I’ve spent over a week thinking of this book and how to quantify the next chapter in a saga that defined my childhood. I think it would be too easy to say it isn’t “canon” or merely “fan fiction”. Maybe because it’s hard to move on, or accept that Harry grew up like the rest of us? Or perhaps that he grew into a world that no longer finds him special or the chosen one? I had trouble accepting this, but it did not make me doubt Rowling’s authenticity. She gave us the characters after all and she ultimately decides their fates. Tolkien knew this better than anyone when he wrote his appendages and detailed the ultimate ends of his fellowship. But for me what makes this book indispensable as part of the original story is where it leaves us: in a world of magic and wonders, where essential truths persist into adulthood. I think the world and those who grew up reading Harry’s novels needed reminded that love conquers the overwhelming pain of tragedy, division within us, and even time itself.
I published two short plays last year involving wannabe outlaws Vince and Thrash. They usually try to break the law and become infamous in the process. It never quite works out and last time we saw them they were arrested for domestic disturbance. This is the next chapter in their saga: Prison Pact.
County jail cell with a bed and toilet.
(VINCE sits on the toilet holding a Pogo stick.)
VINCE: We’ve done it now, Thrash. It’s the Green Mile for us.
POLICEMAN: You’re not in prison. It’s a jail cell.
VINCE: Won’t be long now.
THRASH: Do you think we get a last meal?
VINCE: Hopefully, it’s something sweet like the outside air.
THRASH: The sweet air of freedom. Heavenly, ain’t it boss?
POLICEMAN: You’ve been in here less than an hour for domestic disturbance.
VINCE: But it feels like years weighed heavy on my soul.
THRASH: Sinner’s never prosper, mama used to say.
VINCE: And we’re the sinners, never prospered.
THRASH: Amen, Vince.
(Vince starts playing harmonica.)
POLICEMAN: Where on earth did you get a harmonica? I searched you before you went in.
VINCE: It’s just something us lifers take to.
THRASH: I’m starting to feel old, Vince.
VINCE: Do you think we should join the Aryan nation? Or convert to Islam?
THRASH: I don’t know. We could ask that gentleman on the bed.
VINCE: He looks deep in contemplation.
POLICEMAN: He was arrested for drunk driving. He’s passed out drunk.
VINCE: Or he’s slowly using a rock hammer to bust out.
POLICEMAN: By the time he wakes up, he’ll want to use a hammer on his own head.
THRASH: I think we could bust out.
VINCE: It could work. We didn’t make it as famous artists or murderers.
THRASH: Unless, you count that squirrel.
VINCE: We will send his mother acorns after we break out.
THRASH: But, how? The bastille is impenetrable.
VINCE: I learned some tricks watching Mythbusters. We casually ask the guard for some salsa and BAM! In five to twelve years, we’re through the wall.
POLICEMAN: I can hear you plotting. Perhaps you could talk quieter?
THRASH: No thank you. We want this breakout to be infamous.
VINCE: You’ll have the honor of telling our story.
Policeman: Oh, Lord.
(Policeman stands up.)
Maybe I should check on you two.
(Policeman approaches to find two mannequins and an empty jar of salsa.)
© Ben Ditmars 2015
On my deathbed in 2584:
Holographic News Anchor: Ben Ditmars, having invented flying broomsticks, and pioneered quidditch for realsies in 2230, is about to die. Naturally, the deaths of all famous celebrities are streamed live on intergalactic holovision, formerly known as TMZ. Let’s capture his last words.
Ben: Hello, Holographic News Anchor.
Holographic News Anchor: Hello, Ben. How are you feeling?
Ben: I’m about to die, but it could be worse.
Holographic News Anchor: How’s that?
Ben: My soul could be split into eight pieces.
Holographic News Anchor: That would be a buzz kill- which is actually a form of brutal execution in the future. Do you have any regrets?
Ben: Regrets? No, none of my own.
Holographic News Anchor: But you have someone else’s?
Ben: Of course. I have collected many regrets from fictional characters. And I never got over the ending for Corpse Bride. He should have chosen the Corpse Bride.
