Another Clarence the Angel Mission
EXT. HEAVEN. BOTH DAY AND NIGHT AND NEITHER.
Clarence the “Wonderful Life” angel and his mentor, Mr. “Heaven Can Wait, Here Comes” Jordan, stroll thoughtfully through the heavenly mist, conferring over the latter’s hand-held OmniVista smart-device. (Did we say “smart”? Ha! This is Heaven. It’s omniscient!) They appear to be browsing shopping sites. Clarence, wearing his favorite gown, tenderly strokes the bedazzled ruching across his bodice, his wings inadvertently swiping-right on Jordan’s screen.
Ah, Clarence, I know how fond you are of our prize-winning AngelWear bridal selections, but for this mission we need to catch you up to something more appropriate for a modern business milieu. It is now the year of mercy, Two Thousand and Eighteen, and while gentlemen of distinction do dress distinctly, we shall need you to be more, shall we say, indistinct.
Business? What kind of business this time? Didn’t our dear Mr. Dickens remind us “mankind” is our business?
JORDAN nodding indulgently
Yes, quite right, darling Clarence. Words wisely spoken in the character of dead-as-a-door-nail Jacob Marley, to be precise.
The two shoppers glance across the cloudscape to a tall clerk’s desk, where a ghostly Marley, tugging at the chains at his feet, scratches busily at his ledger.
JORDAN calling out
How’s that list coming along, Marley?
I’m just finishing up the second draft now, Mr. Jordan!
Now, Biff, don’t try and con me!
I mean, I’m ... I’m just getting started on the Naughty list now, sir.
Marley double-taps his smart-device and swipes down through this said list. And swipes and swipes and swipes. He sighs self-pityingly.
It’ll only be a minute. (Sotto voce) Or a millennium.
I didn’t know we called it that, too. I always thought the Naughty and Nice lists were a Santa Claus thing.
Well, this time of year, we put in a little extra work for our friends down at the North Pole. The lists do come in handy later, when the Time comes for each little girl and each boy.
Jordan and Clarence resume their shopping. Then, with a sweep of his grand wing, Jordan swipes the view on his hand-held onto a nearby billboard-sized cloud display. We see a bright, colorful room full of toys. A grandmotherly woman, holding her own smart-device, makes her way to each toy and inspects it carefully.
Now observe this young woman closely, dear Clarence.
“Young”? She looks like somebody’s little ol’ grandma.
In age, perhaps, but no. She never married and is no one’s grandma. Meet Susan, age 60, founder, owner, CEO, and chair of the second-most-successful toy company in the world.
Only second? What is she, like the Clay Aiken of the toy world? And we need to help her get to Number One? (He observes Susan working in her toy shop.) She looks pretty happy where she is. Lovely, too. Why did she never marry? Did she never fall in love?
Well, yes. She did fall in love, in fact. It’s complicated. And a tad inappropriate.
Oh my oh my oh my. Not another one of your dirty stories, Mr. Jordan.
Quickly—and not just for the sake of brevity but to minimize inevitable copyright infringement—Jordan tells Clarence the tale of When Josh Met Susan. It’s a 30-year-old tale of two (seemingly) 30-year-olds meeting at the Macmillan Toy Co. in New York. It was true love, but a love not meant to be, for the boy toy really wasn’t 30 at all, but a 13-year-old whose wish to be Big was temporarily granted by the mysterious and mischievous angel Zoltar.
(ON SCREEN) EXT. AN AMUSEMENT PARK. DAY.
In the scene Clarence and Jordan watch together, Josh has asked Zoltar to return him from the 30-year-old man’s life he was not prepared to live and back to the 13-year-old life he knew was where he should be. He has invited the 30-year-old “Big” Susan to come with him, back to her own adolescence. Balking at the memory of the hormones and zits and irrational rages and obsessions of her 13-year-old self, Susan declines. Josh assures her he will never forget her.
SUSAN (age 30)
Who knows, maybe in 10 years. … Maybe you should hold onto my number!
She kisses young Josh tenderly on the forehead and says goodbye to the love of her life.
(SCREEN FADES OUT.)
Clarence dabs his moist eyes with the tip of his wing, and Jordan toggles his device back to shopping for men’s wear.
Don’t tell me. Ten years pass, and Josh and Susan don’t meet again.
And another 10 years. And now another. (He double-taps his device.) Ah, this is just the suit for you, darling Clarence. Now you can visit Big Susan and not scare the bejeebers out of her.
Oh, that’s fine. But you haven’t told me my mission. And what happened to the boy Josh?
Ah, yes. Josh. Poor kid.
Oh, no! What did happen?
Jordan swipes his giant wing across the billboard-sized screen, and we see young Josh standing once again before the mysterious and mischievous angel Zoltar. Clarence clutches hand to brow.
(ON SCREEN) EXT. AMUSEMENT PARK. NIGHT.
The 13-year-old Josh, standing before the Zoltar fortune-telling machine, makes his wish.
Boy, I loved working at that toy company. Oh, Zoltar, this is my wish: When I get big again, I want to be in toys. Final answer.
Josh aims the ramp at Zoltar’s mouth and releases a ball. Zoltar swallows the ball, and his eyes light up. His internal machinery clanks and rattles, and into the slot produces the card with Josh’s new fate. Josh picks up the card and slowly turns it over. The message reads: “Your wish is granted.”
MARLEY (voice over)
What a maroon.
A thunderous cloud burst interrupts all heavenly consultation. A bright burst of lightning changes the scene, and a nattily attired Clarence finds himself in:
INT. SUSAN’S TOY COMPANY SHOWROOM. DAY
The room is bright and colorful, shelves lining all the walls and filled with toys and games for all ages. In the corner of the room is a tall clerk’s desk, topped with stacks of ledgers, behind which Susan examines her own books, not having a Bob Cratchitt of her own. Over her shoulder, on a shelf in a special bullet-proof glass case, is her most prized possession, a toy cowboy named Woody.
