The fog of corporate war.

“Let’s get to the truth, Mr. Stumpf.”/ “I don’t know what you’re getting at, Warren.”

INT. COURTROOM. A HEARING.

ELIZABETH WARREN leads the Senate Banking Committee’s interrogation of Wells Fargo CEO JOHN STUMPF.

WARREN: Isn’t it true, Mr. Stumpf, that Wells Fargo cross-sells banking products to customers solely to fatten up the company stock price?

STUMPF: Truth, Senator? Have you ever considered the possibility that truth is a liberal conspiracy?

Stumpf stuffs something into his pocket.

WARREN: What are you are doing, Mr. Stumpf?

His eyes shift but he doesn’t reply.

WARREN: And why is there a bandage on your hand?

STUMPF: At Wells, we believe that banking and values go hand and hand. You want to find out how strong a company’s ethics are? Don’t listen to what they say. Beat them with your hands.

WARREN: What about the national bank manager, Ms. Tolsted? Why didn’t you fire her after she created thousands of fake bank accounts?

STUMPF: Let me just say that —

WARREN: Please answer the question, Mr. Stumpf.

STUMPF: She was a good fuck. I couldn’t let her go.

There is an awkward pause.

WARREN: Mr. Stumpf, you are being accused of pocketing millions of dollars of company money. Do you deny these charges?

Stumpf shrugs his shoulders. Warren throws a tape into a VCR. The video shows Stumpf sitting in a board meeting.

STUMPF (in the video): Stealing from these fools is easy. We know the game, and we know the rules. We made the rules. Whaddya say fellas, are you ready to squeeze every last penny out of every last poor person in this country?

The video abruptly cuts off.

STUMPF: I’m not sure what you’re getting at, Warren. Read the report.

Stumpf signals to two masked men sneaking around in the back of the courtroom.

STUMP (loud whisper): The ring! The gold one, right there!

WARREN: Who are you talking to, Mr. Stumpf?

STUMPF: I’m not sure what you are referring to, but I can tell you this. Our employees got it right. Unlike myself, every one of my underlings can recognize the difference between right and wrong.

The courtroom is silent for several long seconds.

WARREN: Aren’t you disgraced by your own behavior, Mr. Stumpf?

STUMPF: I’m not quite catching what you’re throwing out there, Warren.

A cell phone rings. It belongs to Stumpf. He answers it.

STUMPF: Johnny here…whaddya mean Frankie ain’t gonna walk no more?…whaddya mean the briefcase was empty?…whaaat? You didn’t check to see if he was breathing?

He slams down his cell phone.

STUMPF: The world has been distorted for me these past few years, Warren. It all blends together like one long LSD trip from hell.

WARREN: Are you on LSD right now, Mr. Stumpf?

STUMPF (laughing): LSD? Of course not. Are you kidding me? I would never do a drug that causes people to transform into benevolent hippies. No way.

He snorts a line of cocaine.

STUMPF: I do blow. Loads and loads of it. Everyone at the bank does. It became our thing, ya know? “Five lines in the bathroom?” we’d say. It was a grand old time. It became part of the company culture. Really helped us focus.

WARREN: Helped you focus on stealing people’s money?

STUMPF: No not at all, Senator. But snow really can do a number on your brain. It just shoots straight up into your nasal cavity and then bam! Your brain is fried. Everything around you becomes foggy. Morality included. Gone. Out the window. After a nice fat line of that shit I’m screwing your mother, murdering your father, kicking your dog, and trespassing all over your farmland. Chaos rules. (Pause). By the next day, it’s back to the grind. Wake up, grab a cup of Folger’s…do it all over again.

WARREN: Mr. Stumpf. Given that you have disgraced yourself in front of this entire committee — and the world -will you now be resigning as CEO of Wells Fargo?

STUMPF: No. Why would I?

He looks at his lawyer who is nodding vigorously.

STUMPF: Oh, I mean yes.

Black out.

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Flannery Wilson

Flannery Wilson

Flannery has a PhD in Comparative Literature. She teaches French, Italian, and visual media. Her book on Taiwanese cinema can be found on Amazon.