A Town Called Paradise

 

arlaud.dk

 

(This is the first 30 pages of a 98 page script.)

 

1. EXT. (DAY)SYDNEY'S INNER CITY CENTER

A series of shots showing Sydney early in the morning: the sun rising over the Harbour Bridge ... a council truck spraying the deserted streets with water ... a newspaper delivery person throwing a bundle of papers onto the pavement outside a newsagent ... a derelict asleep on a park bench ...

SHANNON, an attractive brunette in her late 20's, drives her small sedan along a road and turns into an empty carpark - she is the first to arrive, but the yawning attendent nods familiarly to her, a cup of steaming tea in his hand.

We follow her, in her smart business clothing, a briefcase in her hand and a portable computer over her shoulder, up the street, and into the entrance of a tall office building.

 

2. INT. (DAY) KEMP MARKETING

The elevator opens. SHANNON walks out and over to the glass doors which a sign on the wall says are the offices of KEMP MARKETING. She unlocks the doors, lets herself in and disappears down one of the corridors.

 

3. INT. (DAY) SHANNON'S OFFICE

She enters an office, and puts her portable computer down on the small desk in the cramped cubicle which she occupies. It is small and cluttered with overflowing in- and out-trays, ring-binders and trade journals. On the walls are noticeboards covered with detailed planning schedules, telephone lists and yellow sticky notes.

SHANNON walks over to the window through which the morning sun is blazing, and closes the blind, cutting out the glare.

 

4. INT. (DAY) SYDNEY SUBURBAN HOUSE

A venetian blind opens, revealing the swimming pool of a Sydney suburban house in the foreground. Beyond that is a neighbor's garden, where SEAN, tall, lean, late 20's, dressed in a hat, long-sleeved shirt and shorts, is shovelling dirt into a wheel barrow.

 

5. EXT. (DAY) LARGE SUBURBAN GARDEN

Cut to SEAN, as he works energetically in the midday heat - the back of his shirt is soaked with sweat. Panting, SEAN stabs his shovel into the earth and takes off his hat and his shirt, revealing a tanned, defined torso.

He goes across to the garden hose and turns it on, dousing his head and upper body with water, flicking his head to shake off the excess.

From the corner of his eye he sees the NEIGHBOR, a woman in her mid-forties wearing a bathing suit, emerge from the house next door.

Cut to the woman as she settles herself beneath the parasol beside the pool. Her eyes turn towards SEAN as she reaches for the tall, frosted drink on the table beside her and guides it towards her lips.

 

6. INT (DAY)SHANNON'S OFFICE

The frosted glass becomes a coffee mug which SHANNON is absently raising to her mouth as she sits staring at her computer screen, surrounded by piles of stapled documents and open files. Her face wrinkles in distaste as she tastes the cold contents. She puts it down again and continues typing.

Her phone rings, an irritating interruption. She picks it up, continuing to edit as she speaks.

SHANNON

This is SHANNON ... Hi, GRAN ... Busy? A'ha ... what? ... a'ha ... no, you've got to tell the video which channel you want it to record - I'll do it for you tomorrow ... okay? Yep .... yep ...

She becomes aware of ADRIAN, a thin, sour-looking male in his early forties standing at the door, waiting to speak to her.

SHANNON

Look, I've got to go ... see you around 10. Bye ...

She replaces the receiver and looks at ADRIAN.

SHANNON

Yes, ADRIAN?

ADRIAN (peevishly)

Your time sheets ...

SHANNON (typing again)

What about them?

ADRIAN

You need permission to work overtime. I can't pay you for all these hours - you'll have to take time off in lieu.

SHANNON (sarcastically)

Oh, right - like when?

ADRIAN

That's your problem - just do it before the end of the month.

HELEN, the receptionist, sticks her head in the office.

HELEN

SHANNON - PETER wants to see you.

Nodding, SHANNON picks up her time manager and a pen.

 

7. INT. (DAY) PETER'S OFFICE

SFX of a knock.

SHANNON enters a large office. PETER, a rumpled businessman in his late 50's, is sitting behind his big desk, while across from him stands NEIL, a sharp, sleek, well-dressed man, smoking a cigarette and staring out of the window. From the stiff smile SHANNON gives NEIL we realize she doesn't like him, but PETER seems oblivious to these undercurrents.

PETER

Ah, SHANNON, thanks for coming in. NEIL and I have been discussing Arcadia ....

SHANNON

A'ha.

NEIL (taking over)

... PETER's a little concerned about letting you make the presentation alone.

SHANNON (coolly)

Oh - why's that?

PETER

Arcadia's got new owners ...

NEIL

Thompson Industries. Got announced yesterday. Their people have already started moving in ...

PETER

It's important we make a good impression ...

NEIL

Vital!

PETER

Exactly. So I'd like you to brief NEIL on your ideas and back him up as much as you can ...

SHANNON doesn't waste her breath protesting, but frustration and disappointment is evident in the tight expression on her face.

 

8. EXT. (DAY) HANGING GARDEN'S NURSERY

SEAN is loading bags of chicken manure into a trailer hitched to the back of his metallic blue panelvan - a customized dinosaur from the seventies, complete with mag wheels, an airbrushed surfy mural on the side, and a tinted sunroof.

He is in a nursery surrounded by plants, shrubs, bushes, flowers and small fountains. Nearby are several large bird avaries stocked with colorful parrots, lovebirds and cockatoos, covered by cool green mesh.

He walks over to the nursery's 'office', an area bright with exotic plants and garden ornaments, where the OWNER, a middle-aged man, is stacking boards with 'Closing Down Sale' and 'Huge Reductions' written on them against a wall.

SEAN

Just the chicken-shit, thanks. (He nods at the signs) So you're selling up?

OWNER

Yeah - you interested?

SEAN

Ha! Jesus - I'm still paying that heap off ...

 

9. EXT. (DAY) OFFICE BLOCK PARKING LOT

SHANNON is sitting in her small sedan, in the car park outside a large, run-down inner city office block, talking on her mobile phone, scanning the traffic flowing by.

SHANNON

... what time did he leave?

