Digital Ischemia


Signing Your Life Away part 2/2

A workplace relationship is a casualty of lame criminality, but by-catch can come back to bite.

Signing Your Life Away began at part 1.

ALICE: There’s just one problem.
GEMMA: (D) Why’s he employing clerical staff rather than business consultants?
ALICE: Lawrence and I have a history.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I’d forgotten about that. Deliberately.
ALICE: You see animals as resource production factories, not people.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Early on in the festival project, we had a cheesy meet and greet at one of the venues. Lawrence gave a lengthy, self-aggrandising speech which wasn’t up for discussion. He’s far too important to be harangued by some lowly contractor. He rolled his eyes and went to walk away.
ALICE: Please! I listened to your perspective; have the courtesy to listen to mine.
FELIPE: (V.O.) There was a man unused to being trounced.
ALICE: You speak of whales as if they were production facilities. One hundred years ago you would’ve said that about women. Two hundred years ago you would’ve said that about other races. My perspective is not an aberrant idealism; this is western society reawakening to what some other cultures have never lost: that other life has its own rights or entitlements, which are to be respected. And that doesn’t mean killed ‘humanely’.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She wasn’t impressed to find out that this pompous arsehole in charge of the festival committee made his money through various exploitative businesses, including whaling. She reeled off all sorts of research, observation, just a whole different perspective. I thought he’d just walk off but something caught him. He looked pretty nauseous. She finished him off.
ALICE: Don’t be afraid. What you’re experiencing is cognitive dissonance. That’s when new information conflicts with what you believe. Be open.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He pulled some weird face – sort of uncomfortable defiance and fled. I was gawping like everyone else. She just stood there trembling, watching him go, till somebody—Therese, I think—scooped her up and took her to get a drink. When I came back to life, I caught them up.
THERESE: Felipe! This one of yours?
FELIPE: No. But if I behave myself and am incredibly fortunate, I hope to be one of hers. Bravo, Alice.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She was pretty stunned. We’d not long been together. It turned out she’d seen my face at the end and thought I was horrified, that she’d gone way too far. I had to explain.
ALICE: I’m so sorry. That was just ego out of control.
FELIPE: I am truly awed. I could see you! Totally master of that landscape. Letting him lead you around while you set traps. Then you went back around every single one, collecting his bones.
ALICE: I forgot about everyone else! I couldn’t see anyone but him and his killing.
FELIPE: You were utterly brilliant. I mean, I knew you were intelligent and knowledgeable and passionate. I just didn’t know you were that good.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I went on like that for a good while: complimenting her and appreciating her right up till I apparently sacked her and she left.

FELIPE: (V.O.) I make a rubbish ‘clandestine operative’ or whatever. I have no confidence or patience.
FELIPE: Have you heard from Alice?
GEMMA: (D) Not in the last forty-three minutes.
FELIPE: Have you arranged some sort of…security cover?
GEMMA: (D) Yeh, she has a bodyguard with her at all times.
FELIPE: Isn’t that a bit—? Can you be serious, please?!
GEMMA: (D) Felipe, I’m always serious, this is a serious business and your fretting is helping absolutely nobody. Haven’t you got a run?
FELIPE: You’ve sent her into the lion’s mouth!
GEMMA: (D) She’s having a conversation with a prospective employer. Do you have any respect for her ability?
FELIPE: (V.O.) Meaning do I have any respect for Gemma’s ability.
GEMMA: (D) I know where she is. She’ll let me know when she’s done.
FELIPE: Maybe she’s trying to call you right now!
GEMMA: (D) That would be ironic.

FELIPE: (V.O.) Will he be so puffed up he’ll believe she’s that desperate for work she’ll accept a dodgy PA job? Of course he will; because of that very trouncing: he wants her to renounce all her morals and integrity, to admit you can’t be ethical in the real world. I hoped.
GEMMA: Alice? Are you alright?
ALICE: I think this might be what you’re after.
ALICE: (D) I was surprised you didn’t sack me for that.
LAWRENCE: (D) I’m not like that. I don’t mind being challenged.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He totally does.
LAWRENCE: (D) I like to let everyone have their say.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He absolutely doesn’t.
ALICE: (D) That’s decent of you.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Alice played humble very well.
ALICE: (D) So here I am, jobless.
LAWRENCE: (D) I’m sure we can find something for you. Although it won’t be professional grade.
ALICE: (D) I’m not fussy. Office work is fine.
LAWRENCE: (D) Paula said you were open.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He actually said “open”. Just letting her know he hadn’t quite forgiven.
LAWRENCE: (D) Paula’s been helping me out with quite a few of my businesses. We pop her in, prune out the fixed-term contracts—you know, so many of these young, under-experienced managers pay silly money for short-term employees they don’t really need.
FELIPE: (V.O.) That would be me.
LAWRENCE: (D) You’d be surprised how many we trim before they notice.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Yeh, never under-estimate how much the evil kingpin wants to tell the hero exactly how he committed his crimes. Especially when he thinks he’s getting vengeance for the wench’s earlier disrespect.

