The Wallace Connection by J.L. Woodcock

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
THE WALLACE CONNECTION
A CRIMINAL PLOT
IN VERSE, SCENES MONOLOGUES
Music & Songs
By
J.L. Woodcock

Submitted: February 26, 2014

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 26, 2014

A A A

A A A


Wallacecover_zpsd4cbd7fe.jpg

THE
WALLACE
CONNECTION

A CRIMINAL PLOT
IN VERSE,
SCENES
MONOLOGUES
Music & Songs

By
J.L. Woodcock


CAST.
Narrator
Our Man at the Yard
His Mother
Bert, his manservant
Aunt Flo’
Big Chief at the Yard
Alfie: an ex-soldier
Charlie Boy: a petty thief
Countess Paulizza
Her son Fritz from Berlin
A Tall American and his Cutie
Gold mask
Office Girl
Duettists
First Reporter
Second Reporter
Flappers 1 & 2
The black veil
Aunt Beattie
Nanny
Typist
Solicitor
Spring
Detective
Five piece band: cops, crooks, waiters, diners, a chimney sweep: centre stage projection screen: spotlights.

Overture: Dance, little lady: Noël Coward
Fancy our meeting: Joseph Meyer & Philip Charig.
Poor little rich girl: Noël Coward.
If you could care for me: Darewski.
Old Father Thames: Wallace-O Hagan.

 [Voice over] “THE WALLACE CONNECTION:
Part 1: London, the 1920s”.

[Back stage screen projection: b/w photo of Tower
Bridge: dawn reveals the Narrator.
]

N: Dawn dipped its brush into a pot of mist, painting an impression of
Tower Bridge; the sun, rising in the East, turns its reflection into gold,
ploughed by foreign ships arriving at the Port of London: a tugboat
passes under Putney Bridge; in its hold for ballast is gold bullion from
a bank raid: a body in a bag washed up on Waterloo Embankment;
forensic found one black pearl and diamonds in its guts.
Passengers on train, tube and bus ‘read all about it’
in the evening newspapers:
City life is on the move; Omnibuses, carts and horses,
taxi cabs and wagons, criss-cross London Bridge:
From Charing Cross and Waterloo city-types, shop girls
arrive at Regent Street and Oxford Street;
in Chancery and Fleet street it’s hurry, hurry, hurry
for reporters with ‘the latest’ and the more leisured Lawyers,
follow after with solicitors and clerks.
Messenger boys whizzing by on bikes whistle at city typists
and anything in skirts:
From Park Lane to Hyde Park, nannies push their prams
as limousines and traffic whirl round Marble Arch:
Old Father Thames is on the move; the City is awake;
their Majesties ‘in residence:’ Parliament ‘in session:’
A Piccadilly newsvendor, and the policeman on his beat. [Exit: image fades]

VO. “Bert’s Aunt Flo reads his teacup”
[spotlight; Aunt Flo seated facing Bert.]

AF: Give y’cup three swigs an’ empty the dregs in y’saucer:
I see a gentleman ‘ere—looks like ‘ees in uniform;
Oh Bert, ‘is titfer’s like a copper’s ‘elmet!
I ‘opes you ain’t done nuffink wrong:
Ah, wait a bit, I sees an ‘and ‘eld aht ‘
‘an pointing to a number nine—no, it’s a foah:
somefink ‘appening, could be a meetin’ wivin a foah.
That’s it Bert, I can’t see nuffink else.
Don’t tell yer muvver; she calls it nonsense and,
‘superstition Flo’: but there you are: I see fings,
an’ folks tell me I wuz right.
[Exits L: Bert moves downstage]

B: I made my mind up: My plan had a purpose;
Day by day, step by step, I walked the streets of London.
I met a mate who knew a copper who said a detective at the Yard
was known as ‘Captain’. As predicted by Aunt Flo, within a four,
my search ended in a meeting with myd officer, the Captain.
We talked about the war, the Front, our comrades, and how it ended:
we stood in silence, and remembered. we made a deal, struck a bargain;
shook hands on it: Master and Manservant. My plan fulfilled, to serve
my officer. At once I assumed my new position: ‘Excuse me, sir, it’s
quite by chance, but, I’ve left my kitbag outside on the doorstep.’
 [Exit]


VO. “Our Man at the Yard and Alfie”
[Spotlight]

OM: An interesting kitbag Alfie: out shopping for your mum? I won’t be
nosey sweetheart: it must be something in the air, but tonight, I feel benign.

 A: That’s good guv: I’m gettin’ merried; the missus wants it legal an’
respeccable; so I’ve promised ‘er a new ‘at an’ a pair of mits.

OM: The wedding trousseau?—best of luck: A cigarette?

A: ‘Fanks guv.

OM: A Lucifer to light your fag.

A: Ta guv

OM: You were at the Front.

A: Yus guv, I ended up in tanks, gittin’ aht I got a bayonet in me back:
they patched me up wiv a bit o’tin, sed it wuz silver—missus ses its clanks
 a bit at night. I did a stint in Berlin, but when I got back to Blighty, I wished
I wuz back at the Front, it seemed like ‘ome sweet ‘ome to civvy street.
I joined up wiv me mates, none of ‘em came back, ‘an if they ‘ad they’d ended up
sellin’ matches on the streets: we took the bait, Your Country Needs Ya,
we wuz on the right side, an’ orff we went.

OM: To play the game--a match to win.

A: So us did guv, an’ we won alright, an’ them that died wuz ‘eroes, an’ so wuz we,
for abaht five minutes: but for them at ‘ome the Front wuz a long way from the Dilly: as
orficer an’ Tommy Atkins, we can talk abaht it—but not to them. The missus ses I
wakes ‘er up at night—I ses it’s nuffink—jus’ m’back an’ its bit o’ tin: but sometimes,
I lies awake an’ finks abaht ‘ow its all turned aht. Me ‘an my mates wuz over wiv the
infantry: next fing we wuz in a village clearin’ aht the snipers-I wuz in a farm kitchen,
suddenly there wuz a clatter of boots on the stairs-an; there I wuz-face to face wiv a
lad my age-we stares at one anuvver-then I realised it was ‘is life or mine-an in I went
wiv me bayonet—I can still see ‘is eyes, the look on ‘is face—some muvver’s son: tell
ya guv wot my ol’ gel ses : ‘you gits born, fings ‘appen, an’ yer dies.

