by Simon Leyland

Short Film*
Email: [email protected]

                                             SIMON LEYLAND

A typical suburban house, well trimmed hedges, a tidy garden and a car parked neatly in the drive. A cat walks slowly across the garden , stops . sniffs the air, looks straight at the camera and walks on again.

An ordinary looking kitchen

A blonde muscular fitness instructor is on a portable TV, Dance music pounds out, behind him thirty adoring women obediently follow his instructions.


One and two and three and four.....legs raised.......keep them steady..... and... down. Again.... one and two and three and four two .....can you feel those muscles...?

SONIA, Pleasant looking, slightly chubby wearing a track suit with her legs in the air

SONIA (Breathlessly)
I ............don't

Behind her running up and down on the spot is HARRY, a small dapper man in his fifties.

HARRY (staring at the TV)

Because it keeps you trim Sonia. It's for your own good,
no wife of mine is going to get out of shape just because she is in her fifties.

Fifty Harry, I'm just fifty

SONIA copies the actions of the women on the TV and unsteadily gets to her feet and begins swinging her arms high above her head.

Remember how you used to be? Forever baking those giant cakes and always complaining about your weight? You can't tell me that you were happy with yourself.

SONIA (Gasping)
Believe me Harry...I was can I (gulps for air) ....can I stop?

OK then takes five

HARRY stops jogging and wipes his forehead with the towel around his neck

HARRY (cont)
But I want you to remember to do your exercises this afternoon to make up for yesterday.

Yesterday! But I ......

You missed yesterday. Didn't you?

I did not Harry! I swear to God.....I ....How did you find out?

In the background the TV now shows a commercial about vitamin supplements and their benefits for the over fifties

HARRY (with a smug smile) stares at her

SONIA looks longingly at the big AGA in the corner

I wanted to do a little baking this afternoon

How many times do I have to tell you Sonia. Sugar is a killer. Why do you think I won't let you use the oven? Because cooking food....

SONIA (with an air of resignation)
Destroys all the nutrients. I know

SONIA slumps over the kitchen counter trying to get her breath back

HARRY (flexes his muscles and stretches)
I am off for a shower

HARRY leaves the kitchen

It is all for your own good girl, once you let your waistline go,
there will no one to blame but yourself.

Sound of running water from the bathroom

SONIA tiptoes over to the fridge, opens the door and feels around the back of the vegetable crisper. She pulls out a piece of lemon cheesecake. She closes her eyes as she brings it to her mouth

She hears a movement and spins around with the cheesecake guiltily tucked behind her back.

HARRY is wrapped in a bath towel and watching her angrily

You disappoint me Sonia

HARRY (sighs)
I can`t trust you for a moment. You are only hurting yourself you know.
Is it any wonder that you look the way you do? We had better double this afternoons quota of sit ups to compensate for all those extra calories.

But I didn`t eat any Harry

The thought, Sonia, is father to the deed. Double sit ups and give me the cake.

Sonia red faced and ashamed hands him the cake which Harry then drops into the waste bin.

HARRY starts and jerks around to the right, a vein pulses in his neck and he lets out a theatrical gasp

A cat strolls into the kitchen

HARRY (shaking with rage)
How many times have I told you that this creature is not allowed to roam around
this house! The germs you stupid woman, the germs! Are you aware of how many species of flea there are in a cats fur? If you can`t keep it locked in the garage ,
you know what will happen,,

SONIA (downcast)
It will have to be put down

Correct, now sort it out!

HARRY grimaces and turns to leave

And Sonia, I don`t want you going out today. McGrath is coming over
to fix new locks

But Harry, I made arrangements to see some of the girls for coffee this morning
and we can`t possibly need more locks

Yes we can girl. There are two windows in the attic which have only simple burglar catches, a child could break them open. This is far more important than you wasting time with those stupid women. Cancel it. I have to be at my golf lesson by noon.

HARRY grasps SONIAS shoulders and taps her head

HARRY (cont)
Hello? Anyone in there?.... Now do you understand? Stay here and let McGrath in , and make sure he does a better job than last time.

SONIA throws her hands up in exasperation

What are we protecting? Whats a thief going to find worth stealing in this house

HARRY (wheedling tone)
Now , you know that I am only doing it for you. I have to protect my old girl

SONIA glares at him

I am not your old girl

Outside the house
HARRY is dressed in a blazer with a cravat. Harry pushes the boot of the car shut and shines an imaginary mark on the boot with a handkerchief.. The cat walks onto the driveway and stares at HARRY as he gets into the car. Harry drives off narrowly missing the cat.

