Act II, Scene I

 

The time is the afternoon following Owen and Malloryís night together. Owen and Kathy are in separate areas of the stage, separately lit, representing their respective offices. Owen dials, Kathy answersÖ

Kathy

Hello?

Owen

You were right.

Kathy

Is this Owen?

Owen

Yes, you were right.

Kathy

Youíre welcome, Iím sure.

Owen

Thank you, maybe. Iím not sure. I might have been better off not knowing.

Kathy

Is that ever true?

Owen

I donít know.

Kathy

I donít know either. So what happened?

 

 

Owen

I set a trap. She fell into it. After you contacted me and said she was a spy, I had a hard time believing I was so wrong about her. But I also couldnít afford to ignore what you said either. So I couldnít think of anything but to let the relationship develop while I figured out what to doÖ

Kathy

So, what did you do?

Owen

I had one of my people doctor my program to take out the best stuff. Then I installed that version on my home PC. I also installed an activity log routine. When all that was ready, I invited her over and let slip that I sometimes work at home.

Kathy

Machiavelli has nothing on you!

Owen

Is that a compliment? Anyway, she stayed the night last night. Early this morning I left for work, leaving her alone. I went back home at lunchtime today and checked the activity log.

Kathy

What did it show?

Owen

It showed that after I left, she turned on my computer and searched my hard disk. Then she downloaded to a floppy disk what she thought was the help file to my program. That was pretty smart of her, by the way. You can tell from a help file pretty much everything a program is supposed to do, and a lot about how it does it.

Kathy

Sheís cunning.

Owen

And you?

 

Kathy

What do you mean?

Owen

How cunning are you? Why did you set her up?

Kathy

And why are you calling me now with all this information?

Owen

I donít know, exactly. I guess this whole business makes me feel so uncomfortable I want to understand it. Iíve been used twice, first by Mallory then by you.

Kathy

But you used Mallory to deceive Terry

Owen

You know about him?

Kathy

Of course. Mal and I talk. Also, you deceived you fiancé, whatís her name?Ö

Owen

OK, youíve made your point. Iím no saint. So, without my being judgmental, why did you stab Mallory in the back?

Kathy

Without being ungracious, none of your business.

Owen

Whatever is going on, Iím right in the middle of it. Of course itís my business.

Kathy

So figure it out.

Owen

Thatís what Iím trying to do. Iím not getting very far. In the case of Mallory, I assume her boss put her up to it. But then I also have to assume that her boss is somehow involved in both a software company and an escort serviceóotherwise, how could he coordinate all this. But is that likely?

Kathy

Are you asking me?

Owen

Yes.

Kathy

Iíve said what I have to say.

Owen

Well, that brings up the next question. Whatís your angle?

Kathy

You donít have to worry about it. I donít need anything from you.

Owen

You need me not to tell Mallory what you did to her.

Kathy

You wonít do that.

Owen

Why not?

Kathy

Because if you do, Iíll track down Terry and tell him how you presented an escort to him as though she were a friend of yours.

 

Owen

Maybe he wonít care.

Kathy

Get real. You canít take any chances. Thatís why you put on that charade in the first place.

Owen

What do I tell Mallory, then.

Kathy

That depends. Do you love her?

Owen

I thought I did. Now I donít think so. Iím shaken. Itís hard.

Kathy

News bulletin: Life sucks. Film at eleven.

Owen

Thatís helpful.

Kathy

Do you love her?

Owen

I said, I donít know any more.

Kathy

It seems to me your first order of business is to figure that out.

Owen

How could she do this to me?

Kathy

Ask her.

Owen

Youíre not going to tell me this either, are you?

Kathy

No, but in this case Iím not being hard-nosed. Iím doing you both a favor. She deserves the opportunity to make her own explanation without any filtering through me. And you deserve the opportunity to form your own reaction, without influence from me.

Owen

I guess that makes sense.

Kathy

It does. I may be sour, but Iím not stupid.

Owen

What are you sour about?

Kathy

Itís a long story. If we were friends, I would tell you about it. Are we going to be friends?

Owen

I donít think so.

Kathy

I donít think so either. So thatís that. Itís been nice doing business with you.

Owen

Thanks for the tip. So long.

 

 

Kathy

Bye.

(Both hang up. Curtain closes.)

Act II, Scene 2

 

The time is later in the afternoon following Owen and Malloryís night together. The location is Kathyís office, similar to Dennisí in character but smaller. The door is open. Mallory sticks her head in and addresses Kathy, who is working at her desk.

Mallory

Busy?

Kathy

Nothing that canít wait. Címon in.

Mallory

(Closes door) I got it!

Kathy

The program?

Mallory

Not the program itself, but almost as good. I got the help file. The whole program was too big to fit on a floppy disk, but I copied the help file. That should describe all the features of the program, enough to make Dennis happy.

Kathy

That was a good idea, if the file is current.

Mallory

I think so. It was date stamped only two days ago. That should be current enough.

Kathy

Congratulations, Mal. Sounds like you did well. So, tell me the story.

Mallory

You know how heís been taking me to lunch? So Monday at lunch he invited me to his place for dinner last night.

Kathy

What about his fiancé?

Mallory

Out of town on business.

Kathy

Thatís interesting. So howíd it go?

Mallory

Oh, Kathy, it was wonderful. Like a fairy tale. Kathy, I think I really like that man.

Kathy

Tell me all about it.

Mallory

We talked nonstop, about absolutely everything. And he cooked a great dinner. We had champagne. But you know, it was the talking. We really communicated. We were honest with each other, about the deepest things. We understood each other. I felt closer to Owen last night than I ever felt to Kenny in all the years we were married.

Kathy

Something tells me more went on last night than just talking.

Mallory

IÖI spent the night there.

Kathy

And how was that?

Mallory

Oh, Kathy, thatís private. Iím not going to talk about that.

 

Kathy

No offense intended, Mal. Iím just rooting for you to enjoy the fireworks.

Mallory

Well, OK, thanks, I guess.

Kathy

Itís a vicarious pleasure.

Mallory

What?

Kathy

A vicarious pleasure. I donít get any fireworks myself. Vicarious is the only kind of sex I get nowadays, and not even much of that.

(Mallory is staring at her, speechless)

Do I sound bitter? Iím supposed to be your mentor, right? So Iíll give you some good advice. Go for that gusto while you can Ďcause all the fun can vanish overnight along with all the promise. Then youíre left sitting on the same couch where you used to entertain gentlemen callers, only now youíre entertaining a half empty bottle of White Zinfendel and telling it about all the rotten bastards who helped turn your life into a waste. Then all youíve got is memories, so make all the good ones you can while you can. Thatís my advice, mentor to mentee.

(Mallory is still staring, astonished. Kathy is lost in thought, then continues)

You think Iím a bitter old hag, donít you? Sweetheart, I started out full of hope and enthusiasm, brimming with an optimist outlook, just like you. You could end up just like me. I hope you donít.

Mallory

Do you mind if I ask you what went wrong? What is "just like you?"