She spots NEIL, behind the wheel of a big, late model sedan, turning into the parking lot.

SHANNON

Never mind, he's here ...

She gets out of the car and picks up her briefcase, an armful of files and her portable computer. As the sedan pulls up, she can see the front end has been smashed in. NEIL gets out and comes immediately round to look at the damage. SHANNON can't help smiling a little. He looks up and glares at her.

 

10. INT. (DAY) OFFICE BLOCK FOYER

SHANNON is waiting for the elevator in the tatty foyer of the building. Standing nearby is GRANT, a fair-haired guy in his mid-thirties, wearing a plain suit, with the jacket slung over his shoulder. NEIL enters through the sliding glass doors, smoking a cigarette and talking on his mobile phone.

NEIL

The stupid bitch reckoned it was my fault! ... I said 'You should look where ya bloody going!'... Yeah, yeah ... Listen, I gotta go ... bye.

NEIL reaches out to jab impatiently at the button for the lift. GRANT nods at the files under SHANNON's arm.

GRANT

Like a hand?

SHANNON

No, I'm right. But thanks for offering.

NEIL is unimpressed by this example of gallantry and hits the button again.

NEIL (half to himself)

You'd think they'd get an office where the bloody lifts work.

The doors wheeze open and the three of them enter. SHANNON presses the button for the tenth floor, and GRANT hits eleven.

The doors slide shut and the elevator begins to rise. NEIL, still smoking, looks round at the lift's shabby interior with thinly disguised distaste.

GRANT

Excuse me ... Do you mind?

He nods pointedly at the 'No Smoking' sign. NEIL pulls a face and takes a couple of quick drags on the cigarette, filling the air in the lift with smoke, before dropping the butt on the floor and grinding it out with his shoe.

The lift slows to a stop and the door opens. NEIL and SHANNON walk out and over to the RECEPTIONIST.

RECEPTIONIST

May I help you?

NEIL

NEIL HUNTER. KEMP MARKETING. We have an appointment with Bill Farly ... ?

RECEPTIONIST (uncertainly)

Um, MR THOMPSON, our new CEO? He's taking Mr Farly's appointments today.

Draw back to show GRANT who, unnoticed by NEIL and SHANNON, has followed them out of the elevator and is standing quietly to one side.

NEIL (with exaggerated patience)

MR THOMPSON? Aah ... Right. Well, do you want to call him and let him know we're here?

Confused as to why GRANT hasn't announced himself, the RECEPTIONIST looks past them for a sign of what to do.

RECEPTIONIST

Um ... MR THOMPSON?

SHANNON, turning round, sees GRANT and closes her eyes in pain and disappointment.

 

11. EXT. (DAY) SEAN'S HOUSE

It is late afternoon and the light is fading. SEAN, wearing a pair of jogging pants and a t-shirt, runs out of the driveway of the house he shares with ED and JACKIE, past his panelvan and along the street.

 

12. INT. (DAY) SHANNON'S OFFICE

SHANNON is sitting in her office describing what happened at the presentation to CATHY, mid-thirties, fairly attractive, but heavily made-up and a size or two heavier than SHANNON.

SHANNON

I could have died ...

CATHY

What happened?

SHANNON

The guy listened politely, took my report, shook our hands, and said he'd get back to us. Jesus! When I think of all the work I put into it ...

CATHY (looking at her watch)

Listen - if we're going to cry over spilt milk, at least let me put some Tia Maria in it ... Come on - get your things.

SHANNON

What ... ? Why?

CATHY

It's HELEN's hen's night - and you're going.

SHANNON (recoiling from the idea)

A hen's night? Oh, no ...

CATHY

Oh, yes!

 

13. EXT. (DAY) RUNNING TRACK

SEAN, sweating hard, crosses the finishing line of a running track on a sports oval where a few teenagers are doing athletics training.

Panting for breath, he starts doing some stretching exercises. The younger guys begin practising sprint starts under the supervision of a trainer. They are in their late teens and are taking things seriously.

We see SEAN's experience of this, interwoven with grainy, black and white flashbacks:

The teenagers crouch down in the starting blocks.

FLASHBACK - SEAN, hunkering down in slow motion, the sound of his heartbeat loud in his ears ....

The runners place their hands meticulously out on the starting line in front of them.

FLASHBACK - SEAN reaches out with splayed fingers ...

The anticipation in the runners' bodies, poised for flight. The trainer's arm goes up, he raises the whistle to his lips .... ready, set ...

 

14. EXT. (DAY) CATHY'S CAR

The traffic light turns to green. SHANNON is driving with CATHY in her car through the late afternoon traffic.

SHANNON

I'm sick and tired of working my butt off and not getting any recognition for it. If we don't get the account, NEIL'll say it was because my ideas weren't good enough ...

CATHY

And if you do get it ...

SHANNON

It'll be because he did such a wonderful presentation.

CATHY

It's always like that.

SHANNON

I know - that's what pisses me off!

Seeing a parking space just outside a crowded beer garden, CATHY swerves across to claim it, ignoring the abuse from the other traffic.

SHANNON (unimpressed)

Is this it?

CATHY

A'ha. To start with anyway.

SHANNON

Gee, CATH ... I don't know...

CATHY (not listening)

Come on ...

 

15. INT. (NIGHT) SEAN'S HOUSE

A door slams and SEAN, his shirt sticking to his body, comes down the hallway, and on into the brightly-lit kitchen where ED, tall and gangly, is preparing a meal, while JACKIE, short and bubbly, sits behind a computer.

SEAN

G'day, mate ... JACKIE.

He opens the well-stocked fridge and helps himself to a carton of cold milk.

ED

You eating?

Lowering the carton, SEAN wipes his mouth, shakes his head and looks over ED's shoulder. ED quickly runs through the ingredients.

ED

Veal stuffed with apples, pistachoes, red bean paste and Illawara plums. Port and Hoison sauce on top and stir fry vegies on the side. We'll leave you some.

SEAN looks at him and delivers a deafening burp.

SEAN

Thanks. (Then, to JACKIE) Sorry, Jack.

