Act One

 

Scene One:  David’s Office, One Week Before the Cruise

 

Maddie sits on David’s desk, legs crossed, pencil in hand, checking off a list while David alternates between watching TV and watching her.

 

Maddie:  OK, we’ve got swimwear, casual wear—

 

David:  Don’t forget that little slinky black thing.

 

He walks his fingers up her thigh, hiking up her skirt in the process.

 

Maddie(smiling and writing): Plenty of lingerie for David…

 

David (moving his head to get a better look at the TV screen):  Do they really need some of these disclaimers on these commercials?  I mean isn’t it obvious that they are using professional drivers on a closed course?  Do they really think I’m going to try and jump over six airplanes and the Grand Canyon in my pick up truck?

 

Maddie (adding another item to her list):  You don’t have a pick up truck.  Come to think of it, you hardly ever have a car...  David, may we please get back to the checklist?  OK, swimwear, casual wear—Oh!  Did you call Terry about taking care of the dog?

 

David:  Yep, and between bouts of Wally wrestling she said she would.

 

Maddie:  She’s really got her hands full.  Maybe we’d better ask someone else.

 

David:  Like who?  Richie?  The mutt would starve.

 

Maddie:  A neighbor?

 

David:  We could always stay home.

 

Maddie (slowly puts her checklist on her lap):  I thought you were excited about this cruise.

 

David:  I don’t know, Maddie.  The more I think about it… the more I think about spending an entire week on a boat in the middle of the Pacific with THEM… (he points toward his office door)

 

Maddie:  THEM?  You mean your biggest fans?  I would think you’d be thrilled to have a captive audience for seven days.

 

David:  Ms. Hayes.  (He places his hand on her knee and begins to feel up her leg.)  The only captive audience I need—

 

Maddie (grabs his hand and pushes it down):  There will be plenty of time for that too.  You have to go.  Agnes and Bert would be devastated if you didn’t.

 

David:  Yeah, I know.  The whole thing just sounds a little dull.

 

His attention is drawn back to the TV.

 

Maddie:  David.  Let me explain this so you can understand.  First of all, this is not all about you.  It’s all about Bert and Agnes.  Try to keep that in mind.  Second, and I think this point will be of particular interest, this is a Valentine’s cruise.  For lovers.  I’m sure there will be many activities geared toward said subject.  (She smiles, his attention drawn back to her.)  The sunsets, ocean breezes, and candlelight will all be included at no extra charge.

 

David (grabs her checklist): Where were we, Ms. Hayes?  Oh yeah, slinky black thing…dictionary?  You plan on boning up on your vocabulary on vacation?

 

Maddie:  A Spanish dictionary.  It may come in handy.

 

David:  I’ve never had to learn another language for a wedding and I ain’t gonna start now.

 

Maddie:  You just need to know a few phrases to get by.

 

David:  I’ve been to Mexico plenty of times.  I get by fine.

 

Maddie (erases dictionary):  Fine.

 

David:  Don’t forget to pack hankies for all that boohooing you girls will be doing.

 

She stops to glare at him before continuing.

 

Maddie:  Formal wear—

 

David:  Whoa, whoa whoa.  Formal wear?

 

Maddie (completely exasperated):  For dinner.

 

David:  I need to dress like a penguin to put on the old feedbag every night?

 

Maddie sighs in frustration as David picks up the remote and clicks to another channel.

 

David:  Now look at this sales pitch.  Some little gnome scrubbing the dishes in my dishwasher.  Is it really necessary to tell me this is simulated?  Show me the guy that thinks this is real.

 

There is a frantic knock at David’s door followed immediately by Bert Viola.

 

Bert:  Sorry I didn’t wait, but you have to get out here now.  Agnes is losing it.

 

Cut to:  The Blue Moon Outer Office.

 

Agnes is standing at the reception desk, yelling into the phone.

 

Agnes:  You’d BETTER fix it!  …I don’t want apologies.  I want action.  I want tickets in my hand before the close of business TODAY!  Got it?  …Good!

 

Maddie:  Agnes, what on earth—

 

Agnes:  They tried to cancel our cruise, Ms. Hayes.

 

Maddie:  Cancel it?  But why?

 

Agnes:  Something about a galley fire and repairs and dry dock.

 

Bert:  Fire?

 

Maddie:  Surely the travel agency could come up with an alternative.  They wouldn’t just cancel us outright.

 

Agnes:  They tried to tell me that all the cruises for Valentine’s Day were booked.  Tried to give us different dates.  But I wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I told them to find us another cruise to Mexico for the same dates.  And I made that sniveling flunky promise they would.

 

David:  Agnes, I’m impressed.  You’re a bulldog.

 

Agnes:  When someone tries to turn my wedding plans to kibble, I become a pit bull, Mr. Addison.

 

Maddie:  I guess so.

 

Bert:  Did it happen at sea?

 

Agnes:  Did what happen at sea?

 

Bert:  The fire!  Did everyone get off the boat safely?  Did they have any casualties? 

 

Agnes:  I don’t know.  I didn’t ask.

 

Bert:  You didn’t ask? Booboo, those details are very important, especially to people that are taking a cruise for the first time and might be nervous.

 

He looks around at his co-workers expectantly.  They all stare blankly at him.

 

Maddie:  Mr. Viola, I’m sure if there had been a disaster at sea, we would have read about it or heard something.

 

Bert:  Maybe they’re trying to cover it up.  Something like that could be disastrous for future bookings.

 

Agnes:   I told you not to watch the Poseidon Adventure on TV last night, Herbert.  Your imagination is running away with you as usual.

 

David:  What was that flick about again?  A tidal wave?

 

Bert:  A huge tsunami, sir.  On New Year’s Eve.  And then Gene Hackman—

 

Maddie:  Why don’t we skip the movie review and all get back to work until we hear from the travel agency.  Don’t worry, Agnes.  I’m sure everything will work out.

 

With Maddie’s dismissal, the wobblies return to their desks to do whatever the hell it is that they do all day.

 

A short time later, Maddie is back at her desk rechecking her checklist when she hears some commotion outside.  She peaks out her door and once more the staff is gathered around Agnes and the reception desk.  Maddie looks over at David and mouths “What now?”  He shrugs and joins her and the group to look at a large package.

 

Agnes:  Sorry guys, it’s not the tickets.  It’s a wedding gift…from my mom.  I wonder why she didn’t just bring it on the cruise?

 

She opens a card attached to the outside of the box and reads:

 

“Hello, Sweetheart!  Greetings from” (Agnes looks up in a panic) AFRICA!  I thought they were sending her to Central America!

She goes back to reading:

 

“I know you thought I was going to Central America dear, but SMERF sends me where I’m needed most.  I am helping a tribe that is trying to save the elephants from poachers.  I’m not doing anything dangerous, mostly cataloguing the herd, but it’s very important work that needs to be done.

Now, when your wedding plans were in March, we had no conflict, but this schedule change has thrown a monkey wrench into everything.  I’m attempting to get another SMERF volunteer here in the next few days but I can’t make any promises.  I can’t believe I might miss my little girl’s wedding!”

 

Agnes (looks up, grabs a tissue and sniffles):  I can’t believe it either.

She continues:

 

“I want to be there with you on that most important day, Dear.  But just in case I can’t, I’m sending you this adorable wedding gift that I found in a catalogue for cruisers.  It’s a surprise!  Promise me you won’t open it until you board.  I hope you and that darling Bert will enjoy it.  And please know that even if I’m not there in the flesh, I’ll be there in spirit.

All My Love, Mom”

 

Agnes looks up at Maddie, tears welling in her eyes.

 

Agnes:  My mom is blowing off my wedding for a smelly pachyderm!

 

She buries her head in Maddie’s bosom.  Maddie makes an attempt to comfort her by putting her arms around her and patting her back.

 

Maddie:  Oh Agnes.  She just couldn’t change her own plans on such short notice.

 

Bert:  Maybe this is a sign that we should change our plans, Sweetpea.  Go back to the original idea of having the wedding in Miss Hayes’ backyard.

 

Agnes stops sniffling and lashes out at Bert.

 

Agnes:  Oh sure!   I’m already on the verge of a nervous breakdown and you want me to change everything again!  Might as well just forget the whole thing.  How about that?

 

She falls back into Maddie’s chest almost knocking Maddie off her feet.  Maddie looks at David pleadingly.  He takes Agnes by the shoulders and turns her head into his own chest then whispers to Maddie:

 

David:  Her mother’s a smurf?

 

Bert:  Not a smurf, sir.  She’s a volunteer for S.M.E.R.F.  You know, Save Mother Earth’s Rare Fauna.  She’s very dedicated to her cause.

 

David:  OK…

 

He looks over at Maddie who is nodding her head and raising her eyebrows at him.

 

David:  Agnes, Agnes. Stop the waterworks, Honey, and look at the bright side. You don’t have to change anything.  Everything will be fine.  We’ll be with you.

 

Maddie:  That’s right, Agnes.  We’ll be your surrogate family.  We’ll support you, take care of you, and make sure you have the best cruise and the best wedding ever.

 

David: Bert will have to take care of the honeymoon duties.  Can you handle that Mr. Viola?

 

Bert (without much conviction): I’ll do my best Mr. Addison.

 

David:  But we’ll be there every other step of the way, won’t we gang?

 

He holds his arms out to everyone, encircling her in a communal hug.  Bert gets shoved out by MacGillicuddy.

 

David:  Us guys will be there in our monkey suits and the gals will be in those lovely fuchsia gowns you picked out that they’ll be able to wear to any occasion afterward.

 

Kris, Inez and Jamie look up at him and shake their heads.

 

David:  It will be one long continuous party for seven days. 

 

Bert starts jumping up and down around the circle trying to get inside.  Or at least get noticed.

 

Maddie:  Think about it, Agnes.  Fabulous dining and dancing every night.  Cabaret shows.  They even have gambling if you’re into that sort of thing.  Discos—

 

David:  Wet T-shirt contests?

 

Maddie:  Hopefully not.  And swimming and tennis and spa treatments.  We’ll have to get you a full day of pampering, my treat.

 

Agnes (wipes at her eyes):  I can’t let you do that Ms. Hayes.  You’ve already done so much.  Really, thanks guys. 

 

Bert clears his throat.

 

Bert (as pathetically as possible):  None of my family will be there either.

 

There is a group, “Aahhhhh…” as the circle parts to allow Bert in.  He shoves an elbow into MacGillicuddy’s chest.  Only backsides are visible as we hear Agnes from somewhere inside:

 

Agnes:  I’m feeling a lot better now. (giggles)  And at least I won’t have to listen to Bert’s Uncle’s band playing our song at the reception.

 

David:  Uh…what’s your song?

 

Agnes (matter-of-factly): Sexual Healing.

 

Silence… as no one knows quite what to say.

 

Bert:  Remember that night, HoneyBun?

 

Maddie:  Mr. Viola.  We don’t need to know.

 

David:  Sure we do.

 

Maddie:  Well, I don’t.

 

David:  Well, I do.

 

Maddie (adamantly):  No you don’t.

 

Someone in the doorway clears his throat.

 

Delivery Man:  Ahem.  I have a special delivery here for a Ms. Agnes DiPesto from the Paradise Found Travel Agency.

 

The circle disbands and a cheer is raised as Agnes accepts the large envelope, opens it and fans out ten cruise tickets.

 

Scene Two – Boarding the Cruise Ship

 

The Blue Moon gang is making their way slowly up the gangplank, as a clerk checks them all in.  David is at the front of the line, excitedly looking around like a child.  Maddie is behind him, reading out loud off the cruise brochure.

 

Maddie:  Seven decks, two pools, tennis courts…they even have a miniature golf course.  That might be fun.  Skeet shooting, a Las Vegas style casino.  Nine restaurants, gourmet cuisine—

 

Bert (looking over her shoulder on tiptoes):  Do they have adequate lifeboats and life jackets, Miss Hayes?

 

Maddie:  Mr. Viola, I’m sure we have nothing to worry about.

 

Agnes looks up and points to the banner greeting them.

 

Agnes:  “Sun Cruises and the Pacific Empress Invite Our Guests to go Back In Time.  Happy Golden Anniversary!”  Go back in time?  What do you suppose that means?