Kathy

Just like me is lonely. No dates. No gentlemen callers. No skin contact. No life.

 

Mallory

Kathy, I donít understand. What happened?

Kathy

What happened? Nothing happened, thatís the problem. I wanted a husband, a family. I never got it. I have a career instead. Itís a consolation prize but it doesnít provide any consolation. I wanted somebody to love me. I wanted to love that somebody back. I wanted to share a lifetime with a man. Grow old with a man. Raise kids with a man. I wanted to be one of those couples you see on the local news celebrating their fiftieth anniversary, so at home with each other that they canít imagine having been with anybody else. What Iíve got instead is a bank account that keeps growing because thereís nothing I want to do with the money.

Mallory

Iím sorry, Kathy.

Kathy

Thank you. But donít trouble yourself. You didnít cause it.

Mallory

Didnít you ever fall in love?

Kathy

Yes. Deeply, totally, profoundly.

Mallory

And?

Kathy

He dumped me.

Mallory

Oh, no. That had to hurt so much.

Kathy

You have no clue, and I hope you never do.

Mallory

Kathy, what can I say? I can only imagine the pain. And you never fell in love again?

Kathy

It twisted me all up in knots. You know, I never dated much in school. I wasnít prepared for the pain. Afterwards, I kept measuring every new guy against his standard, and they never measured up. Even at the time I realized that it was just my defense against getting injured all over again, but I just couldnít help myself. After a while I grew bitter and never could trust any man. I just gave up on all men. So, no, I never fell in love again. I had guys, but not love. Nowadays I donít even have guys.

Mallory

But why give up?

Kathy

Iím tired. Old and tired. Tired of disappointment. Better not to raise my hopes than to have them disappointed.

Mallory

You sound soÖdefeated.

Kathy

Thatís what I am. Defeated.

Mallory

What caused the breakup?

Kathy

Nothing.

Mallory

What do you mean?

 

 

 

Kathy

Just what I said. Absolutely nothing happened. We were lovers for about two years. Then one day he says to me, "I donít feel the chemistry for us to get married, so I donít think we should date any more. So we can find someone where thereís chemistry." Chemistry!

Mallory

Was there someone else?

Kathy

No. I know there wasnít. Chemistry, that was all.

Mallory

Nothing to blame him for.

Kathy

Nothing to blame him for.

Mallory

Maybe thatís what you blame him for?

Kathy

What?

Mallory

If you could blame him, it would be easier. Without having him to blame, thereís only yourself left to blame. Thatís got to be hard to take.

Kathy

Listen, Miss Freud junior, whatís hard to take is that the son of a bitch screwed up my life.

Mallory

I guess men can do that.

 

Kathy

You bet they can. So, thatís why Iím telling you all this. So you stay on your guard. Men are programmed to mess women up, and our culture is set up to help the men out. If you donít get married, you feel rejected, marginalized, cheated out of life. If you do get married, youíre more than likely going to be unhappy. Half of marriages end in divorce and half the remainder are probably miserable. So the odds are stacked against us no matter what.

Mallory

And to think I was feeling pretty good when I came in here.

Kathy

Oh, hell, thanks for listening, Mal. I know I sound like an old crone. I feel like an old crone. I hate it. I hate myself for it.

Mallory

Donít hate yourself. Youíve been through a lot.

Kathy

Yes. But a lot of people go through a lot. Who has never been disappointed in love? Everybody gets disappointed in love. But most people ache, they pine, they rage, they cry, they down a bottle of whisky, then they go on a shopping spree, then they get over it and move on. I was never able to move on. I donít know whatís wrong with me.

Mallory

Kathy, youíre so smart, youíre attractive, I bet men still find you sexy. Youíre good at youíre job. I think youíre great. You just need to rebuild your confidence.

Kathy

Youíre sweet, Mal. I wish it were so easy. All right now. Back to the subject at hand. Where were we? Yes, you had fireworks.

Mallory

You said that.

Kathy

Any denials for the record?

Mallory

I will only say weíre a good team. KathyÖ

Kathy

Yes?

Mallory

He said heís starting to fall in love with me. He said I make him feel electric.

Kathy

And you said?

Mallory

I said, "I know."

Kathy

"I know?" He says he loves you and you say you know?

Mallory

He wanted me to say I love him too, but how could I? I hardly know him. We had lunch a few times, for god sakes.

Kathy

I dare say youíre better acquainted now.

Mallory

Will you stop that?!?

Kathy

OK. But the fact is that you do love him, isnít it? You really did love him after a few lunches, didnít you? Isnít that why you went to his place last night?

 

 

 

Mallory

How can I tell it itís real? It feels like love. But what if itís not? What if itís not really? What if itís just infatuation?

Kathy

If it is, then it will curdle and be over. You go on to the next man. Youíre not fourteen, you know all this. What is the problem here?

Mallory

The problem is itís 4:30 and he didnít call all day.

Kathy

You expected him to?

Kathy

Well, wouldnít you? Last night wasnít our first date. It was our first night together. After leaving me a love note in the morning? After the note says he misses me already? Loves me! Then he doesnít call all day? This day after that night?

Kathy

Maybe heís tied up in meetings at work.

Mallory

That doesnít make sense. Meetings have breaks. Lunch. How could a one minute phone call to me not rise to the top of his priorities all day? This day in particular?

Kathy

So what do you think?

Mallory

I donít know. I canít make any sense of it.

Kathy

You know how men are. Maybe heís just pulling back out of commitment anxiety. The message might be nothing more than too much, too soon, too quick.

Mallory

Maybe, but that just doesnít seem like him. Anyway, heís been controlling the pace of our relationship. Last night was his idea. He was the one who couldnít wait to declare his love.

Kathy

You think men are logical?

Mallory

Itís not his way. Not Owen. Thereís something else. But I canít see it.

Kathy

Something with Ellen, perhaps?

Mallory

Maybe. I donít know. How can I know? I hope not!

Kathy

You know, you did copy his program. Could it have to do with that? Could he suspect something.

Mallory

(Hands to mouth, horrified) Oh GodÖ.OH GODÖOH GOD!! That canít be! Can it? Can it? Oh my God, no!

Kathy

I really have no idea. I was just exploring all the logical possibilities. It is a logical possibility. I donít know if itís a real possibility.

Mallory

(Frantic) But what if it is? What if he found out somehow? Oh Kathy, donít you see? Donít you see?!? It makes sense now! Itís the only think that would make him mad enough not to call me.

 

 

Kathy

Mal, calm down a minute. You donít know anything of the sort. I was just speculating, nothing more. Do you have any evidence at all that he knows?

Mallory

Not really, I guess.

Kathy

And how would he even find it out?

Mallory

I donít know, I donít know, I donít know!

Kathy

So isnít there most likely some other explanation?

Mallory

Logically youíre right. But I just feel it. I know how we were last night. Thereís no way he would ignore me today unless something horrible happened. This is the only thing I can think of thatís horrible enough.

Kathy

So why donít you call him and find out?

Mallory

And say what?

