Almost Sidetracked

Almost Sidetracked Production version Page 1 by David Wills ACT 1, SCENE 1 Drinks and salad are already served. A cou...

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Almost Sidetracked Production version

Page 1

by David Wills

ACT 1, SCENE 1 Drinks and salad are already served. A couple of minutes after the last person served, begin play. Lights up on main stage medium low, just enough to illuminate the actors. Mayor sitting at table. Constance and Trudy are in front of the bar, Charlie behind. Silent conversation and action during Doc’s monolog. Side Scene-- Doc is standing under bright daylight DOC: Howdy, Folks. Welcome to Thurman, Texas, my home town. Now we know it ain’t much to look at, but it’s all we got. Fact is, we don’t have that much to compare it with. Now this place over here is the activity center of town: the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. Everybody who is anybody is a graduate of the Academy. It’s nice, you know? The man at the table got elected Mayor a few years back by mistake. You see, he thought he was registering for the Ladies’ Auxiliary Annual Raffle, but actually he was signing up as a candidate for Mayor. The only other candidate was “Yaller Dog” but since nobody knew who that was, he didn’t get any votes. We did have a series of recounts, though, since there were a whole lot more votes than voters, but finally it was all done. (Lights up on Mayor, and each of the others, as their names are called) Ladies and Gentlemen, the Mayor of Thurman. Mr. Dimple Chad. That distinguished looking lady there is Mrs. Trudy Trueheart, the proprietor of the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. and widow of the late Col. Thurman T. Trueheart, our famous Confederate Cavalry hero. She keeps track of all the young men that come around on account of she’s looking for a husband for her daughter. That pretty young girl over there is Miss Constance Trueheart. Now her father, Col. Trueheart, always told her to look for a quality husband, not just the richest, or most well mannered. She wants a husband, all right, and she’s got her eye on one young man in particular. Their difference of opinion on that matter makes for some lively conversations now and again.

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Finally, back of the bar is Charlie. (talks behind hand to the audience) Be a little patient with him. He ain’t exactly the fastest horse in the corral, but he eventually gets back to the barn. He’s a nice sort, anyway, and makes a right good soda. Yep, that’s our town, all right. That’s kind of how we are here—quiet, easygoing, slow to change, no trouble—don’t have a jail or a sheriff, don’t need one. Or at least that’s how we were, before we got word the railroad was coming to town. That changed everything. We could imagine a whole passel of new students, and people going to and from other places would stop over and buy things. A real economic stimulus, you might say. The Mayor got all puffed up about it I reckon I’ll drop in for a visit. (stops and turns back to the audience) Oh, pardon me, I forgot to introduce myself. (tips hat) Bones McCoy, town doctor at your service. Most folks just call me Doc. If you need medical help, I’m the one to come to, and if you got sick cows or horses, I can usually take care of that, too. Ya’ll come on in with me and set down for a spell. Doc crosses from side stage table in Academy, tips hat to those at bar.

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ACT ONE SCENE 2 DOC: Mornin’ Ladies. Charlie. TRUDY: Good Morning, Doctor McCoy. CONSTANCE: Morning, Doc. DOC: Morning, Mr. Mayor. MAYOR: Mornin’ Doc. DOC: Chad, how’s that back of yours? MAYOR: Aw, it’s better since you gave me that medicine. Tastes terrible, but it works like a new pistol. DOC: That’s good, that’s good. MAYOR: What’s good? DOC: That it works good, and that it tastes bad. Everybody knows medicine that doesn’t taste good works better. That’s why we mix it that way. We could put cherry flavor in it, but then… MAYOR: Never mind. What’s new with you? SLOW CHARLIE: Mornin’ Doc. DOC: (Everybody turns and looks at Charlie. Doc looks at audience)—I told you he wasn’t fast. (Turns back to Mayor.) Well, I had another one of those kids come in for a banged up leg. That makes eleven of ‘em. If this keeps up, the whole Academy will be cleaned out. MAYOR: That’s bad. What do you make of it? DOC: Hard to say for sure. My guess is it’s an epidemic of classic, textbook mallet-itis. MAYOR: Mallet-it is? What’s that? DOC: It’s the medical name for the condition resulting from a leg being hit with a large, wooden mallet. MAYOR: (looks at audience, then at the doctor) How long did you go to medical school to learn that? DOC: Nine years. We learned how to name medical conditions in postgraduate school. You know, half of medical science is knowing what to call the condition, half is knowing what to treat it with, and the other half is learning how to mix the medicine so it tastes bad. That way the patients know they’re getting their money’s worth. MAYOR: (counting on fingers as Doc makes out the halves) Uhh…Doc… DOC: Don’t bother with the recount, Chad, you’ll just wrinkle a dimple or something CONSTANCE: (walks to table) What are you drinkin’ today, Doctor McCoy?

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DOC: My usual, as usual. CONSTANCE: (to Charlie) Chocolate soda, with whipped cream, a cherry, but no sprinkles. DOC: Thank you, Constance, that’s right. Mrs. Trueheart, are you still riding out on the morning stage? TRUDY: Yes, I am. Thank you for asking. My Great Aunt JayNell Lathersoap, of the Montgomery Lathersoaps, has recently moved to Lubbock. She has now fallen ill, and is in desperate need of someone to watch over her until her recovery. MAYOR: What’s she sick of? TRUDY: I’m sure I don’t know, but no doubt I will discover that when I arrive, or soon after. DOC: Yes, I’m sure you will if you ask enough questions. Be sure to write me back with the symptoms, won’t you? Let me know who’s treating her, and what kind of medicine they’re using. TRUDY: I’ll be sure to, Doctor. DOC: That’s mighty charitable of you to visit her like that, Mrs. Trueheart. TRUDY: The world would be such a better place if we all showed a little more kindness and charity, don’t you think? DOC: Yes Ma’am, I do. That’s why I’m providing medical care to the malletitis patients at no cost. Even mixed the medicine extra strong tasting. Doc and Mayor listen in on the conversation at the bar. During this conversation, Charlie is making the Doctor’s soda. CONSTANCE: Mother, isn’t it time to go to the stage office? TRUDY: Mayor Chad, what time do you have, please? MAYOR: (takes out pocket watch) Let me see. It’s half past nine. TRUDY: Thank you Mayor Chad. No, Constance, not quite yet. There’s still a few more minutes in which you can enjoy my company. CONSTANCE: Mother, you’ve always told me that it is always better for a proper lady to be early rather than late…except when a beau comes a-callin’, haven’t you? TRUDY: Hmmm. I suppose. Pause TRUDY: Oh, Constance, darling, did I tell you that I met the surveyor for the railroad yesterday evening?

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CONSTANCE: No, Mother, you didn’t. (she is obviously not too interested.) Please don’t tell me you’ve found someone else for me to throw myself at. TRUDY: I’m sure I don’t know what you mean. CONSTANCE: I’m sure you know exactly what I mean, Mother. Every time a male who can walk on both feet comes within a mile of this town, you make sure I know he’s arrived. TRUDY: Well, this young man is different. CONSTANCE: According to you, they’re all different. TRUDY: He’s from Atlanta, and he dresses very nicely. I think he must be from one of the better families there. CONSTANCE: I’m sure. SLOW CHARLIE: I think the stage is running a few minutes late, Mrs. Trueheart. CONSTANCE: (everyone turns and looks at Charlie.) You always seem to know those things that have to do with timing, now don’t you, Charlie? TRUDY: Constance, you know, you should endeavor to be nice to that young surveyor. He’s bright, and very observant. He seems extremely clever. He said his name is Mr. Felonious T. Sidetrack. “Felonious.” Now isn’t that an unusual name? Almost aristocratic sounding. MAYOR: Or criminal. SLOW CHARLIE: Timing is very important, Miss Constance. TRUDY: (ignoring Charlie’s Mayor’s comment) And he was simply full of questions. He was interested in everything. Wanted to know all about the town, and the people, and the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. And working for the railroad— CONSTANCE: And I’m sure you told him everything, didn’t you? TRUDY: Why, yes, I did. Why shouldn’t I? Anyway, as I was saying, with him working for the railroad— CONSTANCE: —that means he’s always on the move from place to place, and always working out of town, and away from home. TRUDY: I’ve always said, it’s better to be away and earning a respectable living than to be home and underfoot. Your father, Col. Trueheart, told me that ever so often when he returned from his Army campaigns. And then he would be away again, galloping off on that lovely tall horse of his. CONSTANCE: It makes for shorter conversations, I’d expect.

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TRUDY: It does, but that only lasts for a while, then you can catch up on your conversations when he returns. Anyway, once the railroad is finished he will come home to his darling wife— CONSTANCE: Oh, I knew you’d get around to marrying me off. TRUDY: It’s not polite to interrupt, dear. What I was about to say is that working for the railroad insures that he will have substantial means available if he invests wisely, and then he can properly take care of you like you should be taken care of, that’s all. CONSTANCE: And then what? What might be the next project? Mother, I don’t want to have a husband that’s never home. I want— TRUDY: Constance Trueheart, you listen to me. I know what you want. You want that restless young cowboy. That Randolph boy. He’s never going to be able to give you the kind of life you deserve. He doesn’t care about anything except chasing those smelly old cows. He’ll never amount to anything. CONSTANCE: But he can give me the one thing I really want. He can give me true love. I feel it down in my heart. He’s never actually said so, but I know he loves me. And he’s an honest, down to earth man. TRUDY: Constance, don’t you be difficult! You’ll get rid of those ideas right now, if you know what’s good for you— Charlie finishes soda, and Constance rounds bar with it, setting it on Doc’s table. Enter banker, excitedly, waving a letter in his hand. BANKER: Miss Constance! Look! I got a letter from my fiancée, Rhapsody, back in Virginia! Listen to this— TRUDY: Ahem. Phil T. Lucre, have you forgotten you manners? BANKER: (looks pained, blindly obedient) Oh, please forgive me, Ma’am, for not giving you a proper greeting. I was just so excited about getting a letter from my Rhapsody, I forgot. Good Morning, Mrs. Trueheart,. Are you feeling well on this bright Spring day? TRUDY: Thank you, Mr. Lucre. I understand. And yes, I am feeling quite well, except for a little rheumatism in my knees, some difficulty understanding my daughter, and— CONSTANCE: Mother, please. Go ahead, Phil T, what does it say? SLOW CHARLIE: Would you like a soda, Phil? We have Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry, we won't have any more pineapple until next week, and you can have whipped cream on it if you like, and a cherry, and we have sprinkles--red sprinkles, green sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles.

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BANKER: No, thank you, Charlie, I’m still saving every penny I can for my Rhapsody. CONSTANCE: Now, Phil T, you know I’ll give you one on the house, if you like. BANKER: That’s very kind of you, Miss Constance, but I have no time this morning. I have an important telegram to pick up on the way to the Bank. I just wanted to read you what my Rhapsody sent. CONSTANCE: Please, by all means, read on. BANKER: (reading from letter) Dearest Phil, I hope this letter finds you in good health, and that you are working toward the day I can come to Texas and be your wife, but (dare I say it?) I am not getting younger, my dear I was delighted to hear that you will soon have money to send for me in only two more years, but Phil, dear, I don’t know how much longer I can fend off the advances of that young Rupert Joe Bob Beauregard whom I mentioned in my last letter. His Daddy, Col. Beauregard, owner of the neighboring plantation, has taken ill over the winter, and may not last much longer. I cling to the hope that you can engineer a windfall and free me from his ever-strengthening net. He is very persuasive. In the meantime, if you could send me a small token of your love, such as a letter of credit to my family’s bank account, I would be in your debt until I am able to be forever in your arms, at which time I can repay you everything. With love and expectation, Your darling Rhapsody BANKER: Did you hear that? “With love and expectation”. I can hardly wait for that stage coach some morning that will bring my wife. I’ll deprive myself of every luxury. I’ll save every single penny, do any extra job I can find. I even shoveled out the livery stable the last couple of days, to earn enough to send her some money. CONSTANCE: But Phil, do you think it is a good idea to continue to do that? Doesn’t that make your savings account that much harder to build? BANKER: Well, yes it does, Miss Constance, but I think it will be worth it.

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TRUDY: Constance, you know her Daddy, Col. Beauregard, has fallen on hard times since the end of the War, and that horrible leg wound he suffered at the hands of those Yankees has made it very difficult for him to get back on his feet. DOC: Now, that figures, don’t it? He can’t get back on his FEET, when he only has ONE left, now can he? (Mayor counts on fingers, one, two…ONE) BANKER: Please, Doc, don’t make jokes right now. This is serious. I have to leave, now: DOC: I’m sorry, Phil. I only meant—time’s a wastin’, you know. BANKER: That’s right, it is, Doc. I just thought I’d stop in and read you the letter on my way to the telegraph office. I can’t stay. Work, work, work, makes the savings grow. And savings will bring my Rhapsody. (exit banker through back door.) Good day, all. ALL: Good day, Good bye, Phil, etc. DOC: …and good luck…. SLOW CHARLIE: Mornin’, Phil. DOC: You missed him, Charlie. Short pause as everyone looks at Charlie, then at door swinging. TRUDY: Now there’s a young man who understands the value of work. That’s the sort of man you should marry, Constance. Your father, Col. Trueheart, always said that it’s a rare thing for good luck to walk right in your door unannounced. CONSTANCE: Mother— (Door opens, enter Scott Randolph through door carrying a lasso and a saddle bag, wearing perfectly clean white clothing.) CONSTANCE: (very bubbly) Good morning, Scott. SCOTT: Good morning, Miss Constance (nods and tips hat as she passes, then follows toward table, turns, looks at Mrs. Trueheart) And good morning to you, Mrs. Trueheart, are you feeling well today? TRUDY: (frostily as she turns away) Well enough, Mr. Randolph, thank you. SCOTT: Aren’t you leaving on the stage, Ma’am? I saw the dust cloud rising up over across the creek as I was riding into town. It should be here just about any minute now, I reckon.