SONIA puts the kettle on and dreamily washes up, as the kettle boils, staring out into the garden.

There is a meow

SONIA looks behind her and sees the cat

Oh, Lulu, come here,,,,getting your mistress into trouble again.

SONIA reaches under the table and scoops up the cat and carries it towards the backdoor of the kitchen. She gently ushers the cat out into the garden.

HARRY does not approve of you Lulu, and I wonder how long
it is going to be, before he does not approve of me

SONIA and the locksmith McGrath are looking out of the dormer windows in the attic


That should hold it Mrs Adams

McGrath steps back and admires his work

McGrath( in a quiet voice)
I know that it is none of my business, but how come you got so many locks? We put double security bolts and locks on every door and window in the house, and if you don`t mind me saying so, I think that wire glass you have in the downstairs windows spoils the whole look of the house.

SONIA brushes a straying lock of hair behind her ear
1`m afraid that I have to agree with you. My husband is very security
minded and says that this is the only way a man can be sure of protecting his valuables these days.

I wonder if that includes me

McGRATH putting away his tools
That`s fine by me, I can always do with the business. But if he is that worried he should put in a good alarm system, you know pressure pads, photo electric cells, stuff' like that. 'Course there is no real way of keeping a thief out if he is determined to get in.

SONIA smiles and closes her eyes

Perhaps if there were special thieves who were only interested in direct outlet furniture, keep fit equipment and not forgetting threadbare carpets. Then no.....there is nothing in this house worth stealing..... We can afford to buy nice things, I remember when I wanted to buy that lovely painting to go above the fireplace....

Art is produced by fools who need money from fools who wish to be deprived by it

Flashback sequence
INT: An ordinary lounge with no furniture save for a couple of occasional tables with a few vases. In the middle of the room is a hand built exercise machine bolted into the floor. It comprises a leather topped bench press with two steel columns, across which rests a weight laden barbell. Connecting the the barbell to the columns is a homemade ratchet which allows the barbell to be raised and lowered on a fixed path.

HARRY pats the barbell

Everything a man needs to keep his body healthy, it will save me a fortune in gym subscriptions.

SONIA (in tears)
The floor, the floor, look what you have done to the floor!
You have ruined it! It`s so ugly.......why couldn`t you have built the bloody thing somewhere else, like the garage!

Don`t be so silly woman, the damp would ruin it, anyway what do we ever use this room for

We could use it for entertaining......

By entertaining, you mean listening to your brain dead friends talk about the price of soap powder and analysing episodes of sex in the City while they sit around drinking my wine....not in my house

Right , lets turn the lounge into a gymnasium, what else do we need it for?

You`ll see. This way the room gets put to proper use.

The attic.
SONIA is staring out of the window with a lost look on her face

McGRATH ( voice getting louder)
Mrs Adams !

McGRATH touches her shoulder causing her to start

Sorry, miles away

SONIA smiles at McGRATH

McGRATH (sympathetically)
I`ll be off now. Tell your husband to give me a call if he wants to talk about getting an alarm system.

I will do that. Thank you

SONIA watches his retreating back as McGRATH walks down the stairs

SONIA stands at the window and watches McGRATH`s van pull away down the drive. She looks down and sees the cat curl around her legs.

SONIA ( looks down and smiles)
Lulu, If you keep coming in here he`s going to wring your neck

SONIA picks the cat up and kisses it, the cat gives out a contented purr

Come on, lets see if there is any tuna fish in the cupboard

The living room
HARRY is lying on the bench pushing the weight bar above his head and locks it onto the ratchet. He sits up and wipes his face with a towel

Are you ready yet?

I have to shower, my health comes first

SONIA enters the lounge wearing a long blue evening gown, with her hair piled up, looking very attractive.

HARRY ( stands up)
You look nice Sonia, but you know my views on makeup.
It does not become you, you look cheap. Now be a good girl and take it off

HARRY walks out

SONIA just stands there with a tear in her eye

It is evening and they are standing outside their car both dressed for dinner. SONIA smoothes her dress down and HARRY locks the car and wiggles the handle for good measure. They start to walk towards a house.

We will have to invite them back after tonight

I don`t see why we have to

Harry, its what people do!

HARRY looks perplexed as he rings the doorbell

A large dining table with four couples sitting around it drinking coffee at the end of dinner. SONIA sits in silent shame.

