Nick agreeing to move into No. 26 and telling Todd that he's going to be his new room- mate.
Todd snaps angrily that that's great! Helen warns him about his manners. Todd asks if Jim knows. Helen replies that he doesn't, but she's sure he'll understand when he hears that Nick's grandmother's in hospital. She adds:
HELEN: It'll only be for a while. Come on – it's a chance for you two to get to know each other.
TODD (snaps): Look, I'd rather give it a miss. I don't want to share my room or anywhere *else* with him. If he has to stay, he can have Lucy and Katie's room; Katie can move in with me. Come on, Emma.
With that, Todd marches off towards the front door. Emma follows him. Nick calls after Todd:
NICK: Look, will you settle down?
Todd, however, just retorts:
TODD: Who's talking to *you*?
Helen warns Todd that that's enough: Nick's a guest in their house and she won't have him talked to like that by *anyone*. With that, Todd heads out. Nick tells Helen that he should leave, too. Helen, however, insists that it's all settled: Todd will get used to the idea.
Emma is marching down the driveway of No. 26, angrily. Todd chases after her, snapping that Nick is a real sleaze; what would she do if she came home and found him living at *her* place? Emma retorts that she wouldn't carry on like *he* did. Todd points out:
TODD: Come off it. What he did to the fence at the workshop...
EMMA: He *fixed* it, didn't he? Anyway, I think it looks *good* now.
TODD: Only ‘cos you've got the hots for him.
Emma sighs and Todd persists:
TODD: You *have*, *haven't* you?
EMMA (stopping and turning to face Todd): Sometimes you can be so childish. I'm sorry his grandmother's sick, and I'm just embarrassed by you, that's all. I used to really like you, Todd.
With that, Emma marches off down the street. Sharon is walking in the opposite direction, with some shopping, and she wanders over to Todd and muses:
SHARON: Strife with your girlfriend, eh? I wouldn't worry about it.
SHARON: She'll get over it. Anyway, the best thing about fighting is making up – especially if you really like her.
TODD (glumly): Not if she's after someone else...
Across the street, Paul pulls up in his car and he and Gail climb out. Paul takes the mail out of the mailbox and looks across to where an ‘AUCTION' sign is being erected outside No. 30.
A few moments later, Paul heads into No. 22 and comments to Gail about the sign, wondering how much the place will go for. He then offers Gail a drink, but she says *she'll* do it – *he* can sort the mail. Paul smiles:
PAUL: You're certainly in fine form, aren't you!
GAIL: Yeah, well, I'm trying! I think I'm finally getting over the uncertainty of in- vitro fertilisation. I've just got to stop wondering all the time whether it's going to work, and remember that whatever happens there's still *us*, otherwise there's no point.
PAUL (warmly): Yeah.
With that, Gail goes to make dinner. Paul opens one of the envelopes he brought in – but as he does so, something falls out and drops on the floor. It's a photo of Amy. He picks it up and looks at the accompanying letter, reading:
“Dear Paul, Here's the picture of Amy I promised you when we were over. Hope you're as proud of our daughter as I am, and thanks for sticking to our bargain. Regard to all. Nina.”
Paul is so engrossed in the letter that he doesn't hear Gail ask him if chicken and veggies are OK. When he doesn't respond, Gail walks over to him and he quickly stuffs the photo and letter into his jacket pocket. Gail asks him in concern if he's OK. He smiles:
PAUL: Yeah, fine! So, what's for dinner?!
Mrs. Mangel closes the front door after retrieving the mail. Sharon joins her in the hallway and Mrs. Mangel asks her if, when she came in from the shops, she noticed the auction sign next door. Sharon nods that they just put it up. Mrs. Mangel remarks:
MRS. MANGEL: I hope it's not going to be vacant for *long*. I won't feel very safe with no one there.
SHARON: Don't worry, Mrs. Mangel – it's such a nice street, whoever buys it will probably want to move in straight away. I wonder what they'll be like...
MRS. MANGEL: As long as they've got *normal* jobs – the last lot were always coming and going; you never knew *who* was there.
