Dead End: A one-act play

DEAD END A one-act play
(“Revamped”)
by
Dale Critchley

DRAMATIS PERSONAE
ABE: A private investigator
JONATHAN: ABE’s partner
MR. ADDAMS: EDDIE’s father
MRS. ADDAMS: EDDIE’s mother
EDDIE: A seven-year-old boy.
RACHEL: JONATHAN’s wife
LILY/ELLIE: JONATHAN’s daughter

THE TIME
The present.

THE PLACE
A U.S. city of over 100,000 people.

Scene One.

THE CURTAIN RISES. We see the office of Knightlight Investigations, a private investigator company. The office consists of two desks. One, ABE’s, has a compact Macintosh™ computer on it. The other, JONATHAN’s, is covered messily with a pile of papers, a rolodex, and a typewriter off to the side. There is also a coat rack with a tan tweed suit coat hanging on it and three office chairs in addition to the two at the desks. Each desk has a wastebasket beside it. JONATHAN’s is overflowing with crumpled up paper. Abe’s desk has a briefcase beside it. Near the chairs is a table with a telephone, a full coffee maker, and two mugs; one says “#1 DAD” on it, and the other says “#1 NON-DAD”. The main entrance to the room is upstage, a simple wooden door into a hallway. There is also a clock above the door which reflects the time in each scene. The clock is moving twice as fast as normal. This speeded time is not to be noticeable, but only to give the illusion that a lot of time is passing. Currently, it is 7:08 a.m.

AT RISE: onstage is ABE.

ABE is seated at a desk, typing. He wears a starched white shirt and glasses. He is balding and has his hair combed over the top of his head to cover it. His tie is neatly tied.

ABE gets up and pours a cup of coffee into the #1 NON-DAD mug. He sips it, sets it down beside his computer, and sits down, continuing to type.

