NOVEMBER, 2021—JANUARY, 2022

JASPER SPICERO
CELEBRATION FOR SIMPLE

Celebration For Simple

EXT. KINDNESS’ HOME - DAY

Sunny and no clouds.

A single story, cinderblock home, rectangular and flat. Painted red with green trim.

Gravel driveway has a LITTER OF KITTENS wobbling around.

KITTEN #1 strays to side of the house and finds a laundry vent.
KITTEN #2 is already warming at the vent. They lay together.

OUT OF VENT A WOMAN’S VOICE COMES ECHOEY with puffs of hot air
in the cold.

KINDNESS (O.S.)

Dear Doctor... Dear Doctor...

♫ ONLY THE LONELY ♫

INT. KINDNESS’ HOME - BATHROOM

The wooden door is closed on the cramped bathroom with only toilet, washer and dryer. No shower or sink.

1

KINDNESS, 47, mint green nurses scrubs and strong arms, is standing over a running washing machine hammering on a typewriter.

She speaks in rhythm with punches of keys.

KINDNESS

Dear Doctor. You’ve often commented negatively on mine and Simple’s names. But...

KINDNESS stops typing to think.

THE MEWS OF THE NESTING KITTENS COMES THROUGH VENT AMPLIFIED BY
DRYER BODY

KINDNESS continues to hammer words onto page in green ink.

KINDNESS

Naming me kindness is the only parenting my mother did. Because of my name alone I hold onto hope that I can be a kind person and a source of kindness for all. And I had the same sort of idea for Simple--

SIMPLE's 7-year-old fingers wriggle into crack beneath the bathroom door. He is laying flat as possible on the other side.

SIMPLE's mouth under the door.

SIMPLE

You're late for work Mom. And we missed school.

KINDNESS

I know you think I'm enamored by your job. The only surgeon in Speculator and for miles around. But the truth is I'm disgusted by educated people--

Stops typing.

KINDNESS

I took you out of school, Simple. Go take the fishing boat for an hour.

SIMPLE

You took me out? Forever?

KINDNESS

That particular school yes. Don't you remember?

2

SIMPLE

You never told me that.

Typing.

KINDNESS

I've always felt sick around complex people and proud people with all their ducks in a row. So I packed our belongings and I'm ready to drive all night long. So goodbye. I will never say your name or--

CUT TO:

EXT. KINDNESS' HOME - DAY

The back of the house is dirt brown.

SIMPLE kicks open the screen door and spreads his arms like wings. He is short for his age about 3 1/2 feet tall. He is wearing muddied corduroy overalls over knit sweater and a cab hat with holes in it. Curly brown hair poking out of hat. Grey eyes. Snow boots.

SIMPLE flaps his arms and runs down the sloped cement pathway leading straight onto skinny metal dock jutting far into blue lake.

Races to end of the long dock and slides on his knees to untie a small tin fishing boat.

EXT. MAIN STREET - DAY

SUBJECT'S POINT OF VIEW:

A four foot SUBJECT waddles on sidewalk parallel to store fronts.

SUBJECT looks into a store front window. There is a miniature locomotive scene. Engine choo-chooing. Cotton balls on fishing line for snow. Peanut shells that have faces painted on them to represent people.

A girl named TRUCY, 9, wearing raincoat disposable plastic bonnet and rain boots, exits a store and points at SUBJECT.

TRUCY

Mother. A walking bird. Look Mother.

3

MOTHER comes out of store.

MOTHER

Okay keep it movin Trucy we--

Halts in tracks.

SUBJECT looks around. PASSERSBY on the street are staring at them.

ELDERLY MAN riding a bicycle breaks short in road. Nearly goes topside over handle bars. He uses hand as visor to clear eyes of the sunlight.

ELDERLY MAN

It isn't so.

Points at SUBJECT.

ELDERLY MAN

A delivery penguin from the southern pole!

SUBJECT runs.

BACK TO SCENE

All stores are decorated for Christmas. Archways of red ribbon and lights connect street lamps across road.

DELIVERY PENGUIN (SUBJECT) waddles fast down Main Street sidewalk. They are wearing a blue button down short sleeve shirt EMBROIDERED POSTAL SERVICE LOGO OVER POCKET that goes all the way to the ground. Leather work boots stick out from beneath the shirt.