FELIPE: (V.O.) Some of the audio was cringeworthy; some of it was really difficult to listen to. I hoped Alice was acting.
ALICE: (D) His explanation for sacking me? Apparently he didn’t know what he was signing! Unbelievable. Sorry, but that’s what your signature means: I have read and understand this and agree to it.
LAWRENCE: (D) The man’s a puppet.
ALICE: (D) You must be regretting appointing him.
LAWRENCE: (D) Actually, no. His trusting nature has proved very useful.
ALICE: (D) Surely he’s a liability?
LAWRENCE: (D) That appearance will make him easy to let go when the time comes.
ALICE: (D) You sound rather devious.
LAWRENCE: (D) It’s executive business management. I’m not in it to make friends. Sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. If one area isn’t performing well enough, other areas have to support it, or get cut loose.
ALICE: (D) Ah, so you’re cutting the project loose? I’m not surprised; festivals can be hit or miss.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Are you hearing those regular clicks? That’s Alice setting her traps, one by one.
LAWRENCE: (D) No, it’s actually another area that’s underperforming. the whaling, actually, but not why you’d think.
ALICE: (D) My principles seem to be lost on the rest of the population.
LAWRENCE: (D) It’s not a lack of market. These hysterical pressure groups are making politicians touchy about the cargo passing through European ports. That’s just nonsense: they’re not selling, they’re not even unloading, just refuelling. It’ll quiet down after a few months, but meanwhile the confusion causes delays in supplying Japan and cashflow.
ALICE: (D) Rotten whale meat?
LAWRENCE: (D) It’s deep frozen! Stuff lasts for years.
ALICE: (D) So long as you have fuel to keep it frozen while you float around no-man’s sea.
LAWRENCE: (D) Not a problem. This hiccup’ll pass. Meanwhile we have to run a tight ship, keep the shareholders happy.
FELIPE: (V.O.) “A tight ship”? The man’s off the chart.

GEMMA: He has no idea about your relationship with Felipe?
ALICE: I get the idea his business success is more luck than skill. He doesn’t bother with facts.
GEMMA: Now he’s on the record saying he instructed Paula to terminate the contracts, but continue paying the employees into the same account. Felipe will be stoked!
FELIPE: (V.O.) I was ecstatic. For a moment.
ALICE: OK, good. Can I go now?
FELIPE: (V.O.) Then I realised I had a lot more work to do.

FELIPE: Is this enough to indicate the account the money was going to is his?
GEMMA: I think it’s clear enough; either that or he’s being incredibly stupid trying to lord it over Alice.
LAWRENCE: (D) You can always check with Paula if you’re not sure of anything. Just terminate as many fixed-term contracts as you can, but continue budgeting for those costs and paying the employees.
ALICE: (D) Because I’ve changed all their bank account details to the same account?
LAWRENCE: (D) Spot on.
ALICE: (D) Should I be asking: where is the money going?
LAWRENCE: (D) I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.
ALICE: (D) I mean, I don’t want to end up working for another amoral, incompetent liar.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Ouch.
LAWRENCE: (CHUCKLE) We’re just redistributing between businesses.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Did you notice how she lures him into her traps again?

FELIPE: (V.O.) Did she notice I’m still in her trap?
GEMMA: She doesn’t want to see you, no, sorry.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I went underground then. The festival staggered on and fizzled out. There was lots of legal stress, a court case. It was alternately dull and nasty, as these things are. Alice didn’t look me in the eye the entire time, never mind speak to me. When it was over, I was completely drained: I had nothing left in my life. I even stopped running. I shut down.

