Monday, November 16, 2009

Verkoff: A Terrible Ego (vi)


[Nigel is strutting down a street, looking cool but not really going anywhere. He passes a real estate agents where a female agent is talking to a male client. Nigel spares her a glance. He blinks. Her suit is shimmering as if in a heat haze, but her face and hands are in focus. Nigel stares. Her suit shimmers and dissolves, leaving her standing in her underwear. Then that shimmers too. Nigel’s eyes widen and then he blinks and shakes his head. She’s no longer naked, but wearing all her clothes. She notices the kid on the other side of the street gawping at her and looks at him curiously. Nigel awkwardly pretends to look around in interest and starts to wander off.]

[Nigel pauses at some traffic lights. Two high school girls cross as the lights turn green. As they approach, their dresses shimmer. Nigel frowns. The shimmering stop. He is relieved. The girls walk past him, chatting to themselves. Nigel suddenly reels as he smells something – clearly the perfume the girls are wearing. Fascinated he turns to look at their retreating forms, and starts as he realizes he’s managed to “undress” them. He takes off his glasses, rubs his eyes and looks at them. Still naked. He takes a deep breath, calms himself down and looks again. Still naked... then they shimmer and are suddenly clothed again. Nigel is relieved and puts on his shades.]

Nigel: [scared] What the hell is wrong with me?

[He realizes a little old lady has wandered up beside him and gives him a suspicious look. Nigel smiles meekly. As they wait for the lights to change, he spares her a sideways glance. No shimmer. Nothing. Nigel visibly tries to “summon” the weird X-ray effect, but nothing. The light changes and the old lady crosses the road. Nigel stays where he is, still trying to master turning his new superpower on and off. Nothing. He finally twigs he can cross the road and is about to go when the light turns red. He narrowly avoids being run over by a couple of bogans in the ute.]

Bogan 1: Watch where ya going, ya dork!

[Nigel stares uncomprehendingly at the bogan driver, then at his cute bogan missus. She understandably doesn’t think this lost-looking ten year old is anything other than innocent and leans across the cabin.]

Bogan 2: Hey, little mate, you OK?

Nigel: ...yeah.

[Nigel realizes her clothes are shimmering and focuses his attention on the driver, who’s clothes don’t.]

Bogan 1: Shouldn’t you be in school or something, sport?

Nigel: ...kind of.

[Nigel tries not to look at the female bogan, who is now naked.]

Bogan 2: “Kind of”?

[Nigel automatically turns to reply to her but quickly turns to look at the driver again.]

Nigel: Yeah. Sick leave.

Bogan 1: You don’t look sick.

Nigel: I got stabbed.

Bogan 1: ...fair dinkum?

Bogan 2: You’re looking all right now.

[Nigel once again absently looks at her, but this time he doesn’t look away. He starts to smile.]

Nigel: Quick healer.

[She smiles at him, and there is the sound of a horn honking.]

Bogan 2: Oh, nuts! Come on, Barry, the lights have changed!

Bogan 1: [annoyed] Why they make this traffic lights all the same bloody colour?

[The ute drives off. Nigel watches it go, awestruck.]

Nigel: [dazed] That was... new...

[The ute moves down the street.]

Bogan 2: Hey, Barry, you ever think of having kids?

Bogan 1: Not while I’m driving, Shiel!

[Nigel is approaching a shopping centre, his newfound cool compromised by his troubled expression. He passes a very attractive woman leaving the shopping centre and double takes, literally trying to tear his gaze away. He hurries into the cool, relatively dim interior of the centre and takes off his shades. He looks up. His expression turns terrified – it seems the place is full of young women in their bras and pants. Nigel looks around in blind panic. Underwear-clad girls pass, giving him curious looks. Nigel screw up his eyes, trying to turn off the X-ray, but when he opens his eyes he nearly screams: he’s managed to see through the underwear now too. A black girl running a tobacconist shop leans over the counter. Nigel’s mouth opens and the air audibly leaves his lungs.]

Shop Girl: You all right, little boy?

[Nigel frantically puts on his shades. No good. He crosses to one of the stands in the tobacconists and snatches different shades, trying them on and discarding them furiously.]

Shop Girl: Hey, calm down...

