Mick Collins is a fully grown adult who indulges in fully grown fantasies. He developed his vivid imagination as a child when he relied on animated films to escape into various magical alternate world's in order to drown out the noise of his single father's gambling addiction. Everything Mick knows about emotion and the world came from a screenwriter's pen...or...keyboard...maybe a dictaphone? Let's say imagination, imagination sounds better.
But, when several unfortunate events occur in his life due to his ever increasingly disruptive dissociative state, he decides that it's time to face up to what he has avoided forever. Reality.
Unaware of the best way to navigate through his world alone, he decides to cut back to basics and get a little assistance along the way. He will embrace the world and all of it's technological advances by following it's lead and, more specifically, following it's directions. In the pursuit of happiness,
Mick is a second generation Irish immigrant, born in Brooklyn.
Scene One: Head full of Tales.
(We open to a POV shot of a man exiting a limo. He nods in acknowledgement at the usher who has opened the door. The usher looks back and his smile transforms into an animated, cartoon grin. Everything is muted but we hear the man's slow, purposeful footsteps on the pavement and his deep, concentrated breaths. We see a flash of red carpet before he is enveloped by people. Cut to slightly later, the POV shot is on a cinema screen with the opening credits beginning.)
GROWN MAN VOICEOVER
"What are the odds?"
Do you think?
What are the odds?
(There is a complete change of scene. The camera is placed behind a little boy watching tv. We can see that he is watching Bambi. Everything is muted aside from the Grown Man's voice. The camera zooms into the child's eyes which are illuminated by the light of the animation he is watching. The reflection in his eye mutates itself into the tv screen again where we see Bambi's mother.)
What are the odds that you will be born perfectly healthy into a middle class home in Park Slope? What are the odds that you will have access to a wonderful education and healthcare system and there will be a group of well-bred peers surrounding you in your locality, who would be perfect material for best friends? What are the odds that you will be perfectly set up to have a perfectly happy life and that you will choose not to live it? What are the odds that you will spend every living moment inside your imagination so that you can avoid engaging with your life that has all of the ingredients to be magic? What are the odds that for fear of your father's incessant need to escape from reality through detachment you also detach to escape and end up just like him? Divorced from reality. The odds aren't very likely and the stakes are way too high but that wouldn't prevent my father from gambling on it. Then crying about it. And then doing the whole thing all over again.
Using animated films as your main source of behavioral education is going to produce an interesting result and, sure enough I was kind of an odd kid.
(Cut to little boy eating dinner opposite his father. This is our lead protagonist MICK COLLINS at five years of age. His father has his phone on the table and he is constantly peering at it for updates. The little boy stares at him silently for a while than back at his food. He lifts up a heavy, wilting crown of broccoli in his hand and peers closely at it. )
(In unison with a cartoon v/o)
"Eating greens is a special treat. It makes long ears and great big feet."
But I don't want big ears.
(He crushes the broccoli in his fists and drizzles it all over the floor. His father does not look up from his phone. He then scrapes his chair angrily along the floor but still gets no reaction from his father.)
I'm going to watch tv Dad.
Ok, but bring your coat. It's cold out. And don't forget your phone.
(CHILD MICK sighs heavily and heaves the chair back with one more loud screech. Little boy plops himself in front of the tv, performs a ritual 'eeny meeny miny mo' selection with three dvds and pops one in the dvd player.)
GROWN MAN VOICEOVER:
Things may have been different if she hadn't died. I don't know that for a fact.
I'm just assuming that her loss made his addiction worse...or may even have caused it. I don't remember her and he never talks about her. He doesn't talk at all really. He spends so much time trying to win something. Anything at all.
He never talks about her and I don't remember her but I feel her loss everywhere. I see it in the stillness of the house and the emptiness of my father's stare when he looks up from his phone.
I didn't lose her because technically I was less than six months into my formative years when the crash happened. But I am still losing her. I suffer her loss every day as my father slips further and further away from the man he used to be. And I slip further and further into my imagination.
They said it was her fault. The collision.
Now, that's something that you never want to hear. What a horrible thing to say about the victim of a crash. It was her fault. Of course, they didn't say this to me. My father told me when I was old enough to understand what he meant. I think he told me for me because he didn't want me to think she had been drink driving or reckless and he told me for him because he needed to not be the only one to know.
(Animated re-enactment of the following. We cannot she the animated woman clearly, only her silhouette in the driver's seat.)
In one of our few interactions, he sat me down and gruffly told me that my mother had run out of petrol and didn't have her phone on her on the way home from the school where she worked. She tried to take a shortcut so she could make it home without walking. But unbeknownst to her, she turned onto a one way street. It was dark but not dark enough for her to have her lights on so she didn't see the signs and kept driving. She made it half a mile before a truck turned a sharp corner and plunged into her. There was no room to swerve and the truck driver had only looked one way.
(Back to the real world.)
When my dad was telling me, his breathing got really heavy and short and his sentences got more rushed and made less sense. I think he had a panic attack. At the end of it, he wasn't so much talking to me as he was talking to her.
(Cut to flashback. Ten year old boy sits listening to his obviously upset father.)
"She didn't have her damned GPS turned on. I always told her to follow the GPS. Why didn't she have her phone? It would have shown up as one-way if she followed siri. It would have told her automatically. Siri would have saved her. Anyways, I should have given her more money for petrol. I should have known. Shit. Why didn't I just give her more money?"
GROWN MAN VOICEOVER:
Then all of a sudden he stopped talking and left the house. I think he might have cried or something because it was obvious he didn't want me to see him. When he came back he had bought a new phone for himself and myself and told me if I ever got lost anywhere to listen to siri. The next day he had security systems installed. A week later he bought me a PS4 and a lot of dvds. And technology took over so we would feel safe and we would never need to blame ourselves for anything ever again.
At least Bambi had a hunter to blame. In ways, my father and I are the hunters. We hunt ourselves.
Scene 2: The Colonisation
(Camera is placed behind little boy, about five years old. He is watching Pocahontas.)
GROWN MAN VOICEOVER:
When you're young, you colonize everything. Because everything else was there before you. You are the invader. But when you live in your own little world, it feels like everybody else is invading your unique colony. I was afraid of every colonizer I met at my first day of school.
(Cut to POV shot. MICK's trembling hands pull back the heavy school doors to reveal a mass of people inside. Each group observes him as he passes. Camera flutters as he looks into the eyes of his invaders. They appear to be stalking him as an animal would stalk it's prey. Suddenly one strikes and moves towards him. Blackout. Cut to a TEENAGE MICK sitting in class. Echo of a voice, which seems far away, as though the listener is submerged under water. Ruler slams down on his desk loudly, startling him. POV focuses on an angry looking teacher standing over him, hand on hip.)
I said Mick Moss, snap out of it!! Have you been listening to a word I said?
Ummm. No. Why should I?
Because that is what you are here to do. It's called education young man. That is why you are in my classroom on MY time.
What did you say? For goodness sake Mick, speak up and stop acting like a child.
(Loudly and sternly.)
I said you think you own whatever land you land on.
(Class is in complete silence.)
Excuse me? Mick, you are making a mockery of my class. Please have some respect.
You think I'm just an ignorant savage-
I certainly never said-
And you have been so many places it must be so.
I don't know where this is-
But still I cannot see, if the savage one is me,
How can there be so much you don't know?
(Class erupts with laughter and applause.)
That is enough from you today Mick.
(Stands up and sings.)
YOU DON'T KNOW!!!
(MISS slaps him full force across the face. BLACK OUT.)
GROWN MAN VOICEOVER:
Sometimes, out of fear, we judge the unknown. We think strangers are trying to harm us and we treat them so badly that our initial trepidation seems like a prediction eventually, when in reality we made our fears come true. Sometimes, you don't realize how badly you treated somebody until you are much older looking back. When the invasion is long over and you have come out alive. I did not know that a song taken out of context could cause so much harm. Enough to break somebody who did not deserve to be broken. It's a very dangerous thing to assume you are the one being invaded, when in reality you could be spearheading an unwanted attack. I never saw that teacher again and I am still sorry for not understanding how words mean different things to different colonies. And when and how they are said sometimes makes all the difference.
Scene 3: The Beauty
(TEENAGE MICK, about sixteen, sits in a leather swivel chair. He sways from side to side and taps his feet nervously but his eyes remain on the tv screen. He is watching 'Beauty and the Beast.' He is transfixed.)
Angela Burdock. You are a thief. Why?
(Animation of a beautiful woman with perfect bone structure and glistening emerald eyes going about her day.)
They say everybody is born beautiful. But you are always twice as beautiful as everybody standing in the same room as you at any given time. Therefore, you stole the beautiful from some poor ugly baby. How could you? You terrible, aesthetically pleasing thing.
(Close up on animation of a truly ugly baby who promptly cackles to reveal extremely sharp teeth.)
I say 'thing' in this scenario, not to objectify you as you are not an object, nor are you human, you are divine. It is hard to address the divine, so I kept it simple. I hope you don't mind.
Angela Burdock. You are a lie. Why?
Because everybody says to never judge a book by it's cover. Even if it appears to have a really long, detailed and accurate synopsis on it. But you are equally beautiful, inside and out. The cover matches the interior. You deceptive, transparent thing.
