Good Cop, Mad Cop

A dead body washes up on a riverbank.  Enter two cops with wildly different ideas about how it got there.

Good Cop, Mad Cop

good-cop-mad-cop

Setting:  CRIME SCENE BY A RIVERBANK EARLY MORNING

A dead body is on the stage (a male actor), on a rock when DETECTIVE INSPECTOR BAXTER MCCARTHY and CONSTABLE SUZIE LONERGAN storm into view to take charge.

McCARTHY
(holds up I.D)
Okay, everybody, stand back please. Detective Inspector Baxter McCarthy from Homicide.

LONERGAN
(holds I.D)
And Detective Constable Suzie Lonergan.

McCARTHY
We’ll take it from here.

They walk around looking at the body and the clues. Each time, McCarthy bends down to look or strokes his chin, Lonergan does too. He gets out a magnifying glass and she gets out a bigger one and looks at the same spot at him. Until he looks askance at her.

McCARTHY
Soooo, we have a John Doe, in his 30s from the look of it…

LONERGAN
Ah, begging your pardon Inspector, he might be younger but have had a hard life with drinking and bad food. That can age you.

McCARTHY
Okay. So he could be in his 20s, or 30s –

LONERGAN
Or he could be older. A diet low in fat with regular exercise and not too much sun can slow the aging process considerably.

McCarthy looks a little irritated.

McCARTHY
So, we have a man somewhere between 20 and 50, dead, on the riverbank. Are you with me so far Constable?

LONERGAN
So far, yes, I’m with you sir.

McCARTHY
(examines and body frowns and prods)                                                        The contusion and bruising patterns are consistent with a fall from a great height onto water within the past 12 hours. And since there is a bridge not 200 metres upriver, we could speculate that he jumped, fell or was pushed off it some time last night. Do you agree, Constable?

LONERGAN
It’s possible.

Her hesitation annoys McCarthy.

McCARTHY
So let’s start with the most obvious question.

LONERGAN
What were his thoughts as he plummeted to his watery grave? Did he linger to the last with his most precious memories, or was he drowning in regret when he hit H2O.

McCarthy is aghast.

McCARTHY
No! The obvious question is…who was our victim?

Lonergan nods – oh!

McCARTHY
Watch and learn Ms Lonergan.

He reaches into the back right pocket of the man’s trousers, extracts a wallet and holds it aloft, pleased with himself.

McCARTHY
Ninety percent of men keep their wallet in their back pocket on the right side.
(looks in wallet, extracts licence)
Ahh, the drivers’ licence. Our victim is Harrison Martin Edwards.

He gives the licence to Lonergan.

LONERGAN
Presuming it’s not a fake.

Annoyed, he snatches the licence back.

McCARTHY
Our victim – (glares at Lonergan) who we’ll call Mr Edwards until proved otherwise – (examines victim) is wearing an expensive suit – one a simple policeman couldn’t afford anyway – and a bow tie. (reaching in the pockets) And what have we here? A gun? Presumably the fellow was meeting someone on the bridge last night, and was expecting trouble. Whether he intended to inflict it, or prevent it is the million dollar question.

Lonergan looks less sure.

LONERGAN
There is another possibility sir. He might have been there to help someone?

McCARTHY
Back them up with firepower you mean?

LONERGAN
No sir. You see, you’re right sir. That is a good quality suit, of a style most commonly worn by professionals. Maybe he was on the on the bridge that night for his work.

McCARTHY
(mocking)
So you’re saying our vic was, what…a lawyer, or an engineer? Meeting a client, in the middle of the night, on a deserted bridge? And he brought a gun with him, … to… encourage them to pay their bill?

LONERGAN
Unlikely.

McCARTHY
That’s right.

LONERGAN
That’s a Ben Sherman suit. Very expensive. If he was planning to shoot someone, he would probably have worn his cheapest suit. Blood stains are ever so hard to get out of wool fibres.

McCARTHY
What the devil are you talking about?

LONERGAN
So… he had to be on that bridge for…non-threatening purposes.

McCARTHY
Non-threatening … Will you listen to yourself? The guy had a gun in his pocket – surely that means violence or at least the threat of violence was some part of his plan?

LONERGAN
Yes, and No. What if he were a doctor? A psychiatrist? Trying out…a radical new therapy. To cure someone of a phobia. Like a fear of heights. And he used the gun to make them face their fear.

McCarthy’s mind is blown at the path she’s taken.

McCARTHY
So … to cure the patient’s fear of heights, the psychiatrist held a gun to their head and made them look down? Is that what you’re saying?

LONERGAN
No. If he only wanted them to look, he could have taken them to the window of a tall office building. (nutting it out) No, the only logical conclusion is that he made them jump – bungy jump.

McCARTHY
Bungy jump?

LONERGAN
You tie elastic to a person’s legs and-

McCARTHY
I know what bungy jumping is!

He walks around shaking his head. Lonergan is composed.

McCARTHY
So you find a dead man on the riverbank in a nice suit with a gun and that’s the only logical conclusion you draw?
(Extreme scepticism, but he’s biting it back.)
Tell me, Ms Lonergan, even if this extraordinary scenario did play out, why is it his body, not his patient’s we’re looking at?

She frowns and considers it.

LONERGAN
If you were the sort of doctor who would go to those lengths for your patient, would you make them jump alone?

McCARTHY
So he jumped off the bridge too and…what, forgot to tie his own bungy band to the railing? He was a forgetful doctor, was he? An absent-minded professor.

