THEATER OF THRILLS AND HIGH ADVENTURE!

"Brandon Baines, The Dejected Detective!"

                                                               by Richard Nathan

 

Before the lights come up, a voice introduces the story:

                                                            VOICE
                                    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: 

                                                            BAINES
                                    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.

                                                            BAINES
                                    Come in.

In walks little DEBBIE DOOLEY, a cute little moppet, eight years old.  She carries a miniature purse.

                                                            DEBBIE
                                    Good afternoon!  Are you Mr. Baines, the
                                    private detective?  My name is Debbie
                                    Dooley.

                                                            BAINES
                                    Sorry, kid.  I don't find lost teddy bears.

                                                            DEBBIE
                                    I don't want to find my teddy bear!  I want to
                                    find my Daddy!  I don't know where he is! 

                                                            BAINES
                                    Why don't you ask your mommy?  She might
                                    have some idea.  Or maybe not.

                                                            DEBBIE
                                    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
                                    everything.

                                                            BAINES
                                    Kid, I don't think you can afford...

                                                            DEBBIE
                                    Is two hundred dollars enough?   

She opens her little purse and takes out a wad of cash.

                                                            BAINES
                                    When I get offered that much, it's usually
                                    to make someone disappear, not turn up. 
                                    Where'd you get the money, kid?

                                                            DEBBIE
                                    From my allowance, from Uncle Horace. 

                                                            BAINES
                                    Not Horace Dooley, criminal attorney, with the
                                    emphasis on criminal?

                                                            DEBBIE
                                    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.

                                                            BAINES
                                    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
                                    come! 

                                                            DEBBIE
                                    Gosh, I don't know anything about that.  I just want
                                    to find my Daddy.

                                                            BAINES
                                    Okay, kid, spill!  Tell me everything you know about the
                                    case.  What's your father's name?  What do you know
                                    about his disappearance?

                                                            DEBBIE
                                    His name is Henry.  He's a night watchman.  He was
                                    working downtown guarding the Acme Chemical
                                    Factory, the one that burned down.

                                                            BAINES
                                    Yeah, it was in all the papers.  What makes you think
                                    he didn't burn down with it.

                                                            DEBBIE
                                    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!

                                                            BAINES
                                    Kid, for two hundred dollars I'd find the Invisible
                                    Man.  Leave it to me.

                                                            DEBBIE
                                    Thanks, Mr. Baines!  Can I come back tomorrow
                                    and see how you're doing?

                                                            BAINES
                                    Sure, kid.  You pay me, you're entitled to
                                    check on my progress.

They shake hands and she leaves.  Baines turns to the audience.

                                                            BAINES
                                    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.

                                                            BRUTE
                                    You Brandon Baines?

                                                            BAINES
                                    You don't sound like you're a friend of his.

                                                            BRUTE
                                    I'm not!

                                                            BAINES
                                    He's out.  Can I take a message for him?

                                                            BRUTE
                                    Yeah.  Here's a message!

The Brute punches Baines hard in the gut.  Baines crumples in pain.

                                                            BRUTE
                                    And tell him there'll be more where that came
                                    from if he don't lay off the Dooley case!

                                                            BAINES
                                    I'll let him know.

Baines speaks to the audience.

                                                            BAINES
                                    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
                                    feet.
                                       
The Brute exits.  Baines recovers slowly, rises to his feet, and addresses the audience.

                                                            BAINES
                                    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.

                                                        BRUTE
                                    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.

                                                        MONSTER
                                    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.

                                                        MONSTER
                                    I hear you've been retained by the Dooley girl to
                                    find her father.  You might as well give up now. 
                                    He's dead.

                                                        BAINES
                                    What makes you so sure?

                                                        MONSTER
                                    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!

                                                        BAINES
                                    No sign of a body was found.

                                                        MONSTER
                                    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!

                                                        DEBBIE
                                    Daddy!

                                                        BAINES
                                    Get out of here, kid!

Debbie looks at the Monster.

                                                        DEBBIE
                                    But... Daddy...

                                                        MONSTER
                                    You heard the detective!.  I'm not your Daddy!

Debbie crosses slowly the Monster.

                                                        DEBBIE
                                    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.

                                                        BRUTE
                                    Stop screaming, kid!

                                                        MONSTER
                                    Don't hurt her!

                                                        BRUTE
                                    Stop screaming, kid!

                                                        MONSTER
                                    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. 

                                                        MONSTER
                                    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.

                                                        MONSTER
                                    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.

                                                        BAINES
                                    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!

BLACKOUT!

THE END

 

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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 Richard-Nathan@att.net.