Louis Lamont (Lamont) ~ A flamboyant, pompous private detective investigating Aslets death. He cares very little for anything but himself and his job. Considers Marcotti to be his arch-enemy. Mental health is questionable.
Pierre Paris (Paris) ~ Lamonts assistant. Though good at his job and helping out Lamont, he cares little for his profession and tends to wish he were elsewhere. Is a father figure to Marie.
Marie Lamont (Marie) ~ Lamonts teenage daughter. She is a quiet and shy girl, neglected by her father and abandoned by her mother. She often wonders whether Lamont even loves her or not.
Giovanni Marcotti (Marcotti) ~ Aslets suspected murderer, originally from Italy. He is believed to be a ruthless killer, and has been the subject of many of Lamonts cases for the past few years. Commonly referred to as Monsieur Marcotti by Lamont.
Doctor Piaget (Piaget) ~ The doctor of a hospital located a few blocks away from the Palais des Pâtes. He tries to remain emotionally detached from the hospital patients, and willfully accepts any of their requests with no questions asked.
[The curtains open onto a dark street. The rain seems to have let up, though there is immediately the flash of lightning and the rolling of thunder. The windows of buildings are black and empty, watching the scene below. There are faint sounds of cars, but they are few and small in number. The street is otherwise quiet; most people are asleep.
Lamont dashes on stage from the viewers left, brown raincoat still on and a hand clutching his hat on his head. He is exhausted from all the running, but is desperate to keep up the pace.]
Lamont (out of breath): Marie! Marie! Marcotti! (pants) Watch out, Marcotti! Im coming for you!
[Lamont has reached center stage when Paris runs on stage from the viewers right in the opposite direction.]
Paris (equally out of breath): Whos there? Is that you, Lamont?
Lamont: Pierre, what are you doing out here?
[The two men come to a steady halt in front of each other. They are breathing hard from the exercise, but speak fast out of urgency.]
Paris (panting): I heard Marie scream! Is everything alright?
Lamont (hurriedly): Marcotti broke in and kidnapped her!
Paris (horrified): Mon dieu! W-Where is she!?
Lamont: I dont know, Pierre, I dont know. Marcotti got in and out through the window. I was just coming to get you so we could go after her! I know you care about Maries safety just as much as I care about Marcottis justice!
Paris (appalled and touched at the same time): Lamont! I
Well, its times like these where I dont know whether I should strangle you or
Be in awe that you have a heart!
Lamont (not in the mood for this): We can talk about it later; did you hear which way they went?
Paris (thinking hard as fast as he can): Uh
Yes! It sounded like they went in the direction of the Palais des Pâtes. Should we get the police?
Lamont: Theres no time, we must go after him! I have a feeling that this is our final showdowntonight!
[Lamont and Paris run back off-stage to the viewers right. The curtains close.]
[Scene Two is set just as it was in Act One. It is the street outside the Palais des Pâtes. This time, however, it is nighttime, and the only light (with the exception of support from the stage lights) comes from the neon sign outside the restaurant. There is a flash of lightning and a rolling of thunder as the curtains open onto the scene. The harpsichord and dulcimer quietly play a Philip Glass-esque duet that sings of urgency, danger, and a sense of foreboding. From off-stage, there is an agonized plea.]
Marie (coughing): Please, let me go! I did nothing wrong!
[Marcotti steps on stage from the viewers left, Marie slung over his shoulder. He walks briskly towards the restaurant doors.]
Marcotti: Ill tell you what you did wrong: you were born to that vile Lamont! Now you shall be my next victim! Well see how Lamont likes this case!
[Marie screams in horror as Marcotti cackles. With his free hand Marcotti opens the door to the restaurant and enters. The door is left ajar. Shortly after Marcotti and Marie are off-stage, Lamont and Paris arrive from the viewers left. They are exhausted and pause a moment to catch their breath.]
Lamont: Hurry, Pierre! We are
We are almost there! I
I think I saw them!
Paris: I think I did
Lamont: The fool, hes trapped himself in! There isnt any other way out of the Palais des Pâtes. Hes finished!
Paris: Not if he brought his gun again.
Lamont (with a twinkle in his eye): Ah, but it wont matter! Ive come prepared!
[Lamont pulls from his raincoat pocket a golden pistol. It shines in the neon light of the Italian flag, and Paris looks at it with a mixture of respect and dread.]
