Friday, October 30, 2009

Doctor Who - Nice Day For A White Wedding


You're weird, in tears, too near and too far away,
He said, saw red, went home stayed in bed all day,
Your t'shirt, dish dirt,
Always love the one you hurt

You sleep, too deep, one week is another world
Big mouth, big mouth, drop out, drop out
You get what you deserve
You're stange, insane, one thing you can never change

It's a crack, I'm back yeah standing
On the rooftops shouting out,
Baby I'm ready to go
I'm back and ready to go

Normally, I wouldn't review The Sarah Jane Adventures for a number of reasons (lack of reader interest, the fact there's little to say about them, the way it hasn't improved simply because it was never crap to start with... though a few moments in the second series pushed the envelope) but this time it's special. This is the third and presumably final part of the Trickster Trilogy, where Doctor Who and Sarah Jane have metaphorically caught each other's eye over a crowded room (the Trickster makes the Doctor the next on his hit list after Sarah), began flirting outrageously (Sarah spots a police box and tries to get the owner to defeat the Trickster, only to find it was a genuine police man inside), some awkward groping (the Doctor idly tells Donna the giant stag beetle was one of the Trickster's groupies) before the hardcore sex of televisual crossover (arguably the least memorable bits of the Season 4 finale).

In a way, I wish this story had kept its original title of The Wedding of Sarah Jane to continue the theme of Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? and The Temptation of Sarah Jane. Oh, and that's another thing. She's now psychotic about being called "Sarah Jane" instead of "Sarah", it pisses her off like calling a certain other Smith "Ricky". It seems only the Doctor is allowed to be so informal nowadays. Watching the SJAs you're surprised she let Harry Sullivan live when he not only referred to her as "old thing" but "Sarah" as well...

So, a quick guide to the SJA verse...

After the events of School Reunion, SJ and K9 moved to a Gabriel Chase style mansion at 13 Bannerman Rd (named after those most vicious of alien monsters). Alas, their domestic bliss was to be shortlived. The Large Hadron Collider created a rather large black hole and K9 used his funky new teleportation powers to whiz around the black hole really fast and... er... long story short, he and the black hole were trapped inside a dimensionally transcendental safe in SJ's attic.

Retreating further from society in a way that makes giving her Ninth Doctor dialogue all the easier, SJ soon discovered a funky alien crystal that immediately dry-humped her laptop. Thus, Mr. Smith was born - a fireplace-shaped Peter Tuddenham tribute machine that plays a fanfare to bask in its own magnificence. No wierd Orac buzz here, Mr. Smith makes Murray Gold his bitch. And it's genuine music, too, the type that all the fictional characters have to listen to. Is occasionally evil, but SJ really should have expected that after she caught him idly building bazookoids into his mainframe.

SJ soon discovered the alien Bane, the lame-sounding cute pink octopus race, were intending to conquer the world with a new soft drink called Bubbleshock (no, not a bit like that addictive milkshake called Bubbleshake from the same author, what made you think that?) which they used to take over human brains by... doing unspeakable things into every bottle. Their lab rate was a GELF boy who even his harshest critics have dubbed "Adric done right", a young lad who's innocence and honesty make him socially awkward, hilariously amusing and almost Blackaddery cool as he cuts through civilized society with some unwittingly witty barbs. After 50 minutes of the Bane dissing her for never having children, SJ shows them all wrong by adopting this genetic experiment and naming him Luke.

Luke, along with his bestest ever friend and hetero life partner Clyde Langer, help Sarah Jane in her adventures that, to be honest, make Torchwood look like total shit nine times out of ten. They are also accompanied by Rani Chandra, whose most interesting characteristic is that she's named after an evil Time Lady but isn't half as entertaining. She's only there to fill a whacking great Maria-shaped gap, as are her no-fist parents (her mother, ex-Constable Habib from The Thin Blue Line, is a gormless 70s-style eccentric mum who really should be in The Good Life where she can do no harm.)

Recent developments include K9 finally getting his arse out of the Black Hole (seemingly at the cost of his voice - he sounds very different, more different than his own spin off... did Leeson have a sore throat), and Clyde performing a rapidly-irritating monologue at the start of each episode where he basically tells you everything I've just written with the odd ommission of "Who the hell is this black kid, how many energy drinks is he on, and why is he flirting with the cameraman?"

Anyway, this episode starts quite like that Goodies episodes about the Scouts. SJ herself is off on a mysterious weeknight excursion and her posse of kids and computers begin a chase sequence as they try to find out what the hell she's up to. While K9 and Mr. Smith have some computer bitching you'd never see anywhere outside of Blake's 7, SJ nearly blows her own head off when she mixes up her lipstick with a sonic version (she's got a sonic screwdriver disguised as lipstick, did I mention? She's also got a funky alien detecting wristwatch which... er... speeds up stories). Meanwhile, Hewy Dewy and Louwy discover SJ is meeting up with Nigel Havers over dinner for some public displays of affection. And tonsil-hockey. No doubt if this was Torchwood our young padwans would be stuck in a hotel closet listening as their mentor and her new boyfriends screwed on the bed next to them. Which is a mental image I apologize for and wonder why the hell I inflicted it on you, but the cast react with similar disgust. Was it Buffy herself who summed it up best: "Don't do it, you're OLD!"?

What's wierd is that as the couple snog there is the distinctive sound of a yale key being dragged up and down piano wire to create a familiar wheezing groaning sound. In fact, I might have imagined that entirely as no one comments at all about it in the middle of a busy high street.

Returning to base to muse over SJ's sex life, the troika decide to keep schtum about them stalking her. Alas, Mr. Smith has had a gutful of K9 being patronizing and spills the beans. Cause he can. Mr. Smith, for that you recieve Man of Fist. K9 immediately tries to rival this with his side-splitting Urak impression ("MisTRESS raNI!!!") but he's the weak, spineless dog this time round. Alas, after whatever she's been doing tonight, SJ's on cloud ten and thus does not kill everyone in the room. She takes Luke aside for a chat, which manages to NOT trigger vomiting since they're both so freaking awkward about grown up emotions they can't pull out too many cliches and there's just enough self pity to drown the rising smarm.

Alas, so lost are they in their angst they miss that wheezing groaning noise. Again.

Anyway, Nigel Havers is coming round to meet the family and the only person not interested in checking him out of the entire cast is K9, who makes it clear he doesn't give a shit and wishes everyone else would grow up. The disturbingly girly Nigel arrives with a bunch of roses stolen from Alex Drake as SJ passes off a crate obviously containing an alien for Clyde and Rani to deal with. Alas, Rani's mum immediately shoulder-charges the couple and tries to simultaneously seduce Nigel, drum up business for her shitty florest and simultaneously suggest the pair get married. Luke kung-fu-kicks her out of the scene, thankfully. But, alas, that crate has exploded to reveal a very cheap CGI bug-eyed monster out of Calvin and Hobbes, so K9 has to sigh and break cover to deal with the little bastard via his funky "stair-negotiation" hover mode (pausing to check out the boyfriend as he does so, though). "Do not look at me!" he screams at Nigel as he hurtles out into the street. "Everything is normal!"

SJ and Luke drag Nigel to a posh Italian restaurant, leaving Clyde, Rani and K9 to engage in a Benny Hill chase for this halfassed CGI slug. In a true twist, Nigel shows no sign of being completely evil, insane, alien, robot or trying to get Luke addicted to ecstasy-laced cookies (as you'd find in a corresponding Buffy ep) and easily bonds with Luke. Clyde thus decides that Nigel must be some gold-digging bastard trying to seduce SJ's family fortune out of her - an idea not undermined by the fact his "house" is a derelict shack and he's proposed to SJ after about five minutes. Or that the wedding ring is a perfect fit (slightly unlikely) and glows red (downright worrying)...

Yes, SJ is completely bewitched by that evil glowing ring. Guess Nigel's evil after all (then again, "Nigel" is an anagram of "Evil G", could he really be a Gaske). SJ immediately order Mr. Smith to switch himself off forever when he tries to point out about SJ's satanic bling, and throws away her funky alien detector watch. Her claims are that she's abandoning her whole alien-hunting life to settle down in everyday land. It comes as no surprise the moment she's locked up the attic that the Trickster can be heard laughing like the Black Guardian on cocaine.

2 weeks later, and on the day of the wedding we discover Maria's taken a rain check. God DAMN! No Maria, no Brigadier, no Little Miss Jocelyn (aka Clyde's mum), no Doctor... yes, where is our spiky-haired Scot? You know, the reason I'm reviewing this in the first place? Even Rani's parents consider the turnout poor, a bunch of extras who are apparently SJ's hairdresser, editors and accountants. Wow, not even Brendon the geek bothered to show up. Is he partying in Peru with everyone from the UNIT era as well, is he? SJ finally arrives (and, just to say, her neck is really the only evidence she is in her sixties, from the chin up she's aged as much as Dawn French has...). And as Melanie Peppinheim does her Bridal Bad Wolf Waltz, Luke begins to wonder where David Tennant has got to, cuing a completely gratuitous Metabelis III reference and more wheezing and groaning.

With the registrar having to raise her voice over all this whirring and chuffing, the wedding reaches the "any just cause or impediment" bit, the Doctor finally turns up to do a new and interesting variation fo his "Stop it! Stoooooop ittt!" catchphrase as everyone double takes and K9 bursts out from under a table. A wind whips up and the Trickster arrives (dressed in white... kinky) and group hugs SJ and Nigel out of existence. The Doctor is left shouting and gurning. Yes. Quite. Presumably this is the best use of his talents in his last-ever-performance as the Doctor so we don't get too upset when Smiffy takes over... even the next time trailer seems to show his teeth doing all the acting...

...give me strength.

And onto part two. Continuing the blatant Father's Day rip off/Sapphire & Steel homage the wedding isn't just knackered by paradox-lusting time bastards but our heroes are cast out of time and space and left in infinity. Except not in a cafe, in a church. But in exactly the same second-long time loop as shown in the clocks and media. The Doctor's a lot better this week, calmer, friendlier and having finally mastered the art of dealing with hysterical humans (oh, if only he'd pulled that stunt back in Midnight...). It goes to show Tennant's accessibility as the Doctor, since it's fair to say no child would have trusted Eccleston's Doctor to save either them or the universe, but it's a nice twist that although K9, Luke, Clyde and Rani know all about the Doctor... they were expecting something a tad more impressive (remember, this K9's only met the Doctor very briefly), and his mighty time machine a shoddy blue box that can't even land in this limbo with them pushes hopes down further. Yes, they were expecting Mad Larry's hated God In Pinstripe to arrive and solve the entire business with a snap of his fingers and then they end up with a nutter who strongly gives the impression he's making all this up.

And... is it me... or has Tennant gone a bit grey? Maybe it's just the pestilential apocalyptic light of limbo on that wierd quiff of his, but he sure looks a lot older than normal. Kind of like Tom Baker in Season 18 (remember, less than a year separated Shada from Logopolis).

