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The Very Worst Scam in the World

 

CREDITS

FADE IN: Eric is leaning against a building on a moderately busy city street in the middle of the day. Squatting beside him is a young man (Phil) in a disheveled old jacket begging for money (a baseball cap is in front of him). Occasional someone would toss him some coins.

 

Eric

So then my sister finishes her third glass of wine and starts telling me that I’ll never get anywhere in life and that’s when Dad tries to change the subject to politics and then everyone starts yelling because he’s like a borderline fascist who really gets a kick out of using ethnic slurs whenever he can.

 

Phil

Tough spot. (to passerby) Spare change?

 

Eric

Yeah, so he starts ranting about immigration too loudly and the table next to us starts talking back and before you knew it we’re being kicked out of the reception before the best man even starts his speech. Thing is, they haven’t given out those taxi chit coupons things yet, and we’re all too drunk to drive all the cars we brought. So ten of us squeeze into my cousin’s mini-van, driven by my mostly sober mother who’s never gotten behind the wheel of anything bigger than a Civic.

 

Phil

Spare change? (to Eric) Sounds like a laugh. (to stranger) Spare change?

 

Eric

And I’m sitting in the passenger seat trying to give mom directions with my brother’s wife on my lap because he’s on the floor of the van writhing around drunk, trying not to throw up, which is tough ‘cause Mom always over steers left turns.

 

Phil (counting change)

Sounds like a fun time for all. I think I’ve got enough, let’s go.

 

Phil stands up and the two of them walk down the street - Phil tosses the old jacket into a garbage can on the way – to a parked car.

 

Phil (putting change in parking meter)

Is your brother’s wife hot?

 

Eric

I plead the fifth.

 

Phil

So she’s smoking, then. What time do you got?

 

Eric (checking watch)

Three o’clock exactly.

 

Phil

Shit, we’d better motor. (walking briskly down the street towards a park) Did you know nine year olds can tell time? They called me on being late for practice the last three times.

 

Eric

Where’s all your batting equipment and stuff?

 

Phil

I let one of the crappy players handle it. Makes him feel important.

 

Eric

Is that that caring side of you I never see?

 

Phil

Must be. And it was so hard to choose which player ‘cause so many of them are just awful. Can’t hit, can’t field, all they can do is chant.

 

They come up to the baseball field. The bleachers are nearly full.

 

Eric

There’s Rich in bleachers. (going towards bleachers) Good luck, coach.

 

Phil (calling after Eric)

We need to get out of this rut, Eric. I can’t take much more of this.

 

Parent from bleachers (to Phil)

Hey! Why isn’t my kid batting cleanup?!

 

Phil (muttering to himself as he goes to his team)

What the hell is cleanup?

 

He approaches the kids. They look at him slightly unimpressed.

 

Phil

Hey team, feel good about today’s game?

 

Player #1

You’re late.

 

Phil

What, no ‘I feel great coach, we’re gonna finally win a match’ talk?

 

Player #1

But you are late.

 

Phil

No, you’re all early. I said be here at three.

 

Player #2

The game started at three.

 

Player #3

It’s the middle of the first inning.

 

Phil looks to the field and sees the game is indeed in progress.

 

Phil

Oh. Shit. (looks to players, then quickly) I mean, damn…no, darn…darn…

 

Players looks at each other. One mouths ‘dumbass’. Phil watches the game. There is a close play at first base, and the umpire calls the player safe.

 

Phil

What?! No way! That’s crazy! He was out! Out by a mile!

 

Umpire looks at Phil confused.

 

Phil

Don’t look at me like that! (yelling across to other team) What, are you paying the ump off?

 

Player #5

We’re batting, coach.

 

Phil

What?

 

Player #2

We just got a single.

 

Phil looks at them, then to the game. Everyone is staring at him.

