A small shop selling precious stones accessories. DREW, AUNT HELEN AND SKYE are manning the shop. AUNT HELEN hands DREW a cream-coloured envelope.
Drew What’s this? A wedding invitation?
Aunt Helen It’s your mother’s birthday, you ingrate. Next Wednesday. You have to be there.
Drew Not without good reason.
Skye You’re her son. How’s that for a reason?
AUNT HELEN beams at her.
Drew Whose side are you on? (To AUNT HELEN) I didn’t attend last year. (Shrugs) Don’t see what difference it’ll make.
Aunt Helen (darkly) Last year was an exception and you know it.
A beat of silence.
Aunt Helen She wants to know how many guests you’re bringing.
Drew Funny how she always makes you the middle-woman. Can’t she bear to hear the sound of my voice?
Aunt Helen Would you have picked up her calls?
Drew (considers that) Fair point.
Aunt Helen It’s one thing to move out of her house, and another to ignore her calls and not even attend her birthday party.
Drew I just don’t understand why she wants me there. She’s just making us part of her plans to boost her PR image. You know, family and warm and shit. You realise this birthday party is just an excuse for her to network and get more people on board her plan for global hotel-chain domination.
Aunt Helen Drew. Enough already. (Turns to SKYE) I’m sorry you have to hear this. He gets like that when it comes to his mother.
Drew Fine. I’m bringing Skye, then. Happy?
Skye Why me?
Drew Because if I have to be paraded around on her birthday, I’ll need all the backup I can get. I’d really appreciate it if you could come.
Skye All right. Don’t bat your eyelashes at me. I’ll go, okay?
DREW leaves the shop. SKYE and AUNT HELEN watch his retreating back.
Aunt Helen If I didn’t know better, I’d say he got even more screwed up after leaving the sanatorium.
A grand living room, carpeted and ornate. A huge chandelier hangs over the milling crowd. Enter DREW, AUNT HELEN AND SKYE.
Skye Remind me again why I’m standing here with you, looking like an idiot?
Drew Because I don’t want to look like an idiot alone. (Squirms in suit)
Skye Oh, that’s nice. You’re welcome, then. (Looks around at the well-dressed crowd) Seriously, I cannot believe you own all this.
Drew I don’t. My mother owns them.
Skye Which means you’ll get to own it one day.
Drew (rolling his eyes) Yeah, and this is me giving a shit.
Aunt Helen Don’t slouch, Drew. And don’t fold your arms. You’re at a formal event. Look smart, not defensive.
Drew I didn’t ask to come.
Aunt Helen Petulance is a horrid colour on you.
Enter ANNABELLE, Drew’s mother and HELEN’s sister. HELEN rushes over to hug her.
Aunt Helen Anna! Happy birthday.
Annabelle Thank you, Helen. (Turns to DREW) You came….
Drew Not of my own volition.
Aunt Helen (clearing her throat) And this is Skye, Drew’s best friend. You’ve met her before, I think.
Annabelle Yes. As I recall, she’s perhaps the only person Drew ever listens to.
Skye (offers her hand) Pleasure to meet you, Mrs Harm. Happy birthday. This is quite a party.
Annabelle Thank you. Although I prefer to call it a function. With guests of such calibre and status, it is nothing less than that, wouldn’t you agree?
Drew (snorts) Look, are you sure you issued the right invitation card? Wouldn’t this general disappointment of a son be something you’d want to hide away and pretend it doesn’t exist? It’s seemed to work all this while. What was the lie you fed them, anyway? Some bullshit about boarding school?
Annabelle Drew, I –
Drew I get it. Stay out of trouble and stay out of your way. Warning received.
SKYE tugs on his hand to shut him up. Annabelle notices and blatantly stares at their linked hands.
Annabelle (sighs and addresses SKYE and HELEN) Would you please enjoy yourselves. I see some old friends of mine just coming in.
ANNABELLE leaves them to their own. Drew grabs a glass of champagne and gulps it down.
