From Off the Planks of Balboa (Act One)

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Anyone can enjoy a little bit of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Even if you are a criminal mastermind. A comedy in two acts.

Submitted: January 24, 2019

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Submitted: January 24, 2019

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From Off the Planks of Balboa

By Jim Pack

Anyone can enjoy a little bit of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Even if you are a criminal mastermind.

A comedy in two acts.

With the occasional musical interlude legally purloined from the public domain;  apologies to Sirs W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

All rights reserved, to the non musical portions of this written work, by the author Jim Pack, copyright 2018.

Cast of Characters

Harold Smythe

A somewhat ruthless, yet personable and very clever ex-pat Brit from London’s West End, who normally makes a living hunting down people in Orange County California who are in arrears with various local loan sharks, in the hope of collecting the debts they owe to his clientele.  Harold may seem to be borderline malevolent at times, but that possibly could merely be a pose just to keep the delinquent debtors and potential rivals off balance. 

An interesting side note:  Harold does not tolerate the use of profanity of any kind in his presence.  

His age range could be anywhere from late twenties to early seventies. 

Arthur Perkins

A former amateur actor and singer in the local community scene in Orange County California, the now jaded and occasional producer of amateur musical theatricals, Arthur Perkins is also a debtor to a loan shark and is hunted down by Harold Smythe in the beginning of the play for his nonpayment of a loan.  His age range should be approximately the same as Harold’s.

Timothy Keen

A semi-professional musical director/consultant/keyboardist and amateur singer/actor/dancer who frequently collaborates with Arthur Perkins in various musical theatrical events in community theatre.  Age range is from early twenties to mid-thirties.

Noreen Bailey

A stage manager/consultant for both the professional and amateur stage; she is also a frequent collaborator with Arthur Perkins.  Age range is from early thirties to mid-forties.

The Beautiful Placard Lady

Her character title is self explanatory as she struts about the stage holding onto Round One, Two, Three, etc. placards, similar to what one might expect at a boxing match.  She will also be portraying Mabel Stanley, Edith Stanley and Josephine Corcoran when performing various Gilbert and Sullivan solos.  Age range is in the late teens to early thirties.

James Hedley

An operative/body guard and enforcer in the employ of Harold Smythe.  He is also an expert marksman.  Age range is mid twenties to early forties. 

Rupert Sommerset

Another operative/body guard and enforcer in the employ of Harold Smythe.  He is also an expert in jewelry, collectible and antique appraising (including antique firearms).  Age range is mid-thirties to early fifties.

“Mr. Regis” 

A small, very quiet and sometime research assistant of Harold Smythe.  “Regis” is actually his first name.  He doesn’t want anyone to know his last name.  Even Harold does not know what that is.  Nor does “Mr. Regis” ever want his picture taken.  Harold always warns people never to attempt to take a “selfie” with him on their smart phones.  No age range needed for this character.

Patrol Officer 257

Harold only refers to this police officer by his badge number, that being 257.  For some reason, this police officer is unusually fawning, differential and borderline sycophantic towards Harold.  Age range is in the early thirties to late forties.

Ronald Kappy

Another deadbeat that Harold Smythe is on the lookout for.  Ronald Kappy is not the sharpest tool in the shed.  Nevertheless, he later has the makings of a very good “Fredrick” in Harold Smythe’s upcoming production of the Pirates of Penzance.  He is in his early to mid-twenties. 

Thor Andersen

Thor is a seldom used operative of Harold Smythe.  The reason Thor is so seldomly used, as in when no one else is available, stems from the fact that Harold does not trust Thor and rightfully so.  Thor is a very dangerous and opportunistic criminal.  Harold has known Thor since his childhood days in London’s West End and is therefore greatly aware of Thor’s character flaws.  It is unfortunate that Thor is so untrustworthy.  He possesses a great deal of expertise in the field of analyzing and authenticating old documents and is a superb handwriting expert.  As such this fellow West Ender would be a great help to Harold, if it weren’t for Thor being so evil.  Same approximate age range as Harold Smythe. 

Arnold

Thor Andersen’s reluctant henchman from London’s East End.  Arnold is reluctant because he personally detests violence.  Nevertheless he is very loyal to Thor and will dispatch anyone if requested to do so by Thor, albeit reluctantly.  Age range is early forties to mid fifties.

Fred Stampers 

Poor hapless Fred Stampers was originally casted to play Major General Stanley in Harold Smythe’s newly formed production company, until the day he was thrown off the Balboa Pier and into the ocean below for accidentally being “impertinent”; only to be replaced by Harold himself in the role of Major General Stanley.  His age range is from the mid-thirties to mid-sixties.

Various amateur actors, actresses, singers, dancers playing pirates and daughters of Major General Stanley, etc. in the ensemble  

 

Act One

Prologue

A beautiful woman dressed in a black evening gown enters the stage.  She is illuminated by a follow spot light only, and she is carrying a placard that says “Round One. The Balboa Pier”.  After strutting around the stage she then exits stage right.  Then the rest of the lights come up to reveal the following:

Arthur Perkins is leaning over the railing of the Balboa Pier fishing with a small tackle setup one might expect a freshwater angler to employ.  Enter three very well dressed men.  Harold Smythe, the smallest of the three is the oldest and is obviously the one in charge.  The next is named Rupert Sommerset and the third and largest of the three is named James Hedley.

Harold (speaking in a London West End accent)

Hello sir.  May I be so bold to inquire as to which species you trying to catch?

Arthur

California Corbina, or failing that, Barred Surf Perch.

Harold

I myself have caught both.  Right off this very pier in fact, and Halibut too.  Corbina, is a very cunning fish, is it not?

Arthur

The smartest of all the fish that play in the waves.

Harold

Fortunately, I’m rather good at catching things.  Not all of them fish.

Arthur (now slightly wary)

What other things do you catch, besides fish?

Harold

Men, and on rarer occasions, women.

Very long and awkward pause.

Arthur (trying to concentrate on the corbina again)

I see.

Harold

Corbina and the lesser daunting Barred Surf Perch are always in the shallows.  Of course, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that.  Why do they both prefer the shallow surf so much?  Hmm?  Might be safer for them if they went into the deeper water.  But I guess they just can’t help themselves.  They love the sand crabs too much.  When you are going after certain types of prey; fish and especially men, it’s always helpful to familiarize yourself with their eating habits and any other habits that they might have.  For the only other way to catch them is through sheer dumb luck.  But then again, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that.  By your set up I can tell you’re obviously an experienced fisherman.  I can also tell that by the way you are casting your bait.  Too bad they don’t allow you to over head cast on the pier.  Then again, it’s just as well that they don’t.  A good underhand cast off a high pier like this is just as effective, if you deploy a heavy enough sinker; but not too heavy, of course.  I assume you are employing some sort of a Carolina Rig?

Arthur

A variation.  Do you mind if I ask you a question?

