[The door to Benny’s place is slammed open by a knackered-looking Nigel. Gabby follows him in.]
Nigel: [groans] Oh god, what a horrible experience that was. My brain feels like it’s been ripped out, dipped in lemon juice and then jammed back in the wrong way round.
Gabby: Yeah, I get that sometimes.
[They enter the kitchen. It’s a bit messy and deserted.]
Nigel: Oh, just typical. Benny said she’d be back before 3! Is washing up suddenly only my job?
[Gabby idly picks up some discarded clothing off the table and folds it neatly.]
Gabby: No, you make Maddog do it...
Nigel: Not now, Gabby, I’m being filled with righteous indignation and... hang on. [points] That’s her bag. She’s home, so where is she?
Gabby: Maybe she went straight to bed?
Nigel: [concerned] At 2 in the afternoon? I hope she’s not sick.
Gabby: [worried] Well, the first thing she did when she came home was take off all her clothes...
Nigel: [worried] She must have a fever! Cryptosperidium! “Boil the water!” How many times do I have to say it, huh? How many times?
[Nigel hurries into the hallway. Gabby picks up a pair of trousers keen-eyed viewers would recognize as Ari’s. She frowns.]
Gabby: Ari must have caught it off her too...
[There is the sound of a door opening, and very loud, lustful bonking taking place. Then the door closes. Nigel returns, looking more tired and depressed than before.]
Nigel: Well. THAT was over a decade of hard work down the drain.
Gabby: Oh. She and Ari are doing the mummy-and-daddy-dance, are they?
Nigel: [sighs] If you mean “are they screwing like rabbits on Viagra” then, yes, Gabrielle, they are. Honestly. They’ve just had to do an English exam and now they’re banging like dunny doors in cyclones? Did they find that stupid David Malouf some kind of aphrodisiac or something?
Gabby: I dunno. You know how, if you just nearly die, you wanna get lucky?
Nigel: [nods absently] “Glad To Be Alive Sex”.
Gabby: [shrugs] Maybe that’s it.
Nigel: What? “Glad To Have Done An Essay On Sexism In Communist China Sex”?
Gabby: Why not?
Nigel: Why not? They shouldn’t be inserting various body parts into each other, they should be revising, recuperating, focusing their energies for tomorrow which, in case no one else remembers, we all have ANOTHER exam. But no. It’s contemptible, Gabby. UTTERLY CONTEMPTIBLE.
[He folds his arms, huffing. A pause.]
Gabby: You wanna...?
Nigel: [no hesitation] Yeah, might as well.
[They head for Nigel’s room.]
Nigel: Don’t bother with the wig and accent this time, it’ll just be unrealistic...
[Caption: THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. Outside the school. Dave is babbling.]
Dave: Look, you have absolutely no right to do this to me! I am an Australian citizen, dammit! I have rights!
[We pull out to see Katy, Harry and Tegan are holding him back. Andrew is opening a bottle of VB.]
Andrew: You’ll thank me for this one day, Restal.
Dave: No I damn well won’t! I’ll curse you for all eternity! Your blood will turn to ice and you’ll be dead within the week! DON’T YOU BLOODY DARE...
[Andrew drains the entire bottle in one go.]
Andrew: Word of advice, Dave. Never dare me. Can never resist a challenge.
[He cracks open another bottle and starts drinking.]
Dave: Hey, those are mine! I paid for those!
[Still drinking, Andrew pulls out a fistful of notes and stuffs them in Dave’s coat pocket.]
Dave: ...no, no, no!
Katy: Dave. Seriously. You’re gonna flunk everything if you keep getting wasted.
Dave: At least I have an excuse! I can pretend I might have passed if I was sober...
Tegan: Well, you are sober. So now you will.
Dave: Oh, don’t give me that.
[Andrew finishes the bottle and drinks another one.]
Dave: No one’s going to pass this! Or if they do, it won’t matter, anyway...
Harry: So if it doesn’t matter, why do you want to be drunk?
Dave: This is so unfair. About to do 2 Unit Maths and you’re asking deep philosophical conundrums!
Andrew: [opens a new bottle] Good thing you’re not drunk, otherwise you wouldn’t have a chance...
Tegan: [frowns] Um, Maddog...
Tegan: Andrew. Are you really going to drink all of those?
Andrew: [finishes bottle] Waste of good beer otherwise.
Katy: But YOU’RE going to be completely drunk and fail the exam.
Andrew: [serenely] Katikins, trust me. I have a plan.
[Gymnasium. Andrew sits slumped at his table, peering blearily at his test, barely conscious. Everyone except him is already working away at their answer booklets, tapping away at their calculators.]
