May 5, 2022
Cold Read: https://discord.gg/c3jagscRVb
Deadeye Kid: http://www.19nocturneboulevard.net/all_show_pages/deadeye%20kid/DeadeyeKidmain.htm
THE NAKED TRUTH
B&B Investigations returns, and this time Paul and Donna have been hired by the personal assistant to Mr. Emperor (of Emperor Pictures), himself.
(For case #1, check out
Paul Bette - Joel Harvey
Donna Bella - Julie Hoverson
Captain Oftheguard - Reynaud LeBoeuf
Willard - Barry Northern (Cast Macabre)
Tom - Justin Charles (1st Draft Productions)
Dick - Big Anklevitch (Dunesteef Audio Magazine)
Herbie Taylor - Glen Hallstrom
Goldy Taylor - Crystal Thomson
Mr. Emperor - Rish Outfield (Dunesteef Audio Magazine)
Sherry - Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard (Gypsy Audio)
Shop Steward - Scott Pigg
Argus - J. Christopher Dunn
Soda Jerk - Mike Campbell
"What kind of a place is it?
Why it's private investigator's office, can't you tell?"
THE NAKED TRUTH
OLIVIA Did you have any trouble finding it? What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why, it's a private detective's office, can't you tell?
SOUND DOOR UNLOCKS, OPENS
PAUL Right this way, sir. Sorry to have kept you waiting.
SOUND STEPS, DOOR
WILLARD As one of Mr. Emperor's personal assistants, I am not used to--
PAUL Of course not. Please, step into my office and have a seat. I'll get you some coffee?
WILLARD Don't you have staff for that?
PAUL This is pretty much a two-person office...
WILLARD Well, where's your assistant?
SOUND OUTER DOOR OPENS, STEPS BREEZE IN
DONNA Paul? You're here early.
WILLARD Speak of the devil?
PAUL Hold on just one moment.
SOUND STEPS, DOOR SHUTS
PAUL Shh. There's a client.
DONNA Oh? Great!
PAUL Well, I think he thinks that--
WILLARD [behind wall, raised voice] Mr. Emperor would never put up with tardiness in his employees.
DONNA [burning] Employees?
PAUL I didn't say anything, he just assumed.
PAUL Don't get worked up - you know, this is the biz, sweetheart.
PAUL The client is always right. Humor him, and we'll have a plum job - he's a personal assistant to Mr. Emperor.
DONNA [big payoff] WHA--? [then, back to normal suddenly] Of Emperor film studios? Ooh!
WILLARD [raised, through door] I'm still waiting for my coffee!
MUSIC FOR VOICEOVER
PAUL The sad fact of detective work - it's just not a job you expect to find a female in, and people have a hard time accepting that my partner in the firm of B&B Investigations - and in fact one of said B's on the door -
DONNA The smarter B.
PAUL Don't be snippy. It's really not my fault.
DONNA [sigh] I know.
PAUL Is Donna Bella, my partner.
DONNA It grates that so many men just don't seem to feel like women - particulary pretty women--
PAUL Or beauties.
DONNA Me? Oh, silly! They don't feel that we can be more than princesses, secretaries, sorceresses, social climbers, or damsels in distress. Sure, some women make it to prominence for their brains, and then every pair of pants around says "wow, ain't she unusual?" and we gals suffer in silence.
PAUL [hinting] On the other hand, it makes for a good cover - flying way under the radar - to be able to watch goings-on and take notes.
DONNA [reluctant] True.
PAUL Feeling any better?
DONNA A bit. I guess.
PAUL I probably should... talk to the client?
DONNA Go on ahead. I'll muse a moment longer.
PAUL [careful] Would you... bring us coffee when you're done? [quickly] I mean, let him think that you're--
DONNA Yeah, yeah. I'll give you the one without.
PAUL Without what?
DONNA [dark] I have't decided yet.
PAUL [goes off, chuckling]
DONNA The only thing that makes this job bearable - apart from the whole thrill of the chase, which is fun - is my partner, Paul Bette. Big brute that he is, he never underestimates me. I think he regards me as a little brother in a dress, which ain't a real pretty picture - you should see his little brother. Sometimes, I wish he did see me as a woman - in a dress - and treat me like one. Ah, forget it.
