In the meantime...
THE YOUTH OF AUSTRALIA
By EWEN CAMPION-CLARKE and DAMIAN SANCHEZ
The Dandy Warhol's "Boys Better" plays as Nigel finishes adjusting a portrait on the wall of his room. Said portrait is himself sprawled provocatively across a piano, a cocktail in hand and a cigar in the other.
NIGEL: Ah yes. One of my most restrained works.
Nigel crosses to an OAK milk vending machine crudely dumped in the corner and uses a coin on a string to get it to offer a malt chocolate bottle.
NIGEL: Yes. Things are finally improving for the Big N. No more insane next door neighbor in a high rise appartment of squallor and povety. No more dry bread sandwiches with cheese slices as the only reliable form of food. No more continual drug testings. Rent-free accomodation away from the hustle and bustle of city life. And a landlady under twenty with hairless armpits and a body worthy of my attention.
Nigel falls back onto his bright pink heart-shaped bed.
NIGEL: Oh yes, Nigel, old bean, things are looking up. What could possibly bring me down now?
Andrew pokes his head around the door.
ANDREW: Oi! What have I told you about leaving the bathroom like that?
NIGEL: [to himself] Oh yes, now I remember. I live with subhuman freaks.
ANDREW: Eve says if you try and leave love notes like that on the mirror in her lipstick, she'll start charging you for the waste of makeup.
NIGEL: She should be thanking me. At least I'm doing something useful with that whale blubber instead of smearing it on my lips!
ANDREW: Nigel, I can think of a dozen more things you could do with lipstick that would be more useful. Although possibly unhygenic. Now go and tidy up the bathroom.
Nigel rolls his eyes and gets to his feet.
NIGEL: Whatever. Like YOU ever wash that greasy lump of fat you call a body.
ANDREW: I'm not the one who complained. It's our landlady you so obviously have the hots for.
NIGEL: You have that backwards, Antoine.
ANDREW: [frowns] Wait. So I'm the landlady who obviously has the hots for complaints?
NIGEL: What? No. Wait... no. Look, just... SHUT UP!
DAVE: Typical. Our first night in a new place and you two are already arguing.
ANDREW & NIGEL: HE STARTED IT!
NIGEL: Oh, it's his fault. If he's stayed in that stupid coma I wouldn't have anyone to argue with.
ANDREW: Hey, if I hadn't been in that "stupid coma" - as you so CRUDELY put it - we wouldn't have got this place at all!
NIGEL: Andrew, are you thinking that you diving into traffic is somehow greater than MY incredible powers of charm and persuasion?
A long pause.
DAVE: Did you start writing love letters to Eve on the bathroom mirror again?
NIGEL: [clears throat] Maybe.
ANDREW: In her lipstick.
DAVE: Oh, Nige!
NIGEL: Shut up! Honestly! Who are you two to dare question how I behave around women? I had a dozen female relatives living in my home, not to mention my various girl-bitches. I know how to treat girls, unlike you!
ANDREW: I'm a complete gentlemen.
NIGEL: So was Jack the Ripper.
ANDREW: How dare you, sah! I never killed a prostitute! Lived with quite a few of them, admittedly, but never killed them...
NIGEL: And as for you, Dave, you've never lived with a woman of particularly high IQ, have you?
DAVE: Hey, Callisto's damn smart!
NIGEL: Yes, and when she hits puberty, you still won't be living with her, so my point stands, doesn't it? Fine, I'll go and clean the bathroom - a mundane task that clearly is far too much for you sub-morlocks to manage!
Nigel, in a huff, switches off his stereo and storms off. A pause.
DAVE: ...you lived with prostitutes?
ANDREW: Long story. Mostly dull.
Andrew turns and leaves. Dave boggles.
DAVE: Tell me anyway!
He runs after Andrew, then runs back and turns off the light. In the sudden gloom we can see someone standing at the window, and has been watching the whole thing.
Andrew crosses to the kitchen area. Dave follows.
ANDREW: Sorry, Dave. I've got dinner to make.
DAVE: Oh, come on, dude, you can't leave me hanging like that.
ANDREW: Funny, a lot of the punters at the brothel said something similar...
DAVE: Wait, you lived in a brothel?
ANDREW: Uh-huh. As the cook. Speaking of which.
Andrew starts sorting through cupboards.
ANDREW: What do you feel like, Dave?
DAVE: Like hearing the rest of the story. What was it like, living in a brothel?
ANDREW: Rather like living with you and Nigel, only slightly more mature and less estrogen. Now, I'm thinking a tomato risotto with tuna and parsely...
The doorbell chimes.
ANDREW: Get that would you, Dave?
Dave sighs and heads for the door to the hallway. Nigel emerges from the bathroom with lots of pink-stained toilet paper.
DAVE: ...I don't want to know.
NIGEL: I was cleaning the mirror, you sicko. And if you need tales of hardcore orgiastic sex, Restal, then I am your man.
