Note: The following is a short scene from our latest feature-length screenplay, set in early twentieth century Chicago.
INT. LORENZO MARTINI’S OFFICE – NIGHT
The BOY enters the outer room of LORENZO MARTINI’S office. Two POLICE OFFICERS and SQUEAKY are sitting in various chairs, drinking martinis. Fast talking can be heard through the inner office door. FO DONG, the secretary, looks up at the BOY.
FO DONG: Ah, greetings mistah boy man! What can I do for you?
BOY: I’m looking for Mr. Martini.
FO DONG: Martini? Yes! I do so.
FO DONG moves to the liquor cabinet to prepare a martini.
SQUEAKY: Hey, kid! Ain’t she a peach? Gee, I don’t get why the chinks get such a bad rap ‘round here.
OFFICER 1: Hey, don’t be so quick to conclusions, Squeaky. No doubt she’s a fine chink, but only one fine chink. Why, China town down past forty-seventh is chock full of Chinks with less manners than this Chink.
The BOY, amazed by the speed at which these men speak, is unable to get a word in edgewise.
SQUEAKY: What are you meaning to be saying to me right now? Am I to judge all chinks to be crude just because of some crude chinks down in Chinky town?
OFFICER 2: Naw, it ain’t like that. I think what my associate is trying to say is that the actions of one chink ought not to be viewed as representative of chinks as a people.
OFFICER 1: That’s right. When you judge all chinks by the actions of just one chink, you risk forming conclusions on faulty grounds.
OFFICER 2: You see, it’s all a matter of sampling size, Squeaky.
OFFICER 2 finishes his martini and eats the olive, then examines the toothpick.
OFFICER 2: Say I buy a box of toothpicks and the first one I take out is broken.
OFFICER 2 breaks the toothpick.
OFFICER 2: Should I throw away the box?
SQUEAKY: Why, of course not! You can’t let one bad toothpick spoil the bunch.
OFFICER 2: Quite right.
OFFICER 1: Deucedly so.
OFFICER 2: It’s the same with chinks.
SQUEAKY: But that’s what I’m trying to tell you coppers. This chink is downright hospitable.
FO DONG walks toward the BOY with the martini, but OFFICER 2 takes it.
OFFICER 2 Thanks, doll.
FO DONG, confused, returns to the liquor cabinet to prepare another martini.
OFFICER 1: Quite right, Squeaky. The compliment’s valid, but you’re givin’ it with the back of your hand.
SQUEAKY: What do you mean? A compliment’s a compliment in my neck of the concrete Congo.
OFFICER 2: You’re sayin’ that this chink’s better than most chinks, ‘cause most chinks are rotten.
SQUEAKY: No, you got it all wrong. Hey, what about you, kid? You think by my sayin’ that this chink’s good that I’m really sayin’ most chinks ain’t so good? Or is it fair to say that callin’ chinks slime ain’t fair ‘cause there are fair chinks out there, such as is the case with this Miss Dong here? What I mean to be askin’ is, is Dong the exception that proves the rule, or are you a fool to buy the rule because of the exceptions? Hey, speak up, kid. Whadya say?
BOY: Uh, are all of you waiting for Martini too?
OFFICER 2: I got martini two right here.
OFFICER 1: I’m on three myself.
SQUEAKY: Whadya, a couple of featherweight fruits? I’m christening the maiden voyage of martini five over heres. What about you, kid?
BOY No, no, I want Mr. Martini.
FO DONG: I have your Mr. Martini right here.
LORENZO MARTINI bursts out of his office.
LORENZO MARTINI: That’s my name, try not to rub too many holes in it. It’s gotta last me a few more years, but not too many what with all the crazy, messed up, seedy low-lifes I have to wrestle a paycheck out of every day.
LORENZO MARTINI takes the martini from FO DONG and downs it in one gulp.
LORENZO MARTINI: Thanks, doll, how ‘bout another round? Hey, speakin’ of low-lifes, here’s one with a face so ugly only his mother could smack it upside the head.
SQUEAKY: Hey, now.
LORENZO MARTINI: Don’t hey me, Squeaks, that stuff’s for horses. Why, I wouldn’t even feed it to you, seeing as you’re only a horse’s ass, and there ain’t no creature on God’s green earth that eats ass-first. Am I right, fellas?
Everyone laughs except for SQUEAKY, who is annoyed, and the BOY, who is utterly confused by their rapid speech.
