Poised with sharklike self-assurance, Marla Grayson is a professional, court-appointed guardian for dozens of elderly wards whose assets she seizes and cunningly bilks through dubious but legal means. It’s a well-oiled racket that Marla and her business-partner and lover, Fran, use with brutal efficiency on their latest “cherry,” Jennifer Peterson – a wealthy retiree with no living heirs or family. But when their mark turns out to have an equally shady secret of her own and connections to a volatile gangster, Marla is forced to level up in a game only predators can play – one that’s neither fair, nor square.
* * *
* * *
[“Death in Vegas” plays]
[woman] Look at you, sitting there. You think you’re good people. You’re not good people. Trust me, there’s no such thing as good people. I used to be like you… thinking that working hard and playing fair would lead to success and happiness. It doesn’t. Playing fair is a joke invented by rich people to keep the rest of us poor.
And I’ve been poor. It doesn’t agree with me. ’Cause there’s two types of people in this world: the people who take… and those getting took. Predators and prey. Lions and lambs. My name is Marla Grayson, and I’m not a lamb. I am a fucking lioness.
[no audible dialogue]
[man] She’s my mother. I should be able to see her whenever I want. She doesn’t need to be in a care facility. She doesn’t need a court-appointed guardian. She has a loving son to take care of her. I don’t understand how the court can entrust my mother to this stranger. Miss Grayson forced my mother into the home when she made it very clear that she didn’t wanna go. And now she has auctioned off my mother’s house, her car, her personal belongings. And she uses the proceeds to pay herself. And now Miss Grayson has barred me from seeing my mother at all. It’s a goddamn nightmare. She has kidnapped my mother!
Please, sir, calm down. Marla Grayson is a well-respected professional guardian and has been appointed by this court, by me, to look after the best interests of your mother now that she cannot look after herself.
How is it in my mother’s best interest to have her son barred from seeing her? Miss Grayson doesn’t care about my mother at all.
[Marla] Excuse me, Your Honor. May I speak?
[judge] Go ahead, Miss Grayson.
[Marla] Mr. Feldstrom, sir, I sympathize. But the court doesn’t appoint me for no reason. Your mother couldn’t cope on her own.
That is not true.
[Marla] A doctor diagnosed her with dementia, Mr. Feldstrom, and wrote an affidavit recommending immediate action be taken for her safety. You had ample opportunity to move your mother into a care facility or into your home. You did neither.
She didn’t want to leave her home. She begged me not to–
[Marla] You can’t care for her by doing what she wants. You have to do what she needs. And that is why I can care better than a family member, because I have no skin in the game. I just do what is right for your mother. I manage your mother’s money because someone has to. She’d let it run into quite a mess. And I have to pay for her care in the facility, so, yes, I oversaw the sale of some of her assets to finance that. And, yes, I pay myself too. Because caring, sir, is my job, it’s my profession. This is what I do. All day, every day, I care. I care for those who are in need of protection, protection from apathy, protection from their own pride and, quite often, protection from their own children.
[Marla] Your Honor, you and I have seen it many times, offspring who are willing to let their parents starve in squalor and struggle with pain rather than dip into what they see as their inheritance to pay for the necessary care. … Mr. Feldstrom, sir… I sympathize, I do, but your visits to your mother upset her, and the last time you visited her, you assaulted a staff member and vandalized a reception area. Is that not true?
[Marla] Your Honor, I think it’s obvious why the non-visitation order must be upheld. This court is doing its best to protect and help Mrs. Feldstrom, and the actions of her son are undermining our every effort in that fight.
I agree. Order upheld.
[Feldstrom] What? No.
[Marla] I did.
I knew you would.
Hey! Bitch! You! Bitch!
I think he’s talking to you.
[Marla] Then he can use my name.
Bitch. Hey. I don’t know how you live with yourself. Our lives are being ruined.
[Marla] I’m just doing my job.
Your fucking job? Fuck you!
I hope you get raped and murdered, and I hope you get killed. You fucking… fucker.
Oh! Fuck, no, motherfucker! I’ll fucking get…
[Marla] Does it sting more because I’m a woman? That you got so soundly beaten in there by someone with a vagina? Having a penis doesn’t automatically make you more scary to me, just the opposite. You may be a man, but if you ever threaten, touch or spit on me again… I will grab your dick and balls and I will rip them clean off, you understand? I’ll tell your mom you send your best.
[Marla] Thanks. … Curtis.
Hey. Good going.
Hi, boss. Congrats on the win.
[Marla] Thanks, Addie. So, what time is it now? It’s 2:17. That’s… Door to door, that’s just over five hours. Round it to six. Charge it to the Feldstrom account, full rate.
Okay. Oh. Sam Rice called. Asked that you return.
[Marla] Sure, I’ll take it inside. Fran, call the Realtor. Check progress on the Bather property. The savings account is nearly empty. It won’t cover the facility bill after this month.
[hold music on phone]
[coffee machine stops]
[Addie] Sam’s on.
[Marla] Sam. How are you?
Hey. I’m good, Marla. How about you?
[Marla] Oh, working hard, playing hard.
[Marla] You called.
Yeah, uh, I got some news.
[Marla] Good news or bad news?
Uh, sort of both. Your ward, Alan Levitt, here at our Berkshire Oaks facility, he just died.
Alan died. This morning. Sorry.
[Marla] No. Alan Levitt? Really? How?
Stroke, big one.
[Marla] But he was young.
Just 69 and a quarter.
[Marla] Oh, God. [clicks tongue] [sighing] Alan. Fuck. I only had him six months. I thought he’d last us at least another five years. Fuck, now I have to cash him out, turn over everything to his inheritors. What a fucking waste.
