Mike looking shocked as he discovers that it's Mrs. Ross, not Mr. Ross, who's abusing Jessie.
Outside the Ross house
Mrs. Ross repeats her order, telling Jessie to go inside. Mike, however, tells Jessie soothingly that it's all right. He then turns to Mrs. Ross and says coolly:
MIKE: It's an offence to bash your children, Mrs. Ross.
MRS. ROSS (snaps): I'll thank you to get off this property and take your opinions *with* you – or would you like me to call the police and have you removed?
MIKE (retorts): That's fine by *me*. They can have a look at Jessie while they're here; make a few enquiries.
Jessie turns and heads down the path. Mike goes with her. Mrs. Ross follows them and snaps:
MRS. ROSS: That's a very stupid idea – and you're absolutely mistaken.
She tells Jessie sharply to get into the house. Mike tells Jessie that she doesn't have to if she doesn't want to. Mrs. Ross snaps at her daughter:
MRS. ROSS: In there this minute.
She grabs Jessie's arm firmly, but Mike pulls them apart, telling Mrs. Ross that she can't *do* that. A car pulls up suddenly and Mrs. Ross sighs at Jessie:
MRS. ROSS: *Now* look: there's your father.
She approaches the car as Mr. Ross climbs out and asks what's happening. Mrs. Ross points at Mike and tells her husband firmly that she wants him off the property. Mr. Ross approaches Mike, who tells him that they have to talk. Mr. Ross retorts:
MR. ROSS: Some other time. You heard my wife.
MIKE: We either talk *now* or I go to the police.
MR. ROSS: All right, all right, inside – but you'd better have a damn good explanation, young man, or *I'll* be talking to your school principal.
With that, the four of them head inside. An interested neighbour peers across from next door, wondering what's going on!
Madge is standing on Harold's vibrating weight- loss machine when the front door opens and Henry bursts in! Madge gives him a hug and beams that it's so good to see him! She then remarks on Henry's haircut, which has turned into a complete mullet! She asks where Scott is, but Henry tells her that he decided to hang out in Brisbane with Lennie a bit longer. He heads to the kitchen to get something to eat as Madge asks what the news is. Henry says vaguely:
HENRY: Not a lot. You've had all the action *here*, I reckon – Mrs. Mangel's wedding...!
MADGE (rolling her eyes): Oh yes – that...!
Henry asks for the info. Madge tells him that she was tempted not to go, but there she was, singing in the pew in her glad- rags, and she was all prepared to have a good blubber until she remembered it was Nell Mangel! She grins:
MADGE: I really had a go at her: I kept calling her ‘Mrs. Mangel' instead of ‘Mrs. Worthington' – you know all the nonsense she went on – the Ramsay stuff she went on with – after I was married? She didn't like it one little bit!
MADGE: The ceremony went off all right, but, you know, since you and Charlene have been up in Brisbane, this place has been like a *tomb*. Now, with Nell going... ha... you know, I'm really going to miss the old biddy. Think it's the onset of senile dementia, do you?!
Henry asks Madge if she reckons the marriage will last. Madge shrugs that she doesn't see why not. Henry comments that they just seemed like a pretty unlikely couple... Madge then asks why they're talking about Nell Mangel, and she asks how Charlene is. Henry just replies quickly that she's fine and sends her love, same as Scott – but then he dashes off to have a shower. Madge calls after him that he sounded so *worried* on the ‘phone—; but she has to break off, as Henry has gone! She sighs heavily.
Mike is standing in the Rosses' lounge room, saying to Mr. Ross:
MIKE: At first I thought it was *you* hitting Jessie – but it's been *Mrs.* Ross, and obviously going on for quite some time.
MRS. ROSS (exclaims to her husband): Are you going to *listen* to this?
MR. ROSS: Just a moment, Adele. [To Mike] Your story falls apart on that point alone. I'd have known; I couldn't've *helped* knowing.
MIKE: What about the bruises?
MR. ROSS: You're turning this into something it's not. Jessie's clumsy; she's always been the same. Jessie...?
