Easy Money (1)
Peter E Zuehlke

 


























					  




Cast of Characters_____


JOE MUNNY:			Young guy trying to make easy money

CHAIRMAN			The most powerful man in the world

FANNIE & FREDDIE (F & F)	Banking executives

CHUCK THRUSTER			Real estate / mortgage broker

LISA DE RANGER			Compulsive physical therapist

ZACKY RINGER			Retired boxer / fight promoter

GIOVANNI PANETTONE	Korean owner of expensive Italian bicycle store

OFFICER PEPPER			Police sergeant

YOUNG COP

HEALTH CLUB WOMAN






















The following story is fictional and does not depict any actual people or events.



					Scene one

SETTING:				Joe Mummyís apartment.  		Dim room
					with minimal furnishings. Door stage right. A chair and small table with a phone on it. A prominent stove.  A lit light fixture on the wall.  We can hear it raining outside. 

AT RISE:				The phone rings just as MUNNY fumbles outside with the lock on the door.  MUNNY, having a bad day, dressed in shirt and tie but no coat, with a wet newspaper over his head, enters. 

					MUNNY
		(To himself) 
Rains one day a year in L.A.  Has to be the day the damn car breaks down.  Again!

 		(He runs to the phone and 
		picks it up.)

MUNNY
Joe Munny!  Yeah, uh huh.  I understand. Iíve got all the documents together 

		(He lifts the newspaper up 
		to the phone and crumples it.)  

But Iíve been working on this for the last two weeks.  This real estate loan.  Itís very complicated. Yes. That will end up costing you more. You shouldnít. Yes. 
Well thanks any 

		(Heís cut off and hangs up 
		in disgust.)

Crap. Every time.  Thatís the third time this week. Another loan explodes.  Should be selling Real Estate, or mowing the lawns.  Make more money.   Is it me or is there some evil force working out there to get me?  Canít keep doing this.

			


					  MUNNY (Cont.)
		(He feels sorry for himself, 
		overdoing it. Cursing under 
		his breath.  He looks around 
		the bleak apartment and sees 
		the stove.  He gets down on his 
		hands and knees before the 
		stove. He opens the oven door.  
		The sounds of the storm get 
		ominously louder.  He sticks 
		his head into the oven with 
		exaggerated performance.)

MUNNY
		(From inside the oven) 
		(Big sigh) 
Itís electric.
		(He pulls out of the oven, 
		bumping his head.  
		And kneels facing it. 
		Turning a knob.)
Maybe self-cleaning.
 			(Sticks his head back in.  
		Lighting and thunder.  
		The lamp on the wall flickers.  
		The lamp goes out.  Lightening 
		flashes and the scene goes dark.)






					Scene two

						We still hear the storm, though quieter now.  There is a flash of lightening and a puff of smoke remains.  Now the light reveals the CHAIRMAN standing before us center in a pool of light, an older man in a business suit. At his feet, prostrate, are two younger people, FANNIE & FREDDIE, also in business attire.  The CHAIRMAN pulls a large cigar from an inside pocket.  And sniffs it.


					CHAIRMAN
Why do these things always smell like sulfur?
		(He walks around talking to 
		himself, and to the audience 
		directly.)
Ahh, the conundrum.  The business cycle seems to linger in this soft patch. Bond yields, interest rates have been ratcheting lower for 20 years.  And the market has invented many novel bonds to sell on wall street.  Asset and Mortgage Backed Securities, Synthetic Credit Default swap Options and myriad derivative market instruments to create more credit and liquidity.  Yet still, the economy slows.  What more could be needed than easy credit?  Well, there still is a vast reservoir of home equity that has not been liquidated.  

				(FANNIE & FREDDIE lift 
			their heads and look puzzled 
			then get up on their knees.)

					CHAIRMAN	
There never was anyone who had as much faith in the free market as I.  You might say I worship it.  No one hated socialism more.  Ayn Rand would testify to that. Bless her soul.  Everyone knows top down control of prices and markets doesnít work.  Consumers without brand loyalty, shortages, inferior productivity, long lines and moral turpitude.  