Harold

Not at all old boy, ask away.  Please pay no never mind to me calling you “old boy”.  It’s a tired old phrase I inherited from my father.  It has nothing to do with a person’s actual chronological age.  When I talk to a woman I will invariably call her “old girl”, and that tends to raise some eyebrows I can assure you.  But it has nothing to do at all with a person’s age, male or female.  After they realize that they relax into it a bit. 

Arthur

Putting all that aside, what brings you here tonight, that would make you so curious as to ask a complete stranger such a battery of angling questionnairea?

Harold

Is that actually a word, “questionnairea?”

Arthur

If it isn’t, it should be.

Harold

Unfortunately, my purpose for being here tonight is completely business related.  No fishing for me tonight, unfortunately; would that it were otherwise.  I have some brand new lures in my tackle box that actually glow in the dark.  I am very curious to see how effective they are during nighttime conditions.  Like this night, especially when there is no moon. 

Arthur

What kind of business are you presently employed at?  If you don’t mind my asking.

Harold

Not at all old boy.  I love talking shop.  As for tonight, I am hunting.  Not fishing.  Have the corbina been nibbling at your bait yet?

Arthur (trying not to sound frightened)

Yes.

Harold

Isn’t it frustrating?  They nibble away at your bait, but they refuse to hook into it.  Are you using sand crabs?  They love to lightly chew the sand crabs right off your hook, until there is nothing left, but the poor crab’s exoskeleton.  That must be a very disagreeable way to go, slowly being nibbled to death.  And when all the meaty parts are gone, they move on to someone else’s bait.  Of course, I’m preaching to the choir here.  You know all this already. 

Arthur

Yes, they are very good at stealing.

Harold

Yes, they are so very good at that; stealing bait.  But if you are very patient, you will catch one unawares, but only every once in a while.  Not all the time.  Not every night.  But eventually, if you are very careful and pay attention, you will get one.  And yet only when they make a mistake, which they will eventually; make a mistake that is.  But there I go again, telling you things that you already know.

Arthur

Yes as you have said, they’ve been chewing my live crabs from off my hooks all night, leaving only shelled out exoskeletons behind. 

Harold

Maddening, isn’t it? 

Arthur

Yes.

Harold

What size hook are you employing?

Arthur

Size 6.

Harold

That’s a bit large.  I would reduce down to a size 8.  Funny how hooks are numbered, the larger the number, the smaller the hook.  You could try to cut up pieces of blood worms.  The corbina love those imported blood worms.  The tackle shops have them air freighted all the way from the State of Maine.

Arthur

It’s too easy to catch them with blood worms. 

Harold

I see you are a gentleman who likes a challenge.

Arthur

I detect a British accent on you.

Harold

London, near Westminster to be precise, however, I’ve been living here in California for some time now.  I still cannot seem to shake that Minster accent on me.

pause

Oh, dear I just realized I forgot to tell you what line of work I’m in.  I got side tracked back onto the corbina.  Well, as to my particular line of work, it’s the reason why I am here tonight.  Unfortunately, I am not here to discuss myself or fishing techniques.  I am here on another matter entirely.

Arthur

Do we know each other?

Harold

I know you Arthur, or at least I know who you are.  But I’m sure that you do not know who I am.

Arthur (suddenly wary)

That’s comforting.

Harold

You see Mr. Perkins, may I call you Arthur?

Arthur

All right.  What’s your name?

Harold

You may call me Harold, Arthur.  Actually that is only an alias I use for business purposes only.  Please do not be too offended if I do not share with you what my actual given name is.

Arthur

Not at all.  Why should I be offended when people lie to me,… for business purposes?

Harold

Good, glad to hear that.  I so dislike offending people.  By the way I have seen you on the stage on more than one occasion.

Arthur

May I ask why and where? 

Harold

Why?  Because I am a fan of the musical theatre; even at the community level.  As to where, one time at the Costa Mesa Playhouse.  You performed the part of Mr. Laurence in Little Women, the musical version. And one other time at Musical Theatre Village in Irvine, I believe.  Yes, Irvine.  Where you were the Major General in The Pirates of Penzance.  Well done sir on both occasions.  I thoroughly enjoyed those performances.  Speaking of the Costa Mesa Playhouse, what’s the name of that chap who runs the place?  His name escapes me at the moment.

Arthur

Michael Dale Brown.

Harold

Yes.  Mr. Brown. Nice bloke.  Bit rough around the edges, but so aren’t we all.

Arthur

Has he sent you to see me?

Harold (laughing)

No sir.  Why would Mr. Brown have any dealings with a chap like me?  On the other hand, I did have a very interesting conversion with him once.  Nothing about you.  It was in the lobby of his theatre, during intermission.  He wanted me to audition for something coming up at the playhouse.   He said I was a very good type.  I told him I was only a patron of the arts.  Not an actual participant.  What was it that he wanted me to audition for?   Lion in Winter perhaps?   Can’t quite remember.  I believe it was for a character that had a certain history of criminality attached to him.   I remember that.  I ask you sir, and please be honest.  Do I look like a criminal to you?

Arthur

In a professional organized sort of way, yes.

Harold

That is unfortunate.  It’s not the image that I would like to project.  I prefer that people look upon me as merely a man of business; nothing more. 

I believe you have recently become a producer in the realm of community theatre, is this true Arthur?

Arthur

Why do you have a script you want to pitch?

Harold

Pitch?  As in throw away?   Why would I want to do that?

Arthur

No pitch as in “to promote”.  Sell.

Harold

No sir.  I’m not a writer either.  But you are a producer, are you not?

Arthur

Yes.  Lately that seems to be the only way I can amuse myself.  I’m not interested in acting or singing anymore.

Harold

Pity.   I might try my hand at amateur theatrics one of these days in some form or fashion.   Perhaps even as an actor, but if I do, I would hope that I would not be type cast as criminal.

Arthur

Yeah, directors can be so judgmental when it comes to type casting.  May I ask why we are having this conversation?   The real reason?

Harold

You are trying to cut to the chase!   I like that in you Arthur.   Yes.  I, and my two associates, are here to collect a debt that you owe to a gentleman of whom I am not at liberty to divulge by name.   Do you know to whom I am referring to Arthur?  Please do not mention him by name if you do.

Arthur

I’ve a pretty good idea.  Why can I not refer to him by name?

Harold

I would prefer that you not, just in case this conversation is being secretly recorded, unbeknownst to me of course.   We’re in the era of those darn pesky smart phones, which can secretly record audio, as well as video.  It was so much easier in old days to conduct business without them.

Arthur (reeling up his bait).

May I point out a physical characteristic about this gentleman, to make sure that we are both on the same page, i.e. talking about the same man?

Harold

Need we pinpoint this gentleman?  Are you in debt to others?   Never mind I know the answer to that question already.  Yes you are.  But I’m not here on their behalf.  Nevertheless, go ahead, describe the man that you suspect has sent me; again no mention of him by name.

Arthur

Is this gentleman missing three fingers on his left hand?

