Rye–male, older than Pastrami but not by much
Dill–male, Pastrami’s age or slightly younger
Claire–female, French, 20s,
–> NOTE: Claire’s name is pronounced by all characters with an “eh” in front of it so that is sounds like “eclair.” She accomplishes this by sniffling and in combination with her accent. Dill says it as though he is searching for her last name and resorting to just her first name. Pastrami and Rye will say it as if they need to search their notes for her name, also a side effect of normally using last names. And after hearing her pronounce her own name the characters may assume “eclair” is the correct pronunciation.
1940s, interior of an office building. Office made up of a reception area and a separate room that is the main office. Two wooden desks sit at an angle facing each other and the audience at the same time. Each desk has a non-electric typewriter, some filing baskets (an ‘In’ basket and an ‘Out’ basket). One desk is definitely tidier than the other. There is a telephone partially buried under papers on the messier desk. Wooden swivel chair behind each desk, additional chair available for visitors/clients. Upstage center there is a door, wooden with the frosted/pebbled glass of the era.
. . . .
(The two fall back into the silence and working rhythms of the start of the play. Rye finishes his typing and is clearly satisfied with the results. He pulls the finished sheet from his typewriter and hands it to Pastrami. A telephone is heard ringing off-stage.)
Rye: Finito! (Sweetly) Take a gander, would you, baby? Please don’t make me weep with too many corrections.
Pastrami: Since you asked so nicely, doll. (Begins to read and Rye settles back at his desk.)
(A shadow falls on the glass of the door, followed by a knock)
Rye: Come in, Dill.
Dill: (Opens the door and sticks his head through, stays half-in, half-out of door) Hi-de-ho, Pastrami, Rye.
Pastrami: (Swivelling to see door) What’s buzzin’, cousin?
Dill: (Enters and closes the door behind him) I came to tell you there was just a ducky-sounding dame on the phone. She wanted to know if (in fake French accent) “zee Great Pastrami and Rye” (back to normal voice) were available to see her today. I said you were so she is on her way.
Rye: There you go, Pastrami. This dame thinks we are great. Told you all our work meant something.
Dill: I only hope she looks as good as she sounds.
Pastrami: Great, you’re both doll-dizzy.
Rye: Now, now. Don’t get your unmentionables in a twist.
Pastrami: (To Rye) It was merely an observation. Leave my unmentionables out of it. (To Dill) Just don’t go getting yourself stuck on a voice, the whole package may be more complicated than you need.
Dill: No belief in love at first sound?
Rye: Your concern is touching.
Pastrami: Wouldn’t want him to carry a torch for a voice and have her use it to brain him.
Dill: Holy mackerel! Sappy you are not.
Rye: Not unless she is sauced.
Pastrami: And I’d do the same for you, you lummox.
Dill: At least we know she isn’t khaki-whacky.
Pastrami: Just looking out for my best guys. And aren’t you rationed at any rate?
Dill: To a swell cookie. And I can appreciate a dishy dame without making a pass.
Rye: So what’s the dope on this ducky dame that was on the Ameche or are we flying blind?
Dill: Well, she wasn’t overly forthcoming, but I think she is looking more for gumshoe services than in need of a gorilla.
Pastrami: That’s handy, Rye’s best monkey suit is still at the cleaners.
Dill: They say those banana stains are tough to get out.
Rye: You two chuckleheads are just a laugh a minute. Remember who signs your paychecks.
Pastrami: All right, straight-up facts. What else can you tell us about her?
Dill: Like I said, she was not exactly forthcoming with her exact problem. I believe something or someone is missing. Believe she said her name and it sounded like eh, Claire. Between the accent and some waterworks, information may have been lost.
Rye: Always helpful. Maybe she’ll be easier to understand in person.
Dill: I will let you two get back at it and I’ll go back to guarding the gate.
Pastrami: Before you go… (Turns back to her desk and comes up with some files to give Dill as he exits) Here, these are for you.
Dill: Files! How did you possibly know this is what I’ve always wanted?
Pastrami: I’m sharp like that, being a detective and all.
Rye: Now that your wildest dreams have been fulfilled, go back out there and let us know when any new business arrives.
Dill: Right-o, no more Whistl’n Dixie.
(Dill exits through door, Rye and Pastrami begin settling back into working routines at their desks.)
Pastrami: So, back to this bit of reading, (indicates or displays the papers Rye had given her before Dill’s entrance) do I need to get out my red pen?
Rye: Sure hope not, but take a gander. That is from one of our better-paying jobs.
Pastrami: All the more reason to be a stickler. (Begins reading. After a brief interval slams papers down on desk and pounds it in frustration.) See, this is why I do not put much stock in sappy couples. Mr. and Mrs. Megabucks. These two are a prime example of what weakens my faith in romance and love. Every time they have a rhubarb, one of them takes a powder.
Rye: Fortunately for our bank account, they utilize our services in finding each other again.
Pastrami: In order to have their forgiveness bought by jewellery with enough rocks to re-sink the Titanic and whatever glitzy thingamabobs you use to make rich men happy.
Rye: And so it goes. The eternal nature of love and lust mean the private eye will never want for work.
Pastrami: That is a depressing business motto. (Puts on a radio announcer/advertiser voice) “Your sweetheart skip town with your heart? Have some moolah? Hire Pastrami & Rye to see if the current love of your life stuck around in hopes you would sell out to get them back.”
Rye: For a slogan that really is too long to fit on business cards.
Rye: Come on, you cynic, put your peepers back on that page and let that on-the-nose analysis of the clients move to the back-burner.
Pastrami: All right, all right.
(Pastrami returns to reading. Rye begins readying the typewriter for another typing session. Lighting may change to denote a passage of time before the phone on Rye’s desk begins to ring. Startled, it takes Rye time to locate the phone under the mounds of paper on his desk.)
Rye: (into phone) She’s here? On her way up? Right, give us a moment to ensure we are presentable. (Hangs up the phone and begins randomly stacking papers.) Our next client is here.
(Pastrami moves to Rye’s desk to help him tidy the papers. Papers are randomly placed in both the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ baskets. Rye also opens a drawer and puts some file unceremoniously into the desk. The movements of both suggest that this is a routine occurrence.)
Pastrami: So much for the old organizational system.
Rye: It always goes belly up. Now buzz off back to your own desk. (Closes drawer and begins quick pat-down of himself to check appearance.)
Pastrami: (Moves back to her desk and settles in the chair.) You look fine.
(Shadows approach the glass on the door. Dill and Claire are heard off-stage.)
Dill: Now-now, Miss…
Claire: (Sounds of sniffling and speaking with accent) eh, Claire.
Dana Rabe is young enough to admit her age and old enough to know better. She is a Nebraska native who has lost a good portion of her heart to Ireland, specifically Galway. A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota and Uversity’s Creative Process MA class of 2016, she has not yet been published anywhere but here.