(cut to HENRY and LEW sitting, despondent, in a holding cell. HENRY looks more resigned to it than LEW, who is understandably nervous.)
LEW: I gotta tell you, mate, I hate places like this. Reminds me of everything I don’t want to be, y’know? I’ve already seen more than my fair share of familiar faces round here: cousins, coworkers, old friends… it makes you wonder, don’t it?
HENRY: (placatingly) It’s all right, Lew… (LEW will have none, instead getting up and walking to the barred door.
LEW: I mean, sure, we’re…(he hesitates, as if his physical composition is resisting saying the words) we’re stinkbugs, all right? We’re known as nasty, no-good folk, an’ I suppose it’s easier to just go with it as opposed to tryin’ to change everyone’s mind, but… I dunno. I kind of like it, in a way, trying to change everyone’s mind. Sometimes…sometimes I get the feeling that if I keep trying, I can make this world just a little better for us, stinkbugs and all…(he chuckles) bet I sound like a prize idiot, eh?
HENRY: (half-singing) What a wonderful world this would be…
(he gets up from his slab of a bed and pats his friend on the back.)
You’re a stinkbug who smells of lavender and I’ll a mantis who doesn’t wanna get scoffed. We’re just a regular pair.
(LEW looks up at him and smiles)
LEW: Aye, that we are. (he chuckles nervously again) Look at us, only been in the clink ten minutes and we’re already gettin’ cuddly!
(he tries to walk away, but he’s scooped up off his feet by HENRY’s powerful but gangly arms)
HENRY: (melodramatically) Oh, but Mr. Oxford, why can’t you just accept how I feel about you?
LEW: Oi, knock it off!
HENRY: Ours is a love that will never die!
LEW: Shut it, you! And put me down!
(they go on like this for a few moments, eventually dissolving into chuckles. There’s obvious love here, but not particularly a romantic one. It is a love of a misfit for a brother. The COP pillbug returns, swinging a ring of keys merrily on one arm to substitute his billy club. He looks on the two young bugs with a fatherly warmth.)
COP: Good to see yer feelin’ better, son.
(HENRY and LEW, like two schoolboys caught wrestling on the playground, immediately adopt an air of reverence in front of the authority figure.)
HENRY: Yes, sir. Of course, sir. Few draughts of water and I’m feeling fine. Thank you for that, by the way…
COP: Well, it ain’t debtors prison, son (he winks) we aren’t gonna deprive you bread ‘n’ water… speakin’ of which, I suppose we ought to be getting down to the matter at hand.
(he pulls out a sheet of paper and a small pair of spectacles that he balances on the edge of what could be considered his nose.)
COP: “It is my official report that Mr. Ian Thrush and Mr. Percival Cleary, the antagonists, will be charged with disturbing the peace, two counts of slander, and one count of extortion of a insect. Mr. Walters and Mr. Oxford, the antagonized, and both currently held in police custody, acted purely in self-defense and will be released this morning with a warning that will not appear on either of their perfectly law-abiding records.”
(LEW and HENRY immediately perk up at this news, and can barely contain themselves within their aura of respect for the policeman. He sees their joy and continues reading.)
COP: “The charges filed are to be backed up by the testimony of fifteen bystanders, all of whom appeared at the station not five minutes after processing of the suspects to plead a case for the aforementioned antagonized. It should also be noted that, recently paid, the ladies offered their fresh paychecks as compensation in the form of bail, a decision that, although superfluous, was highly appreciated and taken into consideration.”
LEW: (his mouth agape) You don’t mean…
(he wedges his head as far as he can through the bars and looks back out into the station, where VERA and the rest of the shop girls can be seen waving and cheering wildly behind the soundproof glass.)
LEW: Well, bly me… (he begins to flush a little scarlet, which is something I’m not even sure bugs can do. But, for art’s sake, let’s say yes. The COP chuckles and jangles the keys on his arm.)
COP: Now, what say we let you two out of here so you can go on with your life, eh? No doubt you’ve got work still this morning?
(LEW and HENRY both panic as they slowly remember, slapping their foreheads. In HENRY’s case, the act of doing so with his massive arms nearly sends him head-over-hells.)
HENRY: Oh, no!
LEW: Oh…piss it!
HENRY: The boss is gonna kill me if I’m late!
LEW: I can just see that great, fat, smug hairy face of his…
HENRY: What time is it? (he hastily glances at his watch) AAGH! I’ve only got fifteen minutes!
