Sunday is a great day for family and friends to get together and enjoy one another. And in the spirit of bonding, I offer you a short play that you can put on together. If anyone gets inspired enough to record their efforts on video, I’ll be delighted to feature their work here next week! Come on, you know there’s an actor inside of all of you, just begging to come out!
A Play in Three Scenes
The scene opens on a dark night in one of the bad parts of New York City. Mal DaPone, infamous new mob boss, is walking down the street, hands inside the pockets of his black trench coat. With him is his right-hand man, Mugsy McCoy. Suddenly, a nearby manhole cover lifts, revealing a man (Lefty Flint) who has been in hiding.
Lefty: “Hey boss, when do I get to rub somebody out?”
Mal: “Later! Get back under that manhole cover – you want a copper to see you?!”
Lefty: “Okay, boss. Sorry.” He gets back down into the manhole.
Mal: “Dunno why I keep that guy on the payroll.”
Mugsy: “Well, Lefty is awful good at rubbin’ people out.”
Mal: (Thoughtfully) “That’s true.”
Mugsy: “Say Boss, ain’t we goin’ to da scatter?”
Mal: “The what?”
Mugsy: “Da scatter. It’s gangster talk for da speakeasy.”
Mal: “Mugsy, I’ve told you time and again, you gotta stop going to those gangster pictures. Sometimes I can’t understand a blasted thing you say.”
Mugsy: “Shucks, Boss, dey inspires me.”
Mal: (Muttering to himself) “I gotta get me some better employees.” (To Mugsy) “Yeah, that’s where we’re headed. Say, did we ever find a patsy to put the blame on for that last job? The G-men are buzzing around again.”
Mugsy: “Big Steve put da finger on Harry da Hat.”
Mal: “Good. Harry’s getting unreliable these days. A trip up the river would do him some good.”
The two men arrive at the speakeasy. Mal knocks five times, pauses, then knocks two more times. This is the secret signal to let the people inside know it’s him and not a policeman. The door is opened by Big Steve, another of Mal’s men. Behind him are several tables filled with intoxicated customers and a stage on which a depressed-looking man is playing the piano.
Big Steve: “Evening, Boss. Got any plans for tonight?”
Mal: “That flatfoot McTavish has been interfering at the racetrack again. I thought we might pay him a little visit tonight.”
Big Steve: “What do you —”
Big Steve is interrupted by Flossie, Mal’s latest girlfriend, who comes running over to Mal in a flutter of excitement.
Flossie: “Oh Mal, you’re back already. Boy, what a time of it I’ve had tonight. When I was doin’ my number in the show, my zipper got stuck. Was I embarrassed! Imagine the way the fellas was goin’ on, and me stuck there in that dress! It was all I could do to keep ‘em from runnin’ up on the stage.”
Mal: Sympathetically “That’s some tough luck, baby.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out an ostentatious diamond bracelet. “Here’s some more bangles to cheer you up.”
Flossie: “Aw gee, ain’t you just the sweetest thing! How’s about a honey cooler, handsome?” She puckers her lips expectantly.
Mal: Growls “Not in front of the boys, Flossie.
Flossie: “Aw, Malsie-Walsie! She pouts
Mal: “Now Flossie —
There is yet another interruption as G-man Captain Mike McTavish bursts into the joint, gun pointed straight at Mal.
Mike: “All right, DaPone, this time I finally got you. You’ve sold your last drop of illegal hootch!”
Flossie screams. Several bleary-eyed customers drop their glasses of illegal liquor or fall out of their chairs.
Mike: “Get those hands up, everyone, and don’t anyone make any sudden moves.”
Captain Mike McTavish does not see Big Steve, who has managed to slip behind him. Big Steve gives the G-man a quick smack on the head with a bottle of scotch, knocking him out and shattering the bottle. Quickly, Mugsy and Big Steve grab the unconscious cop and hold him upright.
Big Steve: “What do you want we should do with this here flatfoot, boss? You want we should fit him with a cement bathing suit and send him into the East River?”
Mal: “Naw, thanks to Hollywood that stuff is getting corny. I got better plans for this shamus. Bring him downstairs.” To Flossie “Better go into your number, baby. Don’t want the paying customers to get the idea this place is a clip joint.”
Mal presses a panel on the wall, and a section swings open to reveal a set of stairs. This is the entrance to the “work area” where most of the upper level illegal business is conducted. The three gangsters (two of whom are lugging the detective) head down together. Big Steve and Mugsy accidentally bang Mike’s head on the ceiling as they descend the stairs. From above, one can hear the customers applauding as Flossie prepares to sing.
Mal: “Take it easy, boys. I don’t want him dented just yet.”
