OTELO BURNING by James Whyle
Developed by Cinga Productions In association with The NFVF Script Editor, Clarence Hamilton
30th April, 2007
Oh, no, no, no, it was too cold always (Still the dead one lay moaning) I was much too far out all my life And not waving but drowning. - Stevie Smith.
All dialogue and narration will be in IsiZulu unless otherwise indicated, but a few IsiZulu words are used for texture:
Malume - Uncle. Used generally as a term of respect. Ntate - Father. Used generally as a term of respect. Umlungus - Whites. Boere - Street word for the police. Literally, in Afrikaans, farmers. Impimpi - Informer.
EXT. JEFFRIES BEACH - DAY The time of story telling. Now. NEW YEAR, burly, wise beyond his years, stands on the deserted beach. NEW YEAR (V.O.) My name is New Year Tshabalala, and I am going to tell you the story of my friend, Otelo Buthelezi, who was the greatest surfer I have ever seen. New Year watches as... An old, rusted cool drink CAN is tumbled in the backwash. CUT TO: EXT. JEFFRIES BEACH - DAY TITLE: South Africa, 1994 Sports branding flags flutter in the off shore breeze that is banking the Indian Ocean swell into three meter monsters. Big heaves of energy, mountains on the flow, building the water into sheer walls that reach for heaven... ...curl down in tubes of foam. An MC sits at a stand next to the judges, grinning into the microphone. MASTER OF CEREMONIES The surf's getting big, ladies and gentlemen. The MC confers with the judges next to him. The crowd in the background, the surfers and groupies, the proud parents and little sisters, are all white. The MC turns back to the mike. MASTER OF CEREMONIES (CONT'D) And um... we are just going to be conferring about safety out there... A swell grows, reaching for the vertical. MASTER OF CEREMONIES (CONT'D) But I promise you, while the surfers are out of the water, the entertainment will not stop. Surfers in the competition area, blonde blue eyed boys, tend their boards. The swell grows. Small white kids gather round a black ICE CREAM SELLER, a middle-aged black man. KID This change is wrong. ICE CREAM MAN Is right change! KID Give me eighty-three cents or I'll tell my father. The swell builds, becoming a wave, rising into a sheer wall. Spume flying from the lip. A surfer's board moves aside, revealing TAU MODISE. NEW YEAR (V.O.) Tau and Otelo and me were Zulu boys from a township called Little Jozi. Tau is eighteen years old, black, slight and contained, neat, his muscles honed by sustained days in the surf. He stares out at the wave. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) (V.O.) If it wasn't for Tau, me and Otelo would probably never have touched a surf board in our lives. Tau's hand caresses his NDUMBI ARROW BOARD. It is his lover, a talisman bought at a price incalculable. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) (V.O.) The first time we surfed a competition, we hardly even knew the rules. A wave, the wave, rising into a sheer wall, spume flying from the lip. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) (V.O.) The last time we surfed, we didn't care. Tau looks up along the beach. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) (V.O.) At least, Otelo didn't. The sound of the wave, a coming tsunami. OTELO BUTHELEZI, eighteen, walks up the beach towards Tau. He is a man-boy, built in the shape of a god, a young Mandela. The wave growing. Slow as a flower. Opening. Roaring. On Otelo's right the stands, the bright, white people. The branding: Gunston 500. Life Cigarettes. Vote Toothpaste. The wave, growing. Tau, waiting for him. Otelo'S hand going into the bag that hangs at his side. Tau staring, watching him come. The wave... building. Otelo's hand in the bag, gripping... FADE TO: EXT. JEFFRIES BEACH - DAY The present. New Year alone on the same beach, desolate and deserted now. NEW YEAR (V.O.) The umlungus used to call us non swimmers. New Year looks up towards the horizon. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) (V.O.) But we learnt anyway, and in the end, Otelo became the king. FADE TO: EXT. JEFFRIES BEACH - DAY In New Year's mind's eye, Otelo paddles, a huge swell building behind him. The waves lifts him. Otelo stands, walks on the wave. NEW YEAR (V.O.) The first time we got in the water, me and Otelo were sixteen. Otelo cuts back, climbing, conquering the slope. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) (beat) We went to the river because were curious, because Otelo's father was always telling us that it was dangerous. (beat) He said there was a snake that lived underneath the water of the river. The curtain of breaking wave closes over Otelo. He's gone, obscured in the tube. FADE TO: EXT. JEFFRIES BEACH - DAY At New Year's feet, the old rusted FANTA CAN is sucked back out. NEW YEAR (V.O.) The snake was long as a telephone pole, thick as a cow's head. If you went too deep, the snake would call you. It would sing to you like a beautiful girl. The can dances in the undertow, sucked out, down, under. New Year stares at the waters. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) (V.O.) Then it would take you. The sea is vast, desolate, empty of any surfer. CUT TO: EXT. RIVER - DAY TITLE: LITTLE JOZI, 1992 OTELO and NEW YEAR (both sixteen years old) and NTWE, Otelo's eleven year old brother, run through the river bush. Otelo is in the lead as they leap down the path, jump a fallen log, and break out onto the bank. They stand there, wide-eyed. The river is deep, mysterious. They listen to the silent power, the pull of the sea. In the centre, over the deepest channel, the force of the current pushes up in a boil over a submerged rock. Ntwe grins. NTWE Let's get in, Otelo. Otelo cuffs him on the back of his head. NTWE (CONT'D) (outraged) What you doing? Otelo looks at New Year, shaking his head: fucking kid. Ntwe jumps down the bank, runs to the water's edge. NEW YEAR (V.O.) Otelo's brother was always different. He had to wear a band on his arm because of medicines he was not allowed to take. Ntwe starts to walk in, the water rising to his knees. OTELO Ntwe! NEW YEAR (V.O.) The teachers at school said they couldn't teach him because he wrote his letters backwards. Otelo jumps the bank, runs in, grabs Ntwe by his ragged collar. OTELO Hey. (beat) Remember Ntate's dream! They stare at the river. It it silent. Ominous. NTWE There's no snake. OTELO (to New Year) New Year, this kid thinks knows everything. A beat. New Year starts taking off his shirt. NEW YEAR (grins) It's hot, Mpowethu. NTWE We going in the water! OTELO Wait! Otelo goes into his pocket, taking out an empty FANTA ORANGE CAN. He holds it up. They know what it means. New Year nods - throw it. Otelo throws the can. They watch as... The can is sucked out... They move down the bank with it. The can whirls in an eddy, thrown back towards the shallows. NTWE It came back! New Year grins starts to take off his shirt. Otelo stares out at the silent, surging river as... The Fanta can is sucked out again. Out, and under... OTELO It's gone! Ntwe splashes Otelo with water. New Year joins in. A beat, then Otelo, laughing, pursues Ntwe. CUT TO: EXT. RIVER - DAY New Year stands holding a log. A game has developed - tempt the current. Otelo and Ntwe wait downstream. New Year throws the log. The current swirls, pulling the log downstream. Otelo steps deeper as the log approaches him. He reaches... NTWE Get it! Get it! Otelo feels with a foot. The bottom drops away. He steps back, afraid. OTELO It'll come in closer lower down. Ntwe reaches for the log... ...which hovers out of reach. OTELO (CONT'D) Leave it, Ntwe. New Year and Otelo run downstream. Ntwe steps forward, out of his depth. NEW YEAR (shouts) It will come in lower