Sreekumar Natarajan

Merchant of Exuberance

Merchant of Exuberance

By Sree Natarajan


“ do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values.”

Alan Greenspan, December 1996 “10 years later”

Titles rollover with inter-cutting of the following sequence.

VO (FEMALE RADIO ANNOUNCER) We are in San Diego Pier looking

at this magnificent Yacht that won this year’s America Cup…let me transfer to Fred at the Pier. (pause) What you got there…Fred?


A cluttered desk. Rows and rows of medicine. Bound volumes of patient registry. A nurse walks into the frame we don’t see her face.

She opens

a file and turns the page.

VO (MALE ANNOUNCER) Cindy…this is a piece of work…the

yacht famously…or should I say notoriously…(laugh)…associated with Mike McDonnell of Noah Oil…

VO (FEMALE) Last year’s America Cup winner…

VO (MALE) You are right Cindy…you remember

the story of a Board meeting on board this yacht…

VO (FEMALE) (laugh)He threw shoes at one of

his managers…(laugh)…oh my..CUT TO:



INT. NURSE’S ROOM We see a hand picks up bottles and spreads it on the table

amid the chatter of FM radio. mentioned the hand stops.

VO (MALE) We are onboard Mike yacht…we had to get permission to board

The moment Mike McDonnell is

McDonnell’s special this one..The hand bangs the tablet tray on the table. CUT TO:


The man, MIKE MCDONNELL paces up and down with a “cell phone”.

A wall clock shows 3:33 AM He puts the “cell phone” closer to his ear and whispers.


MIKE Marty…this is me…Mike.

MIKE Listen…yes I am here in DC

(glances)…some god dam place Karen booked for me…you listen to me now very carefully…(listen)…are you listening to me?


A beat.

MIKE We are in serious trouble…God damn

it…Marty (pause) would you take a deep breath…(listen)


MIKE Are you alone Marty? Make sure no

one hears you…not even Jane…(listen)…this is between you and me.

A deep sigh.



MIKE Marty…we are being investigated

(listen)…no…no not just the SEC…FBI…IRS…they are all involved. It is a conspiracy Marty…(listen)

MIKE The indictment? It…it is absurd…

Marty…totally without any merit …(scoffs)Manipulation of financial markets with intent to defraud investors…sounds much like penny- enny class action lawsuit right? (pause) But this has a nasty twist Marty…

MIKE Apparently a little old lady, a

school teacher (pause) in Ohio left a suicide note implicating Noah Oil Corporation for her troubles (pause). She was on the phone with this goddamn half witted reporter just before she killed herself…piece of shit.


Mike senses something and he spins his head towards the door, the door is half open.

He feels something odd, a moment of thoughtful silence.




MIKE Listen…I want you to wake up

Karen, (listen) I don’t care her kid is sick don’t give me such trivialities…I hired her to do a job.

MIKE I am going to put this thing into

conference call. A long beat.

MIKE Alright, who is on the line?

He walks towards the bed and sit. He waits; as he waits his restlessness is quite visible.

A hand enters the frame and touches his shoulder. HE IS STARTLED AND JUMPS UP.



Angle on the nurse, she looks passive. She is carrying a tray with cups of tablets and water.

Loud shouting.

MIKE Who are you? What are you doing

in my room?


CO’S VOICE Everything okay?

Nurse without turning her head answers

NURSE Yeah…(pause)


CO’S VOICE Let me grab a cup of coffee. I’ll

be back in a minute. Commanding.

NURSE Mr. McDonnell..MIKE Don’t move, I am calling security..NURSE You are not, Mr. McDonnell.

Please cooperate.

MIKE What does that mean…”cooperate?”

NURSE You know exactly what I meant Mr.


MIKE a second. (thinking) Oh Is that your pimp out the phone)…Marty…just a

Long beat.

NURSE Mr. McDonnell, do you always enjoy

…Hey…wait I get it! side? (on second…(on the phone)(back to the nurse) I am in the middle of an important business decision…I don’t have time for the whores trying to steal from me.

hurting people?

MIKE Some deserves to be hurt;

Especially you who over stayed my hospitality. Now get out before someone really gets hurt.

NURSE Don’t push it, Mr. McDonnell.


MIKE What the fuck are you talking

about Miss Pussy? (phone) Marty…are you there?

Angry with this silly game. COMMANDING VOICE.

NURSE Stop this stupid game.

It becomes very quiet, an uncomfortable silence. Fierceness of her words make Mike stops on his track.

Mike looks confused; shame of the reality makes his legs feel very weak. He walks towards the bed and sits supporting his head in his hands.

Nurse walks over to the switch board and turn on the light. Now we see that he is in a hospital room.

NURSE I think you had ‘nough sleep.


Go away…

NURSE After your medication.


NURSE Mr. McDonnell this is a prison

hospital…nobody cares if you take your medication or not, no body is waiting for you to get better… (pause)I think that is very sad.

Mike slowly raises his head to look at her. She puts her hands in her pocket and rather rebelliously looks at him.

NURSE Yet you must ask yourself Mr.

McDonnell, why you’ve never missed


even a single day of medication since you came here two weeks ago.

She gives the medication and he swallows it. Mike puts down the handle and she grabs it.

