|The Haunting of Editor Martin
An Original Play by Don Kehne
Illustrated by Betsy Kehne
Alls fair in love, war and Harry Potter.
Editor's Note: Once upon a midnight dreary, as he pondered weak and weary o'er a missing volume of Harry Potter, inspiration came rapping, tapping, rapping at Don Kehne's office door. When his trance was broken in the pre-dawn hours, he found he'd written a screenplay.
In honor of that master of midnight inspiration, Edgar Allen Poe; of life's hidden marvels revealed in the mysteries of Harry Potter; and of all ghost stories, we share Kehne's playlet as our millennial Halloween story.
Scene 1: Midnight
Opening with slow pan shot: Cozy bedroom in country house. Dark-haired bespectacled woman (Martin) sits in bed, propped up by goosedown pillows, reading gleefully from book. On bedstand next to her are a lighted candle and glass of red wine. Outside, rain pelts against window
Special effects (throughout): Lightning, thunder, rain
Medium shot: Windows illuminated by flashes of light
Medium shot: Martin glances up from book, reaches for glass, sips, smiles contentedly, puts down glass, adjusts bookmark, then settles back to reading
Special effects: Muffled thump from somewhere downstairs in basement
Medium shot: Martin looks up, half-closes book, listens
Special effects: Louder thump, downstairs; creak of door
Medium shot: Martin sits erect, puts bookmark in book, looks at key in bedroom door
Closeup: Key in lock
Special effects: Loud thump in downstairs hallway
Medium shot: Martin startles, grips edge of blanket
Martin (tentatively): Hello?
Special effects: Loud thump at foot of stairs
Martin (more forcefully): Hello? Is anyone down there?
Voice: (eerily, and as if from a great distance): Where... is ....it?
Special effects: Clanging of chains
Medium shot: Martin freezes in fear, then shoots a glance at the book in her hand
Closeup: Book with half-obscured title, Adventures of Harry Potter. Harry Potter bookmark protrudes from top of pages
Voice (eerily, but closer): Where is my sacred book?
Special effects: Creak of stairs
Closeup: Martin glances wildly about, then stuffs book beneath pillow
Medium shot from window: Martin jumps up, dashes over to lock door, then leaps back into bed
Voice (intestinally): Give me my Harry Potter!!!!
Medium shot: Bedroom door flickers with candlelight
Special effects: Shuffle, thump, shuffle, thump
Tracking shot: Camera follows sound out in hallway down bedroom wall toward door
Medium shot: Martin draws blanket up to her face
Voice (moaning): Give me my Harry Potter
Closeup: Doorknob rattles
Voice: so I may return it to
Extreme closeup: Martin's eyes locked on doorknob
Closeup: Key turns in lock by itself
Voice (rising): .... the nearest male relative
Extreme closeup: doorknob turns, clicks
Closeup: Martin, paralyzed with fear, still watching
Voice: of a two-cat household on the misty shores of Shady Side
Medium shot: Door slowly opens
Special effects: Creaking of door
Voice: run by a couple whose name rhymes with redsy clean .and bark re-run-sick.
Closeup: Martin squeeze her eyes shut
Closeup:Widening door crack
Closeup: Martin, frantic, gnaws fingernails like corn on the cob
Special effects: Sound of rapid typing, punctuated by typewriter bell
Voice: Know that I seek not the first of the sacred books, because that book has been read by everyone and their mother.
Medium shot: Door continues to open slowly
Closeup: Martin peeks from one eye
Voice: And just as no cart ever pulled itself from a hole in the ground, so do I seek not the third book.
Closeup: Martin frowns, wiggles pinky in ear, then listens closely
Voice: Neither do I seek the fourth, the most sacred of books, else I bring some mortal spill to the sacred beans.
Medium shot: Martin lowers blanket slightly, cringing
Voice (rising): But it is the second, the second sacred book, that I want. Give me my second book!!!!
Martin (boldly): Go away, you meanie!!! You don't deserve it!!!
Medium shot: Door bursts open with a howl, revealing black swirling void behind doorway
Closeup: Martin's face cowering behind blanket
Martin (muffled): Go awayyyyyyyy!!!!