OM: She may be right: I must be moving on—mind how you go with the trousseau--goodnight.

A: G’night guv. [Exits; enter N.]

N: At the Front he picked his team to reconnoitre enemy lines; his instinct chose the ‘good lads’
from ‘the duds’. Those night-time, sneaking, expeditions, sniffed out ‘useful information:’ he
had a taste for it: could predict an action from an enemy move: pinpoint a gun emplacement:
he and the unit, moved as one: his eyes, ears and nose wired into his brain-box, alert to every
danger. Intelligence work, his cool perception proved acceptable for his appointment at the Yard:
a new beginning at his Journey’s end.

VO: “West End Honeymooners”
[Screen: image of Louise Brooks, fades to Fred Astaire.]

N: At a tea-cup matinee up in the balcony a honeymoon couple tipped a cup into the stalls
on a tall American and his Cutie: the guilty pair, (a Louise Brooks and a Fred Astaire)
quit their seats before curtain up. Outside the theatre In Piccadilly he bought a flower:
Only a rose from your Vagabond King:
He kissed the tip of her nose. [Exit]

VO: “Our Man makes a call to his mother”
[Spotlight; Mother at dressing table with telephone]

M: Darling boy, how sweet of you to call: I’m in the midst of dressing; our vicar’s ill,
which leaves thirteen for dinner: your aunts are here; our guests include a charming
American couple. Aunt Agatha, as usual, is reading Sherlock Holmes; while Constable
Jones and the local hounds are out on Exmoor in pursuit of a prisoner on the run from
Dartmoor; there’s such excitement in the village: our cars are stopped; even horse and
carts are searched: he’s still on the run; and there was more excitement the other
evening: Mr Bates invited us to meet a friend, a Mrs Roberts, a spirit medium, a rather
unassuming lady: very peculiar how they see and hear things: she gave Ada Cooper
Scott a message from her two boys who died at Gallipoli: Ada, ever the unflappable,
just nodded: then Mrs R began to change into a lad called Fred—at which Mr Bates’s
housekeeper cried out; ‘my son, my son!’ and fainted; fortunately Ada revived her
with smelling salts—yes dear, you may be right, all tosh and nonsense-our family ghost only
appears for visitors: nonetheless that lady was rather creepy. Darling, I must go; Elsie’s
here to dress my hair: so sweet of you to call. [Blackout.]

VO: “The Tall American and his Cutie”

N: Down on Dartmoor, in distant Devon, a plane parked in a field, waits for a Tall American
and his Cutie:

[TA and C appear in white flying suits]

She dons her goggles and climbs into the cockpit: the propeller spun, he jumps aboard to join her:

[Engine noise: spotlight of TA who stands behind C]

TA: One day, Honey, you’ll fly the Atlantic.

C: You bet I will, and you can put your money where your mouth is!

[TA & C move L as spotlight moves R]

N: She grabbed the joystick, and they took off: American Maisie, not Amelia or English Amy.
By longitude and latitude north, south, east, and west in different lands the distant strands
weave cross-stitch plans in separate lives to meet in schemes, intrigues and lies spun like a spider in their skies.

[Spotlight moves to next scene]


VO: “A red herring”
[The cast assemble: man in suit, girl; cook, maid, and butler: OM stage R.]

N: It is his eyes that skin a room, Art Deco and a situation, can price a suit, note nervous fingers
on an old school tie, the smile of a girl in a silver frame, a cigarette with lipstick traces in a
cut-glass ashtray on a polished table: the cast assemble, compose their faces, prepared to
answer casual questions: a telephone rings, none move to answer: the curtain falls-- suspense is
waiting in the wings.
[Blackout]

VO: “Waterloo Bridge”

[Spotlight: OM faces audience observed by Narrator]

N: On Waterloo Bridge, our Man at the Yard gazes at St Paul’s the stars above the dome so like
the dawn of that day on the Somme— he survived the slaughter and landed on his feet in Civvy
Street. In post-war reality he walks on past the Lyceum, theatre of Irving and Ellen Terry; between
the acts in Drury Lane, they come and go in the cavalcade of a passing show. In Covent Garden,
he dumped his thoughts in the lap of the gods.

OM: The gods--where are they now? Olympus is deserted. [Screen: new moon and star: exit: blackout]


VO: “Part 2: New York, Venice and London. New York”
[Spotlight: Narrator]
N: A back-street cellar-bar in downtown New York. One-Eyed Jack is serving drinks to a
Tall American and his Cutie, a carbon copy of Jean Harlow. Enter well-built Teutonic man
wearing a wig: instantly recognised by the Tall American. [Exit ]

TA: Fritz, old sport, good to see you, I guess the wig keeps you warm in winter: how did it
go in Port of London?

F: Fine, fine, the boys have re-cut and reset the rocks, ready for collection and delivery ven
they arrive in Big Apple; by the vay lady, that vaz a good job at the jewellers.

C: Thanks Fritz; I sure looked good as a redhead wearing mink.

TA: Apart from your English accent, honey, it was pure Bronx.

C: Watch it Big Boy, or Amelia won’t do the drop.

F: You are leaving?

TA: A bootleg job: some whisky for their tea at Boston.

F: Ach, mien friend, you know vee have problems in Venice?

TA: The Countess?

F: Yah, yah, that bitch is up to her tricks: mebbe her claim is better than mine, but vee are on
the right track for the English connection.

TA: Why not bump the bitch off?

F: Nein, nein, it would draw attention to us: I have man keep an eye on it.

C: Gee, wish I could dig it, all that dough sittin’ there doin’ nuttin’.

TA: Honey, we ain’t sittin’on our asses, we got guys on it runnin’ round like spiders.

C: Oh yeah—Clever Dick got caught in his own net.

TA: That son-of-a-bitch! Honey, git your wings on, it’s time for the drop—they’re gettin’
kinda thirsty in Boston. S’long old sport, see you when your ship comes in: and if I was
you I’d change that wig!

