Munch Ado About Nothing

Written by Valeria

DISCLAIMER: H:LOTS characters and situations property of NBC and Baltimore Pictures, no profit made. "Much Ado About Nothing" bequeathed to the public domain by William Shakespeare, or Francis Bacon, or Christopher Marlowe, or Edward de Vere, or Tom Stoppard.

NOTE: Here it is, the theatrical experience you've all been waiting for...the H:LOTS characters in the Immortal Bard's universe. Familiarity with the real play is not necessary, though it can't help but make the whole experience more enjoyable.

Continuity of cast lineup, caseload, plot points and romantic attachments have all been sacrificed on the altar of dramatic license. Any iambic pentameter you may stumble upon is purely accidental. The awful jokes are, sadly, for the most part deliberate.

Special thanks to Hayley and Brenda, my out-of-town preview audience, who persuaded me to take this to Broadway. Very special thanks to whoever started the long-defunct "Homicide: Life on the Elizabethan Stage" thread in a.t.h.

Major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John T. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Chubb Group of insurance companies.

Check out the study guide - made special for Rachel who hates literature.

"Let me give you a little quote: 'He who lies to Munch gets his sorry ass kicked.' Bill Shakespeare."


(Scene 1: Before headquarters. Enter PEMBLETON and HOWARD, with OFFICER SALLY ROGERS.)

PEMBLETON: I learn in this memo that Detective Bayliss, rotated to robbery, returns this day to homicide.

ROGERS: He is very near by this; he was stuck in traffic when I saw him.

PEMBLETON: I have heard too that Detective Felton returns from auto theft, where he hath closed cases enough to bestow much honor upon his name.

HOWARD: Much deserv’d on his part, and hopefully acknowledg’d by the bosses. He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his reputation, busting the Cantwell chop-shop ring and many others; he hath, indeed, better better’d expectation than even his partner might expect.

ROGERS: Aye, he hath finally laid off the booze, and his spirits appear much renew’d; even so much that such a rump-fed ronyon as Barnfather could not help but mark the change. (Enter FELTON.) Why, ‘tis our hero himself. Good morrow, Detective Felton.

FELTON: And good morrow to all of thee; yes, even thee, Detective Pembleton. ‘Tis good to face the day knowing I shall not see the face of yon Falsone.

HOWARD: Aye, God preserve us all from that stunted jackanape. I pray thee, Officer Rogers, is the Defective Monk also return’d from rotation or no?

ROGERS: I know none of that name, madam; there are no clergy in the Bawlmer PD of any sort.

PEMBLETON: My colleague means Detective Munch.

ROGERS: Oh, he's return’d from narcotics, and as cheery as ever he was.

HOWARD: I pray you, how many did he smoke out while there? For, indeed, he doth smoke 'em if he got 'em; and the more he doth smoke, the cheerier he be.

ROGERS: Faith, sergeant, you tax the man too much. He hath done fair to good service, so I hear, in narcotics.

HOWARD: Oh, he lives to do service; I doubt not that he hath serviced many.

FELTON: Do not, madam, mistake my partner. There is a kind of merry war betwixt Detective Munch and her; they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them.

HOWARD: Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, half of his half-wit went halting off, and now is the whole man govern'd with none. Who is his partner now, huh? He hath every month a new sworn bunk.

ROGERS: Is't possible?

HOWARD: Very easily possible. He wears his partners as once he wore his wives; they ever change with the new season.

ROGERS: I see, sergeant, the detective is not in your books.

HOWARD: No, an he were, I would read cereal boxes. But I pray you, who is his partner? Will no fellow murder police rotate back with him to CID?

ROGERS: He is in the company of the right noble Russert.

HOWARD: Oh, Lord! She will hang upon me like a disease-- and if she brings also the Munchkin, it will exhaust my insurance ere I be cured.

PEMBLETON: My partner is approach'd.


BAYLISS: My good Pembleton, are you come to meet your partner? Your fashion is to avoid partners, and now you welcome one.

PEMBLETON: Never have I had a partner I tolerate so well; though, I remind you, you are not my best friend, as I have no such companion.

BAYLISS: Thou art too kind, as usual. I think this is Detective Felton.

PEMBLETON: He hath many times introduced himself as such.

MUNCH: Have you forgotten homicide so soon, Tim, that you ask'd this? If this not be Detective Felton, we must check under Gee's desk for giant seed pods; for surely only such a hell-spawn’d creature might so fool us into thinking he were.

HOWARD: I wonder that you talk at such length, Detective Munch; nobody ever marks you.

MUNCH: What, my dear Sergeant Disdain! Are you yet living?

HOWARD: Is it possible disdain should die while it hath such meet food to feed it? Courtesy herself must divorce you, were she your wife.

MUNCH: Then is courtesy all too typical. I know well I am loved not by ladies, you especially; and I pay back their hard hearts in my own heart, for, truly, I love none.

HOWARD: A dear happiness to women, huh? They would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I had rather have a dozen black cats cross my path than hear you swear you loved me.

MUNCH: Well, you have sharper claws than any mere cat.

HOWARD: Better a clawing cat than a retriever in heat.

MUNCH: Indeed, the noble Danvers hath often noted you to be a clawing cat, and a miaowing one as well. But keep your way a G-d's name, I have done.

HOWARD: You always end with a snide aside; I know you of old.

PEMBLETON: Some things never change, I see. Detective Russert and Detective Munch, my dear partner Bayliss, I welcome you.

BAYLISS: We shall stay in homicide at least three months; and I heartily pray some red ball may detain us longer.

PEMBLETON (to GAFFNEY): And let me bid you, our new captain, welcome--being resign'd to your promotion, I owe you all duty.

GAFFNEY: I thank you; it goes right to my stomach, but I thank you. (Exits swiftly, in search of a lavatory.)

BAYLISS: Good riddance. Homicide, sweet homicide; we will go together. (Exeunt all but MUNCH and RUSSERT.)

RUSSERT: John, didst thou note the partner of Sergeant Howard?

MUNCH: He hath not appear'd on my radar screen, but I look'd on him.

RUSSERT: Is he not a fine figure of a man?

MUNCH: Faith, partner, I cannot say the fellow haunts my dreams, nor that he brightens my waking hours. But if you insist, I think him too low for a high praise and too dull for a fervent praise; and thus I damn him with a faint praise. Only this commendation I can afford him, that were he as Higby or Hellriegel, he were to be despised; but being no other but as he is, I tolerate him.

RUSSERT: You speak always in sport; in mine eye he is the hottest hunk that ever I look'd on.

MUNCH: My spectacles must yet be too dark, that I see no such matter. Now, Felton's partner, an she were not possess'd with such fury, exceeds him as much in beauty as the Big Man doth exceed Gharty in repute. But I hope you have no intent to risk transfer over the man, have you?

RUSSERT: I would soon risk it, and gladly, if Felton would be my beau.

MUNCH: Is't come to this? Hath not the world anyone who will look upon so-call'd love with suspicion? Go to, i' faith; an thou wilt needs run thy heart through a wringer, bleed it dry, and see it turned to jerky-chew. Look, Tim is returned to add to my good mood. (Re-enter BAYLISS.)

BAYLISS: What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to the squadroom?

MUNCH: Now hear, Megan; I can be as secret as a government black op, but to gossip is more fun. On my honor, Tim, no mockery please, on my honor--she is in love. With Felton, Howard's dull partner. God forbid it should be so!

RUSSERT: What do you know of love? God forbid it should be otherwise!

BAYLISS: Amen, Megan, if you love him; for the man is very well worthy.

MUNCH: I know of love, detectives, but I know not how Felton should be so worthy of it. This opinion fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake.

BAYLISS: Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in matters of the heart.

RUSSERT: And never could hear an opinion but his own.

MUNCH: That women have wed me, I thank them; that they have lived with me, I likewise give them most humble thanks; but that I would rather hang my dingle in a public gallery than love again, all women shall pardon me. I will live out the rest of my days alone.

BAYLISS: I shall see thee, ere we rotate again, look pale with love.

MUNCH: That is thy disease, Bayliss, not mine; and I am already too pale.

BAYLISS: Well, thou wilt wisecrack thy life away. In the meantime, good Detective Munch, repair to Giardello's; commend us to him, and tell him we will not fail him before the bosses; for indeed, they are ever farther up his arse.

MUNCH: I thank you for that mental picture, Tim; and so I leave you. (Exit MUNCH.)

RUSSERT: Hath Felton any spouse, Tim?

BAYLISS: Not anymore; his pretty chickens and their dam are Lord knows where. Listen not to Munch; if thou dost love Felton, cherish it, and thou shalt have him. Is't not to this end that we all live, to be so loved?

RUSSERT: How sweetly you do minister to love; your own romantic disasters seem all the more ironic. But I pray thee, tell no one else what I hath said about Felton; and I shall find my partner and frighten him into silence as well.

BAYLISS: Fear not, Detective Russert; if there is one thing I can do, it is keep a secret. To our shift let us go presently. (Exeunt.)

(Scene 2: The squadroom men’s room, before the urinals. Enter, severally, KELLERMAN and LEWIS.)

