Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Money For Nothing: TV pilot episode script

INT. OFFICE HALLWAY. DAY

JESS is sitting in a HALL, waiting for a job interview. She nervously plucks at her RESUME which is in her hand. She shifts in her seat and her WALKING STICK falls to the floor. She reaches down and picks it up, using the HANDBAG at her feet to prop the foot of the WALKING STICK.

An OFFICE DOOR opens and JOCK, the manager, walks out. JESS jumps up, knocking her WALKING STICK down again. She reaches down to pick it and her HANDBAG up.

JOCK 
Jess Connel?

JESS
Yes.
JESS goes to shake his hand, but both her hands are full and after an awkward moment they both give up. JOCK indicates for her to go into the office. After an another awkward moment when she tries to arrange the HANDBAG, the RESUME, and the WALKING STICK in the right hands JESS makes her way forward.

INT. JOCK’S OFFICE. DAY

JESS stands awkwardly inside the door. JOCK steps around her to take his SEAT behind the DESK. The OFFICE is littered with CABLES and WORK WEAR as well as piles of PAPERS and FOLDERS and a LAPTOP COMPUTER.
JOCK 
Excuse the mess. It’s pretty crazy with the Festival as you can imagine. Take a seat. I’m Jock Brannan, the Technical Manager for The Arts Centre.

JESS 
Thanks Mr Brannan. I totally understand. Been there, done that.
JESS laughs.
JOCK
 Call me Jock. Yes, I had a look at your resume. It’ pretty impressive. What happened to your foot?

JESS
Pardon?

JOCK 
Your foot. I assume you’ve sprained it or something?

JESS 
Oh no. My feet are okay. It’s my hips which are the problem.

JOCK 
Women and their weight. I’ll never understand! It’s a bit much to use a cane don’t you think though? It’s not as if you are a hippopotomus.

JESS 
I’ve never seen a hippopotomus use a walking stick.

JOCK 
Oh, sorry. Forgot. Not allowed to talk about a woman’s weight.

JESS 
Oh, I thought we were talking about hippos?

JOCK 
Hah! Funny! I once told one of our lady lighting operators she needed to get up in the grid a bit more or she wouldn’t fit in the chair anymore. She went right off. She really needed to drink some concrete that one. Couldn’t take a joke. You look like you can, though.

JESS 
I prefer machine oil. It goes down more smoothly.

JOCK 
Um. Moving on then. So you want to join our lighting team do you? As I said. Had a look at your resume. Looks like you’ve had more experience than me! Everyone pads it a bit, though don’t they?

JESS 
I don’t use pushup bras.

JOCK 
Oh, sorry. You resume I mean. Obviously you’ve beefed it up a bit. I totally get it.

JESS 
Um, no I haven’t. I have done everything I have written on there.

JOCK 
Really? So you were the Assistant Technical Manager at the Concert Hall?

JESS
Yes.

JOCK
 You know this is a small industry. It won’t be hard for me to check up on all of this. If you’re telling a porky pie now would be the time to fess up my girl.

JESS
 Luckily Tim warned me about you, Jock, otherwise I might just be offended around about now.

JOCK 
Tim? Tim Cahill? Tim Cahill the Operations Manager of the Concert Hall?

JESS
 The one and only.

JOCK
 Why didn’t you tell me you knew him?

JESS
 He’s one of the referees listed on my resume. Here’s a hard copy if you are having trouble reading the electronic version.

JESS
 hands over the RESUME she has been holding.

JOCK
 Tim and I are great mates. Once, when we were touring with No Cause For A Llama we went on the biggest bender of out lives.

TIM and a younger JOCK are roadies sitting in a theatre dressing room. CLOTHES and EMPTY BEER BOTTLES are strewn about. TIM is standing on a CHAIR playing air guitar, and JOCK is skulling a BEER as he throws an EMPTY BOTTLE at the MIRROR and cracks it.

Cut to TIM and JOCK in the back seat of a TAXI. TIM has his head hanging out the window, vomiting, and JOCK is shouting to the driver (O.S.) to turn up the music which is heavy rock, as he head bangs in his seat.

Cut to TIM and JOCK in a plush hotel suite. Again CLOTHES are everywhere. JOCK is sucking on a BOTTLE OF BOURBON with only a small amount left and TIM is lighting a BONG. JOCK is in his underwear and standing on a TABLE. He holds his BOTTLE like a cricket bat and nods at TIM. TIM bowls the bong and JOCK hits it for a six. It goes flying across the room and smashes the CHANDALIER before flying into the BAR and breaking GLASSES and BOTTLES. JOCK spews again.

