based on a true story that occurred on 3/3/2009...
[The gang are leaving their house. Nigel has his arm around Dave, carrying on an extravagant conversation as they head down to Wynona. Andrew pauses to check the letter box and finds what looks like a docket. He reads it with interest as he follows the others.]
NIGEL: ...and there is none finer in the suburb! It’s so amazing it’s not even listed in the White Pages!
DAVE: I dunno, Nige. Sounds a bit like Black Books to me.
NIGEL: Far from it, David. The proprietor is a kindly old man who doesn’t throw empty bottles at people for a start. It’s amazing, I tell you. An oasis of calm in that busy crossroads. The best bit is out of the three shops on that corner, the bookshop covers the first and the last and leaves the middle as a kebab shop. You can walk though from one building to another, with the delightful smell of felaffels and mouldy newsprint...
[They reach the car.]
DAVE: Hey, someone’s put something under the windscreen wiper.
NIGEL: Oh, ignore it, Dave. Just another pamphlet from some cargo cult.
[Nevertheless Dave takes out a docket from under the wiper.]
NIGEL: Don’t tell me, Feng Shuei was created when an angel appeared before some mediocre non-entity and explained that all our souls are actually disembodied alien intelligences trying to achieve nirvana through superior firepower. Heard them all before, Dave...
DAVE: Dude. You got a parking ticket.
[Dave hands him the docket.]
DAVE: Parked in a prohibited area for twelve hours – statutory fine of eighty bucks.
NIGEL: What is this bollocks? It’s parked outside my house! Not on a double yellow line or anything! [crumples it up] I’m not paying this. It’s a some mistake, some jumped up traffic warden...
ANDREW: [reading own docket] “This is not some mistake or the work of a jumped up traffic warden. This fine is automatically sent to Debt Collection and believe you me they don’t piss about. If the fine is not paid within 21 working days your driving license will automatically be revoked.” Amazing what they can do with computers nowadays, huh?
NIGEL: Yeah. Mindblowing. So you’re saying I HAVE to pay this? I can’t even appeal?
ANDREW: Unless the words “there is no right of appeal” mean something else to you.
NIGEL: But this is messed up! There’s got to be something I can do!
ANDREW: Maybe, but the fine still has to be paid.
NIGEL: Great! I was saving that money!
ANDREW: For what?
NIGEL: The bloody bookstore for a start! There must be SOMETHING I can do!
DAVE: Well... you could always go to Rodney the Wrecker.
NIGEL: Who’s he? A gangster?
DAVE: No, a scrap metal merchant. A car like this, you could get eighty bucks for it easy. Maybe even more.
NIGEL: Sacrifice Wynona? Never! Honestly, what sort of plan is that?!
DAVE: One that lets you break even, perhaps with a small profit and a quick return.
ANDREW: Yeah, Nigel. Wynona’s getting way too expensive to run anyway, what with the rising prices in petrol. And now it looks like it’s going to cost you near a hundred bucks a day just to park.
NIGEL: What sort of defeatist attitude is that, Andrew?
ANDREW: [shrugs] A realistic one?
NIGEL: I’m not giving in! We’ve been here for ages and never once got a ticket! It must be a mistake!
DAVE: ...unless they brought in a new law.
NIGEL: Oh, yes, obviously, Dave, that’s what MUST have happened! “Department of Motor Vehicles introduces legislation so all private cars cannot be parked legally” – how could we have missed that? They didn’t send us any kind of warning. [long pause] Did they?
ANDREW: [shrugs] I didn’t see anything in the local paper.
DAVE: [shrugs] I didn’t even SEE the local paper.
NIGEL: Well, there should be SOME kind of notice! And I don’t see one! I’m going to complain to my MP.
ANDREW: They’re called “local members” in Australia.
NIGEL: Whatever! I am not going to be made to look a fool! In fact, I’m going to the police!
[Nigel starts to reenter his car. Dave stops him.]
DAVE: Do you HONESTLY think that’s a good idea? I mean, you are kind of on a blacklist...
NIGEL: One riot at a high school, Dave! Don’t exaggerate.
ANDREW: Don’t you think you should calm down slightly before trying to present your case to the police?
NIGEL: THAT bunch of corrupt drug-dealing slave traders? Never! Don’t you watch “Bad Cop, Bad Cop” – those idiots are twice as bad as anyone they arrest, AND they barely know nine tenths of bugger all!
DAVE: It still would be smart to show a BIT of diplomacy.
NIGEL: What? And end up paying THEM bribes as well as the fine? You’re whacked, Dave.
ANDREW: You know, we really should check we haven’t been informed.
NIGEL: The Council can change their websites whenever they want and backdate it, Andrew. They’ll deny everything.
DAVE: Not if we use Google Cache.
NIGEL: ...shut up.
ANDREW: Or, instead we could ask the neighbor if he got a notice.
[Silence. Slightly ominous music.]
NIGEL: ...the neighbor?
DAVE: OUR neighbor?
ANDREW: Yeah, why not?
[They turn and look at the house directly behind their own. It is slightly run down and seems abandoned.]
ANDREW: If he hasn’t got a notice from the local government, then we’ll have that much more ammunition to win Nigel’s case.
NIGEL: But not win back my eighty bucks.
DAVE: I dunno about this. Living in debt’s better than dying in it if you get my drift.
NIGEL: No. Thankfully.
ANDREW: Come on, Dave. Where’s your sense of adventure?
DAVE: The same place the LAST seventy-three times you asked that question.
NIGEL: No, Dave, the hirsute psycho is right. We need grass roots action to make a difference, like that TV show.
ANDREW: Which TV show?
NIGEL: “Grass Roots” of course, come on!
[They march towards the forbidding house.]
DAVE: Let’s hope he’s in a good mood...
- to be continued...