Whitewash – Elizabeth Hobart

                                             FADE IN:

  INT. PUBLIC INDOOR SWIMMING POOL. EARLY MORNING      1

The public pool is a harsh contrast of white and diluted blue. Three youths in their early 20s – ELLA, TEGAN and MAX – swim in the pool. Ella and Max race while Tegan breaststrokes alongside them.

                                              CUT TO:

  INT. PUBLIC BATHROOMS (FEMALE). EARLY MORNING        2

Pale blue light floods the public bathroom. A cubicle door slams. Jessie’s (17) fingers, wrinkled from pool water, fiddle with the lock. She breathes heavily before clasping her hand over her mouth. A skinny male, TRAVIS (22), enters with a black handgun dangling from his index finger. He wears only jeans and his hair is damp.

TRAVIS

Come on out now, Angel. This isn’t a joke.

Travis creeps over to the closed cubicle door and then bangs it with both hands. Jessie sits down on the toilet seat, scratching nervously at her knees.

TRAVIS

(laughing)

I’m not gonna hurt you,

I promise, I promise. Well maybe.

Travis jumps up attempting to grab hold of the top of the door. He fails at first but then manages to hoist himself up. Jessie trembles.

JESSIE

Stop it, Trav, I don’t want to play anymore!

Travis climbs further so that his arms hang over the top of the door. He smiles.

TRAVIS

Tough luck.

Jessie chokes up. Travis points his gun down at her. His finger strokes the trigger and pulls. Jessie’s face is squirted with water.

                                         FADE TO BLACK:      

TITLE: WHITEWASH            

INT. PUBLIC INDOOR SWIMMING POOL. EARLY MORNING       3

The white plastic furniture of the indoor pool area is gleaming under the ceiling lights. A plastic clock on the wall strikes 7:00 A.M. The cafe window still has its steel roller shutters down. The three youths from the pool sit around a table. A close up of Ella’s face shows the previous night lingering under her eyes. An unseen male, Max, can be heard talking with a husky voice while Ella stares straight ahead.

    MAX

You’re my best girl, you know what I mean?

It can now be seen that Max is speaking across the table not to Ella, but another girl. The other girl, Tegan, rolls her eyes and lights a cigarette. On a wall behind them is a faded ‘No Smoking’ sign. The sound of a harmonica echoes from the nearest hallway. Travis emerges from the hallway, harmonica in hand. He is now wearing a baggy Jumper with his board shorts. He walks over to the table.

TEGAN

(To Travis)

I thought you’d never left.

TRAVIS

I’m never leaving.

Travis grins and kisses both girls on their heads before taking a seat. Ella raises her hand up to Travis’ cheek.

ELLA

Been trying on lipstick, have you?

Ella rubs her thumb against Travis’ skin. He brushes her hand away.

TRAVIS

When does the tuck shop open?

Tegan glances over to the other side of the pool where a male CLEANER picks up leftover towels from the night before. He stuffs them all into a laundry basket.

TEGAN

(To Travis)

We’ve been coming here for ages… You honestly don’t know the answer to that?

Travis shakes his head and blows into his harmonica.

TEGAN

(To Travis, nodding at cleaner)

Not ’til this bloke is done.

                                                CUT TO:

EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL CAR PARK. EARLY MORNING     4

There are only two cars parked in the outdoor car park. A close up shows a decoration hanging in one of the cars, reading ‘JESSICA’.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC BATHROOMS (FEMALE). EARLY MORNING         5

The shower in the public bathroom drips repetitively.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL (INDOOR). EARLY MORNING     6

The cleaner makes his way around to the other side of the pool where the youths sit. He continues to pick up leftover towels from the floor and seats.

MAX

Mor-ning!

The cleaner smiles shyly and accidentally drops a couple of towels from his basket. As he picks them back up, one towel appears to be wet with blood.

ELLA

Is that-

MAX

Jesus!

Tegan gags and Travis imitates her. She smacks his shoulder.

TEGAN

Stop, you know I’ve got a problem with-

She gags again and turns her chair around. Travis continues to mock her. The cleaner shrugs, picks up the towel and throws it back into the basket. A red smudge is left on the tiles where it had landed. The youths stare at it for some time.

   ELLA

 The shop is opening.

Everyone turns to see the cafe owner hoisting up the roller shutters.

   TRAVIS

 Thank the gracious gods.

   MAX

 Are you lot getting breakfast or just drinks?

TEGAN

I won’t be able to eat for a good hour.

TRAVIS

Suit yourself.

ELLA

Where’s Jessie? She took mum’s coin purse this morning.

They all pause in thought. Tegan takes another puff of her cigarette.

TEGAN

(Mumbling)

Well she just went to the bathroom, didn’t she?