F & FCHAIRMAN, intervening in the markets could cause imbalances.

					CHAIRMAN		Well, we deregulated it. (waves his hand) Imbalances will
work themselves out.  We canít be blamed if they donít.   Since I forced Congress to get rid of the Glass Steagall Act.  Ah. My move was elegant, I just ignored the law,
giving Citigroup an exemption to merge with Soloman Smith Barney. Deregulation.  That was the start of the marriage of banking and brokerage.  A Depression era hindrance gone.  We have the macro equipment we need to build the greatest credit expansion in history. Lord knows 
		(looks around fearfully) 
weíve inflated a couple of bubbles along the way, telecom and the tech stocks.  But we need more, now.  


					CHAIRMAN (Cont.)
More credit, more lending.  My little friends, your job is to package all those real estate loans, all of them,  and donít ask any questions and sell them as collateralized debt obligations, sounds like high grade bonds on wall street.

					F &F
With all those real estate backed bonds out there, plus the treasuries, corporate and junk issues: That will force the prices down and push the interest yields up?

					CHAIRMAN
Dropping short term rates, creating a rapid expansion of credit, and by that I of course mean debt, the market will be swimming in liquidity.   More borrowing, more liquidity.  Bonds, as well as other assets, will be bid up in price, pushing yields down. So easier borrowing. As assets inflate, even better, more collateral.  As long as the cycle doesnít stop abruptly, before the finance industry can unwind . . .

					F & F
Thatís inflationary.  And could push up, not just asset prices but cause a broad increase in prices and even (gasp) labor costs.  The dollar exchange rate could be threatened.

					CHAIRMAN
Japanís printing press is running faster than ours. China needs our markets.  Old Europe wants to stay in the export business too.   Commodities, that could be a problem.  Especially oil.  We have to control oil.  
		(To audience) 
But thatís a whole Ďnother drama.		 

					F & F	
Wonít this show up in the C.P.I. numbers. 

					CHAIRMAN
Numbers can be fixed.  Hedonic quality adjustments. Rental Equivalence for real estate cost evaluation, instead of using home sales prices. The chained consumer price index and seasonal adjustments.  By my calculation we can report up to 861,000 new job creations annually just by using the assumption of new business startups creating jobs, based on GDP numbers.  Leave the numbers to me.  
					CHAIRMAN (Cont.)		
Weíll get the money flowing.  Money. Ahh the days when there was such a thing.  In the 60s I wrote papers supporting the yellow brick road approach.
Money.  I apologize for using  the term so loosely.  I  control the price of Federal Reserve Notes. Which controls the price of everything.  Kinda like Socialism.  Ironic. It makes me a little uncomfortable.  But I have to do it.   Itís for their own good.  We need to intervene. The international carry trade is good to go.  We have work to do.  FANNIE, FREDDIE UP!



					Scene three
					Health club

						THRUSTER, an older man dressed in running shorts, sleeveless tee shirt and bandana, enters, crosses to treadmill, stage right. There is an unoccupied treadmill next to him.  A weight machine is up stage.    THRUSTER switches the treadmill on and begins jogging at a leisurely pace.  Munny, anxious, dressed in shirt and tie and carrying a thick sheaf of papers hurries over to THRUSTER. 

					MUNNY		
Chuck!

					THRUSTER	
Hey, Joe.  Whatís up?

				MUNNY	
Thought Iíd catch you here.  I was on my way into the
office.  Got to talk to you about this loan.  Hereís the
whole package.  Itís exploding.

				THRUSTER	
All of yours seem to do that.  Whatís the problem?

				



				MUNNY	
Iíve got up to a million offered by every major bank, at a
three percent teaser rate, with no income verification
required, but the borrower keeps writing his REAL income
down on the application forms..  I donít know why I
listened to my uncle and got into this lending racket.
Shouldnít take business advice from people who live in
their cars.

