Interior, Kitchen, Morning
The couple are vibrant. Early 30’s, professional. Wife in a smart, sexy business suit, cup of coffee in hand as she rushes about the kitchen getting a few scraps of breakfast in before she goes off to work. Infant sits in a high chair, spoon in hand fumbling about with a bowl of oats. More of the oats are on his face than in his bowl. Man...day off, still in his pyjama bottoms and navy tee, quietly putting together a salad lunch for his wife into a smart Tupperware container with a cooler block and savvy compartments to separate different items.
Wife gathers up her handbag, cell phone, checks her lipstick in one of the glass kitchen cupboard doors. She kisses Man on the cheek and hands him a piece of paper, a list of things to do today. She kisses her infant son on the way out the door then it’s Man and child...a day together.
Interior, House, Morning.
Man washes and dries the dishes, makes the bed and the baby’s cot, vacuums the carpets, puts a load of washing on. Man and child shower splash, splash, splash. Giggling and laughter. cuddles and kisses. Man dresses himself - jeans, light shirt and trendy jacket, and his son - puts a cute little outfit on - a smart long sleeved tee, bib and brace overalls, denim, smart shoes and hat. His son looks hip. Prepares the nappy bag, a lunch for the child, the stroller. Packs it all in the car - a smart European sedan with a roof rack mounted luggage pod on top. Straps the baby in, gathers the list from his wife, puts it in his pocket. Then they are off, Man and son ready to embrace the day.
Interior/Exterior, The Car, Morning.
Man, driving along, feeling light and happy. Singing along to the iPod through the car’s stereo, son giggling with glee in the baby seat in back waving his arms about trying to imitate the Man.
Exterior, Shopping Precinct Car-Park, Mid Morning.
Man pulls the car into the parking bay marked by a symbol of the child and the parent. He is impressed. Lots of space here. First time. Man gets out and opens the rear door. His son smiles broadly.
The voice comes from behind the Man. He lurches up, hitting his head on the inside of the door space as he does so. Man sees stars. Then he sees a woman, an angry woman. A mother with a child - an older child, a daughter, clutching a doll. The woman is waving her arms, pointing accusingly at him, then at the sign denoting the car space as a stroller friendly space. She swears, she spits.
"Who do you think you are?! This is not for you! You don’t belong here!"
Man stares at her, shocked. His mouth open in surprise, his head stills throbs. The woman continues to berate him. Man reaches up, opens the pod. Reveals the baby stroller. Stands to one side reveals his son, sitting in the baby seat looking at her, wide eyed smile on his face. The woman falls silent, eyes wide with surprise. She hesitates then abruptly marches off, her daughter trailing behind her like a rag doll.
Man, shakes his head as he watches her go, rubs the spot where he hit his head then turns to his child.
Interior, Grocery store, Day.
Man negotiates the grocery aisle pushing the stroller with one hand, holding a basket in the other. Checking items off the list as he does so. He is feeling better, feeling good that this task is almost done. He walks slowly along, checking the shelves for a particularly hard to find item. He thinks of his wife momentarily, loves her. Her next culinary masterpiece lies in the ingredients he gets here. Man doesn’t want to let her down.
Man turns abruptly, straining his neck as he does so. A couple is behind him - right behind him. They are obese. Husband with a dirty, grubby woolen sweater, his hairy stomach bulging out from underneath the untucked pants. Wife, sour face, too much make-up, sweat beads forming underneath the foundation. Both of them glare at Man with contempt.
"What are you doing? Day dreaming?! You wanna move out of the fucking way?!"
The Husband is butting the trolley into the backs of Man’s ankles, grunting as though he were trying to push Man aside. Man quickly tries to move the stroller into the middle of the aisle, fumbling with the basket. The obese couple barge their way through. Man up end’s the basket, it’s contents spilling everywhere, glass jars smashing on the tiled floor The couple don’t even stop but snicker as they briefly glance back.
"He doesn’t belong here"
Man desperately tries to maneuver out of the way as more trolleys approach from either end of the aisle. A shop assistant approaches with an angry look on her face, armed with a mop and bucket, brush and shovel.
"Oi!! You’ll have to pay for those items!"
Suddenly from beside the Man, son plucks a jar of gherkins from the shelf beside him, knocking two accompanying jars off the shelf. They smash on the floor. The shop assistant glares at the Man.
The son giggles with delight.
Interior, Shopping Center, Day.
The baby is crying, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. A smell rises from below. Man screws his nose up but he smiles at his son, a little wearily. His neck still hurts as does the lump that has risen on the back of his head. Man looks ahead of him, sees the sign for the toilets.
Relieved, he angles the stroller towards the Men’s toilets.
Man jumps and swings his head around, straining the other side of his neck now. An elderly, curmudgeonly man is there, a janitor. He shakes his head. Man hesitates, looks at the older gentleman quizzically. The janitor raises his hand and points a knarled finger towards another door. One with a sign denoting the baby change room. The door opens and a woman emerges with a baby hanging from a harness on her chest. She regards the Man with disinterest, perhaps distaste. Man angles the the stroller towards the closing door as the woman brushes past him.
Inside, Man is confronted by four or five women. Some sitting, breast feeding, some standing at the benches, the change tables, removing soiled nappies, replacing them with fresh and clean ones. They are chatting, laughing, gossiping. They fall silent as Man enters, struggling to negotiate the stroller with the fat shopping bags hanging off it through the doorway. He regards them with a polite smile, the women turn away from him whispering to each other.