Lamont: Ive kept this beauty for this very occasion! This shall be the gun that takes down Monsieur Marcotti once and for all! I forgot it last time. But this time he shall be the helpless one!
Paris: I sure hope you know how to fire that thing, Lamont.
I do too
Come, weve rested long enough!
[Lamont puts the revolver back in his pocket. He and Paris stop resting and hurry towards the restaurant door. They step through it for a brief moment, then come backing out slowly.]
Paris (nervously): Why, good evening! H-How do you do?
[Two bulky, muscular thugs walk out of the restaurant, one with a gun trained on Lamont and Paris.]
Thug 1: Marcottis a bit busy. He doesnt want any visitors right now.
Thug 2: So were going to finish you two off so he dont get bothered no more.
[Paris glances at Lamont with concern. Lamont seems calm. The detective nods slightly; a signal they had worked on for weeks. Paris coughs.]
Paris: Gentlemen, Im feeling a bit ill.
Lamont: He needs a doctor. Pneumonia from the rain, Ill bet. People still die from that, you know.
Paris (coughing on the thugs): I think it might be severe!
[The thug with the gun lowers it for a moment.]
Thug 1: Here now, quit that!
[Paris immediately grabs the thugs hand and wrestles for the revolver. Lamont punches the other thug. The second thug and Lamont begin fighting violently, neither one seeming to have the upper hand. Paris manages to throw the revolver into a gutter, but is subsequently punched in the head. He falls to the pavement.]
Lamont: Pierre! Are you alright?
[Lamont pulls out his revolver and points it at the two thugs.]
Lamont (sternly): I command you lowly peasants to halt!
[The thugs back up, cautiously watching the pistol. Lamont moves sideways to Paris and bends down.]
Lamont: Are you alright, Pierre?
Paris (chuckling weakly): Why Lamont, I never knew you cared! I think Ill manage.
Lamont: Are you well enough to come with me?
Paris: No, I think I hurt my back. Youll have to go on without me.
[Lamont rises and stares angrily at the thugs.]
Lamont (coldly): Ill give you both the count of three to get out of my sight; otherwise, there will be a bullet in each of your throats!
[The thugs look at each other and dart away to the viewers right off-stage. Lamont keeps his pistol trained on them until even the sounds of them running are gone.]
Lamont: Au revoir, Pierre Paris.
Paris: Au revoir, Lamont. And good luck!
[Lamont, still carrying the pistol in his hand, nods to Paris and dashes off into the restaurant. The curtains begin to close as the music draws to an end. Before he is eclipsed by the curtains, Paris speaks.]
Paris (quietly to himself): Lamont, you crazy fool. Dont do something youll regret. I wont be there to stop you this time.
[The curtains do not signal the beginning of the scene. Instead, it is the music that calls the audiences attention. The harpsichord and dulcimer begin playing an intensified version of the melody from Act One Scene One, with elements of the melody from Act Two Scene Two. Lamont runs into the theater from the audiences entry door and down an aisle and up a staircase onto the stage. He is exhausted and sweating, but is determined to find Marcotti. On top of the stage, in front of the curtains, he bends down and leans against his knees briefly to catch his breath. After a few seconds, he stands tall and looks directly at the curtains.
The pipe organ furiously joins the music, adding a countermelody to that currently being played by the harpsichord and dulcimer. The curtains open onto a large raised platform spanning the stage, simulating the roof of the Palais des Pâtes. Behind the platform is a backdrop depicting the rooftops of other buildings, as well as the early morning light behind a veil of rainclouds. A short staircase allows Lamont to climb onto the platform.
Standing at the back edge of the platform is Marcotti, holding Marie beneath his arm. Marcotti is smiling evilly, and Marie has all but given up struggling. She squirms a little, but is much too busy coughing to put up a fight.]
Marcotti: Ah, Lamont! So glad you could join us!
Marie (her voice a whisper): Papet
Lamont (pointing the pistol weakly at Marcotti): Marcotti! This ends here! Give up, or Ill fire!
Marcotti (grinning): Oh, must it come to that? I have a better idea, Lamont. You give up, or I shall drop the girl off this roof to her doom!
Lamont: Ah, a new method of killing, Marcotti? I didnt know you could be so bold!
Marcotti (pleased to converse before conflict): What can I say? I like to try new things. But you wouldnt understand; youve been doing the same old thing for years.
Lamont (unfazed): Perhaps I too shall do a new thing, after you are brought to justice and I have my acclaim to fame. But for now, Id rather stick with my current hobby.
