TWIZZLER

Picture from world.openfoodfacts.org

Picture from world.openfoodfacts.org

Samuel Menell

Written in the format of a screenplay, TWIZZLER is a short film that highlights the relationship my father had with his own when they were younger. Some of the specifics are directly lifted from recorded conversations, others are purely written. I picture this being a project in the future, but for now I’m more than happy to share it as it is.”

— Samuel Menell

OPEN on a car pulling up to a gas station. The car creeps into an open spot, halting. The car sits silently.

Luke (O.S.)

… Two dollars a gallon-

CUT to the interior of the car. It’s musty and stuffed up with garbage sprinkled around enough to be noticeable but not in the way. Luke, an older man with a beard sits in the passenger seat. Behind the wheel is a younger man wearing a t-shirt, he pulls up his phone.

Luke

We should just go somewhere else.

Robbie

Well, there’s nowhere else, I checked.

Luke

This is a sign, I can tell.

Robbie

There might be a shell a few miles down…

Luke

…I don’t know why we drove all the way up here…

Robbie

… but I don’t know what the price is there either…

Luke

…Colorado is hard on my lungs this time of year…

Robbie

…It might not be worth driving all the way up, besides we could run out of gas…

Luke

…And I think Adriana knows that.

Robbie puts his phone down. 

Robbie

Really? You think your own daughter tried to sabotage your health?

Luke

Wouldn’t be the first time, I-

Robbie

You mean sea world, twelve years ago?

Luke

Absolutely, I won’t forget how cruel she acted.

Robbie

She just wanted to have fun, I don’t think she was being cruel-

Luke

-I can’t believe it.

Robbie

What?

Luke

We are still at this damn gas station.

Robbie

I told you there’s nowhere else-

Luke

What about that shell?

Robbie

It’s fifteen miles up the road, I don’t wanna run out of gas-

Luke

Still better than the scam they’re giving you here, which you are willing to accept-

Robbie

Besides, I just had the car fixed… I don’t want to break it again.

Luke

It’s the same thing they did in the nineties when you were a kid.

Robbie throws his hands up.

Robbie

Fine.

Robbie starts to exit the car toward the pump.

Luke

I need cash.

Robbie

For what?

Luke

I’m going to use the bathroom…

Robbie

Luke

Robbie

…so you need money because?-

Luke

Do I have to tell you everything I do?

Robbie

Okay, okay. 

They sit in silence again. Robbie looks to Luke. He takes out money and hands it to Luke, then starts to exit.

Luke

I’m going to buy something to eat in the car.

Robbie halts again.

Robbie

Oh, then could I have some red vines? And maybe a charger for my phone… I’m a little low on battery.

Luke

Okay.

Luke exits. Robbie shrugs then moves to the pump. He fiddles with the panel on the pump and pauses.

Robbie

Son of a-

Robbie smacks the machine.

CUT to Luke and Robbie driving down the road.

Robbie

They really should have put a sign up.

Luke

Maybe you should have listened to me and we wouldn’t have wasted all that time. Besides, it’s not a major loss. Shell is far superior anyway.

Robbie sits still.

Luke

Oh, I got you your redvines.

Luke pulls out a packet and puts it on the console. Robbie looks at the packaging. The package says TWIZZLERS.

Robbie

Dad, those are twizzlers.

Luke peers at the bag.

Luke

Oh, they are. Whoops. Well, twizzlers are far better anyway. I don’t see it as a major loss.

Robbie

Were they out of redvines?

Luke

Must have been, I would’ve grabbed them if I saw them. But I don’t see this as a major loss, twizzlers are pretty good too.

Robbie

Alright then…

Luke

Are you okay?

Robbie

Yeah, I’m fine. Can I have the charger?

Luke sits still.

Robbie

Luke

Robbie

Did y-…

Luke

Hmm?

Robbie

Did you forget the charger?

Luke

You didn’t ask for a charger.

Robbie

Yes, dad. Yes I did.