MUSIC CUTS OUT
SOUND DOOR OPENS
DONNA [way too perky] Two coffees!
WILLARD And about time.
PAUL [sigh] I explained to you about the errend I sent her on--
WILLARD Yes, yes of course. But--
PAUL And this office doesn’t exactly put me in Mr. Emperor's class for choice of--
WILLARD [accepting] Ah, well. [sips, smacks lips] Interesting flavor.
PAUL [worried] What is it?
DONNA [daggers] Chicory.
WILLARD Hmm. Yes. Amusing.
PAUL Can we get down to business?
DONNA Do you need me to stay?
WILLARD Doesn't she take shorthand or something?
PAUL She does, but [overriding her] she does it out at her desk, over the intercom. Less distracting that way.
DONNA [huffs as she leaves]
SOUND TAPS OF HER FEET, DOOR SHUTS
WILLARD [confidential] If you plan to keep that one around for... looks, you simply must find an ugly one to do the work.
PAUL Not a bad idea. Though a bit sexist.
WILLARD I am in the film business.
PAUL Ah. Now what is the nature of your problem?
WILLARD You are familiar with the prestigious filmography of Mr. Emperor?
PAUL Golden idols, plaques, every movie a winner. Of course.
WILLARD [coughs delicately] Almost every movie a winner.
PAUL [knowing] Oh, yes. But still an impressive reputation.
WILLARD And not one to be trifled with. Unfortunately, my master also suffers from a terrible case of ...hubris.
PAUL Shouldn't he see a doctor?
WILLARD [dry] Funny. No, it's only-- [sighs, trying to find the right word]
PAUL Be blunt, this is all confidential.
WILLARD [resigned sigh] It's his ego. It has simply swollen so large he can no longer see past it.
PAUL [confused] And you want me to help with that?
WILLARD No, no, it's the consequences which disturb me. I just don't know where to start...
PAUL The beginning is usually a good bet.
WILLARD Six months ago, a consortium of ...people found their way into Mr. Emperor's social sphere...
MUSIC FOR VOICEOVER
DONNA Goodness, what a mouth. He must have it embroidered on his underwear somewhere - "thou shalt not utilize a single clear and plain word when ten or a dozen fancy choices will do the trick." I was hard put not to fall asleep right on the intercom. And what did it all boil down to? He suspected a couple of scam artists of lining his boss up for a sting. But could he just cut to the point and say that? Indubitably in the negative.
PAUL The details were interesting but not conclusive.
DONNA There were actual details in there?
PAUL Yes. This trio had wormed their way into emperor's inner circle, and pitched him on a movie they wanted to make. He thought it sounded like a winner, didn't run it past anyone, and didn’t even stop to read the script - just trusted his instinct that they would be "the next big thing." He set them up in a closed soundstage, and handed them a check. Since then, they've been needing more and more money for all those ...things movies have--
DONNA Actors, costumes, sets, props, film--
PAUL Yeah, but there's no proof they've ever spent a dime of it. They've made a big deal of auditioning a bunch of hopefuls--
DONNA Mostly by letting themselves be wined and dined by all the big names. Or worse.
PAUL And no one even knows if this movie is actually being made.
DONNA And Mr. Emperor doesn't suspect anything?
PAUL I dunno. Willard seemed to think his boss might be beginning to suspect something, but he's got so much invested in the damn project, he can't step away. His whole ego and reputation - both more monumental than his wallet - are so tied up in this. He's never had a flop before--
DONNA Well, there was the one.
PAUL Right - he mentioned something like that. What's the deal?
DONNA A silly little flick called Gone with the Wind - ever see it?
DONNA Well, neither did anyone else. Who'd ever buy a story of three pigs and a wolf anyway?
MUSIC NOT QUITE A "WAH-WAH-WAH"
SOUND MUSIC IS INTERRUPTED BY A PHONE RINGING
DONNA Should I get that, [snotty] "Mister Bette"?
