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America’s Sherklock Holmes

February 21, 2012

Chicago street corner the early 1900’s.  A woman, SADIE looks around, she then reaches into a purse and takes out a cigarette.  She puts it in her mouth.  Suddenly out of nowhere a man with a long beard grabs the cigarette breaks it and strikes a pose.  He is of course detective CLIFTON R. WOOLDRIDGE

CLIFTON

77!

SADIE

77?

CLIFTON

Madam you must be in shock.

SADIE

No just a little drunk.

CLIFTON

Drunk on the presence of greatness.  That greatness – MINE!  That presence – Currently.  Shh, don’t speak.  I see the problem!  My disguise has fooled you.  Well don’t be down in the heaps I fool all of the seedy underbelly of the wormy beef that is Chicago street slime!

(He removes the beard.)

Ta meet da!

SADIE

My name is Sadie.

CLIFTON

Of course, I guessed it from the shape of your skull.

SADIE

Huh?  What kind of potato shit are you?

CLIFTON

Your salty language bruises my brain listeners – ears, to the common folk.  Don’t you know who I am?

SADIE

A nut.

CLIFTON

I may have a hard shell and a protein rich core, but that’s where the similarities between me and the wonderful drupe exocarp of the South diverge!  I see you’re new to Chicago—

SADIE

Lived here my whole life.

CLIFTON

If you call that living.

SADIE

I always called it Komkumba it’s Magyrian for dying a little at the twilight.

CLIFTON

SHUT UP!  Here take my introductory pamphlet –

CLIFTON hands SADIE a pamphlet.  He says it aloud from memory.

 

CLIFTON

America’s Sherklock Holmes – Clifton R. Wooldridge.  Surprise it’s me!

SADIE

Don’t you mean Sherlock Holmes?

CLIFTON

You are so dumb no the famous English detective Sherklock.

SADIE

I’m think it’s Sherlock . . .

CLIFTON

Well that’s lady thoughts for you so cute and so wrong.  Like watching an ape at a monkey party.  WHERE IS YOUR TAIL!  He hasn’t one.  But I have.

(Takes out a tail.)

I removed it from a monkey who was rude to me.  Lesson  Learned.

SADIE

That’s—

CLIFTON

Lesson.  Learned.

(Puts away the monkey tail.)

Sherklock one.  Monkey minus one .  . . MILLION!

CLIFTON does a karate chop for no reason.

SADIE

Anyway, is this supposed to be you on the cover?

CLIFTON

My likeness yes, but I also kept it vague, so crime can’t memorize my face.  THAT’S BRAINS, GIRL!  But who do you ask would have the smarts to recognize that I – Clifton R. Wooldridge – is America’s Sherklock Holmes?

SADIE

I did not ask any such poorly phrased query.

CLIFTON

Wrong.  The answer is me!  I figured it out when I stood in awe of how I solved the case of the missing bagpipe.  The closet did it!  Well, had it.  IT WAS IN THE CLOSET!  Oh, I see you doubt my prowess . . .

SADIE

I also doubt your sanity.

CLIFTON

They are linked dear Madame.

SADIE

Sadie.

CLIFTON

Not til after lunch!  Turn to the back of the pamphlet – those are my stats!

SADIE looks them over.

 

CLIFTON

READ THEM ALOUD!

SADIE

Why?

CLIFTON

I like to hear my deeds read aloud.  It arouses me . . . to action!

SADIE

Fine.

(Reading.)

17,000 arrests, 125 criminals sent to the penitentiary, $75,000 lost loot recovered, 67 dogs debarked, 100 pounds gained, 76 girls rescued from lives of shame.

CLIFTON

77 now that I can add you to the list!

SADIE

I wasn’t—

CLIFTON

That cigarette was the first step to a spiral of opium and phallus cum mouthus!

SADIE

I just do it for nerves, it’s calming.

CLIFTON

So are the sounds of whales, but you don’t see me punching a porpoise to get my beauty sleep.  Perhaps it’s too late.  You should read this pamphlet – also a Clifton Production –

CLIFTON gives her another pamphlet.

 

SADIE

Vampires Exposed or Ferreting Out the Women Grafters?

CLIFTON

I’m on to you like a rug fetishist on a freshly woven Oriental.  Now Sinbad you better PrayGood or your adventures will be down at the workhouse.

SADIE

I’m just waiting for my sister.

CLIFTON

Is that what they call him.  Of course.  Mr. Sister the diabolical tyrant king of the lower slums of the Chicago slum district.  Slum-tastic — I bet his battle cry rings.

SADIE

She’s working at the mill.

CLIFTON

I’m on to you– your pleading prose may be enough to bring tears to the eyes of an iron-eyed lawn-dog but I’m the firmer fish in the minnow pail!

SADIE

I only understand about half of what you’re –

CLIFTON

PAMPHLET!

CLIFTON gives her another pamphlet.

