Monday, March 9, 2015
# 3 ANGKOR
77 INT. NICK’S APARTMENT. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT
On Nick’s notice board, alongside the dart board, a photo of a group of Asian men posing in front of a banner that reads: International Development Commission of South East Asia.
A woman’s hand reaches into frame with a text pen, starts to draw a circle around one of the men.
A close shot of:
Wing Chou, circled, smiling for the camera.
PATRICE, standing in front of Nick’s notice board completes the circle around Wing Chou’s head. NICK approaches from behind, two glasses of wine in hand.
I’d like to put a gun to Mr Wing Chou’s head and...
PATRICE forms her hand into a gun, pulls the trigger.
NICK places a glass of wine in PATRICE’S hands.
Patience, mon cherie!
Fuck patience. Fuck this country. Fuck Wing Chou.
A LITTLE LATER
PATRICE sits in front of Nick’s laptop, looks at still photos, in sequence, as they are displayed on the screen:
Kek getting out the car, looking around, walking through the gate and into the palatial mansion.
No older than 13. Maybe younger. That poor girl...
PATRICE clenches her fists in anger. NICK wraps his arms around her comfortingly.
PATRICE’S hate-filled eyes are focused on an:
EXTREME CLOSE UP of:
Wing Chou, circled, smiling.
78. EXT. GARDEN. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
PATRICE talks to KATIE’S camera.
I wanted to kill him. Fuck him. Fuck men with power...with power and money...money and power...
Does Stair fall into that category?
Yes. And no. A complex kettle...
She waves the thought away.
KATIE flicks some pages of the note-book in her lap.
So, when you and Stair arrived at Nick’s burnt out...
Pass. (A BEAT) Not now. Maybe after another glass of wine.
KATIE consults her notes again.
How about your...’fight’ with Stair? (A BEAT) Later in the day.
My fight with Stair! Mmmm...
79 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
PATRICE, dressed as she was when she saw Nick’s skeletal remains, stands in the middle of the room; frozen in shock and grief.
Why am I telling you all this? (A BEAT) Am I going to regret it?
After a long moment, staring into space, she walks to the bedroom, lies on the bed - staring at the ceiling.
PATRICE leaps to her feet, walks purposefully back into the living room, stands in front of the notice board. She stares at the photo with Wing Chou’s smiling face circled. It has been connected with coloured thread to various other faces on the notice board. PATRICE takes a dart out of the board.
80 INT. BATHROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
PATRICE stands under the shower; emotionally overwhelmed.
81 INT. NICK’S BEDROOM. DAY
PATRICE, in a sarong, lies on the bed, buries her face in a pillow, sniffs it, starts to cry. She closes her eyes.
It is dusk now. PATRICE awakens suddenly, startled, sits up.
Through the doorway she can see STAIR, as startled as she is.
No, its me. Stair.
PATRICE is totally disoriented for a moment before the reality of where she is and what has happened sinks in. She stands, adjusts her sarong, walks into:
82 NICK’S APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM. DUSK
PATRICE walks into the room. STAIR is standing in front of Nick’s notice board, a copy of Joseph Conrad’s HEART OF DARKNESS in one hand; a glass of wine in the other.
PATRICE (voice off)
Nick didn’t call you a cunt.
I’ve been called worse.
What’s worse than ‘cunt’?
No cunt. (A BEAT) Sorry, that was below the belt.
PATRICE smiles, picks up his glass of wine, drains it.
STAIR leans close to the notice board, looks at the circled photo of Wing Chou - a dart piercing one of his eyes. STAIR turns to PATRICE, raises an eye-brow questioningly.
Prime suspect numero uno...
STAIR nods, looks at PATRICE a moment then down at the book in his hands.
He loves that book.
STAIR places it back on the table.
You got any more wine?
No, but I think I’ve got a bottle of Port here somewhere.
She gets up, moves to the kitchen area, searches cupboards.
STAIR sifts amongst the clutter on Nick’s desk, as if looking for something. In the background PATRICE holds up a bottle:
Voila. Not my cup of tea but...
She rejoins STAIR - bottle of Port and two glasses in hand.
Any port in a storm.
PATRICE pours two glasses of Port, hands one to STAIR.
She holds up her glass. STAIR holds up his, clink’s Patrices’
Why did you and Nick hate each other?
Did Nick say he hated me?
PATRICE shakes her head.
So, he didn’t say I was a cunt and he didn’t say he hated me!
I’m joining the dots. I think what he hated was that...
