The Last Word (2017) Script

Louis, no, no, no, no.

You do not trim these hedges from top to bottom, but from bottom to top, as we've discussed.

I understand, Ms. Lauler...

And I do not want bushy hedges.

You do not want bushy hedges.

We talked about this.

We have. Yes. Many times.

All right, I'll trim the bushes myself.

Give it to me.

Yes. Thank you.

And you can cut the grass.

You cut the grass yesterday. In a diamond pattern.

Yes.

Then I guess you can go.

Thank you.

Oh! These are not sharp.

Look, Louis, you have to have these sharp.

I'll look in the truck. Please.

Mmm-hmm.

Oh.

This is much more to my liking.

Looks good.

Thank you for your approval.

Yeah. Yeah, we keep them on the floor, so that's perfect.


Thanks, dean


Hello, Ms. Lauler, I'm Dr. Morgan.

It says here this was an accident.

Well, do you think I'm lying or just simply can't read?

Ms. Lauler, I'm just doing my job.

These gowns? You call these gowns?

If I was wheeled out in a wheelchair, would you call that my chariot?

Ma'am... Don't call me "ma'am."

You never call a woman "ma'am."

That makes her feel old. I'm sorry.

You're sorry? Oh, you're so sorry.

You washed down four clonazepam with a bottle of red wine.

Yes. I was sleepy and I was thirsty.

You don't strike me as the type of person who does anything by accident, okay?

That's what it seems like to me.

What I'm experiencing here.

So, I'm going to do some tests. Okay?

And if you have a problem with that, I don't care.


Hi, this Anne Sherman.


Do you know who I am?

Yes.

Uh, no. Your predecessor did.

Your predecessor knew me very well.

My father? Lam Harriet Lauler.

And for the better part of the last 25 years this newspaper stayed in the black because of the media buys that I purchased every month.

Lauler Advertising.

Of course. Uh, what can I do for you, Ms. Lauler?

I request a formal introduction.

Okay.

My name is Ronald Odom. I'm the editor-in-chief.

I attended the school of journalism at Ohio University. Mr. Odom.

I married Katie Sparrow. She kept her name.

Mr. Odom. I do not require the formal introduction to you.

Hey. Hey. Wha...

Come with me. Why?

'Cause I'm your boss.

Are you firing me? You should be so lucky.

Come on, come on, come On.

Ms. Lauler, this is Anne Sherman.

Ms. Sherman.

Let us have the room, please.

Please sit down. Oh, I'm cool.

Well, be that as it may, I wish you would sit down because I have a job offer to discuss with you.

I have a job.

Hmm.

Sit down, Ms. Sherman.

Lois Schenken was a bitch.

"Lois Schenken, "a tireless animal rights advocate, "passed away last night at the age of 78."

Right, Lois Schenken. I wrote that.

Yes.

Do you know why Lois Schenken loved animals so much?

Because people hated her.

They hated her parties, they hated her gossiping, and they hated her costume jewelry.

Only homeless dogs could bear to be around Lois Schenken for longer than seven minutes.

Well, the people that I spoke to had nothing but kind things to say about her.

She was dead and they were being polite.

"Eugene Baker, with a song not just in his heart, "but always on his lips.

"Eugene Baker sang his way

"into the lives of all who met him."

Do you know why he sang so much?

He was a drunk.

Okay, well, that's not something that I was going to write in his obituary.

"After a long illness, "Mary Ramos passed away this morning.

"She left an indelible mark on all..."

Yeah, right. She had syphilis, I know.

That's not something that you want to memorialize.

I knew these people.

I'm... I'm sorry for your losses.

No, these were awful people.

Well, I'm... I'm not sorry then.

But you made them sound as though they were magnificent.

You made their lives sound full of achievement.

That's what you'll be doing for me.

You want me to write your obituary?

That's what I want.

Okay. Well, lam the obituary writer, so when the time comes, I will be writing your obituary.

I want you to write it now.

Huh.

Is Ron coming back?

That's the wrong question.

The right question is, "Why?"

Why?

Good question. Thanks.

Ms. Sherman, I'm a reasonable woman.

I have never been surprised about anything.

And I've never found myself in a situation that I couldn't handle.

So, as a reasonable woman, the thought of leaving my obituary to chance is completely unreasonable to me.

But that is what everybody does.

That is what people have been doing for hundreds of years.

If I had motivated myself by what other people thought and did, I would not have achieved what I've achieved.

And I've achieved a great deal.

How my achievements are memorialized by you is of great interest to me.

Okay.

Here's the names of a few hundred people.

I've taken the trouble to alphabetize them.

Also, restaurants are listed that they might like to go to while they discuss me with you.

What...

What about family?

I have a daughter, and I haven't spoken to her in many years.

Okay.

There's an ex-husband. He's a jackass.

Right, all right. What's... What's the timeline that we're looking at?

Monday.

No. Yes.

I want it by Monday. I have plans.

You're excused. Go. That's what I want.

Hey. She puts the "bitch" in obituary.

I understand. I don't think you do, Ron.

You got to do it. What? Why?

Because at one time, this woman was a real friend of the paper.

And if she were to extend that friendship at the time of her passing, that would be extremely helpful to all of us.

What are you saying? I'm saying look around.

I mean... We're in trouble here.

The digital age wasn't a fad.

I mean, who knew, right? Everybody.

Why do you all say that?

Are you saying I could lose my job?

I'm saying we could all lose our jobs.

Okay. So what am I supposed to do?

Make her happy.


This is Robin Sands for KOXA.

