Emma’s Undoing, A Play

 Emma’s Undoing

A Play by Shelly Oria
(Excerpt)
Three people sitting at a restaurant. This is a business meeting. SERGEY has a very thick Russian accent, very basic English. EMMA is beautiful. BARCO is younger than both of them, nasal voice.
BARCO
Do you see what I’m saying, though?
SERGEY
Yees…yees.
EMMA
I think he sees what you’re saying.
BARCO
You do? You do? That’s wonderful. I’m happy to hear that.
(Pause. To EMMA)
So you would say the meeting is going well?
EMMA
(to SERGEY)
Do you think the meeting is going well?
SERGEY
Yees.
EMMA
(to BARCO)
Yes, I would say that.
BARCO
Wonderful, wonderful. I was concerned. Very agitated, very, what’s the word?
EMMA
Horny.
(BARCO laughs a nervous laugh)
BARCO
Why…why would you say that?
EMMA
I say what I think, I can’t help it. I have a disorder.
BARCO
But—why would you think…
EMMA
Oh, I see things. I’m sorry, are you embarrassed? I see things and then I have to point them out. But enough. We’re ignoring the Russian. It’s very rude.
(BARCO is distracted but he tries to get his act together)
BARCO
Okay, so what I’m saying is – let’s say I want to have a party at my apartment, and I want a hundred people to show up. Ok, Sergey? You know party?
(BARCO makes dancing moves to explain ‘party’. SERGEY is frozen)
EMMA
Party, Sergey.
SERGEY
Oh…party. Yees.
BARCO
(slowly and loudly)
And I want to have a hundred people come over, right?
SERGEY
You have big apartment, yes?
BARCO
No, no, this is just an example, it’s not for real.
SERGEY
(laughs)
You have big apartment, you don’t need Sergey money…
(BARCO looks at EMMA)
EMMA
It’s a joke, Barco, lighten up. It’s Russian humor.
BARCO
(to EMMA)
Should I continue…?
EMMA
Yes, yes, go on for Christ sake or we’ll never be out of here.
(BARCO is about to start talking twice, but he stops himself each time)
BARCO
(to EMMA)
I’m not sure it’s the right metaphor. Maybe I should start over?
EMMA
Metaphor?
BARCO
The party. I’m not sure it’s the right metaphor.
EMMA
It’s a metaphor? That’s not good. Russians don’t do metaphors.
BARCO
What? But why didn’t you –
EMMA
Just go on, will you? I’ll find a way around it, don’t worry.
BARCO
Now it really doesn’t feel right…
EMMA
Sergey, we are leaving.
(EMMA and SERGEY are about to get up, BARCO holds EMMA’S hand and they both stop)
BARCO
Fine, fine. I’ll go on.
(Beat)
So I want a hundred people right? Let’s say I look around, there’s about a hundred people in this restaurant, right? Let’s say I invite all of them, and for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume they all RSVP. Two things will happen. One, I will never have a hundred people because there’s always a percentage of people who RSVP but don’t show up, and two, I have no control over who these people are, right? They can be hairdressers, bookkeepers, who the fuck knows who comes to this restaurant, right? But now let’s say instead of inviting everybody here in this restaurant, I go to my friend who knows a lot of people, and I tell him, help me throw this party. My friend says, Okay, this is Alice, she’s in fashion, she knows everyone in fashion, she’ll make sure they come, this is Sharon, she’s in publishing, she knows everyone in publishing, she’ll make sure they come etc etc. This way, thanks to my friend, I will have enough people, and they would be the right people for my party, you know? Do you see what I’m saying, Sergey? I want to be your friend.
(Pause)
SERGEY
Friend? You want friend?
BARCO
No, what I mean is-
SERGEY
Friend, no money. Business and pleasure…
(SERGEY signals no with his finger)
BARCO
No, no I mean – oh goddammit. Emma. Wait, is this Russian humor again?
EMMA
No.
(to Sergey)
He’ll be your man on the inside. He’ll make sure you know whoever you need to know. He’ll network on your behalf, and deliver results.
SERGEY
I see. But what is this about fashion?