				THRUSTER	
Still a little down, huh boy. Hey, you should be happy.
You survived that freak accident when your hair caught on
fire.  It could have been over. 
	(Glancing at the cover 
		sheet of the papers.) 
They donít have any equity.  Thatís the rub being a
mortgage broker.  The banks are running after the people
with ďAĒ credit histories, who know how to fill out loan
applications.  We get. . .

				MUNNY	
Deadbeats.

				THRUSTER	
Youíll find deadbeats in banks too. We get borrowers who
really need our help and expertise . . . our finesse.

				MUNNY	
I donít think anyoneís going to go for this one.  Should I
send the package back?

				THRUSTER	
No. No my boy.  Weíll do it.  This is where it gets
interesting.  Weíll corral a private investor.


				MUNNY	
Theyíll want beaucoup points.

				THRUSTER	
Hell yes!  But thatís the beauty of it.  Theyíll put s
many points on it that weíll be able to sneak a couple of
our own on the deal.  Much better than working for a
crummy quarter percent.

				


				THRUSTER	
Iíll be in the office a little later.  Iíll give you some
names.  Hey, why donít you hang out here for a bit.  Iíll
get you a guest pass so you can try out some of the
machines.  The scenery is incredible here.  Unbelievable
women come here.

				MUNNY	
Youíve had some unbelievable stories about the women
youíve met here.  Iíd better get going.  Iíve got three
pages already this morning.  Iíd better make some calls.


				THRUSTER	
Why donít you return those calls from here.  If you canít
find me on the machines when you come back, Iíll be in the
pool.

				(MUNNY exits.  THRUSTER 
			continues jogging.  He is 
			doing okay, but not enjoying 
			himself.  Itís getting to be 
			a chore. LISA DE RANGER, a 
			20 something lycra wearing 
			beauty enters and hops onto 
			the other treadmill.  They 
			smile at each other and run 
			in pace.  THRUSTER looks her 
			up and down checking her out.  
			He is happier now and the 
			incline of his treadmill 
			increases.)  

				THRUSTER
		  (He leers at her.)
Wow.  You have the most beautiful eyes.  When I was flying with the Dream Worksfolks I was fortunate to see quite a few good looking women, but none even close to you.  
Are you in the business or a model maybe?

					DE RANGER	
Thanks.  No. Iím a physical therapist. So you work for
Dream Works?

				THRUSTER	
IĎm a pilot for United Airlines.  Fly the big boring jets.
Youíre a physical therapist.  You freelance or work for a
hospital?

					DE RANGER	
I work for a local group.

					THRUSTER	
The Condyle Sports Medicine Group here in Brentwood?

					DE RANGER	
Yeah.  How did you know?  Are you a patient of
Dr.Condyleís?

				THRUSTER	
No.  I play tennis now and then with Sam.  Thatís as close
as I want to get to an orthopedic surgeon.  Iím Chuck.
Chuck THRUSTER.  He ever mention me?

					DE RANGER	
		(She shrugs her shoulders).   
Dr. Condyle is a great surgeon.

				THRUSTER	
Heís a bastard.  He cheats.  Heís probably not paying you
what youíre worth.

				DE RANGER	
Heís trying to keep the office expenses down.  Iíve been
asking him to get some new tables.  The Naugahyde is
ripped on a few of them.  Said he couldnít really afford
that.  He was trying to save enough to get me a raise this
year.  So I came in early last Wednesday.  Real early.
The plumbing was out in my apartment.  And there was the
doctor finishing up duck taping the tables. He has been
trying to sell the apartment and the clinic. The
properties are connected somehow at the bank.  
He is such a hard-working guy.

				THRUSTER	
Yes.  You medical people.  I have such respect for the
work you do.  You are under-appreciated.  You are an angel
of mercy.  Iíd like to show my appreciation by taking you
out to lunch some time.  A nice lunch.   Spago maybe.  Iím
sure Sam wouldnít mind. 

		(DE RANGER finishes up on 
		the treadmill and hands him 
		a card with a giggle.)

					
					THRUSTER	
LISA DE RANGER what an appealing name. 
		