 

Phil

Never mind! Play ball! (turning to team) Why are both teams dressed in white? Why doesn’t one team wear their away uniforms? Don’t they know how confusing it is? (looks back to game as an ‘out’ is called at home plate) Holy shit they’ve got a good pitcher. We’re gonna have our asses handed to us on a plate.

 

CUT TO: The bleachers. Eric and Richard are sitting there among the parents.

 

Richard

So if Phil gets booted from coaching before the end of the season, does it still count as him finishing his community service?

 

Eric

No idea. If it’s like probation, then no, he’s gotta start all over again.

 

Richard (reaching into cooler beside him, taking out a large bottle of beer)

Too bad there’s not a little kid billiards league. Phil’d win coach of the year.

 

Eric

Drinking?

 

Richard

Why not? It’s a baseball game.

 

Eric

It’s three in the afternoon. And all the players are nine.

 

Richard

It’s not like I’m offering them any. (short pause) How’s work?

 

CUT TO: Eric at his job as a tech support customer service representative. He is listening to a call in his cubicle listlessly.

 

Eric

Okay…okay… can I stop you right there, sir? Just- hold on, just go to help in the main menu and type in ‘screensaver’. (pause) That’s ‘s’…’c’…’r’…

 

A manager enters Eric’s cubicle.

 

Eric (into phone)

Ah, excuse me a moment. (to manager) Yes, sir?

 

Manager

Eric, it would be best if you sat upright, and presented yourself in a more professional manner when dealing with our clients.

 

Eric (after a moment)

Sir, do you realize I’m one of the few people here who constantly wear pants?

 

CUT TO: Eric drinking a coffee in the lunchroom. He is hit by a spitball from behind.

 

Eric (turning)

What the hell?!

 

Two employees are there. Neither of them are wearing pants, just boxer shorts and a business shirt.

 

Employee #1

Hey, man! Just ‘cause management’s breathing down your neck doesn’t mean you can go ratting us out!

 

Employee #2

Scab!

 

CUT TO: Little league bleachers with Eric and Richard.

 

Richard

That sucks the royal dong, Eric.

 

Eric

Yeah, Phil was just telling me how he needs to get out of this funk, this rut, whatever we’re doing with our lives right now. He’s probably right.

 

Richard

Strange how it’s bad to be in a funk, but great to be funky…

 

Eric (after taking that thought in)

You didn’t do any pre-drinking before the game, did you?

 

CUT TO: A player getting a hit and running to first. Phil watches this happily.

 

Phil

Good job, slugger! Way to go, uh…slugger! (turning to team on bench) See that? That’s how it’s done. He’s on our team, right?

 

Team

Yes.

 

Phil

Good. Who has to go on deck?

 

Player #3

Me.

 

Phil

Okay, slugger. Go show ‘em who’s boss.

 

CUT TO: Richard and Eric watching the game. Another guy comes up and sits beside them.

 

Peter

Sorry, I’m late. Has Phil spit at the umpire yet?

 

Richard

No, but he gave one of them the finger when their back was turned.

 

Peter (yelling to Phil)

Attaboy, Phil! Fight the power!

 

Eric

How was class?

 

Peter

Boring. How was work?

 

Eric

Same. (to Richard) How was whatever you do when we’re not around?

 

Richard

It was…(guzzle beer)…television-y.

 

Phil comes over and sits beside them.

 

Phil (takes beer out of Richard’s cooler)

Hey, Pete.

 

Peter

Hey, Phil. Shouldn’t you be…y’know…coaching?

 

Phil

Ah, the game’s over.

 

Richard

Your team’s batting.

 

Phil

I mean it’s pretty much over.

 

Eric (getting up and walking off)

Excuse me a sec.

 

At home plate, the batter swings and misses. The ump calls out and the game is over.

 

Phil

See? Do I know this game or what?

 

Peter

So how’d you guys do?

 

Phil

You weren’t watching?

 

Peter

I just got here.

 

Phil

Lost. Twelve to three. They all suck.