 

Maddie:  Forget your troubles, I guess.  Now let’s forget ours and find our rooms.

 

Bert (loudly):  Golden Anniversary?  You mean this rust bucket is fifty years old?  I’m not getting on a boat that’s fifty years old.  It’s probably infested with all sorts of virulent strains of God-Knows-What.

 

It is apparent that Bert has been overheard by one of the crew.  A large man with a stern look on his ruddy face bends down to him.

 

Man:  I can assure you, sir.  We keep a very clean ship.  We…(he looks Bert up and down pointedly) disinfect after every voyage.

 

Bert:  Who are you, the head housekeeper?

 

The man’s nostrils flare and he squints down at Bert.

 

Man:  I am the Chief of Security for the Empress.  I’ve been sailing the Pacific all my life, spent twenty years with the Marines and the last five with Sun Cruises.  I have never seen any kind of contagious outbreak on any of MY ships.

 

Bert:  What about rats?  Rats love boats.

 

Man:  It’s a ship, sir.  And no.  No rats.

 

Bert:  Accidental deaths?  Fires?  Men overboard?

 

Man (in a somewhat threatening tone):  Well, there’s always a first time for everything sir.  But nothing like that has ever happened on my watch.  As long as you don’t do anything stupid…

 

Bert:  Such as?

 

Man:  Walking the deck during a squall…

 

Bert:  Squall?  As in hurricane?

 

David:  Bert, Bert, will you calm down?  This ain’t the SS Titanic.  There’s plenty of life saving gear, no icebergs and no rodents.  Now you’re holding up traffic and I want to check in so I can be in the front row for the wet T-shirt contest.

 

The clerk checking them in gives David a somewhat disgusted look.

 

David:  What?  No wet T-shirt contest?

 

Clerk:  Whatever floats your boat sir…

 

The bored clerk then laughs at his little pun.

 

David:  I’m telling ya.  I got the winner right here.

 

He points at Maddie who glares at him and starts impatiently tapping her toe.

 

Maddie:  Knock it off, David and check us in please.  I’d like to find our room.  Ow!

 

Maddie turns around to find that a wheelchair has run over her foot.  The old man in the chair is sleeping and covered with a blanket.  His nurse mouths a sheepish “Sorry…”  as they roll by.

 

Clerk:  They’re called cabins, madam.

 

Maddie (miffed at being corrected): Oh thank you.  Cabins…sounds romantic doesn’t it?

 

David:  It sure does, Goldilocks.

 

Another clerk pops up.

 

Clerk #2:  May I show you to your cabin?

 

Maddie:  No thanks.  We’d like to explore along the way.

 

The clerk hands them a map and circles their cabin number before sending them on their way.

 

Maddie (whispers):  Why should we have to tip him to do something we’re perfectly capable of doing on our own?  You have to be careful or they’ll be hovering over our every move.

 

David:  The guy’s just trying to do his job, Maddie.  And since when did you become such an authority on cruising?

 

Maddie:  I did some research on the subject.

 

David: Of course you did.

 

Maddie:  My parents take a cruise every year—

 

David:  Aha!  Anything your parents do every year has got to be dull.

 

As they start across the deck another cruise employee accosts them, a smiling man with huge white teeth and a camera to match.

 

Photographer:  Hey there!  Well, you two are just about the happiest couple I’ve seen today!  How about a nice picture for the folks back home.  Eight by ten, comes in it’s own life preserver frame, and it’s only $35.00.  Reprints are extra of course.

 

Maddie:  Of course.  No thank you.

 

Photographer:  Hey, I never forget a face.  Don’t I know you from somewhere?

 

Maddie: No I don’t believe so.

 

David (in a hick accent):  She used to be a model.  She posed in my farm equipment calendar.  Maybe you saw her there.  See that expression on her face?  That’s why we made her Miss December. 

 

Maddie rolls her eyes and pokes David with her elbow.

 

Photographer: No…but I swear I never forget a face…

 

Maddie:  Well, forget this one please.  Come on, Old MacDonald.

 

She pulls David along as the photographer looks after them, chewing on his bottom lip.  A few seconds later they hear him start his spiel on Bert and Agnes:

 

Photographer:  Hey there!  Well, you two are just about the happiest…

 

Scene Three:  A long, lighted hallway below deck.

 

Maddie holds a map and a room key while David lags behind.

 

Maddie:  It can’t be much farther, David.

 

David:  I wish we’d left a trail of breadcrumbs, Goldilocks.  Or magic beans. 

 

Maddie:  You’re blending fairy tales again.  We’re not lost.  We have a map.  Have you noticed how quiet it is?  We hardly seen another soul since we boarded.

 

David:  Well, Bert made us late when he insisted on stopping for Dramamine.  But yeah…it’s really quiet…too quiet…It’s kinda creepy, kinda like… a ghost ship…

 

Maddie:  I don’t think it’s creepy at all.  I like it.  In fact, I think I’m going to sleep like a baby on this cruise with no city noise, no sirens, no barking dogs, no…David?

 

She turns around and looks down the empty hallway.

 

Maddie:  Very funny.  Come out now or I’m leaving you all alone with no bread crumbs and no map.

 

David (pops out of a recessed doorway):  Ah, you’re no fun.

 

He holds up a card he has snatched from the doorknob.

 

David: Listen to some of these activities.  Scavenger hunt, fruit carving, napkin folding. Where’s my personal favorite – hide and seek? And here’s a really weird one – musical wheelchairs.

 

Maddie huffs and starts down the hall again.  She makes a sharp turn down a shorter hall and stops suddenly, hearing a faint noise approaching from where she just exited:  shuffle, shuffle, thump.  David pulls up behind her.

 

David:  I warned you – Dull with a capital D.

 

Maddie:  Shhh.  I hear something.

 

She squints down the short hall.  The noise gets closer.  Shuffle, shuffle, thump… shuffle, shuffle, thump…SHUFFLE, SHUFFLE, THUMP…  A bent, gray haired woman passes in front of them, her slippered feet scuffing along the carpeting as she pulls up to her metal walker.  Shuffle, shuffle, thump…shuffle, shuffle, thump…

 

Maddie:  Excuse me.  I think we’re lost…

 

The woman doesn’t acknowledge her.  She just keeps concentrating on the long hallway in front of her.

 

Maddie:  I guess she didn’t hear me.

 

David:  I don’t know.  Maybe she didn’t want to stop.  She’s making pretty good time.  She oughta make that breakfast buffet by tomorrow morning.  Now that I think about it, I’ve seen more than my fair share of blue haired old ladies since we boarded.

 

Maddie:  David…this is a Valentine’s Day Cruise for couples.  That’s bound to include some older people.  And SOMEWHERE on this floating city, I’m sure they have your kind of fun, I promise.  And here we are.  Room 412.

 

David:  You mean cabin.

 

Maddie:  Whatever.  Would you like to do the honors?

 

She holds out the key to him.

 

David:  Is this where I carry you over the threshold?

 

Maddie:  Don’t even think about it.  All we need is for you to throw out your back again.  You’re not as young as you used to be.

 

David:  You’re not as nice as you used to be.  No wait, you were never nice.

 

He opens the door gingerly and peeks inside.

 

Maddie:  Remember, this won’t be Shangri La.  These cabins tend to be rather small and cramped.  But we won’t be spending much time in here anyway.

 

David:  Wanna bet?

 

He opens the door wide to show her…Shangri La.  A tropical paradise with a king sized bed piled high with soft down pillows and puffy comforter, a rattan table and two chairs in the corner, a luscious looking fruit basket, even a sliding glass door leading to a balcony.  He opens another door to reveal a small bathroom with a porthole window.

 

Maddie:  Wow!  This is certainly better than I was expecting. 

 

They both head for the fruit basket.  David grabs an orange and falls into the bed as Maddie opens the gift card.

 

David:  I think I’m in love.

 

Maddie smiles over at him.

 

David:   With the bed.  Think anybody’d notice if I stowed it in my suitcase?

 

Maddie harrumphs and reads:

 

Congratulations!  Please enjoy this token of our appreciation for choosing Sun Cruises for your wedding.  Wedding?

 

David’s orange section stops halfway to his mouth, then he drops it like a hot potato.

 

David:  Now Maddie, I don’t know what you have planned, but how can we get married?  We don’t even have a song.

 

Maddie:  What?

 

David:  You know…a song.  Every couple needs a song.  Agnes and Bert have a song…

 

Maddie:  Yeah, Sexual Healing…the mind reels…

 

David:  Always.  But we don’t have a song.  So I’m sorry to disappoint you Honey, but we can’t get married.

 

Maddie:  I’m heartbroken.  (She waves the card in front of his face.)  David, this room is obviously meant for someone else.  Get off that bed!

 

David:  No…this fruit basket is obviously meant for someone else.  I can part with the fruit basket, but the bed is mine.  I swear I could part with you before I’d part with this bed.

 

Maddie:  David, we’d better call someone and straighten this out—

 

Furious banging on the cabin door startles her.  As soon as she opens it, she’s greeted by Jergenson, et al yelling all at once.

 

Maddie:  Hold it!  What’s wrong with all of you?  One at a time please.

 

Jamie:  It’s our cabins.  They’re miniscule!

 

MacGillicuddy:  The size of closets!  With bunk beds!

 

Kris:  Ours has a rollaway!

 

Inez:  And the bathrooms…

 

MacGillicuddy:  You have a bathroom?

 

Inez:  It’s so small you can’t turn around in it.

 

Jamie:  And no windows.  (She takes in the spacious surroundings, puts her hands on her hips and glares at Maddie and David.)  Guess cruising life is better if you’re one of the bosses.

 

David:  Uh, guys.  This is unacceptable.  Get the captain on the horn.  I’ll demand better accommodations or we’ll all mutiny.

 

MacGillicuddy (in an ominous tone):  There’s something else.

 

Maddie:  What is it, Mr. MacGillicuddy?

 

MacGillicuddy:  This cruise?  It’s a senior cruise.

 

David:  Then maybe we’d better rethink entering you in the wet T-shirt contest Maddie.  Those teenage girls have very perky…wait a minute.  You don’t mean high school seniors do you?

 

MacGillicuddy:  No I don’t Mr. Addison.  We’re on a cruise for couples celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversaries.

 

Maddie:  That explains the over abundance of wheelchairs.

 

David:  And the napkin folding class.  Is it too late to jump ship?

 

There’s another timid knock at the open door.  Agnes and Bert stand in the doorway dressed in matching sailor outfits:  navy blue blazers with gold buttons and escutcheons, white polyester pants.   And to top off the ensemble, captain’s hats with gold trim and an emblem on the front.  David looks them up and down in disbelief then salutes.

 

David:  Admiral, we’re ready for inspection.

 

Bert:  Very funny, sir.

 

Maddie:  Let me guess. Wedding present from your mom, Agnes?

 

Agnes steps inside and looks around.

 

Agnes:  Wow…you sure got a nice cabin.

 

David (to Bert):  Captain, I think you should start the show with “Love Will Keep Us Together” and end with “Muskrat Love”.

 

Poor Bert looks miserable, not to mention a bit pale.

 

Bert:  Let it go sir.  I’m not in the mood for jokes.  Here’s a camera.  Will you just take our pictures for Agnes’ mom so we can get out of these ridiculous outfits?

 

David:  Sure, Bert.  Why don’t you two go out on the balcony?

 

Agnes:  Wow!  You have a balcony too?

 

Maddie looks at Agnes, more than a little embarrassed.  She then turns to David, holds up the card and is about to speak when he interrupts.

 

David:  Uh…here, Bert!  Have a glass of champagne.

 

Bert:  You have a mini bar too?  No thanks.  I think I’m seasick.  After getting a gander at our mini-room, you would be too.

 

MacGillicuddy (snidely):  I guess they just figured a pint-size room for a pint-size guy.

 

Bert (grits his teeth, balls his fists):  MacGillicuddy…

 

Maddie:  Stop it you two.  Agnes, I believe there’s been a mix up with the rooms.

 

David (under his breath):  No, no, no.  Maddie, please.

