and excavated by
Tang Lee Wai
All rights reserved and strictly copyright.
EUPHORIA FRAGMENT ONE
Harry Lee, the Chief Executive Officer who is also Marketing Vice President
Claudio Petrus, Finance Vice President
"Big Mac" McClain, Vice President of Production
Jubilation T Cornpone, Security and Covert Operations
The Leading Ladies
Professor Helena Hart, Professor of Law, consultant and prostitute
Doctor Lara Lomonosova, Russian Minister of Health, advocate and medium
Tretyakov, Lysenko and Rostov
Receptionist in the brothel for men
Receptionist in the brothel for women
Sara and Agnes, prostitutes
Orloff, a management search consultant
Grigoriev, candidate for the Odessa CEO job
Sonia and Alex, interpreters
Gunpersons 2 and 3
Hercules C J, Judge at the International Court of Justice.
EUPHORIA FRAGENT ONE
Overture before curtain rises: "Senses Working Overtime" by XTC.
Scene 1: A brothel's garish reception lobby with a bored receptionist.
Enter Lee, McClain and Petrus.
RECEPTIONIST (glancing past the side of the hand held mirror she's been combing her hair by)
Good evening, gentlemen, have you been here before?
McCLAIN: No, not me.
PETRUS: Nor me, it's all down to this guy (pointing to Lee)
LEE: But I'm also new. I saw your advertisement last week when I was surfing the Internet. I thought, "Hey that's cool, a whorehouse on the world wide web." When I saw you were in this very city, I knew I'd have to give you a try. And now my friends and I have finished our work, and I'm treating them to your best specials. If you're as good as the ad, I'm sure we'll have a night to remember.
RECEPTIONIST: Yes that's us all right, the whorehouse on the world wide web. How does it go on that ad? I haven't seen it yet.
PETRUS: It shows a photo of three girls in white shiny lingerie, and says
Join us here in Heaven.
Pass our pearly gates.
From noon until eleven
And underneath is a logo of a sort of cherub angel thing like on an old cathedral wall, and it's holding a banner with your street address on it. And you really are called Heaven. I'm surprised there's not a law against that.
RECEPTIONIST: Oh, there probably is. There's laws against most things these days, but we've got the best police money can buy round here. And sometimes we do things for the cops as a token of friendship, you might say, like special closed evenings just for them, on the house as you might say.
McCLAIN: We're looking forward to hearing just what it is you might say you'll do for us.
RECEPTIONIST: Well I'm sure you'll be pleased with our service. It's $50 for 15 minutes, $75 for half an hour and $125 for an hour. That's full sex with a condom, but there's no reduction if you only have relief, massage, or just a nice chat.
PETRUS: How much if I want two girls for an hour?
RECEPTIONIST: Normally $250, but it's not available now due to technical problems.
PETRUS: What d'you mean 'technical problems'? Aren't the rooms big enough for 3 people to squeeze in?
RECEPTIONIST: I'm sure you'll find the rooms are fine. It's just that if one of you wants two at a time, one of you will have to go without, as we've only 3 girls on tonight .
PETRUS: Oh, so when you said technical you meant arithmetical, that's OK, that's OK. When do the next girls come on shift then?
RECEPTIONIST: Tomorrow, I'm afraid. It's not a busy period midweek so three's usually more than enough. Shall I ask the girls to come through now?
McCLAIN: Yes, please, but one at a time, not all at once.
LEE: Why not all at once, Mac?
McCLAIN: Cos' of the "resource allocation" problem. I mean if all 3 come in at once, it'll be them choosing us and not the other way round; and, after all, we're paying.
LEE: Them choosing us? I don't follow you there, but never mind, let's get started. You guys all want an hour? Are you sure you're going to last that long?
McCLAIN: I'll see what they're like first. What I've heard so far is not exactly ecstasy beyond imagination. On the contrary, it's about as exciting as a glass of Coke - make that a glass of flat Coke.
PETRUS: I won't be so fussy. I don't even need to see what they're like. I'm so horny I could fuck a horse.
McCLAIN: You may have to be satisfied with a dog, my friend, or maybe a cash cow. Anyways, sounds to me like you just put yourself back to the end of the line. That means you won't mind having third choice, OK?
LEE: And I'll have first choice cos I'm paying.
McCLAIN: That's that then. Can we see the girlies now, Miss?
RECEPTIONIST: Yes of course. By the way, this is the first time we've had a board meeting in our lobby.
PETRUS: What a sharp sense of humour. Do you also perform 'services'?
RECEPTIONIST: Yes. I can book you a taxi later, and I can brew coffee that's mellow and full bodied and not like the cabbage stew you get some places. No sexual services I'm afraid. You couldn't pay me enough for that.
PETRUS: You wanna bet?
RECEPTIONIST: Sure. Meantime, your friends are looking fed up and impatient, so I'll ask the girls in. (Picks up a house phone and buzzes) Hi. I've got 3 clients here but they want to see you one at a time.... I know it's not Miss flaming World, but what else have you got to do? (Puts phone down) They're coming in now. (Enter left a white blond in a black slip)
HELENA: Hello gents, my name's Hazel.
LEE: Hi Hazel, I'm Harry, and this is -
LEE: Archie, and this handsome chap is Claude.
PETRUS: Claudio really. Pleased to meet you, Hazel. Have you any particular speciality?
HELENA: All the usual things. What do you like, Claudio?
PETRUS: All the usual things;- a good massage, a wide eyed look and a slow slow build up to a climax. No false orgasmic moans, no looking at your watch every few minutes, and no turning your head to one side when I want to kiss you in the mouth. Cappuccino after we've done, and something soft like The Carpenters on the music system - no rap crap or local radio and definitely not the Four Seasons;- Vivaldi's or the old doo-wop group. And never ever ever tell me about other men, whether they be clients, boyfriends or your only begotten blessed blue eyed brat. (Pause) Why all that? Why so picky? Because when I patronise one of these latter day temples of Aphrodite, I like to be made to feel like a king, that's why.
HELENA (laughingly): I see. Well I'm clean out of crowns tonight, not much call for them usually. But I can say that you certainly won't feel like a queen!
McCLAIN: I should sure hope not. Can you do "round the world", Hazel?
HELENA: I dare say I could, if I knew what it was.
McCLAIN: Maybe I'll show you. Don't look so worried. It's nothing weird-
LEE: -But it does require some agility.
HELENA: Then I think Sara would suit you better. She used to be a gymnast or aerobics instructor or something like that. I'll send her in next. See you.
(Exit Helena right, enter Sara, who is black in a white negligee, left about 5 seconds later)
SARA: Hi, big spenders, I'm Sara and you are?
LEE: Harry me, Archie him and Claude that one.
McCLAIN (clearly keen): Can you do round the world, missie?
SARA: Sure can, mister. You like it fast or slow, firm or squishy? Been ages since I did that. It'd be nice to do it again - good exercise for me and all round coverage for you. You'll feel like the stick in the middle of a candy floss making machine by the time I get through spinnin' around. And all you got to do is stay up and stay in.
McCLAIN: Great, you're my kind of professional person. I just love round the world, you guys. It's like being the horse in a rodeo show and being the rider all in one. You gotta buck and bounce but you gotta keep the rider on, not throw her off. Yahoo! We're in business I reckon. Where are you from Sara?
SARA: Braaa-azil originally. My family came here when I was three.
McCLAIN: So you've never been in the Rio carnival ?
SARA: I'm waiting for some nice sugar daddy to take me there. Have you been in the carnival, mister?
McCLAIN: No, but I have watched it from an apartment on the main drag. Magic.
SARA: You have some luck, you, and now you can have me to remind you of that old black magic. Any more questions, anyone?
RECEPTIONIST: No, off you go, Sara.
(Exit Sara right twirling and twisting. Enter Agnes, who is Chinese and wears a shimmering mini cheongsam, left)
AGNES: Hello, everyone, I'm Agnes from Ayer Hitam, Malaysia here on a working holiday. I was listening outside just now, and I can't do round the world at the moment as I've got a bad knee.
LEE: Didn't you used to work in The Red Lantern in Geylang in Singapore a few years ago? You look sorta familiar. Lot of girls from across the causeway worked in Geylang then, but I rarely forget a face, and I seem to remember yours.
AGNES: Sorry lah! Never worked in Geylang. In Singapore I was a bank clerk. So boring. I started doing this as a telephone call out service, but I never work the clubs in Asia. Too dangerous lah.
PETRUS: Why are you working here now then? Are European clubs any different really?
AGNES: Yes they are much better. Meet classy gentlemen like you. Maybe you buy me out, set me up in a nice apartment as your concubine. I massage you real good - make you feel better than king, make you feel like emperor!
PETRUS: That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me all night. See you soon, Agnes. (Exit Agnes)
RECEPTIONIST: Well that was nice and brisk. Who's whose then?
LEE: Well I think that Agnes was lying. I'm sure she used to work Geylang. I remember that slightly scornful smile. And I don't want to have round the world, so I pick Hazel.
McCLAIN: Fine. I do want to have round the world. I've been promising it myself for over a year just as soon as we finished the project. And now we have. So I'll have sassy Sara.
PETRUS: Well, I think it's gonna work out fine, in the words of the popular song. Agnes will suit me very well. Hurry up, Harry, pay up.
LEE: (to RECEPTIONIST) American Express?
RECEPTIONIST: Sure. It'll show on the statement as Sous La Lune restaurant so your wife and secretary won't ever know you were here.
(Aside to audience) And just who chose whom just now? Men, hah! So much easier to manipulate than my laptop computer; yeah, much more transparent than windows.
Scene 2 The massage room with Lee and Helena.
(Lee is lying on a red covered king size bed, naked. Hazel is astride him, facing him with her hands lightly massaging his ears)
HELENA: What a big love explosion that was, your Royal Majesty. My little petrol tank is overflowing, God save the King-
LEE: OK, OK, don't overdo it. Your little petrol tank has been practising safe sex, so the only thing overflowing is this full rubber jacket wrapped around my sex pistol. Take it off please. It's already starting to drip. (She reaches down and wraps the condom in tissue, then throws it into a nearby waste basket) Good. Now poke your fingers gently but firmly in my ears please.
HELENA: (does so) Shall I sing you a lullaby as well, sir?
LEE: What? I can't hear you.