Kathy

Pretend nothing happened and see what he says.

Mallory

But what would be my reason for calling?

 

 

Kathy

Just a friendly call to tell him how great he was last night. Every guy loves to hear how great he was the night before.

Mallory

I donít know, calling him so soon for no reason. The last thing he needs is a girlfriend whoís emotionally needy. If I werenít so worried about the program, Iíd wait Ďtill he calls me. Anyway, itís almost 5:00 now and Iím supposed to go over there tonight anyway.

Kathy

Then wait Ďtil tonight and see.

Mallory

Iím such an idiot, thinking I could get away with this.

Kathy

Maybe you did. You donít know.

(There is a knock on Kathyís office door)

Kathy

Come in.

(Dennis enters)

Dennis

Oh, hi Mal.

Mallory

Dennis.

Dennis

Kathy, I just need to see you for a few minutes, when youíre done here.

Kathy

Sure.

Dennis

So. Mal. How are things going with Owen?

Mallory

Excellent. Weíre connecting.

Dennis

Good. You think thereís a future for you two?

Mallory

I hope so. Oh do I hope so!

Dennis

What about the fiancé?

Mallory

Thatís still an issue. But Owen says I make him feel electric, and she doesnít. So thatís good.

Dennis

Good indeed. OK Mal. Iím glad things are working out. I want you to be happy. But donít forget the object of the exercise is to find out about his product. How is that going?

Mallory

He hasnít told me anything yet. But weíre getting pretty close, as a couple that is. I donít think it will be long before heíll trust me enough to talk about it.

Dennis

Letís just not get so caught up in the relationship that you forget about the job, OK?

Mallory

OK.

 

Dennis

(Turning to Kathy) Not too long.

Kathy

A couple of minutes.

Dennis

Fine. (Leaves the office, closing the door behind him)

Kathy

(Stunned) I canít believe this. You didnít tell him about the help file.

Mallory

No.

Kathy

You lied to him.

Mallory

I had to.

Kathy

How come?

Mallory

Because I didnít tell him this morning when I came in. I couldnít tell him now because he would wonder why I didnít tell them then.

Kathy

And? This morning?

Mallory

I didnít want him to know.

Kathy

What do you mean?

Mallory

If he knew, I couldnít back out.

Kathy

Youíre thinking of backing out?

Mallory

I donít know yet. Thatís the whole point. I copied the file this morning when I had the chance so that I could have the option of giving it to Dennis if I decided I wanted to. I havenít decided yet. I didnít tell him so that I could preserve the option of not using the disk if I decided not to. Itís a good thing, too. Maybe I can still save my relationship with Owen, since I didnít actually do anything with the file.

Kathy

If thereís a problem with Owen. And if it has to do with the file. And if he has a more forgiving nature than any man Iíve ever met.

Mallory

Iíve made a mess, havenít I?

Kathy

Maybe things will work out. Hey, Iíd better go see Dennis. Will you keep me posted?

Mallory

Of course, Kathy. Who else can I talk to? (They hug, then exit Kathyís office)

Curtain.

Act II, Scene 3

 

The time is the same afternoon as Scene 2. The stage is split again, this time with Owen in his office on one side and Terry in his office on the other. Terry dials, the phone rings in Owenís office. Owen picks up.

Owen

Hello? Owen Talbot speaking.

Terry

Owen! This is Terry. How are you?

Owen

Hi Terry! How I am depends on what you have to say. Whatís the news?

Terry

Not too good, Iím afraid. Iím going to pass on this one. Iím sorryÖ

At this point Owen ostentatiously punches the button to put the call on speakerphone. Sound effects make it seem that Terryís voice is being heard through Owenís speakerphone.

Terry

ÖOwen?

Owen

Iím disappointed, to say the least.

Owen gets up, and during the following conversation pours himself a generous alcoholic drink and proceeds to sip it.

Terry

Owen, itís not your product, itís not your business plan, and itís not you. Itís really me.

Owen

Sounds like a girlfriend, letting me down easy.

 

Terry

I suppose it does. But itís true. I donít understand the dot-com world. And the bottom line is, I just donít feel comfortable investing in something I donít understand.

Owen

I can appreciate that. But weíre in the new economy. Dot-com is the future.

Terry

Well, thatís right, I suppose. But I never understand what that means.

Owen

It means building value out of information instead of physical objects. It means companies that build value now so that profits will flow later.

Terry

Exactly. Thatís all mumbo jumbo to me.

Owen

Mumbo jumbo or not, itís how lotís of people are getting rich these days. You have the chance to be an insider and get very rich too.

Terry

Look. Iíve made several million from businesses I understand. I guess Iím old fashioned. A relic of the 20th century. Iím more comfortable continuing to do what I know. If I end up with only 10 million instead of 100 million, I wonít consider myself a failure.

Owen

You and Mallory.

Terry

Mallory?

Owen

You just reminded me of her. Old fashioned. Thatís what she said too. Old fashioned.

Terry

Right.

Owen

Which reminds me. I want to apologize for the way Ellen behaved that night we went out.

Terry

No apologies necessary. I though she was great.

Owen

Ellen?

Terry

Ellen. Who else are we talking about?

Owen

I didnít think she was great that night.

Terry

You provoked her.

Owen

She was pretty testy with me that night. And I really didnít think that was appropriate in front of you. Thatís why I apologized.

Terry

Maybe it wasnít appropriate, but Owen, she was provoked.

Owen

You think so?

Terry

I think so.

Owen

Maybe youíre right. After you and Mal left, she told me my hormones were raging over Mallory.

Terry

And?

Owen

You think so too?

Terry

As I said, she was provoked.

Owen

Then maybe I owe you the apology.

Terry

Itís not about apologies. Owen, listen, would you be open to some advice from an old fart who brings lots of life experience to the table?

Owen

Sure. Why not?

Terry

OK. Mallory is charming. As Iíve said before. Delightful, even. But sheís unformed. Sheís young and she doesnít know who she is yet. And if she doesnít know who she is, then you canít either.

Owen

Címon with the pop psychology. She is charming. Enchanting, even. Honestly, donít you think that?

 

Terry

Yes, in certain ways. But sheís still in the process of becoming a grown up. And she has a ways to go yet.

Owen

Sheís at least in her twenties.

Terry

Early twenties. Youíre not really a grown up in your early twenties. Ellen, sheís a grown up.

Owen

You like Ellen.

Terry

Yes, quite a bit. That shouldnít surprise you. Sheís your fiance.

Owen

Even after the display she put on?

Terry

What she displayed was her love and devotion for you. What she displayed was that her relationship with you is worth fighting for.

Owen

But she embarrassed me in front of a potential investor.

Terry

No, Owen, you embarrassed her by flirting with a twenty-something tease. And let me tell you something else. At that point, that night, I liked her better than I liked you.

Owen

What do you mean?

 

Terry

Not only were you flirting with someone else in front of your fiancéÖthat was bad enoughÖbut also, she trusted meÖEllen trusted meÖto be able to separate all the personal subtexts of that evening from my evaluation of your business proposal. She gave me more credit than you did.