Andrew: [slurred] ...maybe half a plan.
[He stares at the question. It blurs in and out of focus. Andrew grabs his left eyelids with his hands and forces them wide open. It doesn’t help. The question sits before him. And he has absolutely no idea how to solve it. He rolls his head around, looking around the gym for inspiration. There is none. He lets his head hang forward in defeat.]
Andrew: [increasing volume] Hey. Hey! HEY! HEYYY!!!!
[Suddenly Andrew leaps from his seat and sprint for the exit.]
Andrew: AND AS WE WIND ON DOWN THE ROAD!
[He wrenches open his bag, pulls out a text book and runs back to his table as everyone watches him in amazement.]
Andrew: OUR SHADOWS TALLER THAN OUR SOULS!
THERE WALKS A LADY WE ALL KNOW!
[He starts to check the textbook and starts writing the answers.]
Andrew: WHO SHINES WHITE LIGHT AND WANTS TO SHOW
HOW EVERYTHING TURNS TO GOLD...
[He stops abruptly.]
[The examiner rushes over as Andrew continues to very blatantly cheat in front of everyone.]
Andrew: [tapping out at calculator] AND IF YOU LISTEN VERY HARD!
[The examiner tries to grab the text book, but Andrew slams his arm down over it, pinning it to the table as he continues to write.]
Andrew: THE TUNE WILL COME TO YOU AT LAST!
[The examiner tries to haul it free, but Andrew continues to hold it down, managing to flip over the answer booklet so he can write on the other side.]
Andrew: WHERE ALL IS ONE AND ONE IS ALL...
[The examiner dives behind Andrew, wraps his arms around the chair and bodily drags him away from the table. Andrew struggles but is finally torn free.]
Andrew: TO BE A ROCK AND NOT TO ROLL...
[Andrew tries to escape the chair and finally manages it with a horrible ripping noise, as his jeans are torn from his legs as the examiner tried to cling onto them. A gasp from the others, as Andrew is now wearing a singlet and his undies. He arches an eyebrow at the others.]
Andrew: Don’t you people have something better to do?
[Later. The bell rings. The students are leaving. On the stage area, Andrew sits, regarding his ruined jeans sadly. The examiner stands before him, a huge stack of answer booklets on the table. Andrew’s answer booklet sits beside the stack.]
Andrew: You ruined my jeans. I demand compensation! Can you sew?
Examiner: You think this is some kind of joke?
Andrew: No way, I’m completely serious. I love these jeans!
Examiner: You have ruined this exam and clearly cheated. You should be disqualified from the HSC altogether!
[Andrew glares at him.]
Andrew: Do you know who I am?
Andrew: Seriously. Do you have ANY idea who you’re talking to?
Examiner: [annoyed] No, I don’t! And I don’t care who you are!
Andrew: You don’t even know my name?
Andrew: [psycho grin] Oh, GOOOD!
[Andrew suddenly flings out an arm and smacks the pile of answer booklets, and they cascade in a tide across the table and onto the floor. Andrew’s booklet is lost in the heap.]
Andrew: Means you won’t know which is mine, then, doesn’t it?
[Smiling, Andrew gathers his jeans, bounces to his feet and hops away. The examiner stares at the pile of papers, a lost expression on his face.]
[Outside the school. Nigel, Gabby and Jason are heading for the car-park.]
Nigel: Maddog by name, mad dog by nature. Thank god I don’t have any more subjects with that loser. He can’t ruin any more exams for me... Speaking of losers, where were you yesterday Jase?
Jason: Mmm. Oh, nowhere.
Nigel: [frowns] “Nowhere, my liege.”
Jason: [annoyed] No. Where. My. Liege.
Nigel: Better. [takes out mobile] You seen Betty lately?
Jason: No, my liege.
[Nigel unlocks Wynona, dialing a number.]
[Betty’s bedroom. She’s lying on her bed, hands behind her head, glaring up at the ceiling. “Ready to Go” blares from a CD player. Her mobile rings. Seeing “NIGEL V” displayed on the screen, she blocks the call and returns to frowning at the roof.]
[Nigel joins the others inside his car.]
Nigel: She’s screening her calls! The bitch! What’s brought that on?
Gabby: Maybe she wants to concentrate on revising?
Nigel: Betty couldn’t revise her opinion, let alone HSC texts. Why is she blanking me?!
Jason: Well, you WERE really horrible to her the last week of school...
Nigel: Yes, and she plastered 200 offensive images of me all across the front of the school and then poisoned me! Three days I spent throwing up... She’s still bearing a grudge?
Gabby: Why did you want to ring her?
