Friday, December 7, 2012
SHIPS IN THE NIGHT # 7
…continued on from SHIPS IN THE NIGHT # 6
The sound of a police siren. The inside of the cab lights up with the flashing orange light.
MATT sees the police car in his rear vision mirror, pulls over, drops the phone into his lap, shakes his head. He can’t believe this is happening. A POLICEMAN walks up:
POLICEMAN #1 Driver.
MATT nods, looks at him quizzically: ‘What’s this all about?’
POLICEMAN #1 Can I see your driver’s license please?
MATT hands his driver’s license to the POLICEMAN #1. As POLICEMAN #1 looks at it, MATT glances down, sees BLUE’S hand between his legs, grabbing his mobile.
POLICEMAN #1 Mr Patterson? (MATT NODS) You’re aware that it is contrary to the Traffic Act to speak on your mobile phone whilst driving a vehicle on a public road?
BLUE He wasn’t.
POLICEMAN #1 I beg your pardon!
POLICEMAN #1 leans over, shines his flashlight in BLUE’S face.
BLUE He wasn’t talking on his phone.
POLICEMAN #1 Think I’m blind, mate?
BLUE Wouldn’t let you be a cop if you were blind.
POLICEMAN #1 indicates the mobile between MATT’S legs, holds out his hand.
POLICEMAN #1 Driver?
MATT picks up the decal covered mobile, his eyes meeting BLUE’s for a moment before he hands it to POLICEMAN #1.
MATT Check for yourself.
POLICEMAN #1 takes the phone, looks at the screen, presses an icon. MATT looks at BLUE – who winks conspiratorially. MATT looks back through the window at:
POLICEMAN #1, eyebrows raised, looking with some surprise at the mobile screen. He leans down, looks past MATT at BLUE for a moment. He then turns, signals to POLICEMAN #2, standing beside the patrol car, to join him.
POLICEMAN #2 walks up, looks at the mobile phone screen, exchanges glances with POLICEMAN #1.
POLICEMAN #2 Could you step out of your vehicle please driver.
MATT opens the door, gets out. As he does so, BLUE looks at the slim parcel tied with a ribbon on the seat beside him.
26 EXT. TAXI. CITY STREET. NIGHT
POLICEMEN #1 and #2 look at photos on Blue’s mobile, exchange glances. POLICEMAN #2 leans down, looks through the window at BLUE, holds up the mobile to compare BLUE with the photo of:
Blue, naked, his hands joined at his crotch.
MATT glimpses the photo. His heart sinks. POLICEMAN #2 flips through other photos of Blue in his elephant-cod-piece naked state. Clearly Blue has done several similarly posed photos. POLICEMAN #2 presses ‘play’ on one of them. Onscreen:
Blue, removes his hands with a flourish, holds them wide, revealing his elephant’s head codpiece.
Surprise! Love you heaps.
POLICEMEN #1 and #2 look in through the window at BLUE, then at MATT, then back at BLUE – Matt’s slim parcel in his lap.
POLICEMAN #2 How old are you, son?
POLICEMAN #2 nods, looks at MATT, then down at his feet (one green, one red sock), only one of which has a slipper on it.
POLICEMAN #2 You aware of the traffic regulations regarding appropriate footwear for taxi drivers, Mr. Patterson?
As MATT tries to formulate an answer, POLICEMAN # 1, checking out other photos on the mobile, taps POLICEMAN # 1 on the shoulder. Together look at a particular photo for a long moment, exchange glances. MATT’S attention has been caught by:
BLUE, in the cab, has taken the greeting card out of Matt’s slim parcel and is reading it. MATT is not happy about this.
POLICEMAN #1 This you?
He holds the mobile up to MATT.
Onscreen, a photo from the sporting pages of an old newspaper with the caption TUBBA TOPS:
Matt, as a young man, smiling triumphantly, wearing football shorts only (and with a six-pack to die for!) holding aloft a huge silver cup as his proud team mates shower him with champagne. Matt and his team, on a football field, are surrounded by footie fans.
POLICEMAN #1 You’re the Matt Patterson who played for Roosters right?
MATT nods. POLICEMAN #1 smiles.
POLICEMAN #1 Hey, awesome! You signed my football for me. You wouldn’t remember me of course. I was just a kid but I thought you were…hey…do you mind if I ask you something? There was this one game against the Sea Eagles with only a minute to go and…
MATT smiles and nods as POLICEMAN #1 remembers.
POLICEMAN #1 …the Rooster were one point behind and you intercepted this pass, and ran the length of the fucking field and…
27 INT. TAXI. CITY STREET. NIGHT
MATT, laughing, settles back into the driver’s seat, fastens his seat belt.
POLICEMAN #1 Great to meet you, Matt. (A BEAT) And you’ll get that windscreen fixed first thing tomorrow, right?
