KNIFE & WIFE
by Paul Rose
FIRST DRAFT EXTRACT
INT. KNIFE AND JANINE’S BEDROOM. MORNING
Norman McKnife – Knife to his friends – is sleeping. He jerks, and mumbles something – he’s having a bad dream. Janine leans into shot, places a brightly-wrapped parcel next to him, and kisses him on the forehead. He leaps into life, utterly panicked, fists lashing out at invisible assailants, and punches Janine in the mouth. She flies backwards off the bed.
Get away from my bins!
He sees who’s woken him up – she’s currently getting up off the floor – and calms down a little
Janine! You scared the ruddy chuff out of me. I thought those kids had come back.
(rubbing her mouth)
Happy anniversary to you too, Norman McKnife.
A beat. Knife wasn’t aware of this. He looks down at his present.
One moment, please.
He looks at Janine suspiciously, opens the bedside cabinet, and frantically searches for something, trying to keep what he’s doing hidden from view. He whips a pillowcase from a pillow, fiddles about a bit, then proudly presents it to Janine. There’s something inside.
Happy anniversary, darling! I got the shop to gift-wrap it in a pillowcase. You know – as a sort of joke.
Unimpressed, she looks inside, and withdraws a half empty bottle of aftershave, “Vagrant: For Men”. The peeling label indicates it cost £1.99.
It’s lovely. And very funny.
EXT. HIGH STREET. NIGHT
Knife’s well-polished, but tiny, car speeds past a restaurant.
INT. KNIFE’S CAR. NIGHT
Knife is driving. He and Janine are dressed for dinner.
Who’s coming tonight?
It’s just us and Brent.
Oh he’s not? He’s so bloody boring.
He’s our son.
What about all our mutual friends?
EXT. CAR PARK. NIGHT
The car pulls into an almost full car park.
INT. KNIFE’S CAR. NIGHT
Our mutual friends didn’t want to come.
Something outside the car distracts him.
Look at that. Disabled, disabled, disabled, and not a single car in any of them. Plenty of spaces for Johnny Wheelchair, but where is he now? Sitting at home and laughing his stumps off because us able-bodied saps can’t get a space near the restaurant. Why can’t I be disabled?
Knife pulls into an ordinary parking space. Janine sighs heavily.
EXT. CAR PARK. NIGHT
The car’s engine switches off, and Knife and Janine emerge.
Look, I don’t want anymore of you being horrible. Tonight is our anniversary dinner, which our son has very kindly organised and paid for out of his student loan, and we’re going to make it a special night for him too.
Knife grumbles, and turns down an alleyway, leading to the high street.
EXT. HIGHT STREET. NIGHT
Knife and Janine walk out onto the high street.
I suppose it was the boy who didn’t bother to invite my friends.
Don’t blame him just because you’re not popular.
I am popular. I’ve got lots of friends, and… look over there! It’s my dear old friend mumblemumblesomething!
Knife walks off, and grabs the hand of the first shop doorway Transient he can find. It happens to be one wearing a helmet made out of tin foil. Knife acts like they’re great chums, making sure Janine overhears their ‘conversation’.
How are you doing, old chap? It’s been years!
(wide-eyed and baffled)
Is this an H.F.Z.?
Is this an H.F.Z? Is it a H-h-hazard Free Zone?
(quickly, becoming concerned)
Err… so, how’s the family? They are? Great, great! Well, I must be off. You ought to come round sometime. Bring the wife.
They removed my brain because the… nng… badness. Coming… nnng. Out. Thankyou. In…
The transient claws at his scalp. A beat.
Well, I have to leave now.
(grabbing Knife’s arm)
Wait. When shall I come for the… nnng… d-dinner?
Please don’t kill me.
The Transient laughs suddenly and insanely, then grabs the by-now-terrified Knife by the temples, and through gritted teeth, shouts…
I always laugh at cartoons!
With an almighty shove, and a panicked shriek, Knife pushes the Transient backwards, through the glass panel in the shop door.
(to Janine, over his shoulder as he runs away)
Run! Before he can regroup!
With a weary shake of her head, Janine walks after Knife.
INT. RESTAURANT. NIGHT
Pre-dinner. Knife, Janine and Brentwood sit around a table in silence. Janine kicks Knife under the table – an instruction to do something. He sighs.
This was… nice of you, Brentwood.
A Waitress brings their menus over, and walks away.
So what sort of food do they have here anyway?
A beat. Knife blinks incredulously at Brent.
I beg your pardon?!
You know: spicy.
(angry stage whispering)
One man’s spicy is another man’s immoral, Brentwood.
It may be appropriate for a stag night, but a restaurant staffed by… by muff monkeys is hardly the setting for an anniversary dinner.
The waitress has returned.
Is sir ready to order now?
(pretending to read from the menu)
Yes I think I am. Let’s see… I’ll have the ribs du KD Lang, with a side order of labial piercings.
(head in hands)
I’m sorry, I…?
It’s no use apologising. I’m already offended. I don’t need to be force-fed your obscene doctrine on my wedding anniversary, thankyou very much.
Knife slams the menu shut, and gets to his feet.
No, I’ve said my piece. Let’s leave it at that. Come along, Janine, we’re going.