With all the, frankly rather predictable, introductions over, the plot can continue as Clyde calls on the Doctor to keep his promise of "explaining later". A black guy saying "Please explain" in a bitchy voice is probably not MEANT to make me shriek with laughter... but it does.

The Doctor reveals that the Trickster is some freaky being from beyond time (so... not the Black Guardian then? Bummer) who spends most of these post Time War days trying to break into our reality through his facebook pals, the Pantheon of Discord (as all note, it'd be a great name for a band) and also breaks the fourth wall explaining that he, of all the beings in the cosmos, get to call the title character "Sarah". So that's me told. Meanwhile, Nigel's funky ring of evil mojo's SJ into forgetting about the Doctor and the chaos, but Nigel's so pushy SJ finally twigs to the evil ring and rips it off, realizing she is also S&S'd out of history, but one second later than everyone else.

The Doctor twigs this via the sonic screwdriver, K9 and the blindingly obvious and then - ditching the robot dog on guard duty - runs off with the kids.

I thought that merited a paragraph on its own as that scene was the absolute last one David Tennant ever performed as the Tenth Doctor. I might mention other Doctor's finale scenes but I can only think of Eccleston's running away from the Dalek Emperor and Tom Baker in the streets of Logopolis. I'll just note that the last scene in Blake's 7 was the curly-hair-at-ten-paces confrontation between Blake and Tarrant in Scorpio's wreckage and move on. But it was IMPORTANT man! Pity the dialogue hardly reflected it... "You two, come with me, split splot" I ask you.

Nigel runs after SJ begging for her hand in marriage, explaining he really WAS just an ordinary joe minding his own business when he fell down his stairs and, as he lay dying, the Trickster arrived and pulled the usual Davy Jones MO (I will save your live if you become my slave forever). Since the Trickster was in his gay-looking white outfit with finger bling, Nigel mistook the fanged freak for an angel. Of course. And since he didn't bewitch SJ until they got engaged, TECHNICALLY it counts as true love. So. There. Then the Trickster turns up and says that all he wants is for her to be happy - which is pretty much a hundred times scarier than his "I SHALL CONSUME THIS REALITY!! MWAHAHAHAHAHAA!" Apocalypse Chaser chattiness.

The Trickster decides to return his black look to bushwhack the Doctor (I swear, he's got a Peladon-style white streak in his hair) and decides to chat, god to god. There's the usual sort of stuff - "Hey, you're the Last of the Time Lords, the threefold man, the guy who juggled the Key to Time and now you're stuck in a church with some child actors you weak, spineless dog!" "Oh, what about you, you lonely old wanker running around the cosmos stalking a septugenarian journalist in Cardiff, big, big awesome shit there, right enough!" "Bwahahah! I have read the spoilers! The Gate is Open! You are completely screwed!" "...fuck off then." "Fine. Bitch." - in which it turns out that, in a moment designed to make one blogger use his flintlock on a copy of Looking for Sarah Jane Smith, Sladen's character is so cosmically important she makes Donna Noble look like Ben Chatham. OK, I like this show and even I think that's overkill.

After some waffle about "the power of words" (which made me wonder if some Shakespeare Code Carrionite bollocks was about to occur) it seems the gist is this: if SJ says "I do", the Trickster will transform her into a housewife with no interest or desire in protecting the Earth from alien chaos (alien chaos being a big turn on for the Trickster). So, basically... he's just after the exact same thing as in Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane Smith?. At least in Temptation he was trying to shatter the history of the universe! Talk about scaling down his aims!

Seemingly as disillusioned with the scale of all this as I am, the Doctor immediately takes a running jump into the TARDIS and buggers off, leaving the troika in limbo. Clyde thinks he's abandoned them, Rani thinks he simply won't be able to return and Luke decides to rely on him because logic says they are buggered fifteen separate ways till Sunday otherwise. K9 wisely doesn't comment.

But what's this? It turns out that article about the TARDIS in DWM (which was written by Gareth Roberts... hang on a sec!) was absolutely right! It turns out that the TARDIS is soaked in artron energy, the background radiation of time vortex, and this mojo seriously stuffs up Great Old Ones like the Animus on Vortis by simply being alpha to their omega, an Archie comic to the evil guy's Philipino porn mags! And Clyde's accidental copping a feel off the police box has, Peter Parker style, granted him freaky new powers that seemingly have absolutely no value WHATSOEVER!!! (Seriously, you can spit cobwebs out of your wrists - doesn't automatically scream super hero, does it?)

But Clyde, being of the average intelligence of a Robin Hood character (ie, another plane of consciousness above Torchwood) immediately offers to join the Pantheon of Discord and the Trickster. Hmm, could he be about to offer to "shake on it?" Why, yes, he is! Meanwhile, the Doctor drops by SJ to note that, yes, this IS the nastiest decision she will ever have to face and frankly, she's welcome to it because he isn't going to lift a finger to help: either she achieves the happiness she wants and dooms the world, or a moral victory while frozen in time. The Doctor then buggers off once more. Jeez, dude, I'm starting to want this Godlike Matt Smith to turn up. I know balancing crossovers are pretty hard, but the Doctor's done sod all that K9 couldn't do this week? (Indeed, I begin to suspect DT was written in simply to keep his mug on TV this year, since he was far better to be used in Temptation last year when the entire freaking universe nearly got got destroyed...)

But wait, it seems the Doctor's lethagy is simply because he doesn't HAVE to save the day and they can defeat the Trickster the EXACT SAME WAY they did it the LAST TWO TIMES! Yes, another loved one of SJ chooses to die instead of remain alive, totally stuffing up the Trickster's plans. Man, imagine if it was the Stag Beetle behind all this, it'd be MUCH harder to write. Roberts? No more Trickster tales from now on, you've run out of Father's Day to plagiarize.

Ah, but what's this? Nigel ISN'T automatically a selfless self-sacrifice, sugar-flavored snot holier-than-thou chap? Plus, he's got a shitload of dialogue from that Eighth Doctor and Lucie audio about refusing to let a little thing like preordained mortality put the dampener on his sex life! SJ tells him point black to suck it up, embrace the pain and die like a man - thankfully without all the weeping from the last two stories (mind you, once you've watched your parents kill themselves for the greater good, a guy you've known for fifteen minutes who is clearly either delusional, stupid or a complete wanker probably is easier to swallow... especially as you've been voodooed into marrying him in the first place).

The Trickster is deeply pissed off - he specifically chose Nigel Havers BECAUSE he was a complete tool without a spine! But Nigel starts going on about how SJ gave him the strength and I think we all share the Trickster's pain: yes, you beat him, no need to wank all over the moment with this shitty lovey-dovey dialogue about how love conquers all. NO - ONE - CARES.

Time resets (after the entire cast have a group hug and TELL US this blatantly obvious fact and the Doctor informs SJ the trap is broken - um... yes... that IS coming across, Doc) and to all intents and purposes Nigel Havers blinked out of existence while SJ was at the altar. Wow, haven't seen that stunt since The Runaway Bride. Gareth, baby, is everything all right at home? Could we get SOME new material at SOME point?

With history rebooted, SJ returns home, changes into Harriet Jones' hand me downs so she looks like a haggard spinster more than ever and tries not to let it show that being dumped twice on the same day by David Tennant and Nigel Havers hasn't put a dint into her self confidence. The revived Mr. Smith and K9 compete to detect a certain wheezing groaning sound as the TARDIS arrives, as prophecized in the previous story, in SJ's attic. In one last moment to remind anyone why we might miss DT, he responds to Rani's request to look inside the police box with furious disgust ("MY... TARDIS?!?" each syllable rhyming with "how fucking dare you?!"). Yes, obviously he's going to instantly shrug and tell them to go ahead but, just for a split second, I wasn't sure. And, maybe that's the best way to sum up the Tenth Doctor - when it comes to the crunch, when the cards are on the table, we're never 100% if he's going to jump the way we expect. He mostly does, but it's never as certain as it could be.

And so, one last lingering look around the Coral desktop theme before the entire set gets chainsawed apart by Welshmen like the Liberator in Dawn of the Gods and sold individually on eBay. Annnnnnnnnnnnnd....... well, while seeing the troika run around the room in the exact way all the adults don't, exploring areas off the metal grating, maybe unusual, it just goes to prove that the design isn't exactly imaginative. Symmetrical, simple, a bit too gloomy and uncomfortable, and once you've seen it, you've seen it all. (We also see for the first time that... there is no internal doorway. It's just a big round room with the police box exit. Bummer.) Even the Doctor prefers SJ's attic which looks friendlier, wierder and with more convincing looking alien technology.

Maybe this is deliberate, what this being the last story before the regeneration saga that gets rid of the inside and outside of the TARDIS and ditches the Doctor as well? If so, it seems - like Planet of the Dead, Roberts' last attempt to work with the Doctor and RTD simultaneously - they've gone for the "aren't you sick to death of him yet?" approach rather than try to go for anything deeper. Any bittersweetness to emerge from this, DT's last story as the Doctor, is entirely unintentional. You're not even meant to KNOW it was the last story he did. He is just the latest Doctor, no more, no less.


The Doctor's gatecrashing of the spin off show... lacks subtlety. If anyone out there thinks that Jared's appraisal of RTD's opinion of Torchwood was out of line, this confirms it. Almost word for word. In Children of Men, Gwen concludes the Doctor is ashamed of them all. In The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, the Doctor goes out of his way to visit and informs the whole cast that their adventures are so brain-shatteringly awesome, he's a fan and what's more, he's got the whole DVD collection and thus knows the spoilers. "Oh, the things you're gonna do!" he breathes in a way that annoys me simply by reminding me of River Song. The subtlety leaves altogether when SJ points out all the various plot reasons why they all have to stay behind in 13 Bannerman Rd rather than travel in time and space to the future of mankind, the age of the dinosaurs, or another planet. Hmm. If Doctor Who was still doing that instead of nailing its feet to Cardiff every year, it might carry some weight. Still, with the Moff... oh, wait, seems every single sodding story of his is set on Earth as well. We just can't win, can we?

But while there's another few seconds of footage, there's more recycling Roberts can do as he tears out the last page of comic strip he wrote for Eccleston and forces it down DT's throat as our hero gets to muse on his own mortality for no other reason than it's the last time he's in the medium. "Don't forget me," he whispers. It's so much more impressive on paper. Or when Tom Baker did it. The increasingly anxious look on DT's face as he turns to head off to face his destiny is thin too.

Now, originally the Brigadier was going to be in this story. I wonder if he was going to somehow be the one that needed to be sacrificed, or better yet the one the Trickster was actually after. In which case, it seems Nick Courtney's declining health not only lead to the creation of Mike Asshole Yates for Hornet's Nest (and Nick was the one reason Tom signed up for it) but required a last minute replacement in the form of the Tenth Doctor. This story has "last second replacement" stamped all over it, with all the money seemingly spent on Nigel Havers - everything else is recycled, from the props and costumes to the script and ideas. I think this conclusively proves that while last minute panic can create genius in some writers, Gareth Roberts definitely is NOT one of them.

