INT. BARNYARD PLAYHOUSE STUDIOS; BURBANK, CA - MORNING.
Scene opens to a set designed to show the front of a barn sitting amidst rolling hills. A cardboard sun with a huge smile painted on it is hanging from a line in the background. The barn’s doors are open and bales of hay are situated around to complete the look. The PAs run back and forth seeing to last minute details. The Director, who is smoking a cigarette and drinking whiskey from a Starbucks cup, snaps his fingers and the PAs scatter. The Director then gestures to the Line Producer with his cigarette hand getting ash on the screen of his assistant’s tablet. She pulls out a sanitizing wipe and scrubs the screen like it was infected with plague.
LINE PRODUCER: Mark. Four, three, two . . . one . . .
DIRECTOR: Action! (His personal assistant almost drops her tablet.)
DUSTY: Hello guys and gals, I’m Dusty Dog!
ROSIE: I’m Rosie Kitten!
JUNIOR: And I’m Willard Isaac Zachary Mule Jr.
(in unison): And you’re watching BARNYARD PLAYHOUSE!!
The cast does a silly dance while the Director lights a new cigarette and asks his assistant to top off his “coffee.” She pulls out a flask and pours a shot’s worth, but he glares at her until she fills the cup to the brim with Jameson.
ROSIE: Hey Dusty?
DUSTY: Yeah, Rosie?
ROSIE: I’m mad. (Rosie folds her arms and pouts dramatically)
DUSTY: Oh no Kitten, I hate when you’re mad. What happened?
ROSIE: We didn’t get to answer the viewers’ questions yesterday. It’s my favorite part of the show.
DUSTY: (claps his hands to his face, dramatically) Oh no, I must’ve forgot!
ROSIE: Mmhmm, sure did. Now all the people who watched yesterday’s show probably think we don’t care about their questions.
JUNIOR: Well actually Rosie, the average viewer for our show is between the ages of three and nine. (Junior pulls out a graph with statistics and figures for the show.) Chances are they didn’t even realize that we didn’t do the Question of the Day. Plus, they’re way too young to actually write the letters that we read on the show. Those letters are written by the producers and then juzzed up to sound like a toddler wrote them.
Rosie looks at the PAs nervously, who in turn look at the Director’s Assistant nervously. She looks at the Director who is staring at his cup. It’s empty again and he shakes it in front of his Assistant’s face inches away from her nose.
DUSTY: (laughs nervously) Producers? What Producers? Junior, you’re talking crazy—we’re just a couple of barnyard animals!
(Dusty does the silly dance from earlier and drops to his knees with a fan flare, but Junior just stares)
JUNIOR: No, look I have the charts right here. Here’s the ratings from last season, they’re really bad by the way. The focus groups were really critical about the cardboard sun with a creepy Mr. Roger’s smile—
ROSIE: (whispering to JUNIOR) What’re you doing? That’s not your line!
JUNIOR: (whispering to ROSIE) Damn the lines you painted theatre whore!
ROSIE: (still whispering) What the hell is wrong with you, have you been drinking again?
JUNIOR: (still whispering) Yeah, I had two shots of “Rosie’s-a-slut” and a pint of “Guess-who’s-banging-Dusty-in-the-Walgreen’s-parking-lot”-
(The lead cameraman looks back at the producers and mouths “what’s wrong with Junior . . .” One of the producers shrugs while another nods at Rosie and makes a crude gesture with his thumb and index finger.
Rosie smiles and pretends not to hear Junior, or see the producers who’re now acting out the Walgreen parking lot incident with a roll of Chapstick and a coffee cup sleeve. Dusty tries to steer things back on track.)
DUSTY: (abruptly) Anyway, we have quite the show for you today. Today we’re going to learn about the “Internet.” Rosie why don’t you tell us how it was started?
(Rosie chances a look at the cue cards while the Director finishes his cigarette and puts down his “coffee.” He takes a pill bottle from his pocket and pours a bunch of blue tablets into his hand and swallows them. His Assistant and the Camera Crew pretend not to notice.)
ROSIE: Well, the Internet was created when the Federal Government tasked developers to design a way for computers to communicate via networks. They needed it to be reliable so lots of research was done until one day they made a way for computers to use networks to access various pages using the World Wide Web.
DUSTY: Well that’s really interesting Rosie, but what can you do on the Internet?
ROSIE: Lots of things. Although attempts were made as early as the 60s, the Internet as we know it debuted in the 90s and since then it’s grown into a veritable source of information, commerce, and entertainment.
JUNIOR: Including, but not limited to, porn.
DUSTY & ROSIE (together): Junior!
(The Director asks for more whiskey and as his Assistant fills his cup again; he tells her he can make her a star. He winks at her, but she reminds him he has a wife and two kids, and that Barbara is on her way to the set as they speak.)
DUSTY: So Rosie, you were saying?
ROSIE: Oh, so one of my favorite things to do with the Internet is—
JUNIOR: Hook up with strangers next to a convenience store dumpster?
ROSIE: Look up recipes, (Rosie says deliberately, she smiles wider but looks manic in the process) and with the Internet you don’t even have to leave your home. You can order everything online and have it delivered.
