# SCENE 6

INT. PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE — DAY

Close on two pairs of kid’s feet, their legs barely able to reach the ground. The camera PANS UP, past skinny legs covered in cuts and grazes. We find two boys, one looking considerably worse for wear than the other.

On the left DANNY (12, wild red hair) arms crossed with a cruel look on his face. He glances threateningly over at MIKE (12, neat brown hair) who is sporting a fat lip and black eye and is trying hard not to cry.

Over this we hear the voice of PRINCIPAL EDWARDS (40s).

PRINCIPAL (VO): Of course fights like this are pretty common Mr Dyer. But — and I am very sorry to have to tell you this — but unfortunately it looks like this is more serious, it looks like we may have a bullying situation.

Immediately we cut to DAVID (late 30s, with neatly combed red hair) who appears stunned and then fraught.

DAVID: Bullying? Still? In this day and age? (To the Principal) How have you let this happen? This is outrageous! (Pointing to weeping Mike) He needs to be punished!

PRINCIPAL: Mr Dyer —

DAVID: No, you don’t understand. Bullying is serious. It…it never leaves you.

PRINCIPAL: Mr Dyer, your son is not being bullied. He is the bully. It seems he’s been picking on Mike for several months, calling him names, locking him in the toilets, and more recently, using violence.

Poor Mike sobs in his seat while Danny stares emotionlessly at the floor. David looks at his son, trying to absorb the contradiction.

DAVID (Collecting himself): Well, it’s right that Danny is punished for this.

The principal is about to respond when there’s a knock at the door.

PRINCIPAL: Ah, this will be Mike’s father.

MATT (late 30s, sharp suit, neat brown hair) enters and shakes the principal’s hand. To most people, Matt is extremely likeable: a handsome, confident, local hot-shot.

To everyone, except David. He’s just seen a ghost. His face suddenly pallid, he grips the arms of his chair, a cold sweat breaking out.

Matt extends a business-like hand to David.

MATT: You must be David. Matt, Matt Marron.

DAVID: Matt Marron, yes I know who you are.

MATT: Ah, you’ve seen the billboards.

Matt gives the wink-and-the-gun. David’s eyes follow Matt to his seat next to Mike, disbelieving. Does he really not remember?

PRINCIPAL: Thank you both for making the time this afternoon. This is serious I’m afraid.

MATT: Very serious.

PRINCIPAL: Mr Dyer, you were just saying, some kind of punishment is appropriate for Danny.

A beat.

DAVID: Well…I’m not so sure. Look, boys will be boys won’t they. A little scrap here and there, it’s…character building.

MATT: Are you serious? Look at my son! This has been happening for months.

DAVID: And how does that make you feel, Matt?

Matt looks confused. He really doesn’t remember.

DAVID (CONT’D): The truth is…and I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this for some time Principal…my son is the victim here.

Danny looks up at his dad, confused. Mike’s eyes widen in disbelief, and both Matt and the Principal are thrown by this.

DAVID (CONT’D): He first came to me, covered in bruises about a year ago. He said Mike cornered him in the bathroom and pummelled him until he couldn’t breathe. Every morning for months Mike would walk up to Danny and spray deodorant in his eyes so he always looked like he was crying.

DANNY: What are you talking about dad?

DAVID: One day Mike put a whole pack of laxative in Danny’s soda, he had to take a week off school just to shit himself —

PRINCIPAL: Mr Dyer.

David collects himself, but Matt’s demeanour has now changed. He stares at David, a gaze of horrified realisation.

MATT: That…that sounds very serious indeed.

MIKE: Dad, I didn’t —

MATT: It seems like this cuts both ways. What would be an appropriate punishment for the pair of them?

MIKE: Dad!

Video artist working at The New York Times. I write a weekly newsletter about visual storytelling and creativity. https://adamwestbrook.substack.com/

Video artist working at The New York Times. I write a weekly newsletter about visual storytelling and creativity. https://adamwestbrook.substack.com/