[SCENE I. MELISSA’s bedroom, which is mostly a mess of clothes strewn everywhere, and every surface is covered by books. She is lying on the bed, talking on the telephone to MELINA, her short-haired, heavily tattooed twin.]
MELISSA: . . . so I got Dad’s boat eaten by a kraken.
MELINA: Why did you do that?
MELISSA: My entire life is made up of bad decisions, Lina. How can I tell him?
MELINA: Well, while you were out taunting seabeasts, he gave me a call. Mom and dad decided to go on vacation to Cape Cod, for some reason. They’re gone till this weekend.
MELISSA: Really? That’s perfect! All I have to do is raise up the money to buy them a new boat by the time they get back! How much can that cost?
MELINA: Depends. You’re talking about a canoe with one of those big industrial fans taped on the back, right?
MELISSA: I’m fucked, aren’t I?
MELINA: Yup. But hey, don’t worry. Once they cut you out of the will I’ll give you some of it back if you’re good.
MELISSA: Disinherited and disowned and held hostage by my loving sister. Thanks, Lina. I’ve got to go.
MELINA: Think about it, Lissa! All you have to do is be my slave and you’ll lose practically nothing!
(MELISSA hangs up, sighs, and places another telephone call, this time to GAVIN.)
GAVIN: Hello, Melissa.
MELISSA: Are you free? We are going to have words.
GAVIN: Yeah. I’ll just be preparing the ice packs.
MELISSA: Good man.
[SCENE II. MELISSA and SARAH have just arrived at GAVIN’s house. SARAH is thoroughly sunburned from their island excursion; MELISSA boasts a slightly darker tan, at best. MELISSA knocks on the door and waits.]
SARAH: By rights you should look like a cooked lobster right now.
(GAVIN opens the door.)
GAVIN: Listen, I’m sorry I–
MELISSA: If you help us solve a little problem, all will be forgiven.
GAVIN: Really? I mean, sure, anything you like. Come in, please.
(They enter, and the girls sit down.)
GAVIN: Can I get you girls a beer?
SARAH: Sure, thanks.
(He grabs three from a minifridge and distributes them, then sits down.)
GAVIN: So, what can I do for you?
(MELISSA puts a magazine on the coffee table and rotates it so he can read. It is open to a page advertising a slightly better motorboat than the one that was eaten by the kraken.)
MELISSA: We need enough money to buy that by this weekend, so that my parents don’t sell me to Melina as a slave.
GAVIN: (Looks at the article.) That number has more zeroes than I am comfortable with, Melissa.
MELISSA: It’s only got four zeroes. You can count to four, can’t you?
SARAH: (Helpfully.) It’s the number right after three.
GAVIN: Which is, coincidentally, the number that comes right before those four zeroes. Thank you, Sarah.
GAVIN: Melissa, I don’t know if you noticed, but none of my plans actually work.
MELISSA: So you’ve had plenty of time to learn what doesn’t work then.
GAVIN: (Sighs.) I’ll . . . see what I can do.
[SCENE III. A montage of GAVIN looking through various books with names like “Pyramids And You,” “Being Mr. Ponzi” and “So You Want To Rip People Off.” Various diagrams of pyramids are drawn and discarded. Meanwhile, empty bottles of beer proliferate on the coffee table. Eventually an idea strikes him–something that has been in front of him the whole time. He sets his beer down and lets out an exultant howl.]
MELISSA: What do you want?
GAVIN: I’ve found it! I’ll get you your money!
MELISSA: It’s 4 am. Go away.
GAVIN: You’re like–like a beautiful muse, or something. I couldn’t have done it without you.
MELISSA: Yes, well. Your muse is trying to sleep. Good night, Gavin.
(She hangs up. GAVIN laughs exultantly, sends out an email, then goes off to bed.)
[SCENE IV. The Jaded Old Crone. GAVIN is meeting with MR. MONEYMAKER, a well-dressed man in a business suit, somewhere at the older end of middle age.]