JONATHAN enters. He has three days’ stubble on his face and his tie hangs loosely. The top button of his wrinkled short-sleeve shirt is not buttoned and half is not tucked in. His fly is down. He is wearing a jacket with a “Bela’s Pub” on it. He’s REALLY hungover. He removes the jacket and throws it on the chair nearest the coat rack.
ABE
(Without looking up from the keyboard.)
Anything new?
JONATHAN
From police files? Are you serious? I don’t know why we bother.
ABE
There was that case last year with the computer virus….
JONATHAN
Yeah, we found out that the police computers were affected, too.
ABE
Well, you never know.
JONATHAN
I was talking to a couple homeless people down on State Street, and one of them, Yodelling Bum, thinks he saw the kid, but he said he was with that girl from Poltergeist , so you know what that tells you. We might as well be looking for Elvis. Let’s face it, it’s just a missing kid. He’s probably laying dead in a dumpster somewhere. Why did we ever take this job, anyway?
ABE
Because we need the cash. Ma Bell’s about to cut us off, and it would really be nice to have electricity next month. My Mac works so much better that way. Besides, it was your idea.
JONATHAN
So, what did you get? Let me guess: someone saw him while they were eating breakfast.
ABE
(Looking up and leaning back in his chair.)
Only on the milk carton, and by the way, don’t use the words “saw” and “breakfast” in the same sentence. Channel 27 showed his picture on the news a couple nights ago. Someone from the south side called and said she saw him last night with a little blonde girl. Sound familiar?
JONATHAN
Okay, you got me. Any details?
ABE
Well, it seems she got a glimpse of him as she was driving by, but when she looked back, he was gone. I’d dismiss it as an overactive imagination if it weren’t for the little girl. You figure anyone who remembers the faces of missing kids they’ve seen once is a bit bizarre.
JONATHAN
Anything else?
ABE
Yeah, a phone number.
JONATHAN
You call her yet?
ABE
At 7 a.m.?
JONATHAN
Oh. Well, here’s a good one for you. It seems Eddie wasn’t as popular with his classmates recently. It seems he’s been spending his time with a new friend, Lily.
ABE
Little blond girl?
JONATHAN
Bingo. Give yourself a kewpie doll. It seems this Lily wasn’t real popular in school. I guess her family is a bunch of necro Yoko Ono clones. She wears black all the time and keeps to herself. Apparently, Eddie took to her like maggots to carrion, and she’d been monopolizing his time. Best I can get out of it is that they ran from rejection. What I don’t get is how they survive, especially on the south side. His parents live in The Heights!
ABE
I suppose they’re just kids and nice people take care of them.
JONATHAN
Yeah, right. Nice people on that side of town. In the past month, all those gruesome murders have been occurring in that area. You think someone who impales people with table legs is going to come to some kids’ rescue? Those kids don’t need that kind of help.
ABE
Well, there’s that lady who called in….
JONATHAN
What’s her phone number?
ABE
Lets see… (Types something. Waits.) 836-2583.
JONATHAN
Nope. That puts her on the west side. She was probably just cutting through instead of going the long way around.
ABE
Where does Lily live? Did you get her parents’ names and address?
JONATHAN
Mother’s name is Rachel Tepes. No father. No address on record. Really weird. The secretary figured it was a computer glitch or else because she’s a new student and they don’t have it entered yet, and they do no hard copy backups. I tell you, our education system is just going down the toilet, and I know my toilets.
ABE
Rachel?
JONATHAN
Yeah. I noticed. Your insight duly noted.
ABE
I’m sorry, Jonathan. I didn’t mean to….
JONATHAN
Abe, it’s all right. I’m over it.
ABE
Well, I mean, I’m sorry about the whole thing, Jonathan. I mean, I’m sure you’re hurting. It wasn’t that long ago, really, and it’s not like you just forget that your wife was, well, you know….
JONATHAN
Killed? Murdered? Found dead with her voicebox ripped out? Just say it, Abe. I hate it when people hint around about it to save my feelings. I buried her. She’s gone. Life goes on. It’s over, all right? Jeez, it’s been five years!
ABE
I’m sorry, Jonathan. I didn’t mean….
JONATHAN
Forget it. Just drop it. So, what do we got so far? ‘Seems like we got the kid on the south side with this girl. I guess the next logical step is going down there ourselves and checking it out. I suggest you take the day shift. I don’t think you want to go down there at night.
ABE
I can handle myself!
JONATHAN
Yeah, and the Lost Boys can handle you, too. Trust me, man. You don’t want to be down there at night. I mean, I don’t even want to go, but since he was seen at night, I get the feeling we’ll find her at night.
ABE
You mean “him.”
JONATHAN
That’s what I said.