HELENA: (presses harder with her fingers) That's because I've got my fingers in your waxy poxy little earholes, you puny little creep. (takes her fingers out and strokes his hair) I said shall I sing you a lullaby to send you to sleep. A lot of men like to sleep after they've come - only till time's up of course.
LEE: Well I like to relax but I also like to take in all that's going on. So no sleep. But a lullaby would be nice. Can you really sing one?
HELENA: I don't know. Is "Blowing In The Wind" a lullaby? My mom used to sing it to me at night.
LEE: Ah, the Hugh Grant signature tune, blowing in the wind. I know that one.(singing)
How many roads must a young man cross
Before you can call him a man?
How many years must some people exist
Before they can play in the sand?
HELENA: I don't think those words are quite right somehow, but you've a very nice singing voice. I suppose you like karaoke.
LEE: Sure do. I suppose you wouldn't have a machine here? Don't say it, not much call for them in a whorehouse, even the whorehouse on the world wide web.
HELENA: This is not called Heaven for nothing you know. I'll get the machine sent in right away. (Picks up the phone) Hello, June, can you bring the karaoke machine and two mikes. I dunno. I'll ask him. (to Lee) You prefer 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s?
LEE: I'm sick of the 60s and I don't know much of the 80s. Let's do the 70s.
HELENA: Why not the 50s? Nobody ever wants the 50s.
LEE: I'm too young for that. So are you. So's your mom probably.
HELENA: Oh go on. Let's do the 50s. It'll be like a musical adventure. Bound to be something you know on it. (into phone) 50s please June, and some coffee. Thanks. Bye. (Replaces receiver).
LEE: Karaoke in a whorehouse, brilliant.
HELENA: No big deal. There's plenty of whores in a karaoke bar after all. Or so they tell me. Personally I've never seen the point in going out to hear yourself sing. Why not just record yourself in the shower?
LEE: There's no backing track in the shower. And there's no prompt for the words. Anyway in the shower the pitter patter of the water on the mat would completely spoil the recording. With karaoke you can kid yourself you're a professional singer. You can't do that in your shower.
HELENA: I see you've given this matter a lot of thought. And I don't like to argue with the customer.
LEE: I'm a client, not a customer, since you're selling services not goods.
HELENA: Is that the difference? Well you live and learn something new every day. (Knock on the door. Enter RECEPTIONIST with a karaoke machine on a trolley. While she is in the room, she is installing the machine under the TV already in the room.)
RECEPTIONIST: Shall I plug it in, if you'll pardon the expression?
LEE: Yes please. Can I look at the laser cover? (Gets up forgetting he's naked)
RECEPTIONIST: Oh, don't mind me. Don't worry about exposing yourself to me. I'm only the help. I'm not a human.
LEE: I'm sorry, Ms June isn't it, I forget my manners when I get carried away. (Wraps a nearby towel round his waist) Why should I assume you've got to be a hardened cynic to work in a place like this? It never occurred to me you'd be embarrassed by the sight of a naked man.
RECEPTIONIST: I accept your apology in the spirit you gave it. It's not I'm embarrassed, more a bit annoyed at being taken for granted. After all I'm a person too you know.
LEE: Hey that was a quote wasn't it? No, don't tell me. I know, I know. It was Shirley McClaine in that musical where she played a hooker with a heart of gold.
RECEPTIONIST: If you say so. I wasn't aware I was quoting anyone.
HELENA: I saw that one. It was on telly not long ago. It had a French name. Something like Nana La Douche.
LEE: Something like that. June, do you want to join us singing?
RECEPTIONIST: No thanks, I can't sing anyway. I'll leave you to it. (Exit)
HELENA: Well, what'll it be? I can do the Sinatras, the Perry Como and some of the Jo Staffords. How about you?
LEE: I'll try anything. Whole point of karaoke is to learn new songs. You can always turn up the vocal track on first hearing.
HELENA: I prefer to go straight in with songs I already know the tunes of, when I'm in company. How about "Love And Marriage"? Everybody knows that.
LEE: OK. Let's do it. Shall I be mother? (Points the remote control unit at the TV monitor). Wrong unit. (Points it at the karaoke machine instead). Right. Side 1 Track 3. Got it!
Here's your mike. You start. I'll join in at the first chorus. OK? (Helena nods and takes the mike)
Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
Dad was told by mother
You can't have one without the other.
LEE (joining in) Try try try to separate them
It's an illusion
Try, try, try, and you will only
Come to this conclusion.
Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage-
LEE: Why have they got a cart horse wandering miserably through some rainy street as the backdrop for this song? It's putting me off. This is supposed to be a happy song.
HELENA: I agree. It must be foreign. So many of these karaoke discs have really stupid visuals. My mum says when she was a girl there was a programme on telly which showed the words of some current hit by having a little ball bounce from syllable to syllable. Nobody had thought of videos then. It was much better, she reckons.
LEE: The golden age of reading, the 1950s. Now one CD can hold all of Shakespeare's work with plenty to spare, and do so with sounds, music, visuals and moving images all on the same disc. Soon you'll be able to experience the smell, touch and taste of the stabbing of Julius Caesar all off a minidisk with a virtual reality helmet.
HELENA: Soon you won't need real reality at all. Virtual reality will be so much nicer, so much more interesting. I'm looking forward to it.
LEE: Surely in your line of work, the client will always want the real feel of a real woman.
HELENA: Of course some hard core primitives are bound to insist on it, but they'll have to be very rich indeed to get it. The ordinary joe will be much happier screwing Miss World in virtual reality than screwing plain old me in ordinary reality, with a tire on as well. In about 20 or 30 years we'll be entirely automated. You'll come to the desk just like now. Select your time and pay for it, go into a cubicle, put your genitals in a velvety hole in the wall, choose your lady from the screen menu, put your helmet on your head and away you go. As you start to throb, the velvet tightens round your little joystick and as you come, the 1812 overture sounds in your ears and your ejaculation is wiped off automatically with towels and antibiotic and antiseptic cream is sprayed on, followed by a final wipe, and it's "Thank you sir. Do come again, and have a nice day."
LEE: Good Lord, where did all that come from?
HELENA: I may be a tart or bimbo to you, but my day job is, well, never mind what my day job is.
LEE: Look, you've started so you have to finish.
HELENA: That's about the only new ethical principle to come out of TV you know. I've started so I'll finish. The morality of the quiz show. They say knowledge has been turned into supermarket goods by computers, but before them quiz shows had already done a pretty good job of it. I've started so I'll finish! What vacuous crap that is. You can imagine Adolf Hitler being asked about killing the Jews as the tide of war turned against him in 1942 or 1943. "Mein Fuhrer, would it not be a good idea to put more resources into defeating the allies and less into transporting Jews all over Europe just to make candles and lamp shades? Fuck off, Speer, you snivelling schweinhund, says the Fuhrer, I hef started so must I finish." There! I think that deals with that!
LEE: Well I only asked.
HELENA: No, you're saying it wrong. My mum says it like this 'Well ah only ah-ahsked'. It was a really well known catch phrase in the fifties. I don't know why.
LEE: Ah, come on Hazel, tell me your day job. We've been intimate, after all. We've sung together even. Gimme a little peek at the real you.
HELENA: Well I don't know. Sex is just sex but information is, well, you know..
HELENA: No, that'd be silly. More, well, intimate really.
LEE: But isn't intimacy the very thing I've paid for?
HELENA: And that is what you got. If you want mental intimacy dial up the Internet.
LEE: Yes, so I will if they can ever cure the security problem. All this fuss over a job title. It's not as if I'm going to pester you at work, or boast to my friends about making love to the president of a software house or the Editor of Wired For Women In Windows or whatever. I'm just trying to be friendly.
HELENA: I do like your turn of phrase. Wired for women in windows. Sounds like an interesting combination of bondage and voyeurism. Now a man who can up with a phrase like that deserves encouragement. I'll tell you what. You tell me yours and I'll tell you mine.
LEE: Fine. Shall I just tell you or d'you want to guess?
HELENA: Decisions, decisions. I'll have 3 guesses then you tell me. And same for you.
LEE: OK. My first guess is that you work with computers.
HELENA: Doesn't everybody these days? Well maybe not. But yes I do work with computers. Now I think you work in advertising. as you talk much too smoothly for an accountant and dress too sharp for a professor, and the way you are in bed you're used to giving orders so I put you down as some sort of exec in sales or advertising.
LEE: Advertising no, sales yes; bit of both in a way as I'm the CEO and also vice president of marketing in my corporation. That's good. But can you guess the industry?
HELENA: Your turn first.
LEE: OK. Let's assume your work doesn't pay so well else why would you be whoring? So you're probably some kind of back office brainy nerdette.
HELENA: Nerdette? What is that? Does it stand for Bernadette?
LEE: I mean a female nerd, a techy.
HELENA: A techy? How tacky. No I'm not a nerdette, nor anything else whatsoever ending with E double T E. I'll give you a cluette. I don't work in a firm at all. Not even a firmette.
Right, now to you. Guess the industry. Could be anything. Give me a little clue, Mr CEO and Vice President.
LEE: OK. Let's think now. You seem to know all about songs. Do you know the early work of the Rolling Stones?
HELENA: Well, some of it.
LEE: Do you the one that goes "What a drag it is getting old"?
HELENA: No, come on now. There must be more to it than that.
LEE: How about "No more running for the shelter of-"
HELENA: "-Her mother's little helper". You make pills?
LEE: Yes I'm in the pharmaceuticals business. Well done.
HELENA: So you're the marketing director and CEO of a big drugs company?
LEE: Right. Now guess its nationality.
HELENA: Your turn first.
LEE: Well you're so brainy I'd say you might be some kind of professor.
HELENA: Good. Yes, I am some kind of professor. Professor of what though?
LEE: I dunno. Computer science. Literature. Philosophy. Can't be Law?
HELENA: And why not? Would it be unbecoming?
LEE: It IS law. What a strange juxtaposition. Hey whoa, I've never had my ears poked by a naked professor before. Never sung Sinatra with one either. Well I'm not going to ask what's a nice prof like you doing in a place like this. I'll just thank the Fates for my good fortune.