So, it's not really an epic failure, since as long as you've not watched the previous Trickster stories or felt like you need a Tennant fix after the last eight months of absolutely bugger all, it's mildly diverting entertainment. But the Tenth Doctor is only really part of the plot for the final scene, which is all about him, the rest of the time, he's like the narrator in Tom Jones, wandering in and out of the story, offering some unhelpful commentary and then buggering off.

All in all?


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Verkoff: A Terrible Ego (iii)


[An ambulance heads down a road. Inside, Steve is sulking at the back while two paramedics tend to Christie. Steve is talking to his ridiculously large mobile phone, having to raise his voice to be heard over Christie’s moans.]

Steve: I don’t care how damn amusing it is, Quentin, it’s serious! Look, I haven’t seen her in three months and just thought it was some kind of gland problem... yes, I know what it was NOW, obviously! Look, I am a major shareholder and you are my lawyer so do... loy-things! I am not wasting my unearned cash on this bastard!

[Christie screams in pain. Steve rolls his eyes, covers the phone mouthpiece and turns to look at the others sternly.]

Steve: Ahem. I am talking on the phone here?

[Tutting, he returns to the conversation. Christie and the paramedics stare at him.]

Steve: Now... where was I?

[The ambulance is parked outside a hospital. Christie is in a wheelchair being wheeled into the hospital while Steve follows at a stroll, still talking on the phone.]

Steve: So you’re confident it would go to court? Oh, only if the blood test turns out to be positive. OK, I can deal with that. Is Bertie there? Tell him to get me my specialist prepare a full blood transfusion. That should stuff up her scheme. Good. That covers most things...

[Steve follows the paramedics as they wheel Christie into a maternity ward.]

Steve: But that bitch is cunning... cunningly stupid. Stupid in a cunning way. It’s cleverer than it sounds, Quentin, she might have some totally spastic Plan B that no one could expect. I mean, pretending NOT to be pregnant – how random is that? I mean, how long was she going to keep hiding that? Keep it in the bathroom?

[He suddenly looks worried and rushes into a side room. An old man is wired up to life support. Steve vaguely notices him and waves.]

Steve: Don’t mind me. [into phone] Seriously, Quentin, I think I know what her Plan B is. She’s told all the ambo officers that I’m the father – I’ll probably have to sign some birth certificate or something... and I bet she’s got a blank check and some carbon paper ready to steal my signature!

[Steve is pacing up and down. As he gets closer to the life support systems the more the lights start to flicker and spasm. The old man starts to cough. When Steve moves away, the old man starts to relax, but Steve keeps coming back for longer and longer.]

Steve: No, Quentin, I am NOT being paranoid. If you found an ex-girlfriend was trying to maliciously destroy your swinging bachelor lifestyle with her dreaded reproductive organs, in secret, out of nothing but spite and a few strands of your genes, would YOU get paranoid? I mean, if I wasn’t back here, I wouldn’t even be in a position to plan stopping her!

[Steve stands beside the bed, ignoring the continued flashing lights and static.]

Steve: Ah, reminds me of my dad when my mum got in the way of all his parties, boozing and easy white girls and how much he spent on his cocaine habit. His plan was brilliant, Quentin, brilliant. He’d push her down the stairs, force a bag of coke down her throat and make her swallow it along with some beer, hey presto, seizure. Then he runs out into the street and shouts that his wife’s gone crazy and has chucked him out because she’s a psycho junkie, then he says “Oh no, she’s fallen down the stairs!” and when the ambulance arrives, the bitch is dead and he’s got a whole street full of witnesses saying he was outside when the death by misadventure occurs.

[The old man starts to convulse violently. Not noticing, Steve wanders away again.]

Steve: [frowns] No, of course he didn’t do that, Quentin. They’re both alive and well and living in Campbelltown! He just rehearsed the perfect murder as a kind of therapy. Besides, he was too high to do it. And we lived in a bungalow, so there were no stairs. Rather stupid plan really, all considered...

[Determined, Steve paces back to the bed and all the systems go haywire.]

Steve: Anyway, you’re my lawyer. I want you to witness I give full authorization of my bank account to Bertie. Unless he co-signs, no checks, no overdrafts, no payments, nothing is to be legit. Wait, he hasn’t slashed his wrists again has he? Oh great. He can still use his left hand, can’t he? He can? Brilliant. Actually, put him on. Bertie? Yes? Yes... well of course it wouldn’t work, you cut down the wrist, not across it. Bloody amateur. Look, you now control the bank account. The access number is 1014, all right? That’s one-oh-one-four. Get onto the bank and make sure your signature is required for all future transactions. Once that brood mare down here is dealt with I can change it back... no, I haven’t killed her, Bertie! What do you think I am, some sort of psychopath?

[The old man convulses, screams and goes limp. Smoke starts to pour out of the life support. Steve doesn’t notice, but leans against the wall.]

Steve: Still, just out of curiosity, what percentage of women die in childbirth? I know you don’t know, go and find out! And we’re in a pretty crap public hospital, that should improve the odds, especially if they do a caesarian... oh, she was like Jabba the Hutt, Bertie, I tell you, I doubt it’d fit normally... You’ve got the stats? Yeah? What? You’ve got to be kidding! That’s pathetic! You couldn’t put those odds on a double-headed coin! There’s more chance this place will get nuked by a passing alien space craft!

[The life support starts to explode. Hospital staff rush in.]

Steve: Oh, what now?

[Night. Steve is by the phones.]

Steve: How the hell can a cellular phone cause problems in an intensive care unit, anyway? Look, Quentin, I know you don’t have much of a life without me, but I’ll let you get back to it. Nope, still no baby. It’s so much more efficient on TV, isn’t it? I’m heading back. The bitch is probably keeping her legs crossed just to try and guilt trip me. So, yeah. I want to be back in time for Harp in the South... Hey, I’m cultured! Damn, that reminds me, I still have to pick up my Masters of the Universe Battle Cruiser! Shit!

[He hangs up and storms down the corridor into a ward. Christie is lying on a bed in a hospital gown, panting in pain. Steve smiles.]

Steve: Hey, Christie, how’s it going...

Christie: They won’t let me have any drugs... I can feel everything...

Steve: Marvelous. Well, I’ve been on the phone to my lawyers and they’re pretty confident that even if you somehow managed to convince a court to listen to your insane claims, you’d end up having the baby taken off you and you declared clinically insane.

[Christie moans in agony.]

Steve: Now, now. You brought this on yourself, quite literally.

Christie: It’s killing me!

Steve: [surprised] Really? Talk about one in a million... anyway, look, apparently it could be days before your baby deigns to make an appearance and, let’s be honest, who has the time to hang around here for days? Apart from you, obviously.

Christie: [suddenly scared] You can’t leave me now!

Steve: Can’t? There’s no such word as can’t! Besides, I’ve got a date tonight...

Christie: A date?!

Steve: Yes. I do have a life when you’re not around, you know.

[Christie’s eyes grow wide.]


Steve: Like you’ve been saying for the last eight hours, Christie! Change the freaking record! Honestly, why would I want to be at the birth when I didn’t want there to be a conception? Hmmm?

[Christie starts screaming and writhing.]

Steve: Oh, a temper tantrum. You know, a mother should at least be slightly more mature than her child. See ya on the flipside, Christie.

[He wanders out, passing a couple of paramedics that rush into the room. Shouts of “Push! Push!” are heard over Christie’s shrieks and by the time Steve is around the corner, a baby is crying.]

Steve: Mmm. I’d probably be better off going to a hotel tonight.

[Steve is at Central Station. He strides onto a train like he owns it. He passes the two cultists. One has a bandaged nose.]

Guy: Seat 35B, this time.

Guy 2: [muffled] You’re sure it’s him this time?

Guy: Definitely.

Guy 2: You go first.

[Steve passes. They both cringe.]

Guys: Good evening, Mr. Bruck-Michaels.

Steve: Evening, Abdul. Get me a coffee and cigar, will you? I’ve become a father and intend to enjoy that status in full until it’s legally denied. Oh, what a thrilling life I do lead.

[The train hurtles away from the station...]

[A taxi pulls out of a drive as Steve heads up to his front door. He tries the door. Locked. Annoyed, he takes out a key. It doesn’t work. He tries again.]

Steve: Bertie? Bert? Bert? BERTRAM? HELLO?

[He sees Bertram at a window, looking unnervingly calm and clean-shaven. He slides on a pair of sunglasses, making him look like Max Headroom.]

Steve: Bertram? Let me in, you serf! What fool changed the locks! [calmer] Look, Bert, it’s been a long day, I had to witness the hideous cellulite blubber mountain that was my ex-girlfriend trying to expel a love child from between thighs I’d rather not think about. It was an awful experience and FOR GOD’S SAKE YOU WANK BASTARD, LET ME IN! DAMN IT! LET! ME! IN!

[Bertram waves mockingly. Steve goes apeshit.]

[Shortly afterwards, several police cars surround the flat. Two armed policemen are dragging Steve away and forcing him into the back of a squad car.]

Steve: Goddamn it! You cannot do this to me? Have you no idea who I am?

Cop: [patiently] Don’t make a scene, sir.

Steve: Look, you can’t lock me up! My beloved is in hospital, right now, tapping the reservoir of female strength in order to give birth to my first child! Can you lock me up and prevent me being there to see her giving her body over to the new life coming through it? Could you live with yourself! I’m the father, you spastic, and I demand freedom to be there at the miracle of birth! It’s a basic human right to see one’s child emerge in a bloody explosion of entrails, just ask John Hurt!

[They slam the door.]

Steve: I’m going to sue the entire ACT police department! You do realize this? Sue you ALL!!

[Police interview room. Steve is looking very ragged and trying not to lose his patience as he talks to two police officers.]

Steve: Look. I live in that apartment with Bertram as my manservant, it’s occupational therapy to prevent his suicidal tendencies. We were flat-mates in Sydney and we moved up here together. The flat is in my name. I was out of Canberra for less than twenty hours and now he’s changed the locks. It’s a paranoid fantasy. Say it with me, brothers and sisters, a paranoid fantasy...

Cop 2: According to Mr. Russell, he has no idea who you are.

Steve: Check the paperwork. I own the flat.

Cop 2: We have, sir. It’s being paid from a Commonwealth Bank account in the name of Mr. Russell. Apparently it was a dual account and that was modified just today. Wonderful what they can do with computers nowadays, isn’t it?

Steve: That bastard. He’s stolen my life! I can’t believe he did that! He’s abused my trust. I let him deal with all the forms and paperwork and he was taking over all the time! BASTARD! I’LL FREAKING KILL HIM!

Cop 2: Get that down, Jenkins.