ABE
No, you said, “her.” Jonathan, Ellie’s gone. She had blond hair, but the girl seen with Eddie is about seven years old. Ellie would have been twelve.
JONATHAN
Shut up, Abe. I hate it when you psychoanalyze me. I know my daughter is gone. I’ve accepted that, too. It was just a slip of the tongue. Just shut up and get going. We have work to do. I’ll make a few calls and take over for you at six.
ABE
All right. I’ll see you later.
ABE puts on the tweed coat, cleans up his area, and starts walking out.
JONATHAN
Hey, Abe! Put something more comfortable on before you go down there, and, uh, lose the briefcase.
ABE
(With a surprised look on his face as if to say, “Gee, I hadn’t thought of that.”)
What do you take me for?
(Walks out.)
JONATHAN
All right, what are my leads? (Rummages through papers on desk. Finds a slip of paper.) Here we go. Lets see what Weasel knows.
JONATHAN picks up the phone, dials a number, leans back in his chair, and puts his feet up on the desk.
Sammie! Hi! J.V. here! How’s life? Look, let’s get to the meat. I’ve been looking for a little boy: seven years old, black hair, blue eyes, last seen in blue jeans and a football shirt. He’s been seen with a little girl about the same size: long blond hair and dressed in black. No? Are you sure? All right, let me know if you hear anything. Yeah, the check’s in the mail. No, it really is this time!
He hangs up the phone and dials a new number.
Hmmm. Let’s see what Pops has got. Po…uh…Mr. Lang? Hi! This is…yeah, that’s right! You’re sharp as a tack, Mr. Lang. How’s Mrs. Lang? Yeah? How’s the new hip working out for her? (Laughs.) Yeah, I’ll bet! No one can shake it like Mrs. Lang. Listen, I was wondering if you could help me. I’ve been looking for a missing child. Yeah. He’s about seven years old with black hair and blue eyes, and he was last seen wearing blue jeans and a football shirt. He was with a little girl about the same size. She has long blond hair and dresses in a lot of black. I was wondering if they might have stopped in the store to get some candy or something to drink. No? Okay, well thanks anyways. Say, could you save me a couple of Mrs. Lang’s famous oatmeal-raisin cookies? I’ve had a real craving for some. I’ll stop by tonight. Okay, thanks a lot, and give that beautiful wife of yours a kiss for me. Okay. I’ll see you later. Bye, now.
He hangs up the phone, goes over to ABE’s desk, and turns on the computer (Audible “Phong” sound of a Macintosh™ starting up), mumbling something about “…raisins give me the squirts….”
All right, Abe, who was this lady? She should be up by now. (Punching a bunch of buttons) Abe, you’re such a nerd. Why can’t you store things like normal people? Here we go. (Writing down a note on a slip of paper.) Why do I get the feeling this won’t go anywhere?
He sits down as before and dials the phone.
Hello, is this Mrs. Munroe? Hi. Did I wake you? Oh, I’m sorry. Would you like me to call you back at a better time? Well, My name is Jonathan Van Helsing. I’m a private investigator trying to locate the boy who was on the news that you saw. Yeah, that’s right. I was wondering if you might have anything that might help me. Well, you could start by telling me what you saw. Uh huh. Oh, yeah, no one likes taking the long way around, especially with gas prices being what they are. Uh huh. Anyways, what exactly did you see? Uh huh. Yeah, I’d be a bit curious about two seven-year-olds outside at that time of the night, too. So, you looked back and… oh, yeah, I suppose the rear-view mirror would be a better option for looking back. The potholes alone are enough to kill you around there! And they were just gone? Huh! Yeah, darkness is hard to hide in. Yeah. Well, thanks for your help. No, it did help. Every little bit helps. You see, our job is really a process of finding little pieces and fitting them together, and you don’t know what the finished picture will look like until you fit all of the pieces together. Yeah. Right, and you may have given us the missing piece! Right! Okay. Thank-you Mrs Munroe. God bless you, too, Mrs. Munroe. Okay, good-bye now, and thanks again. Yeah. Good-bye.
He hangs up the phone and sets it down, going over to ABE’s computer and turning it off.
Well, that was useless. Lets see what the obituaries tell me.
He sits down and finishes reading the paper. When he reaches the back page, he starts taking notes, but then stops and just tears the whole thing off and throws the rest of the paper on the waste basket heap. The obituaries he folds up and puts in his pocket. As he finishes, the phone rings, and he answers it.
Knightlight Investigations, how can I help you? Oh, hey Clint! W’sup? Doughnuts? Yeah, sure! I missed breakfast. Why don’t you just pick me up in the squad on the way over? All right, see you in five.
JONATHAN gets up, puts on his coat, and exits.

