Lou, you kill me.
February 15, 2013
I’ve been working on the great novel for 50 years. More or less. Every writer wants to write War and Peace. I was big on form. The architecture of fiction. But I’d get bored and mothball the work. Or break it down for parts. The Death of Lou Grant was the orphan of such an enterprise. It was suppose to be one part of a large novel about Marshal McLuhan. Or someone like him. The Death of Lou Grant is a story about the characters in the Mary Tyler Moore Show appearing in the dieing moments of a man’s life. It is a tragedy dressed up as a sitcom. The piece below is one chapter.
Lou In The Elevator With Ted
LOU: I am back in the real world, in the middle of my backyard, in a lounge chair, having a stroke. I can feel my chest melting. The low sizzle of skin. Drops of perspiration tickling my breasts. A low breeze moves the trees slightly…
Ted looks around the elevator as if he thought we were on Candid Camera. There was always someone trying to pull a fast one on Ted and though he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, Ted knew that people were constantly trying to put one over on him. I was having a nervous breakdown.
LOU: The sun slips behind some leaves and for a brief moment a chill crawls across me. I have known this feeling all my life. It is death. Death is a young girl skipping rope, reciting an old chant… I’m tired.
TED: Lou, are you feeling alright?
LOU: A few yards behind, the compost is groaning, the low growls and farts of digestion.
TED: Lou, are you quoting someone? I could give you my reading of Hamlet. I got glowing reviews in college.
LOU: Perhaps when we die, the spirit of the body is sucked into the soul like a star collapsing into itself. We have become a single moment, a thought. The definition of homo-sapiens: I am here… Everything is spinning. Round and round. Like its going to spin right out of…
TED: Excuse me, Lou. Am I supposed to be writing this down?
LOU: Murray already used that joke.
TED: Well, how was I supposed to know that, Lou. It’s not like you guys let me know what’s going on.
I started to babble on about modern consciousness and amino acids. And communications. God, I could hear myself. It was embarrassing. Without being interesting. Or profound. And all the time Ted kept looking around the elevator. At one point he reached for the emergency phone. I grabbed his hand.
LOU: Anger is the engine of despair. What is the rage that my soul sheaves? What is this drunken muttering in my soul? Let’s blame it on the fucking ozone layer. I have to get out of the sun. God, why can’t I stop talking. Talking like my mind is out of control. Stop me from talking, Ted!
Ted began to giggle nervously as the elevator doors opened
TED: Lou. You kill me!