Harold

Bingo, as you quaint Americans love to say so fondly.  Yes.  Evidently the result of a debt he owed to someone else; (pause) unrelated to this matter of course. 

Arthur

He lost those fingers, because he owed someone else money?

Harold

Yes.  Ironic, isn’t it?

Arthur

Were you the debt collector on that transaction too?

Harold

I rather not talk about it.  (pause)  I am not at liberty to do so anyway.  You know, rules of confidentiality, etcetera.  

Arthur

You’re the one that brought it up.

Harold

Yes, I and I shouldn’t have.  Bad on me.  I should know better.  Rather indiscrete.

Arthur

So you are a collections agent of sorts.

Harold

Oh, that is an excellent way of putting it, yes.  That’s not normally what people call me.  I’ve been called so many things in my line of work.  Some very impolite things.  “Collections agent”, I like that.  It has such a nice professional ring to it.

Arthur

How much do I owe this, minus three fingered, gentlemen?

Harold

Including the interest on the vig?  Twenty six thousand, three hundred, twenty four dollars and thirty eight cents.

Arthur

Ouch.  That is quite a mark up from what I owed originally.

Harold

Yes, that is what usually happens when you borrow money from unconventional lending sources and do not pay them back when they expect it.  Some people call them loan sharks.  I personally do not like that terminology.  I prefer the term unconventional financiers.  Nevertheless, his rates are a bit steep, I fully appreciate that and can even sympathize.  Nevertheless, it is my job to reconcile this dept.  And I must point out that figure will only go up exponentially the longer the debt remains (pause) un-reconciled.  And nonpayment of this loan will most definitely trigger many other unfortunate outcomes; some very unpleasant ones should the debt continue to go (pause) un-reconciled. 

Arthur (checking his pockets)

I don’t seem to have that kind of cash on me right now.

Harold

No problem sir.  I see you are presently wearing what looks to be a very expensive Rolex watch.  If fact, it appears to be a diamond studded Daytona, if I’m not mistaken.  May I?

Harold extends his hand and Arthur reluctantly removes his watch and hands it to Harold.  At which point Harold takes out a loop to examine the time piece more closely.

Harold (still looking into the loop)

Yes. This will more than cover your debt Arthur, and then some. 

Harold is still looking into his loop. 

Because I am a patron of the arts and I do not wish to take unfair advantage of you Arthur……

Harold now reaches into his into the lining of his jacket to take out a bill fold. 

I will give you $2,000.00 in change, much more than you could ever hope to receive from a pawn broker, or even a secondhand jeweler for that matter.  I guess I’m just an old softy when it comes to the arts.

Arthur (in chagrin)

Gee thanks.

Harold (now slightly offended)

Some may consider me to be a thug and even a criminal, but in truth I am a man of honour Arthur and a person of some conscience.  I assure you I am not cheating you.  I know my watches and their worth.  Your debt is being reconciled fairly; and fortunately without any violence.  Very fortunately. 

Arthur (still looking unhappy)

Mind if I ask you a question?

Harold

By all means.  Go right ahead old boy.

Arthur

What is your vocal range?

Harold

My vocal range?  I’m not sure.  Let’s see.  Allow me to sing a cappella.  A little Gilbert and Sullivan perhaps, HMS Pinafore to be precise.

Harold singing

“Never mind the why or wherefore, love can level ranks and therefore,

Though your nautical relation in my set could scarcely pass,

Though you occupy a station in the low-er mid-dle class”.

At this point Harold, Rupert and James perform arm swings around each other in time with the song.

Harold, Rupert and James sing in unison as they dance

“Ring the merry bells on board ship,

Rend the air with warbling wild,

For the union of his lordship,

With the humble Captain’s child,

Rupert

"For a humble Captain’s Daughter.

James

"For a gallant Captain’s Daughter".

Harold

That’s enough give me some water.

The other two stop singing abruptly and James reaches into to his coat pocket and retrieves a bottle of water and hands it to Harold who twists it open to take a swig.

Arthur

You’re a baritone.

Harold

I am?  Capital!  Why do you want to know what my vocal range is?

Arthur

You’re a very good type.

Harold

I am?  Criminal of business type?

Arthur

A little bit of both.

Harold

Well, that’s something anyway.  Better to be a type, than no type at all, I suppose.

End of Prologue.  Black out.

Scene One

The beautiful woman re-enters the stage holding another placard saying “Round Two. Hello Timothy”.  When she leaves the lights come up again revealing Arthur and Harold both sitting down on a pier bench this time.  Harold’s two associates, Rupert and James, are gone.  Enter Timothy Keen, a musical director, friend and associate of Arthur. Timothy notices that Arthur seems to be depressed about something.

Timothy

What's the matter Arthur?

Arthur 

I’m presently in mourning.

Timothy (alarmed)

Why?  Did somebody die?

Arthur 

No.

Timothy

Why are you in mourning?

Arthur 

I was once the proud owner of a Black Dial Daytona, Diamond Studded, Men’s Rolex Watch.

Timothy

You lost your Rolex?  Was it stolen?!!

Arthur (glancing at Harold)

I'm not sure....  At least I still have all my fingers.  I think I would mourn their loss even more.  Then again....  Perhaps it would best to change the subject Timothy.  Let’s talk about something else.

Timothy (noticing the Rolex on Harold’s wrist)

Well fortunately, at least you still have your watch on Sir.  The bastards didn’t get that one.  By the way, that is a super nice looking watch.

Arthur (slightly gritting his teeth)

Yes, it is, isn’t it?

Harold

It is for sale, would you be interested in acquiring it?  I can give you a very good price for it.

Timothy

I’m not much of a watch man, sir.  Especially an expensive timepiece like that.  That must have cost an arm and a leg.

Harold

Fortunately not.  Not even a finger, or two,… or three. 

Timothy

So Arthur who is your well accessoried friend?

Arthur

Allow me to introduce Mr. Harold,…?  I don’t believe I know your last name Harold?

Harold

Smythe.

Arthur (to Timothy)

Mr. Harold Smythe.  It appears Mr. Smythe is a generous patron of the arts and wants to back our new upcoming production of The Pirates of Penzance.

Timothy

What upcoming production of the Pirates of Penzance?

Arthur

The one we are going to launch as soon as Mr. Smythe here and can fund it for us.

Timothy

Oh, that production.

Harold

Only partially fund old boy.  To the tune of $3,000.00.  Not a cent more.  I guess that makes me what people in the theatre biz call an “angel”.  The rest will be up to you two lads.  Or someone else, not being me. 

Timothy

Thank you for such a generous contribution sir.

Harold

It is not a contribution.  It is an investment.  I expect to be paid back on that investment and realize more, much more beyond that in the way of profit.

Timothy

Well thank you for your investment in our production, but you need to understand upfront that this is a community theatre production and most community theatre productions do not show a profit.  Sometimes they actually do.  But those are very rare exceptions.  This would be, after all, a not for profit production in the first place.