[Blackout]



VO: “Masks and Venice”

[Spotlight: Girl in cloak and gold mask]
G: After the ball, a countess, wearing a mask of gold, hails her gondolier: their reflection,
with a silver moon, moves with the stones of Venice upside down in the water.
Masked ladies dressed in silks, saunter to and fro talking as they go of Caruso and Rudolph Valentino.
At the midnight hour, eyes are a window on corridors in the mind, closed doors and sealed boxes
leaking old scandals under lock and key: Ghosts enact secrets in spaces pervaded by silence,
suppress and devise new meanings in a tapestry spun by a spider in a silver net: the story retold,
ever changing as new tricks bedeck the deceptions of memory: thus we measure in masks and smiles,
the same we encounter in the passing comedy of life. [Exit]

VO: “The Countess Paulizza removes her mask”

[Enter Narrator]
N: Paulizza, born of common-kind despatched a crook by Orient Express across the Channel
to ‘keep an eye’ on plans for which the hour was nigh: but in the web a spider spins were
others’ of like minds: the best laid plans of mice and men—[Enter Paulizza]

P: Ah, yes, my late, lamented Sire; born of the blood and of the line, made a cock-up of my
plans in Venice.

N: Adding with a touch of venom.

P: Amateurs are such a menace.

N: The Countess sipped a glass of ice and lemon.

[Narrator with folded arms stands behind the Countess
listening to her secrets.]

P: A duplicitous life requires a clear mind, a sharp eye at social occasions, and who one
invites to tête-a-tête supper: details must be precise, and yet instinct plays a part in it,
to pick the right man for the job; apply commonsense, possess a clairvoyant view and
be alert to like-minds in the game of chess. It is my way to sit alone and listen to the
silence; dispense with logic and be open to signs and symbol: I hold a deep respect for it;
I know it’s there, and never question it, to do so would destroy it. Longitude and latitude
pinpoint the centre: above and below divides the equation, the answer is the essence I
call intuition: be it chance, destiny, or mystery, for me it’s all these things, and something
more: it made a novice aware of the invisible within the ordinary, on the alert for the
unknown—waiting in the wings.
[Blackout]

 VO: “London.”

[Spotlight: Narrator Stage L. Big Chief at desk: OM and
three officers.]

N: At the Yard, Big Chief called a conference with confederates concerning reports about a boat
in New York from the Port of London: Its externals differed from internals: the lavish cabin of the
captain; the spacious quarters of the crew failed to match the fact its cargo was routine and legitimate.[Exit]

BC: Any comments?

N: But answer came there none: he packed them off to Tilbury Docks.

BC: And while you’re at it, do Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs!

OM: [deferential mode.] You must excuse me Chief, I have to follow up a message -
on the grapevine. [Exit]

BC: My blue-eyed boy, I know that look: ‘I’m just a plain detective;’ something is afoot. [Blackout]

VO: “The Strand”

[Spotlight: OM enters stage R:]

OM: In the Strand, this shop window with a reproduction of the Mona Lisa: I like the hands,
but the face is not one to launch a thousand ships: reflected in the plate glass window, I am
watching office staff debouch, say their goodbyes, and hurry on to Charing Cross station: my
man under observation, snakes his way through the crowd and follows a girl in a cloche
hat, navy blue suit, and handbag. Strange....: what is the connection between a foreign crook
and an office girl in London? I must check the building and its occupants: an estate agent,
accountants, a theatre agent, and various business partners. Curious; tomorrow, I must pay a visit.
[Exit]

VO: “An office interview”

[Spotlight: desk, Typist at typewriter: OM faces her.]

OM: Have you at any time been aware of being-- followed?
T: Followed, why should I be followed?

OM: It may be a case of mistaken identity.

T: Really—I’m just a typist.

OM: That may have nothing to do with it.

T: Am I damsel in distress?

OM: I hope not: but should anything--unusual occur, here is my card, you may contact me at
the Yard.
[Crosses to stage R]

T: Those blue eyes: [taps her teeth with the tip of a pencil: smiles, checks her shorthand
notes and resumes typing.
]

OM: [Gives a jaunty tilt to his trilby]
By Jove, there’s a face to launch a thousand ships!
[Blackout]

VO: “Just another day at the office”

[Enter Girl in office outfit & spectacles: walks briskly
centre stage into spotlight.
]
G: She typed a letter from dictation: checked her in-tray, brushed her hair, checked her lipstick
in her compact, snapped it shut, put it back in her handbag; put on hat, pulled on gloves,
bid goodnight to the boss: in Trafalgar Square, was there danger in the air? No; just kippers for tea
with flatmate Alice, employee at the chemists; made no mention of the visit, or being followed;
best left unsaid: just another day at the office: or was it? [Exit]

[Enter First Reporter with notebook]
R1: London news: at 11 a.m. a daring robbery took place at a West End Jewellers: a woman
wearing a mink coat, with rather red hair, and a tough gentleman in a well-cut suit arrived in
a chauffeur-driven limousine; at the same time as they entered the shop, a masked gang
arrived at the rear of the premises with a duplicate key; the owner and staff were put into
bondage at gunpoint; the storeroom stripped of valuable gems, while the couple left the shop
with three bags full. A reliable source at the Yard informs us, there has been an influx of criminals
from abroad. [Exit: enter Newspaper boy:]

NB: Paper, paper, read all abaht it—paper, paper!
[Exit: enter Second Reporter.]

R2: Late news: There was a midnight fire in a city office: because police and brigades were
otherwise engaged it left a nearby bank exposed and unprotected. The night watchman was seized
and chloroformed: the gang departed with a haul of gold bullion. A tramp, sleeping off his beer in
a shop doorway, saw four masked men load a van and drive off. He is being questioned by police.
[Exit]

[Spotlight: enter Duettists in evening dress:]

Duet: Fancy our meeting. [Blackout.]

[Spotlight: OM enters stage R: Typist enters stage L]

OM: [doffs his trilby] Fancy our meeting.

T: Quite a coincidence—or is it when life is so fleeting?

OM: Coincidence and chance are part of life when on duty.

T: Are you ever off duty?

OM: Sometimes: at the moment it’s business; have you been followed?

T: Only by you.

OM: Touché! Perhaps they’ve lost the plot: I can’t let this moment go-it was not a chance
greeting: I waited by design: now I hesitate to ask, if I were off duty, would you accept an
invitation to dinner?

 T: You amaze me.

OM: Surprise me,--and say you accept.

T: And will I be questioned over the soup?

