Thursday, April 28, 2016
NEST OF VIPERS Ep # 1 (D)
75 EXT. MARKETS. PHNOM PENH. DAY
NICK walks from a Money Changer in a crowded market with a fist full of $20 bills, walks up to ANGELA - standing alongside his yellow 4WD. He hands her half the bills. She shakes her head and laughs.
76 EXT. CITY STREETS. PHNOM PENH. DAY
A montage: NICK hands $20 bills to beggars, blind people, cripples, poor street families - the poor, powerless and neglected that roam Phnom Penh streets.
A black car with mirrored windows appears a few times - making no attempt to keep their tailing of Nick covert.
Is that black car following us?
They’re harmless. Just trying to intimidate me.
77 INT/EXT. PHNOM PENH MARKETS. DAY
The montage continues: NICK and ANGELA buy vegetables and fruit in a local market, walk out with box loads.
They load the boxes into the back of Nick’s 4WD.
78 EXT. DUMP COMMUNITY. DAY
The montage, with music over, continues: Nick’s battered old yellow, mud-bespattered 4WD drives into a small community adjacent to the dump: houses made from scrap metal, plastic, cardboard, wood. It doesn’t get any more 3rd world than this!
NICK and ANGELA get out of the yellow 4WD, distribute food to the MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN of this community. They clearly know NICK well.
ANGELA looks on as NICK picks up SMALL KIDS, throws them in the air and catches them’ spins them around.
A WRINKLED OLD WOMAN dances to the music, sourced now to a tape deck. NICK joins her. He is a bad dancer but turns this to his advantage to make everyone laugh.
The WRINKLED OLD WOMAN hugs him. Others join in the dance - laughing; happy.
TODD (voice off)
So, getting back to Monkey!
79 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
TODD looks impatiently at the note pad in his lap.
Who is Monkey?
ANGELA, lost in her memories, seems not to have heard TODD’S question. KATIE looks daggers at TODD.
Todd! Angela was...
TODD is a serious and businesslike young man.
I’m just trying to keep on topic. I thought...
KATIE gestures her apology to ANGELA.
She had a beautiful smile. The old lady. And obviously adored Nick.
Was there anything...(more?)
I think we better put Todd out of his misery and tell him about Monkey!
80 EXT. RICE PADDY. DAY
An 11 year old girl, KEK, stands at the base of a coconut palm at the edge of a muddy fallow water-filled rice paddy; her baggy tattered trousers held up with a length of frayed rope. She secures a machete between the rope and her body and climbs the tree with remarkable (monkey-like) agility.
KEK’s 7 year old brother, DARYA, and 5 year old sister, SREY NIAN, covered in mud, watch her climb; eyes open in awe.
At the top of the palm KEK removes the machete from her waist; chops 3 coconuts free; calls to her siblings in Khmer.
The coconuts fall to the ground.
A LITTLE LATER
At the base of the palm, KEK uses the machete to slice the top off a coconut and pierce a hole in it.
KEK, DARYA and SREY NIAN drink from the coconuts.
A LITTLE LATER
KEK chases a frog in the muddy rice-paddy; catches it. The frog slides from between her hands.
DARYA and SREY NIAN join in the chase. DARYA slips, falls into the paddy.
KEK laughs, continues with the chase, catches the frog, places it in a sack filled with live frogs.
81 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. DAY
A skinny dog, on a dirt floor, suckles 3 new born puppies. A pair of dark slender hands, holding a six month old BABY, appear in frame, placing the baby alongside the puppies.
A wide shot. The most basic of thatch-roofed 3rd world dwellings. MI, an emaciated Khmer woman in her late 20s, sweating profusely, positions the BABY to suckle.
In the background, outside the ramshackle dwelling a pig, a chicken and a dog fight over a scrap of found food.
Close on BABY suckling on the dog's teat. (CGI)
Close on MI - tired, ill, sweat glistening on her face.
82 EXT. RURAL VILLAGE. DAY
KEK, DARYA and SREY NIAN make their way into an impoverished village; KEK carrying a bag of squirming frogs.