STAIR raises his hand to discourage further questioning.
You guys have at least one thing in common. Had.
She mimics his ”I don’t want to talk about it” gesture.
I’m sorry for what happened back...
STAIR smiles, holds up his hand - parodying himself. PATRICE laughs, holds up her hand, mimics Stair’s gesture. He smiles.
But there are a lot of people who will be happy Nick is dead. (A BEAT) And he would not have gone wherever he was going without an interpreter.
Where was he going?
He wouldn’t tell me.
I don’t know. He told me most things but there were some things... And this was the only time I saw him scared. I mean, really scared.
She looks at STAIR, waiting for some kind of response.
My curiosity is not going to bring Nick back. (A BEAT) Some dots are best left unjoined.
But you’re a lawyer. I would have thought...
Was. Joining dots drove me crazy.
PATRICE takes another slug of her port, disappears into her own memories, worries, questions. STAIR looks at her. She looks back at him, tears in her eyes.
Yes, you can drive yourself crazy trying to join dots...but...
And you can drive yourself even crazier ending sentences with ‘but, dot, dot, dot’
PATRICE smiles through her tears.
You and Nick are more alike than you think.
Are you aware of how often you leap to conclusions about what I think.
If you play your cards close to your chest, leaping to conclusions, joining dots is all I can do, if...
PATRICE takes another slug of port. She is tipsy now.
If I want to understand...
Is that important? That you understand me?
You’re Nick’s brother.
Did you understand him?
PATRICE laughs, shakes her head.
I thought I did, but...there I go again. But, but, but...I don’t understand myself so why the fuck should I...presume to be able to understand Nick...or anyone else?
STAIR looks at her, intrigued. Their eyes meet for a moment.
You mind if I asked you a personal question...about you and Nick?
If I did mind, would you ask it anyway?
Just like your brother. (A BEAT) Probably, after another glass of wine.
If its the one I think you want to ask, the answer is yes.
Yes, I can ask it?
No, yes I would mind. Do mind. Let sleeping dogs lie.
They look at each other for a long moment. PATRICE drains her glass, stands, walks out of the room.
STAIR picks up his mobile, starts to write a text message.
PATRICE walks back into the room, holding the photo of Stair and Nick, as boys.
She hands it to NICK. He looks at the photo, though cracked glass, of:
Stair, aged 16 and Nick, aged 13, tennis rackets in one hand and the other wrapped around their brother’s shoulder, smiling for the camera.
STAIR looks at it for a moment, then at PATRICE.
It looks like you were close. (A BEAT) Once upon a time?
STAIR looks back at the photo.
But then...? What? Twelve years ago. Thirteen? What happened? (A BEAT) Nick wouldn’t tell me and, hey, I know I’m joining dots again but...it drives me crazy not knowing. And it, whatever ‘it’ was, drove Nick crazy too, even if he tried hard to pretend he didn’t give a fuck, just like you pretend you don’t give a fuck that your brother is dead. Maybe murdered. I think murdered, but...but, but, but...
PATRICE notices that STAIR’S hands are shaking.
You know how that crack got to be there?
STAIR makes a gesture with his shaking hand: stop.
One night, I asked him about another photo I had seen...
It was a photo he didn’t want me to see. Hidden...
For fuck’s sake, Patrice, stop. Please.
PATRICE nods, takes another slug of port. STAIR’S whole body is shaking now. He tries to hide it and is embarrassed that she is seeing him in this state.
PATRICE takes one of his hands in her own. Their eyes meet for a long moment. STAIR tries to extricate his hand from PATRICE’S but she won’t let go of it.
A loud ‘ping’ emanates from STAIR’S mobile phone.
STAIR ignores it, pulls his hand free of PATRICE’S. He holds his hands tightly together, trying to stop them shaking.
His mobile ‘pings’ again. He picks it up, reads the text message, looks out into the gathering darkness.
Not good news.
Worse than your brother being murdered?
STAIR ignores her, starts to write a text message.
Will you please turn that fucking thing off?
STAIR ignores her, continues writing his text message.
PATRICE, furious, grabs the bottle of Port, fills her glass, glares at STAIR.
Hey, my brother just died. Maybe it was an accident, maybe he was murdered but I don’t give a shit because, hey, I’m a bigshot corporate lawyer and I’ve got this big fucking deal happening and I’m going to make megabucks if I play my cards right and, hey, I hated my brother anyway, so...shit happens...
You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
Why the fuck would I want to do that?
PATRICE grabs his mobile phone, runs to the other side of a couch, takes a slug of Port.
