There are two sides to every love story. One sweet, the other…
EXT. SUBURBAN STREET – DAY
A street with a mix of old houses, new mansions and trendy townhouses.
A run-down single-storey brick house, with paint peeling on the window frames and an old car on the lawn sits beside a funky double-storey townhouse, with metallic pink car on its cobbled drive.
The clang of a cheap screen door banging shut as JACKSON, early 40s, ruggedly handsome, emerges from the brick house. He wears a paint-spattered shirt as he kneels to work on a garden bed at the side between the houses. His side is full of weeds and neglect, while his neighbour’s is well-mulched, well-tended with pink flowers blooming.
A second clang as his son, LOGAN, long-hair, grungy, 10, emerges to shoot baskets in an old hoop in the yard.
From Jacksons POV, the sound of a more solid screen door closing and high-heels clacking on cobblestones towards him. Pretty feet with painted toenails in immaculate shoes appear at ground level. He admires the curve of the ankle and the flow upwards of a shapely female leg.
Good morning Jackson.
SARA, late 30s, is attractive in a sunshiny, just-scrubbed way.
In the garden early this morning?
Well, it was kind of overdue.
I’m hopeless, me. Wouldn’t know one end of a plant from the other. Luckily, I have a gardener to help with that.
Jackson gives her a tight smile and continues weeding. Bang, bang of the basketball hoop behind him.
It’s another lovely day. Makes you glad to be alive, doesn’t it? What are you and Logan planning to do today?
I don’t know. Car’s broken down. I have to fix that.
You fix cars too? You’re useful to have around. Whenever Pixie – that’s what I call my car – breaks down, I call Walt, the mechanic. He comes to my rescue and lends me a car to run around in while he does the repair. I couldn’t go a day without my wheels. If you need a lift anywhere, I’d be happy to oblige.
Thanks. I’m okay. And if Logan needs to go anywhere, he’s got two legs to take him.
You are so right, Jackson. Our kids don’t do nearly enough exercise, what with all the screen time they have.
Logan blows a gum bubble. It bursts loudly.
Sara’s daughter, CLARE, 10, neat and girlish, emerges. She and Logan stare openly at each other like creatures from alien worlds. He thumps the ball into the hoop. She watches but does not react.
Clare Sweetie. Do you want to pick some flowers for the hall vase? (to Jackson) We like fresh flowers. It brightens up the house.
Until they start to wilt and die.
Don’t worry. As soon as they start looking sad, out they go. That dead flower vibe? No-one needs that.
Clare picks flowers. Logan watches, expressionless.
I’m loving this neighbourhood. Have you been here long?
This was my parents’ place. I’ve been round the area for most of my life.
Really? I move every five years or so. I get bored in one place. But that’s just me – short attention span. You’re a more steady guy. Which is admirable.
INT. JACKSON’S HOUSE – DAY
Jackson’s place is full of old furniture, inherited from elderly parents. It’s messy and his walls need painting. There’s some quirky art on the wall. Logan slumps on the sofa playing with the ball as his dad paces, angrily.
Did you hear that? (Imitating her) I get bored in one place. But you’re a more steady guy.
(shakes head in anger)
INT. SARA’S KITCHEN – DAY
In a neat open plan room, with pinks and pastel shades, Clare arranges flowers in the vase. Sara paces, tense.
I sounded like such an air-head out there. I’m a psychologist. I speak to doctors at conferences and I do business seminars. But that man turns me into a babbling idiot. It’s just, I find him so … attractive, in this animal kind of way.
Clare squirts the flowers with spritzer, eyes wide.
INT. JACKSON’S HOUSE – EARLY EVENING
Jackson puts sausages on his son’s plate and they sit down to eat. On the bench, are lots of papers, including a letter which Jackson picks up and reads.
I get two or three of these letters a month – from real estate agents wanting properties in this “sought-after” area. Maybe I should sell, take the cash move out west where people don’t have gardeners to help them because they “don’t know which end of the plant is which”. And there are no Walts to fix their pretty pink cars. Do I sound bitter?
Logan has a big mouthful of sausage and can’t answer.
