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CHARADES

Life is like a game of Charades. Only we are too blind to reads the clues....

SETTING: Two policemen are chatting as the detective and his apprentice approach them.

POLICE OFFICER 1: Here, quick, drink this coffee. You need to be sober when giving them your statement.

CONSTABLE: (takes a huge gulp and shuts his eyes immediately.)

Ah! This one is laced with whiskey you idiot! Shit, you made it worse.

POLICE OFFICER 1: Sorry chief. Let me get you another-

CONSTABLE: No, you have done enough, no scram. I don’t need you telling the detective more than he needs to know.

(Detective approaches. They exchange handshakes and make small talk before a fellow policeman leads them to the interrogation room.)

DETECTIVE: Enough small talk. Let’s get down to business.

CONSTABLE : Well, nobody likes to work the Christmas Eve shift. To lift the mood, we decided to have a tiny Christmas party. Nothing too serious, just a tiny show.

APPRENTICE: Isn’t Christmas a busy period? There’s a lot of underage drinking, substance abuse and erratic behavior?

CONSTABLE: Well. (Takes an uncomfortable cough). It’s a tiny show like I said. No more than 20 minutes, 30 minutes tops.

APPRENTICE : And was there any alcohol taking in this event?

CONSTABLE: Well… (pause). I can’t speak for everyone, I don’t check everyone’s cups. But the police department only supplies coffee and donuts for such occasions. Any other alcohol within has to be from an external source.

(awkward silence.)

DETECTIVE: (scribbles on notepad: POINT 1 – INCOMPETENT) POLITELY SMILES.

Carry on.

CONSTABLE: So this Eve, we decided to have a magic show. Only three acts, amateurs, nothing too fancy as we don’t to waste public funds.

(Pauses for a look of approval from either but gets none)

The performers included a snake charmer, a palm reader and the third guy was an ordinary magician, he was supposed to do a few tricks. All within a time limit of course. (He awaits look of approval)

APPRENTICE: (scribbles- point 1: lack of self-esteem; feels the need to prove himself. Source of problem could be his physical appearance (poor). Also, he shows hints of his incompetence)

DETECTIVE: (scribbles: -point 2: Very indecisive, potential slacker. Feels the need to highlight basic duties for personal vindication. Wants to feel appreciated.)

Was every member of staff present during this magical show?

CONSTABLE: No, about 90% were present. The basic guards, receptionists and customer care carried on their duties. Crime never sleeps

DETECTIVE: carry on

CONSTABLE : Well, the show sucked. The palm reader gave the same palm read to almost everybody. But he did say my fortunes would change tonight. (Stares in young APPRENTICE:’s direction.)

APPRENTICE: (smiles uncomfortably)

Scribbles: Point 2: Constantly staring at my legs, not sexually active. Rings under eyes, lack of proper sleep. Possibly sleeping on the couch, marital problems??

(She takes another look at him then frowns and furiously cancels her previous writing)

Scribbles: idiot is drunk.

CONSTABLE : He managed to summon one snake and the other disappeared only to pop out of his robe a minute later. It was hilarious, we thought it was part of his act until the snake bit his hand, specifically his palm. So everybody then scatters, all leaving the room except for the magician. He was brave enough, he chased the snakes with a basket trying to put them back. The palm reader rushed to the snake charmer’s palm. I guess he’s a bad reader because he should have reader the signs. HAHAHA!

(AWKWARD SILENCE)

DETECTIVE : An unfortunate turn of events I suppose. I was told about the charmer, but where does ‘Terry’ fit in this?

CONSTABLE: Ah yes, Terry! He’s one of the senior guards, he’s the key keeper of main keys in this department. We needed keys to access the med room when one of my boys found him drunk, passed out on his desk. I can assure you, when he is sober, I will firmly talk to him. Such drunkenness cannot be tolerated on the job and-

DETECTIVE : That’s enough. Constable, could you give us a moment, I would like to discuss a few things with my partner.

CONSTABLE : Sure thing. (Stands up and misses a step on his way out.)

APPRENTICE: scribbles: random alcohol test recommended.

*

APPRENTICE: This seems like a straightforward case. This department is a little incompetent, but this was a small mishap. Should I go back to the office and log this in?