KELLERMAN: How now, partner! Hast thou yet welcomed our old bunks?

LEWIS: Aye, so I have; ‘tis the best news here in months, that they are back. But, coz, I can tell you much stranger news that you yet dreamt not of.

KELLERMAN: Is it good?

LEWIS: Why, ‘tis amusing, and I call that good; but you must judge. Detectives Bayliss and Pembleton, walking in the hallway downstairs, were thus much overheard by Officer Schanne; Timmy related to Frank that Detective Russert hath confess’d love for Felton; and, if she found him accordant, meant to acknowledge it to him presently.

KELLERMAN: I believe it not. Hath this Officer Schanne any wit that told you this?

LEWIS: A good sharp lady; I will send for her, and you may interrogate her yourself.

KELLERMAN: No, no; I will not believe it, till it appear before me; but I will ask around the squadroom and acquaint myself with the full account, if peradventure this prove true. Good partner, have a care with the stories you tell. (Exeunt.)

(Scene 3: Barnfather's office. Enter BARNFATHER and GAFFNEY.)

BARNFATHER: What the good-year, Gaffney! Why are you thus out of measure pissed?

GAFFNEY: There is no measure in the occasion that breeds; therefore I am pissed off without limit.

BARNFATHER: Yea, but you must not make the full show of this till you may act upon it without limit. You have of late stood out against the homicide unit, and they hath accepted thee barely as their captain; it is impossible you should rule them until they regard you not with contempt but fear. It is needful to control thy temper and learn the quieter art of back-stabbing.

GAFFNEY: I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in their grace; and it better fits my blood to be disdain’d of them all. It must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain; I deliver my blows full face, the better to enjoy their effect; and since I have my mouth, I will bite. In the meantime let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.

BARNFATHER: Can you make no use of your hatreds?

GAFFNEY: I make all use of them, for I use them only.

BARNFATHER: Learn to use them better, and someday you will sit where I do. But what news have you brought me from downstairs?

GAFFNEY: I overheard much gossip whilst stinking up a privy stall. Russert, your former captain, is return'd to the lax governance of Giardello; and barely is she back, than I can give you intelligence of a squadroom affair.

BARNFATHER: Will it serve as any model to build mischief on? What is he for a fool that involves himself with that wench?

GAFFNEY: Marry, it is Detective Felton.

BARNFATHER: A very forward red-neck! Art thou sure of this?

GAFFNEY: I heard it said that Russert hath confess'd a fondness for Felton; and I hath also heard that though she knows it not, he entertains an equal fondness for her.

BARNFATHER: Come, come let us thither; this may prove food to our displeasure; we shall yet run roughshod over the homicide unit. If we can cross them in any way, we bless ourselves every way; and soon the defiant Giardello shall wait upon us like lords.

GAFFNEY: Let us to lunch, and I shall prove to you what’s to be done. (Exeunt.)


(Scene 1: The Waterfront. Enter FELTON, HOWARD, KELLERMAN, LEWIS and Drunken Patrons.)

FELTON: Was not Munch here to tend bar?

LEWIS: I saw him not, the lazy sonuvabitch.

HOWARD: How tartly that gentleman looks! I can never see him but I am heart-burn'd an hour after.

FELTON: He is of a very melancholy disposition.

KELLERMAN: It were an excellent man that were made just in the mid-way between Frank Pembleton and him; the one is too proud to speak long to anyone, and the other too eager to speak long to everyone, evermore babbling.

LEWIS: Then half Munch's tongue in Pembleton's mouth, and half Pembleton's dignity in Munch's bearing--

HOWARD: Would produce such a monster as to make even a brave bunk like yourself piss his drawers.

LEWIS: Aye, ‘tis true; one or th'other unaltered is frightening enough in his own right. In faith, John Munch is too curst.

HOWARD: Too curst? He is more than curst. Lord! I could not endure a man that jabbered day and night; I had rather lie in an empty bed.

FELTON: You may yet light on a man that speaks not at all.

HOWARD: What should I do with him? Dress him in gloves and whiteface, and hire him out for a mime? Deliver me away to Saint Agnes for the heavens; she shows me where the maids sit, and there live we as merry as the day is long.

FELTON (takes HOWARD aside): Lady, will you walk about with your colleague?

HOWARD: So we walk nearby, and return presently, I am yours for the walk; though I wonder why we must walk away.

FELTON: Am I thy partner, and thy friend?

HOWARD: If I may say so, and I do.

FELTON: Then can you keep a secret?

HOWARD: Why, walk with me and find out. FELTON: Speak low, Howie, for I speak love. (Exeunt.)

LEWIS: Now, you see there? Sure, Beau is amorous on Detective Russert, and hath withdrawn his partner to break with her about it. I told thee the truth.

KELLERMAN: I still believe it not.

LEWIS: It is true, no matter the waggling of your head.

KELLERMAN: I still believe it not.

LEWIS: Then aroint thee, for thou art truly a cream- faced loon. Our errant bartender enters, brother; make good room.


MUNCH: Now, signiors, where is the lovesick Felton? Did you see him?

BAYLISS: Troth, I have played the part of Lord Misrule. I am as melancholy as a lodge in a warren; I told Megan, and I think I told her true, that I would not betray her heart, and here I find it open’d to all. I am worthy to be whipt.

MUNCH: To be whipt! Why, if that be not thy pleasure, then what’s thy fault?

BAYLISS: The flat transgression of a schoolboy, who, being overjoyed with learning a secret, tells it his companions, and they tell all the world.

PEMBLETON: Wilt thou take all the blame on thyself? The true transgressors are before thee, and I see they have enjoy’d every moment.

KELLERMAN (to MUNCH): The lady Howard was here, and ask’d after thee; she spoke of your quarrel over the Cardero case, and said she is much wrong’d by you.

MUNCH: Oh, she misus’d me past the endurance of a block. She speaks bullets, and every word tears into the flesh. Felton may love my partner, but I would not love his though she were endowed with all the wisdom of Athena, the beauty of Aphrodite and the courage of Artemis; for certainly, she is instead Hecate’s child, all disquiet, horror and preturbation following her.

(Re-enter HOWARD.)

MUNCH (aside): Tim, Meldrick, will you tend bar in my place? I will perform the worst back-room drudgery that you can devise to give me, rather than hold three words’ conference with that harpy—you have no employment for me?

LEWIS (aside): None, Munchkin, but to desire your good company.

MUNCH (aside): A plague a both your houses! I believe I smell smoke from the kitchen. (Exit.)

LEWIS: What tragedy, Kay; you have lost the heart of Detective Munch.

HOWARD: And indeed, Meldrick, I would not take it back again, lest I should prove the mother of fools. Here, now, I have learnt what you all knew; Felton means to woo, and Russert is as good as won. Name the day of marriage, and God help my partner!

BAYLISS: ‘Tis good he spoke to you; for soon, in faith, she shall stop his mouth with kisses, and let neither of them speak.

HOWARD: Good Lord! Thus flies every moth to the flame but I, and I am still burnt; I may as well sit in a corner and cry, "Heigh-ho for love!"

BAYLISS: Request some for me, while you are at it.

HOWARD: I am not here to make life à la carte for thee. Can you not find a lover yourself? You have a pleasant enough form and manner, though your wardrobe is oft unfortunate.

BAYLISS: Will you have me, Kay?

HOWARD: No, Bayliss, unless I might have you only of week-ends; your neuroses are too wearing for every day. But, I beseech you, pardon me; I was born to speak all truth and no tact.

BAYLISS: Your words may offend me, but to be truthful best becomes you; for, out o' question, you were born hard-boiled as a titanium egg.

HOWARD: No, sure, Tim, I have my soft-boiled moments; but I would not be like thee, all runny and good as poached. Bunks, good night to you! (Exit HOWARD.)

BAYLISS: By my troth, she pulls no punches.

PEMBLETON: There's little of the diplomat in her, my partner; she is ever formidable but when she sleeps, and no slouch then; for I have heard her say she hath often dreamt of adversity, and wak'd herself with defeating it.

BAYLISS: She cannot endure to hear tell of romance.

PEMBLETON: Oh, by no means; she mocks the very thought of it.

BAYLISS: Methinks she were an excellent match for Munch.

PEMBLETON: Oh, Lord, Tim! If they were but a week together, she would shoot him dead or he would talk her mad.

BAYLISS: Frank, I shall prove thee wrong. I bet thee a flagon of ale that we together may accomplish one of Hercules' labors; which is, to bring John Munch and Kay Howard into a mountain of affection th' one with th' other. I would fain see that match; and I doubt not but to fashion it if you three will but minister such assistance as I shall give you direction. I have a plan.

PEMBLETON: A plan? Tim Bayliss has a plan? Well, I admit it; I have no plan. I am for you, though it will cost you your weight in small beer.

KELLERMAN: And I, Bayliss.

BAYLISS: And you too, good Lewis?

LEWIS: I will do any modest office, Timmy, to get a good laugh on those two mooks.