JACKIE (used to it)

S'okay.

SEAN's already heading for the bathroom, but calls back over his shoulder.

SEAN

Hey ... ! We got any Tom Jones ... ?

 

15. INT. (NIGHT) SYDNEY WINEBAR

SHANNON is standing with CATHY near a group of woman including HELEN, the receptionist at Kemp's, in a noisy, crowded, smoke-filled winebar.

In a nearby booth sits an attractive young blonde in a tight dress, together with an older man wearing a toupé and heavy gold jewelry. CATHY nods across at them

CATHY

You could always get yourself a sugar-daddy.

SHANNON

... Yeah. Why not?

CATHY looks at her through cynical eyes.

SHANNON

They choose us depending on how we look - why shouldn't we choose them according to how much money they have?

The other women are heading for the door and one of them signals for them to follow.

CATHY

Come on - time to go.

SHANNON

Where now?

CATHY

Showtime.

 

16. EXT. (NIGHT) THE LAST LAUGH

SHANNON watches as CATHY pays off a taxi which has just dropped them outside a stand-up comedy club called the Last Laugh.

SHANNON

What I'd really like to do is start up my own agency ...

CATHY, starting to tire of SHANNON's preoccupation, rolls her eyes and leads the way past the camera and into the club.

 

17. INT. (NIGHT) THE LAST LAUGH

CATHY and SHANNON appear near the back of the small, smoke-filled club. They can see the others clustered around some tables right in front of the stage. CATHY waves to them and to the bar, indicating she and SHANNON are going to buy some drinks. A Seinfield-style comedian is finishing his routine on the small stage.

BOB TURNER

... and you can't win, y'know? Make concessions because they're female and you're a chauvinist. If you're reliable, you're boring. If you make a pass at them, you're an animal. If you don't, you're a faggot. Bring them a bunch of flowers, and they're like - 'Okay, who've you been with? What do you want?' My idea of foreplay these days is half an hour of begging ... I'm out of time. Thank you. If you liked my show, my name's BOB TURNER ... And if ya didn't, it's Billy Crystal. Goodnight!

They are still negotiating their way through the audience as the MC, a hefty perspiring man in a lurid Hawaiian shirt and extra, extra large fluro boardshorts walks onstage.

MC

Alright, alright ... quieten down - he wasn't that funny. Wait till you see the next guy! He's new to the game so, ladies and gentlemen, please give a nasty, cold welcome to SEAN ... CONNELLY.

Polite applause as SEAN, now minus his stubble, sweat and dirt, with his dark hair slicked back and dressed in a tuxedo a little shiny with use, walks on, takes the microphone off the hook and surveys his audience. He looks - and feels - a little nervous.

SEAN

G'morning. (Someone in the audience laughs). Thank you. (He spots the group down the front.) The manager reckons there's a lady in the audience who's getting married tomorrow ...

Cheers and shouts go up from the group, eyes turning to focus on HELEN.

SEAN

That's her! How 'bout we get her up here, huh? Come on - don't be shy.

HELEN is urged up on stage by her friends.

SEAN

And you're ... ?

HELEN

HELEN.

SEAN

Hi, HELEN. And what's the poor fella's name?

HELEN

DAN.

SEAN

DAN? So DAN's the man, huh? You looking forward to it?

HELEN smiles and nods tentatively. He makes fun of her uncertainty, first nodding and then shaking his head, throwing in a few shoulder shrugs as well. The audience laughs.

Reaction shot of CATHY and SHANNON who have now ordered their drinks and are watching the show.

SEAN

So how long've you known DAN?

HELEN

Three years.

SEAN

Yeah? And you've been sleeping together all that time?

Embarrassed, she nods, provoking a chorus of whistles from the crowd.

SEAN

Is he good in bed?

She looks round for support from her friends.

SEAN

Hey, yeah, let's ask your friends ...! Come on HELEN, you can tell us - does DAN make the grade?

HELEN

Arh, yeah - I guess so.

More jeers, whistles and laughter.

SEAN (exaggerated amazement)

You guess so? HELEN - this is very important. If DAN's no good in the sack you're probably going to have a lousy marriage.

HELEN

Yeah, I know ...

SEAN lets the laughter die down.

SEAN

But you are getting married because you love each other, right? It's not because of the tax breaks, or because you forgot to take the pill?

HELEN

No.

SEAN

And you're not the type who'd be tempted by another man ... Are you?

She shakes her head.

SEAN

Are you sure? Not even if he was ... Tom Jones?

HELEN looks mystified and SEAN turns to the rest of the crowd.

SEAN

Apparently HELEN's a big fan of the old TJ. Now I'm going to try a little experiment here. I'm going to see if I can get HELEN'S heartbeat going. Can we have a chair ... ?

A stool is swiftly transferred to the stage and SEAN seats HELEN on it.

SEAN

Now all we need is some music ...

Cut to a shot of the sound and lighting TECHNICIAN sitting in a booth just near the bar. He presses a button and the brassy, razzamatazz sound of "She's A Lady" fills the club. The lights go down, a spotlight appears and Tom's sultry voice begins ...

(TOM JONES)

"Well, she's all you'd ever want, she's the type I'd like to flaunt and take to dinner ... "

SEAN's miming along, face scrunched up, snapping his fingers, hamming up his dancing, trying to impersonate Tom Jones and getting a few more laughs in the process.

Reaction shot of SHANNON and CATHY, smiling as they watch his antics.

The rest of the crowd's a little confused, but HELEN's other friends are shouting and whistling, urging SEAN on.

(TOM JONES)

"She's a lady, wo, wo, wo, she's a lady, talking about that little lady ..."

As the first chorus ends, all his comic awkardness falls away. SEAN's face clears and his movements become fluid and sure. He goes spinning round, one, two, lightning steps that send him skidding across the floor on his knees, winding up at HELEN's feet with the microphone rising with unmistakable intent between his thighs.

(TOM JONES)

"And that lady is mine ... !"

