Thursday, April 28, 2016
NEST OF VIPERS Ep # 1 (C)
59 EXT. ANGELA’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
On a computer screen can be seen:
A close shot of a deeply tanned, thin Khmer man in his 30s, looking directly into the camera with frightened eyes.
NICK (voice over)
Kimsong Seng, from Prey Veng Province in Cambodia, had been a fishing slave...
NICK speaks to camera. In the background, outside a Thai police station, Kimsong Seng can be seen sitting on the ground alongside a dozen or so other men and boys.
...for the past five years before he was rescued this week by Thai police, along with...
ANGELA, sitting in front of a computer, ‘minimizes’ the story from the “Nick Morecombe Journalist” website.
Her apartment is small, modest, tidy. She takes a sip of wine from the glass beside her as she clicks on another icon.
Close on her computer screen:
A Cambodian fishing village with white beach fronting onto an aquamarine sea.
Children play on the beach as fishermen mend their nets alongside boats whose design and function has not changed in 100 years.
NICK speaks to camera:
The community of villagers lived on this island for generations before Wing Chou Industries...
A photo of Wing Chou, impeccably dressed in a white suit, standing in front of a helicopter with WCI printed on it.
...entered into an ‘arrangement’ with authorities to build Cambodia’s first ‘Eco Casino’.
Shaky hand-held smart-phone footage of a stand off between angry villagers and police.
This necessitated getting rid of the villagers, described by the police as ‘illegal squatters’.
A young fisherman, KONG, engages in some pushing and shoving with POLICE - one of whom has an official eviction notice in his hand.
The fishing families were not going to leave without a fight, however, led by Kong Chey until his body was found on the beach after what police described as an accident...
The thin sound of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is heard.
KONG’S body lies at the water’s edge, surrounded by villagers.
ANGELA presses ‘pause’, picks up her mobile; answers it. The thin music cuts out. She listens for a moment; laughs.
Wondering when you would call?
60 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
ANGELA looks directly into the camera.
KATIE (voice off)
ANGELA shakes her head.
KATIE (voice off)
Does it matter?
We don’t know what matters at this point.
Mmmm...Can we put that question on hold for a bit? (A BEAT) You can cut it all together later so it makes sense, right?
Does it make any sense?
Nick’s ‘accident’? (A BEAT) Or life in general?
TODD looking at the note pad in his lap, cuts KATIE off.
Monkey! Who is Monkey?
TODD reads from his note-pad
“Whose sick mother who couldn’t feed her children.”
Kek. That’s what we called her.
Who is Kek? Monkey?
Patience, Todd, patience.
I’m just trying to fit things together...
This is my story, OK! You can cut it together however you want but let me tell it my way...
TODD nods; tries to hide his annoyance.
So, how...when...did you and Nick...(meet up again)?
About a week later. That was the week the ‘gaffer tape murders’ story began to go viral. Remember?
KATIE nods. ANGELA looks at TODD.
That was before I got here but I’m up to speed.
61 EXT. PHNOM PENH RUBBISH DUMP. DAWN
Tip-trucks unload rubbish at a huge dump.
SCAVENGERS - men, women and children - use lengths of wire with hooked ends to extract what can be recycled and sold.
The air is thick with smoke; the work conditions hellish.
A YOUNG GIRL, 8 or 9, climbs a mound of rubbish with her hooked wire in one hand and a plastic sack in the other - into which she places plastic bags and other plastic items she finds. The process requires her to empty the bags first - of mouldy rice, rotten fruit, sanitary napkins etc.
One plastic bag resists her attempt to lift it with her hooked wire. She lifts the bag with her hands, upends it. Out falls the severed head of a Caucasian man - his eyes open in terror, his ears have been sliced off and his mouth taped shut with gaffer tape.
62 INT. BEDROOM. DAWN
ANGELA is asleep in a bedroom that bespeaks money. There is a man beside her - his back turned to both her and the camera.
ANGELA is awoken by the sound of her mobile phone vibrating on the table alongside the bed. She reaches for it, listens for a moment before quickly extricating herself from the bed - careful not to wake her bed mate.
63 EXT. PALATIAL HOME. DAWN
ANGELA stands at the front gate of a palatial home. The SECURITY GUARD standing there holds a red wand aloft - signalling to moto dop (motor bike taxi) drivers parked at the corner closeby.
64 EXT. BAR DISTRICT. DAWN
The moto dop, with ANGELA on the back, drives down a street lined with bars and clubs. She has a small camera in her hand, ready (as always) for any photo opportunity.
Flashing neon signs- “Pussy Galore”, “69” “Dream Girls” etc - adorn most establishments. The night is over but a few Scantily clad Khmer women vie for the attention of the few remaining drunken men (Westerners on the wrong side of 50, for the most part) staggering from the bars.