down. OTELO Down by the bend. Past the rocks. No answer from Ntwe. They look back. The broad stream is empty, sinister, silent. OTELO (CONT'D) Ntwe? The stream is slick as oil. The log swirls towards the rocks. OTELO (CONT'D) Ntwe? The log, swift on the current... Stops, lodging against a rock. Otelo's eyes are locked with New Year's. NEW YEAR (shouts) Ntwe? Ntwe surfaces, struggles. OTELO There he is! New Year turns. But there is only current. The log working loose from the rocks. Otelo runs down the bank. OTELO (CONT'D) Ntwe? Ntwe surfaces, struggles. NEW YEAR There! You'll get him at the rocks. OTELO Keep your head up! Ntwe tumbles downstream. Otelo, opposite the rocks, wades in. NEW YEAR Hold on. Ntwe crashes into the rocks and scrabbles for a hold. The rock surface is slick and smooth. Otelo, terrified, wades, water coming up to his chest. He reaches out his hand. The current tugs at Ntwe, nearly dislodging him. He clings to the rock. OTELO Ntwe, give me your hand! Ntwe starts to obey. His COPPER BAND, "allergic to penicillin", glints on his wrist. Otelo loses his footing. Goes under. Ntwe loses his grip. New Year pulls Otelo back. Ntwe's head crashes against a rock as the current swirls him down stream, tumbling... Otelo and New Year sprint through the shallows. NEW YEAR Ntwe! Ntwe floats, head down. New Year wades in, reaching. He grasps at Ntwe's pants. Grips. Loses his footing. New Year and Ntwe are washed down stream. Otelo sprints down the bank. New Year, still gripping Ntwe, crashes into a submerged tree, goes under. OTELO New Year! New Year wraps a leg around a branch. Gripping Ntwe with one hand, he struggles to the surface. OTELO (CONT'D) Get his head up. NEW YEAR I can't. Otelo looks at the bank. New Year, struggling to get Ntwe to the surface, goes under. Otelo breaks off a branch, rips the bark free of the trunk. New Year comes up, elbow crooked under Ntwe's chin. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) He's not breathing! Otelo holds out the branch. The current tugs on New Year. OTELO Grab it. To get the branch, New Year must release the tree. OTELO (CONT'D) Grab it. New Year lunges for the branch, grasping it. Otelo steps towards the bank, pulling New Year and Ntwe with him. New Year's feet hit the bottom. Otelo and New Year pull Ntwe out until his upper body is clear of the water. Ntwe lies, eyes open, lifeless. Otelo shakes him. OTELO (CONT'D) Ntwe. Nothing. Otelo lifts his brother and thumps him down. OTELO (CONT'D) Ntwe! He lifts his fists and bangs them down on Ntwe's chest. OTELO (CONT'D) Ntwe! A gush of water jumps from Ntwe'S lungs. Otelo thumps him on the chest. OTELO (CONT'D) Come back. He thumps him again. OTELO (CONT'D) Come back. They stare down at the child. Otelo leans into his chest. Sits back, giving up. Ntwe coughs up water. Breathes. Looks at them for a long time. Grins. NTWE I told you there was no snake. Otelo is caught between relief and laughter and rage. But it is the laughter that wins. CUT TO: EXT. OTELO'S HOUSE - EVENING A half empty quart of Castle Milk Stout topples as... OSCAR BUTHELEZI, a big, grizzled, middle-aged man slides out from beneath the engine of his taxi. STEMBISO NDLOVU, burly, handsome, thirties, catches the bottle, holds out a small, rusty tin. STEMBISO Ntate says you must put it on the steering wheel and on the wheels. OSCAR (drinks) Will it work for the comrades and Inkatha? STEMBISO It will protect from everyone. OSCAR (beat) Tell your father, I say thank you. STEMBISO I will tell him. Oscar glances towards the house, frowning. OSCAR Otelo, Ntwe. The brothers, sneaking in, are busted. OSCAR (CONT'D) Come here. OTELO (respectful) I see you, father. Oscar rises, spanner in hand. OSCAR Where you been? OTELO With New Year. OSCAR I didn't say, with who. (beat) I said, where? (beat) Two years, you'll be old enough to get a