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DISHONST 7'1m2f The parable of the dishonest steward

(all characters wear tunics and sandals)

SAM -- (enters wearing a fedora with unlit cigarette in mouth,
crosses strolling, to audience) The name is Spade. Sam Spade.
I'm a private investigator. In fact, I'm the world's greatest
private investigator. I thought you might be interested in the
day to day activities of the world's greatest private eye. So,
follow along with me. I'm on my way to the palatial estate of
one of the wealthiest men in Israel.

SERVANT -- (enters opposite) You the private dick?

SAM -- The name is Spade. Sam Spade. I'm a private investigator.
In fact, I'm the greatest....

SERVANT -- Yeah, yeah! Skip the sales pitch. You've got the job.
(freezes)

SAM -- (to audience) You see? When you have a reputation like
mine, people trust you. Watch how the pro works. (to Servant)
Okay. So, where is your boss? Let's do some business.

SERVANT -- My boss wouldn't soil his reputation by dealing
directly with the likes of you. (freezes)

SAM -- (to audience) Look. I can explain this. You see even the
world's greatest private investigator has slow periods. And
during one of MY rare slow periods I did some investigations for
some messy divorces. Dirty stuff, those divorces. They tarnish a
good reputation. (to servant) Okay, so who am I supposed to deal
with?

SERVANT -- Me.

SAM -- But you're a female!

SERVANT -- Okay, private dicks are a dime a dozen. (turns) I'll
find someone else to take the case.

SAM -- (runs into servants path) Listen. I didn't say I wouldn't
take the case. I was told that this rich guy had a MALE steward.

SERVANT -- He does.

SAM -- So, why didn't the boss send the steward to deal with me?

SERVANT -- Because it's the steward you're going to investigate.

SAM -- The steward, huh?

SERVANT -- Yes.

SAM -- What did HE do?

SERVANT -- The boss thinks his steward is stealing from him.

SAM -- How?

SERVANT -- That's what the boss wants YOU to find out.

SAM -- Sure. No problem. How much money did he take?

SERVANT -- Could be in the tens of thousands.

SAM -- Drachmas?!

SERVANT -- Drachmas. (freezes)

SAM -- (to audience) Here's the first rule of private
investigations. When you're dealing with rich guys, you make
more money by taking a percentage of the loot you recover. I
could make a fortune off this rich guy! (to Servant) Okay,
here's the deal: when I recover stolen property, I usually get a
percentage of the recovered loot. Let's say.... fifty percent?

SERVANT -- Let's say ten.

SAM -- I was thinking more in the neighborhood of thirty.

SERVANT -- Wrong neighborhood. Ten.

SAM -- Twenty.

SERVANT -- Ten.

SAM -- Fifteen.

SERVANT -- Ten. (freezes)

SAM -- I can see why the rich guy sent this servant. She's the
ice queen. What she doesn't know is that I would have settled
for five percent. (to servant) Okay, ten.

SERVANT -- Good. You have one week.

SAM -- One week?!

SERVANT -- The boss is going to fire the steward in one week. He
wants his money back before he fires him. (freezes)

SAM -- Well, okay. (to audience) Now this is where we separate
the good private eyes from the best ones. Whenever I have to
recover stolen property, the rule is: Follow the Money. (to
servant, opens mouth)

SERVANT -- You'll need to follow the money.

SAM -- (eyes audience, raises eyebrow)

SERVANT -- Here's a list of the businesses the steward was
dealing with. (gives list) If the steward stole money, at least
one of these companies was involved. (exits)

SAM -- (peruses list, turns, strolls, to audience) My first
stop, according to the list is the olive oil company.

OLIVE -- (enters opposite) You're too late.

SAM -- Too late?! You don't even know why I'm here!

OLIVE -- You're here to dig up some dirt on the dishonest
steward.

SAM -- How did you know?

OLIVE -- He was just here. He told me his boss hired you to find
the stolen money.

SAM -- That's right. What do you know?

OLIVE -- I ain't telling you nothing!

SAM -- How much did he pay you?

OLIVE -- I ain't telling you nothing!

SAM -- (tries to get by) Then, I'll just talk to your boss.

OLIVE -- (resists) It was the boss who made the deal with him.

SAM -- Deal? What deal?

OLIVE -- I ain't telling you nothing! (freezes)

SAM -- I can read people like a book. When you're the world's
greatest private eye, you have to know when to offer a bribe.
(digs into coin pouch, to Olive) Here. (offers coin) So, tell me
what you know. How much did the dishonest steward steal from the
rich guy?

OLIVE -- (takes coin) I don't know. (freezes)

SAM -- (to audience, shrugs shoulders) That's the down side of
this business. You pay your money and you take your chances. (to
Olive) What do you mean you don't know?! I just paid you a
drachma!

OLIVE -- What I CAN tell you is my boss promised NOT to reveal
how much the dishonest steward stole from the rich guy in
exchange for....

SAM -- How much?! What was the bribe?!

OLIVE -- It wasn't money.

SAM -- What was it?!

OLIVE -- My boss owes the rich guy 800 gallons of olive oil. The
steward tore up the bill and made it 400.

SAM -- So, no money changed hands?

OLIVE -- No money changed hands. And now nobody knows how much
the dishonest steward stole from the rich guy.

SAM -- Well, how can I recover the stolen property if I don't
know how much he stole?

OLIVE -- (turns, exits) That's YOUR problem.

SAM -- (turns, reads list, strolls, to audience) It takes a lot
of leg work to become the world's greatest private eye. I
visited every merchant on this list... with the same results.

SERVANT -- (enters opposite) You didn't find the missing money,
did you?

SAM -- Every merchant got bought off by the dishonest steward.
But the steward was clever enough to buy them off without using
cash.

SERVANT -- Good thing I didn't hire you by the hour, huh?

SAM -- Wait a minute! You're not going to stiff me, are you? I
had expenses. I paid bribes to the employees of the merchants.

SERVANT -- I never told you I would reimburse you for your
expenses. Your expenses come out of YOUR ten percent.

SAM -- Yeah, but my ten percent is ten percent of nothing. Ten
percent of nothing is nothing.

SERVANT -- Well earned.

SAM -- You mean I worked for a week on this case and I walk away
with NOTHING?!

SERVANT -- This is the parable of the dishonest steward. You
walk away with a valuable lesson.

SAM -- What lesson is that?

SERVANT -- My boss commended the dishonest steward for using
worldly wealth to gain friendships that are more important than
money.

SAM -- You mean the rich guy PRAISED the dishonest steward for
being dishonest?!

SERVANT -- It's a parable! The lesson is that there are lots of
things more important than worldly wealth. The only value for
worldly wealth is to buy things that are more important.
(exiting) Let that be a lesson to you.

SAM -- (crumples paper, turns, throws paper over shoulder) Let
that be a lesson to you too. If you want to be a private
investigator, work by the hour.... (points to audience) And get
a BIG retainer up front. (exits)

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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