"Pilot" is the 1st episode of Desperate Schoolboys.
The deceased James Clark looks over his friends, at Wiksteria High. The cause of his death is a mystery, but that is not the only secret out of his friends. Rena is haunted by guilty dreams, but is comforted by the new girl, Ali. The geek Ben has a secret crush on the popular girl, Liz. Joe is being treated for his anger, but refuses to admit to the stem of his rage. And the player, Josh, who struggles to be there for his friends, of course is also carrying a secret of his own.
We flash to James lying on his kitchen floor, there is a knife jammed into his belly, he’s still alive. Barely. He attempts to stand up, his hand grasped around the knife that’s killing him, and makes a grab for the counter, he falls back down to the floor and cries out in pain before going for another attempt, this time he grabs for the phone and manages to pull it down with him when he falls a second time. His life slipping away, he frantically dials 911, tears in his eyes. James’ head soon falls back and his eyes close, he is dead, at this point, a voice is heard from the phone next to James’ body, "911, what’s your emergency?".
This little... tragedy... was no accident, not at all. Another person is very essential to this scene, but I’ll get to that later, and, as I told you, I lived a very ordinary, albeit, boring life, so it’s only appropriate that we start the story at the end of mine.
As I said, this story is not about me. It is about the friends I left behind. It was the first day of school, since summer, when my friends would be together again since my funeral.
We flash to Rena, in a deep sleep, lying on the bed in his bedroom. He is tossing and turning in distress.
Rena's eyes open as he awakens, he sits up promptly, sweating and shaking. His eyes scan around the room, as if to check that the demons from his nightmare hadn't followed him. However he then shakes himself better and jumps out of bed, as if having found a new zest for life. He notices the digital clock by his bed reads: 08:55.
But, his secret would have to wait.
Grumbling at the thought of being late, he grabs some clothes from his closet and begins throwing them on in a rush.
Let’s move on to another one from my previous inner-circle, Josh Miller was, by any definition of the word, a player...
We see Josh walking down the school corridors on the way to class.
Josh was known for his ability to wear a woman down and maintained a certain reputation throughout his school that he was determined to keep up.
Josh stops when he sees a girl standing by the lockers, they waste no time in speech and they begin to make out passionately. "I was beginning to think you’d never get here," she says as they take a small interval. "Wouldn’t miss it for the world," he lies before kissing her again. "But I really should be getting to class by now," he explains. The girl seems sad as her and Josh part ways.
Even with the life he led, Josh still felt there was something missing, however, until his secret came out, he was happy living his life the way he led it… with as many people as he could live it with...
Josh walks around the corner where yet another girl stands. "Thank God," she says, approaching him. The two begin to make out. "I thought you’d never get here," she tells him. Josh smiles at her, "I wouldn’t miss it for the world."
Ben, walking down the same corridor, had been heading to Josh. But he turns away and keeps walking, deciding to talk to his friend later, perhaps when he had less tongues in his mouth. He shakes his head at the sight of Josh claiming another one of his conquests.
Benjamin Ashdale, another member of our very close group of friends, was always a peculiar one. He was charming and polite.
Flash to a much younger looking Ben sitting in the lavish dining room of his parent's home. Ben smiles at the warm and tasty looking plate of cuisine in front of him. He picks up his fork and prepares to dig into the food, when his mother snaps at him, "Stop right there!" Ben stops and looks up to the eyes of distain, which are is mother's. She utters with contempt, "Manners! Correct your posture and place down a napkin!" Ben does as he is told and his mother smiles.
He was caring and pleasant.
Flash to a slightly older Ben sitting in the same room, with another plate of food in front of him. He is sitting straight and a napkin is placed across his knees appropriately. He picks up his fork and prepares to begin eating, when his mother snaps, "Stop!" He looks up to her eyes and she utters, "Ask how your dinner companions are enjoying their food. Think of others before yourself!" Ben looks down, ashamed of himself, and his mother smiles.
And he was culturally educated. But, as a consequence, Ben was also self conscious and reserved. And Ben, also had a secret.
Flash to present day. Ben enters his classroom, fully dressed in the appropriate school blazer and tie, in contrast to his classmates. He sits down at his desk and looks at the empty chair beside him, surprised to see Rena isn't present. His head then turns to face at the girl at the front of the room, Liz.
