CAST OF CHARACTERS

VICTIM, 30's, affluent owner of the Not-Quite-Cheers Bar.

WAITRESS, 30's, longtime manager of NQCB, has expected a partnership for many years

COMPETITION, 30's, lower-class boy who became rich, wants to acquire respectability--and the NQCB

SISTER, early 30's, VICTIM'S sister, socialite.

CHAMP, 30's, former football hero, current sloppy barfly

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN, "airy spirits"

TIMING

Ironically enough, VIC has managed to arouse the ire of each character on the same day. His sister has lost her fortune after he turned her husband in for insider trading. He has decided to sell the restaurant to the competition rather than bringing the waitress in as a partner. COMPETITION has no idea that he's willing to sell--after weeks of missing scheduled meetings and utter dismissal, COMP has had enough. CHAMP has once again run up a huge tab--as well as a generous gaming debt.

 

ACT I:

Introductions and a Shocking Death!

(VIC swaggers into the room and smirks at it inhabitants. CHAMP hunches farther over the bar[if no bar--lolls drunkenly in his chair]. WAITRESS stops serving cocktails and glares. COMPETITION stands and wanders casually towards VIC.)

COMPETITION

Ahh, Vic.

VIC

Ahh, Competition.

COMP.

I trust your secretary scheduled our appointment this time?

(SISTER strides through the doors, skids into VIC)

SISTER

We're not done! You sorry excuse for a mama's boy, if I'd've dreamed you would. . . I never would have let you in on the action!

VIC

(To COMP)

You'll have to wait.

(VIC grabs SISTER'S elbow and propels her through the door. She continues wailing and yelling.)

VIC

(To WAITRESS)

For God's sake get her something, will you?

(To CHAMP, softly)

Eight grand, Champ. Tonight.

(WAITRESS takes a glass of water and leaves. COMP maintains an urbane posture and drawl)

COMP

Really, Vic, I haven't got all night.

VIC

You can wait.

(to CHAMP)

And don't forget--thirty-eight fifty for the tab.

(VIC moves to the bar and pours a drink. WAITRESS returns and attends to guests. COMP wraps his arm around WAITRESS's waist.)

COMP

How 'bout a drink, sweetheart?

WAITRESS

Get it yourself, "sweetheart".

(SISTER returns, continues wailing. WAITRESS ignores her. VIC moves to placate SISTER. COMP slips behind the bar, pours a drink, then begins to hit on a guest.)

 

 

 

SISTER

GONE! ALL GONE!! ALL OF IT! How could you, Vic? Ten years! I'll have to leave town--the club--my life, dammit--just because you had an attack of conscience.

VIC

I assure you, my darling sister, that conscience had nothing to do with it. That slavering, self-serving husband of yours deserves every year he got. Screwing you over was just a perk.

SISTER

Ten years! TEN. YEARS. VIC. And it's all gone--all that money.

CHAMP

Somebody shut that broad up! The scores are next.

VIC

Don't you have Valium here?

WAITRESS

(under her breath)

Only when you come.

(normally)

It's behind the bar.

(SISTER straightens, looks around to the guests. She smiles graciously.)

SISTER

I'll just help myself, then.

(SISTER moves to the bar. VIC begins to follow her, but COMP intercepts him.)

COMP

Dammit, man! I'm not waiting all night.

(VIC smirks and slides past, behind the bar. He lifts his glass in a silent toast and drinks deeply. Then he begins to choke and sputter. VIC falls behind the bar and, amazingly enough, dies.)

 

SISTER

Ahhhh!! He's dead! Someone's poisoned him!

WAITRESS

Everybody, just stay calm.

(WAITRESS carefully lifts VIC'S glass and sets it behind the bar.)

Champ, go call Bob the Local Sheriff.

SISTER

Wait. . . what if he did it! He could wash his hands or something. . . destroy the evidence!

WAITRESS

Any of us could have done it, you sniveling blonde banana brain. But somebody has to call Bob the Sheriff.

SISTER

Well, it can't be him!

COMP

Oh, for God's sake. You really are a raving lunatic, aren't you. We'll all go.

(All leave. Dinner is served.)

 

 

 

 

ACT II:

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern ARE DEAD! (OH, YEAH. . . and so is VIC)

(While guests are eating, ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN enter. Each is dressed outlandishly, with one totally in white, the other in black. They enter talking quietly to each other, oblivious to the guests. They perch on top of the bar and sit cross-legged until the guests fall silent.)

