art by Unitas
Editor’s note: Saira Viola’s following script for a TV series idea is on NetFlix’s shortlist for possible selection.
by Saira Viola
This Business is Killing Me
INT DALSTON GRITTY GARAGE LOCKUP. NIGHT
There are grubby stains on the walls, dust and debris, sealed boxes, cobwebs on the ceiling, disused broken furniture, a large stash of unopened radio equipment, a locked safety deposit box, an assortment of weapons including a Heckler and Koch 9mm. And an array of vacuum packed dildos, life sized inflatable rubber dolls and dozens of multi coloured rabbit vibrators.
What the fuck’s that?
(A monster sized purple rubber cock swings from a hook and smacks him in the chops. He ducks out of the way.)
Sorry boss that’s stock for the city boys’ corporate jamboree, you know their annual bonking fest.
(Grins, rolls his eyes.)
(Starts poking around in boxes and undoing packets removes some of the merchandise and inspects bits and pieces. Holds up a pack of circular discs.)
Not exactly Hugh Heffner is it Mickey? Bloody yellow butt plugs! All this tack feels like I’m in a Taiwanese brothel sadly without any of the talent. Get rid of this shit now!
(Starts packing the sex toys in boxes and crates and moves them to the far end of the lock up there is an old chair in the middle of the garage.)
(Turns to Tezza.)
Bring the lady in but before you do stick that on.
(He shoves a Ronald McDonald Halloween mask in his hand.)
And make sure she’s covered up before she sets foot in ‘ere. Mickey you got a choice of Michael Meyers, or our very own face of modern protest Guy Fawkes.
Decisions, decisions do I opt for our beloved antihero Mr. Fawkes or a psychopathic murderer idolized by slash artists and serial killers worldwide? Hmm, gotta be gunpowder Guy.
Just stick the bloody thing on.
By the way the company that makes those masks shift about 100,000 a year a little rebellion can fetch a tasty profit can’t it eh?
(He walks over to the chair with a smug look on his face.)
(Tezza returns, his arm on Avery’s shoulder, dragging her forward, she has a Bride of Chucky mask on. It conceals her entire face ,although there is a space for her mouth. She wears a no frills simple business suit with black stilettos and a blue printed blouse. Her hands are tied with duct tape. Tezza places her on the chair. She is nervous and agitated. There is a thin line of perspiration across her forehead.)
Ah, look who it is. The amazin’ audacious one and only star reporter Avery!
Have I got a scoop for you! Talk of the tabloids you’ll be if this hits the streets.
(Turns to Tezza)
If you’ll do the honours !
The recording’s on that little handheld over there.
(Tezza picks up the mobile and gives it to Mel.)
Now fellas, step outside so Avery and I can get properly acquainted.
(Tezza and Mickey leave. Mel draws up another chair so he is face to face with her.)
Ahh Avery, I’ll be honest with ya. I’m sick to death of playing this game. Sick of the long nights the lying, cheating and hypocrisy. You got supersized authorized corruption with the wanker bankers, sex scandals in Whitehall, power players peddling scum and then there’s the loneliness. In my line of business, you can’t trust no one.
You think you’ll get away with this?
Already have. You’re a clever girl Avery, you know I’ve got more fixers in my back pocket than you’ve had hot dinners. Now I’ve brought you here to give you some good old fashioned advice.
(Defiant but quiet.) You’re a nobody. Just a sleazy well-oiled con artist.
(Shaking his head rolling his eyes.) Hmmm, I do take umbrage at your crass, caricatured depiction of me as some kind of bob a job villain. Don’t be fooled by what you see darlin’. I’m the genuine article.
Everyone’s gonna be looking for me.
Course they are. You’re top of the list after the Kardashian’s arse, a viral video of a kitten playing with a ball of string, a love rat celeb who’s been bagging rent boys, and your favourite soap star confessing to a crack habit. You might get a mention in the local gazette. But you created this culture of titty gossip masquerading as news. Everyone knows you’re just a number, a bit of filler squashed in between adverts for haemorrhoid cream and car insurance.