HELENA: Yes, never look a gift whore in the mouth. Fact is you're my first Vice President and CEO, my first Asian and my first karaoke duet. So we're both pleased to meet each other. Now to the quiz. Let's see, your corporation's nationality. If it was something obvious like American or Japanese you wouldn't have made a big deal of it. So it's something unlikely. But it can't be impossible like Kazakhstani. And if it was some newly emerging country you probably wouldn't be here. You're Chinese so maybe it's Singaporean or even mainland Chinese, and I never heard of a big drug company from those countries, nor from Hong Kong or Taiwan. The French and the Swiss have big drug groups but I can't see you three fitting in with their culture quite. I know - the second Hong Kong. Canada. You're Canadian.
LEE: Good. How did you get to that?
HELENA: Canada has a lot of Chinese now, and your two friends could easily be native. The one with the Scottish name definitely; very dour. The other one is first or second generation immigrant from somewhere like Italy or Greece.
LEE: Well I am impressed. So impressed in fact that I'm tempted to make you an offer.
HELENA: An offer I can't refuse, hopefully.
LEE: I don't know about that. You might be perfectly happy as you are. Anyway, we've just finished testing a new product that will certainly make us number one worldwide in the drugs biz. Trouble is that it is so revolutionary in its effects that it undermines the very basis of our whole perspective on things. And that has tricky legal consequences of a subtlety that seems beyond the big corporation lawyers to handle effectively. Their advice has been can it, drop it, forget it ever existed. They say it'll be like Pandora's Box and the first time we put it on the market, we'll drown in litigation. Interested?
HELENA: Yes I am. It sounds like part research, part consultancy and part magicianship - a rare juxtaposition. But what does this new pill of yours do exactly?
LEE: Well if we sign you up, you'll be bound by client confidentiality-
HELENA: My dear sir, I'm already bound by client confidentiality as a result of the professional relationship that already subsists between us.
LEE: As bound as Divine Brown was to Hugh Grant? That won't quite cut it.
HELENA: Oh how I love executive jargon! "Won't quite cut it". We'd better sharpen up our leading edge then, bring it upto speed, run it up the flagpole and take it on board, yah? And burn the midnight oil or we'll be dead in the water before we hit the ground running and have to kick ass to do the numbers by way of a ballpark guesstimate.
LEE: (laughing) Time for poetry later. Time now for the swearing of oaths. Do you solemnly promise not to reveal the nature of what I am about to tell you to a living soul?
HELENA: I do, unless it concerns the doing of violence to another human being. Does it?
LEE: It does not. OK. For my part I promise to keep confidential your identities, jobs and everything else I know or get to know about you-
HELENA: - as consideration for my hearing what your product does. OK so we have a binding contract, lacking only written confirmation which I can quickly scribble later. So, tell me.
LEE: You know about Prozac?
HELENA: Yes, the anti-depressant. Is your pill son of Prozac?
LEE: In the same way that the Atom Bomb was son of Dynamite. You know that anaesthetics can drown pain, anti depressants can lift spirits and hallucinogens can confuse your sense receptors. Well what we've got on the launching pad is a pill that not only suppresses the pain reflex but reverses it. So no more pain, no more discomfort.
In fact pain is transmuted into delight and discomfort into pleasure. I can see by your expression that the legal implications are clear to you, right?
HELENA: Ausgezeichnet! Grievous bodily harm becomes grievous bodily pleasure, the dentist's drill becomes an orgasm generator and torture finally becomes impossible - so long as the victim is on the pill, so to speak. Our entire morality is based on the self evident goodness of minimising pain. Christ in a capsule! A job for a jurisprudential genius all right and here she is at your service. Athena herself would take the job, And I, my dear sir, am no Pallas Athena. She wouldn't be found dead in a whorehouse. One question. Does this pill have a name yet?
LEE: It does. I named it myself. It's called Euphoria.
Scene 3: A cocktail bar in a five star hotel.
BARMAN: Good evening, Sir, what can I fix you? White Lady, Belle Epoque, Screwdriver, Flat Coke?
McCLAIN: Can you do 'Round The World'?
BARMAN: Yup, Tequila from Mexico, Vodka from Russia, Bourbon from the US of A, Sake from Japan shaken up with Apfelsaft from Germany. Am I right?
McCLAIN: That sounds like the right stuff. Bet you don't get much call for that.
BARMAN: Well it ain't exactly a light apéritif. You need a cast iron liver and kidneys like a cement mixer just to take one sip, Rather you than me Mac.
McCLAIN: Yeah. It's kind of an acquired taste I guess. It's for the jaded palette of the hardened drinker. Scotch used to be my drink but I got immune after a while so started mixing it with vodka but that didn't taste of anything much so I added sake. And then I found there was this drink that mixed all these then some.
BARMAN: Where was that then?
McCLAIN: A bar on South Wacker in Chicago. My kind of town, Chicago, a real business town. The most beautiful buildings in the whole wide world, the best restaurants, the smartest people, the sassiest broads, the home of the Shriners, the birthplace of McDonalds diners.
BARMAN: And the place that killed off Prohibition.
McCLAIN: How d'you figure that?
BARMAN: Wasn't Al Capone in Chicago?
McCLAIN: Yeah. I guess he did more'n his share in the fight against Prohibition.
BARMAN: Yeah. Maybe it was him that invented this drink of yours. Seems like the kind of drink he'd've liked, old Al and the boys.
(Enter Petrus, Lee and Helena all in dark business suits)
McCLAIN: Hi, y'all. Say, lady, you look familiar.
LEE: Mac, let me introduce our new legal counsellor Dr Helena Hart. She's professor of law at Commonwealth University. I doubt if you've met before.
McCLAIN: Well I guess not. You remind me of someone I met last month in Europe.
HELENA: Well, now you mention it. You remind me of a man I came across quite recently at a symposium.
McCLAIN: Could'na been me, then, I've never been to a symposium in my life.
HELENA: Oh, they can be quite stimulating. You might enjoy them.
PETRUS: I'm thirsty. What the Hell is that you're drinking, Mac?
McCLAIN: My favourite kidney cruncher, Claude. Round the world. Would you like to try one, Dr Hart.
HELENA: No thank you, I'm on the wagon for now. A non alcoholic cocktail will be very nice though. How about Rising Sun?
BARMAN: OK. D'you like it with more orange than lemon or the other way round?
HELENA: More lemon please.
PETRUS: And I'll have a Bacchus Mars please with a lot of ice.
LEE: And mine's a Saratoga Sling with English gin if you have any.
BARMAN: Yep, we do. (Sets about mixing the cocktails) There ain't no alcoholic spirit we can't get, if someone in the USA is importing it. And there ain't no drink I can't mix.
LEE: Might take you up on that some other time. Right now, we have business to attend to. Claude, fill Mac in.
PETRUS: OK Harry. Well, first the good news. The FDA has cleared Euphoria as being without harmful side effects. Now the bad news. They won't let us market it till we get past a full Congressional hearing.
McCLAIN: Does that mean we can't sell it in Europe either?
PETRUS: We are waiting for Brussels to tell us whether it will even table the matter ahead of the American hearing. As a result of the new economy drive there, they won't investigate any matter already being considered in a recognised jurisdiction like the USA. When I asked the Commissioner what the rationale was for this apparent surrender of independent judgment, she said to me 'Why keep a dog and bark yourself?' I didn't see how Brussels was supposed to be keeping Washington, but she said the whole point of using figures of speech was that some things can't be properly captured in descriptive factual statements. A wall of words, that's what she hid behind. I couldn't get past them at all. And so it doesn't look good for Europe.
HELENA: But the good news is that several countries in the rest of the world will let us sell the product over the counter, though there are strings attached in every case.
McCLAIN: What like? Bribes?
PETRUS: Some cases yeah. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act means we can't pay under the table money to get business to any official likely to talk out of turn, nor can we do it in any way that could leak out to our government later. But we're a multinational firm in a cut-throat business, so we do what we need to do to get the job done.
HELENA: I'll pretend I didn't hear that. I can't be a party to anything illegal. Anyway, forget bribes. Some countries only want us to invest in a setup operation as our entry fee, and that's quite legal.
LEE: So we've got to balance the advantages of going to the place asking us for the least against the advantages of going to the country with the biggest potential market.
PETRUS: Why not go to one of those Third World places with huge populations, a dictatorship in power and pay off its generals? Those guys can keep their mouths shut and it'd only cost us petty cash relative to the costs of setting up offices, warehouses and assembly plants. In any case, anywhere we do set up such facilities we'll have to pay security sweethearts the kind of money that we're never going to itemize on the Income Statement. I just can't see the difference myself.
LEE: That's why I'm marketing and you're finance. While we're getting past the European and American regulators, we can't afford to be seen to associated with various torturing juntas - especially not with a product like Euphoria. Surely you can see that?
PETRUS: Well of course, but I've got more confidence than you in our ability to control security and keep mouths shut.
LEE: And when and if you become CEO, you can try it on the shareholders for size. Till then it's my head on the block and I'll decide what risks this company takes. OK?
PETRUS: No, not necessarily. But we'll argue that some other time. What countries are showing an interest?
LEE: So far, there's Korea, Indonesia, Argentina, Colombia, Kazakhstan, India, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Turkey and possibly Russia.
McCLAIN: How d'you mean 'possibly'?
LEE: I mean the Ministry of Finance says yes but the Ministry of Health says no, so the matter's now in the hands of the new President. I've booked us on a plane to Moscow tonight, to meet him in two days time. I didn't say so before for obvious security reasons.
My secretary's been in touch with your offices and moved all your appointments for the next 5 days. Helena's been working on draft contracts and structuring any possible Russian operation to minimise our exposure to disastrous lawsuits if anything goes wrong. And before you ask, I'm using Helena because she has a fine legal mind and can absolutely be trusted - (whispering) you'll remember how we met-
McCLAIN:(whispering) -Never forget it. Can't her - er - colleagues be put to some equally good business use? Talk about Chairman's perks!
LEE: (Whispering) No, I'm afraid this project can't use either a gymnast or a trilingual bar girl who may or may not have banking experience. But don't worry. (Resuming normal volume) I have some pleasant surprises for you both in Moscow. Won't say more now. Security.
HELENA: (Whispering in imitation) Anyway, boys, you've already turned me down once, so it's a bit late to get jealous now.
McCLAIN: OK, Harry, it's your play. for now. But how come Russia's become the front runner? India's got a much bigger population, so's Indonesia I think. Korea's richer and we've already done good business in several of those other countries like Argentina and Turkey.