licence. Then you driving a taxi. Not wasting your time fooling around. (beat) Why is you skin grey? Ntwe can't help himself. It just pops out of him. NTWE There is no snake. OSCAR What? Otelo looks at his brother: shut the fuck up! OSCAR (CONT'D) You've been in the river? OTELO I'm sorry, Ntate. Oscar raises his hand and cuffs Otelo. OSCAR I dream of him drowning, and you take him to the river? NTWE I didn't drown. There is no snake. OTELO We were just playing. Just where it's shallow. Ntwe slipped. Oscar cuffs him. Otelo's eyes glisten with tears of rage. His fist clenches. OSCAR What? (beat) You want to fight? Oscar hits him. Otelo tries to block the blow. OSCAR (CONT'D) You want to fight? Otelo does. But he can't. STEMBISO Send them to me, Malume. I'll teach them to swim. OSCAR (to Otelo) You want to fight? Oscar swings a heavy arm back. OSCAR (CONT'D) Ntwe... Oscar hits Otelo. Blood starts from Otelo's lip. OSCAR (CONT'D) Never... Oscar hits him. Otelo's knees sag. OSCAR (CONT'D) Goes... Hits him. Otelo goes down on his knees. OSCAR (CONT'D) Into... Oscar kicks him. Otelo bleeds, falls. OSCAR (CONT'D) The water. Oscar kicks. Blood squirts on his foot. STEMBISO Malume. OSCAR What? STEMBISO You'll injure the child. (beat) Send them to me. (beat) I'll teach them to swim. CUT TO: INT. MA CHRISTMAS'S SHEBEEN - NIGHT MA CHRISTMAS, laughing in the roar of the crowded shebeen. She's in her forties. A big, good looking woman, gone to seed. She has been backed into a corner of the room by a DRUNK MAN with sex on the mind. MAN # 1 Come on, Ma Christmas. Just quickly. Your kids can take the money. A gangster in a wheel chair, BRA CHILL, and his cronies, SLANG, GATSHA and VIOLENCE, are amused. BRA CHILL Give him a little fun, Ma Christmas. VIOLENCE Give him some entertainment. NEW YEAR (V.O.) The people of Little Jozi called my mother Ma Christmas from the time she got drunk and allowed free beer on Christmas Day. MA CHRISTMAS (to Man) You want it, you can wait. MAN # 1 I don't want to wait. BLADE puts a hand on the man's shoulder, pulls him round. BLADE It's my mother. Have respect. MAN # 1 Respect? BLADE We don't like Inkatha here. Ma Christmas slips out of the corner. MA CHRISTMAS New Year, Dezi! I told you to clear the empties. New Year and DEZI (fifteen, pretty), are slumped, exhausted, at a table. DEZI It's twelve o'clock, Ma. We got school tomorrow. Ma Christmas picks her up by the ear. DEZI (CONT'D) Ow. MA CHRISTMAS Empties. New Year picks up an empty beer crate. NEW YEAR Here. Dezi, sulking, begins to load bottles. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) (V.O.) Ma Christmas was just as hard to convince about swimming as Otelo's father. MA CHRISTMAS You eat because of the shebeen. How are you going to live if you don't know how to run this place? NEW YEAR Why doesn't Blade run it? Ma Christmas looks across at... Blade. Laughing. Right up there in Man # 1's face. MA CHRISTMAS Blade has his own things to do. You know that. He contributes. NEW YEAR It's just swimming, Ma. For one hour a day. MA CHRISTMAS Why can't you just leave these things alone? DEZI It's with Stembiso! MA CHRISTMAS (astonished) You also want to go? DEZI Yes, Ma! BLADE (OFF SCREEN) We don't like Inkatha here. Glass shatters. They turn, looking. Slow as a flower opening, Blade slashes a broken bottle across Man # 1's face. Man # 1, pulsing blood, staggers back against the wall. CUT TO: INT. POOL - DAY Brown young bodies in the air. Flying. Sailing. Traversing the blue sky. Parting the water. So pure. Azure. NEW YEAR (V.O) I knew we would succeed with the swimming, because it was Stembiso who controlled the pool. Stembiso walks, tracking the swimmers. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) (V.O.) Everyone in Little Jozi respected Stembiso. Stembiso was his own man, and his father, Ntate Ndlovu, was an Igqira, a shaman. Teen age girls relax on the grass, gossiping, laughing. Otelo, New Year, Dezi and Ntwe, wide-eyed, excited, wait for Stembiso's attention. The water sparkles. Swimmers cleave the blue. TAU MODISE, sixteen years old, brushes past Otelo, New Year and Ntwe... ...runs towards the pool. Ntwe watches as... Tau flies, somersaulting... ...enters, slowly, into the water. Sliding in. A knife. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) Who is that guy? OTELO Stembiso's cousin. He swims, deep down in the silence, across the path of the training swimmers. The boys watch. Tau surfaces, grinning, on the other side. STEMBISO Tau! Out. TAU Sorry, Malume. Ntwe tugs at Stembiso'S sleeve. NTWE Ntate? (he's ignored) Ntate? STEMBISO What is it? NTWE (re Tau) I want to be like that. CUT TO: EXT. POOL - DAY Otelo and New Year, trailed by Dezi and Ntwe, are panting as they circuit the pool, running. It's hot, and they are wet with sweat. NEW YEAR (V.O.) One thing that growing up in Little Jozi taught me, is that you must be careful what you wish for. Because you never know how it is going to come true. NTWE Can't we stop now, Malume? We've been running for an hour! STEMBISO I'll tell you when you can stop. NTWE (to Otelo) What's running got to do with swimming. Stembiso ignores them. NEW YEAR (V.O.) For the first week, running was all we did. Then, on the seventh day, like God, Stembiso gave us a break. CUT TO: INT. POOL/CHANGING ROOM - DAY Otelo, New Year, Dezi and Ntwe, sweating, are down on their knees scrubbing the floor. OTELO If we don't do it properly we never going to get into the water. NTWE I am doing it properly. NEW YEAR (V.O.) It was two weeks before we were allowed into that cool, clean, blue freedom. CUT TO: EXT. POOL - DAY Sunlight sparkles on the water. The meniscus on its surface is a threshold, a tender membrane separating this world from heaven. Stembiso blows his whistle. Tau and two other trainers, RISKY and TORTOISE, join Stembiso in the shallow end. The beginner's class, including Otelo, New Year, Dezi and Ntwe, are ready and eager. STEMBISO (getting in) Get in next to your trainers. All obey, except Otelo. STEMBISO (CONT'D) (to Otelo) In the pool. Otelo grapples with his fear. TAU Scared? Otelo stares at Tau for a beat. Then he jumps in. STEMBISO First thing is the kick. Take the edge of the pool in your hands, and kick like this. Stembiso demonstrates. The class, with varying success, practise their kicking. STEMBISO (CONT'D) You not running, Ntwe. In the water, you don't run. NEW YEAR (V.O.) Then, suddenly... we were swimming. CUT TO: EXT. POOL - DAY New Year swimming. Not bad, but every time he wants to breathe, he stops the stroke and lifts his head straight up out of the water. Ntwe swims like a windmill, making little progress through the water. Otelo, swimming well, bar a few quirks. NEW YEAR (V.O.) Later, after the change, the Umlungu's used to make jokes about non-swimmers getting the vote. But in Little Jozi, there were many swimmers. Because of Stembiso. And because the pool was the best place to be. CUT TO: EXT. POOL - DAY Dezi and the girls hanging out at the pool. They are watching Tau, who is working with a class, doing press ups. GIRL He's hot. Dezi, thoughtful, watches Tau. CUT TO: Ntwe jumps into the deep end and sinks. Girls scream. Tau jumps in. Ntwe surfaces. Doggy paddles. NTWE I can do it. I can do it. Tau pulls him to the side. STEMBISO What the hell you doing? (to Otelo) Didn't your father tell you to watch him all the time? OTELO Sorry, Malume. STEMBISO (to Ntwe) Get out. Give me a hundred sit ups. NTWE (climbing out) I can do two hundred. STEMBISO Show me. NEW YEAR (V.O.) Stembiso was a hard man, but he also knew when hard work must be rewarded. For the swimming club, the reward came when Stembiso decided to braai. CUT TO: INT. POOL - EVENING Flames leap in the halved 