Feb 062015
 

BraddBradd Allen Saunders. Photo by Dana Saunders.

.

THE CURTAIN RISES. We see a sparse, police-interrogation room with a wooden table and two chairs center stage. Over the empty chair is draped a sport jacket. A bright, hot, swinging light with a naked bulb is hanging overhead. There is a small table in a far corner which holds a coffee pot and some styrofoam cups. In the middle of the stage center sits a small cassette tape recorder. Under the table, nearly out of sight, is a briefcase.

AT RISE: Onstage is JOHN ANTHONY CARILLO and NICHOLAS CARGNISCENTI.

CARILLO is sitting directly under the hot light next to the table looking a bit edgy. At first glance, he appears to be a charter member of society’s fringe — a trifle thugish, hair unkempt, beard heavy. Further scrutiny reveals a deceptively intelligent, almost civil look in his eyes. He’s made a stab at respectability here: wears a tie, loud, plaid pants which don’t match and a shirt that couldn’t possibly go with anything — his Sunday best.

CARGNISCENTI is pot-bellied, balding, 50ish, ulcerish, wears a blue shirt, cuffs rolled back, down to business, shoulder holster with gun, double-knit, sale at K-Mart pants, loafers. He sweats profusely.

CARNISCENTI stands in the corner, his back to the audience drawing coffee from the machine.

CARGNISCENTI takes a drink and then motions to CARILLO.

CARGNISCENTI

Coffee?

 

CARILLO

(shaking head)

Caffeine.

 

CARGNISCENTI downs the coffee in a quick gulp and walks to the center table facing CARILLO. CARGNISCENTI pulls a cigarette from a shirt pocket, lights it up, then offers one to CARILLO.

 

 

CARILLO

(shaking head)

Nicotine.

 

CARGNISCENTI pulls a stick of gum from a pocket and motions to CARILLO.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Gum?

 

CARILLO

No.

 

CARGNISCENTI

No?

(a beat)

Why not?

 

CARILLO

Sugar.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Sugar.

(a beat)

Comfortable?

 

CARILLO

Not really.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Don’t blame me.

 

CARGNISCENTI turns away and starts to pace absentmindedly.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You have waived the right to have an attorney present.

(a beat)

Why?

 

CARILLO shrugs.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I guess you know what you’re doing.

(a beat)

You are John Anthony Cardillo, right?

 

CARILLO

No.

 

CARGNISCENTI

No? … Sure you are.

 

CARILLO

No, I’m not … Carillo.

 

CARGNISCENTI

That’s what I said.

 

CARILLO

No, you said Cardillo.

 

 

CARGNISCENTI

No I didn’t. I said Carillo.

 

CARILLO

You said, Cardillo.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Did I? … I don’t think so.

 

CARGNISCENTI pushes a button on the tape player. A tape pops out. He holds it in front of CARILLO.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I have here a blank tape, John. Is it all right if I call you John?

 

CARILLO

Tony.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I have here a blank tape, Tony. Nothing. Blank. When we’re done, the tape will be full and what we’ll have on it is the truth … Simple …We’re gonna know the extent of your knowledge and involvement in the murder of detective Nicky Carruthers. When you’ve told us everything you know, and we’re both satisfied as to the truth, this little bit of unpleasantness will be over. How does that sound?

 

CARILLO shrugs, noncommittally.

.

CARGNISCENTI

(turning on tape)

Good. So … Tony … Tell me about the 23rd of April, 2014, roughly between the hours of eight and ten.

 

CARILLO

Ah … I watched television with my girlfriend and then I fell asleep. When I woke up it was the 24th.

 

CARGNISCENTI reaches over and turns off the tape.

 

CARILLO

You want to know about the 24th too?

 

CARGNISCENTI

No. I want to know about the 23rd.

 

CARILLO

Oh, I read the newspaper too. I forgot I read the paper.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(cynically)

And what did you read?

 

CARILLO

Cartoons.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Well … It’s good to keep informed, Tony. TELL ME the truth.

 

CARILLO

That’s what happened.

 

Suddenly CARGNISCENTI grabs the empty chair next to the table and throws it angrily across the room.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You son-of-a-bitch! You could at least have the fucking decency to be consistent! The last time you were here, Carillo, you went to a movie.The time before that you went out to dinner with some friend nobody can find. And now, now you simply spent a relaxing evening at home in front of the TV!

CARILLO

I read the paper too.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Tony? Do you have any idea why we think you’re lying?

(a beat)

We think you’re lying because you’re not telling us the truth. That’s why we think you’re lying.

 

CARILLO

I’m not lyin’. It happened.

 

CARGNISCENTI

What! Which!

 

CARILLO

What I told ‘ya before.

 

CARGNISCENTI

John?

 

CARILLO

Tony.

 

CARGNISCENTI

How can that be?

 

CARILLO

I did go to a movie.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Now you went to a movie.

 

CARILLO

Yes.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Just a minute ago you watched television.

 

CARILLO

I did. I watched TV, but that was later.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Did you go out and eat?

 

CARILLO

No.

 

 CARGNISCENTI

So you lied.

 

CARILLO

I ordered a pizza. I went to pick it up.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I see … So … Let me get this straight. You went to a movie, you picked up a pizza. I presume you ate it. Did you eat it?

 

CARILLO

Uh-huh.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Was it good?

