5. All the Things You Could Have Been if Not for Me
Part 5. A play about people who are tied together for better and worse, by family, love, hate and fate.
DAVID OLDMAN. Mid-fifties, libertarian broadcaster.
JANET SMAIL. Early-fifties, David’s long-time producer.
SOPHIE WILLIS. Thirties, barrister, David’s daughter.
MIKE VAN KLEE. Thirties, well-known actor, Sophie’s partner.
TIA MERCER. Thirties, struggling content creator, Sophie’s best friend.
TAMA THOREAU. Thirties, author, isolationist.
It’s set in the present.
Tama was interrogated about the murder of a woman near his isolationist hut. Tia tried to cash in on her role in the drama. Sophie is appointed to lead Tama’s defence. David is horrified to learn that his daughter is defending a monster - but he can’t get through to her.
INT. MIKE AND SOPHIE’S HOUSE.
Tama stands on ceremony in the living room. Mike enters. He approaches Sophie and they share an awkward kiss. Mike shakes Tama’s hand.
MIKE Tama. Hi. Mike. I’m Mike. You’re Tama.
TAMA Hello Mike. I’ve heard a lot about you.
TAMA It’s great to meet you in the flesh.
MIKE I read your book.
TAMA I’ve seen you on TV.
MIKE Great book.
TAMA Great show. True Justice. Choice.
MIKE Yeah. I guess Sophie’s shown you round the house.
TAMA She has. Great place.
MIKE I hear your place is amazing, too.
TAMA It was. Hopefully the pigs haven’t got in there and torn it up.
MIKE I’m sure the police will be very respectful of your property.
TAMA I’m talking about the literal pigs. The animals that live in the bush.
MIKE Of course.
TAMA That keeps happening to me.
MIKE My fault entirely.
TAMA Words are strange.
MIKE Well. Welcome. That’s pretty simple isn’t it? You are our guest, and anything in this house is yours for the taking.
TAMA That’s very kind of you.
MIKE What shall we do for dinner? Shall we get something delivered?
SOPHIE We’ve already made dinner.
MIKE Oh, really? Great. Hope you didn’t go out of your way.
SOPHIE It was pretty quick. We just did it while we talked.
She smiles at Tama. Tama looks at the floor.
Janet enters and finds David looking very much worse for wear.
JANET (confused) You said two-thirty didn’t you love?
DAVID Yeah, hey, gidday.
He moves to get up, he’s a little unsteady. She sits.
JANET Don’t stand up for me. Boy. What a day. You going to stand a girl a drink?
DAVID Sure. Sure.
He clicks his fingers, and calls to an unseen waitress.
DAVID Same again for me, and a chardonnay for the lady. Unoaked. Best you’ve got by the glass.
JANET You remembered.
DAVID I always do.
JANET This place is like one of those camera shots, isn’t it? A timelapse. Us sitting at this same table, getting older. I can still see the share brokers in their bow ties and the big linen napkins. Shoulder pads. Then the big, patterned jerseys, Hawaiian shirts, baggy jeans, skinny jeans. I think they’re back to suits now.
JANET And tattoos. Athleisurewear and tattoos
DAVID Tablecloths are out of vogue
JANET Vogue is out of vogue. A lot of memories.
DAVID That’s actually what I -- Well I thought we could talk about work.
JANET Do we have to?
DAVID Yeah, well, you know. It’s always good to reflect.
JANET I thought we just did it all wirelessly now, you know, mind to mind --
JANET Yes. Telepathically.
DAVID I wish that were true.
JANET OK. Let’s talk about work. David, you’re doing great. You’re as strong as you’ve ever been. You’re cutting through the crap. You’re controlling the callers, winning them over and when they’re in the wrong, you’re changing their minds. When it comes to the competition, well – [Media Personality 1] is bonkers, [Media Personality 2] is dead, and [Media Personality 3] is [unflattering gossip]. You are getting better with age.
DAVID Thanks Janet, I appreciate that.
JANET Do I still give a good ego stroke?
DAVID A happy ending every time.
JANET Thank you.
DAVID I was hoping that we could talk about you, actually.
DAVID The mistake today.
JANET What mistake?
DAVID You didn’t dump the audio when I swore.
JANET You swore. So what?
DAVID I always swear. And you always dump it.
JANET I got distracted.
DAVID You were looking right at me.
JANET OK David, I admit it. I made a mistake.
DAVID And I was looking at you and it was really odd.
JANET You swore. I didn’t dump it. Who cares?
DAVID It’s just the--
JANET They swear all the time on True Justice. That’s primetime TV. What’s the big deal?
DAVID This is the tip of an iceberg, Janet, there’s been some...
DAVID My coffee, in the mornings, it’s... two out of five mornings it’s like you’ve never made it.
JANET I’m not your bitch.
DAVID No, you’re not.
JANET And I’m not your wife.
JANET Sorry. I’m a little confused.
JANET Wait. Are you--?
DAVID The run sheets, the switchboard, swipe cards, you came back in the lift last week and you’d forgot to pick up the guest from reception. Every day it’s one or two odd little mistakes.
