"Conscious Decisions" is the 2nd episode of Desperate Schoolboys.
Ben is forced to speak at his granddad's funeral, who once gave him the vital advice of going for all life's opportunities. Meanwhile Josh and Liz form an unlikely friendship, when they skip school together. Rena is told by Justine to forget about the memories which come to him in his dreams. And Joe reveals to Dr. Sonya that his father passed away.
2 months ago
Ben walks into a room in the hospital. A frail and old man, hooked to a life support machine, looks over at him and smiles. Ben greets him, "It's good to see you, Granddad." "You too, kiddo," the man responds. "So how have you been?" Ben asks. His granddad replies, "Same old. What about you? Are you working hard at school?" Ben nods. His granddad continues, "Remember, Ben, you have what it takes to be whatever you want." A smile appears on Ben's face, "Thank you, Granddad. I wish my parents thought the same as you." "They do. Your parents are harsh because firm pressure is how you make soft metal into steal, Ben. Thus why you are such a gifted student. Your parents love you very much, always remember that," his granddad tells him. They both share a smile. "So, what else is happening? Is there a special girl in your life?" he asks. "Not exactly, there's a girl I like. But I haven't done anything about it," Ben tells him. His granddad adds, "Live life to its fullest, Ben." Ben nods and then heads for the door, "Well, I need to get to school." "Thanks for stopping by," his granddad smiles. "Bye, Granddad. I love you," Ben heads for the door. He stops in his tracks and looks back, "Granddad. Are you afraid to die? Because I am." His granddad keeps a firm face, "Only those who are afraid to live, are afraid to die, Ben." Ben asks, "You mean, if you live life fearlessly then you have no regrets? Because you didn't miss anything?" "Exactly. To live in fear is not to live at all," his granddad tells him. Ben looks down, unsatisfied, and exits.
Yes, I remember the world I left behind. And my biggest regrets are the opportunities I failed to take. I wish I could tell this to Ben, but would it do any good? Of course not. There will always be those who face their fears, and there will always be those who don't.
Teacher hands Boy paper with A+ written on.
...Not when it gets him good grades. Does the boy who lies to his parents about his report feel he did wrong?...
Boy hands parents a report card which has clearly been altered.
...Not when it gets him praise from his parents. And, when it comes to skipping school...
The school bell rings. After being dropped off by his dad, Josh stands and watches the car drive off. Once his father's out of sight, Josh begins walking back out of school grounds. Liz watches and runs over towards him, exclaiming, "Stop! Josh, stop now!" Josh stops in his tracks and Liz catches up with him. "Where do you think you're going? We have maths next and I'm supposed to be helping you. I need you there for my extra credit!" she tells him. Josh shakes his head and keeps walking. Liz shouts after him, "Josh, I can help you! Not that you would need it if you to class more often!" "I don't need help, princess," Josh remarks. Liz demands to know what he means by 'princess'. Josh explains, "Daddy's girl. Goody-good in class, looking down on everyone else." Josh keeps walking, as Liz follows him and disputes his claim, "That is so not true!" Josh keeps walking and Liz continues to follow him, shouting, "Get back here!"
...Does the straight 'A' pupil feel guilty when she misses class? Not when her pride is a stake.
As Liz chases Josh down the street, Ben stands watching them leaving the school grounds. Suddenly his dad, who has just dropped him off, taps his shoulder to get his attention. "Pay attention!" his dad snaps. Ben nods. His father then continues, "Okay, Ben, once school is over we shall pick you up and go straight to the funeral. Your clothes will be in the car." Ben looks down and then utters, "Dad, do I need to speak at the funeral?" His dad ponders, "Ben, he was your granddad and it would nice. But you don't have to if you don't want. I know this has been hard on you. You know, Ben, you don't have to go to school today if you don't want." "Mum wouldn't stand for that," Ben remarks. His dad nods in agreement, "Have a good day." Ben forces a smile, and then makes his way into school.
Renato had become used to being late for school, but since finding a reason to get up for, he was happy to do so earlier. All so he could spend less times worrying about his dreams, and more time focusing on her…
Rena and Aliare seen walking to school together, conversing. Rena decides to brave it and ask Ali how she’s settling in with her new family. Ali laughs and tells him that they’re fine and that she sees it as a permanent arrangement. Rena smiles and tells her that that’s good, she smiles back at him. As Ali begins to talk about how she was bounced around from home to home when she was a kid, Rena’s eyes are shown becoming heavy as he begins to think of his dreams.
