Monday, March 9, 2015
# 6 ANGKOR
124 EXT. PHNOM PENH AIRPORT. DAY
NICK, looking a good deal younger that we have seen him before, emerges from the crowded ‘Arrivals’ exit wearing a backpack; a laptop computer bag slung around his neck.
In bright sunshine he is accosted by a horde of taxi and tuk tuk drivers offering their services.
NICK holds up his hand. He does not want to make a quick decision. His attention is caught by an ATTRACTIVE WOMAN waiting with her luggage. A SMILING MAN approaches her, greets her with a loving hug and a kiss.
NICK’s attention shifts to the 40 year old tuk tuk driver at his side. This is KIM CHAKRA.
You need hotel cheap?
Do I look like someone who wants a cheap hotel.
KIM CHAKRA looks him up and down, nods.
Yes. (A BEAT)
125 INT/EXT. TUK TUK. PHNOM PENH STREET. DAY
As KIM CHAKRA drives, NICK takes in the sights, smells and sounds of the crowded and chaotic streets of Phnom Penh.
I am Kim Chakra. You call me Kim. More easy than Chakra.
I am Nicholas Morecombe. You call me Nick. More easy than Morecombe.
KIM CHAKRA (laughs)
You first time visit Cambodia.
How long you stay?
Maybe two weeks, maybe two years...
Maybe get Cambodia wife.
It’s not impossible. (A BEAT) I mean its possible. Anything is possible.
NICK takes out a notebook, writes:
Anything is possible.
The tuk tuk pulls up at a traffic light. TWO BEGGAR BOYS walk up - hands outstretched.
NICK opens his wallet, takes out 2 $1 bills - hands one each to the BEGGAR BOYS. Their eyes light up. More BEGGAR CHILDREN arrive - hands outstretched.
NICK looks in his wallet. No more small bills. Only $20s.
How do you say “I have no money.”
Ach mien loy.
NICK smiles at the BEGGAR CHILDREN, shrugs his shoulders.
Ach Mien loy.
A BEGGAR GIRL points to his wallet.
You have twenty dollar!
She indicates the group of 7 or 8 BEGGAR CHILDREN. He takes $20 out of his wallet.
He hands $20 to the BEGGAR GIRL.
You share, OK?
The BEGGAR GIRL nods, beams a big white smile, turns to the other kids, speaks in Khmer.
BEGGAR GIRL (subtitled)
We share this, OK?
The BEGGAR CHILDREN nod, holds their hands up in a prayer gesture of thanks to NICK.
The lights change. The tuk tuk begins to move off. NICK takes another $20 note from his pocket, holds it out. The BEGGAR CHILDREN, laughing, run to catch up with the tuk tuk as it picks up speed. A BEGGAR BOY, aged about 11, heads the pack, grabs the $20 note, holds it aloft victoriously.
NICK turns to watch the BEGGAR CHILDREN making their way back to the pavement with their newfound fortune. He smiles.
What you job, Mr Nick?
I’m a novelist, Kim. (A BEAT) You know what a novel is? (A BEAT) A story.
Right, right. What the name your book? Last one?
I haven’t written it yet.
My job is journalist but...
126 EXT. BAR AREA. BACKPACKING HOSTEL. DAY
NICK sits at a table in a funky bar in a backpacking hostel, laptop in front of him; drinking beer and talking with blonde 19 year old German backpacker, INGRID.
...when I grow up I want to be a novelist.
When I grow up I want to be in your novel.
What character do you want to play?
You choose. You’re the writer.
You could be the backpacker our hero meets in a backpacking hostel in...
Does he have a name?
Describe this girl?
She is beautiful...blonde, bold and brassy...German...
Does he fall for her immediately or does he play hard to get?
127 INT. NICK’S ROOM. BACKPACKING HOSTEL. DAY
INGRID, naked, is sprawled on the double bed in Nick’s small room. NICK’S head is buried in her crotch, giving her head. Judging by INGRID’S response he is proficient at the task.
128 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
STAIR sits at the table with CHANTOU, a blue cocktail in front of him.
CHANTOU strokes STAIR’S thigh.
You are very handsome.
You are very pretty.
I am Chantou. What is your name?
Hello Chantou. My name is Stair.
What means ‘stair’.
My name is Alistair. Stair is the shortened...my name in short.
My name mean’s ‘flower’ I smell sweet, like a flower.
She leans towards STAIR, her face close to his, presenting her neck for him to smell. STAIR sniffs theatrically.
What country are you?