HARRY (waving a fork)
And another bloody thing. What the hell are all these foreign beggars doing over here. Everywhere you see them they have their hands out expecting money. They should get jobs instead of sitting on their arses all day.....

The other wives look across the table at SONIA in silent sympathy

HARRY and SONIA are in their bedroom. SONIA is sitting on the bed. HARRY is pacing up and down. There is broken glass on the bedroom floor under the window

I don`t believe it... the bastards.... They must have used the drainpipe and come in through the window

SONIA tries to feign sleep

I am going downstairs to wait for the police and give them a piece of my mind. I wish you would take more interest in this instead of lying their like a beached whale.

The sound of the cat coming up the stairs makes Harry turn around

I thought I told you to put that bloody cat outside!

HARRY storms out the room

SONIA pulls the covers over her head

The house – upstairs

HARRY and McGRATH are walking from window to window, lifting corners of carpets and pointing to tops of doors. McGRATH writes a figure in a pad and shows it to HARRY. HARRY twitches when he sees it and reluctantly nods his head.

The kitchen

SONIA is washing up, HARRY is standing near the fridge squeezing a stress ball with each hand.

How could have you used my money Harry?

It`s a joint account

You know that was my special money, you know what I was saving up for. We never had a proper honeymoon, you promised we would eventually, and now you go and waste it all on silly devices.

HARRY advances on her

HARRY (shouting)
How can I make you understand. This is not money tossed away on a frivolous trip somewhere. This is an investment in something worthwhile!

SONIA (screaming)
What is worthwhile about an alarm system designed to protect a house in which even burglars can`t find anything worth stealing!

HARRY (shouting)
This system gives us security..... Don`t you realise that someone could break in here one night and kill us while we slept! Do you want to go to bed at night wondering if you were going to be raped

SONIA (hysterical)
I don`t care! I don`t bloody care. I`m sick and tired of having to worry about all the bad things in life! Just once, just once I want to have some fun in my life!

SONIA sobs, her head dropping to her hands

You always promised that we would take a did promise

How can you be so ungrateful. You know that I am only doing it for you.!

SONIA (coldly and quietly)
That the only thing you are not doing. All you ever think about is yourself.

HARRY drops the stress ball and raises his flattened palm to slap her.

Go on, go ahead.... There is no difference between you
and the people you despise on the streets

HARRY`S hand falls hard across SONIA`s cheek

A burger restaurant. SONIA is sitting at a formica topped table toying with her salad. Opposite her is JACKIE, a big, loud bleached blonde who is biting into a huge cheeseburger

So this fella`s trying to break into my car the bloody driveway if you please ...

What time was this then ?

Three o`clock in the bloody morning!

And he got away?

Sure, I wouldn't go near him. I mean, what if he had a knife or something?

JACKIE takes another bite of her burger

JACKIE( mouth full)
But I managed to scare him off

What with?

One of the kids Star Wars light sabres and an omelette pan.
I think I woke the whole neighbourhood.

They both collapse in laughter

We should do this more often you know, It`s just Harry. He does not like me going out. He`s so different these intolerant.

You should not have let him use your money Sonia, that's for sure.

JACKIE hefts the burger in her hand and looks at SONIA`s diet salad.

Hey, this burger weighs more than my first child. You should have one.

I couldn`t . Harry would know.

How could he?

SONIA lowers her eyes to the plate, embarrassed.
He weighs me

You have got to be kidding me

No, every Saturday before we go out jogging and.........he hit me

JACKIE is so shocked she stops eating
I don`t believe I am hearing this.. Thats it girl , you are taking a holiday.
God, if Pat did that to me I would break his jaw.

JACKIE leans forward
You are going and I am lending you the money

I can`t

You can and you will

SONIA (thinks it over and comes to a decision)
Sod it, you are right. I`ll pay you back whenever I can

JACKIE (picks up the burger again)
Whatever, just send me a postcard

SONIA (touched by her friends kindness)

Yeah , I know. I`m a regular Mother Theresa

JACKIE (turns in the direction of a bored looking waitress)
Hey, could we get another drink over here?

Bedroom. The curtains are drawn. SONIA is packing her case while HARRY looks on.

HARRY( arms folded)
I am warning you Sonia.......If you make this trip you needn`t bother coming back

SONIA crosses over to the wardrobe, removes a stack of blouses and folds them deftly into her suitcase.

Go to Europe then , and as far as I am concerned you can stay there

with all the rest of the Eurotrash.