He looks at his daughter, but she doesn't respond. Mrs. Ross looks stands there looking slightly pleased with herself. Mike tells Mr. Ross that that's not true. Jessie, however, murmurs:
JESSIE: It's really been *my* fault, not mum's.
MIKE: What do you mean?
JESSIE: Well, I should be more help around the house; and I'm not a good student – mum *was*; but she's never been able to do what she wanted to because of *me*.
MR. ROSS (to his wife): If this caused a problem, Adele, why didn't you *tell* me?
MRS. ROSS (snaps): When? When are you here? There's nothing else in your life except your precious business.
Mr. Ross frowns and then thanks Mike for bringing this to his attention; he'll deal with it. Mike, however, retorts that it's not that simple. Mr. Ross says in surprise:
MR. ROSS: I beg your pardon?
MIKE: Well, you've had plenty of time.
He then tells Jessie that she can leave with him now, if she wants, and then come back later. Jessie, however, insists that it's all right. Mike asks her if she's sure. She nods that she'll be all right. Mike tells her to let him know if there's any more trouble. He heads to the front door. Jessie follows him, saying:
JESSIE: Thank you.
Mike turns back to Mr. and Mrs. Ross and warns them that he expects to hear from them later today, otherwise he'll be taking it further. With that, he heads out. Mr. Ross looks at his wife.
Sharon and Nick are doing homework at the kitchen table as Bronwyn prepares dinner. She groans suddenly as the knob comes off, and she comments that she'll get Henry to fix it, as he should be home by tonight. Nick offers to do it, but Bronwyn says quickly:
BRONWYN: No – it's OK!
Sharon grins at her sister that she's changed her mind about Henry, has she?! Bronwyn shrugs that things *have* been pretty quiet...! Sharon then sighs at Nick that they've got heaps more homework to do. Nick says he doesn't know why he's bothering: they get their Maths results tomorrow, and he's sure he failed – and if he does, he's quitting school. Sharon says in surprise:
SHARON: No. You can't! I mean what about tech... commercial art... all your plans?
NICK: I think I'd be better off getting a job.
Bronwyn tells him that he mightn't be able to if he's not properly educated. Nick just mutters:
NICK: Well, if I can't get a job then I'll just shoot through to Western Australia somewhere; go gold- mining. What's it matter?
Sharon looks at Bronwyn in concern.
Henry and Madge are doing the washing- and wiping- up after dinner. Henry asks where Harold's off to and Madge tells him that he's got choir practice at church: the a cappella group. She adds that she's just grateful they let him in after what she did to his audition tape. Henry beams that it must've been a scream! Madge, however, sighs that it was no joke – things have been very strained round there. Henry comments:
HENRY: It's just a storm in a teacup, isn't it?
MADGE: Oh, what a thing to say – we've only been married five minutes!
HENRY: Sorry – it's just me and Bronwyn...
Madge, changing the subject, asks again about Brisbane. Henry tells her that it's the same as usual: his granddad still hates his gran's cooking, his back gets sore after tea so there's no question of him washing up...! Madge interrupts and demands:
MADGE: What about Charlene and Scott?
HENRY (ignoring the question): Oh, I bumped into Lou Carpenter. Sends you his regards.
MADGE: Yeah, well, don't mention his name in front of Harold, will you? Harold says he's not jealous, but every time he hears his name, he goes on and on about his less- desirable traits, like being an extrovert and generous with his money.
HENRY (grins): They're faults the big guy certainly doesn't share!
MADGE: Yes, well, he makes up for it in *other* ways. Now, what about Charlene and Scott?
Before Henry has to answer, there's a knock on the front door and he runs to get it. He opens the door to Bronwyn, who smiles that she was *hoping* he'd be back. She asks him if he can do something for her. He shrugs that he guesses so, and he invites her in. Bronwyn tells him that one of the knobs on the stove has gone bung, and she thought maybe he could take a squiz tomorrow. Henry yawns and nods that that's fine. He offers Bronwyn a coffee. She remarks that he seems pretty tired, and he tells her:
HENRY: Yeah, well, it's a bit of a change from the old cap- and- bells routine, eh?
