Uncle Harlow is Dead: Part 1

A few years ago, way back before I knew proper script formatting, I was asked by a classmate to write a short film script for his group. Events out of my control prevented me from sending this in on time, but I looked through it and decided it’s worth putting out there. Enjoy!

CHARACTERS

PALMIRA WEIGAND

Lines: 90

An overworked graduate student. Bitter and busy. She’s a huge fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, and is studying to be an astrophysicist just like him. She’s a try-hard, but please don’t tell her that.
AMANDA WEIGAND

Lines: 87

A dutiful 10-year-old cousin to Palmira. Loves her family. Takes matters seriously and expects to be taken seriously. Has little to no filter.
HARLOW WEIGAND

Lines: 2

A lazy man who tried to act wiser than he really was. Spent his time in the land of the living drinking, watching TV, and trying to hide his fat. Not appearing in this film.

SETTING

A spacious house in the countryside.

*********************************************

INT: Drab basement. Day.

PALMIRA WEIGAND sleeps at her desk, on top of her pile of astrophysics books and papers. Most of the room’s light comes from one window, a light that pierces the air over a large TV. PALMIRA wakes up and tries to read, but can’t keep her eyes open. She rests her head again, lightly pounding her book in frustration. We hear footsteps approaching down the stairs. PALMIRA wakes up and goes back to reading from her textbook. AMANDA WEIGAND runs in clutching a book by its cover.

AMANDA

I found it!

PALMIRA

I don’t have the time.

AMANDA

It’s the treasure hunt! It’s Uncle Harlow’s last wish!

PALMIRA

Oh. Wonderful.

AMANDA

You don’t even know what I’m talking about, do you?

PALMIRA

Yes I do. I know all about it. It’s wonderful. Now please, I’ve already lost half of spring break.

AMANDA

This is really important. I mean it this time. Please? I’ll leave you alone after this, I swear!

PALMIRA

I’m not trying to get rid of you.

AMANDA

You are! You told my dad I was too old to be babysat, and then you run off here to do your astriophissics or whatever!

PALMIRA

Ok, ok, I’ll listen.

AMANDA

Ok. You know when Uncle Harlow died, my mom looked through his will, where he says the last stuff he wants us to do and have…

PALMIRA

I know what a will is.

AMANDA

Well in the will, my mom found these instructions for a treasure hunt in this house. He said that if we complete the hunt we’ll ‘understand his life story’ and hear his last words. But we never found the first clue until just now! It was deep in his pile of old books.

PALMIRA

So if I finish this treasure hunt for you, you’ll let me study.

AMANDA

Yes!

PALMIRA stands up, reaches over the TV, and pulls out a sheet of paper from the tangle of cables resting there.

PALMIRA

Found it.

AMANDA

What? You cheated!

PALMIRA

I found it by accident two years ago. Look, “The Last Words of Uncle Harlow:”

AMANDA

La la la la la la la la la la can’t hear you!

PALMIRA

That was a good hunt. Thanks, Amanda.

AMANDA

C’mon, we gotta do this! It’s what he wanted!

PALMIRA

All Harlow wanted-

AMANDA

Uncle Harlow.

PALMIRA

All Uncle Harlow wanted was to watch TV 24-7. I bet all his clues ended up behind there.

AMANDA

You’re mean! Harlow planned this for us!

PALMIRA

I’ve got plans too. We played last Sunday. That was good enough for both of us.

PALMIRA starts taking notes in her book. AMANDA lets out a high-pitched screech, jolting PALMIRA’S pen. After a hyperventilation, AMANDA screams again.

PALMIRA

Christ! Grow up!

AMANDA

We’re doing this the right way, for Uncle Harlow. It’s what grown-ups do.

PALMIRA

Fine, fine, you’re right. I still reserve the right to walk out.

AMANDA

Yay! Ok, here’s what I found: “Congratulations, my ‘only friends’! This is the beginning of my posthumous scavenger hunt. As Bilbo would say, ‘If you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ They say beginnings are important because that’s where things begin.”