 

Maddie:  I think this room was meant for you two.  See?

 

She shows them the gift card.

 

Agnes:  You think?  Really?  Wow…

 

Maddie avoids making eye contact with David who is now touching the bed fondly.

 

Maddie:  So enjoy.  Well, I’m sure you two want to be alone so—

 

Maddie is interrupted by a loud blast from an alarm sounding all over the ship.

 

Bert:  We’re sinking!  Abandon ship!  Abandon Ship!  Where are the life vests?  Where are they?  I’m a weak swimmer!  I’m too young to die!

 

Bert grabs Agnes and starts for the door.  An announcment comes over the PA system.

 

Attention, please.  This is a drill.  This is only a drill.  All passengers please secure a life jacket and report to the promenade deck.  I repeat.  This is only a drill…

 

Cut to:  The Promenade Deck

 

Everyone holds a life jacket except for Bert, who is wearing his.  David pulls him aside.

 

David:  Bert, chill.  Are you cruise-a-phobic or something?

 

Bert:  I don’t know what it is, sir.  I just have a bad feeling.  I’ve had a bad feeling since the other cruise got cancelled.

 

David:  You’re looking a little green around the gills too.

 

Bert:  I think I need more Dramamine.

 

MacGillicuddy:  I think you need a spine.

 

Bert:  You’re just jealous, MacGillicuddy, and you know it.

 

MacGillicuddy:  Jealous?  Of what?  A little weasel that wets his pants every time he hears an alarm?

 

Bert:  They’re called alarms for a reason, Idiot.

 

David looks at Maddie and rolls his eyes.

 

David:  Seven days at sea, Ms. Hayes.

 

They overhear Agnes speaking to the girls.

 

Agnes:  But Herbert and I can’t stay together until after the wedding.

 

This statement draws Bert’s attention from MacGillicuddy.

 

Bert:  That’s a little archaic, don’t you think, Pooh Bear?  After all, we’ve lived together for…

 

He is silenced by her menacing glare.

 

Bert:  Well, Mr. Addison?  I guess it’s you and me until day after tomorrow.

 

Agnes:  Ms. Hayes?  Will you stay with me since you’re the maid of honor?

 

Maddie:  Of course, Agnes.  Whatever you want.

 

David looks like he might be seasick.

 

David:  Bert…you got bunk beds too?

 

Bert:  Two twins.

 

David:  You’re a dead woman, Madolyn Hayes.

 

Scene Four:  The Dining Room, First Night at Sea

 

Maddie and David enter together.  She is glowing in a long black gown.  He is dressed in a tuxedo, black pants, white jacket and looks uncomfortable.  More than a few heads turn as they walk through the large dining room.  He tugs at his tie as they are seated.

 

Maddie:  David, stop fidgeting.

 

David:  I still don’t see why I have to dress like a penguin every night.

 

Maddie:  Every other man here is dressed like a penguin and you don’t hear them complaining.

 

David:  They’re all worrying about sinking their teeth into a steak and having them stay there.

 

Maddie:  Am I going to have to listen to you making disparaging remarks about elderly people all week?

 

David:  I could just make disparaging remarks about you giving our room to Bert and Agnes.

 

He rips open his menu and puts it up to his face.

 

Maddie:  David, you know it was the right thing to do.  For once in your life, think about someone else.  Stop being so self-centered.

 

David (from behind his menu):  That’s the blonde calling the kettle black.

 

She opens her mouth to speak when the chair next to her slides back slowly.  A woman dripping in diamonds sits down next to her and smiles sweetly.  Her husband joins her; a man apparently accustomed to his wife speaking for him.  He acknowledges no one, just picks up his menu and holds it at arms length.

 

Maddie:  Good evening.

 

Woman (loudly):  Hello, we’re Josephine and Joe Burton from San Bernardino. Jo and Joe, get it?

 

Maddie nods hello and introduces herself.

 

Josephine:  I’m a little hard of hearing, sweetie.  Did you say Gabby Hayes?

 

Maddie (louder):  Maddie.  Maddie Hayes.

 

Josephine:  You seem a little young to be celebrating fifty years of marriage.

 

David:  Lots of plastic surgery.

 

Josephine:  You’re from Missouri?

 

Maddie (shouting):  Is this your first cruise?

 

Josephine:  I don’t watch the news.  Too depressing.

 

David lifts his menu back up to his face slowly.  Bert, Agnes, and the rest of the group start filing into the dining room and are seated with them.  With each introduction, and repeated introduction, and misheard name, David becomes more and more amused.

 

The Entrée Course:

 

Bert:  Agnes, I’m going to go lay down.  I’m so seasick.

 

Josephine:  You want a breadstick?  Here, honey.

 

The Dessert Course:

 

Agnes:  We’re getting married.

 

Josephine:  I won’t be buried.  It’s in my will to have me cremated, right Joe?

 

She elbows her husband who mumbles and goes back to his ice cream.

 

And thus goes our gang’s first night at sea.

 

Act II

 

Scene One:  The Pool Deck, Early Afternoon

 

The Blue Moon babes are in their swimsuits seated around an umbrella-covered table, laughing, apparently having a good time with the assistance of a pitcher of margaritas and a very attentive bartender.  Agnes, colorful bows stuck all over her head, is opening shower gifts.

 

Agnes (looks at the attached card):  This one is from Ms. Hayes.

 

Maddie smiles at her as Agnes slams another bow onto her head and eagerly rips into the wrapping paper that covers a heavy rectangular box in her lap.  Everyone leans in excitedly to see the gift.

 

Agnes:  A crock pot!

 

They all sit back in their chairs and go for their drinks.

 

Maddie (defensively):  It’s a big time saver.  You can start dinner in the morning before work and come home at night and it will be ready.

 

Agnes (slurs as she grabs Maddie in a bear hug):  I love it!  It’s jusss what I’ve alaaays wanted.  It’s very prac(hiccup)tical.

 

A shadow materializes across Agnes’ face.  She shades her face with her hand and looks up to see…

 

David:  And about as exciting as watching grass grow.  Here Agnes, Maddie got you something else too.

 

He hands her a shiny gift bag crammed with tissue paper then walks off to join the men at the bar.  She grins as she tosses each piece of tissue paper out of the bag.  When she gets to the bottom, she reaches inside and slowly pulls out a very small, very lacy, very see-through black teddy.

 

Jamie, Inez, Kris: Ooooohhhh…

 

David:  Every couple just starting out needs one.  Great for hours and hours of family entertainment.

 

Maddie stands up and walks over to David.

 

Maddie:  I can guess what you’ve been doing this morning.

 

David:  Yeah, and before you ask, I didn’t get you anything.

 

Maddie:  Still mad at me, huh?  For doing the right thing.  Typical.  David, I believe the more you think about this the better you’ll feel about it.

 

David:  Oh, I feel peachy.  I’ve been doing a little research on my own about this cruise.

 

Maddie:  And what did you find out?

 

David:  I found that most of the activities on this tub are geared toward the hip replacement set.  The casino opens at five and closes by ten PM.  There’s a shuffleboard tournament but the players are the shufflers.  There’s a diving for dentures competition and the cabaret show consists of a group of three ladies ala the Andrews Sisters accompanied by an accordion.  I didn’t have the guts to check out the disco.  All I can say is thank God there’s no wet T-shirt contest.  I spent the rest of my afternoon contemplating the best place to throw myself overboard.

 

Maddie:  David, shhh.  (she looks over at Agnes.)  Try to make the best of things for Agnes and Bert.  Remember that this is not all about you, it’s all about them.  Surely we can find something somewhere on this ship that interests you.  Let’s go dancing tonight.  There’s a class—

 

David:  I don’t need to learn the Jitterbug or the Fox Trot.  The only dancing I want to do with you is of the mattress variety, which is somewhat difficult since you gave away my mattress and my new roomie is seasick and won’t leave our cabin.  Oh yeah, did I mention that he snores?

 

Maddie:  David, please.

 

David:  So ladies… how was that napkin folding class?

 

Maddie:  Actually, that class was pretty interesting.  We had fun, didn’t we?

 

She looks to Inez, Jamie and Kris who give David an “is she kidding?” look.  Agnes is now deep in conversation with the bartender, who, incidentally, has been giving her the eye since they sat down by the pool.

 

Agnes:  Ms. Hayes!  Stan says we may be able to do some whale watching from our balcony.  Won’t that be neat?

 

David (whispers to Maddie):  Looks like Agnes wants to fold HIS napkin.  Maybe the thought of a lifetime of wedded bliss with Viola is starting to sink in.

 

Maddie rolls her eyes at him, looks back and forth between Agnes and the young bartender and sees that a bit of flirting IS happening.

 

Maddie:  I’ll bet your fiancé would love to watch for whales with you, Agnes.

 

The bartender quickly shifts his attention back to refilling their pitcher with margaritas.

 

David:  Smooth move, Maddie.  You may have wrecked her last chance for happiness.

 

Maddie:  She’s a little tipsy.

 

David:   I noticed.  Wish I was.

 

Maddie (to Agnes):  I hope Bert’s not sick for the duration of the trip.

 

Agnes:  Aaahhhhh, he’ll be OK.  At leassss the wedding is on dry land.  (She leans across the table to the girls.)  But he won’t be much use to me if he spends the next seven days barfing or snoozing.

 

David turns back to the bar with the guys.

 

David:  That’s what this is, men.  A snooze cruise.  At least we can watch these lovely ladies and their healthy, shapely figures lounging in the sun for the next six days.  Turn around and feast your eyes, gentlemen.

 

Just as they turn around a dozen or so swimsuited elderly women of various shapes and sizes march up to the pool, led by a woman instructor barking orders like a drill sergeant.

 

Swim Instructor:  All right, ladies.  Ready for water aerobics class?  Great for your health, easy on those aching joints. Not to mention loads of fun!  Water aerobics is good for the heart, weight loss, arthritis, and other ailments common to senior citizens.  Don’t worry, Mrs. Johnson, I’ve got your goggles and water wings right here…

 

The men turn back to the bar.

 

Scene Two:  A Deck Somewhere, Later That Afternoon

 

Maddie walks deliberately along the outside railing.  She swings her arms and breathes deep, enjoying a moment to herself for a little exercise.  She comes to a sudden standstill behind an old couple shambling along in front of her. The little couple is arm in arm, either for support or closeness; it’s hard to say. As she passes them, she says “excuse me” politely and makes eye contact.  She sees a couple that has most likely been together for a lifetime.  They aren’t talking.   They seem perfectly content just to be together.  At their advanced age maybe even grateful.  The couple smiles at her and she smiles back.  She continues on but after a few steps she is stopped by someone calling her name.  Maddie turns around to face an attractive redhead about her age, maybe a few years older, dressed in uniform.

 

Woman:  Ms. Hayes?  Ms. Maddie Hayes?

 

Maddie:  Yes?

 

Woman:  How do you do?  I’m Captain Bess Riley.  I was hoping it was really you when I saw your name on the passenger list.  This is so exciting.

 

Maddie:  It is?

 

Captain:  It is for me.  Believe me, we don’t get very many celebrity guests on these senior cruises.  Which brings me to my next question…

 

Maddie:  There must have been some kind of mix up with the reservations.  I’m here with friends that are getting married.  We’re planning a wedding the day after tomorrow in Puerto Vallarta.

 

Captain:  Oh, so that’s your party.  You caught us a bit off guard.  We weren’t expecting to have any weddings this time out.

 

Maddie:  I guess I can understand why.

 

Captain:  Knowing that you now own a detective agency and with my overactive imagination, I thought maybe you were doing some exciting undercover work.  Following some international spy or something.

 

Maddie:  Nope.  Nothing undercover.  No spies.  Just a relaxing cruise with friends.

 

Captain:  Well, I hope you can find enough things to occupy your time while you’re onboard.  I’m afraid these senior cruises tend to be rather sedate.  The port cities should be fun though.  Mazatlan has some wonderful ruins.

 

Maddie:  Actually, I’m enjoying the peace and quiet.   Some of my friends might not agree with me, but…

 

Captain:  Well, if there’s anything I can do to make your voyage more enjoyable, please let me know.