Cut back to interview

JESS
 Tim told me.
JOCK
 How is the bugger? We haven’t worked together since then.

JESS
 Tim doesn’t drink anymore.

JOCK
 What? What does he do for fun then?

JESS
 Just the normal stuff. He’s got a wife and kids. Does German swordplay for a hobby. He not only has fun, but now he can remember the good times too!

JOCK
 Yeah. I always said he was the smart one. I never got around to all that having a family stuff. Can’t find a woman who’ll put up with me.

JOCK laughs at his own joke.
JESS Gee. That really surprises me.

JOCK 
Ooh, a sassy one aren’t you. I reckon you’ll fit in here right enough. Look, you obviously have the skills and experience for the job as lighting technician here at The Arts Centre but I need to ask you a few questions anyway. Just boring administraton so I can tick the boxes, y’know?

JESS
Fire away.

JOCK
 So, as a lighting technician you will be required to undertake manual handling in the form of lifting, such as large lighting equipment, heavy desks, and occassionally packed road cases up a few stairs. Is that okay.

JESS
No.

JOCK
What?

JESS 
I can’t do lifting.

JOCK
Why not?
JESS
 I am too weak.

JOCK
 I know you’re a girl, but there’ll be guys to help out. You won’t be doing it all on your own.

JESS
 It doesn’t matter. Didn’t the agency tell you about me?

JOCK
 Of course they did. I have your resume don’t I.

JESS
 I don’t mean my work history. I mean my current situation.

JOCK
 I don’t understand what you mean, but I don’t have time to waste with silly little princesses. I was going to ask you why you haven’t worked the last two years, but I think I am starting to understand. Nobody wants to hire girls who think they are special and won’t do the hard work, expecting the men to do it all.

JESS
 That is not it at all!

JOCK
 Sure it’s not!

JESS
 I knew this was going to happen. Jock. Did you see the name of the employment agency I am working with?

JOCK
 What does that matter?

JOCK looks at the computer screen and scrolls the page.

JOCK
 Disabilities R Us. So what?

JESS
So...
JOCK
 Oh...oh! Oh, I see. Oh, the cane. Oh, well, ummm. So you can’t lift?

JESS
No.

JOCK
 Well, can you at least climb ladders?

JESS
No.

JOCK You can’t climb ladders?

JESS
No.

JOCK
 Let’s save some time here. Why don’t you tell me what else you can’t do so that we can then figure out what you can do.

JESS
 Well, I can’t climb stairs.

JOCK
 This is a theatre complex. All there is is stairs. Stairs, stairs and more stairs.

JESS
 I know. Oh, I can’t work full time...

JOCK
 You can’t work full time? This is a full time lighting technician job! Long hours and hard physical work are all there is.

JESS
I know.

JOCK
 So why are you here?

JESS
 Because they sent me.

JOCK
 Why did you come?

JESS
 Because I had no choice. If I don’t do what they say I lose my pension.

JOCK
 Bloody pensions. Money for nothing, they are.

JESS
 So you’re going to hire me then?

JOCK
 Not on your life! I tell you what though, can you drink?

JESS
 Is Jesus famous?

JOCK 
Hah! Well, it’s pretty darn close to beer o’clock. I can’t give you the job, but I can get you totally sozzled. Come on. Let’s head down to the bar and we can swap a few war stories while we both drown our sorrows.

JESS 
I thought you’d never ask!

INT: KELLY’S OFFICE - DAY

We time shift back to the day before when JESS has her first meeting with KELLY, her unemployment case manager. KELLY is mid 40s and wears a sever SKIRT SUIT with her hair pulled back in a tight BUN. KELLY’s OFFICE is immaculate with lots of space for wheelchair movement and no clutter - not even on the DESK. The WALLS are covered with POSTERS about disability issues and employment programs. This OFFICE has an AUTOMATED SLIDING DOOR for accessibility which KELLY can operate from her desk. The DOOR is open.

KELLY
NEXT!

JESS rides through the open door on her MOBILITY SCOOTER and the DOOR closes behind her. KELLY is TYPING furiously on her DESKTOP COMPUTER with an OVERSIZE screen for accessibility. KELLY does not look up.
KELLY 
Take a seat!

JESS
 Oh. Okay. Is it okay if I park here?

KELLY
 What? Oh, whatever.
JESS steps off the SCOOTER and sits on the empty CHAIR beside the DESK.

KELLY
 Your name is Jess Connel, right?

JESS
 Yes, that’s right?

KELLY
 My name is Kelly. You’re looking for a job?

JESS
Yes, I am.

