(Andrew, Dave and Nigel are trudging down a path beside the river. It is very early in the morning and all is in twilight. Nigel carries several bags, an easel and some collapsible furniture, and is bitching...)
NIGEL: Why do we have to come down here so early in the morning anyway?
ANDREW: Oh, enough of the complaining Nigel! Are you my faithful gofer or what?
NIGEL: “Faith” doesn’t come into it, Andrew. I’m here for the cold hard cash, which thanks to the blind rage of an angry god, YOU seem to have in abundance while I suffer below the poverty line.
ANDREW: Yeah, and if you want currency of that temperature and consistency, you can stop complaining.
(They continue down the path in silence for about three seconds.)
NIGEL: It’s not fair. It’s just not fair. Why do YOU get all the money when I don’t?
ANDREW: I have a job, Nigel.
NIGEL: Yeah. A part-time job! Which you barely attend. So, maybe I am unemployed-stroke-exploring-my-leisure-potential, but so what? I’m honest about it?
DAVE: You’ve defrauded Centrelink out of thirty grand.
NIGEL: That’s not my point.
DAVE: You don’t HAVE a point.
NIGEL: Shut up, Dave. My point is this: while I may, yes, have got money that wasn’t rightfully mine, at least I worked for it. All the effort getting those dole benefit forms, forging different handwriting, looking up all those foreign names. Do you KNOW how many foreign baby name books I’ve bought? Half the staff of Dymocks think I’ve knocked up half the civilized world.
ANDREW: Mainly because that’s what you tell them to impress the girl on the counter.
NIGEL: I know. I can’t BELIEVE that didn’t work.
DAVE: You weren’t giving her the impression of being a safe bet for commitment.
NIGEL: Nonsense. I was showing I not only make commitments, I make them to a HELL of a lot of people. And, anyway, what do I want to know about female advice from you? You’re still mooning after the girl who dumped you at high school for a Ronald McDonald impersonator.
DAVE: Piss off!
NIGEL: Where was I before the depressing details of Dave’s so-called life got in the way?
(Andrew walks off the path and up the hill, so he can overlook the river.)
ANDREW: You justifying ripping off the social services.
NIGEL: Yes! Of course. My point is, I made an effort. OK, I didn’t get a job and earn the money, but I still went out of my way to get that cash. And you, what do you do? Nothing, that’s what? You do a couple of days work a quarter, and you get a fortune. How is that fair?
(Andrew turns and places his hands on Nigel's shoulders and looks deep into his eyes.)
ANDREW: Nigel. If I gave you a long and detailed explanation for exactly how it works and precisely why it is fair, would that actually satisfy you?
(Nigel is about to speak.)
ANDREW: No. It wouldn’t. You’d still be just as pissed off as before. Now, set up the easel and the furniture while I gather the muse.
NIGEL: How do I know you’ll even pay me?
ANDREW: Because you shutting the hell up will be well worth the cash.
NIGEL: I don’t have to put up with this, you know.
(Andrew smiles scarily.)
ANDREW: Neither do I.
NIGEL: ...good point. (mutters) Crazy hairy bastard...
(Nigel walks off and starts to dump all the things he carries onto the ground.)
DAVE: You know, I did always wonder about why a psychotic like Snugglewolffe would set you up with a cozy job like that. Three days of shelf-stacking and check out for a couple of grand... how DOES that work?
ANDREW: I’m on commission.
DAVE: “Commission”? Get real, Andrew, that never works. Name one careers officer or jobsearch officer to say otherwise!
ANDREW: There’s always an exception that proves the rule.
DAVE: And you’re it?
ANDREW: Uh-huh. See, when I turn up, abuse the customers, hide the good toys... all that. It sends a message to the customers.
DAVE: “Don’t Shop Here”.
ANDREW: To be more precise, “This Shop Is So Desperate For Staff It’s Probably Going To Close”. So everyone super-sizes their purchases, try to get all the stuff NOW instead of waiting for Christmas or birthdays... well, Christmas IS a birthday, so birthdays and birthdays.... and the next thing you know, the store has a whopping huge bundle of cash, so much in fact it pays my wages for the next five months or so. Or, from another perspective, the next three months with a huge bonus.
DAVE: Oh I get it. You then avoid the shop for the rest of the quarter, get the customers all calm, then do the whole vicious cycle again.
ANDREW: And people say there’s an economic crisis.
(Nigel is trying to set up the easel.)
NIGEL: Won’t even the mental rejects who shop at your workplace start to twig you turn up every three months?
ANDREW: They haven’t for the last two years. More working, less chatting.
NIGEL: Chat? That’d suggest I was speaking about something interesting with someone of even vaguely similar intelligence. It’s a quarter to seven, you madman! The sun’s not fully risen yet! It’s cold, damp, dark and we could be safely back at home, in the bright warmth, with Eve. Eve, who even now is snuggled on those silk sheets of hers, her platinum blonde hair crumpled against a pillow she hugs to her pert breasts while the other hand snakes between her...
(He notices Dave and Andrew glaring at him.)
NIGEL: Shutting up now. No, wait, why do we have to be up this early? What are you going to paint, anyway?
ANDREW: Hmm? Oh. Sunrise on the river.
NIGEL: Oh, everyone does that! Everyone does sunsets or sunrises. What mediocrity!