The music changes to Tom Jones' version of the Prince number, "Kiss". Tossing the microphone aside, SEAN hops back up onto his feet, and slides the jacket of his tuxedo off his shoulders. HELEN doubles over, burying her face in her hands as her suspicions - and those of the rest of the audience - are confirmed.

SEAN begins to dance, using his eyes, his smile and his body with provocative sensuality as he goes whirling, crouching, strutting, posing and posturing across the small stage.

CATHY nods towards the stage, silently suggesting they move a little closer. SHANNON shrugs her shoulders and then with a conspiratorial smile, they both edge forward through the crowd to where they can see better.

Close up of SEAN opening the crisp white cotton of his shirt button by button, revealing the curves and planes of his tanned chest ... the hard ridges of his stomach ...

Reaction shots of some of the women in the crowd devouring SEAN with their eyes. The men in the audience look on passively, bemused by the women's interest.

A white shirt sails through the air.

SEAN is dancing in the middle of the stage, his lean, hard body undulating to the rock'n'roll rhythms of desire. He turns and faces away from HELEN and then rips off his black pants in one simple motion, leaving him in just a tiny white g-string.

CATHY, open-mouthed and hungry, looks at SHANNON who also seems grudgingly impressed.

The music changes again - this time to the old classic "Help Yourself". SEAN straddles HELEN's thighs and, taking her hands round behind him, encourages her to feel the tight hard cheeks of his backside, flexing each one in time with the music...

Spinning round and settling back down on her lap, he runs her hands down over the speed bumps of his stomach, down towards his groin, towards the only region of his body still hidden ...

When she gets too close, he steps away from her. He turns to the audience and points to the g-string, silently asking them to decide whether he should remove it or not.

There is a raucous response from HELEN's group of friends.

SEAN pretends he can't hear it and cups his hand to his ear, urging them to shout louder.

The reaction from the females in the audience reaches its peak.

SEAN holds up his hand as if to say 'stop' and then walks over to HELEN and picks up one of her hands and pretends to measure her pulse, counting the slow beats with his fingers - one ... two ... three ... four ...

He looks sad, as if disappointed that he hasn't been able to turn her on. Gallently he bows and kisses her hand, waves to the audience and walks off the stage to a healthy round of applause.

CATHY turns to SHANNON, and they return to the bar.

TIME LAPSE DELAY

It's after the show. The crowd has thinned out a lot and SHANNON, standing at the bar, is watching the BARMAN, a good-looking young guy, bending over to get some ingredients out of a fridge, giving SHANNON a clear view of his butt.

Smiling to herself, she looks away and sees SEAN, dressed now in casual clothes and carrying a sports bag, talking to the sound TECHNICIAN in his booth, who hands him his tape.

SEAN comes up to the bar and puts down his bag, looking round the room for GREENIE, as he waits to order. His eyes meet SHANNON's and a polite smile flashes across his lips.

SHANNON steps over to him.

SHANNON

Can I ask you a question?

SEAN

Which one?

SHANNON

Sorry?

SEAN

What do you want to know?

SHANNON

Do you ever get turned on doing a show like that?

SEAN's heard the question before. He studies SHANNON for a moment before answering. Her long, dark hair is hanging loose, framing the perfect geometry of her face and she is twisting a straw between her fingers.

SEAN (honestly)

No. But in your case I'd be willing to make an exception.

SHANNON thinks about this for a second and then laughs, taking it as a come-on and unimpressed by the idea. SEAN sees GREENIE, a good-looking, perpetually-smiling, long-haired guy in his early 30's, over near the door, waving to him to come over. A Baywatch-style blonde is standing near him

SEAN (politely)

Excuse me ...

Picking up his bag he heads over to GREENIE, while SHANNON's attention returns to the BARMAN who is just placing her drink on the counter.

GREENIE greets his friend with a broad grin.

GREENIE

Ya finished?

SEAN

Yeah, mate ... Who's that?

He nods to the blonde trying to work the cigarette machine.

GREENIE

GINNIE. Works at the gym, hey? Finally get her to come out and she says she'll have to bring along her friend, and I'm like, oh fuck, some ugly, fat ... y'know...?

SEAN (pessimistically)

... who you want me to take off your hands?

CINDY, another blonde even more luscious than the first, emerges from the Ladies toilets, struggling to remain in her tiny green dress, and attracting every male eye in the club in the process.

GREENIE

Yeah, that's her ... It's been a fuckin' nightmare trying to keep all the other bastards away.

SEAN (suddenly cheerful again)

Hey - what are mates for ... ?

Cut back to SHANNON who watches as SEAN and GREENIE round up the two blondes and hustle them out of the door. To the barman's suprise, she downs her drink in one go and orders another.

Slow fade out.

 

18. INT. (DAY) CINDY'S APARTMENT

A collage of pictures - horses, TV stars, heavy-metal rock groups, desert island sunsets and puppy dogs. It's the next day. SEAN has just opened his eyes and is seeing the wall of CINDY's bedroom. The girl herself is lying fast asleep beside him.

His eyes drift around the room and see more of the same - clothes strewn everywhere, half-filled cups of coffee and lipsticked-rimmed wineglasses, a pile of CD's strewn around a ghettoblaster.

He sits up carefully and swings his legs over the edge of the bed.

 

19. INT. (DAY) SHANNON'S APARTMENT

SHANNON's bedroom is totally different from CINDY's - clean, ordered, tastefully furnished in a modern, functional style: venetian blinds instead of curtains, a framed abstract print of the wall in dark, sombre colors.

She opens one eye reluctantly - the digital readout on her clock radio swims blearily into focus: 10.15.

Both eyes flick open. She sits up. It hurts. She tastes the inside of her mouth and pulls a face.

Cut to her stumbling into her neat, tiled bathroom. Even hungover and dressed in an old t-shirt, she looks good. She starts to look through the cupboards, searching for some sort of painkiller.

The phone rings and she winces.

Cut to her crossing the living room to stop the noise of the cordless phone sitting on the pristine bench of the kitchen. As she talks she opens the door of the refrigerator and finds it virtually empty except for some make-up, some olives, a couple of blackened bananas and an empty carton of juice.