DELIVERY PENGUIN stomps passed a STUNNED MAN and turns into alleyway.

EXT. BEHIND SHOPS - DAY

DELIVERY PENGUIN stumbles into woods behind the shops on Main Street.

EXT. WOODS - DAY

DELIVERY PENGUIN navigates woods carefully to not trip. Awkward with clunky boots and legs so limited.

4

♫ FRONT OF HOSPITAL ♫

INT. HOSPITAL - OPERATING ROOM

DOCTOR, 60, well composed hair, sits at operating table in a white lab coat and blue scrubs. He has a surgical tray on the padded table. It is full of partially smoked cigarettes.

DOCTOR glances at digital clock on wall with bright red display that reads 4:14 PM.

Opens fresh pack of cigarettes. THE BRAND IS FAME. It says so on the navy blue box. The cigarettes are silver with a dividing black stripe at filter. DOCTOR puts one in his mouth.

Clock turns to 4:15.

DOCTOR

Open the door Kindness.

DOCTOR lights cigarette using matchbook and takes massive inhale of Fame. Ember becomes long and pointy. Exhales.

5

DOCTOR

Please open it.

There are layers of blurry scribbling done in permanent marker on the thumb muscle of DOCTOR's hand going down wrist into sleeve of coat. Dates, times of day and peoples names smudged.

The clock says 4:17.

DOCTOR

The door will open...

Ashes cig into tray. Takes drag.

DOCTOR

Now.

A note typed in green ink slides under the door.

DOCTOR scrambles to get note and reads it mumbling to himself with cigarette clenched in jaw. Smoke drifting into eyes. Squinting.

DOCTOR

Dear Doctor... commented negatively... interesting... enamored by my job. good... disgusted by educated people... ducks in a row?... wait a minute.

DOCTOR throws open door and sprints out.

INT. HOSPITAL - HALLWAY

Overhead lights are off. Light comes through windows.

KINDNESS walks away. Her hair has a yellow bow in it. She has a coat on over nurses scrubs. Tail of her long wool coat drags on tile.

DOCTOR enters hall chasing KINDNESS waving her letter.

DOCTOR

Whatever's bothering you is temporary I promise.

KINDNESS

You haven't read it.

DOCTOR

I did Ness it was a laundry list of lies.

6

KINDNESS

Read it again.

DOCTOR

So you want Simple to live in poverty for the rest of his life?

KINDNESS charges at DOCTOR and pushes him so he falls back on his rear.

KINDNESS

What's the matter with poverty?

KINDNESS rushes to nearest exit and leaves.

EXT. HOSPITAL - FRONT - DAY

The hospital is castle-like built in 1850s. Hospital received renovations and major architectural additions in the late 1980s.

The parking lot in front is empty save 3 cars.

KINDNESS exits the grafted-on steel awning of the hospital. Briskly makes her way to staff parking. Pulls car keys from coat pocket. Unlocks her vehicle remotely. A 1999 Volkswagen Golf honks and flashes. The Golf is full of belongings. Clothing and boxes press against windows.

KINDNESS opens driver's side. A firearm enthusiast magazine falls out. She sits and ignites engine.

DOCTOR erupts out of front doors of hospital and races to staff parking after KINDNESS.

KINDNESS backs out of spot.

DOCTOR

Stop her. She pushed me to the ground!

KINDNESS peels off in Volkswagen before DOCTOR can get her.

DOCTOR

You don't know my ducks, Kindness!

DOCTOR hunches hands on knees exasperated and winded. Fame cigarette clenched in teeth.

7

DOCTOR

Mine wait in every corner of every room.

Experiences coughing fit.

DOCTOR

They judge me like hell. Those ducks.

EXT. LAKE - SKELETON DOCK - DAY

A wooden canoe is floating untethered against a broken post of the dock. There is a dark wool blanket in the canoe with a boy named MARLIN, 11, sleeping under it snoring. Has blanket held close. He lets out long strained whimper that turns into words--

MARLIN

Flooded century of earth orphan rain... Orphan of the century rain...

