The Art of Business

A LOVELY STRETCH OF BEACH. A PAINTER PAINTS ON THE BLUFFS OVERLOOKING THE SAND AND WATER. A GRIFTER JOINS THEM.

GRIFTER: What is this you’re doing?

PAINTER: (GESTURES) I’m painting that couple having sex on the sand over there.

GRIFTER: (LOOKS, SEES) Ah, to be in love again. Do you do this often?

PAINTER: What, paint strangers’ public sexual exploits from a relatively safe distance?

GRIFTER: Yes.

PAINTER: I get around.

GRIFTER: Mmm, I thought you might. Now, Mr. Willoughby…

PAINTER: I’m sorry. Do we know each other?

GRIFTER: No, no. I just follow you around for hours, even days at a time, listening in on your most private moments until I’ve gathered enough personal data on you so as to feel comfortable acting familiar.

PAINTER: Amazing.

GRIFTER: Is it?

PAINTER: Yes, because my name isn’t Willoughby.

GRIFTER: Are you sure?

PAINTER: (CONSIDERS THIS) Pretty sure.

GRIFTER: Well, do you mind if I call you “Mr. Willoughby””

PAINTER: I’d prefer you call me by my real name… but, sure, go right on ahead.

GRIFTER: Wonderful. Mr. Willoughby, would you like to start a business together?

PAINTER: A business? 

GRIFTER: Yes, a business.

PAINTER: A business, you say…

GRIFTER: I do.

PAINTER: What would I have to do?

GRIFTER: You make your sexually depraved art, of course.

PAINTER: And you?

GRIFTER: And I make the money.

PAINTER: Yes, but what exactly would you do to make us money?

GRIFTER: (LAUGHS PSYCHOTICALLY, POSSIBLY FOR TOO LONG) That’s not important right now, Mr. Willoughby.

PAINTER: Seems like it might be a bit important, actually.

GRIFTER: Let’s agree that you’re wrong, hmm?

PAINTER: Oh, alright.

GRIFTER: Good, good. Now, what is important is that we get you right to work.

PAINTER: (PUZZLES THIS) But I am working?

GRIFTER: You call this work?

PAINTER: Yes.

GRIFTER: Don’t be daft. You’re hardly doing what I’d call work. Have you even turned a profit since we started talking, you lazy little bastard?

PAINTER: Well, no. But I’ve hardly had time to paint since you started talking to me.

GRIFTER: Oh, making excuses already, are we? Blaming others for your financial shortsightedness, hmm? You’ll never get ahead in this market with an attitude like that.

PAINTER: I don’t know what to say.

GRIFTER: What, no witty retort? No sarcastic jab directed at the shallow, half-formed attempts of grifters such as myself to take advantage of desperate, talented artists?

PAINTER: Nope.

GRIFTER: Why not?

PAINTER: Honestly?

GRIFTER: I would hope so, yes.

PAINTER: I couldn’t think of any way to properly end this sketch.

GRIFTER: You’re kidding.

PAINTER: I wish I was.

A PAUSE.

GRIFTER SMASHES THE PAINTING, WALKS AWAY.

PAINTER: (TO AUDIENCE) I suppose that works, don’t you?