Nigel: Oh, I thought I could get her to join Yellow Fever and How To Cure It. Jadi’s missing and we need a bass player stat.
Gabby: I didn’t know Betty could play bass.
Nigel: She can’t. But then, neither could Jadi...
[Jason gives a creepy smile.]
Jason: I could do it, my liege.
Nigel: You? I thought you hated music, Jase.
Jason: [creepily fawning] But I am always willing to help, my liege. To be your confidante. Your supporter. Your principal betrayer.
[Nigel is fiddling with his phone and not paying him full attention.]
Nigel: Cymbal player? No, Harry’s doing the percussion. But I suppose if I can’t get Bets involved then... [phone is answered] Hello? Simone? Hi, the Big N here. Last exam on Friday, and Yellow Fever has got a gig at that new place off Castlereigh Street for the grand unveiling...
[The boardroom. Simone’s phone is plugged into a speaker. We zoom out to see Simone and Magnus are present, as is the Sinister Woman.]
Nigel: [vo] ... not as epic as I’d like for the last ever day of school, but needs must as the crow flies and all that bollocks. Things are so desperate it looks like Jase will be on base... hey, that rhymes... Anyway. You up for it? There’s going to be rivers of booze and at least one hunky shop assistant you can entwine in your thighs before midnight?
Simone: [quietly] I’ll think about it.
Nigel: [vo] Oh, I’m sure you will, you dirty girl! See you on Friday, babe! Ciao.
[Magnus reaches out and switches off the phone.]
Magnus: Oh Nigel, how relentlessly predictable. And with not one but two of his allies against him, I think we’ll make Friday night Nigel’s... farewell performance.
Simone: From the music industry?
[Magnus stares at her, confused at her lack of understanding.]
Magnus: From life itself.
[Caption: FRIDAY AFTERNOON. The school bell rings. A smaller number of students than before leave the gymnasium, as this is the last exam for specific classes. Nigel heads straight for the carpark without so much as glancing at any of the others. Katy sits on the wall, waiting to get a lift from her mum. She looks up as Nigel passes.]
Katy: Not going to say goodbye to anyone, then?
Nigel: [briskly] Places to go, people to see, things to do. That lot will be fine, get jobs somewhere, live our their boring and tedious lives and no doubt our paths will cross again. Not everyone can live the incredibly exciting and incandescent life I lead, after all.
Katy: Certainly not with the same amount of modesty.
[Nigel unlocks Wynona and climbs inside.]
Nigel: I could lie and say I’ll miss you, Pettanko, but we both know there was never anything to miss.
[Katy self-consciously folds her arms.]
Katy: Nice to know you’re not superficial, Nigel.
Nigel: Be fair, January. I might have looked past that if you had a nice personality, but...
[He laughs cruelly, starts the car and roars off.]
Katy: [mutters] Jerk. I’m not insecure. And if I was it’d take more than him to make me insecure. [sighs] And while I’m in denial I might as well ask for a pony that jump rainbows...
[Simone is driving down a suburban road. She turns left into the street where Benny lives. Andrew is in the park, throwing textbooks like Frisbees for his dog to catch. Simone parks outside Benny’s place, gets out of the car, shoves something into the letter box and then dives into the car and drives off. Andrew watches her go. Then he shrugs and goes back to playing with his dog.]
[Nigel is walking down a different street. He stops at a house and rings the doorbell. A few moments later, the door opens. It’s Betty. She takes one look at Nigel and then slams the door in his face.]
Nigel: Aw, come on!
[Nigel rings the doorbell again.]
Betty: [vo] Go away!
Nigel: I’m here to apologize!
Betty: [vo] Not interested!
Nigel: In an Aborigine apologizing? Don’t you get the irony?!
Betty: [vo] I don’t want to talk to you!
Nigel: Why not?
[Betty opens the door and peers around the edge.]
Betty: Because you’re a mean, selfish, paranoid tosser who cares about no one except yourself and you’ve been bullying me and Jason since day freaking one!
Nigel: Am I bullying you now?
Betty: You want something.
Nigel: Yeah. To apologize. Come on, Bets, it was the last week of school. I was tense. I didn’t mean to shout at you... OK, I did. But if I’d realized it would upset you like this... Sorry, babe.
Betty: Apology NOT accepted.
Nigel: Why not?!
Betty: It’s just a game you’re playing with me...
Nigel: No game, girl. Look, Betty, you want honesty here? Fine. You’re a naive, gullible, easily-pleased girl who’s just slightly too overweight to look normal and you are, without doubt, the worst shag I have ever had in my entire life. You could convert guys to being gay, simply by your empty-headed animalistic stupidity suggesting your parents are a wombat and an ancient Greek God!
