Monday, April 11, 2016
NEST OF VIPERS Ep # 3 (B)
35 INT. ROADSIDE CAFE. DAY
NICK, MUNNY, CHAKRA and NANDA sit at a grimy Formica table in a low-rent roadside cafe. NICK films with his small camera.
I became unconsciousness for a short time and when I came to I saw that Vibrol was bleeding; crying. The captain lifted him from the deck...
NICK looks to CHAKRA, waiting for his translation. CHAKRA holds his hand up: Wait. MUNNY pauses for a long moment.
...and threw my son into the sea. Vibrol could not swim. He cried out, ‘Papa’. Just ‘Papa’.
Tears well in CHAKRA’s eyes. MUNNY’S next sentence, in Khmer, is mixed with ANGELA’s voice.
ANGELA (voice over)
“Then he was gone. Swallowed by the sea.”
36 INT. NICK’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
ANGELA, sits cross-legged on the bed, reads a print-out of Nick’s article. Her eyes glisten with moisture.
“I wanted to die.
37 INT. CAR. DAWN
Music over. MUNNY sits in the back of Nick’s 4WD, staring out the window at the procession of rice paddies slipping by.
38 EXT. NICK’S 4WD. DAY
Music continues over. CHAKRA drives the yellow 4WD into a village in which can be seen signs of extreme poverty.
39 INT. NICK’S 4WD. DAY
Music continues over. MUNNY signals to CHAKRA to stop. He does so. MUNNY and NICK get out of the car.
MUNNY raises his hands in a prayer gesture of thanks first to NICK and then to CHAKRA.
MUNNY’S WIFE and children appear in the background.
NICK takes out his wallet, removes a couple of $100 bills, hands them to MUNNY. MUNNY bows and again raises his hands in a prayer gesture of thanks.
MUNNY’S wife moves towards him. MUNNY turns.
NICK gets back into the 4WD, looks out the window:
MUNNY greets his wife in the background. She looks behind him for her son. MUNNY talks to her. She screams, falls to the ground. MUNNY kneels to comfort her. VILLAGERS gather around.
ANGELA (voice over)
“Without slaves like Munny and Vibrol producing low cost fishmeal from the ‘trash fish’...”
40 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
ANGELA, sitting in front of the camera, finishes reading from a manuscript:
“...Thailand's multibillion-dollar farmed prawn industry could not survive.”
KATIE and TODD look at her in silence. ANGELA is very subdued.
Made my blood boil.
KATIE and TODD both nod but are at a loss for words.
You didn’t sleep with Nick that night?
If I had shared a bed with Nick that morning...it was almost dawn by the time he’d told me the whole story...I can promise you there would have been no sleep.
OK, so the next time...
She looks at TODD. He looks at his note-pad, flips pages.
At the hotel. The launch of Wing Chou’s....latest Venture.
41 EXT. HOTEL. CORRIDOR/SWIMMING POOL
Upmarket hotel. Colonial style. ANGELA walks along a tiled corridor; carrying a camera and with a laminated Press pass hanging around her neck. Several well-dressed men and women walk with her - on their way to the same function.
She stops at the top of stairs leading down to the concourse surrounding a swimming pool.
A cocktail party is in progress. A banner (W C I) announces the conveners of this social function: Wing Chou Industries
The Chinese host WING CHOU, mid-60s, impeccably dressed in a white suit, stands on a stage, microphone in hand, addressing the crowd. We have seen him before in the online ‘Eco Casino’ clip Angela viewed earlier on her computer.
We at the International Development Commission of East Asia...
Alongside WING CHOU on a large table, is what appears, from the outline, to be a scale architect’s model - covered in a white ‘tent’.
...are proud of our achievements...
Cambodia’s business elite, Khmer and expatriate, DIPLOMATS, SENIOR POLICE, MILITARY OFFICERS and POLITICIANS mingle.
BALIN MEAS, out of uniform, wearing a suit (and looking quite dashing), nods his ‘hello’ to ANGELA. She reciprocates.