MATT nods. POLICEMAN #2 leans in a little closer, glances in at BLUE again, speaks sotto voce to MATT.
POLICEMAN #2 He really is eighteen, right?
He winks at MATT conspiratorially.
28 EXT. TAXI. CITY STREET. NIGHT
POLICEMEN #1 and #2 get back into their patrol car as MATT pulls back onto the road and drives off.
29 INT. TAXI. NIGHT
MATT drives, BLUE in the passenger seat. The police car passes them. POLICEMAN #1 waves from the passenger window.
MATT Thanks, Blue.
BLUE My pleasure, Matt.
MATT looks at the slim parcel on the seat between them with the envelope attached, then up at BLUE.
BLUE (sheepish) Yeah, sorry, I know I shouldn’t of, but…
MATT You don’t read other people’s private correspondence…ever!
BLUE What about if ya trying to find out something someone’s trying to keep secret from you but which they shouldn’t keep secret from you?
MATT ponders this question for a moment but before he can think of a response:
BLUE For Juliet?
MATT None of your business.
BLUE For Serena?
MATT None of your business.
BLUE For someone you love though, ay? (A BEAT) Ay?
BLUE Then why’ve you written, ‘you know how much I care about you?’
MATT Jesus, Blue! It’s none of your business. (A BEAT) Because…I care about her.
MATT (annoyed) None of your business.
BLUE But caring for someone’s not the same as loving them, ay? And loving someone’s not the same as being in love with someone! Or is it? Love’s fucking weird, ay?
MATT smiles, nods, looks at his watch.
MATT You any idea why Tracy wants to meet me at ‘Stardust’?
BLUE (grins) Yeah, but it’s a surprise.
MATT What sort of surprise?
BLUE Won’t be a surprise if I tell you and I can’t tell you anyway because I promised Trace and…
MATT …it’s important to keep promises.
BLUE points up ahead to the entrance to STARDUST.
30 EXT. CITY STREET. CLOSE TO‘STARDUST’. NIGHT
MATT parks his cab a little down the road from STARDUST – outside of which a couple of dozen YOUNG MEN and WOMEN stand talking. He gets out of the cab, looks across the road for Tracy. He can’t see her; makes a gesture to that effect to BLUE – who sits grinning in the front passenger seat.
BLUE She’ll be there somewhere. Maybe you need to take a closer look.
MATT Is this some kind of joke?
BLUE No, its some kind of surprise. Live dangerously, Tubba…I mean, Matt. What doesn’t kill ya…
BLUE gestures to MATT to get out of the cab. MATT, annoyed, heeds Blue’s command, gets out, heads along the pavement towards STARDUST.
31 EXT. ‘STARDUST’. NIGHT
MATT looks around for Tracy, can’t see her, looks at his watch, scans the crowd more closely. He does not notice a YOUNG WOMAN, late teens, standing in a darkened doorway 20 or so feet up the road, partly obscured by shadow. She looks at MATT for a long moment before she steps tentatively into the street light but MATT is looking in another direction now. She calls out to him:
MATT turns, looks at JULIET; shocked. JULIET is a young woman now – not at all like the girl with braces on her teeth in the photo on Matt’s mobile. She raises her right hand and waves in a girlish gesture similar to the one Tracy used – thumb outstretched and four fingers moving, flapping up and down exaggeratedly: ’ta ta’. MATT smiles, makes the same gesture, moves through the crowd towards her. JULIET walks towards him also. They both slow down just a couple of meters from each other. There is a momentary awkward pause before JULIET steps close to MATT as if to hug him. She picks up MATT’S hesitancy (his reluctance to hug her) and kisses him on the cheek. He kisses her on the cheek, looks at her, laughs.
MATT What…! When…why?
JULIET (laughs) I flew up this morning…
MATT With your mother?
JULIET Dad, I’m 18! (A BEAT) Thought I’d surprise you…
MATT I’m surprised.
MATT shakes his head, still not quite able to figure out how she happens to be here.
MATT But how…why…(are you here?) Tracy?
JULIET (nods) Serendipity.
MATT laughs, shakes his head, looks back to his cab. BLUE is standing beside it, smiling broadly and waving to him. MATT laughs, still not quite believing that this is happening.
JULIET She’s sure made good use of your phone.
MATT shakes his head, still in delightful shock; surprised by how much Juliet has grown.
MATT Look at you! What’s mum been feeding you?
JULIET laughs, pats MATT’S tummy.
JULIET You’ve grown too.
MATT laughs, tucks his tummy in, rubs it.
MATT So, what are you doing…(in Sydney)?
JULIET Girlfriend’s 18th. Remember Harmony?
MATT From pre-school?
JULIET (nods) We connected up on Facebook and…she invited me to her 18th and I thought… hey, why not.
JULIET gestures to a little red sedan parked across the road. In the driver’s seat: a YOUNG WOMAN is reading a magazine.