Mugsy: “Sorry, Boss.”
Mugsy and Big Steve carry Mike to a chair and sit him in it. Still unconscious, he slides down a bit, so Mugsy pulls him back into a sitting position. Nearby, several of Mal’s employees are hard at work adding up figures from the day’s “enterprises”. Mal ambles over to check on their work, while Big Steve gets a glass of water and flings it in Mike’s face.
Big Steve: “Come on, wake up, you lousy flatfoot!”
Mike dazedly opens his eyes, then wipes the water off his face. His opens his mouth to speak, then winces and puts his hand over the spot on his head where Big Steve conked him.
Mugsy: “Hey Boss, da sleepin’ beauty’s awake!”
Mal: “About time. Well, flatfoot, looks like I got YOU this time!”
Mike glares at him, but says nothing.
Mal: “Well buster, have I got some plans for you! You’re gonna hate every minute of it, but I’m gonna love it! You’re really going to get the full treatment, McTavish. Now stand up!”
Mugsy and Big Steve roughly shove Mike into a standing position, their faces alight with glee. They love the prospect of torturing a police officer.
Mal: “Lock him in the broom closet, Mugsy. Big Steve, get me that timetable off the shelf. I want to find the best express train to tie him to the back of.”
Big Steve retrieves the timetable, and he and Mal begin consulting it, muttering to one another about the merits or weaknesses of various trains.
Mugsy: “In here, copper!” He shoves Mike into the closet and closes the door so roughly that it swings back open. Having immediately turned to face Mal again, Mugsy doesn’t notice that the door is now ajar. He joins Mal and Big Steve, engaging in their discussion over which train would be the best. Mike quickly steps out, then quietly shuts the door while the gangsters are distracted. Keeping an eye on them, he carefully ascends the steps and disappears upstairs.
Mal: “Well, I think we’ll go with the 5:20 to Pittsburg. No one’ll notice him that early in the morning.”
Big Steve: “Right, Boss. You want I should tie him up now?”
Mal: “Naw, there’s no need. That closet locks automatically when you shut it, so there’s no way he’s getting out anytime soon. Let’s go tend to business now — I’ll send you boys down later to collect McTavish.”
The three gangsters head back upstairs. They are immediately met by Reginald Shevington (“Scones”), a small, prim-looking gentleman in a flawlessly starched suit. Mal stops to talk with Scones while Big Steve and Mugsy head to the bar.
Mal: “Ah, there you are, Scones. I was looking for you earlier.”
Scones: “Good evening, sir. I trust it has been a pleasurable day for you?”
Mal: “Yeah, it’s been all right. Say, any word from Fingers Flannigan yet?”
Scones: “I believe the gentleman has regrettably been detained by the authorities. There seems to be some curiosity as to his whereabouts during the recent disappearance of some rather valuable jewels. Shall I ring for a solicitor, sir?”
Mal: “Yeah, you’d better. That dope’ll gum up the works if we don’t get him out quick. Call up Gahagen — he’s a good one for a case like this.”
Scones: “Very good, sir. Will there be anything else? Some tea perhaps?”
Mal: “You know I never touch that stuff, Scones. Get me a bourbon after you get hold of Gahagen.”
Scones: “Right you are, sir.” He scurries away to carry out Mal’s orders.
Big Steve: “Say Boss, what’s the wire on Fingers?”
Mal: Disgustedly “Pinched.”
Big Steve: “That mug’ll land himself another three-spot in Sing Sing if he ain’t careful.”
Mal: Nodding “If he weren’t the best safe man in town, I’d send him packing. But, I need him for a job next week.” He looks around. “Where’s Flossie?”
Big Steve: “Think she went home after her number.”
Mal: “Probably just as well. I got no time for pitching woo tonight. Send Scones to my office when he gets done on the phone. And you’d better tell Benny the Gouge and Mugsy to take the flatfoot out to the train station around five. Tell them to give him the ole number four treatment.”
Big Steve: “Maybe you better send Lefty instead of Benny, Boss. He’s getting awful itchy to rub someone out.”
Mal: “Okay, send him. But tell him no cement and no lead this time. I want a straight-up number four done on that copper. Lots of pain without the mess.”
Big Steve: “Sure, no problem, Boss. Okay if I let him do a number twenty-six on McTavish first? It is Lefty’s birthday, after all.”
Mal: “Twenty-six? Which is that?”
Big Steve: “Sorry Boss, I forgot you didn’t know that one. The old boss, Moose Monahan made it up. Two guys hold the jerk, then a third fella gives ‘im two whacks to the kidneys with a blackjack. Then they break his thumbs, cut off his ears, and break his ribs. After that, you finish him off any way you like. It’s a little messy, but it’s Lefty’s favorite.”