Cop 1: Ma’am.

[Steve begins to realize this is not looking good.]

Steve: That’s just a bit of... emotion there. Look, I can prove he’s done this!

Cop 2: I’m sure you can, sir, but this is a civil matter. It’s the lawyers’ department and you were trying to break into someone else’s property.

Steve: I explained that! I didn’t know...

Cop 2: Ignorance of the law is no defense. And your apparent obsession with the Wolfram and Welcher firm, well, I’d have assumed you’d know that.

Steve: [dearly wanting to hit her] Look... officer... I’m sure we can agree to disagree all night. Let me go, and I will head straight to Sydney where I can but hope you haven’t prevented me seeing my child born.

Cop 2: Don’t worry, sir, we can soon check up on your wife.

Steve: Well... she’s not my wife.

Cop 1: Oh. Girlfriend, then?

Steve: ...yes. Her name’s Christie.

Cop 1: Christie what?

[Steve starts to answer when he realizes he doesn’t know.]

Cop 2: Sir? Don’t you know the name of the mother of your child?

Steve: [very weak grin] It’s a bit hard to pronounce.

Cop 1: Can you spell it?

Steve: [firmly] No.

Cop 2: All right, what hospital is she at?

Steve: Ahm... well...

Cop 1: Is she having the baby at home or something?

Steve: Yeah. New age hippie stuff.

Cop 2: What’s the address?

[Steve grins even more awkwardly.]

Cop 2: Do you have a photo of her, maybe? In your wallet?

Cop 1: Pic of the ultrasound?

Cop 2: Any kind of evidence whatsoever your girlfriend exists?

[Steve continues to grin. A tear trickles down his cheek.]

[The two police officers leave the interview room.]

Cop 2: He says he lives with a man who’s stolen his life and he’s got a girlfriend in Sydney having a baby except he has no idea what her name is or where she could be.

Cop 1: He sounds like a loony, ma’am.

Cop 2: You’re right there. I think he needs a psychiatric assessment. Keep him in the cells.

Cop 1: What if he tries anything?

Cop 2: Liquid cosh, Jenkins.

Cop 1: Uh, no can do, ma’am.

Cop 2: High pressure hose?

Cop 1: Might be able to. Depends if the bikies get frisky.

Cop 2: All right, if there’s no water, just chuck him in with the bikies. Same end result.

Cop 1: Understood, boss.

[They part. Steve emerges from the room and runs off as fast as he can.]

[Train. A man is walking down the aisle when there is the noise of a blow pipe and he collapses, dart in his neck. The two cultists and Steve rush over to him and pick up the body.]

Guy 2: At last! The defiler is dead! Now to dispose of the body!


Guy 2: Chuck him off the train!

[They shuffle over to the door.]

Steve: ...that’s it?

Guy: Look, you yuppie wanker, you want the train fare back to Sydney, you do as we say.

Guy 2: Yeah. Loser.

Steve: [dangerous] “Loser”? I’m not beaten yet!

Guy: Wanna bet?

[The guys shove Steve and the body out the door. Steve screams as he falls out of sight.]

Guy 2: That’ll teach him.

Guy: Yes. Now the Cult’s honor is restored!

Guy 2: And we can go to the Gold Coast!

[They high five and wander off. A moment later a bedraggled Steve manages to climb back inside the train. He looks really pissed off.]

Steve: Like I said. Not. Beaten. Yet.

[Hospital. A much thinner Christie is cradling a newborn baby. Toto’s “Africa” plays from a chunky cassette player.]

Christie: Mmm. Maybe I can sell you to medical science or something...

[The baby starts to cry.]

Christie: It’s not like I want to, little bro. It’s just... I can’t afford you. And I’m hardly going to get lucky with a baby around the place. I mean, what would YOU do in my position, huh?

[The baby screams.]

Christie: [miserable] Yeah. Me too.

[The very battered and bruised Steve enters, with a limp.]

Christie: I knew it! I knew you’d come back! You can’t abandon the baby!

Steve: Baby? Oh. Right. That howler-monkey. Doesn’t look a thing like me... [frowns] My god, do you HAVE to play that atrocious music?

Christie: It keeps me calm. And it’s cheaper than being sedated.

Steve: Even that howling baby sounds better.

[He leans forward and shouts at the baby, making him cry louder.]

Christie: So... you gonna pay up?

Steve: Pay up? Not a chance in hell.

Christie: See you in court then, Bruck-Michaels.

Steve: Hah, well... actually, what IS your last name, anyway?

Christie: [taken aback] Um, Graceland. Christine Gracelands.

Steve: Oh. Nice name. Anyway, dearest, even if you got me to court and even if I pleaded guilty, you couldn’t get a single cent out of me. Bertram’s stolen my entire fortune.

Christie: What?

Steve: Yes. The cunning bastard made sure I was so lazy I got HIM to do all the banking and rent-paying, which meant it was only a matter of time before he seized total control of my assets! I’m penniless!

Christie: Double what?!

Steve: So. Either we both fall into poverty-induced senility and die of malnutrition before the royal visit next Australia Day or...

Christie: ...or?

Steve: Or, darling Christie, you used your deranged machiavellian skills to come with a plan so thoroughly retarded that Dirty Bertie is blown out of the water and I get my fortune back. A finder’s fee of 30 per cent and you and little... what are you calling it again?

Christie: It’s a “he”.

Steve: Oh, what a shock. That’s really rare, isn’t it?!

Christie: And he’s called Norman.

Steve: Norman.

Christie: Norman.

Steve: Norman? You can’t call him Norman.

Christie: Why not?

Steve: Normal Norman? Can you imagine the shame and humiliation he’ll suffer with such a dull name!

Christie: Well, what would YOU call him?

Steve: “Problematic”. But my son should have a better name, a name with the weight of history behind it, a name of passion, awe-inspiring presence, tenacity... And not something shit like Norman!

Christie: So?

Steve: How about... Rasputin?

Christie: Rasputin?

Steve: Yeah. Like that funky Boney M song.

Christie: Won’t they mock him for having “poo” in his name?

Steve: Maybe, but that will just make a man out of him.

Christie: I prefer Norman.

Steve: Well, we’ve already established how bad YOUR judgement is, haven’t we, Christie? Remind me, how many stitches did you master plan result in having applied to your crotch?

Christie: A few.

Steve: Right. But, in the absence of any other options, I need your help. Once I get my fortunes back, you take 30 per cent of the whole lot and get the hell out of my life.

Christie: 50 per cent.

Steve: Bullshit.

Christie: To raise your child and keep me out of the papers?

Steve: All right. 45.

Christie: 65.

Steve: 50.

Christie: 87.

Steve: You’re just saying random numbers! Look, do you want part of this or not?

Christie: OK. I’ve got a plan to get your money back.

Steve: ...good. What is it?

Christie: It’ll cost money, though.

Steve: Tough, darling, I’m completely skint. This is what they call a catch-44 situation – and that’s twice as bad as the usual catch-22!

Christie: All right. I’ll have to use the emergency money my uncle sent me for baby food, nappies and medical supplies, which will leave me totally penniless.

Steve: It’s worth the risk. Deal?

[Steve holds out a hand. The baby reaches out and grabs his hand.]

Christie: Awwwwwwwwww.

Steve: Oh, grow up, Christie!

[Action montage begins to Toto’s “Africa”. Steve, Christie and the baby leave the hospital, hurry into an ambulance and drive off. Moments later angry hospital staff run out, shaking their fists.

The ambulance is parked next to a supermarket. Christie leaves the baby with Steve and runs in, coming back with some shopping bags. The ambulance drives off, sirens wailing.

The ambulance is hurtling down a highway. In the back, Steve is furiously reading a newspaper, then cutting out some words and letters. The baby sits in a plastic crib behind him. We see Steve is making up a cliché ransom-note out of the cut up newspaper. The baby starts crying. Steve ignores him until it becomes obvious there’s a rather nasty smell.

The ambulance is pulled up by the road. Steve is vomiting in the bushes as Christie tries to air out the back of the ambulance.

The ambulance drives down another highway. This time Steve is driving while Christie is in the back, carving up a sink plunger so the suction cup is actually shaped like a pawprint. The baby isn’t crying. Nevertheless, soon Christie reacts to the smell.

The ambulance is pulled up by the road. Christie is vomiting in the bushes as Steve tries to air out the back of the ambulance.

The ambulance is driving through Canberra. Both Christie and Steve sit in the front, in oxygen masks. They pull up outside Steve’s apartment. Steve gets out and the ambulance drives off. He sets to work, running around the place, smashing windows and then drags his key over the front door, making animal-like scratches in the wood. He laughs evilly.

Outside a building with a sign saying WOLFRAM & WELCHER, Christie surreptitiously posts a letter. It is marked BERTRAM RUSSELL ESQ. and has a crudely-drawn skull with Xs for eyes and a tongue sticking out instead of a stamp. Christie runs back to the ambulance and drives off, looking as suspicious as it is possible to be.

At Steve’s office, a very changed Bertram is present. He is playing with Greek prayer beads, dressed in a sharp black suit and shades. He is wandering around, doing nothing but appearing sinister and important. The secretary hands him the letter. He tears it open and looks at the ransom-type note...]

Bertram: [unimpressed] “DeAR bERtiE, YoUr foRTuNe iS StOlEN. rEtURn It tO iTs rIGhTFuL oWNEr Or wE wILl sEt tHE bUNyiPs ON yOU. Do NOt iGNoRe THIs wArNINg. LoVE, THe iCy blACk HANd oF dEaTH ItSeLf.”

[Bertram crumples the paper up and throws it away, returning to being cool and sinister.

Meanwhile, Steve turns on a hose and soaks the front lawn until it is muddy. Then, he uses the modified sink plunger to make panther footprints in the mud and muddy footprints on the path. He takes out a back full of offal and entrails and recklessly throws them about. He stops when he realizes a small family walking a dog have been watching him from across the road.]

Steve: Yes? Can I help you at all?

[Embarrassed, they hurry off. The ambulance turns up and Christie emerges.]

Christie: Letter delivered. He’ll be here in an hour once he’s clocked off.

Steve: Good. There’s just one element needed.

Christie: Another one?

Steve: Yes. It’s time for that parasitic nomad who ruined your figure for nine months to earn his keep!

[Dusk. A limousine heads down to the apartment. The ambulance is rather badly parked on the nature strip on the other side of the road. The driver gets out and opens the door. Bertram emerges. Up at the door and out of sight, Steve is using a brush to paint the words VENGEYANCE on the door. We see he is using a full nappy’s contents as paints. Christie holds the baby.]

Christie: That is disgusting.

Steve: I know. He’ll be calling for a priest to exorcise the place once he gets a whiff of this...

[They hear Bertram approaching and hide. He pauses as he sees the writing on the door, then reels as he SMELLS it. Then he notices the scratches, the broken window, then finally the footprints. The limousine drives off, oblivious. Bertram gulps. There is a sinister gurgling noise. We see that Christie is breast feeding the baby as they hide in the bushes.]

