THRILLS AND HIGH ADVENTURE!
"Brandon Baines, The Dejected Detective!"
by Richard Nathan
Before the lights come up, a voice introduces the story:
Life got you down? Feeling low? Need
someone to give you a word of encouragement,
a pep talk, a glimmer of hope that life might
not be entirely a horrible thing? Then you
should probably stay far away from Brandon
Baines, the Dejected Detective!
Lights come up on the shabby office of a shabby detective. There should be two chairs. BRANDON BAINES is seated in one of the chairs. He begins narrating the story directly to the audience:
It was a summer day in Los Angeles in 1935.
Hell might have been hotter, but I didn't have
the personal experience to say for sure. It
occurred to me that if I leapt out the window of
my fifth story office, I could find out. What
did I have to lose? My clients might miss
me, but I hadn't had a client in two months.
The window was starting to look awfully
good, when there was a knock at my door. I
should have jumped right then.
There's the SOUND OF A KNOCK ON A DOOR.
In walks little DEBBIE DOOLEY, a cute little moppet, eight years old. She carries a miniature purse.
Good afternoon! Are you Mr. Baines, the
private detective? My name is Debbie
Sorry, kid. I don't find lost teddy bears.
I don't want to find my teddy bear! I want to
find my Daddy! I don't know where he is!
Why don't you ask your mommy? She might
have some idea. Or maybe not.
My Mommy's gone to heaven. Please, Mr.
Baines, if I can't find my Daddy, I don't
know what I'd do. I can pay you lots of
money. I broke open my piggy bank and
Kid, I don't think you can afford...
Is two hundred dollars enough?
She opens her little purse and takes out a wad of cash.
When I get offered that much, it's usually
to make someone disappear, not turn up.
Where'd you get the money, kid?
From my allowance, from Uncle Horace.
Not Horace Dooley, criminal attorney, with the
emphasis on criminal?
I think he's a lawyer. I've been living with him since
my Daddy disappeared. Uncle Horace is awful rich
and gives me everything I ask for, but he's just not
as nice as my Daddy.
I've heard of Horace Dooley. Some say he's just not
as nice as Al Capone. He represents half the crime
lords in Los Angeles, and owns half the cops. He's
no good, kid. He stinks! He's corrupt as they
Gosh, I don't know anything about that. I just want
to find my Daddy.
Okay, kid, spill! Tell me everything you know about the
case. What's your father's name? What do you know
about his disappearance?
His name is Henry. He's a night watchman. He was
working downtown guarding the Acme Chemical
Factory, the one that burned down.
Yeah, it was in all the papers. What makes you think
he didn't burn down with it.
The police said they would have found something if
he'd been inside. Please, Mr. Baines, I know my
Daddy's not dead! Please help me find him!
Kid, for two hundred dollars I'd find the Invisible
Man. Leave it to me.
Thanks, Mr. Baines! Can I come back tomorrow
and see how you're doing?
Sure, kid. You pay me, you're entitled to
check on my progress.
They shake hands and she leaves. Baines turns to the audience.
I hated that kid. She was cute enough to make
a nun puke! But two hundred bucks is two
hundred bucks. I decided to go out and see
what I could find out, but before I could leave
my office, I had another visitor.
A hulking BRUTE barges in.
You Brandon Baines?
You don't sound like you're a friend of his.
He's out. Can I take a message for him?
Yeah. Here's a message!
The Brute punches Baines hard in the gut. Baines crumples in pain.
And tell him there'll be more where that came
from if he don't lay off the Dooley case!
I'll let him know.
Baines speaks to the audience.
Then I hit him back. I slugged him again and
again... in my imagination. But in real life, he
left my office before I could get back on my
The Brute exits. Baines recovers slowly, rises to his feet, and addresses the audience.
I described the thug to several stool pigeons
who sometimes sell me information. I figured
the thug probably worked for Horace Dooley,
but to my surprise I found out differently. I was
told he worked for a crime boss, one who was
new in town, someone called the Monster.
Sounded like a tough guy. The next day I
found out just how tough.
The Brute comes back. He grabs Baines by the collar.
I thought I told you to lay off the Dooley
case! We heard you was asking questions!
Enter the MONSTER. His face is covered by a hood or a mask.
Easy, Eddie. I think we can talk some sense
into Mr. Baines.
Eddie (the Brute) releases his grip on Baines. Baines gestures to the chair for guests. The Monster sits down, and the Brute stands behind him. Baines sits in the other chair.
I hear you've been retained by the Dooley girl to
find her father. You might as well give up now.
What makes you so sure?
I killed him. I was engaged to burn down the
Acme Chemical Factory. Mr. Dooley... caused an
accident which resulted in my hair catching on fire.
I attempted to put out the fire by pouring on my
head nearest bottle of liquid I could find. Regrettably,
it was a bottle of acid. My accomplices rushed
me to the home of a plastic surgeon. We awoke him
and required him to at once. We didn't realize until
too late he was drunk. As you might imagine,
my face is not a pleasant sight. Because of it,
some people now call me the Monster. You can
understand why I had to kill Mr. Dooley. Some one
had to pay!
No sign of a body was found.
I didn't say I killed him quickly. He came back to
headquarters with us. You'll never find the
body. So you see you might as well be reasonable,
Mr. Baines. Give up now, while you can. End
this futile search.
Debbie runs in, delighted!
Get out of here, kid!
Debbie looks at the Monster.
You heard the detective!. I'm not your Daddy!
Debbie crosses slowly the Monster.
But... I know your voice... I'd know it anywhere....
Why are you hiding your face?
Very suddenly, Debbie reaches up and takes off the Monster's mask (or cowl). His face is hideously deformed. Debbie starts SCREAMING and won't stop. The Brute grabs her and shakes her.
Stop screaming, kid!
Don't hurt her!
Stop screaming, kid!
Let her go!!!
Debbie won't stop screaming. The Brute shakes her again. The Monster pulls out a gun and shoots the Brute! The Brute dies. Debbie keeps screaming.
Debbie, darling, please....
Debbie runs from the room. The Monster turns and aims his gun at Baines and, as he speaks, slowly away from Baines.
I did it for her! To make more money for
her! The owner paid me to burn down his
chemical factory so he could collect the insurance,
but I accidentally got gasoline on my hair and
it caught fire. You know the rest. My face still
hurts me, but not as badly as my little girl thinking
I am a monster. I am a monster!
The Monster suddenly turns the gun on himself and fires, killing himself. He dies. Baines turns to the audience and closes the story.
For most of us, life is like a rigged roulette wheel.
You're a sucker if you think you can win. Some
people end up with their faces burned off and a
bullet in their brains, like Henry Dooley. Some
live out their lives in an asylum, screaming over a
nightmare that won't ever go away, like little Debbie
Dooley. And some try their best to help people,
and always seem to end up making things worse,
like me, Brandon Baines. Some Greek philosopher
once said, the truth shall set you free. Not in
my book. See you again some time, if I don't
decide to take a dive out that window!
here to go to more
THEATER OF THRILLS AND HIGH ADVENTURE!
© 2005 by Richard Nathan. All rights reserved
The author grants all internet uses to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use. No other use may be made without the author's permission. Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express permission.
Send e-mail to the author at .