They make their way between ramshackle houses with thatched roofs, past a small shop that sells rice, cooking oil, bottled water, washing powder and other basic necessities.
Signs of extreme poverty abound - skinny children with red-tinted hair showing signs of malnutrition.
KEK, DARYA and SREY NIAN stop at the village water pump.
83 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. DAY
Mi squats close to where her baby suckles with the puppies - her face wet with sweat. She is clearly very sick. She leans against a wooden post, closes her eyes.
84 EXT. VILLAGE. DAY
KEK pumps muddy water into DARYA’S and SREY NIAN’S cupped hands. They drink.
85 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. DAY
The dog stands, walks off. The puppies follow. The BABY lies alone on the dirt floor kicking its legs, flailing its arms.
MI leans against the post, asleep.
The dog snarls at the large pig standing at the entrance, as it walks past. The pig’s eyes are focused on the baby. (CGI)
86 EXT. VILLAGE. DAY
DARYA tries to operate the pump but he is too small. KEK laughs, pumps muddy water into one cupped hand, drinks.
87 INT. HUT. DAY
The baby, lying on the ground, makes happy gurgling sounds as the pig walks slowly towards it. (CGI)
The pig sniffs the baby lying on the dirt floor. (CGI)
MI, rivulets of sweat running down her face, sleeps up against the post.
88 EXT. VILLAGE. DAY
A minor dispute takes place between DARYA and SREY NIAN as to who is going to carry the bag of frogs. SREY NIAN wins.
KEK takes DARYA’S and SREY NIAN’S hands as they walk towards their ramshackle home - four posts, a thatched roof, walls made of tin, cardboard, hessian and frayed plastic.
As they get close to the hut a baby’s cry is heard, closely followed by a loud scream from MI.
KEK runs fast to the hut.
89 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. DAY
KEK runs into the hut to see MI struggling to her feet, screaming, as the pig licks the baby’s face. (CGI)
KEK rushes at the pig; kicks it hard. The pig retreats.
KEK picks up the baby.
MI’S face, a mask of panic, glistens with sweat.
MI lies on a bamboo mat, sick, as KEK ladles thin rice soup from a pot over an open fire into four bowls.
KEK hands one bowl to DARYA and SREY NIAN, sitting on the dirt floor, and takes another to spoon feed MI, her mother.
KEK wipes Mi’s wet face with a cloth. Her attention is caught by a car arriving. She looks out to see:
A shiny white sedan pull up outside.
KEK looks to her mother, with a puzzled expression on her face. MI turns her head away.
ANURAK, mid 30s, gets out of the car and walks towards the hut. KEK walks out to greet him.
MI half sits, looks out to where ANURAK talks animatedly to KEK, who claps her hands excitedly, turns, beams a smile to her mother.
MI waves to KEK but cannot manage a smile.
ANURAK takes out his mobile phone; gestures to KEK to hold still whilst he takes a photo. She does so; beaming a huge happy white smile at ANURAK. He presses ‘send’.
MI looks on as KEK, DARYA, SREY NIAN and OTHER KIDS look in wonder at the white sedan. Tears well in her eyes.
A ping announces the arrival of a message on ANURAK’S phone.
ANURAK nods to KEK. She smiles, claps her hands excitedly.
Close on MI’s sweating face, tears rolling down her cheeks.
FRANCOISE (voice off)
Mon cherie! (A BEAT) Mon cherie..
90 INT. NICK’S LIVING ROOM. DAY
ANGELA, her face large on the flip-out screen of the camera.
‘Yes’. She had passed the test.
ANGELA snaps out of her reverie.
You have a visitor.
FRANCOISE gestures to the front door:
MR WING CHOU, in a white suit, holds a large bunch of white flowers.
ANGELA brings her hand to her mouth; shocked. KATIE and TODD exchange glances.
STAIR (voice over)
“Without fear or favour, the truth, the whole truth...