LEE: Indonesia is backup. India has a huge population sure, but it's not a good place for taking risks with new pharmaceuticals. People still remember the Bhopal disaster pretty vividly. And the other places are asking for more than Russia's likely to. We thought about China and Japan too of course. China in 10 years yes, but right now we can't see how we could be sure of having enough control of things there. We've got quite a bit invested in the PRC already and we're not happy about the need to negotiate every little thing over and over again with local, provincial and national officials. As for Japan, it's a hard market for foreigners to crack at the best of times, and the culture is not especially supportive of the kind of drug Euphoria is - same goes for Korea really. Whereas Russians have been spending much of their history and still spend most of their evenings trying to lessen pain - that's why vodka is the national drink and why all their great literature and music is so full of pain.
HELENA: A slight oversimplification, Harry, but true relative to the other shortlisted countries. And like Canada, most of Russia is very cold most of the year; but unlike Canada, much of Russia does not yet have central heating, double glazing, underground shopping malls and all the other things that keep the frozen outside at bay. And cold is painful. Which is where we come in.
McCLAIN: I'm still not too convinced. You hear all kinds of stories about kidnappings, mafioski and general lawlessness. Our investment in security would have to be very high and very ongoing.
LEE: That's part of what I want us to clear up this week. We should be able to negotiate with the President on all aspects of that question with a view to his providing state security for our facilities but allowing us to use our own security personnel for bodyguard and meeting sentinel operations. Mac, that's under your aegis.
McCLAIN: I'll have to use my CIA and MI6 friends to vet the key Russki personnel they may want to shove onto us. Of course I can't do that while we're in Moscow, unless you can lay on translators or some such thing from the American and British Embassies through whom such requests can be passed.
LEE: Already done, Mac.
McCLAIN: It'll be like the good old days, when you knew who was who. Well, almost.
CURTAIN - END OF FRAGMENT ONE
Scene 1: The office of the Russian President which has a large rectangular board table, ashtrays at every place and on the far side facing the audience are sat Helena, Lee, Petrus and McClain flanked at either end by Alex and Sonia, interpreters. Enter left President Lysenko, Minister of Health Doctor Lara Lomonosova, Finance Minister Tretyakov and Prime Minister Rostov.
LYSENKO: Good afternoon to you all. Please be seated.
LEE: We are most grateful to you, Mr President, for the opportunity to address you and your senior colleagues. Shall we wait for your interpreters to arrive before we begin?
ROSTOV: That will not be necessary. We all understand English well. Also you do not need interpreters.
HELENA: Would it be possible for them to stay as note takers for us?
ROSTOV: We will be taping the whole discussion and will be pleased to give you a copy, so their presence is not necessary.
LYSENKO: But it does not matter. We know both of them well, and whatever they tell their Colonel Carmody at the CIA station here will not matter. Also, unnecessary suspicion will be aroused if we send them out now, so let them stay but let them keep absolute silence throughout. (The interpreters nod).
ROSTOV: Soglasyen, agreed.
LARA LOMONOSOVA: Before we start, do you have samples of the pill with you here?
LEE: Why do you ask that?
LARA: I am sure your presentation will be impressive, incorporating the best multimedia arts money can buy. I am sure your arguments will be skilfully prepared and I do not doubt Professor Hart has thought out all the law and order complications. But what is your proverb? - fine words butter no beetroot. I for one will want demonstration of the real thing so that I and my colleagues can know that the risks are worth the rewards. I think perhaps you expected this, no?
PETRUS: We do have some samples with us, as it happens, as we did expect you would insist on having your people conduct laboratory tests.
McCLAIN: And we didn't think there would be any more secure way of passing the product to you than this meeting itself.
TRETYAKOV: That is the least we would expect of you. Our friends in Vietnam have given good testimonials of your preparedness for negotiation.
McCLAIN: As for visual evidence, we have prepared a video of the product being administered to a range of large animals whose nervous systems are closest to human. You'll be amazed at the results I-
ROSTOV: You do not expect a videotape to constitute evidence surely?
LARA: And how would you know if an ape or bear were laughing or crying just from looking at it? Are we to understand that this product has never been tested on humans, Mr Lee?
LEE: Of course it has, Madam Secretary, but not with the cameras on. We do mention this in our proposal, which, perhaps you have forgotten?
LARA: I haven't time to read that sort of propaganda. I expect my staff to produce -what is your phrase?- executive summaries of one page maximum. I have no doubt that my colleagues are in the same situation.
TRETYAKOV: Except that the economic implications of this product are so enormous I did feel obligated to read the proposal in its full glory. I remember that it mentioned extensive tests on willing subjects had been carried out but I don't recall it mentioning what tests on what subjects. Now would be good time to give executive summary of this matter.
LYSENKO: I second that proposition, and would like Mr McClain as your operations director to be the one to speak for you. Any problem? (The visitors shake their heads)
McCLAIN: Well there is not much to say. We tested the drug in strictly controlled conditions against a placebo and every time the drug worked but the placebo of course did not. The pain involved was varied to test the drug in a variety of circumstances representative of the pain of ordinary life situations. Hitting your thumb when you're hammering a nail in the wall, cutting your cheek shaving when the blade is too old or too new, period pains, sinus pains, toothache and haemorrhoids:- all of these were treatments to which the subjects were exposed- of course I mean treatment in the experimental sense not in the medical sense. We thought it would be unethical to expose subjects to more unusual or more severe pain-
ROSTOV: As a seasoned connoisseur of the experience, I can assure you haemorrhoids are both unusually painful and severely painful also. In Soviet time this experience was sometimes encouraged in the political prisons. Most inmates preferred to have the electric shocking.
LARA: What about migraine pain? This, I think is a widespread normal experience of pain.
McCLAIN: Oh, didn't I mention it? Well we tested for migraine as a subset of sinus. Actually both are types of headache, but while sinus occurs in a predictable and unvarying way, migraine has a variety of causes and presentations. The result is our sample of sinusitis subjects is far larger than our sample of any one sort of migraine sufferer. Even so, both kinds of headache reacted with strong positivity to our drug.
TRETYAKOV: And what placebo did you use exactly?
McCLAIN: Why just the usual sugar coated weak aspirin. Why do you ask that?
TRETYAKOV: My son is research chemist and I have discussed with him the bias inherent in the normal commercial drug companies' so called clinical trials. He tells me that inactive placebos are easily recognised as such by observers and subjects alike. They have far fewer side effects than the drug of interest and generally are devoid of immediate effects relative to the drug of interest. This makes the tests hopelessly biassed in favour of the new drug.
LARA: Enough of these preliminaries. Which of you is willing to demonstrate this wonder drug right here and now?
HART: You mean, you prefer a cheap circus here to proper scientific tests?
LARA: My colleague has dealt with the status of your proper scientific tests. And in this circus, as you call it, the only animal will be guinea pig.
LEE: As I am the chief of our delegation I will make that decision and as I have absolute confidence in the product I will be pleased to volunteer my own self to demonstrate.
TRETYAKOV: Very noble but not acceptable. You directors will take any punishment and put on any act to secure the business. Professor Hart can probably out-act all of us in the room. No, since you have been so keen to retain the services of your so called interpreters, let's see if their intelligence service training extends to old fashioned heroism.
LEE: That's not the behaviour of a civilised statesman. That's the sort of brutal cynicism that should have died with Stalin.
LYSENKO: Protest duly noted. Now my intelligence friends, what do YOU say?
ALEX: I can't see why not. I'm under no instructions not to. But my colleague will have to speak for herself.
SONIA: I should like a note in writing from Mr Lee witnessed by Professor Hart guaranteeing to pay all medical bills and $1 million compensation if I am unable to work as a result of being one of his guinea pigs. Given that, sure.
LEE: Helena, can you draft an appropriate guarantee for both of our new colleagues now?
(She nods and begins to write). Thanks.
Claudio, pass me a sachet of 250 mil strength capsules. (Petrus does so). We each have glasses of water. The product will act in less than 2 minutes.
LARA: First however there has to be some pain to reverse. No?
ROSTOV: Don't get excited, Lara, we are not playing games here. I will be persuaded by something mild such as hammering the finger.
TRETYAKOV: I too.
LYSENKO: But how will we know if the subjects are being open and sincere in their responses?
PETRUS: I have an idea on that.
ROSTOV: It being?
PETRUS: One of you volunteers also to test the drug. One whose reactions and reflexes have not been dulled by over exposure to pain, suffering, vodka or haemorrhoids.
LEE: That would give you a control group albeit a group of one.
LYSENKO: In Russia we are not strangers to the idea of a group of one. Which one?
I would be happy to oblige but unhappily I like the vodka too much to be good control group. Mr Rostov has already advised us he suffers from haemorrhoids.
LARA: And I have had 2 childbirths, a lifetime of painful periods and God knows how many migraines so I am too educated in the experience of pain to be good control group. So, Dmitri, it is you who is our guinea pig, it seems.
TRETYAKOV: It seems I am only healthy member of Russian government. I will do this thing then for the good of mother Russia.
LYSENKO: So if the three of you would be so good as to put your left hands palm down on the table, I will administer the pain with this small paperweight (points to it then lifts it). It will be like in school.
(Alex and Sonia move to Lysenko's place at the table)
ALEX: I will go first.
SONIA: Then I.
LYSENKO: And the rest of you can look most closely to see if there is any difference in the force I use in each of the three cases.
ALEX: (Lays his hand on the table)
LYSENKO (rises and raises the paperweight): So, this is a small smack for a man but a great smack for mankind (hits Alex hard at the base of the forefinger).
ALEX: Whew! I think you hit a nerve Mr President.
LEE: Now take the capsule, Alex. (Passes the capsule and Alex swallows it).
LYSENKO: Now for the stronger sex. (Sonya takes Alex's place and places her hand on the table. Lysenko hits it with the paperweight but Sonya does not not flinch)
LARA: I don't think you hit her as hard as him.
SONYA: If Madam Secretary would like me to demonstrate on her hand how hard he hit me, she would not have any doubts.
LARA: (Slaps Sonya's face on both sides hard) You are not permitted to address me with such insolence. Now I think you are properly smacked.