KELLY
 Hmmm, let’s see. Bachelor degree. Good. Masters! Great! Oh, in Creative Writing. What a waste. Still, there’s nothing we can do about that. Employers might not hold that against you. Not exactly job focussed, though, is it?

JESS
 I was looking for something to combine my old skills with my new situation.

KELLY
 What situation? Apart from the one where you decided to dilly dally for two years wasting tax payer money on an ARTS degree!

JESS
 Well, I thought it would be better than just dilly dallying and wasting tax payer money in rehabilitation.

KELLY
 What? Oh yes, your injury.

KELLY
 looks up from her computer for the briefest of moments, giving JESS the once over.

KELLY
 You look fine to me. Shouldn’t be too hard finding you a job. Doesn’t look like there’s much wrong with you.

JESS
 Have you looked at my medical/

KELLY
 So, I see you work in theatre. You don’t take life very seriously, do you?

JESS
 Well, it does have it’s absurd moments but/

KELLY
 I see you jump from project to project. Doesn’t look good to an employer, you know.

JESS
 It’s the nature of the industry. Trust me, any potential employer of my skills will know exactly what is going on.

KELLY
 Hrmph! Sensible girls learn to type and get a solid, dependable office job.

JESS
 I do know how to type. After all, how could I be a writer if I didn’t?

JESS pokes out her tongue. KELLY doesn’t look up from her screen.

KELLY
 Yes, well, okay. Still, a good background in admin is what we all need to look after our futures.

JESS
 Three years in the finance industry really isn’t trying, is it?

JESS makes a face and wiggles her fingers at the sides. KELLY still doesn’t notice.

KELLY
 What? Oh yes, I see. Okay. Good. I reckon we’ll have you employed in just a jiffy then.

JESS
Great.

JESS sees a pile of PAPER and starts to stealthily slide a sheet of it towards her. KELLY also reaches for the pile which makes JESS jump and stop what she is doing. KELLY grabs a SHEET OF PAPER and starts writing on it. She still hasn’t looked up and JESS starts folding an origami crane.
KELLY
 So I was having a flick through our database and I have the perfect job for you. I was rather surprised to see I have a perfect match in fact! A lighting technician at the Arts Centre. Right up your alley.

JESS 
Um, I don’t think I can do that work any more...

KELLY
 Full time too. See, Disabilities ’R Us get you working in no time at all!

JESS
 I can’t work full time.

KELLY
 Nonsense. Nothing wrong with you. You just have to think you’re okay and you will be. 99% of everyone’s problems are in the mind.

JESS
 A few appear on xrays too...

KELLY finally looks up and gives JESS the NOTE.

KELLY
 There you are. I’ve made an interview appointment for you tomorrow at 4pm.

JESS
 Look, I don’t think...

KELLY
 turns back to the screen.

KELLY
 I’ve also set up an appointment with your Occupational Therapist for the next morning. Her name is Bella. She will sort out what modifications you need for the job.

JESS
 You are assuming I will get it.

KELLY
 Of course you will. I probably won’t need to see you again. Now off you go. Nice knowing you. NEXT!

JESS moves back onto her SCOOTER.
JESS
 Kelly, I have something for you.

JESS hands her the PAPER CRANE. KELLY reaches out and takes it.

KELLY
 That’s pretty. When did you make it?

JESS
Just know.

KELLY
 Oh. I didn’t notice.

JESS
I know.

KELLY looks up and finally notices the SCOOTER.
KELLY
 Well, thank you anyway... Oh...

JESS
 See you next week, then shall I?

KELLY
 Er, yes. Probably...

JESS
 Cheerio then. I look forward to Disabilities ’R Us getting me working in no time!

JESS rides out, waving cheerily.

INT: BELLA’S CLINICAL LAB - DAY

It is the day after the job interview. JESS arrives for her appointment with the Occupational Therapist BELLA. BELLA has an AUTOMATED DOOR as well. The LAB has the look of a very modern torture chamber. Around the walls are an array of PROSTHETICS and MEASURING DEVICES for which the use is unknowable. In the centre of the room is a LARGE CHAIR which resembles a dentist chair, but it has measurement marks and strange appendages all over it. The room is dimly lit so everything is shadowy and spooky.
BELLA is a hippy style woman in her mid 20’s with wild hair and a smile which never leaves her face. JESS rides into the room on her SCOOTER and the door closes behind her. At first she sees noone. She rides around hesitantly touching some of the objects. She pokes a PROSTHESIS and it falls. She and tries to put it back, but she is clumsy and a few other things fall onto her head with a loud clatter. Just at that moment BELLA emerges from behind her desk.
BELLA
 Oh, my, my, my. I am so sorry sweetie. I was just taking a brief nap. Napping is essential to sustaining good energy in the work place. Here. Let me help you with that.