BLACKOUT.

Scene Two

The lights come back up. It is later in the day, about noon.

Enter JONATHAN with a few envelopes and a magazine in his hands.
Bill, bill, bill, Ed McMahon, U.S. Cav. Magazine, Ann Rice Fan Club Newsletter….
He drops the pile of mail on ABE’s desk, removes his coat as before, and sits down as before. He picks up the phone and dials another number.
Yo, Clint! You got…you do. Well, let’s hear it. Yeah, I know, but it’s for a worthy cause, ya know? (Picks up a pencil and starts writing.) Go for it. Uh huh. Uh huh. All impaled? Any other clues at all? (Joking.) So, what good are ya?! Man! Yeah, all right. Will do. See ya!
Enter ABE. He is acting in great urgency.
ABE
Jonathan, come outside, quick. I need you to help me bring something inside.
JONATHAN
Whaddaya got?
ABE
You’ll see, just give me a hand with it!
JONATHAN
All right! All right! Take a laxative! Jeez! I’m coming!
JONATHAN gets up and exits with ABE. They come back with a wooden crate approximately four feet six inches by two feet by two feet, held shut tightly by hemp rope. It
seems to be fairly heavy, based on the way they are carrying it, about sixty to seventy pounds. They are carrying it and set it down with the largest faces on the top and bottom.
JONATHAN
This mother is heavy! What’s in it?
ABE pulls out a knife and cuts the rope, opening the crate.
JONATHAN
(Looks into the crate. Jumps back in surprise.)
Is he…?
ABE looks at JONATHAN and then bows his head.
ABE
As a doornail.
JONATHAN
But…. Where…? How…?
ABE
I found him in the basement of an abandoned building on the south side. I don’t know what killed him. There are no marks anywhere. It must be a drug overdose or something. I don’t know, Jonathan. I don’t know.
JONATHAN
(Pauses for a while.)
Well, I guess the case is closed. Someone’s gotta call Mr. and Mrs. Addams.
ABE
You’re best at that kind of thing.
JONATHAN
Man, I don’t want to do it. I always have to make these calls, and I hate it!
ABE
I know, but you are good at talking to people.
JONATHAN
You can talk as well as I can. Anyone can talk.
ABE
Jonathan….
JONATHAN
(Sighing.)
Fine. What’s the number?
ABE
836-8379.
JONATHAN picks up the phone and dials. He waits a little while.
JONATHAN
Hello, Mrs. Addams? This is Jonathan Van Helsing from Knight…. Yes, that’s right. Um, well, I was wondering if you could come down to our office with Mr. Addams. Well, I’d rather wait until you get here say anything. Really, Mrs. Addams, please just come down to our office and we’ll fill you in on everything then. Okay, Mrs. Addams. I’ll see you in a few minutes. Okay, Mrs. Addams. Good-bye. (He hangs up.)
ABE
So?
JONATHAN
Well, I guess it’s safe to say she’s confused.
ABE
So, what are we going to tell them when they get here?
JONATHAN
I don’t know, Abe. How do you tell someone that you found their kid gift-wrapped in a box? “Merry Christmas, Mr. and Mrs. Addams! It’s something I’m sure you’d never buy for yourself!”
(ABE is silent.)
Look, Abe, I know what you’re thinking, and I’ll tell you. I don’t know. No one ever came up and told me my daughter was dead. She just disappeared, and I eventually accepted that she was gone. For all I know, she may still be around somewhere, but I’m not holding my breath. Of course, if I were, I wouldn’t have been able to make that call….
ABE
Well, anyway, what are we going to tell them?
JONATHAN
Well, you know what they say about pictures and a thousand words and all that. I guess we just show them.
ABE
Yeah, sure! Why not just take a Louisville Slugger to their heads?! Or wouldn’t that be blunt enough for you?!
JONATHAN
Okay, so how do you prepare them for something like this?
ABE
Yeah, I suppose you’re right. It doesn’t make it any better, though.
JONATHAN
Nothing does.
JONATHAN sits down at his desk and picks up a few random papers. He skims through them, throwing a seemingly random half of them onto his trash heap and puts the rest back on his desk. Abe sits down at his computer and starts typing.