How long you stay Cambodia?
Two days? So short!?
CHANTOU strokes his arm.
Closeby, QUONG TRAN, a well-dressed and groomed Vietnamese man - observes CHANTOU overtly sexual stroking of STAIR’S arm. STAIR seems to enjoy the attention.
You like massage? ( BEAT) I can give you special massage, good!
What makes your ‘special massage’ special?
CHANTOU throws her had back, laughs, and is about to explain when QUONG TRAN walks up, gestures to her to leave. As she does so, hers and STAIR’S eyes meet for a moment.
QUONG TRAN sits in her chair.
You cannot believe anything Kimsong says.
She told me her name was Chantou.
QUONG TRAN (laughs)
Our ‘flower’ girl. Did she offer to open her petals for you?
My name is Quong Tran. And you?
Alistair. (A BEAT) You are here to gamble, Mr Alistair?
STAIR holds up his hand, shakes his head.
For the ladies?
STAIR shakes his head.
A spy, perhaps?
Yes, a spy.
Do you mind if I ask you why you are here?
I don’t know, Tran. Why are you here?
I am the manager.
129 INT. NICK’S ROOM. BACKPACKING HOSTEL. DAY
INGRID, still naked, hot and sweaty, sits cross-legged on Nick’s bed smoking a cigarette - facing NICK, also naked, sweating and sitting cross-legged.
What happens next?
They go for a walk down by the river.
130 EXT. BOULEVARDE BY RIVER. DAY
NICK and INGRID walk along the boulevard that runs alongside the Bassac River in downtown Phnom Penh.
You should call him Daniel. (A BEAT) Your hero.
In the lion’s den.
INGRID growls like a lion.
And the German lass? (A BEAT) I think, Freya.
After the goddess?
There’s goddess called Freya?
Golden-haired. Goddess of love and beauty. Like Aphrodite...Venus. Wears a fire-jewel necklace made by four dwarves after she spent one night with each and drives a chariot, drawn by cats and she cries tears of red gold.
How do you know stuff like that?
Not just a pretty face.
I never think you are.
He kisses her on the cheek.
But you have a clever tongue.
A clever tongue!
131 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
STAIR talks with QUONG TRAN.
I have lost a lot of money. A lot!
Perhaps your luck will be better here.
You have a ‘problem’, no? (A BEAT) Then why are you here, Mr Alistair? Are you tempting fate? Are you testing to see which is more powerful - your will power or your addiction?
My will power has already won that battle.
He takes out a $100 bill, holds it out to STAIR.
There are no strings. If you win, you give me back my $100. If you lose...it is only a piece of paper.
STAIR smiles, shakes his head.
Thank you very much, but no.
I cannot tempt you?
STAIR shakes his head. QUONG TRAN smiles, withdraws the $100 bill, looks to where CHANTOU, closeby, stands watching him and STAIR.
STAIR follows QUONG TRAN’S eyes and sees CHANTOU staring at him - a sultry look in her eyes. She smiles. As she does so a door opens behind her as a HOSTESS, bearing a tray of colourful cocktails, enters a private gambling room.
In the few seconds that the door is open, STAIR sees WING CHOU sitting at a round green velvet covered table playing a card game with OTHER PLAYERS. There stacks of chips on the table are very high. On either side of WING CHOU is a very attractive and scantily clad woman in her late teens.
QUONG TRAN’S eyes follow STAIR’S. He holds out the $100 bill.
Here, test your will power. This will buy you five chips.
STAIR looks at the $100 bill, looks up to catch another glimpse of WING CHOU before the door closes. He glances at CHANTOU. She smiles at him. He looks at the $100 bill in QUONG TRAN’S outstretched hand.
132 EXT. BOULEVARDE BY RIVER. DAY
You heard of Freya von Moltke?
INGRID shakes her head.
German anti-Nazi resistance group member. (A BEAT) I read about her somewhere a few years back.
You have a photographic memory?
Not photographic but…it's OK, I guess.
I can’t remember what I had for lunch!
She licks her lips.
You feeling hungry?
INGRID sees something ahead that shocks her.
Walking towards NICK and INGRID is a tall blonde-haired young man wearing a backpack. This is GERARD. He beams a smile.
GERARD hugs INGRID, covers her in kisses. INGRID and GERARD speak in French.
I thought you were arriving tomorrow?
I wanted to surprise you.
INGRID (subtitled) Well, I am surprised.
(Ingrid switches to English)
I was just telling...
(She turns to NICK.)
Sorry, I don’t know your name.