♫ SIMPLE THEME ♫

8

EXT. LAKE - CENTER - DAY

Body of water is big. People out seeming to enjoy sunny day in fishing, speed and pontoon boats.

Snow clouds approach in the distance.

SIMPLE drives little tin boat at medium speed. His hands and arms use all strength to steer the outboard motor.

SIMPLE's arms tremble about to lose grip. The boat veers dangerously, splashing and nearly tipping, but SIMPLE focuses strength.

He regains control.

SIMPLE

Whew that was close. I might need to take a break.

A WHOOPING CRANE flies overhead.

SIMPLE throttles motor and glides on lake after them.

WHOOPING CRANE lands on SKELETON DOCK.

EXT. LAKE - SKELETON DOCK - DAY

SIMPLE cuts motor and uses a plastic oar to get near WHOOOPING CRANE quietly.

SIMPLE

Hi would you like a taxi ride in my boat?

SIMPLE inches closer.

He is a few feet from the towering bird. Whispers.

SIMPLE

Hop in. It's free. Who'd turn that down?

SIMPLE mimes taking something out of his pocket.

SIMPLE

Here I've got something for you.

SIMPLE reaches ever slowly to touch feathers with mimed thing. Whisper.

9

SIMPLE

It treats tired wings.

MARLIN (O.S.)

Simple the lonely orphan.

WHOOPING CRANE hollers and flaps away. Disappears into oncoming veils of fog billowing from snow clouds.

The sky is taken by grey. A dense fog forms across the lake.

MARLIN opens blanket and sits up in canoe. His hair is messed and he is missing both front teeth. Groggy. Wears footie pajamas with honey comb pattern on them.

SIMPLE
Marlin?

MARLIN

Keep my name out of your mouth.

SIMPLE

How'd you end up out here?

MARLIN

I couldn't sleep in bed. So I took my Pa's canoe.

SIMPLE

Where's your paddle?

MARLIN

What?

SIMPLE

I can give you a lift if you want. Free of charge.

MARLIN

You're a dumb dirty orphan you know that. You're simple Simple. That's why they gave you that name.

SIMPLE

My Mom named me Simple.

10

MARLIN

Kindness isn't your Mom everybody knows that. She doinks that doctor and talks about you and he goes and tells everybody.

SIMPLE

He does? What does he say?

SIMPLE

Quit calling me a--

SIMPLE smacks MARLIN hard on the head with the flat blade of his oar.

MARLIN holds his head in agony and sobs.

SIMPLE

Quit calling me an orphan!

MARLIN is beet red crying.

MARLIN

Go! Leave me alone. You and the whole town. Everybody.

SIMPLE

Well don't you need a ride somewhere?

MARLIN

No.

SIMPLE

Don't you need a paddle?

MARLIN buries himself under dark wool blanket.

MARLIN

No.

SIMPLE

I don't need mine I have a motor.

MARLIN

Go on then with your stupid motor.

SIMPLE lobs his oar into Marlin's canoe.

11

SIMPLE

I'm sorry, Marlin. I'm not big on gossip.

MARLIN covers face with blanket.

SIMPLE

See you at school.

Pulls throttle cable until eventually motor turns on and putters into fog.

♫ HISTORY OF PENGUINS ♫

EXT. KINDNESS HOME - DRIVEWAY - DAY

KINDNESS turns into gravel driveway.

She parks her Volkswagen. Opens door of car and is greeted by LITTER OF KITTENS.

12

INT. KINDNESS HOME

KINDNESS enters carrying LITTER OF KITTENS.

The house is made up of two rooms. The main room has a kitchenette against one wall opposite the front door. The bathroom is the other.

The house is empty except for a couch that is folded out into a bed, some packed boxes and miscellaneous items strewn about the cement floor.

Using one arm KINDNESS gets a tea cup from on the ground and fills it with water in the kitchenette sink. Droplets splash onto LITTER OF KITTEN's faces. They mew uncomfortably.

KINDESS

Oops sorry guys.

KINDNESS kneels and gently lets LITTER OF KITTENS spill onto floor.

She sets the cup for them to drink water.

EXT. LAKE - INLET - SUNSET

A woman named RELIUS, 70, World War II flight jacket flowing skirt and curly-Q grey hair, is parked on water in a fiberglass speed boat. Her name is hand-painted on the sides in block letters.