PAUL Would you?
DONNA [sullen] Fine.
SOUND PHONE SNATCHED UP
DONNA [too sultry] B&B Investigations. How may I direct your call, to B or B?
OFTHEGUARD [on the phone] Donna? What's got into you?
DONNA Oh, Captain Oftheguard! [hah!] I'm just covering the front while we decide on hiring a new secretary.
PAUL A new secretary--?
DONNA Our last one...um... won a bundle of dough in a radio contest and ran off to Barbados. Who'd'a thunk that being able to name all the dancing princesses--
OFTHEGUARD Cut the malarkey, Donna. Is Bette there? I need to speak to him.
DONNA Yes. Of course.
OFTHEGUARD [pointed] Alone.
DONNA [to Paul] Everyone wants you today.
SOUND SLAMS THE RECEIVER ONTO THE TABLE
DONNA I'll just go... buy some shoes or some other feminine pursuit.
SOUND SHE LEAVES - FEET, RUSTLE
PAUL Donna? What--?
SOUND DOOR SLAMS
SOUND VOICE ON THE PHONE, VERY SMALL AND DISTORTED
PAUL Damn. [growl]
SOUND SNATCHES UP THE PHONE
PAUL [still a growl] What?
OFTHEGUARD What brownie crawled in your shoe?
DONNA I left them to their little boy games and decided to do the one thing Paul would never think of. Or approve of.
PAUL [distant] Huh? What?
DONNA See you in the movies, babe.
PAUL [getting closer] Movies? What movies?
PAUL [echoey] Donna?
OFTHEGUARD No, it's Oftheguard. Ain't Donna with you?
PAUL She just stormed out of here.
OFTHEGUARD That girl has a temper. Anyway, I wanted to discuss her birthday.
PAUL Birthday? What?
OFTHEGUARD Didn't you know? It's Friday night, and I was wondering what kind of arrangements you mighta made.
PAUL Oh. We've been really busy here-- [still wondering] Movies?
PAUL Nothing. [back on point] Friday. Birthday. Arrangements. Right.
DONNA [quiet] I stood outside the studio where the fancy schmancy new movie was supposedly being filmed - a huge building out on the docks with no windows and only one door.
SOUND DOORBELL BUZZER
TOM [on intercom] Sorry! Ain't hiring today. Closed set.
DONNA [breathy, sexy] Oh, please! I just came in on a bus from Punkinville, and want so badly to be in moving pictures!
TOM Step up to the peephole - there on the left. Saaaaaay. You're a real beaut, ain'tcha?
DONNA It has been said. Back home in Peter Piper Iowa, I was the beauty queen!
TOM I thought you said you were from Punkinville.
DONNA [thinking madly] Oh... I-- [drops voice] Punkinville is the bad side of Peter Piper.
TOM Why don't you come on in? [lecherous] I might be able to squeeze in a screen test.
SOUND BUZZ, DOOR OPENS
DONNA [deep breath] Thank you ever so. [muttered] Just be careful what you're squeezing.
SOUND WALKS INTO ECHOEY SPACE
7_EXIT STAGE LEFT
PAUL I had no idea where Donna had got to, after our little dustup that morning. And I was skeptical about Oftheguard's ideas for a party.
SOUND CAR SNEAKS IN
PAUL Seemed pretty frivolous for a captain of his standing, but he was also an old friend of Donna's. I decided to cut right to the chase and go to the studio.
SOUND CAR BRAKES, SOUND OF PIER
PAUL Work can usually take my mind off of--
SOUND DOOR BEING SLAMMED OPEN, BODY FALLING OUT
TOM Whoooooah! [being tossed out]
PAUL I realized Donna had beaten me to the punch.
SOUND CAR DOOR OPENS
PAUL [gasp, startled]
SOUND DONNA GETTING IN
DONNA I don't want to talk about it.
PAUL What's in there?
DONNA I didn't get a chance to see much.
PAUL What happened?
SOUND SNAP FINGERS
MUSIC IN SUDDENLY
DONNA I didn't want to talk about it, but he just couldn't seem to take a hint.
