The Further Adventures of
(but not much further)

"Murder By Midnight"

a 10-minute mystery

by Jeff Goode
copyright © 2007

Murder By Midnight by Jeff Goode (copyright © 2007)
All rights reserved. This script may not be performed, printed, downloaded or re-transmitted without the author's consent.

Scene: Dick Piston’s Office

(Enter DICK PISTON, hotel detective, in his office.)

PISTON: The story I’m gonna tell you, you’re not gonna believe. But every word of it is true. I know because it happened to me–But enough about me. We really don’t have time for that. And by we, I mean, me: Dick Piston, hotel detective.

It was a Friday night in the big city. And on a Friday night, you’ll find me making my rounds at the Lakeview Hotel: a two-bit armpit on the upside of downtown. Anytime before midnight, that is. After midnight, you’ll catch me drowning my proverbial sorrows at the five-star dive bar in the lobby of that hotel. But at ten minutes to midnight, I’m always in my office, watching the clock.

Not that I’m a proverbial stickler for whatever punctual people stickle for. And not that I couldn’t use the overtime. But my employer had made it clear that anyone who did use the overtime would be spending their spare time xeroxing resumes at the discount copy shop on the corner.

You see, the hotel had been wallowing in red ink like a stuck proverbial pig for quite some time now. And it was likely to continue hemorrhaging money until it stopped hemorrhaging hotel guests. And I only wish that was a metaphor. The Lakeview Hotel had the highest mortality rate of any luxury accommodations west of Baghdad. Or east of Baghdad. Or in Baghdad.

In fact, as hotel detective, I had personally investigated six unsolved murders in the last five weeks alone. And committed four. So the management wasn’t entirely happy with my proverbial job performance. And they had made it clear to me that anyone who clocked even one minute of unauthorized overtime would be out of a proverbial job. Literally. And by anyone, they meant me, Dick Piston, hotel detective.

So that’s why, at ten minutes to midnight, I had my proverbial eyes glued to the literal clock. Because when that strikes twelve, my Friday night troubles become somebody else’s Saturday morning problem. So if my luck holds true–

(A naked WOMAN bursts into the office wearing nothing but a bath towel.)

WOMAN: Dick Piston! I need you!

PISTON: Lady Luck. You could set your watch by her.

WOMAN: I need your help.

PISTON: I’m afraid I’m not the man you’re looking for.

WOMAN: You’re not Dick Piston?

PISTON: No, I’m not helpful.

WOMAN: Aren’t you the hotel detective?

PISTON: For nine more minutes I am. But there’s not going to be a tenth, so I’m afraid if it’s anything more time-consuming than a stuck pickle jar, I’m going to have to refer you to the day shift.

WOMAN: But I’m the victim of a crime! You have to help me!

PISTON: Well, unless that crime is unnecessary wetness, there’s really not much I can do, in the time allotted.

WOMAN: It’s not unnecessary wetness.

PISTON: Are you sure? Because I’ve got a blow dryer in the desk.

WOMAN: Mr. Piston, please! You can’t just turn your back on me.

PISTON: Not in that outfit, no.

WOMAN: Then you’ll try to help?

PISTON: For eight more minutes, I will. But that’s all the time we’ve got.

WOMAN: Will that be enough?

PISTON: Not likely. Depends on the crime. What’s yours?

WOMAN: I think they call it … murder.

PISTON: Uh huh. And you say you’re the victim?

WOMAN: Yes, it happened just now, up in my hotel room.


PISTON: You know what murder is, right?

WOMAN: It’s the one where somebody kills someone, right?

PISTON: That’s the one.


PISTON: Hoo boy. (taking out an egg timer) All right, I’m going to take your case. But I’m also going to set an egg timer. When that goes off–No matter what: Case dismissed. Is that understood?

WOMAN: Mr. Piston, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this.

PISTON: Coming here in a towel is thanks enough.

WOMAN: You’re welcome.

PISTON: Now, if you’ll have a seat, I’ve got to make a phone call.

WOMAN: Don’t you want to rush up to my room and investigating the scene of the crime?

PISTON: Ordinarily, yes. But we don’t have that kind of time. (on phone:) Hello, front desk? It’s me, Dick Piston, hotel detective! Put me through to the kitchen.

WOMAN: What are you doing?

PISTON: Ordering room service.

WOMAN: Will that speed up the investigation?

PISTON: Not at all.

WOMAN: Then why are you doing it?

PISTON: Because no man in his right mind would ever be alone in a room with a woman in a towel without at least a bottle of champagne and a half-order of oysters on the way. (on phone:) I’ll have the honeymoon special. Send it to my office right away. And a box of condoms.

WOMAN: Thank you, Mr. Piston. How can I ever repay you?