 

CARILLO

Not bad.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You ate an average pizza, watched television, fell asleep with your girlfriend.

 

CARILLO

That’s right.

 

CARGNISCENTI

All of this between the hours of eight and ten.

 

CARILLO

Yeah.

 

CARGNISCENTI pauses for a moment digesting things. He turns to Carillo.

 

CARGNISCENTI

What d’ya think’s goin’ on here, Carillo? You think we’re playin’ some kinda game? ‘Ya think we’re just jokin’ around here? This is serious.We’re tryin’ to get to the bottom of things here.We’re tryin’ to find out what happened, you and I … What we’re after is the truth. It’s no joke. It’s fucking serious.You get it?

 

CARILLO does not reply. CARGNISCENTI sighs, then continues.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Carillo … John…

 

CARILLO

Tony.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Whatever the hell … Let’s speak hypothetically for a minute … What if I offered you this stick of gum

(pulls out gum)

and I said ‘Why don’t you have a stick of this gum, Carillo? It’s so good, it’s loaded with sugar.’ And you said ‘No thank you, Detective. I don’t like sugar; it’s bad for my teeth.’ And I said ‘That’s okay, Tony. Here, take it. It’s sugar free.’

(a beat)

Would you think maybe I was jerkin’ you around?

 

CARILLO

Maybe.

 

CARGNISCENTI

There ain’t no fuckin’ maybe’s about it, Carillo. The damn things either got sugar in it or it don’t. Right? Am I right? I have to be right.

 

CARILLO

Not necessarily.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(extremely frustrated)

You …You’re … Why don’t you explain this to me … I … Frankly, I’m stumped.

 

CARILLO

Okay. Maybe it’s loaded with sugar, but maybe the sugar comes from honey instead of regular white sugar so it’s loaded with sugar from the honey but it doesn’t have any artificial sugar which is bad for ‘ya. You shouldn’t eat that stuff you know.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Fuck.

(a beat)

Just answer me this … Sugar is sugar, right? Go with me that far. Sugar is sugar. I have to be right.

 

CARILLO

Depends.

 

CARGNISCENTI

It depends on NOTHING! Sugar is sugar! THAT’S IT!

 

CARILLO

Say I’m allergic to sugar and maybe even honey. I could still have gum that is fruit sweetened — which is a kind of sugar but it’s not the same molecularly — so, I’m allergic to sugar, but then I’m not. It depends.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(keeping calm, but ready to break)

It’s still sugar.

 

CARILLO

Depends on how you look at it.

 

CARGNISCENTI

John?

 

CARILLO

Tony …

 

CARGNISCENTI

What does this have to do with anything?

 

CARILLO

I don’t know. You ask the questions. I answer ’em.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Okay … Tell me this … Is it possible to be in two places at the same time? … Huh?

 

CARILLO

(a beat)

Yeah.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You know, thirty years on the force I never hit anybody before, but you’re close … That’s not possible … All right? … I don’t know shit about sugar and fruit juice, but I do know, I do know that no human being alive can be two places at one time … I know that … I know that.

 

CARILLO

What if you asked me a bunch of questions and I wasn’t answering and I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m just not here. I’m worryin’ about my wife. She’s havin’ a hysterectomy.’

 

CARGNISCENTI

You’d still be here.

 

CARILLO

Part of me; part of me’d be at the hospital.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Thirty years and you’re damn close.

 

CARILLO

You go to somebody who saw something — a murder. You ask him, ‘What did you see?’ and he says, ‘Actually, officer, nothing. I was here watchin’ it, but I didn’t see it.’

 

CARGNISCENTI

He was still there. Do you understand me? He was actually, physically there. Physically.

 

CARILLO

So you’re a positivist. That’s just another philosophy.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You cannot be in two places physically at one time you asshole!

 

CARILLO

What if I was standin’ on the border and had one foot in California and the other in Arizona?

 

CARGNISCENTI

You would still be in the U.S., Carillo.

 

CARILLO

What if I had one foot in California and the other in Mexico?

 

CARGNISCENTI

You would still be on the earth.

 

CARILLO

What if I had a spaceship and I —

 

Suddenly, CARGNESCENTI leaps upon CARILLO in a wild fury choking him by the neck.

 

CARGNISCENTI

LISTEN YOU BASTARD! …YOU …YOU CAN’T DO IT! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?! IT CAN’T BE DONE! IT CAN’T, IT CAN’T. IT CAN’T BE DONE SO YOU CAN’T DO IT!!!

 

CARGNISCENTI stops suddenly, coming back to earth. He tucks his shirt, takes a deep breath, collects himself. He turns on the tape.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Let’s back it up. You went to a movie first, right?

 

CARILLO nods.

 

CARGNISCENTI

When did it start?

 

CARILLO

Around eight.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Eight … 8:05, 8:15, when?

 

CARILLO

8:07.

 

CARGNISCENTI

How long did it last?

 

CARILLO

Around two hours.

 

CARGNISCENTI

How long did it last — exactly.

 

CARILLO

An hour and forty-eight minutes.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Let’s see … 8:07… an hour and forty-eight minutes …9:55. That gives you just five minutes to go out, eat a pizza, watch TV, read a newspaper, and go to bed …

(a beat)

I hate to even ask this, Tony, but is that possible? … Humanly?

 

CARILLO

Yes.