RELIUS shouts into fog.

RELIUS

Marly! Nobodies mad at you kid! Marlin! Marlin?!

Listens for reply...

RELIUS

It might take all night. But I'm gonna get that munchkin.

RELIUS turns key. Engine fires up. Pushes the throttle lever to max. Tears off fast unable to see but 20 feet ahead.

13

INT. KINDNESS HOME

KINDNESS opens the fridge for milk and pours it into a bowl. Sticks bowl into microwave and inputs settings.

Starts microwave. The digital display glows blue.

CLOSE ON BLUE TIMER COUNTING DOWN

01:00, 00:59, 00:58, 00:57--

EXT. LAKE - CENTER - SUNSET

Filtered by fog the fading sun casts a blue glow.

SIMPLE is putzing in his modest tin boat.

SIMPLE

It sure got cloudy out.

ROAR OF SPEED BOAT APPROACHES

INTERCUT BETWEEN KINDNESS' HOME AND LAKE

KINDNESS waits on the heating bowl of milk.

00:50, 00:49, 00:48--

RELIUS bursts into SIMPLE's range of view.

RELIUS cranks steering wheel to avoid SIMPLE. They clash anyway and RELIUS' speed boat flips.

SIMPLE is thrown into lake. His tin boat stays upright. The outboard motor idles pushing the boat clockwise in circles--

KINDNESS watches LITTER OF KITTENS climb over one another to drink from single cup of water.

00:40, 00:39, 00:38, 00:37--

RELIUS' treads water.

RELIUS

You're paying...

Swallows water.

14

RELIUS

Paying for my boat!

Tin boat spins between RELIUS and SIMPLE. It blocks and reveals sightline to each other as it rotates. They meet eyes for a moment in midst of struggle to stay afloat.

SIMPLE

I have nothing to...

SIMPLE fights drowning.

RELIUS

Of all the people I could have hit.

SIMPLE

...to give...

SIMPLE sinks like a brick. His cab hat floats.

RELIUS holds deep breath and dives under boat to help SIMPLE.

She hugs SIMPLE underwater and carries him up. They emerge.

RELIUS gasps for air.

SIMPLE is unconscious--

LITTER OF KITTENS claw at KINDNESS' legs.

MEWING KITTENS

KINDNESS

Be patient.

KINDNESS stares into microwave watching bowl turn.

MEWING INTENSIFIES AS TIMER PROGRESSES

00:20, 00:19, 00:18--

CHOIR OF MEWING CONTINUES BETWEEN LOCATIONS

RELIUS grabs onto bow of rotating boat. Hoists SIMPLE into boat.

SIMPLE coughs up water in safety--

00:14, 00:13--

15

SIMPLE's boat bangs RELIUS on the head creating a wound that bleeds profusely. Red water around her.

RELIUS twists in panic. Met by walls of fog in every direction she looks up. Her face caught by blue glow of vanishing sun.

RELIUS

Save me God Of Litigation! You're the greatest lawyer of all time! The most colossus! The most--

00:02, 00:01, 00:00

♫ APPLIANCE TUNE ♫

16

MICROWAVE DINGS AND KITTENS STOP MEWING

KINDNESS smiles.

KINDNESS

Milky time--

RELIUS has disappeared. A trail of blood leads into fog--

KINDNESS opens microwave door and removes bowl of milk.

KINDNESS turns around and screams. She tosses bowl of warm milk onto LITTER OF KITTENS.

The front door is wide open. The silhouette of a 4-foot-tall BEAKED FIGURE with a lit cigarette in their mouth stands in the doorway. Plumes of smoke rise from the BEAKED FIGURE--

Peaceful snow falls on SIMPLE. He is passed out in the revolving tin boat. The outboard motor spits black smoke. It sputters and dies. SIMPLE's boat comes to a rest.

Fog dissipates as last minutes of day turn into night.

FADE TO:

EXT. FROZEN LAKE (LAKE) - HOURS LATER - NIGHT

CAWING AND CACKLING OF BIRDS

The lake is frozen solid. SIMPLE's boat is stuck in the ice.

He remains unconscious.

A dime sized clump of snow lands on SIMPLE's forehead and melts.

