Jewish Businesswoman, battles prejudice to get her daughter back
|This story is a modern take on Shakespeare Merchant of Venice.This version is based on Shylock been a Jewish businesswoman whom encounters what appears as extreme prejudice. The aim is to highlight prejudice is rising again and also the effects it can have on its victims. As well as that have some connection to the original play.
Shylock's going through accounts, checking who was behind on payments, and the whereabouts on defaulters. She removes her thick glasses to rub her tired eyes, puts them back on and removes a hair resting on the lapel of her expensive 2 piece black suit. Her phone rings and picks it up "Ruth Shylock", but no answer the other end. "Jessica, is that you", but still no answer, "whoever you are stop tormenting me", still nothing "if tormenting me is all you want then you are succeeding", still nothing "please leave me alone, I have a good lawyer and once we find you, I will ruin you", still nothing. "Look if it's you Jessica, please talk to me, if you have Jessica, tell me the ransom". Again nothing, the person then hangs up.
She takes a photo of Jessica on her desk, an 19 year old beauty queen. "My beautiful Jessica", she whimpers , as tears begin to roll down her eyes. It was 3 months since Jessica eloped and not since then had she made any contact with Ruth, "my only Child,why do this to me", as she removes her glasses and wipes away her tears. "Does she really love this boy or doing it to despise her and he the of cousin of an enemy". The thoughts of it was making Ruth's blood boil. She stands up and walks over to a free standing mirror in her office and adjusts her suit jacket. At 5 foot seven, and near 25 pounds overweight, she could feel the strain of the last few months taking its toll on her. She was tired, worried and stressed. She had few friends and many enemies. She walks away from the mirror and over to a family portrait on the wall of her and Jessica. Both wearing formal suits "how Jessica hated getting that photo done, been forced into a suit when all she wanted to wear was jeans and t-shirt", Ruth thought to herself. "What if he doesn't love her or is just doing this to torment me, take away my own precious flesh and blood, my greatest source of happiness, what if it's a planned kidnapping, they know I have money, they know what she means to me,they know I will pay whatever ransom, I shall not bargain for my precious girl, my own flesh and blood", wiping away more tears, she opens an oak cabinet, puts on her Kippah and prayer shawl, she goes and prays in Hebrew in front of the portrait.
After hanging up the lady gives a wry smile, then makes another call 'She's cracking, she will want to end this, be ready, it will probably be tonight, tomorrow is her Sabbath and she won't want it to go on any longer, we're going to be rich, lets off a laugh and hangs up'.
The lady a 5 foot 9 strapping blond alights her sporty blue BMW and confidently walks in her white business suit to the offices of Shylock Financial Management and Property Services. She enters the prestigious reception area and makes her way to the reception desk 'is the Jew in?' she asks. The receptionist picks up the phone 'Hi Ruth, your lawyer Portia is here" the receptionist puts the phone down and looks up 'You can head on up'.
Without knocking Portia enters the expensive oak timbered office of Ruth Shylock. Ruth was folding away her prayer shawl 'Ha Ha Shylock', rudely laughs Portia, 'Why are you wearing that?', pointing at the Kippah on Ruths head, 'I didn't think Jew women wore them!'
Ruth looks up, 'I find your ignorence of my faith astounding and you an educated lawyer, Jew woman!! at least i know now what you call me behind my back, as you only address me by my surname. Its for that reason i wear it. Throughout my life i have been labelled and stamped by people based on my faith. Never admired for my business acuman but despised for who I am. People taking delight in not doing business with me, others in business deals attempt to squeeze me tight in charges and celebrate their attempts at bleeding me dry. Others would beat me rather than greet me, exclude rather than include me, obstruct rather than assist me, belittle rather than compliment me and lastly but by no means least bully rather than befriend me. Thats why I wear it, of course, could you or the police guarantee my safetly if i wear it walking in the streets or park, the answer is no'.
Ruth walks over to her office window and looks out 'she's out there somewhere!!, I left you in charge of finding her, so far you have given me nothing!!!!, you tell me you hired a private investigator and i have yet to meet this person, as far as I am aware you have done nothing to get a police trace put on my phone line. What about her social media, her friends, they don't just disappear unless they have eloped too and again nothing, I have my doubts your private investigator is doing any of this but still my accountant tells me cash has been withdrawn for his services, why not payment by company cheque I find myself asking, just like I now ask is indifference been shown to me and my flesh and blood due to us both wearing the label Jew women'. Inside Ruth felt hopelessness run through her body, those that were to help her appeared to be conspiring against her.