 

Peter

Too bad. Sounds like the coaching is top notch.

 

The teams are exchanging handshakes over home plate. Phil sees this and stands.

 

Phil

Yes, yes, good job everyone. (raises his beer for a toast) Great hustle. (sits back down) Only six more games left.

 

Peter

Unless you make the playoffs.

 

Phil

Yeah, well, god forbid.

 

Richard (motioning to another spot in the park)

Check it out, Eric’s doing his baby photos things.

 

The three look over to Eric, who is chatting with a young woman with a baby stroller. Eric is showing her photos in his wallet. There is polite laughter between the two, then Eric starts to talk about more quietly and serious. The young woman suddenly looks shocked and sympathetic. Eric gives her a card from his back pocket, and he talks a bit more, eventually breaking down into some tears. The woman consoles him with assurances and a rub of his arm. With some final words and weak smiles, the two go their separate ways.

 

Richard

Sometimes that guy is milkshake smooth.

 

Phil (as Eric returns)

How much did you get?

 

Eric

She’s gonna send me a cheque for my leukemia-infested boy…or girl. (looks at the two photos in his hands) Shit, what picture did I show her?

 

Peter (standing up)

You’re all going to hell. Let’s get a drink.

 

Eric

I have to stop at the bank on the way. I was hoping to squeeze drinking money out of her.

 

Richard (standing up)

You aren’t gonna say anything to your team?

 

Phil

Ah, they know how I feel about them.

 

Peter

That’s exactly the problem, Phil.

 

CUT TO: The four walking down the street, past a bank.

 

Eric

Hold up, I’m just gonna stop in here.

 

Phil

Just meet us there. We’ll be one block down.

 

Eric

I’ll just be a minute.

 

Richard

That’s a whole minute I could be drinking.

 

Phil

And Peter’s crazy ex lives around here, and we don’t want to risk a run-in. Right, Pete?

 

Peter (trying to hold his jacket in front of his face)

Yeah, exactly. Keep moving.

 

CUT TO: Eric in the bank, talking to teller, holding cheque in front of her.

 

Eric

So even though it’s not technically the correct date you can see how because of the duress under which it was signed proves that this is legitimate cheque that has already been recognized by two separate financial institutions.

 

Teller

Okay, fine, sir just give me a minute to find the right forms, (hands Eric sheet of paper), and here’s your updated account balance.

 

Eric (taking sheet)

Thanks. (looks it over) Hold on, what the hell are all these service charges?! I make it a point to use only this bank’s ATMs so I can avoid them!

 

Teller

Sir, they’re just standard-

 

Eric (still reading)

Transfer fees? This is the biggest one dollar rip off I’ve ever seen! It’s a scam! It’s nothing but a cheap…pathetic…

 

As Eric gets angrier he looks around, just as the bank vault is being opened. Starring into it, Eric slowly loses focuses and just gazes in. A choir begins to sing. The piles of money inside seem to shine brighter than the sun. Eric looks like has just had an epiphany. CUT TO: Eric at the bar with Phil, Peter, and Richard. They have their own table, beers in hand.

 

Eric

See, I’m sick of people always blaming the low end scammers like us.

 

Peter

I don’t really think I’m a-

 

Eric

Just give me the floor for a sec, Pete. See, I was jacked around in the bank right now with transfer fees and service charges and all that, and it’s obviously just another way to rip you off where you can’t do anything about it. But it’s not just the bank. Everything’s a scam! The government’s a tax money scam, high school’s a prison scam, cable TV is a package deal scam, gas stations are car addiction scams, the speed limit is a traffic scam, and health insurance plans are nothing but fifty year long games of Russian roulette! Even people who do real honest work like doctors and janitors and cops try to scam the system by working half assed most of the time. When people buy houses or cars, the salesman is trying to scam them, and they’re trying to scam the salesman! And in the end no matter what you do with your life you’re going to end up dead! Life is the biggest scam of all!