Bronwyn stands there looking worried.
Mike opens the front door to Jessie and Mr. Ross and he invites them in. Mr. Ross tells Mike:
MR. ROSS: We won't beat around the bush, Mr. Young. I'd like to apologise for the scene today. We shouldn't involve you in our private affairs.
He and Jessie sit down on the couch as Mike remarks that that's not really the issue. Mr. Ross says he'd still like thank Mike for bringing the problem to his attention: he'll see that it doesn't recur... and there's no reason why it should go any further. Mike muses:
MIKE: So you don't want me to report it, then...?
JESSIE (warily): Mike... dad'll sort it out.
MR. ROSS: As Jessie said, I'll—
MIKE: Mr. Ross, this is a long- term problem. Your wife needs professional counselling, for *her* sake as well as Jessie's. In *my* opinion, you *all* do.
MR. ROSS (tersely): Mr. Young, you hardly *know* us.
JESSIE (pleads): Mike... *please*...
MIKE (to Mr. Ross): Bit worried about your business, are you?
MR. ROSS: My business looks after my family very well.
MIKE: Oh. Including Jessie? She's the one I'm concerned about.
MR. ROSS: It's very easy to judge when you don't know all the facts.
MIKE: Mr. Ross, I know all about kids being bashed up. I've got *plenty* of facts. I went through it myself.
MR. ROSS: I wasn't aware of that.
MIKE: Yeah, well, I walked out, practically had no contact with my parents; you wouldn't want that with Jessie, now, would you?
MR. ROSS: Of course not.
MIKE: Well, if you love her, be careful. There's good counselling out there: talk to them while you've still got the chance.
He then holds out to Mr. Ross a piece of paper, saying he dug out a ‘phone number. Mr. Ross and Jessie look at each other. Neither of them speaks.
Sharon is in the kitchen when Bronwyn comes in, looking glum. Sharon asks her if Henry's going to fix the stove tomorrow. Bronwyn mutters that he said he'd do it. Sharon beams:
SHARON: Yay! He's such a hunk!
BRONWYN (sadly): Not the way he was just now. About as friendly as a cold cup of tea. I reckon I made a huge mistake.
SHARON (insists): No, Bronny.
BRONWYN: I was there, you weren't.
SHARON: You just gave him a really hard time at the party. He just hasn't got over it, that's all.
BRONWYN: No, it was more than that.
SHARON: Well, only one way to find out: tell him you've changed your mind about him.
BRONWYN: What if he's not interested? I'll make a complete fool of myself.
SHARON: You can't just let him disappear!
BRONWYN (firmly): People like Henry don't disappear; they have to be dragged out screaming!
SHARON: Well, what if he finds someone else? I mean, men are funny.
Bronwyn tells her to just leave Henry to her. Sharon sighs:
SHARON: They're nothing but a hassle, aren't they? Just when I get a really nice boyfriend like Nick, he's talking about shooting through to Western Australia.
BRONWYN: Nick wouldn't do anything so stupid; he's too smart.
SHARON (sighs): I wish I believed you. I'm *worried* about him, Bron: he's ‘this close' to chucking school in...
Mike is turning the lights off, ready to go to bed, when there's a knock on the front door. He opens it to find Henry standing on the step, and he asks him in surprise when he got back. Henry tells him that it was this arvo. He adds that he feels like a natter, and he heads inside! Mike turns the lights back on and goes to make some coffee! Henry asks him how the prac teaching's going, and Mike shrugs that it has its moments. Henry asks him if he has much to do with the parents, and if he'd tell them if their kid was going bad or something. Mike replies:
MIKE: I guess it would depend if there was any other way of dealing with it – you know, like counselling or tutoring in the school, or something.
HENRY: Say it was a personal thing...
MIKE: Like a relationship?
HENRY (nods): Mm.