Hello, Robin Sands.

Playing independent music for independent minds. For independent minds.

How long were you and Harriet married?

Um, a little over 19 years.

And, you know, when we got married, she did not take my name.

Did you know that?

Who did that back then but Harriet Lauler?

Yeah. I get the impression that she...

Control is very important to Harriet.

Well, she asked you to write her obituary while she is still alive.

Yeah, I think it's safe to say that control is very important to Harriet.

Was she always like that?

Well, you gotta understand that when she started out, it was a different world.

I mean, the men that she had to work with.

Men she had to work for.

She had to be twice as good, twice as smart, twice as forceful.

And she was, too.

See... She always thought she was right.

Always.

But the one thing that made her light up with excitement was finding out that she was wrong.

Yeah, see...

If you were willing to go toe-to-toe with Harriet, prove that you were right and she was wrong, she loved that.

And she would laugh.

Now, she never said, "I'm wrong."

But hearing that laugh...

That was enough for me.

What about your daughter?

Hey, if you were looking for somebody to say something nice about Harriet, don't ask Elizabeth.

Trust me on that one.

Good luck.

You'll need it.

My name is Anne Sherman.

I'm calling from the Bristol Gazette.

I'd like to talk to you about Harriet Lauler.

"If I want your opinion, I will give it to you," that's what she told me.

So you know Harriet how?

I was her gynecologist.

So how did you become Harriet's hairdresser?

She walked in the door and said, "Cut my hair."

Okay... And I was like, "I'm actually cutting somebody else's hair right now."

And she asked the woman to leave.

I'm calling from the Bristol Gazette.

I'd like to talk to you about Harriet Lauler.

Hello?

I learned a long time ago if you don't have anything nice to say about someone, say nothing at all.

She insisted on examining herself.

Her diagnosis, always correct.

I had to give her her co-pay back.

Just a, uh, hateful, hateful woman.

I hated her.

I hated her so much.

So much.

What do you think of Harriet?

I've worked very hard in therapy not to think of her.

If there's just one thing you could say about her that's nice.

One thing nice.

If she were dead, that would be nice. How's that?

She's like a human black cloud.

Angriest vagina this side of China.

"Give me the wafer this way." "Hand me the wine that way."

"That wine is horrible."

Like, nothing?

Zippo.

I don't...


So this is what you wrote.

It's a first draft.

No. This is a first paragraph.

It's succinct.

It's one paragraph.

It's to the point and I think that's good.

No, it's the life of a loser.

I wouldn't say that.

This is the life of a nobody.

I definitely wouldn't say that.

Then what would you say?

Because you certainly have not captured an impressive life, an important life.

I did my best.

That is really unfortunate for both of us.

Well, I didn't have a lot to work with.

No, you had my life to work with.

And I did the best that I could with it.

Huh.

How grossly I overestimated your talent as a writer.

With all due respect...

Oh, now you respect me. I was not really sure of that.

The problem isn't with my writing.

What is the problem?

It's the subject. You are the problem.

Excuse me?

You are the problem.

What? How dare you?

No, I... I'm sorry. How dare you?

No one, and I mean nobody, had one nice thing to say about you.

No colleagues, no friends. Certainly no family.

What did you just say?

I said certainly no family.

Hmm.

Get out of my house.

I'm just... I'm just being honest with you.

You expected these people to sing your praises?

I mean, you're way off.

Get out of my house!

Now!

Bitch!


Harriet, what are you... What are you doing here?

I do not wish to be sodomized in the hallway.

Do you know what time it is?

Sit down, please.

We need to talk.

What is this shit?

These are obituaries from newspapers all over the country.

I want you to read them and see what other obituary writers are doing.

Wow, I'm sorry you don't like what I wrote, but that's... That was just me writing about your life.

But my life is not over. Yet.

Now, I have determined there are four essential elements to a really great obituary.

Is that right? That's right.

One, the deceased should be loved by their families.

Right.

Two, the deceased should be admired by their coworkers.

I... I know.

Three, the deceased must have touched someone's life unexpectedly.

And if said person was a minority or a cripple, so much the better.

Okay, and the fourth?

And the fourth, that's the wild card.

I do not know what my wild card is.

Wild card?

Yes, a statement of such breadth and wonder that it's the opening line of the obituary.

For example, "A noted lover of arts, "Bonnie Lee Johnson passed away today."

Right, right.

"A three-time state ballroom dancing champion, "Lou Mendoza died last night."

Okay, I have a question. Yes.

Well, four to be exact.

Four?

Oh. Four. Mmm. Family?

My child and I have not had any contact for several decades.

My colleagues, as you have discovered, are not exactly beating down my door to sing my praises.

I don't know any crippled black kids.

And four, I have no idea what the wild card would be.

Those are the questions.

Yes. And you're going to help me find the answers.

Uh, you don't say.

Oh, yes.

You're going to help shape a legacy instead of just transcribing it.

I bet you have not been offered that very often.

To write a story before it's over.

That's what I've been talking about, Anne. Yeah.

So you're going to change your life, like, right now?

Exactly.

Do you find any problem in procuring me a disadvantaged youth to mold?

Oh, um, Home Depot is probably getting another shipment in soon.

The shelves will be stocked.

Sarcasm, the wit of the witless.

Condescension, the repartee of the rude.

Sorry. Shit. Sorry.

No, no. Never apologize for speaking your mind.

Thanks for coming.

B-2.

I'm going to find the woman that I spoke to.

Wanda? Hey.

Walking.