JANET We’ve known each other for thirty years.
DAVID Thirty-two years.
JANET Why are you being like this?
DAVID What year is it?
DAVID I forget, what year is it?
JANET It’s [day, date, month, year].
DAVID Yeah. It is.
JANET Are you testing me, David?
DAVID Janet. I think something’s happening to you. Mentally.
JANET How dare you.
DAVID I think you’re forgetting things, places, people. Every day.
JANET I’ve known you for thirty two years I have nursed you through your career, through the booze, the drugs, the women, your marriage, I walked with you when you were sacked, when your wife died I --
She fades out.
JANET Don’t test me. I remember. It’s just emotional. When your wife died, I lived with you for six months and raised your fucking daughter.
DAVID And for all of that you have my undying loyalty.
JANET Do I?
DAVID I want to help you Janet, like you have helped me.
JANET In those moments. At your lowest ebb, do you think you were compos mentis during that whole time?
DAVID So what’s happening to you? What is the stressful situation that is happening to you that is making you behave the way you’re behaving?
JANET You are the stressful situation that has happened to me every day for thirty... two years.
DAVID I want you to get some tests done.
DAVID I’m here for you. I have never been more faithful to any other woman than I have been to you. And the standard we set for ourselves, in this marriage, is that no matter what is going on in our personal lives, the show stays perfect. Every day.
JANET And what... What happens if I do do these tests? And they come back... badly.
DAVID We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
JANET No. What happens if we know.
The waitress, played by the actor who plays Tia comes over with the drinks, and sets them down. David double takes to see her. It’s not actually Tia, and she obviously doesn’t recognise him.
DAVID I don’t know. It could be one of those things where you need to get more sleep and do [popular mind game of the moment].
JANET What if it’s not?
DAVID Then we’ll do whatever it takes to help you get better.
The waitress leaves.
JANET What if I’m not going to get better? What if I’m just going to get a little bit worse every day until I die?
DAVID Then --
JANET Then you’ll throw me under a bus and find a younger one.
JANET Fuck you. David. Fuck you, and fuck this ‘marriage’.
DAVID Janet, settle down. I’m the good guy here, I want to be reasonable about this. I want to help.
JANET Oh yeah. Well, here’s a pop quiz for you. Thirty-two years ago, right here, at this table, my ‘interview’ for this job? Remember what I told you?
DAVID You didn’t tell me anything you threw a glass of --
Janet picks up the glass of Chardonnay and throws it in his face.
JANET If you think I have what it takes to produce your radio show, then I will be pleased to work with you. If not, I do not wish to be considered for any other position. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Janet leaves. David sits there dripping.
INT. MIKE AND SOPHIE’S HOUSE.
Tama stands facing Sophie. She’s nodding. He’s shaking his head.
TAMA It’s not true.
SOPHIE You’re a terrible liar.
TAMA It is not true.
SOPHIE I know you.
TAMA If you think -- If you thought I was capable of that, why would you bring me into your house? Why would you defend me?
SOPHIE I chose to defend you before I knew. Now I know.
She reaches into her handbag and pulls out the red notebook.
TAMA You read my diary?
SOPHIE Only to confirm my hunch.
TAMA That’s my private diary. My private thoughts. No one ever-- Are you crazy? Are you crazy you --ing --. You had no right to get into my head.
TAMA You don’t know who you’re dealing with here.
SOPHIE Yes I do.
TAMA You don’t know what I’m capable of.
SOPHIE Yes I do.
TAMA Don’t you get it. You don’t know how I’m gonna react cos I don’t know how I’m gonna react until I put it down on paper, then I can start to make-- Give me the book. Give me the book.
He grabs at it. She lets him have it.
TAMA Pen. Where’s a pen?
She gives him a pen.
SOPHIE You’re worried you’re going to hit me. That’s the usual outcome when you get cornered like this. Don’t worry. You won’t.
TAMA How do you know?
SOPHIE Because you’re in love with me. Because I give you a sense of yourself that you’ve only ever seen on paper. Because no one has ever understood you like I do. No one has ever shown you more care and affection and faith and you have never felt like this in return. In fact, you realise now that the only reason you left for the bush is because you didn’t think it was possible to feel like this about another human being, and since you’ve met me, for the first time in your life, you don’t want to be utterly alone.
TAMA Those are my words.
SOPHIE I already knew.
TAMA I’m sorry.
SOPHIE It’s OK.
TAMA If I could change the facts I would.
SOPHIE Tama. It’s OK.
TAMA I’ll do anything I can to change, I swear.
SOPHIE You don’t have to change anything.
TAMA I couldn’t help it. It just took over me, I--
SOPHIE I feel the same about you. I’m in love with you too.
TAMA So that’s it then, right?
SOPHIE Why aren’t you happy? I’m happy. You’ve got what you wanted.
TAMA Everything’s fucked.
SOPHIE No it’s not. Mike and I have discussed it.
TAMA You’ve discussed --
SOPHIE Mike understands. He’s cool.
TAMA How could he be cool? He’s just saying that until he figures out how to smash me.
SOPHIE He’s too nice a guy.
