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3. INT: ART’S HOUSE 4:40 PM
PAN – Art is sitting at the kitchen table dazed. The doorbell rings and Art gets up and shuffles to the door. He opens the door slowly.
HENRY Hello. My name is Henry. I don’t believe we ever met…
ART Hmmm… Okay.
HENRY I have some bad news. I’m sorry, but I found your cat Schrodinger in my yard…
ART Hmmm… Can I see my cat.
Henry hands over the box.
ART(CON’T) Why is my cat hard like this? Frozen?
HENRY To keep him fresh.
ART Fresh? What the hell! How long has my cat been frozen?
HENRY Oh, just two days. I was trying to figure out the proper way to…
ART You could have just brought Schrodinger over when you found him.
HENRY I was confused on how to do it in the most sensitive manner.
ART You’re a very confused man!
Art starts to close the door.
HENRY Have you thought about taxidermy?
“The Meaningful Life of Art and Henry”
By Edward Reid
Many people are searching for some meaning or purpose in their life whether they realize it or not. “The Meaningful Life of Art and Henry” is a dark comedy about two peculiar and unusual neighbors brought together through subtle, yet seemingly odd circumstances. While facing their own struggles, each begins helping the other find purpose in their bleak existence.
Art, a reclusive widower, who has been repressing the memory of a horrific incident that happened a few years ago and consequently, is struggling with alcohol abuse. His only comfort has been his cat Schrodinger, who he loves dearly. Art’s neighbor Henry is a recently unemployed curator of a puppet museum, who was fired due to an “episode” involving the mutilation of some very valuable exhibits. As a result, Henry is now required to take “therapeutic” classes. Henry also must deal with an emotionally abusive, cheating wife named Hannah. Henry’s wife Hannah is a self-described “Poetess of untapped potential”, who’s work includes such lines as “Who am I? Glory-hole… Am I just a story without a role?”
Our story begins when Henry finds Art’s dead cat, Schrodinger in his yard and proceeds to preserve it in his kitchen freezer, while contemplating a sensitive way to tell Art that he’s found his deceased pet. Hannah comes upon it before Henry has time to remove the cat, and demands Henry to return it to Art or trash it. Henry awkwardly delivers the frozen Schrodinger to a despondent Art and while Henry tries to clarify the issue he is abruptly asked to leave. A few hours later, Henry returns to Art’s home to explain that he is sorry for freezing Schrodinger, and he would like to make amends, maybe share some coffee and get to know each other better. Art softens and let’s Henry into his home. After a bit, Henry explains that he has to leave soon for “a class” which prompts Art inquires as to “what kind of class”. Henry awkwardly explains, “It’s therapeutic”, embarrassed by the fact it is actually an Anger Management Meeting. However, Henry decides to open up and explain to Art that he had been fired for “losing it” when he was mocked by third graders as he was taking them on the museum tour, which resulted in the destruction of half the Jim Henson Muppet Collection.
Moved by Henry’s openness, Art proposes it’s time for them to share beers, not coffee. As the two new found friends are sharing a beer Art subtlety asks Henry about the “long-haired hippie guy” who coincidently comes over when Henry goes to class. Prompting Henry to realize it is not the female “spirit-guide” his wife alluded to that is coming to assist her, but actually a secret lover. Just then, Hannah bangs at the door and comes storming in demanding Henry get “to class”, but Henry thinks quickly and replies he cannot, because of his drinking, he is not “legally allowed” to drive, causing Hannah to be even more irate.
Throughout the following days, the two men grow to know each other on a more personal level. Henry convinces Art help him by driving Arts car, and to disguise themselves, then follow Hannah to one of her artsy “poetry” readings to discover what is really going on. It is here where Henry learns Hannah goes by the pseudonym “Dream Tigress” and is in fact, cheating on him with an eccentric special needs “Vision Board” artist named Percival who fancies himself by using obscure words like “raggabash”. However, Hannah soon recognizes Art and Henry despite their feeble disguises, calls Henry out in front of the entire audience telling him “it’s over” and she “wants him to move out” to rub salt into Henry’s wound she boldly announces “Percival is moving in.” Art, now moved by these events, tells Henry to move into his house.
Later, in a seemingly macabre, but symbolic gesture, Art decides to have a taxidermist stuff and mount Schrodinger, to mark a new chapter in his life. As their story unfolds these two unique and distinctly different souls begin to bond further and they decide it’s time to start living again and make an effort to enjoy life and “Seize the Day”. Art decides to take action and brings Henry to a local pub. There, Art performs a seemingly innocuous card trick for their waitress, a hearing impaired, and stunningly beautiful Russian women named Galina. The trick culminates with Art providing Henry’s phone number on a card randomly selected by the beautiful Galina, embarrassing Henry, but at the same time lightening his mood and lifting his spirits.
The two continue to become more trusting of each other and Art soon confides “his past” to Henry, sharing his previous employment as an Air Traffic Control manager, a very stressful and demanding job, as well as being an amateur “magician”, while even going as far to share the true source of his pain and subsequent self medication through alcohol. Taking Art’s plight into account, Henry convinces him that he should try out a twelve step meeting because of his excessive drinking. Art concedes to go and learns the meaning of “powerlessness” that night. In an effort to deal with his issues, Art decides it is time to meet with the parents of the person his son killed in a drunk driving incident. Whiling meeting with the parents, Art feels he needs to explain that he was drinking with his son the night of the accident, and asks for forgiveness. However, none is given and this is a painful consequence Art will have to learn to live with.
“The Meaningful Life of Art and Henry” is a provocative story about two very distinctive individuals on a quest to “find something” bigger than themselves. Both men have been disenfranchised by people and the world in general. Facing life altering circumstances, Art and Henry are determined to make a brave attempt at beginning a new life seeking purpose and meaning. It is a winding road with valleys and peaks which viewers will relate to, empathize with, and follow with interest and curiosity as the journey continues for these lovable characters.