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.

The Death of Lou Grant SMALL

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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?

LOU: No.

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: Ted!

TED: Lou?


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.

3 Responses to “The Death of Lou Grant”

  1. Terry Brennan said

    Is this the same David Halliday who attended Our Lady of Peace?

    Terry Brennan

    • The same David Halliday. What was that, more than 50 years ago. If you are the same Terry Brennan, I have to tell you that I thought you were deceased. I was at a reunion at Our Lady of Peace School about 20 years ago and someone said that you had died. A kind of Paul McCartney thing. My oldest daughter was a friend of a kid who lived in your old home on Kipling. She’d been to parties there. A small world. Its hard to capsulize a life time in a few words. I’m married to a Belgian girl and we have 3 kids, 2 girls and a boy. I’ll let it go at that for now. (I’m coaching a girls soccer team and have to start moving.) Write back if you want and let me know what you’ve been up to.

      • Terry Brennan said

        Hi David . . . wow! What a blast to hear from you. No I didn’t die, . .although a lot of me has been left behind on my way to here. . .
        left Toronto back in 65 to work up in Northern Ont. for a couple of years . . . . then moved out to B.C. and worked on some ranches for awhile . . . ended up in Banff for about ten years . . . fell in love a few times . . . started writing songs while I was working up in the Yukon . . . traveled around for a few years . . Mexico, California . . . and a ramble around the Southern States and ended up in Calgary where I got into theater and doing some singing and touring and stuff . . . then there was a bunch of years that were far too interesting . . . ended up in Vancouver working in high end Restaurants while doing the music thing at night . . .
        got married, got divorced . . . lived a few years on my own and wrote a lot of music . . . made some CDs . . . .left Vancouver about eight years ago and moved over to Victoria where i got Married to this lovely gal with two boys . . . now at 65
        i’m semi retired and still playing the odd gig on the island
        But, what about you? I remember you as a terrific athlete and a smart guy . . . I remember skating around in my back yard with you playing one on one . . . I remember your freckles and your flaming red hair and most of all I remember what a great guy you were . . . I hope life has been good for you . . . anyway fill me in when you have some time . . . . cheers, Terry
        from now on use my home email address

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