Harriet, this is... This is Wanda Barnes.

She runs the program for at-risk kids.

Hello, Wanda. Who runs the program for at-risk visitors?

Ms. Lauler, no need to worry. This is a safe space.

I'm very reassured. Thank you.

I know the children, especially the girls, would greatly enjoy it if you would come in and speak with them.

You want Harriet to speak with a group of at-risk children?

I think the kids would love it.

Or, I'm just throwing this out there, she could write you a big, fat check.

Am I supposed to talk to your boss yet again?

I'm... I'm just saying that money makes a difference.

Am I right, Wanda?

Well, certainly...

A woman who wrote a check to a small community center died last night, Harriet Lauler, leaving behind a legacy of unfulfilled goals and half measures.

Can I circle back on that big, fat check?

So I hear you kids are at risk.

All kids are at risk, you know.

Show me a kid who is not at risk and I'll show you a kid who will be a nobody.

Taking risks is what life is all about.

I took a risk. I went to college.

And in my day, no man wanted to marry a woman who was educated.

No man wanted to marry a woman who worked.

No man wanted a woman that he worked for.

But my favorite was no one wanted to marry a woman in business.

But those were the risks I was willing to take.

Why? Why did you take those risks?

Because there was no way I was not going to live up to my potential.

So you have to ask yourselves this question, are you willing to take a risk to do something stupid?

Or are you willing to take a risk at doing something great?

WOW.

I think you gave those girls something to think about.

Seem to be quite skilled at selling Pablum to a bunch of pre-teen punks.

Great, Pablum.

But you know that speech is not enough.

We have to come back and we have to find our own hooligan who will benefit most from my wisdom and that will be the unexpected person whose life I touch.

Hey, kiddo. Hey, Dad.

Didn't know you were coming today.

Leigh Ann's not here. Right?

No, she's got her class. The coast is clear.

Ta-da! Oh, look.

Just what I always wanted. Dirty clothes.

There you go. Thank you very much.

Laundry in? Yep.

Great.

You hungry?

No thanks. Oh, come on.

Let me make you a sandwich.

I'm okay. Thank you. I'm really not hungry.

I got you that tea you like.

Um, thanks.

You're still doing the essay thing?

Yeah.

How're they shaping up?

Slow but steady.

So when was it you first started working on those?

I can't remember.

I'm just treading water, okay?

No pressure. I'm just... You know.

You might want to say pencils down at some point and actually let somebody read them.

Like you?

Yeah, I'm sure they're wonderful.

They're not.

Well...

See, now I think you're just being too hard on yourself.

Would you consider yourself to be the kind of person who takes risks in their life?

Nah.

No.

No, your mother...

I got to admit. She was more of a risk taker.

So is that what we're calling it?

Well, it was a long time ago.

Why not?

Because that sounds like what she did to us was almost noble, which it wasn't.

Look, you don't have to like what she did, okay?

I mean, I didn't like it.

But obviously she wanted something else, and so she just went after it.

So as long as she's, like, living the dream, that's all that matters?

Anne... I'm happy.

Good. Okay? Finally.

And I pray every single day that you are too.


Hi. Excuse me, is Mr. Samuels available to talk for a minute?

And you are?

My name is Anne Sherman, I work for the Bristol Gazette. I'm a writer.

Good for you. What is this in reference to?

Harriet Lauler.

Actually, he isn't in today.

I don't even know why I asked who you were. No?

He's not even here.

He's not here? Okay. Mmm-mmm.

What about Mr. Schmidt?

Mmm, sorry.

So none of them are here. Mmm-mmm.

Great.

Brenda! Brenda!

You realize this little stunt of yours will take weeks to fix?

Don't need to be fixed. My way is better.

I know you think that, but this is what libraries do.

Just because that's the way it's always been don't mean I give a shit.

There's nothing wrong with the Dewey Decimal System.

Having to write down some six-digit number with a decimal just to find a book, don't tell me that makes sense.

What the fuck do I need with the decimal?

Just want to read a book.

That's the juvenile delinquent I'll put my mark on.

You arranged every book in alphabetical order.

You should be thanking me.

Hello.

Uh, Wanda.


You know, when you utter profanity in public like that, you risk others thinking that you're too uneducated to find the right words.

Who the hell are you?

How about, "I'm sorry. Have we met before?"

I ain't sorry.

Just want to know who's getting all up in my business.

Well, I know that I am the world's least qualified fairy godmother, but it is me who is getting up all in your business.

Da fuck?

You see, instead of "Da fuck," why don't you just say, "Excuse me?"

What do you want?

What do you want?

Oh, I see. It's community service.

You got busted for drunk driving. Didn't you?

Now, what on Earth made you think that?

You're white. And you're here.

This is true.

However, I'm here of my own accord.

No obligation at all.

To try to get to know you and to impart my considerable breadth of knowledge.

You want to teach me some shit.

You want to teach me some stuff.

Seems like we've already begun.

Oh, shit. Sorry.

Ugh.

Let me move this trash.

What are you doing?

This is a collection of essays.

Yeah, they're mine.

Am I supposed to assume that you care about things... Christ.

Besides writing about dead people?

You can assume whatever you want.

That's how I generally operate.

Yeah, no shit. What do you care?

I never said I did care.

Okay, well, in the interest of me getting back to my life, what do... What do you think your wild card could end up being?

How about this?

"Harriet Lauler, ultimate lover of clean cars, "died this afternoon after contracting a staph infection

"from inside a Volvo station wagon."

All right.

I'll take that as a "no."

