SCENE ONE: IT IS THE NEXT DAY AND JACK IS HARD AT WORK AT THE SPECTATOR. HE IS MARKING UP A CALENDAR WITH HOW LONG HE HAS TO LIVE.
JACK: April, May, June, July, August, September, October.... that's it.
HE PUTS A RED SQUARE AROUND 9th OCTOBER AND WRITES "THE END" IN THE SQUARE.
JACK: That's it. That's dooms day. Alright, six months.
HE PICKS UP THE PHONE.
JACK: Okay, that's it. Let's see if I can make ten thousand, turn it over, spank it once, make it look like twenty thousand and....
JENNIFER HAS WALKED IN.
JENNIFER: Twenty thousand? Twenty thousand what?
JACK: Ah, nothing.... nothing at all.
JENNIFER: Whenever you say nothing that always means trouble. What are you up to Jack?
JACK STANDS UP AND SITS ON TOP OF THE CALENDAR.
JACK: Hahahah, I'm not up to anything. Why would you think that?
JENNIFER: Why are you sitting on your calendar?
JACK: I don't know. I just landed here.
JENNIFER: No I don't think so Jack. Let's see what you have hiding under there.
SHE PUSHES HIM BACK INTO HIS CHAIR.
JENNIFER: The end? What does that mean?
JACK: What do you mean, what does that mean? You know what that means, don't you?
JENNIFER: No I don't. I don't know what that means. What does it mean?
JACK: Alright, if that's the way you want to play it, that's the way we'll play it.
JENNIFER: What are you talking about?
JACK: I'm talking about the end of the fiscal year.
JENNIFER: In the middle of month?
JACK: Yes, in the middle of the month. What's wrong with the middle of the month? Other than the fact that it's getting nearer and nearer to the end of the month. Now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to work.
JENNIFER: Well if you can call what you're doing work.
JACK: Yes, I call what I'm doing work. I'm sorry if you think I'm doing too much of it. That's too bad. One of us has to get serious and get us out of this financial pit and get back on some kind of financial firm footing.
JENNIFER: Well I'm really sorry that I'm wasting so much of your precious time Jack.
JACK: Apologies accepted.
JENNIFER IS A BIT UPSET ABOUT THE WAY HE IS SPEAKING TO HER.
JENNIFER: Well I hope you have enough time to think about your real job. You know we do have a Crossfire segment today.
JACK: I know we have a Crossfire segment today. How could I forget something like that?
JENNIFER IS REALLY HURT NOW AND WALKS OUT. JACK JUST GOES ON WITH HIS WORK, CIRCLING 20th APRIL, TODAY, WITH THE WORDS, X-FIRE. HE DOES FEEL A BIT MEAN FOR SNAPPING AT JENNIFER.
SCENE TWO: LATER, HE HAS A PHONE ON EACH EAR.
JACK: Look you can cook the books if you have to. I just need to get.... I need that money. I need something to borrow. No, listen, I'm not talking about cookbooks. While we're on the subject why don't we research doing one. Good, hold.... hold that thought, yes.
JO COMES IN CARRYING A LARGE SHOPPING BAG.
JACK: Ah, just a minute here. (Beat) Yes I'm very busy. Can I help you?
JO: I know, that's why I'm not going to take up much of your time.
JACK: Good because I don't have any. What do you need?
JO: I came to give you this.
SHE TAKES A LARGE RED TOY FIRE ENGINE OUT OF HER BAG.
JACK: This.... is a fire engine.
JO: Heeeheee, yes, yes. But it's not just any fire engine. I mean this one, look, this one has bells.
SHE TURN ON THE SIREN AND BELL.
JO: And it's got a siren, heheheheheh. Isn't that great?
JACK LEANS OVER AND TURNS THE SIREN OFF.
JO: Well.... well Steve has already had his little toy train and....
JACK: I.... I.... this is my little toy fire engine.
JO: No, no, but I always wanted to buy you one and I just never got the chance.
JACK: I see, so better to give it now while the giving is good, right?
JO: Oh Jack, there's not a day that goes by that I haven't wanted to get to know you better, to talk to you, to give you things, to find out how you are....
JACK: Thank you very much but I've already got a fire engine. Thank you.
JO: You do?
JACK: Yes, yes, actually Jennifer has one I gave her to remind her of one of her more foolish exploits. She was getting ready to marry this.... ah, Emilio, and I saved her by.... well I faked a fire and I threw her into this fire truck. Well actually I suppose that she'll just.... she'll probably end up with....