Yeah, I’m bitter.
INT. SARA’S KITCHEN – EARLY EVENING
Sara opens the fridge to reveal a super-neat arrangement of food. There are stacks of plastic containers. She takes out two, as Clare gets plates, cutlery and napkins.
I’d really like to ask him out. For dinner, or a drink? But what if he says no? That would be awkward.
EXT. SARA’S FRENCH HERB GARDEN – EARLY EVENING
Sara and Clare eat salad and cupcakes at a tiled French table, amidst gravel and herbs.
I hope he doesn’t see all the salad containers in my garbage. He’ll think I’m totally hopeless, that I can’t do a thing for myself. Well, he’d be right. I’m not very domestic. And he’s so self-reliant. And speaking of garbage, I have to put the bins out later. Better make sure I wear something nice in case I run into him.
Clare has a mouthful of cake and can’t answer.
INT. JACKSON’S HOUSE – NIGHT
Jackson works at a canvas on an easel, throwing paint at it like he’s trying to hurt it.
Every time we have a conversation, she’s so condescending. Like I’m an idiot, a simpleton. It makes my blood boil.
Logan’s appears, sucking on a lollipop.
I should go round there and tell her what I think of her and her domestic staff. Tell her where to stick her gardeners and flowers which brighten up her day. I was here first. I’m as good as her, or anyone on the street. No matter how many convertibles they have in the driveway. I don’t have to take that crap.
Logan crunches his lollipop, eyes narrowing in anger.
INT. SARA’S LOUNGE – DAY
Clare is focused on an I-pad, as Sara enters, dressed up.
Do I look okay? I’m going to put the bins out now. I probably won’t even see him. But if I do …? Should I ask him over for dinner? Only I can’t cook. And dinner sounds a bit intense. Maybe it should just be tea? Mum didn’t teach me much in the kitchen, but I do make a good cuppa. That’s if I even have the nerve to ask.
She stops, distracted by a painting of a sunken New York city with weird human fish around it. Signed F.T.
I have one of his paintings on the wall. Is that a bit stalker-ish?
I’ll have to tell him about it before he comes over. If he comes over. He’s just so talented. He really deserves more commercial success.
Clare looks over, glaze-eyed, then back at the screen.
Anyway, wish me luck.
As she leaves, Clare puts the I-pad down and follows.
EXT. JACKSON’S HOUSE – NIGHT
The door bangs shut as he storms out of his dark yard into hers, triggering a blaze of security lights.
EXT. SARA’S HOUSE – NIGHT
Sara emerges with a garbage bin and a few plastic containers to find Jackson on the front stairs.
Oh, I was just going to put the rubbish out. Is it containers tonight?
I think so, but ..err..
He’s distracted by how good she looks. She notices.
Are you going out somewhere?
No err. The truth is I was going to ask you over for dinner one night. Or afternoon tea, if you’d prefer. There, I’ve said it.
You want me to come for dinner at your house. Why?
You’re a smart guy. You’ll figure it out.
As Jackson twigs what’s going on, the frosty demeanour begins to change to flirtatious.
Well, it wouldn’t be to help with the gardening – you have a gardener. Or to fix your car – Walt does that.
You remember his name?
There’s another bang of the screen door. Clare peers around her mother and sees Logan slip out and disappear into the dark. Clare goes out to see where he is.
Before you come over, though I have a confession to make. I have a painting of yours on my wall.
Really? Which one?
New York, New York. With the city underwater. Let me just say – I admire what you do so much. A lot of people try to get the message out about global warming. But your paintings do it so well. I see why they call you the Fortune Teller.
Well, thank you. I wish more of the art buying public thought so. But hearing an intelligent, and beautiful woman like yourself say that – sorry, may I say that about you?
…makes it all worthwhile.
Clare goes towards the car, and hears a hissing sound. She goes round to the other side. The rear tyre is totally flat. And Logan is working on letting the air out of the front tyre, with a screw driver. Clare glares at him. He glares back. The parents voices are a background hum of flirtation.
Jackson is smiling at Sara now. Sara smiles coyly back.
Yeah, dinner would be lovely.