PAUL Got it. Fine.
DONNA Since I hadn't seen more than ten feet into the building - MOST of that being hallway, it wouldn't do ANY good to hash it over anyway.
PAUL I've got it. Seriously.
DONNA And all because I would not could not on a couch--
PAUL He offered you breakfast?
DONNA Just drop it!
8_BACK TO OFFICE
SOUND MOMENT OF SILENCE, CAR STARTS
PAUL We need to find a way in.
DONNA [almost steaming again] Oh?
PAUL I'm thinking a little piecework.
DONNA [more] OH?
PAUL All it would take is a little pounding, drilling. In and out. Simple.
DONNA [furious] OOOOH?
PAUL [noticing her anger] uh, do you have a problem with me doing some construction work?
PAUL What did you think I meant?
PAUL No, really.
DONNA I want to go back to the office. We do have some bleach there, don't we?
PAUL [narrating] Back at the office, the phone was ringing.
SOUND QUICK STEPS, PICK UP PHONE
PAUL Yes, can I help you?
WILLARD Is there anyone there?
DONNA The music!
SOUND SNAP FINGERS
WILLARD Ah, I was wondering. I have been phoning for simply ages. Where's your assistant been?
DONNA [dark] I've been to the palace to see the queen.
PAUL [to her, covering handset] No need for that! [back to the phone] What did you need?
DONNA [walking away] And pussycat pussycat, what'd you do there?
PAUL [muttered aside] pattycake or not, it's dang sexy when she speaks foreign.
DONNA [almost gone, loud] I'm getting ready to kick what he puts in a chair!
SOUND DOOR SLAMS
PAUL [interested] Oooh! [back to the phone] Sorry about that. Employee relations.
WILLARD You're not relating to her on MY time, are you?
PAUL [growling] Anything on YOUR time will turn up on an expense account, bub. Now, what were you calling about?
WILLARD [grumbling] You still need a secretary for the real work. [up] Mr. Emperor has finally nailed them down on a debut - Friday night at Grimm's Chinese theater - and we have to DO something before then! If this is another bomb, he will be ruined!
PAUL We're on it.
WILLARD as long as you're not both on it at the same time, I'll be happy. Goodbye!
PAUL [GROWLS] Music!
MUSIC COMES IN, BUT DOOR OF OFFICE OPENS
MUSIC CUTS OUT
PAUL Uh, what?
GOLDY You're looking for a secretary.
PAUL I'm - what?
GOLDY [long suffering sigh] Look, I don't mind working for chump change, or even schlepping for a brute like you - no offense--
PAUL None taken.
GOLDY But I do try to work for folks who get some vocabulary. I learned. Had a job once taking dictation from this big black bird. Couldn't say nothing but--
PAUL Nevermind. I'm just surprised. We haven't actually advertised yet.
GOLDY Oh, sorry! I spoke with-- [deliberately trails off]
GOLDY Is she here?
PAUL [yes] She's in her office.
GOLDY Then no, not her. This was a... [thinks] ...a client.
PAUL Oh, Mr. Emperor's assistant.
GOLDY Yeah. Him. He suggested I come by.
PAUL Can you type?
GOLDY You bet.
PAUL Answer phones?
GOLDY I got a gold-plated ear.
PAUL [serious] Really?
PAUL Cause I knew a girl once, with--
GOLDY Do I get the job?
PAUL I have to check with Donna first. [up] Donna?
DONNA [from off] Still annoyed!
PAUL This might cheer you up!
SOUND DOOR OPENS, SHE STRIDES IN
GOLDY [admiring] Well, look at you.
DONNA Who's looking at me, kid?
PAUL She came here for the secretary job. Donna Bella, this is-- uh--
GOLDY Ms. Lox. But you can call me Goldy.
PAUL Goldy's resume looked good--
DONNA --and freshly typed--
PAUL So we left her in charge and went looking for a way into the soundstage.
GOLDY Is that the Emperor pictures soundstage you were talking about?
PAUL Hey, this is a voiceover, not a party line.
GOLDY Hmph. Coulda fooled me.
