Dr. Anthony "Paladin" Cross
Macy "Lolita" Hayes
Tess Wexler Nichols
Narrator: Parlortown, city of shattered ambitions and decaying dreams. It
can be seen in the eyes of every hopeless drug addict, every beggar, every
prostitute, every 9-to-5 working stiff, every sad soul who struggles through
the day just to get by and see the next. Has it always been like this? No
one remembers, no one knows, and no one even cares. But in the midst of the
lifeless, cracked streets and the rotting buildings left from an era long
gone, there walk two individuals with a desire to find something more, to
see past the dull gray of this dying municipality and look for the truth,
even if the truth didn’t want to be found. Stella Decker and Macy Hayes
began a private investigation agency to find the truth wherever it hid and
lord knows the voluptuous Tess Nichols needed to find it. Macy, following
up on a hunch she had when she saw Tess’ initials, returned to the restaurant
where her husband’s body was found to discover a new clue. Playing upon
this hint, she dialed a number she thought she’d never have to dial
Cross: (Gives a soft chuckle) 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.
Macy: I want answers now, Paladin. I don’t think you want me to get
you and your new partner in trouble.
Cross: (Another chuckle) Never knew how to take ‘No’ for an answer
either, did you? I always liked that. I’ll give you the answers you
seek. Meet me at the usual spot 7 PM tonight…alone.
Narrator: Macy could hear a click on the other end. She held the phone receiver
to her ear for a few moments before hanging up. Lolita, Paladin, Whisper.
Names she thought would never go through her head again were now all she was
thinking about. She sighed as she picked up her handbag, containing her makeup
and her gun. Back in the day, she never knew which one she had to have ready
when Anthony Cross was involved. And what of the Wexler in Wexler and Cross,
the firm she reached when she called? The answers were beginning to fit together
for Macy Hayes, but she needed this last rendezvous to get everything straight.
She unlocked the door and opened it to find her partner, Stella Decker, and
their secretary, Tommy Potsdam who was holding a book with a red cover…
Tommy: Yeah, I’m glad you lent me this. It’s a great story, but
I was too depressed to keep reading.
Tommy: The girl killed herself.
Stella: Keep reading, Tommy, my boy. Keep reading. Never be sure you know
how a story ends until you see the last page. (Pause) Oh, there you are, Macy.
About time you got done in there. First the bathroom, now the office. You
take all day wherever you go.
Macy: Yeah, I’m sorry about that. Look, sugar…I have to go follow
up on a lead.
Stella: You found something? I knew it! Hold on and I’ll get my coat…
Macy: No. Honey, I have to do this one alone.
Stella: Why? In all the time we’ve worked together, I never remember
you even remotely suggesting such a thing.
Macy: I want to tell you…but trust me when I say this: I can’t.
I should be back shortly. If my hunch is correct, then I think I’ll
be able to blow this case wide open.
Stella: I don’t like the sound of it, but I’ve never stopped
you when you get like this and I don’t intend on trying now.
Macy: Thank you…stay safe, sugar.
Narrator: With that, Macy Hayes walked out of the office. She made sure to
wait until her back was to Tommy and Stella before she let a solitary tear
fall down her cheek. Once Macy was out of earshot, Stella flopped into the
Stella: Sometimes Tommy, I worry about that girl.
Tommy: Yes, Ms. Decker, she’s been acting quite strange today. Wonder
why that is…
Stella: She goes off into her own world sometimes when she gets a big clue
like this, but she never leaves me this much out of the loop. (Sighs) I just
wish I had a lead of my own. I feel like I’m on the sidelines for this
Narrator: Just then, the phone rang. Tommy began to reach for it, but Stella
Stella: I think I’ll take this one…Decker & Hayes?
Julian: Long time no see, Decker.
Julian: That’s my name. I was wondering if you could help me with a
case I’ve been working on…
Stella: Save it, McGuiness. I already have a partner and so do you. If you
can’t handle all the new business that lummox Bobko is giving you, don’t
come crying to me.
Julian: You’re still bitter over that? Decker, it’s not my fault
he’s feeling vindictive after you punched him out. But anyway, certain
obese corrupt cops aside, has a certain dame calling herself Tess Nichols
come by your office?
Stella: (Perplexed) Yeah. What about it?
Julian: As I thought. Can we meet at Stan’s Diner in five?
Stella: (After a few moments of "thinking time" to consider the
offer) Yeah, get us a booth.
Narrator: Meanwhile, across the city in the not-so-creatively
named neighborhood of South Tip, a decrepit monument stood amongst the
other forgotten buildings.
An old clocktower, an emissary from Parlortown’s long-dead age of dreams.
Was it the gift of a wealthy philanthropist? A handsome donation from a
formerly-prosperous corporation? Or perhaps it sprung from the money of
the once many taxpayers
who lived here? Don’t ask anyone living here. All they know is that
this tower, much like the surrounding neighborhood, had once seen better
days. If it were alive right now, if its gears were turning, if its bell
rusted over years ago, it would be sounding seven. Macy Hayes stood upon
the steps leading into the building, remembering the days when she would
hear that tower sound. She sighed and continued in. Sure enough, Cross
opposite end of a large room with another figure submerged in the shadows
of the nearest corner.
Cross: See, my darling Wexler? I told you Lolita would come…
Macy: Save me the dramatics, Paladin. And Tess, come out of there already.
You’re not fooling anyone.
Tess: Was I that obvious?
Macy: Kinda, but your biggest mistake was letting me see the cigarette case,
Tess Wexler Nichols. Now for the answers…
Cross: In good time, my dear Loli-
Man: If he isn’t willing to give you anything, I am…
Narrator: Unbeknownst to Macy, Cross, or Tess, a man wearing nothing but
hospital-grade pants, a pair of boots, and a sick grin had walked into the
room holding an empty vial.
Man: (Said as if reciting from memory)
Take thou this vial, being then in bed,
And this distilled liquor drink
When presently through all thy veins shall run
A cold and drowsy humour,
for no pulse
Shall keep his native progress, but surcease:
No warmth, no breath, shall
testify thou livest;
The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade
To paly ashes, thy eyes' windows
Like death, when he shuts up the day of life;
Tess: (Breathlessly, and in shock. Basically, act as
if you just saw your dead husband get up and start quoting Shakespeare…because that’s
what he’s doing) …Jack?!
Macy: That’s Jack? That can’t be! They found his body.
Cross: In this town, even the coroner has his price.
Jack: Each part, deprived of supple government,
and stark and cold, appear like death:
And in this borrow'd likeness of
Thou shalt continue two and forty hours,
And then awake as from a pleasant
Narrator: The apparently-alive Jack Nichols dropped the vial onto the floor
where it exploded into a million pieces. As if on cue, several thug-like men
armed with revolvers entered the room and took up various positions, training
their guns on Macy, Cross, and Tess.
Jack: Tess, you have been a very, very naughty little girl.
Narrator: The dead walking the earth, old rivals finding themselves on the
same unlikely team, and the answers Macy Hayes and Stella Decker thought
were within arm’s reach are still another mile away. Why is Jack Nichols
still alive? What do Tess and Cross have to do with all of this? What does
McGuiness know? And will Macy leave the old clocktower alive? Tune in next
week for the next installment of "Decker and Hayes" entitled "Hear