 

CARGNISCENTI reaches over and turns off the tape.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I have a blank tape here, John …

 

CARILLO

Tony

 

CARGNISCENTI

I have a tape and I have a lot of time … More time than you got. Do you understand? I can sit here for hours: hours, days, months, years if have to, and I will. I will stay here till the end of time. Do you understand?

 

CARILLO looks bored and distracted.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(very deliberate)

The movie was one hour and forty-eight minutes long. It started at 8:07. That means — based on real time — it was over at 9:55. I asked you what you did between eight and ten and you told me you also went to a pizza parlor, ate pizza, went home, watched television, and fell asleep with you girlfriend by ten o’clock.

(a beat)

Five minutes is not enough time to do all those things. Is it?

 

CARILLO

You’re right.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(cynical relief)

I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to hear you say that, Carillo. For a moment there I was beginning to wonder about everything.

(a beat)

So. Tony. If we both agree that it’s impossible, then you couldn’t have done all that. Right?

 

CARILLO

Sure I could.

 

CARGNISCENTI

We were making progress … All right you bastard! I give up! You tell me HOW! I WANT TO KNOW HOW!

(quiet rage)

And it better be good. It better be so good … It better be like a miracle it’s so good.

(backing off, more objective)

You’re trying to make a jackass outta me.

(pause — turns on tape again)

You went to a movie. What did you see?

 

CARILLO

The Flying Wallendas.

 

CARGNISCENTI

We can check that.

 

CARILLO

It was really awful too.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Was it?

 

CARILLO

Yeah.

 

CARGNISCENTI

So?

 

CARILLO

So I only watched about an hour, then I left.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I see. The Flying Wallendas. Okay. Then?

 

CARILLO

‘Bout fifteen minutes before I left, I ordered a pizza from my phone in the lobby. Then I went to pick it up.

 

CARGNISCENTI

And what time was this?

 

CARILLO

‘Round nine.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Nine what?

 

CARILLO

Ah …Yeah … All right … It was a … I saw a clock. It was seven after nine.

 

CARGNISCENTI

How long did it take to get to the pizza parlor?

 

CARILLO

(shrugs)

Twenty… twenty-five seconds I’d say.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(dubious)

How long?

 

CARILLO

It was next door.

 

CARGNISCENTI

So you met a friend there.

 

CARILLO

Yeah. We both had some spaghetti.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Spaghetti.

(a beat)

You ate spaghetti.

 

CARILLO

Spaghetti. Yeah.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You said you had pizza.

 

CARILLO

Yeah, I did. I had spaghetti and then I had pizza.

 

CARGNISCENTI

So you had pizza and spaghetti that night.

 

CARILLO

Right.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Just you and your friend.

 

CARILLO

No. It was just me.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Just you.

 

CARILLO

Yeah, it was just me.

 

 CARGNISCENTI

You just said you met somebody.

 

CARILLO

I did.

 

CARGNISCENTI

How could it be just you then?

 

CARILLO

It wasn’t.

 

CARGNISCENTI

It wasn’t just you?

 

CARILLO

No.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You just said, “It was just me.”

 

CARILLO

It was. It was just me that had the spaghetti and pizza. My friend, he just had spaghetti.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(pausing to understand)

I see …

(a beat)

So … You were with a friend, but you, and you only had both pizza and spaghetti that night.

 

CARILLO

That’s right.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I see … That must of been pretty filling, Carillo. Two meals.

 

CARILLO

No, I just had one.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Pizza and spaghetti — that’s two. Right? One, two.

 

CARILLO

Yeah, but I just had one.

 

CARGNISCENTI is quiet for a moment fighting confusion and irritation.

 

 CARGNISCENTI

So you ate with this guy.

 

CARILLO

Yeah. I don’t remember his name; we went to school together, I think.

 

CARGNISCENTI

We can check that.

 

CARILLO

Or we may have worked together. I don’t know.

 

CARGNISCENTI

We can check that too.

 

CARILLO

Then again, he may have been somebody I just met someplace. I don’t remember.

 

CARGNISCENTI

He was eating spaghetti.

 

CARILLO

He was eating spaghetti and asked me if I wanted some. So I said, yeah, cause my pizza wasn’t ready. So I had some.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Uh-huh. Till the pizza was done.

 

CARILLO

Right.

 

CARGNISCENTI

How long did it take?

 

CARILLO

Thirty minutes.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Thirty minutes.

 

CARILLO

Yeah, usually a pizza takes about fifteen, but …

 

 CARGNISCENTI

No! How long did it take after you first came in, after you met your friend, after you ate spaghetti, after the pizza was ready and then you left? How long did all that take?! Just that!

 

CARILLO

Ten, fifteen minutes.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Which one?

 

CARILLO

Huh?

 

CARGNISCENTI

Which was it? Ten or fifteen?

 

CARILLO

Fifteen.

 

CARGNISCENTI

That makes it 9:22 and twenty-five seconds.

(a beat)

Continue.

 

CARILLO

Ah …

 

CARGNISCENTI

What about the guy?

 

CARILLO

Oh … He said a …”See you later,” and I said, “See ‘ya later,” and then I left.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You guys exchange numbers?

 

CARILLO

No.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Addresses?

 

CARILLO

No.

 

CARGNISCENTI

How’d you expect to see him again, Carillo?

 

CARILLO

I didn’t.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Continue.