They fumble around and more things fall on JESS.

JESS 
Perhaps you could turn on the lights?

BELLA 
Oh, of course! Silly me!
BELLA turns on the lights and then comes back and lifts the items off JESS and clears a path to her desk.

BELLA
 I am so sorry, my love. Look at you. You already have huge mountains to climb and here I am creating hazards here, there and everywhere!

JESS
 It’s fine. It was my fault. I shouldn’t have been touching things in the dark.

BELLA
 No, indeed. You shouldn’t have you naughty minx. Never mind. What’s done is done as they say. Now. who are you and why are you here?

JESS
 My name is Jess. We have an appointment.

BELLA
 Do we dear? Are you sure? I have a memory like a sieve you know. You’d almost think I was the one who had the car accident.

She makes her way behind her DESK to look at her DESKTOP COMPUTER, with and OVERSIZE SCREEN.
JESS 
How do you know my accident was in a car?

BELLA
Wasn’t it?

JESS
 Well, yes. It was.
BELLA
 Bella knows everything, dear.

JESS
 You didn’t know I was coming.

BELLA 
Yes, well none of us are perfect, now are we? You would know that better than any of us.

JESS
 I beg your pardon?

BELLA
 You know what I mean! Ah, see. Here you are. Jess Connel. Car accident. Incomplete tetraplegia. I told you.

JESS
 Told me what?

BELLA
 You’re not perfect, silly. Just this little matter of arms and legs not working properly.

JESS
 Yes, it’s just a little problem.

BELLA
 It’s not a problem at all though really, now is it sweetheart.

JESS
 Call me Jess. And how is it not a problem.

BELLA
 Come over here, to the chair, and I will show you. Of course, 99% of all problems are in the mind, but it’s that 1% I can help you with to get you going and keep you going love. It’s all in the chair you know. The perfect chair is what makes a perfect job!

They go over to the chair.
BELLA 
Now, let me help you up.

JESS 
No, it’s fine. I can manage.

BELLA
 Nonsense. We can all use a bit of help now can’t we sweety? Here we go.

BELLA tries to put her arms around JESS to help her and JESS steps out of the chair at the same time. They both fall in a tangle of arms and legs.

BELLA
 Oh, my. That didn’t really work now did it.

JESS
 No. It didn’t.

BELLA
 No matter. Relax. I’ll sort us out.

JESS
 No. You relax and stay still. I will get myself into the chair.

BELLA
 Are you sure my love.

JESS
 Yes, I am sure. And my name is Jess.

JESS gets herself untangled awkwardly and manouvres into the CHAIR.

JESS
Now you.

BELLA gets up and straightens her clothes and hair.

BELLA
 Well done dear. See. I told you it was all in your mind. Look at what you are capable of!

JESS
 I am weak, but not a complete invalid. I have full mobility. I am just weak.

BELLA
 Yes dear. Of course. And what I am here to do is to make sure your work place is one which supports you to keep working.

JESS
 Now that sounds good.

BELLA
 I just need to get a few measurements.

BELLA starts measuring JESS’S body with the strange LEVERS on the CHAIR and making notes on a CLIPBOARD.

BELLA
 Now, I believe Kelly sent you out for an interview yesterday. How did it go.

JESS 
As well as I expected.

BELLA
 You got the job then? Why that’s fabulous. When do you start?

JESS
I don’t.

BELLA
 Why, whatever do you mean?

JESS
 I didn’t get the job. I was never going to get the job and even if I did, I was never going to be able to do it.

BELLA
 Don’t be silly dear. Kelly would only ever send you to interview for appropriate jobs. You must be mistaken.

JESS
 The job was full time.

BELLA
 Nonsense. Of course you can’t work full time.

JESS
 That’s what I said.

BELLA 
You must not have communicated that properly. It doesn’t matter though. We can just speak to them and see if we can work out something part time for you. Just a few hours sitting at a desk, chatting with your work mates, eh? Sounds like paradise. Not like the burden on us poor schmucks working full time. You’ll be a lady of leisure.

JESS
 Not quite I think. Besides, it wasn’t a desk job

BELLA
 Oh, what was it? Customer service?

JESS
 No. It was working as a lighting technician.

BELLA
 Ooh that sound exciting, lady. Tell me more. As I said before, the perfect chair makes the perfect job. I don’t really know what a lighting technician does so how could I possibly know what the perfect chair will be.

JESS
 Do you have a flying chair?

BELLA 
What a funny girl you are! Of course not.

JESS
 Well that is the chair I will need.

BELLA
 I don’t understand dear.

