Monday, March 27, 2017
As I re-write the story of Australia’s most famous eccentric, Bea Miles, as a 6 part US TV series (Bea, now a New York bag lady), as I remove Australian characters from “Nest of Vipers” and other screenplays that cannot, as a result of Screen Australia’ s ban on me, be Australian films or TV programmes, the Australian Director’s Guild maintains its undignified silence!
Members of the Australian Director’s Guild board
21st March 2017
Dear Samantha Lang, Ray Argall, Nadia Tass, Michela Ledwidge, Jennifer Peedom, Stephen Wallace, Jonathan Brough and Jeffrey Walker
It is more than 3 months since my last letter to you; four months since the letter before that. You have not acknowledged receipt of either.
I guess it is safe to assume that you have taken a vote and decided that the best way to respond to a fellow filmmaker, banned by Screen Australia, is to ignore him.
I wonder how each of you would feel, how you would respond, if you were in my position – losing your ability to make films in the country of your birth? Would you just accept it (“Shit happens!”) or would you fight, as individuals and as members of a union (ADG) - one of whose tasks is to see to it that this kind of bureaucratic bullying by a government film funding body does not go unchallenged?
You might argue, “But James, you are not a member!” To which I would reply, “I would be a member of you would accept me as one and question the legitimacy of Screen Australia’s ban but you have made it clear that you will not.” (See previous correspondence.)
Just as you have decided that it is not in the ADG’s best interests to even report the banning of a fellow filmmaker in the ADG newsletter (after close to 5 years!), so too do other Australian filmmakers (producers, directors or screenwriters) feel reticent to enter into a collaborative relationship with a banned filmmaker. I appreciate their dilemma. Take “Nest of Vipers” as an example of theirs (and my) dilemma.
Imagine that producers, screenwriters and directors, having read early drafts of ‘Vipers’ had thought, “Yes, this is a series I would be interested in being involved with.”
Their initial enthusiasm for the project would have been tempered by their knowledge that they were, in a creative sense, getting into bed with a filmmaker who had been banned by Screen Australia. Even if they had thought that the ban was bureaucratic bullying of the worst kind they would be intelligent enough to know of the risks involved for them in entering into a collaborative relationship with me. Thoughts such as the following would necessarily occur to them:
“If I were to become a member of the ‘Vipers’ team, we would unable to apply to Screen Australia for development money of any kind if James is attached to the project! Given that it is his baby, his idea, that he is the main writer, SA development monies will never, can never, be forthcoming because SA would refuse to meet with us. Am I prepared, can I afford, to work on the development of ‘Vipers’ for nothing?”
If I were such a producer, director or screenwriter (with a mortgage, with kids in school, with bills to pay and dependent in so many ways on Screen Australia) I would definitely think twice about getting involved in a project with a filmmaker who, according to Jane Supit, engages in “highly offensive conduct”. I might know or suspect that Jane Supit is speaking nonsense but, “Hey, I have to survive in this difficult filmmaking environment and the last thing I want to do is alienate an organization that has made it clear it will ban filmmakers who stand up to it in any way; filmmakers who want, expect, demand that Screen Australia be accountable.”
If any fellow producers, directors or screenwriters were prepared to work for nothing to develop 10 hours of “Nest of Vipers” over a period of couple of years the next question my potential collaborators would have had to ask themselves is:
“How can we go through the consultation process with Screen Australia required to access the Producer Offset if James cannot be present?”
The answer is, we could not. Screen Australia owes its staff a duty of care and asking them to be in the same room with me would place them at risk! At risk of what has never been made clear. And there is a good reason for this – namely that I have never given any member of Screen Australia staff, past or present, a reason to feel that they were at risk. This is Jane Supit, Graeme Mason and the Screen Australia board (including filmmakers Al Clarke and Claudia Karvan) clutching at straws. Indeed, clutching at the only straw they have left to clutch – propagating the lie that I pose a risk and thereby presenting themselves as saviours of sorts; protecting their staff from me.
Do any of you ADG board members really believe that I am guilty of intimidating members of Screen Australia staff? Of placing them at risk? Or, as Jane Supit refers to it, of “highly offensive conduct”? If so, do you have any evidence upon which to base your assessment? Or are you so terrified of alienating Screen Australia (a source of vital funding for the ADG and for each of you personally in your own film careers) that you have decided it best to keep your mouths shut, to ask no questions and not even risk the possibility of annoying Screen Australia by reporting that an Australian filmmaker, a founder of the ADG, has been banned?
If the ADG wished, at this very late stage, to play a useful role in ending this dispute without the need to resolve it in the courts, here’s what you could do:
Request a meeting with Graeme Mason, Fiona Cameron and any other member of Screen Australia who feels that they would be at risk being in the same room as me, any SA staff member who feels intimidated. Ask them to provide you with whatever evidence they have of my intimidation, placing at risk, highly offensive conduct. If you are satisfied that Screen Australia’s ban on me is fair, given the evidence you have been provided with, this could be an end of the matter.
Of course, ideally I should be present at this meeting. If Jane Supit and Graeme Mason really do believe that my presence would pose a risk to SA staff, hire a Security Guard!
Please do have the professional courtesy to both acknowledge receipt of this letter and to respond to it as you see fit.
I have received no response to this letter.
1 EXT. ORPHANAGE. DAY
Angela’s MOTHER, early 20s, reaches up to the lower branches of a large tree with red flowers, picks one, crouches close to YOUNG Angela (aged 4); places the flower behind her ear.
YOUNG Angela smiles happily until she registers the tears in her mother’s eyes. She wraps her arms around her mother’s neck. Angela’s mother turns, looks at two out-of-focus figures standing closeby. Young Angela turns to look at them also, then back to her mother, who speaks to her in Khmer.
I will be back soon.
Young Angela nods but doesn’t understand. Her mother kisses Angela on the cheek stands, walks a few paces away, turns back; waves. Young Angela mimics her mother’s hand wave and watches as she fades slowly; dissolving into thin air.
The two shadowy figures walk up to Young Angela. One takes her hand, leads her to the gates leading into the orphanage.
Young Angela looks back to the tree with the red flowers; to the space where her mother stood a moment ago. She is gone.
Close on Young Angela’s confused face.
Out of a silence interrupted only by the sound of insects the overloud sound of creaking floorboards intrudes.
2 INT. NICK’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
Angela wakes up; disoriented. She sits up; the sarong falling away from her body. Again the sound of creaking floorboards.
The reality of what has happened, hits her hard.
Stair appears in the doorway, sees she is naked; turns away.
3 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Stair stands in front of Nick’s Nest of Vipers collage, glass of wine in hand, his attention focused on the photo of Wing Chou with a dart protruding from his eye.
Angela appears in the doorway, adjusting her sarong.
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.
ANGELA (voice over)
Am I allowed to say ‘cunt’ on TV?
4 NICK’S APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM. DAY
Another day. Angela is being interviewed by Katie and Todd.
The broadcaster will bleep out the ‘c’ word.
Not the ‘c’ word, Katie. Cunt.
I hate that word.
Really! Why? I love my cunt. Do you, Katie? Love your cunt? Does Todd?
Katie is lost for words. Todd smiles; glances at Katie. She has turned bright red.
Can we just...(continue)?
Angela is a little drunk.
I think I am drunk. I know I am drunk. Fuck.
Angela stares into space, finishes her glass of wine, looks at her empty glass.
We can call it a day, if you like?
No, it’s OK. (A BEAT) Do you... (want a drink?)
Katie shakes her head. Angela reaches for the bottle of wine; refills her glass; raises it in a toast.
In vino veritas.
‘In wine there is wisdom.’
Angela puts her glass down, composes herself, moves her mouth close to the radio mike pinned to her shirt.
You’d just woken up...?
We talked about Nick, we argued... about Nick...and then...I saw the photos Stair had taken of...the skeleton... and we...I lost the plot and we fought...
(Angela pauses a long moment)
...it got pretty physical... and then Balin Meas turned up with the gun and scared the shit out of us...
