Act 1 Scene 1 – my film noir play – first draft

This is why I really started this blog and decided to post every day this year.

Ron is the detective I meet with in a couple earlier posts.

The story really is about Ron’s reaction to his longtime secretary Trish’s expedited engagement to a doctor and her imminent leaving.

I hope you enjoy – and that you understand what is going on, lol!


Open on office of Mayhew Investigations. Circa 1947. The words are printed in reverse on a pebbled glass door leading to an office building hallway.

Two rooms, offices on audience left is his, on right is anteroom, secretary Trish’s office.

Opens with RON MAYHEW in rumpled suit with loosened tie, sprawled out sleeping in his chair, his feet up on the desk. He is maybe early 40s – getting craggy, but not all the young strength has been sucked out of him yet. On the floor is a very evident almost empty whiskey bottle. Photos are pinned up on a corkboard on the wall. He has been developing film and printing pics last night, for a case.

Morning, light angles behind the drawn canvas curtain.

Enter TRISH.

She used to be a real looker. Still is. Maybe 30ish now, and some weariness is showing.

She comes in, sees Ron’s coat on the coatrack, half-knowing smile, half frown, (“There he goes again…!”), hangs up her coat. She peeks into his office, the barely open door squeaking. But she does see the photos, knows that he has done at least some work, late.

Trish: “Like a baby…! A big dumb drunk baby…!”

But there is something pensive, held back, in her voice.

She goes back into her office, makes coffee with their little perc pot on an electric heatpad.

Trish: “Just three more weeks… gonna feel queer, not coming in here. But you know I’ll be thinking about you in Florida – probably see your mug in every orange I pick off that tree in our backyard! Harry’s showed me pics… But in all likelihood a doctor is gonna need as much nursing as you do- I’ve been around too long not to know *that*…!”

(She says all this all wistfully, but with a hint of gravitas — she has not told him yet that she is engaged and soon to elope and leave for Florida — Harry has a job waiting there, a junior partnership to take over a retiring GP’s practice).

As the coffee perks, Trish goes into Ron’s office, works around him to get into a drawer.

She pulls out a toothbrush and a tin of tooth powder, soap and a straight razor and a washcloth. On second thought, she frowns at the washcloth – soiled, used. — she goes back to her office, digs into her purse, pulls out and returns with 2 fresh washcloths. She goes back into the drawer and pulls out a cylinder tin of baking soda.

She picks up the fallen whiskey bottle, slams it on the desk.

Ron stirs.

Trish: “Rise n shine, soldier!” (a bit amused)

He looks up at her, groans, mumbles

Trish: “You don’t have any appointments before 9:00 o’clock, do you?” (Pause) “Of course you don’t.”

Then, knowing what will – or should – wake him, she looks over at the black and white photos pinned to the drying line, picks up one from on his desk.  Then another – she studies the 2 photos.

Trish: “Late dinner with a dame, hmm..?

(Then she turns her attention to the other photo she is holding)  And here with his, his what? His accountant?”

Ron: “Yeah…?” (more like a raspy sound)

Trish: Incriminating – but solid?

Ron: I really can’t tell…

Trish: So she’s not a hooker? or a flooze? Looks too straight for neither.

Ron: I think she’s his accountant…

Trish: (lightly barks a laugh) What do you mean?

Ron: I think she’s his accountant.

Trish: (still a bit incredulous) And that’s what you’re going to tell his wife?

Ron: Haven’t figured that all out yet.

Trish: You know the wife’s coming in today…

Ron: (perking) When?

Trish: 2:00

Ron relaxes a bit

Trish: So who’s the guy, in this one? Looks European, that ring. His paramour? (joking, sarcastic)

Ron: I haven’t figured him out yet either. Didn’t get that feeling.

Trish: Joke. (dropping the photos back onto desk) Ron, you’ve got to do better than that. You’re a detective. Sniff sniff.

(Trish’s tone throughout is affable, maybe even playful, but we sense a hint of approbation she holds back; but that Ron does not acknowledge, either from not sensing or ignoring)

Ron: (speculating) She’s his accountant. He’s his… old college chum.

Trish looks at the photos, as Ron stands himself up.

Trish: (at the photos) Dunno…

Ron: I’ll run home-

Trish: (her back to him, looking at the photos clipped to the line along the wall, matter of factly) Change of shirt and underwear in the credenza.

Ron: And a tie?

Trish: (steps over to a file cabinet, pulls a tie from the things piled on it, turns, puts in on his desk) Here.

Ron: You’re good to me, Trish.

Trish: Yeah, I know.

Ron: I was thinking-

Trish: (snaps) Do not go there, Ron

Ron: (pauses) Was just about to say that Mrs. Calverdash here has told me she’s mentioned this to a couple of her cucumber sandwich and croquette friends…

Trish turns to him.

Ron: Bonus… (he says alluringly, rubs his thumb and fingertips)

Trish: Well we have to get their business first.

Ron is about to say something.

Trish cuts him off.

Trish: And DON’T “find” something, like with the Hoffman’s case, just to feed it. (sharply, upset about it) Y’know, I still run into them at the grocers’…

Ron frowns, gathers his freshen-up things and clothes.

Ron: I’m going down to the lav. Hope they got the hot water back on-

Trish: (Looking at photos, points at one) What’s this, here at the restaurant with the ‘college chum’, this package on the table? A book?

Ron: (looking over her shoulder at the photo) Package. Kraft paper.

Trish: Here. (she points to another photo) And here, with her at the diner. Same package?

Ron: Yeah I think so…

Trish: It is. Or he’s giving two of the same thing to both of them.

Ron: (Looking at the photos) Maybe… (Just to say something)

Trish: (Looks him over) Go…

Ron starts to leave.

Trish: And no cigarette, you know what the doctor said. Not this early.

Ron finds himself coughing, frowns at himself for his body betraying him.

He exits holding the toiletries and change of clothes.

Trish checks the percolating coffee and sits at her desk to pull together papers. With Ron gone for a few minutes, she lets her face show her true tenseness.


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