I am happy to present this extremely interesting artifact from the archives of the National Unbelievable Foundation of Film-making (NUFF) that was recently uncovered stuck behind a towel dispenser when workmen were redoing the rest rooms at the South Park McDonald’s — one of the original McDonald’s from the 1950s. An expert at NUFF said that, originally hand-printed on composition notebook paper and written in the form of a TV script, this piece is a classic example of a 1950s Catholic school punishment assignment. There you have it! Enjoy!
A King in a Court of Fools, the TV show
INT. ST. CATHERINE’S SCHOOL – SISTER CARMELLA’S CLASSROOM – LATE AFTERNOON
Several students from Sister Jeanne Lorette’s sixth grade class are in the front of a classroom of eighth graders, preparing for their weekly TV show. A semicircle of five wooden chairs has been positioned opposite one other chair. Two students are setting up the “camera” which is a large cardboard box on a stand with a funnel sticking out one end. One student has a makeshift clapboard and is pacing about, practicing saying “action.” Another, obviously the director with a clipboard, is telling the others what to do while trying to arrange the chairs perfectly. The announcer is practicing her lines. The eighth graders are politely waiting for the show to begin, having given up their last period Latin class to allow the sixth graders to put on their show. Sister Carmella and Sister Jeanne Lorette are standing quietly in the back of the room.
SISTER JEANNE LORETTE
Welcome to the Kids of St. Catherine’s Show, the only weekly TV show produced, directed, and hosted by the sixth grade of St. Catherine’s School.
A snicker from the back of the classroom draws a clearing of the throat by Sister Carmella, followed by silence.
Our host today is the sixth grade, straight-A student Frankie Marx. Ladies and gentlemen, Frankie Marx!
Frankie Marx enters, dressed in sports jacket, tie, and black penny loafers with a shiny new dime in each. The two nuns begin to clap and the eighth graders join in halfhearted applause.
Thank you, thank you, and welcome to the show. We appreciate your taking the time out of your otherwise boring and pointless day to listen to someone obviously your intellectual superior.
There is an awkward, dead silence, and then a single cough from the back. Sister Jeanne Lorette is shaking her head. Frankie clears his throat and adjusts his tie.
As I was saying, today’s guests are the Ryans, not by my choice, but they are here nonetheless. They live on Caswell Drive and all five of them are students here. How exciting is that? Without further ado, please welcome Mary, Kate, Sam, Harry, and Tom Ryan.
The director holds up an applause sign and the students begin to clap. The classroom door opens and the Ryans enter, led by Tom. The director points them to their seats. Frankie sits down across from them.
Please introduce yourselves to the studio audience.
Each stands up in turn and says their full name. Tom is the last to speak. He faces the eighth graders.
I’m Tom Ryan. I was the one they blamed when someone closed all the windows and let a few thousand caterpillars loose in your room last week. They made me clean them up, including all the guts you guys squished on the floor, but I didn’t do it and they could never prove it. Thanks a lot.
VOICE FROM THE BACK
Nice going, Ryan!
Thank you for volunteering to clean all the desks after class today, Mr. Kelly.
Laughter rolls across the room. Tom sits down. Frankie gestures outlandishly to the Ryans and speaks.
Tell us, what brings you on the show today?
They made us, Frankie. Remember? It’s part of my punishment.
Can I wave to Mom and Dad, Tommy?
It’s just a pretend TV you little goof.
Then why are we here, Katie?”
(whispering) The book, Harry, the book.
Yes, the book. Specifically, this book, the one you call the “Book of Tom.”
The director hands Frankie a composition notebook:
Hey, give me that. That’s mine.
He grabs it from Frankie.
Yes, it’s part of your punishment from Sister Jeanne Lorette, isn’t it?
You better not have read any of it, Frankie. You see what it says there, right? I’ll pound you. I mean it.
Yes, I read your idle threats. Why would I bother to read your ridiculous homework?
You take that back, Frankie. Tom’s journal isn’t punishment and it isn’t ridiculous. It’s a story about us.
Oh yes, the infamous Caswell Gang, with your silly hats, and your secret handshakes, and…
SISTER JEANNE LORETTE
Frankie… Tom… back to the script, please.
FRANKIE AND TOM IN UNISON
So, tell us about the story, Tom. What’s so special about it?
That’s for me to know and for you to find out.
Tell him about the Pink Lady, Tom.
Ixnay on the ady-Lay, Mary.
But I like your story, Tommy.
Fine. You tell it.
Frankie turns to the studio audience and stands up.
Ladies and Gentlemen. I now present Harry Ryan telling us the story of A King in a Court of Fools.
Harry stands up. Applause. Fade to the story of A King in a Court of Fools.
I hope you have enjoyed this little bit of humor about the newly published work, A King in a Court of Fools, by Larry Enright.
About the book: A King in a Court of Fools, originally published as a serial novel, is Larry Enright’s second published work. It is humorous, nostalgic fiction about kids growing up in the 1950s and has been already enjoyed by ages ten through ninety-one. It is available in both eBook and paperback from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. Click for details to Purchase or sample A King in a Court of Fools.
About the author: Larry Enright was born to Irish Catholic first-generation immigrants and raised in Pittsburgh. After college, he moved to the Philadelphia area where for the past 40 years he has filled his life with many careers including musician, teacher, programmer, researcher, and writer. He has written three other novels, including the best-selling Four Years from Home. Visit Larry Enright’s site.