[The door opens and Betty promptly punches Nigel on the jaw, flooring him.]
Betty: SO WHY ARE YOU APOLOGIZING?!
Nigel: [spits blood] Because I like you. You’re my friend. And it doesn’t matter if your IQ isn’t in triple figures, or if pandas master foreplay better than you. You’re a good person. I’ve been alive for sixteen years, give or take. I haven’t met many good people. Even fewer were my friends.
[He gets to his feet.]
Nigel: So, when my one friend who is a good person is upset, I HAVE to apologize. So agendas, Bets. I’m not after anything from you except being mates. And if you don’t want to, then, well... my bad.
Betty: [quiet] We had some good times, didn’t we, Nige?
Nigel: Of course we did. Do you need to be reminded of them or something? Yellow Fever are doing a concert tonight. You don’t HAVE to turn up. But I’d like you to.
Betty: Kinda busy.
Betty: You believe me, then?
Nigel: [sighs] It’s so long since I trusted someone.
Betty: I do it all the time.
Nigel: I don’t recommend it.
Betty: But you trust me?
Nigel: Never said I was perfect. Just EXTRAORDINARILY close to it.
Nigel: You’re definitely not coming?
Betty: Is that an invitation?
Nigel: Actually, it was a question.
Betty: No. I think you’ll be all right without me.
Nigel: Full of possibilities?
Betty: [smiles] Full of something. See you round.
Nigel: Bye, Elizabeth.
[He kisses her gently on the cheek, then turns and walks off. Betty watches him go.]
Betty: [calls after him] Hey, I didn’t say I accepted the apology.
Nigel: [over his shoulder] How many times do I have to say sorry?
Betty: I’ll let you know!
[He laughs, waves goodbye, and climbs into Wynona.]
[Boardroom. Magnus is watching a clock on the wall.]
Magnus: Not long now. Not long...
[Nigel parks Wynona outside Benny’s place. He enters the house.]
[Benny’s kitchen. A pop as Ari opens a bottle of champagne and pours it into some glasses. The kitchen is full of his friends, and some girlfriends of Benny, who is talking animatedly on the house phone. Gabby leans against the fridge, frowning and reading Simone’s postcard.]
Benny: [into phone] I know! Mum, I... well, surely you can come back before Christmas? But we can’t do it without you! And we’ve got to get everyone together...
[Nigel enters, mildly surprised at all the people and the party atmosphere. He takes a glass of champagne and turns to Gabby, while smiling and nodding at a few of the guests.]
Nigel: Bit formal for a post-HSC party, isn’t it?
Gabby: [worried] It isn’t about the HSC, it’s an engagement party.
Nigel: Engagement? But who...?
[He sees that Ari is getting a pat on the back from a couple of his mates. And then the expensive-looking ring around Benny’s finger as she talks on the phone. The life seems to drain out of Nigel quietly.]
Ari: Hey, it’s the future-brother-in-law! How was your exam for Business Studies?
Nigel: [absently] Pure bliss in comparison. [stares at him] You’re marrying Beriniko?
Ari: [grins] I have that IMMENSE honor, Nigel. Hey [sotto] you want to be the best man?
Nigel: [offended] WANT to be the Best Man? I’m a better man than YOU, ya gonad...
Ari: [laughs] Best man at the wedding, Nigel. I mean, I’ve got offers piling up but I think it’d mean a lot to Benny if you were the one who...
[Nigel crosses to Benny who’s still on the phone.]
Benny: [to phone] Hang on, mum. [to Nigel] Guess you know then, huh?
[For a moment Nigel looks almost broken, then he smiles.]
Nigel: Congrats, big sis. You got enough nerve to wear white?
[She playfully belts him.]
Benny: Mum’s on the phone. You wanna say hi?
Nigel: [thinks] Bit busy. Send her my love.
Benny: Will do.
[She goes back to the phone. Nigel heads for the exit, then pauses and zeros in on Ari.]
Nigel: You hurt her in any way shape or form that I arbitrarily decide fits MY definition of “hurt”, and it doesn’t matter where you go – what I do to you will be the stuff of internet fan-fiction.
Ari: Ah, you too, huh? Your mum already said if I break her heart, I will be declared a sex offender in every country on the planet, and her sisters said they’ll break my face if I break her heart. Oh, Kenji settled just for breaking my legs, and your brothers threatened to beat me to death with a shovel.
Nigel: That would just hurt you physically. What I would do to you would make Hieronymous Bosch shit himself with terror and... [sighs] you don’t know who Hieronymous Bosch is, do you?
Nigel: [sighs] Later.
[Gabby rushes over to him.]