DAVE: ...yeah. I think Andrew's stories would be more wholesome.
NIGEL: Wholesome is boring. Oh, one girl wanted to be a physicist but slept with guys to pay the rent. Oh, another needed to pay for her toddler's preschool fees. Another was just there for sisterhood. One time they all got together and delivered a baby. BORING! Did I ever tell you about Simone and the Scold's Bridle?
The doorbell rings again.
DAVE: Saved by the bell.
Dave runs out. Andrew looks up.
ANDREW: "Saved by the bell". What are you, an American sitcom?
NIGEL: Yeah, Restal! GET SOME SELF-RESPECT!
Dave approaches the front door. The doorbell rings.
DAVE: Yeah, yeah, I'm coming.
He presses the door control and it ch-chungs open to reveal a rather non-descript teenage girl in a heavy coat.
DAVE: Oh, hello.
GIRL: Yeah, hi. Is Larisa in?
GIRL: Larisa Oleynik, I thought she lived here?
DAVE: Um, no. Sorry. No one called that here.
The girl starts to leave. Dave stops her.
DAVE: But, you know, we just moved in today. She might have...
GIRL: [not listening] No worries.
She walks off. Dave sighs.
DAVE: Coulda worked better. Then again, could have been worse.
He shrugs, and turns around, hitting the door control. As the doors close, he does not see the girl watching him intently.
Andrew is still looking through cupboards as Nigel forces all the toilet paper into the bin. Dave returns and shouts up to the balcony above.
DAVE: Hey, Eve?
Eve, in a dressing gown, steps out and calls back down.
DAVE: Was there someone called Larisa living here?
EVE: No. No one's lived here, I told you.
She heads back into her room. Dave shrugs.
DAVE: I'm sure I know that name from somewhere.
NIGEL: Who was at the front door, anyway?
DAVE: Just some girl.
NIGEL: Ah, a groupie!
DAVE: No, NOT a groupie, Nige. She was after someone else. A girl, I think.
ANDREW: [sighs] It appears we've awoken the eldritch abomination that is Nigel's libido.
DAVE: Larisa's a girl's name, isn't it?
NIGEL: Oh yeah. Why?
DAVE: Larisa Oleynik. I'm sure I know that name from somewhere.
NIGEL: Larisa Oleynik? Sounds like a bit of a mouthful. [grins] Just the way I like them.
DAVE: Oh, shut up!
ANDREW: Yes, shut up! We need to head to that corner shop, we're completely out of parsley.
NIGEL: Like I care. Do it yourself.
ANDREW: You can drive.
NIGEL: Yes, I can drive. It's good you can remember these things. But I'm not going to. Get some exercise, fatso.
DAVE: Nige, he got hit by a car this morning!
NIGEL: I know, I was there. Just a pity he survived.
Andrew puts an arm around Nigel. Nigel flinches.
ANDREW: But Nigel. Just think of it. You, in Wynona, driving along, helping out an injured flatmate. That girl's probably still out there, waiting to be impressed by the Big N...
NIGEL: What pathetic and transparent manipulation. It is, however, effective. Let's get going. Alex Mack won't know what'll hit her.
ANDREW: So try and drive carefully.
NIGEL: Oh, har har.
Nigel and Andrew head for the exit.
ANDREW: Hey, Eve, we're going down the street.
DAVE: "Alex Mack"?
ANDREW: Yeah, you know. Larisa Oleynik. Start on the rice, will you, Dave?
Puzzled, Dave switches on the kettle and fills a pot full of rice.
DAVE: Alex Mack...
Nigel and Andrew leave the apartment and head down to Wynona.
NIGEL: Why don't we just order pizza instead of doing all this home-cooking business?
ANDREW: You wasted all the cash on decorating your room, remember? Besides, we're on the outskirts of suburbia. No pizzerias.
They enter the car.
NIGEL: Great. One uncivilized dystopia swapped for another.
ANDREW: Don't say it.
NIGEL: Say what?
ANDREW: Something like, "well, at least here, there's a fit Anglo girl I can shag".
NIGEL: I wasn't going to say that.
ANDREW: Close enough.
NIGEL: I am no mere charicature, Andrew.
ANDREW: Just drive, you two-dimensional lethario.
Nigel starts the engine.
NIGEL: I'm not obsessed with Eve.
ANDREW: Yeah. Right.
NIGEL: You're the one that leapt across the road the moment you clapped eyes on her.
ANDREW: Because she was going to get hit by a car!
NIGEL: Oh, like I've never used that excuse...
They drive off. The girl is standing in the shadows, watching them go. She crosses to the front door and presses the doorbell.
The kettle boils, bubbling so loudly the doorbell is muffled. Dave pours it into the pot and stirs the rice.
DAVE: Alex Mack... Alex Mack. I know this. I know this. Dammit, where is an internet connection when you need it?
He turns around in frustration and starts realizing Eve is right behind him. She's wearing a sleeveless white dress and looking beautiful.