COP: Well then, boys (he swings open the door congenially) why not get your carcasses outta this slab?
(the two sheepishly exit and head for the exit. Feeling that the weight is off, HENRY begins to babble.)
HENRY: Wow, and here I thought we were really in for it, thank you, officer!
(they stop while the COP unlocked the door back into the station.)
COP: Thank yourself, boyo. If you hadn’t taken the chance and been so honest with me, you’d still be sittin’ in that cell. Lord knows my first thought was to lock up a mantis no questions asked, on account o’ how you lot are, but you really saved face for yourself an’ your race today.
(he unlocks the door and whispers conspiratorially before opening it.)
And between you chaps ‘n’ me, we’ve been looking for a way to slap some charges on those two foul-smelling prats for months now. I wish more of the savage races followed the path like you two, I do… but that’s the state of things.
(HENRY stops their progress further by asking another question, something that LEW frowns a bit at. Doesn’t he know they’re going to be late?)
HENRY: Sir, er, officer, er…what’s your name?
COP: Sean McHugh, son, of the fightin’ McHugh’s of Fourth Street (he smiles proudly.)
HENRY: Yes…quite…well, officer McHugh, you like it when I’m honest, right?
COP: Aye, lad. Saved your pincers, it did.
HENRY: Then, well… this whole thing, about wanting to charge me and Lew on the spot, and the bit about looking for a way to charge the other two… not that they didn’t need it, mind you, of course they did…but…I don’t know…doesn’t it seem a little, erm, unlawful?
(OFFICER MCHUGH smiles, shakes his head, and heaves a big sigh, preparing to shatter HENRY’s naivete.)
COP: Boyo, let me tell you something. After all my years on the force, I’ve found out one thing: the world’s pretty damned unlawful. I figure, from time to time, it’s all right to bend the laws to help the good folk, like yourselves, and punish the bad. If that’s a crime, I suppose I’ll answer it at Judgment Day, but for now, my conscience is clean. Aye?
(HENRY is taken aback. Working in insurance, he doesn’t hear a lot of hard truth in the average day.)
HENRY: A…aye, sir. And have a good day. Thank you…thank…you.
(he exits, a little bewildered and nervously. LEW goes to exit, but OFFICER MCHUGH stays him with a hand.)
COP: Boy, can I ask you something?
LEW: Why I decided not to go along with how us “stinkbugs” are supposed to act?
(OFFICER MCHUGH is a little taken aback himself.)
COP: No…no, boy, I understand why you do what you do. I just wish the rest of your race would understand it, too. Actually, erm…
(he coughs nervously and rubs the back of his head with the jailer’s keys.)
COP: Those lasses out there…you work with ’em, I gathered?
LEW: (eyeing him suspiciously.) Aye.
COP: You, uh… you wouldn’t happen to know if that older lass is married, would you?
(the camera pans out into the station lobby again, where CLARICE is busy trying to herd the girls out the door as they cheer on a very, very nervous HENRY. LEW can’t help it, he begins to laugh. However, rather than inciting a beating, the officer merely blushes and blusters a bit more.)
LEW: Whoo… (he wipes away a tear of mirth and sobers up) I’ll…I’ll see what I can do, eh officer?
COP: Er…thanks, lad. I’m just no good with ladies, y’see…
LEW: (chuckling) An’ I am, right?
COP: I should say. That little butterly frog-marched the whole lot of those ladies in here for testimony. She’s a right pretty thing, isn’t she?
(now LEW begins to blush and bluster.)
LEW: Er…well…yeh, I suppose she is…for a girl ‘n’ all…er…er, thanks! Thanks, officer. Really, thanks a lot. (he does several short, awkward looking bows on his way out) I’ll make sure never to jaywalk again, although I don’t think I ever have, but you know…er, thanks, all right?
COP: (smiling kindly) You’re welcome, lad…
(LEW exits and OFFICER MCHUGH heaves a heavy sigh and smiles, leaning against the wall in the holding cell.)
COP: You’re welcome…(he sighs again and fondles a St. Jude medallion around his neck, just to the right of his badge, which the camera reveals as it tightens up into a head and shoulders shot. OFFICER MCHUGH smiles and, with new resolve, snatches up his keys.)
COP: There’s hope for the young ones yet!
(he strikes off down the hall, into the jail proper, barking out orders.)
COP: Oi there! Ian! Percy! It’s time for your bath!