Crime without Cops
This has to be the worst title ever. Nevertheless, the concept’s engaging.
Drama: 6 x 47 min. self-contained episodes
Crime thriller. Premise: some of the best crimes don’t involve cops.
The concept evolved from a one-off drama ‘Stay Dead’. I have included the one-pager to give something of the flavour.
Not everyone who commits a crime is a criminal, you know. Some are pretty ordinary people. People you and I can relate to. Some simply slip into it, get caught up in it or take whatever’s angering them a little too far. These six stories tell of these and others.
1. Stay Dead. Please see Page 3.
2. The Hiker: Hitching a lift to Mundarrah, 23 year old Susan Langate is raped and killed. When the Police find no leads, her sister Jo sees only one way to find the murderer; hope that he does it again. Angry and emboldened, Jo packs her swag and follows her sister’s fatal footsteps. Her plan is simple: hitch to Mundarrah and then double back and keep hitching till the killer picks her up. She makes it to Mundarrah with nothing but friendly truckies and here, claiming to be a wildlife photographer, she befriends Sheila, owner of the Mundarra pub. Back and forth she goes, hitching with nothing but decent people, getting to know the people of the tiny township. There’s affable, motherly Sheila, the strange Bitser (five to the six pack they say) and the strangely cosmopolitan Bishop Hadley. The murder’s still talk of the town but the theories (especially Bitser’s) give her no leads. Then, late on her fourth night of hitching, she is picked up by Bishop and discovers who the rapist is. She’s come armed and manages to fight him off only to discover – he may be the rapist, but he’s not the murderer.
3. Fake News: Phipps would never have been part of it if Marco had told him the whole truth. Marco’s plan to hack into the control room of Channel 12 to broadcast a one hour rebuttal of ‘fake news’ seemed elegant – but Marco’s media takeover was much more than electronic. By the time this is clear, it’s too late to pull out. Marco the radical discontent and Phipps the reluctant accomplice, have an entire network at their fingertips – but what will Marco do with it? And how will the network react? Despite Phipps’ best efforts, Marco’s anger escalates towards violence. In the end, it’s neither the pirates nor the police who resolve the issue – but a battling female operations manager who finds, when push comes to shove, that she’s able to move to the side of the angels and give both sides what they want.
4. Wake up Dead: told first person by Roger Priestley: “I woke up one day, got in my car and got killed. You can’t make a mistake about a thing like this but people keep telling me I have. Or that I haven’t – died, that is. But I know I have and all the anti-depressants in the world won’t change the fact. Then again, being dead gives you a sort of freedom you’ve never had before. You can do what you want and what can they do? Kill you? And I know what I want to do – I want to kill Albert Schroeder. I want him to live through the hell I’m living through now.
One of the downsides of being dead is you have to relive your life. It’s like a film in your head you can’t turn off and, let me tell you, it’s not the good bits. It’s the bits you’d rather forget. The being cruel to a bird bits, the first wife and what you did to her bits. The kid you punched, the racist stuff you enjoyed.”
Roger plans the murder carefully, even finding a way to frame Albert’s bitch of a wife. It will take place in the couple’s little S&M playroom. Roger will drug Albert, strip him naked, tie him to the ‘pleasure chair’ and taunt him with a knife before placing a plastic bag over his head. Neat plan – but it goes pear-shaped when Albert grabs the knife and pushes it into his own chest. Now he’s dead too. And Roger has to relive the moment, over and over…
5. A Righteous Crime: We were both well over 50. I was pretty good with my hands and she was prone to hysterics over blown light bulbs.
Somehow, she’d convinced me that we would fly across the country, enter enemy territory and bust a refugee facing deportation out of Baxter.
And we did. The names and even some of the places have been changed to protect – well – me. And the detainee who is still (amazingly) at large. And Margaret, the fumble fingered Granny who managed to hold herself together long enough to help pull off the most wonderful, satisfying and comical crime ever undertaken by two women of ‘that certain age’. A ‘crime’ involving a cracked tooth, a smuggled vial of blood and an induced bout of the shits. And a getaway car, of course. (Background note – the detainee – we’ll call him Ahmed – was Iranian. His family spent all of their money smuggling him out of Iran. After he escaped, his brother became one of ‘the missing’ and his father was jailed. Despite the death sentence facing him in Iran, the Immigration Department were determined to send him home.)
James has the failing production company. His wife Gail has the money. Their marriage is a mockery of disinterested cohabitation and financial entanglements. Recently, Gail has threatened to cut off her financial lifeline to his production house. But only when she’s drunk or drugged out.
He’s in in the living room when the call comes. Gail is on the verandah. Drunk. Of course.
The man’s voice is badly disguised but the words are clear ‘We have your wife. We want a million. We’ll give you two days.’ James frowns, checks that the call’s been recorded and then starts to laugh. The week before, he’d taken Gail to the airport to pick up her twin sister. Mary’s not an identical twin but it’s pretty close. A recent divorcee, she’d travelled from South Africa to ‘visit family’.
That morning, Mary had dolled herself up and borrowed Gail’s Mercedes to go to town. And then been kidnapped. He’s just been handed his impossible dream on a plate.
Waiting for Gail to fall into a drunken slumber, he makes two calls: to the office, where he informs his PA he is taking a few days of and then to Gail’s drinking buddy, Rebecca. Does she know where Gail is? Neither does he and he’s worried….
He arranges his comatose wife in the passenger seat of his SUV and heads out of the city for their weekender in the mountains.
Gail is still dead to the world when they arrive. He arranges her carefully on the double bed, goes to the back deck and pulls out an extenda-line clothes line. He then, meticulously, unknots and removes one strand of the nylon coated line.
He strips down the bathroom and, bizarrely, begins to dress in a pullover of Gail’s, a pair of her jeans and soft suede gloves – too small for his large hands.
Back in the bedroom, he gently wraps the nylon line round her neck (comically difficult in the cumbersome gloves) and strangles her.
He removes the gloves and carefully replaces the nylon cord, knotting it into place and retracting the whole affair back into its inconspicuous home.
When he returns, the bed is empty. Gail stands in the bathroom with her hands on the sink, blinking into the mirror. “I don’t feel too good.”
“You fell asleep with your scarf on, come on love, time for bed.”
Gail stops as they near the bed. “Where’s my kit….?” “I’ll unpack it in a moment, have a rest…” Soon, she’s snoring.
In the kitchen, a bottle of red wine is empty and James, still dressed in Gail’s clothes, takes a deep breath and pulls on the too-small gloves.
With the nylon rope under his arm, he moves to the bed and bends over her sleeping form.
“Playing dress ups?” Mary stands at the door, a faint smile on her lips, “No need for the rope” she tells James, “I gave her a shot of her own medicine. A big shot. I thought, when dear sister found I’d been kidnapped by someone who thought I was her, she’d cough up the money. Never thought you’d kill your wife and blame it on the kidnappers.”
Mary smiles, “Here’s the deal, James. Not negotiable. Gail’s taken some time off to be alone. After this, she’s going to decide to divorce you. After the divorce, she’s going to travel – for a long time.” She thinks, “Or maybe we stay married…but no. After all the money she’s put into your – ventures – I think it’s time she took her loot and left. Sorry James, I know you’re buck broke but them’s the breaks. You can take it or leave it or – perhaps – kill her again?”
Mary laughs as she helps herself to some wine.