DAVE: OH! Uh. Hey. Eve. Um. Yeah.
EVE: You OK?
DAVE: Me? Fine. You, ah, you look great. Really great. [absently] Is that a wedding dress?
EVE: [startled] No.
DAVE: Oh. Sorry.
He deliberately gives her some space.
DAVE: Been stuck with those two for ages, slightly out of practice, talking to... people.
EVE: Well, yeah, I'm kind of new at this too. You're the first people I've met outside a social function who don't work for me.
DAVE: We don't? Oh, well, we'll be happy to leave. First thing in the morning...
EVE: No, I mean, literally don't work for me. As servants or anything. It's... novel.
DAVE: Yeah. So's sharing a house with a girl my same age who's not related to me.
EVE: I don't make you nervous, do I?
DAVE: [sweating with fear] No way, Eve. Just... seriously, I am going to think of something incredibly intelligent and witty any day now to break the ice.
The doorbell rings.
DAVE: Oh thank god. Saved by the bell again.
He heads for the hallway. Eve follows.
EVE: Who could that be? Did you invite anyone?
DAVE: No. Oh, it's probably just Andrew and Nigel. Forgot something. Like their keys...
Eve and Dave head for the front door.
EVE: But we don't have keys. The hand-scanner reads palm-prints, remember?
She takes his hand.
EVE: We recorded yours this afternoon, remember?
Dave flinches out of her grasp.
DAVE: Yeah, well, those two are idiots.
Eve crosses to a monitor in the wall and presses a button. It lights up, showing the girl standing outside. She rings the doorbell again.
DAVE: Cool! CCTV!
EVE: Hey, it IS a safehouse.
DAVE: That's the girl who was here just a minute ago, looking for Larisa?
EVE: Who's Larisa?
Dave is about to reply when a loud slamming comes from the door. On the monitor, the girl can be seen angrilly punching and kicking the door.
EVE: What's her problem?
DAVE: [shrugs] She really wants to be let in.
EVE: [annoyed] Well, tough. I don't entertain people that rude. Let her break her hands on those doors if she's so angry!
The girl is going crazy and screaming on the image.
DAVE: Alex Mack. The Secret World of Alex Mack!
EVE: [confused] Who?
DAVE: TV show. Alex Mack... she's played by Larisa Orleynik! Why the hell would anyone knock on a door in Australia asking for some American actress from the 90s?
EVE: Same girl going crazy and trying to kick the door down?
DAVE: [frowns] She hasn't kicked it in a while, has she?
They both look at the monitor. The girl's disappeared.
DAVE: Where's she gone?
EVE: Don't open the door.
DAVE: [stressed] Of course I'm not going to open the door! I'm not stupid. She's quite obviously just hiding behind the camera or something, waiting to jump out the moment we open the door to investigate! I have watched TV you know!
EVE: [soothing] All right. Calm down.
DAVE: Sorry. It's just... freaky. Some random lady arriving out of nowhere and trying to smash their way into the place. We've only been here a few hours...
EVE: It's not so bad. You've stopped flinching whenever I talk to you?
DAVE: Oh. Yeah. Sorry. [awkward] There was this girl I used to know and, well, she dealt my love a savage blow and... My god, I'm quoting Split Endz.
EVE: [laughs] Relax. Like I said. Safehouse. Deadlocked on every door and window, plus a panic button. No one can get in.
DAVE: [nods] Yeah, unless they head in through the patio doors Andrew left open to watch the sunset.
EVE: [nods] Yeah, well, apart from that.
The penny drops. They both look worried.
The rice is still bubbling away. Dave and Eve rush back inside and look around. The sliding door to the backyard is wide open, darkness beyond. Cautiously they approach and then frantically slide the door shut and lock it.
EVE: That's it. Airtight. They can't get in now.
DAVE: They? She, you mean?
EVE: [shrugs] Figure of speech.
DAVE: This safehouse, was it meant for someone in particular? Protection from stalkers, or, the Mafia or something?
EVE: No. Just a housing scheme that went nowhere. Hey, we better tell the others.
DAVE: What? Oh, Andrew and Nigel.
EVE: Yeah, they've got a mobile, don't they?
DAVE: Wynona's got a carphone, I think.
They head over to a wallphone. A hand inches out from under the sofa - someone is hiding under the couch. Eve takes the reciever, frowns and taps the cradle.
EVE: It's not humming.
DAVE: It's connected, right?
EVE: It was yesterday... You don't think that girl cut the phone line, do you?
DAVE: How do you cut a phoneline nowadays? Must be just a problem with the local server or something.
EVE: But we've got to let Andrew and Nigel know about that freak outside. She might be dangerous.
DAVE: Might be? Yeah, well, I definitely don't want any strangers let in here...
Dave slumps into the sofa, his boots unwittingly stamping down on the hand. There is a muffled sob from under the sofa. Both he and Eve frown.
DAVE: Did you hear something?
A tense pause.
DAVE: No, me neither...
- to be continued...