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 then 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 story thus far: Private investigators Pastrami & Rye are in their office after meeting their new client Claire and listening to her tale of woe. They and their guy-Friday are about to start work on her investigation: finding her father’s missing recipe, her missing fiancee, and the culprit behind her father’s poisoning.
. . . .
(Rye picks up Claire’s list and begins studying it as the door closes behind Pastrami. He moves to his desk and begins digging through the drawers for a telephone book. Given the general disarray of his desk this takes time. Search extends to the filing baskets and stacks on the desk. Basically returns the desk to its state at the start of the play. Frustrated, he moves over to Pastrami’s desk and just starts to search. Door opens allowing Pastrami and Dill to enter. Dill has a small stack of items in his arms.)
Pastrami: Get your mitts out of my drawer.
Rye: No need to flip your wig, I’m not snooping for your secrets. Just looking for the telephone directory.
Pastrami: A likely story.
Rye: Scout’s honour. (Holds up three fingers in the Boy Scout salute.)
Dill: Have you tried taking a gander at your own desk?
Rye: To no avail. Do you want to give it a go?
(Dill eyes the challenge, considers, declines.)
Dill: Pastrami figured on you looking for one of these (produces phone book from stack he carries).
Rye: (to Pastrami) You’re an angel, doll. (To Dill) And you’re no slouch yourself.
Dill: Remember that sentiment when this contract pays off. If you could sign this, I’ll file it.
Rye: (Clears off space on desk to sign. Reads contract briefly.) Holy mackerel! Well, that certainly isn’t peanuts.
Dill: Twice your regular rate, plus expenses. She really wants your attention on this matter. And she looks like a Darb, so the lettuce should be bankable.
Pastrami: Which means I need to get this out of the way. (Clears throat) Big Cheese, I owe you an apology.
Rye: Come again?
Pastrami: That bit of biz that just walked out came to us as a referral from the Madame and Monsieur Megabucks.
Rye: Hot damn! Sweet vindication.
Pastrami: (To Dill) I told you he’d go a bit cock-eyed with glee
Dill: Maybe you want to put the kibosh on the gloating for now, Rye. Not going to earn this fee if the two of you are having a rhubarb.
Rye: Right. No time for celebration, let’s get to work. Thoughts?
Pastrami: It could be gravy. I have a theory that may be too good to be true.
Rye: D’john hit the silk with the recipe. We find one we will find the other. Might even be a bit of corporate espionage.
Pastrami: Got it in one.
Dill: He is the ace detective responsible for the dope that has lead to a resolution of countless cases of domestic subterfuge.
Pastrami: Alternate theory. The French dame is in cahoots with her fella and they are trying to drive up the asking price on the recipe.
Rye: That is a swell theory too.
Dill: All this is above my pay grade. How do you want me to file this caper?
Pastrami: The Search for the French Colonel’s Mustard?
Rye: Or the Colonel’s French Mustard Caper?
Dill: Let’s go with the French Colonel’s Mustard Caper. There is more room in that file drawer.
Rye: Suits me.
Dill: Righty-o, I’ll let you get on with it. (Exits.)
Rye: Third option. D’john, the French mustard, and the colonel are all victims of a competitor or espionage.
Pastrami: And D’john is the fall guy? Frame job could fit.
Rye: Especially if the colonel croaks.
Pastrami: Let’s hit the streets to get the dope. We need to find some folks that are in the know about the recipe.
Rye: Split the list. Work the phones first and then make an in-person visit if need be.
Pastrami: You got it, Ace. I was thinking of tapping a couple of our usual sources too.
Rye: Such as?
Pastrami: Scoop, Shades, and Wrencher McGee for a start.
Rye: Now we’re cooking with gas. Shades at least will require an in-person sit-down and probably some legwork to locate.
Pastrami: But it is always worth the effort in the end. So let’s get crackin’.
(Pastrami picks up the phone, Rye looks through the telephone directory. Lights fade/curtains.)