Monday, February 15, 2010

Harter Union: Part Two, Chapter 3

I was lying on the red tile floor with my face in a mop bucket full of water. The staff circled around me and stared in awe.

“What a waste…” Phil said solemnly. The staff nodded in agreement, “…of perfectly good mop water.” The staff looked at Phil in disbelief. “Too soon?” he shrugged.

It was the beginning of a new week and I had just finished my Night Court reunion TV-movie script and was anxious to send it off. Night Court was that television show on NBC during the eighties. I loved that show and when Night Court came on, you had better shut up or get out. I sent copies to NBC, Reinhold Weege, the creator, and to stars Harry Anderson and John Larroquette.

It was a straightforward script but had a lot of heart from a die-hard fan and I honestly didn’t expect a response from anybody so after I mailed it, I spent the next month doing what I normally did: working at Baker, and returning home to my shack at night but what awoke me one morning would be the greatest thing in my life.

The knocking on my door was loud and seeing how it was seven in the morning, I automatically figured it was someone from work. I answered the door and saw a man standing there with light brown hair, glasses, in a colorful shirt and blue jeans. I recognized him immediately.

“Harry Anderson?” I asked in awe and trying to get my eyes to adjust.

“The one and only. Not to be confused with that baseball player. Are you Jefferson Franklin?” he asked, holding up the envelope that once held my script.

“Uh…yeah. Pleased to meet you, Mr. Anderson,” I nervously opened the door wider and moved aside. “Won’t you please come in?” I invited.

Harry took a quick glance into my apartment and sneered. “I would expect a Night Court fan to live in a place like this…maybe some other time. Anyway, I read your script but I, honestly, don’t think it would work as a TV special but I do think, after a couple minor tweaks, it would work on Broadway!”

“Broadway? Would the original cast be in it?” I asked.

“Oh, hell, no! We’ll get a nice mix of fresh faces and washed up actors to be in it but I was able to get everybody on board as producers.”

“Really?” I was getting incredibly excited.

“They’re flying out right now so we can put on a show right here in Billings.”



“Why do you want to put on a show here?” I asked, skeptical of what was going on.

“Midwesterners are open-minded and performing amidst the cornfields and barley and whatever else Kansas has would be a good springboard to actually get on Broadway. I’m going back to my hotel and work out some of the kinks in script but I’ll be back this weekend and we’ll do a dress rehearsal to see how it’ll look. Just pick some friends or family and we’ll see how it looks before we actually hire actors. I’ll see you this weekend, Jack,” Harry turned and headed to his limo.


“Jermaine!” Harry got in the limo and shut the door. The limo then sped off.

When the weekend arrived, I was elated and spent plenty of time helping who I chose go over lines and setting up the cafeteria for the rehearsal. Alyson, Phil, Nathan, Aaron and Wendy were the people I chose for the cast.

“Jeff, this is stupid,” Alyson complained. “Why are you making us do this?”

“I want to impress Mr. Anderson and get out of this stink hole berg and, and this is very important to me and besides that, I’m your boss.”

The staff groaned.

“Okay, Ricky, we’re here,” Harry said, coming into the cafeteria from the double doors. “I’m sure you recognize Markie Post, John Larroquette, Richard Moll, Charlie Robinson, and Marsha Warfield.”

“Of course, and it’s a pleasure to meet each and every one of you,” I said. “Well, this is the cast I have picked out: Alyson Cambridge will play Christine…”

“Her breasts aren’t big enough!” interrupted Markie.

“Her breasts are perfectly fine, Miss Post. Anyway, Phil Bazine will play Dan.”

“Where’s the premature gray hair?” asked John Larroquette.

“He’s only 24, Mr. Larroquette! Nathan Yates will be playing Mac and Wendy Halstead will be Roz. Aaron McPherson will be Bull.”

“They’re not black!” exclaimed Marsha.

“I’m aware of that, Miss Warfield but…” I began.

“I’m not going to have a skinny white girl play Roz.”

“Nuh-uh! Me neither, we’ll play the characters ourselves,” Mr. Robinson said.

Richard Moll stood in front of Aaron and looked down on him. “I guess he does lumbar a bit…” Richard said and stomped away.

“Here’s that water you asked for, Jeff,” said Jason, wheeling the mop bucket into the cafeteria.

“Thank you, Jason. Let’s get this rolling people!” I shouted. We began the rehearsal with Harry, Markie, John and Richard watching on. It wasn’t even my script anymore. Harry had just turned it into an average episode. A bad average episode. It was just a bunch of cases and my only line as Judge Harold T. Stone was “fifty dollar fine and time served.” When it was all over, I pulled Harry off to the side to talk to him about it. “Harry, I have to talk to you…”

“It’s brilliant isn’t it?”

“Well, no. This isn’t even my script anymore. It’s just a bunch of amalgamated, rehashed series episodes and…”

“You have just made a big mistake, Clark. Richard, get over here!” Harry called.

Richard lumbered over. “Yo.”

“Take care of Mr. Franklin for me. We’re through here.”

The cast of Night Court walked out as Richard pushed me down and I landed face-first in the mop bucket. The staff circled around me and stared in awe.

“What a waste…” said Phil solemnly. The staff nodded in agreement, “…of perfectly good mop water.” The staff looked at Phil in disbelief. “Too soon?” he shrugged.

Jeff's ex-fiancee comes to Baldwin; Alyson moves out and Maggie thinks she's pregnant.