[Marcotti squeezes his grip on Marie, who squeaks in fear and pain.]
Marcotti (with amusement): I bet youre wondering how I came across your daughter. She was outside this very restaurant, crying about you.
Lamont (retorting): Dont change the subject, you swine. You arent going to distract me from my mission.
Marcotti: From what Ive heard, shes been in dire need of a doctor for almost a month! Youre lucky she isnt dead by now! And who is to blame for this?
Lamont: Marcotti, I warn you
Marcotti (loudly): You are, Lamont. If this girl dies, only you are to blame. Should I be convicted for her demise, I shall only be tried as an accomplice. Lamont, you are no less of a murderer than I am.
Lamont (his voice shaking): Dont you bring me down to your level! I am a glorious detective, the apple of the worlds eye! Soon the universe shall know me, for I shall be the one to bring Giovanni Marcotti to justice!
Marcotti (laughing): But who will bring you to justice?
[Marcotti tightens his grip on Marie even more.]
Marie: Papet, help!
Lamont (ignoring her): I am justice, Monsieur Marcotti! Dont you dare forget that!
Marcotti: When Im finished with this girl, I might as well throw your assistant off the hotel down near the palace. And then, your other family!
Lamont (words broken every now and then by a maniacal laugh): Your threats are empty, Marcotti. They mean nothing to me, as long as I bring you to court! You wont even have the chance to touch them. For too long youve eluded me, leaving not a single trace of evidence to give me definite proof of your actions. Even when I found such evidence, you continued to elude me while threatening my life. Youve broken into my house, thinking you could strike a blow at my soul, and yet now, at the very pinnacle of all that is your country, I have you cornered! Everything ends here, now! Youve delayed my gratification long enough; now it is time for you to decide. Give up, or Ill make you give up! This pistol is loaded, Marcotti, and I will not hesitate to use it!
[Marcotti is silent for a moment. He stares at Lamont with a mixture of dominance and hopelessness. He is a cornered tiger bent on dealing a blow to the hunter. For a few seconds everybody is silent outside Maries coughing, save for the building rumble of the music. Suddenly, Marcotti grabs Marie with both hands and swings her above a gap between the platform and the backdropin essence, he holds her over the streets below.]
Marcotti (with a mixture of rage and desperation): Alright, Lamont, fire! But know that in doing so, you shall be responsible for the death of your only child! Know that you are a murderer!
[No sooner has Marcotti spoken these words than Lamont fires his pistol. The music comes to a sudden halt. In seconds, Marcotti loses his grip on Marie and with a scream she falls. Marcotti stumbles backwards, dangerously close to the edge of the platform himself.]
Marcotti (with disbelief): Amazing. I
I didnt think you were actually so cold hearted that youd do it
[Marcotti sinks backward and falls off the platform silently. Lamont stumbles toward the edge of the platform, laughing delusionally.]
Lamont (euphorically happy): I
Ive done it! Ive finally defeated Marcotti! Ha ha! I have done it! I have done it!
[Lamont turns around and hurriedly stumbles down the stairs off the stage and back through a theater aisle as the curtains close over the stage. He cannot stop laughing, and there is a bizarre expression on his face. He cannot walk in a straight line, but makes it out of the theater entry way.]
[The curtains open to the same setting as Scene Two, though the stage lights are brighter, signifying the morning light. All is quiet, as if the city is in the eye of a hurricane. Only a single car can be heard, and its honking is distant. The bright lights of the neon sign are off, no longer needed.
Three figures lie in front of the Palais des Pâtes. One, Marcotti, lays face-down on the ground, motionless. The second, Paris, stands with his back turned away from the building. He is struggling to stand, but is trying not to show it. He is looking down with relief at the object in his arms. In his arms is the third person, Marie. She is silent, but the movement of her chest reveals that she is alive.]
Paris (strained): Its a good thing I caught you, Marie. Otherwise you may have had the same fate as Monsieur Marcotti over there.
[Marie is silent, the shock of the previous events still resonating in her brain.]
Paris: I heard a gunshot before you came down
(looking up) D-Do you think Lamont is okay?
[Marie coughs, but doesnt say a word. Her face, however, turns into a frown.]
Paris: I hope hes alright
After all, hes finally got what he always wanted. (looking back at Marie) Would you like me to set you down? I think I actually injured my back, so it might be a good idea to let you stand on your own feet
[Marie nods. Gently, Paris bends his arms down and Marie steps onto the floor. She brushes dust off her dress and stands up awkwardly. She is still shaken by the fall, and so she leans against the restaurant for balance. She clutches her chest with her hand and breathes heavily.]
