Chamber: [vo] Please, don't do this! I beg you! It's not worth it! It will never work! There is no such thing as a winning streak, no dead cert - the only certainty is that you'll lose everything in the end!
[Dave gets annoyed and finally looks at Chamber, who is kneeling next to the ATM in a ridiculous Victorian sailing outfit, like Donald Duck. He holds a huge plastic lollypop and sobbing unconvincingly.]
Chamber: How much of our lives have you destroyed already with this addiction? Do some dice and an illuminated poker display mean more than your family? How can you live like this, ruining everything on blind chance?
[Chamber bursts into tears and hugs Dave's legs tightly.]
Dave: For love of Lady Gaga, I'm not playing the pokies!
Chamber: You just took out the best bit of five hundred bucks next to the pokies!
Dave: It's not MY fault they leave the ATM here, is it?
Chamber: So what are you going to spend it on? [sobs] Booze?
Dave: No! Damnit, Chamber, I'm doing my tax return next door! This is to pay the agents so I can forget about this tax crap for the next 360 days, OK?
[Chamber immediately drops out of character and gets to his feet.]
Chamber: Oh, sorry. Thought you were an alcoholic compulsive gambler.
Dave: What ARE you doing, dude? Why are you dressed like that?
Chamber: Work for the Dole scheme, innit? [crosses to the bar and knocks back a schooner] See, they pay us to try and break all the really bad gamblers from the pokies, snap them out of it with guilt and stuff. Stop them emptying their bank accounts on a losing streak, thing like that.
Dave: Oh. Business going well?
Chamber: Nope. Pretty crap. Course, it doesn't help that this pub is right next to the tax people.
[We see a sign outside the pub doors. "THE ATO ARE GONNA SCREW YOU OVER, YOU MIGHT AS WELL HAVE A STIFF DRINK FIRST, RIGHT?"]
Chamber: Everyone's either too poor to gamble or too busy sucking up Dutch courage.
Dave: It's not maybe you're completely crap at this job?
Chamber: Hey, I'm the most talented psycholigical divergence operative in this pub!
[He nods towards the pokies. Dr. Spoon is there, dressed as Sailor Moon and pestering a fat biker playing.]
Dr. Spoon: [in horrible accent] Ah-farther-sarn, this is so disonerabble, you bling shrame to our framiry! [burst into tears] Godzirra, where are you when we need you?!
[Dr. Spoon falls to his knees sobbing. Dave shakes his head in despair and leaves the pub, cash in hand.]
[Dave emerges from the pub and walks along to the very next building, a shop with TAX OFFICE in flashing neon letters and a rotting skeleton in a gibbet outside the doors. Dave pushes open the door and enters.]
[A rather cramped office. Most of the space is filled up with cardboard boxes of files which even act as furniture in place of chairs and tables. Nigel is forced to sit up six metres above the ground, next to a tasteful landscape painting. Andrew sits cross-legged on the boxes used as a desk by one agent. Dave enters.]
Dave: Got it.
[He hands the cash to the agent who hastily taps at a computer and scribbles out a very dodgy-looking receipt.]
Dave: So, my return was $450 and the fee for your services is $465. I didn't even break even this year. I don't know why I bother.
Agent: Because no matter how depressed you are, Mr. Restal, the vengeance of the ATO is always worse. Cheer up, your next return will be better now you claim Mr. Verkoff as a dependent.
Dave: The word I used was "parasite", but point taken.
Nigel: Oi! I can hear you all down there, you know! By the way, you SURE I can't have this painting?
Agent: No, Mr. Verkoff.
Nigel: I'll look after it, I promise! Take it out of my next return!
Andrew: [irritated] Excuse me, can we get back to my problems, please?
Agent: Mr. Kliengirophel, I have said many times before. You cannot list yourself as a private detective for tax reasons.
Andrew: Why not? It won't change any claims I make!
Agent: It is not true, sir! You are not a private detective!
Andrew: I bloody well am, Yatsumoto!
Nigel: Oh yes. Jack of all trades, master of none. Jack Shit, to summarize.
[Andrew jumps up and clings to the side of the box-cliff where Nigel sits.]
Andrew: That's gratitude for you, isn't it? My very first case was saving your miserable over-pampered hide from the Russian Kid, remember?
[A very long pause.]
Nigel: Oddly enough? Nope.
[Andrew drops down to the floor.]
Andrew: That's not my fault. You were all full of horse tranquilizers and neural inhibitors so you wouldn't... [smacks forehead] Forget I said that. [to agent] Anyway, I had a proper investigation case, I was paid for it, and it all worked out. I request that you put that down in your records!
Andrew: [placating] Well, demand, then?
[Outside tax office. The doors slam shut, and the troika pick themselves up off the ground and dust themselves down.]
Andrew: That's the trouble with accountants.
Dave: Their narrow minds and limited imaginations?
Andrew: More that they're a bunch of unhelpful arseholes.
Nigel: Nonsense. They didn't fall for that crap about you being a PI? Big deal. Just proves they have IQs worthy of dealing with our finances. Would YOU want YOUR tax return handled by a gullible moron?
[Andrew and Dave stare at him.]
Nigel: [shrugs] OK. Bad example.
Andrew: The point is, it's true. I was a professonal private investigator.
Nigel: True? When have you EVER investigated anything privately, let alone professionally?
Dave: He's got a point, Drew.
[Andrew flings an arm around Dave's shoulders.]
Andrew: Our story begins long ago, Dave, before we all moved in together. It was just after the HSC, back in those dark days of dubious canonicity when my career first began...
- to be continued...