set: sometime in the third season
disclaimer: Rupert Holmes, AMC etc own the rights--I just like to play occasionally.
A Remember WENN list challenge story: to write a story where the scripts get mixed up. Well--I didn't quite follow that idea--but...
Patience was not patient, Betty decided as she handed WENN's new intern the script for *Sam Dane: Private Eye*. She finished it a whole three minutes before airtime. And considering her day, that was a remarkable achievement. She laughed quietly after Patience had left. That afternoon's script for *Hand's of Time* hadn't been finished until fifteen minutes before the end of the show. Patience had been remarkable.
Betty shook her head. The young, petite brunette wouldn't last. She flustered too easily. Patience had also managed to bring the wrath of Kitty's Boutique down on the station when she'd flubbed a line in the commercial.
Scott saved the day. The man could smooth talk his way out of anything. Betty smiled at the image of Scott flirting with the imposing Kitty Wells. The woman had calmed down and even offered to sponsor another show.
Her stomach growled, and with a start Betty realized that it was well past her dinnertime. Lunch had been a long time ago. Well, the Buttery was still open, and she needed a walk. She grabbed the scripts for the next two shows and placed them where Patience could clearly see them.
Mackie put his hand over the microphone and hissed to anyone who was listening, "Where is she? I need the script."
Hilary smiled. "Patience? She's probably lost." She stopped speaking as the door slammed open and Patience burst into the recording studio.
"I'm sorry." She was holding the script in one hand and trying to straighten her dress with the other. "I was..." She glanced at the clock, and turned to the group of actors. "I'm sorry. I'm not too late, am I?"
"Not at all my dear," Mackie said smoothly while rolling his eyes. "Here, let me take that..." The paper went flying.
"Oh, no!" Patience shrieked. "I'm sorry." She dove to the floor and nearly sent the nearest microphone flying.
Hilary stood there holding the wayward microphone and watched with an amused expression. She tapped Mackie on the shoulder and pointed to control booth. C.J. was signaling frantically. They had been off the air for one minute.
Mackie grabbed the microphone, and in a low basso started speaking. "Acton Anthracite Coal and Pittsburgh Library Theater proudly present Sam Dane: Private Eye." He looked around and mouthed, "Where's Scott?"
Who entered quietly. With slight shrug for Hilary, he reached for the script that Patience had gathered up and smiled at her. The intern turned beet read when Scott whispered something in her ear. She left. Just after the door closed behind her, there was a thump from outside.
Mackie had continued his introduction while Scott primped to prepare for his opening lines. Hilary just glared at him.
"I'm Sam Dane, Private Eye," Scott drawled. "Life for a private eye is always interesting. But when she walked into my office, I knew tonight would be different. She was one classy dame." From behind him, he heard the sound of high heels.
Hilary looked at the script. "Mr. Dane?"
In a low, slightly seductive yet slightly hysterical voice, Hilary Booth said, "Please help me. I fear for my life."
"I knew she was lying, every fiber in my being told me so, yet I asked, Why?"
"It's my husband. I think he wants to kill me."
"This sounded interesting. I glanced at her hand, the diamond alone was worth a few grand. Why would he want to kill someone as beautiful as you?" His improvisation earned him an evil glare from the leading lady.
"Money," Hilary whispered loudly. "For my money. I'm Denise Domier...My father was Richard Sykes."
"I was impressed. The Sykes fortune was extensive. Diamonds, gold, oil, you name it, they were in it. Her husband, Arthur Domier was an arrogant man. His name appears often in places where it shouldn't." Scott flipped the finished page carelessly to the ground, secretly enjoying Hilary's wicked stare. "Mrs. Domier, I need to know why you think your husband wants to...I was rudely interrupted by the door being slammed open."
From the back there was the sound of a good solid slam, then heavy footsteps.
Hilary screamed, "Arthur, you followed me!!!"
Mackie--in a high tenor voice, with the barest hint of a French accent--said, "Of course, my dear. I want to know who you are seeing."
"Arthur dear, why do you have a gun?" Hilary screeched.
"Gun, I don't have a gun," Mackie said. "Why would you think I have a gun?"
"The lady is worried that you may be trying to kill her." Scott said.