[She comes out from behind the counter. Nigel almost pulls the stand down to reach more sunglasses, finally choosing a pair of frameless gold-tinted pince nez. He tries them and risks a glance at the shop assistant as she bend down to talk to him. Success! Through the lenses, her clothes have returned. Nigel sighs with relief.]

Shop Girl: You lost your mum?

Nigel: Um... yeah. Sorry about that.

[He shoves the stand upright and starts collecting the discarded sunglasses.]

Nigel: No idea what just happened there. Um, I like these glasses. They’re cool, can I have them?

Shop Girl: You have to pay for them, sweetheart.

Nigel: [annoyed] I know that, I’m not stupid. How much are they?

Shop Girl: Thirty-five.

Nigel: [impressed] Cents?

Shop Girl: Dollars.

Nigel: Oh.

[Nigel fumbles in his wallet and takes out a very expensive-looking golden credit card.]

Nigel: I might need your help to, you know, full out the form.

[Amused, the shop assistant laughs and leads Nigel behind the counter.]

Shop Girl: [ruffling his hair] Sure thing.

[Nigel finds himself peering over the shades, but regains control of himself.]

[Nigel, now in his new shades, hurries past the shops until he reaches an optometrist’s.]

[Nigel is now sitting in an angled chair looking through a lens machine. The optometrist is adjusting the machine. His nephew is sitting on a chair, bored.]

Optometrist: X-ray vision? Not heard people suffering from that too often.

Nigel: I’m not making this up, guy!

Optometrist: Maybe it’s hallucinations? You should see a doctor.

Nigel: My doctor’s 28, blonde and my mum think she has implants.

Optometrist: Oh. I see your trouble.

Nigel: Oh you don’t, guy, you really don’t!

Optometrist: Some guys get all the luck.

Maurice: I would never want X-ray vision. You know there was this guy, right, who gave himself X-ray eyes and he realized he could see through everything – not just clothes, but walls, trees. He tried to drive a car but he could see through the engine, through the other cars, through the road... and then he started to see through reality itself, dude! And what he saw was, like, so terrifying, he tore out his own eyeballs!

[Nigel’s voice is small.]

Nigel: Really?

Optometrist: No, not really. Maurice, that was a 1970s sci-fi film you saw on video last month, remember? Honestly, have you been taking your medication.

Maurice: [crosses fingers] Course I have.

[The optometrist sighs.]

Maurice: [sotto] The creepy thing is, after he tears his own eyes out, you know what? It turns out he CAN! STILL! SEE!

Nigel: [impressed] Wowwwww! You’re a moron!

[Maurice sulks. The optometrist takes the lenses away. Nigel blinks.]

Optometrist: Can you see through my clothes?

Nigel: No.

Optometrist: So it’s only girls you have this amazing power with?

Nigel: ...yeah. I guess so.

Optometrist: I think I know what’s happening. Nigel, what’s your family like? Are they sort of religious fundamentalists who believe that sex is evil?

Maurice: Like Carrie?

Optometrist: [sighs] Yes, Maurice. Like Carrie. So, Nigel, are you’re parents...

Nigel: How dumb you think I am? I know all about where babies come from! When a man and a woman love each other very much [less certain] or maybe are just drunk... or on drugs... [more confident] they have sexual intercourse, the woman gets pregnant and then she has the baby.

Optometrist: So... you know that your parents had sex then?

[Nigel has no idea where this is going.]

Nigel: Duh.

Optometrist: To make you?

Nigel: Oh, no. They didn’t.

Optometrist: What?

Maurice: I knew it! I knew it was all lies!

[Maurice turns and epic-runs for the glass door – only for it to swing and slam him in the face as a pretty female optometrist in cute specs enters. Maurice thumps to the floor.]

Female Optometrist: Oops.

Optometrist: Nigel, you can’t exist if your parents didn’t...

Nigel: I’m adopted.

Optometrist: [deeply embarrassed] I’m sorry. But you seem to have suffered a traumatic experience and, given you’re going through puberty, maybe you’re expressing your sexual desire through vivid hallucinations.

Nigel: Or, maybe, I just got cursed by a Demon Babe in the Land of Gloom after we watched a video nasty, perhaps! Seriously, you don’t think that’s what’s happen...