LEE: Sonya, are you OK? Take the capsule quickly. (She does so). (Helena moves out of her chair carrying her cup of tea and walks purposefully towards Lara)
LARA: I must warn you against acting rashly, Professor Hart. (Helena affects to trip and spills the tea over Lomonosova's neck) You stupid bitch! (rises and lunges at Helena who catches the punch in her hand and says)
HELENA: Oh I am so sorry, Madam Secretary. My hand just slipped, just like yours.
LARA: Let go of my hand, you sneering tart! My neck is burning and you will pay.
HELENA: Perhaps you would like a painkiller?
LARA: Yes I will also have a capsule please Mr Lee. (Takes one from him).
HELENA: And to show there's no ill feeling, I will also take one. Madam Secretary, I give you permission to slap my face.
LARA: Thank you so much. (Slaps her once with all her strength) Does that hurt?
HELENA: Yes, Madam Secretary is to be congratulated on the strength of her forearm. I will forego the capsule, however, as you've made it clear you will not believe my responses.
LYSENKO: Let us not continue this childishness.
TRETYAKOV: I am impatient for my treatment, Mr President (Lays his hand down on the table; Lysenko brings the paperweight down very hard on Tretyakov's knuckles) Bozheh Moi, that was done with feeling. The capsule please Mr Lee. (Takes it).
ROSTOV: Well, now we wait.
TRETYAKOV: Not in silence, however, our time is valuable. What we want is a factory to make the pills in Odessa where unemployment is particularly high and skilled manpower plentiful. We want 50% of the capital and profits, and we want half the board to be people we appoint. In return you will have exclusive rights to distribute the pills throughout Russia and to export them from here under any brand name we agree.
LEE: We want the sole right to appoint the chief executive of the Russian operation, oversight of all accounting and auditing procedures including quality control in the factories, and we want security guards around the clock each one to be approved by our company in Canada after due investigative process. We also want to be able to start tooling up immediately we sign an agreement and we want to start distributing to doctors and pharmacies immediately. We are prepared to put up a performance bond in US dollars to cover all import costs and to train all levels of the workforce in modern management, production and financial methods at our own expense.
TRETYAKOV: All this is in the papers we have exchanged, and you would not be here if we had not agreed them in principle. This I think you know.
LYSENKO: The key factor is the pill's effectiveness. Have any of our guinea pigs noticed anything yet?
ALEX: I have. The pain has not gone but it is no longer throbbing. It is very hard to describe, but it's kind of like being stroked only from the inside.
SONYA: The pain on my hand has gone, but I do not feel like it's being stroked inside - I would find that somewhat unpleasant, actually. I feel something warm and steady, soothing and unintrusive.
HELENA: What about your face?
SONYA: It's fine. The tingling has lost its sting but not its heat. What about your hand, Mr Lysenko?
LYSENKO: The smarting has disappeared and I feel good, like my mother holding my hand when I was little boy.
LARA: And thank you please for not asking about my burn. Actually it feels now like a very soothing cold compress.
LEE: So? Is everybody happy?
ROSTOV: It certainly seems good for minor pain.
McCLAIN: And you have the evidence in the proposal.
LYSENKO: Our factories are ready. Could you have materials and human resources in place within six months?
LEE: With luck, within 3.
TRETYAKOV: Then let's do it. Let's sign the draft contract now. (They swap and sign contracts as the curtain falls).
(The Board Room in Odessa. It is simply furnished with a large boardroom table, modern art paintings on the wall, and executive chairs around the table. Lee, Helena and McClain together with Tretyakov and Lara are seated with Lee at the head of the table.)
LEE: Well, my colleagues old and new, it is just over 3 months since our historic meeting in Moscow, and here we are in Odessa ready to roll. All we lack is a chief of operations. We are here today to interview the 3 shortlisted candidates, all thoroughly vetted and checked out by both the Russian and Canadian sides. Our head hunters Bingley Orloff and Kovacs have done a splendid job. Their senior partner, Frank Orloff, will take us through the candidates' papers. I'll just bring him in. (Exit)
LARA: Has anyone seen the papers yet?
McCLAIN: No. We thought confidentiality was so important here that we've left it to Orloff to produce people that fit our very tight and unique specification.
(Enter Lee with Orloff)
LEE: May I present Frank Orloff, senior partner and CEO of Bingley, Orloff and Kovacs.
ORLOFF: I'm very pleased to meet you all, especially Madam Lomonosova of the Health Ministry and Mr Tretyakov of the Finance Ministry (Sits down).
We have today three candidates, all Russians, all Harvard MBAs, all with extensive political connections and outstanding business experience; and all command a personal net worth of of over one million Euros. Two are male. Here are their resumes (passes them round). I suggest we see them in alphabetical order starting with Grigoriev. Do you a pre-interview discussion to allocate questions? I have a suggested set of questions here. (Passes more papers round the table)
TRETYAKOV: This will be useful as back up but I personally like a more spontaneous process.
McCLAIN: So do I. Mr Orloff can interject if he thinks we've not touched all the right bases.
LEE: I concur. Any objections? (Looks round but nobody signifies anything)
LARA: Very well, but we should go in some definite order.
LEE: Clockwise round the table, OK?
LARA: Soglasyen, but I will move my seat so that I become the last questioner. Helena, may I take your place?
HELENA: Yes, Madam Secretary; and I will sit beside Mr Tretyakov. (She and Lara move)
ORLOFF: I will get Grigoriev. (Exit)
HELENA: Well, this Grigoriev looks quite good:- brilliant career, top references, fully vetted and presents tightly and cogently on paper.
TRETYAKOV: Yes, no skeletons in his cupboards-
LARA: We shall just see about that.
(Enter Orloff and Grigoriev)
ORLOFF: Panel members, I present Dmitri Grigoriev. Dmitri, the panel members all have name plates before them and you have been briefed on their positions. So now please be seated and I will hand over to Chairman Lee.
LEE: Good morning, Dmitri. I'd like you to open by telling us how your life story leads naturally, logically and persuasively to our offering you the running of our Russian operation.
GRIGORIEV: Thank you, Chairman. Well, my life has been quite crowded for a forty two year old chelovyek. I was a faithful Party member - the youngest in Volgagrad - until the arrival of Boris Yeltsin when I went to Harvard. I came back to run a hospital and have built up its business to include transport, chemicals, private patient care, some privatised prisons and an insurance group in Kazan. All of my enterprises have done very well but now I am ready for a project of national strategic importance. (Pauses)
HELENA: Admirably succinct, Mr Grigoriev, but lacking depth I feel.
GRIGORIEV: I'd be happy to elaborate of course, but I didn't want to bore you with a long opening declamation.
TRETYAKOV: Tell me first how you will keep the process out of the hands of our rivals, our national enemies and the internal gangsters?
GRIGORIEV: You need only look at my record, Mr Secretary. It's in the papers you have, but maybe have not read. My Magnitogorsk prison-factory makes a particular kind of hand grenade that spurts nitric acid as it explodes. You've probably never heard of it but it's a major Russian export to Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Not one grenade and not one kilo of materials is unaccounted for. Any employee attempting to steal inventory is dealt with in the discipline division of the prison. Nobody makes a second attempt to steal my property. Here in Odessa I would apply the same approach. Security is indivisible and it is the top priority in the businesses I know about. Many firms relegate security to the guardroom when it belongs in the boardroom. My second in command would be the director of security.
LARA: Very good. Mr Chair, I would like to ask a question out of order.
LEE: Sure, go ahead.
LARA: Dmitri Petrovich Grigoriev, you clearly have substantial assets but have you scruples?
GRIGORIEV: No, Madam Secretary, none of my factories make them or use them in their manufacturing processes. Are they part of the Odessa process?
HELENA: I think you may be unfamiliar with the English word scruples.
GRIGORIEV: I think I may be. I thought it was some kind of material like marble or metals.
HELENA: Well it does sound as if it should be, but actually it means conscience.
GRIGORIEV: Ah, so in English instead of guilty conscience it is possible to have guilty scruples, yes?
LARA: In English no doubt is also possible to have guilty marbles, but that is quite enough of this tangent. Have you a conscience?
GRIGORIEV: I don't know. I've never felt guilt over anything I've done to survive and prosper. If I had big conscience I would become priest or social worker, but if I had no conscience at all I would maybe become gangster, So I may have one somewhere but I cannot point to any action in my life and say that was driven by my conscience.
LARA: Kharasho - excellent. Now more difficult question. Would you do anything to obtain this job?
GRIGORIEV: No I would not. Not do anything. I am not so desperate. What kind of fool would I be to say yes to such a question (whispering) especially from such a questioner as Doctor Death here.
HELENA: But you have no scruples-
GRIGORIEV: That does not mean I have no dignity.
LARA: Dignity as the new morality (sneering) - possible thesis for Professor HELENA. So Grigoriev, you would probably kill for this job but not, shall we say, take your pants off, is that right?
GRIGORIEV: Your dignity, Madam Secretary, may lie in your pants but mine does not. By dignity I mean the force that would stop me from begging or crawling. It means I would not put myself under the command of an idiot - indeed that is the very thing capitalism has liberated us from - well more or less anyway. In Soviet time I never worked for anyone with an IQ over half my own and that was humiliating.
LARA: I see. So you would take your pants off to get this job?
GRIGORIEV: Madam secretary, if you want me to get undressed, piss, shit or jerk off before the eyes of the entire panel, just say so and I will do it. If you want me to fuck you in private or public or if you want to watch me fuck someone else, is not a problem. Also is not loss of dignity. Is merely party without drink or music. If you are trying to stress interview me, you must find other way.
LARA: It's not a matter of stress - (Sound of machine gun fire, door bursts open, enter three figures clothed and masked in black all carrying machine guns)
CORNPONE (in an Ulster accent): Everybody up against the wall right now.
MCCLAIN (pulls pistol out of belt) Up against the wall yourself punk.
CORNPONE: (fires 4 rounds into McCLAIN who dies) No more heroes please.
GRIGORIEV: Now this is real stress interview (throws himself at CORNPONE but CORNPONE shoots him)
CORNPONE: Yes and you have failed it, comrade. Now MOVE. (All quickly shuffle to the wall at stage back. Lee turns round)
LEE: Who are you and what do you want?
CORNPONE: Let's say we're the disaffected part of your security staff and let's say what we want is 50 tons of Euphoria right now, free, gratis and for nothing.
HELENA (ice cool): Is that all? Why the theatricals just for that? Why the gratuitous murder? Why not just take it?