OM: It’s my nature: off duty I can suppress it.
T: Does it hurt? I’m sorry—that’s silly of me—really—I’d be delighted to accept your invitation—
duty permitting—is Saturday alright?

OM: That’s fine: have you far to go?

T: I’m nearly there; it’s just across the road.

OM: Until Saturday: I’ll call for you at seven.

T: Dress?

OM: Informal [Exit: L and R to last bars of ‘‘Fancy our meeting’]

VO: “Whitehall”
[Enter OM and BC, in bowler, topcoat and stick]

BC: This case, old chap, it’s not quite British; we have clues--
it needs a trump card-two would be better.

OM: No, it’s not quite pukka: it’s played by hands across the sea;
I just—might--have a trick to catch a knave.

BC: Supposing, he’s a lady.

OM: If so, she won’t be Mary Pickford.

BC: Could be Mata Hari.

OM: There’s a thought.

BC: Keep you awake at night, old chap.

OM: Sir.

BC: Sorry: right; you can forget about the Yard, I’ve a call to make at Number Ten.

OM: The PM?

BC: More like his private secretary.

OM: Supposing he’s a lady.

BC: Game, match to you, sir! [Exit]

VO: “Rome: a blessing”
[Spotlight; Narrator]

N: Swiss guards marshalled groups invited for a blessing: without warning, a young man in
white suit calls out:
[Young man stage R]
 ‘Mama, mama, I can’ta do eet!’
[Sinks to the ground]
Guards remove him, pin him down, expose his torso, ivory white: with outstretched arms,
the Countess Paulizza steps from the throng,

P; Please, please, don’t do that to him!
[She kneels to comfort him;] it is gone, he is calm.

N. A carriage, not a car, was ordered to take them home: he lies quiet, his head resting in her lap.

P: It is in the blood: I do what I can for him: he is my only son.

 [Blackout]

VO: “Part three: Past and Present”

[Spotlight: OM and Charlie Boy]

OM: Hello Charlie Boy, a nice night for a stroll: how time flies: enjoy your B&B at Dartmoor?
I trust you gave my kind regards to Slippery Sam and Jack the Ripper: I saw you chatting to a mate
leaning on your garden gate, no doubt telling him you’re going straight and turn a blind eye on temptation:
goodnight sweetheart, you’ll see me in your dreams: be good, be careful, and, keep off the hook.

CB: Fanks mate, I luvs you too, ‘opes you ‘aves nightmares—g’night copper! [Blackout]

[Spotlight: band of ex-officers play ‘I’ll see you again:’
civilians, shoppers cross from L to R, some drop a coin in the hat, watched by
Narrator.
]
N: Music in the air is bitter sweet played by ex-officers for passers-by intent on shopping
who, now and then drop a penny in the cap. The lieutenant with an empty sleeve tucked in his
tunic belt, sings: ‘I tell you there is no death:’ a lady dressed in black stops to listen,
touches his shoulder, leaves some money, and goes on her way. Our Man at the Yard takes
out his wallet speaks to the leader of the band, talks to the musicians: shakes hands, they
share a bond. Our Man continues on his way to Whitehall.[On screen, lights float like flares]
Lights fell like flares in Piccadilly: Our Man at the Yard, is again in France, in a hospital bed at Amiens,
nursed by dark-eyed Marianne: outside the Criterion, he paused for theatre goers to pass:
it was a wounded lad delayed his return from trench patrol to a dugout full of body parts;
they never knew what hit them: day after day, night after night, always the same: life was a four letter
word: it was not ‘hope’. He shivered: in two minds, two worlds, he walked on away from the lights of Piccadilly.
[Exit: spotlight; Charlie Boy.]

CB: ‘Ello Pater, it’s Charlie Boy, your ever-lovin’ son; ‘ow y’keepin’? Sorry I ain’t bin arahnd,
bizness ‘as bin brisk; y’know ‘ow it is, y’gits a call, y’can’t say no, an’ orff y’goes: ‘owever,
just to show I’m still ya ever-luvin’ boy, ‘ere’s sumfink foy ya, wrapped up in a ten quid note,
so don’t say I never gives ya nuffink; I chanced to pick it up as they wuz cummin’ ‘aht the theatre
in the Dilly an’ a-callin’ for their cars an’ cabs-and—guess ‘oo wuz there- ‘ol Blue Eyes from the
Yard: I should ‘ave fanked ‘im for me B&B at Dartmoor, I don’t fink! Well, ta-ta dad—keep
smilin’—I’m orff to meet the man ‘oo broke the bank at Monte Carlo; ‘ee’s waitin’ wiv a little job
for me dahn at the Cat an’ Fiddle.
[Blackout]

VO: “The Savoy”

[Narrator in tuxedo: off-stage band play Dance, little lady. tables and diners
stage L: enter waiter and OM
stage R to downstage table L. Music ends:
enter Flapper
one with escort and Flapper two with escort.]

FP1: Clarissa darling, your dress is too divine.

SP 2: Thank you, sweetie, two yards of purple chiffon, held up, God willing, with a diamond clip!

[Exit: during the following, screen projections of Clara Bow, Mae West, and Garbo.]

N: Polished ebony hair, painted lips of Clara Bow, shadows on an eyelid, jade earrings;
a cigarette holder and a curl of smoke; not Mae West or Greta Garbo:
Our Man peruses the menu:

OM: Femme fatales, and I’m no Valentino.

[Tall American enters; shakes hands with Fritz at table stage R: joined by Cutie
dressed in silver lamé.
]
OM: So, the grapevine was right: ‘look out for who’s in town tonight’.

N: ‘London calling,’ ragtime, jazz time: silk stocking-legs criss-cross in the Charleston;
a lovely arm around a young man’s shoulder; youth is empowered with grace and beauty.
Our Man lights a cigarette; in a curl of smoke are men who never came back.

[Light dims: smoke drifts across backstage screen: photo of army officer,
fades to naval rating, fades to VAD
nurse and wounded man in wheel chair,
fades to bodies
on barbed wire, fades to cross of wood and bayonet,
fade to smoke, during which Tall American and Fritz light cigars, exit with
diners: light dims: spotlight on OM.
]

OM: They answered the call: ‘Your country needs you’. Boer War veterans quick off the mark,
young men from Oxford, the unemployed; lads from the Shires put up their ages: haberdashers,
office clerks, milkmen and city men made motley at recruiting centres; cheered by crowds
marching to the railway station fair youth as human fodder packed like cattle and shipped across
to France: In less than a year, their names printed on a roll call. That was the sacrifice: was it the
war to end all wars? History teaches; time will tell.

