A screenplay by Steve Pemberton

Title Forever Friends? or something like that. Friends Like These, or (With) Enemies Like These.

Copyright Notice

© 1998 Steve Pemberton. You may make verbatim copies of this screenplay in any medium, without obligation to me. You may not sell it, or include it with anything that is being sold, although you may charge a reasonable fee to cover any costs you incur in copying and distribution. You may not create derivative works from it. Primarily, this means that you may not create motion pictures that are based on it. If you put a copy somewhere that is accessible to a large number of people, I would appreciate it if you mention that the original is available at my website, http://www.pembers.net.

Please contact me if you want to do something that is not permitted by this copyright notice, and we'll see if we can come to an agreement.



An old tramp


Another old tramp


A mugger

Scene 1

An abandoned building. Night is falling. Edward and Joseph coming towards it. Each of them has a bag or pack of some sort. They are staggering slightly, as if drunk. They go in.
Baz comes out of shadows. He's been following them. Pulls out weapon and follows them in.
Edward and Joseph walk along a corridor in the building (I'm fond of corridors, aren't I?). They come across a room with an open door, and go into it. They look around for a moment. They still move in a slightly drunken manner, but do not sound drunk when they speak. There is a table at the far end of the room, with a chair next to it. A similar chair is further away.
EdwardI believe this chamber will suffice for our accomodation, Joseph.
JosephI concur, Edward.
They go over to the table. Edward sits on the chair next to it. Joseph pulls up the other chair. He shows some strain as he does so. He sits down.
Joseph(looking at Edward expectantly) I am of the opinion that my feeling of well-being would be greatly enhanced by a good stiff drink.
Edward(rummages in his pack for something) (good-naturedly) You're always of that opinion, dear boy.
When Joseph sees Edward rummage in his pack, he begins to rummage through his. Edward pulls out a wine bottle. At about the same time, Joseph pulls out an old mug. Edward squints at the label on the bottle, which is faded and peeling.
EdwardChateau d'off-licence, I do believe. Not exactly what you're accustomed to, but still... (he looks at Joseph)
Joseph(holding out his mug) Beggars can't be choosers, as I believe you once said.
Edward(fills the mug, looking a little perplexed) Did I really? (Looks back at Joseph, once he has filled the mug) How profound of me.
Edward takes a mug out of his own pack and fills this. As he is raising it to his lips:
JosephWait, a toast.
Edward(lowering his mug a little. Jovially:) A toast, indeed!
Joseph(pause. Looks thoughtful. Then, raising his mug, decisively:) To our continued good health.
Edward(solemnly) To our continued good health.
They clink their mugs together and then raise them to their lips, but do not drink. For a moment, they do not move. Then, together, they burst out laughing.

Scene 2

Cut to Baz partway through this, who is standing near to a closed door. The laughter continues on the soundtrack at (almost) the same volume, as if Edward and Joseph are right next to him. He looks around wildly, obviously having heard the sound. It stops after a few seconds, and he calms down a bit. He puts his ear to the door, but does not hear anything. Hefting his weapon, he shoulder-barges the door, which flies open. The room beyond is deserted, and is not the one which Joseph and Edward are occupying. Baffled, he looks around, but sees nothing which might indicate the source of the laughter. He leaves the room without bothering to close the door.