...proud to be given the opportunity to play a significant role in the development of Cambodia...
WAITERS circulate with silver trays laden with flutes of champagne and hors d’oeuvres.
...a from tragic victim of the savage Khmer Rouge regime ...into a vibrant 21st century democracy whose citizens..
ANGELA begins to walk down the stairs; camera at the ready.
...share in the country’s newfound agricultural, mineral and...
WING CHOU gestures to the white tented table beside him.
...tourism driven wealth. This is a Kingdom of Wonder indeed.
As she walks through the crowd ANGELA (and we) recognize a few of the people glimpsed briefly on the ‘Nest of Vipers’ photo montage on Nick’s wall. She takes a flute of champagne from a WAITER with a tray; sips on it.
One of these is TERRY SWINTON, holding a flute of champagne.
A toast to Cambodia.
WING CHOU raises his glass. The ASSEMBLED GUESTS do likewise.
ANGELA spots NICK in the crowd. He raises his glass to her. She smiles, raises her glass, sips on it. He makes his way towards her. In a moment he is standing there, hand outstretched; smiling mischievously.
Miss Angela Partridge, I believe.
She smiles; shakes his hand.
And you’d be Nicholas Morecombe, right.
NICK smiles, leans forward to kiss her. She backs away; frowns.
We don’t know each other, OK?
NICK smiles; nods.
At least not well.
We haven’t kissed!?
We definitely haven’t kissed
SENY, a Khmer man in his mid 40s, makes his way towards NICK; an air of urgency in his manner.
And a toast to our partners, many of whom are with us this evening for the launch of our latest and our most exciting venture to date.
WING CHOU bows to the white ‘tent’ alongside him.
About which I will have more to say in due course. In the meantime eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we will all be but dust and memories in the minds of those we love.
Amidst a little applause, WING CHOU walks down from the stage; mingles with guests as:
NICK introduces SENY to ANGELA:
Seny, this is Angela. (TO ANGELA) Seny. Seny is my Mr Fixit.
Pleased to meet you Mr Fixit.
If you ever have a problem, Seny is your man.
No, no, no, I am merely a humble translator, Miss Angela.
TERRY keeps his eyes on NICK, ANGELA and SENY as he drains his glass of champagne.
Mr Nicholas speaks a lot of ...how can I say?...bullshit.
TERRY turns, says something to his TWO DRINKING COMPANIONS. They nod; look back towards NICK.
If you will forgive me, Miss Angela. I must take Mr Nicholas away from you for a short time?
ANGELA smiles, holds up her hands: “Not a problem.” She walks away from NICK and SENY, scans the concourse; moves into the crowd taking photos.
TERRY takes another flute of champagne from a passing WAITER; glares at NICK, hatred in his eyes. ‘Click’.
ANGELA has taken a photo of TERRY SWINTON and his TWO DRINKING COMPANIONS without them being aware of it.
ANGELA looks back through the crowd to see:
NICK nodding his head earnestly as he listens to SENY.
ANGELA readies herself to take a photo of NICK and SENY.
NICK, focused on what SENY is saying, looks at ANGELA.
She smiles at him but NICK does not acknowledge her smile. His mind is elsewhere. ‘Click’.
ANGELA looks on her camera’s LCD screen at the photo she has taken of Nick and Seny.
From within the crowd, through a sea of people, BALIN MEAS observes ANGELA checking her photos. With the eyes of a hawk he takes notice of everything, recording it in his memory.
ANGELA’S attention is diverted by another face in the crowd:
GERARD MOREAU, late 30s, blonde, handsome; recognizably the same person Angela saw in a photo on Nick’s Nest of Vipers montage - receiving a gold medallion Humanitarian Award.
GERARD’S smile, body language, exudes charm, charisma, as he holds court for a small group of ADMIRERS. One WOMAN, in particular, seem to be particularly impressed by whatever pearls of wisdom flow from his lips.
ANGELA makes eye contact with GERARD.
He nods his greeting to her; smiles broadly. A charmer!
