[Caption: ANDREW & THE VANISHING VERKOFF.]
[Caption: OR ANDREW & THE NEGATED NIGEL.]
[Caption: OR, ANDREW & THE DISAPPEARING DICKHEAD.]
[Caption: OR, ANDREW & THE RELOCATED RETARD.]
Nigel: [VO] Get on with it, you hairy bastard!
Andrew: [VO] OK. OK.
[Caption: ANDREW & THE MISSING MASTURBATOR.]
Nigel: [VO] I'm storing all of this up, you know, Andrew! ALL OF IT!
Dave & Andrew: [VO] Shut up!
[Pull out to show this all on the screen of a second-hand TV in Andrew's run-down bungalow. Andrew sits with his feet up on a desk made of milk crates while his dog watches the TV.]
Andrew: Oi! Jones! Turn it down!
[The dog growls at him, then chews the remote until the volume drops. Andrew picks up a very cheap picture book called "HOW TO RHYME YOUR SLANG I SHOULD COCO". Andrew's inner monologue is in a thick Cockney accent.]
Andrew: [VO] Cor. It's been twelve days since school ended. I can go where I want, do what I want, and absolutely nothing comes to mind. Thirteen years trying to escape from the country's schools and now I'm at a loose end. Thirteen years trying to get out and the rest of your life trying to get back in. Rather like the womb, really. Especially when you're born on the last day of school. Those triplets will spend a fortune in therapy bills to work that out. So, here I am. It's been a week and my private detective business is circling the drain. Obviously advertising in the Inner West classified was a bad move. I can't believe the editor thought I was a prostitute. And especially so cheap.
[There's a knock at the door.]
Andrew: [VO] Maybe I should join the police. Then I can quit. Everyone respects detectives better when they're ex-policemen.
[Another knock at the door.]
Andrew: [VO] Well, more respect than active policemen anyway.
[Another frantic knocking.]
Andrew: [VO] Do we call them "cops" or "pigs" in Australia? Where's my copy of "Stone"?
[A very loud banging.]
Andrew: Is that inside my head? No? [calls] Come in!
Gabby: [VO] UNLOCK THE DAMN DOOR!
Andrew: ...it isn't locked!
[He crosses to the door and slides it down to reveal a flustered Gabby.]
Andrew: That door is my protection against insolence!
Gabby: I'm not insolent! [less sure] Am I?
Andrew: Depends. You a customer?
Andrew: I'm not exactly choosing male escort as a career path, but I look good on business woman's arms if I do say so myself. What can I do for you, Gabby? The washing up? I must say, my rates are much more competitive than they used to be...
Gabby: Are you going to let me answer or just keep talking?
Andrew: [shrugs] I haven't decided yet. So, pull up a pew. What's your problem?
Gabby: It's Nigel.
Andrew: Took you long enough to realize it. You can do so much better...
Gabby: He's missing! He's disappeared!
Andrew: [VO] This is not unexpected. Twelve days ago, Mister Nigel Verkoff had been outed as a nun-molesting pervert moments after his sub-Indie band Yellow Fever and How To Cure It split up at the opening of K-Mart...
Nigel: [VO] It was David Jones!
Andrew: [VO] Whatever. One of his Brides of Christ conquests turned suicide bomber and blew up the store. No one was injured, but Nigel himself hadn't been seen since. He was a total laughing stock and also wanted by the police to "help with their inquiries" if you get my not-so-subtle drift.
Gabby pokes Andrew in the shoulder, unsure if he's dozed off.
Gabby: Hey? Are you stoned or something, pay attention!
Andrew: Tch. Cody McBride never gets this aggravation of the earhole. Or was it GBH? Anyway, Gabs, Nigel's probably hiding out somewhere at an inexpensive brothel until everything dies down. He's public enemy number two, just after Steve Irwin's babysitting fiasco. What did you expect?
Gabby: He hasn't called me, or anything!
Andrew: Like I said, sweetheart. He's in hiding.
Gabby: He hasn't contacted his family, either. Benny's not heard from him. Or his mum.
Andrew: If the family aren't worried...
Gabby: ...screw the family! They don't give a crap about him when he IS there!
Andrew: [shrugs] It's a tempting attitude to take.
Gabby: Not from me! Maddog...
Gabby: Whatever. Look, I really think something bad's happened to him.
Andrew: Worse than a 16-year-old nun and a bucket of fish?
[She hands him a postcard.]
Gabby: I got this the afternoon before the explosion and everything.
[Andrew studies it.]
Andrew: "IF YOU ATTEND THE CONCERT TONIGHT YOU WILL DIE." You told Nigel, I suppose?
Gabby: Of course I did. He didn't care.
Andrew: Sounds like him. [frowns] Wait a minute, why are you telling me all this?
Gabby: The police aren't going to help, are they?
Andrew: Generally speaking? No.
Gabby: Plus, you kept banging on about being a private eye all week.