Maybe he took a shine to you and wrote you into his will.
[Marla] Yeah, right.
[Marla] So, what’s the good news?
Well, due to Alan’s tragic departure, we now have a vacancy.
[Marla] His room. Huh. That’s a corner deluxe.
Yes, it is.
[Marla] Hold it for me.
Marla, you’re not the only game in town. There’s a waiting list.
[Marla] Fuck the waiting list. How much?
Two grand a week till it’s filled.
[Marla] Two grand? It cost 500 last time.
If you don’t pay, someone else will.
[Marla] Oh, fuck you, Sam. All right, two grand. Thanks, Sam.
[Sam hangs up]
♪ Fly with me, come on ♪
[song continues in car]
♪ Rocksteady ♪
♪ Fly with me ♪
♪ Come on, rocksteady ♪
[Marla] Keep your eyes on the road.
♪ You a thunderstorm Walk into a room Everybody turn ♪
[Marla] Hi, Petra. Dr. Karen’s expecting me.
[“Sunday Will Never Be The Same” plays]
♪ We’d walk together Hand in hand Till it was almost dark ♪
Alan Levitt? Fuck. Sorry. I thought he had legs.
[Marla] I know. So, now we’re in the market for a new client. Got anyone for us?
There’s a few I wouldn’t mind getting off my books. You know, the real high-maintenance assholes. But there is actually someone I have been meaning to talk to you about. I’ve been feeling her out, and I think she… I think she might be…
I don’t even wanna say it.
Yes. Maybe. I think so.
[Marla] Don’t tease me. Give me the details.
Come on, Marl. I can’t just give you a cherry for free. I need something in return. You hold stock in Golden Light Care Homes, right?
[Marla] Yeah, we have a chunk.
Sign some over to me.
Come on. I’m helping you feed the money monster, but I hardly see any of the gold for myself. Give me a taste.
Done. But it has to be a real cherry, bona fide.
[Marla] Jennifer Peterson.
She’s in reasonably good health. But recently she has shown some signs of memory loss and confusion.
No. We can tickle that to make an emergency hearing go our way. She has no kids, no husband, no living family.
[Marla] No family at all?
She has very good insurance. She told me she used to work in finance in Chicago and moved here to retire.
[Marla] Can I get a copy of this?
You bet, all except her test results. That wouldn’t be ethical.
[Marla] Of course.
[Fran] Jennifer Peterson. Born April 15th, 1949. She lives at 41 Williams Street in Shallcross. It’s a real nice neighborhood, expensive. She bought the house seven years ago, owns it outright. Credit check came back A1, totally clean. No debt, no criminal record, never been married. She worked at the same company for 40 years. Looks like she downsized when she retired, liquidated, and now she’s sitting on a nest egg. Like a golden fucking goose. Look at this. From her tax records, it says that she has three separate saving accounts, all earning monster interest. She likes to go during the day to the movies. She reads a lot, likes gardening. Just your regular old lady.
[Marla] And she is sitting on a pile of cash.
Mm-hmm. She’s rich, independent, literate. That lady right there, she’s my fucking hero.
[Marla] Karen. It’s Marla. Pull the trigger on Jennifer Peterson. You’ll get the stock you want.
[Karen] Miss Peterson is often confused and has exhibited memory and coping issues. Her mobility is compromised. She cannot take adequate care of herself, and I believe she is at high risk if left alone in her own home.
She has no family?
She has no one to care for her, except us.
That’s terrible. Poor woman. [sighs] Okay, Miss Grayson. Do you think you can take her on as one of your wards? I know you have a lot in your fold already.
[Marla] Um… Yes, Your Honor, I… If you need me to take care of her, I can take care of her.
[judge] Thank you, Marla.
[piano music playing]
[knocking on door]
[Marla] Miss Peterson? My name is Marla Grayson. I work with Dr. Karen Amos, your physician. May I speak with you for a minute? Good morning, Miss Peterson. I’m sorry to disturb you so early.
You’re a doctor?
[Marla] No, ma’am. May I show you this?
Oh, I’m gonna need my reading glasses. I’ll be right back. … You know, I’m not sure what this is.
[Marla] It’s a court order, ma’am.
A court order? But what’s that got to do with me?
[Marla] That’s your name, correct? Jennifer Peterson. Your date of birth, social security number and this address.
Oh, my goodness. Have I done something wrong?
[Marla] Oh, no, ma’am. This is to help you. The court has ruled, under the guidance of your doctor, that you require assistance in taking care of yourself. The court has appointed me to be your legal guardian.
[Marla] When we cease to be able to take care of ourselves, the state steps in to help. We can’t just sit by while people struggle.
[laughs] Yeah, but I’m not struggling. I’m fine. I’m more than fine. I don’t need help.
[Marla] I’m afraid it’s not up to you or me to decide. The court has ruled that you do need help and, as your legal guardian, it’s my duty to ensure that adequate care is supplied to you at all times.
Let me tell you something. I never went to court. This is the first thing I’ve heard about court.
[Marla] In emergencies, the court can convene without the presence of the prospective ward.
Wow. That’s crazy.
[Marla] Well, ma’am… You have to come with me.
I’m not going anywhere.
[Marla] This is a court order. And if you don’t comply with it, I’m afraid you may be in some trouble.
[Jennifer] Oh, my God.
[Marla] If you feel there’s been an error, report it to the court, request a hearing. But, for now, I suggest you come with me temporarily to the care facility I’ve found for you, and if there’s been a mistake, we can address it from there. This is Frances. She will help you pack a suitcase.