PAUL Lets take a drive. Get some privacy.
DONNA [romantic] Really Paul? It's so sudden.
MUSIC CUTS OUT SUDDENLY
SOUND CAR TURNS ON
PAUL That's exactly what I'm worried about.
PAUL The way she showed up. Very sudden.
DONNA Oh. Did you lock up the petty cash?
PAUL Doll, our cash is so petty it ain't worth it.
DONNA [chuckles] So why do you think she popped up just now? With a freshly minted resume?
PAUL I'm thinking someone's caught onto that valet's worry, and wants to keep tabs on us.
DONNA The potential swindlers?
PAUL We'll see.
PAUL [muttered] Follow my lead. [up] Since the front door approach had been nixed, I figured on checking out the loading docks.
DONNA Ah! Drop me at the union hall, wouldja?
PAUL Donna had a promising line of inquiry. [side of mouth, teasing] Voice over...
DONNA I figured if there was anything coming in and going out - apart from money, there'd be someone at the local 509 who kept an eye on it.
PAUL Can't do anything in the film industry without teamsters.
DONNA [back at him] Voice over.... [whispered] I'll take the voiceover in 15 minutes. When you're done, you mention a llama.
PAUL [whispered] Beast or priest?
DONNA [whispered] Either way.
PAUL Dropping her off, I went on down to the docks, figuring on asking around, finding out who catered the shop. Bye, sweets.
DONNA [blows a kiss] See ya!
SOUND CAR DOOR SLAMS
PAUL Smart as a whip. [musing] That’s just one of those things you say, but when you really think about it, how smart IS a whip? And who would ever ask to be "whipped"?
SOUND DRIVING AGAIN
PAUL I found a parking space down at the end of the marina, out of sight, but close enough in case someone decided to take a run-out powder.
DONNA Speaking of powder, I decided to stop in at a Rex druggist for a new compact and a bite to eat.
DONNA Bet you get a lot of movie folks in here.
JERK [squeaking] Here? [clears his throat] Here? I mean, not so's you'd notice, why?
DONNA Aren't they making a film down on the pier, there?
JERK Are they? I haven't heard anything. Who's in it?
DONNA I was hoping you'd know.
JERK No, but I know who to ask.
DONNA Oh? Who?
JERK There's this old guy comes in here a lot. Big nose. He seems to know everyone. Baron, Baron---
DONNA Munchausen? Hah! Oops, is that the time? I was supposed to meet the local shop steward.
DONNA There's two ways to deal with teamsters. Hire them and pay them a good wage, or don't hire them and pay them anyway. That was what all the hullabaloo was about the sorcerer's apprentice - making brooms that can tote water is the worst kind of scab labor. Of course, there are exceptions, and I found out this was one of those.
STEWARD Foreign soil.
STEWARD That pier. Used to be the embassy for Atlantis.
DONNA But Atlantis sank.
STEWARD Yeah, but that pier is still foreign soil. Any work done there is subject to the local laws. Of Atlantis.
DONNA But what about things going in and out? Surely you must be handling deliveries?
STEWARD We would have to. But there ain't none. None at all, and we've been keeping our sharpest eye on them. [up] Argus?
ARGUS Yeah, boss?
DONNA Wow. I'd hate to be your optometrist.
ARGUS Guess I'm lucky I got 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20--
DONNA I got it.
ARGUS --vision, eh?
DONNA Yeah. So, you haven't seen ANYone coming or going?
ARGUS Didn't say that - a couple guys are in and out. Just not goods or anything that we'd have to handle.
DONNA But the film crew--
ARGUS What film crew? It's just these three guys. No one else.
STEWARD So the crew must be living in there, too. Which would be a housing board violation, except...
DONNA Foreign soil. Right. Thanks for the help, guys. Oops - I'm running a bit late. Come on!
SOUND SNAP FINGERS
DONNA I wonder when my new music will arrive. [sigh, up] It was a mystery all right. Somehow they had a set with no setup, a cast with no costumes, and a crew with no shore leave. Far as anyone might know, it could be a big empty building - empty except for the oodles of gold Emperor was pouring into it. And if there was truly nothing - how to save the studio, avoid embarrassment, and catch the crooks, all at once. It was about time to grab those three guys and set them adrift in a leaky tub.