Harold

Those other failed productions did not have my involvement.  It will take in more money that what will be spent.  And I will be paid back with interest.  Many people will come to see the show.  And they will be buying tickets to see the show at the full price.  Every night will have a full house.  The people coming to see the show will enjoy it.  They will give standing ovations.  Critics will give it raves. 

Timothy

Well, let’s hope they will.  Harold you must realize that there is no guarantee. 

Harold

This time there is a guarantee. (pause)  I will see to it. 

Timothy

Harold, may I call you Harold?

Harold

Yes Timothy, may I call you Timothy?

Timothy

Yes.

Harold

Timothy it is then. 

Timothy

Where was I?  Oh yes, just because a community theatre project does not show a financial profit, it does not mean that it was a failure.  There is more than mere money to be gained in any theatrical venture that transcends financial gain.  Amateur or professional.

Harold

That is a very nice sounding sentiment, but from a purely business standpoint, and that is what we are talking about, a business, what you just suggested is sheer poppycock.  But don’t worry, Timothy, I will soon disabuse you of such silly and foolish notions.  We, the principal investors of this production, of the Pirates of Penzance are going to make a very large profit from this venture.  Nothing less will be tolerated.  Do we understand each other?

Timothy (suddenly frightened)

Oh, okay.

Harold

I was hoping to hear you say “Yes”.

Timothy

Ah, yes.

Harold

I’m going to leave now.  I have many other profitable business matters to attend to.  We will meet here again tomorrow night to discuss how we will proceed further.  I will be here and you both will be here, precisely at 7:00 PM.  If the weather is inclement we will meet at Ruby’s Cafe at the end of the Pier.  I will be bringing two other associates with me and we will begin to chart our progress on a story board.

Timothy

I’m sorry, I won’t be able to be here tomorrow night.

Harold

Yes you will be able to be here tomorrow night.

Now comes a very long awkward pause.

Timothy

Ah, okay… I mean yes.

Harold

Good bye.  Until we meet tomorrow. (he begins to exit, then stops) Oh, I forgot ask, what precisely is your job in this production?

Timothy

I’m a pianist/musical director.

Harold

That position actually almost sounds useful.

(Exit Harold)

Timothy (To Arthur)

Okay, I’m officially terrified.

Blackout, end of scene One.

 

Act One, Scene 2

A follow spot once again illuminates stage right, revealing the beautiful woman.  She is now holding another placard above her head as she crosses down stage right to left.  Upon the placard are written the following words: "Round Three. The Planning Meeting on the Pier".

Arthur and Timothy and another young woman are sitting down in three fold out chairs, which are positioned directly in front of a large white story board on rollers so that it can easily be moved.   It is presently covered with a blanket.

The woman's name is Noreen, who is there serving in the capacity of stage manager/ consultant.  She has an extensive resume in that particular field of endeavor, both in the community theatre realm and on the professional stage and is frequently used in that capacity as a paid contractor/consultant by Arthur.  All three persons, Arthur, Timothy and Noreen are dressed warmly as the night air is a bit chilly.

Noreen

I know you have an affinity for fishing off the pier Arthur, but why are we having a pre-production meeting on it.  I'm freezing my tuchus out here?

Arthur

Trust me when I say this, none of what is about to transpire is in any way my own idea.

Noreen

Well, what is it that is about to transpire?

Arthur

Patience, you’ll find that out directly.

As if on cue Harold enters the stage followed by a timid looking man, wearing glasses and dressed in a gray overcoat, which he has donned over his suit, also to keep warm.  Harold on the other hand is braving the elements dressed only in a business suit.  He seems to be unaffected by the temperature.  Bringing up the rear is Rupert Sommerset, also attired only in a business suit, sans an overcoat.

Harold

Good we can begin on time.  I greatly appreciate punctuality in others.  But before I begin, (now pointing at Noreen) who is this outsider?

Arthur

This insider is Noreen Bailey.  I've contracted her to be the stage manager for this production.

Harold 

I don't remember giving you clearance to contract a stage manager.

Arthur 

First off, I don't remember me being your employee so that I should need your,… your clearance.  Secondly, I contracted Noreen here, as I always do before....

At this point Arthur stops talking when he notices that Harold has reached into his jacket to pull out a 22 caliber pistol with a suppressor attached to the end of barrel.

Harold (while unscrewing the suppressor from the barrel)

Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt you Arthur.  I just remembered I forgot to remove my suppressor from off the barrel of my Ruger SR22 pistol before my arrival.  I so love my Ruger SR22.  People discount the lethality of 22 LR ammunition.  That is a grave mistake on their part.  A very grave mistake indeed.

After Harold removes the suppressor he holds it up for all present to see and observe.

You know people also erroneously call these things silencers.  Well perhaps not erroneously, but I prefer the term "suppressor"..

Excuse me, what were you trying to tell me, Arthur?

Arthur

What are you doing with a gun that has a silencer on it?

Harold

Suppressor, old boy.  You are not paying attention. 

Arthur

Right, suppressor.

Harold (now putting both pistol and suppressor away in the recesses of his jacket)

I’m afraid I can't tell you that dear boy.  A matter of professional discretion, don’t you see?  Nothing to do with any of you fine folk.  Carry on.  What were you saying?  Something about Miss Noreen here, isn’t it?  Your name is “Noreen”, yes?

Noreen (extremely nervous)

Yes, my name is Noreen.

Harold 

My dear, are you all right?  You look like you've seen a ghost.

Harold reaches into his suit pocket again, causing everyone gasp.  But he then only produces a flask of brandy, much to everyone’s relief.

Care for a little nip of brandy, Noreen?  Might do you some good?

Doreen 

No thank you. 

Harold 

Suit yourself. (pause)  Mind if I do?

Doreen 

No, you go right ahead.

Harold (after taking a swig)

Nothing like a good swig of brandy to take the chill off an evening like this, what?

Oh, I'm sorry Arthur I forgot all about you.  What were you saying?

Arthur

Never mind.

Harold (cheerfully) 

Right!  Well, with that being the case, please do not contract with anyone else in the future without proper clearance.  All right old boy?

Arthur nods his head up and down in terrified affirmation.

There's a good lad.  Now let's get on with the rest of this meeting.

Harold then removes the blanket from off his story board.  Upon the story board are photographs and name labels of several people.  Above all those photographs and labels is a larger label, entitled “Director Candidates“.

You see before you what I like to call a story board.  And do you know why I like to call it a story board?  Anyone?

Timothy

Because it tells a story?

Harold

Right you are Timothy!  But unfortunately it doesn’t tell me the whole story.  But before I continue I would like to thank Mr. Regis here.  Regis is actually his first name.  No need to know his last name.  He wouldn’t want any of you to know it at any rate.  Please never take a photograph of his likeness or attempt to take a selfie with him.  That will not be appreciated either.  I assure you.  Anyway, thank you Mr. Regis for all the hard work and time you have spent over the last 12 to 18 hours, or so, compiling this information for me.  Stand up and take a bow Mr. Regis.

