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Ritual | Scene 3 - Episode 1"Fresh Meat"

Scene 3 - The Ivy Restaurant

Characters in this Scene

For full characters and synopsis, click here (WARNING spoilers, as this contains the plot outline)


Damien Sinclair tosses the keys of his red Porsche to a grinning valet outside The Ivy restaurant. He is meeting Rory McLoughlin, a talented and visionary director who has found himself on the outer of the movie industry after an alleged indiscretion with some underage girls at a party. Rory is already seated at Damien's usual table, but when he sees Damien he smiles broadly and gets up to shake his hand warmly. They both sit down opposite each other.

"Good to see you looking so relaxed Rory," Damien signals a waiter over with a click of his fingers.

"All thanks to you Damien."

Damien waves his hand dismissively, "It was nothing really I just did what I could."

"Nothing! You don't know the half of it. I was hounded day and night by the press. No one would touch me with a ten foot pole. I had that damned documentary guy, the one that does those Hollywood exposés, filming outside my fucking house for Christ's sake!"

"We all make mistakes Rory, we just needed to persuade the public exactly that. It was all... just...a huge...mistake." Damien pauses for effect as he slowly pours wine for them both.

"It's been truly awful," Rory downs almost a full glass in one swig. "Lydia was getting ready to leave me. Her bitch agent told her I was damaging her reputation as a credible actress. She's in the running for an Academy award this year, you know."

"That's all behind you now. So when are you starting on One Night in Warsaw?"

"As soon as I can, now that you have agreed to bankroll me."

"There's just the little matter of our contract," Damien produces a folded paper from the inside pocket of his jacket. "You don't mind if we get business out of the way first, do you?"

"No, of course not, hell I'll even sign in my own blood if you want me to!"

"That won't be necessary," Damien says with a wry smile. He hands Rory an ornate ball point pen, jet black with silver filigree workings.

Rory scrawls his signature with a flourish and blows on the dark red ink to dry it. He hands the contract back to Damian and asks, "How did you do it?"

"Do what?"

"The girls, they were going to testify. I would have been up shit creek if that happened."

"As I said, it's all just a matter of perspective. What seems like a large, overwhelming issue becomes insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It's how you look at it, and also how you persuade others to look at it," Damien explains enigmatically.

"Man, you must be one hell of a persuader," laughs Rory shaking his head, "you literally made it all disappear."

"What can I say, I'm a magician." Damien smiles and sips his chardonnay.

"Seriously though Damien, I'm really grateful to you for doing this. I don't know how I can ever repay you."

"Just give me your first born son," Damien grins.

"What?" Rory is momentarily stunned and then they both burst out laughing.

"No, really, I want your first-born," the smile drops from his face as he grows serious. Rory looks confused and then Damien cracks a smile when he sees his client's obvious discomfort.

"Sheesh Damien. You had me going there again!" Rory laughs nervously.

"We're having a party next Saturday, Veronica and I would love you and Lydia to come."

"Great, who's going?"

"Oh, just the usual hoi polloi," Damien grins.

"C'mon man, your parties are legendary. I don't think there is anything usual about them." Both men laugh as though sharing a private joke.

Across the room, Hollywood agent Meryl Wright is waiting for her client, Ric Richards. She spies Damien Sinclair with that lecher Rory McLoughlin and wonders what in the world they could possibly be up to. She hides her face behind a menu trying to observe the men unnoticed, but Damien swivels his head around to look directly at her and gives a cheeky wink. She acknowledges him with a curt nod, and puts the menu down quickly, her cheeks flushing at being caught out. That man must have damned eyes in the back of his head. Just then she sees Ric shuffle in, looking like absolute shit, and she breathes out a sigh of frustration.

"Hey Meryl, sorry I'm late," he mumbles an apology.

Meryl observes him sternly over the rim of her rose tinted glasses. "So is that going to be the story of your life now? You're always sorry?"

"C'mon Meryl!" Ric slinks into a chair.

She winces at his stale body odor. "Geez Louise! When was the last time you showered Ric?"

"Meryl, please. You're not my mother," exasperated he waves down a waiter.

"Ric, what the hell is going on with you?"

"What do you mean?" He turns to the waiter, "a vodka martini please."

"That stunt you pulled the other day with Mirowitz, walking off the set like that." Ric says nothing. He plays with a fork, twirling it around on the table. "Ric?" Meryl probes.

"You wouldn't understand."

"Try me," she says drily.

"I just lost confidence, I freaked out, OK?" Ric releases a shaky sigh and meets Meryl's eyes, "I don't think I can act anymore."

"My darling, your flame has never burned brighter. Please don't fuck it up now."

