INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY.
A NONDESCRIPT WOMAN is sitting on her couch, listlessly clicking through Lisa “Left-Eye” YouTube tribute videos. The front of her shirt is covered in crumbs. She is humming “Marry Me a Little” softly to herself, clashing with the music currently playing on her computer. The doorbell rings. She runs up and peers through the keyhole.
TIM CURRY and MORGAN FREEMAN, both in formalwear, stand without. TIM is nervously fixing his tie. MORGAN appears to be dozing on his feet.
WOMAN: Oh, my God.
TIM rings the doorbell again.
WOMAN: Oh, my fucking God.
CURRY (plummily): Hello?
The WOMAN calms down enough to open the door. MORGAN opens his eyes and smiles.
FREEMAN: Hello. I’m Morgan Freeman.
CURRY: Tim Curry. I’m Tim Curry, that is. [deliciously guttural laugh emerges from the back of the throat]
WOMAN: Oh, my God.
CURRY (looking at threshold significantly): Erm, may we…?
WOMAN (steps backward): Oh my God, yes. Please. Come in. Come in. I can’t–I can’t–what are the two of you doing here?
FREEMAN crosses into her apartment, removing his top hat in a quietly dignified manner. CURRY follows and does the same. They both sit on the WOMAN’S couch, taking little notice of her still-open laptop, which is currently blaring “Waterfalls,” or the crumbs.
FREEMAN (chuckling): Isn’t it obvious?
CURRY: You’ve said repeatedly to your friends and coworkers how much you wanted us to do this. When we heard about how much it would mean to you, we couldn’t resist.
FREEMAN: I want to tell her. Can I tell her?
CURRY: All right. All right, you tell her.
FREEMAN: We’re here to read the phone book to you.
FREEMAN reaches into a worn, leather pouch and pulls out a thick edition of the Yellow Pages, still wrapped in plastic. He cannot help but grin. CURRY is grinning too.
FREEMAN: All of it. Every page.
CURRY: We’ve been practicing for ages. It’s about ten hours.
FREEMAN: Eleven if we need a few bathroom breaks.
CURRY: About ten or eleven hours.
FREEMAN: Longer if we take a break for lunch.
CURRY: Oh, did you bring a lunch?
FREEMAN: Just a few apples and some cheese.
CURRY: Oh, how lovely.
FREEMAN: Reading’s hungry work.
CURRY: It is, isn’t it?
FREEMAN: Brought some cocoa, too. If she has some milk we can make cocoa.
CURRY: Oh, lovely. Lovely. I do love a cocoa now and then.
FREEMAN: You do have milk, don’t you? I can’t drink cocoa made with water. What’s the point?
WOMAN (finally able to speak): Oh, my God.
CURRY: You don’t seem pleased.
FREEMAN: I don’t understand.
WOMAN: I–no–it isn’t that. I’m thrilled you’re both here, of course.
CURRY: I say, don’t mean to be rude, but it was an awful lot of work finding time that the both of us were free and in America.
FREEMAN: Tim had a stroke in July, you know.
WOMAN: Oh, God, that’s right.
CURRY: Morgan, please.
FREEMAN: Well, you did. It was terrible.
CURRY: I’m much better now, really I am. Most awfully better.
FREEMAN glares at the woman, placing a protective arm around CURRY.
CURRY: But you did ask for us.
WOMAN: I…I don’t know what you’re talking about…
CURRY: May seventeenth, 2005, after leaving a midnight showing of March of the Penguins: “God, I’d listen to Morgan Freeman read the phone book.”
WOMAN: …You heard that?
FREEMAN: August fourth, 2009, after watching Rocky Horror Picture Show and Clue one in a row alone on your laptop, you said to yourself: “Tim Curry’s voice is pure sex. I’d listen to him read the phone book.”
WOMAN: …Oh, my God.
CURRY: September twenty-first, 2012, after watching Bruce Almighty with your roommate when you were both sick: “Morgan Freeman’s voice gives me the shivers. I’d listen to him read the phone book. Wouldn’t you pay for a ticket just to hear him read the phone book?”
FREEMAN: Your old roommate agreed, by the way. We just came from her house. She loved it.
WOMAN: I’m so sorry. I think there’s been a misunderstanding. I have a job, I was just leaving, I don’t have ten hours right now–maybe if you came back later–
FREEMAN: My friend Tim here had a stroke less than two months ago.
WOMAN: I’m so sorry…
CURRY looks down and bites his fist.
FREEMAN: You don’t have anywhere to be right now.
CURRY: It was nothing, it was nothing.
FREEMAN: I just think that if you could find the time to recover from a stroke and put on a tuxedo and come to this apartment with me, she could maybe find the ten or eleven hours to sit down and listen to us read the phone book like she says she’s always wanted to.
FREEMAN: I had to spend four months freezing to death in Antarctica murmuring reassuringly about how penguins fuck each other. She can listen to us read the damn phone book.
CURRY: He does have a point, you know.
FREEMAN: Christ, I hate penguins. Beady little eyes. But I did it. I did it. Because I said that I would, and I keep my word.
The WOMAN sinks into her chair. Her phone slides to the ground.
WOMAN: Okay. Okay. I’m sorry. Please go ahead.
FREEMAN: Fucking penguins. Those Christ-damned fucking penguins.
CURRY places a thoughtful hand on FREEMAN’S forearm. The two of them share a look of quiet understanding, which causes the WOMAN to shed a single tear. FREEMAN smiles, and there is an unspoken ocean of meaning in his smile. Without looking away from the bright and shining eyes of TIM CURRY, MORGAN FREEMAN begins to read…
FREEMAN: Super Air Repair. Serving all your air conditioning needs since 1983. Located on the corner of Chestnut and Frysedale Avenue, Super Air Repair offers the best in service, quality, and affordability so you can stay cool on a budget. Super Air Repair is open Monday to Friday, from nine am to…
The WOMAN leans back and closes her eyes as the LIVING ROOM slowly fades to black.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.