Luke

I would have remembered. I have very good memory you know. I wish you kids inherited that. It’s a pretty rare gift. Adriana seems to never remember anything.

Robbie

Like sea world?

Luke

Now that you mention it, yeah. She always acts like nothing happened.

Robbie

Because nothing did.

Luke

Robbie, you weren’t there. She was really cruel.

Robbie

I remember.

Luke

See, you know what I’m talking about-

Robbie

I’m saying I remember you saying that, not that I-

A light and beep starts coming from the car.

Robbie

Oh, shoot.

Luke

What’s the problem?

Robbie

No, no, no.

Luke

Did we hit something?

Robbie

No, we’re almost out of gas.

Luke

Can we make it to the station?

Robbie(sarcastically)

I don’t know. How about you check the map on my phone?

Luke picks up the phone.

Luke

It’s dead.

Robbie

Oh really! I didn’t noti-

CUT to Robbie pushing the car into the gas station. Luke walks from behind.

Robbie

Can’t you help?

Luke

I’d love to but my ankle has been really killing me.

Robbie

You’re sixty five dad, not eighty seven.

Luke

I don’t want to end up like my brother, I’m not taking any risks.

Robbie

Uncle Mark died from-

Robbie struggles to push the car toward the pump.

Robbie

-… Pancreatic cancer.

Luke

I still don’t want to end up like him… Driving coast to coast in a semi. What an awful way to live.

Robbie(Grunting)

I wanted to be a truck driver as a kid…

Robbie finally places the car near the pump.

Luke

Did you?

Robbie takes a step back from the car and wipes his hands on his pants.

Robbie

Yeah, you got me that toy truck for my birthday… ninety-one I think.

Luke thinks for a minute.

Luke

Oh, you’re right.

Robbie starts walking toward the mini mart.

Luke

Where are you going?

Robbie stops.

Robbie

To get some redvines and a phone charger.

Luke

The Twizzlers are fine.

Robbie

Okay… Well, I want redvines.

Robbie continues forward.

Luke

Please, Robbie. I can’t operate this thing.

Luke points to the pump.

Robbie

That’s fine, I’ll come back to do it.

Luke

Damn it Robbie, just do it now.

Robbie sighs then turns back towards Luke. He walks to the pump and puts in his card.

CUT to Robbie and Luke in the car. Luke is eating the twizzlers.

Robbie

… 2.50 a gallon there…

Luke ignores him.

Luke

Weren’t we supposed to get off there?

Robbie

Was that 143?

Luke

Yup.

Robbie

Oh my- Come on!

Luke

Where’s the next exit?

Robbie

I don’t know, my phone is dead!

Luke pulls out a physical map.

Luke

Do you need this?

Robbie

Where was that earlier?

Luke

I forgot I had it.

Robbie

Of course you did.

Robbie takes the map.

Robbie

Do you have a pen I could use?

Luke

Yes.

Luke pulls out a ball point pen.

Luke

This is my nice pen, don’t lose it.

Robbie takes the pen.

Robbie

Is this the pen from-

Luke

Does it matter? It’s a pen.

Robbie looks at Luke then starts marking the map where he needs to exit.

Luke

That’s ridiculous.

Robbie

What is?

Luke

How are truck drivers only able to carry three ton cargo on this road?

Robbie

Did you see that on a sign somewhere?

Luke

That’s not nearly enough to transport anything.

Robbie

I think six thousand pounds is plenty of weight. Didn’t you hate truck driving? Why are you so concerned about how much they can carry?

Luke

It’s only three thousand.

Robbie

What? No, a ton is two thousand pounds dad.

Luke

No, it’s only one thousand.

Robbie

Dad, come on.

Luke

No, you’re wrong about it.

Robbie

I’m not.

Luke

Fine, look it up on your phone.

Robbie boils up.

Robbie

I can’t… Because… IT’S DEA-

CUT to Robbie walking away from a kiosk towards Luke who is standing by the car. They are parked by a motel.

Luke

Which floor are we on?

Robbie

The second, room seven.

Luke smacks the car.