We just met a few minutes ago.
Daniel, this is my friend, Gerard.
GERARD (French accent)
GERARD smiles, holds out his hand.
133 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick, onscreen, looks out at PATRICE.
Yes, that’s how I actually met Gerard. The story I told you...well...
Was a lie!
Was a lie.
PATRICE presses ‘pause’, shakes her head. She can’t believe it! She thinks for a moment, stands, walks to Nick’s large cluttered notice-board - criss-crossed with different coloured threads connecting photos of men. She looks at:
A glossy magazine clipping - the headline of which reads:
UN HUMANITARIAN AWARDS DINNER.
A group of elegantly dressed men and women stand in front of a United Nations logo, smile for the camera.
Beneath this photo are several smaller photos of individual awards winners. One has been circled and is connected by lengths of coloured thread to photos of others scattered across the notice board. CLOSE ON a photo of:
Gerard, identified by name - his hair short, wearing a suit, clutching his award; smiling confidently.
134 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
STAIR sits at a poker table with WING CHOU and THREE PLAYERS; five chips in front of him; his mobile phone at his side.
CHANTOU stands alongside him, one hand resting lightly on his shoulder. KATYA, early 20’s, blonde and Russian, stands alongside WING CHOU but has her eyes on STAIR.
STAIR pushes two chips onto the table to ‘meet’ WING CHOU.
Meet and raise three.
He pushes his last 3 chips onto the table.
TWO PLAYERS ‘fold’. The THIRD PLAYER ‘meets’ STAIR and pushes 3 more chips onto the table.
WING CHOU pushes 3 more chips onto the table; looks at STAIR.
STAIR opens his wallet, takes out $100, hands it to KATYA. She hands him 5 chips. He places 3 of them on the table, then pushes 2 more forward. His phone begins to vibrate.
The THIRD PLAYER folds. STAIR ignores his phone.
WING CHOU pushes 10 chips onto the table.
STAIR, his face devoid of expression, reaches for his wallet.
135 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
PATRICE returns from the kitchen area carrying a glass of wine, sits in front of her laptop; presses ‘play’.
Nick’s frozen face onscreen comes to life.
You’ll find my ‘Gerard’ file in my computer under ‘flambe’.
Your computer was destroyed in the fire you cretin, so...
If something happened to my computer, it is all backed up in the Cloud. (A BEAT) Just in case someone else is looking at this who shouldn’t be, here’s a clue to my password...Stairway to Heaven.
Stairway to heaven!
You’ll figure it out. Smart girl like you. (A BEAT) You know, being dead is not as bad in reality as it seems in theory, though I must say I am going to miss being at my funeral. Or has it already happened? Probably be the only time in my life when people have something nice to say about me.
Nick grins boyishly.
PATRICE freeze frames Nick’s smiling face - laughing and crying at the one time. She leans forward, kisses the image of Nick onscreen on the lips.
136 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Close on STAIR’S wallet. He takes out the last of his money: 3 $20 bills, hands them to KATYA. She gives him 3 more chips.
That’s the last of it. Unless you have an ATM.
Of course we have an ATM but I do not want to take any more of your money.
And nor I yours.
STAIR pushes his 3 chips onto the table - to join what is now quite a large pile. He takes a sip of the blue cocktail at his side.
WING CHOU’s lays his cards on the table. STAIR looks at them for a long moment, his face giving nothing away. After a moment he nods his head, purses his lips and raises his eyebrows as if in an admission of defeat.
WING CHOU smiles. STAIR lays his card on the table. The smile disappears from WING CHOU’S face, but only for a moment.
CHANTOU laughs gleefully, kisses STAIR on the cheek.
WING CHOU is a good loser. Referring to CHANTOU:
She brings you luck.
I don’t believe in luck.
You make your own luck? (A BEAT) Captain of your own ship?
Captain of my own ship!
137 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
PATRICE sits in front of her laptop, types a password into a box: “ACCESS DENIED”. She has a list of possible passwords written on a note pad beside her. She types in another, then hesitates.
138 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Only STAIR and WING CHOU are playing now. KATYA, blue drink in hand, tries to make eye contact with STAIR. CHANTOU warns her off with a narrowing of her eyes.
WING CHOU finishes dealing the second round of cards. As STAIR picks his up:
Are you superstitious, Mr Wing Chou?
I believe that there are some things beyond my control.
STAIR’s phone vibrates. He picks it up, looks at the screen:
And who, or what, has control of the things that are beyond your control?