ROSENCRANTZ

(allowing silence to stretch until it is uncomfortable)

Not a clever lot, are they?

GUILDENSTERN

Brighter than you.

ROSEN

(Yawns)

Where are we, anyhow?

GUILD

[Name of Place], you idiot. Will you pay attention for once!

(VIC staggers up from behind the bar, looks confused. ROSEN and GUILD turn to look at him. ROSEN grins hugely.)

ROSEN

(To audience)

Well what do you know. . . this might just be a ghost story after all.

VIC

What the hell are you doing up there?

(looks down for the first time)

And why the hell is my body on the floor?

 

GUILD

(to ROSEN)

So you were right for once.

ROSEN

(surprised)

About the ghost story?

GUILD

About the intelligence. But it looks like I was right, too.

(to VIC)

Hi! Welcome to Get-A-Clue. . . here's a free one. You're dead.

VIC

I'm what?

ROSEN

(a bit louder)

Dead.

VIC

Oh, I heard him, you. . . you. . . whatever you are. I, however, am not dead.

ROSEN

Oh, yes you are.

VIC

That's absolutely ridiculous. I am here, not there. I see customers, I smell onion rings burning, and. . .

(wipes hand along the bar top)

. . . and I definitely feel that, whatever it was. So you see, I am not dead.

GUILD

Listen, mate. You are dead. Your ticket has been punched and your bags have been packed. The farm was purchased. All the paperwork is done, the movers are waiting, and it was you who bought it. So regardless of what you can and can't feel, you can continue to gape at me like some dumbfounded guppie, or you can somehow develop the coping skills you need to move on.

VIC

I'm dead?

ROSEN

I thought we told him that already.

VIC

I'm dead, and I'm spending the afterlife HERE?

(VIC spins to watch THE SUSPECTS trampling through the door. He approaches each one. None of them respond to his attempts to communicate.)

WAITRESS

(to SIS)

You spoiled, selfish little brat! I can't believe you had the nerve!

SISTER

I've lost a relative, you little tramp. A little consideration is in order.

CHAMP

Anyone else need a drink?

(CHAMP stumbles to the bar, obviously stepping over VIC'S body in the process of getting a drink.)

COMP

I think I could use one myself. Another one for you, lady?

VIC

Get away from my bar!

SIS

Oh! Thanks, I think I will.

(to WAITRESS)

It's MURDER. I was absolutely right to insist that the proper authorities. . .

WAITRESS

Listen--IF you think you can manage that without psychiatric help. First, we don't know it's murder. Second, Bob's wife is in LABOR. That means childbirth. That means she's having a baby, and Ole' Vic over there sure isn't going anywhere--he can wait.

GUILD

Well, she's right about that.

ROSEN

Murder?

GUILD

Nah. He's NOT going anywhere.

VIC

Like hell I'm not. If you. . . gentlemen. . . need me, I'll be in Cancun haunting some sweet young thing.

(stops)

HOW DARE THEY!

(taken aback, ROSEN and GUILD stare at VIC)

GUILD

Ah. . . excuse me. . . "they" who?

VIC

Well, one of them did it, didn't they!

SIS

Oh, of course it's murder. We all saw him die. That was clearly an allergic reaction to peanuts.

GUILD

(to VIC)

It would appear so.

COMP

If he was that allergic he had no business owning a bar in the first place.

WAITRESS

Oh, please. You get nauseous just smelling beer.

ROSEN

Don't be silly. No one actually smells beer.

CHAMP

(lifting a tall glass of beer and inhaling deeply.)

Ahh! Nothing like a good brewsky to settle the nerves!

ROSEN

Oh.

COMP

You're saying I shouldn't have this place? 'Cause if chugging six packs like Champ over there is the big qualifier, you are in serious need of a reality check.

WAITRESS

Reality? You want reality, I'll give it to you. Go ahead and take that slick suit and flashy car straight back to the city, buddy. See, some of us here still remember that rusted-out old Nova you left with. Why do you want this place so bad anyway?

COMP

I could ask you the same question.

WAITRESS

I work my ass off here! It's mine, dammit!

SIS

(overhears)

I beg your pardon!

VIC

Well, it's about time.