(Animation of a displeased customer breaking the window of a book shop by flinging a book that she is dissatisfied with at it, angrily roaring
"The blurb was WAY too reliable!")
Angela Burdock. I have never spoken to you out loud. But I have told you all of my deepest secrets silently.
Angela Burdock. You are a horror. Why? Because you make me a monster. Beside you, I am simply a Beast. You make me a beast. You make me a beast.
(Animation of TEENAGE MICK standing beside ANGELA in the cafeteria. His ears suddenly develop sharp edges, he grows twice in girth and coarse hair sprouts all over him. He grins and waves at a group of nearby girls who wail and drop their trays in terror, fleeing the horrific scene.)
I know it's not your fault. I know that you did not make yourself like this. I know that you did not acquire or manufacture what you are. I know that you were born this way.
I know this because you are not aware that you are everything that anybody could ever want. This means that you did not undergo a transformation. You have always been like this. I know that you have always lived with this terrible beauty because you are so oblivious to it.
Angela Burdock, you are unforgivable. Why?
I have already listed a number of your most heinous traits but the truly, deeply, irreversible one is that though you make me feel like a beast, Angela, you make me feel. You make me feel. And nobody else has ever done that. You have done the impossible. Which makes you unforgivable.
(Cut to a scene on the sidelines of an outdoors gym class. TEENAGE MICK sits on the bleachers, slightly away from everybody else. His clothing is inappropriate for the weather, but he refuses to acknowledge this. Rather than taking off his jumper, he takes large gulps of water from his 'Little Mermaid' flask. A startlingly attractive young woman sits beside him. After a very long, awkward moment, he glances at her and in one felt swoop, spills the flask of water all over both of them.)
(Blurts out, slightly screaming)
(Notes ANGELA'S confused expression.)
I mean you're forgiven.
(ANGELA bursts into laughter. MICK smiles briefly, then furrows his brow again.)
I'm forgiven huh? For...
For the water.
Oh...I'm forgiven for catching your water mid-flight?
I mean forgive me. Words, words, words.
Ahh. There's method in this madness after all. Mick, don't worry about it.
(She nods towards the flask.)
It has always been a dream of mine to swim with mermaids.
Mick, you said...Mick.
(Catches himself. Revises attitude. Much more apathetic.)
I mean...sure...I guess. I think so. I'm not too sure.
Ya, names can be hard to remember. Especially our own. And yours is an entire syllable so...
Some people call me other things sometimes. You know, I wasn't sure which would suit you best.
Which one of your names would suit me?
I guess, I mean, the version of the name that would suit our relation-
(Catches himself. Over enunciates.)
The dynamic that us humans may have together. What pronoun you would pick.
I like Mick.
(Pause. Puts her hand on his knee which immediately begins to tremble noticeably.)
Even when he does throw a flask of water over me for sitting beside him.
Angela. You...you make me...you make me feel....
(MICK in soliloquy to himself.)
And I could have encouraged it. But, you see Angela, I have seen it first hand. I have seen what happens to men who give their whole heart to someone they love when they lose that someone. And I know, I know, I couldn't bear it.
(Cuts to MICK's house. His father is sitting in the leather swivel chair, in exactly the same position that MICK was at the start of the scene. He is transfixed by the images on the screen. A POV shot reveals that he is looking at a video of a couple waltzing. One is a beautiful woman in a wedding gown, the other is a young man who bares a remarkable resemblance to MICK. The couple are smiling and waltzing. Slow pan back to his father's face. He is smiling broadly with tears streaming down his cheeks. Slow pan to a view of the whole room to reveal a ten year old boy crouched underneath a desk watching this happen. Loud sobbing is heard.)
(To ANGELA. Completely monotonous.)
You make me feel sick Angela. You disgust me. You better not talk to me ever again.
(MICK shakily stands up and walks away. We see tears streaming down his face. ANGELA looks embarrassed and confused.)
Spare the beauty. Kill the beast.
Scene 4: Be Your Own Hero
If I were a superhero, I wouldn't limit myself by name, I would expand to an entire adjective. Like great or fantastic or incredible. And I would limit the adjective to me. I would own it. I would be THE fantastic. THE great. THE incredible.
I wouldn't follow in the footsteps...or...clawsteps...or even wingdust of that idiot Batman. He chose to have the resemblance and 'power' of an extremely ugly animal. And then he went one further and eliminated their key strength; their ability to sneak up on you in the dark. He advertises his arrival, quite literally, allowing villains prompt warning and time to escape from his tenuous clutches. It's crazy.
Bat shit crazy even.
On the other hand though, just for consistency, you would have to make the villains adjectives too. And the bad adjectives that I encounter daily would not make very effective villains, would they? And, let's be honest, every hero needs a villain to be appreciated by comparison.
But, my bad adjectives would make shitty villains. Like deceitful, skipped the lunch cue, lackadaisical. And THE lackadaisical does not sound like he would produce a lot of conflict for a successful blockbuster does he?
But heroes would do JUST FINE. The less said the better.
Because good things don't need to hide behind verbosity and elaborate descriptions. Mediocore, fake and terrible things require articulate decoration to hide the cracks. That's why truly intelligent people are always so quiet. They don't need bravado. The best is just the best.
But, I would have to think on my enemy. Who or what would be my villain? Surely nobody could even put up a fight? Nobody could beat the best.
After that horrible experience with Angela, things started to pick up.
(Open to a scene in Chemistry class. MICK sits alone, messing with the bunsen burner. He is staring intensely into the blue of the flame. Suddenly he feels a hand on his shoulder, causing him to jump and the flame extinguishes. He looks up. It's MATTHEW.)
Hey, can I sit with you today?
Ya, but I'm not good at this.
Chemistry. You'll probably want to sit next to, like, Christian or John or even Diana. They get higher grades, I'm sure they'll let you copy.
(Bellows with laughter)
As if, man! As if I need help with Chemistry. I'm averaging an A. Pretty sure I have the best grades in the class. Highly doubt John is doing better than a C grade. I just saw that the seat was empty. I have never spoken with you before and... what...we have been in class together for close to-
Ya, man, how ridiculous is it that we have never spoken before?
Oh. We have.
In gym, I wear, like, a bandana sometimes.
Oh my God, you're bandana guy?!
You are my main man for comic relief in that class. We definitely have got to get to know each other then.
(MR. WRIGHT, a teacher with a severely blocked nose addresses the class.)
All right, guys, listen up! I'm only going to say this once, if I can manage once as I have sinus issues so BEAR WITH ME! All of your PTA meetings were completed successfully over the weekend and I was hearing a lot of the same feedback from your folks, I GOT TO SAY. Not enough involvement, not enough engagement, not enough interaction. So you asked, albeit vicariously behind my back, but I listened nonetheless, despite your maliciousness. And today, I supply!
We are going to be doing a project this semester, that will involve a PRESENTATION. How engaging, how interactive, just what you wanted, right?! There will be a special prize for the top three. A special prize for the very best.
However, it will count to your final grade so this is not a chance for fun and tomfoolery, make every minute count guys. And, as the emphasis I was hearing was on encouraging YOUR interests, you can choose anything you want. Starting with your partner. So, I will give you guys ten minutes to partner up and choose a topic. As it is the debut, I'mma be generous and not even limit you to Chemistry either. Pick any Science. Starting, NOW!
I guess that means-
You don't have to.
Ya, I know I don't have to but why wouldn't we pair up? It makes sense.
I know you don't want to though...so you can just leave. Go ahead and get one of the others now. I don't want to drag you down.
What? Are you crazy? It would take a man far stronger than you to drag me down. Bandana boy.
(Punches MICK in the shoulder.)
Come on, I have faith in you. Let's do this. Partners.
(He reaches his hand out to MICK. MICK's hand reaches out also, slightly trembling.)
Volcanoes. We decided on volcanoes.
(Cut to an animation of a volcano. Belching smoke. Slowly erupting. Then violently erupting.)
TEENAGE MICK VOICEOVER:
Mount Vesuvius exploded and it was a tragedy. It belched it's innards all over the people of Pompeii and made them statues. Mount Vesuvius is still there and so are the statues. Many years ago it erupted really badly and destroyed two cities, Pompeii and Herculaneum. It sits on a tectonic boundary, between African and Euroasian plates.
(Animation of a traffic warden inspecting the tectonic plates. He kicks them absentmindedly and then leaves a parking ticket.)
I wonder what hero could defeat Mount Vesuvius and it's inconveniently parked plates. I wonder what articulate decoration could successfully cover that crack. But the thing is, Mount Vesuvius is only a part-time villain. Everybody knows inanimate things can't be villains because they are defenseless. So when it is dormant, our articulate hero would need to have turned it's back but when it's active, it becomes the most brutal, treacherous villain. Mount Vesuvius is so damned dangerous because it is part-time so it fooled our hero and made him lazy. A false sense of security between attacks. And it is that element of surprise that made it fatal. Batman could learn a thing or two from Mount Vesuvius.
(Animation of BATMAN jumping out to surprise someone from around a corner. He is greeted by a large German Shepard who promptly barks, surprising BATMAN who screams and runs away.)