JESS
It’s Jess.

BELLA 
Yes, of course it is sweety.

JESS 
Please call me Jess.

BELLA
 Absolutely my girl. Now, tell me more about what this job entails?

BELLA pulls the MEASURING TAPE from her neck and starts measuring JESS’s finger joints.

JESS 
Why are you doing that?

BELLA
 God is in the detail sweety.

JESS
 Oh. Okay. Well, there’s a lot of ladder climbing.

BELLA
 Of course you can’t do that!

JESS
 Heavy lifting.

BELLA 
That’s not going to happen.

JESS
 Stairs. Lots and lots of stairs.

BELLA
 Oh my. I hate to say it but I really do think Kelly may have gotten it wrong.

JESS
 Really? But she seemed so caring and had a real - attention to detail you might say.

BELLA
 Disabilities ’R Us are never defeated. I am sure I can find the chair which will be the answer to all your problems. We will get you in this job come hell or high water. You just wait and see, my love.

JESS
 My name is Jess...

INT. JESS’S DINING ROOM. LATE AFTERNOON.

Destiny’s Child song ’Survivor’ is playing quite loudly. JESS enters the dining room from the kitchen with UTENSILS and NAPKINS for two. She flicks the LIGHT SWITCH as she enters and the OVERHEAD LIGHT turns on for a brief moment before blinking out.
JESS A blown globe. Great. Well, at least there’s still daylight for me to see what I’m doing.
JESS dumps the UTENSILS and NAPKINS on the table. She goes out to the patio and comes back in dragging an A-FRAME LADDER. It is too heavy for her so she is very clumsy with it. JESS opens the ladder and looks up, but realises it is in the wrong place and she needs to move the table out of the way.

JESS sighs deeply and starts softly singing along to the music as she struggles to move the TABLE. It is made of a heavy dark wood and she is weak so she has to change positions several times. She pushes with her hands, pulls it from the other side, and eventually leans against it and uses her full body weight to shift it. When it is moved she collapses on a CHAIR for a moment to recover.
JESS shuffles the LADDER into the right spot, climbs it and removes the blown GLOBE before realising she forgot to grab a replacement.

JESS
Bugger!

As JESS climbs down we can see she is getting very weak. She walks over to the SIDEBOARD and gets a new GLOBE from a DRAWER and then returns to the ladder. She pauses, takes a deep breath before climbing up and starts singing the song through gritted teeth, as if the music is giving her the energy to continue. JESS gets to the top and then straddles the A-FRAME so she can sit while she works. She puts in the new globe but that uses the last of her energy.

JESS
 Okay Jess, all you have to do is get down and then you can rest on the couch. Are you ready legs? Let’s do it!

JESS tries to swing her leg over the frame to climb down but it barely moves, so she uses her hands to pull it over which leaves her balancing precariously. She falls into a face down flop over the top of the LADDER and then she is stuck.

JESS
 Well, this is embarrasing! Who can I call for help?

JESS reaches into her POCKET for her MOBILE PHONE, but it isn’t there.

JESS
 Dammit, where’s my phone?

JESS looks up and sees it on the SIDEBOARD.

JESS
 Bugger! Now what? Mmmm. Eddy should be home any moment I guess. Great. The last thing I wanted was for him to catch me up a ladder! What time is it?

The camera zooms in on the CLOCK on the wall which says 5:25.

INT. JESS’S DINING ROOM. EARLY EVENING

We see the CLOCK but the time is now 5:45

EDDY (O.S.) 
Jess, I’m home!

The camera zooms out to show JESS who is still in the same position as before on the LADDER.

JESS 
Finally! I’M IN HERE!

EDDY enters the room, taking off his TOOL BELT. He stops walking and starts laughing when he sees JESS up the ladder.

JESS 
Stop laughing. This isn’t funny.

EDDY
 No. Of course it’s not!
EDDY is still laughing.

JESS
 Oh, alright, maybe it is a bit funny.

EDDY
 Yes it is! What on earth are you doing?

JESS
 Stop asking questions and get me down from here!

EDDY
 How are you stuck?

JESS
 I’m not stuck. I can’t move!

EDDY
 Oh Jess. What happened?

JESS
 I’ll explain when you get me down from here.

EDDY
 Alright silly.

JESS
 Don’t call me silly.

EDDY
 Okay...silly.

JESS screams in frustration and EDDY stops laughing and helps her down, tossing her over his shoulder in a fireman’s lift and then moving into the LOUNGE and flipping her onto the COUCH and standing over her with his hands on his hips.
EDDY
 It’s a good thing you have a big strong man around to get you out of these messes. What were you doing up there anyway?

