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A boy meets a girl and breaks his leg in this "screenplay" from acclaimed humorist Larry Doyle.

A Fine Rom-Com

Ext. Fifth Avenue—Day

It's Christmastime in the city. Busy sidewalks bustle with ASSORTED NEW YORK TYPES bearing gifts for loved ones.

SHE, however, has no loved one, despite her quirky spunk, her oversized eyes and supernatural breasts. The packages she struggles with are for her boss, the imperious fashion editor RUE DE VINTER, unless we get Streep, then either imperious network anchor or imperious chef, or perhaps not chef but something imperious.

The girl is running late, on heels as high as she is. She turns the corner, and WHAM! Sax bags take flight.

Sprawled on the sidewalk, she finds herself entwined with HE, his mischievous hair mussed, his crooked smile lightly saucy, his peckish eyes grazing her bountiful face.

HE (BEDAZZLED): You... you're...

SHE: What are you staring at?

HE: Uh--

SHE: I had a harelip, okay? They fixed it, four times as a matter of fact, but it's never going to be perfect and I'm fine with that. Still, you know, it's not fun being gawked at like I'm in some human zoo.

HE (RISING IN AN ADORABLY AWKWARD FASHION) Sorry. (OFFERS HIS LARGE HAND) Here, let me help you—

SHE: No, thank you. It's cosmetic. I'm not crippled.


Ext. Rockefeller Center—Night

He walks soulfully through the square, glancing down upon all the in-love skaters with their valentines. "I don't need a date to go skating," his impish expression clearly states.

The Rink—Moments Later

He totters onto the ice, his zany inexperience foreshadowing a dark family secret. He flails, then WHAM!

She and he are together again, she too having defied the love gods with a brave solo skate on February 14. Recognizing his fabulous hair, she laughs like a new-fallen snow angel.

SHE: Funny running into you.

HE: Oh, Christ.

SHE: I know, I know. I was so rude before. It's my boss, she--

HE: No, it's my leg. Jesus, it hurts.

SHE: Are you okay?

HE: God, God. I think it's broken. Jesus.

SHE: It's probably just a sprain.

HE: I broke a bone. I broke a bone! I broke a bone! I BROKE A BONE! I BROKE A BONE! I BROKE A BONE!


Ext. Central Park—Day

She runs, as if escaping herself. Even in this funky so-old-it's-new jogging suit, we can see that her breasts are ample.

It's hot. There's an ice cream cart. She deserves a reward, after the life she has been through.

SHE: That banana flavor, whatever it's called.

HE: Chunky Monkey.

That voice. It's him, his face now covered with luxuriant fur.

SHE (UNDER HER BREATH, BREATHY): Hunky Monkey.

HE: What?

SHE: You grew a beard.

HE: You lost weight.

SHE: Not that much.

HE: How much?

SHE (SUBJECT-CHANGING LAUGH): I never caught your name.

HE: Jerry.

SHE (LAUGHING WITH INCREASED SEXUAL INTEREST): Not Jerry of Ben & Jerry?

HE: He's my father.

SHE: Wow. You're Jerry, Jr.?

HE: No, the other one. I'm Ben's Jerry.

SHE: That is incredible.

HE: Why, because you assumed I was just some thirty-six-year-old pathetic loser washout reduced to peddling obesity and premature death to children?

SHE: I didn't say that.

HE: Not with your mouth.

SHE: What about my mouth?

HE: Nothing. It's a great mouth.

SHE (LAUGHING SO SHE WON'T CRY, FOR SO MANY REASONS, BUT SPECIFICALLY FOR HIM, ZOOEY CAN DO THIS IN HER SLEEP, OR IT MIGHT WORK BETTER WITHOUT THE LAUGH): Hey, how's your leg?

HE: Mostly metal.


Ext. Times Square—Night

The bus crawls up Broadway, an unusual route out of the city, but that's where it's taking her, away from this

place, this life, away from her imperious boss, who was not a real softy inside after all, and away from him, wherever he is.

There he is. Standing in the falling rain. Gazing back at her.

The bus lurches forward. He runs after it.

Inside the bus, everyone begins cheering, instinctively grasping the whole backstory. They yell at the driver to stop, but he's an irascible old coot, maybe Morgan Freeman.

He runs. The bus picks up speed. His left leg clangs with pangs of love and bone pain. And still he runs.

The bus turns a corner. He runs, like before but with more score.

He stops, panting languidly. His shirt is soaked through. He's in amazing shape.

The bus is gone.

He is really disappointed.

His depth of focus shifts and she appears, in the middle of the street where he was just looking, the hot rain streaming down her face, or are they tears, or rain mixed with tears in a perfect storm of rom-comance? That.

He trots to her.

HE (LOOKING INTO HER EYES, JUST ABOVE THEM, SO IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE HE'S STARING AT HER MOUTH): Can we go back, back before I ran into you, back before you ran into me and broke my leg, back before the ice cream you never paid for, back when you were just a girl and I was just a boy, and we met and it was cute? Can we begin again?

SHE (SMILES THAT SMILE IN HER CONTRACT): No.

HE: Wait, what? No? I just ran after you, for several blocks in the summer rain, and then I had that whole speech, which I composed while running after you in the rain. That was some seriously romantic shit. And you say, no?

SHE: I was going to say, "No, we can't begin again because we've already begun."

HE: Oh.

SHE: If you had given me a chance.

HE: Fuck.

SHE: And I didn't break your stupid leg.

HE: Okay, the mood is broken, my bad, but we're still in New York, the most romantic city for miles around, and it is raining on us. Could we please start over?

SHE: I would like that very much.

HE (OFFER HIS WARM, WET HAND): Hi, I'm Jerry. And you are?

SHE: Helen.

HE: That's my mother's name.

About the Author

Larry Doyle's most recent book is Deliriously Happy and Other Bad Thoughts. He had his own vanity url, larrydoyle.com, before it was cool.