Regis

That’s not necessary Mr. H.

Harold (suddenly annoyed)

Yes it is, Mr. R.  I will be the arbiter of what is necessary and what is not. (pause)  I said stand up and take a bow.

Regis stands up and does precisely just that.  No one applauds though.

I believe it is customary in the theatre to applaud when someone stands up and takes his or her bow.

The others immediately comply by applauding.

What you see before you lady and gentlemen is a photographic array of local and in some cases prominent candidates to be considered for a directorship position in our upcoming production of the Pirates of Penzance.  But before I proceed any further, I take it that you Arthur are not interested in serving in that capacity?

Arthur

You mean as a director?  No, that is not my strong suit.  I prefer being a producer.

Harold

Yes I agree, given you past history of alcoholism, gambling and foolishly borrowing money from unconventional financiers.  Fortunately for you, your name and reputation in the local community theatre scene is still of some use to me, otherwise you would not now be present at this strategic story board meeting.

Arthur

Lucky me.  So I take it you have done a background check on me?

Harold

Not necessary old boy.  Remember who originally sent me to see you?  He who’s name must not be mentioned?  You know.  The seven fingered chap.  Nevertheless, thanks to him, that task has already been accomplished, for entirely different reasons of course.  (Now looking at Timothy and then Noreen) You two however are still in the wild card category.  I don’t know anything about either of you, other than the volumes of information your separate sets of body language, is now involuntarily relating to me. 

Now back to the candidates displayed on my story board.  Do you know all the people that are on display on my story board Arthur?

Arthur

Yes, I have worked with each and every one of them.  More than once.  They are all very good candidates to consider.  My compliments to Mister,  “Regis”.  Obviously he has done his homework. 

Harold

Thank you for saying so.  I’m sure Mr. “Regis” appreciates the kind words.  Don’t you Mr. Regis?

Regis

Yes sir.

Harold

Now back to the business at hand, which one of these director candidates is the best for our purposes?  Misters and or/Miss’es Holmes, Culver, Ladd, Charles, Doherty, Donchey, Cameron-Webb, Huffman, Brown, etc, and/or Koutro, Koutro.  How do you say that last chap’s name?

Arthur (pronouncing it phonetically) 

Koo-trow-lis.

Harold immediately removes Matt Koutroulis’ picture and name tag from off the story board.

Harold

We will dispense with that one.  His last name is too difficult to pronounce. 

So I ask you once again Arthur, which one of these director candidates, minus one, is best for our purposes?

Arthur

That would be very difficult to quantify.

Harold

All right.  Let’s try to simplify this task.  Have any of them ever done any time?

Arthur

Time?  What do you mean time?

Harold

Have any of them spent time in stir for an extended period of time, i.e. done any Federal, State or County time?

Arthur

You mean have any of them been incarcerated?

Harold

Yes, to put it bluntly, are any of them ex-jail birds.

Arthur

Not that I’m aware of.

Harold

Hmm?  No knowledge of incarceration for even a single one of them?

Arthur (puzzled)

You want an ex-con, to be the director?

Harold

Precisely. 

Arthur

Why on earth would you want an ex-con to be our director?

Harold  

Personally I prefer working with people who have done time.  Especially when they are trying very hard to conceal that history about themselves for professional reasons.  Knowing about their past foibles in life gives you something I like to call ”leverage”.  Leverage is a very useful tool in dealing with others, i.e. business associates.  That's why people who have done time make such good business associates.

Harold now looks at Timothy

And you have done time too, haven’t you Timothy?

Timothy (alarmed)

How did you know that?

Harold

Actually that was an educated guess on my part.  Don't worry Timothy, as I have already inferred I have not performed a single background check on any of you and do not intend to do so in the future, unless it becomes absolutely necessary for me to do so.  Please do not make it so.  Background checking can be very expensive.  An expense I do not want to incur.  Nevertheless, something about you speaks ex jail bird to me.  And you have confirmed that suspicion simply by answering my question with another question, "How did you know that?"

Now as to you Arthur, I have taken the time to read the background check supplied to me on you.  And amazingly enough, you old boy have never, ever done any time in a penal institution.  Which frankly astonishes me given your penchant for borrowing money from loan sharks, excuse me, unconventional financiers.  Therefore, any leverage regarding you will need to be of a different sort.  More about that later.

Can any of you people tell me anything about any of these directorial candidates on the board; failing a history of incarceration, Arthur, Timothy, Noreen?  Do any of you know of any actionable intelligence on any of these people on the board?  Anything I can hold over their heads to keep them in line should the need arise?

Timothy (nervously trying to lighten the conversation with humor)

The fellow on the lower right.

Harold

Yes Timothy?

Timothy

He’s a terrible golfer.

Harold

I’m afraid I’m going to need something a little more damning than his golf handicap. 

Long awkward pause.

Well, I did not want to do this, but I see nothing else for it.  I will be the director. 

Arthur (incredulous)

You will be the director?

Harold

What could be simpler?  You tell someone to do something and they do it.  Now I know what an actor does.  He acts.  I know what singer does.  He sings.  And I know what a dancer does.  She dances. 

Harold now looks with great scrutiny towards Noreen.

But what on earth does a stage manager do? 

He then looks ominously at Arthur.

Seriously, are they absolutely necessary?

Noreen now looking even more frightened, covers her face.

Blackout, end of Scene Two.

 

Act One, Scene Three

Another darkened stage, followed by the illumination of a single follow spot.  The spotlight is directed upon the beautiful young woman crossing down stage left to right.  This time carrying a placard that says, "Round Four.  At the Audition".  Then she exits stage right.  After her exit the rest of the stage is illuminated revealing Harold and Arthur seated, with Timothy sitting at his electronic key board stage left, and 12 or more actors/singers, both male and female, sitting in fold out chairs stage right.  Noreen is standing center stage and at this point is addressing all of the actors seated, stage right.  James and Rupert are standing stage left, right behind Harold.

Noreen

Thank you all for coming.  Do we have all of your head shots, resumes and contact information?  Yes?

All the actors nod in the affirmative.

Noreen 

Good.  Any questions before we begin?

Actor #1

I have a question.

At this point a uniformed patrol officer enters, upstage right, right behind actor/singers.

Noreen (to Actor #1)

Shoot.

Actor

Why are we having this audition on a pier?

Patrol Officer (loudly)

Yeah, I was about to ask that very same question myself.  Do you folks have a permit hold a public gathering on the Pier?  Because if you do, I am unaware of such permission being granted.

And if it turns out that you do not have written permission to gather on public property, you are in violation of a municipal code.

Harold (remaining seated)

What is the number of that municipal code?

Patrol Officer 

Oh, hello Mr. Smythe.  I'm sorry I did not see you there. 

Harold (quietly to Rupert)

Write down his badge number. 

At this point Rupert produces a pen and small note pad, then calmly walks over to the police officer and without saying a word, writes down the officer's badge number.  Then Rupert crosses back over to Harold and hands him the note pad.