Steve: [sotto] MUST you do that right now?

[Unnerved by the noise, Bertram opens the door and hurries inside, retching as he realizes what he’s got on his hands. He rushes into the bathroom to wash his hands. Outside, Steve sits bored as Christie continues to feed the baby.]

Steve: God, I’m parched. This is so unfair. Why does that little bastard get a free meal?

Christie: Cause I think we’re risky enough hiding in bushes trying to blackmail a powerful businessman WITHOUT having to explain why you’re sucking my boobs, maybe?

Steve: This is Canberra, Christie. You could get arrested just for the baby. Mark my words, when they allow women to bare their breasts in the seat of Australian government the world will be at an end.

Christie: When will that be, you think?

Steve: 1991, probably.

[Inside the apartment, Bertram emerges from the bathroom. His hands are steaming from the boiling hot water he’s washed them with. The phone rings. Bertram answers it.]

Bertram: [impatient] What?

[Someone is hysterically babbling over the phone.]

Bertram: [confused] What? [amused] What? [horrified] What?! [eyes widen] WHAT?! [a broken man] ...what?

[He puts down the phone and falls to his knees, letting out an inhuman moan.]

[Outside, Steve and Christie look up.]

Steve: He’s snapped under the paranoia. This, Christie, is when we move in for the kill! Yes, mark this day, Christie, for it shall live in history! October 19th! The day Steven Bruck-Michaels took back what was rightfully his, with his unwanted common law wife and flatulent son at his side! We few, we cunning few, we ruthless band of black-hearted baboons! We...

Christie: Oh, shut up already!

[She wedges the baby into the branches of a tree and heads off to the front door.]

Steve: Next time, definitely a white chick. Like Olivia Newton John or someone...

[Bertram lies in the fetal position, sobbing. There is a banging at the front door.]

Steve: The time has come, traitor! Restore what you have taken or pay the price!

[Outside, Christie and Steve can hear Bertram crying.]

Steve: Ok, now we begin!

[They both make stupid bunyip growls and start to kick down the door. Finally they smash the door to pieces and break in, skidding to a halt as they realize that Bertram is standing before them, hands behind his back, perfectly calm. Steve and Christie are unnerved.]

Steve: Um. OK. We didn’t bring the Bunyip round THIS time...

Christie: ...but we will.

Steve: Oh hell yeah. So you, you backstabbing Judas, you pay back all my pieces of silver, all right?

Bertram: No.

Steve: [laughs] Oh you will, Bertie. You’ll do exactly as you’re told or I shall do to you what... whoever it was in Jaws killed the shark. I’ll shove a gas tank up your arse and blow you up.

Bertram: There is no money.

Christie: What?

Bertram: The stock exchange in Hong King collapsed a few minutes ago. It’s already spread west. The Dow Jongs has dropped 500 points already. All around the world, the stock markets are crashing. The economy has been utterly devastated. They’re already calling it Black Monday.

[The intruders are further unnerved.]

Steve: what? Hand over the cash and we might, MIGHT take you with us to the Bahamas before the ATO catches up with us, OK?

Bertram: There is no cash. I put it all into shares on the market.

Steve: what?

Bertram: The market has crashed and all the money has gone with it.

Steve: But... but you put it into property, right? Property’ll be fine. That’s why they say it’s as safe as fucking houses because everyone needs houses! You put it into some kind of housing scheme... right?

Bertram: Wrong.

Christie: Oh crap.

Steve: You stupid bastard. [to Christie] And YOU! You stupid bitch! We’ve lost everything now!

Christie: Oh, how many of YOUR plan Bs prepared for the total collapse of the western economy then?

Steve: Oh god.... you’re right. We’re just going to end up like all the other Wall Street share holders, consumed by their own greed and left penniless. The yuppie is now an endangered species... [trying to keep it together] Bertram, you must have a plan. A cunning plan. A simple plan. A plan simple in its cunningness...

[Bertram is catatonic.]

Steve: There MUST be something! You screwed me out of a fortune over the months, you even sent me back to Sydney knowing I’d get paranoid and make you co-signatory... you MUST have some plan.

Bertram: Yes. Yes, I do.

[Steve visibly sags with relief.]

Steve: [giddy] Oh thank you. Oh thank you, mate, you’re a saint, you’re a Christian, you are... you’re the voice, try and understand it, oh... OK. What’s the plan?

[Bertram takes off his sunglasses. His eyes are red from crying. Calmly he crosses the room.]


[He sudden takes a running jump and smashes through the window and out of sight.]

Christie: [horrified] My god! He’s gone crazy!!

Steve: Too right. That’s a ground floor window. He’ll be lucky to break an ankle, let alone kill himself...

[Idly Steve crosses to an outdoor balcony overlooking the river.]

Steve: [dreamy] He really should have used this one. Silly Bertie. Silly, silly, silly...

[Steve climbs over the balcony and falls out of view. Christie blinks.]

Christie: Oh well. At least I get the contents of the fridge.

[She crosses to the fridge, opens it and starts talking out all the food.]

[Caption: “TWO MONTHS LATER.” An upper class patch of suburbia in glorious sunshine. Christie approaches, holding a sleeping baby and looking a bit down.]

Christie: OK, Norman. I know my brilliant plans haven’t quite been working out as I intended. I wanted to end up rich and famous by having you, and all I ended up with is some rather embarrassing scars, stretch marks and cracked nipples, with your father missing presumed dead and the whole of western civilization on the brink of global financial crisis. But this plan should work really well.

[She approaches a very grand looking house.]

Christie: See, the Yang family are famous and rich. They donate lots of money to charity, art galleries, orphanages... the wife was on Time magazine for her philattery or whatever. So, I think if I leave you on their doorstep, they’ll look after you. Cause they’re rich and famous and help out little kids. And, [starting to get upset] I’ve really checked this out. They’ve adopted some kids before. Maybe you’ll get adopted. Or put in an orphanage. But I think whatever happens you’ll get looked after better than if I’m with you. I really wouldn’t have sold you to medical science. Even if they accepted human flesh. And I’ve made sure that you’re in the shade and that there’s someone home, so you won’t end up all covered with ants... I think. Look, trust me on this. Give it an hour... and if they haven’t taken you in, I’ll come up with another plan. [sobs] But I can’t think of one. Goodbye, Norman. Mummy loves you. It’s just... she can’t be arsed.

[Tenderly, Christie puts the baby in the gateway of the house in the shade of a tree. She places a post it note saying “PLEASE LOOK AFTER MY BABY. HIS NAME IS NORMAN.” She presses the buzzer by the gate, then turns and runs off, crying. The door opens and an Asian man in a suit emerges and looks around. He sees the shape of the baby in the gateway. Worried, he hurries inside. He meets an Asian woman in her thirties and a dress, sipping a cocktail while reading a Jackie Collins book.]

Butler: Madam Yang?

Nigel’s Mum: Yes, Togi?

Butler: There appears to be a suspicious passage left at the front gate.

Nigel’s Mum: [alarmed] Bhudda in a blender! Call the police! Get the bomb disposal squad down here!

[A little while later. A crowd watches as armed policemen prepare to “defuse the bomb” and then realize it’s actually a baby. In the crowd is Christie, looking embarrassed. Biting her lip, she tries to sneak off without looking suspicious.]


Teacher: Hello, Nigel. This is your new buddy Theo, and you have to look after each other this year...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Verkoff: A Terrible Ego (ii)


[Caption: TWO MONTHS LATER. At a rather grungy flat, an anxious Christie sits by the toilet, waiting for something. At Bertram’s place, Steve strides past the sobbing Bertram to collect the mail. He flips through it. A letter for him. He opens it.]

Steve: HSC results. Prepare to be amazed.

[Christie is looking at a pregnancy test. Two pink lines appear.]

Steve: YES! Best results EVAHHH!!!

[Steve waves some pages in Bertram’s face.]

Steve: You LOSER! You failed, whereas I have won! Thank God for Mr. Keating and his grade curve averages! This country can only go from strength to strength under his leadership! Yes, I know I may have dubbed his brain Terra Nullius in the past and suggested his ostriches set up a Commonwealth, but that funky scrawny hobgoblin with the speech impediment has finally paid off!

[Christie is crying. Steve is still showing off.]

Steve: Oh, and Master Bertram has spectacularly failed! 45%, oh, why didn’t you kill yourself already?

[Bertram collapses in sobs.]

Steve: And where’s Maxy, huh? Where’s that overfed gimp now, eh? Who cares, Berty? Not me, that’s for sure!

[Steve crosses to a table and starts flipping through a paper.]

Steve: Time to enter the job market. With my undoubted skills in legal and business studies, I’ll be running half the central business district by the millennium! Oh yes! It’s the 1950s all over again and Steven J Bruck-Michaels is going to ride the wave all the way to Woodstock!

[His enthusiasm dims.]

Steve: Man, this job section is scarce... Oi, Bertram, stop mooning about Denise shacking up with Max and Aileen and going to Bombora and get me a sandwich dammit!

[Bertram, still sobbing, wanders off.]

Steve: Good boy. Now, where can I get a job before the Bicentennial? Ideally one with as little work as possible, as much pay as possible, and with all the interns I can screw?

[The doorbell rings.]

Steve: Bertram! Get that would you?

[The doorbell rings again.]

Steve: Fine. Leave all the back-breaking labor to your intellectual and academic superiors, why don’t you? [rises] If I had my way you would all be gassed at birth! And Bob Geldoff agrees with me! Well, he would if he had any braincells, the throaty-voiced Irish convict joke...

[Steve opens the door. Beyond is Christie.]

Steve: Yeah?

Christie: Steve... hi.

Steve: Yeah. Hi, Christie. Is it important, I’m busy. Hang on. Didn’t I dump you?

Christie: Can I come in?

Steve: [laughs annoyingly] That’s what all the pretty girls say. Look, I’m a bit busy, come back at 6:30 when The Goodies have finished and you can beg for my body then, K?

Christie: I need to talk to you.

Steve: We are talking. Pay attention.

Christie: It’s important.

Steve: What? And I’m not?

Christie: I’m pregnant.

Steve: So?

Christie: that it?

Steve: What am I supposed to say?

Christie: I dunno. Ask me if I’m sure...

Steve: Why would you come round if you weren’t sure?

Christie: It’s yours.

Steve: Again, I must ask “so?”

Christie: Don’t you care?

Steve: Not particularly, no. Get rid of it.

Christie: [annoyed] Oh, that’s just charming!

Steve: Do you want me to lie to you? Claim I would love to have a brat at this point in my life when it would be most detrimental to my future career prospects? [shouts] Bertram, you got a spare coat hanger around?

Christie: I can’t believe this!

Steve: You really should.

Christie: I should keep it and sue you for child support.