Good morning, Mrs. Peterson. Pleasure to meet you.
I don’t believe this is happening.
It’s totally fine.
Don’t touch me.
I’m sorry. I’ll help you.
Don’t touch me.
Beautiful house, Mrs. Peterson.
[Marla] Let me help you with those. I’ll be overseeing the upkeep of your property until you sort this out.
[Fran] Let’s go. We just wanna make sure that your property’s taken care of safely.
Thanks, Curtis. Seat belt.
[ring back tone]
[Sam] Marla, how’s it going? You have to drag her out by her ankles?
[Marla] No, she packed and walked. Hardly any of them fight. They see the official paper, they see the cops, they go right along.
Yeah, I’d fucking fight.
[Marla] You say that, but at heart most of us are weak, compliant and scared.
True. Hey, you ever hear about the Milgram experiment?
[Marla] Not now, Sam. We’re already in transit.
[Sam] All right.
[Marla] Oh, Sam. I need the full works for this one.
[Sam] Copy that.
Welcome home. Come on in.
[Marla] I’d forgotten how big they are.
[Marla] Why don’t you take a seat?
So you feel at home.
[Marla] They have all your medical details, all your prescriptions. You don’t have to worry. They’ll take care of all of it. Now, if you need me at any time, night or day, you just ask, okay? You have a cell phone? Unlock it. I’ll store my number. … If you need to make a call, you just ask, okay? Now, Miss Peterson, I wanna say I’m honored to be your guardian. [softly] And remember, I’m on your side. I’m here to help. … Sam, you treat this lady like a queen. You hear me? Anything she wants.
[Marla] You take care, Miss Peterson. We’ll talk soon.
Can you open the door? I just wanna get some air.
You gotta go that way.
I just wanna get some air. Could you open the door so I can get some air?
You gotta go back that way.
You gotta go back that way.
I just need to get you back…
[Fran] Hey, can you grab those?
Thank you, sir. It’s been a pleasure.
[Marla] God, I love your ass.
Hi. I wondered if you could help me, please. I need my cell phone. Could you find it for me?
Miss Peterson, cell phones are kept secure for the safety of our guests.
My cell phone won’t hurt you.
Our policy is to get your guardian involved.
No, no, no, no. I don’t want my guardian.
Can I speak to the manager?
Mr. Rice is unavailable.
Mr. Rice is here, but he’s unavailable. [shouting] Mr. Rice!
Don’t touch me. Why are you touching me like this?
Everything’s gonna be fine.
Go away from me. No, no, no, don’t let her do that.
Don’t let her do that to me.
Nice to see you.
[Marla] Is this the key to one of your safety deposit boxes?
[knocking on door]
Taxi for Miss Peterson.
Oh, she doesn’t live here anymore.
She moved. Miss Peterson moved.
Oh. My mistake. Thank you.
Excuse me. Who called you? Excuse me!
Sir, he’s alone.
So, where is she?
She wasn’t at the house.
You were there on time?
Yes. Yes, sir.
Mm… No. In seven years, she’s never missed an appointment.
[Alexi panting] The house was changed, uh… It had been, um, cleared out and there was a “For Sale” sign out front. There’s people inside. They were painting walls. I spoke to a woman with some swatches and she said that she didn’t live there anymore.
I don’t understand. What people were in there? Where is she now?
Oh, I don’t know. I came straight here.
You didn’t think to ask? Even though you know how important this is to me, you didn’t think to get some basic information on the situation?
[car door closes]
[Alexi, mumbling] Sir, if…
Please, sir… Please. [stammering] I figured… I would… Before any…
You fucked up, Alexi. I love my mother very much. And these days, these rare days that we get to spend together, are a blessing for me.
Yes, sir. Of course. So, you find her and bring her to me. [whispering] Now.
Of course. Yes, sir.
[taxi engine revs]
And I open the pouch, and what’s inside?
[Marla] Diamonds. Lots.
Just loose diamonds?
[Marla] Mm-hmm. This is her insurance for the safe deposit box. She lists the gold, the jewelry, the bonds, but not the diamonds. She insures a $600 watch, but not millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds.
Do you think they’re stolen?
[Fran] She doesn’t seem that type.
[Marla] Don’t get fooled by old people. Even sadistic, immoral assholes get old. But you’re missing the point. These diamonds don’t officially exist. So… no one would ever miss them.
You wanna steal them.
[Marla] No. I wanna change their location for a while for safekeeping… and see what happens.
[choral music playing]
[knocking on door]
Sorry, sir. I can come back later if…
Did you find my mother?
Uh… Sort of.
[man] She’s in a care home?
As far as I can tell, sir. I couldn’t get access.
Sir, the latest batch of mules arrived this morning.
Did we lose any in transit?
Three. We’re getting the product from the others at the Medfield property.
Is that my smoothie?
[whispering] I don’t understand. She checked herself into a care home?
No. Uh, she’s there by court order. She’s now a ward of the state. Your… Your mother’s doctor deemed her incapable of taking care of herself.
But that’s bullshit.
[chuckles] Yes, sir. Yes.
So how did this happen?
Um… Marla Grayson. I believe she made it happen. She’s your mother’s guardian. She now has full control of your mother’s life and assets.
Call Dean. Get my mother out of that home and keep her out. Do it quietly, do it legally, do it fast. Keep me away from it.
No, no, no, no. Leave the photograph.
Marla Grayson? Pleasure to meet you. Dean Ericson.
He says he has an appointment. He’s not in the book.
I need five minutes of your time. It’s very important.
[Marla] You can have two minutes.
This is a beautiful office. Very stylish. These all your wards?