'These things take time Shylock'. 'Time' shouts Ruth 'Time, Time!!, my daughter is out there, I don't know if she loves this guy just to despise me, I don't know if he loves her or if he despises her as much as he despises me, I fear for her safety, I WEEP!!. I fear she is been mistreated just to torment me, I would rather a kidnapping because at this stage a ransom would of been paid and she'd be back with me. I worry that they will take the one thing thats precious to her - her life and thus denying me the one person precious in my life, my own flesh and blood'. I was blackmailed into this loan with Antonio. His worm cousin, all the Christian women and he had to lure my only child, just to torment ME!!. Half a million he asked expecting i would hand it over straight away, then the blackmail, if i paid up he would ensure I saw Jessica, if he didn't he would tell her i was incompassionate and didn't want to see her!. He even brought his wife so as she could witness and partake in the lie, how could a mother do this to another mother!!. Ever since then its been brick wall, YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING, I saw Antonio in the financial district, I approached him asking for my repayment and daughter he laughed and spat at me, the humiliation!!'. I then approached his wife at their home, she had friends over and began mocking my misfortune called my a greedy fat money lender, i told her we were left with no choice but to be money lenders by aggressors like her and guess how she responded, she assaulted me!'. YOU SHOULD BE APPROACHING ANTONIO AND HIS FEROCIOUS WIFE NOT ME. Each day the phone rings I wonder is it her, is it my mystery tormenter, is it a ransom request or is it a hospital'.
Showing little concern for Ruth's experiences Portia continues ''I have bad news on Antonio, Shylock', the shipment that your loan was funding, the ship was seized by pirates off the African coast, unfortunately, the delay in Shipment means the individual that Antonio was funding lost the work contract because of this. Antonio, can't pay you!'.
'My double loss' whines Ruth, 'he signed a bond and must adhere to it, I will not be made a mockery of by Antonio, no doubt he laughs at my double misfortune, but the bond he signed stands. He agreed, he would pay me back and bring Jessica to me, he also agreed if he fails to deliver Jessica he will pay back double, of course failure to pay and I get my pound of his flesh, I am tired of his mockery and ill treatment of me, i won't have people taking advantage of me, a deal is a deal.
'Perhaps Shylock, you should write it off!', 'WRITE IT OFF, ARE YOU MAD!!', Ruth could feel her heartbeat racing 'This man mocks me in public, cheers my losses, belittles my gains, twarts my friends and befriends my enemies, and why, simply because I am a Jew'. She makes her way to her drawer and pulls out a 6 inch knife. 'See this, i bought this especially, in the past i would walk away from persecution, just to keep Jessica and I safe, and I would be mocked for cowardice but years of hate has thought us how to survive, but I shall walk away no more, I shall show the real coward, I will have my pound of flesh and vengence, after all they have taken my blood and flesh, my one source of happiness and I will not let them walk away and laugh at me while i continue to worry about my daughter, my only flesh and blood, I will be mocked and shunned no more'. She takes some tissue from inside her suit jacket and dries up her teary eyes.
'That is quiet severe vengence Shylock!!' 'Severe!, oh so when a Christian wrongs a Jew, the Jew should do nothing, yet when the Jew wrongs a Christian, the consequence is always hard not just for that Jew but for all Jews. Do we not also have eyes to see with, do we not also have feelings, do we not cry when upset, do we not laugh when tickled, do we not eat the same food, do we not feel pain, does the same medicine not cure us, does the same weapons not kill us, when you prick us do we not bleed' . The vengence my people have always received has been hard and so i will hit back twice as hard and that is the fault of our aggressors who persecute us'.
Wiping her eyes again, she calls reception, have my car and driver ready, then hits a security button under her desk, two burly bodyguards then enter. She turns around to Portia 'You're coming with us, i know your involved in this charade, but i am not sure what part you play, we will soon find out.