However, Renato was about to learn that when it came to his dreams, resistance was more than futile.
Rena closes his eyes and flashes, his vision becomes blurred and he hears a miscellaneous baby’s cry. He then flashes to his mother, Justine, looking over him, smiling. He flashes to his own young hand joining to Justine’s. He then flashes randomly to James’ face, smiling at him as it used to before he died. Rena snaps out of it to realize Ali’s still talking, "I’m sorry, what were you saying?" he asks. Ali tells him, "I was just saying… never mind. How’re you?" she wonders, "I’m fine," Rena lies, forcing a smile again. "C’mon. What were you thinking about?" Ali asks. "Oh, it’s nothing, just my friend who recently died this summer," Rena tells her, neglecting other information. "Oh. I’m sorry. That sucks," she tells him, before asking what made him think of his dead friend all of a sudden. Rena tells her that he doesn’t know, saying that he must just miss him.
Joe is sitting in the office of Dr. Sonya, as had become his morning routine, Joe had to be thankful for one thing and one thing only, at least his new mandatory ordeal meant one less lesson in the morning. "Joe, you’ve been awfully quiet today," Dr. Sonya points out. Joe tells him it’s because he doesn’t have anything to share. "Oh, I’m sure that’s not true. There must be something you need to get out, perhaps express in another way other than throwing things from a window." "Hey, I never said my method was perfect, but it works," Joe points out. Dr. Sonya asks Joe if he could start the ball rolling, Joe tells him to go for it, "You haven’t mentioned your family, or for that matter, why your mother sent you to me in the first place. You live alone with her, don’t you?" Dr. Sonya asks. Joe nods. "So, what about your father? Where’s he in the picture?" Joe goes silent and pale, unable to answer for a moment. "M-my father died when I was very young," Joe tells him. "Ah." says Dr. Sonya, "Do you think that could be the original source of your anger? I know it’s always been there. But what do you think has magnified it so much lately?" he asks. Joe is reluctant to say anything, "I-I… I think I should be getting to maths. Thanks, Dr." Joe says before leaving. Dr. Sonya tries to remind Joe that he has another hour but Joe tells him to use it as free time. He leaves the office, Dr. Sonya is intrigued.
Lunchtime arrived and Joe, Ben and Rena head down to their usual spot in the cafeteria to eat lunch. Joe asks them where Josh is, a tired Renato shrugs and Ben simply remains silent, seeming a little disgruntled. "What’s wrong?" Joe asks, "Oh, nothing." Ben assures him. "Oh, sorry. Not you, I mean Rena." Joe points out, gesturing to Rena whose head is lying on the table, his eyes closed, asleep. "Let’s find out." Ben suggests. "Shall we shout in his ear or something?" Joe asks. "Nah. No need." Ben says, slapping Rena across the face, he suddenly wakes up, "What… the fuck?!" he asks, annoyed. "You were asleep." Ben says, "So you slap me?!" Rena asks. "You seemed distressed…" Joe tells him. Rena sighs, "Yeah…" he says. "What’s up?" Ben wonders. "I’ve not been getting much sleep lately." Rena says, Joe asks him why and Rena explains that he’s been having nightmares. "What about?" Ben asks, curiously. "Well… they’re weird. I keep seeing all this weird stuff, I think they might be memories or something. Like, stuff I was too young to remember, I keep seeing a younger version of myself, and then this morning, I saw James’ face, totally random," Rena explains. "Well, maybe his death has taken more of a toll on you than you thought," Joe suggests. "It’s taken a toll on all of us," Ben points out. "…I miss him." Rena tells them, being the first to say it, the guys agree and Joe brings up his death. "Do you think maybe what Josh said was right? That maybe there’s more to his death? You could be latching onto something, Rena," he suggests. Rena says he doubts and that his sleep deprived state must be messing with his head. He asks what’s going on in the other’s lives. Ben explains that in the evening, he’ll be attending his grandfather’s funeral. The other two console him.