SIMPLE's eyelids part to see a DISPLAY GRADE FIREWORK explode directly upwards. Flower of sparks blossom in the snow clouds.

17

♫ OUTRO ♫

EXT. WOODS - NIGHT

DISTANT SCREECHING OF BIRDS

DELIVERY PENGUIN pushes through a tough thicket of branches. Sees fireworks in the sky and stomps in their direction.

DELIVERY PENGUIN exits an opening in the woods that leads to frozen lake.

18

EXT. FROZEN LAKE - NIGHT

Heavy snow fall.

Fireworks color the clouds, ice and snow. They launch in rapid succession. The supply seems endless. THE BOOMS ARE DEAFENING LIKE A WAR. Diverse types of display fireworks are represented including dragon eggs, water fall, flying fish, timed rain, comet, chrysanthemum, peony and falling leaves to name a few.

HUNDREDS OF PARTIALLY CLOTHED PENGUINS gather on the lake of ice.

DELIVERY PENGUIN joins horde and observes the chaos.

PENGUIN WEARING CAMOUFLAGE HAT slides on belly.

PENGUIN IN BASKETBALL SHORTS AND JERSEY.

PENGUIN WITH OVEN MITTS ON WINGS whines and flaps mitts.

PENGUIN WEARING BRA.

PENGUIN WEARING BICYCLE HELMET AND SCARF defecates and drags his scarf in feces.

Smoke from the fireworks blows everywhere.

DELIVERY PENGUIN makes their way through the crowd.

PENGUIN WEARING HOODIE PULLED OVER HEAD dances with PENGUIN IN WAITRESS UNIFORM.

PENGUIN IN NUDE.

RAGEFUL PENGUIN WITH SWEATER TIED AROUND WAIST accosts PENGUIN WEARING T-SHIRT.

BABY PENGUIN IN ONSIE.

BABY PENGUIN IN PUFFY WINTER COAT.

SIMPLE (O.S.)

Where did you get that?

DELIVERY PENGUIN comes upon SIMPLE in an altercation with PENGUIN IN BATHROBE. They fight over KINDNESS' long wool coat. PENGUIN IN BATHROBE has coat tail clamped in their beak and SIMPLE yanks on opposite end. His hands blue from the cold.

19

SIMPLE

That belongs to my Mom.

RAGEFUL PENGUIN (WITH SWEATER TIED AROUND WAIST) joins PENGUIN IN BATHROBE in the tug-of-war. They pull SIMPLE to the ground and drag him on the ice.

DELIVERY PENGUIN goes to help SIMPLE. They intervene by pecking PENGUIN IN BATHROBE in the eye. PENGUIN IN BATHROBE cowers.

RAGEFUL PENGUIN lunges at DELIVERY PENGUIN. They bump chests and snap beaks at each other.

SIMPLE wraps himself in his Mother's coat.

RAGEFUL PENGUIN defeats DELIVERY PENGUIN with a critical peck to their neck. DELIVERY PENGUIN crumbles.

RAGEFUL PENGUIN marches toward SIMPLE.

SIMPLE

I don't get it.

RAGEFUL PENGUIN is about to strike.

SIMPLE

What do you have to be so angry about?

MACHINE GUN OF MULTI-COLORED FIREWORKS EXPLODE ABOVE

MARLIN charges into battle screaming. He wields SIMPLE's oar over his head.

MARLIN smacks RAGEFUL PENGUIN in the face with the flat blade of oar. RAGEFUL PENGUIN collapses.

MARLIN

Hurts doesn't it?

MARLIN steals the sweater tied around RAGEFUL PENGUIN's waist. He puts it on over his pajamas.

SIMPLE

Marlin?

MARLIN

Let's go. These birds are gettin violent.

20

SIMPLE

My house isn't too far.

MARLIN

Fine by me.

SIMPLE sees that DELIVERY PENGUIN lay bleeding from neck. He helps DELIVERY PENGUIN stand.

MARLIN

Come on.

SIMPLE unties DELIVERY PENGUIN's work boots freeing their webbed feet.

SIMPLE

Follow us. My Mom's a nurse. She'll fix you up no problem.