The lights fade slowly.

Scene Three

The same place, about thirty minutes later.

The lights come up at the same rate they dimmed.

ABE is still typing and JONATHAN continues to sort. The pile has gotten larger, and his desk is almost starting to look tidy… almost.
JONATHAN
They should be here by now.
ABE
Relax. I’m sure they’ll be here soon. Mr. Addams was probably still at work. You know, we really should call the coroner or the cops or something. We should have done that to begin with. I just thought you’d appreciate a change of setting. I figured a basement of a bad part of town isn’t the place to find out your kid’s a stiff. I don’t know. We could lose our licenses. Maybe we should put him back.
JONATHAN
Yeah, I know, but don’t. We should give them some time to react before we dump the authorities on them and stuff. It’ll be okay. Trust me.
ABE
All right. I suppose.
As ABE says this, there is an urgent knock on the door.
JONATHAN
Gee, I wonder who that might be. If it’s Jehovah’s Witnesses, tell them the Satanists got to us first!
BOTH rise and go to the door. ENTER MR. ADDAMS and MRS. ADDAMS.
They are both in their late 30’s. MR. ADDAMS is wearing a sport coat and tie, neatly tied. MRS. ADDAMS is wearing a skirt and blouse.
ABE
Mr. and Mrs. Addams, I’d like you to sit down.
MR. ADDAMS
Excuse me, gentlemen, but what do you have in that crate over there?
JONATHAN
Your son, Mr. Addams. I’m sorry.
MRS. ADDAMS sits down in a state of shock. MR. ADDAMS is also in shock, but he turns to comfort MRS. ADDAMS. ABE glares at JONATHAN and mimes swinging a bat.
JONATHAN
(To ABE)
Well? He asked!
ABE
Mr. and Mrs. Addams, I found your son in a basement on the south side. I’m sorry.
MR. ADDAMS
(Trying to remain stoic.)
Well, I guess you’ve done your job, gentlemen. I will send you a check as soon as we get home.
MRS. ADDAMS
Wait! Our son is dead! How did he die? How did it happen? Who did this to him? When….
JONATHAN
I’m sorry, Mrs. Addams. We don’t have the answers to those questions. You’ll need to talk to the coroner, and if you don’t mind, we’ll call him now. We thought it best to give you a few last moments with your son before, well, you know.
MR. ADDAMS
That would be fine. Thank-you for waiting.
JONATHAN flips through the rolodex, finds the number, and dials. MR.ADDAMS is consoling MRS. ADDAMS.
JONATHAN
Hello, this is Jonathan Van Helsing of Knightlight Investigations. We have a body here with a positive I.D. Could you come down and…? Busy? How busy? Tomorrow morning? Are you kidding?! Okay, I suppose you have been busy with all those impalings. The obits were a bit long today. Longer tomorrow? Well, I guess we don’t have much of a choice. Yeah, it’s 22 North Main. Yeah. Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow, 8:00 sharp. Yeah. Thanks. Bye.
(He hangs up.)
Well, it seems they’re kind of busy with all the, uh, furniture problems lately. They won’t be able to get here until tomorrow morning.
MR. ADDAMS
Tomorrow morning? That’s ridiculous!
JONATHAN
Well, I guess that’s just the consequence of living here. Look, why don’t you two go home and come back here tomorrow. There’s no point staying here all night. The coroner will be here about 8:00.
MR. ADDAMS
Come on, honey. Let’s go home.
MRS. ADDAMS
But, I don’t want to leave my son!
MR. ADDAMS
There’s nothing we can do for him! Let’s go!
MR. ADDAMS and MRS. ADDAMS EXIT.
ABE
Well, we might as well go and try to get some sleep.
JONATHAN
(Sarcastically.)
Yeah, right. I’m sure I’ll sleep well. There’s something soothing about having a seven-year-old corpse in my office.
EXIT JONATHAN and ABE after donning coats.