Special effects: Sound of windstorm
Medium shot: Curtains whip wildly about the room
Voice: The book the boooooook
Closeup: Martin lowers blanket, then flings pillow in direction of voice
Medium shot, over Martin's shoulder: Pillow flies across portal, hits void, then disintegrates with a loud pop
Closeup: Martin covers her head with the blanket
Martin (muffled): Eeeeeeeeeeef!!!!
Closeup: Candle flame flutters
Closeup: Martin looks in terror at fluttering flame
Martin (even more muffled): Eeeeeeeeefffff!!!!
Closeup: Candle snuffed out by wind
Special effects: Dark
Martin (louder, but muffled still): Eeeeeefffffffffff!!!!
Special effects: Shuffle, thump shuffle, thump
Voice (low rumble, very close): Give me my Harry Potter
Special effects: Sound of person hyperventilating beneath blanket
Scene 2: Next Morning,
Opening shot, slow pan: Bright daylight fills the bedroom. Curtains are tussled but undamaged. A few loose papers are scattered about the room. Just outside the doorway stands a British constable who is speaking softly to a tall man, Martin's husband, Lambrecht, who has his back to camera.
Tight shot from Lambrecht's left shoulder
Constable: And you're certain noffin' is missin', sir? After all, if you was indeed a vict'm of a burglary, one would expec' some sor' a' valubools to be burgooled from this vicinity. Given that noffin' was burgooled, one could dejuce that no buglahry had transpoired.
Lambrecht: Constable, your logic is as inescapable as the Mir. Everything seems to be here, just where we left it: my wife's jewelry, our wallets, the stereo, the tv, my manuscript. Everything that someone could use or need is present and accounted for.
Constable: So it would seem, sir.
Medium shot: Lambrecht glances at dog (Max) sprawled out at top of stairs
Lambrecht (puzzled): Even Max. Why wouldn't they want to take Max?
Constable: All the more reason to suspec' that noffin' crim'nool 'appened here.
Lambrecht: So how do you account for the cellar door being forced open? Or the basement door? It was bolted on this side. And my wife: you saw her. You heard what she said. I mean, what could have? She swears
Constable: If I may int'rupt, sir. Your wife said it 'erself. That was quite a' blow we 'ad last evenin'. Terbool. Even scared a few prayers out a' meself. We boaf know what a wind like tha' can do. More than a bit a' damedge giv'n the opporchoonity. In my day, I seen barn doors flyin' troo the air like kites. Cellar door? That's like poppin' open a tin of kippers to a storm like that. As for the basement door, well, per'aps the bolt didn't catch. The draf' from the cellar would ha' knocked it open in a pinch.
And the rest? The lightnin', the funder, the wind, the rain, you being away. Frow a few creaky boards in there, and no wonder the missus 'ad the reaction she did. Not that 'er case isn't a bit out a' the ordna'ry, but well, there you 'ave it. Price of bein' blessed wiff a imagatiff mind, I suppose.
Lambrecht: Perhaps you're right. I'm probably making too much of this. It's just
Constable: As I was sayin', sir, if there was some real evidence to suppor' it, I'd be the first to start a 'vestigation.
Lambrecht: Of course. Well, constable, I won't waste any more of your time. Thank you for stopping by.
Medium shot from stairs: Constable turns to leave, stops, then reaches into his front pocket and pulls out a crumpled cardboard strip with a tassle at one end
Constable: Oh, nearly forgot, sir. Found this out back. A bit soggy, but no worse for wear.
Closeup: Constable holds up strip
Extreme closeup: Strip is the Harry Potter bookmark
Medium shot: Lambrecht takes bookmark, brushes it off, looks at it quizically.
Lambrecht: Now how the dickens
Constable (raising his eyebrows): Sir?
Lambrecht: Oh, it's my wife's. She just finished the first of those damned books. Her staff is fighting over the second right now. I'm surprised she didn't find a way to spirit it away from them. Like they say: All's fair in love and war and Harry Potter.
Constable (chuckles): Yes, indeed, sir. I got a 'ol 'ouseful ready to take the 'atchet to each other over book four.
