(The sun is now high in the sky. Dave and Nigel are leaning against the railings, looking over the river while Andrew paints furiously, as if trying to finish it as quick as possible. Dave turns and looks back at the statue in the grass.)
DAVE: You ever get superstition attacks?
DAVE: It’s what me and Jadi called them. You know, you’re just minding your own business and then you go, “Hey, if I can do something by a total fluke, that will predict my future?”
NIGEL: No, because unlike you, I am categorized as “normal”.
DAVE: Come on, Nige. You’ve never gone, “I know, if I can throw this basketball over my shoulder without looking and I get it through the hoop, that means I’m going to be successful”?
NIGEL: You have, haven’t you?
NIGEL: And so, when you turn out to not only be a miserable failure, you also have the knowledge you wasted days of your life, trying to do a backwards slam dunk for absolutely no reward whatsoever. No wonder you’re suicidal.
DAVE: Hey, I’m not suicidal.
NIGEL: Oh. And what, prey tell are your reasons for living?
DAVE: What are yours?
NIGEL: (thinks) Lunch. For god’s sake it’s nearly one o’clock! That’s over two hours we’ve been here, and that’s also under seven!
(Nigel storms up to Andrew.)
NIGEL: All right then, He Who Dare Not Bathe, what have you got to show for yourself?
(Dave joins them and they look at the canvas. It is a uniform browny-black colour.)
NIGEL: Is that it? This is supposed to be a spot of outstanding natural beauty – and what do you paint? The inside of a sewage treatment farm!
ANDREW: Oh and what would you know?
NIGEL: I wasn’t the one who failed 2 Unit Visual Arts, was I?
ANDREW: Pah. The tired consesus of conglomeration in a jaded age. Time has moved on. As has style. You try selling a Jackson Pollock in Victorian England and see what you get.
DAVE: Andrew... why did you paint the whole canvas brown?
ANDREW: Painting is an art, Dave.
DAVE: ...yes. Yes it is.
ANDREW: I mean, Dave, that it’s not a simple transcription of physical reality. If I was drawing a picture of the river, I’m probably draw the river, then the banks or visa versa, you see? But in painting, we have to build up the tones, mixing colours, creating the place layer by layer. And that layer is the bare earth beneath us.
NIGEL: So... what? You’re going to paint in degrees of geophys? Your canvas will be very thick and you’re going to use one hell of a lot of paint.
DAVE: Apart from anything else, you’ve missed the sunrise.
ANDREW: I could always turn it into a sunset?
DAVE: The sun doesn’t set here, you’ll have to get into a completely different position.
ANDREW: Yes. And if the landscape is different, my painting will be completely inaccurate. Hmmm.
(Andrew thinks for a moment, then picks up the painting and smashes it down over Nigel’s head, which rips through the canvas.)
ANDREW: Don’t worry, you get twenty bucks compensation for that.
NIGEL: Oh. (happy) OK.
(Andrew picks up a new canvas and puts it on the easel.)
DAVE: Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry. We shouldn’t have skipped breakfast.
NIGEL: Where exactly are we supposed to get food from? We’re on the outskirts of civilization here!
ANDREW: (painting) Doris’ place is just up the hill.
NIGEL: Doris? The milk bar that gives you an extra round of rat poison with your low-fat DEATH?!
ANDREW: Doris hasn’t poisoned anyone. She just says she’s going to poison you.
NIGEL: This is so unfair!
DAVE: Um, actually, it isn’t. Your tab is like three hundred bucks...
NIGEL: Oh, so my life is worth less than three hundred bucks, is it?
ANDREW: The first faint glimmering of self-awareness.
NIGEL: Get back to your painting, you stupid hermit! If you actually paid me my dues, I wouldn’t have to be forced to plan my meals around psychotic shop owners! There’s got to be somewhere else we can get nice, hot food, juicy fried meat products and chocolate milk.
NIGEL: (thinks for a moment) Shit!
(Dave snaps off the painting from Nigel’s neck, weighs it in his hand.)
DAVE: Hey, Andrew, do you think, if I could get this across the river with one throw, that that means I’ll be happy in the future?
ANDREW: (busy painting) Only one way to find out.
(Dave crosses to the railing and flings the ruined painting in the air. It loops the loop and falls straight back down, splashing right in front of Dave, having traveled only as far as the other side of the railing.)
DAVE: SHIT! SHIT, SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!!
NIGEL: Watch your language, Dave!
DAVE: ENGLISH, WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE!
(The thing in the trees watches as Nigel leads Dave over to the toppled statue.)
NIGEL: Oh stop your whimpering, Dave! I have a cunning plan to get some of Doris’ finest all-beef burgers for absolutely free and no death threats whatsoever?
DAVE: I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, I don’t DO armed robbery.
NIGEL: Not that, you idiot. We simply offer her something of equal value to three hundred bucks.
(Nigel indicates the statue. Dave double takes and then stares at Nigel.)
