David Mamet joins a silicon valley startup and writes:
Sunil Maulik ©2003
The remnants of a dot-com startup. Desks, workstations, and office-chairs remain, but no computers are in sight. A bunch of computer-boxes are stacked in one corner. Printouts litter the floor. A whiteboard, with a large but unfinished Gantt chart, full of names and schedules that have been partially crossed-out, hangs forlornly in the background. Two men are in the foreground. One, Joe, is a young twenty-something MBA-type in dark tee-shirt, grey slacks, and a black jacket. He sits on one of the revolving chairs and fidgets nervously. Figgis, the other person visible, is in his late forties, with silver hair, slicked back, wearing an expensive suit. He leans against a desk, slightly above Joe. Beside him is a large briefcase.
Joe: I have it. I have the drive.
Figgis: You have the drive.
Joe: Yes, I have it.
Figgis: You say you have the drive? You tell me you have the drive? You sit here, now, (glancing at watch) at seven o’clock on a Saturday night, and you say you have the drive?
Joe: I have the drive, Figgis. It’s in a safe place.
Figgis: So you have the drive. We’ll that’s just great. It’s taken you three months to get the fucking drive! Did you at least put it somewhere safe? Did you put the fucking drive somewhere safe!
Joe: It’s safe.
Figgis: You say it’s safe. Can I trust you? Tell me Joe, Joe, if that’s even what your name is, can I trust you? When you tell me it’s safe, how do I know that it really is safe?
Joe: Look, it’s safe. You just have to trust me. Do you want to it, or do you just want to spend all night discussing whether it’s safe?
Figgis: Do you know what’s on it?
Joe: What’s on it? What’s on the drive? Of course I know what’s on the drive. Do you think I would have gone to so much trouble, and even put my wife in danger, if I didn’t know what was on the drive?
Figgis: Your wife! Your wife is involved in this? You brought your wife into this deal? This deal was supposed to be between us! You and me! You and me, Joe. That was the deal. That was the way Silverman said it was supposed to be. Silverman promised me, Joe. You and me, Joe, just you and me.
Joe: Yeah, well Silverman don’t know shit. I don’t take my orders from Silverman. I did the job the way I felt was right. And that meant using my wife. It was my decision, Figgis, to get my wife involved. I made that decision. She’s my wife, and I trust her completely. She’s my wife.
Figgis: You say she’s your wife. Your wife, you say. You say you can trust her completely. But who can I trust Joe, you tell me. Who can I trust? Joe, if that’s even what your name is, now I have to trust you and your wife, another variable, one more parameter, Joe. Initial boundary conditions in a complex formula that I now have to solve, that I have to decipher, the equations made even more complex, that’s what I have to contend with. Do you see my dilemma Joe, do you see why knowing that your wife, your wife Joe, is involved, requires me to change the formula? Do you see that now I have to start again, recalculate, Joe, and determine the most likely outcome? Do you see that the introduction of this new variable changes the entire system? The entire godamm system! The system’s been changed Joe, the boundary conditions, the entire metastable state could shift, and now I have to go back and recalculate. Do you get me?
Joe: She’s my wife, Figgis. I trust her. I have to trust her. Besides, she works at Pink Martini. She was the only one who could access the database without anyone suspecting. It was her Figgis, dammit! How do you think I was able to get the drive without being detected? I got the drive, Figgis , OK? Why do you care how I got it? It’s foolproof this way! She works at the company Figgis! No one will know! Their entire goddam’ inventory. We have it Figgis, we have it on drive! The entire inventory! It’s a gold-mine, it could mean a billion dollars to this company! A billion dollars Figgis! Look at Amazon! Look at eBay! I told you I could get it! Just like I told Silverman. Silverman thought we were gone man, he thought we were history! It was Silverman who refused to fund us any longer, Figgis, Silverman who pulled the plug! And now we’re golden! This is the resurgence of the business, the resurgence of the company! And all it’s going to cost you is a measly half-a-million! Half-a-million, Figgis, for a 60% stake in a company that could be the next Amazon! The next eBay!
Figgis: So you have the drive. You have the drive, and the drive is safe. Well, if you have the drive, I have the money. Now, where’s your wife, Joe?
Joe: I said she’ll be here.
Figgis: You said that. I know Joe. You said she’d be here at seven. It’s seven-fifteen Joe, but you still say she’ll be here. Your wife. Your wife Joe, who you say you trust completely.
Joe: She’ll be here. I trust her.
A third person walks into the office. She is in her late twenties, attractive, and speaks all of her lines in a flat monotone. Her character shows no emotion throughout the remainder of the scene.
Joe: Here’s Rebecca!
Rebecca: Hello boys. Been waitin’ long?
Figgis: The wife? The wife! Joe, your wife is here! A pleasure, Ma’am. Call me Figgis.
Rebecca: Hello Figgis. I’m Rebecca.
Figgis: So, Rebecca, the wife. It’s a pleasure to meet you Rebecca. Joe here’s been telling me a lot about you. A lot. Seems you’re quite the dame, Rebecca, quite the dame.
Rebecca: Thanks. How are you, Joe? (kisses Joe on the forehead, then stands beside him.)
Joe: (Not looking at her, but straight across at Figgis.) Fine. Figgis here didn’t think you were going to show up.
Rebecca: Sorry to keep you waiting Figgis. I hear you’re a busy man. I guess you have a lot on your mind. What with all the companies you have, I mean. You must have a lot on your mind. Only, it’s not a good time for the business, is it Figgis? The business is looking pretty bad these days. Not just your business, Figgis, but all of them. All of them are looking pretty bad, I mean. The Internet. They said it would change everything. They said it would rewrite the book. But not us, huh Figgis? Not us. No, we’ve been left struggling, haven’t we? All of us. All of us left struggling. Struggling, aren’t we Joe?
Joe: All except for Pink Martini.
Rebecca: Yes, that’s right, Joe, all except for Pink Martini. Everyone wants to know their secret. Isn’t that right Figgis? Everyone wants to know why Pink Martini succeeded when all the others failed.
Joe: It’s their inventory! That’s why they’re so successful! That’s why the drive is a goldmine.
Figgis: That’s right. The drive. I’d like the drive. That’s all I’m asking for. Is that too much too ask?
Joe: A half-million. That was the deal. That’s what I told Silverman. A half-million. Do you have it, Figgis?
Figgis: Ah, yes, the money. Do I have the money? Don’t worry, it’s all here. (Tapping briefcase.) Everything is in here.
(He opens the briefcase, with the lid facing Joe, and takes out…a gun.)
Figgis: I’m sorry Joe. It was the parameters you see. I couldn’t afford the risk. I couldn’t afford the exposure. Too many parameters, Joe. It just didn’t compute. Did not compute.
Joe: But Figgis, you’re crazy, you’ll never get the drive now! We’ll never tell you where it is!
Rebecca: (Walking over to Figgis.) Well Joe, actually, he will. Sorry hon’. (She puts her arm on Figgis’ shoulder.) See Joe, I couldn’t take the chance either. Not with my career. Not with putting my career in danger for you. For you, Joe.
Figgis: I’m sorry Joe. I’m sorry. Really, I am. I’m sorry, but Silverman would want it this way. You see, this way Joe, we get the drive, and we keep the money. It’s perfect Joe, even you have to admit that.
Joe: It’s perfect. I see that. It’s perfect. Perfect for you. For both of you. Perfect.
With Profuse Apologies to David Mamet…