Archive for March 5th, 2012

5th March
2012
written by amber

The Muleshoe Eagle

Shot of a desk, its surface clean, other than a clock reading 12:45 p.m., an empty whiskey bottle lying on its side and an empty glass.

VOICE OVER – My name is Roland Balpean, and I’m a private investigator. I was resting after a busy day…

A man, lying on the floor beneath the desk is seen.

VOICE OVER – … when a new client walked into my office.

A woman’s leg is seen, clad in very high heels. She walks across the floor toward the desk. Gradually, the camera view changes to reveal more of her body, a leopard-skin coat, a very large purse, long blonde hair, and a big cowboy hat.

The woman looks down at the man lying on the floor.

WOMAN – I need you to help me find my husband.

The woman offers the man a hand to help him stand. He clears a pile of papers off a chair and invites her to sit. He returns to his desk, quickly puts the empty bottle and glass into a drawer and removes a notepad and pen from another drawer. He sits down at his desk.

ROLAND – So, you’re telling me that your husband is missing?

WOMAN, wiping at one eye as if she is crying – Yes. My name is Karole Grant, and I’m from Muleshoe, Texas. My husband and I own a large ranch there, called the Proud Eagle Ranch. But yesterday – (she makes more wiping motions and a couple of hiccoughs) – yesterday, he disappeared.

ROLAND – So, he’s been missing for just the one day?

KAROLE, jumping to her feet – If you can’t help me, just let me know!

ROLAND, standing as well and walking across the room to take her arm – No, no. Of course I will help you. I’m just trying to-

KAROLE flings herself into his arms and makes loud crying noises.

ROLAND pats her on the back.

KAROLE, still clinging to Roland – The police told me they wouldn’t declare him missing until he was gone 48 hours. But I just know he’s in trouble. I need to find him now!

ROLAND, still patting her back – What makes you think he came to Calgary?

KAROLE, sitting back down and rummaging in her purse, brings out a torn piece of paper – I found this information on his computer. He booked a flight to Calgary. He arrived here at 7 p.m. yesterday.

ROLAND, eying her very large purse – You didn’t happen to bring the computer with you, by any chance?

KAROLE, looking contrite – Oh no. When I saw the confirmation of the flight, I got a little upset. The computer fell off his desk and broke. I tried to turn it on again and see if he’d booked a hotel, but nothing happened.

ROLAND – Because a computer expert might be able to get that off the hard drive for you.

KAROLE – Oh, I never thought of that. You’re a really smart man, Mr. Balpean.

ROLAND – Call me Roland. And why don’t you call home and see if they can courier that broken computer to you here.

KAROLE – Okay.

She fishes a cell phone out of the purse and goes to a corner of the room, speaking in urgent whispers. Her voice sounds as if she’s arguing with someone, and not winning.

KAROLE, coming over to put a hand on Roland’s arm, smiling – They’ll send it, but it’ll take at least 12 hours, more if it gets held up at the border. And Mr.- I mean, Roland – I don’t think we have that long.

ROLAND – What aren’t you telling me, Mrs. Grant?

KAROLE continues to stare at him, without responding.

ROLAND – I said, what aren’t you telling me, Mrs. Grant?

KAROLE blinks and smiles – Oh, call me Karole, please. I don’t know how to say this, but I think my husband might be suicidal. He’s been depressed lately, and acting oddly. He has some important matters to deal with back at the ranch, but he’s walked away from all of that. And to come to Calgary! He once told me that Calgary always makes him feel like killing himself. Please, Roland, there can’t be that many hotels here. While we’re waiting for the computer to be delivered, can’t we go out and look for him?

Shot of Roland and Karole going in and out of the lobbies of large downtown hotels. Karole showing the desk clerks a large glossy photo of an older, handsome man, the desk clerks shaking their heads. Shot of Roland and Karole also going into fancy restaurants and bars, showing the picture around, also with negative results. Shot of Karole leaning against the wall of a hospital beneath a sign saying ‘Morgue.’ Roland emerges, carrying the picture and shaking his head. Karole reaches out toward him and he embraces her. Then she rummages in her purse and brings out a flask, takes a drink and offers it to Roland.

VOICE OVER – ROLAND – For the next few hours, we pounded the streets of downtown Calgary without finding a trace of Andrew Grant. Finally, we had to take a break.

