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Down By The Bay, my 1 act play, 1 year later. (1 Viewer)



I posted the 1st draft of this a little more than a year ago. I was hoping to direct it then for a school one act competition, but seniority ruled, and I was only a junior. Still, this gave me a year to tweak it. Here it is after many small changes, and some rather large.
I hope you enjoy it!

Setting: In the office of a private investigator and the road outside.

Lights up to Joe and Danny. Joe is at his desk, Danny is pointing a gun at him.

Joe: Dan, this REALLY isn’t necessary!

Danny (distraught): What could be more necessary?! I’m simply… preserving the balance of nature. Action/reaction, that kinda thing. You ruined me, and now (pause, holds up gun), I’m gonna ruin you!

Lights down, spotlight on Joe (who puts his hands down and stands up).

Joe: (to self, slowly) It was raining in the city by the bay; the type of heavy rain that puts the street cleaners out of business. Pretty soon, I figure, it’s gonna be raining in my office. Danny is gonna ‘rain’ some lead into my skull, and my brain is gonna ‘rain’ onto the floor… It was raining the day this case started. The type of rain that, well, rain like this rain.

Lights up, Danny is gone.

Enter: Emily

Joe: (to self) I could tell she was no good before she opened her pretty little mouth. Dames like this don’t just walk into the office of ‘Joe Carson, Private Eye’. Maybe she got the wrong address.

Emily: You’re Joe Carson I assume?

Joe: (to self) Guess not… (to her) Yeah girlie, that’s me. Whaddaya want?

Emily: My name is Emily Sternwoode. I’m in need of your… services.
Joe: (to self) The dame had a case! (to her) It’ll cost ya. $100 a day plus-
Emily: I can afford it Mr. Carson, I assure you.

Joe: (to self) A paying client… never a bad thing, and all too rare nowadays… (to her) Well then, what will you be needing me for?

Emily: (meekly, falling down in chair, woe-is-me style) Oh Joe, its my Fiancée, Danny Sears, I think he’s up to no good.

Joe: (to self) Dan Sears… sounded familiar. But how…? (to her) Anything in particular make you think this?

Emily: I’ve known him a long time Mr. Carson, I’m his fiancée. I’ve noticed a change in him, and it makes me… well, uneasy.

Joe: (to self) How can a man argue with that? (to her) Ok, get me his information, and my first day’s pay, and I’ll get started tomorrow.

Emily starts rummaging in her purse for a pen and pencil, lights fade down slightly, Joe stands w/spotlight.

Joe: (to audience) Yeah, something seemed fishy about this dame, but a case is a case… is a case. And this type of case tends to be much more profitable than your typical whodunit. It takes time, patience, stealth, but not any large amount of dough on my part.

(During this speech Emily leaves, 2 benches [brought] on stage left, 5-10 feet apart).

Joe: Emily, eh, Ms. Sternwoode, was kind enough to provide me with the suspect’s home address and a photo, and observation began the next morning.

(All lights up, Danny walks in from stage right, Joe hides behind his desk until he passes, then gets up and slowly follows. Danny walks over to the far left bench, looks at watch.)

Enter: Shady Fella’. (Shady Fella’ and Danny sit at bench and begin talking very softly.

Joe: (to self) That’s a shady lookin’ fella if I ever saw one. Blend in…

(Joe sits down in the middle of the right side bench and puts up a newspaper. He flicks down the corner of the paper to view the 2 men. The voices are too soft to hear. He moves to the left side of the bench. Still too quiet. He cups his hand to his ear, and quickly puts it down when the Shady Fella’ looks his way. Trying to be inconspicuous, Joe tries scooting the bench over towards them. When it doesn’t move after some effort, he picks up one end of it, drags it about a foot left, but Danny looks up. Joe drops the bench and sits on it loudly, putting his paper up to his face again, ripping it in half in the process. Total silence as both men look at Joe. When they finally go back to talking, the voices are slightly louder, but still not discernable. Joe stands up, walks to the right side of his bench, and loudly pushes it over right next to the other bench and runs off stage right. Pause, 5-10 seconds. He then nonchalantly saunters back on, whistling. He walks towards the open bench, both men staring at him the whole way.)

Joe: (casually) Is this bench taken?

(Danny and the Fella’ both shake heads ‘no’. Slowly.)

Joe: Don’t mind if I do! (sits, pause, then to audience in a loud whisper) I was in!

Danny: (still looking strangely at Joe, but talking to Fella) Well, go on, please.

Joe: (to self, mumbling) Oh yes, please DO go on!