 

Pause.

 

Richard

They’re only service charges, Eric.

 

Eric (ignoring Richard)

So here’s what we do. We start a bank and keep the money.

 

Peter

Keep the money.

 

Eric

Yeah.

 

Peter

You mean steal the money.

 

Eric

Whatever. When people give us enough cash, we take it all and hightail it somewhere.

 

Richard

Where?

 

Eric

I don’t know. South America.

 

Richard

Like Brazil?

 

Eric

It doesn’t matter right-

 

Phil

They speak what there, Spanish or Portuguese?

 

Peter

I think it’s Portuguese.

 

Richard

They speak Portuguese in Portugal.

 

Eric

And in Brazil. But we can worry about that later.

 

Phil

Why do they speak Portuguese in Brazil?

 

Peter

Why do we speak English in America?

 

Eric

Look, I’m trying to tell you-

 

Phil (to Peter)

Wait, wait, wait, did you ask your question to make a point, or are you really asking why we all speak english here?

 

Eric

Jesus Christ guys, give me just five minutes to explain.

 

Phil

You told us. We open a bank and take the money as it comes in.

 

Eric

Yeah…

 

Phil

So what else is there are to argue about?

 

Eric

You already want to do it?

 

Phil

Yeah. I’m in.

 

Peter

Hold on.

 

Richard

Yeah. I’m in.

 

Peter

Wait, hold on. This is crazy.

 

Eric (to Phil)

See? I knew I’d have to spend time convincing somebody. (to Peter) Come on, man.

 

Peter

Okay, begging for change and hitting on soccer moms is one thing, but this a whole different ball game. A ball game with heavy jail time.

 

Eric

We won’t get caught.

 

Peter

We will.

 

Eric

We won’t.

 

Peter

We will.

 

Eric

Look there’s no point arguing like this, so just say, ‘sure Eric, I’ll do it’.

 

Peter

I won’t.

 

Eric

You will.

 

Peter

I won’t.

 

Eric

Look, these people are gonna be screwed out of their money somehow, why can’t it be by us?

 

Phil

And think about it, Pete. Would you rather a big, faceless corporation screw them over, or hard working shmoes like us?

 

Peter

Well, I’d rather no one screw anyone over.

 

Eric

Well that’s just not an option.

 

Phil

Look, we won’t even, y’know, put our names on the legal forms and shit. We’ll get someone else to do it.

 

Peter

Who?

 

Eric

I got it. My grandfather’ll do it.

 

Richard

Isn’t he…y’know…(does crazy motion on the side of his head)

 

Eric

Exactly. It’s perfect. He’ll never check up on us and they’ll never send a senile old man to jail. (short pause) At least not in this state.

 

Peter

Well-

 

Phil

Come on, man. It’s bulletproof. We’ll have kick ass access to the cash, and we can have three day head start before anyone knows what up if we leave on the Friday before a long weekend.

 

Pause. Peter looks like he may crack. The three look on expectantly.

 

Peter

I couldn’t take an old woman’s life savings.

 

Eric

Fine. No old people accounts.

 

Phil

Good. It’ll keep the line moving faster.

 

Peter

Or single moms, either.

 

Eric (sighs)

Okay…

 

Phil

It’s not like they’ve got any money, anyway.

 

Peter

And I don’t think we should take money from-

 

Eric

Holy shit, Pete. What kind of people are we gonna let use our bank? Just rich, selfish, stupid people?

 

Richard

Well if they’re really rich, we’ll only need about four of them.

 

Peter

Maybe I shouldn’t have anything to do with this.

 

Eric

Aw, no, man. We need someone with some business experience.

 

Phil

Yeah, we’re gonna have to spin some pretty convincing bullshit about…um… investments…and fees…

 

Richard

And bone up on our math skills.

 

Phil (with a pseudo-gang gesture)

Just use a calculator, bitch.

 

Eric (to Peter)

So you’re in.