DONNA Just like that?
PAUL Yup. Can you get back to the office on your own?
DONNA Ain't a hackie I can't handle.
PAUL Meet you there. I'll take this for a while.
DONNA Oh, right--
PAUL AND DONNA [unison, teasing] Voice-over. [both laugh]
PAUL I had found something - something very interesting - out back of the warehouse, and was bringing it back to the office to examine it more closely. Too bad it was a little hard to fit into the car. That was reason enough to get Donna to find her own way home.
DONNA Like a little lamb, dragging my tail behind me?
PAUL Only you could make pattycake sound sexy.
DONNA You should see what I can do with [very sexy] Pease porridge HOT.
PAUL [interested growl] Save it! Rowr!
DONNA Can we get to the office, already?
PAUL Sounds good.
SOUND DOOR OPENS, SHE WALKS IN
GOLDY Welcome to B&B Investigations. Can I-- Oh! [shrug] Ehh. Good practice, I suppose.
DONNA [stunned] What... happened?
GOLDY Whaddaya mean?
DONNA It's so... clean. You didn't have a horde of magic forest animals in here, did you?
SOUND DOOR OPENS
GOLDY [hurried] Uh, no. I just didn't have a lot to do. [uneasy] I ain't real fond of forests. Or animals.
GOLDY Present company excluded.
SOUND HE WALKS IN, STRUGGLING MAN WITH HIM
HERBIE Mrph. Urk. [struggling noises, bag on head]
GOLDY But I draw the line at kidnapping! What did you do to that poor mug?
PAUL I put a bag on his head.
HERBIE [muffled] Goldy?
GOLDY [cussing] Oh, Porridge!
DONNA Oh, no, you're not going anywhere, sweetheart.
SOUND DOOR SLAMS, LOCKS
GOLDY You lemme go, or I swear I'll break a chair - on your pretty little auburn head!
SOUND BAG OFF OF HEAD
HERBIE Goldy! What's all this about, my little housebreaker?
DONNA Whoever you are, you're not alone, and you're embarrassing Ms. Lox.
GOLDY Thank you.
HERBIE Ms. Lox? Yeah, twenty years ago, maybe. Since then, she's been my wife, Goldy Tailor!
DONNA I thought I recognized you. Aren't you that guy who--?
GOLDY Oh, don't bring it up. Please!
HERBIE What's wrong with a man taking credit for his past achievements? So I took out 7 in one blow.
GOLDY Yeah, twenty years ago, maybe. And they were flies. This is his big achievement.
HERBIE Honey. Sweetie. Who're these folks anyway?
PAUL We're the private investigators who've been hired to find out what's really going on with that "movie" you're filming
HERBIE [suddenly serious] Oh. That.
DONNA For all their bickering, I was jealous. They'd been married for twenty years, and I could see what she really felt by the way she looked at him.
PAUL That and the fact that he clearly didn't put her up to sneaking in and spying on the spies.
GOLDY You know I can hear you?
DONNA We are definitely going to have to do something about that.
HERBIE It started out as a little con job. Or that's what they told me. I came in late in the game.
GOLDY Yeah, you're innocent as a baby fresh from a cabbage patch. And about as smart. A pair of grifters like that--
HERBIE They got me in because I know the garment trade, and they needed someone to handle the costumes.
DONNA But there... aren't any costumes?
HERBIE Yeah, that's the funny part. They mostly needed someone who could write a convincing invoice for the things they weren't buying.
GOLDY I hope you got some decent pay for this.
PAUL You're really better off not discussing THAT in front of witnesses.
HERBIE At first, I thought it was just a joke, and then, suddenly... before I even knew it, I was in it right up to my cummerbund.
GOLDY And none of this is admissible in court! I clerked for enough lawyers in my day. I know all about hearsay.
PAUL Tell us everything you know, Mr. Lox--
HERBIE Tailor. Herbie Tailor. You can call me Herbie.