 

CARILLO

Got in my car and went home.

 

CARGNISCENTI

How long did it take you to get home?

 

CARILLO

Eight, ten minutes.

 

CARGNISCENTI stares at CARILLO in a way that suggests he wants a more definitive answer.

 

CARILLO

Nine minutes.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Nine. Let’s see, that’s approximately 9:31.

(a beat)

Took say a minute to get to your car…

 

CARILLO shrugs.

 

CARGNISCENTI

9:32.

 

CARGNISCENTI motions for CARILLO to continue.

 

CARILLO

I ate the pizza.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(cynically)

An average pizza.

 

CARILLO

It was pepperoni. I had a couple pieces and then threw the rest out.

 

CARGNISCENTI

It sounds to me like you just lied, Carillo. It doesn’t sound like an average pizza to me. Sounds to me like it must of been a bad pizza.

 

CARILLO

It was the mushrooms.

 

CARGNISCENTI just stares at CARILLO, obviously irritated at the apparent incongruity.

 

CARILLO

Pepperoni and mushroom pizza. The mushrooms, they bother my stomach.

 

CARGNISCENTI

What time was it when you threw out the pizza?

 

CARILLO

I don’t know.

 

CARGNISCENTI

How long did it take?

 

CARILLO

(annoyed)

I don’t know!

 

CARGNISCENTI

How…

 

CARILLO

Look, I don’t carry a stopwatch! I don’t —

 

CARGNISCENTI

Approximately!

 

CARILLO

I don’t —

 

CARGNISCENTI

AN APPROXIMATION!

 

There is a long pause as they both calm themselves.

 

CARILLO

Fifteen minutes.

 

CARGNISCENTI

9:47.

 

CARILLO

Approximately.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Approximately.

 

CARILLO

Then I went to bed.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Took off your clothes, brushed your teeth, etc.

 

CARGNISCENTI stares at CARILLO for the conditioned response.

 

CARILLO

Five minutes.

 

CARGNISCENTI

9:52.

 

CARILLO

And that’s it.

 

CARGNISCENTI

And that’s it.

 

CARILLO

Yeah.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I see. What about the television, Carillo? Didn’t I hear you say earlier that you just watched television then went to bed?

 

CARILLO

Oh, yeah. I turned on the TV, watched the end of a show, and then went to sleep.

 

CARGNISCENTI

The newspaper …

 

CARILLO

There was a newspaper lyin’ around that I read while I watched TV, then I slept.

 

CARGNISCENTI

And that’s it.

 

CARILLO

And that’s it.

/

CARGNISCENTI

The girl, Carillo? … Didn’t I hear something about watching television, reading a newspaper, and then falling asleep with someone?

 

CARILLO

Oh, yeah.

(a beat)

My girlfriend.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Where is she?

 

CARILLO

I don’t know.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You don’t know.

 

CARILLO

We split up.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You split up?

 

CARILLO

Yeah.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Where is she living?

 

CARILLO

I don’t know.

 

CARGNISCENTI

In the city?

 

CARILLO

I don’t know.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Somewhere in the state, perhaps?

 

CARILLO

I don’t know.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Somewhere is the country … The United States?

/

CARILLO

I don’t know!

 

CARGNISCENTI

You two must have been pretty close.

(a beat)

What’s her name?

 

CARILLO

Jane.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Jane … Jane what?

 

CARILLO

Doe.

 

CARGNISCENTI’S face begins to turn color.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(extreme irritation)

Jane Doe?

 

CARILLO

Hey! It’s common! It’s a common name! People are named that! They are!

 

CARGNISCENTI begins to pace with great agitation.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Jane Doe. … Somewhere out there is a woman named Jane Doe. We don’t know where she is; she could be living or dead, but from ten ‘o clock and for the rest of the night she’s your alibi.

 

CARILLO

Right.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I see …I see … So that’s how it all happened … Well it’s all come together now, Carillo …Clear … Clear as mud … Makes me feel like a fool for even doubting you.

 

CARILLO

That’ all right.

 

CARGNISCENTI pauses for a moment manipulating the mood. He turns off the tape.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Carillo?

(a beat)

I’m going to prove to you, now, how you can’t be two places at the same time.

 

CARGNISCENTI pulls out a briefcase from under the table then opens it.

 

CARGNISCENTI

First, I’d like to ask you something. You are just a regular person, right? You’re not some kind of god or anything. Are you?

 

CARILLO

(scornfully)

No.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I just wanted to be sure.

 

CARGNISCENTI pulls a tape from the briefcase.

 

CARGNISCENTI

What I’m going to introduce to you now, John, is what we in the business call evidence. It’s sort of an accumulation of facts and relevant circumstances which point to the likelihood of how certain events transpired.

 

CARGNISCENTI ejects the previous tape from the machine and sets it aside. He points the new tape at CARILLO.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You know what this is?

 

CARILLO

A tape.

 

CARGNISCENTI

A tape. Not just any tape, not a blank tape. This one has evidence recorded on it … Carruthers was wired when he died. You didn’t know that did you.

 

CARILLO

Yes.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You knew that?

 

CARILLO

Uh-huh.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(unconvinced)

Then you know what’s on it.

 

CARILLO

No.

 

CARGNISCENTI flashes quick irritation, then calms.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I’ll play you the tape.