 

Since they’ve been talking a few passengers have walked by.  A few of them stare at Maddie or look her up and down before they continue on their way.  A woman passenger with thick bifocals stops dead in her tracks and points a bony finger in her face just as Maddie is about to ask the captain about their less than acceptable accommodations.

 

Maddie:  Actually, Captain there is one thing you might be able to help—

 

Woman:  Didn’t you used to be on TV?

 

Maddie:  Used to, yes ma’am.

 

Woman:  Weren’t you one of Charlie’s Angels?

 

Maddie:  No, I think you mean—

 

Woman:  Don’t tell me!  I know I know you.

 

Captain:  Ms. Hayes—

 

Woman:  Gabby Hayes!  That’s it.  You did those hair commercials.  Used to shake it like nobody’s business.  Can I have your autograph for my Harold?  He’ll be so thrilled.

 

A small crowd has gathered around them.  People whisper:  “Who’s that… Must be somebody…Look, she’s signing autographs...I want one too…I used to have hair that color…” 

 

After a few minutes the captain disperses the crowd.

 

Captain:  Sorry about that.

 

Maddie:  It’s funny.  I hardly ever get recognized anymore.

 

Captain:  I think it’s safe to say that you stand out in a crowd, but even more so in a crowd of senior citizens.  Plus, these people have watched a fair amount of TV in their golden years.  And your face is still out there.  I see stories about you and your business pop up every once in awhile in the LA papers.  That’s actually what made me want to meet you.  I feel like you and I have something in common.

 

Maddie:  What’s that?

 

Captain (straightens her uniform):  Being a woman in a man’s world.  I hope we’ll get an opportunity to sit and talk.

 

Maddie:  That would be nice.  And Captain there is one thing—

 

The same stern man that chastised Bert during boarding suddenly appears at the captain’s side and interrupts her.

 

Man:  Excuse me, Captain.  I need to speak to you right away.

 

Captain (irritably):  Fine, Red.  But first let me introduce you to Ms. Madolyn Hayes.  Ms. Hayes, this is Red Parella, our head of security.

 

Maddie:  Oh, we’ve already crossed paths.

 

Captain:  Ms. Hayes is a private detective.  You two have something in common, Red.

 

Red:  I doubt that.  Now, Captain, we really need to confer about that matter.

 

Captain:  All right.  I’ll meet you in my office in five minutes.

 

The man turns and marches off toward the captain’s office.

 

Captain:  I’m sorry.  He’s rather gruff.  Ex-Marine.  And he has very little to do as head of security on a cruise ship.   We don’t have much crime.

 

Maddie:  That’s good to know.

 

Captain:  Well, I’d better go meet up with Red before he blows a gasket.  He’s probably found some poor little old lady stuffing crab legs into her purse on the buffet line.  Soon he’ll start lining up and frisking all the passengers.  Let me know if you’d like a tour of the engine room

 

Maddie (laughs):  Thanks.

 

Maddie watches the captain leave, then shakes her head and proceeds on down the deck.  She stops suddenly, remembering that she wanted to ask the captain about their cabins.  She looks for her but it’s too late.  She’s already gone.  Maddie sighs, shrugs and continues down the deck.

 

Scene Three:  Dinner in the Ship’s Dining Room, Second Night At Sea

 

Maddie enters the dining room alone, searching for her party.  She is dressed simply but elegantly in a white one-shoulder gown that flows with every movement.  She is also wearing teardrop diamond earrings, a tasteful diamond necklace and her diamond tennis bracelet.  A maitre de greets her, they speak for a moment, then he leads her to a table where the staff is sitting, all dressed to the nines and looking a bit bored and uncomfortable.  All except Bert, who is asleep with his head tilted backward and his mouth wide open.

 

Maddie:  Well, don’t you all look wonderful this evening.  Where’s Mr. Addison?

 

Agnes:  He hasn’t shown up yet.

 

MacGillicuddy:  We found him in the bar a little while ago, talking to the bartender about a penguin or something. 

 

Maddie:  I guess he’s still pouting.  So, what did you all do this afternoon?

 

Jamie:  There was that scavenger hunt on “C” deck.

 

Kris:  And the fashion show for sophisticated Grandmas…

 

MacGillicuddy:  Not to mention that rousing game of Name that Big Band Tune…

 

Agnes:  This is all my fault, Ms. Hayes.  I never should have yelled at that travel agent.  I’m sure he booked us on this cruise out of spite. I should have listened to Herbert when he wanted to go back to the original plan.

 

Maddie:  And have to sit through his uncle’s rendition of Sexual Healing?  Not in this lifetime.  Agnes, this is no one’s fault.   I’m sure these are just the best arrangements the cruise line could make on short notice.  We’re having a wonderful, relaxing time, aren’t we?

 

A collective groan erupts from the table.

 

David:  Why all the long faces, kids?

 

Maddie looks up to see David standing behind her chair, dressed again in his black slacks, white dress shirt and white tuxedo jacket.  She smiles at his handsome appearance.

 

David:  It’s time to party like it’s 1999, gang-o-mine.

 

MacGillicuddy:  Yeah, right, Mr. Addison.  Most of these people will be dead by 1999.

 

David:  MacGillicuddy!  I’m shocked.  That was totally inappropriate!

 

He kisses Maddie’s hand, never taking his eyes from hers.  She smiles and blushes slightly.

 

David:  Now, you two (looks at Jergenson and O’Neill).  You’re a couple of party animals.  Surely you can find a silver lining here faster than you can say “sex life” (looks at Maddie)…or lack thereof.  Check it out.  After ten PM we have this entire love boat to ourselves.  Let the rest of them take out their teeth and drool on their pillows (he glances at Bert).  We’re going dancing…

 

MacGillicuddy:  Where?

 

David (looks around the table at the blank faces):  At the disco!

 

Maddie (whispers in his ear):  This is certainly the best mood I’ve seen you in since we set sail.

 

David:  Must be the motion of the ocean, Ms. Hayes.

 

He winks and gives her a wry grin.

 

A silver-haired, dapper man pulls out the last chair at their table and sits next to Maddie.  Everyone is seeing shades of last night’s dinner extravaganza, but this man is considerably spryer than many of the individuals they’ve seen so far.

 

Man:  Hi folks!  I’m Mike Malone.  Mickey to my friends.  I told that fella over there (points to the maitre de) to seat me as far away from the geezers as possible.  I’m tired of watching all these old farts falling asleep in their soup.  (He notices Bert, who is now snoring). 

 

David:  Forgot his Geritol.

 

Agnes:  He’s seasick.  He’s on Dramamine.

 

Mickey:  Still hasn’t gotten his sea legs, eh?  Well, some never do.  I remember back in the navy during WW2, the big one, we’d be out at sea for months at a time and some guys would spend their entire duty puking over the bow.  Not me.  I love the salt air and the list of the ship.  Can’t get enough of it.

 

Maddie:  Will your wife be joining us, Mr. Malone?

 

Mickey:  It’s Mickey, Sweetheart.  My dear wife passed on about a year ago.

 

Maddie:  I’m sorry.

 

Mickey:  We had planned this trip for our golden anniversary and it was her last wish that I go.  Although she would have been a little disappointed at the lack of excitement.  Why do people always assume you get to a certain age and you have to slow down to a crawl?  Me?  I’m never slowing down until they plant me next to Mildred. 

 

David:  Great attitude.  Doesn’t sound like either of you would have been too interested in a napkin folding class.  Maddie will you be folding our napkins for us tonight?

 

Mickey:  It’s the kind of attitude that keeps you vigorous, young man.  Never forget that.

 

David:  You’re preaching to the choir, Mickey.

 

Mickey:  Say, you folks should join me later on in the disco.  I’m going to be the guest D.J.

 

David:  Kids?

 

They shrug unenthusiastically.  Bert mumbles in his sleep.

 

They enjoy a tremendous six-course gourmet feast and considerably better company than the night before.  The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, and it appears that the cruise may not be a total drag after all.  A groggy Bert keeps nodding off, pulling his head back from his dessert just in the nick of time.

 

Maddie (happily):  I think Mr. Viola needs some coffee, and I can see we’re going to have to join that water aerobics class tomorrow to work off some of this delicious food.

 

Captain:  Ms. Hayes?

 

Maddie: Oh, hello, Captain Riley.

 

Captain: Did you enjoy dinner?

 

Maddie (pats her stomach):  A bit too much, I’m afraid.

 

Agnes:  I might not be able to fit into my wedding dress anymore.

 

Captain:  Oh, you are the bride.  Have you touched base with our wedding coordinator yet?

 

Maddie:  Yes.  Everything is set.

 

Captain:  Wonderful.  Let me know if there’s anything else you need.

 

Maddie suddenly remembers to ask the Captain about their cabins.

 

Maddie:  Oh!

 

Captain:  Oh, Ms. Hayes, there’s the ship’s photographer.  Would you mind having a picture taken with me?

 

Maddie:  No, but I need to ask you something afterwards.

 

Captain:  All right.  Ramone, will you please take a picture of me with Ms. Hayes?

 

Photographer:  I knew I knew you!  You’re Maddie Hayes, the Blue Moon Girl!

 

Man at Next Table:  Really?  My wife and I just loved that cute Blue Moon Girl.  Can I have a picture too?

 

Woman at Next Table:  Gabby Hayes?  I thought he was dead, Fred.

 

Man at Next Table (yelling):  MADDIE Hayes, Zelda.  MADDIE not Gabby.

 

Woman at next Table:  What?

 

Maddie looks around desperately, trying to be gracious and get away from the hoopla at the same time.  David looks on, ever amused.  As if on cue, the security man shows up

 

Red:  Captain.  There’s been another one.

 

Bert’s eyes shoot open.

 

Bert:  Another what?  Iceberg?

 

The captain is whisked away by the security man as Maddie helplessly looks after her.

 

Scene Four:  Later That night, the Disco

 

Mickey Malone, followed by the Blue Moon crew noisily pile through the double glass doors of Neptune’s Disco.  The nautical theme is evident in the fishnets that drape the blue walls and the reflecting bulbs that simulate sunlight on water.  The dance floor is defined by what looks like the prow of a sunken ship.

 

Like every locale on the ship, the place is deserted, with the exception of a bored cocktail waitress talking to the bartender (the same one ogling Agnes earlier) and an older couple swaying on the dance floor to:

 

…Strangers in the night

Exchanging glances

Wondering in the night

What were the chances

We’d be making love

Before the night was through…

 

A D.J. sits above the dance floor, his chin in his hand.  He looks asleep.

 

The high morale built up during dinner begins to fade quickly.

 

David:  My God, we’re in Lawrence Welk Hell.

 

Mickey:  Let’s see what we can do to get this nightspot jumping.

 

David:  May take a little dynamite, Mickey.

 

The suddenly sullen group selects tables, orders drinks and Mickey makes his way over to the D.J.  They talk for a while then Mickey gives David the thumbs up sign.

 

David:  Please…anything recorded after 1953.  That’s all I’m asking.

 

Mickey selects a record from the vast supply of vinyl.  There’s a loud popping, crackling noise from the speakers as he shakily places the needle on the record.  Another slow song begins to fill the room.

 

Moon River

Wider than a mile

I’m crossing you in style

Someday…

 

Mickey returns to the table and holds his hand out to Maddie.  He gives David a sheepish grin.

 

Mickey:  Sorry, but please indulge an old man for just a minute.  This was Mildred’s and my song.  I’d like to dance to it one more time with a beautiful woman.  Maddie, would you mind?

 

Maddie (obviously moved):  I’d be honored, Mickey.

 

They take the dance floor as David looks on.

 

David:  Does every couple have to have a song, Bert?  Hey…that old guy is moving in on my gal.

 

Bert:  And it looks like he’s making points, sir.

 

Maddie laughs at something Mickey has just whispered in her ear.

 

Cut to:  The Dance Floor

 

Maddie:  I love this song.  I remember my parents dancing to this in the living room.

 

Mickey:  Ah yes.  Dancing in the living room.  One of life’s finer pleasures.  Tell me, is that something that you young kids still do?