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TRUDY: Yes, I am, and I should be going. Constance, will you accompany me? CONSTANCE: Yes, Ma’am, I will, as soon as I get Mr. Randolph’s soda. SLOW CHARLIE: That’s all right, Miss Constance, I can get Scott Randolph’s drink for him. I know just how he likes them. Chocolate soda, with whipped cream, and no cherry, but with extra chocolate sprinkles. CONSTANCE: (cool surprise) That was quick, Charlie. Thank you so much. TRUDY: There, you see? Come along now, Constance. Well done, Charlie. SCOTT: You have a nice talk with your Mom and maybe I’ll see you around town later. (Constance returns to bar, picks up her hat from underneath, turns toward door with Trudy. Stops, turns, gives a smile and bats her eyes at Scott, who doesn’t really notice. Exit Constance and Trudy through back door.) DOC: (whispers to Scott) You know, Scott, that Constance is a mighty fine looking young lady. SCOTT: (Looks uncomfortable) Yup. I reckon so. MAYOR: Say, Scott, Katy Francis asked me to invite you to our place for lunch today. She’s been cooking all morning. SCOTT: Yesterday it was armadillo sushi. What’s she cooking today? MAYOR: Why her famous specialty…Kentucky fried prairie dog. SCOTT: So that’s what I smelled. Well, Mayor, that’s mighty—uh— inviting, but I have to get back out with my cows. There’s a whole bunch of Baxter’s herd got strayed off in the last couple of days. We have to keep a close eye, looks like. So after I finish my drink, I’ll be on my way. Give her my regrets. MAYOR: Awww, she’ll be disappointed, Scott, but I’ll tell her. She’s kind of sweet on you, you know. And still single… SCOTT: (starts to get up to leave) Yeah. Uh…you know, Charlie, I may not have as much time as I thought… MAYOR: Aww sit down Scott, sit down. I’m just pulling your leg. You’ve heard she’s opened up the old boarding house and turned it into a café, haven’t you? She’s naming it after herself. Katy Francis’ Café. KFC for short.

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Charlie delivers soda, SCOTT: So I heard. Thanks, Charlie. MAYOR: Yep, she got this new idea that people can get a room with a bed overnight and then leave right after breakfast. DOC: Or right before. SCOTT: I hope it works out for her all right. But that name, Mr. Mayor, “KFC”. I don’t know, who’s going to remember a name that’s only letters? MAYOR: I think the idea will catch on. DOC: Glad it’s on the edge of town. MAYOR: What do you mean? DOC: Uh, I mean, that way it will be the first thing people see when they’re coming in for a visit, once the railroad comes to town. SCOTT: He’s right, Mr. Mayor. MAYOR: Hmm. I suppose so. For a minute there, I thought you were making a joke about her cooking or something, Doc. DOC: No, sir. It’s plumb serious, how she cooks. It’s nothing to joke about. . MAYOR: Scott, tell me about those stray cows. SCOTT: Well, sir, it seems that about half of Baxter’s herd sorta wandered off last night or so, and nobody much knows why. A couple of his cowhands say they was horse tracks mingled in with the cow tracks, though. MAYOR: Did he lose some horses, too? SCOTT: I don’t think so. MAYOR: So maybe they had a little help in straying? SCOTT: Now I’m not one to point a finger, but if I were, I’d say them cows was rustled. MAYOR: Rustled? Right here in Trueheart county? (Everyone looks surprised and unsettled) SCOTT: That’s what it looks like, is all. MAYOR: Well, things couldn’t have worked out worse for Baxter, first his earth dam busted and drained out his stock tank, then there was that prairie fire in his pasture, then this. And he’s already behind in his land payments, isn’t he? SCOTT: I wouldn’t know about that. Maybe the banker would. DOC: Well, he wouldn’t be much of a banker if he didn’t, eh?

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(Slaps Scott on shoulder. Enter Marshall through back door, quietly. Nobody notices.) MAYOR: He might fall into foreclosure like all those other folks lately. DOC: That would be a shame. Seems like all up and down that stretch of land along the railroad right of way, people have been having a string of bad luck. (Scratches chin). Sure seems mighty strange, I say. MARSHALL: Morning, men. What seems strange? (Everyone stops and looks at Marshal as he closes door and enters.) MAYOR: Are you the new Marshall? MARSHALL: That’s right, I am. Marshall Jim Dandy. And you are…? MAYOR: (stands and shakes hand)I’m the Mayor, Dimple Chad, and this is the town doctor, Bones McCoy, and this here is Scott Randolph. (looks at the Marshall) I thought you’d be—well—taller. MARSHALL: Taller? MAYOR: You know, not so—short. (motions to empty chair) MARSHALL: Yeah. All right. So, Doctor McCoy, you were saying something was strange. (Looks around and nods. Takes out notebook and pencil) I have to agree. DOC: Huh? Well, there’s some missing cattle, but some folks say they just strayed. MARSHALL: And what do you say? DOC: I wouldn’t know much about that. I stick pretty close to my office. I work on cows sometimes, but— MARSHALL: I didn’t ask you what you knew about it, I asked you what you thought. DOC: Dadburn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a detective. MARSHALL: There’s no need to get touchy, just doing my job. How about you, cowboy? SCOTT: Well, sir, it seems that about half of Baxter’s herd sorta wandered off last night or so, and nobody much knows why. A couple of his cowhands say they was horse tracks mingled in with the cow tracks, though. MARSHALL: Did he lose some horses, too? SCOTT: I don’t think so. MARSHALL: So maybe they had a little help in straying? DOC: (To Mayor) Is this déjà vu? MAYOR: No, but it will be next time, I guess.

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DOC: (To Mayor) Must be a glitch in the matrix. SCOTT: You probably ought to ask Baxter’s men. You want me to ask the ranch foreman to come see ya? I’m on my way by there later. MARSHALL: Sure, that would be mighty fine. Say about two o’clock? SCOTT: I’ll tell him. I’ve gotta hit the trail, Charlie, thanks for the soda. Delicious as usual. So long, Miss, Constance. (gets up, turns and looks at Marshall) Funny. I thought you’d be taller. (calls out to room) Be seein’ y’all. (Shrugs and exit Scott through swinging door.) MAYOR: Frankly, Marshall Dandy, we’re a little worried these days. There’s some things that just don’t add up. MARSHALL: And that’s why you telegraphed the Governor, right? MAYOR: Yes sir, it sure is. There’s been a lot of unusual things. Certain folks seem to have run up against hard times lately. MARSHALL: Is that so? And that’s unusual? MAYOR: Yes, it is. The bad luck seems to be running right down the railroad line. MARSHALL: Down the right of way? (makes a note in tablet) MAYOR: Besides that, there’s been a string of assaults in town. MARSHALL: Assaults, eh? Now we’re getting somewhere. What kind of assaults? MAYOR: You tell him, Doc. DOC: Some of the tap dance students have had their legs busted. Looks malletitis to me. MARSHALL: Malletitis? DOC: Yes. It’s the medical name for the condition resulting from a leg being hit with a large, wooden mallet. MARSHALL: You don’t say. How many assaults? (writes in tablet) DOC: Eleven. None of them knows who done it, and there’s a couple of ’em banged up pretty bad. MARSHALL: Let me come by and get a full report later. DOC: Good idea. My office is over across the street. MARSHALL: Tell me about that cowboy. He sure lit out of here when I showed up. Looks a little suspicious. DOC: Now Marshall, Scott Randolph is a straight a shooter as ever was in these parts. You don’t have to worry about him. MARSHALL: Where’s he from? MAYOR: Well, sir, nobody knows exactly.

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MARSHALL: How’s that? MAYOR: He was abandoned on the porch of the bunkhouse when he was just a tiny little baby. Raised by cowboys and spent all his time out on the range running cattle. MARSHALL: Abandoned? At the bunkhouse? MAYOR: Yes, sir, that’s right. There was a note on his blanket that said his folks couldn’t take care of him, and hoped he would be all right. MARSHALL: Who were his folks? (writes in tablet) DOC: Nobody around here knows, and naturally he don’t remember. He was just a baby then, you know. MARSHALL: I figured that. DOC: Hey, just trying to help. MAYOR: Marshall, can I buy you a drink? MARSHALL: Much obliged. That would be nice. (turns toward Charlie) What do you have, there, barkeep? SLOW CHARLIE: We got sodas. We have Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry, (we won't have any more pineapple until next week), and you can have whipped cream on it if you like, and a cherry, and we have sprinkles—red sprinkles, green sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles. MARSHALL: Vanilla? That sounds good. SLOW CHARLIE: You can have whipped cream on it if you like, and a cherry, and we have sprinkles--red sprinkles, green sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles. MARSHALL: Red sprinkles? No, make it green. SLOW CHARLIE: Can’t have sprinkles unless you have whipped cream. I can’t just drop them in the soda. Nobody ever does that. They’d sink to the bottom, and— MARSHALL: Fine, fine! Never mind the sprinkles. (turns back to Mayor and Doc) Now about this Scott Randolph— SLOW CHARLIE: No cherry? MARSHALL: (turns to Charlie) No thanks, no cherry. That red dye makes me hyper. (turns back to Mayor and Doc) What kind of place is this? DOC: This here is the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. MARSHALL: Tap dance? What?? DOC: Yep. Everybody who’s anybody in these parts is a graduate of the Academy. All you have to do is ask, and they’ll show you. MARSHALL: Ask what? DOC: If they’re a graduate.

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MARSHALL: All right, I’ll bite. Mayor, are you a graduate? MAYOR: (Mayor slides back the chair and does a short tap routine.) Yes, sir, I’m a graduate. (sits back down) Class of ’59. MARSHALL: I see. SLOW CHARLIE: I thought you’d be taller. (Everybody turns and looks at Charlie) MARSHALL: How about you, Doc, you a graduate? DOC: (Doc slides back the chair and does a short tap routine.) Yes, sir, I’m a graduate. (sits back down) Class of ’63. MARSHALL: Is everybody in this town a graduate of the— DOC, CHARLIE AND MARSHALL: (in unison) The Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. MAYOR: Not everybody in town. Just everybody who’s anybody is a graduate. MARSHALL: I’ll keep that in mind. Sounds important. (picks up notebook and writes that fact down.) (Enter Katy Francis through back door.) MAYOR: Well, looky here! It’s my darling little daughter, Katy Francis! How is your day going, baby girl? What’s cooking over at the café? KATY FRANCIS: Hi, Daddy, I’ve been looking all over for you. It’s almost time for lunch. (stops and sees Marshall) Oh, good morning, sir, who might you be? MARSHALL: I’m Marshall Jim Dandy. I’ve just arrived on the stage from the capitol. KATY FRANCIS: The Marshall? MARSHALL: That’s right. KATY FRANCIS: I thought you’d be taller— MARSHALL: Taller? What— MAYOR: Marshall, did you say your wife stayed back at the Capitol, or did she come along with you? MARSHALL: I didn’t say, but no, I’m not married. Why do you ask? MAYOR: Oh, no reason. (short pause, while Mayor gets an idea, smiles) You know, Marshall, my daughter Katy Francis is single, too. Say, would you like to come over to the café for lunch? I’m buying, and my daughter is a remarkable cook. (The doctor is trying to wave off the Marshall’s reply, but when the Mayor looks around he pretends to be combing his hair).

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MARSHALL: Say, thank you, Mayor, that’s mighty kind of you. KATY FRANCIS: Come on, then. Fried prairie dog is best when it’s served steaming hot. (Mayor and Katy Francis each take one of the Marshall’s arms and lead him to the door.) MARSHALL: (looking back at Doc) Did she say ‘prairie dog’? DOC: Yep, I’m afraid so, Marshall. (Charlie and Doc stare at the door for a few moments, as if in mourning.) SLOW CHARLIE: I feel sorry for that new Marshall, Doc. She makes the worst Kentucky fried prairie dog I’ve ever tasted. DOC: Well, Charlie, I’ll take your word for it. So far I’ve been lucky enough not to find out. Maybe I can hold out for a little longer. SLOW CHARLIE: Doc, you need another drink? I got one right here that was for that Marshall, feller. Seems a shame to pour it out— DOC: No, not yet. I’m fine for a while. Besides, you know me, I’m a chocolate drinker, from the first day. Anyway, I ought not to have another drink right now—I have to drive. (Enter banker from back door. No longer excited, but strictly businesslike.) BANKER: Hello, Charlie, Doc. Have you seen Mrs Trueheart? DOC: She left just a few minutes ago for the stage. What’s it about? BANKER: I can’t talk about it: it’s bank business. DOC: I understand. If you hurry you might catch her. BANKER: Who was that who left with Mayor Chad and Katy Francis? DOC: That was Marshall Jim Dandy from the Capitol. BANKER: He was the Marshall? DOC: Yep. That’s right. BANKER: I thought he’d be— ALL: (All cast members pop in around the swinging doors from backstage) TALLER! BANKER: (Looks confused) DOC: Yep. We did, too. BANKER: Well, anyway, I need to hurry, please excuse me.