SHANNON (hoarsely)

Hallo ... ? Oh, GRAN! ... Must have slept over ... sure ... no, I'm coming ...

She hangs up and heads back to the bathroom.

 

20. EXT. (DAY) CINDY'S APARTMENT

SEAN emerges from CINDY's apartment, looking around with bleary eyes, trying to get his bearings. He trots down a flight of stairs and out to the street where his van is parked. He gets in and drives off.

 

21. INT. (DAY) SHANNON'S GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE

SHANNON is visiting her GRANDMOTHER, a proud and very proper woman in her early seventies, who lives alone in a small, obsessively neat suburban house. The GRANDMOTHER is making some tea while SHANNON is trying to program the video.

There are a lot of family photos on the walls and furniture - some show the GRANDMOTHER and her late husband, many show SHANNON, and there are a few of DIANE, SHANNON's mother, in fashions from the seventies.

GRANDMOTHER

... I said 'Mind your manners, young man. My taxes pay your wages, and I will not stand for such rudeness.' He didn't like that one little bit. Scruffy wretch. 'F' this, 'f' that ... Probably on drugs ...

SHANNON (holding her head)

GRAN - have you got any aspirins?

GRANDMOTHER

Why - aren't you feeling well?

SHANNON

A headache, that's all. Bit of a late night.

The GRANDMOTHER starts looking in a drawer.

GRANDMOTHER

Oh, SHANNON ... be careful. I'd hate to see you end up like your father.

SHANNON (she's heard it before)

Yes, GRAN ...

GRANDMOTHER

I think I've run out.

SHANNON

Where's the nearest chemist?

GRANDMOTHER

Down in the shopping centre.

 

22. EXT. (DAY) SEAN'S VAN

SEAN is driving along in his panelvan through the steady Saturday morning traffic. The song he has been listening to grinds to a halt. He reaches across and starts to investigate his tapedeck. Stopping at the lights, he manages to work the cassette free - sort of: its entrails spill out like tangled brown spaghetti.

He's contemplating the mess when he notices a sportscar pull up beside him - an expensive convertible driven by BRENT, a good looking guy with long hair. SEAN sinks a little lower in his seat. BRENT nods friendily at SEAN and then mischievously calls out:

BRENT

Hey, SEAN - wanna race? Like the old days? I'll give you ... oh, five seconds headstart? What do you reckon?

SEAN starts to wind down the window, but it gets stuck half way and he struggles with it. The lights change and BRENT is still laughing as he accelerates away from the intersection, allowing us to see the personalized numberplate - BRENT. SEAN follows after BRENT's sportcar at a sedate pace.

SEAN (to himself)

Five seconds? Bastard can't even count that high ...

 

23. INT. (DAY) SHOPPING CENTRE

SHANNON, carrying a small paper bag, comes out of the chemist. She slides her sunglasses down over her eyes, and walks out into the bright sunshine and across to her car.

A voice calls out to her:

GRANT (O.O.V)

Hello.

She turns to see GRANT, dressed in casual 'rich boy' clothes - baggy shorts and a short-sleeved shirt - carrying a couple of plastic bags.

SHANNON

Oh ... hi.

GRANT

Small world. You live round here?

SHANNON

No ... I'm visiting my GRANDMOTHER - she needed some headache pills ...

They continue walking a few steps and then stop beside a very new, very big, very expensive white Mercedes with lightly tinted windows. By the way he pulls out his keys it's obviously his car, but his actions are in no way showy and we understand he takes his wealth very much for granted.

There is an awkward pause.

GRANT

I read your report ... it was yours, right? Thought so. I liked the ideas about putting the estate on the Web. In fact, I liked a lot of things about it.

SHANNON (directly)

Enough to get us the contract?

He shrugs, not wanting to comment on the matter and the silence between them drags out.

GRANT

Listen ... what are you doing tonight?

SHANNON

Why?

GRANT (embarrassed and shy)

Well - its my birthday and, um...

SHANNON

Congratulations.

GRANT

Thanks. I'm holding a bit of a party this evening, and um, well, a friend's coming along ...

SHANNON (through her hangover)

Really.

GRANT

Yeah. He's just taken over Cinderella ... the clothing chain? And I know he's looking for a good marketing officer ...

SHANNON

A'ha ...

GRANT

So ... if you came along, well, 'A' I'd get to see you again, and ... 'B' you could meet him ... I reckon he'd like you and, like I'm not promising anything, but ... What do you say?

SHANNON regards him seriously for a couple of moments before answering.

SHANNON

Okay. Where? When?

 

(TITLE) A SATURDAY MORNING - ONE YEAR LATER

 

24. INT. (DAY)GRANT'S BEDROOM

SHANNON wakes up. She is lying beside GRANT in a luxuriously appointed bedroom. He is fast asleep beside her - his mouth open and his eyes shut. She looks at the clock - it is early: 5.40 am. There is a miaow from the balcony and she gets out of bed - she is wearing expensive silk lingerie - and goes over to the floor length curtains and opens them to reveal a view of a swimming pool and a tennis court. She unlatches the door and a slim, neat Siamese cat slips in the room. Yawning, SHANNON heads towards the bathroom.

The camera follows the cat as it leaves the room.

 

25. INT. (DAY) SEAN'S BEDROOM

A disheveled, long-haired Persian trots into SEAN's untidy - but not unclean - bedroom. SEAN lies sprawled out across his bed, hair askew, unshaven, limbs akimbo, covered by a sheet. The cat jumps up onto the bed, trailing muddy pawprints across the sheet, and begins to lick his face.

SEAN stirs. Gently he fends off the cat and sits up, yawning. Pushing himself out of bed he pads down the corridor and into the bathroom, closing the door in the camera's face.

 

26. INT. (DAY) GRANT'S BATHROOM

The door opens again but it is the door of the bathroom in GRANT's house and it is SHANNON who emerges, dressed for work. Adjusting an ear-ring, she walks back into the bedroom. GRANT is still fast asleep, lying on the king-sized bed, entangled in the bedsheets.

She walks out of the bedroom and along a plushly carpeted corridor, down a flight of stairs, through a huge living room and into a big modern kitchen.

