Based on Charlie Chaplin's The Kid
A/N: This story was written for my English class for a project. It is actually one of the only novilizations I have ever finished. I love it. It's based on Chaplin's first full-length film. I just had to post it. So enjoy.
Disclaimer: I am actually incredibly overjoyed to say that the Chaplin family owns all of Charlie's work and that this was writtent just for fun and a good grade on my part.
"A picture with a smile, and perhaps a tear..."
-- Charlie Chaplin
In the beginning there was a woman. She was an ordinary woman, carrying an ordinary thing out of the Charity Hospital – a baby. Yes, she was a mother now. A mother, without a husband or a supporter of any kind. As she walked home through the park, her mind reeled.
Distraught, was the woman. Carrying the little package, she stared at her little miracle. Only, was he a miracle? This little thing that she had given life, what had he to offer? A smile, yes. The joys of watching him grow, yes.
But none of that mattered. She was a singer at a local bar, barely making minimum wage. How was she to keep a baby? She could barely support herself. But, surely she could work out a way. There must be-
Sighing, she looked down at the baby boy's face with guilt, as if he could read her mind. Love? She asked herself as she gazed at the soft, delicate face. Yes there was love. And it was love that drove her thoughts. There was no way he could have a happy life in the squalor that she was in.
And there was selfishness. What about me? She asked, finally looking away from the face. What would I have to give up?
Face flushed, mind drowning in a sea of indecision, she sat down on the nearest park bench. So overwhelmed, she refused to glance at the cause of her troubles. Looking, she figured, would only make her more bewildered.
Closing her eyes, the woman pondered. The man - she thought of her lost love. He was an artist with no time for a baby. When she had announced her pregnancy he had announced their separation. In no way would he support her. This shook her to tears and the man had taken her into his arms and soothed her, eyes filled with regret. But he never took it back. Though she knew he still loved her, she never saw him again.
Making up her mind, she stood up with determination. Best not to lose resolve.
Walking strictly to the Rolls Royce she had seen by the street, she checked for occupants. Empty. Surely, she thought, these people will care for him. Surely, they'll give him much more than I ever could.
Carefully, she opened the door (for cars had no locks in those days) and settled her unnamed burden into the seat. Slowly, she closed the door and walked away. At a thought she stopped, and ran back to the car. No, she was not there to collect him, but to use the scrap sheet of paper and the pen she saw on the floor of the car. Quietly, she slipped the note into his blanket and kissed him. "Have a blessed life." She murmured. Then she went and softly closed the door.
A memory she would always remember.
Now, of all the Rolls Royces in town the woman had to choose from, she had to choose the one with most appalling owners. For the car was, in fact a getaway car. And, naught five minutes after the woman's departure, the two owners came running to that car; arms loaded with the plunder the obtained from the nearest bank.
Smiling with greed they threw the bags into the back of the car where the baby was. They neither noticed him nor the fact that, miraculously, none of the bags managed to hit him. Jumping into the front, they were off at top speeds.
Only when they were to the unnoticeable, worthless part of town did they stop. Here, they would blend into the crowd, be untraceable. All they needed to do was get rid of the car-
"What is that?" Asked the big one, the obvious leader of the two-man pack.
"Dunno." Said his skinny accomplice, pulling out his gun and likewise turning his body to face the back seat. He had to move one or two bags but eventually he managed to reach and pull out the source of the noise.
"A baby?" Said the boss, taking the creature. He stared at it with a gaze of mild interest but no concert. He pulled out the note, read it, and found that he was still unconcerned. He put the note back.
The boss shoved the baby unto the skinny man unkindly. "Put it outside."
"Outside!" Said the boss again, with more authority. "We can't keep it!"
So the thieving man took the baby outside and into an alley. He settled it down next to a pile of old crates before rushing to the car.
On his morning promenade came the little tramp. On first impression he looked like an average little fellow. A man who had little money but tried to keep himself looking clean. Wearing much too large shoes and pants, a toothbrush mustache, a hat and carrying a cane. But on closer inspection, he was found to have eyes devoid of malice or mischief but instead filled with compassion and innocence.
This little fellow was known around this small, insignificant community. He was often described as "awkward" or a "klutz". This was proved everyday, as the members of the community always managed to throw out their trash onto him, from their apartment windows, everyday at the same time during his morning walk. And he would tumble, fall and look up onto the neighbor that had thrown the waste. Then he would smile and get up again. He wasn't one to hold grudges.