They pause again.

ELLA

When was that?

Tegan shrugs. Max and Travis jump up and hurl themselves towards the cafe counter. Ella’s eyes land on the red smudge on the tiles. Tegan notices this as she exhales a cloud of smoke.

TEGAN

Don’t stress, people wander off sometimes.

Ella is quiet. Tegan rolls her eyes and puts out her cigarette on the table. Her chair squeaks as she stands up.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                      7

Tegan trudges down the white hallway of the public pool. Her sneakers scuff against the tiles.

TEGAN

(Calls out)

Jessie? Jess?

Tegan pokes her head around the female bathroom entrance.

TEGAN

(Frustrated)

You in there, Jess?

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC BATHROOMS. EARLY MORNING                  8

Tegan enters the female bathroom. All the cubicle doors stand open. One of the taps is dripping and Tegan twists it until it stops. She spots Travis’ water gun sitting between two sinks.

TEGAN

(Sighing)

Trav, you little shit.

Tegan leans over and picks up the water gun. She points it with both hands at her reflection in the mirror and shoots a few squirts of water. She smiles and puts the water gun down. She rubs her face and suddenly sees a smear of red down her cheek. There is blood on her hands.

TEGAN

(Gagging)

What the f-

She picks up the gun again and wipes blood off the handle with her thumb. Travis’ initials are scratched into the side. She gags again.

TEGAN

Fuck!

Glancing at Travis’ initials again, Tegan checks the empty cubicles. She hides the gun down beside a sanitary disposal bin.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                      9

Tegan rushes back down the hallway but stops outside the steam room. She hears a noise and peaks inside the door, cringing at the heat inside.

TEGAN

Oi, anyone here? Jessie?

    

She receives no answer. She turns around and jumps in surprise at the cleaner standing behind her.

CLEANER

Hey, are you done?

 

TEGAN

Done with what?

CLEANER

Talking to nobody . . .

TEGAN

I was looking for –

Tegan glances down at the cleaner’s right hand. It is bandaged.

TEGAN

What happened there?

CLEANER

What’s it got to do with you? Get outta here.

The cleaner waves her away and she heads back towards the pool. She turns around to get another look at the cleaner’s hand.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL (INDOOR). EARLY MORNING    10

The clock strikes 7.30 A.M. The other three youths are still around the tables as Tegan returns to them.

TRAVIS

Eh, there she is!

MAX

Bloody hell, you took your time.

Travis casts Tegan a suspicious look.

TEGAN

I wasn’t gone that long.

TRAVIS

(Sarcastically)

Did you get lost, Tegan? That’s one big hallway for a little girl like you.

ELLA

Oh, shut up Trav.

TRAVIS

You’re right, you’re right. It’s tiny.

ELLA

(To Tegan)

Did you find Jessie anywhere?

MAX

I didn’t even notice she was gone.

TRAVIS

(Sarcastically)                                   

Maybe she got lost too.  

ELLA

(To Tegan)    

Did you find her?

Tegan shakes her head. Max grins and reaches out to playfully punch Travis on the arm.

MAX     

(To Travis)

Shouldn’t you know where she is?

ELLA

Why would Travis know where she is?

MAX

(To Travis)

Isn’t she your girlfriend, mate?

ELLA

What?

MAX

That’s what I heard.

ELLA

That’s bullshit, she hasn’t even finished school for God’s sake.

TEGAN

Is it bullshit, Travie?

Travis and Tegan exchange scathing glances.

TRAVIS

(Grins)

My private business, isn’t it?

ELLA

(To Travis)

Not while she’s my little sister.

TRAVIS

(To Ella)

Like what?

ELLA

(To Travis)

About you and Jessie.

TRAVIS

(to Ella)

Chill out beautiful, I’m sorry.

They sit in silence.

TRAVIS

(to Ella)

There’s enough of me for you too-

Max bursts into a fit of laughter. Ella stands and hits Travis on the arm.

TRAVIS

Hey, ow!(looking at his arm) Ow.

ELLA

(Taking out her phone)

I’ll try calling her.

Travis moves over to Tegan and squeezes her shoulder.

TRAVIS

(To Tegan)

Can I drag you off for a minute?

TEGAN

(To Travis)

Why?

TRAVIS

(To Tegan)

Well, that would ruin the surprise, wouldn’t it?

                                                CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                     11

Travis holds Tegan’s arm and leads her into the hallway. He heads towards the female bathrooms.

TEGAN

We’re not going in there.

Travis stops and turns to face her.

TRAVIS

Why not?

TEGAN                                              

I think you might know why not. Your gun is in there with-

Travis cups his hand over Tegan’s mouth and firmly pushes her against the wall.