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(Banker turns to exit, heading for the door.) SLOW CHARLIE: (as door closes) Hello, Phil. DOC: You missed him again, Charlie. SLOW CHARLIE: Aww, that’s all right. He’ll be back. DOC: I guess I better get over to the office and check on my patients. Anyway, it won’t be long and the Marshall will be there to get some indigestion medicine. SLOW CHARLIE: Yeah, I know that’s right. (Doc stands up. And moves to back door.) DOC: Say, Charlie, business is a little slow, so let’s wander over to the KFC and see what’s going on there. You want to? SLOW CHARLIE: Yeah, it’s slow as mud, all right. I can take a break. DOC: (turns to audience as Charlie exits.) Why don’t you folks come on over with us, and take a look. Feeling hungry? (Exit Doc)

END ACT 1 Actors enter from kitchen door and bring in main course. Some conversations with the guests once food is served. Questions about the Kentucky Fried Prarie Dog, armadillo sushi, etc., introductions by characters not yet seen.

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ACT 2 SCENE 1 Constance and Trudy enter from around upstage end of side stage. Lights up on side stage area. Lights are down on Academy. CONSTANCE: Mother, when you get to Great Aunt JayNell’s, don’t forget to telegraph and let me know you arrived safely so I won’t worry. TRUDY: Of course I will. Constance, I do hope you’ll take my advice and get to know Mr. Felonious T. Sidetrack. He seems such a nice young man. We talked for a while— CONSTANCE: Oh, all right, Mother. If I run into him, I’ll talk to him. TRUDY: Now, there’s just one more thing before I go. CONSTANCE: Mother, the stage is waiting. TRUDY: They’ll wait a moment longer. Now, Constance, your father, Colonel Trueheart, had me hold the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc in trust for you until your eighteenth birthday, which, as you know is in three days. So, I’m giving this deed to you now, since I will not be here for your birthday. Then it will be all yours. (Takes legal looking deed from handbag and hands it to Constance.) Please take good care of this paper. CONSTANCE: Oh, Mother, are you sure? TRUDY: Yes, Dear, your father, Colonel Trueheart, and I talked about it years ago, and we decided that you would take over the management and ownership at that time, should anything happen to him, which of course, it did. He wanted it that way. CONSTANCE: Thank you, Mother. Thank you so much. It’s all I have left to remember him by, except for the pictures and the stories you’ve told me. TRUDY: Put that deed in a safe place, Constance. CONSTANCE: I will, Mother, give my love to all the cousins. TRUDY: Yes, darling, of course I will, and remember, if you have any trouble, take it to Doc, and he’ll know what to do. Your father, Colonel Trueheart, always spoke highly of him. CONSTANCE: Don’t worry, Mother, I’ll be all right. I’m eighteen years old. TRUDY: Not for three more days. CONSTANCE: I know. TRUDY: Good bye, now. CONSTANCE: Good bye, Mother.

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Lights out on side stage. Constance exits around upstage end of side stage. Sidetrack is in Academy looking around. Center stage lights up. Enter Charlie through back door

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ACT 2 SCENE 2 .

SIDETRACK: Hey, you. Do you work here? SLOW CHARLIE: Yes, sir, I sure do. SIDETRACK: What do you have back there to drink? And make it snappy. SLOW CHARLIE: (looks closely at Sidetrack) I don’t think I’ve seen you before. SIDETRACK: No, probably not. What do you have to drink? SLOW CHARLIE: What’s your name? My name’s Charlie. Folks calls me Slow Charlie, though I don’t know why. SIDETRACK: (sarcastically) I’m sure you don’t. What do you have to drink? SLOW CHARLIE: Aren’t you going to tell me your name? SIDETRACK: (angrily) Felonious T. Sidetrack, my friends call me Spike, but you may call me ‘sir.’ NOW WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DRINK? SLOW CHARLIE: All right, I’ll call you ‘sir’ if that’s the way you want it. We have sodas. We have Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry, (we won't have any more pineapple until next week), and you can have whipped cream on it if you like, and a cherry, and we have sprinkles—red sprinkles, green sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles. SIDETRACK: Just make it chocolate. SLOW CHARLIE: Do you want whipped cream? SIDETRACK: No. No whipped cream. SLOW CHARLIE: You can’t have sprinkles without whipped cream. We have red, green or — SIDETRACK: No. Just a soda. And make it fast. I’m thirsty. I don’t have all day. SLOW CHARLIE: Well, then, you can’t have a cherry, just for that. SIDETRACK: Fine. NOW GET ME THAT DRINK RIGHT NOW! SLOW CHARLIE: No need to get all flusterated, Mister Sir. I’ll get your drink for you. SIDETRACK: (looks around room. Says to himself, toward audience) I can’t wait till this place gets torn down. Then I won’t have to put up with the likes of you. SLOW CHARLIE: What did you say, Mr. Sir? SIDETRACK: Nothing, you—you soda jerk, you. Are you going to finish that or not?

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SLOW CHARLIE: Yes, Mr. Sir. It’s almost ready. (sound of a clock striking twelve) No, wait. Look at the clock! We have to close for lunch. You’ll have to leave now. SIDETRACK: But you have it made already. Can I get a to go cup? SLOW CHARLIE: Sorry, Mr. Sir, Miss Constance—she’s my boss—says to close up at twelve o’clock sharp to make room for the students. And it’s twelve right now. Rules is rules, you know. SIDETRACK: Fine. Forget it. (Stomps out door, grumbling, stepping around children as tap students start to arrive.) SLOW CHARLIE: (calls out, as if to give directions) You might be able to get a drink over at Katy Francis’ Café, Mr. Sir… Lights down on center stage. Tap students continue to arrive one or two at a time to Academy as lights come up on side stage area.

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ACT 2 SCENE 3 Enter Constance to side stage from upstage end. Enter banker through door, almost colliding with her. BANKER: Excuse me! Oh, good morning, Constance, may I speak to your mother, please? CONSTANCE: Oh, I’m sorry, Phil T, you just missed her. The stage has left. BANKER: When will she be back? CONSTANCE: We don’t know. It could be some time, since she’s gone to visit with my Great Aunt JayNell Lathersoap in Lubbock. BANKER: Oh, that’s too bad…and I had urgent business to discuss with her. CONSTANCE: What business? BANKER: I’m sorry, I can’t discuss it with you. I can only discuss it with the owner of the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. CONSTANCE: For the record, Phil T, in three days time, I will be the owner of the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. See this deed? It’s given over to me on my eighteenth birthday. BANKER: (looks at deed.) Well, congratulations. Under the circumstances, then, it couldn’t do any harm to talk to you, I guess. You see, Constance, the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc., has fallen three months behind in the mortgage payments, and soon, the bank will have no choice but to foreclose. CONSTANCE: How can we be so far behind without your having told us already? BANKER: It appears there has been an error in the books. You see, the original deed was misfiled, and the wrong date was entered in the record. The result is that you have been almost 90 days behind for years. I want to help you, but now that this error has been reported, the bank examiner won’t allow me much room. CONSTANCE: Does my mother know this? BANKER: No, I only found out about it this morning, and hurried over. I’m sorry I missed her. CONSTANCE: No, it’s all right. Please don’t breathe a word to her. The shock might be too much for her. BANKER: You see, you should have made 84 payments by now, but you’ve only made 81. I counted them myself.

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CONSTANCE: I really don’t see how that could be, but if you say so…isn’t there anything we can do to fix it? BANKER: You know I’ll do what I can, but we have to get the account squared by noon on the first of the month. CONSTANCE: That’s just four days, Phil T, and with so many students injured, and some of them are afraid to come back to classes, I’m having trouble getting their tuition money—it’s not really my fault. BANKER: I’m sorry, truly, Constance, I really am. (Hands deed back to Constance.) CONSTANCE: All right. Let me think. (short pause) You said the error was reported—by whom? And how? BANKER: By a company in Atlanta that is buying land for the railroad. It’s their business to check through all the land titles that are on the railroad right of way. CONSTANCE: How was the deed misfiled in the first place? BANKER: Well, you see, Constance, your father, Colonel Trueheart, was a great cavalry officer, but he didn’t have much of a head for figures— CONSTANCE: Oh, everybody knows that, but— BANKER: I’m sorry, if there’s anything I can do, I will. CONSTANCE: Thank you, I believe you would do just about anything, Phil T. BANKER: Good Day, Miss Constance. CONSTANCE: Good Day, Phil T. (Exit banker through side stage door. Enter Scott around upstage end of side stage after short pause.) CONSTANCE: Oh, my. What ever shall I do? What would Daddy have done? Well, I can’t think about it right now. I’ll think about it tomorrow. SCOTT: Good morning again, Constance. Say, what’s the matter? You’ll think about what tomorrow? CONSTANCE: Nothing. SCOTT: Now Constance, you can tell me. Maybe I can help. CONSTANCE: Thank you, Scott, but I don’t really see how you could. SCOTT: Well, I’m a pretty clever cowboy, maybe you should give me a try. So why the long face? CONSTANCE: It seems, our banker, Mr. Phil T Lucre, just informed me that I was three months behind in my mortgage payments, and I am in

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imminent danger of foreclosure if I can’t pay the back balance by the first of next month SCOTT: Well, that IS a problem. That’s just four days. CONSTANCE: I don’t know what to do, Scott. I’m a little frightened. SCOTT: (puts arm around her shoulder in a friendly way) We can figure something out, Miss Constance. CONSTANCE: Do you think so? SCOTT: Why sure. CONSTANCE: Got any ideas? SCOTT: Well, the ranch foreman always says when you’re in a tough spot, it’s a good idea to look at how the trouble started, and usually that will give you a clue as to what to do next. Your father, Col. Trueheart, always said that the biggest problems start with the smallest mistakes. CONSTANCE: Well, this is a BIG mistake. SCOTT: One thing I’ve wondered about, Constance, is if the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. is your inheritance, why is there a mortgage on the property? CONSTANCE: Well, that’s the first big mistake, Scott. After the War, my father, Col. Trueheart, had all his holdings in investments in various Southern businesses such as that large poultry hatchery in Tuscaloosa, you know, the Dixie Chicks? SCOTT: Never heard of ‘em. CONSTANCE: His other stock was in a South Carolina furniture factory, perhaps you’ve heard of it, Southern Comfort? SCOTT: Now I’ve heard of that, but— CONSTANCE: He had talked about giving some backing to a man named Harry, or Henry Ford or something like that up in Detroit. He has this notion of making carriages that drive themselves without horses. Father said nothing would come of it, so he backed out. SCOTT: Smart man. CONSTANCE: All the rest was in Confederate dollars. So after the War, his wealth was practically all gone. The only thing remaining was the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. He had to take out a mortgage on it to pay his debts. We’ve been just getting by, but now with all the trouble— SCOTT: But you’ve been keeping up with your payments, haven’t you? CONSTANCE: Well, I though we had, but Phil T just explained that there was some mistake in the original paperwork, and we’ve been three months behind ever since the note was signed. And now he thinks the

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bank examiner will make him foreclose on the property, and I’ll be ruined. SCOTT: Wait a minute—how can you be behind three months’ payments from the very start of the contract? CONSTANCE: I’m not sure, Phil T tried to explain it, but it didn’t make much sense. SCOTT: Well, there won’t be any more foreclosures if I have anything to do with it, Miss Constance. You can have my word on that. CONSTANCE: Thank you, Scott, but I’m afraid it will take more than anybody’s word. SCOTT: Don’t you worry, Miss Constance. I’ll hop right on that horse and ride. CONSTANCE: You mean— SCOTT: That’s right. I’m on the job like the stickers on a prickly pear. CONSTANCE: That’s very reassuring, Scott. SCOTT: Like feathers on a duck. CONSTANCE: Thank you, Scott, I’m sure. SCOTT: Don’t mention it. I’ll start poking around the woodpile and we’ll see what comes running out. CONSTANCE: Um…listen, I have to get over to the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc., for my noon lesson. At least some of the students still come around. SCOTT: Don’t worry your pretty little head about it, Miss Constance. I’ll stick to this job like caramel on a bad tooth. CONSTANCE: Nice visual. SCOTT: I’ll check in on you after I get over to Baxter’s and then maybe I’ll have a look at some of those papers at the bank. If I find out anything, I’ll let you know. CONSTANCE: Thanks, Scott. I knew I could count on you. That Marshall. You know, I really thought he’d be taller. SCOTT: Me, too, but it just goes to show you—there’s always something. CONSTANCE: Good day, Scott. And thanks again for your offer of help. SCOTT: Good day, Miss Constance. It’s no trouble, really. (Scott tips hat, Constance gives a slight curtsey, turns, and exits upstage behind side stage. Scott stands looking at her as she leaves.) SCOTT: Hmm. You know, the Doc was right. I ain’t much about talking to women personal-like, but that Constance is a mighty nice-looking little heifer. Wonder if I should tell her that? I’ll go ask Doc. He’ll know.

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(Lights down on side stage, exit Scott through door. Enter Constance through back door into Academy. Students are standing around waiting.)

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ACT 2 SCENE 4 STUDENTS: You’re late, Miss Constance. You know what that means. CONSTANCE: Oh, my, I am late. I had some very important business to attend to, and could not get away sooner. I’m sorry. STUDENTS: You always say, ‘there’s never an excuse for being late’. SUZIE: You promised us all free sodas if you were ever late to class. CONSTANCE: All right, class. After our lesson, you can all have free sodas. Now let’s get started. Line up. Suzie, have you learned the last step we worked on? SUZIE: Yes, Ma’am. CONSTANCE: Can you show the class one more time? SUZIE: Yes, Ma’am. (Suzie does a fairly complicated step.) CONSTANCE: Very good. You may have an extra cherry on your soda. Now, class, does everybody remember that step? We worked on it last week. STUDENTS: Yes, Ma’am. CONSTANCE: All together now, one, and two and three, begin— (The students do a various set of steps, no one together, no one doing the same thing, all finishing at different times.) CONSTANCE: Uh, that was—very good, class. Now remember when I said you’d have to work on some of this at home? The graduation recital is only a week away. How many of you have been working at home? (all the students raise their hands) Let’s try it again. All together now, one, and two and three, begin— (The students repeat the previous performance, with no one doing anything any different As they are dancing, Sidetrack enters the Academy from behind Constance.) CONSTANCE: Fine, class. Much better. Now one more time, please, and this time with all the feeling you can put into it. All together now, one, and two and three, begin— (This time, the students do the same mismatched footwork, but add different types of arms waving, clapping, etc.)