Steve: [laughs] Like you’re the first one to try THAT old trick.

Christie: I was your first.

Steve: [icily] Mouth closed, Christie. But my point is this!

[With a flourish, he produces a folded piece of paper and hands it to you.]

Steve: A medical certificate proving that not only am I sterile, I also had a vasectomy two years ago.

Christie: This is fake... right?

Steve: Of course it’s fake. But tell that to the judge, you two-timing hussy.

Christie: I was just one night of fun then, was I?

Steve: Nonsense. Three weeks at the least. But if you want to stick with me, it’s just going to be the three of us. By which I mean you, myself and Bertram. Now, be a good girl and book an abortion. Use your own phone though, if you can, Bertram’s been calling suicide helplines all month and you wouldn’t believe the bill...

[Steve wanders off bored. Christie stares after him, crumples the paper given to her and walks off.]

[Caption: ONE WEEK LATER. Steve and Christie are sitting in a Greek restaurant at night.]

Christie: Will Bertram be all right in the car with all the windows wound up?

Steve: [reads menu] We’ll only be a few hours.

Christie: Why IS he your slave again?

Steve: He has nothing else in his life since he was dumped. Plus since Max pulled that whole “restraining order” or whatever it was with the police, I needed a place and Denise’s room was going spare. Now, I fancy some dolmades and some restinated wine...

Christie: I’ll have the calamari bake. With ice cream.

Steve: Interesting choice. Still, you’ve earned it after the whole artificial miscarriage business.

Christie: Yeah. [smiles to herself] You bet.

Steve: Hey! Don’t think this has not effected me, Chrissy. For a start, my fertile potency has been proved beyond a doubt on the first try. That means more to me than words can say. Maybe a few years down the track when we need an infant for publicity reasons or to suck up to the boss’s children, maybe then we’ll let a patch of dividing cells reach the zygote stage next time.

Christie: [mildly annoyed] You don’t care that I wanted to keep it, then?

Steve: Now, now, Chris. That’s hormones talking. Some stupid Darwinian evolution crap to make you want to spread your genetic material. Use your brain rather than your endocrine system and be aware we narrowly avoided twenty years of emotional and financial abuse from someone who we would have deliberately prevented existing anyway if I’d bothered to buy condoms that night.

Christie: So if, say, we had an unexpected baby arrive on the doorstep one day...

Steve: I would call the police and get rid of it.

Christie: Really? You wouldn’t, like, look into its eyes and fall helplessly in love?

Steve: If I did I’ve left clear orders with Bertram to kill me right away.

Christie: Bet you anything you will.

Steve: What? You think there’s going to be an abandoned baby at our doorstep any time soon?

Christie: Maybe. Maybe in about six months.

[She lets out an evil laugh. Everyone in the restaurant stares at her.]

Christie: Sorry. I was just thinking about Max Gillies.

[The other patrons start talking normally again.]

[Caption: THREE MONTHS LATER. Christie is zipping up a baggy jumper. Steve is chatting on the phone. Bertram is idly emptying pills into a blender.]

Bertram: [very depressed] How far gone are you now?

Christie: Pushing five months. By the end of the financial quarter, I’ll be due.

Bertram: This is your cunning plan then.

Christie: Uh huh. Once the bastard is born I can screw the father for every penny he has – he can’t wriggle his way out of a paternity test.

[Bertram pours some water into the blender.]

Bertram: Assuming it’s his.

Christie: Which is will be. I think.

Bertram: And assuming he’s got any money for you to take.

Christie: Ah. Well, he’s getting that high-flying job in Canberra.

Bertram: He’s applied for it. What if he doesn’t get it?

Christie: Then I’ll marry him and then divorce him and have him pay maintenance.

Bertram: But you don’t actually like him.

Christie: I do. I like it when he suffers, and I’ll positively love him when he realizes how I’ve flushed his life down the toilet without him even knowing it. And I’ll raise my child to be the same brilliant tactician that I am!

Bertram: Maybe you should drink this too.

[He switches on the blender for a moment and then pours it into a glass.]

Bertram: Oh, to drink of deep oblivion and to bathe in the ocean of nothingness...

[Bertram is about to drink when Steve comes over and slaps Bertram on the back, sending the drink everywhere.]

Steve: Oh yes! I’m the man! It turns out that there is a vacancy as junior clerk in the Canberra office of Wolfram and Welcher and I’m their new member. Oh, I can almost TASTE the power!

[Bertram looks at the spilt suicide juice and starts crying.]

Steve: Yes, my inevitable success DOES bring a tear to the eye. I must prepare to move at once.

Christie: To Canberra?

Steve: Yes. The job starts in October but I want to be settled. When I am, I shall send for you, Christie, but in the meantime it will just be Bertram and I! [slips arm around sobbing Bertram] Unless of course he finally grows sufficient genitalia to actually end it all am I right, you old weakling! Oh, and Christie, go on a diet or something. The sweat pants aren’t a turn on any more, fatty.

[He walks off, singing again. Christie watches him go.]

Christie: Big mistake, Bruck-Michaels. Big mistake...

[Caption: ONE MONTH LATER. Central Station. Steve, wearing a sharp suit with braces and stripy shirt ala Gordon Gecko, stands next to Bertram, who is carrying huge amounts of luggage. Christie follows.]

Steve: Just think, a mere six months ago I was an unemployed drifter being forced to watch musical theatre with a Buffy fan. And now I’m off to start a new life in our nation’s capital, a place of wonder, excitement, wonder and power! A place where decisions are made, where the economy is manipulated, the very seat of government itself. This job will just be a stepping stone.

Christie: To what?

Steve: Me achieving supreme executive control of Australia, of course. With Howard out of the picture, the Liberal Party needs a proper leader and an up-and-coming stud lawyer like myself is just what’s required. I’ll send for you in due course. And seriously, see a doctor about your weight. I can barely stand to look at you nowadays.

[Steve strides onto a train. Bertram sighs and follows.]

Bertram: Brilliant plan, huh?

Christie: He’s got three months left to enjoy himself, Bert. And then I’ve having his guts on toast. [blinks] That sounds delicious, actually, I’ll see what that tastes like...

[She wanders off and Bertram enters the train, which is starting to move.]

[Aboard the train, Steve peers out the window at the retreating Christie.]

Steve: God, she’s bloated. She must have caught a horrible disease or something. Good thing I don’t let her sleep in my bed, eh, Bertram? Or any bed...

[He moves on, and bumps into a nondescript guy who ignores Steve.]

Steve: Watch where you’re going, dickhead.

[The guy meets a similar guy and holds up Steve’s wallet. He takes out the ticket.]

Guy: Seat 23A.

Guy 2: Good. Then the idol will soon be ours!

Guy: Prepare the revenge of Kanbo-Ala!

[They laugh evilly but stop as Bertram appears nearby.]

Guy 2: Ahem. That Max Gillies is very funny, is he not?

Guy: Yes. I prefer the bald man who dresses up as native birds though.

Guy 2: Indeed. He is most observant in his humor.

[Bertram wanders off.]

Guy 2: That Wendy Harmer looks hot too.

[The train arrives at the station. Steve emerges from the train followed by Bertram and the two nondescript guys, plus other passengers.]

Steve: Right, Bertram, hail us a taxi. I’ve got a nice apartment overlooking the river.

[The two guys give thumbs ups to each other.]

[The apartment is neat, bland and almost unfurnished. The door is unlocked and Steve and Bertram enter, the latter carrying all the luggage.]

Steve: Right, Bertram, start putting everything away while I inspect the bedroom and have a little lie down. Then you can get me something to eat before you let your suicidal anguish render you useless for the rest of the evening. God, where WOULD you be without me, eh, Bertram?

[Bertram groans and starts opening suitcases and takes out foldable furniture, a portable TV... pretty much all of Bertram’s possessions Steve has stolen from their old place. As he does so, one of the nondescript guys sneaks in, holding a large knife. He creeps over to the wall and holds up a voodoo doll and then stabs it with the knife, nailing the doll to the wall.]

Steve: [from other room] Bertram! I said unpack first THEN unsuccessful suicide attempts!

Bertram: [sighs] I know!

[The guy takes out a lipstick and writes DEATH TO THE DEFILERS under the doll, then leaves. Steve returns from the bedroom.]

Steve: Big enough for me, but I doubt I can fit both me AND Fatty Boombah in there. Yes, I think it might be time for a clean break. She can’t cook, she doesn’t clean, she stopped being remotely attractive a good two months ago and she eats all the food. Quite frankly, Bertram, you’d be a better bet for domestic help and rumpy-pumpy combined. Besides, I prefer white girls anyway.

Bertram: Isn’t that racist?

Steve: Ahem. Am I white? No. So it’s not racist. Show another independent thought again and I will slide a needle under your fingernails. AGAIN.

[He idly notices the doll and graffiti.]

Steve: Mmm. Makes the place look a bit more homely I suppose. More lived in. And I do think Australia should reintroduce Capital Punishment for criminals. Dead criminals, less crime, less people, more jobs, and the bodies can always be used as fertilizer for the National Forests. [to Bertram] Lateral thinking, Bert, I think you may have some justification for living after all.

[Bertram looks at the message and freaks out.]

Steve: I’m going for a nap. I don’t want to be disturbed and when I awake I want food. With some Juicy Fruit 8-pack of drinks. And make sure I’m awake when they screen Batman on Channel X.

[That night. The apartment looks slightly more furnished. Bertram is slaving over a hot Chinese takeaway. There is a knock at the door. Bertram sighs and crosses to the door.]

Bertram: I hate my life.

[He opens the door. It is one of the nondescript men.]

Bertram: Yes, can I help you?

Guy 2: I believe, factotum, your master dropped this. [holds up wallet] It is his, isn’t it?

Bertram: Yes. [with no emotion] Thank you very much.

Guy 2: It is my pleasure. Defiler.

[Bertram nods and is about to close the door when he twigs what the guy said. The guy lets out a deranged scream and drop-kicks Bertram and leaps into the room.]

Guy 2: You are going to die!

Bertram: Am I?

Guy 2: You are going to die!

Bertram: Yes! Yes, kill me!

Guy 2: You are going to die!

Bertram: Please, just do it!

Guy 2: You are going to die... later!

[Bertram wails in despair and bursts into tears. The guy is slightly put off.]

Guy 2: Freak. Now, where was I? Oh yes.

[He barges into the bedroom where Steve is lying asleep on the bed, having dozed off reading “Pot-Bellied-Vietnamese-Pig Monthly”.]

Guy 2: You stole the sacred idol, defiler, and now you will...

[He stops and looks at the porn mag.]

Guy 2: What the hell?

[He picks it up and looks at the centrefold.]

Guy 2: Whoa. Twelve tits. Impressive.

[The guy realizes that Steve is awake and looking at him.]

Guy 2: Oh. Er. Feel the wrath of Kanbo-Ala, defiler!

Steve: Who. The fuck. Are you?