She adds that a nice, refined middle- aged couple with no children would be perfect – or a retired executive; although she hates to think how the last people left it, as it will probably need renovating. Sharon smiles:
SHARON: Then it'll probably be empty for *ages*. Maybe squatters will move in?!
MRS. MANGEL: Over my dead body! Fortunately, young lady, you won't be here.
Sharon then asks if Bronwyn will be home from the Clarkes' soon. Mrs. Mangel replies that she'll be home by dinner time. Sharon asks about Jane, and Mrs. Mangel replies coolly she's going to visit Henry Ramsay – although what her interest in *that* boy could be, she doesn't know. Looking bored, Sharon's eyes alight on the organ in the middle of the room, and she tells Mrs. Mangel that her mum's cousin used to play one of those. She lifts up the lid, but Mrs. Mangel tells her quickly not to fiddle with it, as it's broken. Sharon asks what's up with it, but Mrs. Mangel replies in irritation that she doesn't know; it just keeps cutting out all the time. Sharon suggests that it's probably something really simple like the transistors or the capacitors! Mrs. Mangel just tells her firmly to keep right away from it. She then adds that she's going to visit Emily Johnstone. As she heads out, she tells Sharon that Jane's get plenty of books and magazines to keep her out of mischief. Left alone in the house, Sharon smiles and looks at the organ!
Madge is sitting at the kitchen counter as Helen prepares dinner. Nick offers to help with the beans, and Madge comments that he's been well trained! Nick explains:
NICK: Where *I* come from, if you don't cook, you go to bed hungry. We can't afford takeaway and grandma's too crook to do it, usually.
As Nick gets stuck into the beans, Helen tells Madge to come with her: there's something she wants to show her. The two women head through to the lounge room, where Madge hisses at Helen:
MADGE: Helen, what are you up to? And what's he doing staying here?
HELEN: His grandmother's in hospital. I want him here to keep an eye on him: he has the makings of a very good artist.
MADGE: Do Jim and Beverly know about this, yet?
HELEN (admits): No... but it's hardly a cardinal sin to want a kid with talent to realise it.
The front door opens suddenly and Todd comes in. He demands:
TODD: Is he still staying here?
Todd then asks if he can go and study in Katie's room. Helen replies that he can – for the moment. He heads off and Helen tells Madge that, so far, the idea of Nick staying there hasn't gone down too well. With that, Madge says she might push off – but she then asks Helen if she saw the auction sign outside No. 30, and she adds that she thought *Paul* might be interested. Helen, however, says he has *enough* on his plate. Madge sighs:
MADGE: You're telling *me*. I've been trying to talk to him for *weeks* about those wretched Waterhole costumes.
She then muses that if she wants to see him, there's no time like the present. She then heads over to the door – but as she opens it, Jim comes in. The two of them exchange brief greetings and Madge heads off. Before Helen can explain anything to Jim, Nick comes out from the kitchen and says:
NICK: Mrs. Daniels, do we use—
He breaks off as he sees Jim standing there. Jim asks Helen curtly:
JIM: What on earth is *he* doing here?
HELEN: Er, Jim, there's something I have to tell you...
Jim warns Helen that it had better be good.
Gail and Paul are sitting relaxing on the couch when there's a knock on the front door. Paul asks in irritation who *that* is. Gail goes to get it and she finds Madge standing on the step. She tells Gail that she needs to talk to Paul; she hates to intrude, but it can't wait. She marches inside and tells Paul:
MADGE: It's about those doxy dresses you've got us getting around in.
GAIL: The *what* dresses?
MADGE (tersely): Doxy, Gail. Doxy.
GAIL (to Paul): What on earth is—
PAUL (explains): A medieval tart.
MADGE: Exactly – and even *they'd* be hard put to be seen dead in them.
PAUL: Well, they're staying, Madge.
MADGE: Oh, come on...
PAUL: I am sorry, Madge, but that is final.
MADGE: Is it? All right – you're the boss. [To Gail] He ought to wear one – see how *he* likes it.
