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BALANCE OF POWER

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BALANCE OF POWER COUNCILWOMAN WITH A DIRTY SECRET GETS EXPLOITED BY CORRUPT BUSINESSMAN SCENE OPENS on a small city council private office where a councilwoman, Janice Monroe (Angela White), is hard at work. She appears confident, and sharply dressed in a chic but no-nonsense business suit. We watch her work for several seconds from a male gaze POV, until her concentration is broken by a telephone call on her office phone.She picks up, and though we don’t hear the sounds from the earpiece, Janice pulls the phone away from her ear in pain from an apparent shouting on the other end of the line. She asks the man on the other line, Bill, to calm down and explain what’s the problem. She does her best to collect herself as she listens, breathing deep and fidgeting with her suit and hair. She listens and replies, and from the one-sided conversation, we get the impression that Bill is a business owner calling to complain about losing a city contract bid.Bill had spent weeks negotiating terms and another company swooped in and got the bid at the last second. Janice puts on a brave face and tries to assure him that everything was above board, and that the winning bid was just at a better rate than what Bill’s company was offering, but Bill insists that it’s not possible, he has ties with all the local suppliers and there’s no way anybody else in town could match his bid. Janice reprimands Bill telling him that if he wants to meet formally to discuss the issue, he’s welcome to schedule an appointment, but she warns him that he’d better think twice before speaking to her like that again or he risks closing the door on future negotiations. Bill tells Janice that he’s not the only one who thinks things have been fishy lately, and that she’d better remember that it’s her constituents who pay her bills each week. Through gritted teeth, Janice thanks Bill for being a concerned citizen, and slams the phone back in the cradle in frustration. As soon as she’s hung up, Janice’s brave face and confident posture dissolve, and she collapses back into her chair and puts her head on her desk in tears.CUT TO TITLE PLATEWe cut back to Janice’s office an indeterminate time later. She’s stopped crying and is back at work, though with none of the confidence or determination she exhibited earlier. She is clearly having trouble concentrating, rubbing her eyes wearily and swearing to herself under her breath. Before long, the door to her office opens and in struts Garrett (Zac Wild), a cocky smarmy-looking businessman who strolls up to greet her and — rather than sitting on the chair facing her – sits straight on the corner of the desk. Looking uncomfortable, Janice quietly moves her papers and other clutter away from his intrusive form seated on her desk. She tells Garrett that she’s very busy right now, and asks what he wants. He says that he’s sure she has time for a little chat, she always manages to make time for him. Looking bothered and anxious, Janice gets up from her seat and goes to close her office door discreetly. When she looks back, Garrett is now sitting in her seat. She asks him to get out of her seat, but with none of the forceful tone she used on the phone earlier. Instead, she seems pathetic and desperate here. Garrett gives her a greasy smile and pats his lap, telling her there’s plenty of room if she wants to join him. She turns her head, disgusted. Without looking back at Garrett, she asks what he wants.Garrett explains in a patronizing tone that he’s not feeling satisfied with their current arrangement. He wants another favor. Janice looks flabbergasted — she’s already paid him off twice, and she just colluded to get his company his second city contract at a way higher rate than market value. Garrett says yes, that’s true, but that’s really more to help his business, but now he’s getting restless and he feels he wants to work on his personal brand, maybe even get into politics himself. He wants an endorsement from her to run for his own spot on the city council. Janice coldly says absolutely not — she can’t endorse a candidate with no political experience and dubious ties to criminal activity. It’ll draw too much attention, and could be career suicide for her. Garrett tells her he thinks she’s exaggerating, and feels he’d make a great candidate. He’s even come up with the perfect campaign slogan, ‘Make America Garrett Again’ he jokes.Janice pleads with him — he needs to be reasonable. She’s given him everything he’s asked for, to the point where people are starting to get suspicious. Garrett says that that isn’t his problem, and he asks her where all that worry about getting caught was a few months ago when she was embezzling funds from the public office for her personal use. If only she’d been more careful then, she’d never be in this situation now. But she wasn’t, and all this is just the universe’s way of balancing things out. Janice gets more desperate — if he wants to keep his leverage, he has to be smart about this. She can’t help him if she gets indicted. Maybe they could revisit his proposal in a few months, after things have a chance to die down. Garrett admits that she makes good points, but he’s just not a patient guy. What is she going to give him to keep him happy in the meantime? Janice looks completely broken down — she doesn’t have anything left to offer him. He’s already taken everything from her — he’s robbed her of her independence, her pride, her happiness. What could possibly be left for him to take?Garrett stands up from the office chair and says that he can think of one thing, and reaches out to stroke her breasts with his hand. Janice flinches and takes a step back. No, he can’t ask her to do… that! She’s a married woman, she could never do that to her husband. Garrett shrugs and wonders out loud if her husband would be any happier to find out she’s a thief, and a liar, have to visit her in prison… Nearly in tears, Janice asks Garrett how he can be so cruel, to ask her to do this. Garrett simply shrugs and says ‘because I can.’ Janice makes Garrett swear that if she lets him have his way with her, he’ll back down with all his demands. He agrees he’ll back down… for now. He asks if they have a deal and she says yes. In an instant, he moves in on her with a sleazy grin still on his face.

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Date: September 17, 2019

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