In what way?
Stair probably told you, right?
We want to hear your version.
What do these...details have to do with ...anything?
Maybe they don’t but we’d like to have as many options open to us in the editing room as possible.
Angela thinks about this for a moment; mouths the word ‘options’ - a thought forming in her brain that she can’t bring into focus.
What’s Stair’s ‘version’?
That you tried to kiss him.
Fuck yes! I’d lost the plot... you’ve no idea what adrenalin does to your libido. I was...fuck! What am I...(saying)?
(Referring to the camera)
Can you turn that fucking thing off for a moment?
Katie nods, leans forward, pretends to turn off the camera.
Close on the flip out screen of the camera. It is switched on; the time code rolling. Angela’s face fills the frame.
You’ll edit that last bit out, right? About the kiss...I don’t want...?
Angela looks at Todd and Katie enquiringly.
This is my life, right?
And if I am going to bare my ‘soul’...to...
(She points at the camera)
I need to be able to trust you not to...screw me. OK?
Katie and Todd both nod.
But you wanted to screw Stair, right?
Angela laughs, sips on her wine.
A girl is entitled to her secrets.
5 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela’s point of view, from where she lies on the floor, looking up at Stair kneeling astride her, his hands holding her wrists firmly against the floor.
Their heads are close together. They stare into each others eyes - both breathing deeply, exhausted by their struggle. There is ‘madness’ in Angela’s eyes.
Angela lifts her head, parts her lips slightly, as if wanting to be kissed.
Stair moves his lips close to hers. As their lips meet, Angela bites Stair. Stair jerks his head back: “ouch”
Angela glares at him, a strange mad lust in her eyes, raises her head, mouth open, ready to kiss him; wanting to kiss him.
The sound of Angela singing:
ANGELA (singing off)
“There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain. You’ve done...”
6 EXT. OUTDOOR BAR. NIGHT
Later that night, Angela and Katie sit together in an outdoor bar. ‘Girlie’ bars abound. Angela, glass of wine in hand, lost in her memories, sings drunkenly:
ANGELA (singing off)
“...it once, you can do it again...”
Sorry, you’ve lost me.
I’ve lost me, too. There may be wisdom in a little wine but too much...
Angela sips her wine looks away for a long moment; thinking.
Truth is...I was ready to fuck Nick’s brother! Who I hated. With a passion. (A BEAT) Weird, eh!? I was mad, yes, but... wet...you understand? With... lust. I didn’t know you could grieve...to be so sad, lonely and desperate that you want to die and also...also...to feel...incredibly horny.
Angela takes another slug of her wine. She is very drunk.
Adrenalin is a strange aphrodisiac.
I didn’t know that.
(She turns to Katie)
Did you, Katie?
(Katie shakes her head)
I could have fucked the next man who came in the door. Stair...Balin Meas...No problem.
The next woman?
Angela frowns playfully, wags her finger at Katie; shakes her head: “Don’t go there!”.
You did say ‘warts and all’!
Yes, I know what I said...I’m really beyond caring what anyone thinks of me. Of my ‘warts’. But I have a mother. And a father. And if they heard me... talking like this... they’d care. Believe Me...They’re Christians. And not just practicing. They’ve perfected the art of denial. I’m still a novice.
7 INT. HOTEL ROOM. NIGHT
Todd and Katie look at a computer screen, on which can be seen, through a slightly distorted wide angle lens:
Angela, sitting in the outdoor bar, looking almost directly into Katie’s hidden camera:
I don’t want to say any of this... stuff...when the camera is running. And there’s some things I don’t want to say in front of Todd. Like I wanted to fuck Stair. Animal sex! Don’t ask me why...It makes no sense...I hated him then...but, hey, love-hate’s the story of my life with men.
Todd presses pause; gives Katie a thumbs up: “Good work.” Katie has mixed feelings about her ‘good work’; presses ‘play’. Onscreen, the image sourced to Katie’s hidden camera:
KATIE (voice off)
Angela sighs; sips her wine.
It is very seductive...being loved. (A BEAT) I love to be loved. That’s the problem. Even if I can’t love back. Does that make sense?
Being loved scares the shit out of me.
Not being loved scares the shit out of me.
Todd presses ‘pause’, looks at Katie; eyebrows raised.
Katie waves his question away.
OK, lets get back to...Nick’s telephone.
(He consults his notes)
Angela is already fast-reversing through the time line. Todd’s eyes are on her face. She ignores him; finds the relevant spot; presses ‘play’. Angela talks to camera onscreen:
My gut feeling was that Stair and Meas were bullshitting me about Nick’s phone but...it was just a feeling...an intuition...
8 EXT. TROPICAL GARDEN. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Stair, Angela and Balin Meas talk.
I am sorry, Miss Angela. There was no mobile phone. Not that we found.
This makes no sense to Angela. She turns to Stair.
Gasoline burns at more than 800 degrees centigrade. It would have melted.
So, the same fire that didn’t melt Nick’s laptop melted his mobile?
It seems so.
Angela stares at him for a long moment; signals to Stair that she wants to talk with him; opens the sliding door.
9 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela walks in, signals to Francoise that she wants to talk alone with Stair. Francoise nods, walks into the tropical garden; joins Balin Meas; closes the sliding door.
Was Nick in some kind of trouble? A couple of years ago? With the police?
Stair looks at her; his face betraying nothing.
He was, wasn’t he?
If he told you he was, I guess he was. Nothing I know about!
In the background Balin Meas can be seen answering his mobile; nodding as he listens.
You are so fucking infuriating, Stair! No, he didn’t tell me. He wouldn’t tell me. I picked up clues, asked him about... whatever it was. The police were involved. And a girl, I think. Underage. He said it was ‘nothing’. Now I am asking you. Was Nick’s ‘nothing’ the same as your ‘nothing’?
Some sleeping dogs are best left to lie, Angela.
Lie! That’s what he did. He lied. He wasn’t a good liar, Nick. He was a fucking hopeless liar!
Or so good you never picked it!?
The family dog. (A BEAT) That’s what he wanted to talk about.
Angela is gobsmacked; doesn’t know what to say. The sliding door opens and Balin Meas appears; very apologetic. He walks in, closely followed by Francoise.
Please excuse me for intruding, but I must leave. I have some matters I must attend to.
Before you...(go)...the house where the young girl Nick and I saw being led into...did you...find out anything?
Yes, I am sorry, I forgot to tell you. It is owned by a company that is owned by a company that...it is not possible for find who owns the company in Cambodia.
Is it possible to find where the company that owns the company that owns the company is registered?
In the British Virgin Islands.
Angela’s sharp intake of breath catches the attention of Balin Meas, Stair and Francoise.
Stair looks at her questioningly. Angela steps closer to the Nest of Vipers collage; points at a colour photo of the British Virgin Islands with the banner headline:
“British Virgin Islands growing rich as a global tax haven.”
Stair steps closer, looks at the photo of the Virgin Islands, traces a coloured thread back to a photo of Gerard.
Who is this man?
A very good man.
A momentary grimace crosses Angela’s face. Stair notices it.
A multi-award-winning humanitarian...
Stair waits for her to continue. She doesn’t. She takes a sheaf of printed photos from the printer tray.
The good news is that she is alive. The girl.
She finds two photos on Monkey looking out from between legs in the crowd; hands them to Balin Meas.
Thanks you. These will help me. And if you have other photos...?
A LITTLE LATER
Balin Meas stands by the open front door.
Thank you, Meas.
It is my job. (A BEAT) We will talk in the morning before you leave.
Now, if you will excuse me.
He smiles, nods his farewell to Angela and Francoise; walks out. Stair turns to Angela
Back in a moment.
He moves fast towards the front door.
10 EXT. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Stair runs after Balin Meas, calls out:
(Balin Meas stops; turns.)
Can I ask you a question? About my brother?
(Balin Meas nods)
You know about his case? The young girl?
Yes. I was not involved but...I have looked at the file.
Was Nick guilty?
Balin Meas pauses for a long moment.