Get in the car! No!

All right, all right, I'm just going to drive away with your purse.

Put this trash back here.

Bye.

Ugh!

That's what I thought.

Oh, God.

Would you like to come in for some tea?

What? Tea! Would you like some tea?

Sure. Well, good. Come.

Okay.


Holy shit, Harriet.

Oh! I forgot I had those.

You forgot you had an extensive collection of records?

Yeah. What?

You forgot about this? Yes.

God, '50s, '60s, '70s.

Where's the rest? Did you... Did you start collecting CDs?

No. I'd rather listen to elevator music.

Why, because it's tinny, and there aren't enough nuances in the mix?

Very good, Anne.

Yeah, thanks. Analog, I know, all the way.

I'm totally into it.

If you don't have a CD collection, then where's the rest of your records?

There isn't any rest. That's it.

Why?

Why are you so interested in this? Really?

Yes, lam. I would like to know.

When I was a kid, I loved to listen to the radio.

I loved the disc jockeys.

I loved what they chose to play.

They would play something very exploratory and I would think, "Yes, I like to go there."

And I would listen to the music.

Then they'd play something really bad, like, almost violent, and I would take a look at what I thought.

See what I mean? They were in control of, I guess, basically my kind of budding imagination.

Wait. So, um, who was your favorite disc jockey?

Bobby Dale. Bobby Dale.

Eclectic taste. Minimum patter.

And really brilliant sequencing.

But then, you know, as with everything, music became business.

And they put the music in a box.

And then my disc jockeys became computers.

I didn't do it anymore.

Yeah, but that still exists, you know.

I mean, this radio station that I listen to, KOXA, that's exactly what you're talking about.

The DJs get to play whatever music they want.

They have complete control over the music they play.

It's amazing. Harriet, you would love it.

"KOXA, independent music for independent minds.

"Number 107.2 on the dial. Number one in your heart."

Hmm.

Okay.

Thanks.

Anne.

Joe Mueller.

I'm here about Harriet Lauler.

What could the ad agency do to make the commercial better?

Why are the people cartoons?

Is this an ad for kids?

Well, no. As I mentioned at the beginning, if this turned into a real advertisement, they'd use real people.

They should use a celebrity.

I love Shelley Long.

Oh, would you just shut up?

I'm Harriet Lauler.

I'm the creative director of this agency.

A creative director is in charge of the creative decisions you make in your company!

Not other people, who sit around motivated by plates of pizza and $15.

No, you know what? I'm not going to do this.

Because it's stealing.

You give me your money and this is what you expect in return?

It's bullshit. I Won't take your money anymore, you spineless pieces of shit.

Harriet. Get her out of here.

Get the fuck off of me. You hack!

They just threw her out.

Yeah.

It's her company. She started it.

How can they do that?

She scared them.

Didn't like her.

'Cause they couldn't control her.

Jesus Christ, man.

Exactly.

But you... You liked her?

I respected her. I feared her.

Why did you show this to me?

Guilt, maybe.

Probably.

She got screwed.

I didn't open my mouth.

They say that the really great music can take you to those places that you could never get to on your own.

Well...

This one definitely does that for me.

So whatever your journey is, see where this one takes you.

Robin Sands, KOXA.


Well, I wish to speak to Robin Sands. Please.

Yeah.

Hi, I'm Robin.

Yes, I'd like a job as a disc jockey.

Uh, yeah. Um...

I'm not really looking at the moment.

But I noticed that your sound transmission is not compressed.

That's right. Yeah.

Is that because of the Teletronix tube that you use?

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely right. Mmm-hmm.

Yeah, we couldn't afford the big digital stuff even if we wanted it, and we don't want it.

Oh, I should hope not. Damn right.

And who are you?

I'm Harriet Lauler, formerly of Lauler Advertising.

I am an older woman, as you might have gathered.

But with age comes certain attributes, and one of mine is I'm up very early every morning.

I would gladly take over the drive time slot of Dawn Silver.

Uh, I'm... I'm Dawn. No, you're out.

Your voice is thin and your taste is pedestrian.

And what kind of music would you play?

Robin, are you fucking kidding me? Wait, just...

Now, that is the wrong question.

Is it? Hmm.

What's the right question?

The right question would be what would I play after I play Nina Simone's Gin House Blues.

What would you play after you played Nina Simone's Gin House Blues?

Good question. Thank you very much.

I would play Very Special, Duke Ellington.

Great.

Then I would play Van Morrison, Ro Ro Rosey.

Great. And I'd probably end with something by The Kinks.

You like The Kinks?

Oh, the most underrated band of all time. Of all time.

That's what I keep saying. I keep saying that.

Don't I always say that?

You see, Robin, anybody can pick a good song.

But a true disc jockey is interested in the flow, in the sequencing, in the block, if you will.

I am very interested in the block.

And I'm very wealthy, so I do not have to have a salary.

Oh. Well, that's great.

And who is this? It's my intern.

What up? What up?

All right, Harriet Lauler, let's chat.

Whoa. Let's do this. Mmm.

Did I just lose my job to a 100-year-old woman?

You know, as a general rule, most people are idiots.

Yeah.

So when you're confronted by an idiot, rather than make themselves aware of their idiocy, it's best just to treat them like a dumb, stupid child who doesn't know any better, you know?

So be patient with the dummies, right?

Exactly. Yeah.

This is Harriet Lauler for KOXA.

Playing independent music for independent minds.

Up next, we're kicking off wild card weekend.


Harriet.

Who's the disc jockey?

I... I'm stunned.