Opening the family-sized fridge she finds it chocker with food, drinks and alcohol - but like her own flat, little of it is suitable for breakfast. She pulls out a carton of milk, but it appears to be off. The fruit is dark and shrivelled, and the bread is frozen ...

From outside we hear the sound of a motorbike going by.

 

27. INT. (DAY) HINTERLAND VILLAGE POST OFFICE

It is early morning in a sleepy little town in the hinterland behind the Gold Coast. A big motorbike rumbles into town, ridden by JACK wearing ripped-up old jeans, battered cowboy boots and a black leather jacket. He pulls up outside the Post Office and gets off the bike. Removing his open-faced helmet we see he is a middle-aged man with long, ragged hair. Carrying a satchel, he walks up the steps of the Post Office and over to the red mailbox. Reaching into the satchel, he pulls out a large manilla package and drops it in the mailbox.

Slowly, he turns and walks back down to his bike.

 

28. EXT. (DAY) COKER'S HOUSE

SEAN's panelvan drives sedately along a tree-lined suburban street. SEAN, slurping a flavoured milk, is checking the numbers as he drives. Finding the one he wants, he pulls up and gets out. Settling a large hat on his head, he walks down the driveway towards the front door of a sprawling, two-storey house surrounded by a badly neglected garden.

Suddenly, from out of the bushes, springs a vicious Doberman, barking, snarling and snapping like a terrorist attack. SEAN lands two metres away, and starts looking round for a line of escape or something to protect himself with. The front door opens and COKER, a florid, overweight man, wearing gold chains and a tiny pair of swimming trunks, appears.

COKER (irritated)

Nero! Nero!! Shut up, ya dumn mutt! Who are you? Nero! Shut up!

 

29. EXT. (DAY) ABANDONED WAREHOUSE

SHANNON arrives at an old abandoned warehouse in an industrial area of Sydney. There is already activity with several cars and commercial vans parked outside and tradespeople preparing for the event which a banner above the gaping big sliding doors of the warehouse announces is "CINDERELLA presents CYBER PHASSION". Underneath in smaller letters it reads: A Daniels Marketing Event.

SHANNON gets out of her car and walks briskly over to the warehouse, already drawing attention from a couple of people who want her decision on things they are doing.

 

30. EXT. (DAY)TROPICAL RAINFOREST

JACK walks slowly through the beautiful green cathedral created by the towering trees of a tropical rainforest.

He is smoking a joint and as he smokes, he touches the leaves and the trunks of the trees, deep in thought and appreciation of the beauty around him.

 

31. EXT. (DAY)FASHIONABLE ARCADE

CATHY is walking through a fashionable shopping arcade in Sydney. Up ahead of her she sees GRANT, studying a shop's window display. She starts to walk towards him, raising her hand and opening her mouth to call out 'hello', when she realises he is looking at diamond rings. She stops and moves discreetly behind a postcard stand to study him unobserved.

GRANT walks inside the shop. Very curious now, CATHY edges closer until she is near enough to see he is talking to an assistant in the section of the jewellers which deals with engagement rings.

 

32. EXT. (DAY)COKER'S GARDEN

SEAN can see COKER herding his family of noisy, overweight, unruly kids into the family station wagon. He lowers a set of headphones over his ears.

Picking up a small chainsaw, he turns to survey the task before him - the untrimmed hedges, the unmown lawn, and the overgrown trees and shrubbery surrounding the house. He powers up the chainsaw.

 

33. EXT. (DAY) TROPICAL RAINFOREST

JACK emerges from the forest and walks, loose-limbed, over to his motorbike. He sits himself on it and automatically picks up his helmet. Then he stops and looks at it for a second. There is a rubbish bin a few feet away. JACK tosses the helmet, basketball-fashion, into the bin. Then, with a strange inner smile on his face, he kickstarts the bike, revs it up, and takes off in a flourish of gravel.

 

34. EXT. (DAY) ABANDONED WAREHOUSE

It is now mid-afternoon. GRANT's Mercedes draws up outside the warehouse and he gets out. He has changed since CATHY saw him in the shopping centre and is now wearing a smart suit. There are now a lot more cars and people in view.

 

35. INT. (DAY)ABANDONED WAREHOUSE

GRANT enters the warehouse's brightly-lit interior and walks past a crowd of well-dressed people clustered around a bar and several tables of champagne and snacks set up near the entrance, and over to the darkened fashion show runway surrounded by rows of chairs. The outlines of the runway and the broad stage behind it are illuminated with ghostly ultravoilet neon lights. SHANNON is standing near a large, hi-tech sound and lighting board, discussing something with a young, shaved-head, lip-pierced sound engineer.

She turns away and sees GRANT. She comes over and gives him a kiss.

GRANT

How's it going?

SHANNON

So far, so good.

GRANT

Who's here?

SHANNON

Everyone. Where've you been?

GRANT (off-handedly)

Oh - packing for tonight ...

The camera draws back and we see CATHY in the background. SHANNON looks past GRANT and finds CATHY's eyes. They smile at each other, sharing their secret.

 

36. EXT. (DAY) COKER'S GARDEN

Late afternoon shadows are creeping across the garden as SEAN pushes the roaring mower over the last patch of uncut grass. He reaches down and turns off the machine.

As the relative peace of Saturday afternoon returns, and SEAN pushes the mower back towards the house's garage, the camera draws back to reveal a transformed garden - the lawn has been cut, the trees have been trimmed, and the shubbery is under control.

SFX of a car pulling up on the gravel driveway. Doors slam and the sound of shouting children precedes their noisy appearance - sunburnt kids, trailing wet towels and a menagerie of inflatable plastic animals, which Nero, barking boisterously, runs along beside, trying to bite.

The kids stop - and sniff. Their faces tell the story. COKER comes into view and his nose wrinkles too.

KIDS

DAD ... something stinks ... !

COKER

Jesus, mate! What'd you use on it?

SEAN

Chicken ... manure. Best stuff you can get.

COKER

Fuck - if you think I'm paying you for covering my garden in chicken shit ...

