Episode II: Former Clients, Former Colleagues
By James Comtois
BLOSSOM: (Either off-stage or directly to the audience.) The Pinkerton National Detective Agency was a nationwide private detective agency established by Allan Pinkerton in 1850. The agency's logo, an eye embellished with the words "We Never Sleep," inspired the term "private eye." During its height, the Pinkerton Detective Agency employed more agents than the U.S. standing army. By the 1890s, some believed the organization was a necessary force in maintaining peace and order while remaining under the radar. Some believed Pinkertons, or "Pinkies," were corrupt mercenaries hired by Robber Barons to infiltrate labor unions and intimidate strikers...
If BLOSSOM is on-stage, she now exits.
The following is an audio montage of lines from last month's episode.
VOICE: (Off, prerecorded.) Previously, on Pinkie...
STUBBY: (Ibid.) I was told that this store was bought to be a detective agent's office...
DUSTY: It is. How can I help you?
STUBBY: My name's Stubby Gilbert. I run the Arcade Saloon.
DUSTY: I'm Dusty Denton.
STUBBY: Lately, I've been dealing with some threatening behavior. I've woken up to the sound of people on horseback circling around my home and screaming nasty insults. Also, the windows of the Arcade have been broken by rocks. I have reason to believe this is the work of Jason Norris. He had expressed interest in purchasing the Arcade. When I told him it wasn't for sale, he stopped being polite.
DUSTY: Do you have Mr. Norris's address?
STUBBY: Yes. If you're going over there, make sure you have at least two guns. His boys are always-
DUSTY: -I don't even have one gun, Stubby. I refuse to carry one.
CHARLIE: I was told that Dusty Denton had opened up a detective agency in this town and I could find him at this address. I'm Charlie. Charlie Burnside.
DUSTY: What are you doing here, Charlie?
CHARLIE: Oh, hey now. Is that any way to treat your old partner?
DUSTY: We have no business together, Charlie. Not anymore.
CHARLIE: No, but you see, Dusty. We do. I've heard that Stubby is thinking of hiring you to help him with his predicament. You're no longer a Pinkerton Agent. You have no right snooping around the Big Boys' turf. Stubby is our client.
EILEEN: That's just awful. Our first client and we have to turn him down.
DUSTY: We won't be turning him down, Eileen. I'll be paying Mr. Norris a visit.
End of audio recap.
DUSTY: (In darkness.) Mr. Norris? Mr. Norris? The door was open. Are you here? Where's the...ah... (Finds a lantern and lights it. The newly lit room in Mr. Norris's house reveals a DEAD BODY on the floor.) Have to say, you have an enormous...(Sees body.)...house...(Approaches body cautiously.) Mr. Norris, I presume? (Check's the BODY'S pockets. Finds wallet. Takes out identification, unfolds it and reads.) Well, there goes my one and only suspect. And lead.
BLOSSOM: (As she enters.) You do like to make a lady hunt, don't you, Mr. Norr- (Sees DUSTY and BODY. Looks horrified. Screams.) Oh my God oh my God what have you done? Who are you what are you doing here? Murder! Murder!
DUSTY: Settle down miss. Settle down. I'm unarmed.
BLOSSOM: What are you doing here?
DUSTY: Same thing you're doing: discovering Norris's body and trying to keep my wits together.
BLOSSOM: You're not armed?
DUSTY: No, miss. Are you?
BLOSSOM: Of course not!
DUSTY: Miss, the body's cold. He's been dead for a while now. If I did this, I wouldn't be waiting around for someone like you to come along.
BLOSSOM: (Catching her breath and regaining her wits.) You a friend?
DUSTY: No. But neither are you, or you would have referred to Mr. Norris by his Christian name.
BLOSSOM: Who are you?
DUSTY: My name's William. And I'm just as shocked as you are to find Mr. Norris like this.
BLOSSOM: You with the Sheriff?
BLOSSOM: You a Pinkie?
DUSTY: I assure you, no.
BLOSSOM: Then what are you doing here?
DUSTY: I might ask you the same thing, since neither of us live here and both of us entered uninvited.