STAIR stands stock still, fists clenched but willing himself to remain calm.
PATRICE reads his text message:
“Tell them whatever you need to tell them to keep them calm for the next 24 hours.”
She laughs, shakes her head, takes another slug of Port.
“Tell them whatever you need?” Lie, you mean? This is what you need to get back to Sydney for, isn’t it? A deal that can only happen if you lie? How much money are you going to make, Alistair?
STAIR is ready to explode but holding it in. Just!
Alistair? Stair? No wonder Nick hated you. You’re a shallow, venal...
STAIR moves to walk around the couch, his hand held out.
Give it to me.
PATRICE shakes her head, drains the rest of her Port, throws the glass at the wall. It smashes.
As they circle around the couch, PATRICE opens Stair’s photos folder, flicks through them manically.
A wide shot of the skeleton in the driver’s seat stop her in her tracks. She freezes, in shock. Her hands begin to shake. She glares at STAIR, madness in her eyes.
Give it to me.
She flicks through to:
A closer shot of the skeleton.
Why did you take these?
The skeletal hands holding the steering wheel.
What kind of monster are you? Ghoul! Vampire! How dare you!
STAIR leaps over the couch, tries to wrestle the mobile from her. She screams like a banchee; knees him hard in the groin.
STAIR doubles over in pain for a moment, recovers, chases her, wrestles her to the ground, pins her down, kneeling astride her, his hands holding her wrists firmly against the floor; their heads close together.
They stare into each others eyes - both breathing deeply, exhausted by their struggle.
STAIR has complete control now but she still has his mobile clutched in her tightly held fist. PATRICE’S sarong is awry, her naked body partially exposed.
She glares at him, hate in her eyes, suddenly raises her head, mouth open. It is not clear if she wants to bite or kiss him. STAIR pulls his head back.
They stare into each others eyes - both breathing deeply, exhausted by their struggle.
PATRICE becomes aware that someone has entered the room. STAIR follows her gaze, looks up to see:
BALIN MEAS, a confused look on his face, a pistol in his hand, standing in the doorway.
83 EXT. GARDEN. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
PATRICE stares into KATIE’S camera, lost in her memories.
“There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain...”
Sorry, you’ve lost me.
I’ve lost me, too. (A BEAT) There may be wisdom in a little wine but too much...
She upends her glass, drinks the rest of her wine; smiles.
84 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. DAY
STAIR walks towards Nick’s burnt out 4WD.
Indeed, why? Whose?
BALIN MEAS greets STAIR with an outstretched hand.
You are the brother.
STAIR nods, shakes BALIN MEAS’ hand.
My deepest sympathy.
In the background PATRICE can be seen her knees, vomiting.
STAIR turns away for a moment, steels himself, turns back and walks up to the open 4WD door to take a closer look at:
The skeleton, whose hands, with no flesh attached to the bones, clutche the steering wheel.
85 EXT. BUN’S HOME. RURAL CAMBODIA. DAY
BUN looks out across the rice paddy. Her POV:
As STAIR inspects NICK’s burnt out 4WD 40 or so meters away, PATRICE rises from her knees, wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. BALIN MEAS walks up to and talks to her. Deeper in the background a shiny white 4WD approaches.
86 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. LATE AFTERNOON
STAIR looks at the skeleton. BALIN MEAS walks up.
Miss Patrice says your brother carried plastic containers filled with petrol in the back of his car. (STAIR nods.) This is not a good idea.
STAIR shakes his head but his attention remains on the skeleton’s hands clutching the steering wheel.
In the background PATRICE, alongside her 4WD, can be seen unscrewing a plastic bottle of water and rinsing her mouth.
Close on PATRICE, her eyes focused on the approaching shiny white 4WD as she leans in through the door of her 4WD and lifts her camera from the back seat.
Close on STAIR looking at:
The skeletal hands on the steering wheel.
BALIN MEAS watches as STAIR takes out his mobile and positions himself to take a photo.
There is something about the skeletal hands on the steering wheel that puzzles STAIR.
The bright shining white 4WD with 'Australian Embassy' decals on it, pulls up alongside STAIR and BALIN MEAS.
CAMPBELL NEWTON steps out of the 4WD. He signals his ‘hello’ to PATRICE with a friendly wave. She acknowledges CAMPBELL but is preoccupied with taking photos.
Alistair? (STAIR nods.) Campbell Newton. From the Australian Embassy.
He holds out his hand. STAIR shakes it.