Paris: Are you feeling alright?
Marie (stuttering): I
I-I dont know
My chest is starting to
[Suddenly the doors of the restaurant fly open. Lamont marches through them and onto stage proudly, and stands before the building in a fashion that makes it look like he believes a crowd has gathered to cheer for him. He has a disturbing grin on his face, as if it isnt there by his own will. He murmurs a maniacal chuckle.]
Paris (joyfully at the sight of his friend): Lamont! Youre alright!
[Paris points with relief at the private detective.]
Paris (excited at the prospect of the future): Look, Marie! Your fathers alive! Oh, its a happy ending after all! Marcotti is defeated, you are alive, Lamont has his success story, and I dont have to bother with Marcotti anymore. Isnt it wonderful?
[Marie looks away from Lamont with disgust.]
Marie (with repulsion): I dont care any more. I just want to go home.
Paris (turning to Marie in confusion): What? But
But arent you happy? You and your father can spend time together now and
Marie (beginning to cry angrily): I told you, I dont care! I hate him! I dont wish to see him ever again.
[Lamont turns around and walks proudly towards the others, beaming briefly at Marcottis body.]
Lamont: Well, I see you two are all alive and well! And youve seen the body! A work of art, if I do say so myself!
Marie (backing away): Monsieur Paris, do you know why I fell from that building?
Paris (with growing curiosity, though worried by the possible answer): No, not really
Marie: It was his fault!
[Marie points a finger directly at Lamonts pointy nose. Lamont looks at her with shock. It is a look the audience has not seen from Lamont before; one that seems to look with empathy instead of delusion.]
Marie: The only reason I fell was because Marcotti threw me! And he did so because Papet shot him!
Lamont: I merely thought he was bluffing
Marie: I could be dead because of you!
[With blind rage she hits Lamont. Lamont does not retaliate; he only receives the blow and watches his daughter with confusion. Marie wails and runs to the viewers left, towards off-stage. Before she can make it she makes a scream. She halts abruptly and clutches her chest. In moments, she collapses onto the ground and does not move.]
Lamont and Paris (shouting): Marie!
[Lamont and Paris run to the fallen girl. Lamont bends down and checks her pulse.]
Lamont (struggling to find words): I
I cant believe it
Paris (calling off-stage and towards the audience): Help, somebody! We need a ride to the hospital, immediately!
[The curtains close swiftly on the distressing scene. As soon as they are fully closed, a cry echoes through the theater.]
Lamont (in horror): IM A MURDERER!!!!!
[The curtains open onto a scene vastly different from all previous scenes. The walls are all snow white, and are lined with cabinets and a sink. A cot stands at the center of the stage; there is a sheet drawn over it, on top of what seems to be in the shape of a human body. A man in a white coat sits in a chair by a desk, writing things down on paper in a three-ringed binder. He is somber, and does not smile. He finishes writing and closes the binder. He presses a button and speaks into an intercom.]
Man: Nurse? Please send them in.
Intercom: Will do, Doctor Piaget.
[Before long, Lamont and Paris walk on stage from the viewers left. Their faces are gloomy, and they walk unenthusiastically.]
Lamont (with deep concern): Doctor Piaget? Is
Will she be alright?
Paris: Please, Doctor, tell us she wont
Piaget (slowly and carefully): I honestly hate to tell you this, but
Shes dead, men.
[Paris cannot move. Lamont walks dazedly to a chair and collapses in it, clutching his forehead with one hand.]
Lamont (with disbelief): Dead? My only daughter? Dead? I
Paris: Please Lamont, it was Marcottis fault
Lamont: No. No. It was my fault. Marcotti was right. Im a criminal. A crook. My own worst enemy. I should just turn myself in. I have no feelings of success; only grief. My lifes work has failed; I might as well give up my life.
Piaget: You have been diagnosed with mania, Monsieur Lamont. No court in all of France would find you guilty if youd only plead mental decay.
Lamont (defeated): But
I was there. I had the choice between Marcotti and Marie. And I made it. I was foolish. I chose Marcotti, and look at what has happened! All these years, Ive ignored her in exchange for hunting that man. And look at what good it has done. Marie is dead, when I could have gotten her a doctor. And I now know that the only place fit for my presence is an insane asylum. She even pleaded with me to stop! She saw this tragedy coming. But I didnt listen. In fact, I beat her. There is no place in the world for a creature such as myself.