Danny: (to Joe, surprised/offended) What?

Joe: (to audience) I realized then I had said that out loud. I had to think fast to cover this up. A good Private Dick can think on his feet! (To Danny, very awkwardly) Oh, um, well, in my book (shows his now ripped newspaper) um, there’s a guy named, uh, and he, well, it’s a book you see, and he, well-

Danny: Yes yes, that’s nice (under breath) loony… (to Shady Fella) PLEASE, continue. What happened?

Shady Fella’: Lets just say, he, uh. ‘took a dive’ yesterday. He ‘fell off a cliff’, he ‘drowned in the bay’, you follow?

Danny: Great, and I’m out in the clear?

Shady Fella’: Clear as, uh, water.

Danny: Excellent! I’ll see you Thursday? Oh, and I’ll have your pay for you next week, I promise.

Shady Fella’: See ya then Danny.

(Both men stand up, exchange handshakes/backpats, and leave from opposite sides. The lights dim, Joe stands up with spotlight.)

Joe: (to audience) MURDER! What I had just witnessed was a confession of murder, and murder for hire! I had to admit, I really didn’t know what to do. I had no proof, just my word against theirs, heck, I didn’t even know who they did in! Or who that other man was. There was, of course, only one way to proceed… Right after Danny Sears!

(Joe walks to the side Danny Sears left from.)

Enter Stage Right: Danny Sears, his hat low, a scarf over his face, walking sneakily left. Joe follows him, fumbling with half a newspaper in front of him, occasionally looking over the top of it at Danny.

Joe: (to audience, continued from last lines) I followed him almost all the way back to his home. At one street corner he stopped someone carrying some packages.

Danny: (to delivery man) You there, delivery man! Do you have an order for a (softly) Danny Sears?

Delivery Man: Yes sir I do. I-is that you?

Danny: Sh sh, yes, yes its me. You’re not the one who usually brings this. You’re sure this is my stuff, right? That I ordered?

Delivery Man: Exactly as you wanted it, Sir.

(Danny takes the box and takes a long and audible sniff)

Danny: Ohhh… That’s the stuff. Thank you very much young man. (Gives tip).

Delivery Man: You are VERY welcome, sir!

(Danny leaves stage left, Joe approaches delivery man.)

Joe: (to audience) Well, well, well… THAT didn’t look suspicious at all… Maybe Mr. Sears is a (sniffs, like cocain) fiend on top of being a murderer, eh? This could easily be proven or, not, if I KNEW what was in that box. (to delivery man). You there! Delivery Man!

Delivery Man: Yes sir?

Joe: Yes, eh, I was wondering if you could tell me the contents of the box you just gave that man?

Delivery Man: Im sorry sir, that’s confidential.

Joe: (coughing to seem nonchalant) I could make it worth your while…

Delivery Man: I don’t like what you’re implying… especially with him, he’s a big guy around here. Very influential, you know? (Joe scooches close to him and gives bambi eyes) Ok. All I can tell you is that the package was sent from the big pharmacy across town. I see them go out every 2 or 3 days, but this is the first time I’ve gotten to deliver to him. Now I gotta run!

Joe: (to audience) From a pharmacy? A big guy around here? With influence, eh? Yes… Yes… it all made sense. Danny Sears was a drug addicted Mob Boss… Who had just had someone ‘whacked’! That explains why he wasn’t shy about talking about the hit in a public place. In this town, mobsters aren’t touched. I had to tell Ms. Sternwoode she was marrying a mobster/murderer/druggy!

(Joe walks over to his desk, sits down, picks up his phone, dials).

Joe: Hello? Yes, Ms Sternwoode? Yes, this is Joe Carson (flairs) Private Eye!

Emily: (on other side of stage spotlight on her and Joe) Joe? Oh, I thought you’d never call. Did you find anything?

Joe: Yes, I need to see you in my office again right away.

(Shady Fella enters next to Emily)

Shady Fella: Did he find anything?

Emily: (holding away phone) Yes! Shutup!

Joe: What? I just said tha-

Emily: Oh, not you Joe, its jus-

Shady Fella: What did he find!?

Emily: Quiet!

Joe: I’ll hold the phone farther from my mouth, I’m sorry…

Shady Fella: Did he get anything on Danny?

Emily: I don’t KNOW!

Joe: I guess I do talk a bit loud on the phone. (Holds receiver away) Is this better?

Emily: What?


Emily/Shady Fella: Why (are you/is he) yelling!?

Joe: Because I was talking too loudly!