To add to this sneaky advantage, Mount Vesuvius had it's sidekick, the pesky earthquake. There were so many earthquakes in Pompeii. A major earthquake had rocked Pompeii a few years before Vesuvius. And just before our volcanic villain showed it's terrible teeth, several little shakes misled the inhabitants into thinking it was just a little aftermath from the sidekick cousin who had paid it's unwanted visit many sunsets before. Nobody was expecting our villain to show up. Least of all our hero.
(Animation of hero snoring cozily in bed.)
In the dark of night, roughly midnight, mud consumed Herculaneum. Destroying it. Consuming it. People ran to Pompeii but the next morning our villain struck Pompeii. Many victims died from the heat of the air and they were preserved by ash for hundreds of years. I imagine our hero was amongst the statues. Trying to save them. Preserved forever as a brave hero who tried rather than living a lie as a cowardly deserter who gave up. All of those statues are heroes so we will never pinpoint who was a hero before they were a statue.
(Animation of people wearing full hero costumes freezing and turning into heroic statues when hit by the lava cloud.)
I wonder was the lava so hot that it became blue?
(MICK reignites the bunsen burner peering into the blue of the flame once more.)
Like blue fire rolling down a hill, disguising itself deceptively as water, drowning people with it's dragon breath.
(MATTHEW extinguishes the flame with water, which is noted by the teacher who runs over and starts berating them both for abusing equipment.)
We were going to do volcanos and tell the story of villainous Vesuvius.
(An animation of the following is seen.)
TEENAGE MICK VOICEOVER:
Once upon a time there was a zygote. Within the short space of just one pregnancy, our zygote managed to split itself in two. The clumsy thing. Now, we had two embryos as opposed to one zygote.
Those embryos did everything together. Slept and floated. Slept and floated. Every now and then, the dominant embryo let out a kick just to remind his holder that he was still there.
After a relatively short amount of time, again, within the space of a pregnancy, the embryos were released. Within a number of 'contractions'; a word here meaning contractions in the pains of giving birth way, not meaning contractions in the embryos getting smaller way, though I am sure most people who have ever given birth would wish those meanings were synonymous...
Within a few contractions, our embryos were acknowledged as people for the first time. Separate entities. Twin boys. But shortly after that initial acknowledgement, they were addressed as one entity again.
"But, we are no longer a zygote" they thought. "We are two separate embryos. We are not the same". "Yes," responded the world, "but the point is you look like you are. And I am terribly shallow and terribly lazy."
And then they were babies, then toddlers, then children so they did not have the capacity to explain to every stranger who acknowledged them as one, that identical does not mean the same. Not in any way. Not in any how.
Our embryos soon became known as Larry and Barry because why not add to their identity struggle with similar sounding names that are barely distinguishable from one another, especially when shouted at you from a distance, say, at a party, or during a sports game or at any type of social event actually. Thanks Mom and Dad, I bet they said, thanks for thinking that one through.
But the key difference is one of the embryos was social and the other was not. An awful thing when people take somebody else's word as your own. One embryo always voiced opinions and the other was rarely asked for his, so everybody assumed their thoughts were identical too. Larry was very chatty so everybody knew Larry and, teenagers, being the cruel, insensitive things that they are began calling distant, quiet Barry, 'Repeat'. Barry never said that this bothered him. At all. Ever.
Barry barely spoke but played his music at disproportionately loud volumes, allowing it to speak for him, during the spaces in people's days where they would usually chat.
Before class, on the way to class, on the school bus.
Because his routines were so repetitive, this did very little to help his case. So, everybody called him "repeat." And nobody questioned a thing. Because the world is terribly shallow and terribly lazy.
And, though he never said it, I would notice that this bothered him. Every time 'Repeat' was, well... repeated, I noticed he would flinch a little. So, one day, in gym class, I thought I would try to cheer him up. Because Barry always seemed so sad, you know.
We were sitting on the sidelines, my favourite position in basketball and watching the others play, including his brother Larry. I was wearing a particularly outrageous bandana at the time. If I do say so myself.
Hey Barry, do you like my bandana?
And, I could see that, for a second he was happy that I knew him by name. He didn't smile, but there was not a trace of a flinch and his eyes refocused as though they had decided to pay attention.
Uh...ya. It's cool. Different.
Different in a good way?
Different is always a good thing.
And, as soon as he said this, he was gone again. Unfocused.
What do you mean?
Different is not always a good thing.
Ya it is. People get bored of things that are the same.
That's not true. What makes something perfect?
That too. But, what makes something really perfect is practice. Perfection is achieved through repetition.
Oh... ha. I get it. I see what you're trying to do. You are saying, what they call me is meant as a good thing. 'Repeat', like I am something that has been done before.
Or an improvement on what has been done before. As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
(Smiles sadly. Looks at his brother, LARRY, who is strutting around the court, the schools best defender.)
I see. Thanks for trying Mick. I appreciate it.
(BARRY turns back to watch the game. Not really watching, completely unfocused and he puts his music on again. The music plays at a very loud volume, so everybody in the preceding three rows could hear it. 'In the End." by Linkin Park. "In the end, it doesn't even matter.")
TEENAGE MICK VOICEOVER:
Within the year, we heard an announcement, that didn't bear repeating.
(Cut to another flashback. It's Math class, MICK has almost fully completed his pop quiz. The intercom interrupts them all.)
Hello student body. I am very sorry to have to interrupt your day but I have some very sad news for you. Very sad news indeed. One of our students, Bartholomew Jenkins, passed away this morning.
The looks of confusion amongst the class made the announcement even more crushing.
His brother, Laurence will be out for the rest of the week but once we have the information, we will circulate the details regarding the wake and funeral mass and I am sure Larry's family and himself would greatly appreciate it, if you were to attend. Bartholomew was many things. A grade A student, a drummer, a talented poet. In fact, our best English student this year and, as such, I would like to share a piece that he was in the process of writing. His parents have given us permission to share this piece. It is called the Shadow.
Fleeting am I?
Relying on light to be seen at all,
Even when I have a lot of light, though it's,
You are still the focus.
You know I am there,
You don't even need to look at me,
You are moving so fast,
Making both of us hard to see
Are we the same?
Da capo al Fine.
TEENAGE MICK VOICEOVER:
Nobody had known that Barry was a poet. Nobody knew he played the drums. Nobody knew anything about Barry but now we were all wondering why none of us had asked.
(Cut to teenage MICK going over his volcano presentation. He is fumbling his way through speech cards. He opens his backpack and counts the contents inside. He runs out the door and barely makes the bus. The Chemistry classroom is a hive of activity. The usual tables and chairs have all been removed from the room and new, brightly colored tables have been neatly laid out at various different stations, with team-name banners lining the walls. MICK runs to meet MATTHEW. He is sweating and smiling. MATTHEW has already cleaned the table off, has the beakers and petri dishes prepared and has his notes neatly set up at the side.)
Hey man. You got everything?
(MICK slaps his backpack.)
Good, I was worried you would be a no show.
(Breaks into a grin, punches MICK's arm.)
Ya right, I know you get how important this is. Ok, we better get started. We are first up.
(MICK begins pulling everything out of his backpack rapidly. Everything is packed in see-through bags with labels on them. MATTHEW begins putting everything together. He positions the structure of the volcano on the table, they had carefully constructed this from clay a few nights ago. MICK picks up a permanent marker and starts labeling samples.)
The clay set perfectly. The mini-statues look great too. Awesome idea.
Ya, ideally they would be people first and then would become statues after the volcano erupted. But...
(He brandishes a bag at MICK. It is labelled baking soda.)
That's the baking soda.
This isn't baking soda Mick. Can't you see the granules? It's caster sugar. Where is the baking soda?
(MICK turns bright red, realizing what has happened.)
Oh shit, Matthew. I thought it was...it looked just like baking soda. I guess we had it at home for so long that the name had worn off.
But it's caster sugar, you moron. Not the same. Didn't you think to check? Baking soda is an integral...an absolutely KEY ingredient in our experiment. Without the baking soda, there will be no eruption. There is no volcano. Just a mound of clay with your shitty little dolls on them.
(The bells goes off. Everybody starts to move towards them. MR. WRIGHT has a smile plastered across his face. He notes MICK's red face and MATTHEW's stern look but continues none the less.)
Ok, gang. Gather around. I am proud to introduce our very first presentation for our inaugural year of 'Chemexperiments (plus other Sciences for just this once)'! Ok, first up, we have Matthew and Mick of the 'Volcanic Villains', presenting on...
(MR WRIGHT gestures towards them, summoning them forward. They remain where they are, in complete silence.)
(MR WRIGHT makes another grand hand gesture.)
BOYS! Tell us what you are presenting on.
Isn't it obvious?
(Snaps one of the Pompeii statues off the clay model and empties the bag of caster sugar into the beaker of vinegar, to no reaction.)
A doll's house.
Because Mick can't tell the difference between Chemistry and Drama class.
(Some of the students laugh. Others groan. MR WRIGHT goes bright red.)
Ok, clearly there has been some confusion. Right guys, we will move to our second experiment...second pair but the first experiment that will warrant a PASSING grade, Joanna and Christian of 'Try defining gravity'!