BAYLISS: And Munch is not the unhopefullest mook that I know. Thus far can I praise him: he is of sporadic valor, occasional kindness, and confirm'd intelligence; and further, never did a bullet whiz by his head but it did miss. Mike, Meldrick, I will teach you how to humor your colleague that she may fall in love with Munch; and I, with Frank, will so practice on Munch that, in despite of his bilious angst and his cynic's heart, he shall fall in love with Kay. If we can do this, the glory of Carrie Weston may be ours, for we are the only love-doctors. Now let us walk by the docks, and I will tell you my drift. (Exeunt.)

(Scene 2: Gaffney’s office. Enter BARNFATHER and GAFFNEY.)

BARNFATHER: It is so: the Detective Russert hath commenced an affair with Felton.

GAFFNEY: Yea, my colonel, but I can cross it.

BARNFATHER: Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be med’cinable to me. I am sick in displeasure to that haughty scold, and whatsoever comes athwart her happiness ranges evenly with mine. How canst thou cross these star-crossed lovers?

GAFFNEY: Not honestly, my colonel; but then, I do nothing honestly. I shall do it so covertly that no dishonesty shall appear in me.

BARNFATHER: Show me briefly how.

GAFFNEY: I think I told thee some time since how, under the guise of a mentor, I have found a willing toady in Detective Falsone of auto theft. I have also curried favor with the disgrac’d coward Gharty, and given him a warm berth in IAD.

BARNFATHER: I remember.

GAFFNEY: You know too that the commissioner hath ordered a press conference about the Cantwell bust, and members of all departments shall be in attendance.

BARNFATHER: What life is in that, to be the death of Megan Russert’s joy?

GAFFNEY: The poison of that lies in us to mix. I will go to Gharty and Falsone, and together we shall devise false proof that yon Felton hath been under investigation long since, and that he hath taken bribes and kickbacks and performed all manner of mischief. Then, at the conference, we will show this proof to all the world; and Russert shall be not just heartbroken but disgrac’d, that she hath wronged her precious honor by dallying with a contaminated stale such as he.

BARNFATHER: Exactly what proof shall you make with them?

GAFFNEY: Proof enough to humiliate Russert, to vex Giardello and to undo Felton. Could you ask for more?

BARNFATHER: To spite them, I will endorse any measure. Go, then; find a meet hour to draw Falsone and Gharty alone; tell them of your plans; give some vague promise of reward for their assistance—and then, at the appointed hour, we shall drop our bombshells. Giardello and his men will scarcely believe this without trial; offer them details, such that there shall appear such seeming truth of Felton’s corruption that falsehood shall be called hard evidence, and all his companions turn against him. Be cunning in the working this, and thy rewards shall be immense indeed.

GAFFNEY: Back up my two accusers with your authority, and my cunning shall not shame thee. I will meet with them presently. (Exeunt.)

(Scene 3: The squad storage room, also BRODIE's taping room. Enter MUNCH.)

MUNCH: Sirrah!

BRODIE (within): Signior?

MUNCH: At my desk lies the Rodzinski file; bring it hither to me.

BRODIE: I know for a fact thou hast already closed that case.

MUNCH: I too know that, but go get it; for I would have thee the hell out of my sight before I hurt thee. (Exit BRODIE.) I do much wonder that my partner, seeing how much others become fools when they dedicate their behaviors to love, has become the argument of her own scorn by falling for Felton. I have known when there was no music with her but the honor guard’s bagpipes, and now she had rather hear the most sickly-sweet songs on the bar jukebox; I have known when she would have walk’d ten mile afoot to follow up a lead, and now will she spend ten hours straight in rhapsodies over a slow-witted billyboy. May I be so converted, and see with these eyes? No, I’ll take my oath on it; none of my fellow bunks shall e’er inspire me to dip my wick in company ink. For instance, I work alongside Sergeant Howard every day with no such thoughts at all. She is fair, yet I am well; she is wise, yet I am well; she is virtuous, yet I am well; so many graces are in her, but Kay is not come in my grace. Rich in wit, that’s certain; strong, with unquestion’d courage; noble, of unsullied integrity; of good discourse, an excellent mind, and her hair is of such a color the angels sing its praises; and yet, she means nothing to me—ha! Frankentim! This divorc’d fellow is in no mood for their conjugal sparring; I will hide me beneath this table.

(Withdraws. Enter BAYLISS and PEMBLETON.)

BAYLISS (aside): See you where Munch hath hid himself?

PEMBLETON (aside): Oh, very well, bunk; only his skinny arse could shelter there. And now we'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth. Faith, I have no idea what I meant by that.

BAYLISS: Come hither, Frank. What was it you told me of to-day--that Kay Howard was in love with Detective Munch? I did never think that lady would have loved any man.

PEMBLETON: No, nor I neither; but most bizarre that she should so dote on Munch, whom she hath in all outward behaviors seem'd ever to abhor.

MUNCH (aside): Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner? Not that I care.

PEMBLETON: By my troth, I cannot tell what to think of it, but that she loves him with an enraged affection—it defies rational thought.

BAYLISS: May be she doth but counterfeit.

PEMBLETON: Oh, God, counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of passion came so near the life of passion as she discovers it.

BAYLISS: How, how, I pray you? You amaze me; I would have thought her fiery spirit had been invincible against all affection; especially against his brand of it.

PEMBLETON: She hath ta'en him close to her heart; I swear it.

MUNCH (aside): I should think this in jest, but that Saint Francis says it; jokes cannot, sure, hide in one so bereft of humor.

BAYLISS: Hath she made her affection known to Munch?

PEMBLETON: No, and swears she never will; that's her torment. "Shall I," says she, "that have so oft encount'red him with scorn, tell him that I love him, huh?" This says she, when she is before us all; but she'll be oft alone at her desk; and there will she sit before her typewriter, meaning to write her feelings in a letter. The secretary Naomi tells us all.

BAYLISS: Why, what other effects of passion shows she?

PEMBLETON: Oh, she hath rail'd at herself, that she should be so enamored of one with the face of a chewed pencil and the moral compass of a toad; and yet it is so. "I walk about seeing stars," says she, "and feeling such sweet pain. John Munch is an alpha male; I dream of him all day, all night, in the park, in the car, in the movie theater..."

BAYLISS: Lord, 'tis tawdry even in the imagining.

PEMBLETON: Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses-- "O my stallion among ponies! God give me patience!"

BAYLISS: You cannot be serious.

PEMBLETON: She doth indeed; Gee hath seen it, and the ecstasy hath so much overborne her that he is sometime afeard she will transfer out of homicide forever. It is very true.

BAYLISS: It were good that Munch knew of it by some other, if she cannot confess it.

PEMBLETON: To what end, Tim? You know he cares not the least for her; he would make but a sport of it, and torment the poor lady worse.

BAYLISS: An he should, it were our civic duty to shoot him. She's an excellent detective, and, despite her sharp tongue, she hath a gentle heart.

PEMBLETON: And she is exceeding wise.

BAYLISS: In everything but in loving Munch.

PEMBLETON: Felton thinks surely she will transfer; for she says she cannot bear to see Munch all days if he love her not; and she cannot bear to see him without making her love known; but she would sooner resign than bate one breath of her accustomed pride. And in that she doth well, for if she should show her tender heart, 'tis most likely he would stomp on it; the man, as you know, hath a contemptible spirit.

BAYLISS: Yea, but he is not a hateful man.

PEMBLETON: He hath, I think, an unbearable outward snarkiness.

BAYLISS: Well, sometimes this is so; but the man doth also have a sweetness in his soul, howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests he will make. Well, I am sorry for Kay. Shall we go seek Munch, and tell him of her love?

PEMBLETON: Never, my bunk; let her good counsel prevail, and her love will cool the while. I admire Howard much; and I could wish she would modestly examine herself, to see how much better she might do than Munch.

BAYLISS: My partner, will you walk? The lunch hour is nigh. (Exeunt PEMBLETON and BAYLISS.)

MUNCH (coming forth): This can be no trick; the conference was sadly borne; they have the truth of this from Felton and Gee; they seem to pity Kay; it seems her affections have their full bent. Love me! Why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censur’d: they say I will behave as a bastard if I perceive the love come from her; they say, too, that she will rather die than give any sign of affection. I did never think any should love me again. I must not seem annoying; if I should drive her to distraction it might not be put to mending. They say the lady is gentle; 'tis a truth; and wise; 'tis so, I cannot reprove it; except for loving me. By my troth, this is no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her. I may chance have claimed otherwise, but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the woman in his age that he did not even notice in his youth; and when I said I would live all alone, I did not think I should ever find another to live with me. Here comes Kay. By this day, she's a tough broad; but I can hear her sweet heart going pitter-pat. (Enter HOWARD.)

HOWARD: Against my will, I am partnered with you on a dunker.

MUNCH: Fair Kay, I thank you in advance for your wise counsel on't.

HOWARD: I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me; were it unbearable, I would have refused to ride with you.

MUNCH: You take pleasure, then, in our partnership?

HOWARD: Yea, just so much as you may take upon a gun's barrel, and eat a bullet withal. Watch your back, signior; I shall drive. (Exit.)

