Spreading Murder and Happiness

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ACT I

SCENE 1

Place:

Manhattan Police Precinct Captain's Private Office

Time:

An Early Spring Morning

Setting: Executive office chair behind desk off to left side of
stage. Conference Table and six chairs just to right of center stage.

At Rise: FRED Owens is seated at one of the conference table as
HAWK enters from right carrying a file.

HAWK
How come, Sgt. Smith told me, I'd find you here in Captain JANET
King's private office?

FRED
That's easy, TRACY said we could use this office and conference
table until Captain King gets back tomorrow from the seminar she is
attending in Boston.

HAWK
Good deal.

FRED
How did you and your wife enjoy the party you both attended last
week?

HAWK
You know, the Chief only gives away tickets to political fund raisers
she can't make. Last week's event was to honor one of the New
York Supreme Court Justices, running for re-election.

FRED
That must have been as much fun as attending a convention of
undertakers. I suppose you fell asleep during the Judge's talk,
even if he was somewhat entertaining.

HAWK
Nope. I've done undertakers. One time an undertaker invited me to
join their party at one of their conventions. Believe me, off-duty
undertakers are more fun than anybody. We avoided the long line.
However, a funny thing did happen last evening.

FRED
If you mean funny "Ha Ha" I am not sure I want to hear it. But
if you mean funny "Peculiar" I am all ears.

HAWK
You decide. A young club member, dressed in white tie and tails, was
standing next to another guest wearing a tux. The guest in the tux
mistook the guest in tails for one of the hotel staff, and ordered him
to arrange a group of chairs for his party that would soon be
arriving.

FRED
What did the member in tuxedo, when the member in tails told the
member in tux he was talking to the wrong person?

HAWK
He immediately offered an apology and his face turned a bit red, when
he realized they would be likely to see each other again.

FRED
Let me guess, the guest in tux, was the Chairman or a Vice President
of the bank where the guest in tails was a major depositor, or the
guy's boss.

HAWK
You guessed right. He was Chairman and the guest in tails was a
major depositor.

FRED
Such is life. What's the news you want to share with me?

HAWK
From where I was sitting, I was able to overhear one of the waiters
tell another waiter, he saw one of the guests looking at a gold watch
that reminded him of the Happiness Killer.

FRED
Lots of people have gold watches. Damn few would have a watch built
into a one hundred dollar gold piece.

HAWK
We know that. I questioned the waiter. He admitted to me, he
wasn't positive. Nevertheless, he persisted. He claimed it was the
original, or a duplicate of the one described in the press.

FRED
Are you saying, that it appeared to him to be identical to the
killer's watch that we only had a quick glimpse of in the video?

HAWK
That is exactly what I am saying.

FRED
I take it, you think the waiter spotted a suspect. Apparently you
have forgoten that the serial killer case is to remain in the cold
case file, until and unless, he or she, kills again.

HAWK
Here I thought you would be excited at a possible new lead. Instead,
you are showing as much enthusiasm as I would expect if I asked you to
extract teeth from a pet turtle.

FRED
Forgive me Hawk. I just get tired following leads up so many blind
alleys. By the way, I didn't know turtle have teeth.

HAWK
I am not sure I do. But, what if they did? I think you got my
point. You're the boss, so you naturally win.

FRED
When do I get to meet this waiter of yours, who claims to have seen
the gold watch?

HAWK
He should be arriving here any minute now. I knew you could not
restrain your curiosity, so I told the desk Sgt. to send him up. I
hear someone outside the door now.

ARCH FOLLOWS TRACY INTO CAPT JANET KING'S OFFICE

TRACY (escorting ARCH over to conference table)
I believe you gentlemen are expecting Mr. Kent?

HAWK (aside to Fred)
Since when did we start hold meetings with a potential witness in the
Chief of Detective's Private Office?

FRED (to TRACY - ignoring HAWK'S aside)
Thank you, Sgt. Smith. I trust you informed our visitor that I am
not the Chief of Detectives.

TRACY SMILES AND EXITS TO REAR

HAWK
Please, grab a chair and sit down, so we can talk for awhile.