ANGELA nods, smiles in response; glances quickly to NICK to see if he has noticed this interchange.
NICK, listening to SENY, follows ANGELA’S eyeline to see who she is smiling at. His view of Gerard is obscured by the crowd. NICK’S eyes are hawk-like also.
SENY takes out his smart phone. NICK turns his attention back to SENY’S phone as he flicks through photos. We catch only a glimpse: pre-pubescent girls wearing white dresses.
TERRY SWINTON looks through the crowd to see ANGELA walking in the direction of GERARD, as SENY gestures to his watch, saying something to NICK.
NICK nods, makes an ‘I’ll call you’ gesture (hand to ear), bids farewell to SENY, who heads for the stairs leading from the concourse.
NICK looks back to where ANGELA was standing. She is not there. He scans the crowd looking for her.
In amongst the assembled guests, GERARD focuses his attention on the WOMAN (40’ish), who is clearly enamoured of him.
The world needs more people like you.
Thank you. You are very kind, but I think one is more than enough.
The ENAMOURED WOMAN laughs. ANGELA walks up. GERARD beams a smile at her.
He kisses her on the cheek affectionately.
NICK has spotted TERRY, who holds up his flute of champagne - index finger extended in an unambiguous ‘fuck you’ gesture.
NICK nods to TERRY, takes a couple of steps in his direction before CAMPBELL, steps into his field of vision.
CAMPBELL, impeccably groomed, in a designer suit, wears a badge: “Campbell Newton US Embassy. Acting Vice Consul”
NICK looks at CAMPBELL’S badge.
Acting Vice Consul!
What would I know about vice?
CAMPBELL laughs, touches NICK on the arm.
CAMPBELL (sotto voce)
Only temporary, unfortunately, darling. The operative word is ‘acting’.
As he talks with CAMPBELL, NICK scans the crowd looking for Angela; sees her talking with GERARD; his back turned.
When Daniel returns from Geneva...
GERARD places his hand on ANGELA’S back for a moment - a gesture suggestive of greater intimacies between them.
...I’ll be but a humble Third Secretary again.
Humble! Humility is not something I’d accuse you of...Vice Consul!
CAMPBELL’S voice is heard over as GERARD turns, greets someone in the crowd he knows.
CAMPBELL (voice over)
We haven’t received even one of your...interrogatory letters for at least a month, Nicholas!
NICK and GERARD’S eyes meet. They both acknowledge each other politely. GERARD turns his head away quickly to avoid eye contact. NICK processes what he has just seen.
Not losing our touch are we?
CAMPBELL laughs, touches NICK affectionately.
I do have one question for you?
Are we talking business or pleasure?
CAMPBELL raises his eyebrows suggestively. NICK smiles.
TERRY, his eyes on NICK and CAMPBELL talking, drains his champagne, turns to talk with his TWO DRINKING COMPANIONS.
The ENAMOURED WOMAN hands the gold medallion back to GERARD.
He carries it with him everywhere. He is such a showoff.
Not true! Tonight is a special occasion.
ANGELA glances at NICK, in the crowd, talking to CAMPBELL. She excuses herself with a gesture, walks off. GERARD nods his acknowledgment, hands the ENAMOURED WOMAN his card.
If I can ever be of assistance.
ANGELA walks up to NICK and CAMPBELL; kisses CAMPBELL on the cheek.
Darling! (A BEAT) Do you know Nicholas Morecombe?
Not in the biblical sense, Campbell. (A BEAT) But we have met.
ANGELA takes CAMPBELL’S flute of champagne from him; drinks.
Nice to see you again, Mr Morecombe.
Nice to see you also, Miss Partridge. (A BEAT) I hope to see more of you.
ANGELA laughs; finishes CAMPBELL’S champagne.
You two are not fucking are you?
ANGELA plays the coquette.
I have eyes for you only, Campbell.
If circumstances were different, darling, I would have eyes for you only, believe me!
He’s terrified of vaginas, aren’t you, Campbell!
Unlike you, Nickle Arse! Or so the girls tell me!