JO: Listen I'm going to take this back and we'll get you something that you do like.
JACK GRABS THE FIRE ENGINE.
JACK: NO! No, don't do that. Don't do that. Ah, I'm.... I'm sure that this one is much nicer and perhaps the.... the child will like it.
JO: Well you keep it then.
JACK STARTS TO GET WORRIED BY THE EMOTION OF THE SCENE AND WALKS BACK BEHIND HIS DESK.
JACK: Yes.... well I'm very busy, if you'll excuse me.
JO: Jack, why don't you slow down?
JACK: I can't do that. Not if I want the Deveraux name to live on in more than infamy. I've got to get to work so that I can leave Jennifer in more than a state of bereavement and bankruptcy.
JO: I don't think Jennifer cares about that Jack.
JACK: Oh really! Then why does she continue to pretend that she doesn't know that I am dying?
JO: Do you still believe that?
JACK: I most certainly do. I tried to bring it up to her and she wouldn't talk about it.
JO: Are you sure?
JACK: Yes, I'm sure. It's very obvious to me.
JO: No, I'll tell you what is obvious. What is obvious to me is that if Jennifer.... knew, and she does not know but if she did know, she would want you to stop all this nonsense.
JACK: Then she wouldn't have anything after I was gone.
JO: Oh, yes she would. She would have the memory of a wonderful man that.... she would have the memory of a wonderful man that loved his family very much and would do anything for his family. That's what she would have.
JACK: Anything.... anything.
JO: Am I getting through to you at all?
JACK: Yes, yes, as a matter of fact you are. You're getting through loud and clear. Thank you very much. You're making a lot of sense. Thank you and I'm going to get right to it. I'm going to make sure I do anything.... anything for Jennifer. Thank you very much.
JO: I'll call.
HE TRIES TO HURRY JO OUT THEN HE HURRIES BACK TO HIS DESK AND PICKS UP THE PHONE AGAIN.
JACK: Hello, oh, are you still there? Yes, listen, this is me. I don't care what Vern says, you want to listen to me and the new owners of this paper. If we want to get big and sell more newspapers than anyone else, we have to.... we have to come up with bigger stories than Elvis, bigger than Big Foot, the biggest stories in tabloid history.
SCENE THREE: LATER THAT EVENING, JENNIFER IS DOWN AT THE STUDIO ON THE SET.
DAN: Where the hell is Jack? We're almost out of commercial. It looks like you're going to have to go on by yourself Sweetie.
JENNIFER: Ah, Dan I can't debate my....
DAN RUNS OFF AND IT IS RIGHT AT THAT TIME THAT JACK WALKS IN. HE IS PULLING ON HIS JACKET AND TALKING TO A REPORTER.
JACK: It's like I've been telling you on the phone. We need something fresher than those alien stories. Something like that.... like that haunted toilet story. Now that was inspired.
REPORTER: I'll get right on it, boss.
JACK: Boss. I like that. He called me boss.
DIRECTOR: Mr. Deveraux, Mr. Deveraux, please, we're counting down.
JACK: He called me boss.
DIRECTOR: We're counting down. In five, four, three....
JACK: Wait a minute.... WAIT.
DIRECTOR: .... two.
JACK JUST MANAGES TO TAKE HIS SEAT AS THE CAMERA GOES ON.
ANCHOR: Welcome back and it's now time for another section of Crossfire with the dueling Deverauxs.
JENNIFER: Thank you Crosby. Today we're going to talk about the dearth of morality in the market place.
JACK: What is this preoccupation with death on this show?
JENNIFER: I said dearth. And if anyone is preoccupied it's you Jack.
JACK: I am not.
HE LOOKS STRAIGHT IN THE CAMERA.
JACK: I'M NOT.
JENNIFER: As I was saying, or trying to, we cannot cut our ethics to suit today's lifestyle. I mean we have to think about the future, particularly the future of our children. I mean what kind of example are we setting for them? What, that greed is good, that the ends do justify the means, and whatever you do is okay as long as you don't get caught?
JACK: Now, wait a minute, wait a minute, I have something to say here. It's important to do what you have to do to survive.
JENNIFER: I'm not done.