[Exit: lights up]
N: He paid the bill and left them to it:
[Dance little lady played off stage.]
They were dancing, life was enthralling: what else could they do, but dance the whole night through
till dawn dropped a stitch at day break.

[Enter Flappers and partners, dancing dreamily as piano and violin play ‘don’t drop a
stitch too soon,’ ending on a
‘sour’ note: lights fade to black out: interval.]


VO: “Part four: Romance and the perils thereof: Aunt Flo reads a teacup”
[Aunt Flo and Bert seated at table.]

AF: Give is y’cup Bert: naow, let’s ‘ave a look; wot ‘ave’s we ‘ere-you ain’t bin up to
somefink ‘ave’s y’Bert? ‘Cos there’s a pram ‘ere! Wot ever it is the sun shines on it—
no it ain’t the sun—it’s a spider—that’s some kind of warnin’—I don’t likes the looks of
that—um—over ‘ere is an ‘arra—no it ain’t-it’s a pair of ‘ands reaching aht—don’t look
like a welcome—more like someone in trouble wantin’ ‘elp—if it ain’t you Bert—its
someone near yer—‘an its close- [whispers] like danger! I don’t like it Bert, it gives me
the shivers. Well, that’s ‘ow I see fings an’ there tis: life ain’t all sunshine an roses; so be
careful: don’t tell y’muvver, she ses its nonsense, but I know Nellie finks abaht it; give ‘er
me luv: thanks for callin’ Bert, mind ‘ow y’goes.

[Flo exits: spotlight on Bert and OM.]

Bert: Club tie or regimental sir?

OM: Regimental and dark blue suit Bert.

Bert: The car sir?

OM: Not tonight. [Exit: enter Narrator.]

N: It was a taxi. The door opened on a vision of loveliness: corn-coloured hair:
those eyes, those lips, the sway of hips in a white silk dress, in an evening wrap of
midnight blue. The taxi did a U-turn and headed for a restaurant off Piccadilly. [Exit]

[Bert enters removes his apron, lights a cigarette, turns on the wireless: ‘London calling:’]

Bert: Romance more like it: I wonder if it’s got a personal maid or servant? We shall see:
[Pours a whisky and sits] your health sir, with your best whisky.

[Light fades as voice of Alice Delysia sings: If you could care for me: lights dim to blackout:
spotlight: OM and S
]

VO: “A break-in at a Solicitor’s chambers”

OM: We received your call about a break in, documents disturbed but nothing stolen:
it’s a glove job, no fingerprints: a professional.

S: What they were after is in a safe-within-a-safe; an estate of considerable fortune:
a third party appears to have got wind of it. One is always prepared and rarely surprised
by the unexpected. My chambers are a haunt of skeletons in the cupboard kept firmly
under lock and key: this estate is one of them, and no exception. In time-past investigations
found no trace or whereabouts of a missing heir; all claims of a foreign nature are dubious
and suspect. If there exists, dead or alive, a legal claimant it is one who comes of age this year.

OM: I’ll arrange for your chambers to be kept under observation.
[Solicitor sees him out and remains in thought, enter Narrator]

N: The solicitor, tall, silver-haired, and courteous, glances at the portrait of his grandfather,
Founder of the Family Firm, who, in his day, was known as a genuine, ‘Victorian bounder’.
[They exit left and right.]

VO: “A Nanny with a pram”

[Enter Nanny with pram]
N: Nanny in a coat of faded blue, somewhat frayed, the worse for wear, pushed her pram
from Victoria Station to Eaton Square: locals asked no questions, knew her story;
each day was a search for ‘my baby.’

[Enter: Copper and Newspaper boy]
Copper: [Taps his helmet] Gin, Gin, Ginjah, she’s barmy.

NB: [with cockney grin,
shouts:
] Paper, paper! Read all abaht it! Typist kidnapped: woman bound and gagged.
Paper, paper, read all abaht it!
[Nanny stops, stares at him:]
NB: Wot’s up muvver, you do looks pale?

N. She said nothing, bought a paper and moved on: in her pram, with ‘Typist kidnapped!
Front page up. [Exit Nanny, Copper and newspaper boy..]
Life was not without its fantasy and dreams; the two went hand in hand,
as clear as daylight, both, very real. She got up early to go in search of it:
‘Not there, not there, my child:’ if not today maybe tomorrow: if life deceived,
she never noticed; there was no room for it: the pram she pushed was made
for fantasy and dream; deception had no part in it; for the way of it was in the
search for it: each day moved towards the end of it. [Exit]

[Nanny enters with pram; sits at table with horn gramophone: record:
The Better Land, sung by Dame Clara Butt: looks at newspaper: song ends: blackout.
]


VO: “Chain of events”

[Spotlight:] N: In the long ago of it, the gang made a good job of it: got well paid for it:
they left it with a pair of nondescripts: gave them cash to care for it: they got bored with it:
passed it on to Aunt Nel: she died: Aunt Beattie dealt with it: she was good and kind to it:
from time-to-time a stranger called, a foreigner, gave her cash for it: the war came and put a stop to it.
The day came when it said:

[Enter stage R: Girl in black veil and dress.]
G: I am a stranger here: in mourning for my life: it’s in my head to go away and search for it:
to know who I am; and the way of it will give me back my name. [Exit: enter Aunt Beattie.]

N. Aunt Beattie stopped for a cuppa at the tea stall: Beattie spoke to a tall, dark stranger:

AB: Excuse me, sir, you reminds me of a gentleman I knew before the war, a foreigner, like you.

N. He answers carefully: “Si? I am Italian:” At this, Aunt Beattie tells her story:

AB: ‘Ee used to call and take ‘er out for tea-not down the caf-but somewhere posh: then the war
came and put a stop to it: I thinks there was money in it, but she never said: my late sister Nel
used to say it was some rich man’s folly: mebbe it was: any’ow one day she up and orffs and
I’ve never seen or ‘eard from ‘er since: there’s gratitude for you: funny business, I never did
understand it: but seein;’ you reminded me of it [chuckles] I ‘opes I ‘aven’t bored you sir.

