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Harper Hunter

SETTING: Beanies café in Malibu, Los Angeles. HARPER is trying to cheer up SHAE.

HARPER: Good to see you Shae. How are you holding up, honey?

SHAE lets her hair fall across her face: Guess I’ve been better.

HARPER: So there was no talking Drew around?

SHAE: Nope. It was really horrible. We argued—all night. At least he hasn’t insisted on splitting up very noisily and very publicly though.

HARPER: He insisted on staying in Sydney though. Doesn’t he want to come to LA to find his mom?

SHAE: He said he’d rather have me safe than find his mom.

HARPER: Well that’s true. But how are you more safe if he’s over there? The Symbol guy seems to be able to be in Sydney and LA at the same time.

SHAE: Drew says that’s impossible and if this guy is going to have to choose between us, it’s Drew he wants.

HARPER: And Finn.

Tears jerk into SHAE’s eyes: That’s the only good thing about Drew staying in Sydney. He’s making Finn stay with him and got him a bodyguard.

HARPER: You could’ve stayed in Sydney, too...

SHAE: I had to come back and check on Mom. She doesn’t even know her brother’s dead—probably murdered.

HARPER: So she’s still not herself?

SHAE: Nope. Her psychiatrist has put her on these meds that turn her into a zombie. I don’t know how she’s going to take the news...

HARPER: Has she come out of her bedroom?

SHAE: Once since I got back—she says she’s not ready to face the world.

HARPER: How’s Finn? Did he go to your uncle’s funeral?


ANTON interrupts: The usual, ladies?

SHAE: Yes please Anton. How are you today?

ANTON: Dismal. But I don’t have time to chat.

{Anton scoots away, sighing heavily}

HARPER: He gets worse every time we come in here.

SHAE: I know. He’s a mystery.

HARPER: But I saw him feeding scraps to some strays out back when I came in yesterday. He is human then.

SHAE: Drew says he’s seen him giving out blankets to the homeless downtown as part of some help operation.

HARPER watches ANTON: But the funeral. Finn go okay?

SHAE nods: Well, he made it memorable. He announced right over the coffin that he’s building Uncle Brody’s boat if it’s the last thing he does.

HARPER: You hang out with some stubborn guys, Shae. So he’s going ahead anyway, even after the gravestone text?

SHAE: No stopping him. He can’t get the boat moved to Townsville, but they have changed yards in Sydney—somewhere he reckons isn’t as busy.

HARPER: Is he doing it alone?

SHAE: George is coming across from Samoa—Drew phoned him. And there are some guys on the job from before. But George is a boat whisperer.

ANTON delivers their drinks to the table, spilling coffee into the saucers: So your Uncle took off his clogs?

HARPER: That’s a horrible expression. Thanks for the coffee, Anton. We won’t be needing anything else.

SHAE shrugs as Anton turns on his heels: That’s Anton.

HARPER: Guess you’re feeling a bit crappy these days then.

SHAE nods into her coffee: It’s like a giant stopped by to play and stepped on my heart.

HARPER: How long does Drew plan to stay away?

SHAE: Who knows. But enough about me—I heard you had a really good tennis tournament. What’s your ranking these days?

HARPER: Number two right now. But I’ll be back at one once my knee settles down—I missed a few tournaments.

SHAE: And Colt?

HARPER: Still number one—in the world rankings and in my heart.

SHAE swats at HARPER and chuckles: At least you two are okay.

HARPER: Do you want me to come stay with you at Drew’s house? That place must be spooky on your own.

SHAE: Thanks for asking. But I’ve moved in with my mom...for now.

ANTON, whispering behind his hand and staring out the window: Pretend that it’s raining.

SHAE: What? What on earth?

ANTON: Act normally. There’s a woman in the window—watching you.

{SHAE slowly turns her head to the window and a shape slips away}

HARPER: What’s wrong? What’s Anton said now?

{ANTON marches off}

SHAE stands: He said there was a woman watching me—through the window. But she darted away when I looked up.

HARPER: What did she look like?

SHAE: I can’t say. It was all shadows and really quick.

HARPER: You know Anton. Probably just another nasty trick of his.

SHAE: Anton’s not nasty. Just hard to get used to. It takes a while...I should probably go. But thanks for meeting up.

HARPER: Good luck with everything. Are you going to tell your mom about your Uncle?

SHAE: I really don’t know. It might be too much right now, but if I don’t—she could be really mad I kept it from her. He was her brother...

(SHAE returns to her Mom’s home. The front door has been left wide open}

SHAE: Mom? It’s me. I’m back.

{SHAE pushes the door open. The streetlights cast shadows in the twilight. She flicks on the light}

SHAE: Oh my god! No! Mom? Where are you?

{SHAE darts upstairs to her mom’s bedroom}

911: 911 What’s your emergency?

SHAE: It’s my mom. She’s not in the house. And there’s blood everywhere.

Payback is published every Thursday and Sunday evening New York City time (that’s Monday and Friday mornings for the Aussies)

Was the woman Shae's Mom? Or perhaps it was Drew's missing mom?

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