I believe you are a man who would prefer the truth to...
Yes, the truth, Meas, please.
I was hoping you would not ask me this question, but...
He opens the concertina manila file, takes out a folder.
Are you sure?
Stair looks from Balin Meas to the folder; nods.
Photos. (A BEAT) The evidence. Entrapment, perhaps, but...
Stair takes the folder, looks at it for a long moment; not sure he wants to open it. He does, takes out a 10 x 8 inch photo. We see the back of the photo only.
Stair looks at it. His facial expression gives nothing away.
A LITTLE LATER
Stair stands in the street as Balin Meas’ police car drives off. He is looks at a 10 x 8 photo. We see the back of the photo only. Angela appears in the doorway.
Stair moves to another photo; looks at it; moves to the next one; distressed by what he sees.
Angela walks up behind him.
Meas gave you some photos?
(Stair puts them back in their folder)
Can I see them?
You don’t want to see them.
Stair holds up his hands: “No”. This infuriates Angela but she is in no mood for another fight.
Do you have any photos of Nick at work?
Angela looks at him, a little puzzled; nods.
11 INT LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Stair sits at Nick’s desk, looking through a small pile of photos of Nick in various work situations:
- interviewing subjects in different locations
- taking notes, playfully annoyed at being photographed
- driving his 4WD
- clowning around in a boyish fashion.
Angela watches Stair as he flicks through the photos fast, as if looking for a particular photo.
Francoise is in the kitchen area, preparing food - her eyes on Angela and Stair.
Angela shifts her attention to Balin Meas’ manila folder resting on the desk.
Stair stops on one photo:
- Nick, talking on his yellow mobile phone, looking directly into the lens - one arm outstretched: “I won’t be long.”
Did you give him a hard time about being on the phone all the time?
“I won’t be long.”
Stair takes a photo of the photo of Nick with his smartphone. Angela watches him; trying to figure out what he is up to.
Is there method in your madness?
Stair smiles. A ‘ping’: a text message.
Francoise lays the makings of a salad and fruit - pineapple, mangoes, passionfruit - out on the counter; looks at Stair reading his text message, with Angela closeby looking at him.
Stair reads the message; tries to hide his concern.
You winning or losing?
Stair makes a so-so gesture with his hand.
The fat lady hasn’t sung yet.
And if she does?
I need to get on the phone and...
Think you can talk your way out of...whatever it is?
Stair holds up his crossed fingers; tries to smile.
Angela holds up her crossed fingers; smiles. They look at each other for a long moment.
Stair breaks the connection; calls to Francoise in the kitchen area.
Au revoir, Francoise. I won’t say it was a pleasure to meet you, but it was an interesting experience.
Meeting you, Alistair, ‘as be one of zee less intéressant experience in my life.
The next time you try a liver kick...
(Stair kicks out his leg)
...try not to signal your intentions...
Francoise holds up her index finger. Stair smiles, signals ‘goodbye’ to Angela, walks to the door.
Let me drive you.
Francoise glares at Angela, throws her hands in the air, shakes her head. She is pissed off. She picks up her carry bag; heads for the front door.
Francoise waves Angela’s plea away; walks out the door.
Stair opens his mouth to say something.
12 EXT. PHNOM PENH STREET. NIGHT
Angela drives her 4WD down a street crowded with girlie bars, street vendors, roadside stalls, beggars - all the richness of night life to be found on a hot Phnom Penh evening. Stair looks out the window; takes it all in.
For how long was Gerard your ...boyfriend!?
I don’t know what he was.
13 INT. ANGELA’S 4WD. NIGHT
Angela, driving, turns to Stair with a self-effacing smile.
A few months. My “A serious error of judgment.”
Angela smiles, nods; looks at Stair.
I’m a slow learner!
I’m sorry about what happened...
She makes a ‘what-happened-earlier’ gesture.
For being a bitch?
I was provoked. You can be an arsehole, you know that, don’t you?
Takes two to tango, I guess.
You a good dancer?
Two left feet. (A BEAT) Nick was the dancer in the family.
Tears well in Angela’s eyes. She wipes them away; shifts her attention to the manila folder resting on the seat between them. He registers her looking at it. She looks up at him.
Angela nods, pulls over to the curb outside Stair’s hotel; looks at the folder, picks it up; looks at Stair.
Can you choose for me?
(Stair shakes his head)
Stair looks out the window for along moment; shakes his head. Angela puts the folder back on the seat.
What’s the name of Wing Chou’s casino?
No name. It doesn’t exist. Officially. Why? (A BEAT) I know you have a gambling problem, you know.
Thought you and Nick never talked about me.
Nick’s silences are eloquent. Were. He worried about you.
It’s only a problem when I lose.
Otherwise, its no problem at all.
Stair holds his hand up: “No.” Angela mimics him.
I’ll add that to the list of subjects that can’t be discussed with Mr. AliStair Morecombe.
Stair looks at her, his face giving nothing away. She returns his gaze for a long moment. Tears well in her eyes again.
We only ever danced once.
Tears roll from her eyes. Stair is not sure how to respond. Angela looks at him, leans tentatively towards him. He puts his arms around her awkwardly. She clings tightly to him. He clings tightly to her, his own eyes moist.
14 INT. ANGELA’S 4WD. OUTSIDE HOTEL. NIGHT
Through the windscreen of Angela’s 4 WD Stair and Angela can be seen looking at each other. This in the point of view of:
Vanny, standing on the pavement; a tray of books around her neck. Stair and Angela do not notice her. She sees:
Angela looking up at Stair; their faces close. It seems as though they might kiss.
I don’t want to be alone tonight.
15 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela, in a big close-up, looks directly at the camera:
Did we kiss?
In a wider shot, Angela’s face can be seen on the flip-out camera screen; her own face in soft focus in the background.
Did we make love?
Katie and Todd sit on either side of the video camera.
Did we fuck?
She laughs; sips her wine; gestures to the camera.
You’ll cut that out, right?
Did you? Fuck Stair?
Angela smiles, shakes her head; wags her finger at Katie.
“A girl’s entitled to her secrets”?
16 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Moving through Nick’s darkened living room; the shot hand-held: the POV of an INTRUDER with a flashlight.
The flashlight beam explores the room; focuses on Nick’s desk; tilts up to the Nest of Vipers collage.
A ‘walkie-talkie’ receiver pinned to the Intruder’s shoulder makes a soft crackling sound.
The Intruder moves closer to the desk, pans along it with the beam of light: looking for something.
The Intruder’s gloved hand reaches out, lifts some papers gently; looks amongst the accumulated books, magazines, newspapers but cannot find what is being sought.
The flashlight beam moves up to Nick’s Nest of Vipers collage, explores it slowly:
A photo of Terry Swinton with different coloured threads connecting him with other ‘vipers’.
The beam of light follows various coloured threads to the photo of Wing Chou - a dart jammed into the iris of one eye.
17 INT. ANGELA’S 4WD. OUTSIDE HOTEL. NIGHT
Through the windscreen of Angela’s 4 WD, Stair and Angela, can be seen, their heads close, looking at each other.
My brain is...my heart is...
She touches her heart. Stair looks at her for a long moment; uncertain how to deal with Angela’s naked emotions.
Angela, feeling vulnerable, more emotionally exposed than she would like to be, edges a little away from Stair.
She gestures to him: go. Stair hesitates; opens the door.
I’ll see you in the morning before...You going to be OK?
Angela, her eyes filling with tears, shakes her head.
No, but that’s OK.
Stair stands on the street by the open door for a moment; in two minds about parting like this. He does not notice Vanny standing on the pavement; observing with interest.
I’m so sorry.
Angela holds her hand up: “It’s OK”. It occurs to her that she has inadvertently mimicked Stair’s gesture. She smiles.
Stair turns awkwardly; walks into his hotel. Vanny walks up to the window; touches Angela gently on the arm. Angela places her hand on Vanny’s; smiles as best she can.