Owen

How can you say that? Trusted you? How do you know what she was thinking?

Terry

So I canít know for sure. Thatís what I believe. I believe that she understood that I would separate business judgement from personal matters. You understand that too, now, donít you?

Owen

Yes, sure.

Terry

But you were uncertain then. She sized me up correctly right away. Thatís one reason I like her.

Owen

All right. Point made.

Terry

So hereís the rest of my advice. You can take it or ignore it. Ellen is a keeper. She smart. Sheís good looking. Sheís saucy. She loves you. Donít blow it.

Owen

Itís easy for you to be so objective. You donít have feelings involved.

Terry

Oh. Mallory. Do you trust her?

 

Owen

Why do you think I shouldnít I trust her.

Terry

No reason that I know of. But youíre talking feelings. Trust is the main thing. When youíre in a committed relationship with someone, youíre really putting your emotions in her hands. What could be more important? So Iím asking, do you trust Mallory with the care and feeding of your emotions.

Owen

Right now I donít know.

Terry

What about Ellen?

Owen

I trust her.

Terry

OK then.

Owen

Itís so easy for you to sit there and direct my life by long distance.

Terry

Fair point. You have to make your own mistakes.

Owen

All right. Thanks for looking at my proposal.

Terry

Sorry it didnít work out.

 

Owen

Thanks again. (Hangs up.) Thanks for nothing.

Owen goes to pour another drink as the curtain closes.

 

Act II, Scene 4

 

The same evening, Owen answers the door bell in his apartment. Letting Mallory in, they kiss in greetingóMallory looking for reassurance, Owenís body language not providing any. Mal is wearing another revealing sundress, braless, hoping to repeat the success of the previous evening.

Mallory

Itís so good to see you. Iíve been waiting all day.

Owen

Good to see you too.

Mallory

I come bearing gifts. (Mallory takes a new CD from her purse.) The Best of The Platters. I hope you donít have it.

Owen

No. This is great. I donít have it, and I love The Platters. How did you know Iíd like it? Your intuition is amazing.

Mallory

Thank you. And youíre welcome. All right. Enough with the preliminaries. When can I get a drink around here. Iíve had a tough day.

Owen

Couldnít have been tougher than mine. (Mallory looks at him questioningly.) Letís fix the drinks first, then Iíll tell you.

Owen and Mallory fix drinks, then go to the balcony.

Terry turned me down.

Mallory

Oh, no! NoooÖ Owen, Iím sorry.

Owen

Not your fault.

Mallory

What did he say?

Owen

That he doesnít invest in dot-com projects because he doesnít understand the new economy.

Mallory

But doesnít he want to get rich?

Owen

He says heís getting rich enough in the old economy.

Mallory

I feel terrible about this. I hope I didnít let you down somehow.

(Owen looks at her, then realizes she is talking about her evening with Terry.)

Owen

You mean the night we all had dinner? No, it isnít that. He liked you. Delightful was the word he used, I think. It had nothing to do with you.

Mallory

Are you angry at him.

Owen

No, I have no reason to take it personally. He has every right to put his money wherever he pleases.

Mallory

But if he doesnít like dot-com companies, why did he meet with you in the first place?

Owen

You got me.

Mallory

He wasted so much of your time.

Owen

Not entirely. Preparing his proposal forced me to think through the business plan. Iím more frustrated than angry. I donít know any other angels.

Mallory

Well, you know, I canít help you with that. But I can help you with something else right now.

Owen

What do you mean?.

Mallory

I can help fix those tense muscles of yours. Go sit backwards on that chair. Iím going to give you the most relaxing shoulder rub youíve ever had.

Owen

Thereís an offer I canít refuse.

Owen straddles the chair backwards.

Owen, for heavenís sake, take off that shirt. T-shirt too.

Mallory massages Owenís shoulders and neck for a while.

Feel good?

Owen

Good? Exquisite is the word. Mallory, youíre making it very difficult for me.

Mallory

Uh oh. Whatís difficult?

Owen

To say what I need to say.

Mallory

Triple uh oh. Owen, what do you need to say. Out with it.

Owen

Mal, Iím staying with Ellen.

Mallory pulls away. Owen puts his shirt back on as Mallory continuesÖ

Mallory

But Owen, why? I love you so much. Weíre so terrific together. Why?

Owen

I donít know how to explain this. Ellen is right for me. She just is. Weíre a team. We were meant for each other. Jesus! That sounds like such a cliché. But I donít know how else to put it.

Mallory

But last night! Did you forget last night? We were a team last night! We were a great team last night. Donít you remember.

Owen

I remember. It was memorable. I wonít ever forget it.

Mallory

Memorable! It was fantastic, Owen. Doesnít that count? And your note! Just this morning! Spectacular, it said. "Last night was spectacular," it said. "You are spectacular," it said. "I have fallen in love with you," it said. What about that? Was it a lie? Was our whole relationship a lie? Owen, please, donít do this.

Owen

It wasnít a lie. It was true when I wrote it. But all day Iíve been thinking about us. About the choice I have to make between you and Ellen. And I realized it has to be Ellen. I want it to be Ellen.

 

 

Mallory

Something happened, didnít it? I knew it! Something happened today. Besides Terry. I knew it when you didnít call.

Owen

What did you mean, "when I didnít call?"

Mallory

Owen! If nothing else, donít patronize me! You know exactly what I meant. The first time a couple has sex, and itís spectacular, and the guy leaves a note that he loves heróheís going to call her that day. If he wants to continue the relationship, he knows to call her. Or send flowers. Or rent a billboard or hire a skywriter. Or something. Right or wrong?

Owen

OK. I knew what you meant. Iím sorry.

Mallory

So answer the question. What happened?

Owen

Nothing happened. I reached a decision, thatís all.

Mallory

I donít understand it. Last night I was your soulmate. You said that.

Owen

Thereís nothing to understand. I gave us every chance, but in the end I want to make a life with Ellen.

Mallory

(Starting to cry as the impact hits herÖ) Iím neverÖIím never going to find anybody else as wonderful as you. I wish Iíd never met you.

 

 

Owen

Youíre twenty three. Youíll find somebody else.

Mallory

You mean, Iíll settle for somebody else.

Owen

No. Youíll find somebody who really is your soul mate. Itís not me.

Mallory cries for a little while as Owen looks on awkwardly, not knowing what to say. The crying stopsÖ

Mallory

Owen?

Owen

Yes?

Mallory

Is there any chance youíll change your mind?

Owen

No.

Mallory

Then at leastÖlet me give you a goodbye kiss. To remember you by.

Owen

I donít knowÖ.

Mallory

Donít you owe me that, at least?

 

 

Owen

Oh, all right

 

Mallory

Please, Owen. Iím accepting that this is the end. Itís killing me but Iím accepting it. It costs you nothing to let me deal with it my way. Just a kiss goodby to show me at least you cared.

Owen

All right, Mal. Sure.

They kiss, warmly and tenderly.