Harold (still seated and a bit louder)

Again Patrol Officer 257, what is the number of that municipal code?

Patrol Officer

You know Mr. Smythe, come to think of it,.. I think I may be confused about that municipal code situation altogether.  Sorry to have troubled you folks, please carry on.  Have a very nice audition Mr. Smythe.

Harold

Good bye, (looking down at the note pad again) Patrol Officer 257.

Exit Patrol Officer

Arthur (to Harold)

Do you two know each other?

Harold 

I have no memory of our prior acquaintance.  But I encounter so many police officers in my line of work it is difficult to keep track of all of them. 

Arthur 

He obviously remembers you.

Harold 

I’m sure our paths have crossed at one time or another.  I'm not very good with people's names, places and faces.

Pause, as he hands back the note pad to Rupert.

But once committed to memory I do remember badge numbers.

Please do continue Miss Noreen.  What were you saying to our guests?  Oh, and before you do, I am now able to see a certain necessity for your continued participation in our production.  You seem to have organized this audition quite nicely.  I assume you will now perform other tasks just as well.  Just so you know.  I want you to relax and rest assured that your neck is not on a chopping block.  For the time being.

Noreen (looking almost relieved)

Thank you. 

Then she looks to the actors/singers seated before her. 

I believe someone just asked as to why we are holding our audition on the pier?

Harold (loudly)

Perhaps I can answer that question.  My name is,..just call me Harold.  Why are we meeting on the famous Balboa Pier you ask?  Because I happen to like this pier in particular.  I like the clean salt air I smell on it.  It reminds me of Bristol in England.  I like fishing off the rails on this pier for Corbina; which is a very smart and clever fish for those of you who don’t know what a California Corbina is.  I like walking my dog upon it in the evening.  I also like to conduct business on this pier.  And that is what this audition is at the moment, the conduction of business.  Any more questions regarding my favorite hangout?

Actor #1

Will we be rehearsing on the pier?

Harold

What do you mean “we”?  That’s a rather presumptuous question.  You’re haven’t even been casted in the show yet.  But if it so turns out that you are casted in the show.  Yes, “we” will be rehearsing on the pier in spite of anything Patrol Officer 257 might tell you, unless of course the weather becomes inclement.  At which point we may, or may not, adjourn to Ruby’s Café if it can accommodate all of us.

Noreen

Are there anymore questions?  No?  Alright then, Timothy I now hand over the audition to you.

Timothy

Hi folks my name is Timothy Keen.  I am the show’s musical director.  Does everyone have the sheet music that should have been handed out to you? 

All the actors nod affirmatively.

Okay, look for the side that says “Pour o Pour the Pirate Sherry”

Timothy starts warming up briefly on his key board and then he stops. 

Top of the number all together in unison, when we get to Samuel’s solo I will sing that part first.  When we do it again I’ll pick out some of you to sing his solo.  This is men only for now.  We’ll get to you ladies in due time on a different number.

Timothy now plays a brief intro and then all male actors start singing.

Men

“Pour o pour the pirate sherry fill o fill the pirate glass,

And to make us more than merry, let the pirate bumper pass”.

Timothy (Samuel’s part)

“Here’s today our pirate prentice, rises from indentures free,

Strong his arm and keen his scent is, he’s a pirate now indeed”.

Men

“Here’s good luck to Fredric’s ventures,

Fredric’s out of his indentures.

“Pour o pour the pirate sherry fill o fill the pirate glass,

And to make us more than merry, let the pirate bumper pass”.

Timothy (Samuel’s part)

“One and twenty now he risen, and along he’s fit to fly,

Which we’re bent on signalizing with unusual re – vel – ry”.

Men

“Here’s good luck to Fredric’s ventures,

Fredric’s out of his indentures.

“Pour o pour the pirate sherry fill o fill the pirate glass,

And to make us more than merry, let the pirate bumper passsssss!!”.

Timothy ends the song with a flourish upon his keyboard.

Harold (standing up and shouting with glee)

WELL DONE ME LADS!!!  ONCE MORE!!!  WITH FEELING!!!

Harold, Timothy and all the Men in unison

“Pour o pour the pirate sherry fill o fill the pirate glass,

And to make us more than merry, let the pirate bumper passsssss!!”.

Song ends abruptly.

Blackout, end of Scene Three.  Timothy continues to play a brief reprieve on his keyboard during the blackout.

 

Act One, Scene Four

As always the scene suddenly begins with a follow spot on the young woman with the placard crossing the stage.  This time the placard reads.  "Round Five, the Deringer with One R in the Middle".  When she exits the stage, lights come up with all the female auditioners, holding their musical sides and standing center stage before Timothy and his electronic keyboard.  The beautiful woman that had just exited holding the placard returns to the stage, minus the placard and is now holding onto her copy of the sheet music as she is also participating in the audition as a singer.

Timothy (while quietly playing the keyboard)

Okay, we've heard how the men sing in unison and individually, now it's your turn to shine ladies.  Sorry we didn't get to you first, but that's how Pirates of Penzance runs, chronologically   First all the men appear, plus Ruth, minus the Major General and the police.  Then all the General's daughters appear, making their entrances on the secluded beach, minus Mabel of course.

We're going start with their first number.  Number five in the score.  "Climbing Over Rocky Mountain".  Is that the side that all of you have?

Women (in unison)

Yes.

Timothy

Now I'm going to play the intro Allegro grazioso as stated on the sheet music and you all come in on  measure???  (Pause) Darn, I just noticed that the measures aren’t number in the score.  Hmm?  Maybe they didn't do that back in the later part of the Nineteenth Century?  In that case I'll add a beat and nod my head just before you all come in.  Watch for my head nod. 

The sopranos will have the melody, as per usual and you altos will be carrying the harmony. (looking over the music again)  Whoops forgot the solos,

Timothy now scans the group of women before him and singles one out. 

Miss?

Judith (who is also the placard lady otherwise)

Judith Penn.

Timothy

I would like you to sing Edith’s solo part in this number, can you do that?

Judith

That I can do.

Now Timothy looks for another candidate to sing Kate’s part.

Timothy (spotting someone, then pointing to her)

The young lady in the black turtle neck sweater, Miss?

Janet

Janet Lewis.

Timothy

Miss Lewis, I would like you to cover for Kate’s part.  Can you do that?

Janet

Yes I can.

Timothy

Fine.  Everybody else, fill in where indicated.

Timothy then sounds out their first notes on the keyboard and then he begins to play the intro in earnest.  When he gets to the point where he nods the women all come in, right on time and sing their parts beautifully through the entire number.

Chorus (all the ladies)

Climbing over rocky mountain,
Skipping rivulet and fountain,
Passing where the willows quiver,

Passing where the willows quiver,
By the ever-rolling river,
Swollen with the summer rain,
The summer rain.
Threading long and leafy mazes
Dotted with unnumbered daisies,

Dotted, dotted with unnumbered daisies;
Scaling rough and rugged passes,
Climb the hardy little lasses,
Till the bright sea-shore they gain,
Scaling rough and rugged passes,
Climb the hardy little lasses,
Till the bright sea-shore they gain!