MIKE: Well, I suppose I'd leave it if I reckoned the student could work it out – but if there was any danger involved—
HENRY (quickly): Oh, there's no fear there, no!
MIKE (frowns): Henry, this isn't a sudden interest in education. What's going on?
HENRY: Nothing! Look, thanks for the chat. I'd better push off.
With that, Henry heads out, leaving Mike looking slightly perplexed.
The next morning, Henry tries to sneak out of the house by crouching down so that Madge can't see him from the other side of kitchen counter – but she hears his footsteps and stops him! She then demands to know what's going on with Scott and Charlene: every time she mentions them, he changes the subject – and now he's trying to rush off without breakfast. She presses:
MADGE: What's *wrong*?
HENRY (sighs): OK, OK...
MADGE: Now, when's Scott coming back?
HENRY: The truth is, mum... I don't think he *is* coming back.
Madge stands there looking startled.
Mike is sitting at the table when Nick calls from the back door and asks if he can come in. He joins Mike and asks him if Des is about. Mike, though, explains that he had to go early, as Joe's starting work on the Coffee Shop. Nick says he'd like to hang a couple of his paintings in there again when it's finished. Mike remarks that the extra cash comes in pretty handy sometimes. Nick muses:
NICK: I don't know about *extra* cash; pretty soon it might be all I've got...
The front door opens suddenly and Bronwyn and Sharon come in. Bronwyn tells Mike that she's taking Jamie over to No. 30 with her, today, as Henry's fixing the stove. Sharon joins Nick and Mike and asks Mike if she can ask him something: has he seen the results of their Maths exams? Mike nods:
MIKE: I might have.
SHARON: Will you tell me, please? Did I pass?
MIKE: Sharon, you *know* I can't do that.
SHARON: It wouldn't do any harm!
NICK (darkly): *I* don't mind waiting – I know what *my* result's going to be.
Sharon tells Mike that in Narrabri their teacher *always* used to put them out of their misery – and it's not that long since he was sweating on exam results himself. Mike shrugs:
MIKE: All right. Let's just say you did well.
SHARON (excitedly): Did I? That's unreal!
She then asks about *Nick's* results. Mike replies more reluctantly:
MIKE: He *almost* passed.
NICK (mutters): Just like I said, Sharon.
MIKE: Nick, you came very close. Your work's really improved, mate.
NICK (glumly): Yeah. You either pass or you don't.
With that, he heads out. Sharon stays behind with Mike and tells him that it isn't *Nick's* fault he failed: with his grandma dying and that court thing, it's all affected his study, and it's not fair. Mike asks where this is all leading. Sharon replies:
SHARON: He told me that if he failed, he was going to quit school.
MIKE (looking concerned): Do you think he meant it?
SHARON: Yes, I do.
She then suggests that if Nick could re- sit the exam, he might pass. Mike points out that that's not up to *him*. Sharon tells him that he could speak to Mr. Muir. Mike hesitates before sighing that he'll have a word with him. Sharon beams that he's the greatest!
Henry is still standing in the kitchen with Madge. He comments that the toast she's made is good – but Madge just tell him to get on with it. Henry carries on:
HENRY: Scott gets to Brisbane, right? He finds Lennie... living like a *single* person.
Madge asks him what exactly he means. Henry explains:
HENRY: You know: she's made a lot of new friends... going out... movies, dances, parties, that sort of thing.
MADGE: It's hardly a cause for sackcloth and ashes, is it?
HENRY: Oh yeah? What about dating other guys?
The two of them sit down at the kitchen table as Madge comments that she did wonder... Henry goes on:
HENRY: She said it was innocent, but Scott was really hurt. Anyway, Lennie got upset and they blasted off from there.
MADGE: But you thought she would have learnt her lesson after that Steve bloke.
HENRY: She said this was different – just... having a good time. Things have changed, mum: the edge has gone off their relationship. It'll never be what it was. I've been really down.
MADGE (snaps): She was married too young, that's the problem. I tried to tell her, but she wouldn't listen. Now didn't I try and tell her?