44 gallon drum. A portable tape player pumps out township jive. Otelo, Tau and New Year put some parcels of meat down on a rickety table. OTELO There is two rand fifty three change. Where is Stembiso? TAU In his office. (beat) Man! Tau is grinning across at... Dezi, who stands with some girls. Ma Christmas has allowed Dezi to dress up. She's looking stunning. The girls are giggling about the boys, hips swaying to the jive. OTELO What. TAU (to New Year) You got a cute sister. (beat) And we are going party tonight! The pool door creaks open. Bra Chill, pushed by Slang, rolls in on his wheel chair. Violence and Gatsha following. Conversations stop. Heads turn towards the gangsters. OTELO (quiet) What do they want here? Dezi, silent, watches as... Bra Chill rolls towards the braai. BRA CHILL (to New Year) You Blade's brother? NEW YEAR Yes. BRA CHILL How come you have a party, you don't call Bra Chill? NEW YEAR Dunno. OTELO (beat) It's for pool club only. BRA CHILL Says who? OTELO Stembiso. BRA CHILL You tell Stembiso the party is for everyone now. TAU (calls) Ste? Bra Chill spots Dezi and the girls. BRA CHILL Party is for everyone. (grins) Girls are for Bra Chill. TAU (louder) Stembiso? BRA CHILL (to Slang; pointing at Dezi) Lets go. Slang rolls Bra Chill forward. Tau steps into his path. TAU Ste? BRA CHILL Out of my way, dog. Otelo, shadowed by New Year and Ntwe, steps up, standing at Tau's shoulder. BRA MEAT Out my way. OTELO He's not a dog. Slang pushes Otelo in the chest. GATSHA Watch your mouth, pretty boy. NTWE (to Bra Chill) You want steal our meat like a dog. OTELO Ntwe! Slang cuffs Ntwe, knocking him over. Otelo pushes Slang in the chest. Slang back hands Otelo. Ntwe dives at Slang, sinks his teeth into muscular thigh. SLANG Fuck off, you little shit! Slang takes Ntwe by the throat, begins to throttle him. Otelo changes into a wild man. He launches himself at Slang, thumbs gouging at his eyes. Slang goes down, Otelo's hands digging into his wind pipe, cutting off all air. Otelo bangs Slang's head against concrete. Blood spurts. The gang falls on Otelo. A knife flashes in Violence's hand. The boys step back, shocked by the sight of Otelo's blood. Otelo is frozen, animal, ready to launch himself at Violence. But the knife hovers, inches from his face. VIOLENCE (quiet) I'll fucking disembowel you. STEMBISO You guys got a problem? NEW YEAR (V.O.) No one saw Stembiso come. He was just there. BRA CHILL You got the problem. (beat) Why you braai without telling us, Ste? Don't you believe in democracy? Stembiso ignores them, examines Otelo's wound. A long deep cut. A good six stitches worth. Dripping blood. Stembiso turns to Violence STEMBISO (beat) Give me the knife. VIOLENCE Fuck you, dog. BRA CHILL You want to talk, talk to me. STEMBISO Give me the knife. VIOLENCE Make me. Stembiso hits Violence once, hard, in the throat. Violence goes down, dropping the knife. He kneels, gagging, grasping his throat. Stembiso picks up the knife. Bra Chill pulls the blanket aside, takes out his gun. Points it at Stembiso. BRA CHILL This pool is ours now, Ste. No more swimming. Just nice parties for the people. STEMBISO Give me the gun. BRA CHILL You want to die? Stembiso takes a step towards Bra Chill. STEMBISO Give me the gun. BRA CHILL I fucking kill you, Zulu boy. Stembiso steps forward again. STEMBISO Give me the gun. Bra Chill pulls the trigger. Once, twice three times. The weapon is jammed. Stembiso looks into Bra Chill'S eyes. NEW YEAR (V.O.) It was almost like Stembiso made it happen. Like he wasn't even surprised. STEMBISO Give me the gun. SLANG (awed) It's his father's power. The gangsters, silent, watch as... Stembiso takes the gun from Bra Chill'S hand. STEMBISO Go. (beat) Don't come back. The gangsters obey. The boys gather in a tight group around Otelo. TAU You must wash this. And bind it. Stembiso has got some