In 2013 I participated in the NYCMidnight Short Screenplay competition. In this challenge, writers were grouped into heats and wrote in two rounds before advancing (or not). Maximum length for each screenplay was five pages, and my prompts in this round were Ghost Story / A Convention / A Gallon of Ice Cream. Here’s my entry:
“Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold”
An ice cream mogul plans a surprise milestone celebration. Little does he know that the
company co-founder he murdered is dishing up a surprise of his own.
EXT – FADE IN TO SIGN ON ENTRANCE OF “LAST CALL” BAR
INT – “LAST CALL” BAR
A GHOST (50s male, average build) sits at the bar. There are screens all
around, showing various sites from their former lives on earth.
A BARTENDER (70s male, wearing an apron) wipes down the bar.
Tune that into Wisconsin in the USA, would ya?
The Milwaukee Convention Center. Thanks.
What are we watching?
Well, the time has finally come for me to pay back an old debt.
I want a front seat for the action.
You know – I told you how I got here, didn’t I?
My partner did it. We were just starting out…
FLASHBACK – INT – OFFICE
GHOST and MAN 1 (50s, average build) are in shirt sleeves, looking at plans.
When I discovered a big mistake and told my partner,
instead of spending the money to fix it…
FLASHBACK – INT – SAME OFFICE, LATER
GHOST and Man 1 are talking, the latter very agitated and upset.
…he had me killed and made it look like an accident.
EXT – NIGHT – DESERTED STRETCH OF DARK ROAD
GHOST is in car that is run off the road; it crashes and burns.
INT – “LAST CALL” BAR
I’ve been patient for 10 years, waiting for just the right time and place for
justice to finally be served… and that day is here. Let’s watch the fun.
(Camera pans to close-up of TV, which transitions to:)
EXT. – DAY – OUTSIDE OF MILWAUKEE CONVENTION CENTER
Dairy Farmers Annual Convention – October 28-30
INT. – BANQUET ROOM
The room is filled with hundreds of people seated at round tables. TV cameras and reporters/
photographers are heavily in evidence. Lunch has been served, and the keynote speaker,
MAN 1, is at the podium near the dais table set up on a stage at the end of the room.
He is in the middle of the keynote speech.
This is a big day for our company, and we know we wouldn’t be the
number one ice cream maker in the world without the dairy industry!
(Applause from audience)
So we decided there was no better way to recognize and reward the important role you all
have played than by doing something special at your annual convention. Bring out the ice cream!
(An army of waiters enter the room as if choreographed, carrying trays with small golden
containers, and begin placing them in front of people.
As the waiters are working, MAN 2 rolls out a cart to the
podium, with a larger, matching gold container.)
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure my longtime partner in crime needs no introduction.
(laughter from audience)
He has been in the kitchen, guarding this very precious cargo
— our one millionth gallon of ice cream!
(Tremendous applause erupts)
We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to share this with you.
You have a replica of this milestone treat at your place, so without further delay, dig in!
INT. – “LAST CALL” BAR
Really, vanilla? I think a special occasion like this needs something a little more exciting.
(He snaps his fingers)
INT – BANQUET ROOM
As people open their gold containers, vanilla ice cream transforms into all manner of
disgusting items – worms, cockroaches, flies, blood, eyeballs… Pandemonium ensues,
as people scream, some vomit, and most try to run from the horrific chaos.
Next to the podium, the ice cream in the millionth gallon container has also transformed —
into dozens of rattlesnakes, and we see them attack MAN 1 en masse.
INT – HOSPITAL ROOM
MAN 1 is in a hospital bed, comatose. MAN 2 speaks to him as if he can hear.
It’s bad. Really bad. We’re ruined. The reporters caught everything.
They’re saying it was some kind of Halloween stunt gone bad.
People were trampled, one woman died.
(yelling and shaking MAN 1)
You have to pull through. I don’t know anything about the company — you’ve always
done everything. I don’t even know why you made me a partner. I can’t save it without you.
(MAN 2 sobs as scene fades out)
INT – “LAST CALL” BAR
BARTENDER and GHOST are still in their places, but watching
the door. MAN 1 enters, looking afraid and confused.
Where am I? What the hell is going on?
(he recognizes GHOST)
You! What are you doing here? Does this mean I’m…
I’m afraid so. I’ve been waiting a long time to see you and set things straight.
What do you mean?
Oh, come on. You know what you did. We were partners, equals. More than
that, we were friends. And all it took was one mistake to turn you
from an ice cream maker to a murderer.
So what are you going to do?
Nothing. My work is done. And just to show there’s no hard feelings, I
think I know what will make you feel more at home.
(reaches over bar to grab a small ice cream container)
You know Ben,
(handing him the container)
you should have just had the typo fixed and the cartons reprinted.
(Camera closes in on ice cream carton, which displays the logo:)