Guy 2: Your death!

[The guy leaps onto the bed, straddling Steve... who promptly kicks the guy in the nuts.]

Guy 2: Oooooooh.... My kidneys....

[He collapses.]

Steve: Now why are you trying to kill me?

Guy 2: You are... defiler... Steven Micheal-Brucks...

Steve: No, I’m not.

Guy 2: Huh? You’re... you’re not?

Steve: No. I’m Steven Bruck-Michaels.

Guy 2: have got to be fucking kidding me? We’re never going to kill the right defiler and get the idol back if they keep getting the records at head office mixed up! Can I use your phone?

Steve: Yes. I suggest you call an ambulance.

[Steve picks up the knife and advances on the guy. Who screams.]

[Captions: THREE MONTHS LATER. In a legal office, Steve is chatting to a secretary. He wears a business suit and has had his hair done. A scruffy Bertram miserably sweeps the floor.]

Steve: even before I’d cut off the tip of his nose he was promising me all the Cult’s liquid assets to recompense me for my time and effort. Yes, apparently the whole Kanbo-Ala organization has gone down hill. Tragic really, especially after putting all that money into AusSat.

Receptionist: I don’t think these satellites will take off anyway.

Steve: Heh. [frowns] That’s a joke, right?

Receptionist: Yes. Yes it was. But I still think that after all the trouble we’ve put into OTC, switching everything over to a tin can in orbit round the moon is not going to be cost effective.

Steve: [nodding] Uh-huh, uh-huh.

[He scratches his nose, covering his face while he whispers to Bertram.]

Steve: Bertie, quick, what the hell is OTC?

Bertram: Overseas Telecommunication Commission.

Steve: And?

Bertram: Lots of phone cables lying under the ocean. You know. The add. [sings] ‘No one’s far from anyone, anymore...’

Steve: Oh yeah. ‘Ohhhhhhhhhh Teeeeeeeeeee Seeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!’

[He realizes that the secretary is looking at him oddly.]

Steve: So, anyway, that money allowed me to become a major shareholder. Fancy going out tonight to, er, discuss my portfolio as it were?

Receptionist: Not tonight. Rumpole’s on.

Steve: Fair enough. [to himself] Damn you, Leo McKern. Damn you. If you weren’t an ex-pat, so help me... [brightens] Tomorrow night! Bertie, get my tuxedo ready, hide all the Italian erotica in the apartment, crank up the thermostat and make yourself scarce once she comes round.

Bertram: Er... what about Christie?

Steve: Who?

Bertram: Your girlfriend. Remember?

Steve: Oh, yes. Chubby Christie. Gosh, I haven’t thought about her since... since...

Bertram: ...we last saw her?

Steve: Yes. When was that?

Bertram: Eleven weeks, six days and thirty-one minutes. [blinks] In fact, I think you better get back to her.

Steve: What? Now?

Bertram: [checks watch] Sooner the better.

Steve: Why? Did I leave some of my stuff with her?

Bertram: In a manner of speaking...

Steve: Yes, well, I can afford to take the rest of the day off. In fact, I can afford to take the rest of the year off – who’d have thought being mistaken for a tomb robber could be so lucrative. I’ll pick up whatever it is and dump her for good.

Bertram: Christie might look a bit different...

Steve: What? Her weight, you mean?

Bertram: Yeah.

Steve: Well, if she can compete with Supple Sheila over there, I might bring her back... You stay here and do whatever it is Quentin wants me to do.

Bertram: Me?

Steve: Do you have anything else to occupy the black hole Denise made of your heart?

[Bertram start sobbing.]

Steve: Thought not. As they say in Morocco... Ciao.

[Steve strides out.]

[Caption: THE NEXT DAY. Central station, Steve arrives and heads off towards the taxi cab. He speaks into a ridiculously huge mobile phone.]

Steve: You got an answering machine? Have you any idea how much those things cost? Don’t expect me to pay for it, darling, money’s tight as it is and just because we slept together for a few weeks nine months ago doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to get me as a sugar daddy. Anyway, Bert told me I had to be here to pick up some stuff. I’m pretty certain it’s my He-Man playset. And I don’t care if that sounds childish, the painted detail on Skeletor’s castle is amazing. I won’t hear another word against it. You know, the good thing about these machines is I don’t have to listen to people who aren’t as interesting as I am...

[Bertram’s House. The grass has grown, as it hasn’t been mown. Steve approaches.]

Steve: Ah memories. I beat up that twat Terry here. I wonder if he survived? Oh well.

[He pushes open the front door and enters.]

[The place has been half-tidied. Steve strides in and finds a plastic toy castle that folds into a makeshift suitcase. Happily he picks it up.]

Steve: Priceless. I’m out of here. Hang on... [frowns] What was it? Oh yeah. Christie?

Christie: [oov] Up here.

Steve: Ah. The bedroom. Trying to seduce me with the curves you’ve spent the last few months acquiring, huh?

Christie: [oov] ...kinda.

Steve: [to himself] One for the road. Maybe two if she’s really smoking...

[He heads up the stairs and looks into the bedroom. Christie lies on the bed under a blanket.]

Steve: Well hello. Long time no see.

Christie: You said you’d send for me.

Steve: When the time was right. I’m only here because apparently I left something with you...

Christie: You did. This.

[Christie flips off the blanket to reveal how pregnant she is.]

Steve: I knew it! You’ve got a stomach tumor! It’s not contagious, is it? Please God say no...

Christie: It’s not a tumor! It’s baby! It’s all baby! Our baby!

Steve: ...the one I specifically told you to have surgically executed?

Christie: The very same one, Steve.

[Steve blinks.]

Steve: Oh well, good luck with the rest of your life.

[He turns and leaves. Christie watches him go, shocked.]

Christie: Where are you going?

Steve: Somewhere you can’t follow, Chubby!

[Christie struggles to follow him.]

Christie: You can’t run away! It’s a fact now!

Steve: But thankfully not a fact I have to deal with – unlike you!

Christie: Oh no. I know all about the Curse of Kanbo-Ala! You’re loaded, Steve, and I want my share!

Steve: [aghast] You mean you only went ahead with this for my money?!

Christie: No, it was to ruin your life – the money’s a side benefit!

Steve: You heartless bitch. If you didn’t look like a cross between a diseased potato and a beached whale, we might have been good together. But I’m leaving you and your illegitimate offspring to wallow in these slums, while I return to my life of success and fortune.

Christie: [breathing heavy] You did this to me. I want compensation!

Steve: And I want you to not be pregnant – guess we don’t always get what we want! Besides, I’m a shareholder in the biggest law firm in the ACT and you are an unemployed dole bludger squatting in this house, so do you really think you can possibly threaten me with any kind of legal law firm. Hell, even with a blood test proving your wild claims true, I can spin this out for years – you won’t get a red cent out of me before the little bambino is old enough to have a criminal record!

[Lost in his own rant, Steve doesn’t notice Christie double over in pain and clutch her stomach.]

Steve: Besides, it was fully consensual in the first place – and you’re the one who wanted to keep it despite my clear feelings of the subject. No jury in this wide brown land would turn against me, the innocent sperm donor in this web of uterine lies!

[He wanders around the room, ignoring Christie’s evident pain.]

Steve: Mind you, I’ll probably look like a complete spastic if they think I didn’t twig you were pregnant for the first nine months... I’ll have to find a way to spin that. Maybe dodgy eyesight? Or maybe I can get some tame doctor to say you told me it was a tumor... [to Christie] Do you think that’d sound feasible? I value input.

Christie: I’m going into labor you idiot!

Steve: See? Incompatible. I’m Liberal, born and bred and... [twigs] Oh. Oh? How VERY convenient?

Christie: Convenient?! I can’t breathe!

[She cries out. Steve folds his arms.]

Steve: Oh, and she just happens to have the baby the afternoon I arrive. Your honor, must the court witness such a cliché? I call a mistrial!

Christie: [through gritted teeth] Uhhh...

Steve: And then, m’lud, she showed her clear disregard to my feelings, in particular my hygiene concerns, by wetting herself when she lost the argument. [twigs] Oh, OK, bitch, that’s a clever touch. Dunno how you managed it, but it’s not going to work on me.

[She doubles over and screams.]

Steve: Oh all right. I’ll call an ambulance. See how long you can string this out. No one’s going to look on me as some kind of callous misogynist.

[He crosses the phone.]

Steve: Seriously, though, working in the legal profession has HUGELY improved my vocab, don’t you think?

[Christie screams again.]

Steve: Oh yes, yes, I’m doing it, already. No need to milk it...

[Rolling his eyes, he starts dialing...]


Christie: I’m going to call him... Norman.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Verkoff: A Terrible Ego

In a painful homage to Mr. Darrow's magnum opus, I pretend I mean present the untold origin of Nigella Jay Verkoff.


[An evening in the late 1990s. Two teenagers come out of a theatre and crss the footbridge. One, Steve, is a good-looking Aborigine with a pig tail. His companion, Max, is a Goth in a leather jacket.]

Steve: [disgusted] The Glass Menagarie. After a close call escaping that toss for the HSC, you drag us to see an all-male production of it by Camp Musicals PLC.

Max: It wasn’t too bad, Steve.

Steve: Max. Are you SURE you didn’t contract homosexuality from it?

Max: [thinks about it] far.

Steve: Where to now?

Max: Well, I was thinking of checking out that Buffy Marathon...

Steve: Who cares what you think, Max? It’s not even 10 on a Friday Night. Let us party!

Max: [downcast] We can’t party by watching Buffy?

Steve: No. No, we cannot. Come on, there’ll be beer.

Max: I hate beer!

Steve: Which is why I’m warning you ahead. Like that time you RUINED my satay shish kabobs with that... what did you call it again?

Max: Peanut allergy.

Steve: Oh yeah. [rolls eyes] WHATEVER, Max. WHATEVER!

Max: [completely serious] I nearly died, Steve.

Steve: Only because I nearly killed you. That chick was totally going to put out for me until you did the spasm thing and threw up. In her LAP! God, that’s a passion killer, Max, it really is. Her crotch stank of your vomit for days.

Max: ...and if you don’t want me to throw up right now, you won’t tell me how you know that.

Steve: Anyway, there might be a game of pool in it for you.

Max: [brightens] Really?

Steve: Well, there are pool tables. I think.

Max: You think?

Steve: At the pub.

Max: What pub?

Steve: The one we’re going to.

Max: But it has pool tables?

Steve: Probably.

Max: It probably has pool tables?

Steve: Yeah. Course, we might not go there.

Max: Mightn’t we?

Steve: Don’t worry, Max. What I have in mind, Steve, involves lots of drunken spastics for you to beat at pool. The presence of pool-playing facilities is totally irrelevant.

Max: How can I beat them at pool if there isn’t a table to play?

Steve: More to the point, how can you LOSE if there isn’t a table? Huh? Uh? Uh-huh? Uh? Huh?