CAMPBELL slaps his own wrist.
Ooh! Hold your tongue bitch!
ANGELA laughs, looks at NICK, who smiles, raises his hands: “No comment.”
NICK makes eye contact with a man in the crowd: BRAD, early 30s, a muscular man sporting a crew cut and with a military air about him. BRAD signals to NICK: “Lets talk.”
Don’t be a stranger.
NICK walks up to BRAD, who smiles broadly, puts his hand on NICK’S shoulder; speaks in a Southern United States accent.
Hey, buddy, how ya doin?
Close on ANGELA:
How well do you know Nick?
In lust, darling. Unrequited lust. Alas and alack. I always fall for passionfruit...
CAMPBELL sees KHMER POLITICIAN approaching.
Google it, darling.
CAMPBELL turns on a professional diplomats smile for the approaching KHMER POLITICIAN.
My favourite part of being a diplomat!
CAMPBELL raises his eyebrows, rolls his eyes. ANGELA walks off - her camera at the ready; looking for shots.
Mr Under Secretary...
As she moves through the crowd looking for photo ops, ANGELA keeps her eyes on NICK, engaged in an animated conversation with BRAD. He sees ANGELA looking at him, beams a smile.
ANGELA smiles back in response.
In a subtle gesture NICK blows a kiss to her. ANGELA, with equal subtlety, ‘blows’ one back to him; glances to where GERARD is schmoozing the ENAMOURED WOMAN and others.
ANGELA sees WING CHOU, smiling warmly, talking with TWO CHINESE MEN.
ANGELA positions herself to take a photo. WING CHOU smiles for the camera but the TWO CHINESE MEN remain unsmilingly po-faced - as do the FOUR SECURITY GUARDS who hover closeby.
ANGELA takes a few photos, nods her thanks; walks off.
NICK nods as he listens to what BRAD is saying; makes eye contact with ANGELA. She beams a smile at him, takes a photo.
WING CHOU appears alongside her.
I don’t believe I have had the pleasure. I am Wing Chou.
I am Angela Partridge, Mr Wing Chou.
As in ‘A partridge in a pear tree’?
That’s me, a partridge in a pear tree.
You have not been long in Cambodia, I think?
Just a few weeks.
And what brings you here?
ANGELA laughs, is unsure how to answer the question.
Love? Adventure? Excitement?
All of the above....Something...
We are all looking for something, Miss Partridge. For that elusive, ineffable something that we think we lack and that will transform... bring magic into our lives.
Have you found it?
WING CHOU (laughs)
Ah, the 64 million dollar question. Another time, my dear.
WING CHOU gestures to ANGELA’S camera.
I trust you will choose the photo in which I look most dashingly handsome.
Some colleagues of yours who do not like me have a tendency to choose photos that make me look like...a frog.
In that suit, it would be very difficult to make you look like a frog.
ANGELA touches WING CHOU’S white linen jacket.
An illusion, my dear. A disguise.
May I ask what kind of disguise this (the white suit) is?
Are you familiar with the different colours that make up the light spectrum?
Maybe not as familiar as I should be.
TERRY starts on a new glass of champagne. He is quite drunk now. His attention is focused on NICK talking with BRAD. Behind them, a little deeper in the crowd, WING CHOU and ANGELA can be seen.
WING CHOU opens his arms to embrace the crowd assembled
Closer now to WING CHOU and ANGELA.
What do you see?
ANGELA focuses her attention on a MAN WITH A BEARD talking with a WOMAN wearing a lot of jewelry
A diplomat with a beard smiling too much at a woman who is not his wife, wearing too much make-up ...and bling and wearing clothes that she has borrowed for her twenty-something daughter.
ANGELA looks past NICK and BRAD to TERRY. NICK takes out his journalist’s note-pad; writes in it.
A red-haired man with the florid face of a heavy drinker...
Terry Swinton. Yes, the veins in his face bear witness to his penchant for alcoholic beverages. But that is not my point. Where...