[He trails off, watching the female optometrist check the cash register.]

Optometrist: What?

[Nigel beckons the male optometrist over and whispered in his ear.]

Nigel: If I’m just hallucinating, how the hell would I know that? AND she’s wearing pink lace!

Optometrist: [aghast] But... I can’t ask her to prove you wrong!

Nigel: How else do you prove anything! Mister, I’m begging you here...

Optometrist: [torn] I have to admit, it is one hell of a pretext to see her naked.

[The optometrist walks up to the other and they chat. Nigel watches as the male awkwardly explains the situation. The female laughs at first, then falls silent, then looks angry. Then she slaps the male, knees him in the bollocks and storms out.]

Nigel: [smug] Am I right or am I right?

Optometrist: [pained] Not really. She wasn’t wearing pink lace.

Nigel: Oh, details...

Optometrist: She isn’t wearing ANYTHING! It helps her new piercings!

Nigel: [puzzled] Piercings? Oh. I thought those were warts.

Optometrist: Yes, and she’s rather offended at that suggestion actually! [groans] Look, your eyesight is 20-20. Please don’t come back here.

Nigel: Fine. [gets off chair] How much does the Big N owe you?

Optometrist: Consultation’s... free...

Nigel: Sweet!

[Nigel picks up his new sunglasses and puts them on, checking his reflection in a mirror. His expression turns surprised, as if he’s never really seen himself before. He fingers his rather drab clothes as if only just realizing he’s wearing them. He turns and hurries out.]

[Nigel emerges from a clothing shop. He is now dressed in black jeans, a tight red-and-black tiger strip top and a black denim jacket over his shoulder. He checks his reflection in the closest mirror, then checks without the glasses... but quickly replaces them when he realizes the girls passing the in the reflection are now starkers. He turns and heads off.]

[Nigel emerges from a hairdresser. His hair is now done in a weird, ethnic-type dreadlocks but still its natural colour. He looks a lot closer to Classic Nigel than before. He gets something in his eye, takes off the sunglasses to clear it. He looks around. Everyone seems clothed. He concentrates. The women at the fishmonger shop shimmer into their underwear. They shimmer back to normal. Nigel considers leaving his sunglasses off, then scowls, puts them on and heads off.]

[The Yang Household. The transformed Nigel enters. Togi is sitting in the kitchen, reading a paper with ‘INTERNATIONAL DEVIL-WORSHIPPERS REFUTE PORN RING SCANDAL: WE HAVE STANDARDS!’ as the headline and a photo of Uncle Miko trying to cover his face.]

Togi: Afternoon, Nigel. How was your afternoon?

Nigel: Do you REALLY care?

Togi: Not really, no.

Nigel: At least you’re honest.

Togi: You’re not important enough to lie to.

Nigel: See? Honest.

[Nigel heads up the stairs to the rooms of his siblings. He pauses by a door marked “Bernice”.]

Nigel: Benny? Benny, you there?

[He pushes open the door.]

Nigel: I had one hell of a day today. I think... in all honesty... I might be losing it...

[He finally realizes she’s not there.]

Nigel: Benny?

[He takes off his glasses and wipes a tear from his eye and slumping on her bed.]

Nigel: Why are you never around when I need you? I mean, I need you all the time so... this is just... mean!

[Upset, he buries her head in pillow. A second later he lifts his head, sniffing frantically.]

Nigel: [lusty] Oh God you smell good... [blinks] But... hang on... she always smells like that... why do I care now? Why?

[His confusion melts into another lustful expression as he starts to sniff the air again.]

Nigel: Oh man... that smell... oh man...

[He smacks himself in the face to get control and rises up to leave.]

Nigel: Obviously insane. Near death experience. Post-traumatic stress.

[As he talks, he crosses to Bernice’s wardrobe and opens it. He notices.]

Nigel: Huh? What the hell...? [sniffs] Sweet onion chutney... these have touched her perfect skin! Rubbed against her beautiful hair! I bet she’s sweated in them!

[He grabs her dress and inhales deeply. He freezes and looks at the drawers in the wardrobe.]

Nigel: OK, this is just plain wrong.

[He dives at the drawer and wrenches it open to reveal... Bernice’s knickers. As exciting as a ten year old’s underpants can be. Nigel picks a pair up and studies it like Yorick’s skull.]

Nigel: ...what a let down. [troubled] She’s your sister, man.

[He neatly folds her knickers and replaces them in the drawer.]

Nigel: She’s your sister. You love her. She’s your best friend. In the whole world. And that time you and her got naked on the trampoline last summer... her skin gleaming in the sunshine... [grabs heads] I AM NOT THINKING THESE THOUGHTS!

[He grabs the glass of water beside the bed and throws it in his face.]

Nigel: Better. Not much. But better.

[He dries his face with a towel but ends up sniffing it.]

Nigel: Oh, God, kill me now. Just this once be helpful.

[Night falls. Nigel is in his room. It’s as neat and oriental as Bernice’s, only with a lot of cuddly toys and heaps of Doctor Who merchandise. A pale and ill-looking Nigel lies on the bed, exhausted.]

Nigel: Maybe I never got out of the Torii. Maybe this is my own personal hell. That could work. That means no one here is real except me. Yeah. So it’s not really Benny. It’s not really her long dark hair and deep brown eyes. Or the way she gets taller when she’s happy. It’s just a demon that looks like her making my heart beat faster until I blush. Yeah. It’s not my sister I want to be with alone, it’s a demon babe that looks like her. That sounds positively wholesome. Or maybe the mouth of madness. But what a mouth.

[Nigel sobs miserably.]

Nigel: No. Bernice is the worst sister ever. She pretends to like you but treats you like crap. Everyone hates you. Especially her. She despises you. With every part of her beautiful body. Especially her slender legs. The legs hate you with burning passion. Burning passion. The fact she’s turning eleven next year is... is... God she is so beautiful. But she still hates you. And when she kissed you on your cheek when you came home from hospital, it was just a game. A freaky, hateful game. She is evil. She is Lady McBeth. She is Servalan. She is the Dog-Woman from Monkey Magic. And you do not want her body. But what DO you want?

[Nigel starts looking worried.]

Nigel: Come on, you adopted fool. You must have something you want. Ten years, there’s got to be something you need more than to hold her tight and kiss her so deep it takes her breath away... [glazes over] Come on. Think. She doesn’t make you feel good. She doesn’t make you happy and her breasts are barely budding and definitely not begging for attention. [bites fist] ARGH!

[Nigel gets out of bed and headbutts the wall.]

Nigel: She is your sister! You love her! You are not IN love with her! You will only make her unhappy! [with rising enthusiasm] Yes! You’d make her upset! You’d make her cry! She’d never be happy again! So that’s why you can’t do it! You’d lose her and, as has already been established, you have nothing else in your entire freaking life! Yes. That’s right. You don’t need her totally naked, coz she’d be miserable. And nothing is worth it. Am I right?

[He heabutts the wall.]

Nigel: Am I right? Yes. But what about her slender inner thighs and her tight nipples?

[He headbutts the wall again.]


[He looks startled and embarrassed, as if it was someone else who shouted at him.]

Nigel: Blood? Who mentioned blood? Why would there... oh. Oh right. OK. That’s way better reason to never think or discuss this again. That would just be sick at the best of times... oh, man. [grimaces] That mental image is undoubtedly the worst I’ve seen all day. And I’ve seen a few.

[He turns and slumps on the bed.]

Nigel: Take your mind off it. Something easy on the brain.

[He picks up a book and looks at it.]

Nigel: The Man In The Velvet Mask” by Daniel O-Mar-Ho-Knee. Yeah, still reading this one. [flips through the pages] Where was I? Oh yeah, chapter four, Phantom of the Theatre. Yeah... “The heat was a distraction. It was trapped in the caravan with her, growing ever more intense. It was a humid, lazy afternoon warmth.” [starts to get worried] “It made her skin sticky, then clinging, then damp. She shifted on the bed as her gown hardened against her back and her chest and her thighs.” [gulps] “The fabric peeled away slightly, but half-heartedly, leaving her feeling irritated and soiled. Sweat dribbled against her skin...”

[Nigel throws the book down.]

Nigel: OH GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK! [smacks his head] What is this? A conspiracy?!? It’s fucking DODO for crying out loud! [stares at the cover] LOOK AT HER! She’s the ugliest, stupidest, most-forgettable companion ever! Why would anyone in their right mind think she’d join a French theatre troop and get ravaged by diseased Frenchmen on stage?! [glazing over] Getting scratches on her naked back...

[The cover shimmers until the illustration of Dodo is sans clothes.]

Nigel: [normal again] See? Nothing worth any interest at all! What’s the next one? “Cold Fusion”. That should be all right... They’re not going to have Chris get someone pregnant again, not with Nyssa in the same room... or Adric. Talk about a walking contraceptive....

[There’s a knock at the door.]

Nigel: [depressed] What is it?

[Kenji pokes his head around the door.]

Kenji: Nigel! It’s time for dinner!

Nigel: What are we having?

Kenji: ...dinner.

[Nigel sighs and gets to his feet.]

Nigel: Kenji, your brain merits you a disabled parking space.

Kenji: [smiles] Thanks!

[The Yang dining room. Everything is almost floor level. Yogi is preparing the kind of banquet you get at a fancy restaurant. Assembled are Nigel’s Dad, Nigel’s Mum, Nigel, Kenji, and several other Yangs of various ages from big brother to grandma. Nigel looks curiously around, but there’s no shimmering or X-rays. He taps his lips thoughtful.]

Nigel: Mmm. Obviously doesn’t work on family members. That’s a good thing. That means I won’t see her fine-boned shoulders or A-cup breasts without her knowing about it. Just that bright orange T-shirt and not the tanned flesh beneath...

[In sudden annoyance, he bashes his forehead. Akiro enters and notices.]

Akiro: Nigel? What are you doing?

Nigel: [instantly composed] That’s a complicated question. Be more concise.

Akiro: You... what have you done to your hair? And your clothes?

Nigel: Do you like it?

Akiro: No.

Nigel: Well, I didn’t do it for you, did I?

Akiro: Who DID you do it for?

[Nigel opens his mouth to answer, but freezes. He starts to look worried.]

Nigel: Akiro. I think there’s something wrong with me.

Akiro: Oh?

Nigel: Today I... I saw... stuff. Things I couldn’t describe being done to... to... Anyway, it just seemed to lodge in my head and now it’s, it’s infecting everything I think and say and do... It’s like I’m drowning, Akiro, inside my own mind! Like I’m on the edge of a cliff and there’s a really strong gale about to knock me over! Or maybe... maybe I’m being possessed!

Akiro: What did you see?

Nigel: ...things. Hang on, what part of “I couldn’t describe” got past you?

Akiro: You sound traumatized.

Nigel: Worse than that... I swear, I’m going crazy.

Akiro: Probably. Talking to yourself is a classic symptom of instability.

Nigel: [coldly] Akiro, out of all my family I’m talking to at this precise second, you are the least favorite.

Akiro: Pah. Like I care what an illegitimate tax dodge like you thinks.

Nigel: So why are you talking to me?

[Akiro realizes she doesn’t have an answer – which had never happened before.]

Akiro: [hurt] ...shut up.

Nigel: You shut up. [sways] What am I saying? What am I doing? It’s like my brain’s got a computer virus or something... Must reboot. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Go planeteers! No, think.

[He stumbles over to the cushions around the dining table and tries to calm down. He chants to the creepy tune of the Lotus Prayer in Downtime.]

Nigel: Om! Mane padme hum! Om! Mane padme hum! Om! Mane padme huu-uuuu-uuu-OM! Mane padme hum... [sighs] That’s it. Hail to the lotus, baby, hail to the lotus. Om mane padme hum...

[Bernice runs over to sit on the opposite side of the table.]

Bernice: Hey, Nigel! Wow, you really have changed your look!

[Distracted, Nigel looks up at her. Her clothes shimmer into transparency, but before he can see her naked, he looks away and forces his sunglasses on. He nevertheless still tries to avoid looking at her.]

Nigel: Uh, yeah, Benny. Near-death-experience, out with the old in with the less old.

Bernice: You OK?

Nigel: Me? [on the brink] I’m fine! Why wouldn’t I be! I’m not the one on the verge of the total nervous breakdown now am I? [holding it together] So, um, you hear about Uncle Miko today?

Bernice: Yeah. He got arrested for something, but the lawyers say he’ll be out in no time.

Nigel: [looks away] Yeah, good old Uncle Miko... Better give him back his video when the police let him go.

Bernice: What video?

Nigel: [tight voice] Nu-thing. [sounds dizzy] Ding! Ding! Ding! Hey there, Gilligan, little buddy... [choking noise] I think I might be on the verge of going utterly insane, but apart from that...

Bernice: You’re joking. Right?

[Akiro sits down beside Nigel.]

Akiro: It would fit his lack of anything approaching humor.

Nigel: I’ve got a sense of humor!

Akiro: You’re about as cheerful as the Sandman on lithium.

Kenji: [arriving] Wow. That’s pretty low.

Bernice: Anyway, apparently Father has a gift for you?

Nigel: ...he does?

[Nigel’s Dad sits down at the table.]

Nigel’s Dad: Well, actually it’s from your Uncle Miko. He was trying to bribe the arresting officer with it, but I believe you, my son, have earned it. Your excursions today, instead of merely lying around the house, bode well for your future. You are one that goes out and confronts destiny rather than wait for it to come to you...

Nigel: [dazed] Yeah, who ever heard of destiny doing door-to-door service?

[Thunder rumbles and crackles in the background.]

Kenji: A storm’s coming.

Nigel’s Mum: [weary patience] Yes, well done, Kenji.

Bernice: So what’s the present, Father?

Nigel’s Dad: Catch.

[Nigel’s Dad flips something that Nigel’s arm, seemingly of its own accord, lashes out and grabs. Nigel peers at it through his sunglasses at it.]

Akiro: It’s a pocket watch.

Nigel’s Dad: A fob watch, actually. With chain. Cousin Orugo is selling them on the back of the TV Guides in the Sydney Morning Herald, but you have the first one completely free.

Bernice: What trouble you went to.

Nigel’s Dad: [disapproving] Beriniko, one must learn to accept the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Kenji: A watch isn’t outrageous. I’ve got one.

Akiro: Not that you can tell the time.

Nigel’s Mum: Kenji can since he got the digital display...

[Nigel stares at the fob watch, tracing shapes on it with his finger. The conversation at the table drifts into the background. Togi starts serving out the starter of dim sims. Voices spin in his mind.]

Voices: Who ever heard of destiny doing door-to-door service? Wow, you really have changed your look! You are one that goes out and confronts destiny. Time to make up for lost time... And are you pure of heart, Nigel Yang? Break the pattern, Manhattan!

[Distracted, he peers over his shades at the watch. “All The Strange, Strange Creatures” builds up in the background. More thunder and lightening. Tension builds. Suddenly Nigel opens the watch and there is a bright golden light that quickly dies. Nigel is temporarily blinded, and he claws off his glasses.]

Akiro: What the hell was that?

Nigel's Dad: Mmmm. The LED in the watchface might be set a bit too high.

Bernice: Are you all right Nigel?

[Nigel blinks rapidly as his sight returns. Looking at Bernice. Who is completely naked in his gaze. His jaw drops, eyes wide. After a long moment his expression changes. He smiles.]

Nigel: [smoothly] I’ve never felt better in my entire life, Benny.

[Nigel’s room. Nigel is now dressed in a kimono-like dressing gown as he gets ready for bed.]

Nigel: The Big N... It all makes sense now. Took a while to completely kick in but I’ve got the hang of it now. [climbs into bed] Now. Six years before Benny’s legal. I can wait. And six years to get her on side and then straight into her bed. I can do that. I can do anything. Cause I finally get what drives this stunted little species and what I understand I can abuse! [delighted sigh] In the meantime, there’s a social order at school that needs severe rearranging. The student body is not gonna know what hits it! Until some concerned passerby and eye-witness explains to them that it was ME, at any rate.

[School gate. Jason sits by the dumpster looking glum as children arrive for school. Nigel enters, in his tiger-stripe denim gear. Jason doesn’t recognize Nigel.]

Nigel: Well, well, well. I thought you’d be in a juvenile detention centre by now.

Jason: [startled] Nigel? Nigel? Is that you?

Nigel: The Big N has entered the building.

[Jason sweeps Nigel into a bear hug.]

Jason: I’ve missed you so much!

Nigel: Jason.

Jason: Yeah?

Nigel: Don’t touch me.

[Jason released him ashamed.]

Nigel: You tried to kill me, Jason.

Jason: I didn’t mean to!

Nigel: I nearly died.

Jason: It was an accident.

Nigel: How can I ever trust you again? I thought you friend!

Jason: You thought right!

Nigel: Prove it!

Jason: How?

Nigel: Be my slave for the rest of your life!

Jason: ...isn’t slavery bad?

Nigel: Isn’t stabbing me in the stomach?

[Jason falls to his knees.]

Jason: MY LIEGE!

[A long pause. Nigel looks smug.]

Nigel: OK, it’s starting to look camp. Get to your feet.

Jason: [does so] Hey, is it Mufti Day today? They didn’t change the uniform?

Nigel: Uh-uh.

Jason: But won’t you get in trouble?

[Nigel lowers his glasses and admires some of the new-arrived girls. He chuckles dirtily.]

Jason: Nigel?

Nigel: Mmm? What?

Jason: Won’t you get in trouble for not wearing uniform?

Nigel: The uniform was repealed in 1990. The school colours are what matter and what are they?

Jason: Oooh, I know this...

Nigel: Red and black.

Jason: Red and black!

Nigel: Correct. And that’s what the Big N is wearing, I think you’ll find.

Jason: Wow. That’s cool.

Nigel: Right again.

[He is checking out the latest new arrival, Phoebe.]

Nigel: Well, hello, Phoebe.

Phoebe: Nige? I thought you’d left the school after the whole penknife incident!

Nigel: What? I’m not some loser like Luke Skywalker – I bounce back from adversity.

Phoebe: [amused] You get knocked down, and you get up again?

Nigel: The very same, red.

Jason: Ooh! I love that song! He drinks the drink that reminds him of the good times, he drinks the drink that reminds him of the... hang on, I know this...

Nigel: You’re looking stunning this morning, Ms. Richards.

[Phoebe blushes slightly.]

Phoebe: You’ve, uh, kinda cheered up.

Nigel: With you around, baby, the dead would cheer up.

[Phoebe blushes again and can’t think of anything to say.]

Nigel: See you in class, sweetcheeks.

[Phoebe tries and fails to suppress a girlish giggle. Then she gets worried.]

Phoebe: Hang on, you don’t know about Magnus, do you?

Nigel: Magnus? Magnus Magnusson’s doing a show here?

Jason: Uh, no. Different Magnus.

Nigel: Whatever. [shrugs] I doubt it’s important.

[A deep, lisping voice is heard behind them.]

Magnus: [vo] You’d be surprised.

[Nigel frowns and turns... onto to be shoved violently back. He slams against the dumpster and slides to the ground with a nasty ripping noise as the rough metal dumpster tears through his jacket and shirt. Nigel coughs and splutters in pain and looks up at his attacker – a huge, blond, freckled Anglo with huge eyebrows, a guy you could easily hate on sight.]

Nigel: [bewildered] Who the hell are you?

Magnus: Oi! Watch your language, you stupid Abbo.

[Magnus punches a bag of garbage draped over the top of the dumpster. It burst and the contents cascade right on top of Nigel. Phoebe and Jason leap back in horror. Nigel screams and wretches in disgust.]

Magnus: Guess you’ll have to wear school uniform from now on, spastic. That’ll teach you to turn up for school dressed as a rock star, won’t it? The name’s Magnus, by the by. You should remember that, it’s who you’ll be begging for mercy from now on.

[Magnus reaches down, snatches Nigel’s wallet and strides off as the bell rings. Nigel manages to wade out of the crap, mainly banana peels. His clothes are soiled and torn, his hair a mess, and there’s garbage seeming stuck to parts of him. Flies buzz.]

Nigel: Bastard! He’s not going to get away with this! Phoebe! Get me our year’s SRC member!

Jason: Nigel...

Nigel: What is it, Jason?

Phoebe: He IS our SRC member.

[Nigel sighs, looking like he’s trying very hard not to turn psychotic.]

Nigel: Well now. You realize what this means?

Jason: Nope.

Nigel: [icily] War.


JADI: Cripes, at this rate Nigel’ll be ruling the school before we graduate!

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