Soothing The Angry Shadow by Peter Tarkalas
ACT ONE SCENE ONE
As the lights come up we find Al standing
stage front with a pair of binoculars staring out at the audience.
Next to him is a camera on a tripod. Every so often he reaches for
the camera and takes a picture.
Seating behind him is Joe who is sitting down in front of a
coffee table with an open lap top in front of him. He is busy eating
from a bag of chips.
AL I still can't figure out what the hell we are doing here?
JOE (Bored). Ours is not to reason why.
AL: (Mimicking). Ours is just to do or die. (He shakes his
head.). The department loves that need to know shit huh?
JOE Quit bitching Jesus this is a good assignment.
AL (He turns around) Really? Staring at a building all week
taking pictures of everyone going in and out?
JOE It doesn't get any better than this. We're out of the
weather we got a roof over our heads nobody's bugging us
and you know what the number one perk we have is?
AL Let me guess a working bathroom.
JOE A working reasonably clean non public toilet. Wait
till you get older and can't hold it in all day then you'll
AL Sounds like I've got a lot to look forward to in my old age?
(Turning back to the binoculars). I don't know about you but I joined the force
to be a detective.
JOE All you young pecker heads are the same. You want to be crime
fighting super hero detectives. (Slight pause) I was like that when I was a young pecker
AL You were young?
JOE You'll find out that no matter what you do you"re never
going to stop crime. If we're lucky we can put a few shit heads
away but more of them pop up to take their place like fucking
weeds. (Slight pause) So what's happening out there?
AL Not much. The hookers are back on the sidewalk, strutting their
JOE (Looking at his watch) Night shift started I guess. (Slight
pause). Listen. You want to be the great detective. Maybe you can
tell me why some guys will pay good money to have sex with a whore?
AL It's supposed to be the worlds oldest profession.
JOE With so much free pussy around why would anyone pay for it?
AL Since when is sex ever free?
JOE Oh yeah I forgot. You're wife likes to charge for it.
AL Hey times are tough we could use the extra money. (Looks
back out). It's probably easier this way for them. Instead of farting around trying to
meet someone else to get what they want they come down here they fork over
some cash get their business done and drive back home to the missus.
JOE Yeah along with a side order of STD's. (Slight pause).
The point is, no matter how much I wanted it, I definitely wouldn't
be playing Russian roulette with these skanks.
AL Consequences don't even enter the picture.
JOE Sure they do.
AL Yeah? You still smoke right?
AL You know it's eventually going to kill you but you still do it.
JOE That's different.
AL How's it different Joe?
JOE It's a physical addiction.
AL On a scale of stupid things we do as humans, smoking has to be
one of the dumbest.
JOE No argument there.
AL You're probably counting down the minutes until you can go out
for a smoke right?
JOE Now that you mention it. (Looking at his watch). I wouldn't
have to if you let me smoke in here.
AL That'll be the day.
JOE So you're saying that these johns out here have a sexual
addiction and can't help themselves?
AL Sexual addiction? Don't get me started on that. I don't
know who the hell turned that into a mental disorder. Shit. We're
all addicted to sex. If we weren't, our species would have died off
a million years ago. (Looking out at the audience). It might be an addiction
but I don't think it's as simple as a sexual one.
JOE All those psychology courses you're taking it's making
you over complicate things.
JOE Haven't you learned anything from the movies?
JOE In all of those crime mysteries it's always about either
the money or the sex. (Slight pause). Ever see "Double Indemnity"?
AL The one with Fred McMurray, Barbra Stanwick?
JOE Yeah. First she lures him with sex then the money angle
AL That was a good one.
JOE (He thinks). Same thing with "The Postman Rings Twice".
AL Which version?
JOE They made another one?
AL With Nicholson and Jessica Lange.
JOE No shit. Any good?
AL A little more graphic. There's a long scene of the two of
them, going to town, humping each other on a kitchen table.
JOE Oh yeah.
AL I prefer the first one leaves more to the imagination.
The moral of the second one is basically follow your dick and
you're more than likely to get fucked in more ways than one.
JOE Yup what did I tell you?
AL (Continues to look out). I don't buy it. Sex and money
can't explain all the stupid shit we do as human beings.
The lights dim to black.
ACT ONE SCENE TWO
Four seats on a bus. In the front pair we have Mike and Isabell.
In the pair behind them we have George and Sandy. As the lights come
up we hear the last few bars of a song the busload of people have just
sung. Isabell is knelling on her seat looking back. Mike is trying
to hold back his anger at being there in the first place. George is
as energetic and enthusiastic as Isabell. Sandy continues to stare
out her window in boredom. George and Isabell both have casino
cards hanging from their necks.
ISABELL (Calling to the back of the bus). That's great Marianne.
Good job. I didn't know you girls in produce could actually hold a
tune. (She turns around and sits back down. To Mike). You don't feel
like joining in?
MIKE What for?
ISABELL To get in the spirit of things.
MIKE Spirit? (He looks at her). Is this like some kind of high
school field trip for you?
ISABELL Don't be such a party pooper Mike.
MIKE Let me get this straight Isabell we're all like lambs
crowded in this bus willing to drive an hour and a half to go to a
casino while singing show tunes all the way there, knowing full well
that we're all going to get fleeced and I'm the one that's the party
ISABELL No one's forcing anyone to come.
