Tag Archives: henry viii

Bring it on home!

(The sun shot melts into a similar shot with a caption reading: "ONE YEAR LATER" very authoritatively. Then, sheepishly, it throws on "…more or less." A crane shot lowers us back down to the familiar house of the Walters out in the countryside. All around it, autumn and the harvest are beginning to creep in, which means that the nearby town will soon be bustling. The camera follows the ever-rumpled Gypsy Moth busker up to the front door of the Walters’ home, knocking as the camera spins around, showing his face as the door opens from a brief moment of black. He’s still shabbily dressed, but it appears he’s gone through some effort to primp, even attempting, and failing, to tie a tie. He doffs his tattered hat briefly.)

BUSKER: Mornin, chief.

(The camera clips to an over-the-shoulder from the busker, showing HENRY in his usual, save his bowtie is black and he is without his usual bowler hat.)

HENRY: Hey, you! Glad you made it! Just wouldn’t be the same without you.

BUSKER: O’course not! Who else would be supplyin’ th’ music?

TWO VOICES: US!!!

(IAN and PERCY leap out from behind HENRY’s lanky frame, still resplendent in topcoats, tails and top hats.)

BUSKER: Oh, blimey (he slaps a hand to his forehead, looking at HENRY) you really do need my help, mate.

HENRY: (confidentially, to the BUSKER) I couldn’t help it. These two offered to pay for the whole thing, but they demanded to be in the band. I guess their parents are rich bugs from down around London…

BUSKER: (propping up the brim of his floppy hat and squinting) Really?

IAN: (drawing himself up to an unimpressive height) And what of it? Just ‘cos we’re rich, it don’t mean we ain’t tough!

PERCY: Aye, tough…like you was when your Mummy bailed you outta the clanger. You was cryin’ like a larvae!

IAN: Oh, and I suppose you were sittin’ pretty when your Dad came to give you a come-to meetin!

PERCY: Too right I was!

IAN: Oh, sod off, you!

(IAN attacks PERCY, finery and all, and the two begin fighting in the foyer. HENRY sighs)

HENRY: It’s like this almost every time they come over. But what can I do? They saved our lives. Speaking of which…

(he takes a few steps out the door and brings the BUSKER along. The next words are quiet and tense.)

HENRY: How are… things?

BUSKER: It’s slow going, mate. Your ideas are catchin’ on, but thanks to that night, no one knows who Herman really is. You’re safe.

HENRY: Thank goodness…for all of us.

BUSKER: Still… I think you won’t be allowed back in town for a while, just so you know.

HENRY: (with a mischevious smile) I don’t think that’ll be a problem. Did the Browns come with you on the train?

BUSKER: (smiling through a few missing teeth) Aye, they did. Ol’ Mister wasn’t too pleased by the sight of me, but the Missus an’ I spent the whole trip singin!

HENRY: That sounds like her…what about the shop ladies?

BUSKER: They were singin’ back-up!

(The two laugh as they make their way down the street to a brand new house, made from a few old, red bricks. Ivy is beginning to grow on the front, near a blue door. HENRY saunters up and knocks smartly.)

HENRY: Enough with the beautifyin, mate! We’re gonna be late!

(A pause. Then, the door opens revealing LEW OXFORD in a smart tuxedo, tails, top hat, and cane. He hands HENRY a similar bundle.)

LEW: Beautifyin, nothin! I can barely fit my shoulders in this monkey suit!

HENRY:  (pulling on his jacket) Oh, come on now, Lew… I’m sure Vera will think you look dashing!

LEW: (warning) Oi.

HENRY: Oh, sorry…I meant your boss. That’s what she is now, right? Grammaw Vera died, left her a fortune, and now you two are in business for yourself! (he plops the hat on his head and spells the name with his arm in the air) VERA VERBENA: scents for the distinguishing bug. Got a ring to it, eh? Came up with it myself!

BUSKER: (going with it) I like it! I’d shop there!

LEW: Then you can both go and shop there and leave me the hell alone!

HENRY: Remind me to ask Vera…that is, your boss, if I could borrow you for the harvest this fall. You think she’d let you go for a few days?

LEW: (snorts derisively, then counters, smiling ruefully)
Aren’t we going to be late?

(HENRY pulls out a pocketwatch and checks it, his eyes boggling)

HENRY: Blimey, we’d better hurry. The ladies would never let us hear the end of it!

(All three head into a brisk trot down the road. As they pass the Walters’ house, IAN and PERCY have apparently come to a truce, closing the door behind them. IAN extends his arm exagerratedly to PERCY)

IAN: (laying it on think) If yer please, Maister Cleary?

(PERCY bends an elegant leg)

PERCY: Moi playsure, Maister Thrush!

(The two pop monocles in their eyes, and trot off as if something uncomfortable is in their backsides, twirling their canes ridiculously. The scene dissolves into a flurry of harvest blossoms, which part to reveal a gorgeous, if simple, homey wedding outside the local church. HENRY and CECELIA and leaving, bride and groom, CECELIA in a magnificent white dress. LEW follows with VERA as Best Man and Maid of Honor. IAN and PERCY are throwing bits of paper in a ridiculous manner. The BROWNS are off to the couple’s right, and the WALTERS are to the left. Outside of a few other mantises and the shop ladies, no one else is in attendance…save the vicar, a prim and proper looking black ant. HENRY and CECELIA are heading down the stairs, hand in hand. CECELIA stops at the bottom, holding HENRY’s hands in hers. She grins and shakes her head.)

CECELIA: Henry Walters… do you love me?

(HENRY leans in and kisses her lightly)

HENRY: Cecelia Walters… I do.

CECELIA: (she blushes furiously. No one has ever called her that before!)
And why on Earth do you?

(HENRY takes her, dips her, and really lays a smooch on her. He puts his bride back, a little dizzy but no less worse for wear.)

HENRY: (shrugs) ‘Cos I do.

(CECELIA giggles coquettishly, a raptorial hand in front of her face, unti surprisingly, she launches herself murderously, hungrily at HENRY. The camera does a quick take of HENRY screaming, then a zoom in on CECELIA’s mouth as she closes in, culminating with complete blackness and silence, designed to give the audience the feeling that she’s truly bitten his head off. Finally, when all seems lost, the sound and picture come back in a medium shot of CECELIA kissing HENRY passtionately beneath the church steps, the sun catching the moment just right and the fall blossoms fluttering by in slow motion. Everyone cheers. The BUSKER starts up a strumming on the guitar, and both IAN and PERCY hurry to their back-up bass and drums.)

CECELIA: (looking at HENRY’s gobsmacked, yet thoroughly giddy expression.)
Henry Walters… I love you, too.

LEW: (calling out from behind the happy couple)
Oi! Mate! What do you call yourself now?

(HENRY snaps out of it, turning to the camera and beginning a shuffle-step)

HENRY: I’m ‘En-er-ee the Eighth, I am!
‘En-er-ee, I am, I am!
I got married to th’ widow next door
(he jerks a thumb at CECELIA,)
She’s been married seven times before!
(she gives him a bit of a shove, which puts him out in the open with a few other mantises to start a dance number.)
And everyone was an ‘En-er-ee

MANTISES: ‘En-er-ee!

HENRY: She wouldn’t drop a Willy or a Sam!

MANTISES: No Sam!

HENRY: I’m ‘er Eighth Old Man, I’m ‘En-er-ee,
‘En-er-ee the Eighth I am!

(the basic strumming begins again, but this time the camera pans over to the BROWNS. MR. BROWN gets down on one knee and sings to his wife, in the same rhythm)

BROWN: But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be!

(MRS. BROWN is smitten. The camera whirls over to LEW and VERA, engaging in a very complicated looking swing dance.)

LEW: Every time I see you lookin’ my way
Baby, baby, can’t you hear my heartbeat?
In the park or walking down the highway
Baby, baby, can’t you hear my heartbeat?

Wedding bells are gonna chime
Baby, baby, you’re gonna be mine

VERA: (as she is dipped) Oooo!

LEW: Can’t you hear the poundin’ of my heartbeat
‘Cause you’re the one I love, you’re the one I love…

(the music slows a bit, and the camera switches to the WALTERS. RICHARD sends HYACINTH into  a little spin, and brings her back.)

RICHARD: Vowed that you and I would be two silhouettes on the shade
All of our days, two silhouettes on the shade

(HYACINTH fairly mobs him, tackling him to the ground in a flutter of floral print and kisses. The camera switches back to the main dance, where CECELIA has joined in, hitching up her skirts with HENRY, who turns to the camera and winks.)

HENRY: Second verse, same as the first!

(as he begins the second verse, all of the people come together to dance, each of the songs melding together over one another in a song and dance number that I can’t possibly describe here…but I’ll try:
Henry sings the first two lines, then is underscored by LEW and VERA singing "can’t you hear my Heartbeat?" on roughly the third beat of the third line of "
‘En-er-ee." After the line "I got married to the widow next door," the BROWNS begin singing "Wonderful World" in the background. At "I’m her Eighth Old Man" the WALTERS repeat the last line of "Silhouettes" as a bass line. Finally, when everything has reached a cacaphony, the BUSKER busts over it all with:)

BUSKER: There’s a kind of hush all over the world tonight
All over the world, people just like us are fallin’ in love

(EVERYONE joins in unison)
Yeah, they’re fallin’ in love
Hush, they’re fallin’ in love
Husssssssssh…

(The BUSKER strums one last chord and holds his arm in the air, seeming to hold the music and the last note until he gradually brings it down with a collective "shhhhhhhh." IAN and PERCY do much the same with their arms and drumsticks. Each of the four couples clasp hands and move toward each other, with the blackout occuring at a simultaneous moment of kissing. )

Henry VIII – The End.

Big ‘un!

(HENRY’s back on a train in the middle of the night. He boards politely, tipping his hat to the ticket-taker and sporting a freshly pressed collar, smartly tied tie, and a generally better, scrubbed up appearance. He trots down the almost solitary car in the way people do when they are given too many options: where to sit, where to sit? He passes by a vagabond beetle who is curled up asleep next to a small transistor radio, which crackles intermittently through the disc jockeys’ prattle)

DJ: Hey hey, all you late-night bugs and bugettes, keep your heads down and stay inside because this is the only Night Owl you’ll want to hear tonight, and I’m keeping the good music rolling with this rockin’ favorite!

(the radio begins to play the opening to “Henry the Eighth.” HENRY bristles visibly at the accursed song and immediately and involuntarily reaches over and switches the radio off. The vagabond stirs a little at this, but drowsily smacks his lips and goes back to sleep as HENRY chooses a seat. He sits there, a smile on his face, bumping along merrily with the rattle of the train car. He starts to sing a soft, gentle, yet giddy song, unadorned except for the noise of the train tracks.)

Got no bags and baggage to slow me down

(he extends his gangly legs that stretch well into the adjacent bench)

I’m a-travelin’ so fast my feet ain’t touchin’ the ground
Travelin’ light, travelin’ light
And I just can’t wait to be with my baby tonight

(he looks out the window at the dark sky, seeing his own reflection and imagining the no doubt warm reception he’ll get on the way home. CECELIA’s loving arms, LEW’s proud, beaming face, MRS. BROWN’s inescapable hugs, even VERA’s giggles. All will be as it should.)

No comb or toothbrush, I got nothin’ to hold
I’m carryin’ only, a pocket full of dreams, a heart full of love
And they weigh nothin’ at all
‘Cause soon I’m gonna see that love light in her eyes
I’m a hoot & a holler away from paradise
Travelin’ light, travelin’ light
Well I just can’t wait to be with my baby tonight

(His imagination takes him even further, to a ridiculously overdone wedding sequence between him and CECELIA, with LEW as the best man, VERA as the maid of honor, rose petals, clanging bells, et cetera, et cetera. All of this is done in mute pantomime as HENRY continues his simple little song.)