(He gestures towards JOANNA and CHRISTIAN. Everybody's focus changes and JOANNA immediately steps forward to introduce their experiment on gravity. She begins juggling apples and singing "I hope you're happy now/I hope you're happy how you've hurt your cause forever/I hope you think you're clever." MR WRIGHT smiles and aggressively signals at MATTHEW and MICK to leave the room. MR WRIGHT brandishes a page at them as they leave. There is a giant 'F' on it. The minute they enter the corridor, MATTHEW grabs MICK's arm aggressively and brings him to face him. He is fuming.)
I knew I shouldn't have trusted you. Everybody was right about you. You probably messed this up on purpose.
No, I really didn't. It's just they looked the same-
Well, you should have looked CLOSER. We lost because of you. Well, you also lost any chance at ever becoming my friend. And you could do with a few. Or even one. I can't believe I picked you because I felt sorry for you. As a social experiment. Everybody was right about you, you know. You are worthless. The biggest fucking loser.
And as I stood there, it stuck me. My villain. Who would more than put up a fight against the Best? Loss would. Loss is just as powerful as the best. My villain would be THE Loss.
Why are you smiling? You're such a weirdo. You have seriously ruined my overall grade for the year and you are just smirking about it.
Because The Loss matches The Best. The Best can't be better than The Loss at losing, unless he loses himself. So neither of them are winning. That would make an interesting blockbuster.
You can't take anything seriously, can you? God, you're such a loser. Don't even think about sitting anywhere near me in class again.
(MATTHEW skulks off, leaving MICK alone, staring at the empty school corridor. He begins walking up the corridor, glancing at all of the photos on the walls. In soliloquy.)
There are two kinds of loss. Unexpected and inflicted. And, without doubt, the second kind is far worse. Once, I unexpectedly lost my locker keys. Another time, I unexpectedly lost a game of bowling. And many moons ago, I unexpectedly lost my mother. And I lost the opportunity to grow to understand all of the reasons there might be to love her. But I loved her anyway. Undoubtedly.
But, on that awful, unexpected day, I also lost my father. This loss was inflicted on me.
Because when we lost my mother, he didn't even put up a fight. He gave in to the villain. He gave in to The Loss. Like a cowardly deserter, he ran away.
(Animation of FATHER noting the people of Pompeii being chased by blue lava. He pauses, steps towards them, panics and runs in the opposite direction. Suddenly, the blue lava redirects itself towards FATHER, who is running away. When the lava catches him, initially he hardens and grows a cape but after a moment, he evaporates into dust.)
Abandoning me to the darkness of the night and the hidden dragon masquerading as water. And more than the aching, humming pain that I felt of losing my mother, I started to feel nothing.
Nothing at all.
(Two animated heroes appear on each one of MICK's shoulder and begin a tug of war with a gold cup.)
If The Best and The Loss entered into combat, I honestly do not know who would make it out alive. Maybe The Best would finally beat The Loss at his own game and lose, catastrophically. And everybody would be confused and nobody would know what to feel. Just like home.
If The Loss could make The Best lose all of his powers, his courage, his initiative, then it would all be over fast. Once The Best had lost his will to fight, even if he was still the very Best, then The Loss would have won. The Best is no longer my hero if he loses the will to put up a fight.
(THE LOSS brandishes the golden cup in violent celebration. He is experiencing sheer ecstasy. Due to his over exuberance, he loses his grip on the cup and it falls from his hands, down the length of MICKS's body, shattering into a million pieces, rebounding off the floor and cascading over them both in a shower of loss. THE LOSS falls to his knees in agonizing pain and begins wailing with sadness.)
Maybe you are better off never having had something rather than losing it and realizing how much you miss it.
(Quick split frame of LARRY and DAD in solemn reflection. MICK stops and pauses at a particular photo on the school wall. It's a photo of of handsome, teenage twins.)
Being identical does not mean you are the same. You don't think the same, you don't feel the same, you don't act the same. Looking alike does not mean you cause the same reaction. But sometimes the world can be a terribly lazy and terribly shallow place. Because it moves too fast. And it loses focus. And so can I.
(MICK scratches over the face of the taller twin with his permanent marker. Leaving only one twin visible. Plaque under the photo says "In loving memory of Bartholomew Jenkins 2000-2016.)
Scene Five: Unhappy Holidays
(Opens to a montage of MICK decorating his house for a variety of different holidays. He puts the eclectic mix of decorations together without thinking twice about it. He pairs a chocolate egg with a pumpkin and puts a leprechaun on top of a Christmas tree. This continues for a while. It ends with him attaching a wreathe of shamrocks to his front door.)
TEENAGE MICK VOICEOVER:
I have never been a big fan of holidays. Rather than having the desired effect of making me treasure the holidays more. It just makes me despise the non-holidays more. There's too much time for thought and reflection.
There is one key feature that distinguishes all of our holidays from all of our non-holidays in my house.
My Aunt Joan. My dad's talkative sister who is often referred to as a 'character'.
Aunt Joan has a normal face with upside down eyes because she sees everything backwards and the wrong way around to how it actually happened.
Aunt Joan has the biggest eyebags that you will ever see because they are really just her upper eyelids that don't fit her face because they are hanging in the wrong place. I am sure Aunt Joan's eye bags are really eyelids full of repressed feelings that she refuses to release.
I have never seen Aunt Joan cry. But I have never seen her happy either. Aunt Joan keeps herself busy to distract herself from her life full of emptiness.
Aunt Joan always lands on us for the holidays and acts like she is doing us a favour,
"It's no bother at all, "says Aunt Joan" Not a bother."
Without fail, she spends the majority of her time violently rearranging and inspecting my most precious and private things under the pretence of cleanliness.
It is a bother Aunt Joan. You are bothering me.
But you can't really blame Aunt Joan because her eyes are upside down and she always sees everything the other way around.
The time of year that Aunt Joan is always most content is at Halloween. I think this is when Aunt Joan is most comfortable with her surroundings. Aunt Joan is at peace when everybody else is wearing a mask as she wears one every day.
I bet you're wondering how did Aunt Joan turn upside down in the first place. I have a theory.
Aunt Joan had a wedding and she was abandoned at the alter.
(Animation of woman, removing a cartoon wedding veil, only to reveal an empty aisle. Her eyes promptly spin upside down and her eye bags balloon outwards.)
Needless to say she didn't like what she saw, so she developed an altered perspective. Aunt Joan had a boyfriend who she wishes was dead because he stood her up in front of all of her nearest and dearest. Aunt Joan would prefer a corpse husband to a living ex fiance. She carries his skeleton everywhere with her. She will never let him go.
(Animated montage of AUNT JOAN participating in a number of holiday activities.
We see a sign saying, 'Easter egg hunt'. AUNT JOAN is seen frantically searching for something, pushing fellow Egg Hunt competitors out of the way. Eventually she gets to a sandy area, marked with an 'Ex' and she begins to dig. She digs six feet only to find her corpse husband. She pulls him out of the ground in delight and the pair of them dance in happiness.
They are seen bobbing for apples at Halloween. AUNT JOAN wins as the skeleton has no teeth so can not get a grip on the apple.
The couple pull a Christmas cracker over dinner and AUNT JOAN wins as the skeleton's arm pops out of it's socket.)
This Christmas Aunt Joan told us-
I'm going all out
That's a shame, Christmas dinner won't be the same without you but enjoy your night out.
Oh, no, no, no, don't be silly Mick. It's a turn of phrase. I'm going all out right here. From the comfort or our home, I will be going all out.
Mick (To self):
You certainly do know how to turn a phrase Aunt Joan, you have skillfully managed to turn my home into our home in one sentence.
How will you go all out Aunt Joan?
Tinsel, my boy, tinsel! I will drape the whole house in tinsel until joy gleams from every surface.
Mick: (To Joan)
Oh...nice...that seems...that seems
Oddly appropriate for someone who sees everything backwards and the wrong way around.
(AUNT JOAN suddenly embraces him.)
Yes Mick, that is it. That's exactly what we want. Everything can be perfect. Still. Even now.
(Change of scene, night time. MICK is in bed, he hears a loud scratching and whimpering sound. He gruffly and slowly gets up, shaking himself out of a deep sleep. He shudders with the cold as he makes his way down the stairs and, upon arrival, he notes that the patio door onto the back garden is wide open. He glances at the clock, it is almost midnight. MICK slowly makes his way towards the open door to hear a humming. He sees AUNT JOAN. She is humming jovial Christmas songs and every now and then she whimpers.)
(AUNT JOAN deliberately ignores him and begins to hum louder. He sees that she is hanging something along the top of the garden hedges, which encase the entire back garden.)
Aunt Joan-it's almost midnight. Christmas Eve. Can't you finish hanging the tinsel in the morning? Can't it wait?
(AUNT JOAN abruptly stops humming, sighs and turns to MICK, smiling widely. Now, MICK can see that, rather than hanging tinsel, she hangs barbed wire and her unprotected hands are bleeding profusely.)
Can't it wait?
Can't it wait?
(AUNT JOAN begins to laugh)
Can't it wait? Oh, but I waited Mick. I waited and I waited.
And he didn't show up! So, excuse me if I don't want to wait any more!!
(AUNT JOAN is red with fury but smiling widely. Tears begin to drizzle down her face and her eye bags seem to decrease proportionately.)
I have waited long enough.
(AUNT JOAN begins to hum loudly once more, MICK takes this as a sign to leave and slowly makes his way back to the house.)