Scene 3

Cut back to Edward and Joseph, who are drinking.
EdwardYou know, Joseph, this place reminds me of my old offices.
JosephA shame you lost them when you were declared bankrupt, eh? They'd've been a good place to sleep on a night like this.
EdwardMy bankruptcy was no fault of my own, dear boy. The Inland Revenue forced me into it.
JosephThey had no choice. You were of the opinion that some of their regulations didn't apply to you.
Edward[The regulations were more than a little vague about whom they applied to, as my lawyers argued. But] the case would never have come to court at all if a certain person hadn't presented the Revenue with documents he had no business possessing. (Looks meaningfully at Joseph as he says "a certain person.")
Joseph(affronted, getting angrier) So I obtained them in a less-than-legitimate manner, agreed. But I don't see that you've any cause for complaint. You at least had a fair trial, and an opportunity to present your side of the story. And at least you actually did what you were accused of. You weren't up against (mocking) "a certain person" spreading malicious rumours about your business and personal life. Your lying cost me my marriage as well as my company.
Edward(calmly) So in retaliation, you stole some of my records and showed them to the Revenue.
Joseph(calmer, but still angry) What if I did? It was no worse than you deserved.
EdwardExcept that some records which might have swung the case in my favour couldn't be found. It never occurred to me at the time that what you gave the Revenue might have been less than what you stole from me.
Joseph is about to make some vicious retort when Baz bursts in. He is very shaken by all the strange things that have happened while he's been trying to find them, but still has just enough courage left to try to carry through his plan of robbing them. As he enters, they turn to look at him, panicked.
[Really, we need a couple more scenes like scene 2, to show Baz getting seriously frightened before he finds them.]
Baz(seeing them) Aha! Don't move! Just do as I say and you won't get - hurt. (This last word is delivered in a whimper, as Edward and Joseph vanish before his eyes. (Vision mixer.) He stands frozen with shock for a second or two, and then they reappear.)
Joseph(to Edward, petulant) Now look what you've gone and done.
Edward(sarcastic) It's always my fault, isn't it? (to Baz) Look, dear boy, I'm sorry if we gave you a fright, but my friend and I have an unreasoning fear of louts who barge in on private conversations with crowbars [or whatever weapon Baz is carrying], intent on robbery or worse.
Baz(still in the same position, struggling to speak) H-h-how?
JosephHow do we do this, you mean? (he vanishes and reappears, as before)
Baz(nods mutely)
Joseph(friendly) Didn't anyone tell you this building is haunted? We're ghosts, dear boy. Condemned to act out our last few hours of life, over and over, until our deaths are avenged. It gets tedious, I don't mind telling you. But it has its moments - like this one.
Baz(a little more coherent now) How did you die?
Edward(offhand) Murdered, dear boy, as most ghosts are. In this very room, by a young thug who was trying to impress his cronies. (Looks at the bottle of wine.) He took half a bottle of wine from us, as I recall.
JosephHe was never brought to justice, of course. Only a few of the living can see ghosts, and almost none of them are policemen.
Baz(hopeful) But... I can see you.
Joseph(shaking his head. Serious) I don't think you'll be avenging our deaths - even if you were the avenging type, which, frankly, you're not.
Baz(offended, but also worried) Why are you sure I won't avenge your deaths?
Edward(sighs. To Joseph) How can we break it to him gently?
Joseph(looks forlornly at Edward for a moment) We can't. (turns to Baz. Resigned) Look behind you.
Baz looks at them suspiciously, fearful that they'll do something horrible if he turns his back on them. Reluctantly, though, he turns around. For a second or so, he looks about, wondering what they want him to see. Then he looks down and screams. On the floor in front of him is his own body, its face still frozen in an expression of horror. We'll probably have to show Baz's body and ghost on screen at the same time, to make it clear what's happened.
Baz(turning back to them) I'm dead...
Edward(dismissive) Evidently so. (pause) You'll get used to it.
JosephBut I'm afraid the circumstances of your death make it likely that you'll become a ghost.
EdwardAnd since you were killed by seeing ghosts (he indicates Joseph and himself), the chances that a living person will avenge your death and let you rest in peace are rather slim.
JosephStill, you'll be staying here, so you'll have us to keep you company.
They fade and then reappear, quite abruptly. They look at one another. Their faces look as though they have just gone over a long drop on a rollercoaster.
Joseph(worried) What was that?
EdwardI'm not sure, but I think we're being Called.
BazCalled? Who by?
Edward(correcting him) "By whom?" It means our time as ghosts is almost over. Even though you weren't the one who killed us, you're similar enough for your death to count as vengeance. (friendlier) You've done us a very large favour, dear boy.
JosephYou'll come to appreciate just how large.
They stand up straight and stretch, as though they have just put down heavy burdens.
JosephWell... goodbye. And thank you.
EdwardYes, thank you. We'll put in a good word for you when we arrive.
They turn away and walk towards the wall opposite the door. As they walk, they gradually fade. Their voices remain at the same level, though. They talk in a light, carefree manner.
JosephWho'd have thought it, eh? Ghosts avenging their own deaths.
EdwardThere's good in everyone, if only you look hard enough.
JosephWe should have looked a bit harder at one another, then, eh?
By this time they have disappeared completely.
Edward(laughs heartily)
Joseph(joins in the laughter)
Baz(looking forlornly at the place where they disappeared) Come back! I can't be a ghost! I don't know what I'm supposed to do!
He walks over to one of the chairs, but does not sit on it. He tries a couple of times to make a "woo" noise, like ghosts traditionally do. He catches sight of his body again and the sound dissolves into sobbing. He hangs his head, moves to sit down on the chair, and falls straight through it. With a look of astonishment on his face, he vanishes.