Lonergan is a little less sure, bites her lip, reflecting.

LONERGAN
It was a beautiful sunset last night. Perhaps he got distracted.

Speechless he looks at her in amazement.

He walks around to her side, pats her on the shoulder in a pally way, for a quiet word.

McCARTHY
Tell me, Suzie, can I call you Suzie?

LONERGAN
Of course sir.

McCARTHY
When did you complete your basic detective training?

LONERGAN
Last week sir.

McCARTHY
And do you read a lot of detective novels Suzie?

LONERGAN
I’m devoted to my profession both during and after hours.

McCARTHY
I appreciate your determination to get at the truth, but in real life, Suzie, the most obvious answer is usually the correct one.

LONERGAN
Yes, sir.

McCARTHY
In this case, we have a man 20 to…50 years old, who went to the bridge with a gun and ended up here. Seems like a straight forward criminal conspiracy to me.

LONERGAN
But there is the bow tie.

McCARTHY
What of it? Some men prefer bow ties. They think it makes them interesting. Like Bob Connolly on the armed robbery squad, he thinks he’s sooo Sherlock Holmes.

LONERGAN
Our vic’s bow tie is 20 percent outsized. It’s standard clown issue.

McCARTHY
What?

LONERGAN
Part of the kit worn by clowns on the circuit.

McCARTHY
How do you know about clowns?

LONERGAN
I’m a detective, sir, it’s my job to know about a lot of things.

That infuriates him.

McCARTHY
So you believe this man was a doctor.. and a clown?

LONERGAN
Probably just a part-time clown.

McCARTHY
Where’s his curly orange wig, his big flappy shoes, his giant red nose?

Lonergan squats down and inspects him.

LONERGAN
Look at his hair, it’s flat in some places, and at strange angles in others. Consistent with having worn a hat or a wig recently. Ditto for his nasal hair – probably because he was wearing a bulbous plastic nose prior to death.

McCarthy is literally staggered by this.

McCARTHY
And why would a doctor, a psychiatrist no less, be a part time clown?

LONERGAN
If he was the sort of doctor that would jump off a bridge for his patients, maybe he spent his lunchtime clowning around to entertain sick kids.

McCarthy is shaking his head.

McCARTHY
And you conclude all this because his hair is messed up? Did you ever think it could have got that way from hours bobbing about dead in the water. Isn’t that the more likely scenario Suzie?

She hangs her head, despondent, looking at the dead body, nodding yes, then really looking. Starts shaking – no.

LONERGAN
Him dead in the water…not likely. Look, in the sand by his hand – some letters he must have scrawled while he was dying.

McCarthy crouches down.

McCARTHY
Good work constable. A clue. Take these letters down. VE IS LL. V.E. ..V.E. V.E. He’s Edwards. V could stand for… Veronica or Virginia Edwards. His wife’s initials.

Lonergan takes down letters and looks dubious.

McCARTHY
VE …is. LL.. The double L could be from the word killer. He was trying to tell us his wife was the killer. (calls offstage) Officer put out an A.P.B. on Miss V. Edwards – wanted to answer questions about her husband’s death.

LONERGAN
No, no. If you look at the tidal erosion pattern., the letters on the left side were erased by the water. It couldn’t be VE is the killer.

McCARTHY
What do you think it says?

LONERGAN
Taking into account sand indents and the victim’s articulation patterns, it says: LOVE… IS… ALL.

McCARTHY is staggered by this.  Takes a moment to compose himself, comes back trying to be ultra calm.

McCARTHY
So, to sum up, Constable Lonergan. This is not a criminal deal gone wrong with a bloke pointing the finger at his scheming wife. It was a psychiatrist who worked part time as clown, helping a patient overcome their fear of heights, by forcing them at gunpoint to bungy jump off the bridge, then jumping himself. Only he got distracted by the beautiful sunset, so forgot to tie a knot in his elastic bungy. And ended up here, delivering a message to the world that love is all we need.

Lonergan looks uneasy, shamefaced.

LONERGAN
It’s possible.

McCARTHY
No Constable, it’s not possible. You’ve got a fine, mind. But you have to get your head out of the clouds and start seeing what’s right there in front of you.

LONERGAN
Yes, sir.

He exits. She looks around sadly. And walks off.

SCENE 2:  Lights dim. It’s night time.

SOPHIA is standing on the bridge looking down, terrified.

SOPHIA
Doctor!  Doctor Edwards, is that you?  I don’t like this place, I don’t think I can go through with this.

DR HARRISON EDWARDS alive appears in clown suit and curly orange wig, with red nose and bow tie to speak to her.

DOCTOR
Sorry I’m late Sophia.

SOPHIA
It’s okay, but I have to go now.  Errr, there’s somewhere I really need to be.

DOCTOR
You are exactly where you need to be.  Now stand still, I’m gonna tie your bungy chord.

SOPHIA
Oh, but it’s so far down.

DOCTOR
Don’t look down.  Look out.  At that beautiful sunset.

He stands, transfixed by the beauty of the scene.

DOCTOR
I really should bring my art therapy class here sometime.

SOPHIA
I’m sorry, but I really can’t do this.

DOCTOR
Yes you can Sophia.  One jump and the terror of the past decade will disappear.  Your suffering ends tonight.  One way (raises a gun straight at her) or another.  Now I’m gonna count to three and we’re both gonna jump.  All right.  One…two… three.

They jump.

DOCTOR
(as he falls) Uh-oh!

Sound effect of Splash!

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