Forces more powerful than your ego, Mr Morecombe. Or mine. Forces I respect.
Forces that you try to control nonetheless?
You speak in riddles, Mr Morecombe. It is we inscrutable Orientals who speak in riddles! Not you Occidentals!
Do you believe that baby turtles will bring you luck? The number 8? Deflowering a virgin girl?
WING CHOU looks at STAIR for a long moment, his face devoid of any identifiable expression. STAIR meets his stare.
Perhaps, Mr Morecombe, you should play your hand before your lucky streak comes to an end.
139 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Close on the photo of:
Gerard - his hair short, wearing a suit, clutching his award; smiling confidently.
A finger follows the red thread running from this photo of Gerard across the board to the circled photo of Wing Chou.
PATRICE stands in front of the notice board, deep in thought.
140 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Close on WING CHOU, his eyes on STAIR.
STAIR, slightly tipsy, pushes his huge pile of chips over to KATYA, sitting alongside him with wads of $100 bills. The poker game is at an end.
Both KATYA and CHANTOU vie for STAIR’S attention.
Surely you are not going to disappoint these young ladies, Mr Morecombe?
It is too difficult to choose, so...
You could have both.
KATYA places wads of $100 bills in a small blue carry bag.
That would be greedy. Why don’t you have them both, Mr Wing Chou? (A BEAT) Or are they too old for you?
141 INT. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
STAIR, the blue carry bag resting in his lap, looks at the screen of Patrice’s laptop:
...in the Cloud. Just in case someone else is looking at this who I’d rather wasn’t here’s a clue to my password...Stairway to Heaven.
PATRICE’S eyes are on STAIR.
Stairway to heaven!
You’ll figure it out. Smart girl like you.
PATRICE presses pause.
The ‘smart girl’ hasn’t figured it out. ‘Stairway’ is a reference to you, I guess, so Nick thinks you know the password.
STAIR shakes his head.
Haven’t got a clue! Why would he...? (A BEAT) Password!? Obviously something that he figures I’d figure out easily, but...
Those photos you took, of the... ...hands on the steering wheel? (A BEAT) Why did you take them?
I took a lot of photos.
Yes, but why those ones? And so many? (A BEAT) I think I know why but I want you to tell me. (A BEAT) I want to know if I can trust you.
Why is it important that you trust me?
Please, Stair, don’t play word games with me! Not now. I need to be able to...trust....someone. (A BEAT) If the fire had started the way Meas says it did...
Nick’s death wasn’t an accident.
PATRICE is gobsmacked.
And you knew that when you took those photos?
How soon did you suspect?
The moment I saw those hands. On the steering wheel.
PATRICE, angry, can’t believe what she is hearing.
But...! Why didn’t you tell me? (A BEAT) Why did you let me believe... that you didn’t...?
PATRICE is quite agitated.
And now you’re just going to leave?
STAIR holds her flailing arms at the wrist.
OK, OK, calm down. I’ll explain everything. But first...
STAIR takes a bottle of wine out of the blue carry bag.
We are going to have a proper drink. And not any of that Port crap.
PATRICE looks at the bottle; reacts with shock.
Is this? (Stair nods) Where the fuck did you get this at this time of night?
STAIR makes a gesture with his hands: ‘money’.
PATRICE smiles, shakes her head.
142 EXT. STAIR’S HOME. DAY
STAIR sits in front of the camera on a tripod - on either side of which sit TODD and KATIE. They wait for STAIR to continue with his story. He doesn’t.
So, you had a drink, and...?
Todd, you have an extraordinary skill in stating the obvious.
I’m just trying to establish...
What? Establish what? Righ now all you are doing is annoying me with your stupid questions? Why don’t you leave the questions to Katie?
A long silence. KATIE looks at TODD. He reluctantly gestures to her to continue.
If you could look directly into the camera? (A BEAT) Mr Morecombe, can you tell us what happened next? You were with Patrice, you had a very expensive bottle of Italian wine and...
We talked...we drank some wine and talked, I caught a taxi back to my hotel, got a....reasonably good night’s sleep and was on my way to the airport when...
You talked? That’s all? About...?
STAIR holds his hand up.
My flight didn’t leave for 3 hours. I had plenty of time but...You know the saying: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
And if you want to make God laugh even louder, tell her how much you know.
143 EXT. HOTEL. PHNOM PENH. DAY
STAIR walks briskly from the hotel entrance to a waiting taxi, pulling his carry on luggage (plus carry bag) behind him. He has his mobile phone to his ear.