SIS

I believe this place is mine.

VIC

Traitor.

COMP

Yeah, well, I was stupid to think he'd ever sell to me, anyway.

CHAMP

Listen, any of you guys want some peanuts?

SIS

(wailing)

He's eating the murder weapon!

GUILD

Clearly a candidate for higher education.

ROSEN

(to VIC)

Can ya beat that?

VIC

Nobody's that stupid. It was him.

WAITRESS

Oh, how do you know that's the murder weapon?

SIS

Please. Everyone knows he's allergic to peanuts.

CHAMP

Hell yeah! In school the lunchroom ladies had to bleach down his table every day. Remember? They'd have those little hairnets and the white shirts and just sling the water around.

COMP

You would know. That was your table.

WAITRESS

Everyone knew, Comp. Including you. I was there when you launched the pbj full in his face.

COMP

That strange, because I was there when you skipped class to make out with me after I did it.

WAITRESS

Times change.

COMP

Well, so do people.

VIC

(darkly)

People don't change that much. It's him. Has to be.

ROSEN

(attempting to look shrewd)

He does look the type.

GUILD

Tell me, do you plan to continue just randomly accusing people, or did you have some sort of--shall we say--founded suspicions?

VIC

One of them had to kill me, didn't they?

(GUILD stands and squares himself towards VIC. ROSEN echoes him.)

GUILD

(quietly)

One of them did, yes.

VIC

(matches GUILD'S tone)

Then I'm going to find out who.

(pauses, then flamboyantly)

And I'm going to haunt them. I'll rattle chains and flash lights and throw books and . . . and whatever else it takes to make their life miserable.

ROSEN

YEAH!

VIC

What's first? What to do first. . .

 

GUILD

Please. Surely you've seen the detective shows before.

VIC

Right! Gather the evidence-- hair, DNA samples, fingerprints!

ROSEN

(confused)

How you going to do that here?

(ROSEN bends to examine VIC'S glass, contorting his head and shoulders in an exagerated effort not to touch anything.)

I only see one fingerprint.

VIC

Then I'll investigate the murder weapon.

(VIC heads to the bowl of peanuts at the bar, hesitates, shivers, then wheels away.)

Later. I'll do that later.

(pauses in thought)

I'll interrogate the suspects.

GUILD

(to ROSEN)

This should be interesting.

 

ACT III:

(In which a mystery is solved and a murderer revealed)

CHAMP

Let's have a toast!

(all glare. CHAMP doesn't notice. His toast is composed of fragments of speeches he's heard before.)

TO VIC! A GOOD MAN, A GOOD FRIEND, A GOOD BROTHER!

VIC

A VERY good friend. Ten grand worth. Was it all about the money, Champ?

SIS

Hah! He sent his sister to the poorhouse and his brother-in-law to prison.

VIC

And now you think you'll get it all. My darling baby sister, IN YOUR DREAMS.

COMP

Lady, what the hell are you complaining about? So you only get your nails done once a week.

SIS

You wouldn't understand.

COMP

Damn straight I don't. I'd given anything for what you have.

VIC

(places himself directly before COMP)

And you did, didn't you. Killing me off was the easiest was to get it for yourself. When did you decide to put those peanuts in my coke?

CHAMP

(quietly, easily missed by the others)

Bob's here.

WAITRESS

Tell me you're kidding. Neither one of you **(could possibly begin to understand the many years of hard work, sweat, and toil I put into this dirty, smelly bar that I somehow like anyway, working with that odious, odiferous individual known as VIC, and then being forced to confront the possiblility of middle management under COMP, old buddy old pal. Gee, that sucks. Perhaps I'll rant about it for a bit, and say something dumb.)**

You wouldn't know how to commit to this place if you had to.

GUILD

How original. An insprational speech.

ROSEN

Don't they just getcha right here?

(taps his heart)

VIC

I think I'm beginning to see something.

ROSEN

Visions?

VIC

No. But, there was only one print on the glass. And she knew.

It had to be.

 

GUILD

**(Yup. You're right. You figured it out. We'll have a cute little denunciation to satisfy the audience, and skedaddle on out of this place.)**

(ROSEN, GUILD, and VIC leave. Bob the Local Sheriff arrives to take matters in hand.)

CHAMP

(raising his glass in a final drunken toast)

God Bless Us, Every One.