(A soft fade from CECELIA’s serene features, her head resting on her hand as she gazes out from the balcony, dissolves into the equally serene, and utterly knackered face of HENRY, fast asleep. The camera rotates to show that, indeed, HENRY is sleeping horizontally and not vertically, and by the looks of it passed out on top of his sheets the moment he got home in a lovesick, tipsy swan dive that would make Greg Louganis cringe. His alarm goes off, prompting him to squish up his facial features sourly and groan.)
HENRY: Oohhhhh, my head…
(he slaps spasmodically at the alarm clock until it shuts up.)
HENRY: (to the clock) Shut it, you.
(he rises to a sitting position, rubbing at his temples with bleary eyes)
Blimey, what did I do last night?
(there is a moment while he stands in his impromptu jimjams, recalling through a haze of scotch just exactly what happened. The lamppost, the singing, the head wound…and suddenly it hits him like a thunderbolt. His eyes flash open, wide and bloodshot, his mouth runs dry, he crushes his bowler hat in his fist. Mortified, embarrassed, ashamed beyond belief, HENRY can’t quite find the words to express himself, and instead says quietly, in a tiny, terrified voice…)
HENRY: Oh no.
(cut to HENRY sprinting out of his flat, adjusting his tie hastily as he goes, in a horrible panic. He rushes through the crowded streets, chunnering madly to himself.)
HENRY: Oh no, oh no, oh no, ohnoohnoohnoohnoohnoohnoohno! I can’t have, I couldn’t have, oh bloody bleeding blimey, no!
(and so on. It’s rather early, earlier than his usual commute, as the streets are slightly less crowded and the sun paints everything a bright golden yellow. HENRY is barreling pell-mell through the streets, and turns a corner to run slap-bang into LEW, who happend to be on a more leisurely early morning stroll. They meet with a thud and collapse in a tangle of limbs and carapaces, squawking and exclaiming with surprise, pain, and even further embarrassment…for HENRY.)
HENRY: Phaw…! Lew? Is that you?
LEW: (extricating one of HENRY’s gangly legs from in front of his face) Not sure at the moment, mate. You’ve near knocked me barmy…
HENRY: Sorry about that. (he stands up and dusts himself off) What the devil are you doing up so early, anyway?
LEW: Well, I was…I…was…
(he’s having trouble getting back to his feet. He grunts a little and HENRY helps him up, nearly toppling himself in the process. He adjusts his waistcoat and says a little proudly)
LEW: I was headin’ down to pick up my paycheck, actually.
HENRY: You’re not feeling…off…since last night?
LEW: (grinning) Oi, not me, mate. We Oxford’s are made of stronger stuff’n that. Let you and your gangly bum get all tipsy, an’ while you’ll be, well… lookin’ like you do…no offense, mate…
HENRY: (shrugging affably) None taken.
LEW: An’ us Oxford’s’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! (he takes particular pleasure in this, pulling himself up to his full and unimpressive height.)
HENRY: How wonderful for you…(realization crashes into his addled head again) Aaagh! What am I doing? I’ve got to go!
(he heads off at a brisk pace, but LEW trails not far behind… impressive with his much shorter legs, but he’s had practice.)
LEW: Oi, what’s with you?
HENRY: (without breaking stride) I’ve got to get to Cecelia’s
LEW: What for?
HENRY: I did something stupid last night, after we left the pub… (he’s too embarrassed to go any further.)
LEW: (knowing his friend as a monstrous coward, rolls his eyes) Oh yeah? What did you do?
LEW: (finally scurrying ahead of HENRY and stopping him with four strong arms on the mantis’ narrow chest.) Let me take a guess, mate. You had a few too many, an’ that loosened your tongue enough that you finally told Cecelia how you feel about her WITHOUT your eyeballs falling out from fear…am I gettin’ close?
(he looks up into his friend’s face with a smile that says ‘it’ll be all right, you idiot.’ HENRY fairly collapses on top of LEW’S outstretched arms with a groan. Meanwhile, the gypsy moth busker begins tuning up in the background.)
HENRY: Awwwww, what am I gonna do? I made a total arse of myself, LEW. I told her about how I’ve been saving my money, and how much I loved her, and how I was willing to take a chance on her, and then I…then I…
(he goes white and whispers with terror.)
HENRY: I kissed her. Right on her… forehead! AAUUUGH!
(the busker finishes tuning and strikes up a simple song.)
BUSKER: I’m, Hen-er-ee the Eighth, I am…
HENRY: SHUT IT!!! (the busker immediately snatches up his guitar, falling dumb with fear due to the outburst. The few other early pedestrians react as well. LEW, with a chuckle and a shake of his head, seeks to calm his lifelong friend.)
LEW: Mate… listen to me. What you did, booze or no, it something every jack-bug of us wishes we could do. Even with half a litre of gin, most of us wouldn’t be able to say what you said last night, awright? You’re in love with her, you’ve made sacrifices for her, you’re willing to change the whole way you mantises get along because of her…and now she knows it, that’s all.