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CONSTANCE: Oh, my, we have a visitor. Class, please take a break from dancing for a minute or two while I see what our visitor needs. SUZIE: But Miss Constance, we need to practice. SIDETRACK: I’ll say you do. CONSTANCE: Now class, while you’re taking your break, think real hard about the foot patterns, and imagine yourself doing them. We could call that (beat) ‘break dancing’. (beat) All right? STUDENTS: Yes, Miss Constance. (The class moves over and makes room for Sidetrack. They appear to be thinking about the steps they need to do.) SIDETRACK: Are you the owner of this place? CONSTANCE: Yes I am. I am Constance Trueheart, proprietor of the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. And you, sir, are—? SIDETRACK: Felonius T. Sidetrack, at your service, Ma’am. My friends call me Spike. CONSTANCE: Oh, you must be that surveyor for the railroad then. I have heard of you. SIDETRACK: Yes, that’s right. I’m scouting and surveying the right of way. It appears it may come very close to this building. CONSTANCE: How close, Mr. Sidetrack? SIDETRACK: Well, it depends on several things, I think. It has to do with the final survey, economic incentives offered, and other factors too complicated to go into right now. CONSTANCE: “How close” doesn’t seem too complicated, Mr. Sidetrack. It’s a simple measure of distance, isn’t it. SIDETRACK: All right. Three or four yards, perhaps. It’s the other things that are complicated. CONSTANCE: Complicated? Whatever do you mean, sir? SIDETRACK: I mean, there may be different choices, depending on the geology of the land, the stability of the subsoil strata, and matters that should not interest you at all, I think. CONSTANCE: I see. What you mean is that I, as a mere woman, probably wouldn’t comprehend the details, isn’t it, Mr. Sidetrack. SIDETRACK: Call me Spike. Yes, that’s pretty much it. CONSTANCE: Well, it might interest you to know, MISTER Sidetrack, that there are factors that you may not have at your fingertips either. First of all, my father, Col. Trueheart, had several books on geology that I studied for quite some time. (Pulls down windowshade-style map of area, pointing out features as she speaks) I understand the

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integrity of the gray limestone bedrock under this very building, and the depth of the clay strata beneath the riverbed and the aquifer that feeds that river. I could tell you many other things, of course, but I wouldn’t want to bore a busy man like you with trivial details of the science of rocks and soil. Would you like me to tell you where to drill a water well? SIDETRACK: (jaw drops open—short pause) Uh, well, that’s not altogether what I was expecting to hear. CONSTANCE: I’m sure it wasn’t. SIDETRACK: So anyway, I have a business proposition concerning this building. I understand you are going to assume ownership in three days? CONSTANCE: By “this building”, I assume you mean the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc.? And I would like to know how you know so much about the ownership of this building, sir. SIDETRACK: Actually, I talked to your mother last night. She is a wealth of information. CONSTANCE: I’m sure she was. But perhaps not all of it was accurate. She told me that you were a nice, alert young man with a bright future. So what might that business proposition be? SIDETRACK: I’d like to buy it. I understand you are in danger of defaulting on your loan, and going into foreclosure at the first of the month. CONSTANCE: Really? And exactly how did you come into that tidbit of information, Mr. Sidetrack? Considering I only found out about that a few minutes ago. SIDETRACK: I represent a land investment company from Atlanta, and I am investigating several parcels of land along the route of the railroad. CONSTANCE: Like the Baxter Ranch? And the Ortega farm, which went into foreclosure? SIDETRACK: I don’t discuss that aspect of the business with third parties, Miss Trueheart. That would be unethical. CONSTANCE: I’m sure. I suspect you would reveal much more information than you might like, wouldn’t you. SIDETRACK: I didn’t come here to talk about that. I am willing to offer you twenty-five cents on the dollar for the property. I had it appraised, and have money on deposit at the bank to cover the cost of the purchase. CONSTANCE: Twenty-five cents on the dollar? Mr. Sidetrack, are you insane? I could never sell this property for such a price. (takes down

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portrait of Col. Trueheart and looks at it) Why my father, Col. Trueheart, would surely spin in his grave were I to entertain such a horrible thought. SIDETRACK: All right, I understand. My second offer is that you allow me to pay your back mortgage payments and make me an equal partner in this—this business. CONSTANCE: You insult me, sir, and my family honor. Why if I were a man, I would invite you into the street and settle this on the field of honor with the weapon of your choice. As a lady, I am forbidden such activities, but don’t press your luck— SIDETRACK: Don’t start up with me, young lady, or I’ll— Enter the Mayor the Marshall through the swinging door. MAYOR: Is there a problem here, Miss Constance? CONSTANCE: No, Mr. Mayor, Mr. Sidetrack and I were simply having a business disagreement concerning the sale of this property. MAYOR: Is this property for sale? I didn’t know— CONSTANCE: It most certainly is NOT for sale, and especially for twenty-five cents on the dollar to a land speculating scoundrel of an ill-mannered railroad surveyor. You are no Southerner. You, sir, are a carpetbagging scalawag. Pardon my French. MAYOR: Now let me get this right. Mr. Sidetrack here is offering to buy the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. for onefourth of its value? Why? CONSTANCE: I’ll tell you about it later, Mr. Mayor. SIDETRACK: You’re the Mayor? They told me you were also the County Judge. Is that true? MAYOR: Yes, but I don’t get to do much legal work any more. We have a quiet little town here. No trouble, no sheriff. Don’t even have a jail. SIDETRACK: But you, sir, you wear a badge. MARSHALL: Yes, I do. I’m Marshall Jim Dandy from the Capitol. What exactly is going on here? SIDETRACK: Nothing much, really. I made an offer to purchase a piece of property that is near foreclosure, and the proprietor, Miss Constance, is considering my offer. CONSTANCE: I am most certainly NOT considering your offer, Mr. Sidetrack. This meeting is concluded. SIDETRACK: Is that your final answer, or do you want to phone a friend? CONSTANCE: Yes, Mr. Sidetrack, it certainly is my final answer.

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MAYOR: Well, sir, you have your answer. Is there any other business? Are you going to join in with the dance class, or be on your way? CONSTANCE: Mr. Sidetrack was just leaving, I do believe. SIDETRACK: Fine, then. I’ll buy it from the bank at auction, then, for five cents on the dollar, and you’ll be left with nothing at all but your high and mighty attitude. Don’t say I didn’t give you a chance. Good day Miss Trueheart. Gentlemen. Exit Sidetrack through the door, as Doc enters. Everyone is silent, staring at the portrait of Col. Trueheart. DOC: Well now. I see everybody is bright and cheery in here. What happened? Did somebody say something wrong? MAYOR: I’m not sure. Constance? Would you like to tell us? CONSTANCE: Nothing is wrong. MAYOR: But what about the foreclosure? What’s that all about? Surely it’s not true. CONSTANCE: All right, I’ll tell you. I’m not sure how it happened, Mayor Chad. There was some kind of bookkeeping error. We’ll be in foreclosure unless we can come up with three back payments by the first of the month, plus the regular monthly payment. That was the message in the telegram Phil T mentioned this morning. MAYOR: That’s terrible. DOC: Bad news. CONSTANCE: And Mother just gave me the deed to the property as she left. It’s to become mine in three days, on my birthday, and foreclosed in four. DOC: Well, it hasn’t happened yet, honey child. Ol’ Dimple and I will still have a few tricks up our sleeves, right Mayor? MAYOR: We do? (Doc pokes him in the ribs) Of course we do, Constance. You can count on us. DOC: We’ll see you a little later, but right now, I have to meet somebody for counseling. CONSTANCE: Thank you, Doc. Mother said you’d know what to do. Exit Doc SUZIE: Miss Constance, are we going to finish the lesson now? CONSTANCE: Oh, I’m sorry, children. I’m afraid we’ll have to cancel class today. I’m terribly distracted with business and won’t be able to

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concentrate on it. Would you be good children and practice what you know on your own? STUDENTS: Yes, Miss Constance. SUZIE: Miss Constance, will I be able to graduate? CONSTANCE: I think so, Suzie, if nothing else happens between now and then. Exit all students, including Suzie through swinging door. MARSHALL: Tell us the details, and let’s see if we can come up with a plan. MAYOR: Let’s sit over here, Constance. Marshall, Mayor and Constance take a seat at the table and begin to discuss things as the lights dim in the Academy.

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ACT 2 SCENE 5 Lights up in the side stage. Doc and Scott are talking. Doc has a book in his hand. SCOTT: So, Doc, like I was saying. Lately, I’ve been looking at girls, I don’t know, sorta different from before. DOC: That’s normal enough. A fellow your age starts to see girls as women. SCOTT: Well, sure, but that’s not exactly what I mean. When I see a pretty girl, I start thinking about being married, and sitting on a front porch somewhere, eating salad with ranch dressing, looking out at a couple of kids playing in the yard, and, well, you know— DOC: Scott, There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s just the feeling of a young man growing up. SCOTT: The problem is, when I think like that, and then I get close enough to talk to one, I get all choked up like a cat that’s swallowin’ a cocklebur. DOC: Yep. That part takes some getting over. SCOTT: Like today. I was thinking about what you said this morning, about Miss Constance being a good-looking girl. I can’t just go up to her and say, “Howdy, Constance, you’re a good-looking girl” or something like that. I think I should be a little more poetic. DOC: Poetry is good. You’re on the right track. SCOTT: So I was thinking maybe I should say to her, “Miss Constance, when I look at you, I see the choicest heifer in the herd, no lie.” DOC: You know, Scott, could be there’s a better way to say that... Something like, “Constance, when I look into your eyes, I see the depth of your soul. I’m drawn into an infinite, inescapable whirlpool of passionate affection. SCOTT: Wow. That’s good. Can I tell her that? DOC: Probably not. That’s what I might say. You need to say what comes from your heart. SCOTT: Yeah, but I’m not much on fancy words like that. DOC: You don’t have to be fancy, just honest. Just tell her how you feel. SCOTT: I’ll think on it some. I’ll try DOC: And you might take some time to clean up a little. Get you some new clothes. SCOTT: (sniffs armpit) I ordered some stuff already, but what’s wrong with these clothes?

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DOC: Well, nothing, if you’re working with cows or fences, but ladies appreciate something a little better. Lets them know you think they’re special. SCOTT: How come? DOC: Nobody knows. Look here, I was reading in this Mark Twain book. Listen to this…”Clothes make the man. Naked people have had little or no effect on society.” SCOTT: Can’t argue with that logic, I guess. I’ll check on my order at the General Store. DOC: Good. You do that. So what did you find out at the bank? SCOTT: Oh, it all looks tidy enough, but what I can’t figure out is how the deed was three months late from the very start. Something don’t smell right, and it ain’t Katy Francis’ cooking this time. DOC: Keep after it. You’ll figure it out. Been out to Baxter’s yet? SCOTT: Yes sir. Talked to the foreman, too. DOC: Good. I saw the Marshall and the Mayor over at the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. a few minutes ago. Class is over, so maybe you should drop by. SCOTT: Maybe. Maybe I will. Enter Charlie from around upstage end of side stage. SLOW CHARLIE: Doc! Doc! You got to come quick. It’s little Miss Suzie. She’s been hurt! DOC: I’ll get my bag. Scott, you get over to the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. and tell the Mayor and Marshall. I’ll be by as soon as I can get things under control. Show me where she is, Charlie. SCOTT: I’m on my way, Doc. Lights out on side stage as Scott exits upstage, Doc and Charlie go through door into office. Lights up on Academy.

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ACT 2 SCENE 6 MAYOR: When things look bad, but I always say, look on the bright side. CONSTANCE: There’s no bright side to see. MARSHALL: Is there a lawyer in town? MAYOR: That would be me. And judge, and mayor, the County horseshoes champion and a pretty good hand at poker. MARSHALL: Who else? MAYOR: Nobody. Just me. CONSTANCE: It won’t help, though. If the papers are correct, there’s nothing to be done without three month’s rent, and that will only catch us up. There are very few students left. MARSHALL: Any leads on the assaults? MAYOR: No, nobody seems to be able to tell who it was. He wears a mask, and a big black hat is the only description I can get from any of them. They’re just children, and they’re pretty scared. MARSHALL: I’d like to talk to some of them anyway, if you don’t mind. MAYOR: Sure, I’ll get around and get a few of them to come see you. MARSHALL: Much obliged, Mayor. CONSTANCE: I’m not sure what we’ll do for the recital, Mayor. We’re scheduled to have the graduation ceremony, but there’s only one who may graduate now that so many have been injured. MARSHALL: Malletitis. MAYOR: That’s what the Doc called it. CONSTANCE: Sabotage is what I call it. The whole graduation recital may have to be cancelled. MAYOR: That’s never happened in the history of Thurman. Thurman T Trueheart started the Academy, and we’ve had a graduation every year since before the War. MARSHALL: What’s the T stand for? MAYOR: Hmm. I don’t know. Constance? CONSTANCE: I don’t know, either. I asked Mother one time, and she said, it’s better if you don’t know. I never asked again. MARSHALL: (takes out pad and writes.) Now that’s important. That banker…isn’t his middle initial T? MAYOR: Yes, I believe you’re right. MARSHALL: What’s that T stand for? MAYOR: Don’t know. Constance?