JACK: You most certainly are. If you can't say something politically correct don't say anything at all, right? Well let me tell you something folks. LIFE AIN'T POLITICALLY CORRECT. It ain't a movie with a happy ending. It's like one of those.... those bumper stickers, you know the ones, well you know what they say. Life's a.... well it rhymes with witch and then you die. That's what it says and they're right.
JENNIFER: No they're not right.
JACK: Yes they are. (To the achor) Get out of my way.
JENNIFER: That's nothing but a bumper sticker. You don't believe a bumper sticker.
JACK: (To Jennifer) YES THEY ARE. WHY DON'T YOU JUST ADMIT IT. THAT'S WHAT IT SAYS. ADMIT IT.
HE SEES THE ANCHOR PICK UP A PIECE OF PAPER AND HE IS ANGRY WITH HIM TOO.
JACK: Put that down!
JENNIFER IS UPSET THAT JACK IS SO ANGRY AND BITTER ABOUT HIS LIFE.
JACK: Look at me, it's true, isn't it?
JENNIFER: No, it's not true.
JACK: Yes it is. Look at me, look at my life. Tell me that.
JENNIFER: Well do you really think that your life is that bad Jack?
JACK: Isn't it? (Beat) Well?
JENNIFER IS TOO UPSET TO GO AND SHE LEAVES THE SET.
JACK: Well I.... I rest my case.
DAN WHISPERS TO HER TO SEE IF SHE IS OKAY BUT SHE BRUSHES HIM ASIDE.
JACK: I rest my case, in front of....
DAN CREEPS UP TO THE SET BELOW THE CAMERA ANGLE.
JACK: What are you doing down there? Get out of here. I rest my case.
ANCHOR: And that's the news. Stay tuned for our evening edition with Tiffany Tyler and Brett Carlisle.
DIRECTOR: And we're clear.
JACK: We certainly are.
JACK GETS UP AND GOES OVER TO JENNIFER.
JENNIFER: Don't you talk to me, alright.
JACK: I'm sorry if I said some things that you didn't want to hear but please, I mean really, why are you acting like you are so surprised?
JENNIFER: Well I'm sorry that you think that your life is so horrible.
JACK: I'm sorry too but.... that's just the way it is.
JENNIFER: Heh.... I got to get out of here.
JACK: What do you mean, get out of here? You can't keep running away from it, Jennifer. You can't keep running away from....
SUDDENLY A HAND APPEARS IN FRONT OF HIS FACE AND RED SMOKE FILLS THE AIR.
SCENE FOUR: A HAD AND RED SMOKE HAS JUST APPEARED IN FRONT OF JACK'S FACE, IT IS HARPER DRESSED AS THE DEVIL WITH DUKE BY HIS SIDE ALSO DRESSED AS A DEVIL.
JACK: Oh my god.
DUKE: Wrong. How many times do we have to tell you not to use that kind of talk in front of us. The boss doesn't like it.
JACK: Ah, the boss?
JACK: Let me tell you something. You can just.... you can just go right back to the....
HARPER: No we can't. We're your guardian devils.
DUKE: That's right and we're here to tell you a couple of more shows like that one and you're finished.
HARPER: Yes, we're talking about this, here.
HARPER HANDS JACK A RED LEATHER BOOK.
JACK: What's.... this?
HARPER: It's a ledger of all the good and bad things you've done in your life. There's a record of each and every one.
JACK STARTS TO LEAF THROUGH IT.
JACK: Wait a minute.... wait a minute, there's.... there's only one good thing here.
HARPER: Marrying Jennifer.
DUKE: Yeah, even the big shots down below couldn't deny you that one.
HARPER: Yeah but unfortunately you just chalked up another one for the bad column.
JACK: Why, what for?
DUKE: For being rotten to Jennifer. Not that they don't deserve to be put in their place every now and then.
JACK: No, no, no, hey, wait a minute, wait a minute....
HARPER: No it's too late to make up for it now. Do the crime, do the time as they say.
JACK: Wait a minute, you're telling me that I'm going to end up in the devil's playground unless I find some way to make the good balance out the bad?
DUKE: That's right. You want to tip the scales in your favor Billy boy then you got to come up with a lot of goody good stuff.
JACK: Wait a minute, I've only got six months to live. How am I supposed to do that?
HARPER: I don't know. What do you think Duke?
DUKE: I'd say he stands as much chance as a snowball in hell.
HARPER AND DUKE THINK THAT PUN IS VERY FUNNY.
HARPER: Good one. Not original, but good.