[Marla] What can I do for you, Mr. Ericson?
That must be a hell of a responsibility, all these people. I imagine the paperwork is brutal.
[Marla] Take a seat, get to the point.
I’m a lawyer.
[Marla] I don’t need a lawyer.
I represent Jennifer Peterson.
Yes. And I think there’s been a mistake. You see, my client is very capable of taking care of herself. She has no need for the care of a guardian like yourself. Of course, this is no reflection on you. I’m sure you’re providing absolutely stellar care for Miss Peterson. But the fact of the matter is she does not need nor want your care. She was perfectly fine on her own.
[Marla] She called you?
[Marla] Jennifer called you from the facility?
[Marla] Hmm. When did you last see Jennifer?
Not long ago.
[Marla] How long ago?
Just a few weeks.
[Marla] A few? Two, three, four?
Three, maybe four… Three. And she was fine, more than fine. She was fitter and more focused than I am most of the time.
[Marla] [chuckles] I’m afraid that explains it. Two weeks ago Jennifer’s health took a severe downwards turn. She has memory loss indicative of dementia. And her doctor was so worried about her, she referred her to the courts for emergency help.
That’s simply not true, Miss Grayson. You know it, I know it. If the doctor wrote a note, he knows it too.
[Marla] She. The doctor, she’s a she.
Of course. Now, I know what you do here. I know your game, your hustle.
[Marla] You do?
I do, and honestly, it’s a good one. You saw an opportunity and you grabbed it. Look at all these cash cows on your wall just leaking money into your account one overpriced hour at a time. Good for you. I’m not here to ruin your business. I’m happy for you to keep milking these poor vulnerable people for as long as you damn well please. Hell, if your whole enterprise isn’t the perfect example of the American dream, I don’t know what is. But not Jennifer Peterson. She’s off-limits. And I understand why you targeted her.
[Marla] I just responded to a call from a doctor.
Right, sure, let’s stick with that. But her doctor is mistaken. Understand? He… Sorry, she fucked up. Jennifer needs to be released from your care ASAP and you need to get that she-doctor to write another letter saying Jennifer has made a full recovery and no longer needs to be in the care of a guardian.
[Marla] Now, why the fuck would I do that?
Well, I can think of two reasons. One, it is the right thing to do, but I doubt that means anything to you. And two, because she has very powerful… friends who can make life uncomfortable for you, extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable.
[Marla] Is that a threat?
No. No, that’s just data for you to… collate.
[Marla] How uncomfortable are we talking?
Uh, you know, aggressively and excessively uncomfortable and then eventually, well… uh… let’s just say you’ll not be comfortable or uncomfortable ever again.
[Marla] Because I’ll be dead?
Well, I didn’t say that.
But we all die, right? Some of us die sooner in a more horribly protracted and painful way.
[Marla] Who do you work for?
[Marla] Liar. Jennifer did not call you from the facility. You think I’m stupid enough to let new wards anywhere near a working phone? And I know from her paperwork her lawyer is a local guy who deals in family law. And that’s not you. You’re a shark, which intrigues me, and I wanna know who hired you.
Release her from your care.
[Marla] No, Dean. I don’t think I will.
[sighs] I didn’t wanna have to do this. [sighing] It’s $150,000 in cash.
[Marla] Well, that’s very pretty.
It’s yours when you release her.
[Marla] You know what I think, Dean? I think if your opening gambit is 150 grand, then Jennifer Peterson must be worth a lot more than that to whoever it is who sent you here.
I can go to 250.
[Marla] How about… five million?
Thousand. Final offer.
[Marla] Dean, I have a legal duty. Jennifer Peterson is in need of my protection. How can I just abandon her?
Are you saying no?
[Marla] I’m saying no. I’m saying, “No, thank you.”
[Dean] In the days to come, you’ll replay this conversation in your head over and over, and you’re gonna wish you played it differently. Right now look at what you have. A thriving business, employees… a nice face, unbroken bones, a life. When this is through, you’re not gonna have any of those things. None of them. Last chance.
[Marla] Goodbye, Dean. Curtis will validate your parking on the way out.
[Fran] I’ve looked all through her records, all the way back to her birth certificate. I can’t find anyone in her life that we should be scared of.
[Marla] Then who is this lawyer?
Maybe he knows about the diamonds.
[Marla] Yeah, that’s my thought too. Maybe he’s cut in on them. He’s scared we’ll find them.
Maybe you should just take the money.
[Marla] And give away the biggest opportunity we ever had?
What if he’s saying the truth?
[Marla] With what?
[Marla] You know how many times I’ve been threatened by a man? Thousands. You know how many of them ever came to anything? Two. He made threats ’cause threats are all he had left. You can’t convince a woman to do what you want, then you call her a bitch and threaten to kill her. I’m not scared of him.
Okay. So, what are you thinking?
[Marla] I’m gonna talk to someone who has all the answers.
[Marla] How is she?
[nurse] She’s been pretty unsettled since she got here.
[Marla] They always are.
[nurse] Yeah, but she’s extra extra. The doctor had to adjust her medication to calm her down. Twice.
She’s in the games room. I have to warn you, we had to bump her sedatives, so she might be out of it.
[Marla] Jennifer. How are you feeling?
Why do I know you?
[Marla] I’m your guardian, Marla.
Oh, thank God. I need help. I need my cell phone.
[Marla] To call who?
[Marla] Who do you need to call?
[Marla] Jennifer, do you know a man named Dean Ericson?
[Marla] Dean. Dean Ericson. You know him?
Dean… No, I don’t.
[Marla] No? He says he works for you. He says he’s a lawyer.