PISTON: Well, there’s condoms on the way.

WOMAN: Mr. Piston, I’m married.

PISTON: You can never repay me.

WOMAN: And what makes you think this is a honeymoon?

PISTON: Just, tell me about your murder and get it over with. If we make this quick, maybe I’ll still have a job in the morning.

WOMAN: Well, I was up in my room, having a shower before dinner.

PISTON: So you haven’t eaten?

WOMAN: No, not yet. But those oysters sound delicious.

PISTON: And the murder took place in the bathroom?

WOMAN: No, it was in the bedroom.

PISTON: After your shower?

WOMAN: No, before. Or during.

PISTON: So you were shot in the shower…by somebody in the bedroom.

WOMAN: What makes you think I was shot?

PISTON: Because if it was a stabbing, you’d have been in the same room with the killer.

WOMAN: My God! You think he was in the shower with me?!!

PISTON: No, I think you were shot.

WOMAN: But I wasn’t shot. Look!

(She throws open her towel. He looks at her.)

PISTON: Nor stabbed, for that matter. But you have had a very close shave of some kind.

WOMAN: No, that’s waxing.

PISTON: All right, given that you don’t seem to be injured in anyway–

WOMAN: Have you ever been waxed?

PISTON: What makes you think you were murdered?

WOMAN: Oh, I wasn’t murdered.

PISTON: But you said you were.

WOMAN: I said I was the victim of a crime.

PISTON: And the crime was murder.

WOMAN: Good work, Mr. Piston! With your keen eye for detail, we’ll have this case settled in no time!

PISTON: If the crime is murder, and you’re the victim, why are you here?

WOMAN: Well, I had to report it, didn’t I? He was my husband, after all.

PISTON: The killer?

WOMAN: No, the killeree.

PISTON: The murder victim is your husband?

WOMAN: Yes, he was shot in the bedroom. In the head. In the bed.

PISTON: So you’re the victim by marriage.

WOMAN: This was supposed to be our honeymoon.

PISTON: I see. And is this how you were dressed when you discovered the body?

WOMAN: Yes. I had just stepped into the shower — where I was nude, Mr. Piston, can you imagine? — when I heard what sounded like gunshots and a blood-curdling scream. Naturally, when I finished my shower, I put on a towel and raced into the bedroom at once to see what was the matter. That’s when I found him dead on the bed with a slug in his head.

PISTON: Were there any signs of forced entry?

WOMAN: Not yet. But it was our honeymoon. So I was hoping.

PISTON: I mean to the room.

WOMAN: No, everything seemed perfectly normal. Except for that horrible dead guy lying there.

PISTON: You mean, your husband.

WOMAN: Yes, that was his name: Guy.


PISTON: And he was horrible?

WOMAN: Oh, yes, brains everywhere.

PISTON: Well, Mrs. Guy, ordinarily, this is the point when I would rush up to your hotel room to examine the body. But we’re short on time, so let’s just cut to the proverbial chase–

(A BELLHOP walks in.)

BELLHOP: Room service!

(Piston shoots him dead: BANG!)

PISTON: There’s your killer!

WOMAN: Oh my! …But how could you possibly know that?

PISTON: Was your husband clinically insane?


PISTON: That’s how I know.

WOMAN: I don’t understand.

PISTON: And there’s no time to explain. (looking at the egg timer) No, wait, there’s four minutes. Allow me to explain… If there were no signs of forced entry, then your husband must have let the killer into the room himself. Which means the murderer must have been someone your husband knew personally, or expected shortly. A bellhop, for example.

WOMAN: Why would he be expecting a bellhop?

PISTON: Because as we’ve already established, your husband was not clinically insane.

WOMAN: No, not clinically.

PISTON: And since no man in his right mind would ever be alone in a room with a woman in a towel without at least a bottle of champagne and a half-order of oysters on the way, we know that your husband must have ordered room service.

WOMAN: It makes sense!

PISTON: And, as you’ve just witnessed, the service in this hotel is incredibly prompt.

WOMAN: Yes, I’m impressed. We ought to make sure and leave him a big tip.

PISTON: So your husband’s order should have arrived at the room while you were still in the shower. But you haven’t eaten.

WOMAN: Because there wasn’t any food.

PISTON: Exactly! And if there were no edibles in evidence, it can only mean that whoever brought the food removed it after the murder to conceal the fact that the killer came from the kitchen.

WOMAN: I don’t know why I didn’t see it before!

PISTON: Which means, your husband was murdered by the night shift bellhop, who gained access to your room under the pretense of delivering a romantic appetizer, which you never enjoyed, because after murdering your husband in cold blood — and not wanting to leave any evidence that the killer was a member of the hotel staff — he removed the tell-tale oysters and champagne from the scene - something that only a member of the hotel staff would do - leaving in their place, the even more tell-tale absence of oysters and champagne which confirms his guilt.