'May I make a call' asks Portia 'I want to call my boyfriend', 'Very well, call your boyfriend, no doubt this is part of the charade' You have played your part in denying me seeing my flesh and blood, yet i let you call your boyfriend, strangely i am the one then thats protrayed as the baddie!'.
Portia makes a quick call 'I am on my way to the business meeting i was telling you about, can you come collect me as planned'. She then hangs up.
They make their way to an underground carpark, 'ye go ahead as planned' Ruth orders the bodyguards, then turns to Portia 'Your going with them, I don't trust you travelling with me, I may carry a knife but I don't trust that you would not stab me in the back again. The two bodyguards and Portia enter a Lexus,with one bodyguard sitting in the back with Portia.
Ruth sits in the backseat of her private limo, she waits 10 minutes before telling the driver to go. she spends the journey looking out the window, hoping she will catch a glimse of Jessica, give her a hug bring her home, but alas for Ruth they reach their destination and no Jessica.
Ruth got out of the limo on the city docks, the place looked glum and grey, it left her in a more depressing mood. She entered Antonio's wearhouse, where her two bodyguards had him tied up, Portia stood at the side of the guards asking them not to hurt him. 'well, well', he snears, 'once a coward always a coward, you come and get others to do your dirty work' . Ruth stands in front of Antonio and he greets her with a spit in the face 'take that dog' he laughs. Ruth takes some tissue out of her inside pocket, wipes her face and her glasses. 'You have spat, degraded and humiliated me for the last time, you treated me with miscontempt, you took pleasure in my daughters disappearance and the grief i have suffered, you thought you could rob me blind, blackmailing me into funding your failed expedition by threatening to take my own flesh and blood from me. You encouraged that worm to lure my daughter, now you know what happens here, you pay me the half million you owe me, also you failed to bring Jessica to meet me, so thats one million, need i remind you, failure to present as per the bond is one pound of your flesh'. Ruth takes the knife out and places it on his stomach, where shall I cut, and let i remind you the pound of flesh was your suggestion, how your cockiness is going to cost you'. The anger was building up in Ruth but Antonio just laughed in her face. 'Shylock, look behind you dog' snears Antonio as he begins barking like a dog, she turns around to the sound of a car pulling in and out steps two gentlemen and Jessica.
Ruths eyes light up 'Jessica!!', 'Don't Jessica me and don't come near me, look at you, about to knife a man just to collect your silver'.
'I'm your mother' whines Ruth 'i have wept the last 3 months, i have been tortured waiting by the phone to hear from you, i left you several voice mails and texts but no reply. I paid this woman big money to assist in finding you but did she no, this man here blackmailed me into giving my silver, threatened to lie to you that i didn't care, so as I would never see you my flesh and blood again. All this was planned, get you to fall in love with his cousin, just to torment me, lure you in and lure you away from me, you stole my jewels from me Jessica, heirlums that were precious to me that were to be yours anyways, please ask yourself does the man you eloped with really love you or loves the fact that he has stolen the one person precious to me. These people hate our people, they love to chastise us, nothing much has changed over the centuries, please come home with me, I am your mother, your own flesh and blood, i dream of handing the business over to you and retiring, find yourself a nice Jewish man.
'Ha' laughs Jessica 'I have no wish to go home with you, typical wanting me to live my life the way you see fit, i have no desire to be an overweight businesswoman with bad eyesight from reviewing financial spreadsheets and watching bank balances grow. Forcing me to do things that bored me like those awlful piano lessons just to inflate your ego. Lorenzo loves me and I love him'.
Ruth could feel her eyes water up 'i am your flesh and blood, I made sure you had all the things i didn't have, i paid more than twice the price in private school to ensure you would be treated as an equal, the horse riding at the country club you loved that, did you know some parents protested against our presence, i had to pay a price to them to let us in. You say he loves you, then ask him, when he looks at you in the morning does he see a beautiful woman or a Jew, go ask him'.
Jessica takes a few steps nearer 'He sees a beautiful woman and a Christian, thats right Christian, I converted, how do you like that mummy dearest'.