		(She walks off. In a beat 
		THRUSTER switches off the 
		machine and slumps on the 
		treadmill.  He steps off 
		the machine.  MUNNY returns.  
		THRUSTER recovers and perks 
		up a bit.)

				THRUSTER	
God.  Thatís the kind of thing that makes you proud to be
an American.  I love L.A.  Man, You should have seen the
babe that was on that treadmill a minute ago.  Youíd be
real sorry missing that.  She was coming on to me big
time.

				MUNNY	
Oh. Yeah?

				THRUSTER	
She was only on that treadmill a couple of minutes.  This
is the mother of all health clubs on the West Side.  Sure,
other places have more equipment.  Theyíve got aerobic
classes, yoga, kick boxing.  Filled with jocks and
lesbians who havenít changed their socks in years.  But
this place.  The babes are here.  Just stayed on that
treadmill long enough for me to get her number.  Joe,
after Iím gone.  I want you to promise me that youíll have
my ashes scattered over the Clubís Jacuzzi.

				MUNNY	
	(skeptically) 
Thatís the third time this week.  How come I never see
these girls?

				THRUSTER	
You have to pay attention.

				MUNNY	
She was coming on to you?  Was she promoting something;
Homeopathic Ginseng Herbalife, self-help classes?
Questionable real estate deals.  Oh.  No, thatís what we
do.

				

				THRUSTER	
No. Joe.  Not every good looking woman that starts a
conversation with you is trying to sell you something.
She seemed different.  You donít believe me?  Here.
Hereís her number.

				MUNNY	
You meet this incredible girl and you want me to call her?

				THRUSTER	
Hey, Iím intuitive.  Iíve got a SICK sense about these
things.  Sheís the girl for you. I didnít get to where I
am by obsessing about details.  

Someday weíre going to get you connected with a real
woman.  Not like those bicycling friends of yours.  
You should call her sometime.
Incredible.  
She was real impressed with me being a pilot for United.
	(wistfully)  
Lisa, Lisa, Lisa.

					MUNNY		
You never were a United pilot.  

					THRUSTER	
I could have been.   I flew jet planes.

					MUNNY		
That was A6s in Korea, after the war.

				THRUSTER	
Yeah.  A6s  great platform.  Real tough plane, Theyíll go
through anything and get you back home.  I never had to
bail over Korea.  You donít want to do that.  Couple times
over there, I started obsessing about that, bailing out. 
					MUNNY		
Why would you want to bail out. I thought you never even got shot at over there.

				THRUSTER	
I mean most of the time my mind was just filled with
getting laid and I was always good at keeping my head
straight.  But once that thought got into my mind.  
Whatís it like to eject.  To be doing four, maybe five
hundred knots, blow the canopy and whoa air-born blown out
into the wild blue.  Couldnít keep that thought away.
				THRUSTER (Cont.)
When I was out here at the end.  Out of Port Hueneme, one
day, I popped it.  Had to see what it was like.

					MUNNY		
You had mechanical trouble and bailed out?

				THRUSTER	
Yeah.  Mechanical trouble.  Thatís what I put in the
report.   Wasnít an A6 though. Not the same.	You really
should get a membership in this club and come down here
and work out.  I know, I know you ride that bicycle of
yours four hundred miles a week. But man that girl.  
You donít see women like that riding bicycles.


					MUNNY		
I donít.  GIOVANNIís met a couple of cute girls.  
Annieís not bad at all.

				THRUSTER	
GIOVANNIís got a good gimmick.  Instead of being just
another Korean shop owner:  Heís got that whole Italian
image heís put on.  You own a bike shop selling only high
end Italian bike parts, Campanola Pinadildo titanium
frames and such.  Living up in the Palisades and driving
the Ferrari doesnít hurt either.  

				MUNNY				
GIOVANNI gave me a real good deal on a Campy axle set.
One hundred fifty bucks.

				THRUSTER	
One hundred fifty dollars for a few ounces of aluminum and
a couple of ball bearings.

					MUNNY		
No bearings.  That was for the shaft only.