No. I wanted to do something like this and I just made it happen.

Oh. Just like that? Yes, of course.

Can I... Can I stay and watch?

Go outside. I got work to do here.

You can watch from out there.

Okay.


Eddie Cochran was a solid choice.

Much respect to the rock block.

Wild card.

Much respect.

So where is he taking you?

No.

Oh!

Well, I orchestrated the whole thing.

Why would you do that?

It just felt like something that I should do.

No. You don't get to control me, Harriet.

Is he taking you somewhere nice?

We're going to The Cave this weekend.

The Cave! No. No. No. Absolutely not.

That is not the place.

What you have to do is tell him to take you to Cafe Bouchon.

What did I just say? I heard what you just said.

But a proper date really does include a very, very nice dinner.

This is not a proper date. We are going as friends.

That is what I told him.

Why would you say that to him?

Because I don't want to ruin what we have.

But you just met. You have nothing.

I have his show.

Ah.

Oh. Well, there you have it.

What do I have?

It just shows me what kind of child you are.

"Anne Sherman

"died from lethal injection last night

"for the murder of Harriet Lauler.

"Her last words were, 'It was worth it."'

Very good, Anne.

Excellent.

Hey, I was looking for you.

How's our favorite senior citizen?

She's a handful.

I remember the stories my father used to tell.

Scary, scary stories.

Thanks for passing her off on me.

Well, it wasn't my choice.

You know, she chose you. You should feel...

No. Don't say "honored."

Fair enough. How about this? Thank you.

Thank you for at least giving me the chance to not be the first Odom to completely destroy his family's legacy.

Hmm.

Not going to say, "You're welcome."

I'm just not going to say it.

This is Harriet Lauler saying good morning.


On.

Hello, boss.

I have missed that so much.

Come in.

Liquid lunch?

Ooh! My favorite. I remember.

Oh...

Terrace. Go.

Oh, Joe. Now tell me why you're really here.

That's the original.

Oh, God.

Those bastards.

They still are.

Wasn't exactly my finest hour either, though, was it?

You were trying to protect the agency. Your agency.

You were a goddamn hero.

Hmm.

Harriet Lauler, goddamn hero.

I like it.

So that's the original. Any copies?

Yeah, I made a copy for your friend Anne.

Anne has seen this?

In your company!

Not other people, who sit around motivated by plates of pizza and $15.

No, you know what? I'm not going to do this.

Because it's stealing. It is stealing.

You give me your money and this is what you expect in return?

It's bullshit. I Won't take your money anymore, you spineless pieces of shit.

Harriet. Get her out of here.

Get the fuck off of me. You hack!

No, I like to think of myself as a curator, you know?

Bringing new artists and songs to my listeners that may be outside of their norm.

Sort of like, um, you know, one of those old wildlife explorers bringing an exotic spice back to the world.

I sound like such a douche right now.

Robin Sands, rock and roll spice merchant.

It's kind of Excellent..

You're funny, you know that?

Why are you so surprised?

Why is everybody always surprised when I crack a joke?

Well, you know, obituary writer.

I'm not, like, tortured and tormented.

I'm just gainfully employed.

I mean, there's, like, a voyeuristic quality to it that I find really interesting.

I'm... I have a backstage pass to somebody else's life.

Okay, so what's the career trajectory for an obituary writer?

Do you hope to, like, write about famous people when they eventually die or...

No. No.

I'm really good with where I'm at right now.

Oh, no. What?

No. No, no.

This is not healthy, for you to lie while you're...

I know it's not technically a date, but don't lie at the beginning of a relationship.

Harriet, wha... What are you doing?

What are you doing here?

I am...

Did she tell you she wants to be a writer?

Yes, she is a writer.

No, no. A real writer. She wants to be an essayist.

Harriet, don't do that.

An essayist is someone who has a unifying view, a worldview.

Tell me something, Anne, what is your...

What are your collection of essays saying?

I don't know.

Well, I don't believe you. Do you believe her?

You know what, Anne, let's get out of here.

No, no. Ms. Sherman, I really am just looking for an answer.

What is it that you want to say in your essays?

Nothing. I don't want to say anything.

I have nothing interesting to say.

Oh, that's such bullshit.

Harriet, knock it off. No. Mmm-mmm.

Don't you protect her like some kind of wounded animal.

No, no. If she wants to be a writer, she has got to learn to express her mind.

You don't have to listen to any of this, Anne.

No, don't listen. He's right.

Don't listen. Go back in your little bubble. No problem.

Man, what is your problem?

Ambition neutered by self-doubt.

Desire.

Desire. Desire is what my essays are about.

It's, um...

It's, uh... They're about the sacrifice that we make in order to fulfill our desires.

I'm so sorry I asked.

Oh, fuck off. All right.

Oh, life! I see some life!

You bait me into talking about shit that I don't want to talk about and then when I talk about it, you mock me!

What's wrong with you?

Why don't you calm down?

I just want to understand what is in your essays and what you're trying to do.

They're just so very precious it seems.

Oh, really? Are they?

I... I need. I yearn. I long. I deserve.

Oh... And the world, the world is so much harder than you've dreamed.

And my trophies... I don't have any trophies.

I was supposed to get trophies.

You know, in hindsight, this all makes some sense.

Oh, really? Go ahead. Should be good.

I think you're trying to write about yourself and you haven't got a goddamn idea of the subject matter.

Go fuck yourself, Harriet.


So, uh...

Did you have a title for your collection of essays?

Uh... Does it have a title?

Andalusia Now.