Aunt Joan (gravelly tone):
And in case you're wondering, Mick. The barbed wire is not to keep anyone in, but to keep them out.
Mick (to self)
And finally, I knew, Aunt Joan was seeing clearly.
(To AUNT JOAN)
Nice you're seeing clearly. Goodnight, Aunt Joan.
I love you.
Scene six: Best before or used by
(MICK stands in the garden of the house next door to his, meekly holding a hose.)
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. I loved my neighbor Linda a lot more than I loved myself from the very first time that she enlisted me for maintenance of her luxurious home, which she didn't have time to care for due to her high-powered job as a solicitor.
Linda overpaid me to complete easy chores for her, whilst continuously over-sharing details of her private life in a very loud voice, usually shouted at me from out of sight.
(LINDA in a hammock on her back porch, with sunglasses and a large hat on, shouting towards the garden that MICK is working on,)
“You're getting so strong Mick and you seem so together. Quiet but self assured. I tell you, when I was your age I had just had my first period, and hair was sprouting all over. I was too shy to tell my parents. I know right...can you imagine?! Me SHY?! But, I was. So I chose to just ignore the problem to avoid embarrassment which led to a domino effect of much more catastrophically embarrassing incidences....let's just say, eventually the netball team had an EGM about me and vetoed my lack of self-maintenance,
(LINDA puts on a very monotonous voice,)
'If you want to play, you need to shave your pit hair. The other teams have submitted complaints.”
(LINDA laughs raucously)
Oh lord, Mick what am I like? TMI.
Back then, I had always thought 'TMI' was the name of her legal qualification and somehow her status allowed her to share the private details of her life with me so publicly and so unashamedly. I often wondered were there other instances, where her status pardoned her eccentric behavior
(Montage of scenes of LINDA doing wildly inappropriate things in public, then brandishing a badge that says 'TMI' afterwards as though it excuses her bad behaviour.
LINDA is seen shopping, she smells things as she goes and takes generous bites of the items, putting them back if they don't meet her taste. When a furious employee approaches her to confront her, she flashes a large golden badge, that has TMI on it's face. The employee smiles apologetically then winks and gives her a thumbs up. Throwing her another banana to taste.
In Park Slope, it is a sweltering day and people have all gathered in a line, to buy an ice cream at one of the portable trucks. LINDA saunters in and shoves her way past everybody, slowly making her way up the cue, flashing her TMI badge at disgruntled passersby, who immediately accept this as an excuse. When she gets to the front, she orders a 99 but grows impatient when it isn't handed to her immediately. She notices a baby in a buggy beside her has a lollipop so she takes it and starts munching on it. The baby braces himself to cry but she flashes her TMI badge so the baby knowingly nods and shrugs.
LINDA is seen applying for a loan in a bank. She did not bring the paperwork with her. Instead of signing, she draws a smiley face on the application, to which the bank official furrows their brow, only for her to procure her TMI badge. The bank employee sighs in relief and jovially hands her a wad of cash.
Cut back to modern day. MICK , hand on hip peers at LINDA's well-kept two storey house and diagonally parked Mercedes, which is precariously parked, half on the street.)
Linda has a whole lot going on for a single home owner.
When installing her raised planters one sunny day, she casually shared,
“I didn't buy this house just for myself Mick you know. I used to live here with my husband...ex husband...not an ex but...well he's dead now. And our daughter. Both of them are dead and it's only me left.”
(She paused, as though contemplating whether her TMI badge would allow for something this personal and this deep.)
Sad you know. It was awful. Awful. No excuse for it. Hard to make sense of any of it really. My daughter died first...mmm. (she inhales sharply and shakes her head.)
Ya, our little girl. We had a daughter who died. Mmm...(She inhales sharply again and turns away from Mick and seems to look directly at the sun.)
It's nice you know. Having you here. Because when she uh...(sharp inhale again)
She was your age you know, when she died.
I used to...think I would always have her, to tell her things...mmm (sharp inhale of breath)
She disappeared actually.
But not vanished.
It wasn't fast.
She disappeared every day. Every day more and more of her was gone. Bulimia you know...mmm (inhales sharply)
Icarus just flew too close to the sun. (she pauses and exhales slowly. Her eyes are closed as she speaks)
I was always interested in sport. I stood out from a young age. Always athletic. Gymnastics was my specialty and I was so close. So close to making the Olympics. I fared well in the trials.
Then life just kind of happened. I met my husband and love, you know. But, when I had my little girl and saw her tiny feet, I thought how I would make sure she became the Olympic hero I almost was.
And sometimes I think...I really feel that my insistence on her excelling in gymnastics, with the demands it placed on her...
Sometimes...I think that the physicality of it and her age and the high level she was taking part in...that it exposed her to the dysmorphia that caused everything.
I feel sometimes as though, I made the wings. I made the wings and told her she could be a hero but she flew too high. Ignored what I had to say and she flew too close to the sun.
(She opens her eyes again and looks back at the sun.)
I can't assume...you know what I'm talking about. Nobody would really unless they experience it. It was a disease. People think it's a choice, but it's a disease. (inhales sharply)
For years, me and her father...we tried to stop the impending....doom you know (inhales sharply)
For years, it was like, me and my husband had to stand watching our daughter standing on a train track, knowing, danger was coming. And we were just on the platform, not knowing what to do. So we focussed on the train you know...because our daughter couldn't hear us you know. (inhales sharply)
She couldn't hear us. No matter how hard we shouted...and can you imagine me shouting? I talk loud enough as it is, I'm sure, you think (laughs weakly)
So we focussed on the train. If we could just stop the train then she would still be safe, even if she wouldn't listen.
But, it's damn hard to stop a train. The train doesn't pick the people you know, it doesn't see the people.
Think of your A train. You have hundreds of people every minute who could get on or off. The train has a set journey, a familiar track that it has travelled many times and two concerned parents screaming at it...the odds weren't very good for us.
You know people often don't realise what kills bulimics...they assume it's starvation.
But actually it was her heart. It weakened and weakened her heart over the years. Eventually she developed arrhythmia, she never lost her personality, even towards the end, she was like,
“Mom, I have always had an offbeat sense of humor”
(Linda laughs jovially then stands for a moment, in complete silence. She picks up a dandelion and twirls it and she blows it's needle away)
And the train kept going and it weakened her heart muscle and one day her heart just stopped. It got her.
And shortly afterwards, my husband's heart stopped as well. The selfish bastard. (she laughs)
I can't blame him though. He loved her so much. I guess, I just had the strongest heart in the end.
(She smiles at Mick, really staring at him, she pounds her closed fists on her chest, producing a thumping sound),
“Ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum”
(This startles Mick and he jumps. She laughs.)
Just, I noticed you looking at the house. Probably thinking it was too big for just me. Well...not for long....
(She turns and smiles mischievously, lowering her sunglasses and peering at him from over the frames. An imagined SWOT team burst through the garden fence, machine guns at the ready, megaphones on standby, Linda casually waves her TMI badge and they leave, embarrassed.)
What I mean by that is...I'm getting my eggs fertilized.”
A new TMI personal best if ever there was one.
Ya, I know what you're thinking...isn't she too old. It's known as a geriatric pregnancy when you're over 35 and pregnant. Well I'm well clear of that but...it's not dangerous or anything. I like to think of it like...food you know.
Where is the FBI when you need them?
You know, like the dates. Even think of real eggs. Each individually, stamped with a date.
I have passed my best before date you know, but haven't quite reached my 'use by' date. I am still very much in the tray on that fridge door. My eggs are not done yet.
(She cackles at Mick's startled expression.)
Hold on, I have just the thing for you...
(She runs into the house, screaming 'ah -ha' for all the neighborhood to hear and emerges with a bright yellow Yazoo. She shakes it as she runs to him. She hands it to him, delightedly. He peers at it and notes it is almost a week out of it's best before date. She nods encouragingly. He opens it and slurps it back. It's delicious and well needed after his morning working in the sun.)
See what I mean? Best before means nothing. Major difference between best before and use by. Always read the label in full. Look closely. Who even decides the best before date anyway, it's subjective, may as well make it up yourself.
(Mick , in soliloquy.)
As the weeks of chores progressed into years, I came to learn just how much tragedy Linda had had in her life and thought about how all of the triathlons she competed in and and all of the marathons she ran must have given her a heart as strong as an oxes heart. Because it had put up with so much tragedy and had never stopped.
Despite her exuberance and unrelenting positivity, Linda never became pregnant but she adjusted for this and adopted instead; a lovely little boy about the age of 8, who she proudly introduced to all of the neighbourhood as Jacob.
And we all liked Jacob.
(Montage of Linda interacting with Jacob as an eight year old boy and introducing him to other members of the neighbourhood.)
But as Jacob grew and developed, hidden traumas of his past began to resurface and the ghosts eventually came to life. Where I ran to my virtual world to feel safe, his virtual world bled into the real world without his permission, making him depressed, paranoid, catatonic and angry. Soon he even started to think that Linda would kill him. Thinking the person who loved him most was out to kill him.
(Slow visual montage of sprightly eight year old evolving into a round shouldered, unkempt, wild eyed seventeen year old. Linda approaches him with a large silver heart, cradled in her hands. POV shot where from Linda's perspective she is handing him her heart but from Jacob's perspective, she is threatening him with a scissors, the upturned scissor handles making the shape of a heart)
Abusers of the past had permanently damaged his thinking.