 

CARGNISCENTI puts the tape in the machine and turns it on.The MACHINE plays. Two voices can be made out but they are difficult to distinguish the sound quality is so poor.

 

VOICE 1

I’m puttin’ an end to this Carruthers. The game’s over.

 

CARGNISCENTI

That’s you.

 

VOICE 2

This ain’t no game, Carillo, this is real. And you’re finished.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Carruthers.

 

VOICE 1

You want real? I’ll show you real…

 

CARGNISCENTI

You drew your gun.

 

VOICE 1

… This is real.

 

VOICE 2

That’s not real, that’s crazy.

 

VOICE 1

Whatever you call it …

 

VOICE 2

Don’t be a fool, Carillo. This’ll only make it worse. You can’t run from the facts.

 

VOICE 1

Neither can you.

 

VOICE 2

NO!

 

There is the rustling of footsteps, the sounds of a brief, but intense struggle, then a LOUD GUNSHOT.

The tape is immediately silent. BOTH MEN just sit and listen to the silence a moment, looking distant.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Sound familiar?

 

CARILLO

Maybe.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You wanta hear it again?

 

CARILLO

No.

 

CARGNISCENTI

That was at 9:53 on the evening of April 23rd, 2014. This tape, Carillo, is corroborated by three eyewitnesses who have identified you in a line-up as the assailant.

(pause)

A nun, a priest, and a thirteen year old boy.

 

CARGNISCENTI pulls some papers from the briefcase.

 

CARGNISCENTI

They have each signed a sworn affidavit. Each story corroborates the other to the slightest detail. They are in complete agreement on the facts. And those facts are: that you shot Detective Nicky Carruthers on the 23rd of April, at 9:53 p.m.

 

CARGNISCENTI pauses for a moment to let the full weight of things sink in.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Now.

 

CARGNISCENTI ejects the tape with the evidence and replaces it with the blank one. He turns on the machine.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Why don’t you tell me what really happened.

 

CARILLO

I told ‘ya.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Tell me again.

 

CARILLO

I went to a movie, then I…

 

CARGNISCENTI

(sudden fury)

GOD DAMN IT, CARILLO! GOD DAMN IT! THIS IS SERIOUS! WE’RE SERIOUS NOW! … I’ve got facts here. I’ve got witnesses, signed affidavits, a tape. You’ve got no alibi, nobody corroborates your story, no witnesses, no friend, no girlfriend. Nothing! You understand? You’ve got nothing! You’re dead! Unless you open you mouth soon and start speaking the truth, you’re going to die. A man is dead and you will also be. It’s serious stuff here! Serious stuff!

 

CARGNISCENTI cools down. There is a long silence as CARILLO appears to be coming to a decision.

 

CARILLO

Okay. I met Carruthers.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Good.

 

CARILLO

At 10:53.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Shit.

(a beat)

You admit, now, that you saw him though.

 

CARILLO

Yes.

 

CARGNISCENTI

At 10:53.

 

CARILLO

Yes.

 

CARGNISCENTI

How do you explain the fact that we know he died at 9:53?

 

CARILLO

He didn’t.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Huh?

 

CARILLO

He didn’t die at 9:53.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I have affidavits, I —

 

CARILLO

I saw him at 10:53.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Then how do you explain —

 

CARILLO

It was a set-up.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(exasperated)

What?

 

CARILLO

I saw Detective Carruthers at 10:53 on the 23rd … He called me some time after ten. I was in bed. He said he had to see me about something. He was in serious trouble. It was a little before eleven when we —

/

CARGNISCENTI

Hold it. Why would he want to see you?

 

CARILLO

We were working together. Carruthers was undercover. He was working on a special project under an assumed name. Nobody knew who he really was. I was supplying information … for a fee. He trusted me. But there was a problem. See, Carruthers was a crook. He was diggin’ up evidence against people on the street then usin’ the information as blackmail. But, his big mistake — where he really got into trouble — was he was doin’ the same thing to the department. He had at least a dozen cops payin’ him to keep his mouth shut about different things he knew.

(pause)

When I met with him, he was lookin’ for protection — place to hide. He was scared. Said he had to disappear. Said somebody was gonna kill him.

(a beat)

Some cop. He said some cop was gonna kill him.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(completely unconvinced)

So this tape …

 

CARILLO

Frame.

 

CARGNISCENTI

And the witnesses …

 

CARILLO

Same thing.

 

CARGNISCENTI

One of the witnesses was a nun, Carillo.

 

 CARILLO

His ex-wife.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Huh!

 

CARILLO

His ex-wife’s a nun. She hated him.

 

CARGNISCENTI

… And a priest.

 

CARILLO

Dealer. Carruthers was puttin’ the squeeze on him.

 

CARGNISCENTI

And the kid?

 

CARILLO

A drug addict. Doin’ it for the money.

 

CARGNISCENTI gives a cynical pause. He feigns sincere confusion.

 

CARGNISCENTI

So, ah … Let me get this straight. The tape is a lie, the witnesses are paid liars, the evidence is planted, and Carruthers was alive and well and speaking to you at 10:53.

 

CARILLO

That’s right.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Well, somebody better tell the coroner.We found a body at 9:53.Coroner says it was undoubtedly Carruthers.

 

CARILLO

Coroner’s in on it.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Looks like we have the makings of a fucking conspiracy here! Is there anything you don’t know, Carillo? The coroner’s in on it …Jesus. Next thing you know, you’ll be saying the pope!