N: The man was all attention; he understood more than Beattie knew: at its conclusion, he thanked
her and pressed a sovereign in her hand.
AB: Oh, thank ‘ee sir, that’s very kind of you, I’m sure.
[Exit]

N: That was the start of it: wheels went on the move for it: those ‘in the know’ had lost track of it:
the war had cut them off from it: Beattie’s story put them back on track for it: showed the way was
not with class, but downstairs with the ‘lower orders’. This was the thread; they followed it to an
office in the Strand, then a flat, a ‘gag and rope job;’ a quick job—to kidnap a typist. One got caught for it. [Blackout]

VO: “A basement cellar”
[Spotlight: Typist seated C on chair; man in slouched hat
and dark suit in the shadows]

T: What have I done? Why am I here? Where is Alice? That man, when I speak to him, he shrugs,
and never answers. There was a man like him, who, before the war called on strangers, paid, they
said, to take care of me: the war came and he never called again; I have pale recollections of them
and their faces: my past is an empty street: no house, no home, knock on any door, none knew my
name: I was a stranger seeking a welcome, in need of love: one day I said: ‘I am a stranger here’
and walked away from them: a girl with a name, but no birth certificate; I lived with the ache of it;
a question with no answer, lost, long ago when two lovers married, made and abandoned me: was
I unwanted and discarded? Where are they now? money was left for me: it paid for Pitman’s
shorthand-typing course: the girls talked about their families, of Tea Dances, and boyfriends at the
tennis club: one girl who liked poetry and Rupert Brook introduced me to Alice, at the chemists, I
left my diggings to share a flat with her: we did those things girls do; shopping, went to the Picture
Palace: Alice has a family, but I have none that I could speak of: said I was an orphan and left the
questions in her eyes unanswered: ye gods, what is your game? To be born, abandoned: to find
love, to belong, and end a prisoner and lose all! Darling—where, where are you? Please, please
find me— I need you so!

[Lights dim: enter Narrator:]
N: Alas, poor lady, the worst is yet to come! [Blackout]

VO:”The Chase”
[Narrator and orchestration of voices heard in the dark.]

N: Our man, his team, the force were on to it: Down to the Embankment: patrol and pilot boats
on the alert for it: engines on the ready for it: the chase begins, the hunt is on; ANCHORS AWEIGH!
Bridge after bridge: Putney, Chelsea, Richmond and beyond the London suburbs in hot pursuit to
the waste lands. By the banks of wild rushes, they found their quarry, moored in the shrubberies.
Nearby in a field, a house with no lights in its windows: anything that moved was danger; swift, silent
as cats in the dark, the police moved in to form a cordon, surround the target, snipers and experts
cover windows and entrances; ready for action:
All: BREAK IN!

[Spotlight: the Room: Tableaux: Narrator: stage R, three crooks in black with guns; an
Italian youth in grey suit:
stage L, seated, vicar in black shirt, dog collar and grey trousers
holding a document: downstage L table with
kerosene lamp: C stage, Typist seated on chair.]

N: A room, a kerosene lamp: a boarded window: a gang of three, each armed with a gun and a
young Italian: the local vicar, kidnapped while at supper in the rectory; in his trembling hand he holds
a special licence for a wedding: the young typist is recovering from effects of ether:[shouts] Action!

[The young Italian stamps his foot, and shouts.]

To ‘ell with Mama Mia! I won’ta do eet—I tell you, I WON’T-A DO EET!

N: The leader jabs a pistol in his ribs: the bridal victims, stare at one another.

[Voice, off-stage:: “danger is near thee, beware, beware!” Three thumps:voices:
CRASH, BANG,
WALLOP!]

N:[Silent movie mode]
The door bursts open, armed police rush in, surround the gang and handcuff them: Our Man,
first in, is at the side of his girl with corn-coloured hair and takes her in his arms: for our Maid
of Trial and Tribulations, her deepest feelings are in a simple song: Love will find a way.

[Light dims on tableaux:
N. takes kerosene lamp and
gazes into the distance:]

N: Jubilant boats sail up the Thames: at the Yard, cells are ready with B&B for their guests.
A wedding at gunpoint proved to be a non-event, but far from dull for its participants. [Exit]

VO “Loose Ends:”

[Spotlight: BC at desk:
OM seated opposite
]

BC: A tipoff is one thing spilling the beans is another: how come?

OM: This gang is for hire: professionals with many irons in the fire: he got the push.

BC: Not up to the mark.

OM: Thieves fall out: remember the body washed up at Waterloo?

BC: I do.

OM: He was in on it.

BC: I trust you were kind.

OM: It required a little persuasion: I took him down to see ‘the hut,’ opened the trap doors
and showed him the drop: he talked.

BC: If they know he’s grassed could be his Waterloo.

OM: We might get him away—services rendered-say Australia.

BC: Could be arranged: ties up loose ends. [Hands him a telegram] Read this from our
man of many parts’ in the kitchen of the Countess.

OM: Mistress Incognito: stop: moves Monte Carlo: Iago. So, she’s on the move.

BC: The Italian boy will talk; he wants to cut the apron strings, be free of his mama.

OM: She could have won.

BC: Indeed: but the lady overplayed her hand: Iago is on track of it; we shall see. By the way
I hope you thanked the ‘squealer’ for his tipoff on behalf of your young lady.

OM: I did sir: for the present: ‘All’s well that ends well’.

BC: Time will tell. [Blackout]


VO: “Part five: A proposal, three stories and a wedding: A proposal”

[Narrator observes OM]

N: On the steps of St Paul’s at Covent Garden he watched and waited: a gleam of sunlight
on corn-coloured hair emerged from the evening crowd: her eyes, her nose, her lips,
a simple dress, the graceful movements of her hips, again entranced him, as this lovely,
radiant girl, smiled and placed her arm in his. Nearby was an eating house with cubicles for diners:
the waitress came, waited, went away, came back, and tried again: [Exit]

OM: The same meal for two.

Waitress: With or without?

OM.[vaguely:] Thank you, yes.

Waitress: [orders:] One with and one without: it must be love, let them sort it out!

OM [bites his lower lip. leans towards her, in a husky voice.] If you-- could care—for me—
[He hesitates: she stops him with her hand]
T: Darling, I do care for you’!