18 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
The Intruder searches the apartment; careful to leave everything as it was found; no evidence that it has been searched. The ‘walkie talkie’ crackles. A voice is heard:
The Intruder double clicks the ‘walkie-talke’; OK; points the flashlight at the ceiling as if looking for something.
19 INT. HOTEL ROOM NIGHT
Stair, sitting on the edge of the bed in his hotel room, looks at the photo of:
Nick’s skeletal hands on the steering wheel.
He flicks through to another photo:
Nick talking on his yellow mobile phone.
He is faced with a conundrum that he cannot resolve.
20 INT. ANGELA’S 4WD. GIRLIE BAR DISTRICT. NIGHT
Angela, her face streaked with tears, drives down a street lined with girlie bars, outdoor restaurants, vendors, beggars and CAUCASIAN MEN on the prowl. Her POV.
21 EXT. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela pulls up outside Nick’s apartment; barely registering the motor bike and rider closeby doing u turn; driving past - the rider’s face obscured with a full face black helmet.
STAIR (voice off)
Angry. (A BEAT) She’s angry. Very...
22 EXT. OUTDOOR BAR. NIGHT
Stair talks with Tilda on skype in a busy street lined with ‘girlie bars’ etc.
I’m angry. (A BEAT) Aren’t you?
At who? At what? The universe? (A BEAT) I’m sorry that Nick died like that but...who should I be angry with.
Tilda decides against responding to this.
The girls don’t understand. Tina said to Grace, “Uncle Nick has just gone to stay with God for a bit. He’ll be back soon.” Grace was...she smiled. “Phew”. She was worried Nick was never coming back.
Stair nods; at a loss how to respond to Tilda’s raw emotions.
“And how are you bearing up, Tilda?”
Vanny approaches, stands closeby, trying to catch Stair’s attention. He ignores her.
23 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela walks in through the front door, stands in the middle of the room; not sure what to do with herself.
Something catches her attention. She is not sure what it is. She sniffs a couple of times. It is a smell. She is mildly puzzled for a moment before walking to the refrigerator, opening the door; remembers that there is no wine there. She thinks a moment; remembers; walks to:
24 INT NICK’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
Angela crouches beside the bed; finds a half empty bottle of white wine.
25 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela takes ice from the refrigerator freezer, puts it in a glass; pours white wine over the cubes.
26 EXT. OUTDOOR BAR. NIGHT
A WAITRESS places a schooner of beer in front of Stair, and a small bowl of peanuts. He thanks her with his eyes, turns back to Tilda, on his iPad.
Want me to pick you up?
Stair shakes his head.
Miriam’s arranged for me to be picked up. I’ve got to go straight to a meeting.
It’ll be fine.
I hope so.
Give the girls a kiss from me, OK?
Stair glances at Vanny. She smiles, looks at her watch as if to say: “how much longer are you going to be?”
Stair kisses the screen of his iPad, switches it off. Vanny frowns, shakes her head.
Wierd! Kissing an iPad!
You married an iPad!?
You buy my book?
Vanny holds out a book.
Don’t need a book. Don’t want a book. No.
Your mouth says no but your eyes say ‘yes’.
My eyes are lying.
You not buy my book I cannot buy food for my granny. She is...
Stair holds his hand up playfully to shut her up. Vanny puts her hand up, gives him a high five. Stair laughs.
The word for ‘no’ is ‘awt tay’.
Vanny places her tray of books on Stairs table.
And the word for ‘yes’ is ‘bart’ if...
No, you say ‘bart’ for boy but for girl you must say ‘Jah’.
27 INT. NICK’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
Angela sits on the bed, glass of wine in hand, staring into space. She is an emotional wreck. The distinctive sound of her mobile phone are heard. She ignores it.
28 EXT. STREET BAR. DOWNTOWN PHNOM PENH. NIGHT
Vanny sits beside Stair pulling books one by one from her book tray - holding them out.
So, you buy this book, Mr Staircase?
Stair laughs, shakes his head. She tries another. Stair shakes his head, smiles. A game.
If you not buy my book I cannot feed my granny. She very old and sick. She needs medicine and...
(He thinks for a moment)
...I’ll give you a dollar if you tell me where I can find a casino.
What the name casino?
It has no name.
OK, three dollars.
Vanny takes a pen and school text book from her tray.
I draw you map.
You speak good English.
Vanny draws a map as she talks.
I study hard..., yul prom...that’s ‘OK’ in Khmer...
...if you go up this street, turn left...walk up...and right here....it doesn’t look like a casino from the outside but...
How do you know what a casino looks like inside?
I young but I not stupid.
(She holds out her hand)
OK, now the three dollars.
Stair reaches into his pocket, takes out a small plastic bag with the burnt remains of a red mobile phone. He looks at it for a moment; reaches into his pocket again for his wallet.
If you want talk to me more it cost you two dollars and if you want take my photo one more dollar and...
Thank’s Vanny. $5 and you don’t even have to talk to me anymore.
He takes a $5 note from his wallet; hands it to her.
(She beams a big smile)
Next time I talk to you for free, OK?
Stair holds up his hand. Vanny holds up hers: high five!
29 INT. NICK’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
Angela lies on the bed, staring at the ceiling; her brow creased with worry; empty wine glass resting on her chest. She remembers something. Her eyes light up. She swings her legs out of bed and rushes into:
30 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela searches through the papers on top of Nick’s desk for something; frustrated that she can’t find it.
She starts to pull out drawers out; search through their cluttered contents.
As she lifts a deeply buried folder with ‘Money stuff’ written on it, a photo slips out. Angela picks it up:
Tilda and Stair on their wedding day. Tilda wears a white dress; Stair a dinner suit. Very formal. On either side of them are the bridesmaids - all looking at the photographer.
Angela slips it back into the folder; places the folder on the desk; annoyed she can’t find what she is looking for.
Her eyes light on the bottle of Port. She picks it up, walks into the kitchen area; upends the bottle, pours its few remaining contents into the sink; shakes the bottle. A small package wrapped in layers of clingwrap falls into the sink. Angela unwraps it to find the small purple plastic container. She opens it; takes out Nick’s diary memory card.
31 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Close on the cursor moving across a screen filled with differently named folders; stopping on one entitled DIARY.
Angela double clicks. The folder opens. There are many icons. Angela scans them, trying to decide which one to open. She decides on: “This is the end”. She looks at it for a long moment, her hand playing nervously with the ‘mouse’; trying to decide if she wants to open it or not.
32 EXT. SHOP. PHNOM PENH STREET. NIGHT
Stair, Vanny’s map in hand, walks up to a nondescript shop selling a variety of grocery-style goods. A middle aged MAN IN A WHITE T-SHIRT beckons him. Stair follows.
33 INT. STAIR WELL. NIGHT
Stair follows the Man in a white t-shirt up three flight of a grimy stair well. At the top there is a nondescript door.
34 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair stands in the doorway looking at:
The interior of a gaudy casino: red carpet, gold-rimmed mirrors, chandeliers, roulette wheels, backgammon tables etc - all that one would to expect to find in Las Vegas.
The PATRONS, well dressed, represent the nations of the world but there is a preponderance of CHINESE MEN.
Immaculately dressed KHMER WAITRESSES circulate - taking drink orders and delivering colourful cocktails. CHANTOU, early 20s, walks up to Stair; takes his hand.
Come, Mr Handsome Man.
Stair allows her to lead him by the hand towards a table.
You look for lady?
You know where I can find one?
Chantou doesn’t get the joke but smiles anyway.
35 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela opens the icon entitled “This is the end”.
With great trepidation she presses ‘play’. Nick’s face appears onscreen.
If you are watching this, my darling, it means that I am dead and trying to figure out who killed me. And here I am, talking to you from beyond the grave, with my list of possible assassins...
Angela gasps in shock; presses pause. Nick’s face freezes.
36 EXT. CITY STREET. NIGHT
Monkey and a FRIEND search through a large pile of rubbish at the side of the road - placing recyclable plastic bottles in large dirty woven-plastic bags.