'Nooooooooooooooooo' cries Ruth 'NO NO NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOOO!! how could you, all the suffering our people have endured yet survived, then you do this, how are we to survive if our own convert'. Ruth glares at Antonio and jabs the knice closely to his chest who is laughing at her 'what have ye done to my daughter, are we just pawns to you that you can ridicule, you have successfully humiliated me but you have not beaten me. 'Thats right Shylock' laughs Antonio, 'I have humilated you and i have enjoyed it as he spits again in her face'. She again wipes her face with tissue 'i wonder did you spit upon my daughter until she converted, did ye humiliate her too, because if you did I will take revenge of the heaviest proportion, i will destroy you, your business and this time it will be I running you out of the city'. She wipes her eyes 'how you have made me weep, you have extracted my own flesh and blood from me and now this, why do you want to destroy, how can you be so full of hate. You may have delivered my daughter who now despises me more but you owe me my half a million, now where is it before I begin to cut. Ruth could feel her hands shake.
'The contract says a pound of flesh without spilled blood' states Portia. 'Least i warn you Shylock, you spill blood once cutting and you forfeit the bond. Portia now breaks into a grin 'also in the bond it states, for any reason the shipment does not reach the port, then the bond is invalidated thus leaving the money lender out of pocket but as financial sponsor, is responsible for refunding the shipping merchant and the trader. 'Need i also remind you that the bond states, should you fail to abstract flesh without spilling blood, then you can have a pound of flesh removed, by not trying is also failing' Portia breaks into laugher 'poor poor Shylock, how I played you, Bassanio pass her the contract she has signed, let us enjoy Shylocks humiliation'.
Ruth takes the contract, her handshaking uncontrollably. 'You duped me Portia, you added this in after i signed the contract, this will not stand in a court of law, i will ruin you as a lawyer you won't get another case again, it was you that was phoning me wasn't it, no doubt enjoying the torment you placed upon me, who is this trader and if i don't see the goods that didn't ship then this contract is invalid'.
Portia laughs out loud 'You crack me up Shylock, it was so easy, I got you to sign two contracts remember, you read the first one, then signed both, the one you kept Jessica destroyed, this is the only contract signed and whom will the courts believe, a registered lawyer of high standing or an overweight businesswoman dealing in an illegal loan, court could ruin you, your business empire could be destroyed, I'm sure you don't want that and please see paragraph 4 on page 3 where it states the financial sponsor does not need to see evidence of shipped or mis-shipped goods as well as any evidence of an actual shipping document, you owe Antonio half a million and my boyfriend Bassanio the trader half a million. We know tomorrow is your sabbath so you won't be conducting your business but as we are nice Monday evening will be fine, all cash of course, now drop the knife and let Antonio go'
Ruth was finding it hard to keep calm and not make a run for Portia, however she was shaking badly. ', I have been played, i lose my own half a million and another million in debt, such brazen extortion', you were happy to collect pay checks from my business Portia, despite your hatred of me I was always fair to you' turning to Jessica 'My dear child, you see how they treat me, I do not wish to lose you, please take the knife cut me, take my pound of flesh, you have cut me deeply already, I don't wish to lose you too, please if cutting me withdraws your hatred of me then cut away, i want my daughter back, if you love Lorenzo then so be it'
She turns to Antonio and Portia 'Ye have humiliated me and robbed me blind, you stole my money and stole my daughter from the faith of her ancesters, you shall have your money on Monday'.
'Untie me', orders Antonio, Ruth gives her bodyguards the nod and they untie him.
Ruth turns again to her daughter 'I have confessed my love for you and my sorrow at how I hurt you, though you have hurt me too, i just want my flesh and blood back, please allow me back into your life'.
'You want me back in your life well then let me test you, you pay Antonio and Bassanio back two fold, and let me see can you sacrifice the other love of your life for me'.
Ruth wipes her eyes 'I will pay the money, now please let me hug you' she pleads
'No hug until Monday when you make delivery, you shall be deprived of any joy until you meet your bond'.
'I will give half my loot to Jessica and Lorenzo, Shylock, as a gift for their lasting happiness, what with me being a good christian' states Antonio making one final taunt at Ruth. He then leaves the warehouse gets in his car and drives off, Portia, Jessica, Bassanio and Lorenzo then drive off together.
Ruth looks at the contract one more time and rips it up, 'come on lets go', she gets into the back of her limo and drives away.