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Season 7, Episode 41 -- Who's There? Seriously?


Who’s there?


Next to “What the …” and “My, oh my!” it may be the lamest piece of dialogue anyone has ever written into a TV or movie script. I bring this up because it reared its ugly, two-word head the other night in a movie I was watching.


You know the scene, right? It’s 2:00 a.m. (give or take), and a middle-aged couple is asleep in their second-floor bedroom. Suddenly, there’s a sound – a thud, a clank, maybe muffled voices – coming from downstairs.


Wife: (Panicked whisper) Rick … Rick!!


Husband: (Sleeping soundly, his CPAP doing its job) Hrrrumph? (He pulls off his mask)


Wife: (Getting more panicked, now whisper-yelling): “RICK … wake up! I think there’s someone

downstairs!


Husband: (Still groggy, trying to make sense of the situation): “Um, what now? Downstairs?”


Wife: Yes, someone’s (Stops talking, now simply mouthing the words and gesturing “down there.”)


Husband: Um, OK, well, I’ll check it out. Probably just the furnace kicking in … or the cat.


Rick heads out of the room, into the hallway and begins to make his way down the stairs. When he’s about halfway down, he hears something fall to the ground. He freezes. (By the way, Rick hasn’t thought to turn on any lights because as we all know, the best way to deal with a scary situation – especially in movies or on TV -- is in complete darkness.)


Then, he utters those two words, the words that I believe NO ONE has EVER said in real life in a situation like this.


Rick: “Who’s there?”


Now, in any movie or TV show where this scene would occur (and believe me, it has occurred plenty of times), Rick’s question would be met by further silence, which would lead him to slowly explore the first floor, likely on his tiptoes, possibly grabbing a fireplace tool as a weapon along the way.


Seconds later, after Rick has surveyed the situation (all in the dark, mind you), he sees the cat sitting in the breakfast nook, a glass tipped on its side with spilled water trickling off the table. The cat meows, Rick rolls his eyes, breathes a sigh of relief and is summarily attacked by one or more intruders (probably subversives from a rogue government state, sent to kidnap him to get the secret codes).


Or something like that.


Now, let’s get to the two questions – both somewhat rhetorical – I have about this scene, questions which go to the heart of why stuff like this frustrates me.


Question 1: In real life, would the “Rick” character actually ask, “Who’s there?” (Rhetorical answer: No, because that’s stupid.)


Question 2: If he (or she) did, what exactly would he/she expect to hear from the intruder? (I’ve provided a few hypothetical examples for your reading pleasure, ones that coincidentally popped into my head around 2:00 a.m. today – give or take – as I lie awake in the darkness.)


Scene 1:

Rick exits bedroom and makes his way to the stairs. When he’s about halfway down, he hears something fall to the ground. He freezes.


Rick: “Who’s there?”


Intruder: “Oh good, you’re up! It’s Aunt Gayle. I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by.”


Rick: “Aunt Gayle? How did you …?”


Intruder: “I jimmied the lock on your front door. It was a piece a’ cake. Used to do it all the time when Uncle Claude was still alive. He was always losin’ the housekey. You should get a deadbolt, Hon. It only took me a few seconds with a paper clip. And speakin’ a’ cake, I brought a German chocolate for ya.’ I’ll just sit in the livin’ room until you and Becky come down. No rush!”


Rick descends the remainder of the stairs, sees Aunt Gayle, rolls his eyes, breathes a sigh of

relief and is attacked by one or more intruders (probably subversives from a rogue government

state).


Scene 2:

Rick exits bedroom and makes his way to the stairs. When he’s about halfway down, he hears something fall to the ground. He freezes.


Rick: “Who’s there?”


Intruder: “Domino’s! Couple of nights ago, we made a mistake on your pie, and with our new pizza insurance program, you’re entitled to a free medium two-topping. Sorry, it was a busy night, and this was the first chance I had to bring it over.”


Rick: “Domino’s? How did you …?”


Intruder: “I jimmied the lock on your front door. It was a piece a’ cake. I’ll just leave the pizza on the table in the foyer.


Rick descends the remainder of the stairs, sees someone dressed as a Domino’s delivery driver,

rolls his eyes, breathes a sigh of relief and is attacked by one or more intruders (probably

subversives from a rogue government state).


Scene 3:

Rick exits bedroom and makes his way to the stairs. When he’s about halfway down, he hears something fall to the ground. He freezes.


Rick: “Who’s there?”


Intruder: “Rick? It’s Chelsea Michaels, chief meteorologist from Storm Team 11. In an effort to bring you the most up-to-date weather alerts, we’re going door-to-door to tell you there’s a winter weather advisory effective until 6:00 p.m. You can expect three to five inches of the white stuff, with highs in the mid- to upper 20s by early afternoon. But then, folks, it’s gonna get windy, with gusts up to 40 miles an hour. So, bundle up and get your shovels out!”


Rick: “Storm team? How did you …?”


Intruder: “My cameraman jimmied the lock on your front door, so we could do a live remote. It was a piece a’ cake. We’ll just do a quick on-camera and be outta your hair faster than an Alberta Clipper moving through the Upper Peninsula.”


Rick descends the remainder of the stairs, sees Chelsea and her cameraman, rolls his eyes,

breathes a sigh of relief and is attacked by … well, you know what comes next.


Scene 4:

Rick exits bedroom and makes his way to the stairs. When he’s about halfway down, he hears something fall to the ground. He freezes.


Rick: “Who’s there?”


Intruder: “Uh …”


Rick: “I said, who’s there?”


Intruder: “Um, Andy? Oh, and Greg. He’s in the basement, rifling through your stuff. We’re here to grab a few things, and then we’ll be on our way. No need to make a fuss, but it would help out, like a ton, if you could just direct us to anything valuable.”


Rick: “How did you …?”


Intruder: “We ran into the pizza guy. He held the door for us on his way out. It was a piece a’ cake. Sorry to wake you. We’ll just be a few minutes.”


Rick stop in his tracks, frightened by the intrusion yet impressed by the guy’s honesty. He

decides it’s best if he simply goes back to bed, leaving Andy and Greg to take what they need.


Wife: (Sitting up, on the edge of the bed, but still in complete darkness) Well? What was it? Who was it? Are you OK?


Rick: Just the cat. He’s selling a bunch of our stuff on Facebook Marketplace, so if you notice anything missing in the morning, that’s why. Oh, and he spilled a glass of water.


Wife: (Rolls her eyes and breathes a sigh of relief) Thank God that’s all it was. At first, I thought it was government subversives coming to kidnap you. I hope those secret codes are hidden and locked up where no one else can get to them. (She rolls over) I can’t believe how you let that cat rule this house. And what’s he going to do with the money he gets from selling our stuff?


Now, let me ask you this: How fun was that? (Rhetorical question; no need to answer.)


© 2020 David R. Haznaw

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© 2019 David Haznaw