One day, right after such an incident (this time it was dust from cleaning), the little fellow got up and walked into an alley, searching for some quiet. He sat down, taking out his battered cigar case, and pulling out half of a decrepit cigar that he had found in a downpour of trash.
While he was attempting to light it, he suddenly noticed an odd-shaped little figure on the ground next to him. Lightly, he poked it and was shocked to discover that it moved.
"What?" He questioned, taking the form and settling it in his lap. He unwrapped it from the blanket slightly. "A baby?" He quickly stood up and looked around the alley, searching for his parents. Certainly they must be looking for him. Frantically, he walked into the street.
Almost comically, he found himself looking up into his neighbor's windows, almost expecting this to have been part of the usual dump they put upon him. Nobody was at their windows. There was nobody in the street really, save for him, the baby and a woman, walking with a stroller.
Upon seeing this, he ran after her.
He caught up to her, panting a bit. "Pardon me, but you must have dropped something." He smiled, setting the newborn into the carriage with another baby.
The woman's face turned red. "I don't even like the one I have! Why are you giving me another one?!"
The tramp became a bit flustered at this and pointed to where he found the baby. "Pardon me, but this baby is not mine! I found him over there… in the alley."
"Well, it is not mine." The woman stated again.
"Alright." The little fellow nodded reasonably and gently took the baby back from the stroller. The woman walked away and he headed back towards the alley.
"I'm sorry." He whispered to the child.
He could not help. He had no money, no prospects and no way of taking care of him. The only thing that he felt he could do was settle him down in front of the alley, where somebody was sure to see him.
As he settled the baby boy down, he stood up and turned in time to see a stern looking police officer, about five yards way.
The tramp took this as his cue to take the baby away from the alley.
Walking down the street, he saw another, dirtier tramp. "Hold up!" He called to the other. The other slowed down enough for the little fellow to catch up. When he did, he quickly gave the newborn to the other tramp and ran off. The responsibility was no longer his.
While running down the lane, he managed, in his usual clumsy way, to run into the policeman he'd seen before. Naturally, he fell while the other remained standing. The police officer pulled him to his feet. "What's the rush?"
"Oh, nothing…" The tramp stuttered, being anything but convincing.
"Oh?" Questioned the officer.
"You!" A third voice interjected and the little fellow turned to see the woman with the stroller, appearing at the absolute worst time. She took a baby out of the carriage. "Take this! It is not mine!"
"But he is not mine either!" He protested automatically. Then, he kicked himself. The other tramp must have put the baby in the carriage!
The officer angrily demanded. "What is going on?"
"Oh, nothing…" The tramp muttered, going over to the snooty woman and taking the child. "Just having a domestic situation." He turned and walked away from the other two, needing time to think.
Eventually, he settled down near a gutter, settling the baby in his lap. What to do? He asked himself. What could he do? Idly, with half-seriousness, he inspected an open grate that led into a hole in the ground.
No. He reprimanded himself. He couldn't do that. He looked down at his little burden. It was kind of cute. He smiled at it kindly, held on to it a bit tighter and rocked it a bit. Then he noticed the note in the blanket.
He took it out and read:
"Dear Sir or Madame,
Please care for this child. Give it a loving home."
His mind made up, he folded the note and put it carefully inside the hat on the top of his head. He then cradled his little bundle with joy, standing up and walking towards his own meager apartment.
He would make some sacrifices.
When he reached the door to his building, two women were standing outside of it. Seeing his joy and the being in his arms, one asked, "Is that yours?"
The little fellow nodded.
"What's his name?"
This confused the tramp as he hadn't thought that far ahead. He ignored her for a moment, walking inside the building before stopping in thought. He then turned and strode to the woman. "John." He said with confidence.
He walked back into the building.
The last five years had been tough on the tramp, but he'd pulled through. Looking around his small, dirty apartment, he reflected on his fortune. Though there was little food, only one bed and rotting chairs, he still managed to feed and clothe the child.
And how he loved the kid!
John was a blessing in disguise. He always gave the little tramp hope and a smile whenever he truly needed it. He was smart, kind and everything the little fellow needed.
And the tramp tried to compensate him. He had to keep coming up with new ways to get money but, he still managed to get bread on the table and, though rarely, give him little things like toys.
One of these particular toys was a stuffed bear.
On a morning, which was no different than any other, John went to sit outside their apartment door, clutching his bear.
In a moment, one of the neighborhood kids, jumped out of nowhere, snatched it and ran off.
"Charlie!" The kid yelled towards his tramp in shock before running after the runt, for the tramp's name was Charlie.