FELIPE: Hey Gemma.
GEMMA: You look awful.
FELIPE: Thank you. I feel worse. Comes of total life failure and emptiness. Can I help you?
GEMMA: I can help you. I have some nice letters to wind up the case, which we’re going to read through together before you sign—
FELIPE: Does my signature have any meaning now? That judge was pretty fierce.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I take a painfully long time reading and questioning everything before signing now. Lesson learned.
GEMMA: I also have this note.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I recognised the writing. I nearly ripped it out her hand.
ALICE: (V.O.) When I got the letter I should have spoken to you. I’m sorry. My world crumbled so fast; everything I thought you were and we were dissolved. This investigation gave me some explanation, some reassurance. I hope it gives you decent hope of vindication. I’m on a terrifying knife edge, but I think I’m less afraid of never being with you again than I am of not loving you anymore.
FELIPE: (V.O.) My head melted. I couldn’t decipher that last bit. Afraid of trying and failing? Or finding out it’s over? Or was she saying she knew both were already the case?

FELIPE: (V.O.) A few weeks later, Gemma called.
FELIPE: I thought we’d finished all the paperwork?
GEMMA: (D) There’s just one thing outstanding.

FELIPE: (V.O.) She invited me to meet her for lunch. Only it wasn’t her I met. I never asked how she did it. Too fragile to risk ruining it.
FELIPE: Thank you and sorry aren’t enough, but they’re a start. All your efforts with the investigation and the legal— It’s an understatement to say it was my salvation: it proved I was set-up. But I still shouldn’t’ve signed anything without reading it!
ALICE: I could’ve trusted you a little bit.
FELIPE: Probably safer without personal relationships in the workplace.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Meaning: please tell me we’re not better without.
ALICE: It bombed my life—I guess you know about that—but perhaps without it we wouldn’t have unpicked all the…fraud business.
FELIPE: OK, so, I’m really glad to see you’re picking up the pieces.
FELIPE: (CONT’D) Do you have to go? I was hoping—
FELIPE: (V.O.) She stayed, we talked, we even laughed a bit. We met again every other evening for a fortnight. I started running again.

ALICE: I know this is mad, but I wonder if something like this was going to happen anyway – as if we needed a major jolt and if it wasn’t this it would’ve been something else.
FELIPE: That is mad, but if it means I get to court you twice in one lifetime, I’m incredibly lucky.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I know; I actually said “court”.
FELIPE: Although maybe not as incompetent director Felipe.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She smiled that smile. She said—
ALICE: Do you have any other sexy identities?
FELIPE: (V.O.) All my tension just went. Most of it, anyway.



Signing Your Life Away part 1/2

A workplace relationship is a casualty of lame criminality, but by-catch can come back to bite.

FELIPE: (V.O.) Never have a personal relationship with a colleague. (PAUSE) Not even if it’s the best thing to happen in your life? Is it worth the price? See what you think. One day I came home to no-one.
FELIPE: Alice?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I was organising a local crafts festival. If you’ve heard of it, it will be for the wrong reasons. In any case, it barely ran once and it doesn’t exist anymore. She—Alice—was designing the artwork: brochure, leaflets, posters, signage. Straightforward except that I kept changing not just the participants and the timings and the locations, but the whole atmosphere and the audience profile. I was over-reacting. I was under-experienced. She was—
ALICE: You’re certainly challenging. I suppose this is good exercise for me: I do the work five times over and eventually you come back to where we started? (CHUCKLE)
FELIPE: I’m sorry. Artists keep dropping out; they don’t like how it’s shaping up, so I change it, so others change their minds. It’s like herding bees.
FELIPE: (V.O.) We didn’t meet through work; I didn’t employ her because I liked her; we just discovered—
ALICE: Are you stalking me? Oh! You’re Director Felipe and also Hill Runner Phil!
FELIPE: I have multiple personalities.
ALICE: I think it would be sexier to say ‘multiple identities’.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She said “sexier”. I was hooked. I rented a flat to be on site. She stayed with me whenever she was up to consult on the project. She made everything easier, more fun. She made me less of an idiot. Then she vanished.
FELIPE: Alice? You here?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I called her phone.
FELIPE: (V.O.) By eight o’clock I was calling colleagues.
FELIPE: Is Alice down there? I thought maybe she was taking photos of the aqueduct? (PAUSE) OK, she must be on her way back. Cheers.
FELIPE: (V.O.) By ten o’clock I was calling everyone, anyone.
FELIPE: Hey, it’s Felipe. Is Alice with you? (PAUSE) No, I called him already. (PAUSE) She’s not answering. (PAUSE) She left there…six hours ago. (PAUSE) Yeh, I’m getting worried.
FELIPE: (V.O.) By two AM I was calling the nearest hospital, the police.
FELIPE: Her clothes?
FELIPE: (V.O.) They had me check in the wardrobe, the bathroom. Most of her clothes were gone, her toothbrush, her special bread without the wheat. She had planned to leave. I just felt like a twat as the officer tactfully explained they don’t get involved when it seems to be a relationship issue. A ‘relationship issue’? How did I not know? Was I that much of an idiot?