JESS
 The light bulb blew.

EDDY
 Oh Jess, you should have waited until I got home. That’s what you have me here for. To take care of all those manly things that need doing.

JESS
 Changing a light bulb is not a ’manly’ task for goodness sake!

EDDY
 For most people, no. For you, yes. Now repeat after me - I will not go climbing ladders on my own again!

JESS suddenly bursts into tears. EDDY sits beside her on the COUCH, lifts her onto his lap and soothes her.

EDDY
 Oh, babe. I’m sorry. You just gave me a fright. I didn’t mean to upset you.

JESS
 It’s not you. I’m angry with myself. I feel so stupid and useless. It was just a friggin’ light bulb for goodness sake!

EDDY 
Nonsense. You are amazing. Climing a ladder for you is like going on a five mile hike for the rest of us.

JESS
 I know. I’m the one hiking. It’s just hard for me to stop thinking like I did before the accident. I’m still me, it’s just that my body has forgotten how to work.

EDDY
 I know. But who cares if you can’t walk...or lift...or throw...

JESS
 I can’t even thrown like a girl!

EDDY
 I can’t thrown like a girl either so we are in this together! I have the muscles and you, my love, have that incredibly powerful brain and the friendliest smile in the world. When we both learn how to pool our talents we will take over the world.

JESS
 You can be my Superman and I’ll be your Einstien?

EDDY
Exactly!

They both laugh. EDDY wipes away JESS’s tears and they kiss. Suddenly the SMOKE ALARM goes off. The both look around and there is smoke coming out of the kitchen.

JESS
 The roast! I forgot about it.

EDDY
 I’ll take care of it. Remember, I am faster than a speeding bullet.

EDDY jumps up from the couch and JESS falls onto the cushions ungracefully. He runs into the kitchen, getting a face full of smoke as he opens the DOOR. JESS pulls herself up into a sitting position.

JESS 
Einstein wasn’t known for his cooking, I guess...

INT. JESS’S DINING ROOM. EARLY EVENING

JESS is sitting at the DINING TABLE. The dining room has been restored and the TABLE has been set for two with FLOWERS from the GARDEN in a small VASE in the middle. A CANDLE has been lit and there a bottle of RED WINE and TWO WINE GLASSES with the WINE poured. JESS is sipping on her WINE.
EDDY
 (O.S) Voila! Dinner is served.

EDDY comes from the kitchen with a TEATOWEL draped over one arm and presents a pizza box for JESS’s approval before placing it in the middle of the table.
JESS
 I didn’t know roasts were flat.

EDDY
 Well, the roast was just a little bit too well done for our tender palates so I had to enact Plan B.

JESS
 Plan B, eh? I hope you didn’t work too hard on this Italian masterpiece.

EDDY
 So much kneading and rolling!

JESS
 I can see you really worked up a sweat.

EDDY
 Are you doubting me prowess in the kitchen.

JESS
 Don’t worry. You have other talents.

EDDY Mmmmm, would you like to try out my other ’talents’.

JESS
 Perhaps later Lothario. Right now I am starving - for food! It has been a long day.

EDDY
 Yes, you have literally climbed mountains, haven’t you.

JESS
 Stop laughing! Today I have been caught in an avalanche of prosthetics, been wrestled to the ground by a hippy, and - yes climbed a bloody mountain!

EDDY
 It sounds like an epic tale.

JESS
 It is. It is full of ogres and orcs and one particularly dashing knight in shining armour.

EDDY
 Who, as it turns out, is also the chef du jour. A slice of pizza, my lovely damsel in distress?

JESS
 You are going to have to slice it for me. I barely have enough energy to lift this wine glass.

EDDY
 We are a full service restaurant, my lady. I have spared no expense and this pizza has been delivered pre-sliced. Only the best for our valiant heroine!

JESS
My hero!

They clink their WINE GLASSES and laugh as EDDY passes over a slice to JESS.

END

Sunday, 17 February 2019

The Poet Tree


Jody woke up on her 10th birthday, jumped out of bed and hurried to get dressed. She rushed down to her kitchen, eager to open her presents.

Her mum was there packing food into a backpack. ‘Good morning my love,’ said Mum. ‘Happy birthday!’ Jody’s mum came over and gave her a big hug. ‘I bet you want to see what I got you for a birthday present, don’t you?’

‘Yes please!’ squeeled Jody.

‘I have something very special for you today. It is your 10th birthday and it is time for you to go on your first walkabout.’

‘Where do I have to go?’ asked Jody, feeling a sliver of excitement ripple through her soul.

‘It is time for you to find the Poet Tree,’ explained Mum.