ANDREW: I’m taking this out of your pay cheque, Nigel.
(Nigel lets the easel collapse and folds his arms.)
NIGEL: Fine. I’m standing by my principles, Andrew. ANYONE could do a sunrise, and they probably have! After five thousand years of civilization, it’s been done to death. You could at least paint something vaguely worth capturing...
DAVE: This is going to end with you volunteering to have your portrait painted, isn’t it?
NIGEL: Oh please. As if I could bear to see how a talent vacuum like Andrew could perceive MY godlike looks. It would be getting a warthog to try and do justice painting what’s her name from Naturally Sadie.
ANDREW: Art is never truly appreciated inside the artist’s lifetime, Nigel.
NIGEL: And you’re not an artist. I was in Art at high school, remember? With you? I thought you were crap. Dave thought you were crap. The teacher thought you were crap and, when they finally realized she was senile and she got replaced, her replacement thought you were crap too. That’s why the school refused to put up your artwork for the HSC, remember?
ANDREW: No they didn’t. I handed in empty frames.
DAVE: (awed) No! Seriously?
ANDREW: Yeah. I said it was Minimalism taken to the next level.
NIGEL: ...you still flunked, though.
ANDREW: That’s where the “lack of appreciation inside the artist’s lifetime” comes in.
NIGEL: Maybe. But your staggering lack of artistic talent...
ANDREW: ...which was entirely down to the crude materials on offer at high school. The paint, awful. The canvases, second hand, the creative atmosphere stifling and the art teacher convinced it was 1937. Now with my huge pay bracket, I’ve got proper materials and the perfect setting.
(Andrew indicates the stuff brought, including a brand new paintbox set.)
NIGEL: To paint a sunrise.
DAVE: And what would YOU suggest, Big N?
NIGEL: Oh, I dunno. Do that statue.
ANDREW: Nigel, no one ever wants to look at a painting of a statue – they’d rather have the statue itself. Statues are free to look at, and if the painting is better than the original sculpture, it begs the question of why the hell the painting needed to be based on a rubbish subject in the first... what statue?
NIGEL: That one.
(Nigel points. Further up the hill, near some trees, is a statue of someone flinging their arms up in front of them, looking terrified.)
ANDREW: Where’d that one come from?
(They approach the statue.)
DAVE: Well, Andrew, when a sculpture and a block of stone love each other very much...
ANDREW: I mean, it wasn’t here yesterday.
(An uneasy silence. Nigel recovers first.)
NIGEL: Oh don’t pull some Weeping Angels shit, Andrew. Look at it. It’s not even covering its eyes.
(They look at the statue of the terrified man.)
DAVE: ...it’s trying to, though.
NIGEL: Well. Obviously that was the characteristic pose of the subject.
DAVE: Who was...?
ANDREW: Someone who hated publicity if that’s how people think of him. You know, I might have seen this guy coming out of a courtroom like that...
DAVE: Why erect a statue out here anyway?
NIGEL: He’s probably famous or something. Killed all the “Abowiginuls” who owned the land and was immortalized forever.
ANDREW: Trying to cover his face?
DAVE: I dunno. Sculpture’s so damn difficult. I mean, one mistake and you need a whole new block of marble. Makes sense that you’d make it so you didn’t need to get the face right. I myself know the deep frustration of getting a subject just right in the medium. Like when I did that painting of Phoebe? I spent ages on that. Every time I was just about finished getting the silhouette, her waistline would expand and I’ve have to start all over again.
NIGEL: Well. She was pregnant.
DAVE: Hey, I don’t need to be told. I did a hundred half-finished sketches at the time which proved it!
ANDREW: You should have kept them, you know. It could have been a series of paintings. Very deep.
DAVE: (blinks) Yeah. That would have got me top of the class, easy. Shit!
ANDREW: Wait a minute. Someone’s carved this statue of someone and put it down by the river in a position where hardly anyone can see it.
DAVE: Civil planning?
ANDREW: But where’s the plaque? Huh? Where’s the stone plinth. I mean...
(Andrew gestures to the stone feet standing amongst the grass. Dave leans on the statue to better peer down at its feet, but the statue falls back under the weight and crashes into the grass. The others jump back in surprise.)
DAVE: Hey! It’s not even attached to anything!
NIGEL: Take the night off, Sherlock! It must have been dumped down here.
ANDREW: Oh, sure, that makes a lot of sense.
(As they chat, something is watching them from the undergrowth.)
ANDREW: Someone carves a brilliantly detailed statue, then decides to dump it in public, and does so without leaving any tracks or anything?
NIGEL: (shrugs) It’s a free country.
DAVE: No. It isn’t.
NIGEL: OK. We pretend it’s a free country. Look, you want to do a painting, do the painting. I don’t want to have dragged all this crap here for nothing.
DAVE: Cause such futility would be a real break in your behavior pattern.
NIGEL: Dave, you really should consider the consequences of your actions.
(He kicks at the back of Dave's legs, causing him to collapse, roll down the hill, over the path and crash into the fence stopping you fall into the river. Andrew is putting a canvas on the easel.)
ANDREW: I’m fining you twenty bucks for that, you realize.
NIGEL: (amazed at how unfair this is) Oh, COME ON!
(The thing in the undergrowth moves away...)