[Light fades: enter Narrator]

N: That night the stars were shining brightly; Covent Garden was a paradise for two.
As in a dream the evening ended: in the taxi her head rested on his shoulder:
a kiss was given, and again given: two lovers lingered on the doorstep:
sweet was the parting. When the taxi driver saw his tip he thought he must be dreaming!

[Spotlight: Bert and OM]

N: Not in his usual mode the master said:
OM: Goodnight Bert.

N: Smiling, he hums a tune and drifts off to bed.
Bert scratched his head-- looks at the supper table. [Exit]

Bert: Well that’s it: two lots of sandwiches, two mugs of cocoa, one wiv and one wivaht. [Blackout.]


VO: “Rome: The Countess Paulizza”

[Spotlight on Countess]
P: I met the count when I was still a gel: I caught him in an idle moment and married him. My
family being of no consequence, he was quite a catch, and gave me entree into society;
extravagant, careless with its wealth: small items of value left lying here and there, neglected,
gathering dust: I thought, why not? It’s just a game; the count was plagued by creditors-it
kept the ship afloat and, none of them were missed. I gave the count his son and heir, and
he in turn became compliant to my little game. The game itself was played in childhood when
aunts would reminisce about the past, tell tales of better days, of relatives, who had, what
they called, ‘the English connection’: at the time, it seemed to me, to be no more than family
prattle. However, some years later, when in Rome, I chanced to meet a gentleman who
showed an interest and questioned me about my family connections despite the fact that my
account was full of vagaries. Thus I was privileged to peruse his archive of documents and
letters: I realised at once the details related to the stories told by my aunts: I made a mental
note: that was the start of it: the game began in earnest: the seed was sown; it grew, and in time
came to fruition. Fate played its card: a tragic accident occurred to set my long term plan in
motion: to gamble on an unclaimed fortune: but it so happened, there were others of like
minds waiting in the wings. Such are the cards of Fate: you win some and you lose some:
now it is time to retire from the game; I came from nothing and end my days in obscurity, to
live in style, in comfort, and incognito.

[Countess walks slowly round the circle of light.]

N: St Peter’s is deserted: the Countess touched the bronze foot of St Peter, worn thin by
centuries of the faithful; soon the Easter celebrations will begin when young girls in white
and their mamas gather for confirmation. Our lady countess half-inclines her head towards
the grandeur of the altar:

P: I made a choice and paid the price; even so, I am in need of comfort, confession if not
forgiveness. I know, too well, my frailties are shot through with threads of steel: life dealt the
cards; I played to win and paid the price: I ask for no forgiveness.

N: She turns to leave, stops to marvel at the mind which released the Pieta and dead Christ
from a block of marble: outside on the steps, passes the Bernini and walks on; it is ‘siesta time.’

P: It’s time to dress for dinner, served by my cockney cook, a man of many parts, who, in
my opinion has ideas above his station.

[Moves downstage: the Narrator stands behind her: a full moon rises.]

P: The moon fills a silent Coliseum with shadows: separating light from dark, past and present:
yet still we search the starry sky for its divine comedy entwined among the signs and
constellations of the Zodiac: beyond that is a mystery.

N: Or nemesis waits in the wings.

[Enter stage R: two detectives.]

D1: Countess Paulizza, I have a warrant for your arrest.

P: You-- my chef! A man of many parts!

D1: The masks off but I’m still on duty, ma’am.

P: To cook my goose.

D1: It was on the cards.

P: Indeed; we played to win.

D1: The wheel of fortune ma’am, it comes full circle.

P: Ah, yes: Fortuna: by longitude and latitude it was our destiny to meet, its date pencilled in by
Fate. Take me! The hour has come! Maitre, [makes a deep curtsey] your humble servant.
Give my mask to Venice!

[Exit between 2 detectives: lights dim; leaving Narrator and full moon: blackout.]

VO: “The Nanny’s story”

[Spotlight: Nanny seated centre stage facing OM]

Nanny: It was the servants’ night off: I had put baby to bed in the nursery; rocked her to sleep
with ‘See-saw Margery-daw, Jenny shall have a new master’ said a little prayer and remained
until she was sound asleep. Her ladyship was dining out with her solicitor. I went down to the
kitchen for a game of cards with Kitty the cook. There was a noise outside the window, at the
same time the doorbell rang; I went up to answer it; there was nobody there: when I got back
the kitchen was empty, no sign of cook, or in the scullery: all at once I was grabbed from behind
and a cloth pushed over my face: that’s all I remember: her ladyship returned with the solicitor
and rang for me: getting no answer the two came down and heard my groans and found me in the
kitchen cupboard and cook tied up in the coalhole: but worse still was the terrible discovery that
the nursery was empty and our darling baby gone! It was all in the papers. When her son and wife
was killed in an accident, her ladyship was never the same, and this terrible thing tipped the scales
and she took to her bed: she packed cook off with a reference, but I was dismissed, said I was
to blame for leaving the baby and turned me out on the street. Not long after that her ladyship died,
I suppose from shock and grief. I went back to mum, poor thing, she’d had a hard life, and soon
after, she, too, was gone. That was when she appeared, that other one, just like me, but not me:
she told me to go out and ‘look for my baby,’ and I did what she said: I walked the streets with
a pram, even in the air raids; they called me names, said I was mad: then one day at Victoria,
that rude little newspaper boy shouted: “Kidnapped!” I bought a paper: ‘Typist Kidnapped.”
It was that word what did it. At home I sat looking at the picture; my other half stood by the table
pointing: “I told you you’d find it—that’s your baby: don’t say I didn’t tell you.” Deep down, I
knew she was right: I looked at the photo and remembered: when I went to bed I put the
newspaper under my pillow. When I woke up In the morning I felt something strange in the
silence—then I realised—she was gone—and I was alone in the house. Next day I saw the
newspapers: ’Cashier tells of ordeal’! And I read what she told the police. So here I am sir, I’m
not Miss Humpty Dumpty, I’m all together now, all of a-piece: you see, sir, deep down inside,
I just know the typist you’re after is my lost little girl: please help me.