In amongst bags of discarded rice, rotting vegetables, babies nappies etc Monkey finds a small broken box. She opens it. Close on the contents:
Worn down tubes of lipstick, eye-shadow, rouge, fake eye-lashes and other women’s beautifying products.
Monkey smiles. She calls out to her friend.
Monkey’s Friend walks up; looks at the contents; smiles.
37 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair sits at the table with Chantou, sipping a blue cocktail as Chantou strokes his 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 ‘flower’ I smell sweet, like a flower.
She leans towards Stair, her face close to his, presenting her neck for him to smell.
Closeby, Quong Tran, the well-dressed and groomed Vietnamese man seen earlier in the story watching Nick in the street, observes:
Stair placing his hand on Chantou’s back; smelling her neck; turning her head to him; smiling radiantly.
38 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela, tears in her eyes, sits in front of her laptop computer - on which the frozen face of Nick can be seen smiling out at her. She composes herself and, with some trepidation, presses ‘play’. Nick comes to life:
I’m sorry for dying on you like this. Bad timing, eh! Not my choice, of course. I do hope my death was relatively painless...and I hope you are OK. No, I hope you are heart-broken...you know what I mean. Are you crying now?
Angela, crying, nods her head; talks to the screen.
I’m sorry. (A BEAT) Anyhow, you will find plenty of clues here in this...
(He points at the camera)
...remember you used to make fun of my ‘diary’? Clues as to who my assassin might be. And I need to tell you a few things that...well, they might come as a bit of a shock. I am sorry to do this to you but... context is important. I’ve told you some of this story already...how I met Gerard...but I haven’t told you the most important parts. Brace yourself, OK? Hey, the truth may not set you free but...its a much better story. When I first came to Cambodia...
39 EXT. PHNOM PENH AIRPORT. DAY
Nick emerges from the crowded ‘Arrivals’ exit wearing a backpack; a laptop computer bag slung around his neck.
NICK (voice over)
...my hair was longer, my waist was trimmer and I was pretty naive...
40 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Chantou strokes Stair’s hairy arm; resting alongside her hairless arm. He is enjoying the attention.
So furry. You like massage? I can give you special massage, good!
What makes your ‘special massage’ special?
Chantou laughs. Quong Tran walks up, gestures to Chantou 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 (laugh)
Our ‘flower’ girl. Did she offer to open her petals for you? (A BEAT)
My name is Quong Tran.
My name is Alistair.
Alistair. (A BEAT) Alistair, is your Christian name, I think?
Yes, but I am not a good Christian.
And your family name?
Stair waves the question away.
WING CHOU (smiles)
I will call you ‘Mr Smith’. Or ‘Mr Jones’.
Stair holds up his hand, shakes his head.
You are here to play, Mr Smith? (A BEAT) Or for the ladies?
Stair shakes his head; looks to where Chantou stands, looking at him.
Play with the ladies?
Quong Tran smiles. A door opens behind him. A HOSTESS, carrying a tray of colourful cocktails, enters a private gambling room in which Wing Chou sits at a round green velvet covered table playing a card game with OTHER PLAYERS.
A spy, perhaps?
Yes, a spy.
The door to Wing Chou’s private gambling room swings shut.
Do you mind if I ask you why you are here?
Sex. (A BEAT) My mother and father had sex one night and nine months later....voila!
Stair makes a ‘here-I-am’ gesture. Quong Tran laughs.
I find it hard to believe that my mother and father ever had sex, but they must have because, nine months later...
He makes a ‘here-I-am’ gesture; smiles.
No, I am here because I am the manager.
Stair knocks back the last of his blue cocktail. Quong Tran signals to Chantou to get Stair another cocktail.
And you, Mr Smith, why are you here? Business? Pleasure?
Just passing through. And a young woman I met this evening told me about...
(He gestures to the casino)
And I was curious. I’ve never been in a casino and I thought...
You have never gambled?
A little poker, when I was a boy. For small change.
You have never been tempted?
To give my hard-earned money to people like you?
To take my hard-earned money from me?
Hard earned? (A BEAT) The odds are not stacked against your...guests?
Quong Tran makes a ‘maybe, maybe-not’ gesture.
There is no shortage of people who think they can beat the odds.
A sucker born every minute.
Is it better to be a sucker with the courage to take a chance...
Stair’s eyes are on Chantou, leaning over the bar as the BARTENDER prepares a blue cocktail.
…to walk the tightrope with no safety net to catch us when we fall?
Chantou turns, smiles at Stair.
Or a coward, tip toeing through life looking down at the safety net?
Does anyone fall for that bullshit line?
QUONG TRAN (smiles)
As you say, there’s a sucker born every minute.
Quong Tran gestures to the gambling tables.
I cannot tempt you?
I don’t know the first thing about gambling.
There is nothing to it. Perhaps you can learn.
You know the expression, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”
And you are an old dog?
Chantou, her eyes on Stair, walks up to him and Quong Tran, laughing together, blue cocktail in hand.
You are well preserved.
Stair holds up his empty glass.
A great preservative.
Chantou places a blue cocktail beside him.
Thank you, Chantou. Kimsong!?
Chantou laughs, places her hand on Stair’s shoulder.
You cannot believe anything Quong Tran tells you, Mr Alistair.
Quong Tran smiles. Stair laughs. Chantou spins on her heels; walks towards the door leading into the private gambling room of Wing Chou; opens it; walks in. Stair watches as:
Chantou stands at Wing Chou’s side, places a hand on his shoulder. The stack of chips in front of Wing Chou is high. As the door swings shut Chantou looks directly at Stair.
Remind me, which is better? Four of a kind or a full house?
The muffled, distinctive, sound of Angela’s mobile is heard.
41 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela looks at Nick’s smiling face onscreen, ignoring the sound of her mobile phone for a moment:
I don’t believe in fate but...
She presses ‘pause’ as she tries to figure out where her phone is. Nick’s face is frozen mid-sentence; mid-smile.
She moves fast to:
42 INT. NICK’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
The muffled sound of Angela’s mobile is heard as she searches for it. She strips the sheets from the bed, hears a ‘thump’, looks down, sees her mobile, picks it up.
It’s Tilda. Stair’s wife.
I don’t know what to say...
The sound of Tilda crying. Tears well in Angela’s eyes. She walks back towards:
43 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
As Angela walks back into the Living Room; sits at Nick’s desk:
You don’t have to say anything.
I’m....you must be...I’m so sorry. And...You are in my thoughts.
The sound of Tilda crying.
Thank you, Tilda.
Angela’s eyes focus on the image of Nick smiling onscreen.
How did you know? About me and Nick?
He told me.
Told you what?
Maybe I shouldn’t...
During a long silence Angela opens the folder with ‘Money stuff’ written on it.
That he loved you.
That he was in love with me?
That he was in love with you.
After a long pause:
I wish he’d told me.
As they talk, Angela looks at the first few photos in the Money stuff’ folder - of Tilda and Stair at their wedding.
44 INT. WING CHOU’S PRIVATE ROOM. CASINO. NIGHT
A baby turtle walks across a green velvet gambling table.
STAIR (voice off)
I’ll try anything once, Mr Wing Chou.
Stair sits to the right of Wing Chou. Chantou stands behind, between Stair and Wing Chou. There are FOUR OTHER PLAYERS at the table. Quong Tran hovers - not playing; just observing.
Call me Wing, please, Mr Smith. (A BEAT) Anything?
If it doesn’t hurt me.
Losing your money could hurt.
“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
But if you can’t cook maybe you should not be in the kitchen.
Wing Chou signals to Quong Tran: ‘cards please’.
But if you are not in the kitchen, how can you learn to cook?
WING CHOU (smiles)
Quong Tran hands Wing Chou a new pack of cards wrapped in cellophane.
I’d rather learn on the job.
That could be an expensive way to learn.
Stair shrugs. Wing Chou unwraps the cards.
How much can you afford to pay for your lesson tonight?
Is there a limit of some kind?
Five hundred dollars per raise.
Per raise? What’s that?