Emily: Joe, I’ll be right over. (Hangs up as Joe talks)

Joe: You could turn down the volume on your phone… Emily? Oh. See you then. (hangs up)

(Joe leans back, puts his feat up, takes his hat off)

Joe: (to audience) Here comes the hardest part of the job, telling someone their significant other is not who, or rather, what they thought. It’s a hard job, it requires finesse, sensitivity, and a kind heart. I mean, Ms. Sternwoode, she probably thought Mr. Sears was a loving, kindhearted, and not to mention rich man. (Enter Emily, quietly, she sits down across from Joe) It’s my job to tell her, with care, that he really is… (to Emily) a mob bossing, hit making, drug snorting, sleaze ball, and he’s been leading you on Ms Sternwoode! Leading you on!

Emily: Wait? Really? Eh…(acting) Oh, oh MY! It can’t be true Joe, it just CAN’T!

Joe: I’m sorry Ma’am, but it’s the truth.

Emily: (intensely) Joe, I need you to prove this to me! Prove it, prove he’s been doing bad things!

Joe: Oh of course, naturally- wait… What? Prove? Well, uh… You see… I can’t really do that. I was kinda, well, I had hoped you’d take my word for the truth… (Under her next line) Don’t you trust me Emily?

Emily: (angrily) What am I paying you for you useless, no good, rotten, sorry- Pause (woe-is-me-like) I’m sorry Joe, I over reacted. (moving towards him) See, I’m a very trusting woman, Joe, but with something this important, I need to know…. Joe?

Joe: Yes?

Emily: Joe, I need you to do this for me. It’s very important you do. I will await your call when you have proof.

Joe: How do I prove something like THIS!?

Emily: A picture, documents, I don’t know, you’re the Private Eye! Just get it to me. And soon! (Gets up to leave, turns) I’ll make it worth your while. (drops a bill)

(Exit Emily)
Joe: (to self, depressed) Talk about asking the impossible… Pinning proof on a mob boss. Why would she need physical proof? My word is enough for wives to ditch their husbands, and husbands their wives, but not enough to break off an engagement? Maybe… Maybe it’s because I told her about how he’s in the mob. That’s it! She must be afraid for her life, and –and, she needs something to show the cops so she can get witness protection, or something like that! If I don’t get her something, she might get hurt! She might… DIE! How could I live with myself then? Come to think, how could I support myself without her paychecks? I have to find something on him…
(Joe starts pacing around his office)
Joe: Of his three alleged offences, which is easier to prove? Ordering a hit… Without a body, or an identified hit man this is out of the question. Being a part of organized crime… Not a chance. Being involved with illegal drugs? This, this might be possible. If I could get a picture, of him accepting the drugs, I could prove to Ms. Sternwoode that I’m not a liar, and he is a drug fiend!
The deliveryman said he saw the packages go out to Mr. Sears every 2 or three days. (checks watch) 2:00 AM. It’s now tomorrow, so they day after tomorrow, being now tomorrow… today… Ok, I saw him on a Tuesday, Its now Wednesday, so the next drug shipment should go out Thursday or Friday. And, if they are coming from the same pharmacy I’m thinking of, they are closed on Fridays! So, if I wanted to monitor the handoff… well, lets see… I’d go there, well (counts something in his head and on his fingers… pause, repeat) … Thursday? Yes, ok, I’ll meet the delivery man before he gives him the package, and I’ll get my proof!
(Lights up, reveals 1 bench gone, delivery many walking from left side, slowly, with some boxes, Joe grabs a camera from desk).

Joe: You there! Delivery man!

Delivery Man: You?

Joe: No! It’s me! Joe Carson (flourish) Private Eye!

Delivery Man: Oh, well then, in that case…

Joe: Exactly. We met 2 days ago? I believe it was a (showing off?) Tuesday?

Delivery Man: And?

Joe: Exactly, I see you have some parcels on your person? Might, by any chance, any of those be for a ‘Danny Sears’?

Delivery Man: Oh, you. Well, if there were any for him, not saying there are, they’d be confidential, and I couldn’t tell you.

Joe: (to audience) Watch, observe, my brilliant plan in action. (to Man) But-

Delivery Man: (cuts off) I’m supposed to give my packages to their recipients, and no one else. Some medicines people prefer to keep secret, you know?

Joe: Well, it just so happens, I AM Danny Sears.


Joe: Well?

Delivery Man: Well what? You just told me you were Joe Carson, (Joe flourishes) ‘Private Eye’.