32 EXT. CITY STREET. NIGHT
BLUE, standing by Matt’s cab, looks at MATT and JULIET talking 30 or so meters up the road. He hears MATT laugh, smiles to himself, takes out his mobile, accesses ‘google’.
33 EXT. ‘STARDUST’. NIGHT
MATT and JULIET talk on the pavement a little up the road from the ‘Stardust’ entrance. JULIET shows MATT her teeth.
MATT They look great. When did you get the braces off?
JULIET For my 18th. I still have to wear night braces, but…
MATT Sorry I couldn’t make it to your party. I thought I had a relief driver but he cancelled at the last minute, and…
JULIET It’s OK…
MATT It’s hard for me to get to Melbourne weekends and…
JULIET It’s OK, dad…
MATT And I don’t think your mother really wanted me there. She more or less said…
JULIET Jesus, dad! It was my party, not mum’s!
MATT holds up his hands: OK.
MATT Sorry…I’ve had a shit night. (A BEAT) If you’d told me you were coming…
JULIET You’d have what? (A BEAT) Taken the night off? Taken me to a movie? Buy me a Jumbo Popcorn? Quality time?
MATT Why do you do this?
JULIET Do what?
MATT You don’t see me for…a long time…
JULIET Six months, dad. Six fucking months…
MATT And the first thing you do is attack me.
JULIET No, the first thing I did, remember, was to try and talk to you. You know, conversation…communication…!
MATT Communication! You’re the one who always hangs up on me!
JULIET Because you don’t listen.
MATT Because you’re shouting at me. Like your mother.
JULIET Because you never listen.
MATT If you didn’t hang up and give me a chance…
JULIET Hey, here’s your chance. I’m here now, right! Standing in front of you!
MATT So what do you want to talk about?
JULIET Jesus, dad! (A BEAT) Anyhow, I called to say I’m sorry for hanging up on you…at my 18th.
MATT Your mother’s taught you well.
JULIET Don’t, dad!
MATT holds his hands up: OK.
MATT Let’s forget about it. It’s nothing.
JULIET It’s not nothing. It’s something.
JULIET Something we can’t just pretend…isn’t there.
MATT So what are we pretending isn’t there?
JULIET Jesus, dad, are you really stupid or is it just an act? (A BEAT) Sorry. I didn’t mean that.
MATT ‘You’re a useless waste of fucking space, Matt…Sorry, I didn’t mean that’.
JULIET And she doesn’t. You know that.
MATT Well, why did she say it?
JULIET You’ve never said anything you regret when you’re angry?
MATT shakes his head – hurt, wallowing in self pity. JULIET throws her hands up in frustration.
JULIET Grow up, dad.
MATT looks at her, hurt.
JULIET And don’t give me that ‘poor me’ look. I’m over it.
MATT is shell-shocked; unable to respond. JULIET regrets having pushed as hard as she has.
JULIET Hey, can I call you in the morning? I should…
She gestures to the car across the road, the YOUNG WOMAN with the magazine looking at she and MATT. MATT nods.
JULIET I’m sorry…I didn’t want it to be like this. I hoped…
MATT holds his hand up: ‘It’s OK, let’s drop it’.
JULIET I’ll never hang up on you again. Promise.
MATT (nods) Okay.
JULIET hesitates a moment, leans forward, kisses MATT on the cheek. She hesitates again, hoping for a response. She doesn’t get it. She kisses MATT on the cheek again, turns and heads across the road.
MATT watches JULIET cross, get into the little red sedan parked there. He hesitates a moment, makes a decision, walks across, stands by the passenger window.
MATT Can we…?
MATT remembers his manners, leans down, looks past JULIET to the YOUNG WOMAN driver.
MATT Hi Harmony.
The young woman is confused.
TIFFANY It’s Tiffany, Mr Patterson.
MATT Sorry. My mistake…
MATT looks at JULIET, who has turned red with embarrassment. MATT hesitates a moment.
MATT Call me in the morning.
JULIET (nods) Okay.
34 EXT. CITY STREET. CLOSE TO‘STARDUST’. NIGHT
MATT walks up to his cab. As he gets close he hears Blue speaking on his mobile. MATT slows, stops, eavesdrops.
BLUE (voice off) Listen to me…please.
MATT can only see BLUE, in the passenger seat, from behind.
BLUE (voice off) I love you anyway and always will…
Close on MATT.
BLUE (voice off) …but Jesus, Trace, I wish you’d listen to me for a change…
Close on MATT. Tracy is talking now but we cannot make out what she is saying.
BLUE (voice off) Love you heaps, babe.
MATT can see:
BLUE, from behind, in semi-profile, lowering the mobile, looking into space out the window. MATT waits a moment, walks around to the driver’s door, opens it, drops into the seat. BLUE is miserable; his voice flat.
BLUE How’d it go?
…to be continued…