Wing Chou and Quong Tran exchange looks. Stair takes out a shiny black credit card.
You have an ATM?
45 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela, her mobile held to her ear, looks at another photo in the Money stuff’ folder:
Stair and Tilda, both dressed in tennis whites, holding tennis rackets.
The boys had their secrets.
That’s what their mum called them.
Angela looks at a another photo of Stair and Tilda:
Tilda in her white tennis outfit, alone, winking playfully at the person taking the photo.
Angela’s mobile ‘pings’. She looks at the screen: Missed Calls
Tilda, I should go. I’ve got...
That’s OK. I just wanted...skype me anytime...
Angela hangs up; types numbers into the mobile keypad.
You have twelve missed calls. Do you want to listen to twelve missed calls now?
Angela is in two minds about checking them; looks to the frozen smiling face of Nick onscreen; decides against checking them just now; closes the folder of ‘Money stuff’ photos; presses ‘play.’
On Angela as she looks at the monitor; sees and hears:
I got sidetracked. It’s what happened next that’s important.
When her boyfriend appeared on the scene, your ex-boyfriend, Gerard...
46 INT. HALLWAY. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair stands in front of an ATM machine. He places his credit card into it, presses the appropriate numbers. A message appears onscreen:
He presses the ‘balance’ option:
A look of concern crosses his face as he types in:
He is in the process of getting money out of it as Chantou leans close; speaks softly.
Be careful, Mr Alistair. These men. They are not good men.
Stair nods, extracts a small wad of $100 bills from the ATM.
47 EXT. RIVERSIDE. NIGHT
Monkey and SEVERAL BOY AND GIRL STREET KIDS sit on the pavement close to the river’s edge making themselves and each other up with Monkey’s found make-up kit. They laugh, chatter and thoroughly enjoy themselves.
48 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela sips on a glass of wine mixed with ice as she watches Nick onscreen:.
So, Ingrid lied about having just met me but I could tell from the smile on Gerard’s face that he knew and didn’t care. A little detail that I left out of the story I told you.
Angela’s phone emits its distinctive sound.
A lie, but only a small one!
Nick smiles mischievously.
Angela presses ‘pause’. Nick’s smiling face freezes onscreen. She picks up her mobile; looks at the screen: Nick
She stares at the screen in shock for a long moment; lifts it to her ear fearfully.
(There is only dial-tone.)
She looks at the screen of her mobile with a mixture of confusion and panic; hesitates a long moment before pressing ‘call back’. The phone rings and rings and rings. Then it is answered and a female voice, speaking in Khmer, says something. It is too faint for Angela to hear.
Who are you? Why have you got this phone? Hello...hello...
The line has gone dead. Angela stares at the screen of her mobile; in a state of shock.
49 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair slaps his black credit card on the table; hands a wad of $100 bills to Quong Tran, who is the ‘Banker’. He glances momentarily at Chantou, standing behind Wing Chou, as Quong Tran passes him piles of white, red and blue chips:
The white chip is worth $100.
(He holds up a white chip.)
The ante is one of these.
Quong Tran shuffles the cards. Stair glances at his hands.
To play in a round you have to put one of these on the table.
Stair nods. Wing Chou picks up a red chip. Quong Tran continues to shuffle the cards.
One of these
(He holds it up.)
Is $250. And one of these...
(He picks up a blue chip)
Stair finishes his blue cocktail, signals to Chantou to get him another. He is a little drunk.
So, is the limit $500 per raise or per hand?
Per raise. With a limit of three ‘raises’.
Stair looks around the table, does some mental arithmetic; talks to himself.
And three of a kind beats two pairs, right?
Stair’s mobile phone vibrates on the table alongside him. He looks at the screen:
He does not take the call.
50 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
Angela talks on her mobile phone.
Something very weird has just happened. Please call me the minute you get this message. It’s important. Very important.
She hangs up; sits for a long moment - mind racing.
She opens the ‘Money stuff’ folder resting on the table in front of her; looks at another photo:
Tilda, naked from the waist up, has one arm placed across her breasts as she holds out her bra to the photographer with the other; pouting playfully.
Tilda, naked, one arm placed across her breasts and the other held over her pubic region, smiles at the photographer.
Angela is processing the significance of the photos as her phone rings. She looks at the screen: Tilda
Angela is in two minds about answering the call. She lets it ring as she looks at the next photo:
Tilda naked, lying on a bed, looking up at the photographer - whose naked body (holding the camera) can be seen in a mirror. It is Nick.
As her mobile rings out, Angela looks at the photo in shock. Her phone starts to ring again. Angela looks at the screen. A Skype call. She answers tentatively.
Tilda is vulnerable, confused; an emotional mess.
Sorry to be calling at this hour but...Can I...Did Nick ever....talk to you about me?
All he told me was that Stair was married to someone called Tilda and that you had two gorgeous girls.
Stair was not a subject he wanted to talk about much.
I guess he told you he and Stair had fallen out?
He didn’t want to talk about it but, yes, I gathered that.
Do you know why?
Tilda looks way - torn between wanting and not wanting to broach this subject. She decides against.
I don’t know.
51 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair sips his blue cocktail, looks at his cards; tries hard to hide how happy he is with his hand; fails badly. He pushes a red chip onto the table. And then his last two blue chips.
And raise you one thousand.
Wing Chou leans forward, pushes one of the chips back.
Just five hundred per raise, remember...Mr Smith?
Stair sips his blue cocktail; looks at his cards; fails to keep the smile off his face.
One OTHER PLAYER folds, throws his cards on the table. The Other Players, all ‘poker-faced’ push a blue chip onto the table. Without hesitation, Stair pushes his last blue chip onto the table. ANOTHER PLAYER folds.
Stair lays his three kings on the table, smiles confidently.
All the OTHER PLAYERS, except for Wing Chou, turn their cards face down on the table.
Wing Chou lays his cards down.
Stair is confused. He thinks he has won!
That beats three of a kind?
Quong Tran rakes all of Stair’S chips towards Wing Chou.
A look of panic crosses Stair’s face.
52 LIVING ROOM NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela stands in front of Nick’s ‘Nest of Vipers’ montage. She holds her mobile up so that Tilda (on Skype) can see it.
Angela turns the phone back to her.
Stair hasn’t said anything about any...’nest of vipers’. Nothing.
Maybe he....just doesn’t want to ...upset you?
Tilda looks at Angela with a quizzical expression; tries to read between the lines.
Angela’s expression suggests that there is something ’between the lines.’
OK. Thanks. I have a few questions for my husband.
Please don’t tell him I told you that?
Don’t worry, I’ll keep your name out of it. I’ll act dumb. (A BEAT) I am blonde after all. Thanks.
53 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Quong Tran rakes all of Stair’s chips towards Wing Chou.
Stair lets the reality of yet another loss sink in for a moment, picks up his blue cocktail as if to drink it; looks at his chips (only a few white ones left); makes a decision; picks up his black credit card, stands, starts to move towards the door; blue cocktail in hand. Chantou moves to accompany him. Stair puts his hand up: “Stay” He stumbles out of the room, drink in hand. Quong Tran shakes his head.
A sucker born every minute.
54 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela paces up and down, mobile phone in hand; trying to make sense of the complexities she has been confronted with; moves back to her computer’ stands in front of it; not sure if she wants to look at any more of Nick’s diary.
She picks up her phone; finds the number she wants to call:
Before she has a chance to do so, she receives a skype call; presses the appropriate button: Tilda. She is not happy!
He’s not in his hotel. It’s 3 in the morning and he’s not in his hotel.
Are you sure?
I got the guy at the front desk to check his room. He’s not there. (A BEAT) Is Stair with you?
Tina and Grace, in their pyjamas, have just woken up; walk into Tilda’s bedroom chatting.
He’s not here, Tilda.
Sorry, it’s just...do you have any idea where he might be?
Angela hesitates a moment.
Please, Angela, if you have any idea, I’d like to know. I need to know.
Tilda signals to Tina and Grace to be quiet.