Luke

Damn it Robbie.

Robbie

What did I do-

Luke

You know my ankle is bad, and you know it. Why would you pick a room up there? Now I’ll have to walk up the stairs.

Robbie

I didn’t pick it I-

Luke

-Just like Adriana.

Robbie

Yeah… I guess so.

Robbie walks past Luke towards the room.

CUT to inside the room. Luke is lying down on his bed. Robbie is writing in a notebook.

Luke starts to pat around his pockets.

Luke

Where is it?

Robbie

Hm?

Luke

My pen. Where’d I put it?

Robbie

Oh. I have it.

Luke’s eyes shoot over to Robbie.

Luke

Why do you have it?

Luke shoots up from the bed.

Robbie

I asked for it to mark the map…

Luke strides toward Robbie.

Luke

You didn’t ask for it. I would remember.

Luke takes the pen from Robbie.

Luke

I have a very good memory, I would have remembered you asking.

Robbie

What about your ankle?

Luke

What about it?

Robbie

I thought you said it was injured.

Luke shakes his head.

Luke

I’d remember.

Luke starts to walk away. Robbie puts down his notebook and stands up.

Robbie

Why do you have his pen?

Luke

What do you mean? This is my pen.

Robbie

But Spencer gave it to you.

Luke

Oh, I guess he did.

Robbie

Oh bullshit. You know he sent you that for your birthday.

Luke

Maybe so. I just thought it was a nice pen and I didn’t want it stolen.

Robbie

You thought I was stealing my son’s pen?

Luke

It’s not his, it’s mine.

Robbie

But he got it for you!

Luke

Like I said, I liked it. I guess he picked well.

Robbie

No, you didn’t say that.

Luke

Same difference.

Robbie

No, it really isn’t.

Luke

Sure it is. I care about everything he gives me.

Robbie

Really? Because every time he sends you something you never text me or write back-

Luke

-You know I hate phones-

Robbie

-So? What’s stopping you from saying anything for ten years?

Luke

Are you suggesting I don’t love my own grandson?

Robbie

Then why didn’t you show up when he was born?

Luke

Well the-

Robbie

When me and Suzie asked for money you just ignored us? When we asked for your help you didn’t respond? Do you understand how shitty that makes me feel? Have you ever seen a picture of him?

Luke

Who?

Robbie

Oh my-… Spencer!

Luke

Well sure… 

Robbie

Really? Then describe him to me?

Luke sits still. Robbie stands motionless then leaves.

CUT to Robbie in the car alone.

CUT to Luke sitting in a chair, he’s asleep. Robbie throws things onto his lap. Luke jolts awake then looks down. On his lap is a pack of redvines, a phone charger, and a dictionary.

Luke

What’s this?

Robbie

The redvines they weren’t sold out of. The phone charger I asked for. And a dictionary.

Luke

I don’t-…

Robbie opens up the dictionary and flips through to a page he marked.

Robbie

“a unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms, equivalent to 2,000 pounds.”

Robbie throws the book back onto Luke’s lap. Robbie begins to leave the motel.

Robbie

You can find your own way home, I’m leaving.

Luke

You know…

Robbie stops.

Luke

I am really disappointed that you went this far out of your way to prove me wrong.

Robbie stands for a moment then walks over. He places his hand on the chair’s armrest and leans into his dad’s ear.

Robbie

I don’t care.

Robbie steps back and takes the redvines. Then he leaves the Motel.

CUT to outside. He gets into the car and begins to drive away. Luke steps out onto the balcony to look at Robbie.

Robbie stops the car, looks to Luke, then throws the twizzlers on the ground.

Robbie drives away.

CUT to the motel room. Luke is asleep in the chair. Robbie is standing over him with the Redvines, clock, and dictionary. Removed from his fantasy, Robbie sighs and begins to turn away from his dad. Robbie  walks over to his suitcase then puts everything into an outside pocket. He turns back to Luke who is still sound asleep. Robbie then faces his bed, falls, and collides with the comforter. 

THE END