No comb or toothbrush, I got nothin’ to hold
I’m carryin’ only, a pocket full of dreams, a heart full of love
And they weigh nothin’ at all
‘Cause soon I’m gonna see that love light in her eyes
I’m a hoot & a holler away from paradise
Travelin’ light, travelin’ light
Well I just can’t wait to be with my baby tonight

(The train pulls into the station and HENRY hops off excitedly, hurrying to CECELIA’s neighborhood in hopes of his dreams coming true.)

Well I just can’t wait to be with my baby tonight

(As he nears the square, he becomes aware of a ghastly scene: Bug Bath & Body, CECELIA’s favorite shop and LEW’s employer, is aflame, surrounded by an angry mob of mantises, shield bugs, and various other insects. In front of the store, LEW, VERA, and the SHOP LADIES are all standing, some in their night clothes, shaken to the core.)

CLARICE: Oh…oh my goodness…

(and so on. All of the ladies are in absolute disbelief. HENRY approached the back of the mob and can’t help but ask)

HENRY: What on earth is going on?!

(a bug in the back turns to him with a sneer)

BUG: Serves ’em right, preachin’ that tripe, calling us stupid or somethin!

HENRY: What?

BUG: That shop’s been handin’ out them pink papers. “Wonderful World” my arse! We just had to show them what the rest of us think of their high ‘n’ mighty bollocks!

HENRY: You mean there’s more papers?

BUG: Just came out yesterday, courtesy of that coward what calls himself “Herman.” Bloody tyke, won’t even use his real name!

(HENRY is absolutely in shock.)

HENRY: More papers… oh my…!

(He marches in front of the mob, cutting them off from descending on the folks from the shop, holding his raptorial arms out wide)

HENRY: STOP THIS MADNESS! STOP IT AT ONCE!

(the bugs begin to cackle and ridicule)

A BUG: Oi, look at Mister Brave here, thinkin’ his skinny britches’ll save the day!

ANOTHER BUG: Another one of them, I suppose!

YET ANOTHER BUG: Maybe he’s Herman!

(and so on with the rabble-rousing. HENRY, forgetting what MR. BROWN had told him, tries to be the hero.)

HENRY: If I say that I’m Herman, will you leave these bugs alone?

CLARCIE: (not all happy with this idea.) Don’t do it, son!

A BUG: (calling from the crowd) I thought he looked familiar! That’s the pussyfootin’ little runt we ran outta town a month ago! That’s him, I know it, that’s Herman! Get him!

(the crowd begins to swarm in on HENRY, who stands to take his punishment. Behind him, the SHOP LADIES are cowering. One of the bugs, carrying a table leg or some such, bradishes at HENRY, ready to brain him. However, as he raises the object he’s knocked senseless from his right side, courtesy of a hard left thrown by LEW OXFORD.)

LEW: (standing over the senseless bug and cracking the bug approximation of knuckles.)
All right, chaps. Anyone else want one?

A BUG: Stay out of this, Stinky! It’s the beanpole we want!

LEW: Oh really? (he kicks the club away from a recovering bug and steps on his hand. The bug howls in pain) And what if I said I was Herman, eh?

(a chord is heard on a guitar, and the Gypsy Moth busker steps out into a streetlamp)

BUSKER: You’re both wrong! I’M Herman!

(the mob turns almost on a dime and focuses on him. Before they can even hurl a threat, another voice comes from the distance. The camera whirls around to see CECELIA BROWN striding across the square, pulling on a robe.)

CECELIA: If you want Herman, you’ll have to start with me!

(VERA hops out from behind LEW’s broad back)

VERA: An’ me!

CLARICE: (stepping up behind HENRY) And me!

(the SHOP LADIES all follow suit, standing as a meager ten to a mob of near fifty. The mob starts to close in, backing them up against the swiftly burning storefront.)

VERA: Someone call th’ police!

LEW: No use, love. I think I see a few in there.

(the mob is now circling round, and there’s no more room for the small group to back up. A camera shot from inside the store facing out crackles and snaps maliciously. Then suddenly a voice calls out.)

VOICE 1: Yahooo!

(and another)

VOICE: ‘Ere comes the cavalry, folks!

(the mob turns to see Mr. Ian Thrush and Mr. Percival Cleary, the two formerly foul “stinkbugs,” rushing to their aid. They skid to a halt, somewhat comically between the two groups. It is now obvious that both bugs were lost sons from fairly wealthy families, and are now wearing their wealth in top hats, bowties, and sparkling accoutremants.)

HENRY: You two? What are you doing here?

IAN: Helping you, you daft mantis!

LEW: Why?!

PERCY: A few nights in jail can change your mind about things, mate. Now go, we can take this lot!

(HENRY and LEW exchange a look, then advise for everyone to indeed leg it. The mob, furious that their quarry has escaped, close in on the two bugs.)

IAN: (affixing a clothespin to the closest approximation of a nose he has)
You ready, Mr. Cleary?

PERCY: (doing the same)
Too right, Mr. Thrush!

(Both together emit a massive cloud of stink that sends the entire mob scattering to the four winds, the two reformed bugs cackling all the while, only stopping to hack and cough as the vapors get to them. The scene cuts quickly to the running group, as each bug peels off to their own houses, safe and sound as they an be.)

HENRY: What’s happened, Lew? I wasn’t even gone a month and…and THIS? What happened?

LEW: You did, “Herman.” After Cecelia dumped your pamphlets on all of bug kind, people either wanted Herman’s blood or to canonize the poor sod. They were clamoring for more, or clamoring for war, so…

CECELIA: So I wrote a new one. What you saw out there is about everyone who still hates your ideas Henry. Most others think you’re on the right track, but as long as there’ll be people around to bully them, they’ll keep their mouths shut.

HENRY: (stopping, along with VERA, LEW, and CECELIA, all breathing heavily)
So what do we do?

LEW: We keep our gobs plastered shut, too. But they’ve seen us now, so we’d be smart to leave town, hide out in the country…
(sarcastically)
Your parents got extra room?

HENRY: (heaves a heavy sigh) This wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want violence, I didn’t want hate, I didn’t want…all of this!

(he leans up against one of the buildings, almost grieving. CECELIA walks over.)

CECELIA: No one said changing the world was easy, you prat.

(he turns to face her, tears in his eyes.)

HENRY: I shouldn’t have done it. I knew it was a bad idea, and you knew it, too, but I did it anyway…I should have known…

(his head is bowed, very melodramatic. CECELIA cups his chin and raises his face to hers.)

CECELIA: (smiling lovingly) Don’t you think we would have left if we didn’t think this was worth it, if we didn’t think YOU were worth it?
(She straightens up and sighs.)
Henry Walters… you’re a silly, worrisome, idealistic fool of a bug…
(she sings a little, softly)

But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too

(She and HENRY harmonize on the last line)

What a wonderful world this would be.

CECELIA: Now come on, I’d like to meet your parents.

(the camera goes behind CECELIA’s shoulder, to there LEW and VERA stand. VERA is sobbing, with LEW’s arm around her)

VERA: It’s just so beautiful, Lew!

LEW: (chuckling) After all this time, love, it had better be.

(the scene transitions to all four, back on the train, riding off to the country. IAN and PERCY are there, too, but far in the back of the car, still reeking.)

IAN: Oi don’t blame ’em, Mr. Cleary. You oughtta smell yerself!

PERCY: Me?! You daft bug, you reek to high heaven!

IAN: I do not!

PERCY: Do too!

IAN: You smell like a dung heap!

PERCY: You smell like a dung heap’s dung heap!

IAN: Wot’s that even mean?

PERCY: It means your Mum’s plug-ugly, that’s what it means!

(the two begin to wallop each other with their fashionable top hats. The camera pivots to see the four main players, sitting politely as the train clacks along. They all have the air of children who are waiting for father to scold them for something they have done, praying he doesn’t find out. After a particularly concussive bump, the vagabond from earlier wakes with a grumble and peeks over the seatback, seeing the four. He blinks experimentally several times through bleary eyes.

VAGABOND: Oi, wait a minnit… yew, yeah, yew, lady… (he points a craggy finger at CECELIA) Oi sawr you on th’ telly, talkin’ bowt that Herman business… is yew really him?

CECELIA: (shrugging disarmingly) Sorry, no.

VAGABOND: These yer friends? They ‘Erman?

LEW: Nope. Not me.

VERA: Where did yew wotch telly?

(LEW elbows her and she yelps)

OWCH! Er, I mean…not me, neither!

VAGABOND: (looking finally to HENRY, who has been nervously minding his own business, fidgeting furiously.)
An’ yew, skinny…wot about yew?

(there’s a tense moment where the camera slowly zooms in on HENRY’s face as each of his friends turns to see his response. HENRY takes a deep breath, the music climaxing with a cracking great silence, until…)

HENRY: (convincingly boggled)
Never heard of him. He a singer or something?

(all present give out a sigh: some of relief and, in the case of the vagabond, a snort of derision as he returns to his nap. The camera pulls away out of the train as it speeds out through the night, into the lightening morning, the sun rising behind it in the East, signaling a new day.)

Late! Sorry!

(Rather than being thrilled, we’re treated to a close-up of HENRY, bleary-eyed, sullen-faced, and shabby-looking, parked in front of that same television on that same garish couch, slumped lazily and flipping idly through channels. He occasionally makes a grunt or a sigh, but other than that all that is heard is the constant intermittent blips of momentary program clips as he surfs through at lightning speed. Eventually, as the scene just borders on tedium and utter despair, HENRY flops over onto the couch with a groan, letting the remote control thud onto the shag carpeted floor.)

HENRY: Oh, what’s the use.

(He closes his eyes, hoping that maybe forced sleep will yield a better tomorrow. Although, as the camera pans in to his eyes, we hear the telly in the background getting louder and louder, growing from incidental background noise to something the audience can actually hear and understand, ending with…)

TELEVISION: Herman: Who is he? That’s the topic of tonight’s "Word on the Street" report. Apparently, the number one name on bug’s lips these days is that of Herman, a mysterious manifesto man whose bold ideas have been quickly taking Britain’s insect kingdom by storm.

(HENRY rockets back up to a seating position, blinking wildly and leaning as close as he can to the screen.)

TELEVISION: The movement, and its anonymous author, have begun to preach a message of acceptance and open celebration of love and life, often while flying in the face of conventional tradition and resonating with the silent majority of insects here in the city. Reports tell us that some had heard of the small movement in the weeks prior, but the full-blown campaign sprang up about a week ago in a literal storm of bright pink pamphlets brought on by a canvassing of Lawndale Square done by one Miss Cecelia Brown of Lawndale. I caught up with Miss Brown earlier in the week to ask a few questions.

(the television switches to a rapid interview conducted whilst CECELIA is walking down the street, obviously in a hurry to get away from the camera.)

REPORTER: Miss Brown, Miss Brown, tell us, are you Herman?

CECELIA: (testy, but polite) No, I’m not Herman.

REPORTER: Then, who is?

CECELIA: For safety, I can’t tell you that.

(HENRY smiles)

REPORTER: So you know him?

CECELIA: I wouldn’t go throwing any madman’s pamphlets out my window now, would I?

(HENRY grins and leans further forward on the couch, to the very edge)

REPORTER: Are the two of you lovers?

(CECELIA, on camera, becomes very flustered. HENRY falls off the couch with a thump.)

CECELIA: That’s about enough of that!

(she pushes a raptorial arm into the camera lens and it all disappears into static, switching back to the newsroom and the same reporter.)

REPORTER: This "Herman" whomever he is, is starting to change the way we bugs think about our lives, and the lives around us. One can only wonder when the next words will appear from the mysterious author, cementing his place as more than a fluke to our cultural sensitivities. The public has begun to rally around the words of Herman, proving that one bug really can make a difference.