Lawyer. Does he look expensive?
[Marla] Well… yeah, I guess.
What’s the date?
[Marla] The 15th.
Last week was the 8th.
[Marla] Right on.
Oh… You’re in trouble now.
[Marla] Really? Why?
Yeah. He’s coming.
[Marla] Who? Dean?
No. He’s coming.
Just you wait.
[Marla] Jennifer, who are you?
So much drugs. Drugs. I can’t think.
[Marla] Tell me who you are. Tell me. You know I have access to your safety deposit box? I know what’s in there. There’s an envelope inside a book.
[Marla] Tell me who you are.
Oh, you’re a robber.
[Marla] No, I’m your guardian.
You’re my guardian robber.
[Marla] Tell me who you are.
[Marla] Jennifer. Jennifer. Tell me.
I’m the worst mistake you’ll ever make.
[Marla] Tell me. Tell me.
[Marla] Tell me.
You don’t give me my cell phone, you don’t let me get out of this place… I got nothing to say.
[Marla] Listen to me.
[Marla] I control your drugs, your food, your comfort. Everything. Me.
[Marla] Not you, me.
[Marla] And I can make things very bad for you. You hear me?
Then have at it, you little crock of cunt. Have at it.
[nurse] Excuse me. Uh–
Marla Grayson, my favorite lady. [clears throat]
[Marla] Sam, I want you to adjust Jennifer Peterson’s routine.
[Marla] Take her arthritis and pain meds down to minimum, push her physical exercise to grade four level.
[Marla] Give her an upper at 9:00 at night, then sedatives in the day. Put her on the basic food package. No solids, just oatmeal and soup. No games, no TV and only 30 minutes a day out of her room.
Are you sure?
[Marla] I’m sure as fucking sure.
[Marla] Thank you, Sam.
Your Honor, Jennifer Peterson is being held against her will in a care facility. She was put there by this woman who has falsely asserted that Jennifer is of ill health when, in fact, she’s perfectly fine.
Who are you, sir? I’ve not seen you in here before.
Dean Ericson, Your Honor. These are my associates. We represent the interests of Jennifer Peterson, and I’m here to undo a miscarriage of justice.
Are you saying I am responsible for a miscarriage of justice?
Not deliberately, Your Honor. You were lied to. My client was not invited to the original hearing, and neither was her representative.
That’s perfectly normal for an emergency hearing.
But there was no emergency in this case. It was a fiction created by Miss Grayson to keep Jennifer out of sight and trick the court. I have an affidavit here from an ex-employee from Dr. Amos’ practice who testifies to the fact that Miss Grayson and Dr. Amos regularly colluded on cases to game the system. I quote: “Karen would palm off difficult patients to Marla whether they needed a guardian or not and then embellish symptoms to sway the court.” [scoffs] Your Honor… this is scandalous.
[Marla] Judge, may I? Fiona Jacobs is your witness?
Yes. She’s the employee, yes.
[Marla] Judge, you know Fiona hates Karen. She’s not an impartial witness. Fiona has a vendetta against Karen because Karen fired her for being useless at her job.
Or maybe Karen fired her because she uncovered the true nature of your operation.
I know Fiona. She was useless.
Judge, can I ask why Jennifer is again not present today?
[Marla] Jennifer is unwell. I’m afraid she’s unable to attend. I have submitted a letter from her current doctor attesting to that fact.
Also I’ve been denied any access to her, Judge. It’s as if Miss Grayson has purposely just kept me away from her.
[judge] Have you denied him access, Marla? You can’t deny an attorney access to his client.
[Marla] Judge, this man claims to be her lawyer. He can produce no piece of paper to prove it. No contract, no retainer. He just suddenly appeared in my office making threats and accusations. Your Honor, more than once you and I have seen unscrupulous lawyers seeking to exploit the elderly for their hard-earned savings. I think this is why Mr. Ericson wants Miss Peterson out of my protection.
That’s the exact opposite of what is happening.
Can you present any paperwork that proves you are Miss Peterson’s lawyer?
If I could just get access to her, I guarantee you, she would sign a retainer.
So Jennifer Peterson hasn’t retained you as her lawyer?
I am acting on behalf of concerned parties, people who are extremely worried about Jennifer and the outrageous treatment she’s been given.
Who are these concerned parties?
I’m not at liberty to reveal that information. They are friends of Miss Peterson who wish to remain anonymous.
Sir, we’re going around in circles. Either you show me some paperwork that proves you are Miss Peterson’s lawyer or you bring these concerned parties into a hearing and let them speak for themselves. But for now, Mr. Ericson, your request to dissolve this guardianship is denied.
[Dean] Sir. Sir. Sir. Look… Whoa! Okay! It’s family court, okay? The judge is an asshole. He’s an idiot. He doesn’t even know law. He drives a fucking Subaru!
[yelling] Stop talking! Stop! Fuck this.
[smarmy] Good morning. My name is Walter Smith. These are my brothers, Tony and Chad. I spoke to your manager, Mr. Rice, this morning about a tour of the facility.
Great. I’ll get him on the phone for you.
Mr. Smith, yeah.
Jennifer Peterson’s dead.
[Marla] What? When?
In 1949. When she was three months and nine days, from polio. The woman we have isn’t Jennifer Peterson. She just stole the identity of a dead child.
And look at this. I found an obituary of the dead girl in an old newspaper.
And, of course, we have superb medical staff and facilities on site. So, any questions?
Actually, yes. My father has a friend who’s a resident here. We’d love if we could say a quick hello. It would mean a lot.
Oh, of course. What is the name?
Is there a problem?