Andalusia Now.

Does it mean something to you?

Or is it just, like, something you came up with?

When I was three, my mom gave me this globe, and every night we would play a game.

Close your eyes.

Spin the globe.

Touch the globe and wherever your finger would land, that's where you would someday live.

And one night, my finger landed on this place in the southern coast of Spain, and my mom told me it was Andalusia.

And I just thought that was the most beautiful word I had ever heard.

So that was the last time we played that game before she...

She left.

Thank you for telling me that.

Which way are you going? This way?

Yeah. Up that way.


We laid out four things essential to a good obituary.

I'd say I have more than enough material to make three of them work.

All that is left is family.

You need to see your daughter. And you need to make it right, because that is all that's left.

And that is the only thing keeping me from ever having to see you again.

Oh, I see.

I spoke to your ex-husband.

He told me that Elizabeth lives a few hours north of here.

We're going. I'm driving.

In your car? Yes, in my car.

And Brenda's coming too. I need a buffer.

I already called her mother.

Hey. How's everybody doing this morning?

Mr. Sands, would you please make me a mixed CD?

Anne and Brenda and I are going on a road trip.

Great.

A compilation of songs perfectly suited for the occasion, please.

And what's the occasion?

We're visiting my daughter and she hates me.

Okay. So let me get this straight.

Senior-citizen control freak, estranged daughter, the obituary writer is driving, and the nine-year-old intern from the projects is in the back seat.

Yeah, I can get 37 songs out of that.

Very good.

Perfect.

I agree. Me too.

Harriet, it's a one-day trip. It's a day trip.

Yeah, in your filth-mobile.

I've packed a change of clothes and I've packed some smoked salmon tartines with fresh dill capers and a sprinkling of goat cheese. Ah!

What the hell is a tartine?

It's a fancy name for a sandwich.

We're going to hit McDonald's, Brenda. Don't worry.

Okay. No, we're not.

Who wants McDonald's? I do.

Here you go, darling.

Harriet?

Yeah. I don't want anything, really.

Oh, God.

Oh! Yes.

Road food.

This is better than any fucking tartines.

Whoa! Amen, sister.


"I was five when the circus came to town.

"I was six when it left.

"I was seven when I realized it was never coming back.

"The ringleader spun plates, sailed through rings of fire, "creating a world of magic and mystery.

"And then, in a puff of diesel smoke, "the ringleader was gone.

"Three rings, two rings, one ring, nothing.

"There's nothing like a circus."

Very evocative. Lyrical. I like it.

Who wrote it?

Me.

I don't get it.

It's okay.

It's about mothers and daughters.

So basically you're a poet.

I don't know what I am, Brenda.

Well, you got to be something.

God put you into the world so you can be something.

You got to be something.

I got to pee.

Go ahead.

No problem in this car.

Please don't do that.

I got to pee all over the place!

Now I gots to pee! I've gots to pee.

This is not funny, Harriet! I can hear you!

Tiny dancer outside.

You know, I used to have this recurring nightmare that I'd be wrapping Elizabeth in blankets, pillows, and swaddling her, and loving her, and protecting her.

And then I would look down and realize I was so overprotective that I smothered her to death.

Whoa, Jesus.

Well...

I wonder what she's like now.

What she'll think of me.

It's kind of great that we get to find out.

Thank you.

You're welcome.


So this is where she wanted to meet?

Your ex-husband said she eats lunch here every Thursday at 12:35.

Thirty-five?

It's a little gauche, don't you think?

Let's just focus on your daughter.

Oh, my God.

Hello, Mother.

Hello.

I didn't know we were going to have an audience.

Oh, no. This is a young woman I know named Anne.

And this is Brenda.

Well, I don't have much time. Maybe enough for a salad.

But you just got here.

Mother, relax. Have a drink.

Why don't we order? Excuse me.

Okay, Brenda.

How's the lobster?

No. No lobster. No.

Chicken parm. Same.

Mother.

I will have a salad Nicoise, not raw, just seared, and some beans, yellow and not red, and some capers.

I'll have the panzanella. Capers instead of olives.

White onions instead of red.

Make sure the heirloom tomatoes are ripe.

And I want some basil. Fresh.

I want some basil too.

On the side.

On the side.

So...

So, how are you?

Well, I'm wonderful.

Good. Tell me.

Where did we last leave off?

Oh, yes! I remember.

It was when you told my boyfriend he wasn't good enough for me.

Well, I was hoping maybe he would prove me wrong.

It was our engagement party.

Well, that was bad timing. That is true.

But you didn't bring him around to meet me until then.

Gee, what was I thinking?

I don't know. What were you thinking?

Forget it.

This whole thing is so ironic.

What do you mean, ironic?

How all these years I've resented you, and then I find out I'm just like you.

Oh, you're being cryptic, Elizabeth.

Mmm-mmm. I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

It's a condition. That, unfortunately, we both have.

I'm sorry?

An unyielding belief that everyone else is the problem.

Well, but for the most part that's true.

Obsession with perfectionism.

You don't want to settle for anything less.

I see nothing wrong with that.

Uh-huh. Look, it's not too late to let go of the condition.

You can unburden yourself, you know. You can be happy and at peace.

Elizabeth, lam who I am.

You're a grandmother.

Really? Yeah.

I have two sons. Two sons.

Spencer and Sage. Wait, wait, wait.

Please tell me you're married.

I'm married. Yes. His name is Josh. He's a...

Yeah, what do you do now? What's your job?

I'm a neurologist. Mmm-hmm.