Out of sheer fright, the little fellow rushed out the door in time to see his kid running down the stairs. Frantic, he followed hurriedly.
Now, John was no stranger to the street. He could fight, run and survive as good as the rest of them. This was mostly due to their making a living on breaking windows and getting paid to fix them.
Apparently, these skills had an effect on John, for when the tramp reached the street outside the building, he saw his kid and another runt in a brawl.
John was winning.
The tramp jumped up and down, happy for his adopted son. "Go! Win!"
"Are you responsible for him?" A mean voice came from behind.
In his usual state of unawares, the tramp happily answered. "Yes."
A rough hand grabbed him and spun him around. The little fellow saw the man for the first time - rough, tough and BIG. "That's my brother," said the large fellow. "And if your kid beats him, I'm gonna beat you!"
"Um…" the tramp stammered before sliding out of the man's grip and leaping into the small fight.
The man's brother was already on the ground, crying.
In hysterics, the tramp (though as gently as he could) pushed his kid down. John looked up a bit confusedly, but aware of his companion's strange tendencies.
"See?" The tramp pointed. "All better." He helped his little friend up and attempted to walk back to his abode.
The man growled at him and pulled him roughly away from John.
"How do I get myself into these situations?" The little fellow pondered fearfully as he ran away from the brute. As he and the man made chase, situations similar flashed through his mind. Getting kidnapped and put to work on a boat… Being frozen in the white wilderness looking for gold… Being stuffed into an industrial machine…
Distracted, the tramp ran into a random street.
Once again crashing into a person.
Apparently, John had been busy to aide in the tramp's survival. He had grabbed the nearest person he could find: a lady. A well-polished, very much out-of-place looking lady.
"Charlie!" John cried, as the little fellow tripped over the lady and hit the ground.
The brute that had been following stopped dead in his tracks.
Disoriented, the tramp managed to find an offered hand. Uncaring as to the owner, he accepted and was pulled gently to his feet.
"Now you wouldn't do any harm, would you?" The lady asked him warmly.
He flushed slightly and nodded.
She turned to give a stare to the brute. "And you?"
He nodded dumbly.
She nodded politely and handed something to the kid. His bear.
John hugged it. "Tanks."
The little fellow smiled, contented and started leading John towards their rooms.
Unfortunately, a few days later came an unfortunate occurrence.
"You don't look to well." Observed the little fellow, grazing his hand against the kid's forehead to feel his temperature.
John just coughed.
The tramp smiled sadly. "You're going to need a doctor."
A few hours later, after many searches for a doctor with reasonable enough prices, the tramp found a charity hospital. They employed a doctor who went with the tramp and was looking over John in a matter of minutes.
After he was finished with his initial prognosis, the doctor turned to the little fellow. "Who is this boy's father?"
The little fellow started. "Well, I am… practically."
"Practically? You're going to have to explain."
And explain he did. He told the doctor about the trash, about the alley, about the policeman, about the gutter, about the other tramp, about the woman and how he had kept the kid, in permanent residence, with him.
Upon hearing this, the doctor's first words were. "A child needs a better situation. I must inform the Child Care Organization."
The tramp was shocked, angered, and distressed all at the same time. "The Orphanage!?"
Though the little fellow hoped and prayed, the men from the CCO were there the next morning.
The tramp wasn't letting John go without a fight.
"He's lived here for a long time!" He argued, yelling and displaying a rare glimpse of his rage. "He likes it here."
The man from the CCO wasn't convinced and yelled at the kid. "Really? Do you like it here?!"
The kid nodded, suppressing tears and running behind the little fellow.
The man turned back to the tramp. "He'll have a better life—"
"I like it here! I love Charlie!" the kid interjected with tremendous emotion.
Outraged, the man made a lunge for him. The little fellow responded by grabbing a bowl that was nearest to him. It was full of flour.
"George!" The man bellowed and a second man bounded into the room, obviously younger but still eager to do his torturous job. This man was followed by a stern-looking cop.
George and said cop went to rush at the tramp and kid but, as they did, the tramp threw the flour on them. This action was a bit foolish as it blinded nearly everybody in the room, including the little fellow.
The main CCO agent however, was the least affected and charged at the kid.
At the same time, the other three men in the room had regained their senses long enough to get into a small brawl. With two against one, however, the cop and young George quickly overtook the small tramp, pinning him down on to his own bed.
The kid, meanwhile, had been grabbed by the agent and was being hauled with little finesse out the door, ignoring John's sobs.