Mallory

Owen?

Owen

What?

Mallory

How about if I give you one last something else to remember me by?

Owen

No, Mal.

Facing stage rear, Mallory slips off her sundress, leaving her in panties and shoes.

Mallory

Owen. Just one last time. No commitments, no consequences.

Owen

Itís tempting, Mal, but no.

 

 

 

Mallory

Owen, I need your touch one more time. I need you to fill me up one more time. Youíre so good for me, Owen. One last time. That canít be too much to ask. Donít say no. Donít hurt me any more than you have already.

Owen

Out here, for all the world to see?

Mallory

Come on inside. Where we belong.

Owen

Iíd like to but I canít. Mallory, listen. Iím going to marry Ellen. If I have sex with you now Iím going to regret it later. So Iím not going to do it. Iím sorry. Put on your dress.

Mallory

(Dress still off, spreading her arms in invitation.) How can you say no to this? No strings attached.

Owen

Iím sorry.

Mallory

Youíre not sorry! Youíre an insensitive, callous piece of shit!. You said you cared about me! Loved me! I believed you! You lied to me!

Owen

God Dammit! Youíre absolutely determined to force the issue, arenít you? Well, god dammit, you want to know the reason? Iíll give you the god damned reason! I thought it would be better for you if I didnít bring it up, but now I donít care. You want to know what happened? What the reason is? Well, look in your own stone cold heart. The reason is whatever caused you to copy my file. You tell meówhatís the reason for that?

Malloryís shoulders slump in defeat. Even though she discussed the possibility with Kathy, she had hoped it wasnít the case that Owen knew.

 

 

Mallory

Owen. Iím so sorry. I didnít do it to hurt you.

Owen

You didnít do it to help me.

 

Mallory

In a way I did.

Owen

I donít want to hear any more. I donít trust you any more so nothing you can say matters. Get dressed, and then let yourself out.

Owen goes inside the apartment. Mallory puts her dress on and remains on the balcony crying as the curtain closes.

 

 

 

 

Act II, Scene 5

 

The scene is Dennisí office, six weeks later. Dennis is leafing through a report provided by Victor.

Dennis

Just summarize. Verbally.

Victor

Like I told you on the phone, I think itís time to make your move.

Dennis

Heís ready.

Victor

Yeah, I think so.

Dennis

Tell me why you think that.

Victor

Itís been six weeks now since Terry turned him down. Heís pitched his idea to just about every venture capitalist in the yellow pages. Not even a nibble. We got lucky on our phone tap. He talks to this friend from his home phone, so itís all documented in that report.

Dennis

Thatís why you make the big bucks.

Victor

Yeah, big bucks my ass. Anyways, heís getting real discouraged now. No angels. The VCís are all passing on it. Heís come up dry. You can move now when heís down, but before he has the chance lucky.

Dennis

Why do you think heís having such a hard time?

Victor

Donít really know. He doesnít know. The markets are soft right now, IPOís are tough. VCís are looking in other directions, not dot-com software. Still, thereís lots of money out there looking for a place to roost. I donít know, maybe his business plan sucks. Why are you interested?

Dennis

Iím going to buy him out.

Victor

What the hell?

Dennis

No, really. His product fits with one of my companies. His software is good, but his business plan does suck. Iíve read it. Weíve already started talking. On the phone so far. Heís coming here to meet me in just a few minutes.

Victor

You have his business plan?

Dennis

Yes, he sent it to me. His idea canít work as a stand alone company. But Iím going to fold it into another product at one of my other companies, where itís actually worth quite a lot as a value added feature.

Victor

Well, if you knew all that, what the hell you need me for?

Dennis

Timing, Vic. Timing is everything. Look, having you continue the phone tap this past month cost me a small fortune. Perhaps not so small. But I figure Iím going to save several times that much in what I pay to buy him out, taking advantage of your information that heís in distress. So thatís a return on my investment in you of about 100%. In just a month. Annualized thatís more than 1,000%. Youíre a good investment, Vic. Youíre worth the big bucks.

 

 

Victor

Jesus Christ, youíre some piece of work.

Dennis

Iím just good at what I do. So are you, Vic, phony locksmith and all. Sounds like we have the basis of a beautiful friendship.

Victor

Yeah. Next youíre gonnaí tell me since weíre such good friends I should give you a discount.

Dennis

(Grinning) There you go.

Victor

(Grinning back) You know what the word "chutzpah" means?

The intercom buzzer rings.

Dennis

Yes?

Sandyís Voice over Intercom

Mr. Talbottís here to see you.

Dennis

Thank you. Iíll be right out. (To Victor) Chutzpah is just being unafraid to ask for what you want. I just want a volume discount.

Victor

Yep, thatís you all right. Whatís the word for being unafraid to say "Up yours?" Thatís me. Take care, Dennis.

 

 

Dennis

Good work, Vic. Thanks.

Victor exits. Dennis ushers Owen into the office.

Dennis

Have a seat, Owen. Glad we finally have the opportunity to meet face to face.

Owen

I was so curious to meet you I couldnít pass it up. I donít know what to make of you. Iím angry and grateful at the same time. I had to see for myself.

Dennis

Good. You should see for yourself before you decide whether you want to do business with me. How about some coffee?.

Owen

Yes, thanks. Just black

The conversation continues as Dennis pours coffee from his carafeÖ

Dennis

OK. You say youíre angry. Tell me

Owen

Tell you! It should be obvious.

Dennis

Humor me. Say it.

Owen

You set me up! You sent Mallory undercover as an industrial spy to steal my secrets.

Dennis

And youíre indignant.

Owen

I think I said angry.

Dennis

And I think "indignant" better captures the flavor of your self righteousness.

Owen

What the hell? Youíre going to insult me now too?

Dennis

Actually, Iím trying to impress upon you from the outset that when you deal with me you can expect not just truth but candor at all times.

Owen

So by calling it candor, you make insulting me into some kind of virtue? (Stands up) Thanks for the coffee.

Dennis

You can leave. But you have a lot to gain by staying.

Owen

Your attitude makes that impossible.

Dennis

Quite the contrary. Iím flushing out all your emotional toxins so we can talk business on a rational basis. Thatíll result in a better outcome for both of us.

Owen

You are some piece of work.

Dennis

(Amused) Thatís the second time this afternoon somebodyís said that to me. It must be true.

 

 

Owen

Somehow Iím not impressed.

 

Dennis

Owen, listen. Iím not being hostile. Iím making a point. Please let me continue. If you still want to leave after a few more minutes, feel free.

Owen

I feel free now. (But he sits down nonetheless.).

Dennis

So letís deconstruct this indignant anger of yours. First of all, this secret that I sent a spy to uncover. At the time, you were discussing this secret with Terry.

Owen

So?

Dennis

So it wasnít exactly a secret.

Owen

It was confidential.

Dennis

Confidential. And in the six weeks since Terry turned you down, how many other potential angels have you discussed this confidential matter with?

Owen

A few.

Dennis

A few. And how many venture capital firms?

