Wednesday, January 16, 2013

THURSDAY'S CHILD # 9 (final instalment)

...continuing on from THURSDAY'S CHILD # 8

140 INT. VESTRY. DAY. 1944

BEA and FOGARTY walk into the vestry of the church. BEA is carrying her swag and an assortment of bags. 
FOGARTY (a little annoyed)  ...That may be so, Bea, but it was my soap box; not yours.
BEA   Sorry Jacko...But the empty grave proves only the absence of a corpse...

As BEA is talking, she drops one of her bags.  It falls apart and hundreds of gum leaves of different varieties scatter on the vestry floor. She continues speaking, sweeping the leaves together with her free hand.

BEA   ...And the presence of Christ’s burial clothes proves only that he must have got about naked after his resurrection...

FOGARTY removes his vestments. BEA throws her swag on the floor.
BEA   Did you know, Fogarty, that there are 197 different varieties of eucalypt in Australia?
FOGARTY   No, I didn’t actually.  No.
BEA   There are. All different.

BEA looks at her swag.
BEA   Mind if I doss down here for a few nights.
FOGARTY   Not at all.
BEA   Thanks. Dad’s seven quid doesn’t stretch as far as it used to...I hear he’s in trouble with the government again...for saying we shouldn’t be fighting the Germans. Ironic, isn’t it...
FOGARTY (interrupting)  Bea!

BEA   Yes.
FOGARTY   You haven't heard!?


BEA stands in the doorway of a hospital room - looking at her sick and prematurely aged father lying in bed. He is being attended to by TWO NURSES. When he sees BEA his eyes light up.
MR. MILES   Beatrice!
BEA   Dad.

MR. MILES indicates to the NURSES that he’d like to be left alone with BEA.  As they leave, he and BEA look at each other.
MR. MILES   You’ve put on some weight.

BEA nods and walks to the side of MR. MILES' bed; powerful emotions welling within her.
BEA  How are you?
MR. MILES   Bloody awful. Doctor says I should be dead already.  How about you?  Read something in the paper the other day...Some trouble with the authorities in Bourke...

BEA   Read something about you, too.

MR. MILES manages a weak laugh.
MR. MILES   They want to try me for treason. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make the trial. The farce is almost done...

Tears have welled in BEA's eyes. She and her father look at each other for a long moment, tears begin to stream down BEA's face.
BEA   I love you dad.

MR. MILES reaches out and takes BEA's hand. BEA takes it and squeezes it between her own, looking at him; crying. MR. MILES attempts to sing - his voice soft; thin.
MR. MILES   "Hushabye, don’t you cry..."

They look at each other.


Through a crowd of well dressed wedding quests (tuxedos, furs, jewels, etc.) BEA can be seen standing on the footpath a short distance from the church - her swag beside her, a dilly bag hanging from her shoulder, a sheath knife and tin mug hanging from her belt - looking out into the passing traffic.  FOGARTY, in his finest clerical garb (along with several other similarly dressed church dignitaries), chats with wedding quests as they arrive in expensive-looking cars, casting an occasional worried look in BEA's direction.  Organ music can be heard in the church. 

BEA looks a little anxious.  It is late in the afternoon and there is no sign of SYLVIE. Her eyes begin to light up as she sees a taxi approach and pull up in front of her. SYLVIE gets out and looks out across the top of the taxi with a mournful expression on her face.
BEA (worried)   Well...?

SYLVIE grins and puts a felt hat with corks hanging from it on her head. BEA's old face lights up.

FOGARTY is chatting with a very distinguished looking woman - LADY HALIFAX - his back turned to BEA now as she rushes up to him; excited.
BEA   Fogarty...

FOGARTY turns and sees BEA and SYLVIE, in the background, loading Bea’s swag into the taxi.  He looks relieved.
FOGARTY  She made it?
BEA   Yes.
FOGARTY   Splendid...(INTRODUCING THEM) Lady Halifax...Beatrice Miles.
BEA (warmly)   Hello.

LADY HALIFAX nods; a little shocked.  BEA takes FOGARTY’s face in her hands and kisses him.  LADY HALIFAX's jaw drops.
BEA   Thanks, Jacko, for everything.
FOGARTY   My pleasure.