Josh walks down the street of the school until he gets to a parked motorcycle at the side of the road. He takes out the keys from his pocket and plugs them in, to start the engine. Liz looks disgusted, "This is what you're doing instead of school? Riding around on a motorbike?" Josh smiles, indifferent to her comment, "Yeap. But it's not your scene, so why you don't head back princess?" Liz shouts, "Will you stop calling me that! Now, let's go back to school. If you miss another lesson on triangles then I'm going to have to explain to you acute and obtuse angles!" Josh shakes his head, "Oh no! And miss out on all the fun of supplementary angles." Liz looks puzzled, "Supplementary?" "You mean you haven't been taught that yet? Well, don't worry, I'm sure you'll catch up," Josh smiles smugly. "How do you know that?" Liz asks. Josh tells her, "I told you, I don't need help." Josh gets ready to take off, when Liz remarks, "Fine. Enjoy your ride. But you have quite a nerve calling me smug. How dare you assume what my scene is!" Josh turns to face her and smiles, "Oh, this is your scene. Then, feel free to get on with me." Liz's smile drops as she stares down at the dangerous looking contraption. However she then looks into Josh's conceited smile, and she gets on, "Let's go for a ride." Josh laughs, "Hold on!" As the motorcycle pulls off and rides down the street, Liz squeals and wraps her arms tightly around Josh, to stop herself from falling off.
After school, Ben is walking to his dad's car but comes across Joe sitting alone in the park. "Um, hey..." he tells him, sitting on the bench, next to his friend. "Hi." Joe says. "You not going home?" Ben asks. "Oh, right, I just got caught up, thinking about… stuff," Joe explains rather vaguely. "Ah… stuff. How taxing that must be for your mind," Ben says. Joe smiles, "Nah, it was just something from session this morning," Joe tells him. "Oh… that stuff., Ben says, nodding, "What happened?" he wonders. Joe is silent,. "You know, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me," Ben points out. Joe notes that Ben sounds like Dr. Sonya and Ben laughs, "Speaking of which, I have to wonder, what’s so bad about these mandatory sessions? You’ve been a bit on edge lately. I mean, you’ve always been sort of… violent. But I’ve noticed it magnify lately. A lot. More rages and shouting and… you seem sort of far away, Joe, I’m worried about you." "You wouldn’t understand," Joe says. "Try me," Ben insists. "You know what?" Joe asks, becoming defensive. Ben asks him what. "I didn’t ask for you to sit with me. And I don’t have to share my problems with everybody. Some things are private and are private for a reason. I wish everyone would just leave me alone!" Joe exclaims. Ben nods. "All right," Ben says, "But be careful what you wish for." Ben angrily storms away from the bench, not looking back at a regretful Joe as he walks away in anger at his friend.
Inside the church, the funeral is taking place. Ben and his parents are sitting on the front bench of the church. Ben's mother leans over to Ben, "Are you ready to go up and say some words, Benjamin?" "I'd rather not, mum," Ben tells her. "Nonsense. Now go up," his mum demands. Ben looks at the church full of people. The rows of tearing bodies staring down in his direction. Ben begs his mum, "Mum, please." His mother grabs him by the wrist and speaks forcefully, "Ben, if you don't go up there then everyone is going to think there is something wrong." His mum stands with him, forcing him to his feet. Ben then makes his way over to the front of the church. He stands, facing everyone, "Eh, my granddad...my granddad..." Ben's knees begin to tremble and his throat goes incredibly stiff. He then mumbles, "Sorry," before sitting back down. His mother looks at him with contempt, as the church is overcome with whispering.
Joe arrives home, regretting having snapped at Ben, and he makes his way upstairs. Joe is then seen raiding his room before finally pulling out a photo album. He begins to look through it before coming across a picture of himself as a new born baby, with two people holding him, a man and a woman, his mother and his father. Joe removes the photograph from the old album and inspects it closer, he then makes his way downstairs. Joe is then seen throwing the photograph onto the fire and watching it was it shrivels up and burns, disintegrating before his very eyes. Joe’s mother walks into the room. "What are you doing?" she asks him,. "Oh nothing. Just… starting a fire. It’s a bit chilly." Joe lies. His mother agrees before catching a glimpse of the nearly completely burned photo in the fire. "What’s that?" she asks him. "Nothing. I was just clearing out some old rubbish." "Oh, yeah? What was it?" she asks. "Something that I have absolutely no need for anymore," Joe says before walking out of the room, the photo now gone.