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CONSTANCE: I never asked. Phil T just seems so natural, I never thought about it. Enter Scott through swinging door. SCOTT: Howdy, y’all. ALL: Hello, Scott, etc. SCOTT: Mr. Mayor— MARSHALL: (flips through notebook, finding a page.) And you’re let’s see…Scott Randolph the cowboy. SCOTT: Yup. MARSHALL: So what’s the T stand for? SCOTT: T? Well, T for Texas, T for Tennessee, and T for Thelma— MAYOR: Stop, please. CONSTANCE: Indeed. MARSHALL: Where did you go after you left this morning? SCOTT: (Scott takes deep breath and says paragraph fast, in a single breath. As Scott lists, Mayor counts on fingers) Well, I went over to the Baxter ranch, like I said I would, and told the Foreman you wanted to see him, and then when I came back, I met Miss Constance over on the other side of town, then I checked some paperwork at the bank, then I talked to Doc, then I picked up my new boots. Then Charlie came running up and said that little Miss Suzie had been hurt, and he sent me over here to tell ya’ll that. Then I came here. (takes a deep breath, turns and looks at the audience) Dang, I’m good. CONSTANCE: Suzie is hurt? Why didn’t you say so? SCOTT: I was just about to tell you when the Marshall started his line of questioning. MARSHALL: Sorry, just doing my job. SCOTT: Looks like malletitis. CONSTANCE: Oh, no! Well, that’s the end of the graduation. (pause) I guess it doesn’t matter, though. The Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. will be finished when the bank forecloses anyway. MAYOR: Now, Constance, that hasn’t happened yet. There may still be a way to fix things up. Calm down. CONSTANCE: I AM CALMED DOWN! MARSHALL: Oh. Scott, where is the doctor now? SCOTT: He went with Charlie to tend to Suzie.

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MARSHALL: I’ll head over to Doc’s office and see what I can find out from Suzie. SCOTT: You won’t find out anything from her. MARSHALL: Why not? SCOTT: She’s unconscious. MARSHALL: Unconscious? From malletitis? SCOTT: The Doc said she must have hit her head on the hitching post or something. Knocked her smooooth out. MARSHALL: All right. Well, I’m going over there anyway. SCOTT: By the way, how was that Kentucky fried prairie dog? MARSHALL: Well, I have to admit. I never had anything exactly like it before. SCOTT: I reckon not. MAYOR: He ate three helpings. And two sides of boiled swamp greens. SCOTT: Careful with that stuff, Marshall, swamp gas can be dangerous. Besides, it might stunt your growth or something. MARSHALL: I’ll keep that in mind. Exit Marshall through swinging door. MAYOR: New boots, huh? Let’s have a look. SCOTT: (puts foot up onto side chair so all can see, including audience. They are white boots with the uppers painted like a Texas flag, and the lowers having a black vamp.) Got ‘em special order from Niemann-Marcus in Dallas. MAYOR: I never saw anything like them before. SCOTT: These are the very latest style. MAYOR: They are? SCOTT: And they say boots make the man, you know. MAYOR: They do? SCOTT: Yup and yup. Best Western footwear to date. MAYOR: What do they call ‘em? SCOTT: (looks at audience) Saddle oxfords. MAYOR: Well, I guess if the shoe fits... SCOTT: Does that apply to boots, too? MAYOR: I reckon. If you like ‘em, go for it. SCOTT: What do you think, Constance? CONSTANCE: I’m having trouble thinking about your boots right now, Scott. I’m going over to the Doctor’s office.

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Enter Sidetrack, with a rolled up map. SIDETRACK: I thought you’d want to know that I’ve finished the survey. For your information, the railroad is going to run very close indeed. CONSTANCE: How close now, Mr. Sidewinder? SIDETRACK: Sidetrack. Oh, I’d say about a half inch to your left. The building will have to be torn down. See the route on this map? Unrolls map onto table as all look on. SIDETRACK: All right. Here’s the switch from the main track in Fort Worth, then the railroad runs down here, see? Around this mountain, and through the Baxter Ranch, across the river here, and right through town. Right through this building, in fact. SCOTT: Around that mountain? Are you sure? SIDETRACK: Of course I’m sure. I’m the surveyor. (to Constance) You should have sold to me when you had the chance. As it turns out, now the building will be condemned, and you’ll be left with nothing except your undoubtedly pleasant memories. (rolls up map) Just thought you’d want to know. Exit Sidetrack through back door. CONSTANCE: Oh, dear. SCOTT: How long do you have left until the bank wants to foreclose, Constance? CONSTANCE: Four days, why? SCOTT: There’s something I have to do. I’ll explain later. Scott runs out through audience, with stage hand clopping coconut halves right behind him. Exits through outside door at rear of auditorium. MAYOR: That Scott has the fastest horse in the county. MARSHALL: That’s not a horse, that’s just a couple of coconuts. MAYOR: What? CONSTANCE: Scott! Where are you going? Come back, Scott! MARSHALL: How do you think coconuts got all the way to Texas? MAYOR: I don’t know. They float, I think. Sure make a nice pie, too. Anybody interested in dessert?

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CONSTANCE: Is there no one to help me? (looks at the two men, one at a time, then down the path Scott took in exiting.) Am I all alone here? Whatever shall I do?

END ACT 2 Lights out on main stage. All actors exit through rear door. Actors reenter with desserts.

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ACT 3 SCENE 1 Lights up on side stage. Banker is waiting, looking furtively. Sidetrack with map in hand.

Enter

SIDETRACK: So did you take care of it? Same as last time? BANKER: Yes, but I’m getting a little worried. SIDETRACK: If you keep acting like nothing is happening, nobody will find out anything. They all know you as the quiet banker. BANKER: I don’t know— SIDETRACK: Look, I’m a professional at this sort of thing. Trust me, it’s how modern business gets done. BANKER: It seems unfair. That’s all. SIDETRACK: Listen, (taps Banker on chest with finger) the way I figure it, if you don’t make nothing, there won’t be nothing. BANKER: Well, what about you? What are you going to do? SIDETRACK: This piddling town is no different from a dozen others. Every one has its own problems and its own solutions. I can handle myself. BANKER: I guess—I just don’t like it. SIDETRACK: Just keep steady. Here’s the money for this one. Send it to your girlfriend in Virginia if you want. BANKER: There’s one other thing—I think that last one recognized me. SIDETRACK: How could she recognize you? Did you wear the clothes I gave you? BANKER: Well, yes, I did. SIDETRACK: And the mask? BANKER: Yes. SIDETRACK: The hat? BANKER: Of course. But somehow, I think she knew me. Maybe my shoes. I’m nervous about getting caught is all. SIDETRACK: Just a couple of days more, and we’ll be finished. Then when we split the money from the sale of that stupid tap dance school and that Baxter place, you’ll have more than enough to bring your girlfriend out here. Hold on. That’s all there is to it. BANKER: Don’t make fun of the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Spike. It’s what holds this town together. SIDETRACK: Oh, sorry, Phil. I didn’t mean to step on your famous local institution of—whatever it is. (Gives Banker a dirty look.) This whole thing will work out if you can just manage to keep your nerve.

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BANKER: I hope you’re right. How will I ever look the people of the town in the eye again? SIDETRACK: As a happily married, very wealthy man, that’s how. BANKER: I guess so. But that Marshall changes everything. He’s always writing in that notebook and snooping around. And Scott Randolph was back looking at the public records again. It’s getting more complicated than you said it would be. SIDETRACK: Look, Lucre, you’re into this too deep to climb out now. If you point a finger at me, or lose your composure, I’m sure you know that unexpected things happen. It’s a mighty big prairie out there. And I make sure I have an alibi every time. You need to stay calm, or something bad could happen. BANKER: Are you threatening me? SIDETRACK: Of course not. We’re partners, right? And partners stick together. We’ll come out of this just fine. Hey, you’re my man—my main man, right? BANKER: I’ll play my part. Just make sure the money is here when it’s time, that’s all.

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ACT 3 SCENE 2 Lights cross fade to main scene. Doc and the Mayor are at the table, Charlie behind bar, Constance standing by the men. Action frozen. Someone with sign reading “Three days later” walks cross stage, turns and walks back. Backside of sign says “The plot thickens” Walks offstage behind side stage piece. CONSTANCE: Doc, I’m starting to think I have a problem here. I don’t know what to do—I’m feeling sort of empty— MAYOR: Now, now, Constance, let’s just go on over to the café and have a little snack. Katy Francis has a big pot of ‘possum and dumplings on the stove. That will take care of that empty feeling. CONSTANCE: What? DOC: That could take care of most anything, all right. MAYOR: What? CONSTANCE: I’m not talking about food, Mayor Chad, it’s just that Scott isn’t here, and nobody knows where he went, Suzie is the only graduation candidate, she’s hurt, and the papers at the bank look all in order to me—we’re definitely three months behind in the mortgage. MAYOR: Now, how could that happen? Your father, Col. Trueheart, was careful about such things…in fact, he’s the one that first told me that I had signed up on the ballot to be elected mayor. Who won that raffle, does anybody remember? DOC: What do you need, Constance? MAYOR: She just needs something to eat, that’s all, Doc. She looks hungry— CONSTANCE: “Possum and dumplings??”…as Doc is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again! Doc and Mayor look at each other, as Constance holds the “hand to forehead pose for a second” DOC: Always said she was a smart girl. MAYOR: What? DOC: Constance, are you all right? You do look a little stressed. I’ve got some nerve tonic right here in my bag that should help— CONSTANCE: No, thank you, Doc, it’s nothing like that. I’m just worried about the little things. Cows missing, dams burst, the graduation ceremony, hungry children in India, the malletitis

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epidemic, Scott being gone, the Federal deficit, the railroad survey, imminent foreclosure, the police investigation, Mother’s going to be gone for who knows how long— MAYOR: Hold on, that’s one I can help with. (reaches in pocket and produces telegram.) This came day before yesterday morning from Mrs. Trueheart. CONSTANCE: It came day before yesterday? MAYOR: Yes, I’m afraid I forgot to give it to you. CONSTANCE: (reading telegram) Dearest Constance, Stop. Received telegram from Aunt JayNell. Stop. She has fully recovered. Stop. Am waiting for return stage. If you’re worried about me, please stop. Stop. Will telegraph travel schedule. Stop. Your mother, Trudy T Trueheart. DOC: That must have been one good mix of medicine. Hope I can find out what it was and what it tasted like. MAYOR: See, Constance, things are working out already. CONSTANCE: Well, one thing, anyway—but Scott isn’t here, and nobody knows where he went—I don’t know how I could handle life without the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. I can’t imagine what I would do if it were lost…to some, some Yankee. DOC: If there’s anything we can do, Constance, we’ll be glad to step up to the plate and take a swing at it. CONSTANCE: I know you would, Doc. Would you like a refill of that soda? DOC: Not just yet, but thanks. Enter Marshall through swinging doors. CONSTANCE: Good Morning, Marshall Dandy. MARSHALL: (burps loudly) Good Morning. Uh, excuse me. I just had possum and dumplings over at the KFC. MAYOR: See, told you it was good. DOC: (fanning the air with his hat) Smells like you had seconds. CONSTANCE: You’re excused, Mr. Marshall. Can I get you anything? MARSHALL: No, thanks, I’m fine.

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DOC: Indigestion medicine? MARSHALL: No, thanks, I’m fine. DOC: A breath mint, maybe? MARSHALL: No, thanks, I’m fine. DOC: (scoots chair over a little further away) If you say so. MAYOR: What have you found out, Marshall? MARSHALL: (looking thoughtfully off into the distance, picking his teeth.) About what? MAYOR: About the assaults, of course. MARSHALL: Oh, sorry, I was just thinking about that possum and dumplings. DOC: I imagine so. You sure you don’t need anything for your stomach? MARSHALL: No, thanks, I’m fine. Like you said, none of the victims have any idea who the perpetrator was. They couldn’t recognize him. They all say he wore a black hat and a mask. He came up behind them and smacked their shins, grabbed their tap shoes and ran away. DOC: Well, we already knew that, Marshall. We were sort of hoping for something new. MARSHALL: You ever been in law enforcement? DOC: No, except for some college classes in forensics, and a bit part on CSI Miami. I talked to most of the children, though, and I did find out one thing. MARSHALL: What’s that, Doc? DOC: Kids say the darndest things. MARSHALL: They sure do. MAYOR: What are your plans for the investigation? We sure would like to get this thing settled. MARSHALL: I’ll be sticking around a little longer. I got a room over at Miss Katy Francis’ B&B. DOC: B&B? What’s that? MAYOR: It’s like I told you, Doc, she’s opened the rooming house again, and— DOC: That’s right, you told me. CONSTANCE: Marshall Dandy, if we don’t get to the bottom of this quickly, I’m afraid we’ll have to cancel the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. Graduation Ceremony. That has never happened in the history of Thurman. Whoever this person is must be caught and brought to Texas Justice. MARSHALL: We’re working on it. CONSTANCE: I hope so.