 

Peter

I’m… on the fence.

 

Eric

Good enough. Okay, first we’re gonna need capital.

 

CUT TO: The four of them stumbling down a residential street drunk.

 

Richard

I want to be president!

 

Eric

 It was my idea! So I would be president, but my incapacitated grandfather is gonna be president instead!

 

Richard

Then I’ll be vice president. Of sales.

 

Phil

Peter’s secretary.

 

Peter

We should all be tellers. They’re, like, the grunts of the banking world. No one would ever suspect the teller.

 

Eric (coming right up beside Phil)

Phil…Phil…hold up…

 

Phil

What?

 

Eric

Look, I’m glad you’re really into this, and I told you about it because I know I can trust you, but you can’t have anything to do with this.

 

Phil

What? Why not?

 

Eric

You’ve got a criminal record.

 

Phil

Oh, no one cares about that anymore. It’s like polio. Just ignore it and it goes away.

 

Eric

Look, whatever you do, they’re kinda watching you…

 

Phil

‘Kinda watching you?’ What, has Big Brother gotten retarded?

 

Richard (coming beside the two of them)

Who’s retarded?

 

Phil

Jesus Christ, dude. I got drunk and took a swing at a cop. I didn’t stab a nun or anything like that.

 

Richard

And all that community service for the high school vandalism…

 

Phil

Keep out of this, willya? (calling down the steet) Pete, they’re trying to squeeze me out!

 

Peter is up ahead, trying to stick his hands down a sewer grate.

 

Peter

Just a sec.

 

Richard

What’s the problem?

 

Peter

I dropped my keys down into the sewer…accidentally.

 

Richard

Completely accidentally, or doing something stupid accidentally?

 

Peter (struggling)

Uh, the second one. Ow!

 

Phil

I’ll handle this. There are some problems that have solutions unknown to law abiding. (glares at Eric, who rolls his eyes. Phil looks to Peter) First take off your pants.

 

Peter

What?

 

Richard

Huh?

 

Phil

Trust me. And I’ll need to use your belt, too.

 

Eric

You can make even the most normal activity slightly illegal, can’t you?

 

CUT TO: Phil sticking Peter’s slacks down the sewer grate. Peter’s is crouched beside him.

 

Phil

Dude, not so close. I can feel your leg hairs.

 

Peter (moving back a bit)

Sorry.

 

Phil (maneuvering with the belt)

See the crotch of the pants makes for a good base, covering all the sewer holes, and you just need to use the belt to nudge the keys or whatever onto the pants. And then you just pull up and…(grabs keys through grate)…volia!

 

Peter

Sweet.

 

Eric (clapping)

Bravo, bravo. Too bad his pants are covered in shit.

 

Phil

A minor detail.

 

Richard

Wow, Phil, I suddenly have a bit more respect for you. It almost makes up for your lousy coaching.

 

Phil (warm)

I’ve fished a lot of things out of gutters. (to Eric) So? Am I in, or what?

 

Eric

What does this have to do you with you being in on the bank scheme?

 

Phil

It proves I’m a problem solver.

 

Peter (to Eric)

Why weren’t you going to include Phil?

 

Eric

He’s got a record.

 

Peter

So what?

 

Eric

Well, I don’t know, I figured it would just make it more difficult.

 

Richard

If we’re gonna commit a crime, it makes sense to have a criminal in on it.

 

Eric

Well, all right, I just wanted to make sure we're all okay with Phil being involved.

 

The four begin to walk down the street again, Peter dragging his pants behind him.

 

Phil

And if worse comes to worse, I can teach you guys all the tricks to survive in prison.

 

Eric

Too bad you didn’t go to prison. You just paid a fine and were told to coach a little league team.

 

Phil

Yeah, I’ve been to hell and back.

 

We hear faint jingling.

 

Eric

Stop playing with your keys, Pete.

 

The jingling stops. CUT TO:

 

END OF SAMPLE