered. PURCELL spits out a final litany of abuse and prepares to kick the chair out from underneath him. But then he hears a sound, the sound of children playing. He pauses.)
GREG PURCELL: What am I doing here?
(He steps from the chair and lets SCHULZ in. SCHULZ scolds him, but soon they are talking like old friends. Before SCHULZ has to go, they go out and play with the children. Years pass. Scene Three. PURCELL is a millionaire. He writes books and has sex with famous people and everyone loves him. Scene Four. PURCELL is caught in a violent cycle of drug abuse, and has serious financial debts to both the I.R.S. and the mob. Who will get to him first? Where can PURCELL turn? How did things get this far?)
A MOBSTER: Payback, sucker.
(A gun is fired.)
GREG PURCELL: Yikes!
(Scenes Six and Seven pretty much deal with the NEBULAE again, and all of the great things they talk about, about the state of the world and about what the people are doing there, and then there is even a funny part when they call upon PURCELL, in the form of a little star, to go back down and “complete his mission on Earth,” and using the word “matter” and “energy” as proper names, hilarious banter ensues along the lines of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine. Maybe CALIGULA makes an appearance. Maybe not. Finally, the credits flash and at the end a banner proclaims, IN MEMORIAM: CHARLES SCHULZ (1923-2000) and stays on the screen for an uncomfortably long time. Everyone leaves. The End.)
SUGGESTED READSSame Guy, Next Year: A Tragedy in Four Acts
by Neal Pollack (12/13/2000)
This Show that Colleen Werthmann is Doing Tuesday
by Colleen Werthmann (10/22/1999)
THEM!: The Play
by James Erwin (10/13/2004)
RECENTLYBefore You Avenge Your Father’s Death, Please Leave a Positive Yelp Review for My Secret Dojo
by Kenny Murphy (4/29/2016)
Women Who Should Be Pretty Pissed Off: Mary Blandy: The O.J. Simpson of the 18th Century
by Amy Watkin (4/29/2016)
List: Showing Them How It Feels: A TA Evaluates His Students
by Andy Holt (4/29/2016)
POPULARList: Titles of Bach Chorales, as Translated By My Niece After One Semester of German
by Nolan Bonvouloir (4/15/2016)
How to Negotiate a Raise (If You’re a Woman)
by Maura Quint (4/15/2016)
Here Are the Times I Am Typically Free to Meet
by Joe Saunders (4/18/2016)