Buck & Jane
A Death in the Family
Decker & Hayes
Epic Echoes
The Great Muppet Debate
Guard Duty
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Stage Blood



Decker & Hayes
Episode 3 - Crossroads

By Daniel Schwartz

Stella Decker
Macy "Lolita" Hayes
Tess W. Nichols
Tommy Potsdam
Dr. Anthony "Paladin" Cross

Narrator: Parlortown. It was dirty, angry, dying. It had old prostitutes and young junkies, rich bookies and poor gamblers. The men drank until their dreams stopped keeping them up, the women pushed around the dust with old brooms, and the kids talked about leaving until they grew old and died. It was a city full of crime and empty of hope. It was this hole in the soul of the world that Stella Decker and Macy Hayes crawled out of, two restless spirits with more courage than sense and more passion than love. Together in the loneliness they started "Decker & Hayes," a private investigation agency for the financially secure and spiritually desperate. Now the alluring Tess Nichols had hired them to investigate the death of her corrupt husband, whose fortune and life had been lost in curious circumstances. At her tearful behest they set out for answers as a blizzard covers Parlortown like a gravedigger with something to prove. Inquiries had led them nowhere fast and the time had come for some lunch.

(Low buzz of conversation, as in a café or diner)

Macy: (Clearly exasperated) Look, we know how this goes. Batman has kryptonite. Kryptonite kills Superman. Superman’s down in ten seconds, end of story.

Stella: (To sounds of chairs being pulled out, sitting down) Only if Batman knows he’s coming. Superman’s the fastest man on Earth. He can get the jump on him, no problem.

Macy: First of all, the Flash is the fastest man on Earth. Second, you’re wrong.

Stella: You’re just too stubborn to admit that I’m right.

Macy: You’re just too stupid to realize you’ve lost.

(Stella kisses Macy hard. Brief sounds of objection from Macy that die out fast. They hold the kiss for a moment, then Stella pulls away talking)

Stella: I must be stupid, to keep loving you.

Macy: (Slightly breathless) Jerk.

Stella: Candy-thighs.

Macy: Fine, you win.

Waiter: (Walking up) Afternoon, ladies. What-all can I get you?

Stella: A mushroom omelet, French fries instead of hash browns, and a root beer. Burger for you, hon?

Macy: Yeah, and a coffee, please?

Waiter: Coming right up. (Walking away)

Stella: So what do you think of Nichols?

Macy: Never thought of you as the kind of girl who’d go for a threesome, sugar.

Stella: I meant the husband. Any ideas about what’s going on?

Macy: I’ve got nothing. Some broken plates in a dumpster. Someone went through it before or after the body was stashed. Beyond that, I’m in the dark.

Stella: Could it be the diner owner? Stiffener, whatever his name was?

Macy: Stickler.

Stella: Yeah, him. He said himself he went back to throw out the porcelain. How did he miss a dead body?

Macy: Hmm…yeah, now that I think about it. He acted like he didn’t even know about the body.

Stella: That doesn’t prove anything, though. Guy seems pretty jaded. Lived here so long he doesn’t see anything that might be trouble.

Macy: …Which means he’ll be no help at all. Great. It’s like Parlortown’s some kind of game show where being useless makes you win. We keep running into returning champions.

Stella: Hey, as long as the lady’s paying us it can take as long as it has to.

Macy: And speak of the devil…(Hums the Mrs. Gulch theme from Wizard of Oz)

Tess: (Walking up) Hello Ms. Decker, Ms. Hayes. I was walking by and saw you in here, thought you might have some good news.

Stella: I’m sorry, Ms. Nichols –

Tess: (To chair being pulled out, sitting down) Tess, please.

Stella: - Tess, we know a little more, but there’s not much in the way of progress.

Tess: Oh dear. This is awful. Poor Jack… (Edge of tears)

Stella: (Hastily, eager to please) Don’t you worry, Tess. We’ll crack this wide open, no problem.

Tess: I hope so. (Recovering herself) Sorry, it’s just been so horrible…I can barely sleep knowing his killer is still out there somewhere. (Purse opening) Do you mind if I smoke?

Stella: No problem, go ahead. (Sound of cigarette case opening, then closing. Lighter? Purse closing)

Macy: (Slowly, thoughtful tone) That’s a very nice cigarette case, Ms. Nichols.

