Episode 25: An Unexamined Life

[SCENE I. The offices of the Portland Examiner. SOPHIE is in her office, talking to ERIC with some apparent enthusiasm. He is barely listening.]

SOPHIE: So, basically I get to exact petty vengeance on the bitch who ruined Jean-Paul’s career–

ERIC: Isn’t he more popular than ever?

SOPHIE: –his career at the Examiner, I was about to say, and, uh. Exact vengeance and take over as editor-in-chief. Two birds, one stone!

ERIC: You’re using an untrustworthy stone. And that stone is also one of the birds you’re hoping to kill. I’m not even sure how you’re expecting a bird-stone to kill itself using itself as a weapon.

SOPHIE: You’re not being very supportive, Eric.

ERIC: I just don’t think this is going to work out.

SOPHIE: You’ll see.

 

[SCENE II. CHARLOTTE’s hotel room. She is editing an audio cassette, while talking on the cell phone.]

CHARLOTTE: Sorry, I’m kind of busy tonight.

NICK: Tomorrow, maybe?

CHARLOTTE: Sure, I can do tomorrow evening. Busy during the day.

NICK: Looking for work still?

CHARLOTTE: Yeah, something like that. I’ll see you then, okay?

NICK: All right. See you.

(She hangs up, and gets back to work.)

 

[SCENE III. The board room of the Portland Examiner. CHARLOTTE enters, scrutinized by the BOARD OF DIRECTORS.]

CHARLOTTE: Thank you for seeing me on such short notice. I have something you should hear.

CHAIRMAN: If this is an audition tape or something–

CHARLOTTE: No, no. I’ve managed to expose a plot to seize control of the board.

CHAIRMAN: Very well. Wait outside while we examine this and determine our best course of action.

(CHARLOTTE steps outside and sits in the waiting room, reading a book. A great deal of time passes before the CHAIRMAN appears.)

CHAIRMAN: How did you find this tape?

CHARLOTTE: I happened to overhear her bragging about her plan to one of her associates, so I set up a bug in her office. I had no idea–

CHAIRMAN: This is serious. And moreover, if what she says is true, there’s no way to stop her. Not without–

BOARD MEMBER: You can’t seriously be considering that!

CHAIRMAN: We have no choice.

BOARD MEMBER: Surely there must be something we can do.

CHAIRMAN: We’re out of options. (To CHARLOTTE.) What was your name, miss?

CHARLOTTE: Charlotte Corday.

CHAIRMAN: And do you have a business card? We’ll need to contact you in the future. For now we must discuss the future.

(CHARLOTTE nods and departs, then calls SOPHIE on her cell phone.)

CHARLOTTE: It’s done. The board is about to self-destruct.

SOPHIE: Excellent. And to think I doubted you.

CHARLOTTE: I get the job done, Sophie. You’d just better come through with your end of the bargain.

SOPHIE: Oh, I will, I promise. (She hangs up.)

(CHARLOTTE, smiling triumphantly, leaves the building and drives off.)

 

[SCENE IV. The Jaded Old Crone. NICHOLAS and CHARLOTTE are having dinner.]

NICK: So, I ran into Sophie today.

CHARLOTTE: Oh?

NICK: She says you’re doing some work for her.

CHARLOTTE: And she can go on believing that as long as she’d like.

NICK: Look, what you do is your own business, but you have to see that she’s not trustworthy.

CHARLOTTE: I think you’ll like what I have planned.

NICK: Are you sure she’s not tricking you?

CHARLOTTE: Positive.

 

[SCENE V. SOPHIE’s house. She is celebrating with ERIC, though he is not so much celebrating as taking advantage of the free drinks she has to offer.]

SOPHIE: So, what’s the best way to betray her? Should I let her down up front, or give her a job for a few weeks then fire her later on? Oh, or I could just make it a hostile workplace and torture her until she quits on her own. That way she won’t even know it was betrayal!

ERIC: So, what’s your plan to seize control once, you know, control is open for seizing?

SOPHIE: Well, once they’ve all abdicated, which I’m sure Charlotte has forced them to do, there’s a window when anyone can invest and take over. I’ve been saving money since I started writing here for this eventuality.

ERIC: That’s . . . remarkably foresighted of you. And you’re sure that will work?

SOPHIE: Well, the only way around it is if, instead of abdicating, they all transfer their shares to a single person. I can’t imagine why they’d do that, though!

ERIC: Yes, how silly it would be, making sure they could control the future of the company they owned.

SOPHIE: Exactly! So I even set up a little script, so as soon as it happens I’ll seize control. I won’t even need to be awake!

ERIC: That’s . . . probably for the best, I suppose.

 

[SCENE VI. The offices of the Portland Examiner, the next morning. MICHAEL has assembled the staff in order to make a big announcement. CHARLOTTE is lurking in the corner.]

MICHAEL: Is everyone here? Where’s Sophie?

(SOPHIE enters, looking hungover but smug. ERIC rolls his eyes.)

MICHAEL: Ah, good morning, Sophie. I’ve, uh, assembled all the staff here, because, well, there’s going to be a change of management around here.

SOPHIE: (Insufferably smug.) Yes, I think I heard about that.

MICHAEL: Oh, did you? You always were on top of things around here. Um. (Clears his throat.) The Board of Directors has abruptly decided to resign. In their wake, they have decided to appoint a new person as the sole owner of the Portland Examiner Company.

SOPHIE: I can take it from here, Michael.

MICHAEL: Oh, you know Charlotte?

SOPHIE: Of course I–wait, what does Charlotte have to do with anything?

MICHAEL: Well, the board voted unanimously to pass control of the company to her.

SOPHIE: What.

MICHAEL: Charlotte, did you have anything to say?

CHARLOTTE: Well, I have no interest in changing the staff around. You’ll all get to keep your jobs, and I’d like to work with you on making the Examiner run far more efficiently, and keep up with the times.

MICHAEL: Would that be, uh, the Seattle Times?

CHARLOTTE: No, no. The times, as in the zeitgeist.

MICHAEL: I’m not familiar with them, Miss Corday.

CHARLOTTE: Oh, one change I’m going to be making right away. Swanson, you’re fired. I want your desk cleared out by three o’clock.

(An applause threatens to break out, but dies out as the assembled staff realize SOPHIE is still here.)

SOPHIE: This won’t be the last you hear from me, Corday. Next time you find your head in a guillotine it’ll be real.

ERIC: (Aside to SOPHIE.) Maybe you should stick to manageable threats?

SOPHIE: Oh, fine. Next time I see you I will probably give you a dirty look and try to say something witty and scathing! (She storms out.)

CHARLOTTE: Now that that’s taken care of. The Examiner is a good paper. I mean to make it into a great one, with your help.

(The applause doesn’t die down this time, and CHARLOTTE offers a small, triumphant smile before retiring.)

(Fin.)

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