Monday, July 1, 2013
# 1 SHIPS IN THE NIGHT
1 EXT. KINGS CROSS. NIGHT
A taxi pulls away from the head of the rank.
2 EXT. CAHILL EXPRESSWAY. NIGHT
Credit sequence continues. The taxi drives along the Cahill Expressway towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge; the Sydney Opera House in the background.
3 EXT. SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE. NIGHT
Credit sequence continues. Tilt down from the Harbour Bridge to reveal MATT, mid 40s, through the windscreen of his taxi. Behind him, in the back seat, a YOUNG COUPLE wrapped in each others arms.
4 INT. CAB. NIGHT
Credit sequence continues. MATT, a little overweight, his hair thinning, turns the music up a little, bops along to it. An old favourite. MATT wears a tan sports jacket with a club logo on the breast pocket.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“Don't let it happen again
'cause that I couldn't take…”
A smile plays on MATT'S lips. The song brings back memories.
The YOUNG MAN and YOUNG WOMAN, late teens, uni students, look at MATT bopping along to the music, exchange looks.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“…once was quite enough…”
MATT mouths the words. He knows them by heart.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“…It's easy to forgive,
harder to forget.”
MATT, having forgotten his passengers, sings along:
“If you leave me, can I come too?
We can always stay…”
The YOUNG COUPLE watch MATT from behind, bopping along with greater enthusiasm now. What he lacks in singing talent he makes up for with passion. They laugh, shake their heads.
“…But if you leave me, can I come too?
And if you go, can I come too?”
The YOUNG WOMAN, a little intoxicated, leans forward, her head close to MATT'S, breaking into his memories as she speaks:
Any chance of listening to something from this century?
Like, we're paying you, right…?
To get you home, darling, not to be your DJ.
The YOUNG MAN laughs, pulls her back into his arms.
YOUNG WOMAN (PETULANT)
We're paying him, right! I mean…
The YOUNG MAN stops her with a kiss. MATT looks in the rear-vision mirror at them as they kiss, whisper conspiratorially.
End credit sequence.
5 EXT. SUBURBAN STREET. NIGHT
Matt's taxi makes its way down a leafy street in an affluent suburb. The sound of a rooster crowing announces the arrival of a phone call on Matt’s mobile phone.
YOUNG WOMAN (VOICE OFF)
Next left, thanks driver.
The left hand indicator of the taxi flashes yellow.
6 INT. TAXI. SUBURBAN STREET. NIGHT
MATT reaches into the left side pocket of his sports jacket with his left hand, takes out his mobile phone. We catch a glimpse of the logo on his jacket - long enough to register the word ROOSTERS. On the LCD screen, one word: Juliet. MATT smiles, presses an icon. A photo appears onscreen:
a smiling girl (15, 16) with braces on her teeth.
Hey, dad. (A BEAT) You driving?
Yep. (A BEAT) You okay?
Can you talk?
Call you back in five, okay?
Juliet hangs up. MATT is driving now down a street with a park on one side; big expensive houses on the other.
The YOUNG WOMAN takes off her high heeled shoes, exchanges looks with the YOUNG MAN. MATT does not notice.
Anywhere here thanks…
MATT slows, pulls to the side of the road, looks at the meter.
The YOUNG WOMAN gets out, carrying her shoes. The YOUNG MAN walks to the driver’s door takes out his wallet.
The YOUNG WOMAN, shoes in hand, walks barefoot into the park.
As the YOUNG MAN opens his wallet the YOUNG WOMAN breaks into a sprint.
The YOUNG MAN smiles sheepishly at MATT; shrugs.
He turns and runs into the park.
MATT is out of the car in a flash and giving chase.
7 EXT. TAXI/PARK. NIGHT
MATT chases the YOUNG WOMAN, the YOUNG MAN veering off in another direction.
MATT is a big barrel-chested man whose muscles have lost their tone. He can run fast, however, and is rapidly gaining on the YOUNG WOMAN. He is within grabbing distance when one of his casual slip-on shoes has come off and he stumbles.
MATT stops, picks his shoe up, continues the chase. The YOUNG WOMAN is now pulling away from him. MATT, in his frustration, throws his shoe at her. It would be a direct hit were it not for the fact that the YOUNG WOMAN turns at just the right moment, sees the shoe coming at her, reaches out and catches it - letting out a joyous whoop as she does so.
MATT, out of breath, puts his hand to his heart, tries to bring his rapid breathing under control.