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DOC: She’s right, Marshall, so is there any way we can help? MARSHALL: You’re helping plenty, Doctor McCoy. We’ll get to the bottom of this. What’s the news about that latest patient? DOC: Suzie? Well, she’s still out like a wet candle wick, Marshall. MARSHALL: When will she come out of it? DOC: It’s hard to say. Wait and see. Time will tell. MARSHALL: Let me know when there’s a chance to talk to her. DOC: I will. Enter Robert Wahr through swinging doors. Looks around room, right past the Marshall. ROBERT: I’m looking for the Marshall, anybody seen him? MARSHALL: I’m the Marshall. ROBERT: You’re the Marshall? I thought you’d be— MARSHALL: Taller. I know. ROBERT: Well, to tell you the truth, I was gonna say “older”—but now that you mention it… MARSHALL: Who are you, Mister? ROBERT: I’m Robert Wahr, Foreman of the Baxter ranch. Most folks call me Bob, though. MARSHALL: Bob Wahr. You wouldn’t be stringing me along, would you? ROBERT: No, sir. I can see you’re too sharp for that. MARSHALL: Whatever. Look, the word’s out that you lost some cattle. You know anything about that? ROBERT: Well, sure I do. Pause MARSHALL: Would you like to let us in on the secret, Mr. Wahr? ROBERT: Oh, yeah, sure. Well, about five or six days ago, about an hour before dawn, we heard the herd make a lot of noise, and when we got down to the pasture at first light, about half of them cattle was gone. We saw the trail lead off over toward that new ranch past the river. MAYOR: You mean the T Eight? ROBERT: Yep. They just set up business about a year ago. MARSHALL: Just a minute—let me get my handy Dandy notebook. SLOW CHARLIE: Morning, Marshall. Morning Mr. Wahr. MARSHALL AND ROBERT: Good Morning, Charlie.

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ROBERT: Is that one of them Husky pencils? My mom gave me one of those once. And a Big Chief tablet. MARSHALL: I’ll ask the questions, if you don’t mind, Mr. Wahr. Now where did these new ranchers come from? ROBERT: New York City. ALL: NEW YORK CITY? SLOW CHARLIE: Get a rope. MARSHALL: Now, don’t get me off pace, folks. So they came from New York and set up a ranch in Texas? ROBERT: Yes, sir, that’s the way it was all right. MARSHALL: And your cattle just strayed over to their ranch in the night. ROBERT: Well, we think they might have had a little help in straying. MARSHALL: Now we’re getting somewhere. What makes you think so? ROBERT: First off, Marshall, only cows were missing. The steers and the bulls were left behind. Pretty strange. MARSHALL: Isn’t it about breeding season? ROBERT: Yep. and the Ranchers’ Rulebook says that any calf born to a cow that’s strayed into somebody else’s herd, sired by the bull of the party of the second part, belongs to the owner of the bull, except’n if the cow was led astray by the bull’s owner or his agent. MARSHALL: The Ranchers’ Rulebook? ROBERT: Yep. Rule number 47, paragraph three. MARSHALL: I’d like to have a look at that book. ROBERT: Sure. Come on over to the Cattlemen’s Association meeting house and they’ll be glad to sign one out to you. MARSHALL: Fine. But you said “First of all”. What’s next? ROBERT: Well, there were horse tracks mingled in with the cow tracks. MARSHALL: And let me guess…you didn’t lose any horses. ROBERT: Nary a one, Marshall. We think them cows was rustled. All gasp in horror. MARSHALL: But only the cows? ROBERT: Yep. MARSHALL: No bull? ROBERT: No sir, no bull. And I wouldn’t steer you wrong, neither. MARSHALL: All right. So is there anything else. ROBERT: Well, yes sir, there is one thing. MARSHALL: What’s that?

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ROBERT: Me and a couple of the boys snuck over there to the T Eight and had a lookaround. MARSHALL: What did you find out? ROBERT: We found a whole pen of cows over on the backside of the ranch. MARSHALL: Your cows? ROBERT: We think they are. But their brands had been freshly altered with a running iron. MARSHALL: Are you sure? ROBERT: Marshall, I been running cows all my life. And I know a fresh brand when I see one. They changed the Baxter Brand into theirs. And that’s against Ranchers’ Rulebook rule 18. MARSHALL: What does the Baxter brand look like? ROBERT: Constance, do you mind if I use your sketch pad? CONSTANCE: Why no, Mr. Wahr, it’s right over there. ROBERT: (Walks over to sketch pad and picks up marker, draws Baxter brand.) The Baxter brand is a big B with a backwards B right up next to it. Just like this. But those cows over at the T Eight, well, they have this added to the top of the brand (shows the altered brand) Probably didn’t take too long to do. MARSHALL: You tell anybody else about this? ROBERT: Just Scott Randolph, and Mr. Baxter and some of the boys over at the Baxter Ranch, that’s all. MARSHALL: Scott Randolph? When did you tell him? ROBERT: Why just the other day, when he said you wanted to see me. MARSHALL: I wanted to see you that day. ROBERT: Oh, he didn’t tell me that. When I told him about the brand, he said, “That’s it! There’s something I gotta do.” and lit out like there was a hive of hornets on his tail. MAYOR: I hate it when that happens. DOC: You gotta hate it. ROBERT: He didn’t tell me you wanted to see me that day, just that you wanted to see me. MARSHALL: (writing in notebook) I suspected that Randolph guy from the start. Very slippery. ROBERT: Now Marshall, you don’t think Scott’s mixed up in this, do you? He’s the most honest feller who ever spoke a word into the prairie wind. MARSHALL: Everybody but me seems to think so. I never get a chance to talk to him for more than two minutes, and he’s off like a shot.

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DOC: Straight shooter. MAYOR: He’s a guy you can count on. MARSHALL: Well, you seem to count on everything else, why not on him? MAYOR: What? MARSHALL: Never mind. Mr. Wahr, I’d like you to swear out an affidavit so I can get a search warrant. ROBERT: Now Marshall, My Momma taught me not to swear out behind the barn with a razor strop. Didn’t need no REpeat of that lesson. Besides, there’s a lady present—(tips hat) Miss Constance, Ma’am. (Constance curtsies.) MARSHALL: I just need you to write down what you told me and sign it. That’s all. ROBERT: Oh, all right. That’s different. Why didn’t you say so? You need me any more? All this here palaverin’ has got me pretty dry. MARSHALL: No, that will be all, Mr. Wahr. But stick close. This investigation isn’t over yet. ROBERT: Call me Bob. Charlie, what’s the special today? SLOW CHARLIE: We got sodas. We have Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry, we won't have any more pineapple until next week, and you can have whipped cream on it if you like, and a cherry, and we have sprinkles—red sprinkles, green sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles. ROBERT: Strawberry soda, whipped cream, cherry and red sprinkles. MAYOR: You got that order down don’t you, Bob? ROBERT: Well, I’ve heard the options a couple of times before, and it saves time, you know what I mean? (Robert takes a stool at the bar) DOC: Smart man. Enter Katy Francis. KATY FRANCIS: Good Morning, Mr. Marshall, it’s so nice to see you again. MARSHALL: Good Morning Katy girl, who’s minding the store? KATY FRANCIS: We’re sort of between meals right now. Well, Blind George is watching the place, so I have to get back pretty soon. MARSHALL: I see. I wanted to ask you, Katy, where did you get that possum? Do you hunt them yourself? KATY FRANCIS: Mercy sakes no, Marshall. It would take me far too much time to go out and hunt them. When would I find the time to cook?

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DOC: I could give you hunting lessons— MAYOR: What? KATY FRANCIS: No thanks, Doc, that’s kind of messy. I get them from trappers. CONSTANCE: Would you like a soda, Katy? KATY FRANCIS: No, thank you, Constance, I can only stay a moment. Marshall, I heard something very interesting just now from the trappers—they’re bringing me some fresh rattlesnakes and rock lizards for tomorrow’s stew—they said that a few days back they saw a bunch of cowboys from the T Eight cross the river and come back a little later with a herd of cows. Now people around here don’t usually run cattle at night, you know, except if they’re trying to get ahead of a storm, or if they’re up to no good. And in the middle of the night when Mr. Baxter’s dam burst—they said it wasn’t thunder, it was dynamite! MARSHALL: What do you say, Bob? That sound right to you? ROBERT: Sure does, Marshall. Right as rain on a hat brim. MARSHALL: (making notes in notebook) That’s very interesting. You have a good ear for police work, Katy Francis. That’s a very attractive attribute in my book. KATY FRANCIS: Well, thank you, Marshall Dandy. MAYOR: By the way, Marshall, did I tell you that my daughter was single? MARSHALL: Only every time I saw you, Mr. Mayor. SLOW CHARLIE: Morning Katy Francis. KATY FRANCIS: Good, Morning, Charlie. MARSHALL: There’s one thing that doesn’t add up, though. MAYOR: Just one? MARSHALL: If the T Eight ranch hands were only interested in the calves from these Baxter cows, why would they bother to change the brands? DOC: Durned if I know, Marshall. I’m a doctor, not a fortune teller. MARSHALL: But there has to be a reason. Any ideas? Anybody? Various people look at each other, shrug, etc. ROBERT: Well, maybe it’s like this. They showed up with a big bunch of calves when they started the ranch. The first thing they did was to buy a bull from Baxter. So what if they were going to take the calves from this rustling operation and move them down to some other place somewhere else, and do the same thing over? What they needed was a new startup of calves. Bull is easy to come by.

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MAYOR: There’s always somebody slinging it. DOC: That’s for sure. Especially around here. KATY FRANCIS: Well, I have to get back over to the KFC. I sure don’t want to burn my possum and dumplings. DOC: I’d be glad to lend a hand—more firewood, maybe? Exit Katy Francis. Cross fade to side scene, with night time lighting, all actors in the Academy stay in place. Sign carrier crosses stage again, with sign that says, “The sun sets” then waits at far side of stage.

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ACT 3 SCENE 3 Banker is pacing nervously on side set, Sidetrack enters. BANKER: I thought you’d never get here. I’ve been waiting over an hour. SIDETRACK: Relax, Phil, we’re almost to the end of the line. Tomorrow at noon we foreclose, and that’s the end, as far as you’re concerned. Everything south of here is owned by my friends at the T Eight Ranch, or the holding company in Atlanta. BANKER: I can’t sleep, I’m jumpy all the time. When I close my eyes, I see those poor little children crying and holding their legs. And that big bag of tap shoes fills nearly half of the safe. SIDETRACK: They’ll heal, they’ll heal. Anyway, they won’t need those tap shoes any more, once we tear down the Academy. Then we can bury them or something. BANKER: It’s just—I don’t want to get caught and go to jail. SIDETRACK: Hold on, Lucre, just one more day, then all this will be over, then you can send for your girlfriend in Virginia. Did I tell you that I’d met her? BANKER: You met my Rhapsody? When? SIDETRACK: When I was on a trip back East right after I’d first spoken to you about this joint venture. BANKER: That was only a few months ago. SIDETRACK: How long since you last saw her? BANKER: Almost three years. SIDETRACK: Was she a BBW back then? BANKER: BBW? SIDETRACK: Big Beautiful Woman. You know, uh, large. BANKER: No, not really. No, not large, large. Big boned, I guess. Why? SIDETRACK: Hmm. Well, things change with time. She seems to have a healthy appetite, from outward appearances. BANKER: That doesn’t matter. She’s my dream girl, and always will be. SIDETRACK: I see. So have you put anything aside? BANKER: Hey, I’m a startup business here, no perks or benefits yet—it’s a small town, and a small bank—why, we don’t even have a 401K program. No health care, no vacation. SIDETRACK: Well, it’s a sluggish economy, but clever investors can come out on top, even in a bear market, you know? Maybe you should consider an IRA. There’s a significant penalty for early withdrawal, but if you diversify your portfolio—

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BANKER: I’ve thought about that—send me something and I’ll look it over. SIDETRACK: In the meantime, this cash inflow should be just the leverage you need. I don’t think it’s been a sustained enough growth slump to call it a recession. More of a little value adjustment hiccup. BANKER: Yeah. Maybe. What do you want me to do? Sidetrack leans over and begins to whisper in Lucre’s ear.

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ACT 3 SCENE 4 Sign man crosses back—other side of the sign reads, “The Sun Also Rises.” Lights cross fade back to Academy. Group is in the Academy as before. Enter Trudy through swinging doors. TRUDY: Well, I never! I ride a stage coach all the way back from Salado, and not one soul comes to meet me at the station. Didn’t you get my telegram? CONSTANCE: Telegram? MAYOR: Oh, Mrs. Trueheart. I’m sorry, I’m afraid I forgot to give Constance that telegram, too. TRUDY: Dimple Chad, I think you’d forget your name if it weren’t on the ballot. MAYOR: Yes, Ma’am, perhaps you’re right. (pulls telegram from pocket) Here it is. “Dearest Constance, Stop. Will be arriving on the noon stage on the first. Stop. Please have someone meet me to carry my baggage from the stage coach stop. Stop. Your mother, Trudy T Trueheart.” SLOW CHARLIE: Happy Birthday, Miss Constance. CONSTANCE: Thank you, Charlie, but that was yesterday. MARSHALL: What’s the T stand for? CONSTANCE: I’ll tell you later, Marshall, it’s best not to interrupt her when she’s angry like this. SLOW CHARLIE: I know that, Miss Constance. Morning Mrs. Trueheart. TRUDY: And another thing. What exactly is going on here? Why are all these people standing around just a few days before the graduation ceremony? Don’t your students need to practice? Where are they, anyway? . (Calls out, as if looking for someone in the room) ” Suzie? Suzie Creamcheese, you come over here right this minute! CONSTANCE: She’s not here, Mother. TRUDY: Well where is she, then? DOC: She’s over at my office, Mrs. Trueheart. And before you say anything about it, um, did you have a pleasant trip? TRUDY: This is hardly the time for pleasantries, Dr. McCoy. We have a graduation ceremony for which to prepare. What time is it? MAYOR: (checks pocketwatch) It’s almost noon, Mrs. Trueheart.