 

Maddie:  Well, we’ve danced in some odd places that’s for sure…but I think dancing the night away is something my generation has lost an appreciation for.  It’s right up there with women’s hats and supper clubs…

 

Mickey:  Oh I don’t know.  My grandson tells me your generation still dances to live bands.  Only now I believe they call it moshing.

 

Maddie:  Do I look like I mosh?

 

Mickey:  No, you don’t.  What you look like is a beautiful woman from another age.  You kind of remind me of Mildred.  She was a beauty in her day too.

 

Maddie (glancing over at David):  You’re a charmer, Mickey.  I can’t believe you’re cruising alone.

 

Mickey:  Do I look lonely?

 

He twirls her around, her jewelry glinting in the spotlight, and to her shocked amazement, dips her backwards.

 

Meanwhile David is pleading his case to the uninterested D.J.  The scruffy man appears to be barely listening; he’s involved in clearing his nasal passages with his inhaler. 

 

David:  Come on…anything with a beat?

 

DJ:  Sorry, man.  I didn’t come prepared for the MTV crowd.  I’m just puttin’ in my time so I can get home and nurse this cold.  Look, these people are much more interested in hearing Benny Goodman than George Thorogood.

 

David:  I’m not asking for Smoke on the Water.  But how about some old R&B?  Ray Charles.  You must have some Ray Charles in there somewhere.

 

David starts eyeballling the huge album collection behind the man’s seat.

 

DJ (sniffles):  Hey, that’s my private collection back there.  They’re like my children.  I don’t want them tampered with.

 

David (holds up his arms):  Wouldn’t dream of touching your stash, man.  Believe you me, I treasure my vinyl.  And I respect any man who feels the same.

 

DJ:  Well, uh, thanks.  Can I ask you something?  What the hell are you doing on this cruise?

 

David points over at his group.

 

David:  I’m babysitting the social deviants.

 

DJ:  Look, I’ll see what I can come up with.  Anything with a beat, right?

 

David:  Right.  Anything to stop the hemorrhaging in my ears.

 

The DJ chuckles and David makes his way back to the table just as Maddie and Mickey are sitting down.

 

David:  I had a talk with our DJ friend.

 

Mickey:  Phil?

 

David:  Huh?

 

Mickey:  Phil Harmonic.  But I think that’s just a stage name.

 

David:  You think?

 

Maddie:  I like some of these old songs.

 

David:  Careful, Maddie.  I could throw you overboard and no one would be the wiser.

 

Mickey:  Well, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had this much fun on a boat since Pearl Harbor.  Now, I promised Phil I’d break him for a while so he can rest. 

 

David:  Just a minute, Mickey.  Our buddy Phil is going to dip into his personal collection and find us something good.

 

Another song begins.  Something familiar, with a beat meant for dancing.  This one has a definite disco flare.

 

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk

I’m a woman’s man no time to talk

Music loud and women warm,

I've been kicked around since I was born….

David utters a guttural moan.  He grabs Mickey, who is rising from the table.

 

David:  Hey, Mickey.  Tell Phil Disco’s dead.

 

Mickey:  They seem to like it.

 

He points to the little old couple on the dance floor, now doing what may be the Hustle, the bent little man pointing to the sky like Tony Manero.

 

David:  Then I’ll tell him myself. 

 

He climbs back up to the DJ’s perch.

 

Phil:  Now what?

 

David:  Forget what I said about the beat.  You see that lady over there? 

 

Phil:  How could I miss her?

 

David:  Right.  Well, if I’m going to impress her to come back to my room…

 

Phil:  Cabin

 

David:  Whatever.  I’m going to need something a little more romantic and a lot less seventies.  And if you saw this cabin you’d know I need all the help I can get.

 

Phil (between sniffles):  Those cabins are pretty small aren’t they?

 

David:  My friend, small is a relative term.  Small does not begin to describe this thing.  You need to leave to breathe.

 

DJ:  You know, you seem like a regular guy.  The cruise director is a friend of mine.  She’s the one that got me this gig.  Why don’t you give me your cabin number and I’ll try to use my influence to find you something better.  I’ll let you know if I have any luck.

 

David:  I’d be your slave for life.  And about the music…

 

Mickey:  Take a break, Phil.  I think I know just the kind of music that Maddie likes to dance to.  Trust me.

 

David walks back to the table, takes a big gulp of his drink, which includes a bunch of fruit and a paper umbrella that pokes him in the eye.  He looks back at Mickey, gets another thumbs up and shakes his head.

 

Maddie:  David, will you get over the music and just have a good time?  I want to dance.

 

David:  Maddie, there is only so much I can take.  If another disco song comes on that turntable, I’ll gladly jump overboard.

 

Maddie (irritably):  And I’ll push.

 

A slow, jazzy piano begins, building up to Nat King Cole’s velvety voice.

 

Unforgettable…

That’s what you are

Unforgettable…

Though near or far

Like a song of love that clings to me

How the thought of you does things to me

Never before has someone been more…

 

Maddie smiles up at David.  David turns around, catches Mickey’s eye and gives him the thumbs up.  He and Maddie take to the dance floor.  He pulls her close and they share a long intimate look.

 

David:  Not exactly what I had in mind…

 

Maddie:  Don’t tell me you hate this song too.

 

David:  No…this is definitely doable. 

 

She begins humming along and puts her head on his shoulder.  After a few slow steps, Maddie lifts her face up to his and they take a few spins around the floor, literally dancing circles around the other couples that have joined them.

 

Unforgettable

In every way

And forever more

That’s how you’ll stay…

 

Maddie:  Isn’t this nice, David?

 

David:  Mmm mmm.

 

He buries his face in her hair.

 

Maddie:  I’m glad you decided to try and have some fun in spite of…well, this being a…

 

David:  Snooze cruise?  I’m just happy because I convinced Bert to stay with the boys tonight so you and I could have some alone time.

 

Maddie:  Yeah, we haven’t had any of that since we left port such a long time ago.  Let’s see…how many days have we been at sea?  Oh yeah, one.

 

David (whispers in her ear):  Is it my fault that you make me crazy, Ms. Hayes?

 

He scatters a series of gentle kisses from her ear down to her throat.  She closes her eyes and sighs softly.

 

That’s why darling it’s incredible

That someone so unforgettable

Thinks that I am

Unforgettable too…

 

They continue to stand on the dance floor when the music ends, gently swaying in each other’s arms.

 

David:  Most women would be happy to receive all this attention…

 

He realizes the music has stopped. He looks over his shoulder and sees the little disco dancing couple smiling at them.

 

Maddie:  We seem to be receiving some attention of our own.  Maybe we should leave…

 

David:  Excellent suggestion…Wait.  What’s going on over there?

 

He points to the far side of the dance floor where Red Parella and Bert are having a somewhat heated exchange.  Bert turns to David as he and Maddie approach.

 

Bert:  Mr. Addison.  I told you I didn’t want a bachelor party.

 

David:  I know.  That’s why I didn’t plan one.  What’s this all about?

 

Red:  I’m placing this man under house arrest until we reach port tomorrow.

 

Maddie:  Whatever for?

 

Bert snickers.

 

Bert:  House arrest.  Yeah, sure.  Come one guys.  I really don’t want a party…

 

A security guard places Bert in handcuffs.  Reality begins to set in.

 

Bert:  You mean this is for real?  You’re arresting me?

 

Red:  I think we should discuss this outside.

 

Bert:  Take your mitts off me.  I’m not going anywhere.

 

Maddie:  I want to know what this is about.

 

Red:  All right, if you insist.  We’ve had a series of thefts since we left Los Angeles.  I suspect this man of burglarizing several of the cabins.

 

Maddie:  That’s ridiculous.  Totally absurd.

 

David:  No, I think we’ve been found out Maddie.  We’re a fearless band of buccaneers and this is our leader, Long John Shorty.

 

The unamused security team turns to march Bert out the door.

 

David:  You guys can’t be serious.  Does this man look like a ringleader  to you?

 

Red (menacing):  No…I’d say that title fits you.  But he’s the one with the criminal record.

 

The crowd stands in dumbfounded silence.

 

Maddie:  You’ve made a mistake.  We do background checks for a living, Mr. Parella.  I can assure you that none of our employees has a criminal background or they never would have been hired in the first place.

 

Red:  Look.  I know how you so-called private detectives work.  Most of you are as shady as the people that pay you.

 

Maddie:  We run a legitimate agency!  We never knowingly represent criminals.

 

David:  Not knowingly anyway.

 

Red:  Then how do you explain this man’s criminal background?

 

Maddie:  I told you.  You’ve made a mistake.  Obviously.

 

Bert:  No, Ms. Hayes.  It’s no mistake.

 

Agnes:  Herbert?

 

Red:  The FBI doesn’t make mistakes, ma’am.  Now I admit, his convictions are old, but—

 

Agnes:  Convictions?  As in more than one?

 

Red (referring to a notepad):  Disturbing the peace, destruction of private property, felonious assault on a police officer and…burglary.  Oh yeah, and violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act.

 

Agnes:  What?  Herbert, is this true?

 

Bert:  Agnes, believe me.  I can explain everything.

 

David:  Endangered Species Act?

 

Bert:  A college prank gone horribly wrong.  Really.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.

 

Agnes:  I don’t know…it sounds pretty bad.

 

Maddie:  Don’t worry Bert.  We believe in you and we’ll figure this all out.

 

Bert:  Let me tell you what happened.  Hey!

 

Red shoves Bert out the door.

 

Maddie’s arm goes instinctively around Agnes.

 

Maddie:  Do something, David.

 

Bert (off camera):  Really, Honey bun.  Just give me a chance to explain…

 

Act Three

Scene One– The Brig

 

Bert, seated on a rollaway bed, looks around the so-called brig.  It looks more like a storeroom. Besides the small bed, it contains a table and chairs and a small window.  A security guard sits in a folding chair by the door reading a magazine.  David sits across from Bert, perched on a large carton of toilet paper.  David has a disgusted look on his face.

 

David:  Even THIS is better than our room.

 

Bert:  Cabin, sir.

 

David:  Whatever.  So…Bert.  Anything you care to tell me?

 

Bert:  I don’t feel seasick anymore.

 

David.  That’s good.  Anything else?

 

Bert:  Did you hear Ms. Hayes tonight, Mr. Addison?

 

David:  What about her?

 

Bert:  She called me Bert.  She’s hardly ever called me by my first name before.

 

David:  Believe me, Bert, your first name is the least of your problems right now.

 

Bert:  She said she believed in me.  After this, she’ll probably fire me.

 

David:  Getting fired ain’t too high on the list of priorities either.

 

Bert:  Wait a minute, why didn’t my record didn’t come out during my background check when I was hired?

 

David smiles.

 

David:  Remember who was doing background checks back then?

 

Bert nods at him.

 

David:  I guess I figured you were a temp so what the hell, why bother.  Now spill it, Bert.  Come clean.  Tell me about this double life you’ve been leading as a dedicated, responsible Blue Moon employee by day and a hardened criminal who violates endangered species by night.

 

Bert:  Well, sir.  It all started on spring break my senior year in college.

 

David:  Coeds in bikinis, Bert.  Nice to watch through binoculars but not exactly endangered.

 

Bert:  They didn’t have coeds in Kenton, Tennessee sir.

 

David:  This explains a lot Bert.  Frat boys who spend Spring break in Tennessee deserve what they get.

 

Bert:  We weren’t there on purpose.  Gino’s car broke down.  We were trying to make Orlando in one day.  I guess it was more than his ’66 VW could handle.  Well, there we were outside this little town, four guys with no money, frustrated libidos and six cases of beer.

 

David:  A dangerous combination.

 

Bert:  Yes sir.  So we found out that this little town was in the middle of a big Spring Festival, and we thought, huh, not so bad.  Gotta be something fun going on somewhere.  That was before we discovered what it is that they celebrate in Kenton in the spring. (He pauses dramatically and looks over at the guard.)  The White Squirrel.

 

David:  Sounds like what I was drinking tonight.

 

Bert:  Apparently this small hamlet is one of only two in the entire United States with a rare albino squirrel population. 

 

David:  I thought people in Tennessee ate squirrels.