No, uh… Jennifer’s been unwell. She’s resting.
We’ll be very quick. We promised our father. You understand.
Of course. The thing is, Jennifer’s guardian has stipulated that she have only approved visitors.
That’s odd. She sounds a bit more like a prisoner than a guest.
No. No, um… No. Um… tell you what.
Why don’t I try and get Jennifer’s guardian on the phone and see what I can do?
Hey! Hey, what did you do to him?
Oh, shit. Find her! Go!
Somebody help Mr. Rice!
Lock it down. Lock it down.
[Marla] Then who do we have?
I don’t know. This stolen identity is incredibly sophisticated. We’re talking about passports, driver’s license, employment, tax records going back 40 years. They’ve scrubbed all trace of the real Jennifer Peterson, including her death certificate.
[cell phone ringing]
[Marla] Marla Grayson. Yeah. Fuck. I’m on my way.
Madam. Madam? Chad.
Get down on the ground!
Out of the way! Get out of the way!
About fucking time.
Open the door.
You don’t wanna do this.
Open it! Listen to me. I am prepared to kill you to get out of here. Are you prepared to die to stop me, hmm?
I didn’t think so.
[Alexi] Thank you. … Right this way, madam.
[Alexi] Get the fuck off me!
[Marla] That way.
[Alexi] Fuck you.
We got you. We got you.
No, you don’t.
Yeah, vacation is over.
[man] Get down.
What is your name? Why’d you wanna kidnap that little old lady? Wanna make your phone call? Want a doughnut?
He doesn’t know it yet, but we found him in our system. He’s done time before.
[Marla] Who is he?
Alexi Ignatyev. Brother of Nicholas Ignatyev who was once a brigadier in the Cleveland Russian mafia.
Hmm. Nicholas died seven years ago in a fire, along with his boss, Roman Lunyov. It was arson, a hit. They’d been caught skimming. These assholes were drug smugglers and implicated in a bunch of murders. We thought Alexi died in the fire too, but here he is, trying to kidnap your ward. Who is she anyway, your ward?
[Marla] Nobody. She’s a retired businesswoman.
Well, maybe it was just a stickup job. You guys did good stopping him. This guy’s a bad dude.
Do me a favor. Keep us in the loop if you hear anything else.
Hmm. Sure thing, Frankie.
Don’t call me Frankie.
You used to like being called Frankie.
Yeah, not anymore.
[door buzzes open]
It used to be a thing for a second.
[Marla] I like it. Frankie.
[quietly] Yeah. It’s me. I need something.
Oh. Hello. Sorry. I’m just closing up. Did you have an appointment?
[anchor] Let’s go live now to Lucille O’Mara who is at the scene. The well-loved family doctor was found dead at her place of work. Dr. Karen Amos was a highly popular and respected doctor… Police will not yet confirm that it was suicide.
[Marla] You heard about Karen.
Yeah. Oh, my God, baby. Quick, pack a bag. We gotta go. If they killed her, they’re coming for us next.
[Marla] We don’t know they killed her. Karen may have had trouble we didn’t know about.
Oh, really? Do you believe that? Okay, then. Marla, I don’t want you to get shot in the head. I don’t wanna get shot either.
[Marla] So we don’t get shot in the head.
We went after Jennifer Peterson because she was a cherry with no strings attached, baby. But she’s a spider web, and we’re gonna get trapped in it.
[Marla] Well, maybe, but maybe not.
They brought guns into a care home. They’re the Russian mafia, Marla.
[Marla] Ex-Russian mafia.
Marla, pack a fucking bag! … [quietly] Fuck.
[Marla] Curtis, it’s Marla. Yeah, we saw. I know. I know. Yeah, you should close the office. Hang tight for a while, okay? Can you send me a list of all the empty, unsold properties on our books as soon as you can? Okay. Thanks. Goodbye.
[whispering] It’s gonna be okay.
[Marla] Jennifer, how are you feeling?
Good. Heard about Dr. Amos.
[Marla] Is Alexi your son?
What? No. That idiot?
[Marla] But you are connected to the Russian mafia?
He’ll kill you next. I mean, that is unless you get me out of here now. Then he might let you live.
[Marla] Jennifer, listen to me carefully. I don’t lose. I won’t lose. I’m never letting you go. I own you. And I will drain you of your money, your comfort and your self-respect. Not because I want to, not because I’ll enjoy it or because I planned for it, but because your people didn’t play by the rules. You wanna beat me? Well, come at me fair and square. You get me in a courtroom. You outplay me. You don’t bring guns into a care home. You don’t murder one of my friends. This is your life now, Jennifer. You are just another old lady in a care home, with dementia, with incontinence, with arthritis. With no one. Except me. … Jennifer, or whoever the hell you really are… you’re gonna die in here. Alone and in terrible pain.
Hey! Let her go! Come on. Come on. There you go. Let her go. Nice and easy.
[Jennifer] Don’t. She’s the one.
[judge] Good Lord. Marla, are you okay? Did she hurt you?
[Marla] Only superficially. I got lucky. But what about next time? As you can see, her mental health has severely deteriorated. As this doctor’s note describes, Miss Peterson has become delusional, paranoid and violent. She’s a danger to others and herself. And her doctor and I recommend that she be moved immediately to a secure psychiatric facility where her needs will be more adequately taken care of.
[Marla] Don’t worry.
This belong to one of your wards?
[Marla] I just need an approximate valuation, Vee.
It’s a real nice stone, not the usual dog shit people bring in.
[Marla] What are we talking retail?
Mm, 175, maybe 200 grand. It’s a nice one.
[Marla] You mind holding on to it, keep it in your safe?