JACK DOES NOT FIND IT FUNNY AT ALL. HARPER PICKS UP HIS POINTED DEVIL TAIL AND POINTS IT TOWARDS JACK.
JACK: Watch where you're pointing that thing. Now I know I've done quite a few not so nice things in my life but I've done more than one good thing.
HARPER: Such as?
JACK: Such as.... as.... as.... ah, there's ah....
DUKE: Yeah.... oh yeah.
JACK IS FRANTICALLY LEAFING THROUGH THE LEDGER LOOKING FOR GOOD THINGS.
JACK: And there's.... ah.... there's, ah....
DUKE: Right. Dryin' up BillyBoy?
JACK: No, no. Ah.... there's.... I've got it right....
Yes. I've got one. Very recently, so it must not be in the book yet, I baby-sat Stephanie. And I drove all over town to pick up that damn apple juice and even Kayla said that it was a good deed that I'd done.
HARPER: Huh, huh, doesn't count.
JACK: Doesn't count? Why not?
DUKE: Because Jennifer made you do it.
HARPER: And you couldn't stand to hear the kid crying. Good deeds only count when you do them without any self serving purpose in mind.
DUKE: That's right.
HARPER: Give me that.
HARPER TAKES BACK THE LEDGER.
JACK: Oh, like you two are the big experts.
DUKE: That's right, that's right. We are and nobody warned us. You've got six months to balance that ledger sonny boy.
HARPER: Or else there'll be....
HARPER AND DUKE: .... HELL TO PAY!
THEY BOTH FADE OUT LAUGHING AND JACK IS LEFT FEELING SCARED.
SCENE FIVE: JACK GOES BACK TO THE SPECTATOR WHERE JENNIFER IS DOING SOME RESEARCH.
JACK: Did you come to apologize?
JACK: Did you come to apologize for walking out on me the way that you did?
JENNIFER: No, I came here to research a story. If anybody owes anybody an apology, it's you Jack.
JACK: Look I am.... I'm sorry that we have to talk about this, this way but.... I don't think there's any reason for you to be angry at me. I mean it's not my fault.
JENNIFER: Oh, okay so it's my fault?
JACK: No, it's not your fault either. It's not anybody's fault. It's just.... it's just life, you know.
JENNIFER: I happen to think we have a very nice life. (Beat) I mean we don't have any money but we have each other. We have a baby coming. And I really wish that you would stop being so mean to me. I really do.
JACK: I am not being mean to you. I want that stricken from the record.
JACK: Nothing, I just.... I just.... for the record, I was not being mean to you.
JENNIFER: Yes you were. And I'm not just talking about the show, I am talking about this job. You are so obsessed with it. That's all you do anymore Jack. I hardly ever see you and when I do see you, you don't pay any attention. You are constantly worried about money and our future. What's happening to you?
JACK IS PUZZLED BY HER COMMENTS BECAUSE HE WAS SURE THAT SHE KNEW HE WAS DYING.
JACK: You don't know, do you?
JENNIFER: Know what?
JACK: You know.
JENNIFER: No, I don't.
JACK: No, I guess you don't.
JENNIFER: You know you are not making any sense to me Jack.
JACK: I know I'm not making any sense. I'm not.... I haven't been making any sense and I'm sorry. I just realized right now how sorry I am. I am very sorry for everything that's happened. Jennifer, I'm sorry.
JENNIFER: Well you know, that's not always good enough.
JACK: What do you mean, it's not good enough?
JENNIFER: I mean it's different this time. You really hurt me this time Jack.
SHE WALKS AWAY.
JACK: Wait.... she's right. They're right. Harper and Duke, they're right. I hurt her, I hurt her. I.... did it. Good god I.... that's it. Good god, do you hear me up there? Do you hear me up there? I need some help.... fast. I need help.
HE GETS NO SIGN AND IS FRUSTRATED.
JACK (CONT.) : Fine....Fine!
HE WALKS OVER AND PICKS UP THE PHONE. AS HE IS DIALING, HE NOTICES A SIGN ON HIS DESK AND HE PICKS IT UP. IT SAYS: GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES.
JACK (CONT.): God helps those who help themselves. (Beat) This must be some kind of message, huh. Well if this is the message, I got it, I got it. Loud and clear. And I can change. I can change and I will change. I absolutely will change. You've got my word of honor. I swear.... I swear on the ground that I'm standing on. BY GOD I SWEAR.... I WILL NEVER BE MEAN AGAIN.