Power Lunch

by robhayeswritesplays

A mid-range French restaurant.

Hannah (32) and Michael (44) are sat together at a table.

MICHAEL Been here before?

HANNAH couple of times. Yeah.

Michael scans the decor.

MICHAEL Nice, isn’t it?

Beat.

MICHAEL Can you recommend.

He nods to the menu.

HANNAH Oh. I’m vegetarian, so.

MICHAEL More of a meat man myself.

HANNAH The lamb’s supposed to be nice.

MICHAEL This is great, by the way. I’m really.

HANNAH I hope you didn’t mind me asking like that. In front of everyone.

MICHAEL Mind? Pfff! I was about to ask you actually, only I thought I’d give it. Couple of.

HANNAH Couldn’t seem to get you alone.

MICHAEL I mean you’ve been with us, what. Two weeks? Three weeks?

HANNAH Little longer.

MICHAEL And you seem to be a bit. You know, not quite fitting.

HANNAH Oh. Well I suppose.

MICHAEL No sorry. I didn’t mean to be.

HANNAH No it’s fine.

MICHAEL Only you notice things. Pretty new girl sat alone.

HANNAH I think people are wary of me.

MICHAEL Yeah. Newbie.

HANNAH To the branch. I’ve been with the company for ages.

MICHAEL Because I don’t know if you know, but they’re firing people all over the place right now. Workforce something-or-other.

HANNAH Oh. Yes, I’m.

MICHAEL And so bringing you in and then. You know, getting rid of. People who’ve been with us.

HANNAH Keep expecting someone to. I don’t know. Stab me in the neck or something.

MICHAEL Right. Really? Seems a bit extreme.

HANNAH No I’m being silly.

MICHAEL I mean it’s not your fault.

HANNAH Paranoid really.

MICHAEL I don’t think anyone’s going to stab you in the neck.

HANNAH Hope not.

MICHAEL It’s not really that sort of place.

HANNAH No.

MICHAEL Stab you in the back maybe!

He laughs. Hannah tries to laugh along.

MICHAEL That’s certainly a possibility. But in the neck. Less likely.

Beat.

HANNAH Everyone seems lovely.

MICHAEL I can give you the er. The lowdown. On everyone. If you.

HANNAH Right.

MICHAEL Eight years, I’ve been.

HANNAH Really? That’s.

MICHAEL Moved over from Sandhurst and Webb. Never looked back.

HANNAH Hmmn.

MICHAEL I know some of those guys better than they know themselves.

HANNAH What, your colleagues?

 MICHAEL Only a slight exaggeration, that. I mean it.

HANNAH Impressive.

MICHAEL I’ve got files on them all. Actual files. At home.

HANNAH Is that.

MICHAEL Because you can never know.

HANNAH Legal? I’m not sure if that’s.

MICHAEL I mean they’re my friends, but.

HANNAH Legal.

MICHAEL And they are my friends. I mean genuine like. You know because there’s colleagues and then theres. Real you know. Always come to me first. You ask anyone, they come to me first. Every day, Michael this, Michael that.

HANNAH They all seem very fond of you.

MICHAEL Michael, my computer’s crashed!

HANNAH I thought you were in accounts.

MICHAEL Michael, I don’t know my tax code!

HANNAH That’s an HR thing really.

MICHAEL But who do they come to? It’s not HR. Well it is eventually, but only because I point them there.

HANNAH When I worked in the Lichfield branch someone poured paint all over my laptop.

MICHAEL Oh, that is.

HANNAH It was covered by the insurance.

MICHAEL Still though.

HANNAH But I lost everything. Everything.

MICHAEL People get jealous. Beautiful young girl. Smart, go-getting.

HANNAH Well I think. Maybe there was a bit more to it.

MICHAEL Stick with me. You’ll be untouchable. And if there’s whisperings of any. Workplace recalibrating.

HANNAH Workforce restructuring.

MICHAEL Whatever they’re calling it, I’ll have words. I’m not saying you should be worried. But last in, first out and all that.

HANNAH Well no. I don’t think.

MICHAEL It happens. Beautiful girl. Jealous people. Stick with me, that’s my advice.

He leans over and touches her hand. She pulls away.

HANNAH I’m sure if I get on with the job at hand I can expect to stay fairly safe.

MICHAEL Eight years. You don’t do that kind of time without learning how the whole thing works.

HANNAH Oh god. Okay, there’s something we need to discuss.

