"Partners in Crime'" is the 3rd episode of Desperate Schoolboys.
Josh arranges a day out over the weekend, attempting to make up to Ben, by also inviting Liz. However things don't go as expected. Rena brings Ali on the outing, in attempt to get closer, and ends up telling her about his mysterious past. Meanwhile Joe declines to go on the day out, as a productive session with Dr. Sonya causes him to think about his past, shedding some light on the story with his father.
Joe is walking through the school quad in the morning and sees Ben chatting with Rena and Josh, he feels too uncomfortable to go and talk to them as Ben had not been returning his calls or texts ever since his minor snap at him. He continues walking and goes past them. "Where does he think he’s going?" Rena wonders, "I guess he’s forgotten about us." Josh says. "Oh, well then screw him." Rena says. Ben remains silent, feeling guilty about Joe’s exclusion.
Adding to this that his therapist had brought up certain… mixed feelings about his father, Joe was in a downward spiral, one he was struggling to claw his way out of. This in mind, Joe decided to tackle the latter problem head-on, however, in Joe’s case, he’d always found that actions… spoke louder than words.
Joe kicks down the office door of Dr. Brad Sonya where another student is being treated, "Up." Joe says. "Joe, this is highly unethical-" Dr. Sonya tries. "Up!" Joe yells, viciously, the student, worried, stands up off the sofa and leaves. Joe lies on the sofa, "Dr., I’m feeling troubled." Joe says. A still startled Dr. Sonya says nothing. "I first wanna apologize for leaving yesterday. That was uncool of me. Sorry." Joe says. "Um… apology accepted…" Dr. Sonya says. Joe smiles. "Um, Joe, seeing as how you mutilated my door, is there anything particular you’d like to talk about?" he asks. "I… just… wanted to ask you something." "Shoot." Dr. Sonya says. "Do you think… I could let go of this… anger… if I were to… open up more?" he asks. "Well, Joe, that depends, is there anything in particular you’d like to share?" Sonya wonders. Joe is silent. "Well, I’d say I struck a nerve yesterday with the mention of your father. Before he died… did you not have a good relationship with him? How did he die?" he asks. "That’s not why I’m here. I’m wondering if you could help me with my friends? I’m feeling a little… distant… as of late." Joe explains. "Well, have you tried talking to them?" Dr. Sonya asks. "…are you sure your degree is valid? Honestly, talking? What do they teach in psychology nowadays?" Joe wonders. Sonya scowls at him, "Fine I’ll try talking. And… as for my father… we still have a semester of mandatory sessions for that." Joe tells him before leaving therapy, for once, satisfied. He ushers the other student back inside.
Josh was more aware than any of my friends of the need for companionship. He had pursued it his whole life. He had sought to bond with his father...
Flash to Josh and Bob sitting on the couch watching television. Bob sleazily points at an attractive woman and makes an aroused gesture. Josh does the same.
He had searched for constant closeness...
Flash to Josh making out with random girl.
And his relationship with his friends, meant a lot...
Yes, Josh knew a lot about companionship. And so it was important to be close to his friend. If only because, he feared nothing more, than to be alone.
Rena takes his phone from his pocket in his bedroom and answers it, "Yo, bitch, it’s Josh, wanna come Wiksteria Towers today with me, Ben and Liz?" Josh wonders. "Oh, well since you ask so nicely…" Rena says. "I know, right? I’m so sweet," Josh jokes. Rene laughs, "Yeah, man, Sure, I’ll come… Can I bring Ali?" he asks. "The new hoe? Sure," Josh says. "Um… thanks," Rena says, ignoring the ‘hoe’ remark. Josh hangs up after giving him a meeting time and place. Rena goes to his speed dial list and calls Ali, "Hi…" she says sweetly, "Hey, I was wondering if you’d like to come to Wiksteria Towers, a theme park in the town, with me and a few mates. There’ll be other girls there, well, another girl there…" Rena says. "Sure," Ali smiles. "Oh, and Rena?" she says, "I would’ve said yes even if it was just you." she says, there is a pause and Rena blushes. He gives her the meeting time before the conversation ceases. Rena begins to get changed.