Paris: Lamont, you shouldnt be so hard on yourself
Lamont: You heard her yourself. After all these years of wishing, she gave up on me. I made her hate me. Even if she was alive, shed probably be the one person in the world who would hate me no matter what my achievements.
Paris (with sympathy): Oh Lamont, if you only realized this sooner!
Piaget: He couldnt, probably. Mania can be on-and-off; it probably has fallen into dormancy.
Lamont (burying his face in his hands): For the first time in years I can think and see the world clearly. And yet it is all too late.
Paris (slowly): So
What do you plan to do now, Lamont?
Lamont: What can I do? I have a mental illness; nobody will take me seriously. My triumph over Monsieur Marcotti caused the demise of my only daughter. Nobody will cheer my success. Im alone in the world now. Not even the jail will take me.
Paris: You still have me, Lamont. Im your friend.
Lamont: One person. That is not enough to fuel the happiness of a vile prince such as myself. I have not come to a crossroads, where the old Lamont takes one path and the new Lamont takes the other. The old Lamont will take whichever path the new Lamont chooses, and there is nothing I can do about that. I was right with what I said above the rooftop of the Palais des Pâtes. It is over.
[Lamont stands up. Piaget and Paris watch him with newfound respect.]
Lamont (resolutely): I have decided to go into exile.
But where will you go?
Lamont: If Doctor Piaget would kindly assist me, I will locate a mental health institute far away in Paris. Far away, where nobody will know of what I have done. And there I shall remain in exile. A suiting punishment, I think, for a criminal such as myself. If I were Monsieur Marcotti, I would have done the same.
[Piaget and Paris look at each other. They are at a loss of words; it seems Lamonts mind is made up. Piaget looks back at Lamont. The organ begins to play with a symphony orchestra, together filling the theater with the haunting melody of a death march. It is somber, yet unresolved. It almost seems to tell the story of people as they walk sadly to the site of a funeral in the dead of winter.]
Piaget (submissively): Alright, Monsieur Lamont. I will help you. If you will come with me, I shall show you to a list of all the asylums in Northern France.
[Paris bows his head, seeming to hold back tears. Lamont looks at Paris confusedly.]
Lamont: Why Pierre, dont be so sad.
Paris (between sniffles): Its just
So much has happened. When we started this case I could have cared less; it was just another thing Lamont had to do, and I was just going along with it. I could have had greater enjoyment working in Marseilles; I found little reason to keep helping you out. But when we finally confronted Marcotti, I saw him for what he truly was: a cold and calculating man. And things started to change for me. Perhaps this work of yours has merit, I thought. And I saw a glimmer of hope; perhaps, if I could help to bring this adventure to a close, relations could be repaired between you and your daughter. I
I really began to care about you and your daughter, and perhaps even Marcotti. It is just such a shame that all that had to come to such a tragic end so quickly! The task is done; yet with it came Maries death and your exile. Is there really such a thing as a happy ending in this world? I almost wish Marcotti was still alive. What am I to do now? Where shall I go? The world shall forever be different now, without the ridiculous-yet-determined Detective Lamont and his daughter the frail-yet-kindly Marie.
[Lamont takes Paris shoulders.]
Lamont (softly): Though even a few hours ago I never would have admitted it, you have been the greatest friend a man could know, Pierre Paris. It is a shame I never recognized that until now. It would make a poor madman happy if you could visit the asylum every now and then. But I must go now. Come, Doctor Piaget; show me to my destiny.
[Piaget nods. Lamont gives Paris a hug, then slowly steps away. He gives one last look to his friend, then turns towards the viewers left. With his hands behind his back, that j silhouette characterizing him in Act One, Scene One returned, he gracefully steps off-stage. His walk is stiff and dignified, like a king walking with pride to the murderous guillotine. Piaget follows him quietly. Paris watches them depart. Once the detective and the daughter are off-stage the stage lights dim, a single spotlight still on Paris, like at the end of the opening scene of Act One.]
Paris (with respect): There walks off the Great Louis Lamont, the most devoted of all detectives. Farewell, my friend, and may you receive forgiveness for your sins.
[Paris bows his head once again, and with his cane he hobbles off-stage behind them as the curtains close. The final sound is a chord on the organ and snare drum, this time harmonious and complete.]
END OF ACT II