ANGELA looks directly into WING CHOU’S eyes; enchanted. In the background Nick can be seen shaking BRAD’S hand.
...you see an assemblage of individuals, with their idiosyncrasies, I see a community of like-minded spirits...my family...my sometimes dysfunctional family...gathered together to celebrate, to share...our very good fortune.
For you Westerners, the individual is everything. For us...we inscrutable Orientals, family is everything.
NICK walks up.
Mr Wing Chou.
WING CHOU bows to NICK, extends his hand.
NICK shakes WING CHOU’S hand.
Mr Wing Chou has been explaining to me how inscrutable men in the East see the world in a quite a different way from we individualistic Westerners.
Mr Morecombe sees the world as being made up of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’, don’t you, Nicholas?
Like an old-fashioned Western. The forces of darkness fighting an eternal battle with the forces of light.
And which side are you on, Mr Wing Chou?
Both! Neither!? Your question, Nicholas, presumes an either/or answer and does not allow for ‘both’. Darkness and light are not polar opposites.
Except, when the law of the land says...
WING CHOU (laughs)
The law of the land! In Cambodia! As you know, Mr Morecombe, it is the law of the jungle that prevails here.
Because those are the rules you play by. And most of those here.
NICK gestures to the assembled crowd.
And if I play by a different set of rules...
The law of the land.
The law of the land! And if my competitors play by the laws of the jungle...?
Evil prevails, but your conscience is clear.
WING CHOU (laughs)
I am not troubled by my conscience, Nicholas.
That is obvious, Mr Wing Chou.
Do you believe in the existence of evil, Nicholas?
You don’t think that evil exists in the world?
Is the lion that kills a zebra evil?
If the lion kills one zebra because he is hungry, no. If he kills two zebras because he is greedy, yes.
And if the lion has a family to feed? Is the killing of two zebras still evil?
Now it is you who are making the world seem simple.
You are right. This is not a topic for cocktail conversation. For another time. (A BEAT) You know how to make contact.
And perhaps your charming friend can join us.
I’d like that.
Now, if you will excuse me, Miss Partridge, Mr Morecombe. I have some duties I must perform.
WING CHOU bows in a gentlemanly manner to ANGELA, nods politely to NICK; walks off.
A charming man.
NICK raises his eyebrows, says nothing.
A charming viper.
Is there anyone here who isn’t a viper? Apart from me, of course.
Of course. (A BEAT) Do you have any plans for this evening?
What do you have in mind? Does it involve tearing my clothes off?
I had ‘gentle removal’ in mind but if you prefer ‘tearing’...
ANGELA’S laugh is cut short when she sees GERARD walking up behind NICK. Before he has a chance to turn, GERARD has wrapped his arms around NICK in a tight bear hug.
Nicholas! What a pleasure it is to... to squeeze you.
‘Pleasure’ is not the word I would use, Gerard.
You have met Angie, I see.
Yes. (A BEAT) You do not return my calls, Gerard.
I have no comment to make.
But you make such a song and dance about being ‘transparent’, Gerard! ‘Accountable’!
Print what you like, Nicholas. But be careful.
Should I take that as a threat?
I do not give a fuck how you take it. I have come here to celebrate, not answer your stupid questions.
NICK nods. ANGELA is shocked by this outburst of GERARD’S. He smiles at her.
Sometimes a spade must be called a spade.
Sounded like a threat to me!
Not at all. (A BEAT) Do not take it personally, Nicholas. We are old friends, no?
NICK looks at GERARD, his face giving nothing away. GERARD holds his stare for a moment, before looking away.
If you will excuse me.
GERARD’S glances at ANGELA: “Are you coming with me?”
ANGELA looks away, pretends not to notice. NICK observes this interaction, picks up on its subtext.
GERARD glances at NICK for a fraction of a second, registers NICK’S recognition. His eyes flare for a moment before his face lights up with a huge smile as he waves to someone in the crowd he knows.
With a quick glance at ANGELA, GERARD plunges back into the crowd - all smiles and charm.
…to be continued…