MUNCH: Ha! "Against my will I am partnered with you"-- there's a double meaning in that. If I do not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not love her, I am a Jew. But wait, I do love her, and I am a Jew. No matter. I hear the honking of yon horn. (Exit.)


(Scene 1: The headquarters rooftop. Enter LEWIS, KELLERMAN and the secretary NAOMI.)

LEWIS: Good Naomi, run thee to the squadroom. Whisper Howard's ear, and tell her I and Mike walk on the roof, and our whole discourse is all of her; and bid her steal into some hiding place, to listen our suppos'd insults.

NAOMI: She'll be here, I warrant thee, presently. (Exit.)

LEWIS: Now, partner, when Kay doth come, as we do trace this rooftop up and down, our talk must only be of her and Munch. When I do name him, let it be thy part to praise him more than ever the man did merit, and do thy best not to laugh; my talk to thee must be how Munch is sick in love with Kay, and how she deserve it not. Of this matter are little Cupid's Teflon rounds made, that wound only by hearsay.

(Enter HOWARD, and withdraws beneath a bench.)

KELLERMAN (aside): Look, Sergeant Howard, like a lapwing, runs close by the ground to hear our conference; then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing of the false sweet bait that we lay for it. (They advance near the playground.)

LEWIS: No, truly, Mikey, she is too disdainful; I know her spirits are as cold and unfeeling as that haggard once my own wife.

KELLERMAN: But are you sure that Munch loves Kay so entirely?

LEWIS: So says Bayliss and Pembleton. They did entreat me to acquaint her of it; but I persuaded them, if they had any charity in their souls, never to let Kay know of it.

KELLERMAN: Why did you so? Might not the gentleman welcome such a bed as Kay should couch upon?

LEWIS: Oh god of vengeance! Some punishments no man doth deserve; for nature never fram'd a woman's heart of prouder stuff than that of Kay Howard. Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes, devaluing all they look on; and her wit values itself so highly that to her all matter else seems weak. She cannot love, nor take no shape nor project of affection, she is so self-endeared.

KELLERMAN: Sure, you are too harsh; but yet, it were not good she knew his love, should she mean to make mere sport of it.

LEWIS: Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man, how wise, how noble, how close in clearance rate to her, but she would spell him backward; she turns every man the wrong side out, and never gives to any what his merit purchaseth.

KELLERMAN: Meldrick, Meldrick, such carping is not commendable.

LEWIS: Perhaps not, but as Kay is, she neither is commendable; but who dare tell her so? If I should speak, she would mock me as a swine; oh, she would laugh me out of the room, press me to death with her wit! Therefore let the Munchkin, like cover'd fire, consume away in sighs, waste inwardly. It were a better death than die of woman's mockery, which is worse than die in duty.

KELLERMAN: No, we must tell her of it; hear what she will say; perhaps she loves him back.

LEWIS: No; rather I will go to Munch and counsel him to fight this bizarre passion; and, truly, I'll devise some honest slanders to stain our sergeant with. One doth not know how much an ill word may empoison liking.

KELLERMAN: Oh, do not Kay such a wrong! She cannot be so much without true judgment—having so swift and excellent a mind as she is priz'd to have—as to refuse so, how should I describe him, rare a gentleman as Detective Munch. He is the only man of this department, always excepted my good partner, for bearing and valor; and for argument, goes foremost in report through Bawlmer, and perhaps all Maryland. He hath an excellent good name; and his excellence did earn it ere he had it.

LEWIS: Aye, I see just to think on it makes you smile. Come, go in; I'll show thee some suspect's records, and have thy counsel which is the best to question to-morrow. (Exeunt LEWIS and KELLERMAN.)

HOWARD (coming forth): What fire is in mine ears, huh? Is this some cruel joke? Or is the man sick with ardor, and I stand condemn'd for pride and scorn in his eyes? A contemptuous jape! A wretched trick! But if he dost love, and if he dost love me, offering his wild heart to my loving hand—faith, I care not; his passion's arrows in my heart shall never land. But if what they say is true, then I—no, I cannot believe this reportingly. (Exit.)

(Scene 2: The station hallway. Enter RUSSERT and GAFFNEY.)

GAFFNEY: My dear captain—pardon, I mean detective—God save you!

RUSSERT: What do you want, Gaffney?

GAFFNEY: If your leisure serv'd, I would speak with you.

RUSSERT: I have no leisure to spare for you. Good day, captain.

GAFFNEY: And yet, you may wish to tarry; for what I would speak of concerns Detective Felton.

RUSSERT: Why would that be my concern?

GAFFNEY: Marry, all know you and Felton are lovers.

RUSSERT: You know not that. If this be errant gossip, pray share it with another.

GAFFNEY: Detective, you may think I love you not; let that appear hereafter, and aim better at me by that I now will manifest. For as your honor is the department's honor, I hold that honor well; and in defense of it hath holp to prevent a dangerous liaison—surely love ill spent, and labors ill bestowed.

RUSSERT: What are you talking about?

GAFFNEY: I came hither to tell you; and circumstances shorten'd, for we have been too long a talking here, the man is dirty.

RUSSERT: Who? Felton?

GAFFNEY: Even he—your Felton, our Felton, anyone's Felton. Dirty is too good a word to paint out his wickedness; think you of a worse title, and I will fit him to it.

RUSSERT: How dare you stoop so low? I will not think it.

GAFFNEY: If you dare not trust my words, trust the evidence in this file instead. If you will read the words of IAD, you will see enough; and when you have seen the pictures attach'd, you will see it better fits your honor to change your heart.

RUSSERT: If I see anything withal why I should not think him clean, I swear that tomorrow in the Cantwell press conference, there will I shame him; but I know I will find no cause to disgrace him.

GAFFNEY: So you say now. I will disparage him no further till you have seen the evidence; bear it coldly but till to-morrow, and let the issue show itself. (Exit.)

RUSSERT: Oh, day untowardly turned! Oh, mischief strangely thwarting! Oh, plague right well prevented! It cannot be so; and yet I must assure it to myself. (Exit.)

(Scene 3: A street corner. Enter FALSONE and GHARTY. Enter BRODIE, behind, bearing a camera.)

FALSONE: What, Gharty! Gharty, I say!

BRODIE (aside): Peace, stir not.

GHARTY: Here, idiot, I am at thy elbow.

FALSONE: Stand thee close then under this awning, for it drizzles rain; and I will, like a true drunkard, utter all to thee.

BRODIE (aside): Some good footage, for my documentary; then stand close.

GHARTY: Therefore know I have earned of Captain Gaffney a transfer to homicide.

FALSONE: And I as well! Is it possible that any villainy should be so dear?

GHARTY: Thou shouldst rather ask if it was possible any villainy should be so powerful; for when powerful villains have need of powerless ones, powerless ones may demand what sinecures they will.

FALSONE: I don't get it. GHARTY: No, I should have been more surprised if you had. But no matter; our tasks are done.

BRODIE (aside): I know these men; they have been vile creatures, and cowards as well; yet they pretend to be good gentlemen; all their trickery will I capture on camera.

FALSONE: Dost thou hear someone speaking?

GHARTY: Yes; 'tis thee, and please stop so I may tell my tale. Know that to-night we have fooled Detective Russert; we have given her false evidence of her lover's treachery, fashioned documents and doctored photographs—I tell this tale vilely.

FALSONE: I should first tell thee how I hid near the lady's chamber-window,and watched her review these documents, and saw for myself her horror-struck expression.

GHARTY: And truly thought she Felton was corrupt?

FALSONE: I am sure of it, for her window was open to the night, and thus I heard her weep and rage; she swore she would meet Felton, as he was appointed, next morning at the press conference, and there, before the whole assembly, shame him with what she saw o'er night, and send him home again without love or repute.

BRODIE (coming forth): She shall do no such thing; for I have evidence of my own. I charge you in the lieutenant's name, stand!

GHARTY (drawing his gun): No, it is you who shall stand tonight; and fall, I warrant you.

BRODIE: Masters—

FALSONE (drawing his gun): Never speak, we charge you; surrender that film or surrender your life. (BRODIE flees.) A commodity to capture, I warrant you!

GHARTY: Come, we must capture it, ere he surrender it to others. (Exeunt, firing at BRODIE.)

(Scene 4: The Waterfront. Enter, severally, LEWIS, KELLERMAN and HOWARD.)

KELLERMAN: Good evening, Kay.

HOWARD: Good evening, Mike.

KELLERMAN: Why, how now! Why do you speak in this distracted tune?

HOWARD: I am out of all other tune, methinks.

LEWIS: Clap's into "I Thought About You"; that tune goes without a burden. I'll sing it, and do you dance it.

HOWARD: You may dance it yourself, and make several passes o'er a broom withal; then will you be agile when it sweeps you into the gutter.

LEWIS: Oh, illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my heels. (Dances.)

HOWARD: 'Tis almost one o'clock, gentlemen; I should go home. By my troth, I am exceeding troubled.

KELLERMAN: By work, or love, or life?

HOWARD: By them all, for all are confus'd in my soul.

LEWIS: Well, an you be not turn'd to Saint Agnes, there's better praying to Valentine.