Edith (Judith)

Let us gaily tread the measure,
Make the most of fleeting leisure,
Hail it as a true ally,
Though it perish by-and-by.

Chorus.

Hail it as a true ally,
Though it perish by-and-by.

Edith (Judith)

Every moment brings a treasure
Of its own especial pleasure;
Though the moments quickly die,
Greet them gaily as they fly,
Greet them gaily as they fly.

 

Chorus

Though the moments quickly die,
Greet them gaily as they fly.


Kate (Janet)

Far away from toil and care,
Reveling in fresh sea-air,
Here we live and reign alone
In a world that's all our own.
Here, in this our rocky den,
Far away from mortal men,
We'll be queens, and make decrees -
They may honor them who please.

While they are singing, a stranger appears, upstage right, with his right hand hidden inside of his trench coat pocket.  His name is Ronald Kappy.  He appears quite disheveled, disoriented and unshaven.  His presence however does not interrupt the musical number.

Chorus

We'll be queens, and make decrees -
They may honour them who please.

Let us gaily tread the measure,
Make the most of fleeting leisure,
Hail it as a true ally,
Though it perish by-and-by.
Hail it as a true ally,
Though it perish by-and-by.
Let us gaily tread the measure,
Make the most of fleeting leisure,
Hail it as a true ally,
A true ally.

Timothy (after finishing with a flourish)

That was beautiful ladies.  Angelic!

Ronald (shouting angrily with his right hand still hidden within his coat’s side pocket)

SMYTHE!!!  I heard you and your men have been looking for me!!

Harold (calmly standing up)

Actually, yes we have been.  But not right now.  We're trying to conduct an audition, right now.  So for now, be a good chap and kindly run away and hide.  And I and my men will relentlessly hunt you down at a more convenient time.

Ronald 

I'm tired of running!  I'm tired of hiding!

Harold (annoyed)

Well, you sure picked a fine time to begin that lifestyle change.

Sensing danger for their employer, Rupert and James slowly begin to spread themselves out in a defensive semicircle, with Harold in its center.  This tactic is meant to widen Ronald’s field of fire, should he be holding onto a weapon, hidden in that coat pocket of his.  Rupert is now in positioned to the extreme upstage left and James to the extreme downstage left.  Both men have their left hands hidden within the left side pockets of their trench coats as well. 

Harold (continuing)

Are you here to reconcile the debt that I have been authorized to collect?

Ronald

Before I answer that question tell your men to stop spreading themselves out.  I can see what they're trying to do.

Harold

Pray do tell?  What are they trying to do?

Ronald

They're angling for position in case there is any gun play.  If any shooting does start I won't bother to aim at them.

At this time Ronald slowly produces a small, single shot, muzzle loading derringer, causing Harold's operatives to immediately draw their weapons and aim them in Ronald's direction.

Ronald (continuing)

I only have one shot in this antique.  But I loaded it and primed it properly myself and I can assure you that it does fire.  And if there is any gun play, that single pistol ball is meant only for you, Smythe; not for them.

Harold

And yet old boy, out of the four of us, I'm the only party here that remains unarmed.  On a side note:  neither you, Rupert, nor you, James, have any clearance to peremptorily fire upon Mr. Kappy.  Do not fire upon him unless he shoots first.  I do not want a repeat of what happened last time.

Ronald

What happened last time?

Harold

I am afraid I am not at liberty to say Mr. Kappy, and trust me when I tell you that you do not want to know.  Needless to say, so far 2018 has been a rather difficult year in the debt reconciliation business.

James

Mr. Smythe I can put a round right at the base of his skull.  It will be lights out immediately.  There will be no danger of an automatic reflex that could cause an involuntary trigger pull.  It will be instantaneous.  He will be dead before he hits the ground with no harm to anyone else in the process.  May I have a green light sir?

Harold

No you may not have a green light James.  Repeat, no one is to fire upon Mr. Kappy unless he fires first.  Correction, there is no point in firing upon him even if he does fire first, hence he can only expend a single round from that antique pistol.  If he shoots the weapon, just pistol whip him into submission.  Strike that, restrain him unharmed until the authorities arrive to take him into custody.  I do not want another frivolous law suit on my hands.

Ronald 

What frivolous lawsuit?

Harold 

That’s for me to know and for you hopefully never to find out Mr. Kappy.  Now before someone does something that cannot be undone, I would like to ask one of my associates here a question in regards to your debt.  May I?

Ronald (gesturing with his derringer)

Shoot. 

Harold 

That's a rather I'll chosen word to use in answer to my question, nevertheless I will take that as a “yes”.

Harold then looks to Rupert.

Harold

How much does Mr….?  Odd, I am suddenly drawing a blank on this chap’s last name. 

Rupert

Kappy.  Ronald Kappy.

Harold

Mr. Kappy, how much does he owe on the vig?

Rupert

Including interest, $15,756.23.

Harold 

How is it you are able to quote that exact figure without even consulting your ledger?

Rupert

I was looking at his account on Quickbooks just before the audition commenced.  I have an app on my phone.

Harold (to Ronald)

You are willing to shoot me dead over such a trifling figure?

Ronald

Fifteen thousand and change may be a trifling figure to you, but it's a vast hurdle for me to overcome, seeing how I'm completely broke at the moment.

Harold

And that is my fault, because?  Never mind, I tire of all the usual excuses. (pause) You are obviously not without assets.

Ronald 

What are you talking about?  I literally do not have a dime to my name.

Harold

Maybe you are presently cash poor, but there are other ways to determine a person's worth than mere cash.

Harold looks to Rupert again.

You've a background in antique firearms appraising don’t you?

Rupert

I don't normally like toot my own horn Sir, but I am a qualified expert appraiser when it comes to all different types of collectibles and antiques.  Not just in firearms, but in many other categories as well.  Furniture, glassware, stoneware, figurines, etc., and especially in jewelry, modern and/or antique, costume and/or fine; timepieces too.

Harold 

Yes, thank you for that elaborate infomercial, but at the moment I'm only interested in your antique firearm appraising abilities.  That little pop gun that Mr. Kappy is presently and so rudely pointing at me looks to be an antique.  If it is, how much might it be worth to a bona fide dealer of antique firearms?

Rupert

I couldn't tell you without a close up examination of the piece.

Harold (to Ronald)

Perhaps there is way to resolve this impasse without violence.  Kindly hand over your puny weapon to my associate here and I will not now order him and his able colleague to immediately shoot you at the base of your skull.  (Pause) I am by no means an antique firearms expert, but should you elect to shoot at me with that little dinky derringer that you are pointing in my general direction, you are likely to miss wildly as I am a good twenty feet away from you.  Weapons of that sort are not known for their accuracy, even at this relatively close distance. 