ANGELA’S attention is caught by a TEENAGE GIRL, in a micro-mini skirt, standing alone outside “Pussy Galore.” She looks very sad; lonely. ANGELA readies her camera to take a shot. The TEENAGE GIRL notices, looks directly at ANGELA: Click.
Freeze frame of the teenage girl looking directly into the camera.
65 INT/EXT. RUBBISH DUMP. EARLY MORNING
ANGELA’S moto dop drives past rubbish trucks heading into the tip, pulls up close to the base of a mountain of rubbish - on top of which can be seen a small crowd of SCAVENGERS - men, women and children.
66 EXT. RUBBISH DUMP. EARLY MORNING
ANGELA makes her way past scavengers, walking up the side of the rubbish mountain - quickly coming to realize that she is wearing the wrong shoes to be trudging through toxic sludge.
She makes her way through a throng of scavengers to where NICK kneels alongside BALIN MEAS - a uniformed Cambodian policeman, mid 50s - looking at the severed head resting in amongst the rubbish.
NICK turns to ANGELA, nods his hello as BALIN MEAS takes out his smart phone.
ANGELA sees the severed head, grimaces.
Do you know Meas?
ANGELA shakes her head.
BALIN MEAS speaks English with a mild American accent.
BALIN MEAS positions his phone to take a photo of the head.
ANGELA readies her camera; takes photos.
BALIN MEAS puts his mobile phone in his pocket, starts to remove the gaffer tape from the mouth of the severed head.
ANGELA takes photos of the curious onlooking SCAVENGERS.
BALIN MEAS finishes peeling the tape from the lips. There is something in the head’s mouth. He tries to prize the mouth open but rigor mortis has set in. He succeeds.
NICK and ANGELA react with shock. ANGELA vomits.
67 INT. POLICE CAR. DAY
NICK sits in front seat of a police car, a plastic bag resting on his lap with the head in it. BALIN MEAS drives.
NICK turns to ANGELA in the back seat. She shakes her head, sighs. She can’t believe it.
How did you hear about...(this)?
I have my spies. And you?
I have Meas.
NICK pats BALIN MEAS on the shoulder affectionately.
Another girl’s been found.
Dead? (Nick nods) Raped?
We don’t know that yet but my guess is...We were on our way to... before...
(He indicates head in bag)...we heard about this.
68 EXT. SLUM. DAY
Balin Meas’ police car pulls up in a back street of an impoverished 3rd world slum.
NICK and ANGELA get out of the car and make their way, with BALIN MEAS, to where a small crowd of SLUM DWELLERS has gathered around the body of a pre-pubescent girl lying in a drainage ditch. She is wearing a dirty white frilly dress.
Curious SLUM DWELLERS with mobile phones take photos of the dead girl. The POLICEMAN standing closeby greets BALIN MEAS.
BALIN MEAS replies in Khmer. ANGELA takes out her camera.
BALIN MEAS (subtitled)
A sarong. A sheet. Anything...
He gently pushes the crowd back, gestures to those taking photos to stop as NICK takes notes and ANGELA photos.
The POLICEMAN hands a sarong to BALIN MEAS. He covers the body of the young girl.
69 INT. MORGUE. DAY
The severed head, mouth open, rests on a metal tray, beside a shriveled penis. In the background a DOCTOR,(soft focus) peers between her legs of the dead girl.
ANGELA, camera in hand, stalks the room in search of angles.
The DOCTOR covers the body with a dirty white sheet, speaks to BALIN MEAS in Khmer.
A loud anguished scream. A KHMER MAN attempts to force his way into the room; restrained by MORGUE STAFF.
BALIN MEAS indicates to the MORGUE STAFF to let him in.
The KHMER MAN stares at the figure covered with the white sheet. Frozen.
ANGELA continues to take photos.
The KHMER MAN moves slowly forward, stands alongside the shroud. He both wants and doesn't want the DOCTOR to lift the sheet. The DOCTOR looks to BALIN MEAS. He indicates to the DOCTOR to lift the sheet. He does.
The KHMER MAN stares at the face of his daughter - his shock giving way to profound grief. He begins to shake, to tremble. Tears run down his cheek.
He reaches out to touch his daughter’s face; shakes his head, refusing to believe what he can see with his eyes.
KHMER MAN (subtitled)
No, no, that is not my daughter. No, no, no...
He turns, looks directly at ANGELA, his face streaked with tears: Click. He looks at NICK in despair.
NICK walks up, wraps his arms around the KHMER MAN, holds him; indicates to the DOCTOR to cover the girl's face.
70 EXT. SLUM DISTRICT. DAY
Balin Meas’ police car drives along a crowded, narrow slum back street. Third world poverty abounds.
71 INT. BALIN MEAS’ POLICE CAR
ANGELA, distressed, looks at the photos she has taken with her digital camera:
- The Khmer Man reaching out to touch his dead daughter’s face.
- The Khmer Man looking directly into Angela’s camera lens.