[Blackout]



VO: “The Solicitor’s story”

[Spotlight: OM, Typist and Nanny seated facing Solicitor
at his desk]

S: When her ladyship called at these chambers it was her firm belief that one day her
grandchild would be found near the date of its coming of age: she was convinced some
scoundrel from the family past, had designs upon the family fortune. Her ladyship was
adamant that skeletons in the family cupboard should be kept under lock and key.
There are documents with intimations of a scandal: but there was also a lot at stake:
stocks & shares: art works and heirlooms; land, property, investments in a gold mine,
that sort of thing and much else. Early generations married well; later generations
consolidated the family fortune: however, in more recent times they lived too well, were
more inclined to dissipate their wealth abroad, and in time the family line declined without
issue: except for the English connection. There are loose ends left untied: references to Rome
and Venice: a faded flower, a Berlin theatre ticket: a watercolour of the Sacre Coeur,
inscribed ‘remember:’ an unsigned post card of Brooklyn Bridge: a clipping of a Philadelphia
story. All this was in my mind; a premonition that her prophesy might prove true: when two
things occurred: first the burglary in my chambers, but nothing stolen: secondly the
newspaper and a ‘kidnapped typist’. The two events seemed to connect with the
estate, to be a kind of portent, of something unexpected waiting in the wings.
 [He takes a scroll of yellowing parchment, cuts the ribbon, and breaks the seal]
This is her ladyship’s last will and testament: the estate is held in trust until such times its
legal beneficiary and current heir shall come of age—that being July, this year—in the reign
of His most Gracious Majesty, King George V. All three of you are acquainted with the
vicissitudes that have threatened this estate; I need not dwell on them: it is now my duty
to declare young lady that you are the kidnapped infant passed from one foster parent to
another; kidnapped again, transported by tugboat, discovered and rescued, from a
forced marriage at gunpoint. Thanks to this gentleman from the yard you have survived to
claim your inheritance. And may I say, your former nanny and myself are pleased to hear
that both of you intend to add a new branch to the family tree; wherever she may be, the
news will please her ladyship: may she rest in peace, and—that includes all the skeletons
in your family cupboard!

[Spotlight fades: enter Narrator]

N: The portrait of his grandfather looks down upon the scene: there is little doubt that he
was the founder of the firm, yet, in his pose, the tilt of head, there is just a hint of the
Laughing Cavalier: [Blackout.]

VO: “Spring”

[Enter Girl in white dress; a mask trimmed with flowers.]

Spring: By the banks of green willow
gather your flowers;
snowdrop, primrose,
daffodil, bluebell in woodlands,
violet in hedgerows,
beach leaves, ferns,
lovely green mosses
after Good Friday
to lay on altars
at Eastertide:
from banks of green willow
bring your baskets of flowers
in honour of Eros,
as church bells ring,
Spring has arrived
in Piccadilly Circus! [Exit]

VO: “Chelsea Registrar Office”

[Narrator downstage: OM and Bert enter stage R, Bert
checks waistcoat pocket:
exit stage L
]

N: In regimental tie and well-cut suit, the bridegroom and his servant arrived by taxi at Chelsea
Registrar Office. Best man Bert in his Sunday best assured his master a plain gold ring was
safe in his waistcoat pocket.

[Solicitor. bride and Nanny enter stage R exit stage L]

N: The solicitor in his morning coat arrives with the bride, wearing a pale blue outfit, a white
cloche hat, and as they say: ‘accessories to match,’ attended by Nanny dressed in navy blue.

[Enter chimney sweep stage R: bridal group enter stage L: OM tips the sweep.
exits: table and four chairs for
wedding party: waiter with champagne.]

N: The wedding breakfast in the Old King’s Road; a champagne welcome from the waiter:
Best man Bert made a speech, and called on all to be upstanding for a toast.

Bert: The bride and groom.
All: The bride and groom!

N: Bert fulfilled his duties delighting Nanny with a coral broach; The solicitor in turn, gives the bride
a silver locket which contains a wedding photo of her parents and her ladyship holding her infant
granddaughter: Deeply moved, the bride declares:

T: My search is ended, the darkness gone; at last I know my name which today I have exchanged
for yours darling!

[Black out: voice in the dark:]
Big Chief at the Yard sent the happy couple a telegram.

VO: “Honeymoon”

N. [Spotlight.] In a red two-seater sports car the happy couple sped awayfor their honeymoon
in glorious Devon. At the manor, his mother, Aunts and staff were on the steps to greet them.
Sherlock Holmes was laid aside, for their nephew was the genuine article: he regaled them
with tales of mystery and crime, which kept them all enthralled, until dinner time.

[Lights dim: Narrator moves downstage
C: Tower Bridge
appears on screen.]


VO. “Epilogue”

N: Our story told, we leave it to unfold:
the sun sets low on London town;
the Thames is splashed with gold:
one mystery solved,
another waiting in the wings;
tomorrow is imprinted with its date,
its hour will come and is never late;
events, like us, will come and go;
sunrise and sunset on the passing show:
all things shall come—
to pass like water under the bridge:
the music in a cockleshell
will sing a different tune
it lies in waiting for the sands of time
to fall on unknown shores
where yet another mystery waits
beneath a dome of distant stars:
much is obscured
by moon and mist .

[Voice off stage: High in the hills, second voice: Down in the dales: Full cast: Old Father Thames.

 END.

1 9 12

The Wallace Connection

Part one: London, the 1920’s
Bert’s Aunt Flo reads his teacup
Our man at the Yard and Alfie.
West End honeymooners
Our man at the Yard: a call to his mother
The Tall American and his Cutie
A red herring
Waterloo Bridge

Part two: New York, Venice, London.
New York
Masks and memory: Venice
The Countess Paulizza removes her mask
London
The Strand
Office interview
Just another day at the office
London news
Late news
Duet: Fancy our meeting
At the Yard
Rome: a blessing

Part three: Past and Present.
Charlie Boy: Leader of the band.
Savoy

Part four: romance and the perils thereof.
Aunt Flo reads a teacup
A break-in
A nanny with a pram
Chain of events
A basement cellar
The chase
Loose ends

Part five: a proposal, three stories and a wedding
A proposal
Rome: the Countess Paulizza
The Nanny’s story
The Solicitor’s story
Spring
Chelsea Registrar Office
Honeymoon
Epilogue

© : Wallace Connection: J.L. Woodcock: 2012
 


© Copyright 2020 John Woodcock. All rights reserved.

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