GAVIN: It’s good to met you at last, Mr. Moneymaker.
MONEYMAKER: It’s always good to see a young entrepreneur trying to make his way in the world, Mr. Roderick. I’ve told you about my company, I assume.
GAVIN: You said you could make me very rich at the stock market.
MONEYMAKER: Yes. Not everyone is doing poorly in these troubled economic times.
GAVIN: Well, I find myself in need of a great deal of money in a short period of time.
MONEYMAKER: That can be arranged. Obviously, I would not expect you to invest anything substantial without seeing that our method works.
MONEYMAKER: So today after we have finished our lunch we will allow you to see for yourself. No obligation–if you aren’t satisfied our business is terminated.
GAVIN: An open and honest businessman! I like that about you, Mr. Moneymaker.
[SCENE IV. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. SARAH is reading something on the computer to MELISSA, who is lying on the couch.]
SARAH: Apparently there’s a guy down in San Francisco who murdered his wife over a poem he didn’t like.
MELISSA: Harsh. So much for words that only cut metaphorically.
SARAH: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but bad poetry sends me into a blind rage.
(A knock on the door. GAVIN enters before either of them can actually respond, and throws a wad of cash on the coffee table.)
GAVIN: Hello, ladies! Just thought I’d give you a little down payment on the ridiculous quantities of money I’m going to be making in the coming days.
MELISSA: (Takes the money and looks through it.) Are you counterfeiting money?
GAVIN: Nope! That’s one hundred percent real. I’ve just made some sound financial decisions with a ridiculously high rate of return.
MELISSA: Okay, that’s . . . suspicious, but I won’t turn down free money.
GAVIN: And you doubted me. This is the one. I’m going to make it big. (Checks the time.) But I had better run. This money isn’t going to make itself–though it practically does! (He scurries out the door.)
MELISSA: That boy is about to lose a lot of money.
SARAH: Do you think we should tell him?
MELISSA: He’ll say we’re just jealous. Nothing gets in the way of Gavin when he thinks he’s on to something big. He’s like a freight train. A freight train that runs on poor financial decisions.
SARAH: Are we going to give the money back to him when he inevitably loses everything he owns?
MELISSA: Well, I might buy him a consolation drink. That’s kind of the same thing, right?
SARAH: He’s our friend, Melissa.
MELISSA: And I need to make thirty thousand dollars by Saturday, or my parents will use me as the figurehead of their next boat. I have to put family first.
SARAH: You’d make a good figurehead, though!
MELISSA: Not helping.
MELISSA: Anyway, odds are good he won’t even know he’s been ripped off. He’d probably just use the money to try to win it back. We’re doing him a favor.
SARAH: I suppose you’re right. But, still. You are a bad person.
MELISSA: I don’t know any other way, Sarah.
[SCENE V. The Jaded Old Crone. Mr. MONEYMAKER and GAVIN are discussing their money-making scheme.]
MONEYMAKER: I’m glad to have you onboard, Mr. Roderick.
GAVIN: Seems like I’d be pretty stupid not to take you up on it.
MONEYMAKER: Indeed, everyone wins. We’ll make the final investment on Friday. (Slides a piece of paper over.) This is everything you need to know.
MONEYMAKER: Now, if you’ll excuse me. (He leaves some money for the check and rises.) I have business to attend to. I look forward to seeing you this Friday, Mr. Roderick.
GAVIN: You too, Mr. Moneymaker. See you. (MONEYMAKER leaves; GAVIN makes a phone call. He gets a voicemail.) Hey, Nick, this is Gavin. I was wondering if you were still looking to buy a new car. Give me a call.
[SCENE VI. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. MELISSA is reading something on the computer, and SARAH is drawing in a sketchbook.]
MELISSA: Did you know that the Pacific Northwest tree octopus is related to the kraken?
