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Jennifer Butler

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A Comedic Play
By Jennifer Butler
Sunday, December 03, 2006

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Written by Jennifer L. Feldpausch (I want to do something good.)

- The Final Act

Curtain opens to the shuffling of more police, the Inspector putting away his notepad, and Sandra sobbing at the window in her butler's arms. The guests have apparently left, and two officers enter the room hurridly.

Officer One: Sir, there's been a development.

Inspector: (Turning dramatically) Oh?

Officer One: Sir, it seems the victim is not dead.

(Sandra gasps with her hand to her forehead and falls toward the butler who catches her and fans her face with his hankerchief.)

Inspector: How seriously wounded is the man? Are the medics with him now?

Officer Two: They've taken him to the hospital, Inspector. We're to meet them there.

Inspector: I'll join you there. Good work, men.

(The officers leave.)

Inspector: Well, it seems we haven't reached our conclusion as yet, ma'm, and I am glad of it. We shall commence with the investigation tomorrow, if that is alright with you. We might have new evidence.

Sandra: Of course, Inspector. I should be more than happy to help. I only ... (Sandra breaks into sobbing as she attempts to regain her composure.) I only hope it isn't as serious it all seemed. This has been the most frightening ordeal of my life.

Inspector: Of course, ma'm.

Sandra: But do please, inform my husband of the happy outcome. I'm sure that he never meant any harm. I'm certain that he didn't mean it. (Sobs again.) He must have fallen and slipped. Right?

Butler: Of course, my lady.

Sandra: That's right. He slipped and fell and was afraid to admit the mistake. That's what happened.

Inspector: Yes, well, that ... could of course be verified by the victim at this point, ma'm. That is, if he truly is conscious.

Sandra: Of course... (She wipes her tears away with the hankerchief, still holding tightly to her butler's arm.)

Inspector: I'll let you know as soon as I find out.

Sandra: Oh, please do. Call us from the hospital right away, and do call my husband as well. He'll be so relieved.

Inspector: (Leaving) That I shall do, ma'm, and try to get yourself some rest tonight.

Sandra: Thank you. I should take something.

Butler: Good night, Inspector. (Closes front door after the Inspector leaves.)

Sandra: Oh, Winston, what a horrific nightmare this has been.

Butler: That it has been, my lady.

Sandra: I've never been so fightened in my life. (Sandra paces the foor nervously) What if he dies afterall?

Butler: I couldn't say, my lady.

Sandra: I thought he was dead. He lay there for so long!

Butler: He did seem to be quite lifeless there.

Sandra: And we moved the body ...

Butler: He must have been unconscious the entire time, my lady.

Sandra: It's hard to believe.

Butler: Yes, it is.

Sandra: Oh, I wish they would hurry up and call. (She continues to pace back and forth.) Why don't they hurry up and call. Don't they know how worried we are?

Butler: Would you like me to call the hospital then?

Sandra: Yes! First, bring me my sedatives from my medicine chest. I'm sure they're expired by now, but I don't care. They might have arrived by the time you do that.

Butler: (Leaving the room) Yes, my lady.

Sandra sits on the sofa briefly, then stands again, walking quickly to the bar. She pours a soda, drinks, paces around, looks at the floor where the body had been laying, looks in the closet, then goes to the window where he had been removed from the room. Surprised at what she doesn't find, she retraces her steps more carefully, studying the floor and wooden surfaces. Winston enters with her sedatives and a small glass of water.

Sandra: Winston! Did the police clean this area? Where's the rug?

Butler: The rug, my lady?

Sandra: (Taking her sedatives) Yes! Where did they leave the rug. There must be blood somewhere around here. Wasn't the man bleeding?

Butler: I believe the rug is out in the garage.

Sandra rushes out of the room to see.

Butler: Should I make the call now? (There is no answer. Winston goes to the telephone and calls information, linking him to the hospital.) Yes, I'm calling about an upsetting incident that has just occurred at the house. A man was brought in with knife wound. Is he there now? (Listens ...) Hmhmm. Alright. That would be the man. Yes? (Pause.) Oh, really? (Pause.) Then could you have the Inspector call us here at his earliest convenience? The number is 555-2425. Thank you very much. (Hangs up.)

Sandra: (Running into the room.) Winston! (She holds the hankerchief up to his face.) Look. There was not very much blood at all on that rug. It might not have been a serious wound after all. Have you reached the Inspector?

Butler: Yes, my lady.

Sandra: And? Is the man conscious.

Butler: Yes, my lady.

Sandra: Well?

Butler: It seems the man was not stabbed after all.

Sandra: What?? But here is the blood right here on this hankerchief. It's right here. How could that be?

Butler: May I see the hankerchief, please? (Sandra hands it to him. Winston sniffs the red soaked cloth, then touches it to his tongue.)

Sandra: (Wincing dramatically) Oh! What are you doing?!

Butler: My dear lady, this is not blood.

Sandra: It isn't?

Butler: It seems the man was a delivery boy.

Sandra: Oh?

Butler: It seems the knife penetrated the young man's ketchup supply and lodged in his wallet.

Sandra stands staring at Winston for a very long time.

Butler: It seems he was merely knocked unconscious by the fall. Are you alright, my lady? (He offers his arm and leads her to the sofa where she sits and stares straight ahead.)