I don’t know for sure but he did ask me about a casino.
Sorry, sweetheart. That’s a dollar in the swearing jar.
(Turning back to Angela)
If you see Stair before I talk with him...Hang on...
(She turns to Tina and Grace.)
Girls, can you please...
She makes a ‘leave the room gesture’ Tina puts her hands on her hips defiantly. Grace mimics her. Tilda glares at them.
Tina and Grace turn, flounce out of the room.
Are you good at lying?
No! I’m a hopeless liar. I turn red and...
So was Nick.
Yes, he was so bad at it that he didn’t even try.
One of the things I....liked about him.
One of the things I loved about him.
Anyhow, I’d rather you didn’t tell Stair I know he didn’t spend the night at the hotel. If that’s OK?
55 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair walks unsteadily back into Wing Chous’s private gambling room, a wad of $100 bills in one hand and his empty cocktail glass in the other. As he sits, he signals to Chantou to get him another cocktail. She is reluctant to do so. Stair gestures his insistence. She takes his glass. Stair slaps his black credit card on the table.
I am feeling lucky. Very lucky.
Perhaps we should raise the limit.
Stair slurs his words.
To the sky.
Sky’s the limit?
Why not. Why the fuck not!
The PLAYER to Stair’s right deals cards. Stair picks his up; seems to have difficulty focusing on them. Chantou appears at his side with a blue cocktail; places it alongside him. Stair looks at his cards and, without giving it too much thought, pushes 5 blue chips onto the table.
Stair, quite drunk, is very happy with the hand he is holding and does not try to hide it. He has most of his chips on the table. He takes a sip of his blue cocktail; pushes the rest of his chips into the centre.
Wing Chou is the only player still in the game. Chantou looks on with concern; Quong Tran with interest. Wing Chou matches Stair, indicates to him to show what he has.
Stair places 3 Jacks and two eights on the table.
Wing Chou grimaces, holds on to his hand for a moment before laying out his cards one by one: 6 of Hearts, 7 of Hearts, 8 of Hearts, 9 of Hearts, 10 of Hearts.
The smile disappears from Stair’s face.
Perhaps this is a good time to finish our game.
Stair ponders this drunkenly for a moment, nods his assent but then suddenly changes his mind.
No, fuck it.
He holds up his black credit card, stumbles to his feet; picks up his blue cocktail, takes a sip.
One for the road.
(To Wing Chou.)
You up for one last round?
If you still have money to lose I am happy to take it.
Stair chuckles, holds his index finger aloft as he stands (”I’ll be back in a minute”); stumbles towards the door. When he gets to it he turns.
Never say die.
56 INT. HALLWAY. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair stumbles back into the hallway, walks up to the ATM machine; places his credit card in the ATM, goes through the motions of pressing in the appropriate numbers; looks at the screen, brings his hands to his head: ‘freaking out’
From the perspective of a security camera Stair can be seen raking his hands through his hair; as if in a panic.
57 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Quong Tran looks at the screen of his mobile phone - on which can be seen:
Stair, panicking; trying to figure out what to do; drunkenly mouthing the word ‘fuck’ over and over again.
58 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Wing Chou hands the deck of cards to Stair. He looks at them, drunkenly, as if he is not sure how to shuffle them.
Hey, can we have a new pack of cards?
WING CHOU (nods)
He indicates to Quong Tran to get a new pack. Stair holds up the old pack.
This one has not been kind to me. Maybe...
Quong Tran hands a new pack of cards to Stair. He has a little trouble removing the cellophane.
Can I ask you a question, Mr Wing Chou?
Stair shuffles the cards amateurishly.
If a businessman...a hypothetical American businessman...came to Cambodia hoping to make a lot of money fast... you have a lot of money is my guess... what would be ...the quickest way?
But if the hypothetical businessman is you, Mr Smith, poker is not a business plan I would recommend.
Stair laughs, starts to deal cards to Wing Chou.
You must deal to the person on your left first, remember!
He takes the cards back, hiccups, starts to deal to the man on his left.
And you, Mr Wing Chou? How did you make your money? Legally?
59 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela sits at Nick’s desk looking at half a dozen or so printed blow-up photos laid out neatly in front of her. They are in soft focus.
Angela thinks hard; trying to solve puzzles. She looks further down the desk at the photo, with cracked glass, of:
Young Nick and Stair, each with an arm around the other’s shoulder and each carrying a tennis racket.
She reaches out, places it in front of her with the other photos. She looks at the arrangement for a moment, stands, moves further down the desk; picks up the manuscript with “The Boys” written on it and adds this to her ‘collection’.
60 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Wing Chou throws two cards onto a table stacked high with chips. They dwarf Stair’s small pile. The OTHER PLAYERS have ‘folded’. Stair deals Wing Chou two more cards.
Wing Chou looks at his cards. And then at Stair.
We have a problem, Mr Smith.
If I bet as I would like to
(He indicates Stairs chips)
...you do not have enough to cover the bet.
Stair indicates his black plastic credit card.
Don’t worry. I can cover it.
Ten thousand dollars?
Ten, twenty, thirty...
I have your word?
You have my word.
He reaches out with his hand. Wing Chou shakes it.
61 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela has a photo in her hands:
Tilda and Stair on their wedding day.
She places the photo back on the table; picks up another:
Tilda in her white tennis outfit, alone, winking playfully at the person taking the photo.
The sound of the front door bell buzzing. Angela gets up; walks towards it.
62 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Wing Chou pushes a large stack of chips onto the table.
Stair deals himself two more cards; looks at them for a long moment before picking up all five cards. He jiggles his leg nervously, taps the fingers of his free hand on the table; makes an impulsive decision.
Raise you $10,000.
You’re sure you have the funds to cover this?
Stair nods. Wing Chou nods, counts out another $10,000 worth of chips; pushes them onto the table.
Chantou has a look of horror on her face. Quong Tran observes the proceedings with the eyes of a hawk.
Wing Chou lays a card on the table:
Jack of Spades
63 INT. POLICE STATION. NIGHT
Balin Meas, smoking a cigarette looks at a photo of:
Monkey getting out of the white car at the gate in front of the palatial home.
Other photos are laid out on the table in front of him - faces circled; notes written on them.
64 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Wing Chou lays the Jack of Clubs alongside the Jack of Spades Jack of Diamonds.
He cannot help but smile as he prepares to lay down his fourth card. Stair remains poker-faced.
Wing Chou lays the Jack of hearts alongside the Jack of Clubs Jack of Spades and Jack of Diamonds
Stair looks on in shock. Wing Chou smiles.
Stair sits for a long moment looking at Wing Chou’s cards - as if defeated. He glances at Chantou. She looks worried.
The beginnings of a smile appear on Stair’s face.
Taking his time, relishing the drama of it, Stair lays out:
10 of Spades, 9 of Spades, 8 of spades and 7 of spades.
The smile disappears from Wing Chou’s face. The suspense is almost too much for Chantou.
Stair lays out a 6 of Spades.
There is a deathly silence at the table.
Wing Chou recovers quickly from his shock; smiles.
Congratulations, Mr Smith.
65 INT. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair talks on his mobile.
Someone lent you ten grand? (A BEAT) Talk to me, Alistair. (A BEAT) Poker? (A BEAT) You’ve been gambling right?
Chantou’s eyes are on Stair, on the other side of the room.
Ask me no questions...
You are an idiot.
Yes, but an idiot who just kept the deal alive.
So you got lucky at cards, this time. But cards is what got you into this mess, Alistair.
(Stair glances at Chantou; smiles.)
And poker is not a business strategy! (A BEAT) Are you listening to me?
I always listen to your advice.
And ignore it!
But I do listen. (A BEAT) OK, here’s what I want you to do...
Close on Chantou; looking at Stair intently.
A LITTLE LATER
Stair walks up to Chantou, two $100 notes in his hand.
He hands the notes to her. She takes them but does not smile.
You have been my good luck charm.
Chantou stares at him in a way that makes Stair uneasy.