Ben had a secret crush. A girl he idolised. Loved. And who, in his eyes, gleamed with perfection. But, he idolised her only from afar.
Suddenly Ben's daydream is broken when Rena bursts through the door. He jumps from his staring as the children of the class look up at Rena, who is out of breath and dripping of perspiration (from running to class). He looks over to the teacher and utters, over his heavy breathing, "Sorry...I'm late, sir.".
And last, but not least, there was Joe. Joe Hadland was... angry. Not much more to it. Well, not much more that he would ever dare confess to...
Joe’s sitting in class taking down the teacher’s notes with a disgruntled expression upon his face.
He had been warned that another physical confrontation would result in suspension, so Joe had to find other ways to relieve himself of his anger...
In a minor flashback, we see Joe violently throw his trainer from his bedroom window. In another flash, he’s seen angrily throwing a vase from the same window, we hear a smashas it hits the ground. In the final flash, we see Joe lift his computer monitor and drop it from his bedroom window in a rage. We see it fall to the ground and obliterate.
But when in school, Joe tried his very best to keep his cool, what a shame his cool didn’t feel like sticking around for long.
In class, Joe sticks his hand up and the teacher asks him what he wants, Joe tells him that he thinks the equation on the blackboard is wrong. The teacher assures him that it isn’t and tries to move on, however, Joe stands up and picks up some chalk and a rubber, altering the teacher’s equation. He is asked to sit down but Joe refuses to do so. "Apologize," he requests. "Excuse me?" the teacher asks. "I want recognition that you were wrong, and I was right. Apologize," he states again. This time more firmly, "Joe, please sit down, I will do nothing of the sort." "Why?" Joe asks, confused. "Because your correction is wrong. I was right. Now sit back down you petulant boy because last time I checked, I was in charge," the teacher states. Joe’s fists clench as he, with all the politeness he can muster, apologizes to the teacher and sits back down, fists clenching tighter.
Most of those who knew Joe knew that his apologies meant nothing, because sooner rather than later...
Later, after class, Joe is shown ripping the blackboard from the wall and throwing it out of the window.
For most people, secrets can be hard to keep, but for my little group of friends, it was a way of life. Each one of them guarded something and what each of them guarded... well... every secret was juicier than the last.
Dr. Brad Sonya had become prone to receiving troubled patients in his time as a therapist, this ranged from one end of the spectrum to another, however, no matter what trouble came his way, he was always able to solve it. This was because Dr. Sonya saw people’s minds as open books, but no book was ever more closed than that of Joe Hadland.
Joe is lying on the couch in the office of Dr. Brad Sonya as the latter sits over him in an armchair, notebook perched in hand. "So… anything you’d like to share today, Joe?" Dr. Sonya asks. Joe shakes his head. "Not particularly..." he states. "Joe, this is your fourth session and you haven’t said a thing. Everything okay at home? There must have been some reason your mother sent you to be treated by me," Dr. Sonya points out. "Look, I’m only here so that my mum will be happy that I actually went, just because I come to therapy doesn’t mean I have any interest in... having therapy," Joe makes clear. "Come on, there must be something you’d like to share with me… one tiny thing?" Dr. Sonya wonders. "Dr., don’t patronise me, I don’t share with the people I actually know and that I actually like, so what makes you think I’m going to share with a bobble-head wannabe-doctor who every five minutes or so when some sadsap is roaring on their sofa goes, ‘And how did that make you feel?’, I don’t want therapy, I didn’t ask for therapy, and I’d like to sit here for the rest of our hour quietly and unbothered," Joe explains. Dr. Sonya ignores this. "Joe, you threw a blackboard from a window, you clearly have anger problems, but where would you say that stems from?" the Dr. asks. Joe is silent. "Because you know what I think? I think something happened in your past that makes you too upset to talk about, something bad and perhaps embarrassing. But you see, I can’t get to the root of the problem until you let up and tell me something, now, I’m going to ask you something and ask it once, is there anything you’d like to share today?" Dr. Sonya asks firmly. Joe pauses, "You know what?" he says, "I think my session’s over." Joe grabs his jacket and puts it on before storming out of the therapist’s office.