Scene Four

The lights dim. While the lights still are low, JONATHAN enters again, turns on the lights, throws his coat on the same chair, goes to his desk, and starts rummaging through the papers on his desk. It is about 6 a.m.
JONATHAN
All right, where is that stupid thing? It was right here!
(Grabs a piece of paper.)
Ah, here we go. As long as I’m up, I might as well get some work done. Jeez, I hate waking up before my alarm!
JONATHAN goes to make coffee. As he does, he glances into the crate containing the corpse and jumps back in surprise. He runs to the phone, fumbles with it, and dials.
JONATHAN
C’mon Abe, answer your phone! (Waits.) Abe! Jonathan! Get your butt down here now! You won’t believe it! The kid’s gone! No! I mean the crate is here, but it’s empty! No, the place was locked! There’s no way they or anyone else could’ve gotten in! Just get down here!
(He hangs up.)
Oh jeez. What do we do? His parents are going to flip, the cops and the coroner are going to flip, and there goes our pay…and our licenses for that matter! We’ve got to find that kid! But, who would take a dead seven-year-old? Oh jeez. We’re dead.
The lights fade, then come back up immediately. It is 7:02 a.m.

ENTER ABE. ABE looks into the crate and sees that it is empty.
JONATHAN
Since when does it take an hour to get here?
ABE
(Angry.)
Since my car hates cold weather and since my scraper broke, I had to scrape my windows with my fingers! Frostbite’s a blast, let me tell you!
JONATHAN
I’m sorry, Abe. I’m a bit freaked out, and I’ve been sitting here for an hour stressing about the whole situation. What do we tell Ma and Pa Addams? “I’m sorry, but we misplaced your kid’s corpse.”
ABE
Okay, there’s got to be some explanation. Maybe whoever killed him came back, eccentric collectors, or….
JONATHAN
Abe, I’ve been over every possibility a thousand times in the past hour, and nothing’s feasible, I promise you.
ABE
But there’s got to be something! He didn’t just evaporate! Maybe he’s under that pile on your desk!
JONATHAN
Yeah, well, there’s no possible way he could be gone.
ABE
Well, Jonathan, he is. (Lifts up empty crate for all to see.) Look! He’s not here! That means that someone came and took him! We are private investigators. Our job is to find out who, how, and why. You’d better call his parents.
JONATHAN
Me?! No way, Abe, it’s your turn. I called last time.
ABE
Yeah, because you’re better at that kind of thing.
JONATHAN
We’ve been through this a million times. Anyone can be good at it. It’s just a matter of….
ABE
Jonathan….
JONATHAN sighs, goes to the computer, turns it on, waits, types, dials, and waits.)
JONATHAN
Hello, Mr. Addams? Well, we’ve encountered a bit of a problem. Well, you see, when we got to the office this morning, the crate which held your sons body was, well, bodiless. I… He… We don’t know, but we’re working on it. That’s really not necessary. Well, okay then, we’ll see you in a few minutes. (JONATHAN hangs up.) I hate you.
ABE
Yeah, I know. So, they’re coming down, eh?
JONATHAN
Yeah. He’s pretty upset. Can’t say as I blame him, though. It’s pretty traumatic to have a child disappear, and this has got to be a bazillion times worse.
ABE
We should call the coroner and cancel.
JONATHAN
Yeah. Gee, this has got to be the first time he’s ever had a cancellation.
ABE
I’ll take this one. You’ve earned a break.
JONATHAN
Thanks, Abe, but I still hate you.
ABE
Yeah, I know. What’s the number?
JONATHAN
(Looking in the rolodex.)
249-3384.
ABE
(Dials and waits.)
Hello, this is Abraham Harker from Knightlight Investigations. We called last night to report a body? Well, your visit won’t be necessary. That’s right. Well, it turns out that we misjudged his condition. He may not be dead, after all. Yeah. Okay, thanks. Yeah, you too.
(Hangs up.)
JONATHAN
Well, now we just have to face his parents. This is not something I’m looking forward to.
ABE
Yeah. Say, did you check the door for forced entry or anything like that?
JONATHAN
Yeah, the only things on it were our fingerprints.
ABE
Did you check the crate?
JONATHAN
Yeah. Nicely worked pine, but empty. The lid was just sort of sitting there beside it, and the only thing inside was some fibers from his shirt and a long blond hair.
A knock is heard at the door. ABE and JONATHAN look at each other, and JONATHAN opens the door. ENTER MR. and MRS. ADDAMS. MR. ADDAMS is shoving, trying to get at the crate. ABE and JONATHAN are in his way. As focus is on the door, some steam comes out of the crate.
MR. ADDAMS
Let me see my son, you bastards!
JONATHAN
But Mr. Addams, I assure you that your son is gone. His body has disappeared!
MR. ADDAMS
(Looking into the crate.)
What, is this some sick joke? What do you mean, ‘He’s gone?!’
JONATHAN
(Looking into the crate.)
Huh? What the…?!
ABE
What’s wrong, Jonathan, you look like you’ve just seen a corpse….
(Looking into the crate.)
Oh my God!
MR. ADDAMS
You gentlemen have some explaining to do, and I want an explanation immediately.
JONATHAN
But Mr. Addams, Two minutes ago, that crate was empty!
MR. ADDAMS
Well, what happened?
ABE
Jonathan, call the coroner. I think we need a report right away!
JONATHAN
(Lunging for the phone and dialing.)
Hello, is this the coroner’s office? Yeah, we need him down here right away. This can’t wait.
JONATHAN hangs up, pauses, picks up the phone, and dials….
Hi… Yeah. It’s 22 North Main. Yeah, same body. Okay, thanks. Yeah. Bye.
(Hangs up.)
He’s on his way.
MR. ADDAMS
Are you people implying that my son’s body just magically disappeared and later appeared in this crate?
ABE
Well, sir, I know it sounds ridiculous, but, well….
JONATHAN
I’m afraid so, Mr. Addams.
MR. ADDAMS
You people honestly expect me to believe such poppycock? People don’t just disappear and reappear! Well, okay, there’s Elvis, but this is a dead child, here! I’m starting to seriously question your sanity, gentlemen.
JONATHAN
I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you. I got here this morning, and the crate was empty. Abe saw it as well.
ABE
That’s right. In fact, right before you got here, I looked in there, and it was empty, then when you got here, he was suddenly there!
JONATHAN
We’re not making this up, Mr. Addams. Something strange is going on, and we’re really not sure what. We’re hoping that the coroner can shed some light on the subject. There’s not much else we can do until he get’s here.
MR. ADDAMS
Gentlemen, this is all very hard to swallow.
ABE
I know that, Mr. Addams. I’m just afraid that we’ll just have to wait for the coroner. I assure you that we are all as astonished as you.
A knock is heard at the door. JONATHAN runs to the door and answers it. ENTER CORONER carrying a clipboard. He looks into the box.
CORONER
(Out of breath.)
Well, I assume this is the body?
JONATHAN
Yeah, that’s him.
CORONER
What was the emergency? There was a bit of confusion involving this case; am I right?
JONATHAN
Yeah, actually, that was the emergency. You see, the body disappeared sometime last night and then reappeared a matter of seconds before we called you. We were here when he reappeared.
CORONER
(Checking the boy.)
Are you sure he’s dead?
JONATHAN
You’re the coroner. You tell us.
CORONER
Well, he’s not showing any life signs. Let me take him downtown and figure out the cause of death. I’ll call you as soon as I have any information. Oh, who are the boy’s parents?
MR. ADDAMS
We are.
CORONER
(Handing MR. ADDAMS a clipboard and pen.)
I just have some paperwork for you folks to fill out.
MRS. ADDAMS
Certainly.
CORONER
You guys want to give me a hand with this while they fill out that stuff?
JONATHAN
Yeah, I got it.
JONATHAN and CORONER put the lid on the crate and carry it out the door. As they do this, the lights fade out.