 

CARILLO

(shrugs)

He had connections.

/

CARGNISCENTI

Well, you’re still going to burn. You know why? Because your story sucks. You have a vivid imagination, Carillo. Exceptional. But do you wanta know what the big difference is between you and me? My theory and your theory?

(a beat)

You’ve got no proof! Nothing! You have nothing! Not one god damn leg to stand on! Nothing but allegations and fantasy!

(pause)

Carruthers is dead and you’re in trouble, so you better start making sense — quick. Because there will be a trial and there will be those witnesses and this tape and after a judge and jury and lawyers have spent a lot of time and money determining your guilt, they’re gonna be angry you make them go to so much trouble and they’re gonna flip the switch on you. They’re gonna put you away! For good!

(pauses)

I can save your life, if you just tell me … If you just say, ‘I killed him.’ Say, ‘I killed him’ and I can save you.

(a beat)

Say it.

(no response)

Say it.

(still no response)

Say it!!

 

CARILLO

You killed him.

 

CARGNISCENTI stares, stupefied at CARILLO.

 

CARGNISCENTI

What?

 

CARILLO

You killed him, Cargniscenti.

 

CARGNISCENTI erupts into mad laughter.

 

CARILLO

You killed him. He was always talkin’ about you: “Cargniscenti knows I’m here. Cargniscenti is after me. I pushed Cargniscenti too far. If anybody gets me it’ll be Cargniscenti … Cargniscenti is trying to kill me!”

(pause)

You killed him.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(still laughing)

That’s rich!

 

CARILLO gets to his feet.

 

CARILLO

He knew everything about you: drugs, the payoffs, that hooker you were screwing, the whole ball of wax. Everything. And he was charging you exorbitantly for the details. Information is expensive isn’t it, Cargniscenti? Expensive to get, even more expensive to get rid of.

 

CARGNISCENTI is beside himself with laughter. He manages to calm himself a moment.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You’re a lunatic!

 

CARILLO

So you made up your mind to kill him.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Completely crazy!

 

CARILLO

And then decided to dump it on me.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Babbling! You are babbling like a completely crazy lunatic!

 

CARILLO

Those witnesses …

 

CARGNISCENTI now sits in the chair vacated by CARILLO, completely exhausted.

 

CARILLO

The ones who saw me at the movies, pizza parlor, on the street; you paid them to keep quiet, just like you paid the other ones to talk …

 

CARGNISCENTI

(tired)

That’s enough …

 

CARILLO

You met Carruthers exactly one hour after I did … At 11:53.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Do you hear me?

 

CARILLO

You told him you’d had enough …

 

CARGNISCENTI

I said that’s enough!

 

CARILLO

You told him that he’d pushed things too far …

 

CARGNISCENTI

Don’t push me!

 

CARILLO

You said you were gonna bury him.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I’m gonna get you.

 

CARILLO

Then you drew your gun …

 

CARGNISCENTI

Enough!

 

CARILLO

And pulled the trigger …

 

CARGNISCENTI

ENOUGH!

 

CARILLO

…And you shot h —

 

CARGNISCENTI leaps forward and grabs CARILLO by the neck. BOTH MEN fall to the ground, choking and punching one another. CARILLO releases himself from CARGNISCENIT’S grip, struggles to his feet and moves to the far side of the room. CARGNISCENTI is lying prostrate, completely exhausted. Finally, after recovering his breath, he gets to his knees.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Carillo …Carillo … I like you… I like you … You’re amusing … You have a very amusing sense of humor. You do … I like you.

 

CARGNISCENTI finally gets to his feet and stumbles to the table. He grabs the tape with the recording on it and waves it at CARILLO.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(waving tape)

Your funeral… See it? … This is it … I gave you your chance, but this … boom, boom, boom, is the nail in the coffin … Listen to it. Boom! … Boom! … Boom! … It’s the last sound you’ll hear … Nail in the coffin.

 

CARILLO

I don’t think so.

 

CARILLO says nothing. Quietly he reaches into his coat pocket and removes a tape. CARGNISCENIT stares at him.

 

CARGNISCENTI

What’s that?

 

CARILLO

(motioning to tape recorder)

Mind?

 

CARGNISCENTI shrugs. CARILLO walks to the table, ejects the tape in the machine, and replaces it with his tape. He presses the button. The MACHINE plays. Two voices can be made out, but they are difficult to distinguish the sound quality is so poor.

 

VOICE 1

I’m puttin’ an end to this, Carruthers. The game’s over.

 

CARILLO

(interjecting)

That’s you.

 

VOICE 2

This ain’t no game, Cargniscenti, this is real. And your finished.

 

CARILLO

Carruthers.

 

VOICE 1

You want real? I’ll show you real…

 

CARILLO

You drew your gun.

 

VOICE 1

… This is real.

 

VOICE 2

That’s not real, that’s crazy.

 

VOICE 1

Whatever you call it …

/

VOICE 2

Don’t be a fool, Cargniscenti. This’ll only make it worse. You can’t run from the facts.

 

VOICE 1

Neither can you.

 

VOICE 2

NO!

There is the rustling of footsteps, the sounds of a brief, but intense, struggle, then a LOUD GUNSHOT. The tape is immediately silent. BOTH MEN just sit and listen to the silence a moment, looking distant.