ROLAND and KAROLE sit at a booth in a bar, drinks and snacks in front of them. They are laughing and talking.

KAROLE – I’ve never met a private eye before. I never expected one to be so…

ROLAND – So what?

KAROLE – Well, so young and handsome. I expected some sad eyed, saggy faced old fart. But you…

KAROLE reaches out and runs a hand across Roland’s cheek, then she leans in and kisses him passionately.

ROLAND, pushing her back – Are you sure you want to be doing this?

ROLAND, VOICE OVER – What a crappy time for me to get all professional and that.

KAROLE, moving a few inches away from him and fussing with her hair – You’re right. We need to stay on task.

ROLAND – We’ve been to every hotel in downtown Calgary and all the airport hotels. We’ve got to examine other possibilities. What if he didn’t stay in town? What if he went to Banff?

KAROLE, taking a lipstick and mirror out of her purse and fixing her face – Oh no, Andrew hates the mountains. He has terrible claustrophobia.

ROLAND – Okay, then. What about cheaper motels?

KAROLE – Oh no. Andrew always insists on the best.

ROLAND – But if he was going to…you know…kill himself. Why pay for a fancy hotel if you don’t expect to be around to enjoy it?

KAROLE, taking a large gulp of her drink and looking evasive – You don’t know Andrew. He’d care about the appearance. Just the thought of his body lying in a cheap bug-ridden room (she shudders) would make him want to die.

ROLAND – But-

KAROLE – No, we must have missed some hotels.

ROLAND scratches his head, and looks at some torn-out phone book pages – No, I think we covered them all.

KAROLE – Aren’t there any hotels that are so exclusive they wouldn’t be in the phone book?

ROLAND – Not really. Unless they’re private clubs! Do you think he’s a member of the Cattlemen’s Club?

KAROLE – Of course he is.

Shot of their table, they aren’t there any longer, the drinks and food abandoned.

Shot of the exterior of an ornate brick building, with a discreet sign that reads “Calgary Cattlemen’s Club.” Roland and Karole run up the steps and enter the building.

Inside, they are met by a man in a suit who looks at Andrew Grant’s photo and shakes his head. But while he’s talking to Roland, Karole suddenly pushes past them and runs up the stairs.

Shot of a hallway with a food cart outside a door, two empty champagne bottles, champagne glasses and dirty plates. Karole tries to open the door of that room but it is locked. She rattles the doorknob.

Roland and the Club steward appear in the hallway, walking quickly toward Karole.

STEWARD – Miss! Miss! I insist that you leave the building now!

ROLAND – Karole, what are you doing?

KAROLE rummages in her purse and brings out a small revolver. She shoots the lock out and rushes into the room.

ANDREW, wearing only a sheet, runs out of the room.

KAROLE runs out on his heels. She fires her revolver into the ceiling, then flings it away and once again reaches into her purse. She brings out a lariat. Standing firm, she whirls the rope above her head and lassos Andrew.

KAROLE, dragging Andrew into the stairwell, turns to Roland and says – Bet’cha never seen nothin’ like this before!

A woman comes out of the room, wearing a lacy nightgown.

WOMAN – Where did my husband go?

ROLAND – Your husband? Ma’am, I just spent the whole day helping Karole Grant find her husband for her. I don’t know who you are.

WOMAN – I’m Missy Grant. Andrew and I just got married and we’re on our honeymoon. Karole is a crazy woman who thinks she and Andrew have a relationship, but she’s deluded.

STEWARD, taking Missy Grant’s arm and leading her solicitously back into her room, glaring at Roland – Did you even ask that woman for proof that she was married to Mr. Grant?

ROLAND, looking sheepish – No. No, I didn’t.

STEWARD – Then you aren’t a very good private investigator, are you?

MISSY – But he did find Andrew.

MISSY, walking over to Roland and clutching at his arm – I need you to help me find my husband.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

This story was written with suggestions for a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre supplied by Joan Melvin. I’m practicing for the script I’ll be writing for the 48 Hour Movie Making Challenge in Calgary on March 30. Joan gave me: 1. Lariat 2. Bet’cha never seen nothin’ like this bafore 3. Film noir. Thanks, Joan!