 

CLIFTON

Don’t bother getting your eyes dirty reading the inky words of truth, Sadie.  I’ll tell you what it says; it says I’m also a master of disguise.  In fact while I was watching you I was in one of my prime disguises.

(Puts the beard back on.)

Howdy Miss I’m Heck Houston Cattle Baron from Wyoming.  I’m a whole heap of cow.

(Takes off beard.)

Don’t worry it’s just me.  You equal fooled!

SADIE

I wasn’t –

CLIFTON

Other notable aliases, aliasies? Allases?  OTHER DISGUISES –

(Strikes a pose denoting each one.)

Gambler Policy Sam Johnson

Wisenheimer Brick Load

Mysterious wanderer J. P. Porridge

Celestial Goat seller Wang Tang Doodle

And—

Ghetto Jew.

Impressed?  Answer yes.  Even I’m impressed.

SADIE

Is that all?  No more pamphlets.

CLIFTON

I have this pamphlet on making pamphlets for fun and profit.  And this one on dogs.

SADIE

Dogs.

CLIFTON

I like them.  Especially ones that look like my grandmother.  Nanny pups I call them.  And then I reach down and give their little ears a scratch and then I sometimes realize . .. hey that’s a rat not a dog and I wonder about how I could have made that mistake and suddenly it’s Tuesday and I’m prone to the taste of hamburgers and I look down and the dog cum rat has vanished probably down a sewer maybe into my pants and I don’t realize it until I go home de pant and find him curled up in there sleeping off his little rat fever, for he’s very ill and I nurse him back to health and I dress him up in his own series of disguises because maybe he could be my partner –

(Strikes rat poses.)

Lord Ratting Cheesely Duke of Windsor

Uncle Bites the stern headmaster

Cheese Inspector Morris

And

Ghetto Jew.

(Beat.)

But they always die so soon like dreams in front of a father  – oh pardon I’ve said too much.  Here’s a forgiveness pamphlet.

CLIFTON gives SADIE another pamphlet.

 

SADIE

Look it’s all right; I’m just going to go . . .

CLIFTON

OK, but stay out of dens–opium or bear.

SADIE

That’s good advice.  I guess.

SADIE scratches her arm, pulling up her sleeve.  There’s an odd mark on her arm.

 

CLIFTON

What!  That mark!  The twin birthmark of the doomed raccoon!  Oh.  My.  Buns!  You’re Mister Sister—

SADIE

What?  I mean . . . how did that get . . .

(Dropping the act.)

Well, well, Clifton once again you go and foil me act.  Yes it’s me, after our last encounter on suicide falls where I faked my suicide –

CLIFTON

I called it the case of death by death.

SADIE

I read all about it, so I went to France, originally just to see the naked ladies dance.

CLIFTON

Through the hole in the wall?

SADIE

Where the boys can see it all, yes.  They wrote a poem about it –

CLIFTON

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d by Walt Whitman — yes I’ve read it.

SADIE

But I knew I’d need a new disguise so I had a sex change or as the French call it change du sex.    It was experimental, but I think it worked.

CLIFTON

Even the boobs?

SADIE

Especially the boobs.

CLIFTON

But now cur you have no hiding hole, the only hole you’ll have is a whole lot of jail time and a donut hole because they have donut Wednesdays at Chicago Jail, but no good donuts only plain.

SADIE

My favorite flavor is plain.

CLIFTON

IT WOULD BE!

SADIE

But fine.  Yes.  You caught me.  But just do me one small favor before throwing me into the clink.

(Takes out a flower.)

Smell this flower.

CLIFTON

I hardly see how it’s relevant or even pertinent to the germane-ness of this conversation, but I shall, for I am a man of my word.  And that word is – BOONDOGGLE!  So it was decreed by a Druid Priest in a meadow not far from here.

SADIE

Gemlo’s meadow?

CLIFTON

Oh, you know it?

SADIE

Nope.

CLIFTON

BASTARD you tricked me for the last time.

SADIE

Doubtful.  Now give a wiff with your sniff.

CLIFTON leans in and smells the flower.  A beat.

 

CLIFTON

Very nice.  You know for a moment I had worried your put some sort of knockout gas in the flower and I’d sniff it and fall into a slumber deep.

SADIE

Not very sporting of me that would be.

CLIFTON

True.

SADIE

But . . .

CLIFTON

What?

SADIE punches him.

 

SADIE

You have been lulled to false security!  My punch has bested you!

CLIFTON

Ow, my face, I was using it.  For talking.  To you.

SADIE

But now I escape.  For a man who is punched cannot arrest another man for 20 minutes, so go the corrupt laws of Chicago!

CLIFTON

Tis true!  Folly!  Chicago the criminals and crime-o-diles that pen your laws have made you a villain’s bitch.  How you lap at the balls of thieves and sniff the bugler’s crotch!  Chicago!  Chicago . . .

SADIE

I leave!  Slum-tastic!

SADIE runs off.

 

CLIFTON

This is not the end Mr. Sister!  I shall have my . . . oh no a train!

Train sounds as a train comes and runs over CLIFTON.

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