‘The Poet Tree? Where is it?’ asked Jody.

‘You will find it outback, in the bush.’

‘Great! Can we go now?’ Jody rushed to the door.

‘No, my love. I cannot go with you. You must find the Poet Tree on your own. I have packed your bag with lots of water and some food because it may take longer than you expect. Also, here is a mobile phone. If you get into trouble dial 112 whether you have reception or not. Someone will come and get you.’

‘It sounds scary Mum.’

‘You will be fine, but you must go. Everybody needs to find their Poet Tree and it is your turn now. Remember, I am always here for you no matter how dark or scary it gets - and don’t forget to share the fun and the beautiful with me too! Take a pen and notebook and write everything down so we can share when you get back.’ Jody’s mum gave her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek before ushering her out the back door.

Without knowing quite
  where she was going,
    Jody started walking down
       the long, winding red dirt
         road and heading for the silver
       green leaves clustered in
     the distance. She pulled
  out a banana from her
     backpack and munched
          on it as she trod, careful
              to make sure she had the
                  energy for this curious trek
                     her mum was sending her on.

Eventually Jody came to the edge of the scrub when she heard a booming voice.

           Hello there pretty lady.
           Excited to meet you.
           Look in here, where it’s shady.
           Let’s see what you’re up to…
           Oy!

‘Oh, hello. My name is Jody and I am looking for the Poet Tree.’

Well, Why didn’t you sAy so from the start?
              This wallaby Can guide you in this part.
       Behind the bottlebRush up ahead
                    Over the lOgs and the shrubs lying dead
                            Now Stick to the path for your safety’s sake
                             And Travel with care for there lies a snake
         You’ll come to a rIver, or maybe a stream
                               ReCover a bit, take some time to dream

‘Thank you very much, Mr Wallaby. I’ll be on my way now as I suspect I have a very long journey ahead.’

Off Jody went, carefully sticking to the path when suddenly she heard an eager voice bouncing off the tree tops.

               Oy!      Oy!
            Hello.    Hello,
          hello. I heard what                                  
 my cousin the wallaby said
to you and he was not quite                    right. Well. He’s
         a wallaby, isn’t he? It’s not like they ever get things right.
                Not known for it really. Not right in the head that lot,
    now are they? I’m his cousin but I live in trees. It’s warmer
     up here. Safer too. I like a good eucalypt I do. Gum trees
    are light and airy. Lots of paper bark to cling to and the scent keeps
        my nostrils clear. Know what I mean? Anyway, let’s move onto
                 concrete things, eh? Wallaby sent you to the and he was
                 right, but you need a Kangaroo to get the details right.
                Specifically, a tree kangaroo. That’s me, that is. I’m little
 but I’m lithe and I am here to tell you to get off the track and head
 to the left. The left I say! There is the centre and then there is the
left of
centre
and that’s
where
you’ll
find your river of dreams, eh?

‘Going of the straight and narrow seems very scary to me,’ worried Jody, ‘but you seem friendly so I will trust you.’

And so Jody stepped off the beaten path and headed into the scrubby underbrush, pushing past thorns and brambles.

Just as she was starting to feel tired and sweaty Jody found herself in a grove of beautiful red kangaroo paws and as she looked beyond the flowers she saw a dry river bed. Disappointed, she sat down to take a long drink from her water bottle and eat her sandwich because she was very hungry and thirsty from all her walking.

Jody noticed movement in the kangaroo paws and she slowly and quietly put the drink bottle and the sandwich wrapper in her back pack. She didn’t want to alarm whatever was lurking amidst the beautiful flora.

Something very much resembling a duck beak appeared, but it was low on the ground. Very odd for a duck! Then a paw with sharp claws came through before the oddest animal Jody had ever seen emerged. It was a platypus!

Haiku along now
Dallying here will not help
Find the Poet Tree

Jody jumped up, a little bit scared at the abrupt manner of the platypus. ‘Yes, you’re right but I don’t know where to go from here.’

Follow the creek bed
There’s a creature with a pea
He will be of help

Pulling her socks up and putting on her backpack, Jody grumbled to herself about bossy marsupials who talk in riddles and don’t reveal all the truth. Eventually though, she took deep breath and followed the dry river bed which led to an even drier vista.

Orange earth reflected the heat of the searing sun, yet amidst the baked earth and shimmering heat (luckily her mum packed a hat too!) there were beautiful clusters of Sturt Desert Peas, their beautiful visage piercing her with their black-eyed gaze. At their feet was a nosey wombat, sniffling away at piles of his own droppings.

Well, well pretty girl, now why are you here?
A couplet of animals it seems we appear.