"I'm serious Meryl, I feel like I'm losing my mind. I don't know if I can do this anymore. I feel like I don't deserve any of this."

"Ric," she softens a bit with him, "what you are going through happens to a lot of actors of your calibre. You tend to become highly critical of yourselves and over analyse things. What you need to do is have faith in the professionals in the industry, and listen to what people like Mirowitz are telling you. If he says you stink, then you probably do, but the fact is you don't. It's all in your head."

"I seriously think I'm burning out and my head's all screwed up. Nothing makes me happy any more. I just want to take a break for a while," he says resolutely.

"Sweetie, at the moment you are contractually obligated to the studio to finish this film. Pulling out now would not just mean the end of your career, but you would be sued for just about everything you own. Besides, I've worked too hard and too long on this."

"Fine! I'll finish the film." Defeated, he pushes the fork away and leans back in his chair.

"One thing you need to understand darling, is as good as you are, you just can't keep pissing people off by not committing. Once you have made a choice, you have to accept your decision; you can't keep going back on it. You either take a break or you do something about this!" Meryl waves her hand over Ric like a game show hostess showing off a prize. She looks at him intently and asks, "Can you promise me something?"

"What's that?"

"Don't ever shut me out, you know I will always have your back, Ric," she says earnestly.

"Yeah, I know Meryl, and I promise." He smiles sheepishly at her.

In another corner of the restaurant, Dr Celia Grey, prominent psychiatrist is also having lunch at the Ivy at an outside table with her former colleague from New York, Beth Epstein.

"Can I get you something to drink with your order ladies?" a waiter asks.

"We'll have the Chablis, thank you," Celia passes him back the wine list.

"Oh my God, Celia! Is that Ric Richards over there?" Beth points. Celia turns her head to look.

"Yup, he's pretty much a regular here," she says casually. Beth continues to stare starry-eyed when the waiter comes back with the wine and pours two glasses.

"Well, Celia," says Beth raising her wineglass, "Congratulations on the release of your book, I must say it is fascinating work."

"Why thank you, it was an arduous process at times, but well worth it!" Celia chinks her glass against Beth's in a celebratory toast.

"And thank you for taking me to lunch at this fabulous place."

"My pleasure," smiles Celia.

"You certainly have turned Hollywood!" says Beth cutting into her Steak Diane.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Celia's smile freezes.

"Celia," Beth begins hesitantly as she reaches over to hold Celia's hand, "I am only saying this as your true friend and one who has stood next to you fighting the good fight for female equality."

"Go on," says Celia perplexed.

"Some of our former colleagues believe that you have now completely sold out of the Feminist Movement. You are not interested any longer, but are content to reap the benefits of your rich, celebrity clients. These are vacuous people Celia, who treat going to a therapist like they would a hair-dresser."

Celia cant disguise her astonishment. "So is that what you think, Beth? Do you think I have sold out too?"

"I think you have gotten a little too comfortable, perhaps. The old Celia that had fire in her belly, who was intent on making a difference and going that extra mile is still there somewhere, but I see a woman before me now who is just happy to rest on her laurels."

"That's simply not true," says Celia numbly.

"You used to want to really help people, you were a trailblazer."

"I've been working with some other patients as well. Many of these are not rich celebrities as you call them, but in genuine need of help. In fact a lot of cases I used as research for my book, so I never charged them. One poor girl had such a severe case of multiple personality disorder that she even started growling like a dog and speaking in several languages. When her parents came to me they were at their wits' end and-"

"It's not just that," Beth cuts her off, "you seemed to have dropped the cause."

Celia explodes. "That's a crock of shit Beth! I live and breathe feminism, you know that. I've been working on my book for Christ's sake! You're plainly jealous of my success."

"Some of your clients do exploitation films," says Beth quietly.

"How would you even know who my damn clients are, that's confidential!" Celia rages.

Beth produces a Variety Magazine from her hand-bag and slides it across the table. "You might respect confidentiality, but it seems your patients aren't worried about it." Celia picks up the magazine and reads an article featuring starlet Kiki Russell, who touts her success mostly to the brilliant Dr Celia Grey, psychiatrist to the stars, who helped her to overcome acute shyness and have pride in her body, enabling her to finally do full frontal nudity and sex scenes in films.

"Oh God," Celia mumbles. She hands the magazine back to Beth. "I am just trying to-" Celia stops mid-sentence when she spots Helen Morcombe walking down the street past The Ivy. "Beth, can you give me a minute." She gets up from the table.

"What is it?" Beth frowns.