CORNPONE: The interview is over, dear lady, period. So no more questions. We could have taken you all hostages but neither the Russian government nor your main board nor your shareholders would have paid a rusty old rouble for your release, so why waste time? We'll just take the merchandise and be off. Think of us as your high street retailers. Reason we're hassling you rather than just busting into your store directly is only one of you has the damn storeroom code - this we know from your recently deceased security persons.
TRETYAKOV: And if you don't get the code off us, you'll kill us.
CORNPONE: Obviously, and we search the bodies for written record of the code afterwards.
LARA: And if the code has not been written and if McClain was the only one who knew what it was, then what?
CORNPONE: Then we'll just blow up the store and hope some Euphoria survives.
LEE: I'll tell you now that would be futile. The security doors can easily withstand dynamite, TNT, semtex and all the usual terrorist toys.
CORNPONE: God, you think in such a straight line, you exec types. We wouldn't bomb the doors, you fool. The walls themselves are not exactly built to contain a Chernobyl are they? Shoddy concrete not all that reinforced. So easy, but messy.
GUNMAN 2: Anyway. Did you really think a product like Euphoria could be locked up in monopoly forever? You US style capitalists think bullying small countries into signing so called anti-piracy agreements is some kind of guaranteed condom against the infection of the natural and free cross border flow of products.
LARA: So you're a bunch of free trade Castroists, are you? Bullshit with a capital S. Huh! I suppose you're going to give Euphoria away free on every street corner. Are you? Of course not! You are merely wanting to replace our legitimate monopoly with your illegitimate one.
CORNPONE: Not at all, babushka darlin'. Profit sharing is more what I had in mind. We will protect you from the Mafia, the Triads, the Yakuza. The Medellin cartel and all other warlord groups in the commercial and political underworlds of our sick little grey and granite planet. In return you will supply us with 1000 tons of Euphoria ex works at 50% of wholesale price. I'd say that's a wonderful deal for you.
LARA: And if we refuse?
CORNPONE: Why, then, you die for no principle or scruple except obtuse obstinacy. We take over the Russian operation anyway and a war breaks out here in the Crimea that will make the Bosniana of the early nineties look like a croquet match in the Queen of England's garden.
HELENA: I have always been brought up to respect an old maxim that I think began in the French army; when about to be forced, volunteer. So I suggest we make terms with our captors.
LARA: Of course you would, you utter whore throughout the levels. Your legal philosophy in your writings and your ethics in your words and deeds is pure "tartery". "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - no better than dope-fiend English Rasputin type called Aleister Crowley - that's all it amounts to. You wouldn't recognise an ethical principle if your life depended on it - which I suppose it does right now. Why don't you just open your legs and get it over with? It's probably how you want to die anyway.
HELENA: I'm sure your own hardly used fucking facilities would be far more enticing to any potential rapist among our captors. As for my philosophy, you're far too stupid to understand it. I doubt if you can even spell jurisprudence. Tell you what though, if these gallant gunman don't kill you, I shall be pleased to do so on behalf of humanity in general. Everyone hates your dried up guts, you swaggering, sanctimonious, shit-sucking, sock-smelling suppurating, squinty-eyed scorpion.
CORNPONE: Bravo, professor, I haven't heard such spontaneous and explosive alliteration under stress before. Allow me to point out however that rape is not on today's agenda - sorry about that. Just boring old theft today with a bit of facilitative murder as and when necessary.
GUNMAN 2: Words, words, words. Let's get the code or kill them and have done with it, for fuck's sake.
CORNPONE: Really number two, this is not a Quentin Tarantino movie and you are not Rambo. I'd far rather have them agree terms than have us make them some sort of martyrs to the cause of respectable business. It's not much to ask, seeing that protection is as much a part of the commercial process as advertising. But sure we'll kill 'em all if they don't realise this simple basic fact of business life.
LEE: Let's bring this back down to earth. How do we know - how could we know - that any agreement with you is going to be worth anything at all?
CORNPONE: Bollocks! How do we know either? You'll agree to anything to stay alive. We go away with a few containers of Euphoria and a contract signed under duress. Comes the time for the first delivery, you refuse to honour the agreement and hire some other gang to take us out - not that they could succeed but the mere attempt would be quite enough to trigger the next Crimean War that I spoke of just now. So I ask again, how do we know we could trust you? Answer - we do know that we cannot trust you; so we will take some of you hostage after all.
GUNPERSONS 2 and 3: Right!
LEE: If you need to, fine; but what makes you think we would not be prepared to sacrifice them, whichever of us they are.
CORNPONE: Oh come on now! Of course you'd sacrifice any of your colleagues who are here in this room, but once you had done so, there would be more to come. You all have people you care about and many of you have pet animals too. We have a list of them all and they are all potential hostages, all potential victims of our anger and your obduracy. And don't waste money on guards for them, if you're allowed to survive today. Those we couldn't buy we could easily kill.
LEE: So you are quite without scruples. Fine. But are you so utterly and totally in command of all the members of your little gang that you could always trust them all not to be bought off by us; can you trust them all not to jackknife your plans by being too late for a job or getting lost on the way or any little inefficiency or stupidity that underlings always exhibit; and do you really believe they'll all put loyalty to you higher than life itself? I'll tell you now that if you could be that sure of your people and be shown to be right, especially since no cause but greed holds you together, then you would know more about management than any businessman, any Harvard guru or any merchant prince alive or dead. You would be some sort of modern managerial messiah. Somehow, though, I don't think you cut the mustard in the managerial genius stakes.
CORNPONE: Genius no, but able to trust my men and women yes. Why? Because any Triad, Mafia or paramilitary band is far better managed, far more tightly controlled than most straight business firms. We can manipulate greed, fear and the need to belong to a group so much better.
LEE: So how about this then? Instead of taking hostages now, why don't you become our general manager here and also sit on our main board in Toronto as group director of security? Then you'll know what we're doing and be able to control things your way. We, on the other hand, will have you as a sort of hostage, so we could rest easy in our beds.
CORNPONE: Well, Harry Lee, you're quite the lateral thinker, after all. I could possibly be tempted by your proposal.
HELENA: The papers for the job here have already been drawn up as we going to sign up the successful candidate today. And the successful candidate is you. I hope you haven't killed the other two candidates.
CORNPONE: Number 2 and number 3, are you in fact alive?
GUNPERSONS 2 and 3: Yes number one.
CORNPONE: And are you willing to serve under me even though you were shortlisted but I didn't even apply?
GUNPERSONS 2 and 3: Yes.
CORNPONE: Let me make it clear that my demands remain unchanged.
LEE: As CEO here, you automatically fulfill those demands, and upon your signature of the management contract Helena has in her hand, I will give you the current factory codes.
LARA: And I suppose you expect the government to do nothing about these murders.
LEE: No. I expect you to ensure the families are not bereft of support and to say they died in a factory accident, OK?
TRETYAKOV: I will see to that.
HELENA: Good, our new colleague's CV would look better if murder and theft were not listed as achievements. (Laughter)
CORNPONE: I don't know. I could describe them like the CIA does, call them executive actions.
HELENA: Well if you're going to sign contracts, we'll need to know your name. At least we'll need to have a name we can use in the company.
CORNPONE: Well I'm certainly not using the name on my birth certificate and taste forbids me using the name of one of my victims. It'll have to be invented specially. What's a good executive type name, Helena, that won't look out of place on the front of Fortune magazine?
HELENA: Execky English names, let's see. Frank J Surtees Junior, Bill Buxton, Bob Greenfield, Robert Faxwell, erm, Harold Q Gemini the Third, erm, I don't know, Jubilation T Cornpone?
CORNPONE: I like that last one. It has character and resonance. I'll take it. Is it original?
LEE: No. It's a character in an old comic strip - Li'l Abner.
CORNPONE: And was the character charismatic?
LEE: Oh yes, definitely.
HELENA: Right. I'll just write out the statutory declaration saying that as from midday today you desire to be known as Jubilation T Cornpone for all legal and documentary purposes. You'll have to sign it in the name you're currently using or it won't be valid.
CORNPONE: Not a problem. That's not my birth name either. So now I become Jubilation T Cornpone, a fit and proper person to direct the corporate affairs of this public company. Get up off the floor, dear colleagues and call me Jubee. (To the audience) And that, my friends, is how you succeed in business without really trying as we move into the twenty first century.
Scene 1: (A hotel room. Lara is on the phone and wearing a towelling robe)
LARA: (into the handphone) So do I. Cornpone and I reckon Petrus can be turned very soon. He's sure he can do better job than Lee with the pharmaceuticals division worldwide, and he took Lee's excluding him from the Odessa interview panel last month as the start of a plan to marginalise him then fire him. So my judgment is if he doesn't take control soon, he'll whistleblow and we'll find ourselves in an unending nightmare of litigation in all the countries that Euphoria has already been peddled by Cornpone's 'missionaries' as he calls them.
(Cornpone enters from a side door, kisses Lomonosova on the cheek and takes the phone)
CORNPONE: Andrei? Jube here. Look we got Petrus coming here in a few minutes hoping to commune with the dead, as he thinks we're both mediums. I'm tempted to turn him now. What d'you think? Really? Don't you think he'll find that way too far over the top? Well, yeah, but they're paid to do that. How's he going to swallow it from us? What? OK,it might work. Just hope I can keep a straight face (starts to laugh). Yeah, Lara won't have that problem. She half believes all that crap. OK, bye.
(Doorbell rings, Cornpone goes to the door, looks through the spyhole, then opens the door)
CORNPONE: Well, well, it's Claudio. How the Hell are you, mi amigo?
PETRUS: Stressed out, tired and emotional. It's been a Hell of a week. And how are you, by the way?
CORNPONE: I'm just fine. Nothing gets to me these days. Now let me introduce my mentor and your colleague, Doctor Lara Lomonosova. (Lara steps forward)
LARA: Delighted to meet you at last, Claudio.
PETRUS: I too Madam Secretary. May I remark you look far more beautiful than I envisioned you to be from my colleagues' descriptions.
LARA: Especially, no doubt, your colleague Helena Hart.
CORNPONE: Hate at first sight between Lara and Helena, so I've heard.
LARA: Possibly even earlier than that. Now, Claudio, what will you have to drink?
PETRUS: It would have been Big Mac's birthday today if you hadn't shot him in Odessa. (Gets no reaction to this) So let's have around the world in his memory..