HOWARD: What means the fool, trow?

KELLERMAN: Why, nothing; just a prayer. God send every one her heart's desire! And doth not my partner's wit become him rarely?

HOWARD: It becomes him much too much; he should not so wear it in his cap. By my troth, I am melancholy.

LEWIS: Get you some of this distill'd St. John's Wort, and lay it to your heart; it is the only thing for such a qualm.

HOWARD: John! Why John? You have some mockery in this "John."

LEWIS: Mockery? No, by my troth, I have no mocking meaning; I meant plain to play apothecary. You may think, perchance, that I think you are in love, and that you are in love with someone nam'd John. Nay, by'r lady, I cannot think, if I would think my brain out of thinking, that you are in love, or that you will be in love, or that you ever could be in love. Yet Munch was such another, and now is he become a convert; he swore he would never look at another woman, and yet now, in despite of his heart, he sighs for his angel in a cheap suit jacket. But how you may be converted, I know not; methinks you are made of stronger stuff than the reedy Munch, and ne'er will bend to the wind.

HOWARD: What infernal pace is that that thy tongue keeps?

LEWIS: Not a false gallop.

HOWARD: I must withdraw; you, your partner, the very sight of this place conspire to vex my spirits.

KELLERMAN: Why, we meant only to lift your spirits. But good night, good bunk, good coz, good Kay. (Exeunt.)

(Scene 5: A street corner. Enter HOWARD, BRODIE following.)

HOWARD: What would you at this ungodly hour, sirrah?

BRODIE: Marry, madam, I am breathless from running; I would have some confidence with you that concerns the squad nearly.

HOWARD: Brief, I pray you; for you see I have little patience tonight. What is it, huh?

BRODIE: It may seem, madam, at first to be a little off the matter—a personal affair, madam, and not one of your concern as, God help, I would desire it were; but, in faith, important as any case might be. Yes, I thank God you are as good as any woman living and will listen to the full account.

HOWARD: Dear God, you are tedious.

BRODIE: If it pleases your ladyship to say so, then I am the most tedious man alive; and, truly, for mine own part, if I am judged tedious by such a queen, 'tis better in my heart than to enthrall a serf.

HOWARD: I would fain know what you have to say, before you lose the means to say it.

BRODIE: Marry, madam, on my watch to-night, I ha' ta'en footage of a couple of as arrant knaves as any in this charm'd city. To my sorrow, madam, I did think to tell them this; and now, madam, I am chased hither and yon by two dastardly persons, and I would at least give this camcorder tape for safekeeping to your ladyship.

HOWARD: Should they chase you into the ground, it is all the same to me; I can make no sense of what you say, as clear as it may appear unto you. But I will take the tape, to quiet your tedious talk; now go, and fare you well.

(Exit HOWARD. Enter FALSONE and GHARTY, weapons drawn, and chase BRODIE. BRODIE falls.)

FALSONE: Why, here flies the stool pigeon, waiting to have his wings clipp'd.

GHARTY: I'll capture him, and keep him far away from the squadroom; I am ready. (Seizes BRODIE.) Here, Falsone, take you his precious camera, and destroy the film inside; make sure no man doth see it; I will now take care of him.

BRODIE: Alack, I die! Here will I set up my everlasting rest, and shake the yoke of inauspicious stars from this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last. Arms, take your last embrace. 'Tis a far, far better thing I do--

GHARTY: Faith, do not flatter yourself. We will spare your life, I warrant you, for 'tis not worth the effort to take it; but not your evidence; and if you value your poor life, you shall keep silent evermore. Now I'll fashion you a gaol, to keep you out of the way for to-morrow; and after that it shall be too late. (Exeunt.)


(Scene 1: The squadroom. Enter GIARDELLO, GAFFNEY, BARNFATHER, Detectives, Uniforms and Reporters.)

BARNFATHER (to Reporters): Come, let us begin; only to the ceremony of honor, and you shall all be free to ask questions afterwards.

MARIA DELGADO (to RUSSERT): You come hither, my lady, to see Detective Felton decorated?


GIARDELLO: Why, no indeed. His deeds themselves hath decorated him; to these we now add mere words.

DAWN DANIELS (to HOWARD): You must be proud of your partner, madam, to see all gathered hither in his name.

HOWARD: Aye, he is much deserving of this recognition.

BARNFATHER: Detective Felton, stand by me—aye, there, where my camera shot is not blocked. Let us now begin, ladies and gentlemen. We hold this ceremony to honor one of our finest detectives, who hath serv'd during his rotation to auto theft in a manner beyond reproach. This goodly gentleman, this man of unsullied integrity, this creature of incomparable honor--

RUSSERT: Oh, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!

MUNCH: How now! Interjections? Why, then, some be of laughing, as, ah, ha, he!

RUSSERT: Shut up, John. Colonel Barnfather, by your leave: Is it your true and unconstrained belief that Beau Felton is a man of honor?

BARNFATHER: Why, madam, I believe it as deeply as God may allow.

RUSSERT: And what, sir, might I say to you to countermand this belief?

BARNFATHER: Why, nothing, unless you offer some sound proof.

RUSSERT: There, Colonel Barnfather, ladies and gentlemen; give no honors to this man; he's but the sign and semblance of his honor. Behold how like a hero he stands here. Oh, what authority and show of truth can cunning sin cover itself withal! Would you not swear, all you that see him, that he were an honest cop by these exterior shows? But he is none: He knows the rewards of corruption and greed; his downcast eyes are guiltiness, not modesty.

FELTON: Marry, madam! When seem'd I ever other than honorable to you?

RUSSERT: Out on thee! Seeming! I have papers and photographs here against it. You seemed to me as yon Perseus, as mighty and noble in deeds as words; but you are more blasphemous in your blood than Erisichthon, a ravenous animal that rages in savage avarice.

HOWARD: Is my lady deranged, that she doth speak so wide?

PEMBLETON: Lieutenant, why speak not you?

GIARDELLO: What should I speak? I stand dishonor'd that have so trusted one reveal'd as a common stale.

HOWARD: Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?

RUSSERT: Madam, they are spoken, and this file proves it is true.

FELTON: True! Oh, God defend me! How am I beset!

RUSSERT: Marry, you yourself have beset yourself. What explanation have you for these documents from IAD, these photographs of you with yon Cantwell, this proof of bribes and kickbacks and all manner of corruption? Now, if you are clean, answer this.

FELTON: I cannot explain them, my lady.

BARNFATHER: Why, then you are not clean. I am sorry the press must hear; upon mine honor, I knew nothing of this.

RUSSERT: Oh, Beau, fare thee well, most foul, most fair! Farewell, thou pure impiety and pious impurity! For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love. (Exits, in tears. FELTON swoons.)

HOWARD: Why, how now, partner! Wherefore sink you down?

DAWN DANIELS: Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light, shall lead our newscast tonight. (Exeunt all but GIARDELLO, FELTON, MUNCH, HOWARD, PEMBLETON, BAYLISS and SALLY ROGERS.)

MUNCH: How doth Detective Felton?

HOWARD: Dead, I think. Help, Gee! Felton! Why, Felton! Gee! Munch! Pembleton!

GIARDELLO: Oh, Fate, take not away thy heavy hand! Death is the fairest cover for his shame that may be wish'd for. Doth not every earthly thing cry shame upon him? Could he here deny the story that is printed in black and white? Why did I hire thee? Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes? But thou wast mine, and mine I lov'd, and mine I prais'd, and mine I was proud on—but he, oh, he is fall'n into a pit of ink, that the wide sea hath drops too few to wash him clean again!

MUNCH: Sir, sir, calm down. For my part, I am so attir'd in wonder, I am at a rare loss for words.

HOWARD: Oh, on my soul, my partner is belied!

PEMBLETON: Lady, were you witness to his behavior in auto theft?

HOWARD: No, truly not; we did lose touch until that threemonth was pass'd; but I know this is nothing like him.

GIARDELLO: Oh, confirm'd, confirm'd! Hence from him! Let him die.

SALLY ROGERS: Hear me a little; for I am only a uniform'd officer, but I have worked with the gentleman oft this threemonth. I have mark'd a thousand temptations for a truly greedy man, a thousand opportunities to be on the take; but in his eye there hath always appear'd a fire, to burn those who dared approach him in any way not honest. Call me a fool; trust not my reading nor my observations, but I say this gentleman is accus'd under some biting error.

GIARDELLO: Officer, it cannot be. Thou seest that all the grace that he hath left is that he will not add to his damnation a sin of perjury; he not denies it.

BAYLISS: Felton, what truth is there in what you are accus'd of? Be careful how you answer, I charge you; else shall we treat you as Nixon did treat Agnew.

FELTON: I know not why they accuse me; I have done nothing. Oh, lieutenant! Prove you that I have taken any money not my paycheck, or that I took kickbacks from any I was charged to arrest, then refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.

PEMBLETON: There is some strange misprision in the lady Russert and the bosses.

MUNCH: Megan hath the very best of honor; and if her wisdom be misled in this, the practice of it lives in Gaffney and Barnfather, the bastards, whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.