Tess: What? Oh, thank you. It was a wedding present from a family friend.

Macy: With your initials, TWN?

Tess: Yes, the W is my maiden name -

Macy: (To sound of standing up suddenly) I thought as much. (Gathering her things) I’ll meet you back at the office, Stella. Ms. Nichols. (Walking away, heels clicking hardcore)

Tess: What was all that about?

Stella: Not sure. Still, she’s got that look.

Tess: What look?

Stella: The look she gets when she’s got an idea she doesn’t like. I’ve seen that look before, but I’ll never forget the first time I saw her have it.

Tess: When was that?

Stella: The day she met me.

Waiter: Mushroom omelet and burger?

Narrator: Macy Hayes walked back to the Blue Diner with murder in her eyes and on her mind. Wheels spun, pieces fit into place. She wasn’t sure she wanted to see it through, but she’d promised herself long ago that nothing would ever be left unsaid… no matter what the cost.

Stickler: I remember you. You were with that Decker girl.

Macy: Yes, I’m Macy Hayes. I was wondering if I could talk with the waitress who was on duty last night.

Stickler: The police already did that. She’s busy now.

Macy: (Bright, innocent, wheedling) Just one or two questions. I won’t be any bother.

Stickler: (Pause) She’ll be in the back. Make it quick.

Macy: Thank you very much!

Stickler: (Deadpan) Yeah, I’m a people person. Helping’s what I do.

Narrator: Macy made her way to the back, where a pretty young redhead was stacking some plates. The curve of her neck was slightly like Stella’s, but Macy pushed that thought aside – she had work to do. She put a hand on her purse, which contained her makeup, her knitting and her gun. The soft green paisley gave no hint of the lethal weapon inside. It was kind of like Macy herself, really.

Waitress: Can I help you, miss?

Macy: I hope so. I’d like to ask you about the night Jack Nichols was murdered.

Waitress: I already told the policeman. He sat there for awhile, ate the Blue Plate Special and left.

Macy: (Her voice starts slowly getting harder and colder over the next few lines) You’re lying.

Waitress: (caught short) What?

Macy: You’re lying. Tell me what really happened.

Waitress: Why do you say that?

Macy: Your body gives you away. Little ticks. Your eyes shift. You’re playing with your hair. Your pulse is racing. You must think I’m stupid to lie to my face and not think I’d catch it. You’re going to tell me what the truth is right now or I’ll drag you down to the precinct house and get the cops to beat it out of you.

Waitress: You wouldn’t dare!

Macy: (Her voice is by now totally empty of emotion) Probably not. I could just beat it out of you right here. (cracking of knuckles) I don’t have to leave any marks.

Waitress: No, no, please, I’ll talk!

Macy: I knew you would. He wasn’t alone, was he?

Waitress: For an hour or so he was. Then a man came in. Tall guy with long fingers in a trench coat. Sat at his table and they talked for awhile.

Macy: Older man, grey eyes?

Waitress: Couldn’t tell about the eyes. He was wearing tinted glasses.

Macy: Little round ones?

Waitress: That’s the guy. He talks to Nichols for maybe two hours. Ordered hot water, just sat there sipping at it while he talked. Nichols looks more and more scared. Then they both get up, pay and leave. As he walks out the tall guy gives me this look – God, I could feel it through the glasses, just thinking about it freaks me out – and says "I wasn’t here."

Macy: Dry, quiet voice, right?

Waitress: Yeah. Jeez, I haven’t been sleeping right since then. You know the guy?

Narrator: Macy leveled a gaze at the waitress that seemed to bore right through her and into the wall behind her.

Macy: No.

Narrator: Macy made her way back to the front, smiling lightly at Stickler.

Stickler: Find what you needed, Ms. Hayes?

Macy: (sweetness and light again) Yeah, thanks a lot. Have a great day! (Door opens and closes)

Narrator: As Macy made her way back to the office of Decker & Hayes, Stella had finished lunch with Tess and returned there herself. Tommy Potsdam, their secretary, was crouched in front of an open drawer, filing some paperwork away. Stella walked past him toward her office, but stopped as she noticed something different.

Stella: Tommy…

Tommy: Yeah, Ms. Decker?

Stella: (teasingly) Is that a hickey on your neck?