Tell them...tell them that...Ask them if they have a counter offer? Don’t back down but let them know that...I’m open to negotiation.
As he hands his luggage to the taxi driver, opens the passenger door and sits:
Flight gets in at 7. I’ll come straight from the airport, so schedule a meeting for late morning, OK?
144 INT CAB. DOWNTOWN PHNOM PENH. DAY
STAIR sits, drums his free hand on his knee nervously.
And don’t panic. The fat lady etc...
STAIR listens for a moment.
OK, in the morning...chou.
He hangs up as the TAXI DRIVER opens the driver’s door.
Fuck! (A BEAT) Fuck, fuck, fuck...
STAIR does not register the TAXI DRIVER sitting, driving off.
He stares out the window, mind racing, as the cab makes its way down busy back streets.
As the cab turns a corner STAIR’S attention is caught by a man standing on the pavement talking on a mobile phone.
He takes the plastic bag from his pocket with the melted remnants of the yellow mobile phone, looks at it.
From a pocket in his computer bag he takes out a photo (seen earlier) of:
Nick taking on his red mobile phone.
STAIR opens up ‘camera’ on his iPhone, looks at a photo of:
Skeletal hands clutching the steering wheel.
He looks out the window, trying to solve the puzzle that confronts him. Something up ahead that catches his attention.
POLICEMAN #1, uniformed, beats a BEGGAR WOMAN with a bamboo cane on the footpath. A crying BABY sits on the footpath.
The taxi stops. STAIR leaps out.
145 EXT. DOWNTOWN PHNOM PENH. DAY
STAIR rushes up to POLICEMAN #1, grabs his arm.
POLICEMAN #1 turns, shouts at STAIR in Khmer.
As POLICEMAN #1 tries to free his arm from STAIR’S grip the STREET BEGGAR picks up her BABY and runs off.
STAIR releases his grip, points his finger at him.
No. You don’t do that! Fuck you!
POLICEMAN #1 glares at him, shocked.
STAIR turns, makes his way back towards the taxi- parked 20 or so meters down the road. It becomes apparent that this incident is occurring outside a closed ‘girlie bar’.
POLICEMAN #1 talks urgently on his mobile; hangs up, runs after STAIR, grabs his arm: speaks in broken English.
You give me fuck phone.
STAIR spins around, holds up his hand. POLICEMAN #1 reaches out to grab STAIR’S mobile. STAIR pulls away.
POLICEMAN #1 raises the cane to hit him. STAIR gestures aggressively that this would not be a wise move.
A window on the 2nd floor of the girlie bar opens. A MAN WEARING BLUE REFLECTIVE SUNGLASSES and a “Yankees” baseball cap looks down on what is taking place in the street.
POLICEMAN #1 backs off a little, looks up the street. POLICEMAN #2 is running towards them.
STAIR holds his phone up, takes photo of POLICEMAN #1. This enrages him. POLICEMAN #1 lifts his cane threateningly.
STAIR takes another photo.
POLICEMAN #1 holds his hand partially over the lens. Another photo. STAIR keeps taking photos of POLICEMAN #1 as he walks backwards towards the cab.
POLICEMAN #1 (SUBTITLED)
POLICEMAN #2 grabs STAIR from behind, holds him in a ‘bear hug’ as POLICEMAN #1 tries to take his phone.
STAIR holds his phone tight in his clenched hand.
A SMALL CROWD gathers - many of them filming with their mobile phones.
POLICEMEN #1 and #2 fail in their attempts to wrest STAIR’S mobile phone from him.
POLICEMAN #3 appears on the scene. STAIR drops to the road, face down - his mobile, protected by his body.
POLICEMAN #2 tries, without success, to get onlookers to stop filming.
POLICEMAN #1 beats STAIR with his fists as POLICEMAN #3 reaches under him trying to get his mobile.
Through the wall of people who have gathered to watch, VANNY appears - a tray of books slung around her neck.
You give phone or we arrest.
STAIR (shouts) No. Anyone here who speaks English? VANNY and STAIR’S eyes meet for a moment. Mutual recognition.
The MAN WEARING BLUE REFLECTIVE SUNGLASSES, “Yankees” baseball cap pulled over his face, push through the crowd; take a comb from his pocket.
VANNY reacts with shock as she sees:
The MAN WEARING SUNGLASSES press a button that transforms the comb into a short-blade knife.
The MAN WEARING SUNGLASSES moves forward, towards where STAIR is lying - the comb knife concealed.
Close on VANNY.
….to be continued…