 

Bert:  Not these squirrels, sir.  We quickly found out they have a totally fanatical reverence for the little fur balls.  There was a parade, a carnival, and all the townspeople were walking around dressed up like vermin.  It was bizarre, not to mention a little bit creepy.

 

David:  Sounds like a really bad episode of the X-Files.

 

Bert:  Anyway, we happened to pick the year that they were dedicating a squirrel statue in the park.  Since we were out of money Gino thought it would be funny if we…well, we…believe me, six cases of beer really clouds one’s judgment.  We waited until they rolled up the sidewalks around eight o’clock, went into the park and tried to steal the statue and hold it for ransom.

 

David gapes at him, stunned.  The guard attempts to stifle a laugh by clearing his throat.

 

Bert:  I was just the lookout!  And we never even got the statue out of the park.  We only managed to tip it over onto Gino’s foot.  I guess his yelling was what brought the sheriff and his deputy.

 

David:  This Gino guy sounds like he has the IQ of a salad bar.

 

Bert:  Right. He’s a corporate lawyer now.

 

David:  Figures.

 

Bert:  Anyway, the judge threw the book at us.  And not just the book.  Every statute, ordinance, blue law, rule and regulation he could find.  Destruction of property, attempted extortion, attempted burglary.  Well, you heard the laundry list.

 

David:  Assault on a police officer?

 

Bert:  Gino tried to get away, but in his state of inebriation and with his broken foot he didn’t get very far.  The deputy that tackled him wound up getting puked on.  Beer, 7-11 burritos and corn chips.  Not a good combination.

 

David (grimaces):  OK, I get that these small town cops tend to take themselves a little too seriously, kinda like the clown on this ship…but what about the violation—

 

Bert:  Of the Endangered Species Act?  Well, one of the little pink-eyed rodents got into the beer, drank it, got alcohol poisoning and died.

 

David:  These people really take their squirrels seriously, I guess.

 

Bert:  I guess.  I had forgotten about the entire incident, put it all behind me as some strange bad dream.  Our lawyer made a deal that if we stayed out of trouble for a year our records would be expunged.  I can’t figure out why that didn’t happen.

 

David:  Let me guess.  Who was your lawyer…Gino?

 

Bert:  He was pre-law at the time.

 

Bert glances over at the guard whose face is now hidden behind his magazine.  The man is shaking.

 

David:  I think I can manage to smooth things over with Maddie for you Bert.

 

Bert:  You don’t think Ms. Hayes will fire me?

 

David:  She’ll probably give you a raise for making the world safer for nuts and berries.  But about Agnes…

 

Bert (puffs out his chest):  What about Agnes?  She didn’t even want to hear my explanation.

 

David:  Give her a break, Bert.  She just found out the man she was about to marry violated an entire endangered species.  She was in shock.  As were we all.

 

Bert:  But Ms. Hayes was the only one who said she believed me.

 

David:  If you want to marry her instead of Agnes you’ll need to arm wrestle Mickey.

 

Bert:  Mr. Addison, I’m just not sure I want to marry a woman who has so little faith in me.

 

David:  Whoa Bert, this is Agnes.  The woman who sexually harassed you on the very day you met.  How many times has something that great happened in your life?  She is also the woman who loves you despite your little idiosyncrasies like plucking your toe hairs before bed every night.

 

Bert:  How’d you know—

 

David:  And this is the woman who allows your song to be a timeless piece of music like Sexual Healing.  How cool is that?  Think about it.  Your song could be You Light Up My Life. 

 

Bert:  I guess I see your point.

 

David:  Sure you do.  Listen, I’m going to go talk to the captain and see if we can’t work something out.  They can’t possibly have any evidence or eyewitnesses since you’ve done nothing but sleep for the last day and a half.

 

Bert:  But what—

 

David:  I’ll talk to your wife-to-be too.  Sit tight.

 

Scene Two:  Agnes’ Cabin

 

Jamie, Inez and Kris sit on the bed watching Maddie pace the floor.  Every once in a while she stops pacing and looks outside onto the balcony.

 

Maddie:  Agnes.  I wish you’d come inside.  It’s awfully cold out there.

 

Agnes (off camera):  I’m fine, Ms. Hayes.  I wish you’d all stop worrying about me and go to bed.

 

Maddie grabs a throw from the chair and joins her outside.

 

Maddie:  I don’t think any of us are going to sleep much tonight.

 

She wraps them both in the blanket and they shiver in silence for awhile.

 

Agnes:  Boy…you think you know someone.

 

Maddie:  Well, I’m sure there’s some logical explanation.

 

Agnes:  Yeah.  Like he’s a liar.

 

Maddie:  Agnes, don’t you think you’re being a little hard on him?  I’m sure he planned to tell you eventually…at some point in your lives.

 

Agnes:  Like when?  On his deathbed?  That point in his life may be coming a little sooner than he planned too.

 

Agnes looks up at the moon and sighs.

 

Agnes:  I wish my mom was here.

 

Maddie:  I know you do.  But maybe it’s just as well that she skipped this little disaster.

 

Agnes (threatening tears):  That’s what this is, isn’t it?  A disaster…the whole thing from beginning to end.

 

Maddie:  Agnes.  That’s not what I meant.  And this isn’t the end.  Believe me.  Someday, you’ll both look back on this and—

 

Agnes:  Don’t tell me I’m going to laugh about this, Ms. Hayes.  I know for a fact I will never laugh at seeing my man dragged away in handcuffs.

 

Maddie:  I won’t.  I won’t.  But don’t say this is the end.  Not after all you two have shared and everything you mean to each other.  And everything you went through to get here.  Not that here is such a great place to be right now either, but—

 

Agnes:  You know…I just kinda want to be alone for awhile.  Would you mind?

 

Maddie gives her a quick squeeze and leaves her alone on the balcony.

 

A few minutes later, Maddie quietly closes the door to the suite.  David sneaks up behind her.

 

David:  Hey!  How’s the blushing bride feeling?

 

Maddie:  David, don’t do that!  She just found out the man she’s planning to marry has a criminal past.  How do you think she’s feeling?

 

David:  Like she dodged a bullet?

 

Maddie:  Your flippant attitude is not going to help this situation.  How’s Mr. Viola?

 

David:  He’s a little squirrelly, but he’s ok.

 

He chuckles at his own private pun.  Maddie doesn’t see the humor.

 

Maddie:  This is serious, David.  She’s rethinking the wedding plans.

 

David:  Again?

 

Maddie:  She’s hurt, practically inconsolable.  I certainly couldn’t find the words to help her.

 

David:  Let me straighten things out.  After I talk to her—

 

Maddie:  Oh, that’s a great idea.  Sometimes I think you couldn’t care less how this all turns out.  You have not shown one single ounce of concern here.  If you talk to her she’ll end up stuffing him through a porthole.

 

David can’t help but chuckle.

 

David:  Look, take it easy.  Trust me, when she hears this story, she’ll be rolling—

 

Maddie:  David, the fact that you think this is funny concerns me.

 

David:  But it is!  It’s really funny, Maddie.

 

Maddie:  How can I expect you to understand how she feels?  You’re a man.  You have no romance, no poetry in your soul.  You wouldn’t even learn one word of Spanish for this cruise. 

 

David:  You’re not serious.

 

Maddie:  I am.

 

Apparently, she has said her piece.  She turns sharply and crosses her arms over her chest.  If she stomped her foot and said “So there!” it wouldn’t surprise him. He knocks on the door while having a stare down with Maddie and her tightly folded arms.

 

David:  Agnes, it’s me.  Are you decent?  Can I come in?

 

Agnes opens the door a crack.  She’s holding a tissue box and it’s obvious she’s been crying.

 

Agnes:  Mr. Addison, I don’t think I want to talk right now.

 

Maddie looks at him like “See?”

 

David:  Just for a minute.  I have a message from your novio.

 

Agnes shrugs, opens the door and walks back inside.  He grins smugly at Maddie.

 

David:  Novio.  Spanish for lover.  Go ahead.  Look it up.

 

He closes the door in Maddie’s face, but not before sticking out his tongue at her.  Agnes is sitting on the bed looking down at the floor.  David sits down beside her and takes her hand.

 

David:  You don’t really believe that Bert is the one who been stealing from the passengers, do you?

 

Agnes:  He can’t even steal paper clips from the office.  I know he didn’t steal anything from anybody.

 

David:  Then what is it?

 

Agnes:  He lied to me, Mr. Addison.  He never told me he’d ever been convicted of a crime.  Make that crimes.  What was he thinking?  That I’d never find out?  How dumb does he think I am?

 

David:  That’s not it.

 

Agnes:  Well, what then?  What did he tell you?  What crime did Officer Barney Fife commit?  I bet it was some stupid mess he made when he was out drinking with his stupid friends.  He’s always trying to impress someone and getting in over his thick skull.  What a jerk…

 

David’s grin wilts a bit and he hesitates before going into Bert’s sordid past.

 

David:  Well…actually the reason he didn’t tell you was that…he was…sworn to secrecy.  He still is, in fact.  If he talked now…boy…no telling what could happen.

 

Agnes puts down her tissue box and starts examining the ends of her hair.  She gives him an unemotional but slightly interested response.

 

Agnes:  He could be in danger?

 

This is encouraging.

 

David:  Big time.  He, uh, was with some college buddies who, uh, stumbled…onto some strange ceremony with weird people…uh…something Southern…

 

He looks up at the ceiling, searching up there for his next line.  Agnes looks at him with wide eyes.

 

Agnes:  The KKK?

 

David:  Yeah!  Of course, as soon as he found out, he…tried to…well, you know…get the hell outta Dodge.  But he soon realized that his…friend’s car was broken down…did I mention that part all ready?  Yeah, so the car broke down, and Bert couldn’t leave his buddies behind…he felt like he had to stay and…and… 

 

Agnes (leans forward):  Save his friends?

 

David:  Yeah!  But now here is where…I don’t know how much I should really tell you.   The information is somewhat…well…

 

Agnes (her eyes narrow):  Classified?  Is this the violation of the Endangered Species Act?

 

He’s on a roll now.

 

David:  Uh huh.  The endangered species was…an important species…vital, in fact, to something somewhere…and there was this thing…a statue of a…you know, some important endangered species, like a…not a squirrel, definitely not a squirrel.

 

Agnes:  Bald eagle?

 

David:  Sure…yeah, it was a bald eagle.  Well, Bert’s buddies kinda…one of ‘em…

 

Agnes:  Must have been Gino.

 

David:  You’ve met Gino?

 

Agnes:  Very successful.  Works for some up and coming company in Texas…Enron, I think.

 

David:  So…well, if you know Gino, you know what happened next.

 

Agnes:  If it involves Gino, there’s a fall guy in there somewhere.  And I bet I know who that fall guy was.

 

David has no idea what he’s saying but Agnes seems to know, so he goes with it.

 

David:  There you go.  Now, don’t tell him I told you all this.  You know how modest he is.  The guy’s not a jerk, Agnes.  He’s a guy who would try to right wrongs, go the distance for a friend—

Save a bald eagle!  He’s a true American Hero.

 

Agnes:  What a guy.

 

David:  Yeah, what a guy.  So, in light of these facts, you think you might want to talk to him ever again?

 

She ponders the question for a while before she speaks.

 

Agnes:  Maybe I might want to marry him again.  If he still wants me.

 

David:  I think that’s a pretty safe bet.

 

A few minutes after walking in, Maddie is surprised to see Agnes coming out of the suite with a grin, arm in arm with David.  Seeing her shocked expression makes David feel even more self satisfied.  He turns to her nonchalantly.

 

David:  Oh Maddie, by the way, I talked the captain out of making Bert walk the plank on one condition.

 

Maddie:  Which is?

 

David:  That we try to find the real pirate of the high seas.

 

Maddie:  That’s a stupid idea.  How are we supposed to do that?

 

David:  They have all this surveillance equipment onboard that they never pay any attention to.  Hell, I don’t think they even know how to use most of it.  All we gotta do is lay some bait and set a trap.  Like shooting squirrels in a barrel.

 

He laughs at himself again as he walks down the hallway propped between the two women.

 

Scene Three:  The Security Offices of the Empress. 