CORNPONE: OK. I'll have to order it as I don't know how to mix it. (picks up the phone) Hello, room service, I want 3 cocktails in room 1232 right now please. ...Yes, it's called around the world. I suppose you never heard of it? You can certainly do that? Oh yeah? Well do it then. Thanks. (rings off). Your Mac must have been a guest here. How else would they recognise such a wierd drink, assuming they did in fact recognise it?
LARA: So, Claudio, what has stressed you out as you call it?
PETRUS: Same as ever, and then some. I've been looking back and realizing I was never all that happy with Harry as CEO of the group. He carries too much in his head and doesn't consult the rest of us too much.. There is no senior management team in any real sense.He just tells you what he wants you to do. You can be in a meeting with a customer or a banker and can't say anything at all as you've not been properly briefed - even if it's something right inside your own area of responsibility. I'd thought we might get closer while we were working on the Euphoria project. And maybe we did. But after you killed Mac, he avoided contact with me, and now things are worse than ever between us. And, as you suspected, he's he's heavily into talks with people in the Sung Yee On triad, but I've not been able to get the rooms wired yet. So we can only guess at what's going down.
LARA: Rather easy to guess, I think, in this case.
CORNPONE: Well of course it is. Harry is a good businessman. He was never likely to roll over and play along with me and my people, whatever deal - so called deal - we'd signed in Odessa.
LARA: So, Claudio my dear, are you here to play Macbeth?
PETRUS: You may say so, but I have't gone quite that far in my own mind. More Brutus, I'd say, especially as I am descended from Romans. I'm getting more and more troubled, both about Harry and about Euphoria. You yourself have already shown how pathetically easy it is for outsiders to storm the company's ramparts. I'm not sure about the harmlessness of transmuting pain into pleasure, anyway. It's not because of my Catholic upbringing - I transcended that long ago. We've rationalised it as being the same kind of thing as an antibiotic or anesthetic, but it isn't. We're redefining reality itself with this drug, but doing it in a superficial and slick sort of fashion that I just don't like very much. If all pain resulted solely from man's inhumanity to man, then I wouldn't have a problem with Euphoria - quite the reverse. But pain as a symptom of deeper disease, disfunction or decay is not something we should just reverse; because then we'll create Euphoria addicts who seek out disease, decay and disfunction just for the buzz of the pain reversal. I can't see how such an outcome serves the evolution of our species at all. Indeed it seems to me to mark a new low in our suicidal self pollution - possibly the final and decisive low point. Anyway, there's also the probability that Nature will replace pain with something unimaginably worse; just as she replaced TB, smallpox and polio with AIDS and Ebola when not enough people were dying.
LARA: I do not think that's necessarily what Nature was doing in the case of AIDS.
CORNPONE: But it is true that viruses like flu adapt to new vaccines etc by evolving new strains we can't always protect ourselves against. And they do say 'no pain no gain'
PETRUS: A phrase I've always found pretty stupid, personally. Life is full of examples of windfall gains like lottery wins and big bequests that have no roots in anyone's pain.
LARA: Why don't we do what we're here to do and see if the gods and goddesses can help resolve your doubts.
CORNPONE: Of course, Claudio, you'll appreciate that what is to happen here must always remain a secret between the three of us. Channelling the gods and goddesses of ancient Hellas is not exactly a generally accepted managerial activity in any culture I'm aware of.
PETRUS: That all goes without saying. I bet there has never been a meeting like this before in recorded history. Normally with channelling some gullible suckers sit before some fake who puts on a false voice and a quasi-biblical name and utters abstract platitudes that the suckers take to be pearls of deep and difficult wisdom.
CORNPONE: Right. But you are not a sucker and instead of one channeller, you'll have two.
PETRUS: Not two, my friend. Three.
LARA: Three? Three into two won't go.
PETRUS: Hold on. You didn't seriously think I was going to sit at the feet of two operators like you both and just go gaga? (They look nonplussed). You DID think so? Well I do declare! I think a tiny bit of repositioning is called for here. I have been channelling since I was 21 years old and recording the results on tape. I'm especially comfortable with Paris, the one in the Iliad not the one in France, who's learnt a great deal in the last 3000 years. I know he's looking forward to talking to your spirits. So, tell me, Lara, who do you do? Athena, Hera, Aphrodite, Artemis, probably not Helen, maybe a male, maybe Poseidon? Certainly not Zeus.
LARA: And why not Zeus, pray?
CORNPONE: Because I do him. Like Zeus I myself can take many forms and identities, and I'm very nasty when aroused. Lara, why do you not try and channel the Fates? After all 3 may not go into 2 but goes quite well into 1?
LARA: The Fates? OK, I'll try. (Doorbell rings)
CORNPONE: (going to the door) Here's our drinks. I'll take the tray thank you (does so ). I'll put them on the table. (does so and each one takes a glass). So this is around the world. Here's to it and to your old friend McClain against whom I had nothing but his timing. Oh well, here's to our divine symposium.
LARA: I suggest we use this extraordinary drink to move us on to the inner planes. Let's sit down and as we sip the drink (voice goes into a chanting mode) let us open the gates that divide this world from the unseen worlds and let us then receive the spirits we have named in all purity and humility. Oh spirits that dwell beyond the portals, enter now this mundane place in full and bounteous plenitude. Weiii, Weiiii. (They all sit and very slowly sip for about 15 seconds)
PETRUS: (initially faint but quickly rising to normal volume) Paris calling from the underworld, Paris calling to the mortal world. Hello, hello, Paris is here.
CORNPONE: Advance and be recognised, he who calls himself Paris. Show you are really who you say you are.
PETRUS: (Grabbing a green apple from a nearby dish and biting into it) God these mortals grow some totally crap apples these days. By what authority do you seek testimony from me, hidden spectre?
CORNPONE: By the authority I have guarded these 12,000 years. I am the source of all authority, not its recipient. I am Zeus, ruler of all Gods.
PETRUS: You look not like him. Where is your beard? Where is your insatiable phallus?
CORNPONE: Where would they be? I do not wear my phallus on my chin like the Egyptians of olden times and I now like to go clean shaven like a woman and like the men of much of the modern world.
PETRUS: If you really are Zeus, fire off a thunderbolt.
CORNPONE: No problem. That will be $30,000 cash in advance.
PETRUS: The Hell it will.
LARA: I Megara decree that both of you shall treat the other as the thing he claims to be. And you shall treat me as one who holds your lives in her hands as well the life of the woman through whom I speak.
PETRUS: And you are?
LARA: Megara of the Fates, controlling men and gods alike.
PETRUS: Prove it.
LARA: In my own time I shall. In your time I shall not.
CORNPONE: It is enough that I recognise you, mighty mistress of the mortal -
LARA: And the immortal. Your own wife, Hera, has lately joined our company, lecherous Zeus, so you might want want to exercise a little self control for a few centuries if you want to make a comeback among mortal worshippers - as I know you do.
CORNPONE: I confess as much. I wasn't bothered during the long reign of Jesus and his churches, as we became good mates after the death of the Emperor Constantine. What reawoke the need for worship in me was the creation of the pop music phenomenon and the divine status ascribed to such puny warblers as Elvis Presley and John Lennon. What sort of times are these when all you need to become a god is to sing?
LARA: But not just any song, not just any singer. It must be the right singer in the right place and at the right time - a matter for my own jurisdiction. Your Hera earned her spurs as a sister of the Fatehood in English language pop music. I was especially pleased with her gymnastics with George Michael. Up one day, down the next, now up again - a yo-yo of the Fates indeed.
PETRUS: A yo-yo go-go toy-boy bimbo, in the opinion of my new friend John Lennon. I was talking to him recently about my notorious judgment, and he heard the whole Iliad through without interruption. At the end of it all, he said why not slice the apple in three and give them a bit each? In 3000 years I hadn't thought of that once. Anyway, enough of this nostalgia. We've been summoned to talk about this new drug, Euphoria, that converts pain into pleasure. What do we think? Well, I asked John just before I came here for his view, and he said it would be all right. It's only doing in a pill what he was trying to do with his songs. Personally I don't think it's all right. I think the pursuit of happiness the early American freemasons unleashed on the world is okay as a kind of athletics or game, but it's too trivial and demeaning to be the goal of life itself. And I speak as one whose pursuit of happiness brought down a great country.
CORNPONE: Jesus would certainly agree, as would all the religious leaders who came after me. And that is more than reason enough for me to smell a rat. I don't say the pursuit of happiness is a perfect goal, but I do say it lies behind most religions of this Age. They promise Heaven for the righteous, houris for the martyrs of an Islamic Jihad, reincaranation as a rich Brahmin for the pious Hindu, a place in the world to come for the Jewish Tzaddik, and Boddhisattva for the successful Buddhist - all of which are about being happy. Other life forms, even on Earth, don't have thins hang up on happiness. They just be. They do feel pain though. That's intrinsic in all life, from the vegetable to the divine. Indeed what pill are the corporations going to give the wounded whale, the culled Koala, the violated vegetable torn before its time from its own little hole in the ground? None at all, because only human pain is considered worth anything as only humans have cash to pay for commodities like drugs. That deals with the moral arguments about this new drug. As to advising the mortal channelling you, young Paris, I will simply say this. Your drug will not cure mental anguish like that of Sisyphus eternally pushing his stone up that hill. It will not cure doubt, unself-confidence, feelings of worthlessness, the desire to wreak violent havoc nor any one of so many other negative experiences that conscious life forms endure. So don't suppose that the reversing of physical pain is any kind of major challenge to my fellow gods or to the Fates.
LARA: Wisely said, old lecher. How fortunate is this mortal to have the cousel of myself. I was not wont to converse with lesser levels of being since Delphi was first abandoned. I had forgotten how pleasant it is to play the vocal cords of a woman like mortals playing the lute - a most aesthetic experience. I could have wished for vocal chords less tarred by the inhalation of cheap tobacco. This woman's throat is like the tip of the pole used by the ferrymen on the River Lethe, only even blacker. Well, if she wants any of the sisterhood back here again in her lifetime, she'll have to do some serious gargling every day for the rest of her life - about seven more years unless she cleans up and uses her political and rhetorical talents to serve justice rather than insult it. (To the audience) Oh don't look so surprised. Justice and Fate were never as far apart as you supposed in your mortal impatience.
