Grand Ghoulish: I-V. Click

I-V. CLICK

GRANDMA’S DARK KITCHEN. HAROLD, IN HIS UNDERWEAR, ON A ROLLING CHAIR OF SOME SORT, TYPES AND CLICKS AWAY AT A LAPTOP.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Harold edited erotic photos of a mostly naked married woman by the glow of his computer screen, and his mind wandered.

HAROLD WANDERS AND ROLLS TO:

THE THIRD-FLOOR MASTER SUITE OF A “STATELY MANOR.” SOPHIA WAITS, STILL DRESSED AS WE LOST SAW HER, UNAWARE THE SCENE HAS BEGUN.

HAROLD PUTS ON HIS CLOTHES FROM THE PREVIOUS SCENE AND PICKS UP A CAMERA.

SOPHIA REALIZES WHAT’S HAPPENING, POSES ON THE BED.

HAROLD, ONCE AGAIN FULLY CLOTHED, PHOTOGRAPHS SOPHIA FROM SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THE BED AND THAT WINDOW WITH THE BALCONY OVERLOOKING THE EXPENSIVE EVERYTHING. SHUTTERS CLICK, LIGHTS FLASH.

SOPHIA GROWS FRUSTRATED.

SOPHIA: (COOS) I don’t have cooties, ya know.

HAROLD LOOKS UP FROM HIS CAMERA, EYES NEVER LEAVING SOPHIA.

HAROLD: Huh?

SOPHIA: You’re so far away. Wouldn’t it help if you got a little closer?

HAROLD: (SHRUGS) Maybe.

SOPHIA: (POUTS) For someone who does this all the time, you sure are shy.

A BEAT. THEN…

HAROLD STEPS A LITTLE CLOSER, CONTINUES WITH ALL THE CLICKING AND FLASHING. SOPHIA CONTINUES POSING.

HAROLD: To be fair, most of these girls I photograph are…

SOPHIA: Younger?

HAROLD: Not married.

SOPHIA: (SCOLDS) Harold

CLICK, FLASH.

HAROLD: I’m teasing.

SOPHIA RELAXES, SMILES.

CLICK-CLICK-CLICK. FLASH-FLASH-FLASH.

HAROLD: Most of them are wannabe models who will never make it, settle on being whatever an “influencer” is, then turn to selling oils and pills and other people’s artwork.

SOPHIA: Sounds a bit harsh.

HAROLD: (SHAKES HEAD) I’m not judging. Just sharing.

SOPHIA SITS EXPOSED BENEATH THAT INTIMATELY DETAILED NUDE OIL INTERPRETATION OF HER YOUNGER SELF.

SOPHIA: (CONSIDERS THIS) So, what does that make me?

HAROLD STOPS.

HAROLD: I’m not sure yet.

A SILENCE. THEN…

HAROLD CONTINUES WITH THE CLICKING AND FLASHING, SOPHIA CONTINUES WITH THE POSING.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Many hours later, as Harold sat in the mild discomfort of an otherwise dark kitchen, beneath the wobbly blades of a ceiling fan, looking at dozens of photos of Sophia, he still wasn’t quite sure what to make of her.

Like the photos on his laptop, no two Sophias were the same. There was the refined woman in the silk sundress he met at the gallery, soft-spoken, curious, and resigned to the whims of a man who drags her by the wrist and parks in handicap spaces. A carefree mess in her vintage Bon Jovi tee smoking weed with Harold in his car. That confident young woman bound forever in canvas and oils. And every photograph was another Sophia looking back at him, her emotions and thoughts and urges scattered. One moment, she’s aware of how little she’s wearing and reaching for sheets, pretending she’s only being playful. The next, she’s ripping off her top and reaching for Harold with her eyes…

But it was the Sophia who caught his camera lingering too long on an old surgical scar that Harold kept coming back to.

SOPHIA GLIDES HER FINGERS OVER FAINT LINES RUNNING BENEATH HER ARMS AND BREASTS.

SOPHIA: These…? Oliver’s work. He’s a magnificent surgeon, but you can only roll back the clock so far. And time still leaves its scars.

HAROLD SAYS NOTHING…

…AND THE SILENCE CUTS AT SOPHIA LIKE HER HUSBAND’S SCALPEL.

Do they bother you?

HAROLD LOWERS HIS CAMERA, SEES THE MOSTLY NAKED WOMAN ON THE BED IN FRONT OF HIM. THEN…

HAROLD: No.

SOPHIA:  (SMILES) I tried to cover them up as best as I could.

HAROLD: They look fine. You look…

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Harold never finished his thought.

HAROLD RETURNS TO HIS CHAIR AND UNDERWEAR, ROLLS TO:

GRANDMA’S DARK KITCHEN.

HAROLD CONTINUES TYPING AND CLICKING AWAY AT A LAPTOP AS IF HE NEVER LEFT IT.

Back then, Oliver had returned by bursting through the front door and announcing his arrival like Ricky Ricardo. Whatever Harold might have been thinking at the time was replaced by the conflicting desires of leaping from the balcony window with the expensive view and running to the toilet.

GRANDMA ENTERS, ISN’T SURPRISED BY WHAT SHE FINDS.

But now, his Grandmother had walked in on her sweaty grandson in his underwear looking at erotic photographs of a mostly naked woman on his laptop.

GRANDMA: (SIGHS) Harold… I thought we talked about you doing this sort of thing in the kitchen.

HAROLD SLAMS THE LAPTOP SHUT.

HAROLD: I’m working and it’s hot in my garage!

END SCENE.