 

37. EXT. (DAY) DESERTED MOUNTAIN ROAD

JACK appears around a bend on a deserted mountain road and slows to a halt, circling round and positioning the bike so that it points down a long straight.

He carefully arranges a set of headphones on his head. Satisfied, he stares down the straight ahead of him. Then he revs up the bike and lets out the clutch.

 

38. INT. (DAY) ABANDONED WAREHOUSE

The rows of chairs surrounding the runway are now filled with people. The lights go down and techno music starts as the first model appears, wearing a shiny white jumpsuit that gleams and glows with bright, flickering colors. Another model follows the first, her clothes also alive with colored lights and other electronic gadgets.

PRESENTER (V.O)

Cyber Phassion, the new range from Cinderella. Clothes for a new millenium ....

Flashbulbs start to go off from the photographers crouching near the runway.

 

39. EXT. (DAY) DESERTED MOUNTAIN ROAD

A closeup of the motorbike, powering along the road.

 

40. INT. (DAY) ABANDONED WAREHOUSE

Back in the warehouse, the fashion show continues ... models stalking down the runway ... a shot of SHANNON, with GRANT and CATHY, pleased and excited by the reception the show is getting ...

 

41. EXT. (DAY) DESERTED MOUNTAIN ROAD

JACK, astride the screaming motorbike, can see the sharp bend at the end of the straight approaching now - and the precipitous drop in front of him.

 

42. INT. (DAY) ABANDONED WAREHOUSE

The models are all on stage for the grand finale and the audience is clapping enthusiastically.

A slow motion shot of SHANNON turning to look at GRANT with a look of triumph in her eyes.

 

43. EXT. (DAY) DESERTED MOUNTAIN ROAD

A slow motion shot of JACK, hurtling towards the precipice. He stands up on the pegs and lets go of the handlbars. And with his arms out to the side and his head back, he lets the roaring machine carry him over the edge, beginning the long, slow fall to his death.

 

44. EXT. (NIGHT) SEAN'S HOUSE

It's almost evening as a sedan, with the sign BRIAN TIMMINS' AGENCY stencilled on the door, pulls into the driveway of SEAN's house and parks behind the panelvan. BRIAN, a big bear of a man, gets out, walks up to the front door and rings the bell.

SEAN (O.O.V)

Round the back!

 

45. EXT. (NIGHT) SEAN'S HOUSE

BRIAN appears around the other side of SEAN's house and finds SEAN, dirty and tired, sitting on the verandah, drinking a cold beer with his bare feet up on a chair, and his smelly socks and shoes on the ground nearby. On the table beside him are several empty stubbies.

BRIAN

G'day, mate.

SEAN

Yo, BRIAN. In the fridge.

BRIAN pulls a beer from the fridge on the verandah with the words 'God's Oil' written across the door in big, black letters.

SEAN

What are you doing here? Oh, Christ - not a job?

BRIAN

Na - you seen this?

BRIAN tosses a small rolled-up poster onto the table in front of SEAN. SEAN unrolls it and holds it up to the light, allowing us to see it is a playbill advertising a Male Stripper of the Year Competition in Sufers Paradise in a nightclub called 'Hell'.

He tosses it onto the table and picks up his beer.

SEAN

Yeah ... GREENIE's in it.

BRIAN

The bloke who's organizing it? MARTY LLOYD? Gave me a call. Reckons one of the other guys has broken an ankle, and he needs a replacement. Says GREENIE put up your name and BRENT FIELDING seconded it.

SEAN (suspiciously)

BRENT ... ? Yeah?

BRIAN

Interested?

SEAN

No.

BRIAN

How come?

A pause while SEAN drinks from his stubby

SEAN

'Cause it wouldn't be worth the hassle. It's bound to be rigged. When have you ever heard of a stripping contest that wasn't rigged? Either some guy knows the judges, or some other bastard's talked 2 dozen girls into bringing all their friends along to vote for him ... (He sees BRIAN is smiling at him.) Besides - it's up on the Gold Coast ... That means I'd have to haul my arse up there. Which means I'd miss out on a couple of days' work - not that that'd be so bad, but ... (finally losing his patience) What's so fuckin' funny?

 

46. EXT. (NIGHT) SYDNEY AIRPORT

It's night and GRANT is at the wheel of the Mercedes, with SHANNON at his side, driving along a busy main road, following the signs to Sydney's international airport.

GRANT is talking on his mobile phone.

GRANT

... it was? That's great! (Then, to SHANNON) You made the late news! (to his caller) No, I'm on my way to the airport now - should be back next Friday ... Yeah - this is the big one ... yeah. Mike? You got Mike there? Put him on ...!

In an effort to get his attention, SHANNON starts inching her dress up her thighs, revealing their silk-encased length.

GRANT's widening eyes flicker between the road and SHANNON's legs and her panties which are now revealed.

GRANT

... a'ha, a'ha ... I got meetings all week, mate ... No, SHANNON's staying here ... Gonna mind my place ...

SHANNON twirls the silken garment in front of GRANT'S disbelieving face.

GRANT

Listen, mate I gotta go ...

GRANT hangs up his mobile.

GRANT

What are you doing?

SHANNON

Trying to get your attention, dummy. Want to see my Sharon Stone impersonation?

The mobile burrs again and he answers it with a guilty, confused look.

GRANT

Hi, Mum ...

 

47. EXT. (NIGHT) HANGING GARDEN'S NURSERY

SEAN's ludicrous panelvan pulls up outside 'The Hanging Gardens'. The camera focuses on a large 'For Sale' sign outside the business, illuminated by a streetlight. SEAN drums his fingers against the side of the car as he studies the sign.

 

48. EXT. (NIGHT) SYDNEY AIRPORT

SHANNON is standing with GRANT outside the departures lounge at Sydney's International Airport. He has a couple of suitcases loaded onto a trolley beside him and they are saying goodbye.

GRANT

What do want me to bring you from Japan?

SHANNON

Tokyo? I don't know - suprise me.

GRANT

I might just do that. I love you.