ARCH SITS IN THE CHAIR BETWEEN FRED AND HAWK

HAWK (to ARCH)
Mr. Kent, to refresh your recollection, I am, Detective Charles
Peterson, better known around here as "HAWK" Peterson, and this is
my partner, Sgt. Detective FRED Owens. I have already told FRED about
your discovery and

ARCH
I will not ask how "HAWK" came by his nick name.

HAWK
That is refreshing. It's a long but interesting story that I know
my partner, FRED here, would just as soon you hear from me on my own
time.

FRED
We want to ask you for some more information about that waiter at the
Plaza, who you told HAWK, you saw, looking at a gold pocket watch.
First, for the record, we need some general information. I'd like
to record this discussion for the record. Do you mind?

ARCH
No. It's okay, if it's just for your records.

FRED PUTS SMALL RECORDER IN HIS POCKET ON TABLE

FRED (to recorder and to ARCH)
Kent interview Mr. Kent, you are not married, and live alone in
your apartment. Is that right?

ARCH
Yes. I was married once. I didn't like it at all. My wife
thought she was entitled to know everywhere I went, and when I would
be back. It got so I couldn't visit my former girlfriends

FRED
Do you have another phone number besides your cell?

ARCH
No. I just have my cell phone. I seldom leave in on. I rely upon
an answering service.

FRED
Why is that?

ARCH
As a waiter, I hear enough of other people's conversations.

HAWK
What kind of messages do you normally get?

ARCH
Mostly calls from the temp agency that provides me with jobs.

FRED
Don't you have a permanent workplace?

ARCH
No. I like moving around. Not only that, I meet a different crowd
all the time and many of them are well educated and interesting people
to chat with when the opportunity presents itself.

HAWK
Do you have enough assignments to fill up most of your time?

ARCH
Yes. Like most other waiters, who can write and speak in English, I
am always in high demand.

HAWK
Please tell us as much as you can, of what you know, about the
Happiness Murders and the Gold Watch.

ARCH
Am I under some kind of suspicion?

HAWK
Certainly not. This is just info for our research data base.

ARCH
Most of what I know I have learned from the media and newspapers.

FRED
That's good enough. Just tell us what you know.

HAWK
You would need to be on another planet not to have known about this
serial killer.

FRED
That's true. My partner, "HAWK" is a hard man to convince
without evidence to support facts. Please, do tell us, MR. KENT,
whatever facts that you only know, of your own knowledge.

ARCH
When you put it that way, as I said, I have nothing to say, except
what I learned from reading the paper and from other media.

FRED
All right. So we are all reading from the same sheet of music, just
give us a brief summary of what you know about the case from whatever
source.

ARCH
Okay. As I understand the situation, the murderer has been knocking
off his or her victims about three months apart. They all are
reported to have lived in different areas of New York City. Perhaps
the victims failed to inform their guardian angels that they had
bought gas savers.

HAWK
What is your primary source, for concluding all the victims were
located in different parts of the City?

ARCH
I believe it was one of the local TV newscasters. I'm not sure.

FRED
We don't know the motives behind the killings, but you are right.
Nine of the victims lived in different Boroughs of the City. So far,
Manhattan has had only one victim.

ARCH
If you guys give the murderer enough time, a pattern will emerge.

HAWK
I hope you are wrong. We have enough indications from what we have
found to indicate possibility of a pattern. Our boss leans heavily on
all of us, when the press learns that a serial killer is roaming the
streets. What else do you know?

ARCH
One of the newspapers said that with each corpse, a cryptic note was
found. The article didn't disclose the content of any of the
notes.

FRED
Also true. Now, what about that gold watch you saw and that brings
you here?

ARCH
Well, I had read in the papers that shortly before each of the
victims died, he or she, had acquired possession of a gold watch that
was not found after the murder.

HAWK
You have a good memory.

ARCH
I am not superstitious, but that struck me as kind of weird. Have
either of you tried to identify or locate the watch maker?

HAWK
We did. It proved to be another dead end. The watch designer passed
away after the first murder. I suppose you have some theory of your
own. Would you like to share it?

ARCH
I'm not a detective, but it appears to me the murderer is sick.

FRED
Mr. Kent, to be more specific, you told me you have some definite
thoughts on how the murderer killed the victims. To be honest, all
our leads so far have been as empty, as the Black Hole in the
Universe.