DETECTIVE : Just hold on for a moment. My gut tells me we are missing something?

APPRENTICE: what is it?

DETECTIVE: I did a little magic myself when I was younger, and I know the difference between a magic trick and a magic performance. A magic trick or act usually just requires the magician alone and he does simple tricks like card tricks, coin tricks and a few other less complicated tricks. A magic performance however, needs to satisfy the following the four requirements; an audience, a female assistant, a distraction, and finally the act itself.

APPRENTICE: But these were amateurs, like the constable mentioned.

DETECTIVE: I know, but this elementary magic 101, they should have known this. It’s like starting a band without a lead singer or drummer. I just can’t off shake the feeling that we are missing something.

APPRENTICE: (*Phone rings
two minutes later, she walks in with a look of concern on her face.)

That was the hospital. Terry wasn’t drunk, he was bitten by a snake.

Outside Terry’s office are; The DETECTIVE, his APPRENTICE, Constable Bob and officer 1

DETECTIVE: I’m starting to think we are not dealing with amateurs. They got the audience right, they had the right distraction and managed to perform their act. But where was the damn assistant?

APPRENTICE: The better question is how did the snake get here? (She looks up)

Do those cameras work?

POLICE OFFICER 1: (embarrassed) no. we figured this is a police station, so who would be stupid enough to rob a police station? They are just decoys, to fool the untrained eye.

CONSTABLE (Adds on): Yes, we pride ourselves as an efficient task force ready to always serve the public and not misuse public funds. (Awaiting approval)

DETECTIVE: Makes mental note to self: Constable has small penis, source of his insecurities and need for approval.

(Detective grabs young apprentice by the arm and leads her away)

DETECTIVE : (laughing now, apprentice looks at him with a shocked expression.)

These guys are good. Magic is all about illusions, you shift your focus in one direction while the actual magic happens in the other direction. All that nonsense that happened during the show was just a distraction. The real act was on Terry. I just have to figure out which keys he guards and why he would be the target. Have the constable re-call the magicians though I suspect they are long gone. Also have him explain to you exactly where each key leads.

(Constable is summoned, happy to feel important again)

CONSTABLE: I’m afraid I have to cut this short. I just got a call, a lady jumped off Uni-bank.

APPRENTICE: And what makes you sure she jumped?

CONSTABLE: There were eye witnesses…

(Apprentice and detective instantly face each other with eyes wide open.)

CONSTABLE : What?

(Apprentice and detective at the same time) : Audience

CONSTABLE: What?

APPRENTICE: I think we have found our girl.

CONSTABLE : What?

DETECTIVE : looks at the constable, changes his mind, faces officer 1

DETECTIVE: Is there any possible connection between the police department and the Uni-bank? Anything at all?

POLICE OFFICER 1: As a matter of fact, yes. The architects from Uni-bank dropped their new plans about two weeks ago.

DETECTIVE: New plans?

POLICE OFFICER 1: Yes. Every time a national bank opens, renovates or even moves a door, we have to be notified and sent updated plans. It’s part of the new legislation.

APPRENTICE : Why?

POLICE OFFICER 1: For security purposes. In an event of a robbery, bomb threat or any other crisis, we the police know all openings, vantage points and have studied and formed strategies months in advance.

DETECTIVE : I want you to round up every available officer and rush to Uni-bank, we have a-

(Constable falls to the ground and starts vomiting a reddish fluid. Shortly, officer 1 follows suit)

APPRENTICE: Did you take anything out of the ordinary today?

CONSTABLE: SHUT UP!!! (Yelling at officer)

Officer 1: Whiskey!

DETECTIVE : (Walks into the main hall and sees everyone on the ground puking)

He shouts: HOLY CHRIST, IS EVERYONE A FUCKING DRINKER HERE?

PROLOGUE OF ACT: 2

Girl abruptly sits up heavily gasping for breath. Man across her stops his timer.

Man: 94 seconds, not bad but you need to go beyond 100 for this to work.

The female mime lays back in her mental make-shift box and holds her breath.

Man clicks timer moments later.

Man: 120 seconds, well done (evil laughter). Now let the charades begin…..

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