Holographic News Anchor: I have access to the Wikipedia and refute your claim. Victor had a life to live, you see.
Ben: The Corpse Bride was quirky and hot. Screw being mortal.
Holographic News Anchor: Any other fictional regrets?
Ben: Yes, I think Snape should have been nicer to Harry.
Holographic News Anchor: But, Voldemort would have seen it in his mind!
Ben: That’s true, but when he was dying, he could have thrown in “my son” or “I love you.”
Holographic News Anchor: That is inconsistent with his character’s development!
Ben: You know a lot about culture in the early 2000s for a hologram in the present.
Holographic News Anchor: Don’t tell anyone, but (takes off a mask.) I’m J.K. Rowling. I’ve come to tell you how awesome you are. Also, how sorry I am for killing everyone.
Ben: I knew it! So you do regret killing Dobby, Hedwig, Sirius, Lupin, Tonks, and Fred?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, yes, the books. Everyone remembers the books and not my tyrannical reign as Queen of Scotland.
Ben: I didn’t know you were Queen of Scotland. Or there was one.
J.K. Rowling: That’s because I invented it and fled for Jupiter the next day. Let’s just say, I got in a bad place with some Highlanders, and thought 4,000,000 horcruxes might save me.
Ben: Highlanders are real too!?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, but don’t tell anyone.
Ben: I’m about to die and we’re on intergalactic holovision.
J.K. Rowling: I thought this through about as well as I did the time turners in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Ben: How will you make people forget it?
J.K. Rowling: I’ll just add something on Pottermore tomorrow and come out with a new movie. People love new movies.
(The heart monitor starts sounding erratically.)
Ben: Well, I guess this is the part where I blow up.
Buzz Lightyear: Not today!
(Buzz uses his laser.)
Ben: Now I can live another fifty thousand years!
Buzz Lightyear: Exactly, because lasers really do light up in the future! Unfortunately, I’m still not a flying toy.
Ben: Freaking science.
Buzz Lightyear: I know, right!?
Rob Zimmermann encouraged me write a sequel to a short play I wrote titled, Suicide Pact. I had some inspiration over the last couple weeks and decided to give it a try.
A small apartment with a broken television.
(VINCE sorts through a collection of butcher knives while THRASH measures poison.)
VINCE: Dude, we’ll never become famous artists.
THRASH: Let’s hurry up and become famous for murder. It’s a lot easier.
VINCE: We’ve got to finesse it a little.
VINCE: People kill each other all the time. We have to stand out.
THRASH: So, we eat people?
VINCE: We tried that; they taste awful.
THRASH: That’s why we decapitate them first.
VINCE: I don’t understand how that helps.
THRASH: People guilt trip you when they have heads. I’ve got enough on my conscious without making eye contact and feeling awkward.
VINCE: There’s a problem.
THRASH: What’s that?
VINCE: We have no car and one roller skate.
THRASH: What happened to the other?
VINCE: I sold it for ramen.
THRASH: Why would they buy a single roller skate?
VINCE: Some people aren’t so plegic as you and I.
THRASH: (understandingly.) I see. What else can we move on?
VINCE: I found a pogo stick in the closet.
THRASH: We’re going on a rampage with one roller skate and a pogo stick?
VINCE: I thought you could hang onto me while I bounce.
THRASH: That could work.
(THRASH fastens a roller skate as VINCE climbs on the pogo stick.)
VINCE: Let’s ride!
THRASH: (hanging onto Vince for support.) How do we kill people like this?
VINCE: Snap their necks. Everyone will talk about the Roller Pogo killers and their neck snapping mayhem.
THRASH: I don’t know how to snap someone’s neck.
VINCE: Gimli snapped orc necks in Lord of the Rings. People are like orcs, right?
THRASH: I suppose their anatomy is similar. (They bounce and roll their way outside.) Who do we kill first?
VINCE: How about that lonely soul in blue? No one will remember him.