ARCH
As is said before, I'm not a detective.

HAWK
We got your message, but tell us your theory.

ARCH
I think the lack of evidence pointing to the killer means that the
killer must be very smart. So, I asked myself, how would a real smart
person, go about killing a person, without leaving a clue.

FRED:
What answer did you come up with?

ARCH
I concluded that it would not be possible. You guys, of all people,
should know that every killer, no matter how careful, he or she may
be, is bound to leave at least one clue, that sooner or later tends to
expose their identity.

HAWK
Where did that leave you?

ARCH
My theory is that some of the investigators must have over looked one
or more of the clues that are out there. Otherwise, I am tempted to
think that, perhaps someone has the clue and may be keeping their find
to him or herself.

HAWK
Just what do you think we missed, or are hiding, MR. KENT?

ARCH
I am not including you two. I was referring to the others. For
example, certainly you two were not the only persons that saw the
crime scene or examined the bodies.

HAWK
We forgive you. What else?

ARCH
I figure whoever the killer is, he or she must be highly educated to
appreciate the watch and to write all the notes planted on the
victims.

HAWK
We can buy that, but what did the killer expect to achieve?

ARCH
First of all, he or she has told he world how to kill without getting
caught.

HAWK
Now you are talking methodology. What about motive?

ARCH
I think how comes before why. What I think caused the death was some
kind of odorless poison. Perhaps, it was some kind of deadly chemical
imbedded in the watch case.

HAWK
Most unlikely, Lots of people who handled the watch case are all
still alive and well.

ARCH
Then I suspect a remote trigger, programmed by the killer was used
and only activated when the intended victim opened the case.

FRED
That's pretty farfetched.

ARCH
Well, you asked me and now I've told you. I think it only fair,
you now tell me how you guys think the victims were killed?

HAWK (looking at FRED)
We don't have the slightest. Wish we did know. The file has been
in suspense too long. It would have stayed in suspense had Fred not
opened it because of your observation, Mr. Kent.

FRED
We did announce the bit about the gold pocket watch, in the hopes it
might generate a lead. No one else, other than you, Arch, has
responded to our bait. How close were you to the table when you saw
the watch opened?

ARCH
I would guess about fifteen feet away.

FRED
What made you think the gold pocket watch you saw, was the specific
gold pocket watch?

ARCH
It sure looked like it.

HAWK
You could not possibly have seen enough detail from where you were
standing to be so sure.

ARCH
I started collecting gold coins when I heard about the big monetary
crisis, Maybe someday we will go back on the gold standard, despite
the fact that not enough gold is available, just yet.

FRED (sarcastically)
Yes. Sure. That's fine.

ARCH
How about this? I was close enough to see the double headed balled
eagles. It's obvious to me you men have not done your homework.
Otherwise you would know how rare a coin we are talking about. The
last to be minted are very valuable.

HAWK
That's all?

ARCH
You ask any expert, like one of those chaps who specialize in
collecting coins. I would be willing to bet my next two pay checks
that I am right.

FRED
Mr. Kent, you promised you would find out and give us the guest's
name. We do take your information seriously or we wouldn't have
asked you to join us here today. I fully intend to ask HAWK to follow
up on your lead.

ARCH
I did, after most of the guests had left.

FRED
What is it?

ARCH
Believe it or not, his name on the place card where he was sitting
identified him as, Hamilton Alexander.

HAWK
Not the Chairman of that small private bank on Third Avenue, by
chance?

ARCH
That's the guy.

FRED
A bank chairman named, Hamilton Alexander, in Fun City. That's a
good one! I'm pleasantly surprised it isn't St. Nick who hangs
out on 34th Street, at Macys' during the Christmas season.

HAWK
It may not be too much fun. The last person to have had a watch like
that is a New York Banker, with that name, who we think, is still very
much alive. We will need to go back into our files and see if he is
one and the same person.

FRED
Thank you Arch. We do not expect to trouble you again, but we do
appreciate your having stopped by today and confirming to me and Hawk
your impressions. The info may lead nowhere. Then again, who
knows?

BLACKOUT

[end of extract]

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