bandages and disinfectant. They move with Otelo towards Stembiso's office. NEW YEAR (V.O.) And from that time on, it wasn't two brothers. It was three. Otelo, me, and Tau. NTWE Stembiso will fix that. NEW YEAR (V.O.) Three and a half, if you count Ntwe. CUT TO: EXT. POOL - NIGHT Some one hits the button on the portable tape player. A big dance sound booms out. Blade is opening a case of beers. STEMBISO What is this? BLADE Special delivery. From Ma Christmas. The girls are jiving to the music. Otelo, his arm bandaged, is far away, staring across the pool. New Year follows Otelo's eye-line. Across the pool, Tau is jiving, shouting in Dezi's ear. Tau looks round, waves to Otelo and New Year. He turns back to Dezi, speaks. Dezi laughs. New Year hands Otelo a beer. They drink. CUT TO: Dezi dances in the crowd. Otelo dances up to her. She smiles, moves with him, playful, following his moves, improvising on them. Tau joins them. For a moment it's a dance threesome, then Otelo moves away, and Dezi moves with him. CUT TO: Otelo pulls a laughing Dezi into the shadows behind the changing room. She puts a hand on his wounded arm. He winces. DEZI Sorry. OTELO It's fine. A beat. She touches the cut on his lip. DEZI And this? OTELO (shrugs) My father. He stares at her, reaches up a hand to touch her cheek. She takes her hand is his, liking the feel of his palm on her skin. They kiss. Then Dezi breaks away. OTELO (CONT'D) What? (beat) I like you. DEZI (beat) I like you too. CUT TO: EXT. POOL - NIGHT A log flares on the remaining coals of the braai. The party is over and only the diehards are left. NEW YEAR (V.O.) I think maybe Tau did it then, because of Dezi. He thought if Dezi saw what he could do on a wave, he could progress with her. TAU (beat) You guys want to learn to surf? Otelo and New Year are astonished. NEW YEAR (beat) Like the umlungus in Durban? TAU Sure. They stare at him. OTELO Bullshit. TAU Come to Ndumbi, where I live. NEW YEAR (beat) You got boards? TAU Sure. They stare at him. TAU (CONT'D) (to New Year) Bring your sister. NEW YEAR (V.O.) With some doors, when you go through them, it's forever. (beat) You can never come back. CUT TO: EXT. SMITH BEACH HOUSE - DAY The sea roars. A door swings open. It leads from underneath the Smith beach house onto the rocks at the southern end of Ndumbi beach. Tau, carrying his Ndumbi Arrow board steps through. Followed by Otelo, New Year, Dezi and Ntwe. A swell builds, curving up to the sky, spume flying from it's lip, a sea gull gliding, dead still, above the crest. NEW YEAR (V.O.) I like we had stepped into heaven, into a clean world, that was full of power. They stare at the wave, so close you could touch it. OTELO Shit. Tau grins, looks at Dezi. TAU What do you think? DEZI (beat) You going to go in there? TAU Sure. Dezi points at a sign that guards the beginning of the sand: Net Blankes - Whites Only. DEZI What about that? TAU It's not even weekend. Who is going to arrest me? (beat) The sea gulls? The gull hangs, swoops, lifts over a towering swell. Ntwe touches Tau'S Ndumbi Arrow board. NTWE How did you get it? TAU When Uncle Frank got Kevin a board, he gave me one. NEW YEAR Who is Uncle Frank? TAU Kevin's father. People I live with. OTELO Umlungus? TAU Ja. Tau grins, then picks his way forward onto the rocks. They watch silent, as he chooses his moment between swells, jumps in. Tau climbs on the board and begins to paddle, just making it over the crest of a wave. NTWE He's going to die! OTELO He didn't even throw a can CUT TO: Tau surfs. His, to the boys, godly, master of the wave and the sea. NEW YEAR (V.O.) I realized then what people meant when they said we could be free. Tau, knees bent, perfectly balanced, turns back up the face. Rises slowly up like a bird riding air waves. NEW YEAR (CONT'D) (V.O.) They meant like the wind. Like the waves. (beat) Like Tau.