EMMA
Nothing. Ignore it.
SERGEY
Fashion is for hussies. Sergey no hussy.
EMMA
Don’t worry, Sergey. It was just a bad example.
SERGEY
Metaphor?
EMMA
Something like that.
SERGEY
Americans…
EMMA
You’re absolutely right.
(Pause)
SERGEY
No. Tell him, next time, you say what you think, yes? No ‘examples’. No parties and fashion, yes?
(EMMA looks at BARCO)
EMMA
I think that’s it. Sorry.
BARCO
Wait, but –
EMMA
You don’t have to pay me right now, it’s okay. You can send me a check.
BARCO
But you said it was going well! You said the meeting was going well! I asked you and you said –
EMMA
It was, it was going well. Then it stopped going well, and then it started going badly, very very badly. Kind of like life, when you think about it.
(Giggles)
BARCO
No! Wait! Sergey –
EMMA
He can’t understand you.
BARCO
Stay! Don’t go! Give me another chance!
EMMA
Why, you want to tell the bicycle story now?
BARCO
What…? How did you know?
EMMA
I told you, I see things. You should pay more attention, Barco. If you did, maybe you wouldn’t need so much help.
BARCO ignores her.
BARCO
He’ll understand me. I’ll make him understand me.
(He’s trying hard. He’s very focused, speaks slowly and says some words — the words in caps — especially loudly)
Sergey. Listen. I’ve been waiting for this meeting for a long time. Really. I don’t just say that to anyone. I’ve been preparing. I did everything, absolutely everything that I could, you know? It has to go right, it just has to. See, my BROTHER, he’s SICK. You must think I’m shitting you – MAKING SHIT UP, but I’m not. Honest to God, my baby brother. Sixteen days from today there’s gonna be a RACE. People are going to bike all the way from VERMONT. That’s in the NORTH. It’s FAR. Now, I do PR, right? That’s what I do. I figured that’s the way I’d help my baby brother. All the money goes to him, for his surgery, right? People signed up, paid 50 bucks a head, but I fucked up, Sergey, I really did. I don’t have enough people, I need more publicity, and I owe money to all the equipment stores. And I only got sixteen days. That’s the God’s honest truth, Sergey — I was going to take your money and use it for this race, eh, for this RACE, to save my BROTHER. But at least I came clean now, right? I’m telling you the truth now and you can help me. Please. Please. Can you help me? Can you help me, Sergey?
(Pause)
SERGEY
No. We go now, yes? Meeting over.
BARCO
No, wait, but why, how can you –
EMMA
Easily, Barco. He sees right through you. He doesn’t understand a word you’re saying but he knows you’re full of it. It’s Russian intelligence. (beat) Let it go, Barco. I’ll try to come up with something, okay?
BARCO
(Desperate)
Really?
EMMA
No. I was just being polite. It’s part of the job. If you really want me to come up with something, you’ll have to pay up.
SREGEY
We go now.
SERGEY gets up to leave. EMMA touches his arm and he stops and waits for her, standing.
BARCO
But I can’t, that’s the whole point, I’m broke, and I’ve already paid you what I –
EMMA gets up.
EMMA
That’s life, Barco. I doubt that you’re really broke, I doubt that your baby brother’s dying – look at me for a second – no, I can’t get a good read. But either way, not my problem. I gotta make a living too, you know. In my line of work it’s always like that–desperate people, tears, begging, Emma please, Emma, help me, save me Emma, you’re my only hope. It’s disgusting. Especially the men. Women, they’re more composed. They offer whatever they have left, but if it’s not enough, they can take it. But men, oh my God, it’s revolting. All the weeping…you make me sick. Be well, Barco.
BARCO
You can’t do this.
BARCO tries to stop EMMA. SREGEY turns around, punches BARCO, who immediately falls to the floor. SERGEY kicks him hard, once.
SERGEY
(No accent)
Fucking Hooligans. Always the same shit.
EMMA
You didn’t have to do that, he wasn’t really going to hit me.
SERGEY
Let’s go.
They exit, BARCO is moaning on the floor, lights fade.
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