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[I was recently auditing an old USB stick and I came across a script which I had written for a Spanish filmmaker in 2011. I usually take a dim view of my writing from this period, but the script is actually fresh and reasonably funny. It is an adaptation of “A Conjugal Bed” (2010) with rather leaner writing; it also features an early and far less sinister version of the character Corpusty.

The film was never made. The story possibly includes too many characters and settings for a lo-fi student production. But if you are a filmmaker in search of a script, then you can have this one for free. You can change anything you like. The final scene was provisional anyway, but I think that the story leans towards placing the ashtray in a less sympathetic character’s flat.]

INT. LIVING ROOM – EVENING

A dinner party in a small and modestly furnished apartment. Two men and two women are seated around the dinner table. The plates have been put aside, but the wine is not yet finished. The partygoers are sitting back, subdued and smiling at each other over their wine glasses.

HELEN, a nervous-looking woman in her early thirties, stands abruptly and begins to collect the discarded dinner plates. She stacks them along her arm in steps. This vaguely audacious procedure may seem a little unlikely in such an apparently nervous woman.

NOAH, her husband, a sturdy, bourgeois-looking man, stands up as Helen passes him.

NOAH
There are some cigarette papers in our room. Back in a second.

PROFESSOR CORPUSTY, a grizzled, beady-eyed old man signifies his assent. His young wife, JULIA, nods and smiles.

Noah exits the living room, quietly shutting the door behind him.

Helen returns to the kitchen with the plates. Professor Corpusty and his wife remark on the dinner.

Noah throws open the door of the living room and bursts into the room. Professor Corpusty and Julia look up at him.

NOAH
Somebody’s had sex in our bed!

Professor Corpusty and his wife gaze at Noah for a moment. They then put down their glasses, glancing at each other quickly.

PROFESSOR CORPUSTY
I don’t understand. What do you mean?

NOAH
Somebody’s had sex in our bed!

PROFESSOR CORPUSTY
Well, good for them.

NOAH
I mean – recently! Just now! You can smell it.

PROFESSOR CORPUSTY
Smell it?

NOAH
It’s a sour, warm smell… kind of like kebabs.

Noah stares at Professor Corpusty suspiciously. Professor Corpusty and his wife look at each other, not knowing whether this is a joke or something which they should take more seriously.

PROFESSOR CORPUSTY
(slowly, laughing)
You don’t really think that any of us…?

HELEN
(sharply)
Noah! Professor Corpusty and his wife have not left the table all evening…

JULIA
(putting up her hand sheepishly)
I did go for a pee… Just a quick one.

HELEN
Noah. This is too much. You’re embarrassing yourself.

NOAH
Somebody’s had sex in our bed! It’s obvious! Come and see.

Professor Corpusty and his wife get to their feet, looking embarrassed and apprehensive. They all follow Noah out of the room.

INT. BEDROOM – EVENING

A bedroom with a double bed in disarray, sheets thrown about, a pillow on the floor, and a mirror on the wall which is slightly awry. We observe the remains of a condom packet on the floor. The dinner party enter the room and they stare at the scene for a moment.

NOAH
See!

PROFESSOR CORPUSTY
Well, clearly somebody has been in here…

NOAH
(triumphant)
Precisely!

PROFESSOR CORPUSTY
But, looking at it scientifically, maybe you yourself had… er… well, in here earlier and then… er… just forgot about it?

HELEN
(laughing, a little angrily)
Oh, that’s quite unlikely, I can promise you.

NOAH
Can we be serious? Somebody has come into our room while we were eating and they have had sex in our bed.

PROFESSOR CORPUSTY
But Noah, we were all at the dinner table.

HELEN
(looking at Noah quickly)
Maybe burglars? Intruders?

NOAH
I think that’s the most brainless thing which anybody has said this evening. And that’s quite an achievement!

PROFESSOR CORPUSTY
(heatedly)
I don’t know what’s going on here, but this is highly unpleasant. Is this some sort of joke? It’s hardly suitable for my wife.

HELEN
There has to have been an intruder. It’s the only explanation.

NOAH
(angrily)
It’s not a joke! One of these bastards… both of these bastards… have crept away from our table…

Professor Corpusty looks outraged.

HELEN
Noah, please! You’re upsetting our guests.

NOAH
Maybe when you were preparing the salad? Remember you wanted me to open that jar of olives for you and we were in the kitchen together for a couple of minutes. If they were quick then they could have…

HELEN
(shouting)
Noah! Stop!

But Professor Corpusty has ushered his wife from the room. We hear the front door of the apartment slam.

INT. LIVING ROOM – AFTERNOON

Noah enters in office attire, carrying a briefcase. He takes off his coat and puts his briefcase on the dining table.

NOAH
Helen?

HELEN
(her voice comes from the kitchen)
Noah? How was work?

NOAH
(angrily)
A dream. I sometimes think that I should be paying all of them for the pleasure which I get from working there. What are you doing?

HELEN
(innocently)
Washing our clothes…

NOAH
(turning in exasperation to face the closed kitchen door)
And you’re still doing it by hand? Christ, we have a perfectly good machine!