Butler: May I get you another drink?

Sandra: No, thank you. (Another long pause.)

The phone rings. Winston answers.

Butler: Hello? (Listens) Yes, please, put him on. (Pause.) Yes, Inspector. (Listens) I see. Thank you. I'll tell her immediately. (Hangs up.)

Sandra: What did he say?

Butler: That was the Inspector from his car. He's on his way here now. He says the man does not wish to press charges, and your husband is returning with him.

Sandra: Oh, really? (She stands.) Really? Not pressing charges? Amazing. He's not pressing charges. It's amazing. Why would anyone do such a thing? (Sandra goes to the front window and looks out.) I can't imagine. It's all so strange. Isn't this all very strange to you, Winston?

Winston: Yes, my lady. I should say so.

Sandra: I thought he was dead. I really thought he was dead. Otherwise, I'm sure I would have done something about it. (Pause.) Wouldn't I?

Butler: I'm sure you were in shock, my lady.

Sandra: Well, yes, but to one moment be innocent of murder and the next be guilty of negligence! I feel as though I've had a nasty trick played on me tonight.

Butler: Oh, I'm sure you were caught off guard by the situation, my lady. One cannot be expected to respond properly under any and all circumstances, most especially ...

Sandra: (Cutting him off) But I didn't call the ambulance. I didn't call the police. I didn't do anything that I was supposed to do. I tried to protect my own image instead. I ... (Noise is heard outside the the front door) Is that them already? (She hurries to the door. The men enter, laughing and talking.)

Inspector: Yes, I'm sure you were about ready to have a heart attack any moment, Harold. Oh, what a night this has been.

Harold: Haha! I still can't believe it. Oh, my god, it's incredible.

Sandra: Honey! What happened? Why hasn't the man pressed charges against you?

Harold: Oh dear, what a terrible pushover that boy must be. Well, it happened like this. He was breaking and entering. He's terrified we'll press charges against him!

Sandra: What? Breaking and entering? You're kidding. Why would he do that?

Harold: He said he was contemplating a robbery, but not seriously. He just wanted to see the house first. When I attacked, he hit the floor and passed out.

Sandra: Oh, my goodness. (Pause.) What luck.

Harold: Indeed. Inspector, may I get you a drink?

Inspector: Yes, please, I could use a stiff one after a night like this.

Harold: (At the bar) Scotch, rum, what will it be?

Inspector: Vodka tonic, twist of lime.

Harold: Coming right up. Sandra?

Sandra: (Still staring in shock.) No, thank you. (She sits again.) Ketchup.

The room is comtemplative for a moment as the butler straightens things and the men get their drinks.

Inspector: Hard to believe. What a comedy this would make.

Sandra: Sweetheart.

Harold: Yes, my dove.

Sandra: Would you really want to kill a man for having an affair with me?

Harold: Oh, I suppose I might want to, but I don't think I'd actually do it. You know.

Sandra: And tonight? Did you really want to kill that man because you thought I was having an affair.

Harold: (Becoming uncomfortable) Well, you know, I was surprised. There was a stranger in the house.

Sandra: Yes, of course. (Pause.) Harold, love?

Harold: Yes, my treasure.

Sandra: I'm glad I wasn't really having an affair.

Harold: You weren't?

Sandra: Well, of course I wasn't. Why would I ever want to do such a foolish thing as that?

Harold: Oh, I suppose, I was merely feeling suspicious over your ever radiating beauty that never diminishes ( they approach one another as he speaks ) and ...

Sandra: ... and you were afraid of losing me?

Harold: (He holds her in his arms.) Terrified.

Sandra: Oh, darling. (They kiss passionately, then she looks at him seriously as he holds her) Sweetheart ...

Harold: Yes, my love.

Sandra: Let's give all the servants a good raise. And from now on, could we tip the delivery boys thirty percent instead of twenty?

Harold: Well, I suppose, under the present circumstances, that might be a very good idea.

Sandra: Yes, because I would feel much safer and far less guilty if we did, wouldn't you, honey?

Butler: Sir, what should I do with this knife? Is it required any further.

Harold: Inspector?

Inspector: No, it seems we've solved the mystery already. No need to complicate matters.

(Winston leaves the room, holding the knife by the tip.)

Harold: (Looks into his wife's eyes) Darling, if there is anything that I can do to make you feel safer, I'll do it.

Sandra: And if there's anything I can do to make you feel more secure, I'll do it.

Inspector: Well, it seems I've worn out my welcome, folks. I'll be on my way now. Thanks for the drink and take good care to lock those windows at night.

Harold and Sandra: Thank you, Inspector. Good night. (He leaves.)

Butler: (Stands in the doorway) Will that be all for tonight, sir?

Harold: Yes, Winston. You'll receive a bonus in your next check to compensate for this evening's disturbance.

Butler: Thank you very much, and good night. (Winston leaves.)

Harold: My, but he was good about the whole thing, wasn't he?

Sandra: Winston? Oh, he's simply the perfect butler.

Harold: And you, my sweet, are the perfect wife.

Sandra: Ha ha! (Smiles brightly) And you, my wonderful man, are the perfect jealously enraged husband with a knife.

(They kiss. Curtain closes.)

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