				THRUSTER	
Yeah.  Pricey stuff.  My point, women shop.  Women shop
for expensive things. Especially if someone else is
paying.  Youíll see them in GIOVANNIís store, but riding a
bike up hill for 50 miles.  Not often.  Yeah.  Annieís
okay.  Is she still with GIOVANNI?

				

				MUNNY	
Yeah.  Her bikeís getting pretty close to being finished
though.  Sheís having some wheels built.  Got the rims but
theyíre waiting for the aerodynamic spokes.  Think theyíre
back ordered.

				THRUSTER	
Annieís okay.  If GIOVANNIís smart, heíd make sure those
parts stay back ordered.  Annie will dump him like the
last one.  Sheíll bug out when her bike gets finished.  

					MUNNY		
Wish I could get a better discount.

			(THRUSTER gets off the machine,
		puts his arm on Munnyís shoulder 
		and they walk out.)

					THRUSTER	
You really have to call. . .

			(HEALTH CLUB WOMAN walks 
		by and THRUSTERís mind 
		drifts along with her.)

					MUNNY		
Lisa.

					THRUSTER	
Oh yeah, Lisa.  You have to call Lisa.  She seemed so interesting too.

			(THRUSTER and MUNNY exit.  As HEALTH 
		CLUB WOMAN prepares to get on the 
		machine, The	CHAIRMAN enters with 
		FANNIE & FREDDIE deferentially 
		behind him.  The CHAIRMAN walks by 
		the HEALTH CLUB WOMAN ignoring her.  
		He pulls out a tape measure and 
		holding it horizontally, pulls 
		out a length of the tape.  
		He repeats this vertically, 
		somehow measuring the building.  
		FANNIE & FREDDIE (each) pull out 
		stacks of credit cards and fan 
		them out like a card trick.  
		Offering them to her. 
		She takes one and smiles.) 
					
					Scene four. 

					Construction site in the Palisades, overlooking the ocean.  Rough open framed sections of wall at side, some of it covered with tar paper with an unfinished door hung in another section of framing.  A round steel trash can  with cover is at the corner of the wall down stage left.
					(MUNNY enters, walking alongside 
					his bicycle in full riding 
					regalia, gaudy lycra,
					aerodynamic helmet with 
					rearview dental mirror etc.  
					He has a little trouble walking 
					because of the cleats on his 
					shoes.  THRUSTER enters dressed 
					for the disco 70s with an open 
					collar and gold chain.  He is 
					huffing and puffing.)

					THRUSTER	
Man thatís a steep hill.  The paved road ends a mile away
from here.

					MUNNY		
Howíd they manage to build something out here?

				THRUSTER	
Yeah.  This is even uglier than that last little job we
did.  This guy gotta be desperate. Weíve got an
opportunity.  This oneís pure profit.  ZACKY Ringer.  
You ever hear of him.  Anyway, heís a big time fight
promoter.  Heís a buddy of Dr. Sam Condyle.
ZACKY is putting together a come back bout for Tyson.
  
He is a little strapped for cash right now cause he just
finished building this twelve thousand square foot house
up here.  So he needs two hundred fifty thousand cash out
to put the fight deal together.  We refi him with a hard
money first.  We can blanket the loan with a property heís
got in Vegas adjacent to the MGM.  Weíre splitting twelve
points on seven hundred fifty thou.

				
				MUNNY	
Chuck.  This looks like a construction site.  Some
geologists might not go that far.  Thatís a lot of cash.
No institutional lender is going to do that.  You think
any of your private investors will be willing to put up
that much money?  And does he have any equity in the
real estate to secure the loan?  We get all the people
that are already down the tubes. Three or four loans
against them.  Still not as bad as this.

				THRUSTER	
Man.  You worry too much.

MUNNY
Looks like it used to be paved up to here.  I think this
Guyís back yard is what closed down the Coast Highway last
year.  Didnít he say the house was finished?  We canít do


 

 

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Copyright © 2005 Peter E Zuehlke
Published on the World Wide Web by "www.storymania.com"