Mal: “Well, since it’s his birthday, he can do a modified twenty-six. All the bone-breaking, but let the copper keep his ears. I guess you’ll have to go too now that you need three men.”
Big Steve: “Thanks, Boss. It’ll mean a lot to Lefty. I’ll go tell him the good news.”
Big Steve leaves. Mal heads to his office.
END OF SCENE ONE
Mike McTavish and Flossie Le Fluer are in the elevator of Mike’s apartment building, heading up to his apartment. Mike has Flossie by the arm, and she is putting up a considerable fight. The elevator boy, a clean-cut young man who’s about fifteen years of age, is clearly uncomfortable, but wisely ignores the drama unfolding in front of him.
Flossie: “Leggo of me, you filthy, no-good flatfoot! You’re bruising my arm!”
Mike: “Listen, sister, the louder you squawk, the harder I hold on. If you don’t quit struggling, I just might snap this arm in two.”
Flossie pales and stops resisting, but continues to glare at Mike.
Mike: “There, now that’s being a good girl. You play square with me, and I promise the D.A. will give you a fair shake.”
Flossie spits on Mike’s shoes. He retaliates by twisting her arm behind her, causing her to cry out in pain. Meanwhile, the elevator has reached Mike’s floor.
Mike: “Come on, this is my floor.” He pushes Flossie out of the elevator. Sullenly, she walks with Mike to his apartment. Once they are inside, he immediately locks the door.
Flossie: Speaking without her accent. “Jeepers, Mike, you didn’t have to be quite so rough, did you?” She rubs her arm.
Mike: “Sorry, kid, but I had to make that look convincing, didn’t I?”
Flossie: “I guess. How’d you manage to get away so quickly?”
Mike: “Oh, Mugsy’s even dumber than most people figure. I reckon it’ll be another hour or so before they miss me.” He glances at the clock on the wall, which reveals that the time is now 3:30 AM.
Flossie: “Are we still going through with the original plan?”
Mike: “I’m waiting to hear from Lt. Brannigan. He should be phoning here in about an hour — I doubt that he’ll expect me to have gotten away quite so easily.”
Flossie: “Well, do you mind if I call my paper? I need to tell them to go to print. After all, my editor has been awful nice about letting me go undercover to help you.”
Mike: Glancing up at the clock again. “Yeah, I guess that’ll be all right. Just don’t tie up the line too long — Brannigan needs to be able to reach us when he’s ready.”
Flossie: “Sure thing, flatfoot.” She uses the term flatfoot in an endearing rather than insultive tone. Casting a smile at Mike, she picks up the phone.
Flossie: “Hello, operator? Get me the Morning Star. Thanks.” Pause “Hello, Harper? This is Jean — Jean McTavish, you dope! Don’t you recognize my voice?! Yeah, put the boss on, would ya? Thanks, Harper.” Another pause “Boss? Yeah, this is Jean. Listen, you can go ahead and run that story of mine in the morning edition. We’re taking out the gang tonight. Hmm? Yes, that’s right. No, not yet. Uh huh. Okay, well I’ll phone you with the dope when we get done cleaning up. Sure thing. Bye!” She hangs up.
Flossie / Jean: “Say, Mike, you’re not going to be an old fogie and not let me be there when stuff starts happening, are you? After all, I’ve been your right hand man in all this.”
Mike: “Well, I guess you have been around bullets enough to know when to duck, but something just seems wrong about a guy letting his wife risk her neck like that.”
Flossie / Jean: “I’ll be fine, Mike.”
Mike: “All right, I guess you’ve got as much right as anyone to be there. Sheesh, I must be the lousiest husband ever letting you do this.”
Flossie / Jean: Smiling “Aw, you’re all right.”
The phone rings. Mike, who is closest, picks it up.
Mike: “Hello? Already, Brannigan? Okay, sure, we’ll be there in just a minute. Yeah, Jean’s coming too . . . yeah, I know, but she insisted . . .okay, sure. See you in a bit.” He hangs up, then turns to Jean.
Mike: “Batten down the hatches, kid, it’s full steam ahead!”
Mike and Jean grab their coats and leave the apartment.
END OF SCENE TWO
Back at the speakeasy, Mal is working in his office. Big Steve, Scones, and Mugsy storm in, clearly upset.
Mugsy: “Boss, dat flatfoot done took a powder! He’s gone — vanished — inta tin air!”
Big Steve: “Lefty’s awful sore about it, Boss. Says it just ain’t fair to promise him a number twenty-six on a flatfoot that ain’t there.”