 

Owen

Several.

 

 

Dennis

Several and a few. As a matter of fact, youíve been peddling your program to anybody you can get to listen to you, right?

Owen

I wouldnít say that.

Dennis

The point being itís hardly a secret any more, through no action of mine. Another point being if you donít share your so called secret, thereís no way for you to launch your business.

Owen

But whatís your point?

Dennis

Where is the value? So long as it is a secret, your program has no value. It only gains value when it is shared with somebody who would put up some cash to help you launch a company. As a secret, it was literally worthless. What Mallory and I did gave it value.

Owen

But that misses the point. The point for me is that I have the right to decide who I share my creation with. Thatís up to me, not you. The sharing I did was on my own volition. Your spying was a violation of my right to make that choice.

Dennis

Point taken. But so what? This is where your emotions get you hung up. You are

focusing on your indignation over being violated. You are ignoring the practical fundamentals. What did your exercise of your rights actually get you?

Owen

It got me lots of opportunities to present my concept.

Dennis

First several and a few, now lots. So what did these opportunities actually get you?

Owen

Nothing so far, but Iím not discouraged.

Dennis

Yes you are, or you wouldnít be talking to me. So the answer is nothing.

Owen

Nothing yet.

Dennis

Nothing in fact. So, first of all, Iím a potential investor, just like everybody else you talked to. But in another respect, Iím unique. Iím the only one who has given you a positive response.

Owen

So? Is your argument that the end justifies the means? Spying is OK if the result justifies it?

Dennis

Of course. Isnít that why Israel has its Mossad? Isnít that why we have a CIA? Are you suggesting that we abolish the CIA.

Owen

But thatís national security.

Dennis

Exactly. As you say: you agree that ends can justify the means.

Owen

Therefore your ends justify your means.

Dennis

Therefore the outcome does not justify your indignation..

Owen

I feel violated.

Dennis

Exactly so. Violated. And youíre indignant over that. But itís all an emotional chimera. Itís just an emotional reaction to an emotional construct in your mind. You are certainly entitled to any feelings you like. But itís irrational and foolish to let feelings get in the way of a mutually beneficial business arrangement.

Owen

Now youíre calling me irrational and foolish! You canít help being obnoxious, can you?

Dennis

Iíve been told itís chutzpah. But in this case. Quite the contrary. It is precisely because I do not see you as irrational and foolish that I expect you to set aside your emotions and make a business deal with me.

Owen

How can I trust you?

Dennis

How can I trust you?

Owen

What?!?

Dennis

Think for a minute about how this looks from my end. Youíre vice president of marketing at your present company, right?

Owen

Yes.

Dennis

Youíre good at it? You add value, right?

Owen

I would say so.

Dennis

They treat you OK? Decent pay? No complaints?

Owen

I would say so.

Dennis

But instead of developing your idea with them, youíre going off on your own.

Owen

So?

Dennis

So who at your company have you told about this scheme of yours to leave and go off on your own.

Owen

Thatís confidential, too.

Dennis

Thatís crap. You havenít told them at all. If youíre as good as you think you are, your leaving will hurt them.

Owen

What is your point?

 

 

 

Dennis

Trust. Thatís the subject you raised. They trusted you, and you are betraying their trust. They made an investment in you. They taught you their business, their products, their customers, all in the expectation of a return as you produced value over time for them. Now youíre scheming to go off on your own, using an idea you got while working for them, and your value to them goes down the toilet.

Owen

Entrepreneurs do that all the time. If that didnít happen, how would new companies get started?

Dennis

Yes, you are indeed part of a large and illustrious population of enterprenuers. Nonetheless, your accusation that Iím untrustworthy rings mighty hollow from somebody whoís pulling the rug out from the company that employs him, pays him fairly, treats him well, and depends on his services.

Owen

This is crazy.

Dennis

I think not. They trusted you, and you repay them by abandoning them in pursuit of the almighty buck for yourself. And you know itís not right, because you havenít told them about it. So get off that high moralistic horse about trust. Relative to me, you do not occupy the ethical high ground.

Owen

The question remains, how can I trust you?

Dennis

Forget about trust. Business relationships should not rely on trust all. They should be based on mutual benefit. If you have to rely on trust, the relationship is faulty to begin with.

Owen

So then why do you accuse me of being disloyal to my company? Like you say, Iím just pursuing my self interest?

Dennis

Iím not accusing you of disloyalty, only unearned self-righteousness. Actually, I donít believe in loyalty.

Owen

That figures.

Dennis

Yes, it does. Think about it. Think about exactly what you mean when you say that somebody did something out of loyalty. What you mean, in fact, is that it was something he didnít really want to do, or something he wouldnít ordinarily do, but he did it anyway out of some sense of obligation. Isnít that right?

Owen

But usually itís about an allegiance to a higher cause. Isnít that a good thing?

Dennis

When thereís a higher cause, perhaps. But Iím not a higher cause. I donít want anybody I know doing anything out of obligation to me. I want everyone to make his own choices, do whatís in his own best interest, do what he wants to do. Loyalty is just a form of psychological coercion to control somebody elseís behavior, and I want no part of it on either end.

Owen

Are you telling me that when Mallory copied my file it wasnít out of loyalty to you? That she wanted to do it? That it was something she would ordinarily do?

Dennis

Actually, yes.

Owen

Actually, I donít believe you.

Dennis

As you wish. But I am telling you, she made a deliberate decision to do it in her own best interests. Loyalty never entered the picture.

 

Owen

In other words, you made her an offer she couldnít refuse.

Dennis

It wasnít like that. I did suggest it. We did discuss it at length. But there was no appeal to loyalty, and there were no threats. On the other hand, I did point out some advantages to her in going ahead. I have no apologies.

Owen

You bribed her.

Dennis

No. I pointed out certain intrinsic advantages that would accrue naturally from going ahead. We explored every facet, including her moral qualms, and her feelings about you. (Dennis gestures toward the white board.) We even laid everything out in a cost benefit framework, from which she reached her own conclusion.

Owen

The white board!

Dennis

She told you about that?

Owen

No. She just mentioned the board in passing. I didnít know what she meant until now. So. You say I was part of this calculation?

Dennis

Very much so.

Owen

Unbelievable. And while weíre talking about loyalty, what about Kathy?

Dennis

What about Kathy? You mean, our Kathy here?

Owen

Your Kathy here. You donít know?

Dennis

Know what?

Owen

Sheís how I found out about Mallory. Kathy contacted me. She told me what Mallory was up to, before she did it. Thatís how come I put an activity log on my computer.

Dennis

Thatís profoundly interesting. I didnít know that.

Owen

But why would Kathy do that? She wouldnít tell me why.

Dennis

I think I know.

Owen

You want to let me in on it?

Dennis

We were lovers some years back. I broke it off.

Owen

A woman scorned?

Dennis

Apparently so. Although I never scorned her. I just broke up with her.

Owen

And she still works here?