"It's the mother of a patient of mine, the one I was just telling you about. She stopped seeing me all of a sudden and I need to know why." As an afterthought she turns and says, "I'll be right back," leaving Beth stunned.

Outside the Ivy, Celia runs after Helen "Mrs Morcombe? Mrs Morcombe! Helen!!" Finally, the woman stops and turns abruptly to face Celia. Helen Morcombe's brown eyes are wild and haunted and she seems to have aged at least ten years in the space of a few months.

"Mrs Morcombe, how is your daughter?" Celia puffs, out of breath. "You stopped bringing her to my office. I just wondered if there was any reason why Joanie stopped coming or if there is anything I can do."

"Look, you can't help her, it's beyond medicine or anything you can do for her. She is in God's hands now!" Helen says tersely.

"Mrs Morcombe, if your daughter is that sick, maybe she needs to be admitted somewhere and I can monitor her more closely."

Helen gives a shrill laugh. "You don't understand, do you?"

"What don't I understand Mrs Morcombe, perhaps you can enlighten me?" Celia persists. Joanie Morcombe is the most intriguing case she has ever seen, and she isn't about to let this slide.

Helen grips Celia's forearm, her face clouding. "He is coming!" she whispers hoarsely.

With that she turns and hurries away, leaving Celia standing on the pavement completely dumbfounded. This was the first time anyone had ever refused her treatment. She began to think that Helen Morcombe might have developed a form of hysteria herself, brought on by the stress of seeing her daughter's condition. As Celia watches the woman walking up the street, something odd happens. Helen stands dead still on the street corner up the road from The Ivy. Her head is cocked to one side as if she is listening out for something barely audible, then she starts clutching at her ears as though in some kind of intense pain. She straightens, calm now, and seems almost robotic. Trance-like, she steps out onto the busy road in the middle of the heavy LA traffic.

"Oh no, no, no, no," breathes Celia as she begins to run toward her. "Helen! Helen STOP!!" It is too late. Helen Morcombe steps straight into the path of a speeding LAPD patrol car which hits her full force. Her body is flung high into the air and she bounces off the roof and bonnet, cracking the windshield and splattering her skull like a melon on the pavement. Gasps and screams can be heard from onlookers. Two policemen get out and check the body, Celia runs over out of breath and visibly shaking.

"Aw, god dammit, sonnofabitch!" the taller cop curses, he gets on the radio and calls for a back-up patrol car and the coroner's van to clean up the mess.

"Helen, oh no," whispers Celia, shell-shocked.

Helen Morcombe is sprawled over the bitumen, her legs are at unnatural angles, her body is twisted and her head is completely caved in. Celia places a hand over her mouth, feeling the gorge rise.

"Did you know this woman?" the shorter cop turns to her.

"Yes, I was treating her daughter," says Celia shakily.

"You're a doctor?"

"No. I'm a psychiatrist."

"Psychiatrist, huh? Would you say this is definitely a suicide then?" he nods in the direction of Helen's body.

"Well- it's not really a common method, but yes, it would appear she wanted to kill herself."

"Would you mind coming down to the station with us now to answer some questions about the deceased?" the shorter cop was taking down notes.

"Yes, of course. I mean, yes I will come now if someone can let my colleague know where I have gone. I was having lunch with her at The Ivy, her name is Beth Epstein."

"I'll go," said the taller cop quickly. The other cop, Officer Michael Maguire shoots his partner a dark look for blatantly shirking the paperwork.

Celia sits in the back seat of the back-up car which arrives almost immediately. As the car pulls away, she sees a dark-haired man in a red Porsche slowing down to take a look at the carnage. She is not mistaken about this, but she is certain she sees him laughing.


"What can I say, I'm a magician," smiles Damien sipping his chardonnay.

"Seriously though Damien, I'm really grateful to you for doing this. I don't know how I can ever repay you."

"Just give me your first born son," Damien grins.

"What?" Rory is momentarily stunned and then they both burst out laughing.

"No, really, I want your first-born," says Damien, the smile dropping from his face as he grows serious. Rory looks confused and then Damien cracks a smile when he sees his client's obvious discomfort.

"Sheesh Damien. You had me going there again," laughs Rory nervously.

"We're having a party next Saturday, Veronica and I would love you and Lydia to come."

"Great, who's going?"

"Oh, just the usual hoi polloi," Damien grins.

"C'mon man, your parties are legendary. I don't think there is anything usual about them." Both men laugh as though sharing a private joke.

A short while later, Veronica sashays around the pool balancing on chunky platform heels, wearing a high-cut one piece bathing suit in electric turquoise blue. She plonks herself down on a lounger next to her daughter Debbie who is reading from a thick text book. They don't speak to each other at first. Debbie continues to read as Veronica observes her, a palpable tension filling the air.