BLOSSOM: I was invited, sir. Mr. Norris was expecting me.
DUSTY: Then you got one up on me.
BLOSSOM: You are snooping, though. You've got that Pinkerton stink all over you.
DUSTY: It's hard to wash off.
BLOSSOM: Stubby asked you here, didn't he? (DUSTY says nothing.) I thought so. I knew he'd take his grudge with Mr. Norris so far he'd hire a Pinkie to intimidate him. (Pause.) I'm right, aren't I?
DUSTY: You tell me. Like I said, you know Mr. Norris, but aren't on a first-name basis. Plus, you've gone from screaming banshee to smooth spitfire in under 60 seconds. Now look, lady. You're at the scene of a murder crying crocodile tears. I think it's in your best interest to start explaining yourself.
BLOSSOM: Fine. Mr. Norris is-was-a client of mine.
BLOSSOM: Do I have to spell it out for you?
DUSTY: My former colleagues used to complain I was a little slow.
BLOSSOM: (Sighs.) I'm a-
DUSTY: -It's fine. You're a prostitute, I know. I had a hunch when you walked in.
DUSTY: I'm not judging you. Girl's got to make a living. And let me guess. You work for Stubby at the Arcade and I'm guessing not as a barmaid. (She opens her mouth to speak.) Since you know there's no love lost atwixt the two gentlemen, I'm guessing this job is on the side and under the radar, unbeknownst to Stubby. This is why I'm guessing you have no intention of contacting the Sheriff. It's fine. I was planning on doing that.
BLOSSOM: For a private investigator, you talk an awful lot.
DUSTY: My former colleagues used to complain I was a little uncouth.
BLOSSOM: You don't know everything.
DUSTY: I actually know a lot less.
BLOSSOM: What exactly are you looking for, William?
DUSTY: For starters, your name.
BLOSSOM: Oh. Blossom.
DUSTY: Well, Blossom. So far I've got everything right, haven't I?
BLOSSOM: Fine. It's true: I work for Stubby Gilbert along with three other women at the Arcade. It's no secret. Nor is it a secret that Mr. Norris paid handsomely for entertainment. That he was discrete and not abusive and wanted our secret to be a secret as much as I did made the offer too good to refuse.
DUSTY: He hire any other women from the Arcade?
BLOSSUM. Not on your life. I think I was the only one he trusted.
DUSTY: Don't sell yourself short, Blossom. I'm sure he found more than just your loyalty appealing.
BLOSSOM: Careful, Pinkie. Are you looking for answers or a date? I sincerely doubt you can afford what I was charging Mr. Norris.
DUSTY: I told you, Blossom, I'm not a Pinkie. And if I'm looking for a date, I promise I'll go through Stubby first.
BLOSSOM: Something tells me I shouldn't hold my breath waiting for that appointment.
DUSTY: You wouldn't want to end up like Mr. Norris.
BLOSSOM: You do know how to sweet-talk a lady.
DUSTY: My former colleagues used to complain I was a little artless.
BLOSSOM: I'll concur.
DUSTY: Who do you think killed Mr. Norris?
BLOSSOM: I haven't the slightest. Why would Stubby hire you if-
DUSTY: -Who ever said Stubby hired me?
BLOSSOM: He did, didn't he?
DUSTY: Why would he hire me?
BLOSSOM: Not the most subtle sleuthhound, are you?
DUSTY: Another complaint my former colleagues had.
BLOSSOM: How did you deal with all that griping?
DUSTY: I quit.
BLOSSOM: I suppose that's one way to deal with that.
DUSTY: It beats all the work involved in self-improvement.
BLOSSOM: I'd be willing to bet Stubby hired you to either intimidate Mr. Norris or find blackmail material to make Mr. Norris turn over his antique arquebus.
DUSTY: (Poker face.) Mmn.
BLOSSOM: Well, let me tell you, William, I do think Stubby is a decent man and a decent employer but what he's doing hiring you stinks. He has no right to Mr. Norris's arquebus and no business trying to take it from him.
DUSTY: Why didn't Stubby ask for this...I'm to assume priceless...? (BLOSSOM nods.) ...heirloom as payment for the Arcade?