(during this, the camera begins a slow pull into HENRY, with music swelling up slowly and finally climaxing with the final line on a shot of HENRY’s now-radiant face.He dashes out of the shot, the camera hurrying to keep up as he bounds up the stairs, to the right, and into his parents’ bedroom. Doing so makes both his parents leap out of bed as if a massive electrical current had been run through it, HYACINTH in a flouncy pink dressing gown and RICHARD in a long nightshirt. The former is screaming bloody murder and the latter brandishing a table lamp to ward off imaginary invaders.)

RICHARD: I’m warning you, take one more step and I’ll… son? What are you doing here?

HYACINTH: It’s the middle of the night, darling, please let us sleep.

RICHARD: (to his wife) Come now, Hyacinth, he may have a reason for bursting in here.
(to HENRY) Well, son… do you?

HENRY: (breathing heavily) Mum…Dad… thanks for everything. I’ve, er… I’ve got to go.
(he is visibly jittery with giddy energy)

HYACINTH: Go? Henry, sweetheart, it’s three AM, where on earth do you have to go?

(HENRY smiles)

HENRY: Where I belong.

Special guest writer credit to you-know-who ;)

(HENRY’s pained and fitfully sleeping face melts into CECELIA’s pained, awake one. She’s also laying uncomfortably on the sofa in her parent’s flat, trying to pass the time by reading a magazine. She is humming “Leaning on a Lamp Post” against her better judgment. She pages through, quicker and quicker until finally, in disgust, she tosses it with a grunt onto the coffee table and scowls. There’s a knock at the door.)

MRS. BROWN: (from the kitchen) Celia, darling, can you get that?

CECELIA: Yes, Mum…

(she begins to trudge over to the door.)

MRS. BROWN: And make sure you empty the rubbish today, it’s starting to pile!

CECELIA: (pulling a face) Ugh, yes Mum.

(she opens the door and greets LEW and VERA, both carrying large plastic bags full of bright pink papers: Henry’s pamphlets. LEW looks somber, and VERA optimistic in spite of it all. CECELIA tries her best to be non-plussed.)

CECELIA: Is that all of them?

LEW: All we could find.

(HE and VERA set their bags down just inside the door, next to two massive bags of rubbish. The four are nearly indistinguishable.)

CECELIA: Good. I don’t want to incite any riots, or get that fool hurt some more.

LEW: (leaning on the doorjamb) You can’t tell me you don’t believe him, Cecelia.

CECELIA: So what if I do? It’s not like it’ll change anything.

LEW: How do you know?

CECELIA: Because we’re four little insignificant bugs out of trillions in the whole wide world.

LEW: (stretching a little and hearing a few satisfactory cracks) Henry believed it.

CECELIA: (getting testy) Well, he’s not here right now, is he?

LEW: (escalating) Because you sent him away!

CECELIA: It was for his own good!

LEW: Oh, BOLLOCKS it was!

VERA: (stepping between them) STOP!

(they do. VERA is near tears.)

VERA: Stoppit, th’ both of yew! D’yew think ‘enry woulda wanted this, eh? Actin’ loike a roight pair a larvae (she pronounces it lahr-vee), yew are!

(a beat. LEW and CECELIA both look cowed. It’s obvious that, on top of being told off, they’re also upset at HENRY’s disappearance. Finally, CECELIA speaks up.)

CECELIA: You heard anything?

LEW: Nope. You?

CECELIA: Nope.

LEW: Three weeks…and not even a peep. It’s not like him.

CECELIA: Makes you wonder if this’ll go on forever…

(a fade away as the music fades in. The original idea is posted, but others could be “Big Man,” “Where Were You When I Needed You,” or “I Can Take Or Leave Your Loving.”)

(In CECELIA’s imagination, time passes, and it is a long-off winter where HENRY’s parents’ house is covered in snow. The parents are gone, we can assume long since dead, and the house is an absolute mess: dishes everywhere, stacks of old newspapers, peeling wallpaper, et cetera. Up in his room, a wild-eyed and ridiculously gray-bearded HENRY rails at the world.)

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

(he steps out from the room and walks down the stairs with creaking knees, ranting madly. He slides his arms across the wall as he spits out the lyrics in a gravely approximation of his former voice.)

I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and its loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

(He glances out a grimy window to see a group of carol singers, and immediately slams the blinds shut with a growl.)

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I wont disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

(He turns back inside to the dark and cluttered living room which is piled all over with failed writing, books, magazines, and other “lone nut” bric-a-brac.)

I have my books!
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor!
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

(he sits on the now faded and stained floral couch as two stacks of newspapers lean inwards, almost seeming to console him. He looks downward with sad, reddened eyes and mutters a dark oath.)

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

(as the music fades out, the camera zooms in on the old, crazy, bearded HENRY until, with a start, we are back in the present at the farmhouse as HENRY rockets up from his bed, eyes wide open in fear and gasping for air. It appears that he and CECELIA were having a common dream. As HENRY’s narrow chest pounds and his breath comes in huge, sucking wheezes, the camera fades back slowly to a sad-looking CECELIA.)

LEW: Not a pretty thought, that.

CECELIA: (with a shudder) Yeah…

(from the open balcony window, there is a noise beginning to build. It’s Wednesday, and the bachelor mantises are at it again with their song and mating dance, either “Cecelia” or “Jezebel.” LEW can’t help but laugh as the mortification pours over CECELIA’s face.)

LEW: Oh, right! It is Wednesday, after all.

VERA: (thoroughly perplexed) Wot’s that mean?

LEW: It means–

CECELIA: (cutting him off) It means I’ve got to take out the trash.

(she grabs two of the bags and storms over to the window, seeking to hurl refuse down on the amorous bugs.)

CECELIA: LEAVE ME THE BLOODY HELL ALONE!

(However, she has picked the bags of HENRY’s pamphlets, and enacts an impromptu ticker-tape parade in the town square, blanketing the folks with a cascade of pink propaganda. CECELIA just stands there, shocked and helpless as the bugs stop their singing slowly and, confusedly, start picking up the fliers and reading.)

CECELIA: (hushed and utterly flabbergasted)
…Bugger.

(LEW and VERA walk up behind her on the balcony, arm in arm, laughing uproariously.)

LEW: Blimey, Cecelia, good show! You did in one swoop what woulda taken Henry years to do!

VERA: Way to get the word out, luv!

LEW: I can’t believe it! Just… WHOOOOOOOOSH! Out they went!

(and so on and so on until VERA finally says…)

VERA: Oh, it was luvly, simply luvly! Jus’ wayt til ‘enry ‘ears this…he’ll be thrilled!

Greengrocer is under the spellcheck. Cool!

(The audio fades out as another morning dawns over the small little farming town, it’s grain storage bins of old coffee cans, and the shabby apartments that house the migrant workers that gather the grain. The camera cranes down to the yellowish-orange hues that paint the sides of the whitewashed milk can, as RICHARD and HYACINTH are whispering over their breakfast.)

HYACINTH: Richard, you know it’s not right. He’s been here three weeks now, shouldn’t he at least…DO something?

RICHARD: The boy’s had a hard bit of time, Hyacinth, it’s best not to bother him!

HYACINTH: (flustered) But what if he never gets out of this house? What if we’re two ancient old bugs still working to support his broken heart?

RICHARD: I don’t think that will happen, love. You should know our son better than that.

HYACINTH: (Sadly) Sometimes, it’s like he’s not our son anymore.

RICHARD: Just give him some time, Hyacinth.

(a beat. HYACINTH stirs her tea daintly)

HYACINTH: (prissy) I suppose you’ve been talking to him, then?

RICHARD: (buttering toast) Yes.

HYACINTH: (still prissy) Well, that’s nice.

RICHARD: Mmm-hmmm…

(more stony silence. HYACINTH is now agitatedly stirring the tea. No doubt any sugar that was in there has long since dissolved.)

HYACINTH: Don’t know why he couldn’t tell his own mother what’s wrong, as if I’m some graymalkin…

RICHARD: (mumbling around his toast) Perhaps he didn’t want it to be front page news…

HYACINTH: What was that?

RICHARD: (reaching quickly for his tea) Oh, nothing…

(There’s a few rumbles and thumps heard from upstairs.)

HYACINTH: (still grumpy) Looks like he’s up before noon today.

RICHARD: Hyacinth, please!

(HENRY stumbles down the stairs, looking disheveled and particularly uninterested. He sits down and helps himself to a cup of tea. With one of those “let’s get down to business” sighs, his mother starts in.)

HYACINTH: Good morning, Henry.

HENRY: Ergh.

HYACINTH: Can you bring a few things to the post office for me?

HENRY: Sure.

HYACINTH: And are you going to look to the garden this afternoon?

HENRY: Yep.

(a beat. RICHARD crunches toast, HENRY drinks tea and blinks at a magazine, HYACINTH continues her effort to stir her spoon into oblivion.)

HYACINTH: Have you put any thought into finding a paying job?

RICHARD: Hyacinth!

HYACINTH: It’s a perfectly reasonable question!

HENRY: (flatly) I’ve put in for my two weeks at Driscoll’s. Safe to say I’m not going back.

HYACINTH: Well, I’ve talked to Regina down at the greengrocer’s. She said there might be a bit of work for you there.

HENRY: I’ll call her, then.

(another small pause.)

HYACINTH: Millicent says she might have some work for you to do, as well…

HENRY: Okay.

HYACINTH: Have you tried talking to anyone in the city about work?

HENRY: (ignoring her) Dad, how come you and Mum didn’t have to have a fake wedding like the mantises in the city?

RICHARD: To put it frankly, son, we don’t have the time or the money out here to worry about scoffing each other on the wedding night. You love who you love, and you get on with life.

HENRY: Hm.
(he goes back to the magazine. HYACINTH is upset at being ignored, naturally.)

HYACINTH: For goodness’ sake, Henry, you’re like the walking dead!

RICHARD: Hyacinth, please…

HYACINTH: I know you’ve had some tough times, but we all do, and you’ve got to DO something! You can’t just sit around the house all day!

(Henry stands up from the table wordlessly and exits the room. RICHARD sighs.)

HYACINTH: I just don’t know what to do about him!

RICHARD: He doesn’t know what to do about himself, pet. He never wanted to come back here, you know that, and to have him all bruised like that…something bad must have happened. He wouldn’t tell me, he just said that he got in a fight. Think about that, love…our son, in a fight!

HYACINTH: (unwilling to look foolish) It does seem…odd…

(the camera follows HENRY up the stairs to his room on these lines.)
RICHARD: So just let him be for a while longer. I’m sure if we just give him a little more time, things will work themselves out. He’s a strong boy, Hyacinth, we both know that… but sometimes the world is hard to understand for a young bug like him.

(the camera zips back to the kitchen as HENRY closes the door to his room.)
HYACINTH: Well, I know I was never THAT morose when I was his age…

RICHARD: (standing up from the table and dusting bread crumbs off his collar.)
Come on, you. We’re going out.

HYACINTH: What the devil for?!

RICHARD: Tea.

HYACINTH: We just HAD tea!

RICHARD: Then we need some fruit, or something. Just stop your whinging and come out with me.

HYACINTH: Why, Richard? I demand to know why!

RICHARD: Because you’re a right little pill and I love you to death for it! Now, come on, we’ll take in the matinee.

HYACINTH: (stars in her eyes) A movie? Oh, Richard, we haven’t done that in ages!

RICHARD: And maybe I’ll steal a kiss from you when the projectionist changes the reel…

HYACINTH: Oh, you old dog!
(they leave the kitchen and pass by the long, narrow staircase that leads up to HENRY’s room. HYACINTH just has to say something.)
Henry, dear, we’re heading out for the afternoon! Make sure you call Regina and…
(RICHARD jabs her grumpily in the side)
Ow! Richard, you bully, what was that for?!