SONIA turns to HARRY (there is no love in her eyes)
I am not giving up the chance to get out of this house, even if it is only for two weeks. I`ve worked long and hard for a holiday. I need a rest from you....and don`t worry – I am not using your money

SONIA slams the lid of her suitcase shut

If you want to come along with me . fine. If not stay here with all your locks
and alarms and be miserable.

HARRY (his voice softens to a whisper)
SONIA....I`ve never seen you like this before. You are behaving like a spoilt child

Am I?
(She gives a cold laugh)

What would you ever know about children? I can`t believe that you were ever young.

SONIA pulls the case from the bed and starts awkwardly down the stairs with it.

The kitchen

SONIA is checking her watch and looking out of the window waiting for the taxi to arrive

( Wheedingly)
I`ll be lonely if you go . Stay and keep me company

SONIA (turns around)
You won`t be lonely Harry. There are your friends at the Golf Club, your friends at work and lets not forget your weights. There is scarcely enough room for me as it is

SONIA stands up as she hears the taxi pull up outside

SONIA (without turning back)
Goodbye, I will send you a postcard

SONIA walks out

HARRY (angrily)
All right, go off and see if I care! You will probably get mugged
before you even leave the airport.

O.S The front door slams shut

Downstairs in the living room. HARRY and McGRATH are kneeling on the carpet under a window. The sound of knocking and drilling is heard

And this one is a pressure sensitive pad, it fits under the carpet here. The slightest touch sets it off. We put one of these under each of the downstairs windows.

McGRATH rises to his feet and taking HARRY`S arm, leads him over to a small white plastic box installed on the wall.

There are two basic systems here

McGrath taps the box lightly

A perimeter system and an internal system

HARRY (irritated)
What does this mean in plain english

It`s a piece of cake Mr Adams. You set the perimeter system by pressing this little button here. That secures the windows and the doors. Now, if any of them are opened then the circuit is broken and the alarm goes off.. Ok? Right, this other little button here operates the internal system. So, if there is an intruder, he would be trapped by the wired floorpads, which would trigger the alarm. Both systems ring at the Security company head office, who in turn ring the police station. So in the event of a break in, the police would be here in , say, three or four minutes.

HARRY looks at the flashing L.E.D.`s on the control box

And how do I operate all of this

Couldn`t be simpler, two switches, two systems, that's it. The timer can be set to activate the perimeter system when you go to bed, and you can turn on both sets manually or automatically whenever you leave the house.

Wait a minute. Why don`t I activate both systems when I go to bed?

Well....suppose you want to get up in the middle of the night. It would be easy to walk on one of those pressure pads by mistake. You would not want that to happen too often. The police take a dim view of false alarms. Now this is not hooked through to the station yet. But it will be tomorrow, so be careful

Thank you Mr McGrath., you have been most helpful. A mans home is his castle, don`t you think? This should keep the little bastards out

I suppose so

HARRY shakes McGRATH`s hand and McGRATH turns to leave through the front door

If I had my way , I`d wire the place up with a million volts and fry the fuckers

The living room, HARRY is lying on his Bench doing sit ups. Birds sing outside

I wonder what the silly cow is up to now. Perhaps she might stay there,
perhaps the plane would crash....perhaps she might fall in one of those canals they have...huh

HARRY sits up and wipes the sweat from his eyes

The great thing about being single, is being as rude as you like to people
without having to worry about meeting them again

HARRY attaches more weights on the barbells and slides onto the bench

A quick twenty reps to pump up the arm muscles, then off to the clubhouse
to eye up that little waitress, what's her name....that's it Shirley, again

HARRY raises the barbell from its column and feels his muscles harden, he lowers it until the bar almost touches his throat and pushes it up to a full arm extension.

Why do I waste myself on such an eager to please dowdy little homemaker like her.
With a body like this, I could have anyone I wanted.

HARRY continues to work out

Ten reps down , ten to go. The trouble with my job as an accountant, is that it does not attract the right women. If only I had been a Policeman, I would have liked to see them break into my house then!... the bastards said I was too short....their loss not mine

Fifteen reps done (grunts) five to, what do the kids of today know about women? What did they know about mastery and control?
Women have to be kept in their place (grunts) or they will try to take over....

HARRY sneezes

That bloody cat!