BLOSSOM: He did. Mr. Norris was vaguely interested in buying the Arcade, not intent upon it. When Stubby insisted that his antique gun was the only payment he'd accept, Mr. Norris rescinded the offer. The Arcade's prospering, but it's not that valuable.
DUSTY: And this gun is?
BLOSSOM: Stubby figures it's worth enough to retire early on.
DUSTY: Who's telling you all this?
BLOSSOM: Both Stubby and Mr. Norris. They both refuse to stop complaining to me about the other.
DUSTY: And Stubby's willing to blackmail and extort for this arquebus?
BLOSSOM: Well, Stubby believes he's the rightful owner. That gun, according to him, was stolen from his great-great-grandfather.
DUSTY: Have you seen it?
BLOSSOM: The gun? Oh, yes. Mr. Norris had it hanging above his mantelpiece until Stubby started asking about it.
DUSTY: Where is it now?
BLOSSOM: No idea. Mr. Norris hid it. May not even be in the house.
DUSTY: Well, the place doesn't appear to have been robbed, so if whoever did this was after the gun, they knew where to look and didn't disrupt anything. Except, of course, for Mr. Norris's well being.
BLOSSOM: Stubby wants the arquebus, but I don't think he'd kill for it.
DUSTY: Stubby says it's his great-great-grandfather's. I'm assuming Mr. Norris was saying something similar.
BLOSSOM: Both claim their great-great-grandfather used it to win a duel.
DUSTY: I'm also assuming there's no engraving on it to make this all easier if we find it...
BLOSSOM: None that I saw when it was on display.
DUSTY: Of course not. That would make life easy.
BLOSSOM: And we both know that's never the case.
DUSTY: I take it you're not buying Stubby's side of the story.
BLOSSOM: I have my doubts. Mr. Norris has been a shrewd businessman, but he's no thief. And if an ancestor did steal it, it's a bit too late to be claiming ownership.
DUSTY: Tell that to the Indians.
DUSTY: At the risk of sounding rude, for a girl of the line, you do sound a lot like Mr. Norris's biographer.
BLOSSOM: You're certainly right about being rude.
DUSTY: I plead guilty.
BLOSSOM: Another complaint your former colleagues had?
DUSTY: You'd think they'd find at least something nice to say to break the monotony a little.
BLOSSOM: What can I say? Mr. Norris is dead. I'm rattled. When I get nervous I end up talking too much.
DUSTY: Fair enough. Makes my job a little easier.
BLOSSOM: Besides, it's not as if I have anything to hide.
DUSTY: Aside from having Mr. Norris as your client.
BLOSSOM: Which you have no reason to repeat to anybody.
DUSTY: I've been in town less than a day. I have no friends to tell.
BLOSSOM: You're a funny one, William. You're not like the other Pinkies.
DUSTY: I actually take that as a huge compliment.
BLOSSOM: Most would insist on "free ones" to keep quiet.
DUSTY: That sounds like my former colleagues.
BLOSSOM: So you were a Pinkie.
DUSTY: Like I said, hard to wash off that stink.
BLOSSOM: Look, whatever Stubby's hired you to do, I don't care. Personally, I don't think he's entitled to Mr. Norris's arquebus, but it's really none of my business. Fella's got to make a living. Anyway, I should go. (Starts to exit. Stops.) You know, thanks to Mr. Norris, I have a lot more money than you would believe. Find out who did this. I'll pay you a handsome reward, William.
DUSTY: What if I need to see you again?
BLOSSOM: You know where to find me. (Exits.)
DUSTY: (To himself.) "Speak" to. "Speak to" you again. Come on, Denton. You're supposed to be smoother than that. (Pause. Looks at the BODY.) Well, Eileen. We got ourselves a dead body and a Hooker With a Heart of Hate, telling me some bosh about some missing heirloom. Still, maybe I should look into this story about this priceless gun. Well, not sure if there's any point lingering here talking to myself. Maybe a cursory look around the place then a visit to the Sheriff's to-
HARRY: (Off.) Mike! Hey, Mike!