Andrew: So I did. [looks up] You want to hire me to find your boyfriend? Gabby, I'm honored! [less pleased] Couldn't you ask me to find a missing cat or something? I like cats. Or stolen jewelry. I mean, this case could only depress me - even if I found him, I'd lose...
Gabby: Please. I'll pay anything.
Andrew: [disgusted] I don't want your money. It'd make me feel dirty. [sighs] But I suppose I have to get used to compromising my morals in this big, wide world we live in. Okay, Gabrielle. I agree to do everything in my power to track down the pampered, self-absorbed ungrateful son of a bitch who has somehow done a number on you to the point you think he actually cares about you more than an inflatable doll.
Gabby: He's not like that!
Andrew: [laughs] Oh, he SO is!
Gabby: [sighs] Maybe. But I love him. I want him safe. Please help.
Andrew: Mmm. I should be a psychiatrist. At least I'd get plenty of customers. [looks at postcard again] OK, this tells us a lot.
Gabby: Does it? [eyes widen] I've got it! You recognize the handwriting?
[Andrew stares at her, slightly unnerved.]
Andrew: No. It's written in block capitals.
Gabby: Oh. [perks up] But you can tell it was done by man or a woman?
Gabby: Oh... but you can tell if they were right-handed?
Gabby: If they speak English as a first language?
[Andrew shakes his head.]
Gabby: What can you tell me then?
[He leaps to his feet and starts to pace.]
Andrew: Judging by the language used, the spelling, etc. I'd say whoever wrote this has above-average English literacy. The handwriting is rather rough and hasty, suggesting this was quickly scribbled down, so they were in a hurry. However, they remembered to write in block capitals and frame the warning to give nothing away. Ergo, this message was clearly planned beforehand, right?
Gabby: OK. But if whoever wrote it was thinking it up ages ago... why are they in such the hurry?
Andrew: Good question.
Gabby: You got a good answer?
Andrew: Of course I do.
[He leans forward over the desk and grins and Gabby.]
Andrew: Let's discuss this over lunch. Your treat. I fancy Mexican.
Gabby: ...you want to go to lunch? Just so you can tell me something you could say here?
Andrew: [blows out cheeks] It always looks good on TV. All right, Gabby, my theory is this. [deep breath] Whoever wanted to warn Nigel rehearsed warning him, but they waited until the very last minute. Why? They wanted Nigel safe. It's not some kind of double bluff, or else they'd say something like "You're too much of a coward to attend the concert." No, they wanted Nigel out of danger. But they decided not to warn him, then hastily sent this postcard. Yes?
Andrew: What does that suggest to you?
Gabby: That there are better private eyes I can contact?
Andrew: It suggests they decided not to warn Nigel at all. Only at the last second did they relent, quickly sending out the message. Now, this can mean one of two things. Either the author of this was somehow intimidated into not warning Nigel, or else they simply stopped themselves.
Gabby: Why do that?
Andrew: Because Nigel is a total arsehole. Admittedly, this doesn't limit the range of suspects. But logic tells us that the writer knew about what was going to happen at the concert. They knew a nun packing TNT was going to turn up and make a scene.
Gabby: So that wasn't random?
Andrew: No. It planned in advance.
Gabby: Could it have been the nun?
Andrew: Mmmm. Why go to all that trouble with the bomb? She could have just stayed at home. No, if it WAS the nun, it meant she was not pulling that stunt of their own free will. So, what does THAT tell us?
Gabby: Um. Ok. Someone wants to ruin Nigel's concert. They arrange everything, but someone involved doesn't want Nigel hurt.
Andrew: Yes. But not someone who liked Nigel. Otherwise they would have contacted him sooner. Why not ring the police? One bomb threat, the concert would be canceled. Nigel safe and sound. Why not make a more detailed message? "IF YOU ATTEND THE CONCERT, MAD NUN WITH TNT WILL TRY AND KILL YOU!" No, this person didn't like Nigel. They were happy to have him shamed and humiliated, but clearly uncomfortable with having him killed. Whatsmore, they were clearly in the minority of this entire operation. They dared not warn Nigel directly...
Gabby: You think they were being spied on?
Andrew: Maybe. Maybe their boss wouldn't take kindly to ruining the plan.
Gabby: It doesn't tell us who it could be, though, does it?
Andrew: Doesn't it? You got a postcard in the mail, yes?
Andrew: No. You didn't. Look. [He shows her postcard] No postage stamp. The only way that could get into your letter box is if posted by hand. Whoever it was came right up to your house and left right away. Why do that? It can't be they were worried about being spied upon, because if they were seen posting this, they'd be seen talking to you. They could have explained the whole thing to you, given you a false name, so why didn't they?
Gabby: You tell me.
Andrew: Because YOU would have recognized them. And if YOU recognized them, so would Nigel.
Gabby: So, it's someone I'd know? On sight?
Andrew: Yes. Someone close to Nigel. Close enough to hate his guts and take part in this bizarre Chaser-style stunt. But moral enough to get cold feet. And intelligent enough to make sure they weren't caught by any clues from the postcard.
[A long pause.]
Andrew: NOW can you buy me some lunch?
- to be continued