Episode 1: The Xenakis Family Fortune

[SCENE I. The Xenakis family home. DIMITRI, ANA, and MELISSA have apparently recently finished having dinner.]

ANA: Coffee for anyone?

MELISSA: Sure, why not?

DIMITRI: None for me, please. I think I’m going to turn in early.

ANA: Suit yourself, dear.

(MELISSA and ANA settle into the living room while DIMITRI makes his way upstairs. MELISSA pulls out her phone and almost immediately scowls at it.)

ANA: Something the matter?

MELISSA: My phone died again. Mind if I use the computer? I need to send an email.

ANA: Of course.

(MELISSA settles down at an old-looking computer. A spreadsheet is open, with the title ‘ASSETS.’ MELISSA frowns at it.)

MELISSA: What’s this?

ANA: (Sounding vaguely nervous.) Oh, it’s nothing. Your father was just doing some bookkeeping.

MELISSA: I see. (She emails herself a copy, then types up a quick email and sends it off.) I should probably be going, actually. There’s a big story I’m working on for the Examiner and–

ANA: You don’t need to make excuses for me, Melissa. You’re a young woman, and have far better things to do than spend time with an old woman.

MELISSA: Ah, yes. That must be why I come over for dinner so often.

ANA: You come for the free food. (She rises and kisses her daughter on the cheek.) I tease, of course. I know you love me and are very busy with your important newspaper job.

MELISSA: I don’t know about “important.”

ANA: You can’t stop me pretending.

MELISSA: Very well. (She makes for the door.) I’ll see you sooner or later.

ANA: Good night, Melissa.

MELISSA: G’night. (She departs, gets in her car, and drives off.)


[SCENE II. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. MELINA is reading on the couch when MELISSA comes home, sits down at the computer, and reads the email she sent herself.]

LINA: How was dinner?

MELISSA: Did you know that we’re rich?

LINA: You do remember that our father owns a yacht, right?

MELISSA: No, I mean, like, “we own a private island” rich. Check this out.

LINA: (Reluctantly rises to look at the computer.) Look, I’m just saying–oh.


LINA: You weren’t kidding about the owning an island thing.

MELISSA: I never kid. My resolution for 2013 is to be one hundred percent serious all the time. Gone are the frivolous days of my youth. I’m a respectable adult now.

LINA: Uh-huh.

MELISSA: And a serious journalist.

LINA: Right.

MELISSA: I demand to be taken seriously.

LINA: I think I could probably take you seriously on Tuesdays if you like.

MELISSA: Good enough. (She plugs her phone into the computer and sits down on the couch.) So, we own an island.

LINA: Yeah, that’s weird.

MELISSA: Should we, like, ask Dad about it, or–

LINA: Why would we do that?

MELISSA: Right, sorry, I don’t know why I thought that would be a good idea.

LINA: That’s why they made two of us.

MELISSA: Time to do some island research, I suppose.


[SCENE III. The Jaded Old Crone. SOPHIE is waiting for lunch with GAVIN.]

SOPHIE: I can’t help but notice that you have not reported on the activities of Melissa Xenakis in quite some time.

GAVIN: There’s not much to report. Melissa is the same unstoppable force she always has been.

SOPHIE: Xenakis may be many things, Gavin Roderick, but uninteresting is not one of them. Now spill.

GAVIN: Well, she mentioned something about her family owning an island last night.

SOPHIE: God, what a bitch. Just because your family isn’t obscenely wealthy–

GAVIN: I think she was just surprised that her father never mentioned it before?

SOPHIE: So rich they don’t even remember all the islands they own.

GAVIN: . . . right. Anyway, I did some digging. Turns out it’s actually quite close to here. Desolation Island, it’s called.

SOPHIE: I bet the name is like Iceland. To keep people from visiting.

GAVIN: I guess it’s supposed to be haunted, but no doubt–

SOPHIE: More stories. All right, you’ve convinced me.

GAVIN: Convinced you . . . what?

SOPHIE: We’re going to visit Desolation Island.

GAVIN: I–why?

SOPHIE: You never know what you might learn. I–oh, look, food.

(The WAITER arrives with their lunch; food is distributed, and the topic, for the moment, forgotten.)


[SCENE IV. The secret Xenakis family dock, in which Regret is housed. MELISSA, SARAH, and MELINA stand on the shore admiring the yacht.]

MELISSA: Christ, I forgot how goddamn cold it is in the winter.

SARAH: I like it. It’s brisk.

MELISSA: You like everything. It’s like a disease.

SARAH: Just because you’re unable to experience joy is no reason to be nasty to those of us who can.

MELISSA: Misery is the river of the world, Sarah.

SARAH: Anyway, it’s for a good cause.

LINA: Is it? I thought it was a combination of boredom and curiosity.

MELISSA: And a fair bit of familial infighting.

SARAH: Exploration is a good cause.

LINA: Eh, fair enough. (Long pause.) Anyway, shall we?

(They board the Regret and sail out into the shapeless grey of a Portland winter’s day.)

SARAH: So, did you learn anything good about the island?

MELISSA: It’s supposed to be haunted, and before you get excited, probably not by ghosts. Shipwrecks, et cetera.

LINA: Dad’s probably built some nasty “looks like an accident” defenses or something.

SARAH: Oh dear. I don’t think I want to look like an accident.

MELISSA: It looks like the setting of one of those psychological thrillers that takes place on an island that has a prison or an asylum on it or something.

SARAH: Or an orphanage.

MELISSA: . . . sure. Anyway, we should try to be as genre-aware as possible. Those movies only happen because the characters in them are really, really stupid. Thrillers are an entirely preventable tragedy.

LINA: You don’t need to tell me twice.

SARAH: I’d hate to think that my actions caused someone to watch a bunch of swooping dramatic shots, extreme close-ups, and jittery camera-work.

LINA: The beautiful wide-angle shot of the island is probably okay, though. Even if it is accompanied by moody music and desaturated to make it look ominous.

(MELISSA sighs and sails on. We are treated to a beautiful desaturated wide-angle shot of the island–ominous, rocky, shrouded in fog–accompanied by moody music. TBC.)


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