The mystery to be solved was that they all had the same person, and she is also at the party, unaware she had any effect in their lives at all. Meanwhile, Jack does some influencing himself by helping a lost soul find his way to the Savior. Jack’s character can be fun if he is played like a typical “Philip Marlowe” type detective.
3 males and 3 females. Only about 30 minutes in length. No set, and easy costumes.
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
JACK SHILOWE: A detective (in the Philip Marlowe style-think Humphrey Bogart) who finds himself in a bizarre case at a party.
ALLISON: Younger woman, Christian and has some longer lines.
MARGARET: Probably in her 60’s. Nice woman and good Christian, but thinks she has not been influential.
JO ANN: Another young woman, also a Christian.
STEPHEN: A man who thinks he is missing something and feels that no one has influenced him. He is not a believer yet.
TOM: A man probably in his 60’s. Friendly and a believer.
(The play opens with some narration by the detective. You can have it being played over the sound system from a previous recording, or have the actor come out on stage and talk to the audience. When this happens during the scene, you may want the other actors to freeze as the detective does an “aside” to the audience as part of the narrative.)
SHILOWE: (Narration) Folks who say they’ve seen it all are the lucky ones. Me, I’ve had to LIVE it all. I’d give anything to have just stood around looking, but that’s not for my breed. I’m a Private Eye. (Pause) My cases usually have a pattern to them: Someone wants control … of their own life, or someone else’s, or both. There is always a victim. Sometimes they’re still alive. When they are, they come to me. My name is Shilowe (Pronounced Shy-low). Jack Shilowe. People call me Blackjack. (Pause)
Life as a private eye is like this foggy day. Mysterious and so cold that sometimes you can’t feel a thing. You can never see too far ahead of you and when you see somethin’s comin’, you know it’s never good. (Pause) But in all my years as a P.I., and in all my jobs, from the head-shakin’ bizarre to the mundane…this is the only one that really had me… that really got to me. Yeah… this one took the proverbial cake. Lemon cake. The kind with the sour lemon cream cheese frosting that makes you pucker with every bite. (Pause) I was just there somehow. Talked into something that I’d rather not do with people I’d rather not be with. Some kind of a party. Ain’t that always how it starts? People were milling about like cows waiting for someone to lead them to the slaughter house. In the old days, I’d be having my usual, bringing on the usual affect, too much courage and too little clear thinking. Tonight I was having an iced tea. My inquisitive juices were flowing … I was already asking myself some very pertinent questions: What is this place? Who are all these people? And what am I doing here?
STEPHEN: (Approaches Shilowe) Mr. Shilowe?
SHILOWE: (barely glances at Stephen, takes a drink and talks through the swallow) mm-hmm.
STEPHEN: My name is Stephen Anderson. I need your help.
SHILOWE: I don’t help people, I solve cases.
STEPHEN: I know. You’re a detective. I always wanted to do that.
SHILOWE: You wouldn’t like it. It’s meager pay.
STEPHEN: Yes, Okay. I uh…well, I know that this will sound a bit odd….
SHILOWE: (on the voice over) …please have money…
STEPHEN: …but, I met someone here tonight.
SHILOWE: Let me guess. A dame, right?
STEPHEN: Yes… how did you know?
SHILOWE: There’s always a dame. Please continue.
STEPHEN: She was telling me how there was this person that she knew that really had a big influence in her life.
SHILOWE: (on the voice over) …please have money…
STEPHEN: Well, She has completely changed and has become a new person. She has peace and joy and… Well, she owes everything to that person.
SHILOWE: Sounds nice. (On the voice over) …please have money…
STEPHEN: Well, it’s not just her. There was this other person I was talking to.
SHILOWE: Another dame?
STEPHEN: Yeah. Do you always refer to women as dames?
SHILOWE: (pauses, looks at Stephen, chuckles. On the voice over…) Yeah…
he’s got money.
STEPHEN: (nervous and slightly embarrassed at his failed attempt to correct) Well…this other woman was telling me the same kind of story. She has had this spiritual awakening and her life has changed, and it was all because of some woman! Some woman said something to her. It totally changed her life.
SHILOWE: So you talked with two dependent dames who need someone else to
help them out. What does that have to do with you, Mr. Anderson? Or better yet, what does that have to do with me? And I’m charging you for this little chat here. Keep that in mind before you go any further.
STEPHEN: Oh, of course. I will definitely pay you for your services. I was planning on paying you. You have a good reputation Mr. Shilowe, and I know your fees are fair.
SHILOWE: Good… now that that’s settled. Let’s get back to your bizarre little story.
STEPHEN: This is where it gets rather odd. You see. I don’t have any one in my life saying or doing anything that is making a big difference. You’re a detective. I thought maybe you could find someone for me. I need a life changing experience.
SHILOWE: You need a detective or a preacher?
STEPHEN: I’ll leave that up to you, Mr. Shilowe. I just want what those two women have. I thought maybe you could figure out how they got it…and then figure out how I could get it, too. (They talk silently during the next narration and then he walks away)
SHILOWE: (Narration) I wasn’t sure I liked this case right from the start. This sad little puppy certainly needed some spiritual guidance, and I was not the Joe to give it to him. But I agreed to check it out a little further before tossing him out on his pathetic little behind. He described the two ‘WOMEN’ and I had no problems tracking them down. The first one just floated across the room… right up to me, and with a smile on her face that could melt Adolph Hitler, she started to speak.
JO ANN: (Approaching Shilowe) Mr. Shilowe!
SHILOWE: I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure.
JO ANN: (Shakes his hand) I’m Jo Ann DeWinters. I’m a big fan of your work!
SHILOWE: Like to solve mysteries, do you Miss De Winters?
JO ANN: (She laughs) Oh I don’t know about that. So are you here on business or pleasure?
SHILOWE: Maybe both. Maybe neither. So far, there hasn’t been much pleasure. Perhaps you could change all that.
JO ANN: (Laughs again) Oh Mr. Shilowe! Are you trying to flirt with me? I should tell you right away that I’m a Christian and that I don’t participate in silly flirting with strange men. (She smiles at him)
SHILOWE: Then I’ll cut to the quick. Miss De Winters, do you have some special benefactor in your life?
JO ANN: Sir?
SHILOWE: Was there someone who really made a difference for you?
JO ANN: What an interesting question! Why yes! Doesn’t everyone have those people in their lives that bring such influence?
SHILOWE: Apparently not. Tell me about yours, would you, Miss De Winters? If you don’t mind.
JO ANN: Oh, not at all! I would love to. This will be the second time this evening. And you can call me Jo. (Pause) I would have to say that my person is my Aunt Peg. She was so good to me. She made me feel like I was someone important. She always talked to me and had time for me. She would take me to church with her and she lived an exemplary life before me. I was so impressed. I wanted to be just like her. On the night that I got saved… I was thinking about how I would have never gotten to that point in my life without her. She was the whole reason I came to know the Lord. Funny …I don’t think I ever told her that.
SHILOWE: That’s a nice story.
JO ANN: I’m sure it’s not as thrilling as the things you are used to hearing, Mr. Shilowe … but it’s my story.