Dennis

Not for much longer! Before this, I never saw any reason to let her go. I offered her jobs in my other companies if sheíd be more comfortable, but she said sheíd rather stay here. I thought sheíd gotten over it, but now I see not. Enough of that. Letís talk business. First of all, your business plan is unworkable.

Owen

You bring me in here for that? You couldnít have dialed the phone?

Dennis

Relax, Owen. Iím making you an offer. Your business plan is unworkable as a separate company with a stand alone product. Thatís why everybody else turned you down. But it fits in beautifully as an add-in feature to one of my other products. The company is Venceremosóyouíve probably heard of it.

Owen

I have.

Dennis

All right, so hereís the offer: $250,000 cash for the rights to your product, plus you become marketing vice president at Venceremos, with stock options, bonus, the whole deal.

Owen

What happens to the current vice president?

Dennis

He is getting a promotion. Heíll be fine.

Owen

This is bizarre. First you spy on me, then you insult me, now Iím supposed to work for you.

Dennis

This is business, just business. Furthermore, itís win-win for both of us. There are no losers here unless you turn this down. We already talked about how logic gets derailed by emotions. Do you really want that to happen here?

Owen

Iíve never even met these people.

Dennis

I donít expect an answer from you right now. That would be illogical too. If the offer interests you, you should go talk the folks at Venceremos. Discuss roles and responsibilities, finances, corporate culture, the works. Ask them what itís like to have me as an influential investor with a seat on the Board. If youíre comfortable after that, we can negotiate details. If not, walk away.

Owen

Iíll think it over.

(The intercom buzzer sounds.)

Dennis

Yes, Sandy.

Sandyís Voice

Mallory is here. Sheíd like to see you if you have a couple of minutes.

Dennis

Sure. Send her in now.

(Mallory enters, registers surprise at Owenís presence.)

Dennis

Your timing is good, Mal. Iíve just invited Mr. Talbot here to come work for me.

Mallory

Here?

Dennis

No. One of my other companies. Iíve offered to buy him out for cash on the barrel, make him a VP Marketing so he can see his baby come to fruition, and then make him quite rich when the company goes public.

Mallory

(To Owen.) Thatís great. And you said yes?

Owen

I said Iíd think about it.

Mallory

Whatís to think?

Owen

Whether Iíd want to work for this guy. Whether I ever want to have anything to do with him. You, too, Mallory. Itís hard to imagine having anything to do with either one of you.

Mallory

Oh, Owen. Iím sorry for what I did to you. I certainly never meant to hurt you. But you wonít be right here in this building, so youíll never have to see me. And Owen, think about Ellen.

Owen

What about Ellen?

Mallory

What the money can do for her. It is within your grasp to provide Ellen with not only lifetime financial security, but the financial freedom to do anything she wants with the rest of her life. Thatís what you said this was all about from the start. Itís what you told me in the restaurant that very first night. How could you forget?

Owen

I do remember. But a lot has happened since then.

Mallory

But nothing that changes the fundamental equation.

Owen

That money equals happiness?

Mallory

That money equals freedom! Independence.

Owen

Iím not against having money. But how I get it is important too.

Mallory

Yes, of course. But thatís whatís so good about this. Turning your invention from an idea into a real product is important. Bringing it to market is important. Thatís a benefit to society. Lots of people will use it and benefit from your creative work. Thatís important. And if you donít do it, and your idea goes nowhere, then how will you feel? How would you look back on this situation if it became just another missed opportunity?

Owen

You make it sound dandy. But thereís a problem. The problem is, when you work for someone like Dennis hereóand Iím saying it right to his faceóthe problem is that once he sucks you into his world, sooner or laterósooner, probablyóyou will discard your scruples and youíll be compromised. Isnít that what happened to you? Three months ago, if somebody had suggested that you would purloin a computer file in an act of industrial espionage, what you have said?

Mallory

I suppose I would have said, "Youíre nuts."

Owen

OK, so thatís my point.

Dennis

But itís not a valid one. Nobody in my "world"óas you put itódoes anything that he or she doesnít want to do. I have no guns. I have no goons. Malloryís decision may have surprised her, but it was her decision to make and sheís the one that made it. I compromised nobody. She did what she chose to do.

Owen

Then you two are peas in a pod. My god, what a pair. You two deserve each other.

Dennis

Owen, you donít have to like me to work at one of my companies. Iím merely a member of the Board; Iím not there on a day to day basis. Youíll report to the President. All I would like from you really is to respect my business judgement. And my business judgement is that your creation is going to make you and Ellen both very rich. And if youíre ever asked to do something that you donít want to do, you can just say no. Whatís the worst that could happen then? So we have a disagreement and we part company. So what? You walk away with a ton of money that you wouldnít have had otherwise, and some valuable experience to boot. Whereís the downside here?

Owen

Giving up my chance for independence. Dennis, I told you Iíd think about it..

Dennis

Fair enough. And while youíre mulling over how to maintain those scruples of yours, try to figure out who compromised who when you gave Mallory a test drive while your fiancé was out of town?

Owen

You son of a bitch. You stink.

Dennis

Oh? I stink? And if Ellen knew anything about this little escapade of yours, is that what she would say? That I stink? Donít get in a lather now. I have no intention of telling Ellen. Iím just raising the point to provide you with some perspective on the subject of scruples.

Owen

Your perspective I donít need.

Dennis

Yes you do. When you calm down youíll see. So listen. I donít like you all that much either. I find you too self righteous by half. But I like your product and I think youíll do well in the job. So itís just business. My offer will be good for the next month or so. Think about it and let me know. No matter what, I am glad to have met you.

(Dennis holds out his hand. After hesitating, Owen shakes it, but politely, not warmly.)

 

 

Owen

So long, Mallory. Itís been an experience.

Mallory

I wish you well, Owen.

(Owen leaves.)

Dennis

Well, what do you think?.

Mallory

About what?

Dennis

Is Owen right? Are we a pair? Do we deserve each other?

Mallory

(Amused) Why Dennis, I do believe youíre coming on to me.

Dennis

Well, I wouldnít put such a crude spin on it. Mal, I think youíre terrific. Not only in your work, but in every way. I would like us to become friends. I would like to take you out, show you places, have you meet people. I can just be a shoulder to lean on; you can count on me to be on your side. Best of all, Iím a good listeneróyou can talk to me and Iíll understand. I understand you in a way that very few people can.

Mallory

I have friends that understand me. Kathy, for instance.

Dennis

Kathy understands you, but sheís hardly your friend.

 

 

Mallory

But sure she is.

Dennis

She most certainly is not. How do you think that Owen caught on to what you were doing?

Mallory

What?

Dennis

Mal, Kathy is not your friend. I just found out from Owen that she called him and told him what you were planning to do.

Mallory

ButÖ ButÖwhy would she do such a thing?

Dennis

To hurt me. It wasnít about you, but it was at your expense. She is not your friend. I can be your friend. Why donít we just try it?

Mallory

Dennis, Iím really flattered. I like you. I admire and respect you. But I think youíre interested in more than friendship, and itís only fair to tell you that I donít have any romantic interest in you. Iím sorry. I wish I did but I just donít.