Tommy: (Quickly, caught red-handed) No, ma’am! Just a…a…

Stella: A hickey, Tommy. Pretty good one, too. Sometimes they bite too hard, I hate that. So where’d you get it?

Tommy: Um…it’s nothing, Ms. Decker…

Stella: Come on, Tommy, what’s the harm? Just us guys here.

Tommy: (Chuckles) Well, I had a date last night. A girl I met at my night class.

Stella: Girls! Excellent choice! What’s her name?

Tommy: (Timidly proud) Rhiannon.

Stella: Rhiannon?

Tommy: Her parents were going to go with Sara, but they thought it was too common.

Stella: Well, I’ve heard worse, I guess. What’s she like?

Tommy: Kinda tall, about an inch shorter than me, and really pretty.

Stella: Got some curve on her?

Tommy: Oh yeah. Like a Ming vase. I thought girls like her only came in magazines.

Stella: Nice. How’s she to talk to?

Tommy: Meh. A little scatter-brained; she’d be brilliant if she could focus for long enough.

Stella: Ooh, too bad. Well, can’t have everything. Although I guess you came pretty close last night, huh?

Tommy: Well…she’s not much for conversation.

Stella: (Dirty-old-man laugh) Good job, Tommy boy. (Door opening and closing) Oh, hey baby. How’d the goose chase go?

Macy: (Distracted) Huh? Oh, yeah, fine. I need to make a call, though, give me a few minutes?

Stella: Umm, okay, sure. (Door opens and closes) Man, wonder what’s on her mind.

Tommy: She looked kind of worried.

Stella: Yeah.

Tommy: Listen, Ms. Decker, you won’ talk to Ms. Hayes about…it, will you?

Stella: My lips are sealed, Tommy. Now, tell me more about your lovely lady…

Narrator: Macy closed and locked the door to the office she shared with Stella behind her. She sat down, pulled out a cigarette and lit up. It didn’t take long to get her pacing back and forth across the floor. Her mind was filled with old memories and blue porcelain, corrupt businessmen in dumpsters and secretive men in trench coats. When she reached the end of the first cigarette, she lit another. Two became three became four as she picked up the phone and dialed from memory a number she’d thought she’d forgotten.

(Ringing of the phone)

Macy: Come on. (Rings again) Come on. (Rings once more) Don’t disappear when I need you, damn it.

(Phone is picked up)

Receptionist: (Perky canned speech) Wexler and Cross, how may I help you?

Macy: I’d like to speak to Anthony Cross, please.

Receptionist: I’m sorry, ma’am, I’m afraid Dr. Cross is in a meeting right now.

Macy: It’s urgent. Could you tell him it’s Macy Hayes, please?

Receptionist: (Less sure) Please hold. (Peppy hold music)

Narrator: A minute and a half crawled past like a year as Macy stood in the office, cradling the phone receiver in one hand and crushing out her cigarette with the other. The clock on the wall seemed to slow and stop as she ground the butt into the ashtray on her desk. Finally the music stopped and a voice she’d prayed she’d never hear again came over the line, quiet and dry like a snake with a secret to tell.

Cross: (Condescending, patronizing) Lolita. It’s been too long.

Macy: Not long enough.

Cross: (Soft chuckle) You haven’t changed a bit, I see.

Macy: Cut the crap, Paladin. I’m not in the mood.

Cross: How have you been, dear? Do you still have that dog I bought you?

Macy: (losing what little cool she had) I SAID, cut the crap, Paladin. What do you know about Jack Nichols’ murder?

Narrator: The silence was deafening. For a moment Macy felt like time itself had stood still, until she felt a bead of sweat run down the side of her face. She realized her hand was shaking. When Cross spoke again her heart almost stopped.

Cross: (Again that soft chuckle, longer this time) Well, well, well, Lolita. The prodigal daughter returns at last, with the most awkward questions. You never DID know when to keep your nose out of other people’s business.

Narrator: The snow keeps falling on Parlortown and the questions get harder. Who is Dr. Anthony Cross? Is Macy more involved in the Nichols murder than anyone knew? What is the significance of Tess ‘W.’ Nichols? Will Tommy and Rhiannon go steady? Tune in next week for the next episode of "Decker & Hayes: Riddles and Liaisons"


Go to Episode 4