I am so sorry about your brother. So sorry.
Thank you, Campbell.
CAMPBELL glimpses at the skeleton in the front seat, grimaces, turns away.
Oh, my God!
As she is taking photos, PATRICE sees BUN, on the other side of the rice paddy, looking towards the burnt out 4WD.
BALIN MEAS (VOICE OFF)
So, the fire started in the engine...
BALIN MEAS talks to STAIR and CAMPBELL.
...ignited the petrol fumes in the empty empty tank. An explosion...
PATRICE walks up.
...ignited the petrol containers...
Where is Nick's translator? And what about witnesses...Did anyone see what happened? Like that old lady over there...
PATRICE points to where she saw BUN. The old lady is gone.
There’s an old lady...She might have...
Don’t ‘hey Patrice’ me. Fuck you. Nick never went out into the field without a translator. (A BEAT) Hardly ever.
There's only one body.
So this is one of the times he didn’t.
We don’t know that.
Carrying petrol in plastic containers inside your car is a fucking stupid idea...
Yes, but he had a lot of enemies.
Nick made a serious error in judgment and...Shit happens!
Serious errors of judgment were a specialty of Nick’s.
Like me? Am I one of Nick’s ‘serious errors of judgment’?
STAIR shrugs. He doesn’t know and doesn’t care.
Fuck you, Alistair.
PATRICE spins on her heels, strides back to her car. CAMPBELL hesitates a moment then rushes after her.
She is grieving. You must be patient.
STAIR nods, watches as CAMPBELL tries to calm PATRICE down.
CLOSE TO Patrice’s 4WD, as she takes a key from her key ring:
He was fucking murdered, Campbell. He...
Patrice, I know this is very painful for you...but...look, we’ll make sure the police investigate this properly but it does look as though...
Yes, because its supposed to look as though it was a ‘tragic accident’... Nick was onto something, Campbell. Something big. I don’t know what but...
CAMPBELL nods half-heartedly. It is clear to PATRICE that he is only humouring her. She takes a key from her key ring
Give this to...
She gestures towards STAIR, hands the key to CAMPBELL, gets into her 4WD, sees an ambulance approaching behind her in the rear-vision mirror.
87 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. CLOSE TO SUNSET
As the AMBULANCE DRIVER and his ASSISTANT prepare to lift the skeletal remains from the 4WD onto a trolley, BALIN MEAS hands his card through the window of the Embassy 4WD to STAIR, sitting in the passenger seat. CAMPBELL is in the driver’s seat.
When can I...get....my brother?
Tomorrow, I think. a little paper work and...
I will organize everything, Alistair.
Travel well, my friend. And safely.
Thank you, Balin.
Meas. Meas is my given name, Balin my surname.
BALIN MEAS places his hand on STAIR’S upper arm.
Good luck to you. I will call you if...
CAMPBELL drives off. BALIN MEAS turns, walks back to where the AMBULANCE DRIVER and his ASSISTANT are lifting the skeletal remains. BALIN MEAS sees something:
The part of Nick’s trousers in contact with the seat have not been totally burnt. In the pocket there is something yellow.
BALIN MEAS lifts from the pocket the melted remnants of a yellow mobile phone.
88 INT. AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY 4WD. DUSK
CAMPBELL drives. STAIR is trying to make a phone call but having no luck at all. Beside him, on the seat, the burnt remnants of the laptop computer.
We’ll have reception in about 50 ks. (A BEAT) I liked your brother.
STAIR nods, gives CAMPBELL no encouragement at all.
He made me laugh.
CAMPBELL ploughs on, regardless of STAIR’S clear lack of interest in having this conversation.
And made our lives at the Embassy a nightmare...’Relentless’ is the word I’d use. Incessant questions, requests...demands... for interviews... criticisms of foreign policy. (A BEAT) We couldn’t do anything right.
STAIR nods, tries again to make a call. No luck. He changes to ‘photo’ mode, glances briefly at a photo of:
Nick’s skeletal hands on the steering wheel.
STAIR looks at the screen of his mobile for a long moment; looks up to see a logging truck ahead - piled high with logs.
There's not much virgin forest left. (A BEAT) as Nick kept reminding us.
STAIR nods, glances briefly at the logging truck as they overtake it, then back at the screen of his phone.
89 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. LATE AFTERNOON
BALIN MEAS crouches by the driver’s door of Nick’s burnt out yellow 4WD. He reaches under the seat, extracts a severely burnt leather pouch, opens it and extracts a Glock pistol.
...to be continued...