No Avery Fuck you! Stick to the script. Sure you’re familiar with it: the five Ws and H. The cardinal rules of investigative reporting: Who What Why When Where and How. But seems, you prefer the Mata Hari school of intel gathering don’t you eh?
(He runs his fingers through his hair and sidles up to her only inches away, kneels and slides his hands across her legs. She kicks his hand away and tries to push her chair back.)
Get off me.
(Gets up and circles around her. Laughs viciously.)
Relax sweetheart you don’t do it for me.
Now back to your little tease and tell game.
I don’t know what you’re talking about
Well, let’s see if this little reminder sparks off any fond memories shall we?
(He props the hand held device on a worm eaten, wooden table close by and hits play. There is grainy footage of Avery having sex with a balding blubber gut middle aged infamous property baron. We hear sex groans and an audible conversation.)
And you sealed the deal with your legs open wide. Classy ain’t ya?
You’ve got it wrong. You’re distorting the truth.
The truth? A double dealing meth addict has more honesty than a scheming little news slut like you.
(Shaking his head.)
And you know what follows next?
(He walks up to her, removes her mask and whispers.)
You’re just as crooked as me.
(Crimson faced with sweat trails on her nose, Avery looks on weepy eyed blinking underneath the harsh lights at the sex toys, boxes and crates, packaging and dust on the floor. He watches a spider crawl through the debris. It stops and slides over Mel’s right foot, he lets it linger over his shoe then smushes it to a cruddy pulp.)
What do you know about the truth? That’s not news reporting that’s bribery and blackmail. My sources tell me that you tapped this poor sod for hundreds and thousands for a full six months after your illicit tryst threatening to tell his wife, employees and the titty rags. What a gal! I mean you’re a real piece of work. But sadly your role in this particular news drama is coming to a close.
(Mel pulls out his phone and dials Tezza.)
Yeah bring the cameras set it all up shots from every angle.
(Mickey and Tezza enter the lockup armed with cameras and more audio equipment.)
(Starts shooting pics from all angles. Moves over to Avery.)
Smile for your close up darlin’.
(He puts her mask back after he’s taken the photograph.)
Scoop before the truth. Avery, you’re such a disappointment.
(Mel coughs his facial muscles tightening.)
You want us to think you’re watching from the side lines an innocent bystander to the system but the truth is you are the fucking system. You’re the one doing all the shady shit. Squeeze the sleaze Avery .(Turns to Tezza and Mickey )
This isn’t a David Bailey shoot fellas hurry it up.
(Tezza and Mickey stop shutter snapping.)
Mickey take her upstairs – side entrance and wait for my call. Should be an hour at the most. Tezza you’re with me. Think it over Avery you wanna be the double wrapped pre packed salami in the sandwich or something better.
End of Act One
INT. THE FOLD CLUB. CLERKENWELL. LATE EVENING
An exclusive private fundraiser: Glitzy glamour chicks mix with Mel, Nick, and rival mobster crew. There is a hip DJ at the back of the club. Scantily clad women are dancing with topless men in gilded cages. There are people lounging around taking drugs, drinking, laughing at the stylish, fully stocked bar to the left, and standing over a life sized lacquered sculpture of Nikki Minaji’s arse made of elephant dung. Random couples and same sex couples are flirting, kissing and messing about. A distinguished old school gangster gestures Nick over
(Nattily dressed he has a cigar in one hand, a slinky dressed runway model perched on his knee ,and a glass of whiskey by his side.)
Good to see you son. Everything’s gonna be fine.
(Half smiles.) Hope so. Looks like you got your hands full.
I don’t have to tell you how the charms of a beautiful woman can tame the beast within us Nick eh?
(He winks and takes a sip of his drink.)