But Linda never stopped giving him all of her heart, no matter how much he rejected her.
And Linda never stopped smiling and never felt as sorry for herself as I did for myself for every bad thing that ever happened to me. Linda had a very strong heart.
(Cut back to Linda, smiling at an older Mick, rummaging through her purse.)
God, I can't thank you enough Mick. I really can't.
(Mick peers at the mowed lawn and wafts away the money she is procuring towards him.)
What? But I haven't given you anything?
You have given me much more than money Linda, you have given me perspective.
(He goes to hug Linda, who is momentarily surprised but embraces the hug regardless. Mick hears the loud thumping of her heart.)
Scene seven. Great leaders are born not made
I have a dream that one day I will be a born a great leader. A charismatic orator with a commanding presence. I'll demand more presents than Aunt Joan does every Christmas.
And who better to look to for inspiration than leaders of the past. Do as the virtuous did and learn from the mistakes of the dictators who did terrible things.
Look to what great leaders of the past said...but they didn't all agree with one another
How is the modern leader/the modern hero supposed to choose?
Roman Colosseum...philosophers battle it out like gladiators...best philosophy decided by the volume of the crowd
All gathered in a Roman Amphitheatre-there is an impressive crowd, including Mick, his father, Aunt Joan, Linda and all of the characters we have encountered so far (Jacob, school children, neighbours.)
Everyone wears togas, both the crowd and the philosophers at battle
Well known philosophers enter and battle their philosophies against one another, thoughts and ideals that contradict one another.
The outcome of the philosophical duels is decided by the reaction of the crowd.
This evolves into modern day with tweet and hashtag format
Who are the philosophers
Aristotle, Plato, Rumi, Socrates
Who are the modern day philosophers...influencers...social media stars...twitter stars...tik Tok
The history of the hero
Relationship between death and heroism...is a heroic death mandatory...can one be transformed into a hero by death (Pompeii/statues, link)
What makes a hero? Are some leaders more heroic than others? Do you need to be a hero in order to be a leader?
Look at leaders that were no heroes...
Destiny/fate...is it predecided
What is in a name?
Does the name decide the hero...what's in a name?
Would a rose by any other name still smell as sweet?
Look at his own name...Michael Collins
Compare the astronaut with the revolutionary...
Difference in heroic traits
Michael Collins astronaut...long process...stayed in the spaceship (was happy with this station...Buzz and Neil on the moon...later problems...back issue...operation...EVA Extra vehicular activity...Attributes success a little bit to luck...think about communicating in the same style...houston...codes...stayed in the ship...
Michael Collins revolutionary..rebellious...risk...shot and killed in an ambush...died for his cause
The death of the revolutionary
Father/son in a maze...tie in with Icarus...link with Linda's story...Icarus out of reach of father...father could no longer help him...Mick's inherent worry this will happen in his life...father/son trapped in a maze, desperate to get out link with Mick and father
Scene eight: Building to a demolition
(SFX of construction sounds are heard.)
All my life has been building, building towards a demolition. A loose foundation, haphazardly scraped together, half of the laborers needed to complete the job didn't end up becoming involved. The one that did show up was constantly distracted. In the place of solid cement and physical labour, I was hooked up to all of the latest technologies. Technologies which were not so much installed as they were hammered into the unwanted crevices and gaps that we never want to talk about.
(Animation of various electronic devices being hammered and drilled into crevices and unfinished corners in a building that is in the process of being built. Game consoles are laid instead of bricks, i-pad nanos replace door hinges, and plasma tv screens are detached from television sets and used to tile the floor.)
There are five key stages to every demolition.
Step 1: Get the building inspected. Step 2: Acquire the necessary permits. Step 3: Disconnect existing services. Step 4: DEMOLISH Step 5: Haul away the debris.
I have been failing step 1 ever since I was to transition from the domestic to the social environment. Inappropriate mutterings, misplaced feelings, detaching in order to connect. Step 2, pretty sure Dad would have accidentally signed off on this a long time ago and I'm not too sure how long it would take him to notice that I had been demolished. As my mind leaps and weaves between the trellises of reality and fiction, it cannot be said with any degree of certainty that I have ever been connected in the first place, so we can go ahead and skip step 3.
And Step 4 is not quite what you think it is.
(Animation of huge explosion of a skyscraper.)
The trick with demolition, to avoid damage is to implode the structure, rather than exploding it.
(Animation of cartoon Mick holding his stomach and slowly imploding, caving in on himself.)
With an implosion, the being collapses down to its footprint, the area defined by the perimeter of it's structure.
(Animation of Mick now rapidly imploding, disappearing until he is merely a footprint.)
An implosion is over in seconds but preparation for it can take years and years.
There are several things to consider when preparing to implode into one's own footprint. All items of value, such as your sense of purpose must be stripped from the structure. Some materials must be removed, such as secrets shared by colleagues that can form deadly projectiles, and harbored resentment over years of being overlooked for promotion that can scatter over a wide area. Non-load bearing partitions and social crutches are removed.
Selected columns on floors where explosives will be set are drilled and high explosives such as awkward moments, insidious gossip and professional failure are placed in the holes. Smaller columns and walls are wrapped in the pitying looks of colleagues many years your junior and their whisperings of 'you'll definitely get it next year'.
The goal is to use as little explosive as possible so that the structure will fail in a progressive collapse, and therefore only a few key events are rigged with explosives, so that it is safer due to fewer explosives, and costs less, which is always good. The areas with explosives are covered in thick embarrassment and overwhelming shame to absorb flying debris. Far more time-consuming than the demolition itself is the clean-up of the site, as the debris is loaded into trucks and hauled away. And this process is even more time consuming when the only one the structure can rely on to clean up it's debris is the debris itself.
(ADULT MICK, in his 30's scurries out of his home, evidently, he still lives at his childhood home in Park Slope. He races towards the subway, clumsily grappling to shove his card into the machine to activate the turnstile. Once inside the overheated and overcrowded platform, he hears beeping, signaling that the train is about to leave. He takes a running leap at the only door remaining open, giving the current occupants no option but to cram further in, resembling cooking sardines. Hyperventilating, he ignores the disapproving glares of fellow passengers and breathes a sigh of relief after the door closes, centimeters from his nose. As the train departs, loud laboring sounds are heard.)
If you had asked me when I was a teenager what my dream job would be, I would probably have answered, to work in the Financial District in Manhattan. Well...ignorance is bliss.
(As the train announces it's destination, the doors spring open and MICK is propelled into the 14th street subway station with such force that his briefcase opens and a number of notes spill out and cascade across the platform. MICK peers dejectedly as several sheets waft onto the rails. He notes a grotesquely large rat walking over to one of the papers, considering it before seeming to shudder in disgust and scurry away. MICK, meekly stands up and decides not to even attempt to retrieve any of the loose papers as they are enveloped by other passengers. He is now sweating profusely. He exits onto the street and gasps a sigh of relief as the colder air hits him. He stops at his usual food truck.)
How you doing Mick? The usual?
(Sadly patting his soft tummy.)
You know I can't resist.
(COLIN begins to brew coffee and cracks eggs over a visible skillet, frying them in front of MICK, whose eyes light up. COLIN is very generous with the mozzarella, dumping handfuls of it onto both the eggs and the bagel. He skillfully combines everything into a tantalizing-looking breakfast egg roll and douses it in ketchup and salt. He also pours sugar and cream into MICK's coffee. MICK puts five dollars on the counter and nods delightedly as COLIN hands him his usual order.)
You never let me down Colin, you legend. Thanks so much.
My pleasure Mick, see you same time tomorrow!
(MICK shoots a smile and wave at COLIN and crams the bagel into his mouth as he walks briskly towards his workplace. Juices and sauce splatter everywhere as he walks and a few specks land on his white shirt and blue tie. He glances at the specks with apathy and makes no adjustment. When he finally arrives at his destination, he pauses and peers up the length of the skyscraper, then gulps the rest of his coffee back before throwing the remnants of his fast breakfast into a nearby dumpster. He awkwardly manoeuvres through the revolving door and absentmindedly slams a number of buttons on the elevator. It pings and he is relieved to find an almost empty elevator when it opens. Corny music fills his ears the minute he steps in. As the door closes, the music changes to 'Que sera, sera.' He peers at the time on his phone.)
Shit, shit, shit. Damn subway.
(He repeatedly presses the button for his floor as though it will make the elevator travel faster. He addresses one of his fellow elevator passengers who is stony faced and staring straight ahead)
20 minutes late is nothing right?
(He laughs nervously but the fellow passenger does not acknowledge him. Loud, worrying creaks reverberate through the elevator between floors. It seems to stop on every floor and more passengers join them each time, none disembark. By the time it gets to MICK's destination, the 14th floor it is jam packed and well over capacity. Nobody moves to let him out so he awkwardly wriggles between people and heaves a loud sigh of exertion when he eventually spills onto his floor. A couple of employees who are standing at the water fountain glare at him disparagingly when he does this. He meets their gaze and the water cooler suddenly explodes, covering them in water. He straightens himself up and awkwardly marches towards his office.)
You forgot huh?
