SCENE 1, EXTERIOR. MORNING, PLAYGROUND. A few slivers of snow fall from the grey morning skies as a fifth grade teacher makes his way outside for before-school duty. The online thermometer he’d read earlier that morning had a reading of fourteen degrees. A few of the teacher’s students wander over from time to time to talk. One of the girls, Becky, excitedly approaches.
BECKY: Mr. Z, I just stuck my finger on the pole over there and a bit of the skin came off!
[The teacher glances over to the four, four-foot poles around the fire hydrant where a young boy is milling about].
TEACHER: Now that was pretty smart now wasn’t it?
BECKY: [Giggling]. Probably not.
TEACHER: You know what, Becky? You should have stuck your tongue to the pole…now THAT would have been REALLY smart.
[Becky laughs and walks back toward the poles as the teacher is asked a question by another student. A few moments later, Becky comes running back to the teacher, her voice full of frantic concern].
BECKY: Mr. Z! Mr. Z! Joey’s stuck to the pole!
[The teacher, thinking that a joke is being played on him, turns slowly with a doubtful expression].
TEACHER: Oh, really? Is he now?
BECKY: No, seriously…look!
[The teacher gazes in the direction the girl is pointing and sees Joey with his tongue attached to the blue pole. The teacher bolts over to where the boy is flailing is arms and trying to communicate].
TEACHER: [Directed to the closest kid]. Ryan, get to the nearest teacher’s classroom and get a glass of the hottest water you can! GO! NOW!
[The boy breaks into a run towards the school, along with two or three other students following along in his wake. The teacher turns his attention back to the boy who is trying to talk. A shudder passes though the teacher’s spine as visions of A Christmas Story fly through his head. It’s just all so surreal; even watching the movie cannot have prepared him for this particular moment].
RANDOM STUDENT: [Approaching with a group]. Hey, Mr. Z, what’s going on?
TEACHER: Nothing, now get over there, now!
[The teacher points to the other end of the playground. The student and the four or five members of his entourage slowly move away, still trying to catch a glimpse of the tongue-tied boy].
TEACHER: Joey, just why in the world would you stick your tongue on the pole?
JOEY: Youh thold meh tooh, Misthur Zeh.
TEACHER: What do you mean, I told you to?
JOEY: I huhrd youh thell Bekhee thut iht’s thmart thoo puth yoh thung onth thuh phool.
TEACHER: Joey, I was joking. Doing something like this doesn’t make you cool.
[The boy now has a long sliver of drool hanging down from his bottom lip. His tongue is sticking out a bit farther as he continues trying to communicate with the teacher].
JOEY: Ayh haff thoo goh thoo thuh bahthroon.
TEACHER: You’ve got to be kidding me.
[Several more students who approach are instantly sent away by the teacher, who realizes that the last thing the boy needs is a crowd watching him in this particular dilemma. Instead though, a crowd is forming about thirty feet away carrying on with whispered conversations and pointings, like a herd of gazelles stopping to watch as one of their members is ripped apart by a lion in the Serengeti].
TEACHER: Joey, Joey, Joey…what am I going to do with you?
[The teacher holds the boy’s face firmly in one position so that the end of his tongue doesn’t rip off. The drool trail is nearing ground level at this point and is starting to freeze in midair. A lower section of it catches on the pole and becomes instantly frozen into place. The teacher wipes the dribble from the boy’s lip and starts to talk to him so that he doesn’t freak out].
TEACHER: Don’t worry, Joey, everything’s going to be all right. Just keep your head close to the pole and we’ll get you out of this, okay?
JOEY: Ihm thuck.
TEACHER: Yeah, you can say that again.
[After another minute or two, the boy finally realizes the full extent of the predicament he's in and starts to cry a little; the teacher keeps trying to console him. *Lucky Lookies on the distant sidelines keep trying to catch a glimpse of the dilemma taking place. The teacher wonders if he should leave the boy and go for the water himself. He changes his mind several times.
A few moments later, Ryan comes hurrying out of the school with a large cup of steaming water. The boy gives it to the teacher who pours it over the pole. Joey pulls at his tongue, stretching it out and snapping it free of the pole’s icy grip. The teacher shudders again as he imagines a ripping sound as the boy’s tongue whips back into his mouth. The teacher puts his arm around the boy's shoulder and leads him into the school past troves of onlookers. The boy is told to head for the office and the bathroom].
SCENE 2, EXTERIOR. AFTERNOON. PLAYGROUND. The teacher heads out for after-school duty in the same spot. As he arrives, he notices the Joey looking around the pole he was attached to earlier that morning.
TEACHER: Joey, what in the world are you doing?
JOEY: I was just seeing if I could find the piece of my tongue that came off this morning.
TEACHER: A piece of your tongue?
JOEY: Yeah, the end of my tongue came off and I was just seeing if it was still attached to pole. [Pause]. I wanted to keep it.
TEACHER: Okay, now that's just gross.
JOEY: And cool, too...
TEACHER: Well, I'm glad to know that no brain cells were lost.
JOEY: Nope, just my tongue.
[The teacher shakes his head and walks away].
[Fade to black].
*Lucky Lookies: Those people who, at the scene of an accident, slow and stare hoping to catch a glimpse of something terrible.
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