HELEN
I enjoy doing it by hand. It’s relaxing.

Noah exits the living room.

Helen enters the living room, carrying a massive pile of damp laundry. She proceeds to hang the laundry on a clothes horse.

Noah enters the living room.

NOAH
(whispers)
How? I don’t understand.

HELEN
What is it?

NOAH
It’s happened again.

INT. BEDROOM – AFTERNOON.

A bedroom with a double bed in disarray, sheets thrown about, a pillow on the floor, and a mirror on the wall which is slightly awry. Noah and Helen enter and they stare about in disbelief.

HELEN
But I changed the sheets? About an hour ago.

NOAH
So these intruders were in here during the last hour?

HELEN
Oh my god. I was in the other room all the time, whilst they were in here…

NOAH
It’s the smell that annoys me. Such a warm, unpleasant, sour…

HELEN
Enough Noah. Don’t be vulgar.

NOAH
(turning to look at a wardrobe)
Are there more bedsheets in this wardrobe?

HELEN
(quietly)
Trust you not to know where the linen is kept in your own bedroom.

Noah signals to Helen to be quiet and he tiptoes towards the wardrobe.

HELEN
What are you doing?

NOAH
(whispering)
Hush!

Noah silently extracts some bedding from the wardrobe and, gesturing to Helen, they together make the bed afresh. Noah then gestures to Helen to climb into the wardrobe after him. Helen does not look very impressed by this suggestion, but she follows him.

INT. WARDROBE – EARLY AFTERNOON

A scene of complete darkness.

HELEN
Noah. Why exactly are we sitting in this wardrobe?

NOAH
Hush! Listen!

HELEN
There’s nobody there.

NOAH
Quiet!

HELEN
How long are we going to spend in here?

NOAH
If we had a symphony orchestra in here, they’d make less noise.

HELEN
And even if we surprise these people in the act, then what are we going to do? It will be more embarrassing for us than for them.

NOAH
We’ll think of something. We need to catch them first and if we’re going to do that then we need you to be quiet.

There is a long pause.

HELEN
What are all these magazines down here?

NOAH
Ah! Don’t concern yourself with those…

HELEN
Oh my God.

The groans of a man and a woman making love can be distinguished outside the wardrobe.

NOAH
There really is somebody there.

HELEN
There is no way that I am leaving this wardrobe.

NOAH
Come on! We need to catch them.

HELEN
No way! You go… I’m right behind you.

NOAH
(cannily)
But if I am incapacitated out there in some way, then you’ll be left in this wardrobe by yourself. With them outside.

HELEN
Ah…

NOAH
So you’re going to have to come with me Helen.

HELEN
I’m so frightened, I can’t even open my eyes.

NOAH
(speaking louder to be heard over the groans of the lovers outside)
Helen, you remember the vicar’s wife? The little old lady on the crutches?

HELEN
Mrs Maclean?

NOAH
Aye, we all thought that she was so shy that she couldn’t say boo to a goose, didn’t we?

HELEN
We did.

NOAH
But when those teenagers were vandalising her husband’s church, in that crisis she turned out to be a brave and a strong person, didn’t she?

HELEN
She did.

NOAH
(speaking even louder to be heard over the screams of passion outside)
And in this present situation you have to be brave and strong like Mrs Maclean, don’t you?

HELEN
Well yes, but didn’t Mrs Maclean… well, didn’t she decapitate one of those teenagers?

NOAH
She did. But I don’t see what that has to do with our situation.

HELEN
But afterwards, the police said that she’d been prescribed the wrong dosage of her medication. That explained why she went so crazy…

NOAH
I think that this has nothing to do with our situation. You have to be brave and strong like Mrs Maclean. Now, I’m going to count to three, and then we’re going to jump out of the wardrobe and…

HELEN
And?

NOAH
We’re going to jump out of the wardrobe. Brave and strong, remember. One…Two…Three…

Noah and Helen jump out of the wardrobe.

INT. LIVING ROOM – AFTERNOON

Noah and Helen jump out of a large living room cupboard, both dispensing karate-style chops and kicks into the air. An ironing board and a mop and bucket fall after them.

HELEN
Er… Noah?

NOAH
Helen?

HELEN
We’re in the wrong room, Noah.

NOAH
I don’t understand. How did this happen?

HELEN
I think that we’re possibly dealing with something supernatural.

NOAH
You mean, a ghost?

HELEN
We seem to be rather short of other explanations.

NOAH
A haunted flat! Helen, I’m very busy with work at the moment. We can’t afford to move apartment again. And they’ve just opened that new Tesco across the street…

HELEN
There are Tescoes everywhere, Noah.

Helen exits the living room and Noah follows her.

INT. BEDROOM – AFTERNOON

A bedroom with a double bed in disarray, sheets thrown about, a pillow on the floor, and a mirror on the wall which is slightly awry. Noah and Helen enter and they stare about in disbelief.

NOAH
(sniffing)
That smell again. It’s horrible.

HELEN
Oh look, Noah!

We observe an ashtray by the side of the bed which contains two smouldering cigarette butts.