The YOUNG WOMAN, 30 meters away, slips her high-heeled shoes back on; walks casually up a street on the other side of the park - tossing Matt's shoe into the air, catching it.
MATT looks down at his feet: one red sock, one green sock. He takes off his remaining slip-on shoe and turns to return to his cab. He hears laughter, turns and sees:
The YOUNG MAN running up to the YOUNG WOMAN. She passes Matt's slipper to him as if it were a football. The YOUNG MAN catches it and they stroll off, laughing.
MATT ambles back towards his cab, shoulders stooped in weary resignation and defeat, clutching his one slip-on shoes - a small lonely figure illuminated by the headlights of his taxi.
8 INT. CAB. SUBURBAN STREET. NIGHT
MATT drops into the driver's seat, shuts the door, stares into space a long moment. The sound of a rooster crowing. Matt's mobile is ringing but he does not to hear it.
Suddenly, explosively, MATT smashes his left fist into the windscreen. It does not break but from his painful yelp and the way he shakes his wrist it is clear MATT has hurt himself. He looks at his knuckles.
The skin is broken. Blood appears. Only now does he register the rooster crowing sound from his left jacket pocket. He moves to reach into the pocket with his left hand, notices that small droplets of blood have appeared on his knuckles. He decides to get his mobile with his right hand. It is an awkward maneuver and by the time he has the mobile in his hand the mobile has stopped ringing.
MATT looks at his bloodied knuckles, licks the blood away, grimaces a little; it stings. He opens and closes his fist, checks for broken bones. There seem to be none but he is in pain. He tries to press 'J' and 'U' on the keypad with his left hand, but with the pain and his big fingers he has difficulty pressing the right keys on the small device. He gets it eventually. The photo of Juliet appears onscreen.
The person you have called is not…
MATT terminates the call, tries again.
The person you have called is not available. If you wish to…
MATT terminates the call, returns his mobile to his left jacket pocket. His raw knuckles come into contact with cloth. Ouch! Worse, there is a bloodstain at the edge of the pocket.
MATT shakes his head, curses at himself wordlessly, reaches out, opens the glove compartment, takes out a packet of Kleenex tissues and tries to clean up the blood on his jacket with it. This only serves to spread the stain over a larger area. MATT hangs his head, shakes it. He is at the end of his tether. He reaches forward, turns on the ignition.
9 INT/EXT. CITY STREET. NIGHT
MATT drives, a blood stained Kleenex tissue wrapped around his knuckles. He doesn't like the music he is listening to, punches a button on the radio; changes stations. He doesn't like the new musical option either, punches another button in frustration. The sound of a rooster crowing. MATT takes his mobile out, glances at the screen: Juliet, lifts it to his ear, sees a police car approaching, drops it from view, waits till the police car passes, checks his rear vision mirror, lifts it to his ear. Before he has a chance to speak:
You still got a passenger?
You were going to call me back!
I tried, but got your message bank.
I didn't get any message. (A BEAT) You driving?
I'm pulling over. Hang on.
MATT slows, moves to the side of the road, stops.
You okay? You sound…
I'm fine. You?
You want the long story or the twitter version?
I meant uni…
Cool. Going really well.(A BEAT) I know it's late, but…
Juliet needs a little encouragement but is not getting it.
JULIET'S VOICE (CONT’D)
JULIET pauses. MATT'S mood changes.
Is your mother there?
No. This is me calling…Fuck dad!
Okay, it's just…the last time…
The last time was the last time…I'm sorry… I shouldn't have hung up on you…
No, it's not OK.
MATT is at a loss how to talk to his daughter. A long silence.
You still there?
Yes. Sorry for calling so late… early…but…
It's OK, I've pulled over. (A FEW BEATS) (A BEAT) How is your mother?
You don't really want to know!
Okay, okay, okay!(A BEAT) Hassling me bigtime…about, you know…that money…you know…for my teeth!
Why doesn't she call me herself?
I didn't call you about my teeth.
Tell her I'll put some money into her account tomorrow, okay… today…How much do you need?
Whatever you think I'm worth. Bye dad.
Juliet hangs up. MATT shakes his head, angry with himself. He tries to call Juliet back, gets her message bank:
The person you have called…
MATT terminates the call - angry; at a loss to understand. As he stares out through the windscreen a car approaches, it's high-beam headlights blinding him for a second and drawing his attention to something on his windscreen. He leans forward, looks at it closely, but can see nothing.