Mal: “But how did he get away?”
Mugsy: Shrugging his shoulders and looking thoroughly perplexed. “Search me, Boss. I reckon da guy’s a regular Houdini.”
Scones: “It really is most regrettable, sir. I do hope that you won’t let my own unfortunate news upset you too dreadfully —”
Mal: “What is it, Scones?”
Scones: “Well, sir, I regret to inform you that the gentleman in question may have appropriated your lady-friend on his way out of this establishment. One of your patrons mentioned witnessing the police officer forcefully taking hold of the young lady’s arm. Unfortunately, the patron found himself too intoxicated to be certain whether he had witnessed an actual event or a hallucination.”
Mal: Pounds his fist on the desk in exasperation. “This just isn’t my night! What more can possibly go wrong?!”
The office door opens again, revealing Mike and Jean.
Mike: “You rang?” He points his gun at Mal.
Mugsy: “Why you lousy copper!” He moves to take a swing at Mike, but Big Steve restrains him.
Big Steve: “Hold it right there, small-timer! The jig is up! I’m Lt. Brannigan of the New York police force, and I’ve got enough dirt on you three” He motions to Mugsy, Scones, and Mal “to make you all fry!” He whips out a police badge and flashes it for all to see.
Mike: Chuckling merrily “That’s right, you dirty crooks, I’ve had a man on the inside all along — in fact, I’ve had a woman in here, too!” He indicates Jean “That’s right, boys, meet Jean McTavish, Morning Star reporter and wife to me!”
Jean: Speaking in her “Flossie” accent. “Sorry, fellas, but you know what they say — never trust a dame!” She dramatically flings aside her platinum blonde wig.
Mugsy: Looking a bit perplexed. “Gosh, I wish da boys down at headquarters had done a bit bedder job at researching who was who. Guess I’d bedder introduce myself, too. I’m Warren Drummond, prohibition agent.” He flashes a badge as well.
Mal: Looking completely taken aback. “Wait til the boys at the bureau hear about this one!” He pulls out his own badge. “Peter Albertson, Federal Bureau of Investigation. We’re cracking down on all the gang activity around here.”
Big Steve / Lt. Brannigan: Gesturing to Mugsy and Mal. “Wait a minute, you two are both undercover, too? And her?” He gestures toward Jean.
Mike: Slowly “Sorry Brannigan, but I figured it would be safest if no one but me knew that Jean was working undercover.” He glances at Mugsy and Mal, both of whom still have their badges out. “I had no idea about these two, though.”
Mal / Peter Albertson: “The FBI had no idea that anyone else was on this case either. I knew that McTavish was the local cop working to route out gangsters, of course, but I hadn’t an inkling about the rest of you! Boy, have I got egg on my face!”
Mugsy / Warren Drummond: Aghast “You mean to say Scones is the only one here actually involved in selling illegal hootch?!”
Scones: Sighing “I regret to inform you chaps that I am not who I have claimed to be. Allow me to introduce myself: Henry Wiggingston, Scotland Yard. I came here to investigate the recent disappearance of Lady Bellamy’s diamonds, believed to be the work of this group of ruffians.”
Jean: “I’d be happy to go undercover and help you on that, Scones — er, I mean Mr. Wiggingston. I can do a marvelous British accent!”
Big Steve / Brannigan: Sounding very deflated. “So . . . have we actually caught any crooks at all in this whole undercover mess?”
The door opens and Lefty walks in.
Mugsy / Warren Drummond: Sarcastically “And what agency do YOU secretly work for, Lefty?”
Lefty: Clearly surprised “I work for you, of course, Boss. Now when do I finally get to rub somebody out?”
Mugsy / Warren Drummond: Delightedly “You mean you’re not working undercover?!”
Lefty shakes his head, baffled. There is a brief pause, then all of the undercover law enforcers dive on him. Moments later, Lefty is securely tied to a chair and gagged, and the lawmen all look much happier.
Mugsy / Warren Drummond: Pulling a bottle of scotch off the shelf. “Anyone care for a drink?”
Jean: “Why Mr. Drummond, you’re a prohibition agent!”
Mugsy / Warren Drummond: “It’s illegal to buy, sell, or make da stuff, but dere ain’t no law what says we can’t drink it!”
Scones passes around shot glasses, then fills them all.
Mal / Peter Albertson: “Allow me to propose a toast. Here’s to interagency cooperation!”
Everyone (except Lefty): “To interagency cooperation!”
They clink their glasses and drink. Meanwhile, Lefty finally manages to free his mouth from the gag.
Lefty: “Some birthday. Don’t I never get to rub nobody out?!”