Scene Five

4:48 P.M.

Onstage are JONATHAN, ABE, MR. ADDAMS, and MRS. ADDAMS. JONATHAN and ABE are working at their desks. MR. ADDAMS and MRS. ADDAMS are speaking to each other in low voices.

The phone rings. JONATHAN picks up.
JONATHAN
Knightlight Investigations. This is Jonathan. Yeah, what do you got? Well, we know he’s dead! How did he die? What do you mean, you don’t know?! Well, people don’t just die! His neck? No, what did you find? Look, if this is a joke… So, what are you saying, he was killed by a vampire? Give me a break! Yes, that would explain the disappearance during the night, but let’s be serious here! We’re talking about vampires! This is not something… But vampires aren’t real! So, what are you going to write in your report? If you mention the word “vampire,” they’ll lock you up! Look, keep looking, okay? Well, look again! “Cause of death: unknown” isn’t something you want to put in your report, so come up with something logical. Besides, we’ll never solve this case if the coroner can’t figure out how he died! I don’t care what time it is! Work overtime, dammit! I don’t care! I got two parents sitting here who want to know what happened to their son! Yeah! Look, just do it, okay? (He hangs up.)
MR. ADDAMS
So, Mr. Van Helsing, what is going on? What’s this about a vampire?
JONATHAN
He found some marks on your son’s neck that look like bites, but he’s continuing tests. He’ll call us back if he gets anything. Look, why don’t you go home. We’ll stay here and call you the minute we hear anything.
MR. ADDAMS and MRS. ADDAMS start to leave as the phone rings. JONATHAN lunges for the phone.
JONATHAN
Hello? Uh, Knightlight Investigations. Yeah! He what?! Don’t give me that, man! Yeah, I know it’s sunset! That makes no sense! Look, dead bodies don’t just evaporate! This is insane! Yeah, I know it happened to us! It’s just that, oh jeez! Look, I don’t know, okay? Thanks. Thanks a lot. Let me know if… if anything. Yeah. Thanks. Okay, talk to you later. Yeah. Bye.
JONATHAN hangs up, sighs, and stares at the phone.
Your son has disappeared again. The coroner stepped out of the room for a second for a cup of coffee, and when he came back, Eddie was gone.
MR. ADDAMS
What is this? Some sort of scam?
There is some steam near the side of the stage opposite MR. ADDAMS and MRS. ADDAMS. When it dissipates, EDDIE is standing there. He is dressed in black and has pale skin. He looks scared.
EDDIE
Mama?
MRS. ADDAMS
Eddie?
EDDIE
Oh, mama!
EDDIE runs over to MRS. ADDAMS and they embrace. ABE and JONATHAN look at each other. MR. ADDAMS embraces EDDIE and MRS. ADDAMS.
MR. ADDAMS
Son, what happened?
MRS. ADDAMS
Oh, who cares! The important thing is that we have our son back!
EDDIE
Mama, I’m scared!
MRS. ADDAMS
It’s going to be okay, baby. It’s going to be okay.
MR. ADDAMS
Son, you feel so cold.
JONATHAN
Uh, sir, this may be a bad time, but, uh, could you check your son’s teeth?
MR. ADDAMS
What are you suggesting? That my son is some sort of demon?
ABE
Mr. Addams, I’m sorry, but we need to know what we’re dealing with.
MR. ADDAMS
Okay. You’re right. But what if…? Eddie? Son, I need you to smile for me. I need you to show daddy your teeth. (EDDIE turns away.) Come on, son. I love you no matter what. We just need to know how to help you.
EDDIE slowly turns to MR. ADDAMS and shows his teeth. MR. ADDAMS’ reaction reveals that EDDIE is a vampire. MR. ADDAMS embraces EDDIE.
Oh, son! It’s okay. We’ll help you. We’ll make you all better. We’ll get through this. I promise.
JONATHAN
Mr. Addams, your son is undead. He’s a killer.
MR. ADDAMS
How dare you accuse my son of murder?! He’s a victim of it!
JONATHAN
I realize that, but I’m sure you realize that in order for a vampire to survive, well, they’re parasites!
MR. ADDAMS
No! It’s not true! My son is…he’s just a child! A little boy! He could never kill anyone! He’s an innocent child!
JONATHAN
I know. You have to understand. This isn’t easy for me, but the only way your son can survive is to live off of others!
MR. ADDAMS
No! There has to be a way! We’ll get blood from the Red Cross!
JONATHAN
I’m sorry, but your son was found with his blood intact. The blood taking is really only a token amount. It appears that the actual sustenance gained is by drawing out the life essence, the soul. The way I figure, he no longer has a life force of his own, so he needs that of others, but he can’t sustain it since he’s not really alive, so he keeps needing more, sort of like those cocaine babies.
MR. ADDAMS
I will not kill my son.
JONATHAN
Mr. Addams, your son died days ago. We need to let him rest. If you truly love him, you’ll help him end his sufferring.
EDDIE
Daddy, I’m scared. I don’t want to die.
MR. ADDAMS
Son, you’re not going to die. No one is going to hurt you. I promise you that.
JONATHAN
Mr. Addams…
MR. ADDAMS
I swear that if you lay one finger on my child, so help me, I’ll…
ABE
We won’t hurt your son. We want to help. We want the best for everyone. It’s important to consider the consequences, though, of allowing a boy to live off of the lives, the souls, of others. We need to consider the life of one versus the countless lives who suffer in his stead.
RACHEL
(From offstage)
So you’d destroy us for being victims?
All eyes go to the direction of the voice, which reveals itself to belong to a young woman.
Enter RACHEL. She is in her late 20’s, dressed in a long black dress.
JONATHAN and EDDIE
Rachel?
RACHEL
The same. I missed you, Jonny. I missed you a lot.
