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ESTHER2  8'1m2f Esther becomes queen, safeguards the Jews

(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. You know, like any other business, the
detective business boils down to the sale of a product. My
product happens to be information. Being the world's greatest
private investigator, I sometimes find a way to sell the same
information to more than one customer. Take for example the
story of Esther. The Jews had been conquered by the Babylonians
and been exiled to Babylon. So I went to Babylon.

WIFE -- (enters opposite) Are you the detective from Israel?
(freezes)

SAM -- (to audience) You see? My reputation precedes me. (to
Wife) The name is Spade. Sam Spade. I'm a private investigator.
In fact, I'm the world's greatest private investigator.

WIFE -- Save it. You've got the job.

SAM -- What job?

WIFE -- I want to be queen of the Persian empire.

SAM -- Fat chance of that!

WIFE -- Why not?

SAM -- Oh, ah,... you're wearing a wedding ring.

WIFE -- Nevermind that! What I need from you is a way to
get Queen Vashti out and me in.

SAM -- Sure. I can get you the information you need.... (rubs
thumb against forefinger) for a price.

WIFE -- (tosses small pouch, turns, exits) Make it snappy.

SAM -- Wait. Where will I find you?

WIFE -- (stops, turns) Ask anybody. I'm Haman's wife. (exits)

SAM -- (turns, strolls, to audience) I've got some good news and
some bad news. The good news is this guy Haman is the prime
minister of the empire. He's almost as rich as the king
himself. If I chose to, I could milk this case for a lot of
money. The bad news is Haman is ruthless. If I slip up on this
case I could end up hanging from the gallows. (stops, turns,
strolls) So, I decided to try the safe solution.

WIFE -- (enters opposite) Well, what did you come up with?

SAM -- Queen Vashti is vain and conceited. And the king is
losing patience with her. All you have to do is talk her into
thinking she's more important than she really is. She'll get so
obnoxious that the king will divorce her and marry....

WIFE -- Me! He'll marry me!

SAM -- Not so fast. You still have to worry about Haman.

WIFE -- I'm as good as queen. A queen doesn't have to worry
about a mere prime minister. (exits)

SAM -- (turns, strolls, to audience) I wish I could tell you
that the case ended right here. But it doesn't. I couldn't
resist milking this case for a little more money. My plan
involved a woman named Esther.

ESTHER -- (enters, begins crossing, reading a scroll)

SAM -- Hiya, doll-face.

ESTHER -- Are you speaking to me?

SAM -- Yeah. You know, I have been all over the Persian empire
and I have never met anyone as beautiful as you.

ESTHER -- Are you making a pass at me?

SAM -- No, I'm offering you an opportunity.

ESTHER -- What kind of opportunity?

SAM -- King Xerxes is about to divorce his wife.

ESTHER -- He is?!

SAM -- Yes. And he'll soon be looking for a new queen.

ESTHER -- He will?!

SAM -- Yes. And you are just his cup of tea.

ESTHER -- I am?!

SAM -- Yes. Are you interested?

ESTHER -- Well, yes, but...

SAM -- But what?

ESTHER -- I'm not a Mede and I'm not a Persian. I'm a Jew.

SAM -- Listen, doll-face, it's the beauty he's after, not the
pedigree. You just keep your nationality to yourself and you're
a shew-in for queen.

ESTHER -- I am?!

SAM -- For a fee, of course.

ESTHER -- A fee? How much of a fee?

SAM -- How much is in your pouch? (points)

ESTHER -- So, let me get this right. I pay you money and I get
to be queen?

SAM -- Right.

ESTHER -- I'll have to consult with cousin Mordecai.

SAM -- Sorry. No time. Once Vashti is gone, so is your
opportunity.

ESTHER -- Oh. Alright, then. (removes pouch from waistband,
offers it) What do I do now?

SAM -- Go right through that door (points offstage) to the
palace and tell them you want to be queen.

ESTHER -- Oh. Okay. (turns, exits)

SAM -- (turns, strolls, to audience) Haman's wife didn't stand a
chance. As soon as King Xerxes got rid of Queen Vashti, he fell
in love with Esther. And that's how I made money selling the
same information to two different people. Mind you if Haman's
wife found out about this, I would be hanging from the gallows.
But, as the old saying goes, what she doesn't know can't hurt
me.