 

CARILLO

Sound familiar?

 

CARGNISCENTI

(shocked, but recovering)

No one’s gonna buy that.

 

CARILLO

Boom, boom, boom.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Gimme that!

 

CARGNISCENTI lunges for the tape, but CARILLO jumps out of the way just in time.

 

CARILLO

Last sound you’ll hear. Boom, boom, boom.

 

CARGNISCENTI

That thing is outright blasphemy.

 

CARILLO

Boom.

 

CARGNISCENTI

If you think anybody’s gonna believe that, you’ve lost your mind. It’s just gonna make it worse for you.

 

CARILLO

I don’t think so, Cargniscenti. You see, there are witnesses: nuns, rabbis, paperboys; they’re gonna come forward; they all saw something. As soon as this story breaks, as soon as it begins to excite and inflame their little minds, they’ll come outta the woodwork, one by one. And they’ll remember things, some of which will have actually happened, just fragments at first. Then someone, somewhere, will rearrange all the fragments and put ’em together to make a story, and bury you.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You know, Carillo, I’m coming to the conclusion that you’re stupid. They won’t remember anything because they didn’t see anything.

 

CARILLO

How do you know?

 

CARGNISCENTI

Because I didn’t do it.

 

CARILLO

What’re you going to do if they say you did?

 

Impulsively, CARGNISCENTI lunges again for the tape.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Gimme that thing!

 

CARILLO jumps out of the way and removes himself at a safe distance.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Look, Carillo, I’m not scared because I know you killed Carruthers. And I have proof. Do you understand? I have the proof you did it.

 

CARILLO

You did it, Cargniscenti.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You did it, Carillo.

 

CARILLO

You.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You.

 

CARILLO

You did it.

 

CARGNISCENTI

IT WAS YOU!

 

CARGNISCENTI lunges at CARILLO again. CARILLO puts the table between him and CARGNISCENTI.

 

CARILLO

Cargniscenti, when the shit starts flying and they begin to dig and they start finding out things, nobody’s gonna have any trouble believing you killed Carruthers. The department will be more than happy to bring this on you just to get rid of it. It’ll be just another shovelful of shit they wont’ have to deal with . A simple matter of convenience.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I have a reputation. I’ve been on the force for thirty years.

 

CARILLO

So much has happened in thirty years, too.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Not a single blemish.

 

CARILLO

But so many things under the surface.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I have two citations for extraordinary valor …

 

CARILLO

And a host of betrayals as long as your arm.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Four medals for good conduct …

 

CARILLO

A sordid personal history of illicit activity.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Three public service awards.

 

CARILLO

Ties to the underworld.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Steady promotions.

 

CARILLO

Corruptions.

 

CARGNISCENTI

No one will lay a hand on me.

 

CARILLO

They’ll bury you.

(a beat)

You and I both know that once the allegations have been made you’ll never live ’em down. Even if you’re exonerated of all charges (which is highly unlikely) the lingering doubts everybody’ll have will kill ‘ya. They’ll have a life of their own. They’ll be what you are. They’ll replace you. When people look at you they won’t even see you. They’ll be seeing those doubts. And no matter what you do from now until the rest of your life, you’ll never be anything other than what they think you are, which is no different that it is for anyone else, except in your case they’ll be thinking the worst.

 

CARGNISCENTI sits down again. He looks shaken, distant, completely beaten. He stays for a moment slumped in his chair when suddenly he is rejuvenated as though possessed of an idea or having come to a decision.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Listen, Carillo. I couldn’t have killed Carruthers.

 

CARILLO

Sure you could of.

 

CARGNISCENTI

No I couldn’t.

 

CARILLO

But you did.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I didn’t.

(a beat)

I didn’t because I couldn’t.

 

CARILLO

(cynically)

Don’t tell me you have an alibi.

 

CARGNISCENTI

The best.

 

CARILLO

Alibis means nothing.

 

CARGNISCENTI

The best.

(a beat)

There’s no way I could have killed Carruthers, because — I’m Carruthers.

 

CARILLO

(deadpan)

Insanity is a good defense if you play it right.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I’m not kidding, Carillo. I’m Carruthers. I couldn’t of killed him because I’m him.

 

CARILLO

Good. The whole trick is: if they believe that you believe …

 

CARGNISCENTI

DAMN IT! … Listen.

(conspiratorially)

Nobody knew who Carruthers was; he was completely covert. Nobody even knew who hired him. The captain thought the chief hired me, the chief thought the mayor hired me, the mayor thought the governor hired me, and the governor couldn’t remember if he hired  me or not. I had access to so much information … People were terrified. They were …volunteering … money in exchange for … nothing … silence… I took advantage … Just certain people at first, then I started initiating things … It was amazing! … Money for nothing. Money for nothing but silence. I started believing that since Carruthers wasn’t real that he could do anything to anybody and get away with it. Cause he didn’t exist, see? … Nobody could hurt an imaginary character … But that’s not true. See, one day somebody beat up Carruthers and Cargniscenti came to work with a black eye! … Suddenly, Carruthers had to disappear; he was dangerous; but how?

(pause)

Somebody had to kill him … He couldn’t just …vanish. So I worked this tape out … to escape … Somebody had to do it, so I used you … I made the tape, I found a body, I knew something about the coroner … You were a logical choice … And it was easy …

 

CARILLO laughs, greatly amused, and shakes his head.