SARAH: There’s no such thing, Melissa.
MELISSA: Then what do you think ate our boat this weekend? A giant whale?
(They are interrupted by a knock at the door. GAVIN opens it.)
GAVIN: Knock, knock!
MELISSA: Ah, how goes the one hundred percent guaranteed to work get-rich-quick scheme?
GAVIN: I’m just on my way to make a little investment and become a very rich man. Just had to sell my car, pawn some things, and take some money out of savings. It’ll all be back by this afternoon.
MELISSA: Oh, good. Let me know how that works out for you.
GAVIN: Even now she has doubts. But I forgive you, Melissa. You’re the one who made this possible. You put me on this road.
MELISSA: Mm. Well, I didn’t do it on purpose, so don’t, you know, give me undue credit for what happens.
GAVIN: No, no, no. When I complete my meteoric rise I will have you to thank. There’s no need to be modest.
MELISSA: Oh. Uh, good.
GAVIN: But I must be going. Just thought you’d want to know you’ll have your boat money by this afternoon.
MELISSA: Yes, great. Thank you.
MELISSA: He’s going to murder me when he loses his money, isn’t he?
SARAH: There will probably be some shouting, and some violence. Probably not murder. He is a peaceful man.
MELISSA: Maybe I won’t flee the country, then.
SARAH: Please don’t. I’d miss you.
MELISSA: I’d send letters.
SARAH: So cruel! Just after I’d stopped crying myself to sleep at night, you send a letter with a picture of you all smiling and happy with your new friends and I’d break down all over again.
MELISSA: I can never tell when you’re making fun of me.
SARAH: I know!
(MELISSA shakes her head and goes back to reading on the computer.)
[SCENE VI. Outside a sketchy fake stock exchange. GAVIN, MONEYMAKER, and another CON ARTIST are standing outside. MONEYMAKER is giving them their marching orders.]
MONEYMAKER: So you’re clear on what to do?
GAVIN: Short the stock when they reach 116.
MONEYMAKER: Yes. I’ll be waiting for you outside.
(MONEYMAKER hands the other CON ARTIST a sheaf of paper and walks somewhere out of the way to smoke a cigarette. GAVIN and CON ARTIST walk inside. After some time, they emerge. GAVIN looks stunned; the CON ARTIST looks like he’s about to get beaten.)
GAVIN: Something went wrong.
MONEYMAKER: Surely nothing that can’t be remedied?
GAVIN: Show him.
(CON ARTIST hands over some receipts to MONEYMAKER, who reads over them, and looks increasingly furious as he does so.)
MONEYMAKER: I said short it! Short it!
CON ARTIST: It was a simple mistake!
MONEYMAKER: Get out of my sight. (GAVIN and CON ARTIST start to leave.) Not you, Mr. Roderick. This wasn’t your fault. (GAVIN stops.) Give me time–a few months, maybe–and I’ll turn this around. And since our friend screwed this up for us, we can cut him out, split the rest fifty-fifty. What do you say?
GAVIN: I–thank you. I don’t know if I deserve that.
MONEYMAKER: You’re a bright young man, Mr. Roderick. I can see you going places in the future.
(He puts his arm around GAVIN’s shoulder, and the two walk off.)
[SCENE VII. The Jaded Old Crone. MELISSA and SARAH are at a table set for three. The latter is drawing on a napkin. A glum-looking GAVIN enters and sits down.]
MELISSA: Gavin! Are we looking at Portland’s latest self-made man?
GAVIN: Bad news, Melissa. There was a bit of a mix-up with the stocks. I’ll have to wait for a couple months to get your money.
MELISSA: Ah well. I suppose there are worse things than being lashed to the prow of your father’s MegaYacht 3000.
(SARAH turns around a sketch of a boat with MELISSA on the prow as a figurehead.)
GAVIN: Suits you, actually.
MELISSA: See? It’s not so bad.