SHANNON

You better get in there or you'll miss your plane ... (She kisses him) Good luck.

 

49. INT. (NIGHT) SEAN'S HOUSE

The screen door slams and SEAN enters the kitchen where ED is pulling a cone as he stirs a sauce on the stove. Holding his breath, ED lowers the bong, and nods in silent invitation to the mix of dope and tobacco in the breakfast cereal bowl at the end of the bench. SEAN nods.

ED (exhaling a plume of smoke)

BRIAN called this morning ...

SEAN

Yeah, I know ...

JACKIE (O.O.V.)

Hey, guys! Come in here! Quick!

SEAN and ED go into the living room where JACKIE is watching TV. Focus in on an advert exploding across the screen. Some of the footage features BRENT.

ANNOUNCER (V.O.)

Watch 'Live and Dangerous' next week when we bring you the seven best male strippers in Australia, live on stage competing for the title of Stripper of the Year! Plus one! hundred! thousand! dollars! in prize money! And to make sure its a fair fight, we're going to let you choose the winner! Phone in and register your vote, and you'll be in the draw to win a date with Playboy of the Month, BRENT FIELDING ...

ED, sitting now on the arm of the couch with his arm around JACKIE's shoulder, glances between the screen and his friend's face and sees the intensity in his expression.

ED

Is that what BRIAN wanted ...?

SEAN nods and ED whistles appreciatively.

 

50. EXT. (NIGHT)GRANT'S HOUSE

SHANNON drives the Mercedes in through the electrically-operated front gates of GRANT's house and up the driveway leading to the mansion's multiple garage doors, one of which begins to open.

 

51. INT. (NIGHT) GRANT'S HOUSE

SHANNON walks into the vast living room and drops her handbag onto one of the expensive couches. She crosses to the curtains and draws them aside and stares out at the night. Her mobile burrs for attention.

SHANNON

Hello? ... Sorry - who? Police? A'ha ... a'ha ... What!? .... When ... ?

Her face goes rigid.

 

52. EXT. (DAY) PACIFIC HIGHWAY

A big semi-trailer roars past the camera. In the background is a sign indicating this is the Pacific Highway, that the Gold Coast is 600 km away, and the next town is 5 km further on.

 

53. INT. (DAY) GRANT'S MERCEDES

SHANNON, dressed in jeans and a blouse and wearing dark sunglasses, is behind the wheel of GRANT's Mercedes.

Her mobile rings and she answers it.

SHANNON

Hi, CATH - you got my message? ... Yeah ... no, I'm okay ... No, I'm driving - I wanted some time to think. Look - this'll probably take a few days, but I've got the computer so I'll be checking my e-mail - who knows: maybe I can get something happening up there ... Hello? Yeah, the batteries are going - call me if anything comes up, okay ... ?

SHANNON hangs up. The smooth purr of the Mercedes' engine changes into a ragged, early-morning-forty-cigarettes-a-day sort of cough.

Losing speed, SHANNON kills the motor and pulls over onto the side of the road, crunching to a stop on the gravel. She steps out and looks around. Ahead and behind her the highway wriggles in waves of heat.

SHANNON (quietly)

Shit.

 

54. INT. (DAY) SERVICE STATION CAFE

SHANNON sits in the cafe adjoining the small service station in a very quiet country town - a very different environment to any we've seen her in so far. Absently, she twists and turns a piece of paper in her fingers with a polystyrene cup of coffee in front of her.

Across the road an old man appears on the steps of his weatherboard house. A singlet covers a bulbous belly hanging down over a pair of shorts. He leaves his garden and walks slowly down the street to the corner shop where a couple of scruffy, long-haired teenagers are pulling wheelies and jumping the kerb on tiny, customized bicycles. She sits back in exasperation.

SEAN's panelvan rumbles into the service station and pulls up beside the bowsers.

SEAN climbs out and starts to tank up. SHANNON leans forward again.

Cut to SEAN's P.O.V. as the numbers on the display tick over. His eyes wander across the grease stained concrete to the workshop where a mechanic's just sliding out from underneath the grinning chrome smile of GRANT's Mercedes Benz.

SHANNON (O.O.V.)

Hello.

SEAN turns round at the sound of her voice, and a few seconds pass before he recognizes her face, and the twist of paper she still has in her fingers.

SEAN

The Last Laugh - right? What are you doing here?

SHANNON (nodding at the Merc)

My car broke down.

SEAN

That's yours?

SHANNON

A'ha.

SEAN

Yeah, well - these fancy European cars just aren't made for Australian conditions. Buy a Holden next time. So, where are you heading?

SHANNON

The Gold Coast.

SEAN

Yeah? Me, too. Business? Or pleasure?

SHANNON

A funeral.

SEAN (becoming serious)

Family?

SHANNON

My father.

SEAN (wincing)

Oh, I'm sorry.

SHANNON (shrugging)

We weren't that close.

SEAN

Still ...

The MECHANIC comes over and delivers his prognosis.

MECHANIC

Your car's rooted, lady.

He holds up the twisted piece of metal as proof.

SHANNON

Can you fix it?

MECHANIC

Na. Haven't got the parts. You'll have to get it trucked back down to Sydney or Newcastle.

SHANNON

Are there any hire cars in town?

MECHANIC

Not on a Sunday.

SEAN has been following the exchange.

SEAN

Hey, um ... if you want a lift ...?

SHANNON

Really? (She thinks about it for a second) OK - thanks.

TIME LAPSE DELAY

SEAN is loading SHANNON's suitcase into the back of the van as she walks out of the office, closing her purse and putting it in her bag.

She sees the text of a sticker on the rear hatch. CU of: My girlfriend said she'd leave me if I didn't give up surfing. Gee, I miss her.

SEAN

You ready? Last chance to reconsider ...

SHANNON

Don't worry - I gave the guy your name and license number and told him to call the police if I go missing.

She walks round to the passenger side. There is another sticker: Get in. Sit down. Shut up. And hold on.

Shaking her head in disbelief, she climbs in beside SEAN.

The old car starts up and drives out onto the highway.


To read the rest of "A Town Called Paradise", please contact me.