HENRY: Don't go on at *me* about it!
MADGE (sighs): What makes you so sure that they can't put this behind them?
HENRY: Well, they used to be happy just to *be* with each other, right? Well, that's gone. Scott's fighting to hold things together, but I reckon they've lost it.
MADGE: Is he going to stay up in Brisbane?
HENRY (nods): Mm. He's going to ‘phone Sandra Lloyd and ask for extended leave. If he can't get it, he'll resign.
MADGE: Do Jim and Helen know?
HENRY: He's going to ‘phone them today. Any more toast?
MADGE (muses): Disaster certainly doesn't destroy *your* appetite, does it?!
Sharon has turned up at No. 28, and Mike asks her what she's doing there during lunch break. Sharon explains that she just came to say thanks: Mr. Muir called Nick in between classes and he's letting him re- sit the exam tomorrow. Mike asks how *Nick* feels about it. Sharon replies that he didn't *want* to do it, but she talked him into it. She then grabs some sheets of paper Mike's holding and asks if they're exam papers for Nick. Mike grabs them back quickly and explains that they're exam papers from previous years and he has to choose one. Sharon smiles:
SHARON: If I, er, make you lunch, will you pick something easy?!
MIKE: Sharon, you know me better than that. I have to be fair.
SHARON: Just joking!
As Sharon goes to the ‘fridge, Mike tells her that Bronwyn isn't back yet; she must be still talking to golden boy. Sharon grins:
SHARON: Mm... I guess she *must*!
Henry is working on fixing the stove when Bronwyn comes in and tells him that Jamie's asleep already. Henry finishes fitting the knob back on and muses:
HENRY: You could've fixed it *yourself*...
BRONWYN: I wanted to see you. I've, um, I've made a quiche – I know you like them. Can you stay for lunch?
HENRY (half- heartedly): Now that's an offer I can't refuse!
BRONWYN: And now you're back, I was hoping we could spend some more time together.
HENRY: Er... I'm not in a real sociable mood at the moment.
BRONWYN: Why's that?
HENRY: Scott and Lennie are going through a pretty tough time; I'm not sure they'll last it out.
BRONWYN: That's terrible. What's happened?
HENRY: Oh, pressures... people trying to get themselves a start. It happens.
BRONWYN: Will they split up?
HENRY: Not yet, but I wouldn't be surprised.
Bronwyn then tells Henry that there's always *some* relationships that don't work out, but that doesn't mean they *all* have to end up on the scrapheap. Henry shrugs:
HENRY: *Most* of them seem to – especially in *my* family.
BRONWYN (comments): Your *mum* seems pretty happy.
HENRY: In between Harold snoring and his singing Al Capone or Al Pacino or—
BRONWYN: A cappella! It means ‘a choir without musical instruments'.
HENRY: Yeah, I know.
Henry goes on that he always thought he'd meet a girl, fall in love, settle down – but *Bronwyn's* got the right idea. Bronwyn looks at him in surprise and asks him what he means. Henry replies:
HENRY: Never wanting a serious relationship again. Trying to get involved in a relationship's like getting kicked in the head, then lining up to get kicked in the head *again*.
Bronwyn stands there looking disappointed.
Sharon finishes making sandwiches for Mike and brings them over to the table, along with a bottle of tomato sauce. She asks him if he's picked an exam paper for Nick yet, and he nods that he has. He adds that he's just realised that they recycle the papers every couple of years, too. Sharon says quickly:
SHARON: How *many* years? I'll, er, check up before the next exam!
MIKE (smiles): It's not quite that simple, Sharon!
He then pulls the top off the tomato sauce and goes to pour some on his sandwiches – but the shaking action causes sauce to fly onto his shirt. He groans in annoyance, and Sharon tells him to go and wash it off before it stains. Mike gets up and heads to the bathroom. When he's gone, Sharon quickly sits down with a pad and pencil and starts copying questions from the exam paper Mike had in front of him...