Joe: (to self) Somewhere in this back and forth banter I had blown my cover. It’s time to bring out my secret weapon! (to Man, pulling out a wallet) Well, what does my ID say?

Delivery Man: (reads, looks up) That’s just a note card with “Danny Sears, Drug Lord/Mob Boss Extraordinaire” written on it. Is this a joke?

Joe: Am I laughing? Does it look like I am laughing, to you?

Delivery Man: Sadly… no.

Joe: You look like an intelligent man, so I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.

Delivery Man: I can’t wait.

Joe: Ok… I’m not Danny Sears. I’m a Private Investigator, hired by his fiancée.

Delivery Man: His what?

Joe: Just give me that package.

Delivery Man: No!

Joe: Is there a rule about letting other people even touch those packages?

Delivery Man: Well… (Joe hands him a bill. Man is now ‘defeated’) Yeah, I guess not. Here, just don’t open it. I’ve gotta deliver this one to that house over there, I’ll be RIGHT back.

Joe: (to audience) Victory, as it were, was literally in my hands. There was only one decision left to make. I had been pondering it the whole way here. I needed to make it clear in a photograph what was in the box. My choices were whether I should write “Cocaine” or just “Drugs” on it. I decided to keep it simple. (Pulls out a marker and writes ‘Cocaine’ on the side of the box) Done and done.

(Enter Delivery Man)

Delivery Man: I’ll take that back now. (grabs by the side with the writing on it) I don’t want to know why you wanted it so bad.

(Enter Danny Sears from opposite side)

Danny: You there! Delivery Man! Yes, yes, I think you have a package for me?

Joe: I’ll be seeing you sir.

(Joe walks to the edge of the stage, but then runs and hides off the stage, in the pit, camera out)

Delivery Man: (to Danny, holding out package with the word facing Joe) Here’s your package Mr. Sears.

Danny: Thank you sir.

Delivery Man: No problem, give my regards to your fiancée.

Danny: What? Wait, is this my package?

Delivery Man: Of course it is.

Danny: I can’t read the label, someone wrote ‘Cocaine’ over it in marker.

(Joe takes a picture in the background, Delivery Man and Danny freeze, in very ‘guilty’ positions.)

Joe: (to audience) Here we see Danny Sears and an unknown man exchanging a box of cocaine. Game, set, match. Danny Sears, you are mine.

(Exit Joe stage right, unfreeze)

Delivery Man: I apologize for that sir, the mail room is a weird place.

(Danny sniffs his package)

Danny: Well, I guess it is mine. Thank you.

Delivery Man: Your welcome. (Both Exit)



(Enter Joe, Stage right, goes to desk)

Joe: (to audience) It’s been almost a week since I gave Emily the photograph. Needless to say, she was devastated. She took the photo, and paid half of what she owes me. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her she still owes me, not then. She told me she had broken off the engagement already, she had trusted me after all. I took the money and gave myself a well deserved vacation up in wine country. I got back Wednesday, and Emily called me to say she’d bring the rest of my pay sometime this evening. I took the opportunity to catch up on the news. (opens a news paper, begins reading, to himself) Lets see… looks like its gonna rain today. Hmm… Oh, well that’s interesting, we have a new mayor. “Hunter wins over Drug Scandal, Opponent Cleared of all Charges”. Oh, and it seems they’ve added some new streetcars to the system, that should speed things up…
(Danny Sears enters: stage right, goes to Joe’s door, knocks, takes out his gun ).

Joe: And there she is now! (gets up, goes to door opens. Danny Points gun in his face)

Danny: You dirty bastard, I found you! (Pushes Joe into his chair).

Joe: What the hell are you doing here?!

Danny: You’re the stinking private eye that made me lose everything. Now you’re DEAD!

Joe: There’s plenty of other fish in the sea Danny. If you clean up your act, maybe you can find another women to marry.

Danny: Wha- What the heck are you talking about? Actually, nevermind, you’re dead.

Joe: Dan, this REALLY isn’t necessary!

Danny: What could be more necessary?! I’m simply… preserving the balance of nature. Action/reaction, that kinda thing. You ruined me, and now (pause, holds up gun), I’m gonna ruin you!
Joe: (to audience) I thought I was dead for sure. Luckily, my saving grace was just downstairs. (freeze Joe)

Enter Emily and Shady Fella, Holding hands, stage left.

Emily: You wait in the hall here, I’ll go pay him and we’ll be done with this.

(Emily walks around the scene and comes to the open door, walks in)

Emily: What’s going on here!?