RICHARD: (calling up the stairs) Have a good day, son! We’ll see you tonight!

(the two leave, still squabbling a bit as RICHARD fairly forces his wife out the door. The front door closes and the camera once again turns and inches up the staircase, except this time it fades through the closed door into HENRY’s room: little of it has changed since HENRY was a student: there are still posters of rock ‘n’ roll bands, or sports stars on the walls, a bed crammed into one corner, a desk, a bookshelf overstuffed with books, and a general air of the disarray that is usually a young man’s life. On the desk, however, is a particularly copious stack of crumpled papers, each reading “DEAR CECELIA” and having different, rejected iterations of a clumsy apology mixed with a profession of true love. The camera swivels over in the half light of the late morning, drawn drapes room to see HENRY once again passed out, this time on his bed, sleeping fitfully, a grimace on his face as he tosses and turns.)

Two days of Romantis!

(Cut to: a close shot of HENRY sitting, awkwardly and gangly, on a grotesque, floral print couch in a sickeningly overdone living room. His eyes are lidded an unimpressed, and he is feeling a fair bit of shame to be in this situation. His mother, HYACINTH, is one of those busybody types who would like nothing else than to be considered one of the neighborhood elite. She wears a hideous floral dress that matches the couch and a hat that looks like someone set an over-decorated cake atop her head. HENRY’s father, RICHARD, is the long-suffering, soft-spoken husband, bald (without antennae) and with a pair of wire-rim spectacles perched on the end of his nose. A bowtie completes the ensemble. HYACINTH is blustering about while HENRY sits and RICHARD lets her by.)

HYACINTH: (sitting next to HENRY with all the shrill kindness of a frantic mother hen) Henry, darling, you look a fright! Tell me, have you had breakfast?

HENRY: No…

HYACINTH: I’ll make you some tea. You’d be surprised what a cup of tea can do, I always say. I’ve been saying the same thing to that clumsy neighbor of mine…
(her voice trails off as she toddles into the kitchen. RICHARD sits down next to HENRY with a sigh and a kind smile.)

RICHARD: You know, there were lots of other girls I could have fallen in love with, but…

(he shrugs. HENRY laughs a little, and winces at the pain.)

RICHARD: You do look awful, son. Mind telling me what happened? I won’t tell your mother, honest.

HENRY: Long story, Dad. Very long.

(HYACINTH returns with a silly bone china cup of tea, overdone like everything else in the house with false gilding and more cabbage roses than anyone should ever have to see. She continues to flounce by, pacing back and forth, each time coming close to giving HENRY the tea, but each time guided by her own indignation to keep it just out of his grasp.)

HYACINTH: My own son, showing up in such a state, all black and bruised…it’s shameful! What will the neighbors say? They’ll think you’ve been out with the ruffians, I just know it, and then that nasty Patricia will start telling all sorts of vicious lies! It’s just because I had the nicer hat at Easter, but soon the whole village will think I’ve been the parent of a delinquent! Oh, I’ll have to phone Millie and tell her it’s simply not true!

(HENRY and RICHARD sit there, watching the show. It’s not an uncommon occurrence. As HYACINTH rockets out of the room to frantically dial a telephone, HENRY is now certain he is not going to get that tea. RICHARD shifts over and offers him a flask. HENRY, not thinking it through, takes a swig and his eyes nearly pop out of his head.)

HENRY: Phwaw! Dad, what is this?

RICHARD: I’ve got a deal with a fellow in town: I give him a little of my extra grain, he makes me a little extra. You like it?

HENRY: Blimey, I can’t feel my tongue!

RICHARD: (with a melodramatic sigh) You’ve gone soft in the city, my boy…

(HYACINTH blusters back into the room, still holding the cup and saucer and chunnering madly.)

HYACINTH: That Millicent! So selfish! “I’ve got things to do,” as if I don’t! (she finally clocks that the tea is in her hand) Oh, dear, I’m sorry Henry, here’s your tea.
(she sets down the saucer in front of him and immediately turns to RICHARD.)
Come along, dear! It’s tea with the Rothschilds’ today! I do hope she hasn’t made those ghastly cucumber sandwiches again, I’d rather eat cardboard!

(RICHARD sighs and, with a little grunt, raises himself off the sofa. He turns to HENRY as HYACINTH continues to blather on in the background with her high, ululating voice.)

RICHARD: You’re home for a while, right? Take a load off, relax a bit, and–

HYACINTH: Richard! Hurry, if you please! My word, you’re always making me late, do you know that? Just the other weekend at croquet, I…

(her voice fades as RICHARD follows obediently behind, his face a mix of bemusement and dread. There is a faint smattering of silence where HENRY leans back on the sofa and sighs contentedly, only to be shattered by HYACINTH returning in her full glory.)

HYACINTH: Oh, my! Look at me, what a terrible mother I am! You’d think I’d strand you in the Gobi! Give Mumsy a kiss, do!

(she pulls HENRY’S head close and lays a ridiculously big kiss on his head. HENRY sighs like a particuarly vexed housecat, but HYACINTH doesn’t hear him, naturally. She wheels around again, swinging her gaudy handbag in a deadly arc and neatly knocking the teacup off its saucer, off the coffee table, and into the far corner of the room, tea spraying as it flies.)

HYACINTH: RICHARD! Get that car running! I don’t want to be late!

(she bustles off, leaving HENRY a little shell-shocked. It’s been a while since he has endured a full-on Momslaught. Plus, he never got his tea. This scene slowly fades into a montage of events showing HENRY back at home: he sits about, he goes to the store with his mother who trumpets him as God’s gift to the insect kingdom, as mothers do, he sits about and reads, he helps do some of the yard work around the farm house, which is really an old milk can, he sits about and watches telly, he helps his father tend to crops, and he sits about, all while wearing a similarly deadpan and emotionless expression, with the joy seeming to be slowly draining from his life. For this scene, I would ideally use “the Sounds of Silence,” but Herman’s rendition of “End of the World” would work as well. At different points, HENRY sees different bits of injustice among bugs, but ignores them: he sees two younger beetles picking on a shield bug, and continues walking, he sees an ant being bullied into working late in a cafe, he simply drinks his coffee and gazes dead-eyed at the paper. He sees another mantis get tossed from her shabby, run-down apartment, and says nothing. At one point, we see him dialing CECELIA’s number, a faint glimmer of hope and determination in his eye. However, as the camera cuts to her end of the conversation, she hears only a dead line, and the camera shows that HENRY has hung up, and is lazily staring at the telly again. He just can’t be brought to care anymore. He eats dinner with his parents, but is no longer his gregarious, unflappable self.)

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said,
“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence

or…

Why does the sun gone shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
When you don’t love me anymore?

Why has my heart gone beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when you said goodbye.

I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why everything’s the same as it was.
And I can’t understand, no I can’t understand
Why life goes on the way it does.

Why do the birds gone singing?
Why do the stars shine above?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when I lost your love.

Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when you said goodbye!

I took my birthday off. Neener neener.

(The next thing heard is the gentle clack and roll of train tracks, and as light begins to filter in as HENRY opens his eyes, the first thing he sees is MR. BROWN, sitting next to him on a train car as it trundles through the countryside. There are only a few other passengers in the car, dreary and docile, nearly asleep themselves. It appears that Cecelia’s father is the only one fully conscious. HENRY, in a bid to match him, rockets up to a seating position and promptly becomes lightheaded.)

HENRY: What’s…ooh…

MR. BROWN: Easy, son, (he helps steady HENRY, still battered and bruised from just a few hours ago. HENRY lays back in the seat and rubs a raptorial arm across his lumped head.)

HENRY: Ugh, my head…

MR. BROWN: (opening a newspaper) Sit for a bit. You’ve had a rough night.

(HENRY thinks back to the attack and hangs his head.)

HENRY: Suppose so.

(a beat. The train keeps rolling.)

HENRY: So we’re on a train.

MR. BROWN: (unimpressed from the other side of the newspaper)
Mmm-hmm.

HENRY: Are we going somewhere?

MR. BROWN: You are.

HENRY: Where?

MR. BROWN: You should know. Seventeen-nine-thirty-one.

HENRY: (thinking a moment)
I’m going home?!

MR. BROWN: Consider it a vacation.

(another beat. The train keeps rolling.)

HENRY: Cecelia asked you to keep on eye on me, I suppose.

MR. BROWN: (still behind the newspaper)
Mmm-hmmm.

HENRY: I did all this for her, you know. I really do lo–

MR. BROWN: (putting the paper down, his face serious.)
Listen, kid. I like you. You’re fun. But this crusading stuff, it’s gotta stop. You’re not going to help anyone. You’re not going to change anyone’s minds. When something like this happens, when its in so deep, it takes a long time, and I mean LONG time, to get it out. You’ve gotta start small, be quiet about it. You can’t just go shoving it in people’s faces, or they’ll shove their fists into yours, got it?

(HENRY nods, a little stricken. He answers like a scolded schoolboy.)
HENRY: Yes, sir.

(silence reigns for a little bit. The train keeps rolling.)

MR. BROWN: Don’t think I haven’t thought what you think, Henry. Cecelia’s mother married a fake fella, sent him packing, told the neighbors she scoffed him like it was Christmas dinner, and married me. She’s not the first to do it. She won’t be the last. Cecelia’s done it seven times already, you know that. It’s the way it is, and soon everyone will notice that they’re lying, and things will change, but you won’t help anything if you try to force it.

HENRY: (supremely frustrated) But…it’s stupid!

MR. BROWN: That’s life.

(the train begins to hiss as it slows down. MR. BROWN gazes up at a rising sun to the right.)

HENRY: (bitterly.) Perfect timing.

(The sun begins to illuminate the veritable forest of wild grass. We are now on the edges of the farmhouse yard, next to where the fields begin. No plow touches here, no lawn trimmer cuts the grass. A country haven, and decidedly rustic. The three remaining bugs shuffle to the station. MR. BROWN waits patiently for the next train back to the big city. HENRY is behind him, still not sure how to feel.)

HENRY: So what do I do?

MR. BROWN: Take a few days. Sit. Think.

HENRY: Am I supposed to have some great revelation?

MR. BROWN: Maybe.

HENRY: What if I don’t?

MR. BROWN: If you don’t, you don’t. That’s life.

HENRY: “That’s life?!” What kind of answer is that?

MR. BROWN: A real one.

(the train pulls in with a great hiss and clangor. MR. BROWN hops on and hollers from the doorway as the train pulls away.)

MR. BROWN: I’m pulling for you, kid. You and Cecelia could really be something. Just remember: you don’t always have to be the hero. See ya.

(the train pulls away, leaving HENRY: groggy, a little sleepy, and rather depressed, his bruises shining in the early morning light. After a few moments, and after the train has completely gone, he shuffles back into the station to the payphone.)

HENRY: (hearing a pickup) Mum? It’s me…I’m home.

Mmm, Sporadic!

(A shot of CECELIA’s shocked and stricken face as LEW and VERA carry the still-woozy HENRY into her family’s apartment.)

CECELIA: What in the bloody blue hell is going on here?!

MRS. BROWN: (overhearing from the kitchen)
Cecelia! Watch your language!

CECELIA: (exasperatedly polite) Sorry, Mum… (she lowers her voice and speaks to LEW) What’s going on? You tell me you’re coming up to chat and then, and then…THIS?!

LEW: (apologetically) Sorry, Cecelia… he got walloped pretty bad, and you were close by…it’s gettin’ dark out, no telling how many more enemies this idiot has made…

CECELIA: I can’t believe this (all three help lay him on the couch) he must have known something like this would happen…

VERA: Oi think ‘e was ‘opin’ it would.

(CECELIA gives her a scrutinizing look. VERA shrinks a bit.)