MICHAEL I’ll let them know you’re my girl. Not to be messed with. He winks at her.

HANNAH It’s not that I don’t appreciate the gesture.

MICHAEL Don’t assume you’re safe. No one should assume they’re safe.

HANNAH I never think I’m safe. There are some angry, angry people out there.

MICHAEL But if you were seen to be. You know, connected. To me in some way.

HANNAH Very dangerous environment, the workplace.

MICHAEL My esteem is such that.

HANNAH I just want to make a good impression.

MICHAEL Well I have my files. You could come back. Tonight. We could go through them. Together, if.

HANNAH It’s so hard for me to make friends.

MICHAEL I’m your friend. I’ll be your friend. Why don’t you come back? Then we can.

HANNAH It’s so horrible.

MICHAEL Strategise.

HANNAH Even now, sat here. I know I have to do it but.

MICHAEL Do what?

HANNAH And it’s horrible, awful.

MICHAEL Do what, darling?

HANNAH You’re a lovely man.

MICHAEL Thank you. You’re a lovely woman.

HANNAH And you’ve been with us for eight years.

MICHAEL Yeah that’s what I’m saying.

HANNAH You’re a good person and a good worker.

MICHAEL I know that. I can help you.

HANNAH And whatever happens from here, whatever happens in the future.

MICHAEL We could skip dinner, if. Go straight to.

HANNAH I know you’ll thrive in a new environment.

MICHAEL I’ve got pizzas. Back at.

HANNAH You’ve done some great work with the company. Honestly, we’re really grateful for.

MICHAEL Yeah. What do you mean?

HANNAH You’re a valued member of the team.

MICHAEL What are you.

HANNAH This is horrible. Jeremy was right.

MICHAEL Jeremy? Who’s.

HANNAH He’s always right. I should’ve listened.

MICHAEL Who’s Jeremy?

 HANNAH My fiance.

MICHAEL Fiance?

HANNAH I should have just stood my ground.

MICHAEL Sorry have I. Fiance?

HANNAH I’m better than this. I deserve better.

MICHAEL Does he know about.

HANNAH Michael. I would like to thank you for the years of hard work and commitment you’ve given to the organisation.

MICHAEL Pardon? I don’t know what.

HANNAH But now we feel it’s time.

MICHAEL We feel? Who’s we?

HANNAH That you moved on to new experiences and explored other avenues.

MICHAEL Wait. Wait. I don’t really know what’s.

HANNAH You’re very capable and obviously we’ll support you in any way we can.

MICHAEL No. No hang on.

HANNAH As you know, we’re undergoing a restructuring of the workforce.

MICHAEL You’re. No. No.

HANNAH I’ve been brought in to assess the productivity of the team.

MICHAEL Brought in.

HANNAH And we feel there’s no longer a viable position for you at. At.

MICHAEL What? What are you saying?

HANNAH As you know we’ve had a very difficult year. And we’ve been forced to make some very difficult.

MICHAEL That’s why you’ve.

HANNAH Please don’t hurt me.

MICHAEL You asked me. In front of all my.

HANNAH Please don’t stab me.

MICHAEL You’ve been here two fucking weeks. And then.

HANNAH Please don’t stab me.

MICHAEL And all this.

He gestures at the restaurant.

MICHAEL This was all to.

HANNAH We felt we owed you a. Eight years is a long. Time.

Beat.

MICHAEL No. Don’t. Just don’t.

HANNAH Please I.

MICHAEL I’ll take a cut. I’ll take a pay cut. And my office. I’ll.

HANNAH It’s done. It wasn’t my decision. I’m sorry.

Beat.

MICHAEL This is what I’m worth is it? Skip the starter.

HANNAH I’ll have to tell them about the files. Sounds like it could be a breach of.

MICHAEL And just to clarify. There was never anything. More. Between. I mean the reason. When you spoke to me. Was always.

HANNAH I’m getting married.

MICHAEL Okay. I see.

HANNAH I understand if you don’t want to stay here.

MICHAEL I’ll sue. I will sue you. I just want you to know that.

HANNAH Okay. What for, exactly? Never mind. Don’t.

Beat.

HANNAH Listen I’m sorry. You must be. I do understand if you’d rather just go home. Perhaps that’s the best. Option. Considering.

Micheal stares at Hannah. He opens his menu and reads.

MICHAEL So you said the lamb’s good?

 
Advertisements