THRASH: Vince, I think that’s a police officer. (VINCE hops forward dragging THRASH.) Hey, stop! Vince! There’s a squirrel.
VINCE: Don’t worry, we won’t hit it.
(VINCE collides with the squirrel before stopping; THRASH skids into the police car.)
POLICEMAN: (getting out of his cruiser.) The both of you have a lot of explaining to do.
VINCE: (crying.) I’m so sorry, officer. I never meant to hurt a squirrel. I just wanted to be infamous for murder.
POLICEMAN: Are either of you currently employed?
VINCE and THRASH: We’re artists!
POLICEMAN: But how do you support yourselves?
VINCE: I’m a substitute teacher for cats.
THRASH: I count bones at the landfill.
POLICEMAN: I don’t think those are real jobs.
VINCE: Well, they don’t strictly pay us.
THRASH: It’s more of a hobby.
VINCE: I think of myself as an intern.
THRASH: Freelance. Here’s my card.
(THRASH hands him his business card.)
POLICEMAN: I’m taking both of you in.
VINCE: Will you tell the other cops about us?
THRASH: We want them to remember our names.
POLICEMAN: I’m sure they will never forget them.
© Ben Ditmars 2014
A small apartment with a broken television.
(VINCE sits next to THRASH on the floor. They flip through bills, most with FINAL NOTICE written on them.)
VINCE: Thrash, we’re never gonna make it as artists.
THRASH: Don’t say that, man. I think my sculpting will really take off.
VINCE: No one sculpts, Thrash and no one’s gonna read my poetry.
THRASH: We just gotta keep at it.
VINCE: You said that six years ago when we moved to New York.
THRASH: It’s still true.
VINCE: It isn’t Thrash. No one ever lives to see themselves famous.
THRASH: So what do you suggest? Suicide?
VINCE: Yes, actually.
(THRASH gets out his cell-phone.)
What are you doing?
THRASH: I’m calling the hotline. You’re talking to them.
VINCE: No, I’m not. Think about it, Thrash. Every famous artist killed themselves before making it big.
THRASH: Edgar Allen Poe didn’t.
VINCE: He drank himself to death. Same difference.
THRASH: (putting away cell-phone.) So, we kill ourselves?
VINCE: Yes, but the death has to be memorable.
THRASH: We could do a bunch of drugs.
VINCE: Can’t afford it.
THRASH: Stick our heads in the oven?
VINCE: Sylvia Plath already did it. We don’t wanna be posers.
THRASH: (indignant.) Well, I’ve listed two. Why don’t you suggest something?
VINCE: I could brick you into a wall.
THRASH: Come, on! That was Poe’s short story. And you accuse me of being unoriginal?
VINCE: Okay, I’ve got it. We lie down in the middle of the road and wait for a truck.
THRASH: Won’t that hurt?
VINCE: Not very long.
THRASH: What if we eat each other?
VINCE: It could work.
THRASH: The whole art world will be talking about those two roommates who ate each other.
VINCE: And of course they’ll want to buy our sculptures and poetry. We’ll be novelties.
THRASH: Who goes first?
VINCE: I’ll start on your leg. (He goes toward a drawer in the kitchen.) It should be the most appetizing part.
THRASH: I think I should start eating you first.
VINCE: (closing drawer.) Why’s that?
THRASH: You’re a lot fatter.
VINCE: Screw that, you got ten pounds on me.
THRASH: We’ll never decide who eats the other. Let’s flip a coin.
VINCE: I’ve got a better idea.
VINCE: Let’s go on a killing spree. That way we live and other people die.
THRASH: But no one remembered Manson for his music.
VINCE: They still remembered him.
THRASH: I won’t look good with a swastika carved into my forehead.
VINCE: I’ll do it for you. My geometry teacher always liked the way I drew lines.
THRASH: Okay, let’s do this.
VINCE: I’ll get the car.
THRASH: It doesn’t run.
VINCE: Shoelace express?
THRASH: No way. We’re doing this rampage on roller skates.
THRASH: That’s dope.
© Ben Ditmars 2014