Mackie cackled. "Kill her. I can't touch her money if she dies. She's only useful to me alive."
Maple stopped, there it was again. She looked around the hallway, then realized the strange noise was coming from the writer's room. She knocked, when no one answered she opened the door. The room was dark, but she could now identify the sounds as someone crying. "Hello?"
There was a squeal, then the sound of someone standing. "I'm sorry," Patience said from the back. "I didn't think anybody would notice."
Maple groaned inwardly at the signs of fresh sobbing. "Why don't you come out and wash your face and have something to eat?"
"Is there something to eat?" Patience asked.
"I think there are some doughnuts from this morning."
"Is anyone out there?"
Maple glanced around quickly. "No. Everybody's in the studio." She shifted her weight. "Patience?"
"I'm coming." The young woman appeared from behind the shelves. "I'm sorry. This isn't working, is it?"
"Huh?" Maple stepped aside as Patience timidly walked by her.
"Me being here. I'm all thumbs. I can't act, I can't type...You've all been so kind and patient with me..." They walked down the hall to the greenroom.
That was an overstatement, Maple realized. "We all had to learn once." She tried to sound sympathetic.
Patience smiled. "Except Miss Booth. I think she was born like that."
Maple laughed. There might be hope for the girl yet. "You are learning."
Patience smiled shyly. "Would anybody be upset if I took another job? My sister says she can get me a job in a store."
"If that's what you want." Maple glance quickly at the clock. "Look, I have to be on the radio in a few minutes..."
"Oh, I'm sorry..."
Maple dashed out the door.
Mackie was speaking in a thick Irish brogue. "Mr. Dane, you are interfering with a police investigation. I must ask you to wait outside."
Scott sounded flustered as he spoke. "Sergeant O'Malley, my client asked me to..."
Maple walked in silently and smiled at everybody. She glanced at the script. She was on time.
"Mr. Dane," Mackie was saying. "I don't care who your client is. Wait outside."
"She walked in the room at that moment. Tall, stately, a red-head. I didn't know who she was..." Scott said. "But she looked desperate."
"Mr. Dane?" Maple said with a slight English accent. "My sister is..." She reached over to flip the page...
She motioned quickly and placed her hand over the microphone. "Where's the last page?" She whispered.
Mackie blanched and knelt down on the floor to look for the missing page. She looked quickly at the other members of the cast. She hated Pruitt's cutbacks. To save on paper, they were sharing one script.
Scott stepped forward. "Your sister?"
"Yes, my sister." Maple looked quickly down at Mackie, who wasn't having any luck.
Scott motioned for Hilary. "Find Betty," he whispered very quietly.
"She isn't here," Maple said. "She went to get to something to eat."
Hilary said softly, "We have five minutes to fill. Who did it?"
Scott glanced at the clock and spoke into the microphone. "Private eyes lead interesting lives. The young woman sobbing quietly at my feet must have been the sister of Mrs. Domier. Miss?"
"Miss?" Maple repeated blankly.
"Sykes," hissed Mackie from near the sound effects table.
"Miss Sykes," she said. "You will help me?"
Scott grinned. "Of course. What happened in there?"
"I don't know...There's a dead body," she smiled.
"Whose body?" He bit back the urge to laugh.
Maple also almost laughed. "I didn't look. I heard the gunshots and ran out here. Into your arms." She swooned gracefully into Scott's arms.
Hilary shook her head, as she went to sit down in the one chair.
Mackie glanced at the clock as he stood. In his sergeant's voice he said. "We have a dead body. Which one of you did it?"
"She did," Hilary and Maple said simultaneously.
"My client was worried that her husband was trying to..." C.J. was motioning wildly in the soundbooth. "So ends the WENN mystery theater, Sam Dane: Private Eye. Tonight's episode is done in the true detective thriller style--you the listener have heard all the clues. Who's dead? Who did it? You get to figure it out."
Mackie covered his microphone. "Where's the next script?"
Maple walked quickly to the door. "I'll get them."
The studio door opened gently, and Betty appeared holding papers. "Patience has quit." She handed the script to Maple. "How did Sam Dane go?"
"Great, Betty," Scott said with a smile. "Good script."
Hilary smiled wickedly. "The end was the best part."
Mackie took the script, walked up to the microphone and began to speak.
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