JONATHAN
Rache, I thought you were dead. Oh my god. No! Your throat, it was, you were…, Oh my god! You’re a… Oh my god!
RACHEL
Yes, I was, and yes, I am.
JONATHAN
But, oh Rache! Why didn’t you come to me? Why didn’t you tell me? I’m your husband! You’re my wife!
RACHEL
Jonny, I couldn’t let you see me like this. I live with my guilt every day. I couldn’t force that guilt on you, too. I love you, Jonny. You deserve better.
JONATHAN
It’s been five years! How did you survive so long?
RACHEL
That’s what I couldn’t tell you! Once a month, I just couldn’t stop myself! The hunger was too strong! It’s like trying to commit suicide by drowning yourself. Once you’re underwater long enough, your lungs hurt so much, self-preservation instinct takes over and you find yourself at the surface, gasping for air. It hurt! I had to!
ABE
Rachel, how could you put your perversion of a life before all those other lives?
RACHEL
Don’t be so self-righteous, Abe. Survival instinct is a powerful thing. Think about the things drug addicts do to get another fix. It’s the same thing for me, only worse. I may not be truly alive, but I sure feel alive, and this is the closest thing to a life I have. You can’t deny me of that.
ABE
Yet you deny that of others? Who are you to decide?
RACHEL
My question to you. Each time it’s a choice — my life or theirs. Each time is a seperate time.
ABE
Meanwhile, the bodies pile up. Wait a minute. If you get bit by a vampire, don’t you become one?
MR. ADDAMS
You did this to my son! It was you! I’ll kill you!
RACHEL
I did not do this to your son.
MR. ADDAMS
(Doubting.)
Then who did.
RACHEL
(Calling offstage.)
Lily!
Enter LILY. She is a seven-year- old girl with long straight blond hair. She is dressed in a black overalls outfit. She stands shyly near the wing from where she came. She is scared.
This is my daughter, Lily.
JONATHAN
Ellie!
RACHEL
Ellie is dead. Ellie was a happy girl who didn’t have a care in the world. This is what she has become: Lily: lonely, frightened, and sad.
JONATHAN
What happened to her? How…?
RACHEL
Both of us were transformed by the same being. Together, we managed to continue on.
MR. ADDAMS
She killed my son! She’s a monster!
RACHEL
No more a monster than your own son.
MR. ADDAMS
No. My son is not a murderer. He has never killed anyone, right, son? Son? Edward? Oh, God! Eddie! How could you?!
EDDIE turns away toward MRS. ADDAMS. He is crying, ashamed and scared.
MRS. ADDAMS
Oh, Eddie, it’s going to be okay! We’ll get through this!
ABE
Hold on a second. If these two have been feeding all this time, shouldn’t there be a lot more like them? I mean, wouldn’t the numbers increase exponentially?
RACHEL
At first, before we knew what was going on, we let our “creations” go. Then, I realized that the merciful thing to do would be to let them rest, so all of the new ones we put to rest, and we started hunting down the old ones, too.
JONATHAN
What did you do to them?
RACHEL
Well, you’ve all heard about sunlight and vampires. Well, it’s the UV in sunlight that causes the, uh, disintegration. Well, we got ahold of a tanning bed, put it in a room, and locked them in there. However, a couple weeks ago, the bed broke down.
JONATHAN
So now what do you do?
ABE
The impalings! The victims were all… It was you!
RACHEL
Gee, Abe, I guess you are a pretty good P.I. Very good.
MR. ADDAMS
So, why did you leave my son?
RACHEL
Eddie and Lily had become good friends. I may kill, but I’m not a killer. I’ve lost my soul, but I still have a heart. I couldn’t kill a child.
ABE
So, now what? I mean, what do we do with them?
RACHEL
Who are you to decide what happens to us? You’re not the law, and you ain’t no god.
ABE
It’s our responsibility to keep the world safe, to save lives and end sufferring.
RACHEL
Abe, you are so pompous! I’m a human being! Lily and Eddie are children! We may have changed, but we still have hopes and fears! Even though we’re dead, we still feel alive!
ABE
What do you think, Jonathan?
JONATHAN
She’s my wife, Abe!
ABE
No longer. You parted at death. You’re a widower. You have no legal ties to her anymore.
JONATHAN
No legal ties?! What the hell are you talking about, Abe?! She’s my wife! It’s Rache! Ellie is my daughter! I thought I’d lost them forever! Five years ago, they were gone, and my heart died that day! Today I am more alive than I have been in all that time! This is our second chance! Abe, I’ve got to take it!
MR. ADDAMS
No one is taking our son away from us again.
ABE
Don’t you people see? They have to murder to survive!
JONATHAN
We’ll come up with something. We’ll pray for a miracle. There’s always a chance, and I’m willing to wait for that chance.
ABE
Since when are you an optimist, Jonathan?
JONATHAN
Since I have something to hope for.
MR. ADDAMS
Look, we’re leaving, and we are taking our son with us, (To ABE) and if you do or say anything to endanger my son’s safety, so help me, I’ll kill you. Mr. Van Helsing, if you learn of anything that could help us, please contact us, and we will do the same.
ABE is speechless. He starts to stop them, but then lets them go.
JONATHAN
(To Lily.)
Honey, come here. Come to Daddy.
LILY and JONATHAN embrace. JONATHAN holds out his arm to RACHEL, and she joins in the embrace.
ABE
It’s wrong, Jonathan. You know it.
JONATHAN
No, Abe. Love is never wrong. Hope is never wrong. Second chances on life are never wrong. We will find a way. I swear it.
As the lights fade, RACHEL starts licking JONATHAN’s neck.

END.

© 1998 Dale Critchley