MIKE: (Off.) Yeah, what?
HARRY: (Off.) Put that down and get in here!
MIKE: (Off.) Why do you need me, Harry?
HARRY: (Off.) Mr. Norris said he wanted to see both of us. Now come on!
DUSTY exits to hide. MIKE and HENRY, no older than 19, enter.
MIKE: I swear, Harry. Norris says frog and you...(They see the BODY.)...jump...
HARRY: Holy smokes.
MIKE: Sweet Jesus.
HARRY: What the hell happened here?
MIKE: We got to get the Sheriff.
HARRY: You kidding? He'll think we did it!
MIKE: Halfwit, he'll think we did it if we don't go to him!
HARRY: This is a nightmare...
MIKE: Sally's going to blow her stack...
HARRY: Mike, you gotta forget Sally. She's the least of your worries.
MIKE: I guess so.
HARRY: Norris got more than he bargained for with the Pinkertons.
CHARLIE: I say, my ears are ringing. (MIKE and HARRY stiffen.) Now, what are we boys...(Sees BODY.) Oh. I...see. (Very deviant, haughty tone.) In a spot of trouble, are we, boys?
HARRY: We didn't do this, we swear!
MIKE: We just got here, Detective Burnside, honest!
CHARLIE: (Examining the BODY.) Calm down, boys. This body's cold. Been dead several hours. Blow to the head with a blunt object. I know you boys aren't murderers. You don't have it in you?
MIKE: How would you know that?
HARRY: For Christ's sake, shut up, Mike!
CHARLIE: It's in the eyes. The posture. Whether or not there's piss running down the pant legs at the sight of a corpse. (Both MIKE and HARRY check their pant legs.) You do my job as long as I have, some things you can recognize as easy as your mother's face. Harry's right, by the way. Mike, Sally's the least of your worries. Stubby already thinks you're a bad egg. He finds out you're sweet on one of his girls, he's sure to have you bite the ground and leave you like your former employer here.
MIKE: How did you know that-
CHARLIE: -I have my sources. We Never Sleep.
MIKE: I mean, blazes, Detective Burnside. Do you think Stubby's as dangerous as he's been wanting us to believe? You don't think he'd go so far as to-
CHARLIE: (Notices lantern.) Thought you boys said you just got here.
HARRY: We did!
MIKE: No less than a minute after you!
CHARLIE: (Indicating lantern.) Then who lit that? (Silence.)
HARRY: That was on when we got here.
CHARLIE: Someone's been here since Mr. Norris was killed. (Silence.)
CHARLIE: I have an idea. I also have a good source who can fill me in on some of the missing pieces.
CHARLIE: (Pause.) Boys, I think you better go. Go tell the Sheriff to get here right away. I think he'd like to know his cousin is dead. I'll search the house to see if anything was stolen. I probably won't be here by the time you get back, but tell the Sheriff I'll be at my hotel in an hour if he needs to contact me.
MIKE: Sure thing, Detective Burnside. Let's go, Harry.
CHARLIE: Oh, and one more thing, fellas. There's a bad egg that's just come into town. He'll most likely be snooping around the area, acting like a Pinkerton Agent. I assure you, he's most certainly nothing of the sort. My colleagues and I have reason to believe he's very dangerous and intends to rob the Norris estate. When you're done with the Sheriff and whatever final chores you had to do for Mr. Norris, come to my hotel and I'll give you all the information you need on this curly wolf and how you can take him down if you cross paths.
MIKE & HARRY: Yes, sir.
HARRY: (To MIKE.) Told you Norris got more than he bargained for with the Pinkertons.
MIKE: For God's sake, Harry, shut up! (MIKE and HARRY exit.)
CHARLIE: (Looking around. Pulls out gun.) Whoever's been here, you best still not be around. You woke up the wrong passenger. (Exits through different hallway than
DUSTY reenters, checks hallway Charlie went down. Looks at Norris's BODY.
DUSTY: (To Norris's BODY.) Don't know about you, Norris, but I could certainly go for some tongue oil and some ladies of the line.
TO BE CONTINUED
© 2007 James Comtois