(The ease in to the computer screen fades gently to the door outside the BROWN residence. We see a raptorial arm reach out and begin to knock feverishly.)
CECELIA: (from the other side of the door)
Knock it off, I’m coming!
(The knocking continues. Cut to inside the apartment as CECELIA is hurriedly toweling off her antennae.)
(The knocking subsides for a moment, presumably to change hands, then begins again. CECELIA’s face puffs up angrily as she stomps over to the door.)
I swear, I’m going to kill…
(she rips the door open and we see HENRY over her shoulder, almost unable to stop the knocking and holding his arm before he knocks CECELIA right on the head.)
(CECELIA is immediately and customarily hostile with HENRY, particularly thanks to his exposing of her vulnerabilities the night prior)
(she immediately turns away)
What do you want?
HENRY:(babbling) Cecelia, it’s…oh, it’s amazing! I’ve had an epiphany, you see. It happened this morning, or maybe around noon, I wasn’t really paying all that close of attention but I’ve finally realized it! It all makes sense now!
(He’s still rather bedraggled, without a shower, harried-looking. CECELIA, thinking he’s finally gone off the wagon, cocks a brow and regards him with the cautious manner one would give to a manic episode.)
CECELIA: …All right, that’s good, Henry, that’s good. It makes sense now?
(he brushes past CECELIA and into the apartment, still babbling)
I never even thought about it til now, but it really makes a lot of sense. I’m pretty good with people, all told, and not many people would claim to hate me, so I figured I could use that, you know? I could use my skills with people in order to help the world get out of this ridiculous rut it’s gotten into. Don’t you see, Cecelia?
(he brings forth a few battered pieces of paper that he’s been holding close to his chest since his entrance. He beams.)
It’s all here.
CECELIA: Henry, can I ask you a question?
(she’s still not sure how to handle him)
HENRY: (surprisingly lucid) Of course, Cecelia. Ask me anything.
CECELIA: (point blank and blunt) How much sleep have you had today?
(HENRY blinks slowly, groggily, then leans his head back as he tries to job his fogged brain into recollection)
HENRY: Let’s see…I left the pub late, and I went to see you…and…(he blushes and suddenly looks at the floor) oh yes, remind me to talk to you about that…but I left your place, and it was really late, and I got up really early… so I’m going to guess a little?
(CECELIA nods gravely and begins ushering him toward the couch)
CECELIA: I thought as much. Here, sit down. I’ll make you some tea.
HENRY: (still a little off) Oh, that sounds lovely, but please, Cecelia…
(he holds out the miniature manuscript again)
Won’t you read it?
(His smile is earnest, gleeful, and a little desperate, like a child who wants someone to read his story. CECELIA, never one for nostalgic whims, scrutinizes the paper)
CECELIA: (reading) Wonderful World: A miniature magazine for a big idea.
HENRY: (nodding sadly) The title needs work.
CECELIA: Henry, what is this? I’m sorry, but I don’t want to waste time reading it…
(she sees his face fall, and recovers)
er… I’d rather just ask you, if that’s all right.
(she blushes a little, and HENRY puffs up with pride as he explains his opus.)
HENRY: It’s just all my thoughts, you see. Everything I’ve told you, about how life is dictated by these silly rules, some of them hundreds of years old and ridiculously out of date. I think it’s time we change the rules a little bit. Your father and my father didn’t ride a tin hat all the way from Dunkirk, bullets whizzing over their heads and German crows pecking at their thoraxes so we could live in a world that still encourages all this hate!
CECELIA: I think you need some more sleep.
(she begins to head into the kitchen, but HENRY calls to her over the back of the sofa)
HENRY: Cecelia, please…you know I’m right. You of all people should know it. You’ve had to lie to, and pay off, seven other mantises so the rest of the community would go on thinking you ate them alive, and wouldn’t ostracize you. Isn’t that ridiculous? And Lew, he’s looked down on just because of a defense mechanism his people have, and not because of anything HE does as a person. There’s a problem here, isn’t there? Just because of how we’re made or of some old rituals or rumors… that’s not a reason to go along with it, is it? Our world needs to change, Cecelia, you know it does…
(he smiles sweetly)
tell me I’m right.
CECELIA: I’m going to make the tea.
(HENRY sits happily on the couch, drumming his arms on his legs without any particular rhythm. There’s a few banging and clattering noises in the kitchen, and he jumps. The camera cuts to CECELIA, smashing about in the kitchen with a fine frown on her face.)
HENRY: (off-camera) Everything all right?
CECELIA: Yes! (clangs the kettle into the sink) Everything’s fine! (she slams the faucet into gear, muttering over the rush of water.)
Bloody fool…what does he think he’s going to do, anyway? One little mantis can’t change the world, I don’t care how charming he is…
(she looks up, mortified)
Did I just say he was charming?!
(the kettle begins to overflow in the sink and, with a snarl, she empties it a little and slams it on the stove.)
Going to save the world, aren’t you? Going to make it all a better place, Henry Walters? One little bug is going to change it all, that’s what you think?
(she sighs. her next line sounds more wistful than the words appear.)
I’d like to see you try.
(she returns to the living room and hands him his cup of tea. she sits down to her own, but not before liberally spooning sugar into it.)
HENRY: Thank you very much. Can’t remember the last time I had a good cup of tea…
CECELIA: (not forgetting her manners) You’re welcome.
(he sips appreciatively. she looks him over with a slightly jaundiced eye)
…so where did this all come from today, anyway?
(she goes to take a sip. HENRY puts his mug down.)
HENRY: Well, I was in prison, you see.
(CECELIA immediately sprays an entire mouthful of tea across most of the living room. Quick jump to outside the construction zone where LEW; tired, sweaty, and beat, is looking forward to a nice, hot shower, a cold drink, and a soft mattress. Unfortunately, he knows that that is not the case. He catches sight of the girls from the shop waiting for him at the entrance to the worksite and, after climbing a dangerous looking pile of materials, manages to vault over the back fence of the site and scramble off down the street.)
LEW: Ho ho, Oxford, you clever old dog, you! Sure, they’ll be hell to pay on my next shift, but I know those ladies can’t stay mad at me, not at ol’ Mr. Lew!
(he heads all the way home, a nice reputable building far from HENRY’s slums, casting cautious glances left and right before pulling a key out of his waistcoat and unlocking the door. He immediately dives inside and closes the door, resting his weary back against it and reveling to be out of the heat into his cool, dark apartment. However, he’s not behind the door one minute when a familiar voice comes at him through the wood.)
VERA: Oi, Lew! Better getcher self all pressed ‘n’ tressed, ‘cos th’ girls are gonna be takin’ yew out on th’ town!
(His face a mask of pure disbelief, LEW rips open the door to see all the girls from the shop crowded into the hallway around his door, grinning, beaming, et cetera.)
LADIES: Hi, Lew!
LEW: (flabbergasted) But…but…how…I mean…
(VERA walks forward, looking a little sheepish as she pokes him in the thorax.)
VERA: Oi live in this neighborhood, yew big silly…didn’t yew know that?
LEW: Well, er…as a fellow employee, I’m not to be fraternizin…y’know…
(there’s a general bit of snickering at LEW’s uncomfortableness.)
CLARICE: (from the back) All right, ladies, let’s show our Mr. Lew a night on the town, eh?
LEW: What?! No! Ladies, please, I haven’t, you can’t…heeeeelp!
(the ladies cheer and begin to swarm onto LEW, who despite pleads and wails is dragged away down the hall and into a protracted blackout.)