VERA: ‘ello. (she sticks out her hand) ‘m Vera. noice t’meetcher. Oi’ve herd lotsa good stuff ’bout ya.

(CECELIA glances at LEW, who coughs and gives a nervous smile. CECELIA, knowing the lay of the land, smiles and shakes VERA’s hand briskly.)

CECELIA: (ruefully smiling) Let me guess, you’ve hear all that “lotsa good stuff” from Henry?

VERA: Roight yew are. That bug’s crazy ’bout ya!

CECELIA: I think he’s just crazy.
(she turns her head back to the kitchen.)
MUM!

(MRS BROWN emerges, wiping out a mug.)

MRS BROWN: It’s far too late to be shouting like that, Cecelia. We raised you better, than that, and I–oh!

(she sees HENRY’s senseless form on the couch and nearly drops the mug and fumbles with it a bit.)

Oh…oh my! (she’s clearly flustered, but is trying to hide it) I didn’t know we, erm, had guests! I’ll put the kettle on…

(she bustles out quickly and almost immediately you can heard worried murmurs from the kitchen, both high-pitched and low.)

CECELIA: (breathing a sigh of relief) Good. Dad oughtta calm her down. (to LEW) So who was it? Those two bugs you tangled with a while back?

LEW: (takes off his hat, speaks solemnly) It was other mantises, Cecelia. Round our age, some we even went to school with.

CECELIA: (her face beginning to harden) How many?

LEW: Probably almost twenty. It was a little hard to tell.

CECELIA: And you managed to fight them off?

LEW: Well…(the shame washes back over him) I did a few things I’m not very proud of…

VERA: (climbing onto his broad back and kissing him on the cheek) Aw, nonsense, yew idjit. Yew were very brayve.

(MRS. BROWN bustles back in with a kettle of hot water and some cloths. She sneaks one look at HENRY before, almost tears in her eyes, she zooms away again before anyone can say anything. CECELIA shakes her head in bemusement.)

CECELIA: She acts like he’s got his head staved in. Just a few lumps, he’ll be right as rain tomorrow!

(she begins to daub none-too-gently at HENRY’s bruised face, causing him to stir uncomfortably.

HENRY: Ow…

CECELIA: Oh, stop it, you big baby!

HENRY: Ahh, such sweet hostility. How I’ve missed you, Ceceli–OW!

CECELIA: (she grabs his face and brings it to meet hers)
I said… shut it, all right?

(she looks to LEW and VERA, still standing nervously by.)

CECELIA: I’ll take care of him from here. You two can head on home, he’ll be fine.

VERA: But…wot if those louts come back?

CECELIA: (now scowling) I’ll take care of it.

(this seems to satisfy LEW, as he remembers CECELIA from school days. He ushers VERA out of the room, despite her protests, and soon it’s only HENRY and CECELIA.)

HENRY: Cecelia…

CECELIA: Don’t talk.

(a beat passes as she dabs at some more wounds. HENRY continues to look at her lovingly through a swollen eye.)

HENRY: Thank you…

CECELIA: Hush!

(another beat. CECELIA is obviously not in the mood for conversation, but instead of wearing an angry expression, it is one of heartfelt pain and worry.)

HENRY: I love…

CECELIA: DO NOT EVEN SAY THAT. I’ll wallop you worse than those ignorant sods did in the street, you hear me?

(HENRY closes his mouth and smiles lopsidedly. CECELIA grumbles and makes sure nothing is broken. Her methods are impeccable, but her bedside manner leaves a little to be desired.)

CECELIA: (speaking suddenly after a pause.)
Tell me about your parents, Henry.

HENRY: What?

CECELIA: I need to check and see if you have a concussion. What are you parents’ names?

HENRY: Richard and…um…

CECELIA: Well?

HENRY: Hyacinth.

CECELIA: (taken back for a second. she blinks markedly.)
Really?

HENRY: Really.

CECELIA: All right then, Hyacinth.

(she props his head up on a throw pillow)

So where do they live?

HENRY: West Farmland, over beyond the copse of pine trees.

CECELIA: Good, good…how do you get there?

HENRY: (yawns) Three trains…seventeen…nine…thirty-one…takes you right to the station…

(he yawns again)

Cecelia?

CECELIA: (wary of what he’ll say)

…yes?

HENRY: (a little bleary-eyed) Do I have a concussion?

CECELIA: I don’t think so.

HENRY: Good. Because I’m sleepy.

(CECELIA can’t help it. She laughs a little, and that makes him smile again. CECELIA stands up and rubs his head as gently as she can without hitting a knot or lump.)

CECELIA: (leaning in and whispering) Then go to sleep, you silly ass. (she gives him a peck on the forehead and cleans up the cloths and water, stopping just before she exits the living room.)

CECELIA: G’night, Henry.

(her footsteps become muddy and muffled as the camera zooms in on HENRY’s face and slowly fades away as he falls asleep…)

HENRY: ‘night…Celia…

oooOOOOooooo….

(The MANTISES do not look at all pleased. HENRY, being tired and not stupid, decides to try to skirt the issue.)

HENRY: Evening, gentlemen.

(One of the MANTISES steps forward, a rather ordinary looking chap.)

MANTIS: (distractedly and sourly) Oi.

(he snatches a pamphlet off a stack near HENRY’s feet.)

MANTIS: You wanna tell me what this is?

HENRY: (cordially nervous) Just a little literature, mate. Gettin’ my thoughts onto paper an’ all, you know how it is…

(The MANTIS tosses the pamphlet onto the ground with disgust.)

MANTIS: No…”mate,” I don’t.

HENRY: (laughs nervously) Eh-heh… Looks like you dropped your reading material, sir…don’t suppose I could interest you in another one?

(the MANTIS steps forward, along with the rest of his gang until they are uncomfortably close. The people around him begin to give the situation a wide berth, except for two: LEW and VERA who, walking by hand in hand, observe most of the situation, standing still on the periphery.)

VERA: Lew, look!

LEW: (with a grave face) I see it, Vera.

VERA: Shouldn’ we do somefin?

LEW: Just wait, Vera…if I know Henry, he’ll get out of this just fine.

(the camera switches back to the slowly closing circle of angry mantises.)

MANTIS: We don’t like what you’re talkin’ about here, “Herman.” We don’t like other people telling us how to live our lives. It’s a free country, y’know!

HENRY: Are you saying that you’d rather have your heads bitten off than defy tradition?

MANTIS: They’re called traditions for a reason-

HENRY: (cutting him off) There is such a thing as a bad reason, you know!

MANTIS: So what we’re doing is bad, eh? We’re wrong? Our fathers were wrong? Our entire life is wrong? Just who do you think you are to tell other people what’s right and wrong, eh? You’re just some skinny little nobody who complains because he can’t find a woman of his own, I bet. Sure, everyone else is wrong if it’s not good enough for you…you ever think, Skinny, that maybe everyone else is right…and you’re the one who’s wrong?

(he begins to punctuate his points with prods to HENRY’s chest. The other MANTISES begin to snicker at HENRY’s inability to stop him. Soon the other MANTISES begin to chime in.)

A MANTIS: Thinks he’s so high and mighty, telling us how to live!

A MANTIS: He’s probably never had a girlfriend!

A MANTIS: Look at him, the whiny little thing…

(and so on. The ringleader sneers at HENRY, who is still standing his ground.)

MANTIS: (scoffs.) Pitiful.

(he deals a kick to the stack of pamphlets, scattering them to the breeze all through the square. Finally, HENRY’s jaw begins to set, his face becomes hard. The ringleader takes notice.)

MANTIS: Oh, we’ve gone and ruined his day now, haven’t we?

(he leans in and leers.)

GOOD. We should do more than that for the rubbish you’re preaching. Go tell someone else what to do, Skinny. Maybe you could advise a dung beetle on fine cuisine!

(the MANTISES join in, guffawing as HENRY finally snaps.)

HENRY: You know what, sir? You’ve won me over. I can see now the benefits of our traditions, because then maybe some addle-brained, tosspot, plug-ugly WANKER like yourself will get his fat head chewed off and rid this world of his ignorant existence!!

(the laughing immediately stops. MANTIS becomes very agitated.)

MANTIS: What did you say, stringbean? Eh? What did you say?

(he begins to push HENRY violently, but HENRY has nowhere to fall as he’s being pushed round the circle by the other jeering mantises.)

MANTIS: What did you say, huh, you little worm? Say that again, pipsqueak, I dare you!

(etc. etc. Eventually, HENRY trips and hits the ground. The camera swivels quickly to outside the crush where LEW knows the jig is up.)

LEW: Oh, bloody hell…

(he rushes to his friend’s aid, bowling a few of the mantises out of the way and trying to shield HENRY with his broad back as multiple legs start to kick out at them. Both are getting fairly bruised, but VERA can do little to get the mantises to stop.)

VERA: Knock it off, yew great nasty bugs!

(and so on. Inside the particularly violent scrum, LEW and HENRY are still getting clobbered, so much so that both are beginning to show significant and nasty bruising around the face and eyes. It quickly becomes apparent that there is no other choice, LEW knows what he has to do.)

LEW: (boiling over at the mantises) Ohhhh…BUGGER OFF!

(with one colossal effort, LEW releases a massive cloud of stink that drives away the mantises like the Hounds of Hell were nipping at their heels.)

LEW: (squinting through a swollen eye) Henry, mate, are you all right?

HENRY: Sure, mate. Glad you came. Let me get you a pamphlet, they got all scattered…

(he tries to stand and falls back to the street with a pained gasp.)

HENRY: Oh…that was dumb…

(VERA, caring more for her friends than for her nose, rushes in to help.)

VERA: Lew…oh cripes, are yew awroight?

LEW: (grunting as he hefts HENRY onto his shoulder.)
I’m fine, Vera…it’s Henry I’m worried about. We’ve got to get him somewhere safe, because those thugs will be back.

HENRY: I’m all right, Lew…just a little banged up, is all…and I lost my pamphlets…shouldn’t have gotten angry, though, ruins the argument.

(VERA tries her best to support HENRY’s other half.)

VERA: Don’t go worryin’ bowt those stupid paypers now, luv. We’ve gorra get yew-

HENRY: (with a lopsided grin) They’re not stupid, Vera…would I get beat up for something stupid?

VERA: (smiling sadly back at him.)
Sumdays Oi wonda, yew turd.

LEW: (looking up at the night sky, not paying attention to the other conversation) Where are we gonna put him? We can’t carry him all the way home, we don’t have enough time…

HENRY: It’s all for the cause, Vera. If I get roughed up, but my message gets out, it’ll be okay…

VERA: But wot if yew git beat up agin?

HENRY: Worth it.

VERA: Yer ‘owse wrecked?

HENRY: Worth it.

VERA: Killed?

HENRY: Worth it. (he’s grinning now, though mostly gritting his teeth as all three hobble through the streets.)

VERA: Wot if yew…

LEW: (cutting her off) Vera! Give it a rest, will you?

(a beat.)

VERA: (apologetically) Sorry, luv.

(they walk a bit more in silence. the camera takes in establishing shots of the darkening city.)

VERA: (sheepishly, trying to apologize) Yew were very brayve, Lew.

LEW: (bitterly) I was nothing of the sort. I shoulda stopped this daft bug before he got onto this kick…

HENRY: (a little loopy, a little delerious, singing groggily.)
We shall overcoooome, We shall over coooome…come on, Lew, you know the words!

(LEW’s face is a mask of pity and frustration)

LEW: (gritting and making a left hand turn) Come on. This way.

VERA: (scuttling to keep up) Wot’s that?

LEW: I know where we can go.

HENRY: We shall overcoome sooomedayyyy…

(they limp off into the night, HENRY’s voice trailing off, getting weaker and weaker as it is absorbed into the soft, memoryless, completely forgiving night.)