WIFE -- (enters opposite) I need to hire you again.

SAM -- Well, as luck would have it, I'm between cases.

WIFE -- I need to have you dig up some dirt on a Jew named
Mordecai. (freezes)

SAM -- (to audience) You may recall the name Mordecai from my
conversation with Esther. Mordecai is her cousin. This could
turn out to be an opportunity to sell the same information to
two different people again. (to wife) Why? What did he do to
you?

WIFE -- Not to me. To my husband. After Esther aced me out as
queen, I put all my efforts into getting Haman elevated.

SAM -- You can't get more elevated than Prime Minister.

WIFE -- I started a campaign to get people to worship my husband
as a god.

SAM -- What does this have to do with Mordecai?

WIFE -- That jerk Mordecai refused to bow down and worship
Haman! I want him dead!

SAM -- Well, your husband is Prime Minister, he can have
Mordecai hanged.

WIFE -- Not anymore.

SAM -- Why not?

WIFE -- Recently, Mordecai overheard a plot to overthrow the
king and warned the king. So, in gratitude, the king ordered
Haman to honor Mordecai as a national hero.

SAM -- I see what you mean.

WIFE -- (tosses pouch) Find some dirt. I want him dead. (exits)

SAM -- (turns, strolls, to audience) I pretended to investigate
for a while, then, (turns) I returned to my client.

WIFE -- Well? What did you get?

SAM -- Mordecai is a Jew.

WIFE -- That's it?! That's all you've got?

SAM -- Did you hear that the Jews were plotting a rebellion
against the king?

WIFE -- No they're not!

SAM -- Let me put it another way. IF the Jews were plotting a
revolt against the king, Haman could hang Mordecai as a traitor.

WIFE -- (sings) Oh! Well done! (exits)

SAM -- I made my way to the palace to sell the same information
to the new Queen.

ESTHER -- (enters opposite) You wanted to see me?

SAM -- (bows) Yes, your majesty. Your cousin Mordecai is in
grave danger.

ESTHER -- He is?!

SAM -- Yes. Haman is plotting to have Mordecai hanged.

ESTHER -- But why?! Cousin Mordecai didn't do anything!

SAM -- Haman fancies himself as a god, but Mordecai won't bow
down to any god but the God of Israel.

ESTHER -- Haman can't do that!

SAM -- He can and he will.

ESTHER -- But cousin Mordecai is a national hero!

SAM -- Haman is fabricating a plot by the Jews against the king.
He thinks that if Mordecai is identified as one of the
conspirators, people will forget he is a hero.

ESTHER -- Oh dear! What can I do?!

SAM -- I have a solution, (rubs forefinger against thumb) for a
price.

ESTHER -- Yes! Yes, of course! (removes pouch from waistband,
offers it) Tell me, what can I do?

SAM -- (takes pouch) You must go before the king while he
sits on his throne.

ESTHER -- But he could have me killed for appearing without an
invitation.

SAM -- Are you kidding?! Look at yourself in the mirror! Do you
think the king would harm that beautiful kisser?!

ESTHER -- Alright, then. But what do I say?

SAM -- You tell him that YOU are a Jew.

ESTHER -- But you told me to keep it a secret!

SAM -- You want to save Mordecai's life, don't you?

ESTHER -- Alright, I'll do it. But why?

SAM -- Because if you tell the king YOU are a Jew, he'll see
that the Jews are no threat. Then you tell the king that this
whole rebellion is a fabrication by Haman to get even with
Mordecai, and that there never was a plot or a rebellion.

ESTHER -- Okay. (turns, runs to exit)

SAM -- (turns, strolls, to audience) Well, to make a long story
short. Esther's appearance before King Xerxes saved the Jews
from annihilation. But the important thing to remember is that I
made twice as much money in Babylon as I ever made in Israel.
There was only one drawback. Because I sold the information to
two different people, I was ineligible to receive credit for ANY
of the events in history. That's why you'll never see the name
Sam Spade in the Bible. Oh well! That's the price of success.
(exits)

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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