Two men from the maintenance crew hover around the pool area, trying to avoid looking at the women. Isaiah Holmes, young with fresh-faced good looks, begins to clean the pool. His swarthy and over-muscled co-worker, Guido, starts to clip the tall hedge around the perimeter.

Munnalita pads around the pool in her sensible shoes balancing a fresh Scotch-on-the-rocks on top of a silver tray. She procures a pack of Virginia Slims from her apron pocket for her mistress. Veronica takes the drink ungraciously and lights up a cigarette. She puffs smoke in Debbie's direction, but does not succeed in getting the rise she is after. Bored with the conversational stand-off with her daughter she breaks the silence. "You know, you'll never get a boyfriend if you don't get your nose out of those books for a change".

"I thought you wanted me to stay away from boys, you said that they were only after one thing," Debbie bristles, not looking up from her book.

"True, but you can't always be Daddy's Little Girl forever you know," says Veronica snidely.

"I'm not a Daddy's Girl!" Debbie snaps, the pain and anger apparent in her voice. "At least, maybe I wouldn't have to be if you spent a bit more time with me. I swear, it's like I don't even exist for you! "

"Oh sure, sure, you really think I'm such a bad mother?" Veronica feigns surprise. When Debbie fumes by way of reply, she concedes. "Ok, maybe I guess I could spend a little more time with you." She swigs her drink and runs her fingers through her hair. "I know! Hows about you come with me and your Auntie Cathy this afternoon, shopping down Rodeo Drive."

"You mean that for real?" Debbie asks, full of suspicion.

"Hell yeah, it'll be fun, we'll have a girly afternoon." Veronica eyes off Guido's muscular form over the rim of her sunglasses. His arms ripple from the action of using the hedge clipper. He stares back at her smiling, revealing strong white teeth.

"Ok, great, then I'll go get changed!"

Debbie goes to get up when Veronica holds up a finger, "Just hold that thought right there honey, can you give Momma an hour or so and I will be right back, I promise." Debbie follows Veronica's gaze to Guido who is putting down his tools. Veronica gets up from her lounger and sidles next to him grabbing a handful of his firm butt encased in tight blue denim. They disappear into the house together.

Debbie groans, flops herself back on the lounger and continues to read her book. Isaiah, who has just witnessed this exchange, moves around the side of the pool to get closer to Debbie.

"Wow. Your Mom is kind of a first class bitch," he comments casually.

Debbie supresses a smile, her eyes still focused on the book she is reading. "She is unique, I will give her that."

Isaiah drops the pool scoop, bolder now. "Your dad though, he's pretty cool. He's some kind of a hot-shot producer isn't he?" When he gets no response from Debbie he says, "You know I'm an actor myself."

"Isn't everyone in this town?"

"Yeah, but I'm special."

"So is that your angle then, get a labouring job at the hot-shot producer's house and try and sweet talk his daughter into asking Daddy to give you a leg-up. Please!" Debbie snorts.

"No! Maybe the part about getting the job here, but I wasn't trying to sweet talk you, honest. I'm not like that."

"So why are you talking to me then?"

"You just seem so miserable, lonely...and...afraid." Debbie lifts her head in surprise to gaze at Isaiah then drops her eyes hurriedly. "I'm right, aren't I?" He continues, "That's exactly how you feel. See, I told you I was special. I can read people, tap into their feelings." He thumps his chest for emphasis. "That's why I think I will make such a great actor, even better than Ric Richards."

"Yeah, well, good luck with that." They both glance up at the master bedroom of the house. The sounds of Veronica and Guido's sexual union can be heard clearly and loudly through the open window. Debbie shudders with disgust.

"You know, she tried to get it on with me too once," Isaiah says matter-of-factly," Debbie reddens as Isaiah continues. "Don't get me wrong, I was tempted, she is a very attractive woman and she was coming on pretty strong. She's just not my type."

"What is your type then?"

"I like blonde girls. Smart and sassy girls, and preferably around my own age." Debbie realises he is genuinely flirting with her now. A car horn honks loudly. "Well, I gotta go," he says bowing mock-gallantly as he picks up his equipment and walks toward the other side of the pool.

"Hey!" she calls out to him. "So how did you manage to escape the seductive clutches of my mother?"

"Easy, I just told her I had a really bad case of jock-itch!" He does a comic mime of scratching his crotch. Debbie bursts out laughing and Isaiah grins. "You know, you're so pretty when you laugh like that. You should do it more often," he says before disappearing behind the hedge.

Debbie touches her cheek gently and smiles. She hadn't even asked his name.

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