James (to Ronald)

He's right.  That weapon is only effective at point blank or near point blank range.  It is an old time percussion muzzle loader.  Hitting Harold at twenty feet with that weapon is only a remote possibility.  And hitting him center mass, where you can do the most damage, is a near impossibility. 

Harold

I would have preferred you estimate his chances at zero.

James

Well, you never know.  He could miss your chest and get lucky and accidently shoot you in the head. 

Harold (to Ronald) 

The point I'm trying to make is, if that weapon has any intrinsic value, we may be able to apply it to your debt.  Who knows?  Potentially even erase it. 

Pause while Ronald thinks on the matter.

Don't be stupid man!  Hand over the gun.

Ronald slowly lowers the weapon.  Then the Rupert crosses over to Ronald and gently disarms him; whereupon, the entire group of auditioners loudly applaud.

Rupert (after the applause ends)

He has a nice watch on too.  It's a Cartier.

Harold

Good to know.

Blackout, end of scene four

 

Act I, Scene Five

Again the follow spot illuminates the beautiful woman crossing the stage with a placard.  This time it is saying “Round Six, The Appraisal”.  When she exits the stage, the stage lights come up and we see Ronald Kappy seated in a chair, with Harold’s two operatives standing directly behind him just in case he tries to make a break for it.  The auditioners are also seated in chairs, patiently waiting to continue with the audition.  Timothy is still seated behind his key board with Arthur seated right next to him to act as a page turner for Timothy’s music.

Harold

Now that our audition has been temporarily derailed thanks to our debtor and his little popgun, have you had a chance to examine the weapon in question?  You have, have you not?

Rupert

Yes.

Harold

What can you tell me about it?

Rupert (looking at the weapon through a loop)

It’s the real Mc Coy, or an extremely good forgery.  So good, if it is a fake, I can’t spot it.  Quite a valuable percussion piece if it is real.  Not enough to pay off the vig completely.  But if it’s one of the original Philadelphia Henry Deringers, spelled without the double “r” in the middle of its name, as are all the other generic Derringer pistols that have come after it.  Those other Derringers were all manufactured by other makers of course, trying to ride in on Henry Deringer’s wake; hence the purposeful misspelling of the original Deringer name. 

That being the case, this particular original “Deringer” is identical to the one John Wilkes Booth used to assassinate Abraham Lincoln with; another Philadelphia Deringer percussion pistol. 

Harold

Identical to the gun that killed Lincoln?

Rupert

An exact twin.

Harold

Really?

Rupert

Yes, really.  As far as its model and handmade manufacture are concerned, it is.

Harold

Can you personally verify that it is a real Henry Deringer Deringer and not a copy?

Rupert

You can never absolutely certify that any antique piece of this nature is 100% real, but after careful examination, I would give it an educated 95 to 98% probability of it being authentic. 

Harold

Is it older that than the Booth Deringer?

Rupert

There is no way to tell that.  They didn’t put serial numbers on this particular issue.  But it has the correct patina to indicate that it could possibly be older, or at least a contemporary.  If it has some very well documented provenance attached to it there might be a way to determine its probable year of manufacture.  All I can tell now is that it was manufactured sometime between the year 1852 and 1866, 1866 being the year this model was discontinued by Henry Deringer, which was due to all the bad publicity this particular model engendered after the Lincoln Assassination.

Harold (abruptly)

That’s all very nice to know, but how much is this weapon worth?

Rupert

Without any provenance, five to six thousand dollars at auction if there are any avid bidders in the room; much less if it were sold to a dealer.  Two or three thousand to an honest dealer, but with a nice documentable story attached to it, i.e. some interesting provenance, who knows what it might be worth?  If it could be proven that Booth owned two of these weapons, which is extremely unlikely, and if this Deringer was that second piece, then the sky is the limit at a good Sotherby’s auction.  Who knows what it might fetch?  I’m sure enough to pay the vig and the interest many, many times over. 

Harold (to Ronald)

What kind of provenance to you have on this pistol?

Ronald

What?

Harold

How did you obtain ownership of this pistol?  Who owned it before you acquired it?

Ronald

My father, he gave it to me before he died.

Harold

How did your father come to possess it?

Ronald

My grandfather gave it to him.

Pause to build suspense.

Harold

How did your grandfather obtain possession of it?

Ronald

My great grandfather gave it to him.

Harold

And how did he obtain possession of it?

Ronald

The same way.

Harold

You mean your great, great grandfather gave the pistol to him?

Ronald

Yeah.

Harold

Did your great, great, great grandfather give the pistol to your great, great grandfather then?

Ronald

Huh?

Harold (becoming exasperated)

Did your great, great, great grandfather give this pistol to his son, that being your great, great grandfather?!!  (pause)  DID GREAT TIMES THREE, GIVE IT TO GREAT TIMES TWO?!!

Ronald

No.

Harold

So the chain of ownership begins with your great, great grandfather.  Then how did your great, great grandfather end up being the sole owner in possession of this pistol?

Ronald

Some loser gave it to him to pay off his bar tab.

Harold

Your great, great grandfather was a saloon keeper, then?

Ronald

Yeah.

Harold

Where was his place of business located?

Ronald

In Washington.

Pause to build even more suspense.

Harold

District of Columbia?

Ronald

D.C. yeah.

Another pregnant pause. Harold looks to Rupert to see his eyebrows begin to widen.

Harold

Do you know the year that this man, the so called “loser”, reconciled his bar tab with that pistol?

Ronald

18 something or another.  It’s written down in the bar tab ledger book.

Harold

Really, there is a “Bar Tab Ledger Book”?

Ronald

Yeah.

Harold

Is the “loser’s” name in that ledger book?

Ronald

Yep.

Harold

Have you personally seen this bar tab ledger book entry identifying the man’s name?

Ronald

Yep.

Harold

Where is this “Bar Tab Ledger Book” presently located?

Ronald

Somewhere in my room.  Either that or it’s at my sister’s house?  It could be in a storage unit in Tustin?  Not exactly sure. 

Harold

What was that man’s name?

Ronald

What man?

Harold (becoming more agitated)

THE LOSER WHO PAID OFF HIS BAR TAB BILL WITH THIS DERINGER?!!

Ronald

The loser?

Harold

Yes!  The loser….. What was his name?!!!

Ronald

John,… something or another. 

Harold

“John Wilkes Booth?!!”

Ronald

Maybe.  I don’t know.  Sorry, can’t remember.  I’m not good with people’s names.

Harold

Did the “Bar Tab Ledger Book” indicate what “John” did to make a living? 

Ronald (remembering)

Yes, as a matter of a fact it did.  The “Bar Tab Ledger Book” kept track of people’s occupations. 

Harold

Then what did he do for a living?!!!

Pause

Ronald

He was an actor,… or was it a dentist?  (another pause) No, he was an actor, I’m sure of it.  A stage actor.  They didn’t have movie actors back then. (pause)  I wonder if he was famous?

Fade to black. 

End of Act One

 

 


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