Danny: Who are you (aims gun at Emily)?

Joe: How quickly you forget your love Danny. Maybe that’s why she left you!

Danny: (points gun at Joe again) What are you babbling about?! I’ve never seen this woman in my life!

Joe: What?!

Enter Shady Fella (via door)

Shady Fella: What the- What’s going on in here!? Danny? Put the gun away.

Danny: (aims gun at Shady Fella): You? What are YOU doing here? … You, you betrayed me!

Emily: We’re not even engaged Danny…

Danny: Not you, whoever you are, HIM! That dirty double crosser, good for nothing assistant of mine!
Joe: (to audience) I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but I’ll take my chance to find out. (Joe jumps out of chair, knocking Danny back, and taking his gun. To them). Ok, I’m in charge now, everyone over on that wall. Now… one at a time. What is going on here? You first Mr. Sears.

Danny: I THOUGHT I was here to do in the guy that did in my career. But now I don’t know, why don’t you ask the slimly double crosser next to me?

Joe: Emily?

Emily: Not me, him.

Joe: Ok, you?

Shady Fella: Ok, I may as well… Ms. Sternwoode and I have been together for almost 3 months now-

Joe: (to Emily) You cheated on HIM? (referring to Danny)

Shady Fella: No, no, she’s never even met him. She made that up to hire you. The fact is, Emily was a campaign worker for Hunter, now the new mayor, and I’m, well, I WAS, Mr. Sears’ campaign manager. He wasn’t paying me on time, and Ms Sternwoode and I, we decided we’d make him lose. By hiring you. It was a long shot, but apparently you don’t read the newspaper, and it worked out.

Joe: No, no that’s not right. I saw you two. You were talking about a mob hit, you’re just trying to cover it up now.

Shady Fella: No, I saw you there, we were talking about Mr. Hunter’s polls, they were quite down at the time.

Joe: Oh… Well, Danny, you can’t deny you’re a dope fiend, I saw those boxes going out!

Danny: (enraged) Do you have any idea how much energy it takes to run for office? Those were my specialty aromatic coffee beans my friend at the pharmacy ordered for me. To help me relax, you idiot!

Joe: Oh… Oh dear… Emily… You weren’t even engaged to him, were you?


Danny: My god…

Joe: (awkwardly) Oh… hm… Well, alrighty then… It’s been greeaaat talking with you all, but… yeah…

Danny: Mr Carson, you are an idiot, and I do not pity you. You honestly didn’t know who I was?

Joe: Oh, about that… no. Why don’t you all just, eh, go away, and we can forget all about this?

Danny: (grabs gun back) You idiot, you ruined my life. Im not going to forget about this! (Emily grabs for gun, gun fires)

(Joe grabs his chest. Collapses)

Emily: What did you do that for?! He didn’t know!

Danny: (aims gun at her) What the hell? (looks at gun, regains composure temporarily) But, but you did, you wench, and so did you (at fella)! You’re lucky, I only loaded two. One for him. One for me. But I’ll be damned, I don’t think I hit him. Now what?

Joe: (to audience, from ground) Hmm, he was going to kill himself because of what I did, and the last thing I wanted was a dead man on my conscience. I felt bad for him, I really did, though, I had fainted at the sound of the gun. As I was lying there, looking for the light in the tunnel, I realized I had hadn’t been hit at all.

Danny: See? I told you!

Joe: (to audience) Did I say that out loud? Oh well, they would have noticed eventually. Now, I have to hope that Danny doesn’t want to live with the guilt of having killed me with that 2nd bullet there. (to Danny) That’s right, you missed. Now, why don’t you give me the gun, you don’t have enough to finish the job now.

Danny: (almost crying) Oh god, what have I done? I can’t kill you. Take it! (throws gun to Joe, runs out door where he starts crying).

Joe: (standing with gun) You two, out. You’ve cause enough trouble for enough people as is.

(Joe ushers them out the door, closes door behind them. Just as he does, Danny, stands and punches Fella in the face [no sound]. The three erupt into a brawl as Joe finishes play)

Joe: And so it goes. Well, I think. Im not quite sure what just happened, but I guess it ended for the best. As I always say, there is a peaceful solution to everything. Those three seem like reasonable people, I’m sure they can all sort out their political differences out, over time. And who knows, maybe Emily and Danny will get married after all (outside Emily is beating Danny with her fists as Shady Fella holds him down) , just like in the movies. Oh, young love… Hey, look. It stopped raining! (all 3 outside land a punch on each other and fall down, knocked out. Lights Out)

The End