 

David is in the process of explaining the plan to the Captain.

 

David:  So I have your people and mine here monitoring all the cameras on the ship.    The ladies, out there, (he points to the monitors) will be going about their business dressed in all the sparkly, gaudy junk jewelry we could find.  We figure they’ll stand out because they don’t exactly fit in with the Over the Hill crowd.  Anyone within hearing distance will be given the same cabin number, the suite that Bert and MacGillicuddy are monitoring next door.  Ok…everybody set?  Where’s Parella?

 

Captain:  He’s sulking in his cabin.  When I told him that he was making the cruise line vulnerable to a lawsuit by holding your friend with no probable cause, and that I was releasing him from custody, he got his nose a little bent out of joint.

 

David:  Better his nose than Bert’s life.  Well, it looks like things are under control here, so I’ve got a breakfast meeting with Ms. Hayes to uh…update her on the situation.

 

The men at the console look at each other and shake their heads.

 

Cut to:  David and Bert’s Cabin

 

Maddie slips the key in the door, stops before entering the room, gearing up for the depressing sight that will surely greet her.  She opens the door to find a small table covered with a linen table cloth and set with a single red rose, a carafe of orange juice and croissants.  The twin beds have been pushed together.  A poster of a tropical beach is thumb tacked to the wall.  She smiles and looks around the tiny room.

 

Maddie:  David?

 

The bathroom door opens a crack but runs into the obstruction of the bed.  The door opens and shuts a few times, each attempt harder than the last in order to move the seemingly immovable bed frame.

 

David:  Maddie?  A little help here?

 

She groans and pushes the heavy object forward so he can exit the bathroom.

 

David:  Uh, I had them set up a table for us but it—

 

Maddie:  Took up all the floor space.  I can see that.  So what’s this little breakfast meeting for two all about?

 

David:  I wanted to…bring you up to speed about the case.

 

He wraps her in his arms.

 

Maddie:  But we just started on the case.  Are there developments all ready?

 

She returns his sexy grin as he runs a finger down her face.

 

David:   Definitely.  Something’s already cropping up.

 

Maddie:  Such as?

 

She tugs on the collar of his t-shirt and kisses his chest softly.

 

David:  It’s on the tip of my tongue…

 

He cups her face in his hands and they kiss deeply.

 

Maddie (breathlessly):  So…I guess it’s time to shape up or ship out.

 

David:  All hands on deck…

 

They commence a frenetic dance, pawing at each other’s clothes.  She somehow manages to get the shirt off without ripping it to shreds while he anxiously tries to get hers unbuttoned.  After two buttons, she yanks it over her head and grabs at him impatiently.

 

David:  Maddie, don’t breathe too hard.  There’s not a huge supply of oxygen in here.

 

Maddie:  There’s an endless supply of whatever…that thing is…that you have.

 

David:  Sex appeal?  Stamina?

 

Maddie:  Hot air? 

 

She torments him by pulling back.  They hold a stare for a moment, both breathing hard.  Maddie takes a deep breath.

 

Maddie:  But you know, speaking of stamina, the salt air is supposed to do wonders…

 

David:  Great.  Come here…

 

Maddie:  Not that you need any help…

 

David:  I was thinking about you…

 

They laugh and together fall down in the middle of the two beds, which immediately part like the Red Sea.  They struggle to sit up inside the small canal.  As soon as he makes it to a sitting position, he looks around, thoroughly disgusted.

 

David:  Sure.  Now they move.

 

Scene Four:  Video Surveillance Room

 

Bert and MacGillicuddy stare at the monitors in front of them.  There’s a knock at the door.

 

Bert:  Who’s that?

 

Agnes:  It’s me, Herbert.

 

Bert:  Oh…you.  Come in.

 

MacGillicuddy immediately takes his cue from Agnes’ head jerk toward the exit.

 

MacGillicuddy:  Uh, I think I’ll go update the bosses.  Let them know everything’s copasetic.

 

After he leaves, Bert and Agnes spend a few uneasy moments fidgeting and looking around at the monitors or the ceiling, anywhere but at each other.  Agnes starts twirling her hair around her finger, trying to put words to what she really wants to say.

 

Agnes:  I’m sorry that I didn’t come down…while you were, you know, down there.

 

Bert:  In Hell?  Yeah, well it was a little disappointing that my fiancée didn’t want to visit me in the slammer.

 

Agnes:  I was just confused, Herbert.  I mean, you think you’ve shared everything you could possibly share with someone.  You make your own life an open book.  Then you find out that this person hasn’t been totally honest.

 

Bert:  And you find it out the day before you’re supposed to marry that person that they’d sooner see you rot in prison—

 

Agnes:  Herbert!  I don’t want to see you rot in prison.  I don’t want to see you rot anywhere except with me.

 

He gives her a baffled look.

 

Agnes:  I mean next to me.

 

He looks down at the floor and squirms uneasily.

 

Agnes:  I mean when we’re old.  You know, I want us to grow old together.  I want us to come on this cruise for our golden anniversary.  Like them.

 

She points at an old couple playing cards together on one of the monitors.

 

Bert:  And die in each other’s arms?  Locked in an eternal embrace of rigor mortis?

 

Agnes:  OK…I’m not sure about the rigor mortis thing though.

 

Bert:  Are you sure you don’t want to reconsider marrying me?  I’d understand perfectly.  I—

 

Agnes:  Not at all.

 

Bert:  --misrepresented myself to you.  You thought of me as a moral, ethical man with outstanding values and—not at all?

 

Agnes:  Not at all.

 

He gingerly takes her hand and touches the ring on her finger.   He smiles at her gratefully.

 

Bert:  Really?

 

Agnes:  And you know what else?  All this stuff about you being a convicted felon makes me see you in a different light.  I think it’s sorta sexy. 

 

She scoots a bit closer to him.

 

Bert:  You do?

 

Agnes:  Yeah.  I never knew you had a dangerous past, Herbert Viola.

 

She entwines her fingers with his and starts pulling him closer toward her.  His adam’s apple bobs up and down nervously.

 

Bert:  Well, I…

 

Agnes:  So, are you a bad boy, Herbert?

 

Bert (eagerly):  I’m a real bad boy, Pooh Bear. I’m whatever you want me to be.  Does this mean we get to play the Gladiator and the slave girl tonight?

 

Agnes:  Herbert, just do me one favor, will you?

 

Bert:  Anything, pumpkin.

 

Agnes:  Stop calling me those dumb pet names.  I just want to be plain old Agnes DiPesto-Viola.

 

Bert:  You’ll never be plain old anything, Agnes.

 

Agnes:  Oh Herbert.

 

She looks into his eyes and brings her hand up to stroke his face.   They launch into a passionate liplock which quickly dissolves into rolling around on the floor, grabbing at their clothes.  They are much too involved to notice the door open.

 

David:  Well, I can see who’s going to be wearing the pants in this family, MacGillicuddy…no one.

 

Bert:  Mr. Addison!  We, uh.  Agnes and I…all quiet so far, sir.  All we’ve seen is someone being wheeled down the hall by a nurse and some old couple playing cards.

 

David:  Well, how would you know, Mr. Viola?  You seem otherwise occupied…so I guess we’re having a Mexican wedding, are we?

 

Agnes:  Yes we are.  Wait!  I think I hear something on the monitor.

 

The four of them stop cold, watching and listening as footsteps hurry down the monitored hallway.

 

David (squints at the screen):  That ain’t no wheelchair.

 

Maddie appears from around a corner and yells up into the camera.

 

Maddie (breathlessly): We’ve been robbed!

 

Bert:  Huh?  But we’ve been watching the room—

 

Maddie:  Our room.  I mean your room!  Yours and Mr. Viola’s room.  David I took my bracelet off this morning and now it’s missing.

 

Bert:  But why would someone pick that room to rob instead of going for the suite where all the good stuff is supposed to be?

 

Later that day, during a conference with the captain and security staff…

 

David:  Well, Parella.  I told you this was an inside job.  Someone went right past the room we were watching.  They knew just where to go and what to take.

 

Red:  Mr. Addison.  This still doesn’t prove that your employee isn’t the thief.  HE knew what room you were monitoring.  Maybe he was just too greedy and stupid to stop his crime spree.

 

David chuckles and mumbles:

 

David:  Crime spree…yeah right.

 

Maddie: But he hasn’t been alone at all since you let him out of custody, have you, Mr. Viola?

 

Bert:  Nope.  I’ve either been with one of my co-workers or my fiancée the entire time.  So get another theory, Parella.

 

Red:  Maybe you’re all in on it.  Maybe my theory of the crime was correct all along.  You’re a gang of jewel thieves posing as detectives.

 

Captain:  Enough of this Red.  I know Ms. Hayes runs a legitimate, law-abiding agency.  These wild theories of yours have got to stop.

 

Red:  But we’ve never had these kinds of problems onboard before.  Not until these people came on.

 

David:  Don’t you have any new employees?

 

Captain:  What?

 

David:  On the crew.  Who’s new?

 

Captain:  I’d have to check our employment records, but I make a point of meeting every new crew member.  And we do extensive background checks—

 

Maddie (sarcastically):  Yeah, we know all about those.

 

David:  Maddie, I told you—hold it!  (he smacks his forehead.)  Who knew my room number?  And knew you as well as your jewelry might be there?

 

Maddie:  I have no idea.  We’ve come into contact with tons of people, David.  Passengers, crew, the security people, who else?  Not Mickey, David.  You can’t possibly suspect him.

 

David: Nah…I’m thinking of the guy that said he’d help us with the room dilemma.

 

Captain:  What room dilemma?

 

Maddie’s eyes widen.

 

Maddie:  And he said he was a close personal friend of the cruise director so he might have access to pass keys.

 

David:  Think it’s too early for a little disco dancing?

 

Scene Five: The Disco, a Few Moments Later

 

Parella and his two security men open the double doors into the disco.  Maddie, David, Bert and Agnes follow close behind.  The place is fairly deserted as usual.  The cocktail waitress sits at the bar with her chin in her hand.  A lone couple slow dances on the floor to an oldie but a goodie.

 

My funny Valentine…

Sweet comic Valentine

You make me smile with my heart…

 

Phil is nowhere to be seen at first, then his head pops up from behind his turn table.  He notices the crowd of people and smiles and waves at David.  The smile fades quickly as he notes the security guards.

 

Phil:  Hey, what’s up?  We’re not really up and running yet…

 

David:  Not here for the tunes, Phil.   We need to ask you a few questions.

 

He stops the music, but the couple on the dance floor doesn’t seem to notice.  The cocktail waitress has come over to check out the excitement.

 

Red:  I’ll handle this, Addison.  Where have you been all day, Mr., uh…Harmonic?

 

Phil:  Here.  I’m settin’ up a special show for Valentine’s Day.  What’s this all about?

 

Red:  So you haven’t gone out at all?

 

Phil:  Sherry, will you get me a glass of water?

 

The waitress shrugs and walks off, her heels click-clacking on the dance floor.

 

Phil:  Well, except for one or two quick pit stops…only about ten minutes each.

 

The gang looks disappointed until the waitress stops in her tracks and turns around.

 

Sherry:  And your one hour lunch break.  Don’t forget that, Phil.

 

Phil (snidely):  Yeah, except that.

 

Red:  I think you’d better come down to the office.

 

Maddie:  I want to know where my bracelet is.

 

Phil:  Lady, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

 

David:  Don’t worry, Phil.  I’ll keep an eye on your vinyl while you’re gone.  Wouldn’t want anything to happen to…

 

He bends down to read the spines on the album covers.

 

David:  Miles Davis… …Ella Fitzgerald… Dizzy Gillespie...

 

Phil:  Hey, be careful.  I told you not to touch those.  They’re rare and can’t be replaced.

 

David:  Alphabetized too.  How clever, Phil.  Then you can find just what you’re looking for.

 

David’s fingers crawl along the stack.  When his fingers light along the top and attempt to pull one out of place, Phil lunges for him, but gets both arms pinned by security guards in the process.

 

David:  These are really in here tight, Phil.  In my experience, it’s not a good idea to pack them in so tightly.  Let me just loosen a few of them up for you.