[Max opens his mouth to speak.]

Steve: Shut up. The pub’ll be closed by now anyway.

[A very suburban backyard, mainly concreted over and boring. Max is sipping a Coke can mutinously. Steve is lounging by the door.]

Steve: Tell me this isn’t better than being stuck inside your hovel watching that whore Sarah Michelle Gellar flirt with corpses, Max. Tell me that.

Max: It isn’t.

Steve: You’re a freak, Max. Frankly, I’m really wondering why I keep you on.

[A chirpy guy with Bill Kelty hair emerges from the house. This is Bertram.]

Bertram: So, guys, enjoying the party?

[They both stare at him.]

Bertram: Had any thoughts about that camping trip with me?

[They continue to stare.]

Bertram: You, uh, seen Alex?

[They nod and point to a body lying on the grass. Bertram sighs and collects a hose to spray the unconscious Alex with.]

Steve: I’d thought you’d like Alex.

Max: I don’t.

Steve: He’s into Buffy.

Max: He’s into vampire sex scenes, it’s not quite the same thing.

Steve: Isn’t it? You’re all perverts.

[Bertram finally revives Alex.]


[He collapses again.]

Steve: What do you think of Denise?

Max: She’s nice.

Steve: Porn star. Bet you anything. Look how she treated me.

Max: She offered you a sausage sandwich.

Steve: Code, Max. It was code. My sausage, her sandwich.

Max: So handing you a stale bit of bread with a burnt sausage and some onions on it?

Steve: More code.

Max: And the fact everyone else got one?

Steve: Plausible deniability.

Max: You’re insane, Steve. I mean, seriously, I think you have severe mental problems requiring therapy.

Steve: Ah, Maxy-Maxy-Maxy. One day you too will know the sexual ecstasy I have.

Max: Steve. Unlike myself, you’re still a virgin.

[Steve lets out a delighted laugh and then punches Max with enough force to slam his head through the plywood wall behind them.]


[He kicks away Max’s seat, leaving Max hanging by the neck. He lets out muffled screams.]

Steve: But in the meantime I will settle for the porn star and any unattached female creature I can find.

[Another guy blocks Steve’s path as he reenters the house.]

Steve: [bored] What is it, Terry?

Terry: Steve, I see how you’ve been acting with my woman, Steve, I saw it, I really did and I know it, I know you and I know her and I know what I saw. And I’m laying down the law, Steve, I’m going to put my foot down and actually come out and tell you what’s going down. She is my mistress, my lover, my best friend in the whole world and you are some cruddy legal studies student who didn’t even score at the Year 12 Formal when you turned up naked, so if you think I’m going to let you... [holds up a hand] OK!!! [long pause] and I am not going to let you take my girlfriend go with a stunted little sociopath like you who has a sadomasochistic relationship with the only person in the seven years I’ve known you to actually even attempt to call you a friend and if you so much as step one baby foot length out of line...

Steve: Terry?

Terry: Yes?

Steve: You are the most tedious, pretentious fuckwit I’ve ever met.

[Steve pushes past him and enters the party. Terry watches him go and stands around, awkward. Max continues to moan in pain.]

Terry: Yeah... well... look in the mirror sometime. Heh. [Louder] LOOK IN THE MIRROR SOMETIME, STEVE!! HAHAHA!

Steve: [from within] Every chance I get, Terry.

[Long pause.]

Terry: [sighs] Damn it, that asshole’s mind moves quick.

[Inside, Steve is chatting with a bored Chinese teenage girl reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.]

Steve: [munching a snag] So, uh, you know that Harry dies in the second-last chapter, right?

[The girl sighs and puts down the book. Steve punches the air.]

Steve: Don’t worry, Aileen. Let us speak of more interesting things. Like... me, for instance.

[Aileen rises and heads up some stairs. Denise follows. Steve watches them go.]

Steve: Well, well, well, well...

[Max enters, rubbing blood from his neck.]

Steve: You see that, Max?

Max: Fuck you, Steve.

Steve: Methinks there’s a lesbian orgy about to occur upstairs.

Max: One, there needs to be more than two people for an orgy, you spastic, and two, Aileen’s straight.

Steve: Ah, but Denise is bisexual.

Max: No she isn’t.

Steve: Who in this life is truly hetero? [quickly] And don’t say the Pope. That would just lead to a conversation that would be inappropriate. Especially with him dying.

Max: Dying?

Steve: It might take the Church a while to admit it, but you can tell rigor mortis is setting in. [sighs happily] I am just so intelligent it’s frightening.

Max: Spell “excavator”, Steve.

Steve: [beat] This is officially the worst party I’ve ever been to. I swear, if those two chicks don’t get naked, moist and sweaty in the next half an hour, I’m gonna have to consider smashing this house up.

Max: It’s not your house.

Steve: And therein lies the perfect crime.

[Alex stumbles drunkenly down the stairs.]

Alex: Yeah. Bros. Check this out.

[Neither Max nor Steve move. Alex rolls his eyes and stumble closer.]

Alex: You know Aileen and Denise?

Max: [sarcastic] Are they undressing each other on Denise’s bed?

Alex: Yeah.

Max: You see? Utter nonse – [startled] They are?!

Steve: [impressed] There is but one word for this moment. And that word is “jackpot”.

[Bertram enters cheerfully.]

Bertram: How are things going, people?

Max: [dazed] Denise and Aileen are lezzing it up on your bed, Bertram.

Bertram: WHAT?!?

Max: It’s what Alex said!

Bertram: Denise? MY DENISE?!

Alex: [thinking furiously... well, thinking anyway] Ah, well... I just... you know... saw them. One of them. Getting changed. The other one was, er, just lying on the bed. Alone. And NOT having sex. Or even anything vaguely like that! [frowns] Is that the floor rushing up to meet me?

[He slumps unconscious.]

Max: This is why alcohol is bad you.


Bertram: I’m going for a walk. I may be some time.

[Bertram storms out, then storms back in, picks up a walkman, and storms out again.]

Steve: I’ll take that as a “please feel free to join the orgy, Steve” shall I?

Max: [worried] You think he’s going to commit suicide?

Steve: I’m honestly not sure. If he does, I get the couch. [rises] Now, time to show the Sapphic Temptresses upstairs about how they do it in Jersey!

[Denise tumbles down the stairs and falls behind a couch. Aileen runs down the stairs and dives behind the couch as well. Steve and Max stare.]

Steve: I bet they’re naked.

Max: They’re not.

Steve: They are.

Max: [controlled sigh] For fuck’s sake, Steve, we just saw them. They’re not naked.

Steve: Past tense, my friend. Prepare for the screams of ecstasy.

[Steve crosses over to the couch, grinning.]

Aileen: [sotto] Oh my god... there’s so much blood!

[Steve’s grin fades. There is a near sob from behind the couch. Steve creeps back to Max.]

Steve: [pale] Might sit this one out.

[Max turns and glares at him.]

[An ambulance hurtles away from the house, sirens wailing and lights flashing. Steve, Max and Terry stand by the door watching them go.]

Steve: Drama queen.

Max: She cut her chin open!

Steve: Like you’ve never done that!

[Steve indicates the cuts on Max’s neck.]

Max: You did that!

Steve: Point still stands! [sighs] Aileen’s such a bitch! I wasn’t the one who tackled Denise, was I? It was her, and then she goes and blames me for it!

Terry: You could have been more diplomatic about it.

Steve: I was a paragon of virtue.

Terry: You had a hysterical screaming fit and slapped Denise to get her to calm down.

Steve: I offered her a sausage.

Max: Is that code...?

Steve: SHUT UP, MAX! I didn’t even get a good look at the gash...

[Steve realizes he is being looked at with total disgust.]

Steve: What?! Anyway, since Bertram’s dead, the house is ours! Let’s trash it!

Terry: Steven. You are highly inadequate, terribly easy to amuse and trick, suffering from crippling delusions of grandeur and slaves to society’s treadmill of mediocrity as well as a brainless trend-followers

Steve: You know what? If you can’t think of nothing nice to say, say nothing.

[Terry snorts, unimpressed. Steve dropkicks him and then beats him up.]

Max: [thoughtful] Steve?

Steve: What is it, Max?

Max: I’ve come to the decision that I don’t actually like you. If I ever see you again, I will call the police.

Steve: What?!

[Max turns and wanders off. Steve is stunned.]

Steve: Yeah? Well, er... um... IT’S YOUR SISTER I FANCY ANYWAY, YOU SLAG!

Max: [still walking away] I don’t have a sister.

Steve: Yeah, I know, it’s just... well... that’s what I normally say when I’m dumped. Can we just pretend I came up with a pretty good retort?

Max: [casual] Fuck you, Steve.

Steve: Of all the ungrateful... [to Terry] This is ALL [kick] YOUR [kick] FAULT [kick] EXCLAMATION [kick] MARK!!!

[Steve goes for an impressive kick, overbalances and falls over.]

Steve: [miserable] Oh what a brilliant metaphor for my life so far.

[Inside the house. It is much later and Steve is knocking back yet another can.]

Steve: [drunk] An I wuz born, born, BORN, born to be aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive! [suddenly angry] I HATE YOU ALL AND YOU BASTARDS RUINED MY NIGHT!

[A groggy Maori girl sits up from behind a chair.]

Christie: Waz all the noise about? [checks what] Jeez, bro, it’s like half past two in the morning!

Steve: Hey... do I know you?

Christie: Don’t think so. Who are you?

Steve: Steve. You?

Christie: I’m not Steve.

Steve: Your loss.

Christie: I’m Christie. What’s going on?

Steve: Bertram and Denise have split up, Denise, Aileen and Alex have gone to hospital, Bertram’s gone off to commit suicide, Terry’s losing a lot of blood on the front lawn and Max has fucked off.

Christie: So... uh... what do we do now?

[Steve hands her a can.]

Steve: I think Plan A should work.

Christie: [takes a sip] What’s Plan A?

Steve: Well, now.

[Cut to Bertram’s bedroom, a disturbingly neat and tidy set of quarters that is systematically demolished as the very drunk Steve and Christie stumble into the bedroom, trying to undress each other. They fall onto the bed, still struggling to take each other’s clothes off.]

Christie: You got a condom?

[Steve talks through kissing her face.]

Steve: What? You want safe sex? “Safe sex”! Bullshit! Sex is all about danger! Who wants caution when...

[He mimes playing Russian Roulette, spinning a gun and aiming at his head.]

Steve: Is THIS the one?

Christie: [laughs] You’re full of shit.

Steve: [kisses her again] To the brim.

Christie: You really believe that?

Steve: Nah, I just don’t have any on me!

[They start shagging. The TV lights up showing a train rushing into a tunnel, fireworks exploding...]

Christie: Oops, I’m lying on the remote.

[She switches off the TV and goes back to snogging Steve.]


Steve: [gently] Hey. It’s my baby too. That’s why I want it dead.