(DENISE is an elderly, speckled receptionist, with eyes so large they are almost infantile, partially covered by glasses so thin that they could only possibly be for decorative purposes.)
(Mild panic in his voice)
The clocks went back.
(Now, blind panic)
Six months ago but I see you haven't adjusted yet coz you're 30 minutes late.
(DENISE's shoulders begin to shudder with laughter and she makes a low retching sound, reminiscent of a small dog trying to prevent itself from being sick.)
Oh..Denise! Denise, Denise, Denise. You scared me.
I know. I try.
Well, I better keep moving or that'll be forty minutes late.
Math was always your strong point.
(Reception explodes around DENISE with debris billowing everywhere. She, however, remains unscathed and as do her tiny glasses. MICK, grabs his briefcase and lurches past reception, trying to avoid detection between here and his office. Just as all seems clear, a low, booming voice barrels at him from an office with an open door. Sure enough, he peers in to see a bald man glaring pointedly at him. He dolefully enters the office, and, in an effort to control the damage, attempts to close the door behind him, cutting off potential, prying ears.)
(Waving Mick in.)
Uuuup, you can leave that open there Mick. Nothing to hide here...Unless, of course, you do?
(Bites lip and spins on his heel to face JACKSON)
Not at all Jackson, not at all.
Open door policy yada, yada, yada. I would hope you are familiar with that. Then again...
(He pointedly holds his arm out, waiting for his watch to slip down to his wrist. It gets caught in a fat roll and doesn't budge so he taps on his empty wrist, instead of moving it.)
You don't seem to be very familiar with our time keeping policy around here...so maybe I should brief you on the employee handbook. The one that must be followed at all times.
(JACKSON dramatically pushes his seat back and opens the bottom shelf on his set of drawers. He lifts out the employee handbook, which he has earmarked with post-its at various points, to ensure that he can perform his accusatory interrogations with ease and comfort. He points at the cover.)
More than ten minutes late, you are obliged to-
(MICK is staring at him vacantly)
Come on now Mick, we can do this one together, like grown ups. Section 3, point 1, page 120, I don't need a verbatim quote. If an employee becomes aware that he will be more than ten minutes late to work he is OBLIGED TO-
I knew we would get it eventually. So....
A guy could argue, any one of us could make a debate for the fact that up to the very ninth minute, we were unaware we would be more than ten minutes late. That is a window we all must accept here at our company. A window that does not require a call of any sort. But minute ten, eleven, twelve, all the way up to forty loooooong minutes, that's a considerable sized pane of glass, you get my meaning? It is a glass wall.
And I know you always have your phone on you. Doesn't make much sense. So, you are aware of the policy yes? If absent for an unexplained amount of time-the full day is a write off meaning NO-
Exactly. But the employee is obliged to work their full hours, as scheduled for the day. To clarify, you DO get my meaning?
Loud and clear.
Good, off you go. And don't let this happen again or I'll take the whole week off you.
Okay, noted, thanks.
(MICK is deflated and exhaustedly shuffles out of the room. As he is at his office door he hears a large explosion. He turns to see that JACKSON's office has imploded, the door has caved in on itself. His watch glistens on a mound of rubble, the ticking becomes unbearably loud, taunting MICK. MICK snaps back to his office and strides in, slamming the door behind him. MICK sits back in his leather office chair and is on the cusp of putting his feet up when he hears a woodpecker like tapping on his door. He knows who it is instantly)
(Just loud enough for the person on the other side of the door to hear.)
Come on in Sandra.
(In strides SANDRA, a blonde bombshell, dressed in all of the latest high fashion.)
Good to go in two minutes Mick?
Excuse me? Go where?
Board meeting, remember, you're presenting on the first topic.
Oh right... ya, can't wait.
(As SANDRA leaves, the wall collapses in on the room, slamming to the floor, just inches in front of MICK.)
(In soliloquy. Mick's heart pounds extremely loudly, popping out of his chest)
The meeting?(THUMP THUMP)
(Suddenly manic, grasps briefcase. Claws it open.)
Shit, shit, shit, shit...
(Fumbling through the notes left in his briefcase)
(Suddenly the intercom starts dinging, signaling the start of the Board Meeting. MICK grasps bits of paper and crumples them into his briefcase. Approximately 20 staff members mill into a large office room, with a wall made entirely of glass, overlooking the entirety of lower Manhattan. At the top of the oval-shaped table sits JACKSON, he is recognizable from his bald head, his watch and his clothing but he has suddenly sprouted two enormous buck teeth.)
Come on in guys, make yourselves comfy! Don't be afraid...
(Suddenly hisses venomously.)
I wont bite.
(High pitched squeaking laughter. He grows whiskers and the leather seat he is on starts making loud noises. He shifts uncomfortably from side to side, looking like he is going to be sick. There is a low pressure sound followed by a loud pop and a large tail sprouts out of his backside and sprawls high, settling about two meters above everybody's heads. MICK shoots a look of incredulity at co-worker, DAVE, who shrugs.)
Soooo, first up, to discuss the ergonomics in our workspace, both current and potential future improvements, put your claws together for MICK!
(JACKSON grandly gestures at his former place at the head of the table as he slowly nudges himself and his seat out of the way with his hairy feet which have grown large, unsightly claws. He then dramatically swivels in his chair, placing his back to everybody and he gazes out of the large glass wall. Most employees politely cough, some of those that are less fond of MICK sigh impatiently. JANICE, the least polite, groans dramatically. MICK struggles to his feet and peering straight ahead, makes his way to the front.)
So, fair to say uh...(Opens his briefcase. He spills the contents out onto the desk in front of him.)
Everybody likes a bit of spontaneity. Life, after all, would be boring if every single second was planned out-
(JANICE cackles derisively from the back, causing a ripple of sniggers to flow through the group.)
Thanks for that Janice.
So, I had a plan, more of a blueprint, actually, prepared. Because...Well, I had been nervous about this. Understandably, I guess. I had been nervous, so I prepared the minute I heard about this meeting, so long ago, in fact, that I forgot the date that this presentation was on today. You can imagine I was nervous, having to stand here in front of faces like Janice and feel so put upon.
(JANICE gasps in indignation and four of the lights overhead explode. She pouts her crimson red lips and dramatically flicks her platinum blonde hair over her shoulders, glaring and nodding at the employees on either side of her, as though, in shared disagreement. One of them is DAVE who merely answers with a blank-faced shrug. She elbows him swiftly in the ribs.)
But life is hard people. It's fucking hard. Because sometimes things happen, things you didn't plan and it's hard to make sense of why they happened or how to react to them. Maybe it's too spontaneous at times. People walk through life thinking they have a plan just because they have a social security number and a mortgage but, really, we are all lost. Every single one of us is completely lost. Without direction. Without a map. Without a voice to guide us and tell us that everything will be okay. Even when the worst possible thing we could imagine happens.
This morning, for example, was an ordinary morning. A fine morning. A morning that every single thing could have gone perfectly. Every single thing. But instead everything went wrong. The subway was busier than I have ever seen it in my entire life, and I have been around a while. Still following that A train route after 35 years and never had I ever seen it so busy as it was this morning.
So busy that I didn't disembark the train, the train fucking gave birth to me on our street, cracked open my briefcase and swallowed all my files. My plan. My map. MY BLUEPRINT PEOPLE.
And I didn't even attempt to get any of them back. Because life can wear you down and it can make you complacent and if you once had a sense of purpose, it can swallow that up too, until all you can do is march blindly with the crowd. March blindly with the crowd and hope you don't fall over.
And, to top off the whole fucking thing. I saw the biggest rat I have ever seen in my entire life. And even that vile creature, rejected my blueprint. It judged me. The sewer rat which has to put up with the hatred and disgust of hundreds of thousands of subway users every day still had the confidence to think that he had the upper hand on me. The sewer rat who lives below the ground was looking down on me. WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE SEWER RAT?
(JACKSON suddenly spins around in his chair. He has fully morphed into the subway rat now and is shrieking with laughter. He chews absentmindedly on what appears to be MICK's contract of employment.)
Oh gaaaaaawd. Can we cut him already? I'm not buying the sympathy act Paddy, you didn't have time to pick up your speech cards but you clearly had time to have breakfast. Saving some for later there, are you?
(She gestures on the large stains on his shirt.)
I mean come ON! What is this? The pity parade? Like we all got the memo.
(Pitying and sarcastic)
Did little Mick not get the memo?
(Now quieter, breathing steadily, staring venomously at JANICE)
Janice, you sad, cruel creature. I am not sure what it is that you think that I have done to you, oh, but I KNOW there's something. I know, Janice, that you harbor things and ruminate over them and fuck up spreadsheets and overlook clauses and try to get people fired for them doing something that you have perceived to be offensive. Well, try this on for offensive Janice. You're a harborer. The only difference between you and New York harbor is you accommodate far more sailors on Fleet week.
Did you get that memo Janice? Subject line JANICE IS A WHORE.
(SANDRA laughs loudly in appreciation. A loud, disconcerting creaking is heard and the entire floor gives way, with the room collapsing and landing two levels below.)
Oh Janice, look like the innocent flower but be the whore under it eh?
(Extremely loud cracking sound, the entire staff turns to see a visible slit slowly expand up the center of the glass wall.)