PETRUS: Proud Megara, what is your oracular declaration concerning the mortals' new drug?
LARA: I forbid it not, but mark this.
If bodily pain is switched to pleasure
but all else stays the same
Then will wake the sleeping treasure
and slowly drive mankind insane.
CORNPONE: Well I think that says it all, and does so every bit as obliquely and opaquely as in the days when Delphi was the only radio station you could get.
PETRUS: These mortals should be very grateful for the wisdom we've given them today. Being mortal of course, that's the last thing they'll be.
LARA: And on that note I take my leave. Adieu.
CORNPONE: We'd best be off too, young Paris. Freddie Mercury's doing his inaugural concert on Olympus 5 about now in hypertime. Do you want to join me in the gods there - best seats in the house?
PETRUS: Yes, thanks a lot. I wondered where he'd gone.
(5 second pause)
LARA: (coughing): I have now very sore throat. I wonder what she did to it.
CORNPONE: I feel like I've been asleep for about 150 years. So stiff. Well, Claudio, did you hear what you needed to?
PETRUS: Have you forgotten so fast? I did not come here as a neophyte but a fellow channeller. You may have been intending to put on some silly spectacle. Better yet, you may not have realised how effective you both are as channels.
LARA: And how effective is that?
PETRUS: (Pulls out a walkman cassette recorder from inside his jacket) Let us all find out. I'll just rewind the tape and we'll learn who said what to whom.
FRAGMENT THREE BREAKS OFF HERE
(The International Court of Justice. The Judge sits on a raised dias. Lara sits on stage left, Helena on stage right.)
VOICE OFF: Silence in court. Case 564 Petrus versus Lee; final day. Judge Walter T Hercules presiding. All stand.
(Hercules enters and sits down)
JUDGE: Be seated. Before we begin this final day's proceedings with the eyes of the world and the ears of posterity attending to us, let me repeat a few basic rules of procedure. I will tolerate no disruption of any kind, no whispering between any persons and no noise of any kind. I expect counsel to perform their summing up in a cool, objective and succinct manner without any hint of any rhetoric that could be construed by me as playing to the gallery. Any infraction of these simple rules will induce me to clear the court and abandon proceedings for the day. Appearing for Mr Claudio Petrus is Doctor Lara Lomonosova while appearing for Mr Harry Lee Teck Ming is Professor Helena Hart. Doctor Lomonosova as counsel for the plaintiff is to begin.
LARA: If it please the court, I will summarise the case for my client by reducing our claim to its most essential principles. We have submitted over 3000 pages of documentary evidence of lives destroyed by Euphoria addiction all round the world, backed by visual records and sworn testimony. We therefore have asked for an injunction against the continuing production or sale of the product anywhere in the world. We also request that damages be awarded against Mr Lee both to compensate his victims and also to recompense Mr Petrus for wrongful dismissal and libel in over 13 disparate jurisdictions. The service contracts Mr Petrus has with the companies controlled by Mr Lee are clear that termination can only occur on proof of gross misconduct. We contend such misconduct means criminal acts, colluding with the competitors of the companies controlled by Mr Lee, or extreme negligence. This interpretation has the authority of leading cases we have quoted from all 13 jurisdictions. We have also shown none of these grounds validly applies to Mr Petrus. I trust your honour does not find my summation unduly wordy.
JUDGE: Indeed no. Now, Professor Hart, it is to be hoped you will be equally succinct.
HELENA: As your honour directs, I summarise the defendant's case in the time it takes him to drink a glass of water. We have presented 3500 pages of sworn evidence of cases where Euphoria has saved lives, has rendered the lives of the terminally ill or the horribly wounded immeasurably better. We have also shown that the security arrangements now in operation make it impossible for any unauthorised person to access the drug, except by stealing from an authorised end user. We contend the dismissal of Mr Petrus was validly done as we have shown that by word and by deed he had become the enemy of the companies and of the group. In particular, his public decrial of Euphoria when still a director of the companies involved in its production and marketing is gross misconduct of a quite insupportable kind. Finally, we have argued that anything Mr Lee has said or written about Mr Petrus is fair comment and not libellous in any legal sense. The defence thus rests.
JUDGE: Well done, Counsel, exept for the quite unnecessary reference to my drinjing a glass of water. I too will be succinct in my judgment, but not so succinct as to be oracular. Taking first the libel question. We must ask did Mr Lee use words causing right minded and reasonable people to think less well of Mr Petrus than they had done before? Of course they did. On the other hand, many would think that purporting to communicate with ancient mythical characters is an activity meriting comment considerably more caustic than 'someone whose judgment has been warped by excess exposure to mumbo jumbo' and that is the worst that Mr Lee said. So while I do not say Mr Lee's remarks were in all respects fair comment, I certainly cannot sustain the view that they amounted to libel, in the present climate of opinion about such matters in circles that the court is bound to recognise. On that I find for the defendant.
The question of unfair dismissal and the linked question of gross misconduct, I have heard very different arguments about the correct constuction to be put on the word misconduct. What is incontestable is that we are here dealing with a contractual term, not a wider social usage. The question then is what did the parties contemplate by the word misconduct when they signed the service contracts. Did it mean different things at different times, or in different places? If so, is misconduct in Canada grounds for dismissal in the very different culture prevailing in China? In contracts spanning more than one jurisdiction, the key place is often held to be the primary place of performance. This will not help us much, as Mr Petrus was clearly expected to operate on a global basis, and the only universal consensus one mught discover across cultures as to what is meant by misconduct is something rather less than what any one culture would consider criminal. The word misconduct is not one that corporations can re-interpret at the will of their chief executive officers. It is true that Mr Petrus has raised matters in various forums that are against the financial interests of his former employers around the world, but are we to regard the interests of a corporation as starting and finishing with what some are pleased to call 'the bottom line?' If this were so, then the phrase found in any school of management and any business program of training would mean nothing more than raising profits. The phrase to which I allude is 'organisational development'. How is such a notion possible unless it assumes that a corporation, like an individual person, is capable of evelving from the primitive to the civilised plane of existence? The question thus becomes; has Mr Petrus by his remarks caused the organisations for which he worked to, as it were, raise their game, to become more thoughtful corporate citizens? I am persuaded that the answer to these questions is in the affirmative. I therefore judge in favour of Mr Petrus in the matter of his wrongful dismissal and award him damages in the sum of 5 years of his contractual entitlement to salary, fees and one half of one percent of the net profits before tax of every company from which he has been dismissed by Mr Lee.
Finally I turn to the matter of the drug Euphoria. Is it to be grouped with Heroin, Lysergic Acid and Cocaine or is it to be grouped with Prozac, Aspirin and Penicillin? Is it so noxious as to put beyond the pale of respectability and legality or is it merely a powerful drug to be controlled like any other? Dr Lomonosova has shown us cases of addiction, illegal trading through criminal gangs and adulteration of the product by unscrupulous pushers. Professor Hart has argued that no product of the pharmaceutical industry is beyond the reach of such malefactors. She says that Morphine, antibiotics and even the common or garden Aspirin have been subject to abuse, but they are available to patients through proper protocols initiated by qualified doctors. She argues that anesthetics, pain-killers and anti-depressants are sui generis with Euphoria. With that contention I find myself in reluctant disagreement. Euphoria is not sui generis with those products, but is sharply distinguishable from them. The transformation of physical pain into physical pleasure is an entirely new process in the history of the medicinal and pharmaceutical sciences. Such a drug makes gods of mankind in the way it frees us from the slavery to the body that the chains of physical suffering had always imposed on us. Dr Lomonosova contends with some force that mankind is not ready for such a liberation, being largely incapable of the self-discipline required. The same could be said of the firearm as is said of this new drug. And how have we coped with firearms over the centuries? By making them difficult to acquire, by equipping the state with their ownership and control, and by punishing the unauthorised possession of deadly weapons. Such control has been imperfect, made no easier by enshrining the right to bear arms in the constitutions of certain powerful countries. However, mankind has largely survived the threat of firearms and more and more countries are turning the so called right to bear arms into a privilege available only to the legitimately authorised few. I find many parallels between firearms and Euphoria from the jurisprudential point of view. I do not find it to be an irredeemly noxious substance. I do not presume to judge the maturity of mankind in general. On such a footing I find that Dr Lomonosova has not made a strong enough case for the general ban against the production and marketing which she seeks. I find that Professor Hart has shown, on a balance of probabilities, that Euphoria should be available to the medical profession, and that suitably strong safeguards against its misappropriation are now in place. Individual states must legislate as they see fit, but, as a general proposition, I rule that needy patients should not be denied the benefits of the new drug, Euphoria.
(The lobby of an upmarket brothel, which resembles the reception area of a boutique hotel. Enter Helena and Lara in sharp suits, arm in arm and slightly the worse for drink.)
RECEPTIONIST: Hello, ladies, welcome to Hades, the bitches' brothel with the bounciest baby big-boys. Do you have appointments?
HELENA: We do. Hazel and Lynda Lee.
RECEPTIONIST: (Looks in book) Yes, here we are. Are you sisters?
LARA: Sisters in law (laughing) in more than one way.
HELENA: (singing, a little drunkenly) Never were there such devoted sisters.
RECEPTIONIST: You have both booked the same man. That's a little unusual, isn't it?
HELENA: Oh really? I wouldn't know. We both find Jerry quite without equal.
LARA: And we discovered by accident that he serves us both, so we thought it would be perfect to be served together. Oh don't look so quizzible-
HELENA: That's quizzical, darling, not quizzible.
LARA: Yes please, quizzical. Summer may come but once a year but Jerry comes when he is bidded-
HELENA: Bidden, dear, bidden.
LARA: Soglasyen. Bidden. Nice word bidden. Nearly rhymes with kitten.
HELENA: And kitten puts me in mind of pussy and mine is getting itchy, so where is our stallion? Boy, where are you?
RECEPTIONIST: I'm sorry, I'll ring him. (Does so) Jerry - the Lee sisters are here. (Rings off) He'll be down in 5 seconds.
LARA: One, two, three, four, five. Where is he? Always the liar (Enter Cornpone in a black jumpsuit)
CORNPONE: (Stretching out his arms and runs to both women who open their arms to receive him) Ladies!
Background music as cast takes curtain calls: "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" by the Marvelettes
FRAGMENT FOUR ENDS HERE