The bell rings, indicating the end of class. Rena jumps from his seat and runs out the door, hoping to get to the lunch hall before the queue. However as he emerges from the classroom, he bumps into a girl, causing her to drop her books on the floor. The girl, Ali, jumps, a little taken back. Rena apologizes, "I'm so sorry, I wasn't looking." Rena begins picking up the books for her. "Thank you," she says. Rena hands her the books and she takes them with a smile. He then sticks out his hand, and says, "Eh, my name is Rena." Ali shakes it graciously, "Ali. I'm new here." "Oh, you just moved from the city?" he asks. "No. I just moved from the orphanage. I was just adopted over the summer." she responds. "Oh, wow," Rena struggled for a response. Fortunately, she continued, "To be honest, I'm finding it a little hard meeting new people. I've been so use to the same kids for so long. Luckily, a girl has asked me to join her for lunch." "Well, that's good. You know, I'd be happy to show you around, if you want?" Rena alleged nervously. "I would like that," she smiled comfortingly. Rena returned the smile.
Joe sits down for lunch with Josh and Ben after his therapy session, he asks them how their days are going. Ben is vague in his answer ("Oh, same old, same old…") and Josh begins to brag, telling him that it’s not even afternoon yet and he’s had his tongue in over five girls’ mouths. Joe is a little disgusted and tells Josh that that’s too many; Josh proceeds to say that Joe’s just jealous because he couldn’t get a girl to kiss him if he was lying unconscious on the floor in need of CPR. Ben agrees with him that it’s still too many but Josh doesn’t care, asking Ben when he’s shown the slightest bit of interest in a girl. Ben goes silent. "Well," Joe says, "You don’t seem to show interest in these girls either, just use them as a scoring system against other guys. If I weren’t mistaken, I’d say you had something to prove." Josh snaps at him to shut up and suggests that they change the subject. "Well, we are missing someone at this table." Ben points out. "You mean Rena? Where is he?" Josh asks. "Well, yeah, but I was talking about James," Ben tells him. "Oh, do they have any idea who killed him yet?" asked Josh. "Josh, c’mon, I doubt someone killed him, the police say it was a self-inflicted accident," Joe says. "I don’t know, I think there’s more to it." Josh tells him. "Perhaps this change of topic didn’t quite work out. Ben?" Joe asks. "Well, found Rena,” Ben says, pointing out Rena talking to a new girl. "Who’s that?" Josh asks. "Don’t know," Joe says. "New girl," Ben tells them. Rena soon ends his conversation with her and joins them "Oi," he says as he sits down. "Who’s the girl, lover boy?" Josh asks, mockingly. "Shut up, fag!" Rena snaps as a meaningless insult. Josh turns pale and doesn’t speak for the rest of the meal.
Lunch ends with the sound of a bell, and the friends part ways. Rena and Ben head off to their next class together. As they pass Liz, Rena notices Ben's eyes move towards her direction. "Why don't you just go over?" Rena asks. Ben doesn't respond, but instead looks down awkwardly. Rena continues, "I don't know why you're so unconfident, Ben, you have no reason to be. You know she would really like you if you have her the chance to know you. What are you waiting for?" Ben continues to silently, look downwards in doubt. Rena grabs his shoulder, a little frustrated at being ignored. He tells Ben, "Go over and ask her about her summer. You have to get over this confidence issue, she's not going to judge you on everything you say, she's not your mother!" Ben looks up, surprised at how well his friend knows him. He takes a deep breath and then begins walking towards Liz. His heart is pounding and his knees are shaking. He stands before her and she greets him with a friendly smile, "Hi." Ben opens his mouth, but its dryness and stiffness prevent any words from getting past. He quickly turns away again, shaking his head in disgust at how pathetic he sees himself.
The school bell rings for home time and Joe is packing up after his last lesson of the day, home-economics; he’s moving around with a crappy clay vase he’s made. He sees Dr. Sonya walk into the workshop and approaches him, away from everyone else. "What are you doing here?" Joe asks him. "I saw you tried to terminate your sessions with me, Joe." Dr. Sonya says, "Yeah, so?" Joe wonders, "I’ve stopped by to inform you that that’s not going to happen." Sonya makes clear, "Excuse me?" Joe asks, "Well, I’ve spoken to the principal as well as your mother who have come to the mutual agreement to make your sessions mandatory. You’re guarding something Joe and I am determined to help you." "But… but I don’t want your help." Joe tells him, "Oh, Joe. You just don’t know that you need it." Dr. Sonya assures him before walking out of the workshop. Joe, angered by this, throws his clay vase against a wall, causing it to shatter.
