Chelsea Thief – The Screenplay

EXT CHELSEA STREET NIGHT. 1am. A small crescent street by the river. Autumn, but unseasonably warm. 2020, the year of Coronavirus. We see a young man – NERBERT – with a torch and in a balaclava. He is sweating. Visibly uncomfortable. His eyes are desperation sick. He’s casing the cars for valuables. He’s mumbling to himself, looking from side to side. The streets are deserted.

We see him approach a red Nissan Micra. The rear numberplate has been replaced by a piece of paper, the numbers on the plate are written in sharpie. There are dinks and scratches all over the back bumper. There’s some gaffer on the rear window, just randomly stuck there for no reason. The rear driver’s side tyre is flat. Nobody in their right mind would think there was anything of value in this car. It clearly belongs to a broke idiot.

NERBERT: (to himself) This is a good’un. Gonna be something good. Gonna find it here. Gonna get Molly her Euros.

NERBERT approaches the car. He shines his torch over the contents. A book about mushrooms. A tatty blanket. An old sleeping bag. Papers. Boxes. Rubbish. Tarot cards. Then his torch lights on an open black leather holdall. He looks closer. Money. Euros. He can’t believe his luck. A black leather holdall full of Euros just casually slung into the back of the car. They’re spilling out of the bag like they have no value. NERBERT checks his surroundings, takes out the claw hammer he might have used to steal one of Brian’s motorbikes, and shatters the small rear window in one practiced hit.


INT CHELSEA BEDROOM NIGHT. AL – handsome, dashing, devil-may-care. He sits upright in bed to the noise, and we see his ripped abs glistening in the moonlight. He’s heard it. He listens for a while, alert, completely still so we can gaze upon him. We get lost in his eyes. Eventually he puts his head back down to the pillow.

AL: (to himself) Prolly nothing.

Those eyes close. Darkness.



NERBERT has been quietly winding down the rear window of the Micra. He scrambles into the car and hastily grabs two fistfuls of fifty euro notes. One of them floats unnoticed from his fist back onto the back seat. His eyes look bright with triumph. He backs out of the car, leaving the door open, and walks away from us, a spring in his step, clutching two fistfuls of Euros. He is a long way from us before it occurs to him to stuff them into his pockets.


EXT CHELSEA STREET DAY. Al walks towards the Micra, a spring in his step. He takes his keys out of his pocket, but we see him stop in his tracks as he sees the mess left by Nerbert. He reaches in through the hole and picks up the single note that fell from Nerbert’s hand. He inspects it.

AL: Oh for fuck’s sake.


INT NISSAN DAY – driving. Al is on speakerphone.

COP: (through phone) Was there anything valuable in the vehicle.

AL: Well … the bag was worth a couple of hundred but they left it. There were some crocodile skin watch straps, a bit of German porcelain. Silver candlestick… They left all that. The only thing they took was a stack of joke money that we used when we were running a game last summer. I was moving the bag back from Hampstead yesterday and left it in there.



NERBERT is still wearing his balaclava. He’s clearly walked all the way to this basement. It’s not nice in here. Natural light comes through little windows in the top of the room where we occasionally see the feet of people walking past at street level. Nerbert seems both nervous and triumphant. A bit too close behind him stands GONK. 6′ 5 if he’s an inch. Wearing a surgical mask, GONK looks like he pulls the legs off kittens for fun. Truth is he prefers puppies. In front of NERBERT sits BIG MOLLY behind an ornate leather top desk loaded with ledgers and, unusually, with little ceramic ornaments and figurines. She is unmasked, dangerous, short. Big Molly is thinking. Palpable tension.

BIG MOLLY: Show me.

NERBERT reaches into his pockets, starts piling the money on the desk.

NERBERT: It’s all here. Euros too, like you asked. There’s more than you want. You can have them all. We’re square, though, yeah?

BIG MOLLY reaches across and we see an incongruous plastic strap on her expensive diamond wristwatch. She slowly picks up a magnifying glass. There is practiced pantomime here. She lifts a single note. She squints at it. We see what she sees.

NERBERT: So … we’re good right? We’re square?

BIG MOLLY: Is that a duck, or a goose?


BIG MOLLY: Hey Gonk – whaddaya reckon?

GONK: Mallard.

BIG MOLLY: Mallard? (To NERBERT) And is mallard duck, or is it goose, asshole.

NERBERT: I don’t…


GONK, professional behind NERBERT, puts the tip of his little finger into his mouth.

NERBERT: A duck. It’s a duck.

BIG MOLLY: It’s a duck. And what the fuck country in Europe has a fucking duck on its fucking note?

NERBERT: Belgium?

BIG MOLLY: This is fake money, asshole. You come in here, you try to give me this shit, whaddaya think I am?

NERBERT: It’s real! It was in Chelsea in this … this amazing car.

BIG MOLLY: Oh Nerbert Nerbert Nerbert. I told you three months ago. You either pay me in Euros or you replace the things of mine you lost: A vintage leather holdall, a crocodile skin watch strap, a silver candlestick and an antique German ceramic figurine.

GONK: Meissen.

BIG MOLLY: I’d even take Sitzendorf. But … no. No. You try to pay me in ducks. In DUCKS! Hey, Gonk – he’s ducking payment!

(She laughs at her joke. GONK smiles and makes eye contact with Molly. Something passes between them. A tiny nod. Gonk takes his little finger from his mouth. We see the tip of it glisten wet with saliva.)

BIG MOLLY: (standing) You know what this means?

NERBERT: Please! It’s delayed because of the virus! I’ll do anything! I’ll get the stuff for you! I’ll find it somehow! I need more time!

BIG MOLLY: You know what time it is? It’s wet finger time.

NERBERT: I’m supposed to be isolating! I’ve got an aging grandmother! I do the shopping for her!

We pan out as we see Gonk rip off NERBERT’S balaclava revealing the sad face of a chinless opportunist, with big tempting ears. Gonk’s slimy finger goes into Nerbert’s ear with the precision of long practice.


And we pan out to wide on this scene until we see the feet of somebody walking past the window at ground level and we follow their movement, up through the window into …


… where we pan slowly up the walker’s firm body from behind pausing overlong on that tight butt. For who is it but AL? He’s striding delightfully past the window just at this moment with his usual unnatural gift for timing. He’s walking alongside Olivia Coleman, who is dressed as a panda mascot. He’s on the phone and she doesn’t seem to mind.

AL: Yeah it’s fine. They left the bag and the watch straps and the silver and the Sitzendorf. Just took the fake money. And I’ll be scrapping it in a week or two so nothing really lost but security. Silly fuckers. I hope somebody sticks a wet finger in their ear… Hang on I’ll call you back.”

They have faintly heard Nerbert, behind and below, screaming : “Not the other ear! Ewww” They pause for a moment.

Al: (to Olivia) Someone screaming?

Olivia Coleman: Prolly nothing.

And they walk away from us.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

One thought on “Chelsea Thief – The Screenplay”

  1. BRILLIANT blog today. Turning a sick break in into comedy – and written so wittily as ever. Cheered me up.


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