Moving right along

(LEW takes the little pamphlet off the wall and gives it a once over, then turns his skeptical gaze on HENRY.)

LEW: You did this?

HENRY: Yep.

LEW: …You sure?

HENRY: Sure am.

LEW: (glances at the pamphlet and notices that it’s written under an assumed name.)
“Herman?”

HENRY: It was my grandfather’s name.
(he smiles proudly. LEW’s tips his head slightly.)

LEW: You feeling all right?

HENRY: Absolutely.

LEW: (eyeballs him just a little)
You’re not really, erm, actin’ like yourself, mate…

HENRY: Oh?

LEW: What’s all this, anyway? (he begins to skim the article) “Proper decency toward all bugs,” “insect’s right to their own decisions,” “casting off outdated rituals of violent and primordial origins?!”

HENRY: (grins.)
That’s one of my favourites.

(LEW continues to stare.)
LEW: Blimey, mate…when you used to talk about all this stuff, I figured you were just, y’know…talkin’… But now, this… you’re just askin’ for trouble, you know that?

(HENRY nods.)

LEW: You really think you can make a difference?

(HENRY nods again. LEW is dumbstruck. HENRY smiles and pats his diminuitive friend on the back.)

HENRY: You think I’ve lost it, then?

LEW: (a little petulant)
Yeah, I do.

HENRY: Gone loopy, crackers, round the bend?

LEW: Yup.

HENRY: Maybe I have, Lew,
(they both begin to walk into a horizon made glorious gold and yellow by a setting sun)
but I feel good.

LEW: (angry) Tell me that the first time some angry bug kicks your carapace…
(he glances anxiously at his wristwatch. talking has made him late.)
Look, mate, I’m sorry, but I’ve got to get going, I’ve, er, got somewhere to be…

HENRY: (gently teasing) Oh?

LEW: Yeh…just out…somewhere…with a mate…

HENRY: Does this “mate” happen to be a pretty little butterfly?

LEW: Easy, awright? Bad enough I get it from the girls at the shop…

HENRY: Awwww, (he tousles the trilby on LEW’s head, which frustrates him to no end) Widdle Lew’s got a lady-friend!

(LEW is frustrated, but knows he’ll have to deal with it sooner or later. He actually begins to smile a little until, flustered, he starts slapping HENRY’s cooing and coddling away.)

LEW: Awright, awright, that’s enough! I really gotta go.

HENRY: Then go, you daft bug! Faint hearts and fair ladies and all that!

(he dismisses him with a wave and a smile. LEW returns the smile sheepishly. He’s new at this.)

LEW: Right. Here I go.

HENRY: Yes.

LEW: I’m going.

HENRY: Yes…

LEW: Out on a date…with Vera…

HENRY: Just go already!

LEW: Blimey…

(he putters off, muttering worriedly to himself. HENRY laughs heartily, his soul is light. For the first time in his life, he feels as if he’s doing what’s right, not what’s convienient, what he’s always wanted to do. What follows next is a short montage of HENRY trying to hand out various pamphlets and preach his message. Over the course of a few days, and while instrumental versions of the previous songs are played, we see HENRY get rebuked. Sometimes violently, sometimes comedically, by all ages and all sorts, everything from an old lady batting him with a handbag to a small child stomping on his foot, with plenty of people in between simply paying him little to no attention. A few people take information out of pity, but try not to get chided by the others around them. During a particularly solemn moment in the music, we see LEW and VERA skirt HENRY’s little sideshow, pretending as if they don’t know him. Another scene depicts CECELIA walking by, unfortunately catching HENRY’s gaze, and deliberately walking away. Nevertheless, HENRY continues on. We see him still doing his boring, bland work, but in the evening we see him speaking. He is clearly being stretched very thin. During one particularly exhausting late night handing out pamphlets, after a full day’s work, HENRY is approached from behind by a group of burly, and rather upset looking fellow mantises.)

MONTAAAAGE!

(The closing of CECELIA’S door does a quick jump cut to the opening of LEW’s door the next morning. He steps out with a mile-wide smile on his face and inhales deeply.)

LEW: Ahhh…

(he tugs on his waistcoat proudly.)

Another day in God’s country!

(Of course, as soon as he says that someone next door starts shouting, another tenant starts banging on a wall, and you can hear a baby shrieking. Still, LEW is unfazed. He plops the tweed trilby on his head and bops down the hallway, a spring in his step and a song in his hear that manifests into the soundtrack. His voice is very different from HENRY’s, low and a little more gravelly, but not off-putting. It has its own charms.)

LEW:
Woke up this mornin’ feelin’ fine
There’s somethin’ special on my mind
Last night I met a new girl in the neighbourhood, whoa yeah
Somethin’ tells me I’m into something good

(He sings his own backup for this verse)

*Somethin’ tells me I’m into somethin’*

(He emerges from the stairwell onto the lower floor of his building, and as he continues down the hallway VERA pops her head out with a lunch tin, grinning just as broadly as he does. As he passes her door, he gives her a peck on the cheek and offers her his arm. She gladly accepts, and the two stroll out of the building.)

She’s the kind of girl who’s not too shy
And I can tell I’m her kind of guy
She danced close to me like I hoped she would

VERA: (singing backup)
*she danced with me like I hoped she would*

LEW:
Somethin’ tells me I’m into something good

VERA:
(Somethin’ tells me I’m into somethin’)

(They have now reached outside of his building, into the hustle and bustle of the morning commute. The general noise underscores everything like its own unique symphony.)

LEW: (looking at VERA lovingly)
We only danced for a minute or two
But then she stuck close to me the whole night through
Can I be fallin’ in love
She’s everthing I’ve been dreamin’ of

(They zip past the Gypsy Moth busker, who winks at the camera and adds his bit of backup)

BUSKER:
She’s everthing he’s been dreamin’ of

(They is now at Desmond’s barrow in the marketplace, buying a coffee.)
LEW:
I walked her home and she held my hand
I knew it couldn’t be just a one-night stand

(He says the last line privately to Desmond, who smiles, but probably because VERA overheard him and gives him a sound wallop, causing him to recant.)

LEW:
So I asked to see her next week and she told me I could

(DESMOND joins in good-naturedly, probably thinking of his own Molly at home with her pretty face.)
DESMOND:
I asked to see her and she told me I could

LEW:
Somethin’ tells me I’m into something good

(There’s and odd sort of melodiousness to the crush of the open air market. It almost seems to have its own music, and it seems like its singing along with LEW, even if it couldn’t…logically…)
Somethin’ tells me I’m into somethin’
Somethin’ tells me I’m into somethin’, ahhh

(There’s a short instrumental where LEW says goodbye to VERA and finishes his walk to work: Buying a croissant from a French bug with a moustache, of course, helps a group of young ants get their ball out of a tree with a well timed toss of his trilby, and goes about helping all, to their slight consternation, as if afraid he could “stink” them at any moment. Finally, LEW reaches his construction site. He begins working as he sings the last chorus.)

LEW:
I walked her home and she held my hand
I knew it couldn’t be just a one-night stand

(The CONSTRUCTION BUGS nudge each other and wink inappropriately at the last line, as they are wont to do.)

LEW:
So I asked to see her next week and she told me I could

(A few of the coworkers add their own groaning, “get a load of this guy” backup harmony.)

CONSTRUCTION BUGS:
I asked to see her and she told me I could

LEW:
Somethin’ tells me I’m into something good

BUGS:
somethin’ tells me I’m into somethin’

LEW:
Somethin’ tells me I’m into something good

BUGS:
(somethin’ tells me I’m into somethin’)

LEW:
To something good, oh yeah, something good

BUGS:
(somethin’ tells me I’m into somethin’)

LEW:
To something good, something good, something good

(and so on. The entire scene ends with all of the bugs getting into the song, juggling hammers, using i-beams as balancing toys, and generally faffing about. They finish in a grand display, but are immediately cowed as MR. GRAVES slams open the door to his trailer and shouts.)

GRAVES: GET BACK TO WORK, YOU WORTHLESS LUMPS!

(he slams the door again, and the bugs dejectedly, embarrassedly, return to work. At the end of work, LEW notices an interesting flyer posted in bright orange on the fence outside the worksite as he meets HENRY to walk home.)

Didn’t even realize I’d written into a Friday night…

(Scene moves to a closeup of HENRY as his eyes wobble open. He’s on the couch in the living room of the BROWN’s flat, covered in a blanket and with his head propped up on a throw pillow. Still a little bewildered, he raises back up to a seated position, tests his neck for stiffness, and is finally putting everything back together, sleep still very present in his eyes, as CECELIA re-enters carrying an entire kettle of tea.)

CECELIA: (surprised to see him up) Oh…didn’t know you woke up…I’ll put on some more tea.

HENRY: (still groggy, not sure if he’s seeing it right) But…you’ve got a pot already…

CECELIA: (with a small, sheepish smile) Exactly.

(she exits quickly as HENRY, rubbing his temple, looks over his little newsletter, “Wonderful World,” now with an awake and scrutinising mind. He shakes his head at some things, grimaces at others, but mostly nods and smiles. As CECELIA returns, he gives a little, self-satisfied chuckle.)

HENRY: Didn’t realize I was such a scholar when I’m half-asleep. I should try it more often, eh?

CECELIA: Eh.

(she plops down next to him and fills a mug with tea, offering HENRY none. He thinks to ask for a cup, but relents. Instead, he resorts to the painful excursion of small talk, the 800 pound gorilla very tangible.)

HENRY: You really love your tea, don’t you?

CECELIA: This is to keep me awake, Walters… (she takes a sip) In case you haven’t realized, it’s two in the morning.

HENRY: Is it really? (He checks at a mantle clock.) Blimey, good thing I don’t work tomorrow… why didn’t you wake me?

(any hopefulness in his voice is immediately dashed by Cecelia’s response.)

CECELIA: Mum said I wasn’t allowed to. And just for the record, she gave you the blanket ‘n’ pillow. I just made sure you didn’t, I dunno, sleepwalk off a balcony or something stupid like that.

HENRY: See, that’s why I like you, Cecelia. You’re not afraid to tell me if I’m being…well…

CECELIA: A right ass?

HENRY: Something like that, yeah…

CECELIA: Well, if that’s what you like, you’re in luck.

(she gives him a knock on the head, but it’s more playful than malicious.)

Honestly, Henry… I’ve known you for, what, almost ten years?

(Henry nods.)

And in that whole time, I’ve barely known you to even complain. Back in school, someone would have had to rip three of your legs off before you’d raise a concern, and now… singing, dancing, fighting, spending a morning in JAIL, for Pete’s sake, and now…now this!

(she grabs at the stack of paper on the coffee table, waggling them in HENRY’s face. He just smiles.)

What’s gotten into you, lately?

HENRY: Things are coming together, Cecelia, that’s all. I’m starting to put my life together, and I guess now that I am I’m seeing what the problems are, and I’m trying to fix them.

CECELIA: Well, brillo bananas for you, Sunshine. Too bad the rest of the world isn’t going to lie down and let you change it so you can “put things together.”

(gesturing to the paper again)

Do you really mean all of that stuff?

HENRY: Except for the grammatical errors and run-on sentences, but I was hoping someone could proofread it…

CECELIA: Aaaugh!

(Her outburst is most unorthodox for this late at night. Thankfully, her parents sleep like a stone. However, the neighbor lady from downstairs gives a thump on her ceiling with a broom handle. CECELIA, cowed and in a funk, slumps deep into the sofa.)

CECELIA: (arms crossed, addressed to the downstairs neighbor) Nasty old bat, she should mind her own business…

HENRY: Cecelia…

CECELIA: (A little exasperated) What, Henry?

HENRY: Do you… have a problem with the things I’ve written?

CECELIA: (throwing a raptorial arm across her face and snorting angrily)

Henry, it’s just…I…you… blimey, it’s impossible to say anything to you, you know? You’re just so bloody nice all the time!