HARRY sneezes again

His grip on the bar falters, the bench wobbles. The metal ratchet swings down on the serrated arm attached to the bar bell preventing HARRY from lifting it back to its steel resting posts.
HARRY grunts with the strain. Veins begin to stand out on HARRYS neck. He shoves the bar up with all his might but is unable to raise it above the point where the metal ratchet is wedged in place.
HARRY`S eyes are looking around in horror, his arms are beginning to shake under the effort. The bar sinks back on its arc, curving down to his exposed throat.. The ratchet clicking, his arms giving way. He screws his eyes up


The ratchet has stopped clicking. The bar has stopped two inches from his throat.

Oh my God. Keep still, keep very still

HARRY turns his head very slowly. He gingerly starts to remove his grip from the bar.
The ratchet clicks.


The bar drops another half an inch before sticking. HARRY swallows and can feel the cold steel on his throat

Be calm HARRY, Be calm......keep still...keep very still...I need something to prop under the bar, something strong....a poker!

HARRY twists his head away and sees a poker in a bronze scuttle a few feet away. His face grimaces.

V.O (progressively hysterical)
Let's review my situation. I am one is expected to call....she is away for two weeks and this bar could fall at any moment...oh for Gods sake.

HARRY turns his head in panic and tries to slide out from beneath the bar. His chin blocks the way..

The room grows darker and the birds stop singing.

HARRY begins to whimper and cry.

A typical suburban house, well trimmed hedges, a tidy garden and a car parked neatly in the drive. Above the front door a red light on a white metallic box starts to flash intermittently

HARRY is still lying there breathing very quickly, his eyes darting around.

A pinging sound

HARRY turns his head very slowly and sees a red light appear on the white plastic box on the wall

Of course! The alarm. It was supposed to turn itself on at five thirty....shit.
Which alarm did I set??

HARRY turns his head again

Of course....the interior alarm. Thank God for that, I am saved!
Now all I have to do is......

HARRY gingerly pushes one shoe against the other until he is hanging the left shoe from his big toe. Sweat is pouring down his face. He aims carefully at the rug near the door. He kicks hard. The shoe misses by an inch or two

HARRY moans and closes his eyes

HARRY struggles to remove the remaining track shoe. This time he aims it more slowly, and then kicks. The shoe lands right in the middle of the rug. He closes his eyes in thankfulness..

Nothing happens

Shit, shit, shit

HARRY drops his head back onto the bench hard. The ratchet clicks and the bar drops again onto his throat

HARRY whimpers

A movement is heard, a small scraping sound

HARRY squirms his head round very slowly . The door to the living room is opens a few inches. Looking down he sees the cat staring at him distrustfully.

HARRY (sobs)
Thank God

HARRY (softly)
Here kitty, come on, come on kitty, walk on the rug....walk on the rug damn you

HARRY tries to coax her forward with the tips of his fingers

The cat strolls around the room skilfully missing the rug by inches and seats herself down on the bare floor boards between HARRY and another rug near the fireplace. The cat stares at HARRY

HARRY(shouts fearfully)
Get up, get up you stupid bloody cat....come on, come to daddy,
please....please ...come on you useless bloody thing

THE cat starts to move towards HARRY and the rug and then stops. HARRY is trying to keep the cat in his vision. The strain evident in his face.. The cat stares at a small glass vase on a mahogany side table. The cat continues to stare at the glass vase. The fading light shines off the glass in blood red rays.

HARRY (through his teeth)
Go on, go on... go for the vase

The cat walks slowly round the rug without touching it and jumps gracefully up onto the chair.

HARRY grimaces

The cat continues to stare at the vase, tensing as if to jump

HARRY (shouts hoarsely)
Go on you fucking thing .....jump!

The cat jumps onto the table and the vase falls onto the floor with an almighty crack. The lights in the white plastic box begin to flash repeatedly


A siren wails out throughout the house

The startled cat screams and jumps from the table towards HARRY


A fully equipped luxury kitchen

A blonde muscular fitness instructor is on a portable TV, Dance music pounds out, behind him thirty adoring women obediently follow his instructions.


One and two and three and four.....legs raised.......keep them steady..... and... down. Again.... one and two and three and four two .....can you feel those muscles....

The cat lies curled up in her basket

SONIA dressed very smartly is bending over the oven looking at the rising dough of a pie. She hums to herself and takes another sip of wine..
On the countertops around her are trays of canapés. The kitchen windows are wide open, a breeze flaps the new curtains Nearby, colourful napkins are being prevented from blowing away by a barbell weight.
The cat stands up and stretches , and then leisurely walks out to the end of the garden towards a bench press overgrown with crimson roses..


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