GIARDELLO: I know not. If they speak but truth of Felton, these hands shall tear him; if they wrong his honor, the proudest of them shall well hear of it.

PEMBLETON: Pause awhile, and let my counsel sway you in this case. Felton here hath been judged better off dead; let him awhile be secretly kept in, and publish it that he hath taken his life; maintain a mourning ostentation, and to the newspapers give mournful epitaphs, and do all rites that appertain unto a burial. This, well carried, shall change slander to remorse; that is some good. He dying, upon the occasion that he was accus'd, shall be lamented, pitied and excus'd; and Megan, when she shall hear he died upon her rejection, th'idea of him shall sweetly creep into her imagination, and appear more moving, delicate and full of life than when he liv'd indeed. Then shall she mourn, if ever love had interest in her liver, and wish she had not so accused him—no, though she thought her accusation true. Let this be true, and doubt not but success will fashion the event in better shape than I can lay it down in likelihood.

MUNCH: Lieutenant, let the man advise you; and though you know my inward nature is to gossip to all and sundry, yet by mine honor, I will deal in this secretly and justly.

GIARDELLO: Being that I am too angry to see straight, let Frank here lead you.

PEMBLETON: Then 'tis consented. Come, Felton, die to live; this day of honor perhaps is but prolong'd. Have patience, Kay, and endure. (Exeunt all but MUNCH and HOWARD.)

MUNCH: Kay, surely you do not mean to weep.

HOWARD: Yea, I will weep if I wish; and what is it to thee, huh?

MUNCH: I will not desire that. Surely I do believe your good partner is wronged.

HOWARD: Ah, how much might the man ask of me that would aid in righting him!

MUNCH: All at once, I am intrigued. Is there any way to show such friendship?

HOWARD: A very simple way, but too difficult for thee.

MUNCH: May a man do it?

HOWARD: A man may, but not thee.

MUNCH: A hit, a very palpable hit. Kay, no matter your constant aspersions upon my poor manhood, I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?

HOWARD: A stranger thing I know not. If I did not know you to be in jest, I might yet say I loved nothing so well as you; but I confess nothing, for you profess nothing. I am sorry you must always mock.

MUNCH: This is no joke. By my sidearm, Kay, I love thee!

HOWARD: Do not swear, and eat it.

MUNCH: I will swear by it that I love you; and I will make him eat it that says you love me not.

HOWARD: Will this not prove another jape?

MUNCH: With all the solemnity that can be devised to it, I protest I love thee.

HOWARD: Why then, God forgive me!

MUNCH: What offense, sweet Kay?

HOWARD: You have stayed me in a happy hour; I was about to protest I loved you.

MUNCH: And do it with all thy heart?

HOWARD: I love you with so much of my heart that none, may God help me, is left to protest.

MUNCH: Then I have my answer; I walk upon air. Come, bid me do anything for thee.

HOWARD: Kill Russert.

MUNCH: Come, bid me do some other thing for thee.

HOWARD: So much for thy undying love. Farewell!

MUNCH: Tarry, sweet Kay. We'll be friends first.

HOWARD: You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy.

MUNCH: Is Megan thine enemy?

HOWARD: Is she not the height of a villain that hath slandered, scorned, dishonored, my partner? O that I were a captain! What, wait until all are gathered, from uniform to brass, and then with public accusation, uncover'd slander, unmitigated rancor-- O God, that I were a captain! I would send her into Highland Terrace without a vest.

MUNCH: Hear me, Kay.

HOWARD: Take bribes, and cozen thieves! Sell out his badge and his honor! A proper saying! Good Felton! He is screw'd, he is slander'd, he is undone. O that there were any bosses would listen to reason! But integrity is melted into sycophancy, valor into cowardice; he is now celebrated as heroic that tells a lie and swears it. I cannot save my partner with wishing, therefore I will die with grieving.

MUNCH: Tarry, good Kay. By this hand, I love thee.

HOWARD: Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.

MUNCH: Why, gladly.

HOWARD: Let me rephrase that.

MUNCH: Think you in your soul that Felton is clean?

HOWARD: Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.

MUNCH: Enough; we shall find some way to challenge this. I will kiss your hand, and so let us engage together in this endeavor; and all who slander Felton shall render us a dear account—why, what is that you hold in your other hand?

HOWARD: 'Tis nothing; only a tape Brodie insisted on giving me.

MUNCH: I will kill that march-chick. Go throw it in the storage room; we have work to do. (Exeunt.)

(Scene 2: A padlocked basement. Enter GHARTY.)

GHARTY: Why has Falsone not yet appear'd?

BRODIE (within): Oh, a light for the poor prisoner!

GHARTY: A marvelous witty fellow, you are; but I will hear none of it. (Strikes him.) Shut your mouth, sirrah; should you open it, you will be thought a false knave.

BRODIE: Sir, I say to you I will prevail.

GHARTY: Wretch, stand aside. (Strikes him. Enter FALSONE, bearing Brodie's camera.) Fore God, where have you been? Have you yet destroy'd that incriminating tape?

FALSONE: What tape? I have search'd, and found none withal.

GHARTY (to BRODIE): Pray thee, fellow, tell us where 'tis; I do not like thy chances otherwise, I promise thee.

BRODIE: Marry, 'twas unloaded when I pointed it at thee; 'twas all a joke.

GHARTY: Flat perjury as ever was committed. (Strikes him.) Tell true, fellow! (Pistol-whips him.)

BRODIE: Yea, by mass, that I have—oh, villain! Thou wilt be condemn'd everlastingly for this.

GHARTY: What else?

BRODIE: That is all.

GHARTY: Then I must resort, thou scurvy capon, to direr methods.

FALSONE: And that is more, sirrah, than you will withstand; I have seen his work on many a suspect. No matter, our task is done; Felton was before the press conference accus'd, before all their cameras condemn'd, and upon the grief of this took his own life. Detective Gharty, let this man be interrogated; I will go to his taping room and make my own search. (Exit.)

GHARTY: Now, you will tell me true.

BRODIE: Oh, thou pernicious caitiff! Oh, villain most heathenish and most gross! And the poor fool is dead, despis'd, distressed, hated, martyr'd, kill'd! May flights of angels sing him to his rest! Take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine—

GHARTY: Enough. Tell me where is the tape!

BRODIE: Off, coxcomb!

GHARTY: God's my life, suddenly thou showest spirit? Thou naughty varlet! (They fight. BRODIE seizes Gharty's gun, and draws.)

BRODIE: Hands in the air! You are an ass, you are an ass.

GHARTY: Dost thou not respect my place? Dost thou not respect my years? Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat, to shoot a man to death!

BRODIE: Oh, there is not enough ink to write thee down as an ass! But, detective, know that I am no ass; no, thou villain, I am full of piety, as shall be prov'd upon the sparing of thy life. I am a wise fellow; and, which is more, have evidence; and, which is more, have this place to sequester thee from more mischief; and friends who know the law, go to; and ones who shall feel Felton's loss, go to; and shall hold thee and thy accomplice full accountable. Now shall I lock thee in. Oh, poor Felton! Oh, that the lady Russert had known to write thee down as an ass! (Exit.)


(Scene 1: Giardello's office. Enter GIARDELLO and PEMBLETON.)

PEMBLETON: My esteem'd lieutenant, if you go on thus, you will kill yourself; and 'tis not wisdom thus to second grief against yourself.

GIARDELLO: I pray thee cease thy counsel; nor let no other detective delight mine ear. Bring me a lieutenant that so trusted his men, whose joy of them is overwhelm'd like mine, and bid him speak of patience; measure his woe the length and breadth of mine, and let it answer every strain for strain. My anger cries louder than advertisement.

PEMBLETON: Therein do you from the lady Russert nothing differ.

GIARDELLO: I pray thee peace; I will be flesh and blood; for there was never yet lieutenant that could endure treachery patiently, however they have writ the style of gods, and made a push at change and sufferance.

PEMBLETON: Yet make those that do offend you suffer too. My soul doth tell me Felton is belied; and that shall Russert know; so shall the bosses, and all of them that thus dishonor him. Here comes his partner and accuser hastily.

(Enter, severally, RUSSERT and HOWARD.)

GIARDELLO: Good den, good den—

RUSSERT: Hear you, my lieutenant! I have some haste.

HOWARD: Some haste, my lady! Well, fare you well, my lady. Are you so hasty now? Well, all is one.

RUSSERT: Nay, do not quarrel with me, sergeant. Who wrongs you?

HOWARD: Marry, thou dost wrong me; thou dissembler, thou! Know, detective, to thy head, thou hast so wrong'd mine innocent partner that I am forc'd to lay all politeness by, and with raging heart and bruise of terrible days, do challenge thee to trial of honor. I say thou hast belied mine partner; thy slander hath gone through and through his heart, and he lies buried in Billytown with his ancestors, framed by thy villainy.

RUSSERT: My villainy!

HOWARD: Thine, Russert; thine, I say. I'll prove it by duel if you dare, huh?

RUSSERT: Away! I will not have to do with you.

HOWARD: Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast killed my partner; if thou kill'st me, scullion, thou shalt kill a true foe.