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TRUDY: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I’ve only been gone a few days, Constance. Have you forgotten everything we’ve established? CONSTANCE: No, Mother, I haven’t. TRUDY: Your father, Col. Trueheart, would have—(Looking around the room.) Why you all look as long of face as plow horses! Whatever is the matter with everyone? MARSHALL: Well, you see, Mrs. Trueheart— MAYOR: There have been some additions to the rules— DOC: It’s an epidemic of malletitis, for one thing, and— CONSTANCE: They’re coming to foreclose on the mortgage at noon— TRUDY: Whatever all you all talking about? (stops and gasps) Oh, my, I’m so upset, I’ve dangled a preposition in front of everyone. I need to sit down before I swoon…what do you mean, Constance, dear, by saying “foreclosure”? A couple of people help her to the empty barstool, where she fans herself with a handkerchief. Enter Sidetrack and Banker through the swinging door. SIDETRACK: Well, Constance, have you changed your mind? The foreclosure has not been implemented yet, but I’ve brought the banker just in case. And look here, we have the county judge on hand to validate the property exchange. MAYOR: May I have the envelope, please? Banker hands the envelope to the Mayor, who opens it and looks over the papers. TRUDY: Why it’s that nice Mr. Sidetrack, the one I told you about, Constance. Have you made his acquaintance yet? CONSTANCE: Oh, yes, Mother, we understand each other quite well. TRUDY: Constance, dear, whatever do you mean by “foreclosure”? I’m sure I do not understand. (turns to Banker) Phil T Lucre, haven’t we had this conversation about your manners before? BANKER: Listen, Mrs. Trueheart, this is really not the time— TRUDY: There is always a time for good manners, Mr. Lucre. Constance, are you going to let him talk to me in that way? CONSTANCE: Mother, he’s right, there are more important things right now. You say you’re sorry, Phil T, and I’m sure it will be all right. TRUDY: Doctor McCoy?

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DOC: I reckon so, Trudy. It’s not the most important thing. BANKER: I’m sorry, Mrs. Trueheart, I’m a little preoccupied right now. Bank business. TRUDY: That’s better. Now you see? That wasn’t so hard. CONSTANCE: Mother, will you please shut up? TRUDY: Oh, Constance! I am sure I shall faint dead away at once. CONSTANCE: Fine, Mother, whatever you want. ROBERT: Phil, you ought to show a little more respect for the owner of the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc., you know. BANKER: Not so much as you think. Things change, Bob. In a couple of minutes, there won’t BE a Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. There will be just a condemned building and the new owners will have free rein to do whatever they want. A clock starts to chime 12. At about the ninth or tenth ring, in gallops Scott Randolph, followed by his “man called horse” from outside of the room. He is carrying a canvas bag with a big dollar sign on it and another bag, fairly large, a shopping bag from a store. He is wearing very fancy cowboy clothes and his new boots. SCOTT: Hold it, hold your horses! I’ve got the money to pay off the whole mortgage. Stop the proceedings! SIDETRACK: You can’t stop the proceedings. There’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve put in a bid for the building and the bank has accepted it. The time is expired. No more bids are allowed. MAYOR: It’s been a while since I handled anything quite like this. I could use a little help here. Anybody know how these proceedings actually work? MARSHALL: My minor was in corporate property law. Jim Dandy to the rescue! TRUDY: Go, Jim Dandy! MAYOR: Go, Jim Dandy! MARSHALL: Under Texas Title 17 statute 28 Section 9 paragraph 3, it clearly says that the time is never up until the clock stops chiming, or until the fat lady sings, depending upon whether it’s a legal matter or a sporting event. This, of course, is a legal matter, so we default to the clock ruling. The clock was still chiming when Scott Randolph requested, albeit informally, a recess to examine new evidence. MAYOR: Wow. Nice going, Marshall. I always like a man who knows his statutes.

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DOC: Is there anything else? MARSHALL: Yes. Nice shirt, Scott. SCOTT: Thanks, Marshall. Here’s the evidence. And the money. Count out what you need from this and buy back the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. (Mayor and Marshall are counting out money on the bar) SIDETRACK: Sooo, I guess you won’t need me any more, I’ll just be on my way. Nice doing business with you. (Tips hat and starts for door) ROBERT: Not so fast, Mr. Surveyor, just keep your hands on the bar, or do you need me to help you keep ‘em up there. (Sidetrack returns to bar, puts hands on it, but away from the money counting) DOC: All right, Scott, so what’s the new evidence. By the way, uh, nice pants. SCOTT: Thanks, they’re Dockers, Doc. I couldn’t pass them up. (hands an envelope to Marshall—Mayor looks over his shoulder as they read. Hands a pair of garish, flowered knee-length short pants to the Doc.) Here ya go. I got a pair of britches for you, too. I appreciate your help with, well, you know. DOC: Hey, thanks, but, where’s the rest of them? SCOTT: That’s all there is, Doc. They said they were 40% off. I didn’t measure, but I think that’s about right. So Constance, what do you think of the new duds? CONSTANCE: I’m not sure what to think right now, Scott. DOC: I’ll see if I can fit into these later. Right now, we’ve got a bunch of other stuff to do. Enter Katy Francis, hurriedly, out of breath, through swinging doors. KATY FRANCIS: Doctor! Doctor! Come quick! It’s an emergency! DOC: Excuse me, Mrs. Trueheart? TRUDY: Of course, Doctor, McCoy, take your leave. DOC: Thank you, Ma’am. (Katy Francis and Doc exit while Doc is speaking) What is it, Katy Francis? Somebody have a reaction to some bad possum livers? MARSHALL: Constance, there’s enough money here to pay off the mortgage and all the back payments, with plenty to spare. BANKER: Under the circumstances, I think that will take care of it. I’ll just carry this over to the bank—

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MAYOR: Let’s not get too hasty. We’ll need you to write us a receipt, and there’s other information we need to look over first. Hey, I’d forgotten how much fun this judge business was. You get to tell people what to do, and they have to do it. Scott, how did you come by all this money? MARSHALL: Good point, Mayor. That’s a fair question, Scott. So what’s the answer. SCOTT: It’s reward money from the Railroad Comission back at the capitol. MARSHALL: Wait a minute. You went all the way to the capitol? How’d you get there and back so fast. SCOTT: Well, first off, everybody knows I’ve got the fastest horse in the county. (Marshall points to horse and starts to speak, but Mayor stops him) And after looking at that map of Mr. Sidetrack’s, there, I took a shortcut to the end of the railroad line and rode back up there lickety clickety split. Them trains is a lot faster than horses, and you can go to sleep and it just keeps on a rollin’. MARSHALL: All right, that makes sense, I reckon, but why would they give you all this big bag of loot? SCOTT: Well, when I looked at that map, I knew there was something fishy about it. SIDETRACK: Since when do you know anything about surveying? SCOTT: Well, Mr. Sidetrack, sir, I don’t know anything about that, but I knew that when you said the railroad went around that mountain up there—uh, you got your map with you? SIDETRACK: Yes, of course. Uh, Mr. Bad Guy with the mouth down there? Can I lift my hands off the bar now? ROBERT: As long as you keep them where we can see them. SIDETRACK: (unrolls map on bar) There you go. You see? there’s the mountain, and the main line tracks, and — CONSTANCE: Mr. Sidetrack, we’ve heard enough from you. Now you stifle yourself, or we’ll stifle you. TRUDY: Constance! Mind your manners. Your father, Col. Trueheart, would have apoplexy if he ever heard you speak to someone like that in public. CONSTANCE: Mother, my father, Col. Trueheart, would have taken this, this SideWINDER out back of the barn and taught HIM some manners. If I weren’t a lady, I’d have done so already myself! And I might yet! SCOTT: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about! You go, girl!

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MAYOR: What? MARSHALL: Let’s stick to business, please. SCOTT: Marshall, I looked at that map, and that’s when I knew it was all a fake. And there were some things that just didn’t add up. MAYOR: I’ll say there are. TRUDY: Now Mayor Chad, don’t get yourself all flustered. SLOW CHARLIE: Morning, Phil. DOC: Good for you, Charlie. You nailed him this time. SCOTT: So, anyway, the thing is, that mountain would be on my ranch. MAYOR: You have a ranch? SCOTT: Well, it’s not really MY ranch, it’s just the ranch I live on. You know. MARSHALL: Fine, go ahead with your story. SCOTT: So I looked at the map, and the river is there, and the town, and the buildings, but that mountain kinda stood out, you know? ROBERT: They have a way of doing that. SCOTT: No, what I mean is that the mountain was drawn on my ranch. And there just ain’t no mountain on my ranch. MARSHALL: No mountain on your ranch? How can that be? SCOTT: If there was, I’d of knowed it, on account of when there’s a mountain, it’s sorta hard to overlook, you know what I mean. MARSHALL: Well, back at the capitol, we have scenic overlooks— SCOTT: All I know is that if there ain’t a mountain, you don’t have to swing that railroad line all the way around it, and when you don’t, then you save a whole bunch of miles of track, and that saves the railroad a bag of money, to wit, exhibit A, the money bag on the bar, which they rewarded me with. MARSHALL: What do you have to say about that, Mr. Sidetrack? SIDETRACK: Well, it could be a mistake. MARSHALL: And I’ll bet you get paid for each mile of track the railroad builds, don’t you? SIDETRACK: I am a surveyor, and I’m paid for surveying. MARSHALL: What about that holding company in Atlanta? Don’t they get paid? Aren’t you the sole stockholder? SIDETRACK: Well, that’s different— Enter Doc through swinging doors MAYOR: What’s up, Doc? (Doc whispers something in the Mayor’s ear. Mayor whispers something in the Marshall’s ear.

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MARSHALL: Nobody leave the room. Mr. Randolph, Mr. Wahr, I’m deputizing you both. Raise your right hands. Repeat after me: “I’ll be a deputy Marshall, enforce the law, and do what the Marshall says.” SCOTT AND ROBERT: I’ll be a deputy Marshall enforce the law and do what the Marshall says. MARSHALL: I’m sorry, I don’t have any badges to give you. SCOTT: Badges? ROBERT: We don’ need no steenking badges. MARSHALL: Fine. Guard the room. Nobody leaves until I say so. I’ll be right back. Come on, Mayor, let’s get this thing settled. Man, I love this job. ROBERT: Let’s be careful out there. Exit Marshall and Mayor, with Doc. CONSTANCE: I wonder what that was all about. (Sidetrack and Banker exchange nervous glances) ROBERT: Official police business. We can’t discuss it. TRUDY: Well I must say, Mr. Randolph, you’ve certainly shown yourself to be well worth your keep, as I have always told Constance. SCOTT: You did? CONSTANCE: You have? TRUDY: Of course I have. You will make some lucky girl a fine husband some day. SCOTT: I will? CONSTANCE: Mother, are you feeling all right? TRUDY: Never better, my dear. Mr. Randolph, you have my permission to come calling on my Constance. SCOTT: I do? CONSTANCE: He does? SCOTT: But I thought you said I was a no account cowboy. CONSTANCE: And that he smelled like a cow, too. SCOTT: (sniffs armpit) I do? TRUDY: Well, not in so many words, perhaps, but I did say— SLOW CHARLIE: Mrs. Trueheart, would you like a soda? TRUDY: No, thank you, Charlie. CONSTANCE: Phil T, I can’t believe you would actually foreclose on the Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc. We grew up together and—

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BANKER: Now, Constance, listen to reason. The account is delinquent, we all agree on that, and the bank examiner is due here at any moment. I can’t let him find that I’ve been violating bank rules for all these years. CONSTANCE: Did you bring that mortgage paper with you? BANKER: Well, of course I did. It’s standard procedure. TRUDY: I understand you’re just doing your duty, Mr. Lucre, but surely you must see how much trouble it would cause if the foreclosure were to go through as you suggest. BANKER: You don’t understand, Mrs. Trueheart. There are rules that govern this sort of thing, and once the mistake was found out, there is no choice. Anything less than enforcing the rules would be against the law. Banks have to be careful about things like that, you see. TRUDY: I suppose. ROBERT: Mrs. Trueheart, you understand that as deputies, we would be obliged to enforce the law, don’t you? TRUDY: Certainly, Deputy Wahr. I could bear no ill will against you for those actions. ROBERT: Thank you, Ma’am. Just doing my job. SCOTT: Thank you for your cooperation. Have a nice day. Enter the Marshall, the Mayor, and Katy Francis, followed by Doc, helping Suzie in the door. She has a large bandage over her head, and another on her knee. All the children from the tap dance Academy are following her. CONSTANCE: Suzie! You’re all right! DOC: Give her some room. She has something to say. SUZIE: I sure do. (pause) CONSTANCE: Would you like to share it with the class? SUZIE: Miss Constance, you never gave all of the students that free soda. CONSTANCE: Well, uh, I was waiting for you to be out of bed, so we could all enjoy them together? SUZIE: Oh, that’s very nice of you. Thank you for being so considerate. And there is one other thing— SCOTT: What’s that, Miss Suzie? Boy, it’s sure good to see you up and around. You had us pretty scared, you know.