FELIPE: (V.O.) I didn’t sleep. Next day I went to work. Somehow I thought I’d see her there.
THERESE: Not seen her. Maybe she’s working at home?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I barely took in what people were saying to me. I was totally focused on Alice.
THERESE: Felipe, go for a run, go home. Maybe she’ll surprise you?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I went. I got a surprise.

FELIPE: Carl, can you work from my flat this afternoon?
CARL: (D) No bother. You got workies in?
FELIPE: Alice has apparently fucked off without bothering to speak to me but she still has keys and I can see she’s been back this morning taking stuff.
CARL: (D) What?!
FELIPE: I mean her stuff.
CARL: (D) Doesnae seem like her. Is she alright?
FELIPE: Well, clearly she’s fine. But I need to be on site this afternoon so I need you to sit here in case she comes back again.
CARL: (D) You want me to keep her there?
FELIPE: No, I think that would be illegal. Just ask her what’s going on.

FELIPE: (V.O.) So he did.
CARL: Apparently I’ve no’ to try to stop you leaving, but could you no’ just speak to him?
ALICE: You’re his friend; I won’t try to turn you against him. If he hasn’t told you what he did.
CARL: He says he’s nae idea, and I certainly dinnae ken, so you may as well tell me.
ALICE: Sacked me.
CARL: Eh? But that’s no reason to walk away fae him, fae this.
ALICE: I think lying to me is.
CARL: Aye, come to think of it, was he no’ saying last week everyone was getting extended?
ALICE: How could he say so to my face then sack me?
CARL: Here; have a wee seat. I’m no’ surprised you’re a’ rattled.
ALICE: I’m horrified! I feel constantly sick! He totally betrayed me. How could he be so cold? Even just professionally? So I’m finished here. Not well managed but nothing illegal.
CARL: And personally?
ALICE: Who have I gotten involved with? Someone who could consciously mislead me?
CARL: Dinnae look at me. I’m baffled. I’d swear he doesnae ken, but. Where are you staying?
ALICE: Sorry but not your business.
CARL: I willnae tell him. I just— Something feels wrong about this…apart from the obvious. If something kicks off I’ll maybe need to get a hold of you.

FELIPE: (V.O.) Then he told me.
CARL: Apparently you sent her a letter?
FELIPE: Why would I—?!
CARL: I dinnae ken! The whole thing’s daft!
FELIPE: Well, after you called I checked her file and there’s nothing weird there.
CARL: No copy letter?
FELIPE: Did she seem…at all…delusional?

FELIPE: (V.O.) Other wheels were coming off too.
FELIPE: Therese!
THERESE: I thought we were meeting an hour ago?
FELIPE: I know; I’m sorry. I got held up with…everything. Just tell me your little snags are under control and aren’t getting worse.
THERESE: Felipe.
FELIPE: Please tell me you haven’t got a staff issue? (PAUSE) Therese?!
THERESE: Can’t lie. I have a staff issue.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Therese’s team move display furniture about between sites. They’re a well-oiled machine. When there’s enough cogs.
FELIPE: What is going on?!
THERESE: You tell me. You sacked three of our contractors. We can’t just stretch to fit whatever workload. A heads up would’ve been nice.
FELIPE: (EXASPERATED EXHALE) How did I allegedly do this?
FELIPE: OK, that is my signature.

FELIPE: (V.O.) I was teetering on paranoid hysteria. If that’s a thing.
FELIPE: What’s still to be filed, that Nancy or her replacement left?
GREG: Nothing.
FELIPE: There must be record of changes somewhere?
GREG: I don’t have a password for the system yet.
FELIPE: Right, we’ll use mine. Can I just check: have you had a letter saying you’re sacked?
GREG: Hope not. Only started yesterday.