SIMPLE and MARLIN run into the darkness of the falling snow away from the CROWD OF PARTIALLY CLOTHED PENGUINS. DELIVERY PENGUIN stays close.

FADE TO:

EXT. KINDNESS' HOME - LATER - NIGHT

THUNDER OF MANY COLORS LIGHT THE SCENE

Snow has let up.

MARLIN, SIMPLE and DELIVERY PENGUIN come in from the frozen lake. MARLIN uses oar as walking stick. They trudge up the snow covered slope behind Kindness' Home.

The back door hangs ajar. SIMPLE runs ahead into house.

SIMPLE

Mom!

INT. KINDNESS' HOME

MUFFLED EXPLOSIONS FROM FIREWORKS OUTSIDE

MEWING in darkness.

SIMPLE turns on light switch.

LITTER OF KITTENS crawl in a puddle of milk on the cement floor.

21

SIMPLE

Mom?

SIMPLE looks in the bathroom. Drags his Mother's coat tail wherever he goes.

MARLIN and DELIVERY PENGUIN enter.

MARLIN

This your place? You're poorer than me.

SIMPLE

She's not here.

MARLIN

Why would your Ma be here when you found her coat out there?

SIMPLE

It was an empty hope I guess.

MARLIN eyes DELIVERY PENGUIN.

MARLIN

How about you? You know something?

MARLIN grabs DELIVERY PENGUIN by the collar and shakes them.

SIMPLE

Hey he helped me Marlin.

MARLIN examines the embroidered postal service logo on DELIVERY PENGUIN's shirt.

MARLIN

I think this one worked at the post office.

MARLIN lets DELIVERY PENGUIN go.

SIMPLE

Maybe it's Buddy.

MARLIN

That fella who smiles all the time?

SIMPLE

Are you Buddy?

22

DELIVERY PENGUIN has no response.

SIMPLE

Well we'll call you Buddy.

BUDDY (DELIVERY PENGUIN)'s eyes roll back and they faint. MARLIN catches them.

MARLIN is grossed out.

MARLIN

He's bleeding all over me.

SIMPLE rushes to the cabinet beneath the kitchenette sink. He opens it and searches inside.

SIMPLE

Weird. It was here this morning.

MARLIN

What was?

SIMPLE

My Mom's med-kit. But there's this...

SIMPLE grabs a TINY GUN from within tangle of plumbing and cleaning products.

MARLIN

Is that real?

SIMPLE

It's real. Just little. Like a spy gun.

Tucks gun into overall pocket.

SIMPLE

You only get four shots.

SIMPLE digs in the inner-pocket of his Mother's coat and pulls out her Volkswagen keys.

SIMPLE

Have you driven before?

MARLIN

Hell yeah I have.

23

SIMPLE presses the unlock button.

HONK FROM OUT FRONT

MORNING SUNLIGHT CREEPS IN FROM WINDOWS

♫ ARCTIC WORLD ♫

EXT. KINDNESS' HOME - FRONT - DAWN

The snow clouds are gone. Clear sky. Pale blue sunlight sweeps over the land.

Blankets of snow cover the ground yet the driveway is plowed and Volkswagen snowless. No frost or ice on the car windows either.

SIMPLE, MARLIN and BUDDY come out the front door. MARLIN carrying BUDDY.

BUDDY has bloody toilet paper wrapped around his neck.

SIMPLE opens back passenger door of the car and MARLIN loads BUDDY in.

24

The belongings that were jam packed into the Golf are all missing.

MARLIN gets in the drivers side. SIMPLE rides shotgun.

SIMPLE

Do you drive often?

MARLIN

I got it.

MARLIN adjusts seat and mirrors.

The last fireworks launch over the lake as MARLIN backs out of the driveway.

25

Jasper Spicero (b. 1990, Yankton SD) lives and works in Los Angeles. He had solo exhibitions at Swiss Institute, New York; Mother Culture, LA; Time Square Space, New York; Johan Berggren, Malmo;  New Galerie, Paris; Wapato Jail, Portland; duo-exhibitions with Bunny Rogers at Arcadia Missa, London; with Alex Dolan at 4649, Tokyo; with Win McCarthy, at The Rudolph Steiner Bookstore, New York; and created installations at LUMA Westbau, Zurich and Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris.