ACT TWO – THE PRICE WE PAY
[Andrew, Nigel and Bernice listen to the announcer.]
Announcer: The final task is quite simple. Open the pyramid door.
[They approach the glass pyramid. There is a door in one side. Next to the door is a transparent box containing a weird-shaped plastic key.]
Announcer: Of course, to open a door you need the key. And to get the key will require all three of you to cooperate together before you kill each other.
Andrew: I’m getting conflicting signals. [to Bernice] Are you?
Bernice: A bit.
Announcer: Only one of you can go through the door once it is open. Decide amongst yourselves Oh, and needless to say, we won’t tolerate cheating – unless, of course, it is incredibly entertaining and televisual.
[Curious, Andrew begins to wander around the roof, looking at things while Bernice and Nigel argue.]
Bernice: This is sick, they’re turning us against each other.
Nigel: Of course they are! It’s a game show, it’s meant to encourage competition, not cooperation! Only one winner, what did you expect?
Bernice: Well, who is going to be the winner then?
Nigel: Me, obviously.
Nigel: Indeed. I’ve got the most to gain.
Bernice: You really think everyone’s going to suddenly like you for winning the Jekka Tatvi?
Nigel: I think it’s worth a shot, yeah!
Bernice: What? Like that lady who won The Mole? Didn’t you see where she ended up?
Nigel: A millionaire and international celebrity!
Bernice: Until she was totally shafted on that Red Simon game show!
Nigel: Well, that’s easy, I just will refuse to appear with Red Simon!
Bernice: Why don’t I deserve this?
Nigel: You just said you didn’t care about winning!
Bernice: Did I say I wanted to lose?
Nigel: Honestly! Beriniko, how can you be so cruel to your own brother? I’ve been stabbed, expelled, burnt, disowned, dumped and had to put up with the abominable street urchin over there!
Bernice: He’s had a rougher time than you, Nigel!
Nigel: You’re not seriously suggesting we let HIM win, do we?
[Andrew is examining a square hatch on the floor directly opposite the pyramid.]
Andrew: Don’t mind me, I’m just here for the adrenaline. I don’t give a stuff who wins.
Nigel: See? Come on, sis, I need a break here.
Bernice: And don’t I deserve a break?
Nigel: You’re not the one with a rather surprising criminal record before your twelfth birthday! And I’m skipping a year to go to a whole new school without you any of the others coming with me. Let’s be honest, Benny, I need all the help I can get.
Andrew: To put it mildly.
Nigel: Piss off! [to camera] Can I say that on air? Never mind. [to Benny] You’re not going to abandon your baby brother, are you?
Bernice: Baby? You’re only eight months younger than I am!
Nigel: I was speaking emotionally! Come on, you’re not the one Father’s supremely disappointed with!
Andrew: Ooh, emotional blackmail already? He’s getting out the big guns.
Bernice: Shut up!
Andrew: [he’s not] Sorry.
Bernice: Look, Nigel, we’re here to prove our moral worths. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about showing our character. You know what character is? How you behave when no one’s looking, that’s what character is!
Nigel: Then it’s a bit weird we’re asked for that in a game show where our every moves are monitored then!
Bernice: If you want to win Father’s respect, you need to show honor and maturity.
Nigel: Hey, I haven’t gone anywhere NEAR your underwear drawer for months!
Bernice: Nigel, that’s... what did you say?
[Andrew joins them.]
Andrew: Excuse me.
[He takes Bernice’s hand and leads her over to stand on the plate. He examines the glass box with the plastic key. It doesn’t open.]
Nigel: What are you doing?
Andrew: Hmmm. Oh, don’t mind me.
Nigel: We won’t. [to Bernice] So, you’re saying that for me to prove I’m the bigger man, I have to lose deliberately at the biggest and most spectacular competition bar the Olympics?
Nigel: You’re saying you want me to take a dive.
Bernice: [impatiently] Yes, I am.
Nigel: And that will prove I am moral and fair.
Nigel: By proving I can be bribed.
Bernice: YES! [blinks] No...
Nigel: See, this is more coercion!
Andrew: Probably. Excuse me.
[He leads Nigel to stand next to Bernice on the plate. Andrew looks at the glass box. Nothing. He puts a foot on the plate. Nothing.]
Nigel: Everything seems to come down to bullying nowadays!
Bernice: You’d know more about that than me, Nigel!
Nigel: [sinister] Oh yeah, and then you’d know what I *do* to bullies!
[Bernice is a bit scared. Andrew steps onto the plate with them. The glass box swings open, revealing the key. Andrew steps towards the box, but as he leaves the plate, the door swings shut again. Andrew hides his face in his hands.]
Nigel: Because I am sick and tired of people forcing me to do things against my will and then claiming the moral high ground. It’s like Santa Claus! Be good for presents! Don’t be good because you’re a nice person or it’s proper behavior, just pretend in the hope of getting consumer goods! A generation of children who are bribed to behave normal instead of actually being honest. And that stupid Rapture bullshit the Christians go on about – believe in Jesus or be utterly destroyed! Well screw Jesus, I’d rather die honest than live as a phony. Isn’t THAT honor? Isn’t THAT maturity?
Announcer: Just letting you know that we stopped broadcasting when you started talking about the Christians.
Nigel: Huh? Why?
Announcer: We don’t want to get complaints!
Bernice: Oh, so hideous physical injuries are fine, but a bit of theological debate is right out?
Announcer: Pretty much. Now stick to viewer friendly carnage or you’ll all be disqualified.
[Andrew is prowling around the roof. He finds a couple of empty drums and drags them over to the plate.]
Nigel: Well, since no one saw my little speech... OK, Benny, I’ll take a dive. But you owe me.
Bernice: Of course.
Nigel: No, no, I mean REALLY owe me.
Bernice: [not getting it] Sure thing.
Nigel: I want paying. With interest.
Bernice: Interest? You haven’t done it yet. What do you want anyway?
[Nigel checks no one is listening and whispers something in Bernice’s ear. She jumps away from him in undisguised horror.]
Bernice: BHUDDA IN A BLENDER!
Nigel: Not now, obviously. Just in five years or so.
Bernice: I AM YOUR SISTER!
Bernice: That’s disgusting.
Nigel: We’re not really related. And I promise, NO kinky stuff.
Nigel: It’s my price. Take it or leave it.
Bernice: Did you talk to Danielle like that? No wonder she left you!
Nigel: I didn’t actually. Look, Benny, think about it.
Bernice: I am. I now need therapy.
Nigel: You don’t want to be crap at it the first time, do you?
Bernice: First time?
Nigel: Exactly. You and me counts as practice.
Bernice: I feel sick.
Announcer: And we are now back on the air.
[Andrew drags the drums into position and looks up at the key box, which is still closed. He frowns and then realizes the others have left the pate and rolls his eyes.]
Bernice: OK, I’ll do it.
Bernice: But only when we’re old enough. And no one else must ever find out.
Nigel: Fine with me.
Andrew: Are you going to spend all day arguing or do you want to actually finish this competition?
Nigel: What are you dribbling about you shaggy-haired yowie?
Andrew: I’ve worked out how to get the key.
[He leads them over to the plate.]
Andrew: This is a pressure plate. The weight of the three of us is enough to flip open the box and let us get the key. The drums weigh as much as one of us. So two of us need to stand on the plate with the drums and the other snatches the key, opens the door and wins the prize. And that person is...?
Nigel: [simultaneously] Her.
Andrew: Well, come on then, Manhattan, no time to lose.
[Andrew grabs the scruff of Nigel’s neck and lead him over to the plate. Then pauses. They look at each other for a moment, thinking about that nickname, then in unison shrug and step onto the plate with the drums. The box pops open and Bernice snatches out the key, shoves it into the lock and twists it.]
Bernice: It won’t work! The key’s the wrong shape!
[Nigel and Andrew join her. The box snaps shut.]
Nigel: You’re probably just turning it the wrong way. Here, let me have a go.
[Nigel tries the key. It doesn’t turn at all.]
Nigel: The bastards! They’ve given us the wrong key!
Bernice: Assuming we actually need a key. I don’t remember anyone saying the door’s locked.
Andrew: He said we needed the key to open the door. Not to unlock it. Maybe the key is needed to learn it wasn’t locked in the first place.
Nigel: Oh, pur-lease.
[Nigel puts his hand out to lean against the pyramid.]
Nigel: [sarcastic] Like the door was unlocked all alo—
[Nigel’s weight causes the door to swing inwards and he falls straight through and tumbles out of sight. The moment he’s through, a metal portcullis slides upwards, blocking the doorway before Andrew or Bernice can react. Nigel falls down a shaft, bounces off a spring-loaded mattress and lands with thud. Dazed, exhausted, he looks around. And then up. And up. Standing over him is a fifteen-year-old Sumo wrestler with a bo staff. A guy who has concrete instead of milk with cornflakes.]
Nigel: [weak] I was expecting a supermodel to congratulate me for winning.
Announcer: I’m afraid not, sport. You see, you’ve won the third stage and now all you have to do is defeat Yoi Sol here.
[Nigel rolls over and very painfully gets to his feet.]
Nigel: Why? Who’s the fat bastard’s stunt double?
Sumo: I am the only winner of the last Jekka Tatvi!
Nigel: Oh. Well. That’s interesting. I’m glad you told me. [smiles] I hate wasting non-entities.
[Nigel suddenly dives at the Sumo’s stomach with sickening force. The Sumo doesn’t so much as flinch, but Nigel staggers back, shaken and knackered.]
Nigel: [out of breath] Plan B.
Sumo: You’re an eleven year old boy whose loins have yet to feel the pull of gravity!
Nigel: Is that supposed to intimidate me? What? Are you relying on my moral code? You think I got into the Jekka Tatvi through connections? I put “criminally insane cannibal” in my career goals form!
Sumo: You’re not fooling me.
Nigel: No. I’m not.
[Nigel runs around and kicks at the back of the Sumo’s legs. He sways drunkenly but doesn’t fall, and Nigel shoulder-charges him from the back. The Sumo staggers and tries to turn to face Nigel, who grits his teeth and then slams the heel of his hand into the Sumo’s chin with truly sickening force. The Sumo, releasing his bo. Nigel kicks it away. He jumps onto the Sumo and flings three heavy punches onto Sumo. A long, long pause. And then the Sumo sits upright, knocking Nigel onto the floor. His meaty arms slam down on Nigel’s shoulders, pinning him in place.]
Sumo: I was prepared to simply beat you unconscious. But now you’ve pissed me off.
[Nigel looks worried. He crosses himself, so scared he starts speaking Italian.]
Nigel: [horrified] FAMIGLIA! PARDONA ME!!
[He makes the karma peace sign, and then plunges the fingers into the Sumo’s throat. Nigel grits his teeth and throws all his weight behind his arm. The Sumo’s hands start to shake slightly. The Sumo groans breathlessly. Nigel keeps his fingers jammed into the Sumo’s throat, slowly but surely pushing the huge foe backwards. He forces his other arm up, another two fingers in his assailant’s windpipe. The Sumo’s arms drop away. Nigel continues the pressure. The Sumo collapses backwards and lies still. Nigel pulls his hands free and stares at them in shock.]
Nigel: It works. Venusian Aikido ACTUALLY WORKS!
[His amazement is tempered as he sniffs the Sumo sweat and BO on his fingertips. He grimaces.]
Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen, idiots of all ages, the Jekka Tatvi 1997 has a winner!
[Suddenly the chamber is filled with light. Balloons and confetti fall. Lots of people rush out from all sides around the astonished Nigel. Photos are taken. A strange, distinctive golden trophy is handed to him by a cute black girl in a kimono with chopsticks in her hair. She kisses Nigel on the cheek. Nigel is totally taken aback by the sudden change. The first strains of Blur’s “Song Two” begin to play.]
[The ex-contestants watch the TV screens miserably. Andrew and Bernice are there also, with “LOSER” signs. Andrew is graffiti-ing his own so it now reads “I’M A LOSER BABY SO WHY DON’T YOU KILL ME?”, quite cheerful. As Nigel gets more applause, the others start to walk out.]
[Nigel is loving the attention. The song crashes into full volume and Nigel is singing it...]
Nigel: [vo] WOO-HOOO!
[A banner appears at the bottom saying “VERKOFF VOCALS PRESENTS: NIGEL’S NINETIES COVERS – Unbelievable, Even Better Than The Real Thing, Boom Shake the Room!, Kiss By A Rose, 500 Miles, The Sign, All I Wanna Do, Weather With You, Gangsta’s Paradise, I Do It For You, Wonderwall, 21st Century Digital Boy, Trouble, the Macarena, and many, many more...”]
[A newspaper spins into view. It reads ABORIGINAL RAISED BY JAPANESE WINS CLICHED VIOLENT GAME SHOW. Another reads FIRST AUSTRALIAN TO WIN JEKKA TATVI!. Another: A COMPLETE NIGEL!]
Nigel: [vo] I got my head checked by a jumbo jet!
[A news broadcast. The background has an image of Nigel and a caption MARTIAL ARTS EXPERT. The news cuts to an interview outside the building, where Nigel is surrounded by media and family. As the interview goes on, Kenji, Akiro and Bernice walk away, leaving Nigel alone with Andrew.]
Nigel: [vo] It wasn’t easy but nothing is! WOO-HOO!
[Nigel is being interviewed in a Sunrise TV show. We cut to him taking part in some food competition, with him tasting cakes. They are completely vile. He retches.]
[Times Magazine has a cover of Nigel and the words WHO DOES THIS PRICK THINK HE IS?! Then Who Magazine has Nigel on the cover with KNIFE’S EDGE: NIGEL VERKOFF’S DICE WITH DEATH. A Woman’s Weekly has an image of Jason and WE’RE BEST FRIENDS NOW!]
Nigel: [vo] WOO-HOO! WOO-HOO!
[An episode of Good News Week. Nigel is one of the guests on Mikey’s team. A Rage broadcast, with Nigel as the guest presenter. A rather sophisticated-looking chat show with a circular couch, a black studio. There is a suited host, a hippie woman, a fat priest in glasses, Nigel and a politician. Nigel looks bored rigid and mocks the priest. Much laughter from the audience.]
Nigel: [vo] WOO-HOO! WHEN I FEEL HEAVY METAL!
[A poster of Nigel spinning a basketball on his finger. A billboard with Nigel and a running shoe – THE FOOTWEAR TO WIN THE JEKKA TATVI. A clothing shop. There are several T-shirts with Nigel’s face and “THE BIG N” logo, or “I LIKE IT!”.]
Nigel: [vo] WOO-HOO! AND I’M PINS AND NEEDLES!
[A fashion parade has some of the models wearing bleached dreadlocks and shades like Nigel.]
[We finally reach Nigel in a recording studio, as he is singing “Song Two”.]
Nigel: WELL I LIE THAT I’M EASY ALL OF THE TIME
AND I AM NEVER SURE WHY I NEED YOU...
[A CD is stacked in shelves...]
Nigel: [vo] PLEASED TO MEET YOU!
[The Yang dining table. Andrew, Bernice, Kenji, Akiro and Jose are eating takeaway. Nigel enters the room. Suddenly, only Andrew is sitting there. Nigel sighs.]
[Nigel is at a car dealership with Togi. Nigel directs the salesman to a car that will one day be known as Wynona. At the moment it lacks the flames up the side or the painting of Nigel on the bonnet. Moments later, Togi is driving the car while Nigel lolls in the back seat, eating a bunch of grapes.]
[Nigel is brooding over an exam paper in a hall. We pull out to see so are the rest of his siblings. We pull out further. Andrew has his feet up on his desk, listening to a walkman that is clearly playing Nigel’s cover version. Andrew bobs his head along with the beat.]
[The group leave the hall with other students. There are journalists taking photos. Disgusted, Bernice walks off with the others. Andrew follows them this time.]
[Nigel playing golf. He keeps missing the ball. We pull back. The rest of the family are having a picnic as far away from him as possible.]
[New Idea Magazine: THE BIG N – WHY MY FAMILY IS JEALOUS! with a pissed-off Nigel on the cover. Another magazine, Take Five, VERKOFF: A TERRIBLE EGO? AKIRO YANG SPEAKS OUT! Then the Big Issue THIS JOKE HAS GOTTEN OLD ALREADY with a photo of Andrew.]
[The Archibalds. Nigel presents an award to a mad, feral type guy with a dirty afro. Behind them is the winning painting – that Bosch-esque image of the Devil with Nigel growing out of his arse.]
[New Year’s Eve. Fireworks explode across the sky above Sydney Harbor. Cut to a balcony where Nigel is getting snogged by some seriously hot girls in a party mood. Pull out to see he’s actually a guest news anchor for a station and clearly supposed to be doing some kind of reporting. He flicks a V-sign at camera and takes a glass of champagne.]
[The music fades out as Togi (driving Wynona) heads through the city towards a high school by a lake.]
Nigel: And it was such a good start to the year too.
[Sitting in the back are Nigel and Andrew, dressed in a school uniform (Nigel is neat, Andrew is shaggy and indifferent). Andrew is looking out the window. Nigel is looking embarrassed.]
Nigel: Five months of being a media darling, a national treasure, a...
Andrew: [nods] A bit part in the Matrix.
Nigel: That too. Two albums, a self-help book entitled The Singing Bachelor’s Guide to Australasia, my own range of fashion-ware, a guest-role in an issue of Greener Pastures, that Denton interview... I even managed to get Mother to finally dump you onto one of her social worker friends and out of the house.
Andrew: Hey, I’m only here because your mum wanted me ridden to school for the first day.
Nigel: I know all that, whatever your name is! My point is you shouldn’t be going to same school as me! Heavens above, what is our education system coming to when they think a school suitable for my intellect would ever sully its hands with you!
Andrew: Or visa versa.
[A beat as Nigel realizes he’s been insulted.]
Nigel: Oh, VERY amusing. I suppose you got a perfect score doing the School Certificate then?
Andrew: No, but recreating the original proof for Einstein’s theory of relativity in the margins helped.
Nigel: It’s so unfair. I’ve had to put up with you for five months and now this!
Andrew: “Put up with”? Weeks went by with you not being at home!
Nigel: I had a busy schedule.
Andrew: I know, I just wish it was busier. And it’s not as if you were particularly easy to live with.
Nigel: Oh, go on, get your petty envy off your hairy chest.
Andrew: Is there a single brother or sister that doesn’t hate your guts?
Nigel: [shrugs] I never really liked them that much. Bit shocked about Benny though.
Andrew: She refuses to be in the same room as you.
Nigel: I know! The way she’s acting, it was like I deliberately set her up so I could win the Jekka Tatvi when it was a complete fluke! There’s video evidence!
Andrew: Yeah. But you DID do that Today Tonight special where you told the country you DID set her up and everything else was a cunning ploy.
Nigel: Bah. Left-wing subversive bias. I sorted the whole business out on Media Watch, didn’t she see that?
Andrew: I don’t think anyone did.
Nigel: No, don’t blame them. That new Ken Park thing looks like a flash in a pan.
Andrew: South Park, you peroxide pillock, not Ken Park.
Nigel: Ooh, more pedantacism, how I have missed it.
Andrew: It’s “pedantry”, actually.
[Nigel growls in annoyance.]
[Nigel and Andrew are walking into the school, both carrying backpacks. Students are milling around, talking and laughing.]
Nigel: I suppose, as secondary education colleges go, it could be worse.
Andrew: That mean you’re NOT going to burn this one down?
Nigel: Which brings me neatly onto my second point. SHUT THE FUCK UP! [calmer] I might be trapped in this early-maniac-architecture nightmare for the rest of the century, but I have no obligation to put up with you, understand? As far as I’m concerned, you can go suck on a hamster. I don’t want you WITH me, I don’t want you FOLLOWING me, in fact, I never want to clap my beautiful eyes on you ever again. Is that understood? So wander off and find something you can convince yourself is more interesting than me! I know it’s an impossible task but...
[Nigel breaks off as he realizes he is alone. Andrew wandered off a while ago and is now over at the canteen, chatting through the window to the lady serving students. Nigel huffs.]
Nigel: ...you’ll just have to do your best. Whatever. Not my problem. Now, where’s the Principal’s office?
[Nigel strides off with purpose, waving occasionally at some of the students that point at him, recognizing him from off TV. Andrew continues to talk to the dinnerladies.]
Lunch Lady: ...we’re not offering jobs.
Andrew: I’m really not fussed about the pay at all, honestly. I couldn’t care less. I rather like the idea of the service industry. Feeding the grateful student body. I could be up there with the noble Escoffier, Careme, Brillat Savarin... the noble [trails off] actually what IS my last name? I totally forget.
Lunch Lady: Look, I don’t think I can help you.
Andrew: I’ll work for free. I do a mean Belon oysters, my pâté de fois gras de Strasbourg en croute isn’t bad and I am positively amazing when it comes to ham-and-cheese toasties. OK, I’ll level with you. I just want to get out of Maths. I can’t stand it. And it’s looks like you have a lot more fun in there than the algebra...
Lunch Lady: Sorry.
Andrew: [sighs] Oh all right. Give us a bottle of 7up will you? Thanks.
[He pays her and, dejected, crosses to an abandoned table next to the canteen and sits atop it. He puts the bottle on the table next to him and looks around the school miserably.]
Andrew: Only another six years.
[Absently, he picks up a bottle of 7up and swigs from it. He pauses. Why is his bottle suddenly open? And how did he pick it up from the other side of the table? And why is the soft drink so revolting? Andrew spits it out and retches. There is a nasty taste in his mouth. He looks at the other side of the table where his unopened 7up bottle is. He looks at the one he’s holding, noticing it’s got a bit of hose pipe stuck into it with a metal filter on the end.]
Andrew: [incredulous] Is this a fully-loaded bong I see before me?!
[Andrew looks up. A teacher is standing not too far away, glaring at him.]
Andrew: You’re putting two and two together, aren’t you? I can tell by the expression on your face...
[Principal’s Office. A rather small and neat office open onto a courtyard garden. A tired-looking woman principal is moving through a pile of paper work as Nigel rabbits on.]
Nigel: ...I mean, think of all the disruption it would prevent. First day of school and everyone’s going on and on about ME. [happy] Oh yeah. This way everyone’s on the same page, no confusion, we can all get on with our lives. And I’m sure Rove won’t mind if I big the school up when I’m the next guest. Whattayasya?
Principal: [way too busy to care] Whatever, Nigel. Excuse me.
[She rises and hurries off, very busy. Nigel’s a bit put out.]
Nigel: Um. OK. I think I preferred Sylvester McCoy... at least he cared.
[Nigel crosses to a microphone set up on the wall and starts fiddling with it.]
Nigel: Now, amplifier... amplifier...
[Andrew enters, carrying the bong.]
Andrew: ...I can explain everything! One of the teachers here tried to sell me drugs, and here is the evidence! Don’t listen to a word that lying bastard says...
Nigel: Oh, what is it now? Are you stalking me?
Andrew: No. You just have an annoying knack of being wherever I go. What are you doing?
Nigel: The Voice of God, my hillbilly annoyance, the Voice of God...
[The school. Everyone looks up as the P.A. system crackles into life.]
Nigel: [vo] Salutations, my fellow students, on this, the first day of high school! We are all heading towards a new and exciting future as the millennium draws to a close and the Olympics loom on the horizon. I just wish to make it clear that I, Nigel Verkoff – also known as the Big N, winner of last year’s Jekka Tatvi competition for the insanely dangerous hardcore and masculine awesomeness – am just like you, another new student adapting to a strange and unsettling new environment. Please treat me as a normal human being, albeit one with a huge media profile and first name terms with every newsreader in Sydney, and – yes, my autographs ARE highly sought-after collectables. For I am as you are. [hastily] Oh, and by the way, anyone who considers so much as breathing on my car, please look up “the Russian Kid Incident” on the internet and make your last will and testament beforehand. See you lot at assembly in the next ten minutes. This is the Big N, signing off. [sotto] How do you switch off this stupid fucking thi—
[Nigel finally switches off the microphone.]
Andrew: Making a good first impression, then?
Nigel: Start as you mean to go on, that’s my motto. Well, one of my mottos.
Andrew: Where’s the principal?
Nigel: [shrugs] No idea.
Andrew: But I need to explain this makeshift hookah! [waves bong] Talk about first impressions.
Nigel: [leaving] Do what I do in these situations?
Andrew: What? Act like a complete spastic and nearly kill yourself?
Nigel: [calls back] Destroy the evidence, dipstick!
[Andrew stares after him and then looks at the bong.]
Andrew: ...Why didn’t I think of that?!
[Andrew drinks all the bong water out of the bottle, gargles, burps, is nearly sick twice and shudders violently. He rips the hose bit out and stuffs it in his pocket. His eyes are struggling to stay in the same direction and he is starting to sway.]
Andrew: Oooooooooh... I like this. This is good. Who needs reality?
[He holds up the empty bottle and looks at it. It seems to melt and reform in his hand.]
Andrew: Oh yeah! You know, I think I could get to like it here. [frowns] Where am I again? Oh, [shudders with difficulty] totally tubular... yeah... destroy the evidence.
[He carefully crumples up the empty bong.]
Andrew: Where’s the recycling bin?
[Now very groggy, Andrew stumbles around the office, looking for somewhere to responsibly dispose of the plastic bottle. He fumbles and a fake filing cabinet front slides back to reveal a mini-bar. Andrew bugs out his eyes, inhales, closes one eye, opens it again.]
Andrew: Oooh. Bad principal. Alcohol on school property? Bad! Where was I? Oh yeah. Destroy evidence.
[He grabs the nearest bottle, flips off the lid and sucks it down. He clearly finds it delicious. Stopping, he grabs another bottle then sips that. Not so good. He drinks from both bottles at the same time. Better.]
Andrew: Six more years. [punches the air with joy] SIX MORE YEARS!
[Andrew overbalances and falls onto his back.]
[Outside, Nigel joins the throng of students passing the canteen and entering the assembly hall/gymnasium. Nigel smiles politely at the students who double take at his presence, clearly recognizing him. They enter the hall and start to fill the rows and rows of seats. On the stage ahead, teachers are similarly assembling around a lectern, including the harassed principal. Nigel sits down, slinging his backpack into his lap, yawning and getting comfortable. Then he freezes as he realizes who he has sat down next to.]
Nigel: Hello, Jason.
Jason: Nigel! My liege!
Nigel: I won’t bother to ask you what you’re doing here, because that would be clichéd and rather dense. But... WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE? How low are standards for this school they’ll just let anyone in? You can’t even spell school certificate!
Jason: Didn’t you see the news?
Nigel: Jase, baby, I *am* the news.
Jason: It was too much trouble for the government to get everyone into new schools. So, they decided to skip everyone from year five to year seven and make us all go to the same schools at once.