PAUL Herbie, and we'll do our best to keep your name out of it.
HERBIE Like I said, it's all a scam. More shell companies than a town full of mermaids. Constant demands for money - and all to make this movie they say will be over the heads of everyone in the audience.
PAUL But why?
HERBIE I guess this producer wants to rise above the crowd-pleasing musicals and talking animal flicks he usually churns out--
GOLDY Apart from that one--
HERBIE Oh, yeah, that. Anyway, he wants to do something all intellectual and deep - like a foreign film. Make a new name for himself.
PAUL Just hoping that name won't be ... um... [prompting] something bad.
PAUL Shh! That one's copyrighted.
GOLDY Just say his name would be mud and move on.
HERBIE Look, if I'm gone for much longer, they're gonna get suspicious.
PAUL Can you try and find out one thing? If we agree to help keep you out of the hands of the guard?
HERBIE I dunno. I don't want to--
GOLDY [warning] Herbie!?
HERBIE Yeah, all right. Whatever you want.
PAUL I want to know what they're planning to do. There has to be something in it for them, or they'd'a cut and run long back.
HERBIE Yeah. I guess.
DONNA True - with the premiere coming up, they must have one last big payoff in mind.
PAUL Why don't you two get outta here?
GOLDY Me, too?
PAUL Sorry, but until this is finished, you're just gonna be in the way.
DONNA And stay out of our voiceovers!
DONNA It was a pity, really. Goldy had done a bang up job of cleaning the office.
PAUL Is that what happened?
DONNA Yup. But until the case was cleared, there was no way we could let her stick around. Maybe after the gala on Friday--
PAUL Friday! Holy cow!
PAUL Nothing. I need to give Willard a call. See if there's any new payments going down the line.
DONNA Why don't you let me handle that? Isn't that what assistants are for?
PAUL We don't get paid if you hurt him.
DONNA Over the phone? I'll be very nice.
PAUL You go on ahead, then. I have a few other loose ends to tie up.
PAUL Nothing I can't handle. You go on.
DONNA [suspicious] Riiiight. I'm out.
PAUL [long sigh] I was going to have to call Oftheguard and let him know we were otherwise engaged this Friday. I hoped he hadn't done much in the way of planning. But I knew Donna wouldn't want to let anything get in the way of finishing a case. I was even thinking he might be handy to have around when--
SOUND PHONE RINGS
PAUL [checking if she's around] Donna? Oh well. Music?
SOUND PHONE PICKED UP
HERBIE [whispered] I got it.
PAUL Got what?
HERBIE What they're up to. They plan to claim the film's been stolen, and cash in on the insurance. Maybe even ask a ransom.
PAUL So - last minute, no film, and they're in the clear?
HERBIE Gotta go.
SOUND PHONE HANGS UP
DONNA Guess it's time to report to the client.
PAUL [surprised] Yah! Didn’t you leave?
DONNA Couldn't think of anything interesting to do.
SOUND PHONE DIALING
DONNA Sometimes, the P.I. biz is just a lot of waiting, false starts, and standing around in the rain.
PAUL Or giving bad news.
WILLARD [on phone] What bad news?
PAUL I gave him the run-down, and he took it pretty well.
WILLARD [screaming] NooO! You simply MUST do something!
DONNA [off] I could get him some more chicory!
PAUL We were hired to get info, not to--
WILLARD Then I'm hiring you again! Money is no object, as long as you save Mr. Emperor's reputation!
PAUL I guess we need to find someone who can make you a movie.
SOUND PHONE HANGS UP
DONNA In two days? [idea] I'll handle that. Why don't you figure out what to do with the crooks when we get them?
DONNA Then we can skip ahead to the denouement!
DONNA This should be fun!
SOUND DOOR SHUTS
PAUL [weakly, disbelieving] In two days? [sigh] Well, they can't expect miracles...
PAUL Oh, all right. The night of the big show arrived. The theater was full of all those glittering people who appear out of nowhere every time a red carpet unrolls. Crowned heads and nouveau riche, stars and those who just had stars in their eyes. I was with Mr. Emperor only moments before the curtain was to go up.