91 INT. STAIR AND TILDA’S HOME. TURTLE BAY. HONOLULU. DAY
STAIR sits on the balcony of his and Tilda’s Turtle Bay home (a vast expanse of Pacific Ocean in the background) reading from a glossy brochure in his hands.
“... and nothing but the truth.”
KATIE sits behind the camera, adjusts the framing. TODD sits closeby, wearing headphones; note-book resting in his lap.
Any joy with funding for...(He indicates the camera)...(this)?
On the brochure in Stair’s hands, in large bold lettering:
“...and nothing but the truth.”
Begged, borrowed and stolen. And credit cards. Enough to make a pilot and then...
She makes a ‘we’ll see what happens’ gesture.
STAIR shakes his head; sceptical; cynical.
The truth! The one that sets you free?
KATIE ignores this, turns to TODD. He give her the thumbs up. KATIE presses ‘play’ on the camera.
Mr Morecombe, I wonder if we could...
Stair. You can call me Stair.
STAIR places scratches his chest.
Stair, I wonder if you could try not to touch...(Todd gestures to his chest.)
You can call me Mr. Morecombe, Todd.
Oh, um, OK...
Just joking, Todd.
He turns to KATIE, spins his finger: “Fire away.”
Stair, do you think that your brother, Nick, was murdered?
STAIR smiles, looks directly at KATIE; flirting.
KATIE blushes. TODD raises his eyebrows, smiles; glances at KATIE - who ignores both of them.
Stair, when you first heard that your brother had died...
92 INT. CONFERENCE ROOM. HONOLULU. DAY
STAIR, dapper in a designer business suit, is in the midst of a meeting with several other be-suited businessmen in a conference room - one of whom is his SQUASH
KATIE (voice off)
...what were the first thoughts...
Katie’s voiced trails away as STAIR addresses the men.
We do it my way or the deal is off.
But Stair, you have to be prepared...
STAIR hold his hand up.
I don’t have to do anything.
Stair’s secretary, MIRIAM, a mobile phone in her hand, appears in the doorway; tries to attract STAIR’S attention.
Anyone else got anything to say?
No one dares to say anything. STAIR waves MIRIAM away: “Not now.” MIRIAM gestures: “You have to take this call.”
STAIR nods, clicks his fingers, holds out his hand. MIRIAM throws the mobile to him. He catches it deftly, turns his back on the men at the conference table; looks down on:
The CBD of Hololulu and Pearl Harbour laid out below.
Seen from outside, through the window, STAIR listens on his phone in the foreground. His BUSINESS ASSOCIATES can be seen in the background. His face registers his shock.
93 INT. PHNOM PENH AIRPORT. ‘ARRIVALS’. DAY
ANGELA stands in amongst a throng of people waiting for passengers to emerge from customs and immigration. She has not slept, her hair is unbrushed, her jaw is clenched tight and there is a haunted look in her eyes; emotionally drained.
STAIR, amongst the recent arrivals, pulls a single small carry-on suitcase; walks towards the waiting throng.
ANGELA takes out a piece of cardboard on which is written ‘ANGELA’; holds it at waist level; watches:
STAIR making his way towards her. He holds out his hand.
Hi Angela. Stair.
ANGELA shakes his hand, nods; manages a polite smile.
With no further formalities she turns and walks off.
94 EXT. PARKING LOT. PHNOM PENH AIRPORT. DAY
As STAIR places his carry-on luggage in the back seat, ANGELA opens the driver’s door.
We’re going to meet the police at Nick’s car.
I don’t need to see...(where it happened).
STAIR nods, his attention on the screen of his smart phone as he moves to the passenger door.
95 INT. ANGELA’S 4WD. DAY
ANGELA drives, glances at STAIR - looking at his mobile.
I need to make a call but this...is there reception here?
It’s fine. Put 177 in front of...
STAIR nods, redials.
There’s something you should know...
STAIR holds up his hand.
Sorry, but..(this is important.)
ANGELA contains her anger as STAIR is connected.
