Scene 9: The Asshole
Skilling climbs stairs like a man on his way to the gallows, unkempt and addled.
He eyes the stock price.
Lay Everyone just needs a bit of faith restored. Stand straight, Jeffrey. You couldn't shave?
Skilling I know. I'm fine. I'm Jeff Skilling. OK. OK.
As he goes up, he notices his presence pushing the stock price up a very little bit.
Lay Here we go.
This spurs Skilling on.
As they go up, Enron Analysts and Journalists emerge from everywhere to listen to the conference call.
Skilling Just an outstanding quarter, another outstanding quarter. We're growing real quick in earnings and revenue and we have the strongest position in every market we're in … You know, so I have no idea why our stock's as low as it is, fifty-four dollars, that's crazy! People are saying we're opaque, we're a black box, we're not. That's like calling Michael Jordan a black box just cos you don't know what he's gonna score each quarter! (Pause.) We are very optimistic.
Silence. Skilling exhales.
Lay You'll take questions now.
Skilling I'll take questions now.
Analyst Hi. Richard Grubman here, hello.
Skilling Mr Grubman.
Analyst (slightly haughty) Hello. I don't really care about the earnings at this point. What I want to see is a balance sheet.
Skilling We will have that done shortly. But until we put all that together, we just cannot give you that.
Analyst I am trying to understand why that would be an unreasonable request.
Skilling I'm not saying we can't tell you what the balances are. But we'll wait – at this point – to disclose those until all … the right accounting is put together.
Analyst You're the only financial institution that cannot produce a balance sheet or a cashflow statement with their earnings.
Skilling Well, you're … you – Well, uh, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Analyst Appreciate it?
There is utter silence as everyone realises what he just said to an important stock analyst.
Then suddenly there is frenetic activity.
Business Anchor Shockwaves were sent through the market today when Jeffrey Skilling referred to a senior stock analyst with a common but offensive term.
The Analysts all get on their phones and BlackBerries to their banks and brokerage firms
J. P. Morgan Analyst (together, overlapping, merging into one) You're never gonna guess what the fuck just happened – I think the big JS is losing it here – You got shareprice on Enron? – Something's going on down there – Called a Wall Street analyst an 'a-hole' during a conference call – CEO's gone sorta postal – I'm gonna recommend we hold – I don't know for now – I'm hearin' stuff here I don't like – Enron, the energy company – We gotta ask for the books – They're a black box – I wanna sell – Are people selling? – Enron – OK, we're outta there – Hold on Enron – Sell – Hold – Sell – Somebody selling – Enron – Sell – Hold – OK – Selling – What's the market doing? – Hold – Selling – Enron – Sell – Sell – Selling Enron, Enron – 'Asshole, asshole, asshole.'
The Analysts have taken themselves off, hurrying back to their marketplace hubs, a sea change in the offing.
But their effects are already painfully clear on the stock price, which is free-falling.
A spotlight on Skilling alone, unsupported. Just him and his representation of his self-worth, the stock price.
Skilling approaches it desperately, trying to regain former glories.
Skilling No! Please, come on. I'm happy, I'm … excited …The stock price does not respond.Come on, this is crazy.Nothing.IT'S ME! Everything will be fine, don't be idiotic!
The stock price drops slightly. Skilling recoils with shock.No, no, no, sorry –
It drops further. He's terrified.Jesus, no, stop. Oh God.
He goes to his phone. He dials a number he knows by heart. It rings.Hi, sweetheart. It's your dad. Are you OK? Yeah, I'm sorry, I know, it's four in the morning. Is your mom there?Beat.OK, well, this is important. I need you to tell her something. Are you awake? OK. Tell her to sell her shares. Sell her shares, All of them. I love you.
He turns to the stock price.What do you want? You want me? Is that it? Is that what you want?!
He ends, his arms outstretched, crucifying himself before the market.
The blocks beneath where Skilling was standing are removed by Analysts and Brokers as shares continue to be sold and the company weakens.
A sour, tuneless version of the 'Enron' barbershop quartet from earlier plays.