HENRY: I’ll manage, Cecelia. Tell me.

CECELIA: It’s… it’s not that I disagree with any of the things you wrote, Henry. You’re right, we live by a bunch of rules that haven’t made sense for a few centuries… but that’s the way things are. It’s how people live, Henry. You can’t just go around telling people how to live, you’ll get crushed!

HENRY: (earnestly) Even if what they’re doing is wrong?

CECELIA: Yes!

HENRY: So I’m supposed to let people keep doing what’s wrong?

CECELIA: That’s not what I meant, I–

HENRY: It’s okay for everyone to lie and go through their lives hiding from everyone else, just because that’s the way it’s always been? It doesn’t make sense, Cecelia! If everyone knows it’s a bad idea, why keep doing it?

CECELIA: Because that’s life, Henry!

(she shouts again. The thumps come again. CECELIA angrily thumps back. Once she’s finished venting on the old crone below her, she turns back to HENRY, more serious than before.)

(with a sigh) Like it or not, Henry, there are a lot of people who still believe in the old rules, and the worst part is that they’ve got the biggest mouths. They are the ones who keep it going, and they’re the ones who browbeat the rest of us into feeling afraid that we’ll upset someone.

HENRY: (interrupting her) So you’re saying I can’t browbeat people the other way? It seems to work for these other people you’re talking about!

CECELIA: Let me finish, Henry! They’re dangerous people, they believe in their ideas, and that’s much more dangerous than just having an idea.

(HENRY moves to speak, but CECELIA stops him with a glare.)

And I know you believe in your idea…but you’re just one bug. There’s a lot more people who bully us into following the rules, and there’s a lot, lot more people who follow them. You won’t be able to change the world by yourself, Henry!

(there is a long silence, during which CECELIA downs another mug of tea.)

Look… my Mom married a man she didn’t love, and killed him, because that’s the way things are. Then, she married my Dad, and said that I was from the first marriage, because that’s the way things are. Everyone does it, and things seem to work just fine. I know it’s wrong, we all know it’s wrong… but you can’t just change everyone’s minds overnight, even if you become a martyr to the cause…

(HENRY looks over at her, shocked at what she is implying by the term “martyr.”)

I’m worried about you, Henry. You know I care for you, or else I wouldn’t be saying all of this. You could get hurt if you take this outside of this flat, and outside of your own head.

(she turns to him, her face a little red…maybe it’s from the tea.)

Just…be careful, all right? You may be an ass, but you’re still the nicest man I’ve ever met, and I’d…I’d have a hard time dealing with you being gone, all right?

(CECELIA, now thoroughly flustered, fairly leaps back into her tea. As she’s halfway through the second mug since sitting down, the kettle goes off in the kitchen. She hurries to attend to it while HENRY sits silently, a little dourly, poring over his writings. CECELIA re-enters with a mug of tea that she hands to HENRY. He immediately takes a sip, looking pensively into the cup.)

HENRY: If I could change the way people think around here, would you marry me?

(CECELIA very nearly sprays tea all over again, but catches herself and swallows painfully.)

CECELIA: (spluttering) Come again?

HENRY: (with a small smile) I think you would.

(he takes another drink from the cup, and sets it on a coaster.)

Sorry, but I can’t finish the tea. It is late, and I should be getting home. I’ve got a lot of work to do…

(He moves to the door, and something in the way he said that last sentence upsets CECELIA. She pursues him quickly, slapping a hand on the doorknob before he can.)

CECELIA: (incredibly worried) Henry…don’t be stupid.

(she opens the door.)

HENRY: (grabbing his bowler hat, he heads out. While on the landing of the staircase, he turns to CECELIA.)

You say I can’t change the world by myself, Cecelia…

(he plops the hat on his head, a little rakishly. He grins a mile-wide grin that CECELIA’s never seen from him before.)

Wait and see.

(before she can protest, he’s off and down the stairs, papers in hand. CECELIA stands by the open door, perplexed and worried, before the old biddy of a firefly comes trundling up the stairs, her rear end trying to light with an old and feeble vehemence.)

BIDDY: You! Brown! If I’ve told you once, I’ve told your savage lot a thousand times, keep the noise down at night! I can’t hear my stories on the telly! And who was that man I saw on the stairs? You entertaining this late? Not like a mantis to leave a suitor with his head still attached, now is it? Oi, are you listening to me? Pay attention when your elders speak, you carnivore! And they wonder why the world’s gone to pieces! Keep the racket down, do you hear me, you great spindly murderer?

(CECELIA finally snaps to and looks down at the old BIDDY with a cold, hard stare. With a low growl, she slams the door in the BIDDY’s face.)

CECELIA: Oh, piss off, Grandma!

Henry on a Wednesday. Works for me!

(Scene fades to a general montage of the ladies from the shop dragging LEW about for a night on the town. They do the old “go into a shop, jump cut, emerge a few seconds later with person in new clothes” with him, and proceed to drag him down to one of the local nightclubs, which is situated underneath an old piece of farm equipment. Now, as we’ve seen before, nightclubs don’t seem to be LEW’s kind of scene, so he looks awfully uncomfortable as five or six ladies of varying ages fawn over him, buy him drinks, and generally try to embarrass him into having a little fun. The bartender, of course, gives LEW a look that says “Lucky sod!” because bartenders always seem to have that sort of omnipotent wisdom to them. Eventually, through several uncomfortable hugs and mandatory dances, LEW begins to relax…although maybe it’s the sneaky amount of liquid happy present in the club’s fluorescent line of drinks.)

LEW: (to bartender)

Thanks, mate. (as he and VERA get the next round of drinks in all colors of the rainbow. They head back with hardly a word to each other, both rather embarrassed and obviously forced into getting the drinks.)

So… how’d you wind up with a name like Vera, anyway?

VERA: (trying, with some difficulty, to carry one of the trays, but responding without her customary shyness, but rather an overeager nervous stammer.) It’s not actually my full name, it was moi Gran’mum’s name, acktchally… short for Verbena.

LEW: (amused to no end) You’re kiddin’ me.

VERA: (not getting it) No, ‘er name was Verbena Gladstone, me Mum’s Mum.

LEW: No wonder you wound up workin’ at the shop, (he chuckles again as they reach the table) both your names could be stock.

VERA: Oi, don’t be mean! (she pouts)

LEW: Clarice, darlin! Could you make sure the shelves are plenty full of that new “Verbena Aloe Vera” foot cream? Thanks, luv!

VERA: Why, you cheeky…!

(she tries to swat him, but almost loses her tray in the process. With an awkward squawk, she looks ready to topple over.)

LEW: Here, let me help you with that.

(he plucks the tray from her shaky hand.)

VERA: Oi don’t need your ‘elp, funny-boy.

(she snatches for the tray in LEW’s hand, but is far too short. Now nearly fuming, she plops down into the table in a fine funk.)

LEW: Aw, don’t be upset, Vera… (she’s not buying it). Awww, come on… look, I’ll make iy up to you. Aask me something, anything you want. I promise I’ll answer, awright?

VERA: (gives him a scrutinizing look)

Really?

LEW: Really. (he smiles as if to say “trust me.”)

VERA: Awroight…why do you work at the shop?

(LEW’s face immediately falls and he shrinks in the chair. VERA, fully in control now, presses the issue)

VERA: Come on now, Mr. Oxford… why does a big, tough construction bug loike yew spend his days off sellin’ creams and poultices? Eh?

LEW: (who had been expecting another question) Vera, er…couldn’t you ask something else?

VERA: Nope, now spill it.

LEW: Er, well… you know what I am, right?

VERA: You’re a right turd for dodgin’ the question, you are.

LEW: (earnestly) Come on, Vera! You know what I am, right? You know…what kind of bug I am?

VERA: (rolling her eyes) Yew can’t be serious.

LEW: I am. I work there so I make sure no one can ever call me…y’know…

VERA: Stinky?

LEW: (crestfallen) Yeah. It’s…well…it’s a constant worry. I don’t want anyone to have that reason to tear me down. It’s bad enough I am what I am. I’ve got to make sure everyone sees the best, or I’m no better than those crumbs from this morning…

VERA: (seeing his wounded pride, she sidles a little closer)

Well, d’you know wot Oi say t’that?

LEW: What?

VERA: (with a massive grin)

Sod ’em. Let’s dance!

(she goes to stand up, but LEW catches her hand and pulls her back down next to him.)

LEW: Not yet, Vera. Let’s…let’s wait til this song is over, awright?

(LEW is obviously a little flustered. The two smile at each other as the nightclub’s band begins a new song. Coincidentally, the band happens to feature the gypsy moth busker and the piano playing beetle from the pub. The beetle takes lead vocals as the moth backs him. All the noise of the bar melts away into a low murmur, and camera slowly pans away from LEW and VERA, locked in a gaze, and over to the band.)

There’s a kind of hush all over the world tonight.
All over the world you can hear the sounds of lovers in love.
You know what I mean.

(camera switches back to LEW and VERA)

Just the two of us and nobody else in sight.
There’s nobody else and I’m feeling good just holding you tight.

(LEW attempts to put a trembling arm around VERA’s shoulders. She allows it. He beams)

So listen very carefully.
Closer now and you will see what I mean.
It isn’t a dream.

(VERA leans in and puts her head on LEW’s broad shoulder. LEW swallows uncomfortably and blanches a little, but stays in his seat.)

The only sound that you will hear
Is when I whisper in your ear
I love you forever and ever.

(the camera switches back to the band)

There’s a kind of hush all over the world tonight.
All over the world you can hear the sounds of lovers in love.
La-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la

(scene dissolves to the BROWN’s house. CECELIA is stroking the head of HENRY as he sleepily, half-consciously sings the rest of the song by himself. The flat is empty, and the night is quiet and soft, a far cry from the bustling nightclub.)

HENRY:
So listen very carefully.
Closer now and you will see what I mean.

(he yawns.)

It isn’t a dream.
The only sound that you will hear
Is when I whisper in your ear
I love you forever and ever

(the words slow more and more as he finishes the song, finally drifting off into a slumbering morass.)

There’s a kind of hush all over the world tonight.
All over the world people just like us are fallin’ in love.
Yeah, they’re fallin’ in love.
Hush, they’re fallin’ in love.

CECELIA: (finishes off the song.)
Hush.

(as HENRY falls asleep on her shoulder, she uses her free hand to page through HENRY’s pamphlet one more time. Her face is almost indescribable: admiring, impressed, but at the same time troubled and feeling the first pangs of dread. As the scene fades out, she’s reading it over again from the beginning, her brow furrowed, sighing heavily.)

THE LOST ENTRY

(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.)

Shut up!

(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.)

Henry?!

(CECELIA is immediately and customarily hostile with HENRY, particularly thanks to his exposing of her vulnerabilities the night prior)

Hmph…

(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?

HENRY: Everything!

(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.

(a beat.)

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.)

Back in the Saddle

(Fade to HENRY at his desk, looking like death warmed over, tapping away at his keyboard in a lackluster fashion. His phone rings, and with bleary eyes he picks it up and grumbles into it.)

HENRY: Uh.

(there is a beat as he listens to the person on the phone. He answers with perfect reason and flawless knowledge of the policy, but incredibly deadpan and awfully disinterested.)

HENRY: No, sir, for that incidence you would want the 2546-E form, not a 2546-B. It’s a common mistake. The 2546-E is more suited to your situation, and should answer any and all further questions, but if you have anything else that you are curious about we would be more than happy to help you. Thank you for calling Driscoll Insurance, “the biggest coverage for the smallest folk at a…”

(He heaves a massive yawn.)

HENRY: “competitive price.”