With that, Madge, storms out, leaving Gail to look at Paul and query:
Paul doesn't respond. Gail tells him that Madge has got a point: *she* wouldn't want every guy in the bar ogling and pinching her on the behind. Paul sighs that he'll look into it. Gail steps behind him and starts to massage his shoulders. She tries to take his jacket off for him, but he stops her quickly and says *he'll* do it. He stands up, slips off his jacket and slings it over the back of the chair by the desk. He then sits back down to enjoy his massage, but stares at the jacket, thinking about the letter and photo hidden inside...
No. 26/A corridor
Todd, Jim, Helen and Nick are sitting eating dinner, and Helen tells Nick that he's done a marvellous job. Nick remarks that it needs a bit of sauce. He turns to Todd and says:
NICK: Do you want some, mate?
TODD (retorts): No, thanks – and my name's *Todd*.
There's an awkward silence. Helen breaks it by saying it's her first art class tonight; it's a pity Nick can't make it. Jim asks why he can't, and Helen explains that she's asked him to go to the hospital to see his grandmother: she's afraid she might worry about him. The ‘phone starts ringing suddenly and Helen says she'll get it. She goes and picks it up and STD pips sound. Beverly – who's standing in a corridor, using a public ‘phone – then comes on and says:
BEVERLY: Hi, Helen, it's only me!
HELEN: Beverly! How are you? How's the conference going?
BEVERLY: Not too bad, but I'm a bit sick of talking shop, to tell you the truth.
HELEN: I bet you are! Want to speak to Jim?
BEVERLY: No, it's all right. Tell him I'll give him a ring later when I've got more time. The symposium starts in a second and I haven't got any more change for the ‘phone.
HELEN: All right.
BEVERLY: I just thought I'd give you a call to see how you're all getting along.
HELEN: Wonderfully! You know what Jim and Todd are like: a laugh a minute...
Nick looks at Jim and Todd awkwardly.
Sharon is sitting on the floor of the lounge room, some components of the organ in her lap. The front door bangs suddenly and Mrs. Mangel comes in. She gasps when she sees what Sharon's done and she chides furiously:
MRS. MANGEL: You wicked, destructive, disobedient child. How *dare* you? Didn't I warn you not to touch that organ?
SHARON (cries): I'm *trying* to put it back together – honest.
MRS. MANGEL: Don't worry, young lady, you'll sit there ‘til you *do*.
SHARON: I'm really sorry, Mrs. Mangel, and I feel awful, but I don't know *how*.
Mrs. Mangel collapses into a chair in shock and exclaims:
MRS. MANGEL: Give me strength. You arrive on my doorstep uninvited, and then you proceed to systematically destroy not only my property but my entire *house*.
Sharon cries that it was an accident, but Mrs. Mangel just says tersely:
MRS. MANGEL: I must've been *mad* to allow you to stay here.
She then tells Sharon to gather up the components of the organ into a plastic bag; *she's* going for a lie- down. Sharon says in concern:
SHARON: Are you sure you're all right, Mrs. Mangel? Can I help you?
MRS. MANGEL: No! You little vixen! Haven't you done enough?
With that, Mrs. Mangel heads to her room, leaving Sharon looking rueful.
Dinner's over. Nick starts clearing the table, but Helen tells him to leave it and go and get ready and she'll drop him off at the hospital on the way. He walks off. When he's gone, Todd asks angrily how come Nick gets off and he and Jim have to do the clearing- up. Helen tells him that Nick's done his share, helping with the dinner. Todd mutters that they'll probably all get food poisoning. Helen warns him sternly that that's enough. Jim, who's doing the washing- up, says to Helen:
JIM: We don't need his aggravation in this house, you know.
HELEN: I don't think it's Nick who's creating it...
TODD: Yes it is.
Jim walks over to Helen and tells her that he didn't want to say this in front of Nick, but he's still not happy; *none* of them are, least of all Nick. He adds that this is *his* house; he might have been consulted. Helen comments:
HELEN: I didn't expect you to be overjoyed, but I *did* think you might try to understand. When I agreed to move back in here, I was under the impression my friends would be welcome.
JIM: Your friends, yes, but not every stray you happen to feel sorry for.