TRAVIS

It’s a fucking water pistol, Tegan. Don’t be saying that shit where people can hear you.

He takes his hand off her mouth and releases her slightly.

TEGAN

What went on in there?

TRAVIS

What the hell are you talking about?

TEGAN

The blood, Travis.

Travis stares at Tegan in confusion.

                                          SHARP CUT TO:         

EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL CAR PARK. EARLY MORNING    12

Jessie hurries through the car park with car keys in hand. She is flustered and wipes tears from her cheeks.

                                          SHARP CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                     13

Travis still holds Tegan against the wall.

TRAVIS

I don’t know what this is about.

TEGAN

(Hissing)

What do you mean?

TRAVIS

You can’t always protect Ella.

TEGAN

Yeah, well, her feelings about

you aren’t exactly the priority right now.

TRAVIS

(Distracted)

No, they’re definitely not…

TEGAN

(Beat)
What’s going on?

Travis rubs his brow.

                                           SHARP CUT TO:

INT. JESSIE’S CAR. EARLY MORNING                      14

Jessie drives her car up to an intersection with a stop light.

JESSIE

Fuck.

She lets her hands fall softly from the steering wheel to her stomach. She lifts her shirt and strokes the bare skin.

                                           SHARP CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                      15

Travis clenches his eyes shut for a few moments.

TEGAN

Tell me where she is.

TRAVIS

I don’t know where she is.

TEGAN

What do you mean you don’t know?

TRAVIS

I don’t! She must’ve left!

TEGAN

What did you do to her, Travis?

Travis pushes Tegan harder against the wall and brings his mouth up next to her ear.

TRAVIS

(Whispering)                                  

Igot her pregnant, Tegan. I got her pregnant.

Tegan is silent.

TRAVIS(CONT’D)

She’s got a kid in her belly and it’s going to grow like a seed,
Tegan.

Travis moves his head so that their eyes meet.

TEGAN

(Whispering)

She is a kid.

TRAVIS

But so am I, I didn’t-

TEGAN

Travis, is she hurt?

TRAVIS

I didn’t know-

TEGAN

Travis… Is she hurt?

TRAVIS

No! Why-

TEGAN

Then why is there blood on your gun?

TRAVIS

It’s a water pis- Wait, what?

TEGAN

Come with me.

Travis’ eyes are glassy as Tegan heads for the female bathrooms. He slaps his hand against the wall.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. JESSIE’S CAR. EARLY MORNING                     16

Jessie’s phone starts ringing on the seat beside her. She won’t look at it.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL (INDOOR). EARLY MORNING    17

Max enters from outside.

MAX

Her car’s gone.

Ella presses the ‘End Call’ button on her phone.

ELLA

No answer.

MAX

(sighs)

Yeah, she never answers her phone.

ELLA

How would you know that?

MAX

(Hesitating)

Trav might’ve mentioned it.

 

Ella looks downwards. The cleaner enters the pool area again with a mop and bucket. He begins cleaning the tiled floor around the pool. Ella and Max stare at him for a few moments.

ELLA

Is he new?

MAX

(Mocking)

They’re always new.

Ella glares at Max. The cleaner gasps and releases the mop from his bandaged hand, cradling it. Ella looks up.

ELLA

(Calling out)

You’right?

The cleaner nods. He shakes the hand gently before returning to his work.

ELLA

What do you reckon happened there?

MAX

(looking around)

Where?

ELLA

To his hand, Max.

MAX

What’s wrong with his hand?

ELLA

It’s bandaged. Are you blind?

MAX

Hey, ease off. Why do you give a shit?

ELLA

Just looks pretty nasty.

Ella pauses. Her eyes widen as she studies the cleaner’s hand from a distance.

MAX

So, coffee?

                                               CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC BATHROOMS. MORNING (8:30 A.M.)          18

Tegan bursts through the bathroom door, Travis following closely behind. Tegan rushes into one of the cubicles and retrieves the water gun from its hiding place. She dangles it in front of Travis’s face, resisting the urge again to be sick at the sight of blood.

TRAVIS

Look at that…

He snatches the water gun from Tegan’s fingers and begins rinsing it under a tap.

TEGAN

What the hell are you doing?!

Tegan jumps at Travis to stop him but does not succeed.

TRAVIS

It’s fine, Tegan. Forget about it.

TEGAN

Something really messed up is going on-

The bathroom door opens. A middle-aged FEMALE   SWIMMER enters. She looks the pair up and down.

FEMALE SWIMMER

What’s going on here?

(To Travis) You, out!

TRAVIS

All good, I’m leaving.

TEGAN

(To female swimmer)

He’ll leave in a minute.