MATT turns on the interior light but can still not make out what it was he saw. He picks up a flashlight, shines it on the windscreen, finds the right angle. There is a tiny crack where his fist met the glass. MATT laughs, shakes his head. It is not a happy laugh. He looks down at his bloody Kleenex covered knuckles. His attention is caught by a soft cracking sound. The tiny crack is growing - one inch, two inches…and then it stops. MATT stares at it; his jaw clenched tight.
10 EXT. TAXI RANK. NIGHT
MATT sits in his taxi, six cabs back from the head of the rank. The street is almost deserted.
On the other side of the road, unseen by MATT, TRACY, mid teens, in mini skirt, 'boob tube' and very high heels, walks purposefully past THREE DRUNKEN YOUNG MEN in the street now who make no attempt to hide their hormone driven interest.
11 INT. CAB. TAXI RANK. NIGHT
MATT holds his mobile at his ear:
The person you have called is not…
He places his mobile on the seat beside him, takes the blood-stained Kleenex from his knuckles. The bleeding has stopped but he has raw pink wounds on three knuckles. MATT places the Kleenex in a plastic rubbish bag at his feet, takes a wad of $10 and $20 bills from his money pouch.
12 EXT. CITY STREET. NIGHT
TRACY ignores the THREE DRUNKEN YOUNG MEN leering behind her as she stands at the edge of the road across from the taxi rank, checking out the various drivers - one of whom is MATT.
TRACY is dressed and made up to look 19 but probably only 17. No longer a girl, not yet a woman but trying hard.
A nervous skinny red-haired man, BLUE, (late teens) calls out from behind a tree - a plaintive pleading in his voice.
BLUE (VOICE OFF)
TRACY ignores him, steps off the curb.
13 INT. CAB. TAXI RANK. NIGHT
MATT finishes counting his nights takings, shakes his head. A bad night! He leans forward to look at the crack in the window. It has not grown any bigger. He looks at his watch, yawns and takes a sign from under his seat, sticks it on the windscreen: SOUTHERN SUBURBS
TRACY crosses the road, her eyes on MATT. She is out of his field of vision and he does not notice her.
Close on MATT. He takes a slim parcel (10” x 8”) tied with a ribbon from the bag beneath his legs, opens the envelope attached to it, takes out a greeting card, flips it open, takes a pen from his pocket with his damaged hand.
As he thinks about what to write (MATT is left-handed) his attention is caught by TRACY.
TRACY (VOICE OFF)
MATT looks up. TRACY smiles at him with bright red lips.
Can you drive me home?
MATT nods in the direction of the head of the rank.
Gotta take the first cab in the rank.
Ouch! What did you do to your hand?
MATT dismisses the question with a gesture, looks back down at the greeting card.
For someone you love?
Sorry, but you gotta take the first cab in the rank.
When my boyfriend gives me a present it's usually because he's fucked up bigtime.
MATT nods, notices TRACY playing nervously with a silver ring on her finger. She points to the head of the rank.
First cab in the rank?
MATT nods. TRACY nods, smiles and, as she turns to walk off, waves goodbye to MATT like a young child: thumb outstretched and four fingers moving, flapping up and down: 'ta ta'.
MATT watches her for a long moment as she walks to the head of the rank. He picks up his phone, calls Juliet again, holds the mobile to his ear:
The person you have called.
MATT looks at his mobile for a long moment - with mixed feelings about the call he is about to make: “S”, “E”…Serena. After several rings, Serena answers the phone.
Hey…(SILENCE) Just…I'll be there in 45 mins, max. Okay? (SILENCE) Unless…!?
A long silence. MATT grimaces; waits
Another awkward silence. MATT'S attention is caught by the red-haired young man, BLUE, at the head of the rank arguing with someone obscured from his view.
But not if you don't want me to…
Forty five minutes, right?
Serena hangs up. MATT hangs up, sighs, looks to the head of the rank where, judging by his body language, BLUE is losing his argument.
MATT returns the mobile to his left jacket pocket, looks at his bloody knuckles for a moment, then down at the greeting card. He writes:
The deep base throbbing of a revving car engine intrudes. MATT sees, in the mirror at the side of his car, a 'pimped out' purple sedan (outsize wheels, gold dragon decals along the sides) cruising slowly up in the adjacent lane.
The purple sedan pulls up alongside him. The man in the passenger seat, whom we will get to know as GBH, has a shaved head with skull-and-crossbones tattoo. He looks to where BLUE is arguing. A malicious smile appears on his face.
MATT tilts his head slightly to read the letters tattooed beneath the skull-and-crossbones in italic script: GBH.