Joe is walking alone in the same park where Ben had found him days previously when his cell phone buzzes, he retrieves it from his pocket to see that Ben is the caller, and, remembering Dr. Sonya’s advice of “talking”, Joe answers the phone, "Hello?" Joe says. "Hey Joe. Me, Josh and Rena were thinking of going on a daytrip to Wiksteria Towers and we were wondering if you’d like to come?" Ben asks. "Um, I’m gonna pass," Joe says. "Joe, I want you to know… no hard feelings about the other day. Yeah?" Ben asks. "I know. I’m sorry. But I just am really not in the mood for theme parks." "Seriously?" Ben asks, disbelieving of this. "Yes… I have some stuff to think about." Joe tells him. "Oh, well… okay." Ben says, "I’ll tell the others that… you don’t want to come…" Ben says, seeming upset. "Ben, you said no hard feelings." Joe reminds him. "I know. I know. But… you seem a little distant, Joe. You should spend some time with us." Ben suggests. "I don’t want to." Joe says, regretting it. "Oh. I see." says Ben. "That came out wrong." Joe says. "No, no, I get it, you don’t wanna come. Well. Enjoy yourself or… whatever." Ben hangs up and Joe angrily sticks the phone in his pocket before proceeding to sit on a park bench.
The next day, Josh and Rena are sitting on the train, ready to go to Wiksteria Towers. Ben then steps on the train and sits at the table with them. "Hey, guys," Ben greets them, "Where's the girls?" "They're meetings us there," Josh informs him, "Liz's mum is giving them a lift." Ben nods, before noticing the massive lump of Rena's head, "What the hell is that?" Josh's eyes widen, as he looks, having not noticed it before. "It's nothing. I just fell out of bed last night and hit my head," Rena explains. "How did you manage that?" Ben enquires. "I guess...I was just tossing around a lot," Rena explains. The other two nod, accepting his reason. "You know, once we get there we'll have to wait an hour for the place to open," Rena tells Ben. Ben responds with a jumpy, "What?" "Genius here, picked a too early train," Rena says, pointing at Josh. "This is why I always arrange our days out," Ben says proudly. "You always arrange the days out because you only complain when we do," Josh corrects. Rena smiles in agreement. The train then stops for more people to get on, including a particularly attractive and built man. Josh's eyes move in his direction. Meanwhile Rena says to Ben, "Stop looking at my bump!" Ben apologises, "Sorry, it's just so huge." However Ben's eyes then glance back and the bump, causing a frustrated Rena to shout, "Stop staring!" Suddenly Josh, who had been in his own world, jumps, "I wasn't staring!" Rena and Ben look over at him confused.
Joeis sitting on the swings, alone; swinging slowly back and forth, no one else appears to be in the park.
Given recent circumstances, Joe had decided to take his day of exclusion to think about his past, and, more specifically, something that happened in summer…'
12 weeks ago
Joe flashes back to earlier in the summer, near the start, he is sitting on his bed, flicking through his photo album when he comes across the photo of him as a baby sitting with his mother and his father. The three of them seem happy. Joe hears his mother walk through the door and goes to talk to her, "Mum… can I meet my father?" he asks, "What?... What suddenly spurred this on?" she asks, seemingly uncomfortable, Joe tells her that he’s been contemplating it for a while but Annie assures the boy that he doesn’t want to be doing business with that man. "But why?" Joe wonders, "Because… I said so." she states, her authority slipping. "Mum, you say I can never meet him but you never tell me why he’s so awful? C’mon? What did he do? It couldn’t have been that bad." he states. "Joe. I have said no." she states. finally, "Oh, so now you’re deciding to be a good mother to me?" Joe asks. "What is that supposed to mean?!" she demands. "Oh, nothing. It’s just that you came home a few seconds ago in the same clothes you left in last night… again." he says. "What are you insinuating, young man?!" she demands again. "I’m insinuating, mother dear, that you’re a slut! Now can I please meet one of the men who manipulated an easy girl, you, into the sack and made me?!" Joe asks. His mother slaps him across the face. "And let us hear no more about it." she says. "No, no. Let’s." he says. "Excuse me?" she says. Joe tells her that she heard him before demanding, again, to be able to meet his father. "Fine." she says. "I’ll give you his last known address. But if you dare say I didn’t warn you… Hell, you know what? Whatever he does to you… at this point… I really don’t care."
The flashback ceases and Joe continues to swing on the swings.
Rena is in a food line, when Ben walks over and joins him, "Josh is just meeting Liz and Ali. They'll be over soon." Rena replies, "Cool. You didn't want to go with him? I'm just getting ice for my head." Ben stutters anxiously, "I...thought I'd join you." Rena smiles, "Actually, I think I'll get some food while we're here too." Ben looks at the place unsurely, "Here?" "Yeah. Why?" Rena replies. Ben raises his eyebrows, "Just thought we might have had a nice lunch." Rena shakes his head, and moves forward in the queue, as they continue to talk. Rena comments, "There is something off about Josh." "What you mean?" Ben asks. Rena orders at the counter, before answering, "I can't help but think he's overcompensating too often." "You just noticed that?" Ben asks. "I guess I never did. He's always kind of been the odd one out of the group. I spent most time with James before," Rena admits, paying for his food. They walk off and Ben takes an anti-bacterial gel from his pocket, "You want to clean your hands before you eat?" Rena gazes down at it, "No thanks." Ben widens his eyes and then places the bottle back in his pocket. Rena looks at Ben, "You know, you've really been there for me since James. Thanks." Ben smiles, "Of course." Josh comes running over, "The girls are here guys. And wow, Liz looks like she's desperate to be picked up." Rena rolls his eyes over to Ben's direction, in reference to his earlier comment. However Ben is too busy staring in anger and clutching his fist. Liz and Ali then walk over. Rena smiles. And Ben begins to shake.