"He doesn’t belong here"
Strangely, that affects him more than the fat couple from the grocery store or the mother in the car park. He feels his heart sink. Man finds an empty corner away from the others. He changes his son's nappy in silence. The women behind him are whispering. He can hear them. As he lifts his refreshed son from the change table and deposits him back into the stroller, Man glances over at the women, their whispers stop. They look away from him. Man feels that twinge again - a twinge of embarrassment as he maneuvers the stroller out of the baby change room.
Interior, Shopping Center, Day.
His son babbles cheerily as Man pushes the stroller along. Son look up at his father with a loving smile. Man looks down upon his son. He can only manage a wan smile in return.
Interior, Food Hall, Day.
Man searches for a place to sit down. He is balancing a tray with a coffee and a sandwich on top of the stroller. The son is crying, hungry. There is a parents area with wide spaces between the tables. Man heads towards there, spies an empty table. He moves towards it. A trio of women armed with strollers of their own cut in front of him, totally disregarding him and collar the table for themselves. Man just stares. One of the women stare back at him.
Man turns away and finds another table a few minutes later on the edge of the parents area, where the spaces between the tables aren’t so wide. Again he struggles. He sets the tray down, spilling some of his coffee onto the sandwich. The baby is screaming now. Mothers across from him glare at him, some have their breasts out, feeding their babies. Man looks at them blankly, sees their breasts, his eyes widen slightly. They turn away in disgust. Man turns back to his child. He feeds his son, settles him down. His son drops off to sleep. Man turns to his coffee. He raises it to his lips. It is cold. Man’s heart sinks. He sets it down and turns to the sodden sandwich. There is a fly on it. Man’s heart sinks further.
Interior, Shopping Center, Afternoon.
Man walks slowly along. The baby sleeps. The items on the list are checked off now - thankfully. He looks through the window of the a toy store. Sees the Lego sets on display. Remembers them from his own childhood. An electronic games shop. He played alot of games before he was married. He is drawn into the store. It’s been a couple of years now. The games have become more advanced. Man examines the system requirements on the spine of one of the PC games. Way too much for his system now, he thinks wistfully.
Man spins around. Feels something pop in his left knee as he does so. A young, arrogant looking store assistant is coming towards him, pointing an accusing finger at him.
"Your kid is pissing on the merchandise man!!"
Man looks down. His son is awake, has somehow released the buttons on his overalls and his nappy. A thin stream of urine arcs, perfectly, across the space between the stroller and the display shelf splashing across a copy of "Halo 3" for X-box 360.
"You’re gonna have to pay for that...fuuuckk!"
The store assistant rips the contaminated title off the shelf and shoves it into the chest of Man.
"What are you doing bringing a kid in here anyway?!? You don’t belong here!!"
Man stares blankly at the young store assistant. His head drops slightly. A lump rises in his throat.
The store assistant, suddenly appears uncomfortable. He backs away from the Man slightly. This guy is gonna cry, he thinks regretfully.
"Hey...it’s no big deal. We’ve...got a special on that game right now anyways"
Man fishes his wallet from out of his jeans, opens it up and takes out a hundred dollar note. He shoves it into the chest of the store assistant, without looking up. Man leaves the store in silence, his son chewing on the corner of the game’s cover.
Exterior, Shopping Precinct Car-Park, Afternoon.
The Man wearily secures his son into the baby seat, packs the stroller away in the pod. He closes the door and rounds the rear of the car. The group of mothers from the baby change room are coming towards him with their strollers, babies and shopping, chatting, laughing and gossiping. They fall silent as they pass him, regard the Man with aloof distaste. He turns away, prepares to open the door of the car. He looks up and sees the mother that confronted him at this very spot earlier in the day. She is still dragging her daughter along like a rag doll, swearing at her to hurry up. She looks up at the Man briefly and scowls. As the Man secures his seatbelt and starts the car he looks through the windshield he spies the elderly janitor standing on the pavement near the car park. He looks at the old timer, their eyes meet. The elderly man smiles - a smile of empathy, of understanding. He raises a knarled, old hand at the Man, flips a jaunty salute and winks. The Man returns the gesture and nods respectfully.
Exterior/Interior, Car, Late Afternoon.
The Man drives home in silence. The car stereo is dark and silent. The son babbles quietly to himself in back.
Interior, Kitchen, Late Afternoon.
As the Man unpacks the grocery items onto the kitchen bench, his Wife arrives home. The son, who is sitting in his high chair, squeals with delight upon seeing his mother. She races to him, arms outstretched, wraps her baby in a enthusiastic embrace, smothering him in kisses. She then turns to her husband, her Man and plants a lingering, loving kiss on his cheek. He smiles faintly, bows his head slightly
"I am so happy to see you both again", she says.
The Man gazes wearily at his wife.
"You belong here," she says to him. "You belong with me and our baby"
She embraces her husband with a more passionate kiss then draws back from him.
"You look tired. Why don’t you go have a shower? I’ll take over for a while, I’ll pour us a glass of wine"
The Man looks at her silently, then turns slowly. She watches him go, a look of concern in her eyes.
Interior, Bedroom, Evening.
He sits on the edge of the bed. He takes of his jacket. He cups his hands together and rests them in his lap. The lump on his head throbs. His neck is sore, real sore. His knee clicks uncomfortably each time he moves it. He gazes at the window, through the window, through the streetlight beyond. He is silent. A single tear forms at the edge of his right eye, it swells in size...
...Then trickles down his cheek.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Interior, Kitchen, Morning