DAVE: Do you really, REALLY expect that to work?
NIGEL: Got to play to win pussycat. And if you help me carry this mother, you’ll eat like a king.
DAVE: A king?
NIGEL: OK, a king on a miniscule junk food diet, but a king nonetheless.
ANDREW: Get me a Solo while you’re at it.
(Andrew admires his painting, a very good picture of a yellow Solo can.)
(A very long set of stone steps climbing a steep hill behind a block of flats. To the left is a sheer cliff face, to the right an uneven grassy hill sloping downwards– no railing to stop you falling. Halfway up the hill on the right are a couple of platform picnic areas with wooden beams fencing them in, tables and benches. Lots of trees block the giddying view of the horizon. Nigel and Dave are straining their way up the steps, carrying the heavy statue between them.)
NIGEL: God damn... why couldn’t they... make this... lightweight... or something?
DAVE: Do you... honestly... expect... an answer...?
NIGEL: It’d be... nice... to know... there is... an answer...
DAVE: Oh! Oh, man, I’m gonna drop it!
NIGEL: We’ve carried this thing for miles! You are NOT going to drop it!
DAVE: I’m gonna drop it!
NIGEL: You’re NOT gonna drop it!
DAVE: It’s slipping! I’m gonna drop it!
NIGEL: Don’t you bloody dare!
DAVE: I can’t hold on!
NIGEL: Bit more! Just a BIT more!
(They have managed to get on level with a picnic platform and scramble across.)
DAVE: It’s slipping!
NIGEL: Just get it up on the table...
(They shuffle towards the table, but Dave finally loses his grip. One end of the statue smashes to the ground. No longer able to carry his end of the statue, Nigel sags under the weight. The statue slams into the end of the table, crushing Nigel’s hands beneath it. He cries out. The weight of the statue on the edge of the table causes it to tip like a see-saw, and the far end of the table swings up and smashes into Nigel’s head. He screams again and collapses, wrenching his hands clear. The table swings back down to the horizontal, crushing Nigel’s foot. He collapses in pain. Dave gets to his feet.)
DAVE: Aw man... I think my heart nearly exploded...
NIGEL: (in tears) No one cares about you, Dave! OH GOD, MY EXTREMITIES!
(Dave glares at Nigel, then kicks him when he’s down.)
DAVE: This statue... weighs a ton. I dunno if it’s metric or imperial, but it is sure heavy. How the hell did they get it down to the river without leaving any tracks. Does the Incredible Hulk work for Swift and Shift Couriers nowadays or something?
(Nigel gets up, whimpering and cradling his hands.)
NIGEL: Does it LOOK like anyone’s interested?
DAVE: Well, it’s more interesting than you fishing for sympathy, bitch.
NIGEL: I am NOT fishing for sympathy!
(He waggles a reproving hand at Dave in such a way to show he’s forgotten what agony his hands were in... assuming they ever were.)
NIGEL: And if I WAS fishing for sympathy, it would involved Lindsey Lohan in her Gandhi outfit and some whipped cream, so don’t think you’re even REMOTELY worthy! (clears throat) Besides, Dave, just because you’re so physically feeble you can’t shift this doesn’t mean that no one else can.
DAVE: How did they do it then?
NIGEL: Well... obviously... they used a crane.
DAVE: A crane.
NIGEL: A crane.
DAVE: I didn’t see a crane.
NIGEL: Well, it’s been moved since they used it.
DAVE: I didn’t see any tracks.
NIGEL: Of course you didn’t – the bit with wheels is a huge distance away from the end of the crane, otherwise it’d be a rubbish crane, wouldn’t it? You could probably see the tracks from here if there weren’t all these trees in the way...
(Nodding in thought, Dave leaves the picnic area and starts up the steps.)
NIGEL: Stupid place to put a rest area like this anyway. It’s always in shade, cold, quiet, lonely... who in their right mind would want to have a picnic here? When the only noise is the wind and your own heart beating. I tell you, a guy could get lonely out here... all alone... in the gloomy cold...
(Nigel rubs his bare arms, finally noticing he’s alone.)
NIGEL: Dave? DAVE!
DAVE: (oov) Up here!
(We see something is watching him from the edge of the platform, peering over the edge.)
NIGEL: Did I give you permission to wander off? A clue: NO!
(He runs towards the steps but trips over the statue and falls flat on his face.)
(He gets to his feet and limps up the steps, unaware of the thing watching him. Nigel finally runs out of breathe three steps before he reaches the next platform.)
NIGEL: (panting) Stupid... town planners... who the hell... do they think... uses these eyesores... for picnics... huh?
(He catches up with Dave, who stands, looking at the platform and its contents.)
NIGEL: Who, huh? Tell me that, Dave... who uses these things?
DAVE: (points) They do, I guess.
(Nigel follows his gaze. Boggles.)
NIGEL: Good answer...
- to be continued...