Skye Wow, Drew. Your jerk score just skyrocketed, you know that?
Aunt Helen All I’m asking is that you behave yourself tonight. Okay, Drew? Just for tonight. No smart-assing, no vitriol. There are a lot of bigwigs here tonight – not to mention the media. Everyone will have a field day if you stir up any nonsense.
Skye Your aunt’s right. I mean, you hate her, I get it. But she’s the boss of Heron Hotels. Her reputation’s at stake if you –
Drew If she’s that afraid of me stirring up shit for her, then why did she even ask me to come? She could’ve gone on ignoring my presence like she’s had ever since I left the sanatorium.
A microphone thumps from the podium. ANNABELLE stands there and addresses the crowd. Cameras flash from the reporters.
Annabelle I’d like to thank all of you for being here this evening. As you may have heard, this function is not simply organised in light of my birthday; I have a public announcement to make. (Waits for everyone to be silent before continuing) I have chosen my son, Drew, as my successor. Come next Monday, I will be training him personally so that by the end of the year he will oversee all of Heron Hotels’ operations at the managerial level.
A commotion stirs amongst the crowd.
Drew (incredulous) What?
Reporter I heard your son had a brief stint in the Hopewood sanatorium, and has a record for assault. Are you confident about handing over the reins to him?
The commotion grows louder.
Annabelle (raising her voice over the din) I will say this once: that is a false report.
Reporter So you’re denying that he spent the whole of last year in the sanatorium?
Annabelle My son spent a year in an overseas boarding school. I have the acceptance letter from the headmaster as proof and should anyone still be in doubt, I suggest you seek a letter from the headmaster to confirm his attendance. I’m sure he will gladly issue one.
Drew (mutters) This is ridiculous.
Skye Drew, don’t… You can talk this out with her later. Don’t go nuts and do something you’ll regret later.
Drew Trust me, I’ll regret not doing this more.
He stalks over to the podium and brings the microphone to his mouth.
Drew Look. None of this matters because I’m not going to work for her.
Skye (buries her face in her hands) I can’t watch.
Annabelle (through clenched teeth) Drew. Now that you’re up here, why don’t we –?
Drew No. And for the record, yes, I was in a sanatorium for the whole of last year because I beat up a guy who was being a prick to my aunt. My mother apparently considered this sort of behaviour clinically insane. Hence the stint in the nuthouse. But I guess considering he wasn’t the first prick I beat up, maybe I’m not that sane after all. Might want to reconsider your decision, Mom.
DREW leaves the podium and tears out of the house. The audience is left in stunned silence, before erupting in a frenzy of tongues. AUNT HELEN and SKYE leave before reporters can hound them.
Aunt Helen I am going to skin that boy alive.
They find DREW waiting by AUNT HELEN’s beat-up car.
Skye What the hell, Drew!
Aunt Helen Drew. (Sighs) I know you blame her for sending you to the sanatorium, but you were out of control. After your father died….
Drew (growls) Don’t.
Skye (timidly) Does this … does this really have to do with – you know, your dad?
Drew No, this has nothing to do with my dad, okay? And I’m not acting out just so I can get some attention – least of all from her. The only thing she bothered to do was chuck me into Hopewood, anyway. Fastest, easiest way to wash her hands off me.
ANNABELLE appears behind him.
Annabelle Is that what you think? That I couldn’t wait to have you out of my hair? You really think so?
Drew (whirls around) I know so. You couldn’t even be bothered to step into Hopewood.
Annabelle I didn’t visit you in Hopewood because….
Drew Yeah, I know. Your reputation. It’s all about your reputation. Your empire.
A swarm of reporters catch up with them. They are a whirl of camera flashes and noise.
Annabelle (urgently) This conversation is not over. I’ll talk with you later. Go.
DREW, AUNT HELEN and SKYE pack into AUNT HELEN’s car and drive off. DREW stares at the side-view mirror, watching his mother battle the onslaught of media hounds.
Drew Happy birthday, Mother.