Benis sitting for family dinner in the large dining room. His mother and father are sitting at opposite ends of the table.
Dinner in Ben's home was the time when the family conversed about their day. And for Ben, that wasn't an enjoyable experience. Like every evening his mother would initiate the conversation...
Ben's mother looks up from her food and asks, "So how was your day, Benjamin?" "Okay," Ben responds. "You must have more to say than that?" she demands. Ben shrugs, "Not really." His mother sits up irritated, "How dare you! How do you think this cold and reserved behaviour makes me feel?" Ben apologises. His mother accepts and continues, "So how were your classes?" He tells her they were good. But she remarks, "Let's hope you do better than last year." Ben retorts that he got all "A's" last year, but his mother tells him that there is always room for improvement. Ben looks down and continues to eat his dinner slowly. His mother continues and asks, "Did you make more friends?" Ben tells her that he has friends. However his mother states that she merely supposed he may have outgrew his introverted manner. She then asks, "What about a girlfriend? Don't most children your age have romantic relationships?" Ben shrugs, again, "I guess some do." His mother scorns, "You guess? Don't you think you should know? Try to fit in? You keep like this and you'll end up a loner doing drugs! Unless, you're not gay are you, Ben?" Ben assures her that he is not. She smiles, "Well then, what about that lovely girl down the road, Mona?" Ben looks up with a nauseated expression. His mother responds, "Well Ben, come on. I love you but let's be realistic." Just then the uncomfortable silence is broken by the crashing noise of Ben's father throwing his cutlery to his place. He shouts, "Will you shut up!" His mother stares at her husband in utter shock, but then with a deep breath, she continues eating her dinner with her usual look of disdain.
Josh arrives home from school and doesn’t waste anytime before going upstairs. As soon as he shuts his bedroom door, there is a knock at it. "Come in…" Josh says before his father enters the room. "So, what? Too grown up to say ‘hi’ to your folks when you come through the door?" his father asks. Josh nods and his father proceeds to ask Josh why he’s been so secretive lately, Josh argues that he hasn’t been but his father points out that he’s barely spoken to his son in days. Josh apologizes for this before sitting on his bed, his father sitting down next to him, "Are there certain… distractions?" he asks. Josh shakes his head before his father asks, "Any girl trouble?" Josh felt a lump in his throat, he shook his head once more. "But things are going all right in that department, right?" he asks. Josh nods, not saying a word, his father points out how silent he’s become and asks if he’s struck a nerve, "No," Josh lies, "My nerves are all in tact." His father smiles, "Good," he says "’Cause there’s nothing me and your mum want more than to see you settle down with a nice girl, even if you play in the field a little at the moment." Josh mustered a smile before noticing the corner of a magazine sticking out of his mattress within his dad’s view, he quickly hugs his father, ushering him out of the room.
By now, Josh was used to a few close calls. But he was determined that these calls stay as far away as possible, because if what Josh was hiding were to get out… Josh was utterly worried it would destroy him.
Josh lifts his mattress to remove the gay porn magazines from beneath it, he stares at them and smiles before proceeding to search for a better hiding place.
It's night and Rena is asleep. He's lying in his bed: tossing, turning, wheezing and sweating. He wakes up suddenly, sitting up and letting out a terrified scream. His mother, Justine, runs into the room, concerned. She asks, "Rena, are you okay?" He looks up at her, "I just keeping have those terrible dreams, mum. They seem so real." His mum runs her hand through his hair and pushes him back into bed, "Rena, honey. They are just dreams. Now, go back to sleep." His mum smiles down on him with warm eyes, and he closes his eyes once again. His mum strolls out of the room.
Keeping secrets is a dangerous business, but all worth it once you know what you’re protecting… whether it’s the fear of your past…
In a flash, we see Joe gluing his vase back together in his bedroom.
…or the idealization you’d like to keep ideal…
…or a reputation that you worked so hard to build…
Josh is flicking through his secret magazines, smiling to himself.
And then there are those who keep secrets as a way of life, because it would be too dangerous if, just once, they were to be honest with themselves.
After talking to Rena, Justine walks back into her room and over to her dressing table in her bedroom. She pulls a baby’s rattle from the drawer and holds it to her chest, she cries. "I’m sorry." she mutters before dropping the rattle into the drawer and shutting it. Justine wipes away the tears.