The Death of Lou Grant
April 9, 2013
The Death of Lou Grant has done very well for itself. Originally it was part of a much larger piece of work. But I got bored of that expedition. And settled for this short run.
I have created books that I felt sure could never be made into movies. The characters, scenes, themes were surreal bordering on animation. I felt that so much of American literature (as opposed to the Latin American writers) was 2 dimensional. It had become a genre driven fiction. And it bored me.
I still enjoy reading The Death of Lou Grant. Perhaps you will too.
A Drink After Work Hours At The Brass Rail
It’s all so brief. Life. A mere glimpse. I was going to say a wet fart but that would have been tasteless. You think moths have a short life. God, we must seem like moths to the sun. And you can’t appreciate how brief until you are at the end. A long weekend would seem an eternity. Does that make any sense? What I’m trying to say is that I feel like I might have missed it. I was out there in left field waiting for that sky ball when the guy had laid down a bunt. Jesus, I’m hungry. You get like that at the end. Hunger, appetite, that’s what makes us human. When I think of the last moments of Marilyn Monroe, I get a raging… I can’t help myself.
You’re probably wondering why I’m meeting people in bars all the time. Well, at the Corporation, that was pretty much our mode of operation. We met in bars to interview for jobs. To hire, to fire. To go over ideas. To marshal our thoughts. To brain storm. God, any excuse to have a drink.
This particular bar was the Brass Rail. Tacky. Cheap beer. Women who’d open their legs for you. After they finished their cigarette. And one more beer. Bad lighting. Sometimes you’d get up in the morning and look across the bed at someone who looked like your own mother. That’s what I heard. Not that it ever happened to me. Once. It happened once. She was someone’s mother. But not recently. Most of the patrons were guys. Poor bastards on their lunch break. Hoping for something to happen. Hoping more that it wouldn’t. Just leave me alone with my beer. Who wanted to face something new. Sometimes there were strippers in the bar. Afternoons the strippers mostly sat at tables and drank like everyone else. If you were lucky they might put their hand in your lap. That’s what I heard. There was a kitchen. The food wasn’t too bad. Ted and I were having burgers and fries. The place was known for its fries.
TED: I heard some stories, Lou… (giggling) …anecdotes… you don’ t have to tell me, Lou. I really mean that, Lou. It is certainly not something I have to know. Everyone should have…
LOU: Get to the point, Ted.
TED: Are you seeing a shrink?
LOU: I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that, Ted.
TED: So how’s your golf game, Lou?
LOU: I don’t play golf, Ted.
TED: What a coincidence, Lou. Neither do I. Not since the Celebrity Tournament when I hit Maury Reese with my ball. It wasn’t my fault. (God, these burgers are good.) The guy takes a size 9 hat. I mean he’s got a real melon on those shoulders. How could you help but hit it.
LOU: Didn’t Maury die?
TED: Complications, Lou. Doc said that his heart was ready to burst at any moment. He could have taken a spell while driving home in his car, or taking the elevator, or just…
LOU: You gave Maury sugar, Ted.
TED: He was unconscious. (You shouldn’t talk with your mouth full, Lou.) How was I supposed to know that he was allergic to sugar?
LOU: It was a sugar cube, Ted. He choked!
TED: So, Lou, are you as looney as they say?
LOU: You don’t want to know, Ted.
TED: I want to know, Lou. Honest.
Lou looks around to make sure that no one can hear him. He leans toward Ted and whispers.
LOU: I hear voices in my head, Ted.
TED: Well, that’s not so bad. We all hear voices from time to time. I heard voices the other day in the grocery store. Something about my car being parked in a handicap zone. Everyone heard it. You can’t believe those people. Making a mountain out of a… There was no one using the space, Lou. Besides. How can you be sure those people are handicapped? A sticker on your windshield doesn’t mean you’re handicapped. I could make one up myself. Not that I did. Would.
LOU: It’s the booze talking, Ted. I hear voices when I’ve been drinking too much. They are voices that I don’t want to hear. Voices of someone called Harry.
TED: A relative of yours?
TED: Is it Harry the security guard. Nice fellow. Did you know that he has this amazing collection…
LOU: I hear the voice all the time. Sometimes when I’m having dinner I can hear the salad talking.
TED: You never eat salad, Lou.
LOU: I hear his voice when I’m driving to work in the morning.
TED: I like to listen to tapes on my way to work. I’m learning French. Parlez-vous francais. You should try it sometimes, Lou. They say that your mind is still working, even when you’re asleep. Sometimes I like to wake up in the middle of the night. To find out what I’m thinking.
LOU: This is scaring me, Ted.
TED: (giggles) I told myself the funniest joke the other night.
LOU: With murder in our hearts, the only sane man is the porter at the gate.
TED: You drink scotch, Lou.
LOU: Do you own a gun, Ted?
TED: A gun!
LOU: You must have a gun. Considering how…
TED: Ah, Lou. I’ve got to get going. I just remembered a date I had with…
LOU: Ted, sit down!
TED: I’m sorry, Lou. I’m just not good at this. This kind of talk. You should talk to Murray. I’ve got to go.
LOU: Get back here, Ted!
TED: Please, Lou.
LOU: Listen to me, Ted. The wife wants me to seek out professional help. I don’t need a psychiatrist to tell me that hearing a voice in my head isn’t normal. It’s a trick. I’m supposed to be having a fantasy. If you’re pretending to be someone, that someone shouldn’t be having psychiatric problems. That should be the litmus test for reality. This is my test, Ted.
TED: I was never good at tests… Who are you pretending to be, Lou? Is it one of those… role playing fantasies.
LOU: One. If you’re feeling pain than you’re real. Two. Lou Grant is feeling pain. Three. I’m feeling pain as Lou Grant. Therefore I am Lou Grant.
TED: Well now that that is settled, I’ll be off.
LOU: I have cold sweats. In the morning my pillow case is soaking wet. One night I cried out Mary’s name.
TED: Mary’s name? Why would you do that, Lou?
LOU: The wife was pretty upset by that. Once I interviewed a fellow in prison who claimed that he had painted several masterpieces. When I asked him where he kept them, he smiled and pointed to his head. Everything is in the head, Ted. Why am I hearing these voices, having this dream? I am not alone.
TED: I never dream, Lou. I get too excited.
LOU: Millions of people are dreaming their lives away. Fantasies. Dreaming about winning a million dollars. Dreaming about becoming famous. Dreaming about getting that girl. Dreaming as much as they can, trying to find some reason for staying alive. Ted…
TED: Yes, Lou.
LOU: I don’t want to die, Ted.
TED: (giggling) Oh, is that all it is? You can’t die, Lou. Unless they cancel the show of course.