Josh and Liz pull into the street on the motorcycle, after an exhilarating ride. Liz is jumping with excitement, "That was amazing! We were going so fast! And when you overtook that guy...it was just so exciting." Josh laughs at her glee and smiles, "Well, I think I got you wrong." Liz smiles, "Well, thank you. But I think I got you pretty wrong too, Josh. You're pretty smart, huh? So why don't you just go to classes?" Josh answers, "School bores me. I'm all for learning. But just not what and how the school does it. There's a whole world of knowledge out there, stuff that school can't teach you. That's what I want to learn." Liz smiles, "Well, that's very insightful. But you still need to know what the school wants you to know for exams. You showed me your world. And now it's my turn. We start tutoring at 4, sharp. See you then." Liz begins to walk away and Josh smiles at her assertiveness, before grabbing her arm and pulling her towards him. He leans forward to kiss her but she stops him, "I'm not like the other girls, Josh. Your good looks and bad boy exterior isn't enough for me. I'll see you at four." Liz walks away smiling as Josh watches her leave.
Ben and his parents enter their home. Ben immediately begins walking up the stairs, to his room. His mother shouts after him, "I hope your granddad wasn't watching today!" His dad tells her, "That's enough!" Ben runs into his room, throws off his jacket and his tie, and jumps into his bed. Tears begin to leak from his eyes. From his room he continues to hear his parents talking downstairs. "What?" his mother asks. "You've said enough to him," his dad tells her. "Oh, you've said it yourself Walter, the boy is strange. And now everyone is going to be thinking it," she says. Walter raises his voice, "They will not think he's strange! They will think he is upset over the death of his granddad, which he is!" Lydia goes on, "He's strange. He's unsociable. He's never showed any interest in a girl." "What has that got to do with anything?" Walter asks. There's suddenly silence, Ben assumes his mother is taking a large gulp of wine. She then responds, "It has to with that he's strange. Now, everyone with know it. God, what people will think of us, having a son like that." Ben buries his head under his pillow, having heard enough. The tears continue to pour.
Rena walks into the kitchen where his mother is cooking dinner, "Um… mum." Rena says, his mother turns to him, "Yes, darling?" Justine asks. "I was wondering if I could… talk to you about something?" he asks. "Anything, dear." she assures him comfortingly. "I’ve been having these… dreams… and your face keeps popping up. And I think you’re looking at a younger sort of me, and we’re holding hands, and walking away," Rena explains. "Away from what?" she asks, nonchalantly. "I’m… not sure." Rena says. "Well then, it probably means nothing." she says, smiling some more. "But… it just seems so real. It must have been something memorable enough for it to come to me in a dream, surely," Rena mentions. Justine asks him if the dreams of his are recurring, Rena says that they are and Justine places a hand upon his shoulder. "Honey. I’ve never taken you away from anywhere memorable. These dreams, I’d like you to ignore them. Just do that for me. Ignore them and they’ll fade away," she assures him. "Are you sure?" he asks. Justine nods as does Rena. He begins to walk away but stops, "But these dreams. They really feel like they’re important." "Hey. What did I tell you?" she reminds him. As soon as Rena leaves, Justine’s smile becomes a frown. Outside the door, Renato’s father is shown to have been listening in. He enters the kitchen, "What was that?" he asks. "That was an undeveloped clue and I’d rather it stay undeveloped," she tells her husband. "But… he’ll figure it out eventually," he warns her. "Hey, neither one of us knows what those dreams mean, it could be any number of things," she reminds him. "That’s besides the point. We’ll eventually have to tell him what really happened," he tells his wife. "Until that day comes, that boy is to be kept in the dark, do you hear me?" she asks. Her husband nods. "There is nothing I won’t do to spare that boy the truth. Nothing," she assures him. "Okay. But a façades can only stick out for so long." "I don’t care!" she snaps. "Of course you don’t dear. It’s been a long time since you’ve ever felt remorse," he tells her before walking out of the room, leaving his wife speechless.
Guilt. A feeling of regret, that can cause us considerable pain...
Rena is walking to his room, looking unsatisfied with his mother's response to his questions.
...Whether it's the knowing that we're letting down our family...
Flash to Ben looking at a photograph of his granddad, as tears look from his eyes.
...Or the shame of out bursting at our friends, due to an anger that we can't control...
Flash to Joe sitting in his room, listening to heavy music.
...Or the remorse over a past deed, which is now haunting those we love the most...
Flash to Rena asleep in his bed, tossing and turning due to the usual bad dreams, as his dad watches from outside the room. His dad looks disgusted with himself and then keeps walking.
But sometimes guilt must take a back-seat, because the guilty pleasure of having fun, is just too irresistible...
The next day, Josh and Liz are in the library. Josh is taking notes as Liz points at things from a maths textbook and speaks. She then stops, for a brief moment, as they share a flirty smile.
...Even if means we must deal with the consequences later.
Ben walks into the library and stares in hurt at his friends betrayal.