GBH turns, sees MATT looking at him. His face becomes contorted with an angry snarl (“What the fuck are you looking at!”) as he looks directly into MATT'S eyes - challenging him to look away. MATT holds his gaze, shakes his head ever so slightly: (“Sorry, mate, I'm neither intimidated nor impressed!”)
GBH raises his fist aggressively at MATT, who raises his bloody-knuckled fist in response. Macho standoff!
The DRIVER of the purple sedan draws GBH's attention to the fact that BLUE has interrupted his argument and is looking towards them - fear in his eyes. As BLUE turns and runs off GBH gestures to the DRIVER to drive. He puts his foot on the accelerator and the purple car careens down the road, tires screeching, in the direction that BLUE is running.
MATT watches as the purple car pulls up close to BLUE, running. GBH - a tall solidly built man carrying about 30 kilos too much weight - leaps from the car and, with surprising agility, gives chase to BLUE who, in an attempt to evade him, rushes onto the road. GBH catches him in the middle of it, lifts him by the scruff of his jacket off the ground. BLUE, tiny compared with GBH, waves his arms around, talks fast, trying to placate GBH. GBH relaxes his grip, lowers him to the ground, whereupon BLUE lifts his knee hard between GBH'S legs.
MATT watches GBH crumple to the ground in agony as BLUE races off, disappearing from view.
GBH struggles to his feet and hobbles back to the purple car, bashing the bonnet hard with his fist before getting back in. The purple car then performs a radical u-turn - tyres screeching - and drives back in the direction it came from.
MATT catches a glimpse of GBH as the purple sedan passes - his face expressing both his rage and his humiliation.
MATT'S attention returns to the gift card in his hands. As he thinks about what he is going to write, he sees:
At the head of the rank TRACY leans towards the driver talking to him through the window. MATT looks back down at the card, writes tentatively - not just because his hand hurts but because he is uncertain how to express himself. He continues with his writing:
You know how much…
MATT looks up, sees:
TRACY, two cabs in front, leaning close to talk to the driver through the window. The driver, not won over by her bright smile, shakes his head. TRACY looks back at MATT, grins, shrugs her shoulders. MATT shakes his head.
TRACY moves to the cab in front of MATT. She leans to talk to (and smile at) the driver through the window, lifting one leg slightly in the air in a 'sexy' gesture she has seen in some movie. She is trying to play the role of vamp but hasn't quite got her performance right yet.
MATT looks back down at the card, continues writing, pauses, thinks what to write next.
You know how much I…
TRACY walks up, grinning cheekily.
You are the first cab in the rank, now. (A BEAT) They all said no?
MATT nods, looks back down to the parcel and greeting card.
Problem is, I haven't got any money.
MATT, not wanting to be rude but wanting her to go away, raises his pen as if to continue writing on the card.
On me, that is. I lost my wallet and…
…but you've got money at home, right?
And you'll just run in and get it while I wait in the street?
I'm not a runner. Promise. I need…
Realizing that she is not getting through to MATT, TRACY invests her next 'I need' with a 'desperate' edge.
I need…I need…
MATT looks at her properly for the first time. TRACY smiles innocently, plays the ingénue.
Do I look like a runner?
MATT looks at her for a moment, his face giving nothing away. TRACY spins around in a pirouette followed by an arabesque.
MATT shakes his head, smiles.
Is that a 'no' or a 'yes'?
Written all over you. (A BEAT) Haven't got a mum or dad to pick you up?
Nup, I'm a test tube baby. (A BEAT) A mum.
She know where you are?
Hope not. (A BEAT) You got a daughter?
MATT smiles, looks down at the card resting on the parcel.
I'll take that as a yes. How old is she? (A BEAT) Sorry, I'm a motor mouth…
TRACY leans closer to read what he has written. MATT closes the card.
For someone you love?
I'm not driving you home.
But I'm driving you mad, ay?
MATT laughs, thinks a moment.
That's west! I'm heading south.
He points to the 'SOUTHERN SUBURBS' sign. TRACY nods.
I'm Tracy by the way.
Pleased to meet you, Tracy.
Liar! (A BEAT) You’re not pleased at all.
Not gunna tell me your name?
MATT shakes his head. TRACY laughs, leans across MATT to look at his Driver's ID, bringing her head very close to his.
TRACY looks at him for a long moment.
Were you good looking when you were young, GQ 1734? (MATT SMILES) Hey, you've got quite a sexy smile, GQ. For a man your age!
And you've got too sexy a smile for a girl your age.
Wanna take me home? (A BEAT) Where d'you live?
…to be continued…