EMPEROR [emperor only speaks in bellows] [on phone] What are you talking about? The canisters were just delivered!
TOM [On phone] They what?
EMPEROR They're being set up this minute - you could have given them some more time, you know.
TOM But, the ransom call just came in!
EMPEROR Must be a hoax. Come on down and enjoy the show.
TOM I don't--
PAUL They really should be here to take their share of the credit.
EMPEROR The car should be there about now.
SOUND RECEIVER SLAMMED DOWN
EMPEROR You can go now. The projector staff have the cans well in hand.
PAUL I'm supposed to stay and keep an eye on them after the debut also.
WILLARD I'll find him a seat somewhere.
EMPEROR Fine, fine. See you after the show.
SOUND DOOR SLAM
PAUL Is he angry?
WILLARD No, why?
WILLARD What if the film is bad? What do we do?
PAUL Plan b is set the projector room on fire after the first reel.
PAUL No! But what you need to do is go out there and give the film a big buildup. Make a point that it's very highbrow and intellectual and that only the most perceptive people will understand and appreciate it. You know the kind of thing - butter up the audience with one hand, threaten them with the other.
WILLARD I work for producers, of course I know.
PAUL Go for it.
DONNA The movie had a bit of a rough start, but once the people got used to the pace, they seemed to get into it. Since there were no kids in the audience to get restless and start saying obnoxious things, it seemed to go over pretty well.
PAUL I made a point of being in the hallway outside emperor's box, and when the culprits tried to slink away at the last minute...
PAUL Where do you think you're going?
TOM uh... concessions. Need more popcorn.
DICK Me too.
PAUL Movie's nearly over. Don't you want to take your bows?
DICK But it ain't our--
TOM Stifle! He meant it ain't our style to be in the public eye, you see. C'mon--
DONNA Not so fast.
DICK A big guy and a pair of dames? Don't make me laugh.
PAUL I wouldn't--
TOM Oh, jeez! It's her! [muttered to dick] We'd have a better chance with the brute.
TOM [up] What do youse guys want?
DONNA We want to avoid any unpleasantness for Mr. Emperor, so your job is to go out there and take your bows, and introduce your writer-director, Sherry here.
DONNA She's real good with a story, and saved everyone's butts.
SHERRY You wanted avant garde - and I was dying to try something new.
PAUL I still can't believe you finished it in two days.
SHERRY I had a good subject to work with.
TOM But what're we supposed to do after tonight?
DONNA I suggest take some filmmaking lessons - if this is a success, you're going to have half the studios around looking to hire you, and most are a bit more picky than Mr. Emperor.
PAUL Don't worry - you can always go into seclusion, after completion of your masterwork.
SHERRY Just as long as I get my credit - and since I mastered the final titles, I DO [laughs]. I'll get any work I want after this. Picture it - "A Scherezade production" in big lights! I'll keep 'em coming back, night after night.
DONNA And it went over with a bang - primed as they were, no one was willing to admit that the film "wooden you" - a more or less still shot of one guy's face as he answers a series of more and more odd and uncomfortable questions - was strange or incomprehensible, or even dull.
PAUL There was even a certain hush in the theater from time to time - waiting to see if his response would be a lie.
DONNA How she talked Pinocchio into it, we'll never know. On the other hand, if there's one thing Sherry's good at, it's getting folks to listen to her.
PAUL Sorry to miss your birthday by the way.
PAUL I said I was sorry!
DONNA [warning] Voice over!
PAUL We were just getting back to the office, when--
DONNA ixnay on the irthday-bay.
PAUL I- what?
DONNA I was hoping everyone forgot.
PAUL Oh. Sorry, then, for that.
SOUND KEY IN LOCK, DOOR OPENS, A COUPLE OF STEPS
PAUL I didn't - what the - not my fault!
OFTHEGUARD Didn't mean to startle you - your secretary let us in.
GOLDY Sorry boss. Bosses. Who can say no to such a face?
PAUL AND DONNA Bosses?
GOLDY Try getting rid of me. Besides, I make a mean cuppa joe!