Miriam, hi. (A BEAT) Yeah, I got it. (A BEAT) It’s just a bargaining tactic. (A BEAT). No! Fuck them.
ANGELA’s 4WD has pulled up at a traffic light. Two young BEGGAR CHILDREN appear at Stair’s window, arms outstretched.
STAIR glances at them for a moment, shocked, then turns away.
No, not interested. They can take it as it is or fuck off. (A BEAT) No, I don't want to talk about it.
STAIR hangs up, looks at the BEGGAR CHILDREN. The 8 year old BEGGAR BOY smiles at him. STAIR turns to ANGELA.
Should I give them something? I mean, are they....for real...I don’t...
No, they’re just pretending to be poor, hungry and homeless.
ANGELA drives off as STAIR reaches for his wallet.
I’m sorry about that. (A BEAT) I’ve got a big problem back in Honolulu...
Bigger than your brother being murdered.
Murdered? Nick wasn’t murdered.
How the fuck would you know?
STAIR holds up his hand in a dismissive gesture almost identical to Nicks.
Would you care one way or the other? Do you give a fuck?
Angela, I've come here to get Nick's body, that's it. Then... (A BEAT) Who would want to kill Nick?
Have you ever read any of Nick’s investigative pieces?
Nick must have told you that he and I...didn’t get along...
No, he didn’t actually...I figured it out but...
Then just leave it, OK.
It was a taboo subject...
Yeah, and maybe there’s a reason for that!
Let sleeping dogs lie.
STAIR holds his hand up again.
You have one thing in common, at least.
She mimics Stair’s dismissive hand gesture. He ignores her.
Nick’s right. You are a cunt.
96 EXT. ANGELA’S 4WD. DAY
ANGELA’S 4WD drives along a pot-holed road through vibrant green rice fields.
Miriam? (A BEAT) Yes, fine. Fill me in.
97 INT. ANGELA’S 4WD. DAY
ANGELA drives. STAIR in the passenger seat, listens on his mobile. The news is clearly not good.
Tell them I’ll be back in Australia in 36 hours to sort it out. 48 max.(A BEAT) Panicking is not going to help. In fact, tell the team to back off, let me deal with it. And one more thing...(A BEAT) Miriam? You there? (A BEAT) Fuck.
You’re going to be off the radar for a few hours.
STAIR mouths ‘fuck’, plays nervously with his mobile.
Think you’ll be able to survive?
STAIR ignores her, looks out the window; does not want ANGELA to see that he is worried.
98 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. DAY
ANGELA’s 4WD turns off the paved highway onto a dirt road leading between vast expanses of paddy fields.
99 INT. ANGELA’S 4WD. RURAL CAMBODIA. DAY
ANGELA and STAIR drive in silence. STAIR looks out the window. He turns back to ANGELA. She is crying.
For? (A BEAT) About?
You loved Nick, I guess?
And you didn’t?
STAIR stares at her for a moment; turns away.
Through the front window, up ahead, the burnt out remains of Nick’s yellow 4WD can be seen.
As they approach STAIR looks at ANGELA. She bites her lip. Her hands are trembling. As they get closer they see:
A CROWD of curious onlookers (rice farmers)and BALIN MEAS, standing by Nick’s burnt 4WD, talking on his mobile phone.
ANGELA pulls up, turns off the ignition. STAIR turns to her. ANGELA is very pale. Her trembling has increased.
Maybe you should stay in the car?
ANGELA shakes her head.
100 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. LATE AFTERNOON
BALIN MEAS finishes his call; inspects Nick’s burnt out 4WD. STAIR and ANGELA get out of the 4WD in the background.
They walk up. ANGELA stops, looks towards the yellow 4 WD in shock - her face is a mask of horror. She turns away, falls into STAIRS arms; her head on his chest.
Tears well in STAIR’S eyes. He holds her tight for a long moment before they both turn and look towards the burnt out yellow 4 WD. ANGELA opens her mouth to scream. Freeze frame.
End of Episode One