The swimmer glares at them both before shutting herself inside a cubicle. Travis looks back at Tegan, almost apologetically.

TRAVIS

I’ve gotta go . . .

TEGAN

Not until you tell me what’s going on.

TRAVIS

Nothing’s going on.

Tegan glances around at the cubicles, then back at Travis.

TEGAN

What happened in here?

TRAVIS

I swear to God-

TEGAN

You don’t believe in-

TRAVIS

I swear on my life-

TEGAN

All right-

TRAVIS

Everything is going to be okay.

TEGAN

But-

FEMALE SWIMMER 

(Calls from cubicle)

Get that boy out of here or I’ll report you both!

Tegan turns to the cubicles again in disbelief. Travis shrugs at her. He pats her on the head before grabbing the water gun and exiting.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. JESSIE’S CAR. MORNING                           19

Jessie continues to clutch her stomach while she drives. Her eyes well up with tears. She pulls over to the side of the road and calls Ella.

ELLA

(On speaker)

Yes, hello?! Jessie?

JESSIE

(On phone, croaky voice)

Hey, Ell.

ELLA

(On speaker)

What the fuck happened to you? Where are you?

JESSIE

(On phone, croaky voice)

I’m fine, I’m fine.

ELLA

(On speaker)

Jesus. Where are you?

JESSIE

(On phone, croaky voice)

It doesn’t matter-

ELLA

(On speaker)

Where did you go-

JESSIE

(On phone, croaky voice)

It doesn’t matter, Ella. I’m coming back. I’m coming back.

Jessie hangs up the phone. She turns on the car and makes a sharp turn.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL (INDOOR). MORNING          20

The plastic clock strikes 9 A.M. Ella’s gaze turns from her ended call with Jessie to Max sitting opposite her. He tilts his head to get the last of his coffee before meeting her eye.

MAX

What are you looking at?

ELLA

That was Jessie! 

MAX

Where?

ELLA

On the phone, fuck.

MAX

Oh, shit, where is she?

ELLA

I don’t know . . .

                                                CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                     21

Tegan follows Travis down the hallway, trying to catch up with him. The water gun sits in his board short pocket. Tegan tries to grab his side. He cringes. They reach the pool area.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL (INDOOR). MORNING          22

Max spots Tegan and Travis emerging from the hallway. He nods and waves.

MAX

Hello there!

Ella turns swiftly to face them.

TEGAN

What did we miss?

ELLA

Jess just called back . . .

TEGAN

She did?! (Glancing at Travis) Where is she?

      ELLA 

Um . . .  

      MAX

She doesn’t know.

      TRAVIS

What do you mean she doesn’t know?

      ELLA

She hung up before I could get it out of her (pauses) But she’s on her way back . . .

Travis stares at Ella. Tegan stares at Travis. Max takes the lid off his coffee cup and inspects it for any leftover drops. Ella’s phone buzzes, catching everyone’s attention.

          ELLA

It’s a message from Jess – she’s parking.

          TRAVIS

I’m gonna go out there.

Travis begins heading towards the exit. Tegan follows after him. Ella follows them. Max sighs and runs after them.

                                                CUT TO:

EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL CAR PARK. MORNING          23 

The four youths exit the public swimming pool into the car park. They see Jessie’s car and head towards it.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. JESSIE’S CAR. MORNING                           24

Jessie sees her friends approaching. She digs a pocket knife from her shorts and looks at it for a few moments. It is clean, yet she wipes it again, as if to be sure. She stuffs the knife into the glove box and exits the car.

                                                CUT TO:

EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL CAR PARK. MORNING          25

The youths and Jessie reach each other. Ella runs up to Jessie and hugs her tightly.

ELLA

Don’t ever do that again!

JESSIE

Calm down, Ella! I just went for a drive.

TEGAN

She has a right to be worried,

Jess. We were all pretty freaked.

MAX

Not me.

TEGAN

Stop talking, Max.

MAX

If I must.

Jessie grins at Max before her eyes land on Travis. He is staring at her.

JESSIE

Hey, Trav.

Travis walks over to Jessie and wraps his arms around her. She does the same but her hand lands on something underneath his baggy jumper. While the others are distracted, she lifts the edge carefully to reveal a couple of thin pool towels tied around his torso. 

JESSIE

(To Travis, softly)

Did I do that?

Travis hushes her and holds her head against his chest. She drops the edge of the jumper back down.

                                              FADE OUT:

Elizabeth Hobart

Liz Hobart is a writer of screenplays, poetry and prose. She is studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Writing at Macquarie University, including time at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Liz plans to pursue a career in film, both in Australia and overseas, including screenwriting and other creative avenues. She seeks also, in time, to publish poetry.

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