You broke this week not going it.

NURSE the flush the fifth time Mr. McDonnell, they are to be very happy about

MIKE Stop humiliating me.

Nurse takes measurements and adjusts the valves that come off of a control panel just above his bed.

She stops

A beat.

NURSE Shame is on me Mr. McDonnell.

MIKE What is that supposed to mean?

her activities and suddenly deflates.

NURSE You see Mr. McDonnell my mother;

she was a teacher all her life, used to say “when fools go to the market peddlers make money”. You made the money and she was among the greatest of fools.

Now her focus is on the bed, she adjusts the bed she does it rather mechanically.

MIKE Maybe I could help. I could make

some phone calls…

However she gives it up when emotions swell to the point of breaking it.



day…even on Sundays after church…he used to beat her.(pause) Happy people wouldn’t do that would they?

NURSE No they wouldn’t. (Pause)

MIKE I never stopped him…even when I

could have.

NURSE She doesn’t need your help any

more Mr. McDonnell; she is in a far better place. God bless her soul.

her head to wipe her tear.

MIKE Your mother was the school teacher

who… Ignoring him she goes back to her work.

She turns

NURSE When I saw her the last time Mr.

McDonnell…she was broke and very sad (pause). I didn’t know anything about you or your company Mr. McDonnell. She said, an unhappy man was responsible for her troubles.(beat) Perhaps Mr. McDonnell you don’t realize how unhappy you are?

Mike slumps in his sitting Long beat. Soft.


MIKE I grew up seeing

my step father beating my mother every single



My God… Long beat.


She picks

MIKE (beat) Now it is too late isn’t


NURSE It is never too late…to love

someone, if that is what you meant.

up the tray and it looks like she is ready to go.

MIKE Could you stay with me little

longer? I feel very lonely.

NURSE I am sorry Mr. McDonnell…I can’t,

my grave yard shift got over, we are not allowed to stay beyond (pause) But I sure will see you tomorrow…perhaps you will feel little better by then. Goodbye now.

NURSE Were you scared?

MIKE No, (pause)I didn’t love either of

them enough to care that much.

With little cheer.

MIKE I will wait for you. Bye.

As she is about to open the door, a man enters in suit and he holds a manila folder in one hand a paper cup of coffee in the other. He is the Case Officer (CO) of Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) of CDCR (California Department of Corrections And Rehabilitation).



INT. ROOM EARLY MORNING CO switches the light on and walks towards Mike.

CO Good morning Mike (pause)Was she

giving you a hard time? Mike looks at CO with unease.

CO These nurses…Mike…in the prison

system Medi Cal pays them shit…yet they do a good job.(pause)It bothers me when people don’t appreciate that.

CO Oh I am sorry I didn’t introduce

myself. I am Randy Smith your new CDCR case officer.


She closes the door behind her.

CO I am not an early person…today

this is my second one(pointing the coffee) to get here on


time(pause)I got some good some bad news for you.

Mike slowly slides down from his bed floor, as if he is submitting to the

The CO pulls a chair and sits little


squints on the away from Mike.

CO I presume you like the good news

first(beat) California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation think you are doing great, which means you are no longer need to be here in the Mental Health Crisis Bed.

and CO.




CO The bad news (pause) is you are

going back to the jail in the next couple of hrs…(looking at his watch) 6:45am a bus will come to pick you up.(pause) I wouldn’t be here to see you off…but I sure wish you good luck.(pause) I have been trying to contact your wife to tell her about your change of location, it looks like she has moved(pause) without leaving a contact number.

Mike shrinks himself into a womb position. Soft.


MIKE I would rather stay here.

CO You don’t get to choose Mike. You

break the law you pay for it. No more fancy yachts, hundred million dollar compensation, blondes in bikinis competing for your attention (pause). On the positive side you lead a wholesome life, three square meals a day and do some honest work for a change..Mike looks around for something, searching rather intensely.

CO Mike…do you have anything to say

before I sign the paper? Mike turns his head and looks at the CO.

MIKE I don’t see my phone…

CO Well…we got to do something about

it. Won’t we?



A resigned look on the CO’s face. He skims through the paper work.

He glances at the newspaper cuttings interspersed with official transcripts. We see articles of his arrest. When he sees a copy of Fortune Magazine from his folder he looks at it for a beat. A picture worth thousand words-Mike McDonnell CEO of the year.

CO Just look what a difference a year

can make.

Before CO flips close the folder he looks for beat at an article “Noah Oil’s Chief Financial Officer Martin Rosenthal Surrenders”.

CO gets up and then stops for a beat.

CO Your former Chief Financial

Officer Mr. Marty Rosenthal…(pause)I am sorry to say…he was found dead last night, in his cell, apparently killed himself.

Angle on Mike he has almost curled up like in a womb position.

CO Some times losing reality is a




The nurse crumples a piece of paper and throws into the wastebasket.

She thinks for a while.

She then picks up the crumpled piece of paper from the waste basket and opens it and read.



MIKE (VO) You opened my eyes to the reality

that I was in denial. I can now accept the guilt despite voices in my head saying otherwise. “Thank you, Mike”


Closing credit over graphics showing various stages of Mike’s turbulent life.