Some consider me to be one of the best...

And are you happy? In the country.

I am happy.-

Oh!

I have a good life.

And you should be a part of it.

I would really like that.

Mmm!

Great.

So you'll see a therapist?

I can't bring you into the house with you being this way.

You gotta meet the kids.

You'll see they're wonderful.

You'll fall in love with them.

Is that funny? What's funny about it?

I don't understand.

I seriously... I don't know what this is.

I've literally never seen my mother laugh.

What are you laughing about?

Mother, why are you laughing?

Mother, why are you laughing?

She only laughs when she's wrong.

Wrong? What were you wrong about?

List the many things.

About me. I was wrong about me.

About you? I was wrong about me.

I don't understand.

'Cause you got this wonderful husband.

And you got these two great kids.

And you're happy. You said you're happy, yes?

Yeah. That's true.

That means I was a great mother.

What?

You know, I succeeded in spite of you, Mother.

No. It was me.

Why did you want to see me?

I guess to take inventory.

Well, isn't that perfect.

Goodbye, Mother.

Bye.

I was a good mother.

Mmm. Wow.

Harriet, you're a piece of work.

I am who I am.

Let's get out of here. Come on.

Something's wrong with the car.

For God's sake, we all knew this was coming.

But you can definitely get it fixed by tomorrow morning?

It's all the way down here.

Come on!

To sleepover! Sleepover!

We're going to have a sleepover.

You think someday my dad may show up and want to get food with me?

I don't know. Is that what you want?

I get it. You want it, but you wish you didn't.

Yeah, I guess so.

I get it.

My mom left us when I was younger than you.

Have you seen her since?

No.

I ain't seen my dad either.

Sucks, right?

His loss. Yeah.

His loss. Yeah.

I'm awesome.

Yeah, you are awesome.

I really am awesome. Yes.

I know. You're kind of awesome, too.

You think so? You think that I'm awesome?

You know what I think? What?

Fuck your mom.

Where are we going?

It's so warm.

Careful.

It looks so pretty.

What do you think?

It's nice, huh?

Do you think we should go in?

Yeah.

Let's go.

Let's not get anything wet.

Let's put it all on the side.

One.

Two. Three!


Oh, yeah.


This has been the best day ever.

You have so many good days ahead of you, my honey.

It's true.

Want my Kit Kat?

No. Nobody gets sugar now.

You see that bird over there?

Look, there's a bird living in the...


Thank you so much. Shake. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Thanks for paying. Oh...

Brenda.

Can we get a... Can we get a picture?

Let's get a picture. Yes, yes.

One selfie for memories. Okay.

Ready?

Call me Mrs. Long Arm.

Good. All right, let's go. Okay.

Shotgun!

This is Dr. Morgan calling for Harriet Lauler.

If you could get back to me at your earliest convenience, I would like to discuss your test results with you.

Congestive heart failure, simply put, means the volume of blood being pumped by your heart is unable to meet your body's needs.

I don't have a weak heart.

No, no. But it is overworked.

Treatment?

Um...

You're not really a suitable candidate, I'm afraid.

How long do I have?

It's difficult to assess prognosis, uh, really, with these types of cases.

And how will it happen?

Again, it's...

Difficult to assess. Yeah.

This does not work for me.

I wish I had better news for you.

I'm really sorry.

I suppose the word "sorry" and its usage in this case is reasonable.

I've been working on my bedside manner.

Like I give a shit.


What's going on?

You okay? What happened?

I had no one else to call.

So you've got a weak heart?

No.I have an overworked heart.

And it could happen at any time?

That's what he told me.

Like in the shower?

Yes.

Like going to the bathroom?

Yeah.

Talking to me, like, right now?

Yes. Why are you struggling to understand this?

No, I'm just...

It must be killing you. You know what I mean.

Yeah.

You're basically just waiting.

Well, we're all waiting.

Anne, the obit.

You have enough material now to do a re-write, yes?

Yeah. Okay.

Okay. All right, I'm gonna get on it.

Good. Thank you.

As I live and breathe.

Well, from the looks of it I'm not sure you do.

I see you still have that stick stuck up your Nicoise.

I would tell you to go drop dead, but I'm afraid you'd take me up on it.

I'm going to go make some tea.

So you want to talk to me about why we split?

Is that why you're here?

It's been 22 years.

I just finished paying off my attorney.

With my money. That's right.

Thanks.

Edward, please help me here.

Well, I never subscribed to the notion that marriage is about learning to compromise.

Well, compromise just means that two people are miserable instead of one.

Sometimes you got your way.

And sometimes your husband buys an alpaca farm.

Sometimes your wife spends a small fortune on the world's most uncomfortable couch!

That wasn't a couch! It was a settee.

That's French for herniated disc.

But you're not supposed to lie on it.

It's a couch! That's what it's for.

Okay.

I'm so tired, Edward.

I knew what I was getting when I married you.

That was my choice.

And I have never regretted it.

Never

Well, Elizabeth didn't have a choice.

She was stuck with me.

You did the best you could. No, I didn't.

You did good. You were better than me. You...

Oh, yeah, you were her protector.

You were such a good father. Yeah.

I understand you've seen her.

Yes.

Well, you know, Elizabeth, she is convinced that you have some kind of mental condition.

Hmm?

Yes!

May be true.


Thank you.

This is Harriet Lauler saying good morning, and what does that really mean?

Please don't have a nice day. Have a day that matters.

Have a day that's true. Have a day that's direct.

Have a day that's honest.

