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Aaronow is called into Williamson's office to be interrogated by Baylen. Moss comes out of the room where he has just been interviewed. He is angry at the detective, and tells the others not to talk to him. Roma tries to tell Moss about the sale Levene has made, but Moss is not interested. Moss responds, bluntly, "Fuck the Machine."
Levene starts to tell the story of his great sale to the Nyborgs. Moss ignores him, continuing to fume about Baylen. Aaronow sticks his head out of Williamson's office and asks if anyone could bring him a coffee if they go out. There is a moment of tension as Moss asks Aaronow how he is doing. Aaronow says he is fine.
Moss and Roma get into an argument. Roma points out that Moss has not closed a good sale in the last month, so he should not care if thieves have stolen the contracts. Moss accuses Roma of having a mean streak. Roma points out that Moss has been incredibly rude to Levene. Infuriated, Moss accuses Roma of thinking that he rules the office just because his is the top name on the board this month. Moss storms out.
Roma encourages Levene to pick up his story where it was interrupted. Levene takes a moment to regain his bearings and launches back into his story with renewed enthusiasm. He says that with the old sales methods he practiced in his heyday, he convinced Bruce and Harriett Nyborg to buy eight units of land. He tells Roma that after his final plea to the Nyborgs, they had all sat in silence for twenty-two minutes, Levene holding his pen over the contract, waiting patiently, before the Nyborgs had relented and signed. Roma congratulates him on a great sale.
Levene gets Williamson's attention and asks him for more leads, as he wants to go out selling again, immediately. Williamson tells him that Mitch and Murray are coming down to the office later with new leads. Levene tells Williamson to pass word on to Mitch and Murray that he made a remarkable sale. Williamson's reply—"The only thing remarkable is who you made it to"—suggests that he knows something about the Nyborgs that means that the sale will not go through. Levene explodes, telling Williamson that he knows nothing about running an office and that he could not possibly understand the sales business because he has never actually been out on a sit with a customer. Levene, feeling powerful, continues to trumpet his past accomplishments and insults Williamson further. He dares Williamson to fire him on a day when he has made $82,000 for the company. Levene suggests that maybe he would be better off working for Jerry Graff anyhow. Roma backs Levene up, and Williamson, having heard enough, goes back into his office.
Early in this scene, Roma tells Baylen that he had heard about the robbery from Moss, and Baylen wondered how Moss knew. This, surely, leads Baylen to ask Moss some very aggressive questions. Though we do not at this point know who actually committed the break-in, we do know that Moss was in on the conspiracy to rob. In response to the detective's confrontation, Moss lashes out with vitriol, saying, "Fuck the Machine." In a cutthroat business, Moss's strategy consists of plowing his way through problems with aggression and anger.
We learn at the end of the scene that Levene, not Aaronow, has gone in on the robbery scheme with Moss, which makes Moss's "Fuck the Machine" outburst interesting. On one hand, Moss risks raising suspicion by acting uncharacteristically kind to Levene—but on the other, his genuine disregard for Levene suggests that their partnership in this robbery venture does not have a bright future. Like everyone in the play, they are looking out only for themselves. Because of this, it seems inevitable that eventually one will betray the other.
Roma's encouragement of Levene's storytelling comes off as almost sweet, particularly his suggestion that Levene taught him everything he knows about sales. This lying comes across as good-natured, precisely because it is obvious that Roma does not really consider Levene a mentor. It appears that Roma treats Levene nicely out of pity, or because he has no reason not to. In a dark world of scams and backstabbing, Mamet is letting in a little bit of light. At the very end of the play, however, when Mamet reveals Roma's ulterior motives, even this small consolation is taken from us.
Levene's description of the sale to the Nyborgs amuses with its brutality. Levene introduces his tale of conquest with, "The old ways convert the motherfuckersell himsell himmake him sign the check." Levene describes selling as a contest of brute force. The climax of his anecdote, in which he gets the Nyborgs to sign, ends, "They both kind of imperceptibly slumped." Levene feels he succeeds as a salesman, it seems, when he defeats his clients. His outrageous hard sell to the Nyborgs diametrically opposes the slick sneak attack method that we have seen Roma use on Lingk.
Levene, emboldened by his sale and by Roma's support, feels confident enough to insult Williamson. He would never have been so insolent to Williamson the previous day at the restaurant, but now he feels like he has the upper hand and can get away with saying anything he chooses. Again, we see Levene's desperate tendency to latch on to any illusory feeling of success that he can muster. We sense that though it may feel good to Levene to unload on Williamson, this outburst will come back to haunt him very soon.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Glengarry Glen Ross!