Medium low shot (from bottom of stairs): Constable walking down, followed by Lambrecht
Lambrecht (laughs): Is that right? Ever get a crack at it?
Constable (smiles): Tried once. The kids had me bound wiff bailin' wire and stuffed in a cu'board before you can say bob's your uncle. But while they was takin' me out a' circulation, their mum does a double-cross and makes off wiff the goods. Didn't hear from her for two days. Finally called from her cousins' in Brighton. Just needed to get away for a spell. Relax a bit. Do a bit of light reading. Right.
Medium tracking shot: Lambrecht follows constable to front door
Lambrecht (opens door, shaking his head): All over a children's book.
Constable: Indeed, sir.
Lambrecht (shaking Constable's hand): Well, thank you again, Constable.
Constable (dons helmet): My pleasure, sir. All my best to your wife. I'm sure she'll be back to 'erself in no time.
Medium shot: From door as Constable walks away
Medium shot: Lambrecht stands in door, mulling
Lambrecht (calling out as constable nears end of walk): That was Brighton, you said?
Constable (over his shoulder): No place better, or so claims the missus. Good day, sir.
Long shot: Constable turns corner, exits scene
Medium shot from walk: Lambrecht turns, walks back in house. Door closes behind him
Crane shot: Camera rises, tracking to the second floor of house; window frame appears. Light haired figure visible behind pane
Jump to closeup: Martin staring out window, eyes fixed ahead in terror. Her hair is pure white.
Music: Suspenseful, rise to crescendo.
Cut to black.
This manuscript was received as an e-mail. The following morning, Martin made a call to the bookseller and an appointment with her hairdresser. That very day, she returned Harry Potter: The Chamber of Secrets to the staff member whose name rhymes with redsy clean.
By return e-mail, she received this message:
I am writing to express my deepest gratitude (in advance, as I have gotten word only and no goods yet) for your generous offering. Learning that you had somehow - unintentionally, to be sure, without the slightest malice aforethought - taken part in an unsanctioned and ethically bankrupt transaction involving certain prized literature, you made the ultimate sacrifice: Without question, without qualm, without even so much as a blink, you returned the book to its owner so that it could at last be routed to its rightful heir. Such an act speaks volumes of your character, and a voluminous character you are indeed. Should one look to the O.E.D. for a definition of the word, one should surely find your name therein inscribed, second to none in usage but my own.
Let me declare that this heretofore unnoticed and untold sacrifice will go neither unnoticed nor untold hereafter. In that great guano-encrusted hall of marbles we call posterity, rest assured that yours will be forever the largest and brightest bust.
-Respectfully and most humbly yours,
The Miracle of Harry Potter
Harry Potter, the young wizard who has brought magic back into reading for young and old alike, came to teacher Joanne Kathleen Rowling as she traveled by train from Manchester to London, England.
With no pen to record her ideas, Rowling played out in her mind the story of a young lad named Harry and his adventures, many with a girl named Hermione Granger. Rowling now admits the bookish Hermione was modeled on her younger self.
The first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone (1998), took five years to write. With her infant daughter in tow, Rowling wrote mostly in the warmth of local cafes and in longhand, the method she still prefers.
Rowling's four Harry Potter books have earned over $29.1 million for the single mother who once subsisted on only $110 per week in state benefits. With the publication last July of the fourth book in the projected seven-book series, Rowling became England's third richest woman. That book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, became the fastest selling book in history with three million copies sold in 48 hours.
In between were Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, released in June of 1999, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, released just three months later in September of 1999.
Rowling's initials, J.K., appear in place of her name, as a ploy by English publisher Arthur A. Levine to make the book more appealing to boy readers who might imagine a women would know nothing of the wizard world.
Recalling her life as a single and struggling parent, Rowling, 35, recently donated a six-figure amount to The National Council for One Parent Families.
There are still three books to come as Harry comes of age in the wizard world. Harry Potter will also come to life on the big screen, as Warner Brothers has purchased the rights to produce the first Harry Potter movie, scheduled for released in November of 2001. The next Harry Potter book, likely to be released some time in 2001, is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.