(He hangs up with a lackluster sigh. Between last night’s libations, the morning’s confrontation, and a thoroughly boring job, all with the spectre of meeting with Cecelia later that night and apologizing. With a groan, he lets his forehead land with a THUNK on the desk. A beetle pokes his head around the cubicle, his face warped with confusion.)

BEETLE: Crimony, Walters. You all right?

HENRY: Bleeeeeeuh.

(HENRY leans his head slightly to the left, letting one bloodshot eye poke out into the beetle’s vision. The co-worker recoils in shock.)

BEETLE: You look like garbage, man! What on earth happened to you?

(It’s safe to say that HENRY doesn’t usually lead the wild life. He leans his head back, dangling over the pitifully undersized backrest of his office chair and relates the short version.)

HENRY: Oh, nothing much, Frank. Went out to the pub, had a few, confessed to the woman of my dreams that I’ve been planning a storybook life with her for five years, suffered a head injury, got into a fight, spent an hour in jail, and tonight I’ll have to go an apologize to said woman of my dreams for my idiotic behavior, all on five hours of sleep and a bit of a hangover.

(there is a pause while the beetle’s jaw drops to the floor. With a shake of his head, he ducks back into the safety of his own cubicle.)

BEETLE: Cripes. Sorry I asked.

(HENRY’S head thunks onto the desk once more, but this time onto the keyboard. There’s a fade to show that a little time has passed, with HENRY unmoving, until the ant janitor comes by to empty the rubbish bin. With a tiny smile, the ant bangs the bin around noisily in the larger bin, causing HENRY to jolt awake with a snort and a tiny little bit of drool.)

HENRY: Huh-wha?!

JANITOR: Look sharpish, sweetie. Boss man’s comin.

(HENRY immediately begins to spastically re-arrange his desk area, trying to show that something has been happening. With dismay, he looks up at his computer screen to see seventeen pages of Y’s.)

JANITOR: Best get rid of your little novel there, too. Don’t know if anyone wants to read that!

(HENRY starts to mash the delete key, his face crunched into a scowl. From the other cubicle, the beetle from earlier calls out jokingly.)

BEETLE: You should have him write you the story he was tellin’ me, Millie. That’d be a bestseller, no sweat!

(a light goes on in HENRY’s head. As the two begin to chatter about his embarrassing story, HENRY highlights the block of Y’s and delets them, and immediately begins typing voraciously. MR. DRISCOLL trundles by and barks at the other two.)

DRISCOLL: Oi, you two! Stop with the chitchat, I’m running a business here!

(he gestures vaguely to HENRY, who is suddenly energetic and typing eagerly, almost maniacally.)

DRISCOLL: Good-for-nothings! Why can’t you be more like, er… you know…what’s his face there. (they peek around the cubicle to see HENRY working like a madman. They smile.)

DRISCOLL: Look at him, diligently typing away…

(DRISCOLL’s voice fades out as the camera zooms in on the computer screens, where words are appearing feverishly under the title line of “WONDERFUL WORLD.”)

Droog

OK, feeling a little burnt, but I’ve been tossing this one round for a while.
As Simon & Garfunkel are notoriously tight-fisted with their song rights, using “Cecelia” might be a problem. Might I suggest another Herman’s Hermits song, entitled “Jezebel?”

If ever a devil was born
Without a pair of horns, it was you
Jezebel it was you
If ever a pair of eyes promised paradise, it was you
Jezebel it was you
If ever a devil’s plan was made to torment man,
Deceiving me, grieving me, leaving me blue
Jezebel it was you

if ever a devil was born
Without a pair of horns, it was you
Jezebel it was you
If ever a pair of eyes promised paradise, it was you
Jezebel it was you
If ever a devil’s plan was made to torment man,
Deceiving me, grieving me, leaving me blue
Jezebel it was you

Be better had I never known a lover such as you
Forsaking dreams and all
For the siren’s call of your charms
Jezebel

If ever a devil’s plan was made to torment man
Deceiving me, grieving me, leaving me blue
Jezebel it was you
Night and day
Every way
Oh Jezebel
Jezebel
Jezebel

BONUS HALF-GERMAN VIDEO!

Also notice the lead singer’s voice. That’s pretty much how I hear Henry’s voice.

Born free?

(The ladies from the shop are fairly mobbing HENRY and LEW as they exit the police station.)

HENRY: Seems odd, doesn’t it?

LEW: What? Us goin’ free? Sounds like justice to me, mate.

HENRY: Not exactly. Officer…McHugh, I think… didn’t you notice something about him?

LEW: Other than him having the hots for Clarice?

HENRY: (poleaxed) What?

LEW: (waves him off as HENRY shakes his suddenly muddled head) Nothing. You were saying?

HENRY: Er…the officer, some things he said, did they seem…I dunno…weird to you?

LEW: Ah. You mean the accent, right? Probably Cork, or Kerry, or Tipperary, you know the type…

HENRY: That’s it!

LEW: (his turn to be perplexed) Tipperary?!

HENRY: No! What you said right there. “You know the type.” He said something like that, too. He said he assumed we were guilty because we were a mantis and a shield bug…doesn’t that seem wrong to you? I mean, I know we don’t have the best histories, what with our violence and your…well… Anyway, I just found it really strange that he would have locked us up just because of who, er…what we are!

LEW: Mate, how long you been livin’ here?

HENRY: Five years or so. Why?

LEW: I know it ain’t pleasant, but… certain bugs are treated bad because they’re…certain bugs. That’s just the way it is around here, and we’ve got to do our best to… ladies! All right! Get on, will you?

HENRY: (diplomatically) We’re very glad you helped, really, but Lew and I have to get to work… (to himself) and I’ll eventually have to talk to Cecelia…

LEW: I’d take your matters of the heart over what I’ve gotta deal with…

HENRY: Graves?

LEW: Graves. Big, useless lump… one of these days, I’ll give him his, and then–Oi! Would you lot knock it off?!

(the ladies from the shop have continued to follow close behind LEW, particularly VERA.)

LEW: Don’t you have anywhere to be?

(the ladies answer, in various ways, that no, they do not. LEW slaps an exasperated palm to his forehead and groans.)

HENRY: You’re sure the popular one, aren’t you?

LEW: Knock it off and help me, you twit.

HENRY: You want me to help you?

LEW: Yes.

HENRY: You want me to get them off your back?

LEW: Yes!

HENRY: So you can get to work this morning?

LEW: Damn it all, YES!

HENRY: All right then. (he clears his throat and addresses the mini-throng at large) Oi, ladies! Sadly, your beloved Mr. Oxford has to get to work…

(there is a general pouting and despondent sighing)

HENRY: Yes, tragic. BUT! I have been given authorization for all of you to take Mr. Oxford out on the town as soon as he gets off work!

(there is cheering and general merriment. LEW begins to bristle.)

HENRY: In fact, why don’t you all get yourselves all dressed up and meet him at the gate when he’s done working? He’s busy putting up a new hospital over on Hampton street, and he’s working hard, like a good, strong bug…

(there are a few giggles from the small crowd.)

HENRY: And I think you owe it to him to show him a fantastic evening. Sound good?

LADIES: YEAH!!!

(and so on. They almost immediately disperse, chatting animatedly. LEW fixes HENRY with a death glare the moment they are all out of sight. HENRY rolls his eyes.)

HENRY: Trust me, mate, you’ll thank me. Just go with them tonight, all right? You can’t tell me you had plans for this evening…

LEW: I did!

(HENRY gives him a look that says “and…?” LEW offers a weak excuse.

LEW: There were shows on tonight I was going to watch, is all…

HENRY: (smiles) Then catch the reruns, mate. Now get going, you don’t wanna be late again!

LEW: (eyes him suspiciously) …You’re a weird bug, Walters.

(he begins to trundle off, but HENRY can’t resist having the last word.)

HENRY: So says my best friend!

(LEW shakes his head and keeps walking. The camera stays on HENRY, still smiling, until he turns to go the opposite direction to his own job…and his face crashes.)

HENRY: (groans) Oh, blimey…

(he has a string of muddy flashbacks to the previous night: his singing and dancing, his proclamations, his secrets, his antics. It makes him blush slightly as he trudges into work, head down.)

HENRY: Eight hours, then…

(quick flash to CECELIA’s blushing and flabbergasted face.)

Cecelia…

Tuesday is coming. Did you bring your coat?

(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!

just a little something to move it along…

(The sheild bug skids senselessly to a halt a few yards away, and the camera swings left to see a very unhappy, very unhealthy HENRY, his breath coming in heaving gasps, his arms hanging almost dead at his side, as if he expended the very last of his energy in that uncharacteristic punch.)

HENRY: (still gasping) That’s… that’s enough of that…

(LEW is, to say the least, baffled. He stands there, mandibles agape, his gaze shifting from one bug, upturned in a filthy rubbish bin, and the other knocked batty on the sidewalk. The few pedestrians on the street that early are beginning to crowd around and gawk a little, which is never a good thing.)

LEW: Oh, bollocks…Henry, Henry, mate, snap out of it! Hank!

(he attempts to get HENRY moving, but nothing doing. Between the hangover, the frustration, and his still tense feelings over CECELIA, he’s absolutely given up. Sure enough, before long a pillbug police officer comes strutting up, knee-deep in the stereotype. He spins a short nightstick on one of his arms as he totters by.)

COP: Oi, oi, what’s all this now?

(LEW immediately tries to remedy the situation.)

LEW: Terribly sorry, officer. We were on our way to work, see, and these two, y’see, they just, er, I mean, they were really gettin…y’know…

COP: S’alright, boy. I know you shield bugs ain’t th’ brightest. How bout your strange lookin’ friend, there? Does he have anything to say, mm? Looks in a dreadful state, I’d say… (he eyeballs HENRY) well, ye great tall thing, can you tell me what happened here? You look a fright!

(HENRY looks at him with bleary eyes.)

HENRY: I feel awful, officer.

COP: Ah! A nice bit of honesty so early in the mornin. Warms me heart, it does. So can you tell me, son, what happened here?

HENRY: (flatly, without embellishment) These two bugs were giving my friend trouble, so I stopped them.

COP:(clutching at his chest) Oh stop, son! Any more blatant honesty an’ I’ll die of disbelief!

LEW: Officer, he’s not in his right mind, he’s had a rough night, and…

COP: (dismissing him) Don’t worry, boyo. These two ruffians have been givin’ the neighborhood a black eye for some time now. Sure if I wasn’t on duty I’d congratulate you two for what you did, but I’m not, so I can’t… (he uses the club to tip his hat back worriedly) and protocol says I’ll have to process all four of you down at the station, so I’m sorry…but you’ll have to come with me, all right?

LEW: (resigned) All right.

HENRY: (still flatly) Sure.

(the COP radios for help, and leads all four of them away, and eventually the crowd disperses…except the few ladies from the Bath & Body Shop, still stunned with what has happened.)

CLARICE: Oh, my goodness…

LADY: What are we going to do?

OTHER LADY: Oh, poor Lewie…

(etc etc. Finally, VERA speaks up.)

VERA: Oi, you lot! Are we just gonna stan’ here, chunnerin’ about how orful this awl is…or are we gonna do somethin?

(She strikes out resolutely, and the rest of the ladies follow.)

Scroll down for the beginning!

(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?

HENRY: I…well…I…

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?

LEW: Guaranteed.

(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.)

BUG 1:
Dandy, dandy,
Where you gonna go now?
Who you gonna run to?
All your little life
Youre chasing all the girls.
They cant resist your smile.

BUG 2:
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.

BUG 1:
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.

UNISON:
Oh, you low down dandy, dandy.
Dandy!

BUG 1:
Dandy, you know youre moving much too fast,

BUG 2:
And dandy, you know you cant escape the past.

BUG 1:
Look around you and see the people settle down,

BUG 2:
And when youre old and grey you will remember what they said,

UNISON:
That two girls are too many, threes a crowd and four youre dead.

BUG 1:
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.)