Nigel: You’re saying that entrance exam was a complete waste of time?
Jason: What entrance exam?
Nigel: [sighs] Oh, for the love of Natalie Imbruglia... On the bright side, I can take the high ground. Unlike the rest of you parasites, *I* took the hard way and passed!
Jason: [nods] And we just took the easy way and didn’t even worry about passing.
Nigel: [nods] That’s right. You utter bastards.
Jason: ...did Danny ever come back?
Nigel: [cold] Who?
Jason: You know, Danny? Danielle? Danielle Goodaker? Your girlfriend? The one who vanished at Hanging Rock when...
[Nigel backhands Jason, shutting him up. The principal clears her throat and addresses the crowds.]
Principal: [on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown] On behalf of the school I’d like to welcome our new intake of year sevens... our very large intake... which has forced me to work non-stop for the last four months to organize their entry into this school... and do they appreciate all the work I’ve put in? Do they? Does ANYONE have ANYTHING to say to me?!
[No one replies. Everyone is glancing at each other, wondering what she’s on about. The silence is broken as Andrew crashes noisily through the doors, completely pissed out of his head.]
Andrew: You IDIOT!
[Everyone stares at him as he stumbles towards the stage, mainly carried by his own momentum.]
Andrew: You call those traffic laws? Traffic corruptions more like... Just because you saw it happen doesn’t mean you care! You really don’t, do you? Oh, well, you know me well enough, don’t you! Go back to school to be pushed around there, that’s two steps forward one step back right there, that is!
[Andrew crashes into a wall, bounces off and turns around the face the audience.]
Andrew: [frowns] You’re talking to yourself, dude, that’s a sign of madness. Madness? Hah! I’ve finally wisened up, have I! Where did that get me, huh? Where did it get me! Living on pub scraps and dog biscuits and worst of all WORST OF ALL not being able to afford napisan to wash her blood out! Well, no more! This time, I’ll take the path most traveled!
[He falls over.]
Andrew: Hang on, which one am I again? I’m not sure. Hang on, this is just getting disturbing! I’m not schizophrenic! It’s not schizophrenia you tit, it’s multiple personality disorder! Oh, big words there, mate. Biiiiiiiiiig words! I don’t have justify myself to you!
[Andrew struggles to get to his feet, angrier and angrier.]
Andrew: Well there’s no one else round here, is there? They’re all dead or gone or... gone! You said gone twice. I’m still right! Now... grovel! “Grovel?” Grovel! I want to see you cry! You’re sounding incredibly kinky now, man. You HAD to be the one that had the last word!
[Andrew falls through a doorway leading behind stage.]
Andrew: [vo] Did we turn over two pages at once? If you had just shut your damn mouth and accepted someone else was right, then... Then what, you tedious asshole? THEN WHAT?
[Andrew stumbles out another doorway on the other side of the room, still shouting.]
Andrew: I’d end up arguing with myself in front of the whole school about something else?! That’s the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard. Oh, my heart bleeds. AND NOW IT’S GONNA BLEED A LOT MORE!!
[He manages to punch himself in the face several times, misses even more times and then falls onto the ground, face down.]
Andrew: You know, I think we should lay off the booze from now on. I think you might be right.
[He slumps, unconscious. A very, very long pause. Suddenly all the audience burst into wild applause and laughter. Andrew doesn’t move. Nigel looks generally pissed off at this development.]
[Playground. Andrew is now in a straightjacket, on a stretcher, being loaded into an ambulance. Several men with white coats are fussing over him. Teachers and students watch on, rather bewildered at this turn of events. Nigel folds his arms.]
Nigel: Well, that’s got rid of him. Now we can finally get on with our lives, right, Jase?
Jason: [firmly] Right! [uncertain] What?
Nigel: [sighs] Stop right there, Jason, you’re making me start to miss whatsisname...
NIGEL: The trouble with girls is that they can only lose their virginity ONCE...