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Episode 7 - The Manipulation



INT.  RUBY’S OFFICE.

RUBY
(surprised) Edward!  Hi. Knocking before entering would be nice.

EDWARD
Why?  Are you afraid I might catch you in an act of betrayal?  Oh, wait, that has already happened.

RUBY
What are you talking about?  What is wrong with you?

EDWARD
Oh you act so innocent.  Of course you would NEVER betray your husband, your life partner, the person with whom you vowed to share all your worldly goods.

RUBY
(sighing) Alright Ed, out with it.  What has upset you this time?  Or would it be more accurate to ask what has upset Flora this time?

EDWARD
You leave her out of this.  You have always been jealous of her.  She is just a sweet, innocent young girl and you have resented her since the day she was born.

RUBY
That is not true Ed.  I love Flora.  She is my youngest daughter.  I love her just as much as I love Brick and River.  You are the one who has been driving a wedge between us her entire life.  You are the one who teaches her to disrespect me and panders to her every whim.  You leave me no choice but to be the disciplinarian all the time.  Even then, you totally undermine every structure or routine I try to put in place for her. Well, she is 15 now and has to start learning there are consequences to her actions.

EDWARD
You do not love her equally to the other two.  They are the progeny of the magical and perfect Antonio Murello.  A man who died before any of his imperfections could emerge.

RUBY
Oh Edward.  Do we really have to have this conversation over and over again?  Tony and I were married for 15 years, and we had two children together.  Of course he had flaws.  So do I.  It was not a perfect marriage but we agreed on many things, including the discipline of the children.  Tony and I were friends as well as husband and wife, which seems to be more than I can say for the two of us.

EDWARD
Yes, and that is why you love the other two children more than Flora. You treat them much better than Flora and yesterday was a perfect example.  You didn’t care how she felt.  You didn’t bother to find out if there was any reason behind her absences.  You didn’t insist you take a moment to talk with her in private. Oh no, you just let Brick and that self important niece of yours make up lies.  And then, to make it worse, you let your brother – the man who is supposed to be her loving uncle – kick her out of the launch on the spot.

RUBY
You know that is not how it was Ed.

EDWARD
I don’t know anything of the sort.  I was there.  If it looked that way to me, how betrayed and abandoned do you think poor Flora felt.  Not to mention embarrassed and humiliated.  She is just starting out on her career.  She is young and vulnerable and you all just hit her with a sledge hammer.

RUBY
Oh, Ed.  Oh, god.  I didn’t think of it that way.  Honestly.  All I was thinking was she was being her usual bratty teenage self and needed to be disciplined.

EDWARD
See.  You don’t love her.  What mother would talk about her child in that manner?

RUBY
I do love her.  I can love her and yet see her for who she is turning into.  That is what I am trying to prevent.  I want Flora to grow up and be a fully rounded adult.  One who has personal and professional self discipline.

EDWARD
She is an artist!

RUBY
She isn’t one yet, but I am hoping this company will help her develop those talents and skills if this is what she really wants to do with her life.

EDWARD
Of course she does.  It’s in the blood.

RUBY
Edward, we can’t force her.  She will be given the opportunity to learn from and work with some of the most talented people in the industry, but she is only 15.  Teenagers change their minds all the time about what they want to do when they leave school.  Acting looks cool and glamorous to her right now, but I think yesterday she got her first glimpse of the rigour and cut throat aspects of the work.

EDWARD
What would you know about it?  You’ve never acted.

RUBY
That is true, but Michael’s entire family – including his dead wife April – have been in the industry for decades at a very high level, and my son Brick trained at RADA, and my daughter River has just graduated from Yale in theatre management.  I have not done it myself, but I trust the people around me to know what they are talking about, and everyone at that meeting agreed that we could not risk Flora at the launch.

EDWARD
I am your husband which means this company is as much mine as yours.  I am telling you that Flora will be performing at the launch.

RUBY
No.

EDWARD
(goes to bar and pours himself a drink, has a swig and then turns back to her, his demeanour changed to one of charm) Oh, my beauty, how did we end up in this row?  I’m sorry.  You know I love you until forever. (crosses to Ruby, pulls her out of her chair and holds her gently)

RUBY
Really?

EDWARD
Of course I do. (gently kisses her).  I just get a bit overprotective of Flora.  She is such a delicate and insecure child and I worry that she will get swamped by the large personalities in this family.

RUBY
I love her too Edward.  I would never let anything bad happen to her.  You know that.

EDWARD
Of course, my precious gem.  I just think you had your mind on so many things with the launch that you failed to see her this time, and see the hurt inflicted – callously too. (kisses her again)

RUBY
Maybe.  I don’t think anyone intended to hurt her though.  There is always going to be a fine line between what is good for the company and what is good for the family.

EDWARD
Isn’t it more important to nurture Flora’s budding and delicate talent?  She is your daughter.  You also need to trust that she will do well.  Don’t you have any faith in her?

RUBY
(pulling away) Of course I do.  I believe that if she attends rehearsals she will be amazing.  It is just too late now to include her in the main showcase.

EDWARD
It is never too late beautiful.

RUBY
River did make an excellent suggestion this morning regarding Flora.

EDWARD
(irritated again)  And what did Flora’s loving big sister propose?

RUBY
River suggested that perhaps you and Flora could work up a duet to close the speeches and transition into the networking.  Kind of cabaret style perhaps.

EDWARD
Well isn’t that generous of her.  We can be the background music.

RUBY
It isn’t like that Ed.  You would get to choose whatever music you wished, so you can pick something that would really showcase the two of you.  I thought you could wear your tux and we could send Flora out to buy a gown of her choice –

EDWARD
(Cutting her off)  So we don’t even get costumes!

RUBY
Oh Edward, there just isn’t time for Emerald to design and make something.  The Launch is only two days away.

EDWARD
(grudgingly)  Alright, alright.  I guess it’s better than nothing.  Get Michael and Gustav at the piano at 2 o’clock and Flora and I will be there with our material.

RUBY
There isn’t time for Gustav to do this either.  I have found another repetiteur for you to work with.  I don’t think Michael has time either.  I was thinking you might prefer to direct this yourself, and make it something which is really showcasing the talents of both of you.  After all, you know Flora best and she listens to you more that she listens to anyone else.

EDWARD
Let me get this straight.  We are going to be background singers in bought clothes, a second rate pianist, having to choose our own material, and no director.  Is this really what you are proposing?

RUBY
It’s the best I can do Ed.  We all want you both to be a part of this.  It is a family venture and both of your are important members of that family.  Unfortunately, your initial refusal to participate and Flora’s lax attitude to rehearsals has left us with no time now and no alternatives.  I am doing the best I can.

EDWARD
(thinking for a moment) Alright beautiful.  We will do it.  Watch this space.  We will knock your socks off.  I have to go.  There is a lot of preparations to take care of.


END.

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