Knife turns to address the other diners – who are by now glancing in his direction.
You dirty eaters!
(tugging at his father’s sleeve)
Dad, it’s traditional Arabic food.
It’s a rabbit’s what?
Knife! It’s just a Lebanese restaurant. Now apologise.
But… Oh, alright… Waitress, if you have a moment... I’m afraid there’s been a misunderstanding. You see, I thought you were some sort of lesbian, and…
The waitress slaps Knife around the face. Very hard.
EXT. UNIVERSITY. DAY
Knife’s car sits at the kerbside. Brent is unloading a suitcase from the boot. The atmosphere is uncomfortable. Knife, standing nearby, has a black eye, and is reading a newspaper. Focus on the page is reading – a story about the Lord Mayor (with accompanying photograph), beneath the headline “Lord Mayor Claims: ‘I’m Just Mayo With An R’”
Here you go son. The Mayor. A man of real character. A proper role-model for youngsters, not like these goofball-addled pop stars you’re always on about. A ceremonial chain and hat – that’s what the youth of today should aspire to. Not private jets and hashish on tap.
Brent dumps one last bag on the pavement at Knife’s feet.
That’s the last one. You can go now.
Look, I’m sorry if I embarrassed you and your mother. I don’t want to make excuses, but, well, it is all my father’s fault you know. He’s the reason I’m like I am, what with his unconventional ideas about raising children, and all…
This speech is superimposed with fast-cut, nightmarish shots of a young Knife’s treatment at the hands of his father – a sort of psychotic Terry Thomas.
For weeks he’d keep me Sellotaped into a giant centrifuge, or wake me with shouts of “The Bed Is Burning! The Bed Is Burning!”… Sometimes, when he was in a playful mood, he’d clamber into an artificial cobweb, and hiss at me from the corner of the room. Once, he introduced me to a potato, and told me it was my mother, before proceeding to destroy it using a hydraulic goat, he’d inexplicably named Nils Svenssen. I never knew whether that potato was my real mother or not…
A tearful Knife snaps out of his chilling reminiscing to find his son standing beside him, moved.
It must have been really awful. I always assumed you’d been born mad, but you’re more like Thom Yorke out of
Knife places a fatherly hand on his arm.
Just know that I am proud of you, son. No matter what I may do.
They smile at each other. Knife suddenly remembers something.
Oh, ah, you couldn’t lend me twenty pounds could you? Only, I left my wallet at home, and I need petrol.
Brent rolls his eyes, and hands over the money.
Actually, could you manage forty?
Brent hands over a few more notes.
Knife gets in the car. Brent watches his father drive away. Knife leans out of the window as he does so, looks back waving the money, and emits an evil cackle.
EXT. KNIFE AND JANINE’S HOUSE. DAY
Establishing shot of a semi-detached, in a leafy close. A pair of boys – one of whom is Knife’s neighbour’s son, Lee – play kickabouts, and dive out of the way as Knife’s car swerves dangerously onto the drive, its horn honking loudly.
Knife gets out of the car, smoking a big cigar, bearing a dangling price tag which reads “£40”. He looks down as the boys’ football rolls slowly towards him, and gently nudges his wheelie bin.
Can we have our ball back, Mr McKnife?
Knife picks up the ball, and bursts it on his lit cigar, which he then casually flicks at the distraught boys.
This bin is not a goalpost.
You can’t do that!
I already have.
I’ll get my dad.
Your father? The balding cockney cro-magnon? The one who’s
still awed by the discovery of fire? The one who’s only one step up from Captain Caveman on the evolutionary ladder?
Knife picks up the flattened, punctured ball, and puts it on his head like a bald cap. He adopts an appalling mockney accent, and mopes around like an ape.
Cor blimey, geezer. I’m off down the football to get arrested again. Look at me, everyone. I’m him from next door, the baldy wan…
Knife realises that Lee’s thuggish, skinhead father – Gary – is watching this spectacle from over the garden fence. He’s terrified.
Knife’s eyes look up at the burst ball.
I… I… I was entertaining your son by pretending to be Jewish. This is my little hat thing, already.
Is that his ball?
N-n-n-n-yes. Yes, sir. What… what would you l-like me to do?
Same as last time.
INT. KNIFE AND JANINE’S KITCHEN. DAY
Janine is sitting at the table, eating from a box of chocolates, and reading a copy of Lady Problems Weekly. Knife enters looking utterly dejected, doing his trousers up, and walking with a limp.
Janine looks up momentarily, observes Knife taking a tube of Anal Anaesthetic Cream out of the medicine cabinet, and carries on reading.
You burst his ball again, didn’t you?
Why does everyone hate me, Janine?
You can’t expect people to automatically like you. You have to work at it.
Knife gives a derisive snort, and unscrews the cap off the tube.
So tomorrow afternoon I’ve arranged for you to take some
old folk on a day trip.
You’ve done what?!
You’re the one who wants people to like you.
But not old people. Old people smell of death and cabbage.
Appalled and muttering, Knife squirts some cream from the tube onto a finger, and bends over the table.
This is all I need…
Knife reaches round behind him. Focus on Janine. Horrible squelching/cream applicating sounds emanate from off-screen.
Can’t you do that in the bathroom?