66 EXT. STREET OUTSIDE CASINO. NIGHT
Stair walks away from the front entrance to the casino.
I got your messages but I was caught up with...
That’s OK. I just wanted...
67 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela stands in the middle of the room; mobile to her ear.
I still want...
Angela hesitates, looks back at:
Nick’s desk, at which sits Francoise; seat swivelled around looking at her.
Angela makes it clear with a gesture, that she wants to have this conversation in private.
ANGELA (to Stair)
She covers the mouthpiece. Angela looks daggers at Francoise. She does not take the hint.
Angela turns away, annoyed, walks towards the sliding glass door leading to the adjacent outdoor garden.
68 EXT. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair stands alone in the deserted street.
Was that Francoise?
Yes. (A BEAT) I needed...its not just that I didn’t want to be alone...
Chantou appears in a pool of light spilling from the casino entrance behind Stair. He does not see her at first.
I also needed...
69 EXT. TROPICAL GARDEN. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela closes the sliding glass door. Francoise, in the background, looks at the photos laid out on the desk.
...someone to talk to...about... I got a phone call from Nick’s phone.
70 EXT. CASINO/TROPICAL GARDEN/LIVING ROOM. NIGHT
NOTE: The scene split between three locations
Stair becomes aware of Chantou as she walks towards him.
It’s not possible.
I know, I know, but it happened and... maybe he had two phones so maybe...but it’s freaking me out...and...I know you don’t think he was murdered but there’s something I need to show you...Nick’s video diary.
Stair is interested in what Angela has told him but is distracted by Chantou, as she steps close to him - an angry expression on her face; the two $100 bills in her hand.
I only found it tonight...and...
Chantou slips the two $100 bills in Stair shirt pocket.
Chantou turns; walks back towards the casino entrance.
Stair’s eyes are on the retreating figure of Chantou.
I’ll get rid of Frannie.
OK. Be there soon. (A BEAT) Can I ask a favour?
In the Living Room (Angela on her mobile in the tropical garden in the background) Francoise opens the folder with ‘Money stuff’ written on it.
If Tilda calls you...
Why would she call me?
I gave her your number. She wanted to call you.
OK.(A BEAT) What?
Francoise places the photo of Nick and Tilda naked alongside the photo, with the cracked glass frame, of Young Nick and Young Stair as Stair and Angela’s voices are heard over:
Just...don’t say anything about... gambling, OK?
71 INT. POLICE STATION. NIGHT
Balin Meas’ attention is focused on Armed Guard #1, standing close to Monkey; his face clearly visible. He holds a magnifying glass close.
He picks up another photo - one of Angela’s taken at the launch of Wing Chou’s new island casino/hotel complex.
72 EXT. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair shouts out to Chantou as she walks away.
Chantou stops, turns.
73 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Francoise, foreground, looks at the photo of Nick and Tilda naked. Angela, in the tropical garden, opens the sliding door; sees what Francoise is doing; walks fast towards her.
Frannie, that’s private. You can’t...
Angela reaches out to take the folder from her. Francoise withholds it, holds up the photo of Tilda and Nick naked.
Who is zis woman?
74 EXT. CASINO. NIGHT
Stair walks up to Chantou; tries to hand the 2 $100 bills to her. She waves them away.
You don’t want...need...some (money)?
Chantou shakes her head; refuses to accept the $100 bills.
75 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela’s eyes are on the photo of Nick and Tilda naked.
You know zis Tilda?
76 EXT. CASINO. NIGHT
Yes. I want. I need. But not your money.
What do you want?
I think you have a good heart.
77 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Francoise holds up the photo of Nick and Tilda naked.
Did you tell zis Tilda about...
Of course not! It’s none of my business.
Does Stair know...?
Stop Frannie! It’s none of your fucking business either.
I am just trying to help you.
78 EXT. CASINO. NIGHT
Chantou looks at Stair with a mixture of anger and longing.
Chantou, you are a beautiful young woman. You deserve a man with a good heart. I have a bad heart.
Chantou smiles, places her hand on his heart.
You are a liar.
Yes, but not about...this.
He places his hand on his heart, close to Chantou’s. She entwines her fingers with Stair’s.
79 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
I’m totally stressed out..that’s all. Sorry...
You need zee massage.
No, I don’t need a fucking massage, Frannie. I just want...I just want to be alone right now, OK?
C'était Alistair on zee phone?
80 EXT. RIVERSIDE. NIGHT
Monkey and several other street kids (mainly girls) sit on the pavement close to the river’s edge - all made up with rouge, lipstick, fake eye lashes. As they all look at Monkey taking her small video camera from a plastic bag, Vanny, a tray of books around her neck, walks up; sits with them.
81 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Francoise, indignant, confronts Angela.
Et vous voulez que je parte parce qu'il vient? (A BEAT) ‘Ee come ‘ere? Now?
There are things I need to talk with him about.
Et vous ne pouvez pas parler avec moi about zese things?
Angela shakes her head. Francoise nods, hurt, picks up her carry bag; walks towards the front door; opens it.
Francoise turns. Angela walks up to her.
Please don’t take it personally.
(Francoise will not be easily placated.)
Thank you for...everything...
Angela puts her arms around Francoise; hugs her.
Je m'inquiète pour toi. (I worry about you.)
Angela nods; tears in her eyes. Francoise wipes them away.
82 EXT. CASINO NIGHT
Chantou holds Stair’s hand in both of her own; close to her heart; looks directly into his eyes as his mobile rings.
You say to me you have bad heart. And you say you are liar, so I do not believe you.
Stair smiles, untangles his fingers; takes out his phone; looks at the screen: Tilda
He gestures to Chantou, in a friendly way, that he needs privacy. She nods. Stair moves away; answers the call:
Sorry to be calling so early?
Stair looks at his watch.
Four in the morning.
Shit, sorry, I thought...
You still in bed?
Just got up, but I can’t talk now...
Except to say ‘problem solved’. Our...
Which problem? (A BEAT) Have you got someone with you? (A BEAT) In your bed?
Stair sees Wing Chou and Quong Tran emerging from the casino in the background.
83 EXT. RIVERSIDE. NIGHT
Monkey fast-reverses through the images she has shot (some of which we have seen) and stops at a shot of:
...herself, made up, dressed in white, standing in the doorway with the Elegant Khmer Woman.
Monkey presses ‘play’:
The Elegant Khmer Woman pulls the door closed. Monkey is very frightened.
84 EXT. CASINO NIGHT
The headlights of a car illuminate Stair and Chantou.
Then which problem, Alistair? Your gambling problem?
(The car drives by.)
Was that a car going by? In your bedroom.
Look, now is not...
Have you been gambling?
85 INT. POLICE STATION. NIGHT
With his magnifying glass Balin Meas focuses his attention of two men in the background of a shot that has Terry Swinton in the foreground and Wing Chou in the middle ground.
As he moves the magnifying glass close to the figures in the background, one of them is clearly identifiable as Gerard, leaning close in confidential conversation with another man who looks as though he could be Armed Guard # 1.
86 EXT. CASINO NIGHT
I called your hotel. At one in the morning. You weren’t there.
Stair watches Wing Chou and Quong Tran walking towards him.
Where were you?
Wing Chou and Quong Tran are close now. They are not smiling.
Stair? (A BEAT) Can we Skype?
Wing Chou and Quong Tran are close now. Quong Tran has something in his hand.
We have a problem, Mr Smith.
Stair! Who is that?
Stair hangs up as Wing Chou and Quong Tran walk up.
Or should I say, Mr Morecombe?
Stair registers the switchblade knife in Quong Tran’s hand.
And the problem is?
You are Nicholas Morecombe’s brother.
87 EXT. RIVERSIDE. NIGHT
Monkey and her new street kid friends, Vanny amongst them, look a the flip-out screen of the video camera:
A man’s hand appears in frame, beckons to Monkey, dressed in white, standing in front of the door, to approach.
The street kids look at the screen - eyes wide open in amazement.
End of Episode # 5