- The Khmer Man, tears streaming down his face, wrapped in Nick’s arms.
She looks at NICK, sitting beside her; his face streaked with tears. She reaches out, takes his hand; squeezes it.
BALIN MEAS looks at NICK and ANGELA in the rear-vision mirror. NICK turns to ANGELA, smiles through his tears.
72 INT. LIVING ROOM NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
NICK holds the door open as ANGELA walks into his creatively chaotic apartment. Books, newspapers, magazines and folders cover every available surface - along with the polystyrene remnants of late-night take away meals.
You’re a bachelor, I take it!
Wine? (A BEAT) I need wine after all that...
NICK nods, walks to the kitchen area. ANGELA steps closer to the wall in front of Nick’s cluttered working desk - covered with photos, newspaper articles and notes connected with each other by coloured thread.
NICK (VOICE OFF)
Investigations in progress.
And the coloured threads?
Connections, associations, friends, enemies...the black threads are enemies.
This guy has lots of enemies.
She is referring to the colour photo of Terry Swinton - from which black threads radiate; connecting with other photos.
ANGELA takes a particular interest in the photo of the Virgin Islands as NICK appears with two glasses of wine, hands one to ANGELA; stands close to her.
A cop. Former. Australian Federal Police.
ANGELA turns to face NICK. Their heads are very close now.
And you wrote something mean about him? (Nick nods.) N O V?
She is referring to the letters N O V written in large letters above the montage.
Nest of Vipers. At one time or another all these guys...yes, they are all guys....mostly guys...has had dealings with, been seen with, tried to kill, taken to court, the guy at the other end of the thread.
Snakes in the grass!
NICK nods, smiles, kisses her lightly on the lips. ANGELA responds shyly, unsure of whether she should be here. Her attention is drawn to a framed photo beside Nick’s laptop:
Two smiling teenage boys, each with an arm around the other’s shoulder and each carrying a tennis racket.
She picks it up. The glass is cracked.
You? (Nick nods.) And...?
You look very close?
NICK makes a non-committal gesture.
NICK holds his hands up: “Don’t want to talk about it.”
ANGELA nods: “OK”. She replaces the framed photo on the desk; turns and looks at NICK. He kisses her again.
They kiss passionately for a moment before ANGELA pulls away - nervous; hesitant.
NICK looks at her: “What’s wrong?” ANGELA, unable to explain, hugs him tight, rests her head on his shoulder.
NICK strokes her hair gently.
ANGELA pulls her head back, looks at him.
It’s just...I have a boyfriend, lover, partner...whatever the right word is these days and... (Nick nods, smiles) ...I shouldn’t be doing this. (Nick nods; his smile broadens) ...You shouldn’t be doing this. We shouldn’t be doing...whatever we’re doing.
NICK laughs; wraps his arms around her. ANGELA smiles, hugs him tight, rests her head on his shoulder.
There is a knock at the door. NICK extricates himself from their embrace, walks to the front door.
ANGELA moves closer to the wall montage, focuses her attention on a photo of:
A handsome blonde-haired man in his early 30s, identified by name: GERARD MOREAU being awarded a gold medallion by a man in a tuxedo, in front of a sign that reads “United Nations Humanitarian Awards.”
The photo piques ANGELA’S interest. NICK can be seen in the background NICK opening the door.
There is no-one there.
ANGELA looks closely at the photo, more than a little shocked; paying particular attention to the coloured threads connecting Gerard with others in the montage.
NICK picks up an envelope that has been left on the ground at his front door.
ANGELA follows with her eyes the many different coloured threads that connect Gerard to many others in the montage, including Terry Swinton.
NICK looks inside the envelope.
ANGELA turns to see NICK placing the envelope on a table by the door, running out.
73 EXT. STREET. DAY
NICK races into the street, sees a MAN IN A FULL FACE BLACK HELMET getting onto his motor bike.
NICK runs towards the figure, who turns, looks at NICK for a moment before driving off at high speed.
ANGELA appears behind NICK, brown manila envelope in hand. She opens the envelope, takes out 5 crisp new US$100 notes.
ANGELA shakes her head. NICK thinks for a long moment, takes ANGELA’S hand, grabs hold of the $100 bills; walks back towards his apartment.
What the fuck...!
NICK laughs, holds the money aloft.
Welcome to Scamodia, Angela. Kingdom...
74 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
TODD and KATIE sit behind the camera on a tripod. ANGELA mimics Nick’s gesture: holding invisible ‘money’ aloft.
Who gave Nick the money?
Someone who didn’t want him to publish an expose of them.
That’s the thing! Nick had no idea. Whoever it was didn’t seem to realize how many vipers he planned to expose.
TODD and KATIE exchange looks.
Nick was forever being offered money not to write stories.
So...what did he do with the...?
Five hundred bucks?
TODD and KATIE nod.
….to be continued…