 

CARGNISCENTI

It’s the fucking truth.

 

CARILLO is still laughing in disbelief.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Look. I’ll drop it if you will. Okay? We can both just walk away from this.

 

CARILLO

(ominously)

You’re a killer, Cargniscenti. You killed detective Nicky Carruthers at 11:53, on the 23rd of April, and you’re going to pay for that.

 

CARGNISCENTI

YOU ASS! I’m letting you go, so back off! While you still can!

 

CARILLO

I think we’re past all that now, Cargniscenti; it’s the point of no return … And the best thing is, when you come out with this cockamamie story I won’t even have to say a word.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(toe-to-toe)

All right, baby. I have the tape. I have the witnesses. You have a lousy reputation; everybody knows you’re a crook. I can get you. Even if you didn’t do it, you know I could get you anyway. I have all the resources at my disposal.

 

CARILLO

(confidently)

The nuns …the priests …the newspaperboys … They’re all going to come forward …

 

CARGNISCENTI

I have the resources and I can get you.

 

CARILLO

Fragments …bits and pieces … Somebody saw something … heard something …

 

CARGNISCENTI

You can’t do shit! Do you hear me! You can’t do anything because I’m Carruthers!

 

CARILLO

Keep it up.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I’m Carruthers … And if I have to tell the whole world I’m Carruthers I’ll do it. Even if it means getting killed!

 

CARILLO

(coaching)

Sincerity, Cargniscenti, but not desperation.

 

CARGNISCENTI

And I’ll tell you what; I’ll get you for murder; I’ll get you for killing me and I won’t even be dead. Boom!

 

CARILLO

No no, no, no, no.

(a beat)

I’m gonna get you for killing me and I won’t even be dead.

 

CARGNISCENTI

What?

 

CARILLO

I’m Carruthers.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I feel sorry for you.

 

CARILLO

Boom.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You have lost all contact with reality.

 

 

CARILLO

Reality? You don’t know the meaning of the word.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You don’t even know who you are.

 

CARILLO

I’m Carruthers. The Feds had me on serious tax evasion charges. I had no choice really but to cooperate. I became part of the governors new eyewitness and informant program. (It was a reelection year.) It was a completely covert operation; nobody really knew who hired me, even the governor. He had a policy of not knowing these kinds of things. I took the name Carruthers: title: detective … incognito. I knew about the street, but the title took me into the department itself, gave me access to information … I began to take advantage … But then things got a little out of hand. There was a cop in the department I knew everything about, and I was using it to squeeze him dry. Word was he was gonna kill me … Carruthers had to go … So I made this tape … I found a body… I knew something about the coroner … Somebody had to do it so I used you … And it was easy … Easy.

 

CARGNISCENTI laughs in a disjointed, slightly diabolical way that seems to have little to do with anything funny.

 

CARGNISCENTI

(curiously distracted)

Give it up … You actually think I’m going to jail for killing myself?

 

CARILLO

No. You’re going to jail for killing me.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Give me that tape, asshole!

 

CARGNISCENTI lunges, CARILLO dodges him easily, moving out of reach.

 

CARGNISCENTI

I’m puttin’ an end to this, Carillo. The game’s over.

 

CARILLO

This ain’t no game, Cargniscenti, this is real. And you’re finished.

 

CARGNISCENTI

You want real? I’ll show you real …

 

CARGNISCENTI removes his gun from his shoulder holster and points it at CARILLO.

 

CARGNISCENTI

… This is real.

 

CARILLO

That’s not real, that’s crazy.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Whatever you call it…

 

CARILLO

Don’t be a fool, Cargniscenti. This’ll only make it worse. You can’t run from the facts.

 

CARGNISCENTI

Neither can you.

 

CARGNISCENTI takes aim.

 

CARILLO

NO!

 

CARGNISCENTI

YES!

 

CARILLO lunges at CARGNISCENTI. They struggle for control of the gun, their bodies pressed against each other. The gun is sandwiched between them, obscured from view. There is a LOUD BANG! as the gun discharges. Just who has been shot is not clear. BOTH MEN stare at each other with equal shock. A thin, slightly ironic smile emerges from each man’s lips. CARILLO drops the tape. It clatters at their feet.

THE LIGHTS SLOWLY FADE TO BLACK.

 

CURTAIN.

—Bradd Allen Saunders

.

Bradd Allen Saunders is an award-winning playwright, produced in New York and Los Angeles, writer and director of the feature film, The Lounge People, starring Buck Henry and Amanda Plummer, and author of the novel Ivetha: An Airedale’s Compendium (available on Amazon.com). He is also a freelance journalist, a writing teacher and advisor at Film Connection/Film Institute in Los Angeles, and a screenplay and film lab mentor for the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (Cinephilia Productions) in Beirut Lebanon. He lives in Pasadena, California.

Detective Nicky Carruthers is Dead is a winner of the Kernodle New Play Award at the University of Arkansas and has been produced at First Stage Theater in Hollywood, California and at The Powerhouse Theater in Santa Monica, California.

 

 

 

 

  One Response to “Detective Nicky Carruthers is Dead: Play — Bradd Allen Saunders”

  1. Fantastic, tight, and hilarious! I am going to commemorate my esteem for this play by eating spaghetti and a pizza every April 23rd.

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