MIKE (Quickly) Well I was.
ISABELL That's different. We needed to fill some seats. And
besides where do you get the idea that we're we're all getting
MIKE Okay. We'll see how many people are singing on the way back
ISABELL Just make an effort please. (She looks at him) For my
sake. I have to work with most of these people.
MIKE I am making an effort. (Slight pause) I'm making an effort
trying to understand this whole gambling thing. (Slight pause). I bet
you the average person in here is going to drop at least 400 bucks
ISABELL And you know that for a fact do you?
MIKE I had a look at our bank account this week.
ISABELL Our bank account? You never had any interest in it before.
MIKE (Directly) I became interested (Slight pause) when my
Visa card got turned down at the gas pump.
ISABELL It was probably some kind of a glitch in the system,
MIKE It was a fucking glitch all right. And it's something that
we're going to have a discussion about.
ISABELL (Alarmed) Not now.
MIKE When we get home.
George sticks his head between the two seats.
GEORGE (Excitedly) We're almost here Isabell.
ISABELL (She looks out the window) Yeah. Pretty close.
GEORGE Listen to that. (He cups his hand to his ear) Can you hear
it? (Smiling he turns to Sandy). Can you hear that hon?
SANDY Hear what?
GEORGE (To Isabell and Mike). It's the triple seven machine. She's
calling out to me. George. George. Come and sit in front of me
stick your card in my slot caress my screen push my buttons
stroke my lever and I will make all your dreams come true.
He laughs and so does Isabell. Sandy glares at him and goes back
to staring out the window. Mike rolls his eyes.
ISABELL (To George) You think Bruno's going to win another jack
GEORGE I don't know. Something fishy about that.
MIKE Who's Bruno?
ISABELL You know who he is. I've talked about him before. He works
at the meat counter.
MIKE Ah Bruno the butcher.
GEORGE He's got to be making it up. (Slight pause). No way
someone could constantly win like he says he does.
MIKE You saying he always wins when he goes on these trips?
GEORGE Pretty much.
MIKE That's impossible.
ISABELL I don't know he always comes back with a winners cap and
they don't give those things away.
MIKE (Sarcastically) I'm sure you got to really earn those.
ISABELL (Looking at Mike wondering if he's being sarcastic. She
turns to George). I wonder what his secret is?
GEORGE Who knows.
ISABELL Does he use the same machine all the time or does he hover
around waiting for someone who's dumped a lot of money in a machine
and has given up.
MIKE If he's not lying then he's got to be cheating.
GEORGE I heard you can mess with these machines by using powerful
ISABELL How can he do that? They have cameras everywhere.
MIKE Maybe he sneaks in his horseshoes up his ass. (Sandy looks over
GEORGE I should follow him around see what's what.
SANDY You should have lots of time to skulk around after you've
blown all our money. (He sits back in his seat. Across to Mike). Do
you know that we're being held prisoners here for five hours?
MIKE Five hours? (Looks at Isabell) You didn't tell me we'd be
stuck here for five hours.
ISABELL Yes I did.
MIKE Five hours? (He looks at his watch) Does that include the bus
ride there and back?
ISABELL No. The deal is we have to spend five hours in the casino.
SANDY You're forgetting the culinary delights of the "all you can
ISABELL They put on a pretty good spread don't they George?
MIKE Fattening us up before the slaughter.
GEORGE (To Sandy) You're going to love the back ribs hon
delicious I can taste them already.
She looks at him, shakes her head and turns away.
MIKE You know counting the ride there and back it's like
eight hours of my life gone. (Isabell ignores him as she usually
does when he gets like this). Eight hours that I'm never getting back.
(He looks at her and sits back shaking his head). I still don't know
how I got coerced into coming along.
ISABELL I didn't point a gun to your head.
ISABELL With you coming we don't have to pay for the bus trip.
MIKE Really? They should be paying us. (Slight pause). I don't
understand the appeal of gambling. Everybody knows that the odds are
stacked in their favour that the casinos are all raking in money hand over
fist but still here we are defying any semblance of logic arriving in
busloads just so we can throw our money away.
ISABELL You can't win if you don't play.
MIKE Come on Isabell. Don't tell me you're buying into all that
bullshit the government spits out in their stupid ads. (Animated).
Imagine what your life would be like after winning a lottery.
ISABELL Would you rather be a winner or a loser?
MIKE We definitely need to have a conversation about this.
ISABELL Look. George brought Sandy along and she's not whining like
a small child.
MIKE (He looks back at Sandy and then to Isabell). At least with me
you know where I'm coming from. She could be packing an uzi under
that coat of hers.
ISABELL Don't be silly.
MIKE Still waters run deep. Hey. What the hell?
Reacting to the sound of the crowd rushing by him to get to the
front door of the bus.
GEORGE (Poking his head between the seats) We're pulling in.
ISABELL (Excitedly) Great.
MIKE Holy shit someone's going to get trampled to death here.
ISABELL (She knells on her seat to address the crowd) Listen up
people. Make sure you pick up your meal voucher and if you don't
have a personal card .
She shows them the one around her neck
you can get one at the courtesy desk and we will meet here at
She consults her watch.
9:15 Sharp and good luck to all of you. And if any of us
manage to clean the casino out tonight a Brinks truck will be made available ha ha.
LIGHTS DIM TO BLACK
[End of Extract]