Reacting to this, the little fellow was reacting like a madman. He kicked and even attempted to claw at the men holding him down but he only received brutal knocks to the head in return.
On the street below the CCO man dumped the kid into the bed of a truck. The kid was sobbing, crying and screaming, "Daddy! I want my daddy!" The man just pushed him down into the truck.
He then stomped over to the left-hand side of the truck and kicked the driver.
"I'm going to watch the brat. Drive."
The driver nodded and the man jumped into the bed of the truck.
Now the tramp did have excellent hearing, but it was reasonable to assume that nearly everyone in the neighborhood could hear the racket that the kid was making. But none were as crestfallen as the little fellow.
"Daddy!" The cry hit him with the force of a hammer.
"Daddy? He called me daddy?" The tramp renewed his efforts in breaking free from captors. Focusing his strength, he gave one mighty kick towards the person restraining his legs.
With another's cry of pain, his legs were free. It was simple from there. He simply slid out of the other man's embrace and jumped, with renewed energy, out the nearby window.
The outside of this window led unto a roof, the little fellow observed with relief and ran towards the direction of the truck, fully visible from his point of view. Behind him, as he was aware, was the policeman.
In a desperate chase, the tramp ran after the kid. He jumped over roofs, chimneys and rain gutters. At several points he slipped, managing to get up only with the sound of the cop of his tail as incentive.
Very close to the truck now, he ran, trying to find some way to jump on in safety-
Cursing himself, he fell. Landing with force, he gazed up and found that he had landed right next to the speeding truck.
Not one to miss an opportunity, he leaped-
And landed right on the CCO man. Turning, the little fellow saw a brief glance at the confused police officer before getting into a fight with the CCO agent.
It was a brief struggle, with the tramp winning out of sheer luck than force. The truck had hit a bump on the road, sending his opponent off balance. With an easy push, the man fell right off the truck.
The little fellow grinned at the sight of the man landing, only to sit up and glare at his retreating truck. The tramp waved.
Quickly, though, he ran to his kid embracing John as if it was the first and last time he would ever see him. John cried and, though he wasn't completely sure, the tramp felt that he had tears in his eyes also. He ran a hand through the kid's hair, making sure he was real.
Throughout this, neither had noticed that the truck had stopped and that the driver was openly staring in shock at them.
At this, the tramp jumped on him like an unrestrained dog. The man reacted thus, backing up fearfully. The tramp stormed at him again and the man jumped back. Again and the driver had run off, screaming.
This just left the little fellow and the kid. Turning back to John, Charlie hugged him again, hoping that nothing of the kid would ever happen again. The tramp and his kid would be together forever.
1) This is based off a film of Chaplin's but, it is a black and white silent film. I have shortened the contents, added detail and dialogue, and changed many points in the plot.
2) Chaplin himself referred to his famed character of the tramp as his "little fellow". This was also seen in his narration of his film The Gold Rush.
3) Since this is based on a silent film, very little of the dialogue is actually from the original The Kid
4) The flashbacks from the tramp during the chase are all based on Chaplin tramp films: Shanghaied, The Gold Rush and Modern Times. (Though both Gold Rush and Modern Times were made after The Kid I just had to put them in somewhere.)
5) According to the actor playing "the kid", in the scene in the truck (though not put into the film) he was screaming "Daddy! Daddy!"
7) According to Chaplin himself, the hugging scene in the truck did involve both him and the actor playing "John" really crying and weeping.
8) On account of the tramp's name being Charlie... when the end of the silent film era came, Chaplin was reluctant to let his little fellow talk. Talking would make him... singular. The tramp would not be universal anymore. But, he had toyed with the idea in Modern Times (the tramp's last apperance). In the sample script the tramp had introduced himself as Charlie. Ergo, Chaplin planned to name him after himself. Instead, Chaplin kept the film mostly silent with only music and about six dialogue lines. The only speaking part for the tramp was in the movie but it was only the tramp singing an unknown song in gibberish... a language everyone can understand.
9) The plot of this was tremendously shortened. Much happens after this in the film. The woman (the lady in the alley) reunites with the artist to put an ad out for the kid. The tramp and the kid rent a hotel room only to have the kid get taken due to the ad. The tramp finds this, gets depressed, goes home and falls asleep. A cop wakes him up and takes him to the woman's house to reunite him with the kid. I stopped at the most famous scene of the film, taking into account, impact and… time.
This is dedicated to Charles Chaplin Jr.
One of the best directors, comedians and storytellers in history.