They look at each other fondly for a moment.  The assembled hoi polloi are all, now, looking at them with a mixture of shock and disbelief.
BEA   See you in a few weeks.

FOGARTY nods and smiles. 

BEA rushes back to the taxi just as three shiny white hire cars pull up the bridesmaids and members of the bride and groom’s families.

BEA opens the taxi door and is just about to get in then she freezes for a moment, thinking; then rushing as fast as her old arthritic legs will carry her back to FOGARTY.

BEA   Take me to the wedding, Jacko.
FOGARTY (a bit startled)  This wedding!?
BEA  Will you?.
BEA  Please?  I haven’t been to a wedding in thirty years.
FOGARTY   If you promise not or interrupt.
BEA   I’ll be a credit to you.


In solemn procession, with all the pomp and ceremony of a high Anglican Church wedding, the clerics, servers and altar boys (swinging silver urns of smoking incense), make their way down the aisle of the church.  BEA and FOGARTY appear, walking side by side as the sounds of organ music and choral singing swell.  The assembled guests are amazed.  BEA puts her arm through FOGARTY's and looks at him.  FOGARTY smiles and together, arm in arm, they walk down the aisle.  The triumphant organ music and singing build and carry over to:


BEA hanging out of the window of the passenger’s side of Sylvie’s taxi as it travels through lush green countryside, past majestic white gum trees and flocks of sheep.  She looks back at SYLVIE, who shakes her head and smiles.  MUSIC OVER.


The music continues.  The cab is parked by the road. SYLVIE is sitting by a campfire while BEA swings a billy of tea around her head in vigorous bush fashion.


The music continues. Parked on a bridge, SYLVIE looks down at BEA,  knee deep in the river, slapping wet clothes against a rock.


The music continues. We see BEA and SYLVIE through the dirty windscreen of the cab. On the radio aerial are BEA's bloomers.  The wind is filling them. A truck goes drives by. One of the men in it leans out of the window.

BEA waves to him. Dust flies up, engulfing Bea's clean bloomers. Beside BEA, on the seat, is a newspaper, with a photo of Bea: BEA MILES MAKES RECORD-BREAKING TAXI TRIP. 


The music continues. Close to the outskirts of a country town the cab slows as it approaches TWO YOUNG BOYS (seven years old) on bicycles - one white and one full-blood Aboriginal. The BOYS turn, see the dusty brown bloomers blowing in the wind and then BEA'S wonderfully smiling face in the window as the taxi glides past.


Close on BEA, sitting on the ground, surrounded by wildflowers. She cuts the stem of a flower lovingly and opens a book of pressed flowers she gave to JOHNNO all those years ago. As she takes the flower and presses it between two pages the camera pulls back and back and back to reveal BEA, a small figure in a vast landscape of wildflowers that stretch as far as the eye can see.


Close on BEA. She is looking at something; her face filled with memories. Behind her, just a few feet away, SYLVIE is standing. Deep in the background Sylvie's cab and behind it, desert.

BEA stands at the top of a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean.

BEA   Dad said we used to be joined to Africa. You could take one step from here and you’d be in Transvaal...

She looks longingly over the ocean, the seagulls, the clouds.
BEA   We used to be part of the world. And then we  floated away.

We see wider and wider shots of her standing on the cliff, the sea between her and us, in the afternoon light.


A tight shot of BEA's tired old face as she sleeps in the front seat of Sylvie’s taxi, her head propped up against the door, resting on her folded great coat.  Through the window of the car, as it moves slowly down the streets of Perth, crowds of curious onlookers can be seen looking in through the window. Faint sounds to applause can be heard. The shot widens a little to reveal the taxi full, almost to overflowing with wildflowers.

The sounds of cheering increase and BEA begins to stir. She wakens and sits up, looking out of the window in amazement.

The taxi is almost at the Town Hall, in front of which is a large crowd and a banner across the road that reads WELCOME BEA. SYLVIE pulls open the sunroof of the car and says something to BEA.

The crowd laughs and cheers to see:

BEA, standing on the seat, the upper part of her body poking through the roof of the car, waving like a Royal visitor - her face breaking into a joyous young girl's smile.


No comments:

Post a Comment