TAMA If I was him, that’s what I’d do. I’d say I was fine and then I’d get myself alone and I’d smash me.
SOPHIE No you wouldn’t.
TAMA You don’t know everything about me.
SOPHIE You’re not worried about Mike. You’re worried about you.
SOPHIE You’re worried that if he got violent, and you had to defend yourself, you’d win. I promise you. Mike knows. He understands, and he’s not going to get violent.
TAMA So that’s it. I’m gonna get locked up.
SOPHIE Why would you get locked up?
TAMA I’m on trial for murder. You can’t defend me anymore.
SOPHIE Yes I can. Everything stays the same.
TAMA It’s not the same. I can’t talk about this. I can’t can’t express myself like this. I can’t.
SOPHIE It’s OK. It’s OK. Write it down.
She embraces him while he writes. They’re both perfectly at ease.
INT. AWARD CEREMONY BAR.
Mike sits alone at a bar with an award statue. Tia comes up to him. Drunk.
TIA Congratulations. I always knew you were the best actor in a recurring role.
MIKE Have you been drinking?
TIA No. God, no. I’m working. Snap, snap, snap.
MIKE Tia, I can smell it on you.
TIA It’s not me. It’s them. Drunken media darlings breathing all over my face. Hey Mike, Mike. Snap for the social pages?
He smiles with his statue. She takes a photo of him.
TIA You’re so photogenic. You have such a lovely smile. And beautiful hair.
She runs her fingers through one side of his hair.
TIA That’s better.
She takes another snap.
TIA Where is your gorgeous girlfriend?
MIKE She’s working.
TIA With Tama. Phff. Work. Work. Work. Me too. No fun. Hey. Who are you with tonight?
MIKE I’m here with Janet actually.
TIA Janet? God. That wrinkly old sack of –
TIA (all smiles) Hi Janet.
JANET Hello Tia. We’re proud of him, aren’t we?
TIA So you’re his glamorous plus one. Quick snap for the social pages?
They don’t have time to prepare before she’s fired off a shot.
JANET I’m just a stargazer, and Mike goes out of his way to humour me. I appreciate the invitation very much.
MIKE You’re doing me a favour, really.
TIA He’s a good man. Believe me, I know.
JANET Tia, I thought you didn’t drink.
TIA I don’t. Two years eight months, one day. I’m working. God. Can you smell...
JANET Very strongly, yes.
TIA That’s what Mike said too. Weird. I think it’s the other people breathing in my face.
JANET I think it’s you. I think you’ve been drinking. A lot.
TIA Excuse me?
JANET And I think you need to stop lying to yourself.
TIA Me? I need to stop lying to myself? I need to stop lying to myself? God.
JANET I’ve known you since you were fourteen years old.
TIA And I’ve known you since I was fourteen years old you black calling pot kettle bitch.
JANET You have so much ability and energy and drive, and I’ve watched you throw it all into drink and drugs.
TIA At least I didn’t throw it all into a man. A sleazy old man who you ‘work’ for. Live for, more like. Who gives you nothing and who will never love you no matter what you do.
MIKE Tia. That’s enough. Piss off.
TIA Because he likes to fuck stupid young stick girls.
MIKE OK. We’re out of here.
TIA You’re not his demographic.
JANET I no longer work with David.
TIA For David. You work for David.
JANET I’ve retired.
TIA Discarded. Discarded.
JANET And I’m no longer responsible for cleaning up his messes, so I don’t think we’ve got any more to say to one another.
Mike looks confused and uncomfortable.
TIA You’re gonna talk like how to me? (of Mike) Do you know I fucked him, before Sophie even knew who he was? And Sophie knows that, she always has. She stole him off me. And now she’s stolen Tama. Everything gets stolen from me and I get fobbed off with bullshit.
JANET I think you should get back to work.
TIA Oh yeah. My job is to take photos of celebrities. So I better not waste my time with you. Your photo. Delete.
JANET I’m sorry about that.
MIKE No, no, I’m sorry. I don’t...
JANET She’s a drunk. She’s a drunk and a self-saboteur. She always was. You could tell when she was fourteen years old, coming for sleep overs. You could tell it when she was fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, ticking like a bomb. But she’s not my kid, and she doesn’t listen.
MIKE Thank you for coming with me tonight.
JANET It was fun. I’m proud of you Mike, I really am. I think you’re a wonderful guy.
MIKE I say other people’s words. That’s all.
JANET I like it. It gives me immense satisfaction.
MIKE Shall we go?
MIKE Where’s your purse?
Janet looks around.
JANET Bugger. Bugger.
JANET You’d think I could get through one day without--
MIKE Did you leave it in the bathroom? No one’s going to take it. We’ll get it now.
JANET My mind is going Mike.
MIKE Everyone forgets their purse.
JANET I have early onset Alzheimer’s. I didn’t retire. David fired me. I’ve done the tests. My mind. My mind is starting to go.
Finale: Mike tries to find a way forward in life. Tia lights a fire to burn Sophie and Tama. David needs to atone for the past and secure the futures of the people he loves - but it will cost him everything.