HENRY: (a little quavery) That’s all?
LEW: That’s all.
HENRY: She won’t be angry at me?
(HENRY very definitely, and very physically, whinges and deliberates over the situation, but eventually collapses under LEW’s logic. A few flashes of dim, fuzzy recollection remind HENRY that she did seem happy, or at least happily confused, or at least bewildered beyond belief…but not exactly angry. Once he has finally given up the ghost, and the pacing back and forth in the middle of the street, LEW tosses a comradely arm as best he can around his friends’ atmospheric shoulder.)
LEW: That’s better. Now come on, I’ll go get my pay from the, er, shop…
(he looks embarrassed)
y’know the one… an’ then I’ll treat you to a nice breakfast. Sound good?
(HENRY nods dumbly, but also smiles. The two head off to Bug Bath & Body, but as they are about to enter the store, the two bullying shield bugs leap into their vision, their hideous, unkempt faces and odious breath knocking our two heroes back. The smell is too much for HENRY, who, still a bit hungover, has to regurgitate into a nearby bin)
BUG 1: Well, well well! If’n it ain’t Mr. High-n-Mighty Stinkbug!
BUG 2: Whatcha up to, Stinky?
(LEW remains silent, staring straight ahead.)
BUG 1: What’s th’ matter? Yew too good fer yer own kind, yew gotta hang out with this nerd?
BUG 2: Yew got a problem with the way we live, StinkBUG?
BUG 1: This is who we are, y’know. This is what Stinkbugs are, this is our culture, what’re yew denyin’ yer culture for?
LEW: There’s no civilized culture in the world that goes against bathing.
(he tries to push by them, but they push him back.)
BUG 1: Oh, I know yew ain’t disrespectin’ me like that, mate!
BUG 2: Yew don’ wanna disrespect him, y’know. Respect’s very important to him!
LEW: (flatly) Then he should find some. (he tries once again to push through, but they push him again, more violently. He almost loses his footing.)
BUG 1: What about yew, mate? A big, strong, constructioneerin’ chap like you, workin’ in this place? It’s hardly respectable. In fact, I’m sure if’n we told yer boss, that big ol’ spider…
(LEW finally shows a response with a flash of rage across his eyes.)
BUG 1: Oho! That got him! What’s the matter…STINKY… don’ want yer tough-guy boss knowin’ you hock lotions ‘n’ potions, eh?
BUG 2: (guffawing) lotions ‘n’ potions, thass a good ‘un!
BUG 1: Well, maybe me ‘n’ my mate here’ll go tell him, tell him that his big, bad bug is really a big…old…DANDY!
(LEW becomes visibly angry now, which the bullies, of course, extort.)
BUG 1: Ohhh, gettin’ mad now, are we? Well, whatcha gonna do, StinkBUG? Gonna fight both of us? Gonna call yer heavin’ friend in the bin over there? Gonna call all your lady protectors at the shop, huh?
(he leans closer and closer with each word. the stench is eye-watering.)
Whatcha gonna do, DANDY? Whatcha? Gonna? Do?
(LEW can do nothing but fume, while the bugs have their fun. They sing, in awful, grotesque, but not musically incorrect voices. the entire song drips with sarcasm and mockery.)
Where you gonna go now?
Who you gonna run to?
All your little life
Youre chasing all the girls.
They cant resist your smile.
Oh, they long for dandy, dandy.
Checkin’ out the ladies,
Tickling their fancy,
Pouring out your charm
To meet your own demands,
And turn it off at will.
Oh, they long for dandy, dandy.
Knockin on the back door,
Climbing through the window,
Hubbys gone away,
And while the cats away
The mice are gonna play.
Oh, you low down dandy, dandy.
Dandy, you know youre moving much too fast,
And dandy, you know you cant escape the past.
Look around you and see the people settle down,
And when youre old and grey you will remember what they said,
That two girls are too many, threes a crowd and four youre dead.
Oh dandy, dandy,
When you gonna give up?
Are you feeling old now?
You always will be free,
You need no sympathy,
A bachelor you will stay,
And dandy, youre all right.
Youre all right.
Youre all right.
Youre all right.
Youre all right.
Youre all right!
(BUG #1 doesn’t realize that he’s been singing on his own, in front of LEW’s reddening face, for an entire verse now. The other BUG just happened to be face down in the aforementioned unsavory bin, his legs kicking frantically, but he dares not scream for fear of what might wind up in his mouth. On the last “you’re all right!” We see LEW nearly at his breaking point, while just behind the jigging idiot bug most of the girls are coming out of the shop, witnessing LEW’s humiliation. They start to fret and worry as the BUG finishes up the song, pushing and prodding and mocking LEW, until it is finally too much. LEW bunches up a fist, and makes ready to swing…but before he can the BUG is levelled by one punch, coming from off-screen, by HENRY.)