After Rena and Ali separate from the rest of the group, Rena takes the ice pack from his forehead, his bump healing nicely, and he takes the opportunity to be a gentleman and buy Ali and him some ice cream. "Thanks." she says accepting it, the two begin to walk within the park together. "So, you wanna go on a ride?" Rena wonders. "I don’t know. I might get scared." she warns him, jokingly. "Might need someone to hold my hand." she smiles, as does he, before taking hold of her hand and walking her over to the nearest rollercoaster.
Later, the two are seen emerging from another rollercoaster, after the ride is over. They converse as they talk, seeming content in each other’s company. Ali mentions that she’s been having fun and Rena agrees. "I think we should do this again sometime." she suggests. "You mean… like a date?" he asks. "Well, like a date. A date. Whatever you want to call it." she says. "Well… I’d be open to that." he tells her, they both smile at each other. Ali and Rena lean into each other and kiss tenderly, as they pull out, Rena smiles, but Ali feels herself crying. "Hey, what’s wrong?" he wonders. "I don’t know, there’s just something so… sad." she says, he asks her what it is but she says she’s not sure. Ali stares at Renato. They kiss again but Ali backs away in tears, "I should… I should go." she says before running off, Rena calls after her before he progresses to run.
Ben, Josh and Liz are walking down the path of the theme park together. Ben takes out his map, "I've drawn a clock-wise route, against the official route of the map, so that we'll miss the queues on half the rides." Josh glances at him, "But that means we start on the worst rides." Ben smiles, "Exactly. They'll be empty." Josh rolls his eyes. Liz glances at Ben, as if seeing him as the third wheel, "So, Josh. You been doing your maths?" Josh smiles, "Yeah," he then looks at Ben, "You know, Ben is a first class maths student." Liz nods, to humour him. Josh continues, "I bet that a girl like you, likes the good guys." Liz tells him, "Actually I like my gents more on the manly side." She smiles seductively at Josh, as Ben proceeds to try and hide the origami swan he just made out of his map. Liz looks over, "Is that a swan?" Ben stutters, "Oh... no... it's a fighter jet." Liz chuckles.
Joe is seen in the park again, sitting alone on the swinging roundabout.
In Joe’s flashback, we see him walk down the halls of a dirty seeming apartment building holding a small piece of paper in his hand, Joe reaches a door before checking the address on the piece of paper, and he rings the doorbell. A man answers the door, he seems haggard. "Are you Matthew Hadland?" Joe asks, "Yes…" says the man, "Hi, I’m Joe. I’m your son." Matthew is shocked.
Soon, Joe is sitting on Matthew’s couch. "So… your mom know you’re out here?" Matthew asks, "Yes. She gave me the address." Joe explains. "Ah. Why? We ended things on pretty bad terms. She told me I’d never here from her… or you… ever again." Matthew says. "Yeah, well, she’s been pretty insistent that I don’t meet you, saying you’re some kind of monster, but, to be fair, she’s no five-star parent herself." Joe says. "Hey, hey now. I’m sure she does the best she can. I know I didn’t exactly leave her with much." Matthew tells him. "What exactly happened between you two?" Joe wonders, "Oh, I was… stupid. Drinking. Drugs. The whole package. I was… in short, a mess. I was a crap husband and a crap father. And… it came to the point where she asked me to choose between… my lifestyle… and you guys. I made the wrong choice." Matthew explains. "Well, you seem okay now." Joe mentions. "You don’t seem very quick to judge?" Matthew asks, "Why would I be?" Joe wonders. "Yeah, well… I just want you to know that I cleaned up my act. I’ve been to meetings… rehab… you name it. I’ve… stepped up." Matt says. "I can see that. You seem perfectly fine to me." Joe smiles, happy at meeting his father. "Listen, I should really be getting you home to your mom soon." Matt tells him, Joe nods, "Promise me I can see you again." Joe states, Matthew says that he promises he will, "Because… I’d like you to be a part of my life." Joe says. "I’d like that too, kid." Matthew and Joe smile at each other.