Dennis

Mal, thatís OK. I understand. But if you like and respect me, whatís the harm in being friends, and if thatís as far as it goes, so be it.

Mallory

Maybe what I came to tell you will have some bearing on this.

Dennis

Oh, yes. What did you come to see me about?

Mallory

DennisÖI came to tell you Iím resigning.

Dennis

Really? How come?

Mallory

I got another job. A step up.

Dennis

But why? You have a tremendous future right here.

Mallory

Because Iím not comfortable here any more. From the Owen thing. I made a bad choice. I know it was my own decision. Iím not saying you forced me to do anything. Iím responsible. But thatís the point. I made a bad decision. I screwed up. And it left me gagging with self contempt. I donít feel clean, like I used to before. I want a fresh start somewhere else. I need a fresh start.

Dennis

Youíre so full of shit, Mallory. You just want to move your career ahead faster than Iím willing to do it for you here.

Mallory

That is what you have to believe.

Dennis

Explain that one. Thisíll be interesting.

Mallory

You have to believe that everybody is cold and calculating and has no conscience. That everybody is just like you. Otherwise you couldnít operate because the world would be incomprehensible to you.

 

Dennis

What I believe is that there is rational and irrational behavior. I believe rational is good. I believe irrational is stupid. Now, if you have a better job opportunity elsewhere, it is rational for you to take it. I appreciate that. But this business of your feeling soiled is bunk. Letís be clear about what happened here. First you schtupped the guy while his fiancé was out of town, then you copied a confidential file from his computer. But you only felt bad about it afterwards, after the plan didnít work out. While it was going on, in the middle of it, you didnít feel bad at all! You enjoyed it. You were pumped. You loved the thrill of it. You were anxious, sure, but that was about getting caught. And that only added to the exhilaration of the whole thing. Unclean, my ass!

Mallory

You donít get it, do you?

Dennis

Oh, yeah, I donít get it. Iím Officer Krupke and youíre misunderstood. So. You got another job. Where are you going?

Mallory

Venceremos.

Dennis

Venceremos. Really. To work for Frank Gallagher?

Mallory

You know him?

Dennis

Venceremos is one of my companies. Iím on the Board. Sure I know him. VP Marketing.. Iím their third biggest investor.

 

Mallory

And itís OK with you that I go there?

 

 

Dennis

What are you going to do there?

Mallory

Associate product manager.

Dennis

Thatís OK. Youíll do fine. You understand that you do all the grunt work and the senior product manager gets all the glory.

Mallory

Frank explained that. Iíll pay my dues before I move further up. And Iím committed to finishing my education.

Dennis

OK then.

Mallory

Youíre not mad about my leaving.

Dennis

Mad is irrelevant. This is business. Youíll learn to be a good product manager and help Venceremos. And I can replace you easily here.

Mallory

That easily?

 

Dennis

Easily enough. Who do you think you are?

Mallory

At least youíre not giving me a hard time. Frank didnít say anything at all about you being involved in Venceremos.

 

Dennis

I think he was testing me to see how much autonomy he has to act on his own. Donít worry. Your resignation is hereby accepted. Did you agree to a starting date?

Mallory

Two weeks from today. But I have a week of accrued vacation, and Iíd rather take the time off next week than get the money.

Dennis

So you want this Friday to be your last day in the office.

Mallory

If thatís all right.

Dennis

Thatís all right. Friday is your last day here. Before I forget, thank you for helping out with Owen just now.

Mallory

Youíre welcome. I was glad to be able to help you and Owen both at the same time.

Dennis

You were a big help. My guess is that heís going to say yes to the deal. And you deserve much of the credit. Itís ironic.

Mallory

Why ironic?

Dennis

You never thought to ask where it is that Iíve offered Owen a job.

Mallory

Where?

 

Dennis

Venceremos. VP Marketing, Venceremos.

Mallory

But thatís Frank. Youíre firing Frank?

Dennis

Quite the opposite. Iím promoting him. Heís moving up to President of another company. So if Owen accepts my offer, heíll replace Frank, and heíll become your boss.

Mallory

ButÖhow can I work for Owen? You heard what he said. He doesnít want anything to do with me.

Dennis

I think heíll let you go.

Mallory

Then Iíd better stay here.

Dennis

Your resignation has been accepted. Your last day is Friday.

Mallory

You bastard. You set me up!

Dennis

Hardly. I knew nothing about your resignation until you told me just a few minutes ago.

Mallory

But if Owen accepts, I wonít have any job at all.

Dennis

So it appears.

Mallory

But why wonít you help me? Why wonít you take me back. And why are you mad at me but not Frank Gallagher. He hired me behind your back.

Dennis

Because Frank is doing exactly what I hired him foródoing what he believes is best for his business. And heís not wrong about that. Heís doing his job, and well. But with you, itís personal. I wonít help you because you made it abundantly clear you donít care at all about me. You donít even want to be friends.

Mallory

I didnít mean it that way. I just didnít want us to get into something where one of us would end up getting hurt.

Dennis

Iím already hurt.

Mallory

But thatís emotional. Youíve always said you donít act on emotion.

Dennis

I have never said that. Ever. What Iíve said is that I donít made business decisions based on emotion. From a business standpoint, you are inconsequential. From a business standpoint, youíll be replaced in a week, and forgotten in a month.

Mallory

Dennis, please donít do this.

 

Dennis

Mallory, this is simple. First there was the floppy disk. You already had it but you didnít tell me about it. When you did that you broke a crucial bond of trust. I canít tell you how disappointed I was over that. And now, you quit. And itís personal. Itís not a career move. Thereís nowhere that your career prospects were better than they were right here. With me. But youíve made it clear you donít want to be here with me. You donít want to be friends. You donít want to work here with me. Itís as personal a rejection as I can imagine. Iím an adult. Iíll get over it. But feeling the way you do, I donít think you should be here. So itís good that youíre leaving.

Mallory

Dennis, please donít take it that way. Youíre right. I didnít see it from your point of view before, but now I do. I apologize. Iíll do anything. Just tell me. Anything, to show that Iím sorry. That I really do trust you. That we can be friends.

Dennis

Mallory, people I work with think Iím cold, arrogant, connivingóI donít care, itís just business. But I have a heart. I do. I just normally leave it home during business hours. Right now I need to take it in for repairs. Mallory, go home. Take the rest of the day off. Iíll see you tomorrow and weíll sort out what you should work on your last few days here.

Mallory

Canít I have one more chance? Iíll prove my loyalty to you, I will.

Dennis

You still donít get it. Itís not loyalty Iím after. Itís trust and respect. And youíve shown me neither. If you donít understand by now, you will never understand me. Iím very disappointed.

Mallory

But Dennis, after what weíve been through together, am I nothing at all to you?

Dennis

Youíre something, Mallory. Youíre further ado.

As the curtain closes, Dennis is holding his head in his hands, absorbing the loss of Mallory.

Copyright © 2000 Michael F. Borgos Futherado.com