SQUEAKY: You sure can talk fast, Lorenzo Martini.
LORENZO MARTINI: And straight. Speakin’ of straight talk, let’s get straight to it. You got my money?
SQUEAKY: That depends. I want answers, and I don’t think these blue boys should get a free show. Why are they here, anyways?
LORENZO MARTINI: Don’t think too hard about it, you’ll muss up your toupee. I got answers for any mug with cash up front. So why don’t you play by the rules, bub?
SQUEAKY: Alright, alright, take it easy.
SQUEAKY hands LORENZO MARTINI a fat wad of cash, which he starts counting rapidly. As he counts, FO DONG hands him a martini, which he drinks in one gulp.
LORENZO MARTINI: Thanks, doll face, but I wanted a side of martini with my olive. How ‘bout it?
FO DONG takes the martini glass back to the liquor cabinet to prepare another.
LORENZO MARTINI: Alright, you’re paid up, Squeaks. That just leaves Chicago’s finest donut holes over here.
The officers give LORENZO MARTINI wads of cash, which he begins to count rapidly.
OFFICER 1: You better have something for us, Lorenzo Martini.
SQUEAKY: Hey, what’s the big idea? Why the group session?
LORENZO MARTINI jumps into a monologue spoken so fast that everyone struggles to keep up.
LORENZO MARTINI: Listen, fellas. You’re all here for the same thing, and I’m the guy who’s gonna give it to ya, straight, no chaser. Squeaky clean, you think the old lady’s been fooling around with some handsome stranger, and you want to know whose been log jamming her sawmill while you’re at your girlfriend’s house, pretending to be working. That’s right, I know it. These boys know it. But that’s not all I know, so stay tuned. You pencil-pushing donut detectives want me to do your job for you and find out who the sorry sack of stupid is who hit up Luigi’s fine, upstanding, tax-paying pizzeria on the corner of thirty-forth and Dixon evening of Tuesday last. Well, news flash, you billy club bumpkins, your perp’s standing right under your fat snouts, drinking my suds and perpetrating the air we’re breathing with his guilty stink as I speak my piece. Speaking of pieces, he’s about to pull one out of that goofy zoot suit right now, so watch out.
SQUEAKY backs into the corner and draws a gun.
LORENZO MARTINI: Hey, but what do I know, except the future. Joke’s on you, Squeaky, ‘cause I bet you haven’t noticed that six-shooter of yours is about six bullets light. I emptied it last night, just like you emptied that cash register last Tuesday. You thought you were so smart dressing up like clown and covering your tracks by smoking a different brand of cigarettes. You sure fooled these dunce caps by dumping the cash into dough at the bakery on thirty-second and Fletcher, then dressing up as a different clown and robbing it clean of all its rolls, only to give them away to local street urchins and tramps, who have been on your payroll for years! Yeah, it was the perfect crime, except for one thing, me, Lorenzo Martini, the finest, damnedest, fastest talking private eye in all of Chicago this side of Factory Way, and the other side, for that matter. I knew it as soon as I saw the receipt for clown makeup in a dumpster on the north side of Jackson, just two blocks from the bus garage you been sleeping in for the past three nights to throw the cops off your trail. Stick a fork in him, piggies, this one’s done!
SQUEAKY: You got it all wrong! None of that made any sense!
OFFICER 1: I’m afraid it’s your word against his, Squeaky, and only one of you is the fastest talking private eye in all of Chicago, any side of Factory Way.
OFFICER 2: He’s right. Lorenzo Martini’s testimonies have sunk bigger ships than you.
OFFICER 2 slaps handcuffs on SQUEAKY and begins to lead him out of the door.
SQUEAKY: But how did you empty the bullets from my gun?
LORENZO MARTINI: That’s easy. I noticed the gun on your nightstand while I was porkin’ your old lady last night. So now you know.
SQUEAKY: Damn you, Lorenzo Martini! I’ll get you for this!
The OFFICERS lead SQUEAKY out.
LORENZO MARTINI: Hey, I’ve heard that one before.
FO DONG hands LORENZO MARTINI another martini, which he drinks in one gulp.
LORENZO MARTINI: That really hits the spot!
LORENZO MARTINI smacks FO DONG’s butt playfully.
LORENZO MARTINI: And so do I. Now get the hell outta here, doll face. What about you, kid, what’s your story?
The BOY is still overwhelmed by the sheer speed of LORENZO MARTINI’s speech.