Is it trouble?
[Marla] Oh, no. No, I have some errands to run. I don’t want it in my purse all day. Thanks. Fran says hello. Oh, she told me to ask after your brother Mikey.
[Marla] Yeah. He still in the trade?
Why? You need a fence for this?
[Marla] In the future, maybe.
Michael still moves stuff here and there.
[Marla] Good to know.
Hey, how’d it go? Did she take the bait on Mikey?
[Marla] Oh, yeah. He may be a solution.
[Marla] Hey. Did you pack our passports?
Passports. Fuck. Shit, baby. No, I didn’t. Didn’t you?
[Marla] Fuck. No.
I’m close to the house. I can go pick them up if you want me to.
[Marla] I think we should have them just in case. But be careful.
Okay. See you back at the place?
[Marla] Yeah, okay.
What happened? Oh, my God. Are you okay?
[Marla] I don’t know. I think somebody…
Oh, my God.
Hello, Marla Grayson.
I don’t like you.
[Marla] You only just met me.
You know, you remind me of someone I knew when I was younger. She was fiery, like you. Amusing, confident. Uncooperative. I cut all her fingers off with a bread knife. She’s buried underneath a Jimmy John’s now. Don’t underestimate me.
[Marla] Who are you?
A dangerous man.
[Marla] It says that on your business card?
You should be scared right now.
[Marla] Why? Are you gonna make another big fucking speech? … Ow! … Ow. Jesus fucking Christ.
You stole something from me. Something more than an old lady. You know what I’m talking about. Right now I have men searching for what you stole. They are tearing apart your office, your home. And if they do not find what they’re looking for, I will tear you apart until you tell me where they are. … Do you recognize that woman Marla? That’s your mother, isn’t it? After I destroy you, I will destroy her.
[Marla] Go ahead. I don’t give a shit about that fucking sociopath.
You know, I… I don’t like being angry. I much prefer to be calm. But you… have compromised a life I spent years carefully building. Do you know who I am?
[Marla] No, but I think I can guess. You’re either Nicholas Ignatyev or Roman Lunyov. My bet is you’re Roman, ’cause you seem more like a boss than a soldier. So, you faked your own death and then were afraid your Cleveland friends would use your mother to flush you out, so you turned her into Jennifer Peterson.
I’m going to kill you now.
You’re not afraid of death?
[Marla] Do you remember how scary it was in 1807? [scoffs] No, me neither because I wasn’t alive yet. It’ll feel the same way when I’m dead. Not even nothing. Why be scared of that? Anyway, you don’t need to kill me. When you sent that lawyer with a case full of money, your instinct was right, I’m willing to be bought off. Your man just came in too low.
Do you have a figure in mind?
[Marla] Yeah. I want $10 million.
Of course you do. You are… brave, Miss Grayson. Stupid, but brave.
[Marla] Well, to make it in this country, you need to be brave. And stupid and ruthless and focused. Because playing fair, being scared, that gets you nowhere. That gets you beat. You know that. And I wanna be rich, Mr. Lunyov. I wanna be very… fucking rich. And my bet is that $10 million, that’s not such a big deal for you. But for me, that’s a start. That’s enough to be able to use money as a weapon, like a bludgeon, the way real rich people do. That’s what I want.
You hold no cards.
[Marla] I have your mother and your diamonds. I’ve made sure that if I die, you’ll never see those diamonds and it’ll be so… complicated to extricate your mother from her situation… that it’ll take years before she sees freedom. If she even lives that long. Just pay me off. It’s the easiest way.
Get rid of her.
Make sure it looks organic.
[“System Addict” playing]
♪ Never would believe it ♪
♪ This can’t be happening ♪
♪ Boxes that go beep ♪
♪ Little lights that leap ♪
♪ Tapping on a keyboard ♪
♪ What’s happening to me? ♪
♪ And when the electricity ♪
♪ Starts to flow ♪
♪ The fuse that’s on my sanity ♪
♪ Got to blow ♪
♪ System addict ♪
♪ I never can get enough ♪
♪ System addict ♪
[Marla] You got a pay phone? I’ll give you $50 if you’ll let me make a call on your cell.
Hey, it’s Fran. Leave a message.
[Marla] Can you call me a cab?
[Marla] Oh, Fran! Oh, baby! No! Oh, thank God. Oh.
[Marla] Fran? Fran.
Marla. I thought… I thought… I thought we were dead.
[Marla] No, we’re alive, hon.
[car alarm blaring]
[Marla] I’m so fucking sorry. I’m so sorry.
[car door closes]
[Marla] How are you feeling?
Feeling better. … What’s that, Marla?
[Marla] It’s the license plate of the car our Russian friend was driving. Fran, say the word and we’re gone. We start again somewhere new. Just us.
And do what? Hmm? We lost everything.
[Marla] Not quite everything. … We can take them and run. Or you can make a call and get me the address that that license is registered to. If we run, we’ll always be looking over our shoulders. We’ll always be waiting for him to find us. Isn’t it better to finish this now?
You have a plan?
[Marla] I do.
Will it work?
[Marla] I don’t know.
Give me the phone.
[Fran] Okay, here we are. This is the address for plate F8T 444.
[Marla] That one?
[Marla] He can’t live here. Maybe the plate was stolen.
No, the plate definitely matched a black Yukon.
[Marla] Go around the back. I wanna get a closer look.
[Marla] It’s not him, it’s his driver. Go. He’s on the move. … There. Follow him.
He’s pulling up.
[knocking on door]
[man] Sir, your car is downstairs.