Looking back… Joe views this touching scene as one of his major regrets. And he believes that to get to the source of his anger, he will have to admit the rest of the truth to those around him. But how can he do that before he admits it to himself?
Joe is still sitting on the roundabout, he wipes away his tears.
Ben is sitting on a bench alone, looking glum. Josh walks over, "Ben, what are you doing? I thought you went to the toilet?" Ben looks up, "There's no point. I don't know what I was thinking. Me and her will never happen." Josh shakes his head, "Well, not with you acting like this." "It doesn't help that she likes you," Ben tells him. Josh asks, "What?" Ben says, "Did you even tell her there was other people coming? It seems like she thought this was just going to be you and her." Josh goes on, "Maybe you should just give up." "Excuse me?" Ben asks. "I don't understand. So, you just think about her all the time?" Josh says. Ben nods. Josh continues, "What is it you like about her so much? Is all based on her looks?" "Of course not! I mean, she is the most beautiful girl. But there's more than that. She's the most friendly and caring girl, who talks to you, no matter who you are. She's so positive. She's...perfect," Ben explains. Josh asks, "So, why haven't you done anything?" Ben looks up teary, "I'm afraid. Afraid of what she will think. I just don't see what chance I would have." Josh shakes his head again, "Then you should just get over her." Ben stands, "What? You know if it was Rena or Joe, then, they'd try to comfort me." Josh utters, "Well, I'm not Rena or Joe! This bizarre obsession should just end!" as he walks off.
Still at Wiksteria Towers, Renafinds Ali sittinga lone on the lakeside, he sits next to her. "Hey… I’m sorry. Did I do something to upset you?" Rena asks, "No," Ali assures him. "I’m sorry for my little breakdown, it was just like… something about you… it made me upset… but I’m not sure why." she states. "So it wasn’t my kissing?" Rena asks, jokingly. "No," she laughs, telling him that that was actually the highlight of her minor meltdown. "So, what have you been thinking about down here?" Rena wonders. "Oh, just… my old life." she tells him. "In the orphanage?" he asks. She nods. "You never really talk about it. What was it like there?" he wonders. "I’d rather not get into it." she tells him. "It’s just… something about kissing you… it made me think of there." she says. "Well… that’s… strange." he says, Ali agrees. She changes the subject, "So, anything new with you recently?" she wonders, "Just the dreams." he says, "Dreams?" she wonders some more. He nods, "I keep feeling myself return to the same place and every time I wake up… I just feel this intense guilt." he explains. Ali asks him where he returns to, Rena states that he does not know, "It seems familiar every time I dream, yet… I have no idea where I am or what’s going on. I think… I think I did something. There’s this baby’s scream I hear… and the guilt… it’s all so conflicting… but, I think I did something bad… to a baby." he states. "Oh, Renato… I’m sure it’s just a dream and nothing more." she assures him, comforting the boy. The two stare into each other’s eyes before kissing again. This time, there’s no crying, and no pull-away.
At that moment, Renato had completely forgotten about the dreams that had been troubling him. However, he still had it in the back of his mind that he’d like to know what they meant. All in good time, Renato… all in good time.
Rena and Ali are walking and holding hands as they pass Ben on the bench. Rena tells Ali to give him a 'sec' and walks over to Ben, "What's up?" Ben looks at him, "I don't want to talk." Rena tells him, "Are you sure? I can usually make you feel silly about whatever it is that's currently upsetting you." Ben smiles. Rena comments with a smirk, "Well, that's a start. If it's Liz, Ben, then go and do something which will actually help yourself, instead of making yourself more miserable." Ben looks up at him and smiles, before standing up, "Thanks, Rena." Ben walks off with a smile, to find Josh and Liz. He makes his way through the crowd, peering over from side to side. He sees them by the ice-cream stand and paces over. However he stops in his tracks, as he sees them both kissing passionately. Ben turns back around.
Whether we’d like to admit it or not, we could all use a companion in our times of need… Whether it’s someone we can confide in with our woes…
Rena and Ali walk along the lakeside, talking, holding hands as they stroll.
…Someone to comfort you when you’re disappointed in your friends…
Ben walks out of Wiksteria Towers alone, tears in his eyes.
…Or someone to help you compensate for the truth…
Josh and Liz continue to makeout.
And then we find people who once set out to find someone to share their life with… who now find themselves giving up.
Joe walks into his house and past his mother who doesn’t seem to notice he’s there, he goes straight upstairs and takes his cell phone from his pocket, he has no messages. Joe sits on his bed and begins to cry.