A nice day, mmm-mmm. You'll be miserable.

Anyway, that's my thought that you should carry through as you're doing your housework, your homework, your driving work, your playing work, your working work.

Have a day that means something.

Okay, I'm going to listen to this music now and try to make this time mean something.


You ready?

You tell me.

You're a great writer.

Yeah. Wow.

You're a great obituary writer.

Okay. I...

Yeah. I knew it, all right.

No, no, no. Stop. These are good.

These are very good.

But they're fantasy. They're a girl's fantasy.

You're a woman.

I would like you to write that reality.

I...

I'm afraid of making a mistake.

No. You don't make mistakes. Mistakes make you.

Mistakes make you smarter.

They make you stronger.

And they make you more self-reliant.

But I'm not like you, Harriet.

I don't possess your fearlessness.

Let me tell you something I never could tell my daughter.

Fall on your face!

What? Fail.

Fail spectacularly.

That's...

That's your advice?

Yes, because when you fail, you learn.

When you fail, you live.

I don't know if I can write your obituary.

Oh, please. They're just words.

Yeah, but...

I mean, I know. I just...

I'm just not ready to close this chapter of my life.

No, but this is my life that we're closing, not yours.

Yes, but your life is way more interesting.

Oh, honey, come here.

Yours hasn't even begun.

Yes.


I wanted to do that.

Thank you.

Okay, see you. Okay.

No, I'm just kidding.

You smell nice.

It's vinyl and stagnant '90s apathy.

Thanks for the coffee.

Can I... I kind of want to keep this.

Hello.

Harriet?

I'll be right there.

At least when you do the F-word...

I just learned a truly remarkable turn of phrase.

What? Fuck-bomb.

Sorry? Fuck-bomb.

Yeah, that's what I thought you said.

Explain.

All right.

First you got the F-word.

One level up from that, that's the F-bomb.

One level up from that, that's "fuck."

But something seriously fucked up, that's a fuck-bomb.

That's... That's what you wanted to tell me?

I'm sorry, but I do need your help.

The act of public aggression that I have planned will probably end up with you and me in jail.

What about me?

Juvie.

I'm in.

And then you will have to call her mother from jail.

Criminal mastermind Harriet Lauler gunned down in a blaze of glory.

Now that's a wild card.

Yes, it certainly is.

Now, here's my plan.

Hey, Towy, come here.

Thanks for coming.

Take the chain out of there, wind it, go over there to that sign and rip off the Hurry UP-

Let's do this.

Got it?

Come on, Towy. Tie it up. Let's go.

Okay, faster, faster, faster.

Hurry, hurry, hurry. One more time.

Move your ass!

Maybe, like, two inches left.

It's all done. In the truck. Hey!

In the car. In the car. Thank you, sir.

Harriet!

What on Earth do you think you're doing now?

I'm doing exactly what I should have done a long time ago.

That's it! I will personally see to it that every single shred of evidence that you ever even worked here is wiped out.

Good. I can live with that.

Come on, Harriet!

Punch it!

A fuck-bomb! Yeah!

Fuck-bomb! A fuck-bomb!


Welcome to The Anne and Brenda Show!


She's just sleeping.


Now, Harriet Lauler was thoughtful enough to provide me with instructions for her service today.

A thorough set of instructions.

The flowers, the music, the readings, the seating arrangements.

All chosen by Harriet.

I was also asked by Harriet to inform you all that she has bequeathed her house to the town of Bristol so it can be turned into a new public library.

A library where all the books will be displayed in alphabetical order because, and I, uh.... I quote, "The Dewey Decimal System is for losers."

A sizeable donation has also been granted to the Gazette.

And I'm supposed to say, "You can relax now, Ronald."

And finally to Robin Sands and KOXA, Harriet offers her expertly curated record collection, including every record by The Kinks, the most underrated band of all time.

At this time, Harriet has requested for her friend, Anne Sherman, to speak.

For no more than three and a half minutes.

"A lifelong lover of rock and roll, "who became a disc jockey at the age of 81, "Harriet Lauler passed away Thursday evening.

"As the founder of Lauler Advertising, "she presided for many years

"over one of the most successful

"advertising agencies in the state.

"She remained close with former colleagues.

"And recently was often found at the community center, "where she mentored Brenda Wilson, "a young girl from South Bristol.

"She is survived by her daughter, "Dr. Elizabeth O'Malley, "and two grandchildren, Spencer and Sage."

This is her obituary and it's shit.

I wrote it.

The truth is, I didn't think that in the matter of a couple weeks, a month, that I would be standing here talking about a woman that I truly loved.

A woman who made me want to quit my job.

And a woman who made me feel like I was a piece of shit.

Um...

But she didn't feel that way about me.

And she didn't feel that way about any of you.

She was just challenging us to be the best... Our best selves.

Because she saw what we had, that we didn't, and that's...

That's the most amazing thing.

Um...

So...

I think it's a really good thing that we knew Harriet Lauler.

I think it sucks that she died.

But,

at the end of the day, all I really needed to say, all I really ever needed to say was that she will not be forgotten.

That's the best that any of us could hope for.

That we will not be forgotten.

Harriet Lauler lived her life.

And I'm going to honor her memory by doing the same.


This is not my letter of resignation.

This is my obituary.

The young girl who worked for you for the last seven years is dead and buried.

She leaves behind a lifetime of indecision, hesitation and fear.

She will not be missed. She will not be mourned.

Because she was really never alive to begin with.

But she is now.

And she has her entire life in front of her.

An entire life just waiting to be filled.