Indeed. Enjoy. Have you seen Avery?
That journo? No.
I was banking on her being here when all this plays out.
Trust me when the shit hits everyone’s gonna want a front row seat but there’s enough paparazzi outside and squealers inside to let the whole fucking world know.
(Gets up and whispers something in Nick’s ear, and places a tiny sealed package into Nick’s inside pocket.)
(He moves through the crowd and spies Mel at the front of the gallery. As he makes his way towards him he bumps into a close friend of his Matt.)
We made it. Here’s to us. Matt raises his glass.
A rough night. And a real bonding experience. You never know how far you’ll go until you get there right?
Right. To friendship.
(He hugs him and moves to the front of the gallery.)
(Makes his way towards Mel who is standing behind a roped red VIP cordon staring at a huge pair of sculpted gold lips .Mel’s spongy frame throws shadows across the line.)
Mel. Glad you could come.
(Mel stares him up and down twice contemptuously.)
Wouldn’t have missed this for all the stripper Thursdays at Stringies.
Yeah. Gonna be a big show.
See you’re getting cosy with big D.
We had a little bizzo.
Good for you. Know ‘is nickname is Freddy Krueger right? Don’t wanna see ‘im on a dark night. Been meaning to ask you got insurance?
Life Insurance. (Mel rubs his nose.)
Don’t need it. I’m fully comp.
(Pulls Nick close to him palsy walsy style grabbing him by the neck his breath on his ear.)
Careful Nick. No one sells me out. You’re only here because of me. You got food in your belly because of me and you’d do well to remember that.
(Wrenching himself free. Nick through gritted teeth.)
It’s been terrific Mel. Just terrific.
(He saunters past hot tranny diva Mimi, who causes an eruption of stares and wolf whistles. Seductively dressed in a silver stretch caddy gown and glitter pumps she trips. Nick catches her in his arms. By her side a long haired ,honey hued skinny man with Jesus locks and a benign smile.)
(Winks at Mimi.) Glad you could make it. Have you seen Avery today?
No, I haven’t. She’s working a big story. Said she’d be here though.
Okay thanks. I’ll keep an eye out.
(Reaches for his phone and dials Avery leaving a voice mail.)
(An athletic built waiter with a Marbella tan and slicked back hair sails past Nick ,combing the gallery for Mel.
Finally, he tracks him down. They exchange a look of action.)
Do it now.
(Nick heads for the exit, a pack of smokes in his hand. Outside he finds Matt puffing on a joint. Inside a show biz personality is addressing the crowd in a loud theatrical voice.)
I want to thank you all for…
EXTERIOR. OUTSIDE. FOLD GALLERY
Nick and Matt are standing on the steps of the gallery. Hanging outside of the passenger side of a vintage merc’ a masked shooter wielding a semi automatic. He was popping people off like fairground candy. Bang! Bullets spray the pavement Matt and some other onlookers duck. Mat looks down sees blood streaming towards him. Nick has been shot in the stomach. Matt Rushes to his side. And tries to stem the flow of blood with a Kleenex from his pocket . It becomes saturated .Hurriedly Matt removes his jacket and rests Nick’s head on it gently. Grabs his phone and dials emergency services
Hello hello? My friend’s been shot. There’s blood everywhere.
Hello? The Fold Gallery Clerkenwell. Please Hurry.
(Matt clicks off.)
Nick’s blood is all over his hands and trousers inking them red.
Stay with me Nick… Stay. Please. Stay.
(Eyes half open half closed, breathless incoherent.)
I hear my nose singing… And it’s the same song but it feels different now … I wanted to be the man to push the button… thought I owned it. Thought I was on my way but I’m the one who got played. Mel’s always two steps ahead. Doesn’t matter if I had a hundred tomorrows left or lived a thousand times before. Truth is I fucked up.
Got gold in one hand and mud in the other. In the end it’s the same for all of us.
We go out the same way we came in alone.
End of Act Two