JUNIOR: Yeah, you can even order a new spouse. A nice girl named Anya, or Svetlana, or maybe Melania . . .
(Rosie stares at Junior pointedly while the Director is comparing his wife and his Assistant’s bodies in loud tones. His Assistant tells him she has a whistle and pepper spray.)
ROSIE: And guess what Dusty!
JUNIOR: You’re in heat?
(Rosie growls angrily)
JUNIOR: Just kidding . . .
ROSIE: Actually, I found a recipe for your favorite meal, Gumbo.
DUSTY: Mmmm. I love Gumbo!
JUNIOR: Wait, doesn’t Gumbo have sausage in it? You know what never mind, if you don’t mind eating Wilbur I don’t either.
(Dusty looks at the producers for help but they’re busy trying to keep the Director from his Assistant. He had recently started throwing cheese nips in her cleavage.)
DUSTY:(speaking to himself) And to think I gave up Air Bud for this . . . (sighs and rubs his snout, he looks at Rosie who’s still smiling manically) Tell us about the recipe Rosie . . .
ROSIE: Well the recipe can differ from person to person since Gumbo started as a dish mainly comprised of leftovers. However, it has since became an example of the various cultures of Louisiana and is a huge part of the state’s cuisine.
DUSTY: Well I’m excited. I can’t wait to get started.
JUNIOR: Phrasing . . .
ROSIE: (to Junior) Shut . . . up. (to the camera) So one starts with making a roux which is flour cooked in a fat, like butter or bacon grease.
JUNIOR: Bacon? Oh man, Charlotte’s not going to like this episode . . .
(Rosie mouths a slew of obscenities while the Director keeps dropping things and making his Assistant pick them up. When she notices a flash of a camera she turns around and slaps him. Meanwhile the PA’s roll a mobile stove top with all the ingredients onto the set.)
ROSIE: Then you add sausage, minced celery, onion, green peppers, and garlic. Once it’s finished, set aside, and boil two quarts of water in a Dutch oven with chicken stock and bouillon.
DUSTY: That sounds delicious, what comes next?
JUNIOR: Wait, we’re eating chicken too? But who’s going to do the morning announcements without Rock H. Rooster?
(A rooster sitting in “hair and make-up” perks up at the sound of his name. Rock sees Junior smiling at him but mouths the word "asshole" and flips him the "bird" before going back to his conversation with the make-up artist.)
ROSIE: Then reduce the heat and mix in brown sugar, salt, tabasco, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, tomato sauce, and the sausage and veggies from before. Let simmer for 1 hour, mixing in filé gumbo powder at the three quarter mark. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, cook okra for 15 minutes with vinegar and the pan drippings. Add the okra to the Dutch Oven. Lastly, add crab meat, shrimp, and Worcestershire sauce.
JUNIOR: No! Not Sebastian too! Are we seriously just ignoring we’re about to eat half the damn farm.
(Rosie snarls at Junior, a muscle near Dusty’s cheek begins to spasm and the Director is now splashing his Assistant with water and telling her to take her blouse off. She removes her earrings and takes off her heels instead. The producers, trying to avoid what’s coming next, attempt to take his bottle. The Director, refuses to hand it over. Dusty, Rosie, and Junior try to ignore it but are interrupted by the Director’s foul language.)
ROSIE: Now don’t forget to add two more teaspoons of filé before—
DIRECTOR: (wrestling with three of the producers) Screw you Martha! Everyone hates you, and your tuna fish casserole tastes like cat shit! No, you can’t have my bottle Roger! Your toupee looks like roadkill. Stop it! Stay away from me Gary. I’m not drunk you’re just ugly!
ROSIE: —before serving, and there you go kids. Authentic Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo. Make sure to ask your parents before using a stove.
DUSTY: (eating a big spoonful) This is delicious Rosie! You should make this every day.
JUNIOR: Yeah, it’s so good you can hardly taste the death in every bite.
(The producers get the Director’s bottle but when they let him go, he grabs his Assistant’s chest. She screams and punches him. The Director falls backwards onto the floor. The producers, Dusty, Junior, Rosie, and the crew all gasp. His Assistant then begins kicking him repeatedly while shouting Take Back the Night quotes.)
ASSISTANT: My body, my rules!
DUSTY: Well, we’re all out of time, but we hope to see you again tomorrow! Until then, I’m Dusty—
ROSIE: I’m Rosie!
JUNIOR: And I’m thoroughly disturbed at the lack of professionalism on this set . . .
DUSTY: And we’ll see you next time at . . .
DUSTY AND ROSIE: —Barnyard Playhouse!!
JUNIOR: Oh who gives a shit . . . (Junior finishes his gumbo and drops his bowl with a loud crash)
The light fades on set and the camera pans out to show the producers now wrestling with the Director’s Assistant. They finally get her away, but she runs back and hits him with a boom stick, the mic feedback spikes as it makes contact.
ASSISTANT: And this is for Barbara, you jerk!
Brandon was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is slated to receive his Masters from DePaul University in the spring of 2020. He writes YA, historical fiction, and will begin work on a graphic novel later this year. Brandon currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.