Gabby: Nigel, this came for you in the mail. This is serious...
[Nigel takes the postcard. It is of a city department store. On the back has been typed out IF YOU ATTEND THE CONCERT TONIGHT YOU WILL DIE.]
Nigel: Meh. Like I’m suddenly going to become immortal if I stay at home?
[He throws it away.]
Gabby: It’s a death threat, Nige!
Nigel: I’ve been dead before. Briefly. And possibly in hell. Look, Gabby, I need a bite of fresh air. Tomorrow we’ll be laughing uncontrollably about this as we prepare for Schoolies’ Week.
[Nigel strides out. Gabby looks in no way reassured.]
[Nigel storms out of the house. Andrew is leaning against the fence, smoking and looking down at the suburbs they live in.]
Andrew: You look cheerful.
[Nigel kicks the fence furiously.]
Nigel: I can’t believe it! Beriniko Yang and that, that failed result of forced intercourse with farm animals are actually going to get married!
Andrew: So? Didn’t she let you be the bridesmaid or something?
[Nigel turns to face Andrew, clenching his fists and clearly torn between punching the hobo or shouting at him. Finally he settles for ripping the cigarette from his mouth, hurling it to the ground and stamping on it. A pause as they both look at the stub for a moment. Then Andrew shrugs, plucks a fresh cigarette from behind his ear and lights up.]
Nigel: After all I’ve done for her. All I’ve endured. And she goes and...
Andrew: ...finds someone who makes her happy in every possible way and gives her life meaning. [shakes head in disgust] Selfish cow.
Nigel: She’s just hormonal and overwrought. She’s still in puberty, damn it! She can’t be trusted to make life decisions like that!
Andrew: And yet, somehow, she does...
Nigel: I can’t believe this. She and that vacuous youth are already knocking each other off, you know.
Andrew: [rolls eyes] Know about it? Nige, I’ve started needing ear-plugs.
Andrew: For my dog. He thought there was a pack of wild dingoes having a fight in your place.
Nigel: [chuckles] I think you’ll find that that was actually ME and Gabby. [wistful] Damn it, we are so good in bed that even the neighbors have a cigarette.
[Andrew starts to reply, notices the cigarette in his hand, sighs, and stomps it out.]
Andrew: So, you still going to be in this little commune once they’re man and wife?
Nigel: Not bloody likely, you hirsute spastic. I mean, having to put up with their permanent lovie-duvvie sickeningly sweet excess... constantly rubbing my faces in the fact that that, that, that Philippino WARTHOG gets to bury his face in my big sister whenever he damn wants?!
Andrew: [grimaces] Eww. Dude, too much info.
Nigel: [still ranting] That he can caress her perfect bosom ON DEMAND?!
Andrew: You ever worry about Akiro’s love life to this degree?
Nigel: [not listening] If they think I’m going to hang around to be humiliated like that...
Andrew: ...in exactly the way you have been for the last two years...
[Nigel gives Andrew a wistful “I So Wish To Beat You To Death” look.]
Nigel: ...then they’ve got another thing coming. I don’t have to put up with this.
Andrew: Ah. I always knew our gentle bonhomie would end one day. You’re going to move out then?
Nigel: If it gets me away from you once and for all, I’ll be glad of it.
Andrew: [nods] Yeah, it is strange how our destinies continually collide amidst the pattern of infinity.
Nigel: Yeah. Strange. Whatever. I’ll start packing my stuff after the concert. By morning I will be out of here.
Andrew: [shrugs] Good for you. [looks at him] You’ll be back in a week.
Nigel: Don’t bet your life on it.
[Nigel starts to walk away.]
Andrew: Oh, before you go...
Nigel: [calls over shoulder] What?
Andrew: Little present for you.
[Andrew chucks Nigel a small parcel in newspaper. Nigel neatly catches it and tears it open.]
Nigel: [disgusted] What is this?!
Andrew: It’s a lucky rabbit’s foot.
Nigel: [nauseous] You sure this didn’t drop off that mongrel leper dog of yours?
Andrew: Oi! That’s a hundred per cent pure rabbit, that is!
Nigel: What the hell is this for?
Andrew: Oh, I dunno. What do you think a lucky rabbit foot is for? [rolls eyes] Luck, maybe?!
Nigel: As far as totally useless objects go, I wouldn’t even deem this worthy of being a paper weight! So it will be the perfect comparison to you, if nothing else!
[He turns and hurls the rabbit foot into the air. It drops out of sight behind a fence and there is a shout of pain. Nigel, worried, legs it. Andrew just sighs.]
Andrew: Such a child. [shouts] Hey, mister, can I have me paperweight back?
- to be concluded...