HELEN: Oh, I'm sorry, Jim, I know I should've discussed it with you. He's a rebel, I grant you, but he's so young and he has so much talent.
JIM: The world is full of talented youngsters as badly or worse off than *him*.
HELEN: Well, I'm glad that we can help at least *one* of them. He's too young to be on his own; who knows *what* strife he might get up to?
She then tells Jim that if he only takes the trouble to get to *know* Nick, she thinks he might be surprised: he really is very decent. Todd walks over and chips in that Nick's still a troublemaker: he and Emma busted up today, because of him. Nick appears in the archway between the lounge room and kitchen as Jim tells Helen:
JIM: This is our home, Helen. There are *places* for kids like that; places equipped to deal with his sorts of problems.
HELEN (softly): You're *wrong*, Jim. He needs a real home and a family that cares about him.
Nick interrupts and tells Jim curtly that if that's the way he feels, he'll shove off. He adds that *he* doesn't need this and neither does *Helen*. With that, he walks out the front door. Helen cries at Jim sadly:
HELEN: I hope you're proud of yourself.
A short time later, Jim is sitting on the couch as Helen gets ready to go out. She's telling him:
HELEN: Todd's behaviour was understandable, even if it *was* appalling, but *yours*, Jim...
JIM: I'm sorry he overheard me, but that's all. Face it, Helen: the boy is a vandal. He's already cost me a lot of money unnecessarily. What did he expect me to do: roll out the red carpet?
Helen tells Jim that Nick Page isn't the first teenager in the world to get into trouble and nor is he the last; where would they be if they just gave up on them? As she heads to the door, she sighs that she's running late and hasn't time to go to the hospital to see if Nick's arrived. She goes on:
HELEN: I wonder if *you'd* be charitable enough to?
JIM (exclaims): Oh come on, Helen, fair go!
Helen, however, tells him that it's the least he can do – if not for Nick, then for Mrs. Page: the poor woman must be frantic.
Jim sighs heavily.
The lounge room of No. 30 is in darkness and there are various items strewn around the floor. A window opens suddenly from outside and Sharon clambers in. She turns on a torch and starts wandering through the house, looking around. She heads into the kitchen and then tiptoes back to the lounge room, where she picks up a bag and blanket she brought in with her and lays the blanket out on the floor. She unpacks a few other items from her bag, including a photo of herself and Bronwyn. She stares at it and murmurs:
SHARON: I'm sorry, Bronny.
She then lies down on the blanket and turns off the torch.
Paul is reading a magazine when Gail comes downstairs. She goes to take his jacket off the back of the chair it's slung over, but Paul says quickly:
PAUL: Don't touch that!
GAIL (looking surprised): It could do with a dry clean.
PAUL: No, I'll be cleaning it tomorrow
GAIL: That's not like you! [Suspiciously] What are you hiding?
She then looks at the jacket more closely, reaches into the inside pocket and takes out the letter. Paul tries to grab it from her, but she holds it out of reach and teases:
GAIL: I've found it, haven't I!
PAUL (irritatedly): Come on, Gail, give us it here. Look, stop playing stupid games and just give it to me, will you?
He tries again to reach for the letter, but he doesn't grab it firmly enough and it falls out of Gail's hand and onto the floor. Gail picks it up and opens it. She then looks at the photo of Amy. After a few seconds, she murmurs:
GAIL: She's gorgeous, Paul.
PAUL: Do you think so?
GAIL: Mm, I do.
A look of relief crosses Paul's face and Gail realises:
GAIL: You thought I'd find it too painful, didn't you.
Paul looks down at the floor. Gail smiles:
GAIL: You know, you're a pretty nice person, Paul Robinson!
PAUL: No – just lucky to have *you*.
They kiss warmly.
Sharon is asleep on the lounge room floor at No. 30, but she sits up suddenly, apparently having heard a noise. She looks around – and then hears a louder thump. She grabs her torch – but before she can turn it on, someone standing in the doorway lights a match and then blows it out. Sharon raises the torch above her head, ready to attack the person as their shadow begins to approach...