GEMMA: Felipe?
FELIPE: Thanks for coming over so quickly, Gemma. I don’t know where to start. I think something is seriously wrong in the admin. I need someone completely independent to investigate.
GEMMA: How wrong? Do we need to alert lawyers?
FELIPE: I don’t know. Probably. Can you just take a look first?
GEMMA: Walk me through.
FELIPE: Several of the contractors received letters, apparently from me, telling them their contracts aren’t being renewed. We just do it on a month-to-month basis for—
GEMMA: “Apparently”?
FELIPE: Signed by me but not agreed…I don’t know. That’s just the start of it. There’s no record of any changes but when I looked at all their electronic files, just by chance, I noticed one had a new bank account. I happen to know because…because she’s—she was—my girlfriend.
GEMMA: Still not exactly high treason.
FELIPE: Until you see that everyone who got let go has the same bank account.
GEMMA: Why would they share an account?
FELIPE: Well, obviously they don’t.
GEMMA: Obviously?
FELIPE: Sorry, I mean I asked one guy who hasn’t stormed off in disgust yet. Someone changed it without his knowledge. His wages aren’t going to him.
GEMMA: Not if he’s been terminated.
FELIPE: That’s the thing: on the system he’s still live—still a current employee. They all are—all the folk who’ve been written to.
GEMMA: So they stop working but their wages are all going into one pot somewhere else? It seems pretty amateur as an embezzlement scam.
FELIPE: Except for the scaling. This is happening right across the project. And I wouldn’t have put it together nearly so fast if it hadn’t been that one of them was…my—

FELIPE: (V.O.) I know Gemma from college. She’s always gone at things with her teeth.
GEMMA: Alice? This is Gemma Cairney. I’m auditing the Canal Festival administration.
ALICE: (D) How did you get this number?
GEMMA: It’s one of the accurate pieces of information in your file. There appears to have been an abuse of…procedures.
ALICE: (D) I don’t work there—
GEMMA: I know. That’s part of the issue. Can we talk?

GEMMA: (CONFIDENTIAL) I can’t give it a legal label, but it appears to be a clumsy attempt at fraud.
ALICE: Yes, I missed that personality: Felipe the Fraud.
GEMMA: I’m aware of your relationship. Felipe brought me in because he noticed the anomalies.
ALICE: I think it’s called dissociative disorder. He can get professional help.
GEMMA: I understand you feel aggrieved – justifiably. Can I explain where we are? I’m hoping you’ll feel in a position to help.
ALICE: (SPLUTTER) To help him out of being incompetent and slopey-shouldered?!
GEMMA: We need more evidence before we can get a legal intervention – the bank won’t give out who the destination account is registered to. Apparently you can put any name on a cash transfer – I could put your name beside my account details and—
ALICE: Yes, I think I experienced this already.
GEMMA: Of course, but what I mean is: banks don’t verify that the label matches the account holder. The money just comes in and they shunt it according to the account numbers.
ALICE: And yet they’re so hot on security when it suits them to hassle you.
GEMMA: We’re…examining actions taken by the temporary PA who covered after Nancy left—Paula—Felipe says the Chairman—Lawrence—brought her in.
ALICE: Did she fake Felipe’s signature?
GEMMA: No, he thinks he did sign them, just—
ALICE: (SPLUTTER) You know, I am really quite busy now, with trying to find a new job.
GEMMA: —but this is the point: he was misdirected. Obviously he realises he should’ve given them his full attention—
ALICE: I think this is what your signature means?
GEMMA: —but Paula— Felipe feels he was rushed—coerced. She had some fluster about a broken printer and catching the post.
ALICE: And we must take his word?
GEMMA: We’re hoping to—hoping you can help us get some evidence. We want to ask some questions (FADE)
FELIPE: (V.O.) Gemma said Alice was pretty hard work—hard to convince. I don’t blame her. I looked like a complete shit from where she was. But luckily for me she hadn’t totally stopped caring. That gave me a tiny bit of hope in the midst of the tornado. Not just about saving my professional credibility.

FELIPE: (V.O.) Alice agreed to play bait to try to entrap the chairman, Lawrence, so long as she didn’t have to speak to me. She started spending some of her new-found free time at the local gym, because the only thing we knew was Paula the temp. was a member. It wasn’t much of a stretch for Alice to say to anyone who would listen that she was desperately looking for quick work after getting sacked. I appreciated that; I know how she hates ‘networking’.
ALICE: Gemma? This is exhausting.
GEMMA: (D) Just think how fit you’ll be!
ALICE: No, the making conversation with everyone. These people are not on my wavelength!
GEMMA: Have you met Paula?
ALICE: I was so pissed off I think she believed me. She gave me details to meet this guy with some vacancies for office work.
GEMMA: (D) Lawrence?
ALICE: She said he has all sorts of businesses and some need…streamlining.
GEMMA: (D) That’s an interesting word.
ALICE: There’s just one problem.
GEMMA: (D) Why’s he employing clerical staff rather than business consultants?
ALICE: Lawrence and I have a history.

concludes at part 2

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