Not terribly startled by the sudden appearance of “businessman” Clarence, Susan dreamily looks up from her work.
Good afternoon, Mr. Angelo. Or may I call you Clarence?
You were expecting me, Miss Susan? I’m a little surprised.
Don’t be silly. I know everyone in this business. And I know what you’re here after.
You know of the hereafter?
Yes, of course. You toy men are all the same. As long as I own the Woody license, I will never be without interested visitors.
She turns to her glass-enclosed prize and blows him a kiss.
Ah, but my dear Miss Susan. What if I were to tell you it is not what I want that brings me to see you, but rather what you want.
I can assure you, Mr. Angelo, I want for nothing.
Susan resumes checking her ledger. Clarence wanders around the room admiring the wealth of treasures surrounding the grandmotherly yet youthful woman.
Nothing, it seems, except someone to play with.
The gentleness of Clarence’s voice touches Susan. She puts her pen down and picks up her smart-device, tapping it distractedly.
And is there enough magic in the air, darling Clarence, to fetch me a playmate at my advanced age?
Again, you seem to know me.
I know of you, certainly. Where would this business be without angel investors? (Suspiciously.) And before you ask, the answer is No. You can’t have him.
Susan moves protectively in front of her precious Woody display case.
I don’t know what you mean, my dear. I see you wish not to part with your favorite doll. Handsome little cowboy, isn’t he!
Yes, yes. He’s not just a toy. He reminds me of what it means to be a child. And yet, somehow, he also holds all the virtues of a great man, the man I would love to have found for myself. I thought I had … once.
Once upon a time … 30 years ago perhaps?
Susan moves cautiously toward the businessman with no discernible business agenda, but a deeply personal one.
What do you know of the events of 30 years ago?
Well, there was that matter of the missing-person reports. It must have been a little difficult to explain to the authorities why one Josh Baskin, age 13, was found just as another Josh Baskin, age 30, went missing.
You know about Josh?
CLARENCE (glancing Heavenward)
We know everything.
Then why did Josh—the young one, I mean—why couldn’t I ever find him again?
Clarence moves toward the secured display case behind Susan’s desk.
Let’s just say he was full of magic and make-believe, but not very good at communicating his wishes to those with the power to make them come true.
Susan suddenly realizes why her toy cowboy had been so precious to her all along.
You mean … this is …
MARLEY (off stage)
It ain’t Pinocchio, sister.
Susan opens a secret compartment in her tall desk and retrieves a key to unlock the secure glass case protecting her Woody/Josh. She removes him gently from his stand and cradles him in her arms.
I’ll bet it was that Zoltar machine again. I knew what would happen if he ever got his hands on that license.
“He”? “He” who? I don’t remember another man in the story.
No, no one does. That’s probably why he was always so jealous of Josh. My old boyfriend, Paul. You know, now the number-one most-successful toy company in the world.
Clarence beams with enlightenment and inspiration.
I think I know why I’m here, then, Miss Susan. It seems you have come to a fork in your fate, a choice for how you wish your future to unfold.
I think I’ve always had that choice, pal.
Certainly, my dear, I mean no disrespect. However, given the opportunity to put something right that once went wrong, what might you choose to do?
Susan begins to stroll thoughtfully through her toy showroom, her precious Woody/Josh in her arms. The questions, the many possible answers, the what-ifs, the why-nots, all converging and tumbling through her mind.
Clarence glances Heavenward for a hint of advice.
JORDAN (off stage)
We did pass that free-will amendment awhile back. I wouldn’t interfere, darling Clarence.
Darling Clarence … I mean, Mr. Angelo. Clarence. Darling. If I had said Yes and followed Josh back to childhood, raging hormones and all, then the world would have been deprived of this fine specimen (she holds Woody aloft).
Perhaps not. Perhaps your friend Paul would have snapped up the license. You wouldn’t have been there to fight for it.
Oh please. Paul. You know how he got to be number one?
Uh, no. How?
He licensed the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.
MARLEY (off stage)
Ha! Way to go, brother! Commercializing the symbol of anti-commercialism! Ha! Crafty little humbug!
Susan hugs her beloved Woody/Josh, clicks her heels together three times, turns to the wizardly Clarence, and closes her eyes.
I’m ready to go back now! There’s no place like 13. There’s no place like 13. There’s no place like 13.
Susan squeezes one eye open to implore Clarence with one final request.
I don’t suppose we could both go back to 30, eh? Or at least where we’re the same age. That whole 15 or 20 year age difference was so unsettling and inappropriate.
I think we can manage that. (Beat. He glances Heavenward.) OK, Mr. Jordan. Let ‘er rip!
A clash of Heavenly thunder is heard, accompanied by the usual scene-changing lightning, and we find ourselves on:
EXT. JOSH’S STREET. SUNSET
Clarence, Mr. Jordan, and even Biff Marley survey the scene, now 20 years into the future. An 80-year-old man and his 80-year-old wife hold hands tenderly as they stroll together down the sidewalk and into the amber twilight.
Somewhere in the distance, Zoltar laughs mischievously.
For more of Clarence's "saving" adventures, the gentle and indulgent reader is invited to peruse:
Saving Mr. Potter (Dec. 22, 2013)
Christmas Belle: or, Saving Miss Fezziwig (Dec. 22, 2014)
Saving Mr. Sawyer (Dec. 25, 2015)
Saving Mr. Jordan (Dec. 25, 2016)
As Clay Aiken (America's No. 1 No. 2) would sing, Don't Save It All For Christmas Day