 

As Phil continues to protest, he pulls back on the stack and the spines detach and open up to reveal a false front and a little cubby hole.

 

David:  Well, looky here.  I think I found the pirate’s treasure.

 

Phil noticeably deflates as David roots around inside the box and finally pulls out Maddie’s bracelet.

 

David:  Ta Da!

 

Red:  You’re under arrest, Phil.  And I think we’d better find the cruise director and talk to her.

 

Phil:  Ah, don’t bother.  She’s clean.  This was my deal.  Nobody else had anything to do with it.

 

Red, suddenly looking like he’s having the time of his life, places Phil in handcuffs.

 

Phil looks at Bert.

 

Phil (sniffles):  Hey man.  Nothing personal.  I just got a bad habit.  And I guess you just have that kind of face, you know.

 

Bert looks at him like he has no clue what he’s talking about.

 

Phil:  A schmuck.

 

Agnes:  He’s no dumb schmuck.  He’s a brave defender of the American Eagle!

 

David:  Uh, Bert.  We’ve gotta talk.

 

 

Scene Six:  The Wedding

 

We see a stretch of white sandy beach and a lone windswept tree.  A few seagulls circle overhead in the dark blue sky.  On the horizon, shades of yellow and pink promise that a beautiful sunset is just a few minutes away.  The only sounds are hushed voices and gentle waves touching the shore.

 

Across a small outcropping of rocks is a wooden bridge, starkly out of place and seemingly leading to nowhere.  But beyond the bridge we see a small group of people huddled around an ornate white metal arch. In the middle of the arch a minister smiles benignly.

 

On the opposite side of the bridge two women are having an intense conversation.

 

Wedding Coordinator:  Ma’am, if you don’t calm down we’re going to miss the sunset and they’ll be getting married in the dark.

 

Maddie:  But I don’t know about this.

 

W.C.:  Because the priest doesn’t speak English?

 

Maddie:  How are they going to understand the ceremony?  And is this license even legal in the U.S.?

 

W.C.:  Ma’am—

 

Agnes:  Ms. Hayes?

 

Maddie turns to see Agnes standing there in her grandmother’s dress.  She’s serene and radiant in the simple antique lace gown and lace mantilla over her long dark hair…and her blue high tops with silver bells.  Like the bridge to nowhere, somehow she also fits into this setting perfectly.

 

Maddie:  Oh Agnes.  You look lovely.

 

Agnes:  Thanks.  About the ceremony…I speak a little high school Spanish so it’ll be OK.  And I checked before we left.  The states will honor a Mexican marriage license.  We just need to record it when we get home.  So…I guess if you want to let them know we’re ready…

 

Maddie:  Sure.  I guess you have everything under control.  I should have known.

 

Agnes shrugs.  Maddie observes the wedding coordinator’s alarmed stare at the high tops peaking out from under the hem of the traditional wedding dress.  She gives Agnes a smile and a big hug and turns to David.  Unable to resist one last stab at control, she moves to straighten his bow tie.  He takes her hand and kisses it softly. 

 

David:  Maddie.  We’re losing daylight here.  Go.

 

As she prepares to cross the bridge and signal the soloist to begin, David calls out to her.

 

David:  You got your hanky ready?

 

She gives David one long, last warning look then shoos Inez over the bridge.  David turns to Agnes.  The soloist nods to her accompanist and begins her song.

 

If there were no words

No way to speak

I would still hear you…

 

David:  Sweetheart, it’s not too late to change your mind, dump that little guy, and fly away to Bora Bora with me.

 

If there were no tears

No way to feel inside

I’d still feel for you…

 

Agnes:  That’s a tough choice, Mr. Addison.  But I think I’ve found the plan I’m gonna stick with.  I’m choosing Captain America down there.

 

He gawks at her.  Agnes giggles, enjoying the fact that she put one over on him for a change.

 

Agnes:  I’m not that gullible.

 

David:  OK…Well, if you’re sure then…

 

Agnes:  I’m sure.

 

He holds out his arm, she takes it and they start across the bridge.

 

And even if the sun refused to shine

Even if romance ran out of rhyme

You would still have my heart

Until the end of time

You’re all I need

My love my Valentine…

 

The waves break behind them as they reach the other side of the bridge.  The soloist raises her voice to be heard over the crash.  And another sound fights to be heard in the background.

 

All of my life

I have been waiting for

All you give to me

You’ve opened my eyes

And shown me how to love unselfishly…

 

Bert’s eyes light up when he sees his bride, he swallows hard and smiles at her anxiously.    A low thumping sound continues to rise over the music.  The soloist looks around nervously but keeps singing.

 

I’ve dreamed of this a thousand times before

But in my dreams I couldn’t love you more

I give you my heart

Until the end of time

You’re all I need

My love my Valentine…

 

The thumping sound grows louder as David deposits Agnes next to Bert.  He kisses her cheek, then looks up at the sky.  He and Maddie exchange apprehensive glances.  The guests start rustling and turning around.  The soloist takes a deep breath and continues.

 

And even if the sun refused to shine

Even if romance ran out of rhyme

You would still have my heart

Until the end of time

 

The thumping noise is now a deafening rumble.  A dark object can now be seen speeding along the beach toward them.  Maddie looks angrily at the wedding coordinator like this is all her fault.  The woman doesn’t notice her, however, since she is shielding her eyes from the strong wind that is whirling around them, the force of which is making people tug on their clothes to keep them from flying off.  Agnes holds her mantilla on her head with both hands.  The soloist, a real trooper, goes into the last refrain of the song, even though she can’t be heard above the roar of helicopter rotors.

 

Cause all I need is you

My love, my Valentine

 

The soloist drops her microphone and leans against the guitarist.  The thunder and roaring wind begin to dissipate as the helicopter lands a few hundred feet away.  The wedding party starts to uncover their eyes and look up.  David looks up at the sky again.

 

David (yells):  I was only kidding about Bora Bora!

 

The priest takes this as his cue to start the ceremony.

 

Priest: Estamos reunidos hoyaqui para celebrar uno de los momentos mas grandes de la unda, para—

 

The emblem on the door of the craft reads S.M.E.R.F., and when it opens an excited little woman emerges.

 

Woman:  Stop the wedding!  Stop the wedding!  Agnes, am I too late?

 

Agnes:  Mom!

 

She runs to meet her mother.  They cling to each other as they meet in the middle of the bridge.

 

Agnes:  I didn’t think you’d make it.

 

Mom:  I’d never miss my little girl’s wedding.  Not for anything.

 

Agnes:  I love you, Mom.

 

The wedding attendees smile and clap and make furtive gestures at their windblown hair and clothes.  Maddie grins happily and wraps David in a hug.  She does a slight double take as she pulls back to look in his face.  She removes a handkerchief from her bodice and hands it to him.

 

Epilogue

The Wedding Reception onboard the Pacific Empress is in full swing.  Invited, as well as a few uninvited partiers crowd the buffet line and the dance floor.  Maddie rushes up to David, takes his plate out of his hands and pulls him away from Jergenson and O’Neill.

 

Maddie:  Hurry, David. I want to get a place on the floor before the next song begins.

 

David:  My, my, Ms. Hayes, usually you reserve this enthusiasm for more private social occasions.  You’re making a spectacle of yourself.  Don’t shove that little old lady.

 

Maddie:  Shut up and dance, you idiot.

 

David:  Whatever you say, Ms. Hayes.

 

Maddie feels a tap on her shoulder.

 

Maddie:  Oh Captain Riley.  Hello.

 

Captain:  Hello.  I’m sorry to interrupt your…um, dancing, but I need to talk to you both please.

 

David:  Uh oh.  What now?  False teeth disappearing mysteriously?

 

Maddie:  David…

 

Captain:  Nothing that requires your assistance I’m happy to report.  Actually, someone on my staff has alerted me that your quarters have been less than desirable.

 

Maddie:  Well…

 

Captain:  I wish someone had told me sooner.  We are nowhere close to being fully booked so I’ve taken the liberty of upgrading you and all of your party to our best suites.  I appreciate your help with our little problem and I feel this is the least we can do.  I hope you enjoy the remainder of the voyage.

 

The captain exits.

 

Maddie:  That was awfully nice of her, wasn’t it?

 

David:  I get my bed back.  That’s all I care about.  So where will you be sleeping tonight?

 

He locks her in a tight embrace and maneuvers them into the middle of the dance floor just as a new song starts up.

 

Unforgettable…

That’s what you are

 

He grins down at her.

 

David:  Did you request this song, perchance?

 

Maddie:  I have an “in” with the D.J.

 

Maddie smiles and winks at Mickey.

 

David:  Maddie, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say this is coming dangerously close to being our song.

 

Maddie:  Don’t get all sentimental on me David.  I wouldn’t want you to start crying again.

 

David:  I did not!  I just got a little…

 

Maddie:  Sappy…weepy… emotional… stop me any time I hit on the right word.

 

David:  I just got a little sand in my eyes.

 

Maddie:  Uh huh…  Look at them.  They look so happy.  Just made for each other.

 

She nods toward Agnes and Bert swaying to the music, eyes locked on each other, totally oblivious to everyone in the room.

 

David:  Mmm mmm.

 

He breathes in her scent as he pulls her closer still.

 

Maddie:  They remind me of this sweet little old couple I saw while I was taking my afternoon walk the other day.

 

David:  Mmm mmm.  Sweet little old couple…

 

Maddie:  I can just picture Agnes and Bert, fifty years from now, looking the same way.

 

David:  Mmm mmm.

 

Maddie:  David, are you even listening to me?

 

David:  Sure.  What about us?

 

Maddie:  What what about us?

 

David:  How do you see us fifty years from now?

 

Maddie:  I don’t really think your liver can hold out another fifty years. (He gives her a serious look.)  Ok, Ok…  Fifty years from now…  To be honest I can’t think about us ten years from now.

 

David:  Why not?

 

Maddie:  I just figure by then you will have moved on to the next blonde.

 

David:  I don’t have much luck with blondes.  I’m thinking about switching to redheads.

 

She gives him a dirty look.

 

David:  Oh come on, Maddie.  You don’t give me any credit, do you?

 

The dirty look continues.  Maddie can hold a dirty look longer than any woman in history.

 

David:  What do you want me to say?  That’s the answer you were expecting, right?  Because I’m a shallow bastard with no…oh yeah, and I quote, no romance or poetry in my soul.  After all we’ve been through together we still can’t get beyond this.  Unbelievable.

 

He shakes his head, honestly hurt.

 

Maddie:  Oh David.  I’m sorry…

 

David:  Then I get a little emotional at the wedding and you make fun.  And you’re supposed to be the one with the romantic soul.

 

Maddie:  Really…I was only joking around.  I didn’t mean to hurt you.

 

David:  You know, Maddie, maybe one of these days you’ll finally accept the fact that I love you and I’m not leaving…

 

They hold a long sober look.  She appears close to tears herself.

 

David (matter-of-factly):  I don’t care how old and wrinkly you get.

 

Maddie looks up to the ceiling and utters a frustrated sound loud enough to turn heads.

 

David:  I don’t know what you’re so worried about anyway.  You’re the female Dick Clark.  You’ll never get old.

 

Maddie:  Getting old does not concern me, David.  Where you’ll be in ten years does not concern me either.  I’m starting not to care where you’ll be in ten minutes…

 

David:  And I’ve written a poem.  Roses are red, violets are blue, I like spaghetti, let’s have sex.

 

Maddie:  Oh my God…

 

Raise the music:

 

That’s why darling

It’s incredible

That someone so unforgettable

Thinks that I am

Unforgettable too…

 

And Fade to Black

 

Musical Credits:

Strangers in the Night – Frank Sinatra

Moon River – Andy Williams

Unforgettable – Nat King Cole

Stayin’ Alive – The BeeGees (R.I.P. Maurice)

My Funny Valentine – Frank Sinatra

Valentine – Martina McBride

 

 

Sorry about the delay folks.  I won’t bore you with excuses.  Let’s just chalk it up to the Moonlighting curse and leave it at that.  Thanks, Lizzie and Diane, for all your support.  And MANY thanks to Lizzie for the banner.  And everyone else, thanks for reading!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Sue