Episode 9: Lore-lie

[SCENE I. MELISSA’s bedroom. She is asleep in a bed that looks more like the blankets have just been sort of piled on than made traditionally as a bad. Her cell phone is ringing.]

MELISSA: (Answering the phone. Not nearly awake yet.) What.

(ANA XENAKIS is on the other line.)

ANA: Melissa? It’s your mother.

MELISSA: Mom? What time is it?

ANA: About 3 pm. (Mildly chastising.) Were you asleep?

MELISSA: (Rolling onto her back, closing her eyes. Sleepily.) No, of course not.

ANA: (Disbelieving.) I see. Anyway, have you spoken to your sister lately?

MELISSA: That’s it? No ‘how are you’ or ‘have you considered switching your major to engineering so you don’t live in poverty for the rest of your days?’

ANA: You’re always so difficult when you’ve just woken up.

MELISSA: (Annoyed, though mostly at being awake.) I talked to her a few days ago.

ANA: (Insistent.) But not this weekend?

MELISSA: No. (Sensing something is wrong.) But I’ve been busy. Sort of. What’s up?

ANA: (Uneasy.) Well, there’s an old . . . family friend in Seattle this week. I’m concerned she might be tempted to do something . . . rash.

MELISSA: Someone I know?

ANA: I don’t think so. (Sighs.) If you’ll meet me for lunch I’ll tell you the story.


[SCENE II. The Jaded Old Crone. ANA and MELISSA are drinking coffee. ANA is respectable, businesslike; MELISSA has not made much of an effort to look remotely presentable. Her hair is a mess and she still looks half asleep.]

ANA: Really, Melissa, you could have at least tried.

MELISSA: I thought about it.

ANA: And decided your mother wasn’t worth the effort?

MELISSA: Apparently. (Stirs her coffee absently.) So, you said you had a story for me.

ANA: Right. Do you remember when you were, oh, six or seven, and your father took you along on a business trip?

(Cue wavy flashback lines. A six-year-old MELISSA, stick-thin and with glorious curly hair, and a younger DIMITRI are boarding a private jet and waving goodbye. MELINA, dressed and looking identical to her sister, looks dour from the sidelines. A younger ANA is waving a fond farewell while trying to console the other twin. MELISSA and ANA talk in voiceover.)

MELISSA: I remember Lina wouldn’t talk to me for a week after we got back. Also I remember being very bored.

ANA: Well, while you were gone, I wanted to prepare a surprise for your father, for when he got back.

(The Xenakis family house. ANA is entertaining a charming young SAILOR while young MELINA plays with toy cars.)

ANA: A young man who said he knew your father told me that he was planning an expedition that week.

(Later in the evening, the SAILOR is still there, plying ANA with wine. She is laughing as he talks and pours, clearly taken with him. A tired MELINA stands in the doorway, a small child asking for something before bed.)

MELISSA: And let me guess, he convinced you that the best gift for Dad was to give him all your money.

ANA: I’m not proud. But his enthusiasm was infectious, and he said that they were going to document a legendary sea creature, the Lorelei! I was giving your father the gift of discovery.

MELISSA: (Skeptical.) Right. So, what happened?

(A boat leaving the Portland Harbor with the SAILOR on board, along with a crew of one or two others. ANA is waving from the docks, with MELINA at her side. The boat is pretty rickety-looking.)

ANA: He took my investment, and the expedition set sail.

(A boat dashed upon the rocks and foundering.)

ANA: He sent a letter. The boat sank, the expedition was lost. He would find a way to repay me for believing in them. But I smelled a rat. He claimed to have caught a glimpse of the Lorelei, and was foolish enough to give me a location. I took your father’s boat and explored it myself.

(ANA driving a boat, MELINA with her in the front.)

ANA: I found a store mannequin dressed with golden hair set up on a large rock. I think he was going to send me blurry photographs, in the hopes that I would help fund another expedition. But when I tried to confront him about this, he was gone.

(We return to the present. MELISSA is now working on some sort of omelette. ANA has a stack of pancakes.)

MELISSA: And you didn’t tell Dad about this?

ANA: Oh, I told him. He took it reasonably well. But, well, we visited Melina in Seattle a month or so back–

MELISSA: Thanks for telling me about that, by the way.

ANA: –and I think your father might have brought it up with her. And you know how they get.

MELISSA: So you think Melina tracked this guy down, found out he was going to be in Seattle, and is going to try to get some sort of revenge?

ANA: I’m worried she might.

MELISSA: You don’t think she might have mentioned something about this to her twin sister, to whom she tells everything?

ANA: Maybe you’re right.

MELISSA: I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.


[SCENE III. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. SARAH is on the computer as MELISSA returns home.]

SARAH: Melissa! You look terrible.

MELISSA: Too tired to tell you to shut up, so if you could just tell yourself that would be great.

SARAH: You left your weird IM thing open. Who’s ‘cyclicproblems’?

MELISSA: That’s Lina.

SARAH: She really wanted to get a hold of you. (Opens the chat transcript.) ‘Hey Lissa.’ ‘Lissa.’ ‘You suck, Lissa.’ ‘Also, your phone is off.’ ‘Need to talk to you, like, now.’ ‘Too late, nevermind.’ Then she logged off.

MELISSA: Well, that can’t be good. (She takes out her cell phone, turns it on, and tries to call. After an impatient while:) Lina, call me, now. (She hangs up.)

SARAH: Something wrong?

MELISSA: I think my sister is about to embark on a misguided revenge quest against some con artist that apparently bilked my mom forever ago. (Beat.) Do people still say ‘bilk’?

SARAH: Probably not. (Beat.) So when you say “misguided” . . . .

MELISSA: I mean she’s not inviting me along, yes.

SARAH: Well, it looks like she tried, but you were busy.

MELISSA: She probably just wanted to tell me about some new beer she discovered. (Sighs.) Hurry home, Lina.




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