INT. LIVING ROOM – AFTERNOON

Enter Noah and Helen.

NOAH
They’ve now used up all our bedding.

We observe the damp bedsheets hanging on the clothes horse.

HELEN
Listen, I think I may know somebody who can help us with this…

NOAH
No! Don’t even mention it. I won’t hear of it!

HELEN
Noah, it’s a fantastic community arts centre…

NOAH
Don’t mention it. I can’t stand that place and there is nobody in that arsehole of an “arts centre” who can possibly help with our personal, private problems…

HELEN
There is a lady at the Forest Café who is a very good psychic…

NOAH
In other words, a witch?

HELEN
Let’s not get hung up on the terminology. I’ll invite her to the apartment tomorrow and maybe she can perform some sort of…

NOAH
Exorcism? A sexual exorcism?

HELEN
Don’t scoff Noah. When my dog died, she managed to contact him, remember?

NOAH
We never actually established that we were talking to your dog at that séance. It could have been any dog. They all sound the same.

HELEN
It was my dog. I just knew it. I’ll book the lady for tomorrow.

INT. BEDROOM – AFTERNOON

Enter MRS KAPPELHOFF, a fat, aggressive-looking woman of middle age who is wearing thick tortoiseshell spectacles. Helen follows, apprehensively.

HELEN
My husband has not arrived home from work yet, but I’m sure he won’t mind if we go over the room, Mrs Kappelhoff…

MRS KAPPELHOFF
(looking around the bedroom)
I immediately get the impression of two lovers. She was a dainty little princess – very beautiful – and he was a mere stable boy. They fell in love and ran away together…

HELEN
A stable boy? Are you quite sure…?

MRS KAPPELHOFF
But then the wicked king sent his knights to chase after the young couple, and they were captured and killed like pigs. Often a haunting has a connection with a particular object, I find.

HELEN
Indeed?

MRS KAPPELHOFF
(walking up to the mirror)
This is just the sort of thing. I can practically smell the despair rising off it like steam.

Mrs Kappelhoff grabs the mirror and pulls it down off the wall.

HELEN
I’d be careful with that if I were you…

MRS KAPPELHOFF
(taking a final look at the mirror)
Destroying the mirror will end the spell and set the lovers free…

HELEN
(approaching timidly)
The lovers are already pretty free and that’s a very expensive mirror… In fact, it’s an antique of considerable value…

Mrs Kappelhoff opens her handbag and removes a sturdy hammer.

HELEN
Please, I must ask you to put the mirror down…

Mrs Kappelhoff hits the mirror with her hammer and there is a loud crack.

HELEN
Please. It’s an antique… from the eighteenth century.

Helen retreats as Mrs Kappelhoff smashes the mirror with her hammer and kicks it to pieces.

MRS KAPPELHOFF
There, the spirits are released. The haunting is over.

HELEN
(shaking)
I don’t know if that is quite what we…

MRS KAPPELHOFF
Now, my session is two hundred pounds but I will add on one pound twenty for the bus fare.

Helen pays Mrs Kappelhoff and she exits, looking very serene.

Enter Noah. Helen steps forward, so that she is standing between him and the remains of the smashed mirror.

HELEN
Noah! Mrs Kappelhoff was here. You just missed her.

NOAH
And what did this woman have to say for herself?

HELEN
Oh, er… nothing very much. She suggested that the haunting might be connected to a particular object.

NOAH
Which object?

HELEN
She couldn’t put her finger on it, but…

NOAH
You know, there might be something in what she’s saying. At the dinner party – when the haunting first started – Julia Corpusty gave me that ashtray. I think she thought it was my birthday.

HELEN
Yes. Her husband later told her that we were only celebrating England winning the cricket, but by then you had taken away the ashtray…

NOAH
And I put it in this room. In fact – right beside the bed. And it was immediately after that…

HELEN
That the disturbance first began!

NOAH
Obviously, the poor ghosts had a strong emotional connection with the ashtray and they continue to appear wherever it goes. All we need to do now is to throw away the ashtray and… ah but, you know, I’ve got a better idea!

Noah plucks up the ashtray and walks out of the room, smirking to himself. Helen turns to look helplessly at the smashed mirror, she drops to her knees, and begins to carefully pick up shards of glass.

INT. THE FOREST CAFE – EVENING

A corner of the Forest cafe. Stoned-looking men and women with aged dreadlocks lie about in huge rotten armchairs. Noah enters quietly and he places the ashtray on a table, underneath a large sign which reads, “No Smoking.” Noah then exits.

Presently a woman stands up and claps to attract everybody’s attention.

WOMAN
Welcome to the first night of our pro-active celibacy festival. This evening we celebrate the empowerment and independence which we can all achieve by refusing to submit to the patriarchal oppression of sexual intercourse. Activists from all around the world – from Canada, from Palestine, and from Sweden – have travelled to be here, for a week of poetry readings and bongo drumming and body art. We will begin by releasing fifty white doves…

She stops and stares about with horror as the groans of the two lovers gradually emerge from within the room. People look around helplessly to see where the noises have come from. The groans get louder and louder.

THE END

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