PALMIRA rolls her eyes, scoffs.

AMANDA

Stop that!

PALMIRA

Sorry.

AMANDA

“Members of the Weigand tribe, you are about to go on an important quest, and learn about your dear Uncle Harlow’s life. You may not be prepared for the truth, but it is my truth. Adjust your thinking caps, it’s time for a riddle!

This starts the last part of my last will.

Begin at the site of Jack and Jill.”

Hmmmm… I wonder… it could be…

PALMIRA

(disbelief over obviousness of clue)

It’s a hill.

AMANDA

Yeah, I guess so.

EXT: Hill within walking distance of the house. Day.

AMANDA and PALMIRA climb up the hill. PALMIRA carries a shovel.

PALMIRA

Wow, what hard work. Think of all of the precious seconds he sacrificed for that ingenious riddle!

Am I being too sarcastic?

AMANDA

Yeah.

PALMIRA

Ok, sorry, that’s beneath me.

AMANDA

You should be nice to Uncle Harlow. I try really hard on things too, especially art class since my brother says I stink at it. I showed everyone my painting of a big party and everyone else said it was good, so I’m gonna make more.

PALMIRA

I just don’t know what to do. We know how this ends…

AMANDA

You know.

PALMIRA

… and none of us liked him. It’s why we don’t send monkeys to space anymore. We know what happens and no one wants to clean up the mess. Do you remember when you used to call him “Smelly Uncle?”

AMANDA

He’s my smelly uncle.

PALMIRA

Barely. I’m not sure you caught on to this, but when he claimed he’d forgotten our birthdays on purpose so he could surprise us later? He was lying. He’d actually forget.

AMANDA

He gave me that collector’s edition Hannah Montana: The Movie, and he’d share all those spicy chips with me.

PALMIRA

He gave a little, I guess. I suppose I should be grateful too.

AMANDA

My teacher tells me that gratitude is the sign of civilization.

PALMIRA

Oh, that reminds me. Thank you notes for my interviewers. Another thing I should be doing.

The two girls reach the top of the hill.

PALMIRA

Now I’m not sure if you’ve gone digging before, but it’s not as easy as it looks. If he’s any good at this, then he probably dug it in deep.

PALMIRA sticks her shovel into the ground. It only goes in half an inch before hitting a loud CLUNK.

PALMIRA

Huh. Well, this is Harlow we’re talking about.

PALMIRA and AMANDA soon dig up the box from its shallow hole.

AMANDA

Ok, let’s go. I’ve done a bunch of riddles before, even though I needed my mom’s help with my riddle book. I bet that last clue was just a warm-up.

PALMIRA

Sure.

AMANDA

I’m serious!

AMANDA pulls out a note from the box, which is a rusty, space-themed vintage lunchbox.

AMANDA

“When I was young, I would run to this hill if I ever needed to be alone. One day, an eight-year old me ran up here and didn’t want to go back down. My parents wouldn’t let me watch TV, they wanted me to find a goal for my life. That night, the moon came up full. A voice in my head gave me a purpose: to meet this voice one day on the moon. I looked through the newspapers and concluded that this voice belonged to Neil Armstrong.”

PALMIRA

Sounds like the plot of some weird kid’s cartoon.

AMANDA

“Is a nest where birds find their rest?

What room in the house do I hold ABOVE the rest?”

PALMIRA

Oh come on. Attic.

AMANDA

Now let’s see… it’ll be on the upper floors of the house…

PALMIRA

Attic.

AMANDA

It’s near where birds build their nests…

PALMIRA

Attic.

AMANDA

He likes the room…

PALMIRA

I’ve found this one too. It’s in the attic.

AMANDA

Ok, fine! It’s the stupid attic! Jeez!

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2.

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2 thoughts on “Uncle Harlow is Dead: Part 1

  1. Pingback: Uncle Harlow is Dead: Part 2 | Word Salad Spinner

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