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SUZIE: I didn’t mean to be trouble for you all, I’m sorry. CONSTANCE: That’s quite all right, Suzie. We’re just glad you’re better now. I wish it were a happier day in other ways, though. SUZIE: Maybe this will help. I know who has been spreading the malletitis. Gasps from everybody, startled looks from Sidetrack and Banker. Enter Mrs. Hebert through swinging doors. She is dressed a little outlandishly, carrying an umbrella, and looking all around at the people in the room. She has a Cajun accent. MRS. HEBERT: What be goin on here? I come to see about my baby boy. ROBERT: Excuse me, Ma’am, I don’t believe we’ve met. Are you the Bank Examiner we’ve been expecting? MRS. HEBERT: Naaw, my name is Harriet Hebert, and this is my little dog, Toto, and I’ve come back looking for my little baby boy. MAYOR: Nice to meet you, Ma’am. I’m Mayor Dimple Chad, this is Marshall Jim Dandy from the State Capitol, this is Mrs. Trudy T Trueheart, Constance Trueheart, and — all the rest of you introduce yourselves. We have things to do here. All the other people in the room say their names in unison, except Charlie, who says “I’m Charlie” after everyone else is finished. MRS. HEBERT: We’re glad to meet all of you. ROBERT: And who might that baby boy be? MRS. HEBERT: I left him here quite a number of years ago, ‘cause my husband Ozzie and I couldn’t take care of him back then. We left him on the doorstep of a ranch bunkhouse with a note that said so. And we watched until those three men came out and picked up the baby. DOC: (Makes silencing motion to Scott) There WAS a baby left here several years ago, but I’d like to ask you a couple of questions. MRS. HEBERT: Tha’s fine. You say on. DOC: All right, now why in the world would you leave a baby on the steps of a bunkhouse? Why not somebody’s home, or the church, or something like that? MRS. HEBERT: Because we knew that if we left him on the bunkhouse steps, he would have a good supply of fresh milk, and that those cowboys would give him a marketable job skill set. DOC: But how do we know you’re really his mother?

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MRS. HEBERT: My baby boy has a little birthmark shaped like a Texas star right under his left armpit. You know anybody like that aroun’ here? SCOTT: I sure do! It’s ME! MRS. HEBERT: My baby boy! SCOTT: Mommy! (He runs up and gives her a hug) MRS. HEBERT: You sure got big. You doin’ all right? SCOTT: I sure am, Mom, I’m a Deputy Marshall, about the best cowboy in these parts, and a pretty fair roper. Not only that, I’ve started to do macramé in my spare time. I make flower pot holders and things like that and sell them at the county fair to make extra spending money. MRS. HEBERT: Well, tha’s fine if that’s what you want to do. I come back to let you know that you can come to Louisiana with me if you want to, and get in on the family business. SCOTT: What kind of business? MRS. HEBERT: Ozzie and I tried all kinds of things, after we left Kansas, and we finally found one that works real good. We started us up a ‘gator farm down in the bayou, selling ‘gator meat, and making alligator shoes, and handbags. We’re doing just fine. Our retirement portfolio is going to mature soon, and we want someone to pass the business on to, so we can go on down to the Cayman Islands and live out our golden years on the beach. SCOTT: Can I have a little time to think it over? I’ve got some things going on here, you know, and I need to make sure I don’t leave anybody in a lurch. MRS. HEBERT: You just take your time, Sonny, that’s just fine. SCOTT: Uh, Mom, when you left me, did you give me a name? MRS. HEBERT: Why, sure we did. Ozzie and I thought about it for a long old time before we did, too. We named your first name after our favorite train, Lionel. And we named your second name after a river we read about in the Bible. The Tigris. Lionel Tigris Hebert. SCOTT: Lionel Tigris Hebert? Oh, my! CONSTANCE: Lionel Tigris Hebert? Oh, my! ALL: Lionel Tigris Hebert? Oh, my! MARSHALL: Can we please get on with the business at hand? This is all very family oriented fun, but we have work to do. MRS. HEBERT: You just carry on with whatever it is you’re doing. I’ll just wait over there. MARSHALL: Suzie, you said you knew who was spreading the malletitis?

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SUZIE: Yes, I think so. I got a good look at his shoes. But now that I’m standing up, I’m a little dizzy. (Suzie sits on one of the chairs) That’s better. Could all of you walk by so I can take a look at your shoes? Everybody walks by in turn. Sidetrack is first, Banker is somewhere in the middle, everybody else mixes in, and returns to their starting position. Either Scott or Robert is at the door at all times. SUZIE: I’m pretty sure I saw the shoes. They were HIS! (points to Banker). MARSHALL: Pretty sure is not enough. Judge? What do you think. MAYOR: I concur. Any of you other students think you know who it was that attacked you? (All the other kids look around, and shake their heads sometimes no, sometimes yes.) MARSHALL: I know how to settle this. Doc, bring in the bags. (Doc goes outside the swinging door and brings in a big bag and a little bag, a hat and a wooden mallet.) The bank examiner showed up today, and we talked a little while over at the bank. Once we gave him a receipt for the goods, he let us take these things out of the safe, where they’d been hidden. MAYOR: Here’s the alleged weapon, a large wooden mallet clearly capable of inflicting malletitis on a tap student. There’s also a black hat, a mask, and the bag of stolen tap shoes. (picks up the mallet and raps it on the countertop.) Court’s in session, the Honorable Judge Dimple T Chad presiding. To save time, let’s just swear everybody in at the same time. Everybody raise your right hands. (Some raise right, some left, the lefts correct themselves) Repeat after me: “I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth or consent to being in a whole lotta trouble until I learn my lesson.” (All repeat some form of the oath, except Robert Wahr, who keeps his hand up afterwards) The Court recognizes Bob Wahr. What is it, Deputy? ROBERT: My momma taught me not to swear, especially in front of the ladies— MAYOR: Well, do you promise to tell the truth? ROBERT: Of course I do. It’s the Cowboy Way, ain’t it? MARSHALL: It’s just a formality, Bob, don’t get all bent out of shape over it. ROBERT: All right.

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MARSHALL: Now here’s what we do in the big city when we want to identify a criminal. We have a lineup. MAYOR: A lineup? MARSHALL: Here, I’ll show you. (He moves several of the people over in front of the bar, and all the kids and Suzie in a group looking at the line. Sidetrack, Constance, Phil, Mrs. Hebert, Scott are in the lineup. More if space permits.) Now you all take a good look at this group, and see if you identify the culprit. (kids all look at the group, but nobody can tell.) SCOTT: I know. I’ll bet this will help. (takes the hat and mask and puts it on each person in group, Banker last. When he puts it on Phil, the kids all say, “Yes, that’s the one”, etc.) MAYOR: Do you have anything to say, in your own defense, Phil T Lucre? BANKER: Your Honor, that’s irrelevant and immaterial. MAYOR: What? MARSHALL: He means it doesn’t matter and isn’t really evidence we can use. MAYOR: Why not? MARSHALL: Beats me. Sounds like pretty good proof as far as I can tell. What do you think, ladies and gentlemen of the jury? (All say sure sounds like a clear case, guilty, string him up, etc.) MAYOR: But what about the foreclosure? And being behind in the payments from the very start? SCOTT: Well, Mr. Mayor— MAYOR: Judge. SCOTT: Huh? Oh, sorry. Well Mr. Judge, when I talked to Deputy Bob over there about those altered cattle brands, I realized something about the mortgage paper. It smelled as bad as a catfish that’s been laying on the bank for a couple of days. Suddenly it all made sense. You see, Constance, your father, Col. Trueheart, had a unique handwriting style. May I use your sketch pad? CONSTANCE: Scott, this is no time for drawing pictures. SCOTT: I know, Constance, Hebert with me, won’t you? (Takes clean sheet on sketch pad and marker) You see, most people make a seven like this (draws a regular seven) But your father, Col. Trueheart, made them like this, you see? (makes a seven with a downward slanted top) So when I talked to Deputy Bob over there, only he wasn’t a deputy then, and he told me about the altered cattle brands, I realized what had happened. The Trueheart Soda Fountain and Tap Dance Academy, Inc., mortgage was started in July, the seventh

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month. But the papers were drawn up to say April, the fourth month. (takes the marker and makes the 7 into a 4) Your Honor, make Phil T give you his pen. MAYOR: Phil, the court orders you to give your pen to Deputy Scott Randolph. SCOTT: (Takes pen from Banker and makes a mark on the corner of the mortgage paper). See? The pen is the same width as the crossbar of the 4, but wider than all the other marks on the page. It was just like brand altering, only smaller. ROBERT: And not so hot. SCOTT: That’s right, Deputy Bob. And the ink is black, too. So there you go, your Honor, plain and simple. Quod est demonstratum. I rest my queso. BANKER: All right, all right. I did it. I was trying to get money fast, that’s all. And once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was in too deep. I’m guilty. TRUDY: Why Phil! I’m amazed at you. Look at the depths to which you’ve fallen. BANKER: I know, Mrs. Trueheart, I know. I’m sorry. I was just trying to get money to send to my Rhapsody in Virginia. MAYOR: Tarnation. That’s another telegram I forgot to deliver. Phil, I got a telegram from Virginia this morning and forgot to give it to you. It said that Rhapsody is marrying some Beauregard boy or other, and that she thanks you for helping her and her Daddy while he was sick. Sorry I didn’t give it to you sooner. (Hands paper to Phil) BANKER: I’m not taking this rap alone: Felonious T Sidetrack was the mastermind. You’ll find all the papers in his room in a wooden box under the bed. Everything from the phony surveys to the holding company in Atlanta. And I’ll tell you everything you want to know. SIDETRACK: This is nothing but a kangaroo court! MARSHALL: Nope, there’s no kangaroos in Texas. MAYOR: They probably couldn’t float that far. KATY FRANCIS: I have a recipe for kangaroo pudding— SIDETRACK: You’ll never make this stick. You haven’t seen the last of me. MARSHALL: So you admit your complicity? SIDETRACK: I won’t say anything until I get a lawyer. MAYOR: We don’t have a jail to hold them in, Marshall, but we have an empty room in the KFC. It’s right next to the kitchen. We can lock them up there until we can decide what to do about this whole thing.

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And they’ll have plenty to eat. (whacks bar with mallet) Court’s adjourned. MARSHALL: That worked out well, don’t you think? MAYOR: Yes sir. In fact, I think it couldn’t have gone better. Scott, that was some pretty good police work you did. MARSHALL: I’ll say. A regular Charlie Chan. SCOTT: Thanks, Mr. Marshall. MARSHALL: Say, Mayor—I’ve been meaning to say something about your daughter’s cooking. MAYOR: I know. I know. Everybody says the same thing. MARSHALL: What? They do? Then how come she’s still single? MAYOR: Because her cooking is the worst anybody’s ever tasted. Sorry, Baby Girl, but— MARSHALL: What are you talking about? MAYOR: What? MARSHALL: Everything she cooks is just like Momma used to make. I’d like to ask you for her hand in marriage, Mayor Chad. MAYOR: You would? MARSHALL: Yep. If she’ll have me. KATY FRANCIS: I will. MAYOR: Step up here, you two. Katy Francis Chad, do you want to marry him? KATY FRANCIS: I do. MAYOR: Marshall Jim Dandy, do you want to marry her? MARSHALL: I do. MAYOR: (Smacks gavel) You’re married. You may kiss the bride. Scott, because of your recent accomplishments, I’m appointing you Sheriff of Thurman, if the Marshall will undeputize you, that is… (all people present start humming “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again”, softly at first, but louder as conversation goes on) MARSHALL: Done. MAYOR: You know, Scott Randolph, I mean Sheriff. The world is a better place because of men like you. True, straight shooters, honest, handsome, you know, men you can believe in. Men who lead other men to higher levels. Men you respect over at the fitness center. MARSHALL: That’s right. Men who know the difference between covenants, statutes, laws and ordinances. ROBERT: Men who bring the railroad through town without tearing any buildings down. DOC: Men who don’t care what anybody says about their fashion sense.

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MAYOR: And men who can add up two and two and usually get four. MARSHALL: And now that I have Katy Francis by my side, we can go to the capitol and open another KFC there. We’ll sell franchises, and recipes, and—and people all over the country can come and eat great food, and before you know it, every city from the mountains to the prairies, from sea to shining sea will have a KFC of its very own… ALL: All hummers stop, turn their heads and look at Mayor and Marshall. in unison: Naaaah. (Pause ) CONSTANCE: Scott, why did you go to all that trouble? Wouldn’t it have been easier to let the Marshall handle all that? SCOTT: That would have been the easy way, Constance, but it wouldn’t be the Cowboy Way. CONSTANCE: Oh, Scott, did you ever know that you’re my hero? SCOTT: Constance, there’s something I’ve been meaning to say, that I haven’t been able to find the words for. But when I saw those two get married, well, could I say something personal to you now? (Takes Constance by hands, and goes down on one knee) CONSTANCE: Yes, Scott? SCOTT: Constance, when I look into your eyes, I think about how when you’re filling a kerosene lantern and spill a little splash of kerosene into a mud puddle, you know? and the colors all reflect in the light, all pinks and greens, and blues, swirling around? It’s real pretty, that’s all. CONSTANCE: Thanks, Scott—I think. Is that all SCOTT: And there’s one other thing… CONSTANCE: What’s that? SCOTT: Well, I don’t know how to ask you, exactly, but when I saw Marshall Dandy and Katy Francis and how happy they looked, and then they kissed, and, well, I thought— CONSTANCE: Yes, Scott? SCOTT: Well, I sorta thought that maybe you’d— CONSTANCE: Yes, yes?? SCOTT: Well, would you be willing to be engaged to be, uh, engaged, maybe next spring? CONSTANCE: Next spring? SCOTT: Sure, about cow breeding time. What do you think? CONSTANCE: (pause) I can work with that.

The End. Blackout. Lights up for bows and curtseys.