‘Hello Mr Wombat. Ms Platypus said you would be able to help me.’

Maybe I could. It’s possibly true.
What is this thing you want me to do?

‘I am looking for the Poet Tree.’

Oh dear, oh my, there’s some way to go.
Head for the sea for those in the know.

With that the wombat waddled into his burrow and left poor Jody alone and a little bit sad. The sea was so far away from this hot, arid place. ‘Still,’ she thought to herself, ‘I won’t get anywhere if I don’t put one foot in front of the other.’ So, taking another swig of water, off she went and headed into the breeze because she could smell the salty brine in the air.

It took a while, and her shoes had lots of little stones stuck in the tread of the soles, but eventually she found herself wading through golden sand and hearing the lapping of wavelets as they hit the beach.

Ready for another snack, Jody perched under the shade of a glorious golden wattle before pulling out an orange to savour. As she peeled back the skin and the juice rolled across her fingers, she saw a very friendly fish the same colour as her fruit pop it’s head up out of the water.

‘Hello clown fish! Can you tell me where I can find the Poet Tree?’

Indeed I can, but you’ll need some help.
It’s hard to find on your own.
Walk along this beach, avoid the kelp
And take the rubbish that’s thrown.
You’ve come too far in your quest today,
The Tree doesn’t like this salt.
Yes, hurry along and make no delay,
Your quest comes near to its halt.
You need to get right on it.
Tarry not for this sonnet!

‘Alright! Alright! I’m going! Just let me pick up these peelings and put them in my pack.’ Jody got up and brushed the sand off her clothes. Then she picked up the orange peels and put them in her bag before walking to the water’s edge. As she lent down to wash her hands in the gentle surf she thanked the clown fish for her help and advice and then Jody headed away from the beach and back into the scrub.

Shortly Jody found herself in a Waratah grove when suddenly she heard a gravelly voice which seemed to come from below. Caught off balance, Jody fell backwards. Luckily, she landed on her backpack so she wasn’t hurt. As she sat upright she looked around to find herself staring straight into the eyes of the scariest thorny devil she had ever seen.

Missy, missy, missy,
You missed me you know.
I was almost smooshed -
Mooshed -
Kaput!
You nearly did me in.

Oh, don’t speak.
I know why you’re here.
I know things…
I know many things.
I know things you will never know.
I know things you will never want to know!

And I know the thing you seek.

‘I am so sorry Mr Devil! I was focussing on where I was trying to get to and I forgot to look where I currently am!’

The folly of youth
You bear well for your age.
You speak in free verse,
Free words.
Free thinking
Unconstrained by time and tide,
By pain or love -
Your soul is smooth to the touch.

Go to the Poet Tree.
You will find yourself.
You will find others.
You will laugh and cry.
You will scream in fear and gasp in awe.
It is not far now.

‘Thank you for telling me that. I am getting very tired and the day is wearing on. It is supposed to be my birthday but so far it has been very hard work!’ And so, Jody ventured onward again.

The Waratah gave way to the lush spines of golden banksia which ringed a mighty tree. Jody stopped in her tracks and gasped in awe. In front of her stood a tree as old as time, as tall as the heavens, with roots sinking into the earth’s core. A rainbow of colours stirred into fireworks as the leaves rustled in the swirling breeze.

Jody threw down her back pack and ran to the tree. She stretched her arms around the mighty trunk, drinking in the earthy odours and feeling the bark press into her fleshy cheek.

As she stood there a mottled grey koala climbed down beside her, handed her a seed and stared deep into her eyes, examining Jody’s soul.

You are young girl. Your life will be filled. Your life will be filled with poet trees of all kinds. This is your first Poet Tree – but there are many to come. Many poetries. Your life will be full. It will fill. With poems. With prose. With prose poems. With song and with dance. Your life will be full. And sad. And sweet. There will be love and there will be pain. You will be filled with knowledge and starving with ignorance. And in all this, you will sing your song. You will tell your story. You will grow your very own. Your very own Poet Tree.

Jody closed her eyes, trying to imagine all these wondrous things the Koala was telling her.

A sudden noise jolted her eyes open. Wait! Where was the tree? The koala. Her mum hovered over the bed with a breakfast tray.

‘Wake up, sleepy head. Happy birthday! Eat your breakfast and then come on down. Your presents are waiting for you in the kitchen.’

‘You already gave me the best present ever, Mum.’

‘What are you talking about Jody?’

‘I found the Poet Tree!’

Jody’s mum smiled a little quizzically as she left the room. ‘That is great. Now enjoy your breakfast and come down when you’re ready.’

Jody looked down at the seed lying in her palm.

END