Contents of a Dead Man's Pockets

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  • EXPOSITION
  • CONFLICT
  • RISING ACTION
  • Tom Benecke is staying home in his high-rise apartment in New York City while his wife, Clare, goes out to the movies without him. Tom is choosing to stay home and work on a very important project for his job. It’s hot in the apartment though, so he opens a window.
  • CLIMAX
  • As Clare goes out the door, an air current from the hall picks up the papers on Tom’s desk, whisking a yellow paper with weeks’ worth of research scrawled on it out of the window. This research and idea could eventually bring big things for Tom in his company and in the grocery business. The paper is out on the ledge, and Tom has to decide whether or not to go out on the ledge to retrieve it.
  • FALLING ACTION
  • Tom assesses the situation: the paper is against a projecting wall from the next apartment, caught in the corner between the two walls, about five yards away. The ledge is about the width of his shoe, and every fifth brick of the wall indents for good finger gripping. He decides it is an easy task and ventures out.
  • RESOLUTION
  • Tom slides easily along the wall, 11 stories above Lexington Avenue, until he reaches the corner. He straddles the ledges of the two walls, and scrapes his head against the wall as he stoops down to pick up the paper. However, as he bends down and grabs the paper, he sees the street below between his feet and suddenly is seized by panic. He jerks upward suddenly and almost loses his balance. He is then paralyzed by his fear, and unable to move.
  • Slowly, through the panic, Tom is able to shut his mind against the horrific pictures he sees in his mind of losing his balance and falling. He painstakingly shuffles along the ledge, sliding his body along the wall. He stumbles, begins to fall, and grasps onto the window, which closes on him. He tries to get the attention of the apartments across the street, but no one sees him. He finally manages to punch through the glass and pull himself back inside.
  • Once inside, Tom immediately takes the yellow paper out of his pocket and weighs it down with a pencil. He goes to the closet, takes out his coat and hat, and immediately goes to the door, presumably to go meet Clare. As he closes the door, he watches the current pick the paper up from under the pencil and whisk it out of the open window frame… again. Tom bursts into laughter and closes the door behind him.
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