RUSSERT: Oh, a foe indeed; but that's no matter; I would kill her first. Let her answer me!

HOWARD: Come, follow me, scullion; come, Lady Scullion, come follow me; I'll whip you from your foining fence; nay, as I am your sergeant, I will!

RUSSERT: Pembleton, reason with her—

PEMBLETON: Reason yourself. God knows I lov'd the man not; but he deserved not this, slander'd to death by villains.

HOWARD: Aye, villains that dare as well answer a challenge as I dare take a serpent by the tongue. Scullions, strumpets, braggarts, milksops, secretaries with guns!

GIARDELLO: Sergeant—

HOWARD: Hold you content. I know them, yea—scambling, out-facing, fashion-monging drabs, that lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander, go anticly, and show outward hypocrisy, and speak off dozens of honeyed words, how they do love not wisely but too well; but 'tis all words.

GIARDELLO: Sergeant, detective, you both awake my patience. My heart is sorry for Felton's death; but, on my honor, he was charg'd with nothing but what was true, and very full of proof.

RUSSERT: Lieutenant—

GIARDELLO: I will not hear you.

PEMBLETON: Oh, salvation; here comes the man we least need to see. (Enter MUNCH.)

MUNCH: Good day, lieutenant, sergeant, detectives. I see I have come to part almost a fray.

RUSSERT: We would not so summon thee; for we are high- proof choleric, and have no use for thy melancholy. Wilt thou insist on using thy wit?

MUNCH: It is in my holster; shall I draw it? Lady, I shall meet your own wit any day, an you charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.

PEMBLETON (aside): By this light, he changes more and more; I think he be angry indeed.

MUNCH: Lady Russert, shall I speak a word in your ear?

RUSSERT: God bless me from another witless challenge!

HOWARD: Megan, you are a villain; I jest not. I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare and when you dare. Do me right, or I will broadcast your cowardice. You have kill'd a fine man, and his death shall fall heavy on you. Let me hear from you! (Exit.)

RUSSERT: Why, stay with us, John; you would follow her like a lapdog. When shall we set the collar and tags on the roving mutt?

MUNCH: Fare you well, woman; you know my mind. I will leave you now to your sanctimonious humor; you break jests as braggarts shoot their guns, which, God be thanked, miss the target. Lieutenant, Detective Pembleton, for your courtesies I thank you. Detective Russert, I must discontinue our partnership. You have helped kill an innocent man. For my Lady Lackwit there, she and Kay shall meet; and till then, peace be with you. (Exit.)

GIARDELLO: He is in earnest.

PEMBLETON (aside): In most profound earnest; and I'll warrant for love of Kay. I owe my partner a drink.

RUSSERT: What pretty things men are, when they leave off thinking with their brains!

PEMBLETON: He is then an ass; but then is an ass a noble beast next to a shrew.

GIARDELLO: Soft you both, let me be; leave this office, or be carried out on gurneys. (Alarum outside.) Oh, hell-kite! Now what contumacious clatter comes to my doorstep?

(Enter BRODIE, with Gharty's pistol drawn, and FALSONE, bearing a tape.)

BRODIE: Come, you, sir; if justice cannot bring Felton back, she shall still have villains in her clutches; nay, an you be a thieving slanderer once, you must be look'd to.

GIARDELLO: How now! Two men I have no use for—leave this place.

BRODIE: Hearken after my words, my lord.

GIARDELLO: Brodie, I have no time for this. What offense hath this man done?

BRODIE: Marry, sir, with his accomplice, he hath committed false report; moreover, they hath created false evidence of wrongdoing; secondarily, they are slanderers; sixth and lastly, they have belied a man; thirdly, they have attempted to steal my property; and to conclude, they are lying sons of bitches.

GIARDELLO: First, I ask thee what this is about; sixth and lastly, why you waste my time with it; and to conclude, why I should not throw you out on your arse.

FALSONE: Who have I offended, sir, that I am thus accosted in this manner? Yon Jimmy Olsen is too deluded for reason. Have him release me.

BRODIE: Sweet lieutenant, let me give my answer; if you had been through what I have, you would make no sense either. What your wisdoms could not discover, this shallow fool hath brought to light; who, in the night, overheard this man and yon Gharty discussing how Gaffney and Barnfather incensed them to frame Detective Felton; how they fashion'd evidence against him, and gave it to the lady Russert; how she believed its truth, and disgrac'd him, when he should have been honored. Their villainy I have upon record; this tape, which I gave to the fair lady Howard before I was set upon and imprison'd by these ruffians, and which I, having escaped, found Falsone attempting to steal from the storage room. Falsone is before you, Gharty is locked up and awaiting arrest; Detective Felton is dead upon the strength of false accusation; and, briefly, I desire nothing but a sandwich and some sleep.

PEMBLETON: Runs not this speech like ice water through your blood?

RUSSERT: I have drunk poison whiles he utter'd it.

GIARDELLO: But did the bosses truly set thee on to this?

FALSONE: Yea, yea, 'tis undeniable now; and paid us richly for the practice of it.

GIARDELLO: They are compos'd and fram'd of treachery; they will pay for this villainy!

RUSSERT: Sweet Beau, now thy image doth appear in the rare semblance that I lov'd it first. Oh, cursed, cursed me! Blow me about in winds, roast me in sulphur, wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire. Oh, Beau! Dead! Beau! Dead! Oh! Oh! I kiss'd thee, then I kill'd thee—

PEMBLETON: Come, arrest this Falsone, and Gharty as well; and we must give this tape to all the press, that they be informed of the matter.

RUSSERT (sings): Willow, willow, willow; Megan, he was clean; he lov'd thee, cruel Megan—

PEMBLETON (aside, to RUSSERT): Megan, calm yourself. I will explain everything.

BRODIE: And, sirs, do not forget to specify, when Sergeant Howard shall ask of this matter—

PEMBLETON: That you are an ass. Here, here comes the very lady again, and a uniform too. (Re-enter HOWARD, with OFFICER SHANKER.)

HOWARD: Which is the villain? Let me see his eyes, that when I note another like him I may murder him. (To FALSONE.) Art thou the slave that hath helped kill mine innocent partner? (Strikes him, severally.)

FALSONE: Yea, but they made me do it.

PEMBLETON: No, not so, villain, who in thy lust for reward, lost all control; and he who loses control, loses. Here stands an uncontroll'd man; a second is locked up; a third and fourth must be, that had a hand in it.

HOWARD: I thank you, Falsone, and you, Megan, for my partner's death; record it with your high and worthy deeds; 'twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.

RUSSERT: I know not how to pray your patience, Kay, yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself; impose me to what penance your anger can lay upon my deeds; his death is the worst punishment.

HOWARD: Then possess the people in Bawlmer here how innocent he died; and, if your love had more to it than lustful frenzy, hang him an epitaph upon his tomb, and sing it to his bones; sing it to-morrow morning. To-morrow evening come you to the Waterfront, and confess thy folly to all gathered there. And so dies my revenge.

RUSSERT: Oh, noble sergeant! Your over-kindness doth ring tears from me—

HOWARD: Just embrace my offer, huh? And leave, henceforth, my very sight.

RUSSERT: To-morrow, then, you may expect me; now I take my leave. (Exit.)

BRODIE: Sergeant Howard, you are indeed the best of women; I beseech you, remember who brought this to light. And also, that I did valiantly fight and prevail against an armed man twice my size; that I did make clever escape from him; that I did then confiscate the crucial evidence from this pomaded ponce. Pray you, examine me with new eyes upon these points.

HOWARD: I thank thee for thy care and honest pains; here's for them. (Kisses his cheek.) Go; we will discharge thee of thy prisoners, and I thank thee.

BRODIE: I leave an ardent slave to your ladyship; my worship shall be so pure, 'twill prove an example to all others. God keep you, Kay! I wish you well; God see you through your grief! I humbly now depart; and God keep you as well, Detective Pembleton, lieutenant. And God, I am tired. (Exit.)

GIARDELLO: Take this man into custody, Officer Shanker; and go you with several men to where Gharty is kept, and do him the same courtesy. (Exeunt SHANKER and FALSONE.) Until to-morrow, detectives, farewell.

PEMBLETON: Farewell, my lord; what shall we do about the bosses?

GIARDELLO: All papers, all stations shall know of them by morning. We will not fail. (Exeunt severally.)

(Scene 2: The Waterfront. Enter MUNCH and LEWIS, meeting.)

MUNCH: Pray thee, good Lewis, help me think of some gift for Kay. The lady detests flowers—

LEWIS: Write her a sonnet in praise of her beauty; maids love that.

MUNCH: Aye, a fine idea; and in so high a style that none living shall come over it; nay, the lady's not one for poetry, either. But in most comely truth, she deserves it.

LEWIS: Munchkin, thine ardor is like a laudanum draught; it makes me so tired.

MUNCH: A weak response, Lewis; such a draught will not hurt Kay, she is of stronger stuff. Jewels, gems that sparkle? Nay, she never wears them.

LEWIS: Give her a fine, heavy paperweight; then she may strike you with it, and end your endless talk.