WOMAN: But why would this bellhop want to kill my husband?

PISTON: Because unbeknownst to your late husband, this bellhop was having an extra-marital affair with his wife!!

WOMAN: (to the Bellhop) You’re married???

(She kicks the dead Bellhop.)

PISTON: No, you. He was having an affair with you!

WOMAN: How could you possibly know that?

PISTON: Because you still haven’t asked me the one question that any widow in her right mind would ask in this situation: Why would this bellhop want to kill your husband?

WOMAN: But I did ask.

PISTON: You did? When?

WOMAN: Just now. Just a second ago. I said it right away. It was the first thing that popped into my mind.

PISTON: Oh. Right. Well, never mind. Hmm.

WOMAN: You haven’t been paying attention to anything I’ve said, have you, Mr. Piston?

PISTON: For God’s sake, you’re wearing a bath towel!

WOMAN: That’s no reason to accuse me of being an adulteress, and an accomplice to murder!

PISTON: You’re right. I’m sorry. I apologize.

WOMAN: Accepted. …Shame about the bellboy, though.

PISTON: Yeah… Listen, my boss’ll have my proverbial head if she finds out I shot another innocent bystander. Do you think we could just agree that this was self-inflicted?

WOMAN: Yes, of course, Mr. Piston. He looked suicidal the moment he came in here.


WOMAN: (startled) Oh!

PISTON: A likely story!

WOMAN: It’s your story!

PISTON: But what widow in her right mind would agree to cover up the murder of a man who had nothing to do with her husband’s murder, unless he in fact, did have something to do with it, and she was in on it?

WOMAN: You’re forgetting one possibility, Mr. Piston.

PISTON: What’s that?

WOMAN: That she is not, in fact, in her right mind! (jumping around like a chimpanzee:) Oo! Oo! Ee! Oo oo oo!

PISTON: Hmm… Looks like I was wrong again. And my shift is almost over. So I guess you’re free to go.

WOMAN: Thank you, Mr. Piston. You may not have solved my husband’s murder, but knowing I’m innocent is a huge load off my mind. What little there is left of it, I mean. How can I ever thank you?

PISTON: Well, we’ve got champagne and oysters. And I’m off in two minutes.

WOMAN: Oh, Mr. Piston… I think we can get you off before that…

(She kisses him. A shot rings out: BANG! She falls dead.)

PISTON: I didn’t see that coming.

(The Bellhop rises shakily to his feet, a smoking gun in his hand.)

BELLHOP: Neither did I.

PISTON: You’re alive? But that’s impossible.

BELLHOP: No, you’re a terrible shot, Piston.

PISTON: Oh. Sorry about that.

BELLHOP: Don’t be. You were right about us, Piston. Until recently, this lady and I were having a torrid affair, behind her husband’s back. And over his dead body.


BELLHOP: At least I thought we were. I thought we were in love. But now I see she was just using me to get what she wanted.

PISTON: What gives you that idea?

BELLHOP: What woman in her right mind leaves her husband for another man, only to throw herself into the arms of a third rate hotel detective, over the lifeless body of her dead lover? Unless, of course, she never truly loved him to begin with, and was only using him to get rid of her wealthy husband, who she also didn’t love. And she probably didn’t care much for the detective either. She used all three of us.

PISTON: But if you’d waited a couple minutes, she might have used me a little bit more.

BELLHOP: Forget it, Piston, she was nothing but trouble. We’re all victims here.

PISTON: Well, actually, not me.

BELLHOP: No? (turning his gun on Piston) But if you got a minute, I think I can fix that.

PISTON: Wow, look at the time.

(Piston tries to run, but the Bellhop blocks his exit.)

BELLHOP: It looks like yours is up…Dick Piston…hotel detective….

PISTON: But why would you want to kill me? I haven’t done anything to you! Besides shoot you a couple minutes ago.

BELLHOP: I think you’re forgetting one possibility: That I, too, might not be in my right mind.

PISTON: No, I took that into account when you killed two people at your place of work.

(The Bellhop closes in on Piston, jumping around like a chimpanzee with a gun.)

BELLHOP: Oo! Oo! Oo oo oo!

(A bell goes off: DING!)

BELLHOP: (distracted) What was that?

PISTON: Your luck running out.

BELLHOP: No, it sounded more like an egg timer.

(Piston grabs the egg timer and punches the Bellhop in the head with it: DING!!)

PISTON: Case dismissed.

(The Bellhop falls to the ground, unconscious.)

PISTON: It was a Saturday morning in the big city. And on a Saturday morning… my proverbial work here is done. Literally.

(He puts away the egg timer and punches out for the night.)