[Marla] Hi. Uh… I have an appointment with, uh… Mr. Naylor at Galen and Hersch. It’s on the third floor, I think. I’m actually a little early. Uh, is there a restroom I could use while I’m waiting?
Sure. Right around this corner and to your left.
[Marla] Hi. Can you help me? I think I’m on totally the wrong level, and I can’t find the exit. Is this B1?
This is level 2. The exit’s back that way around the corner.
[Marla] Can’t I use that elevator right there?
That’s a private elev… [groaning]
Where is Jackson?
[Marla] Hello again.
Is he in there?
[Marla] Lying in a pool of his own urine.
[Marla sighs] You wanna go get rid of him?
Lead the way.
[Marla] How much do you think he weighs? A hundred pounds?
[Fran] 110, yeah.
[Fran] Sleep tight, motherfucker.
[door opens, closes]
[indistinct radio chatter]
[Marla] There you are. How are you feeling?
[Marla] Don’t try to talk. You have a tube in your throat. … See that? You’re a John Doe. You nearly died of an overdose. You’re lucky they found you in time. You wanna hear an interesting fact? When an incapacitated John Doe is found, the state automatically appoints them a legal guardian to oversee their treatment and welfare. You know where this is going, right? … I’m now your legal guardian. I got you, John Doe. I can do whatever I want with you. Let’s find a nurse to get that tube out of your throat so you can arrange for $10 million to be moved into my account.
[Marla] How’s the throat?
[Roman] Still painful.
[Marla] I know you don’t like losing. But as your guardian, I suggest you swallow your pride and pay me off. You can have your mother, your diamonds, your freedom. You’ll never see me again.
[Roman] Even if I pay you off, are you not afraid I’ll still kill you?
[Marla] I’m not afraid, no.
[Roman] I can make it happen easily.
[Marla] I know. But I could just as easily kill you if this thing continues any longer.
[Roman] Let’s end this now. I’ll give you the $10 million. I can arrange that. However…
[Roman] I’d like to propose an alternative. Instead of me giving you $10 million… we become partners, go into business together.
[Marla] Are you fucking with me?
[Roman] No, I’m serious. I mean… I hate you… but, oh, the money we could make. You’re a rare person, Marla. Your determination is… Frankly, it’s scary. But this guardianship grift, it’s ripe, but right now it’s small potatoes. I propose we create a monster… a countrywide guardianship corporation, with you as CEO and co-owner. Use my money, use your… skills. Destroy the competition. Take control of the entire market.
[Marla] You wanna start a company with me?
[Roman] Not just one company, a corporation with 80 different companies, all registered offshore, charging each other invoices, burying profit. A real estate arm, a legal arm, a training arm, a medical arm, a pharmaceutical arm.
[Marla] Our own chain of care homes.
[Roman] Exactly. With thousands of guardians working for us. With hundreds of thousands of wards in our care. That way, you win. But I win too. And we make each other billions of dollars. Legally. Mostly.
[Marla] What about the diamonds?
[Roman] Fuck the diamonds. Split them, 50-50.
[Marla] How do we trust each other?
[Roman] If we make each other rich, the trust will follow. … So, are you in?
[“Blood On The Motorway” plays]
[Marla] Every fortune ever accumulated started with a leap of faith. But before you take that leap… first take a long, hard look at yourself. Know who you are.
[no audible dialogue]
[Marla] Ask yourself: am I an insider? Or am I an outsider? Am I a lamb? Or am I a lion? Am I a predator? Or am I prey? Am I good at money? Or am I good at people? What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve my dreams?
Marla Grayson, CEO and founder.
[Marla] What lines will I not cross? Don’t try to be anyone else.
[Marla] Just know who you are and use that to your advantage.
[Peter] So, who are you?
[Marla] Me? I’m just someone who cares.
♪ Have not betrayed Your ideals ♪
♪ Your ideals betrayed you ♪
[Peter] So, are you lion or a lamb?
♪ What are you gonna do? ♪
[Marla] I’m a lioness. And I will do whatever I need to do to protect the people I care about.
♪ Your tongue barely speaks ♪
[Peter] You’ve had amazing success in such a short period of time. Marla, what’s your secret?
[Marla] There is no secret, Peter. All it takes is hard work and the courage and determination to never give up.
♪ Let the changes in ♪
♪ Come on ♪
[Peter] So now you are a rich woman. How much are you worth? How much do you have in the bank?
[Fran] You were great.
[Marla] [groans] My cheeks are aching from forcing that smile for so long.
[Marla] I haven’t counted recently.
[Peter] But you are firmly in the top slice of the one percent.
[Fran] What should we do now?
[Marla] Whatever the fuck we want.
[Feldstrom] Hey, bitch!
[Peter] And you’re still only 39. That must feel good.
[Feldstrom] Hey, bitch!
[Marla] Oh, listen. I don’t have time…
[Fran] Marla! No! Security!
[Feldstrom] My mom died!
[Fran] Help! Help!
[Feldstrom] You never let me see her! She died in there alone! You fucking bitch!
Drop the weapon!
[Feldstrom] Fucking bitch!
[Fran] Someone call help! Marla? Baby, you’re gonna be fine. No, no, no. Look at me, baby. Look at me. Look at me. Listen to me. You’re gonna be fine. You’re gonna be fine. Marla? Help. Help! Marla. No, Marla!
[Fran] No, no, no, no, no.
[Peter] So, with all the success…
[Peter] …are you still ambitious? Are there dreams you still wanna achieve?
[Marla] Peter, I am only just getting started.
[Peter] Marla Grayson, CEO and founder of Grayson Guardianships, thank you.
[Marla] Thanks. It’s been fun.