MUNCH: Nay, poetry then; I shall teach her to love it. Let me see-- (Sings.) The god of love, that sits above, and knows me, and knows me, how pitiful I deserve-- (Exit LEWIS.) Nay, better than singing, I should be loving—Pembleton the virtuous spouse, Lewis the ladies' gentleman, Kellerman the fair-hair'd boy, Bayliss the passion-fool and the whole roster of my brethren bunkies, why, they were never so truly turn'd over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, she compares to none; when I think on Helen—an infant's love; Gwen—a bitter love; Felicia—a mad love; Alyssa—a pathetic love; all very ominous-ending. No, this love was born under a more gracious planet, nor can be described in but eternal terms. (Enter HOWARD.) Sweet Kay, wouldst thou come when I call'd thee?

HOWARD: Nay, signior, nor depart when you bid me.

MUNCH: Oh, but I beg you to stay!

HOWARD: 'Beg' is spoken; then I shall stay.

MUNCH: Enough of words; thereupon let me kiss thee.

HOWARD: Your mouth, Munchkin, you wield as a weapon; and weapons are only fit to wound, and such a wound is noisome; therefore I will go unkiss'd.

MUNCH: Thou hast frighted the word out of its right sense, so forcible is thy wit. But I pray thee now, Kay, bonny Kay, the prettiest Kay in Bawlmer, Kay of Kay Hall, my super-dainty Kay, tell me for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?

HOWARD: For them all together; which maintain'd so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me, huh?

MUNCH: Suffer love—a good epithet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.

HOWARD: In spite of your heart, I think; alas, poor heart! If you hurt it for my sake, I will hurt it for yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.

MUNCH: Thou and I are too snarky to woo peaceably. So much for poetry, though I myself will bear witness, thou art poetry. And now tell me, how doth your partner?

HOWARD: Very ill.

MUNCH: And how do you?

HOWARD: Very ill too.

MUNCH: Love me, close cases and mend; there will I leave off, for here comes one in haste. (Enter SALLY ROGERS.)

ROGERS: Madam, you must come to your partner. It is proved that he hath been falsely accused, and mightily abused; Gharty and Falsone are in custody; and Gaffney and Barnfather, the authors of all, are fled and gone. Will you come presently?

HOWARD: Will you go hear this news, signior?

MUNCH: I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap and be buried in thy—never mind. For the moment, I will go with thee to thy partner's. (Exeunt.)

(Scene 3: St. Stanislaus Cemetery. Enter RUSSERT, in mourning, and several Reporters.)

MATT RHODES: Is this the monument of Felton?

RUSSERT: It is. (Reads from a press release. Epitaph.)

"Done to death by slanderous tongues
Was the hero that here lies;
Death, in guerdon of his wrongs,
Gives him fame which never dies.
So the life that was taken from shame
Lives in death with glorious fame."

Now, music, sound, and hear my solemn hymn. (Sings.)

Michael Archangel, patron dear,
Pardon the ones who drove him here;
For the which, with songs of woe,
Round about his tomb I go.
No honor guard, just I alone,
Only I, to sigh and groan
Heavily, heavily.
Bawlmer bunks, respect your dead,
For next here may lie your head
Heavily, heavily.

Now, unto thy bones good day; forever will I mourn this way. (Exeunt.)


ROGERS: Did I not tell you he was innocent?

BAYLISS: Well, I am glad that all things sorts so well.

HOWARD: And so am I; though only thy unswerving love, Felton, keeps me still from calling Megan to a reckoning for it.

MUNCH: Well, Felton, withdraw into the back office; and only when we signal, come hither. Detective Russert promis'd by this hour to visit us. You know your cues, everyone; you must be sorrowful at poor Beau's untimely death, until we do exhume him. (Exit FELTON.)

PEMBLETON: Bayliss, I must entreat your pains, I think.

BAYLISS: To do what, signior?

PEMBLETON: To buy you, withal, a flagon of finest ale—you know why.

BAYLISS: Why, so I do. Signior Munch, truth it is, good signior, we hear Sergeant Howard regards you with an eye of favor.

MUNCH: 'Tis most true. And I do with an eye of love requite her.

LEWIS: The endless declaration of which hath wearied us all. But tell us, Kay, what's your will?

HOWARD: Your words, sir, are enigmatical. For my will, my will is good will toward all gather'd; including, Munchkin, your own self. My heart is full with liking. But as for loving--wait, here comes the poor widow Russert. (Enter RUSSERT, in mourning.)

RUSSERT: Good evening to this assembly.

GIARDELLO: Good evening, detective; we here attend you. Sergeant Howard, are you yet determin'd to have her speak before us?

HOWARD: I'll hold my mind were she struck mute.

MUNCH: Speak the speech, Megan; I must fetch something from the back. (Exit.)

RUSSERT: Yes, this I owe you; my folly brings this reck'ning. (Sings.) They bore him barefac'd on the bier; hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny; and in his grave rain'd many a tear—fare you well, my love!

HOWARD: Hadst thou any wits, and didst more trust thy love, it would not have moved thus.

RUSSERT: This is so. His means of death, his obscure funeral—no honor guard, nor hatchment, o'er his bones, no noble rite nor formal ostentation—

(Re-enter MUNCH, with FELTON.)

MUNCH: Why, Megan, favor us yet with another song.

RUSSERT: Beau? It cannot be! Alas, I am mad.

FELTON: You see true, Megan; nothing certainer. One Beau died defil'd; but I do live, and surely as I live, I am clean.

RUSSERT: The former Beau! Beau that is dead!

FELTON: He died, my lady, but whiles his slander liv'd. (Embraces her.)

PEMBLETON: All this amazement can I qualify, when, after that the house hath enjoyed a round, I'll tell you largely of good Felton's death. Meantime let wonder seem familiar, and to celebration let us presently.

HOWARD: Soft and fair, Frank. Why, John! What's the matter that you have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness?

MUNCH: Faith, it must test your good will. Do you not love me?

HOWARD: Why no, no more than reason.

MUNCH: Why, then Bayliss and Pembleton have been deceived: they swore you did.

HOWARD: Do you not love me?

MUNCH: Troth no, no more than reason.

HOWARD: Why, then Lewis and Kellerman are much deceiv'd; for they did swear you did.

MUNCH: They swore that you were almost sick for me.

HOWARD: They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.

MUNCH: 'Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?

HOWARD: No, truly, but in friendly recompense.

GIARDELLO: Oh, come, Kay, I am sure you love the gentleman.

LEWIS: And I'll be sworn upon't that he loves her; for here's a cocktail napkin covered in his hand, a halting half-done sonnet of his own pure brain, fashion'd to Kay.

KELLERMAN: And here's a little note, writ in Kay's own hand, stol'n from her desk drawer, containing her affection unto Munch.

HOWARD: A miracle! Here's our own hands against our hearts. Come, John, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take thee out of pity.

MUNCH: I would not deny you; but, by this good night, I yield upon great persuasion; and partly to save your life, for I was told you were set to follow Felton into the grave.

BAYLISS: And now, Frank, I will have that drink. How dost thou, Munch the monk, sworn to live and die alone?

MUNCH: I'll tell thee what, Timmy: a college of wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humor. Dost thou think I will flinch at thy satires and epigrams? No. If a man will live to eat his words, he shall make a fine meal of them. In brief, since I do propose to love, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it; and therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it; for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion. Tim, Frank, Meldrick, Mike, I did think to take you to task for your meddling; but in that it has brought me much joy, you shall live unbruis'd,and my love shall—

HOWARD: Faith, I will shut thee up once and for all. (Kisses him.)

LEWIS: Come, come, there is a sight. Let's have music ere the lovers depart, that we may lighten our own hearts and their heels.

MUNCH: We'll have dancing afterward. Now again, kiss me, Kay. (Kisses her.)

GIARDELLO: First, of my word; therefore play, jukebox. Marry, now that is ardor; get thee a room, get thee a room.


SHANKER: My lord, Gaffney and Barnfather are ta'en in flight, and brought with armed men back to Bawlmer.

MUNCH: Think not on them till to-morrow; we'll devise brave punishments for them. Strike up, bunkies!

(Music and a song: "Farewell, ye old Spanish ladies," etc. Dance. Exeunt.)


MAIN TEXT: Much Ado About Nothing (duh)
OTHER BITS OF TEXT: Were cadged from Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Taming of the Shrew. Thank you, Mr. Public Domain!

THE CHARACTERS: And their rough equivalents...

Gaffney--Don Juan (aka "John the Bastard")
Barnfather--Conrade, and he got some of Don Juan's lines too
Bayliss--Don Pedro
Pembleton--Antonio, and he got some of Leonato's lines too
Brodie--Dogberry, and "A Boy," and "Verges," and "A Sexton" (hardest-working swot in show business)
Sally Rogers--Friar Francis, and "A Messenger"
Falsone & Gharty--Conrade & Borachio
Lewis & Kellerman--share the coveted roles of Margaret and Ursula, Beatrice's annoying maidservants
Naomi & Officer Shanker--other "Messengers"
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