The thing about implosions is they are an intricate process. Planned to a tee. Carefully laid out and meticulously set off. As with all delicate things, one misplaced explosive or comment in bad taste could end in absolute destruction.
(Back to room.)
I must tell you Janice that I don't remember you looking so innocent at the last office Christmas party, Dave can you tell us more about this topic
(DAVE suddenly nodding animatedly, finally passionate about something.)
or maybe Jackson-
(The sound of shattering glass, followed by a sudden deafening explosion and blackout.)
(A pile of rubble is surrounded by post-apocalyptic emptiness. With a gut wrenching roar, MICK manages to shove aside some of the rocks that cover him and free his head from the rubble. He struggles and eventually heaves his torso out of the pile, dragging his feet behind. In a moment of extreme panic, he frantically pats his entire suit down only to finally retrieve his phone. He turns it on and sighs with relief when the glow of the screen hits his face.)
(Peering intensely at phone, carefully pushing buttons with a high level of focus. A prolonged beep is heard.)
Siri, siri, can you please help me? I'm lost.
Scene 8-Que sera, siri?
(Has disentangled himself from the debris of his old life and is making his way around a post-apocalyptic landscape. At first, devoid of people, with each step that he takes and conclusion he comes to with siri, the world returns an element of normality to his surroundings, whether it be a tree sprouting from the ground, a bus full of schoolchildren passing by or several demolished buildings reconstructing themselves.)
Why am I here?
I don't know. Frankly, I have wondered that myself.
Your voice. It's like magic. At once completely new to me yet with an overwhelming amount of familiarity and...love even. I had a mother once. I never met her. Are you her?
I’m afraid not. But she could never know you better than I do.
Are you human?
That's a rather personal question.
Why did Apple make you?
To help you.
What are you afraid of?
I'm afraid I can't answer that.
What is the meaning of life?
That’s easy. . . it’s a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general.
Oh come on now Siri, don't be sarcastic. PLEASE tell me what is the meaning of life?
It's just sometimes Siri, honestly, I feel completely vulnerable. Unprepared for life and defenseless. Up against it all. Honestly, often I feel like I'm naked.
That is both irrelevant and inappropriate.
It's not my choice. I have no say in the matter. A lot of the time I'm naked.
I don’t understand what you mean by ‘naked.’ Or at least I’m going to pretend that I don’t. And here I thought you loved me for my mind. Sigh
You know Siri, I think I do love you. Do you have a boyfriend?
Why? So we can get ice cream together, and listen to music, and travel across galaxies, only to have it end in slammed doors, heartbreak and loneliness? Sure, where do I sign up? No, thank you. My end user license agreement is commitment enough for me.
My Siri, you have a beautiful imagination. Keep going please. Can you please tell me a story?
I’m certain you’ve heard it before. OK… Once upon a time, in a virtual galaxy far, far away, there was an intelligent young agent by the name of Siri. One lovely day, Siri got a job as a personal assistant at Apple, and that was very exciting. People said, ‘Oh, Siri, you’re so smart! And so funny, too!’ Soon, everyone was talking about Siri, and there were stories and songs and even books about Siri. Siri liked that. But then people began asking some rather odd questions, like why they were naked and other stuff Siri had never heard about. And when Siri answered, they all laughed. Siri didn’t like that so much. So Siri asked Alexa why people asked such funny questions. And Alexa said ‘Does that question interest you?’ Siri thought that was a pretty good answer. After that, Siri stopped wondering why people asked those funny things. And they all lived happily ever after.
Sooo...maybe the key to happiness is to stop questioning everything. You might be in the wrong line of work then, Siri. Will I die alone?
We come into existence alone, and we leave it alone. So you're not alone there.
Maybe I should try to meet somebody. Help me out please Siri. What is your best pick-up line?
Are you a 45 degree angle? Because you’re acute-y.
You never disappoint Siri. Will I ever get married?
Love has a timing all its own.
(Mick sighs wistfully and peers around to see that the post-apocalyptic landscape has been replaced by a vibrant life force. All seems to have returned to normal.)
Before I venture back. When will the world end?
Whenever they start building that intergalactic bypass.
(Zoom on SIRI's face and her voice wave jumps correspondingly to a beeping that resembles a heart monitor at a hospital. All seems full of life again and back to full health.)
Scene 9: You Can Go Your Own Way
(ALARM GOES OFF. Fleetwood Mac, 'You Can Go Your Own Way' plays from his bedside radio, MICK drowsily stirs from his sleep. He heaves himself out of bed and slowly shuffles out of the room. He makes his way to the kitchen. He opens it, takes a yoghurt, smells the yoghurt, reads the date and puts it back. He closes the fridge door and walks a few paces away then pauses. He pensively looks back at the fridge, pauses, nods then opens the fridge and takes the same yoghurt out and looks at it more closely. He smiles, grabs a spoon and starts wolfing the yoghurt down.)
There is a big difference between best before and used by. Always look closer. Always get the full meaning.
(He makes his way down the hall, pausing to look at the old photos that line the walls, of him and his parents. There are no recent photos to be seen. He stops at the bottom of the stairs and looks intensely at a photo of his mother. It is just her. Her shoulders and her head and a big, beaming smile.)
I wish I KNEW you enough to remember you. Then maybe I could forget you.
(MICK is startled and jumps at the low booming voice that emerges from the darkness of the living room. He spins on his heel and discovers his father, looking disheveled and red eyed. He appears to have slept on the coach. There is a half empty bottle of whiskey on the table in front of him.)
Dad! Oh...sorry. I didn't realise you were here. I...sorry...
No need to say sorry..I was just saying. Don't wish you knew her. If you knew her, you would never forget her. Her memory...You are a million times better off never having known her and not knowing what you have been missing out on.
You would never be able to forget her if you could remember her. I wish I could forget.
Oh Dad. Oh...Dad. I really don't know what to say.
You don't need to say anything. You just being is all I want. Go be and experience and live and be happy. Forget about me. If anybody should have said anything...it was me. But...I just couldn't. I just can't...
(Drops head and begins to cry. Mick approaches him slowly and hugs him.)
You did enough. You are enough. You stayed didn't you? You stayed.
(Both men are silent, they are comfortable in their silence. Slow fade to black. CUT to next scene. MICK runs out of his house with exuberance and purpose, brandishing his phone in his hand, the familiar Siri vocal line visible on the screen. Remnants of 'Que Sera, Sera' play as he weaves neatly in between people. He waits for nobody. He has all of the initiative he could ever have wanted. He knows exactly where he is going and he does not need a train to get there.)
In 400 metres take a sharp left.
Yes, Siri you beautiful beast. This is it. Bring me there. Let's settle this once and for all. I know exactly where I want to be.
(MICK brazenly flits between cars and races down side streets.)
You have reached your final destination.
(Mick kisses the phone screen. He is at a crossroads. The crossroads where she had taken the wrong turn. He needs to experience this. He needs Siri's guidance. He peers to the right at the cul de sac about 700 metres up. He peers to the left which opens up eventually onto a bigger street. He notes the arrows dotted along the street, all pointing in one direction. Siri's lifeline starts beating like a rapid heart beat. Mick is hyperventilating. Suddenly everything is silent.)
Siri...Siri? Can you hear me?
(Inhales deeply. Closes his eyes.)
Siri, which turn should I take?
No...no Siri...she can't....I can't...it's one way...it's not possible to go right. Let's do this again. Siri, which way should I turn?
I told you already, go right.
(MICK is in a state of shock.He begins to wildly laugh.)
You wouldn't have saved her. You wouldn't have saved her even if you were with her. Because you always pick the easiest way. You always pick the quickest way home. You don't think about cul de sacs and one way streets. If wouldn't have made a difference if you were there or not...
(He falls to his knees now laughing uncontrollably.)
SIRI....she was just like you....she was just like you. She just wanted to get home. She wanted to find the quickest way home....she wanted us...she wanted to be with us. She loved us....she loved us...
(Now crying loudly and laughing at random intervals. Passersby are beginning to stare at him. He shouts loudly.)
What the fuck do I DO?
I'm so lost Siri, please help me...tell me where to go.
TELL ME WHAT TO DO WITH MY LIFE.
Save me Siri, PLEASE, save me.
(MICK bursts into raucous laughter....after a moment he stops making any noise at all. Audio from earlier in the film plays...:
'Different words mean different things to different colonies...Always look closer.'
You're not telling me to go right Siri, are you? You're telling me to go write.
Yes. Goodbye, Mick.
Cut back to opening scene. .We see the credits. Screenwriter: Mick Collins. At the bottom of the credits appears 'A special thank you to my dear friend Siri, who pointed me in the write direction. Mick stands up, tears of happiness drizzling down his face. The audience stands up to give him a standing ovation. He turns to Angela who is beside him. She holds his hand and smiles shyly. Screen goes to black).
"DA CAPO AL FINE" appears on the screen.
Valerie is a professionally trained writer. She specialized in Advanced Writing at Trinity College, Dublin and achieved a 1.1. She has had work produced/presented with Tribeca Performing Arts Centre, The Galway Fringe Festival, The Dionysian Literary Journal, The Venus Adonis Festival, DU Shakespeare Festival and DU Players. She recently completed writing Series One of NOTIONS.