Gardener's Detective Agency

Synopsis: When Olivia Gardener finds (inadvertantly) a body in her summer garden, she commenses detective work. She has no trouble solving the crime and finding the culprit but when she starts taking upon other petty crimes in the neighborhood, her neighbors and friends become aggitated with her-until she has a run-in with a notorious Mafia overlord. This is one instance where she may not return in one piece.

~*~CAST~*~

Olivia Gardener:

Cyril Gardener: (deceased)

Darryl Gardener: (eldest son)

Sylvia Gardener: (Darryl's wife)

Gracie Gardener: (granddaughter)

Erin Gardener: (youngest daughter)

Cameron McClure: (Erin's boyfriend)

Muriel Stutz:

Harold Stutz:

Isaac Stutz: (son)

Rachel Stutz: (daughter-in-law)

Aviva Stutz: (granddaughter)

Mr. Vincent Livery: (the deceased)

Franco Staccato: (mob boss)

Adrienne Staccato: (his wife)

Bluto: (one of his goons)

Brutus: (another goon)

Mortimer 'Mort' Feinstein: (convicted serial killer)

Onstar Operator (Gloria):

Scene 1-An Unlikely Gruesome Sight

Olivia: (while working in her garden, Summer Breeze plays in the background. Everything is going along splendidly until Olivia hits something hard in her flower bed)

What the devil ? (hits something hard again with her spade and begins digging, until she uncovers a dead body) It can't be ! Vincent Livery, how on earth did you end up in my garden ? (starts pondering to herself and stroking her cheek)

(musing to herself) Mr. Livery had been a beloved neighbor to everyone and as far as I knew, he had absolutely no enemies. Having been involved in forensics early on in my career and being retired left my old habit to come out of hibernation. I knew I could do a little investigation on my own. What harm could it do ?

But first, I'm going to have to find a proper way to bury you, Vinny. Oh, Cyril. What would you do if you were here ?

Of course ! (she calls the mortuary and the undertakers come. The main undertaker, with help of the others, places the body on the gurney. Later, police arrive and sequester Olivia's house off with crime tape, but she leaves for the evening to the morgue for investigation of her own. A jazzy 'crook' theme, that you typically hear in cartoons is played in the background as she does her work.)

Muriel: (looking out the window) Harold, have you seen Olivia's house recently ?

Harold: (reading the paper, not really interested in anything else around him, occupied with the sports section) Nah. What's up ?

Muriel: There's crime scene tape all over her place. What the Henry Ford's goin' on ?

Harold: Beats me, Muriel. Olivia can handle herself though. She's been going on strong without Cyril for seven years now.

Muriel: She's heading out tonight though.

Harold: Muriel, you need to keep your nose to yourself. Read the paper, like I do.

Muriel: That's not as much fun as this is. I'm keeping my sights on her. Olivia's never acted this strangely before.

Harold: I'm tellin' ya, Muriel, you're asking for trouble if you poke that beak where it isn't wanted.

Muriel: You're just a stick in the mud, Harold. Live a little.

(While Olivia is gathering data without permission, she slips home to the familiar strains of the 'Pink Panther' theme. She arrives home and begins working on the case.)

Muriel: She's in her lab again. I can't see what she's doing, though.

Harold: Muriel, come here a second, will you ?

Muriel: (coming away from the window) Yes, dear ? What is it ?

Harold: (kissing her, passionately) We have our own activities to keep us occupied.

Muriel: Ooh, hubba hubba.

(They sneak off into their bedroom, and turn off the lights. All the while, next door, Olivia is getting closer to figuring out who killed her neighbor. End scene.)

Scene 2-Easily Solved

Olivia: (narrating) I had worked long hours into the night until lo and behold, I had come upon who had committed the crime. I had a database on hand that needed 2 processors to run the data, but thankfully my retirement pension was enough to keep them humming. As my data processor came upon the match, I was shocked. The murderer had been none other than Mort 'Switchblade' Feineman. This was a young man once hired by my neighbor as an accountant. He finagled his way to the top and had been found stealing money from customers. Vinny had his suspicions of Mort but never acted upon them. Who would've thought ! Mort felt he would never get caught, but he has evaded law enforcement for years by leaving no trace of his 'quick work', until this latest kill. Ah, Mort. You were sloppy. Your DNA led me straight to you...

(phone rings)

Olivia: (jumps) Oh ! Just the phone. Silly me.

Darryl: Mom ! Did I call you at a bad time ?

Olivia: Not at all, Darryl honey. What's new ?

Darryl: I just wanted to tell you that Syvlia sends her love, as does Gracie. Gracie misses you and can't wait to come and visit.

Olivia: Have you heard anything from Erin ?

Darryl: She is getting ready to graduate from law school this summer. The BAR's coming up.

Olivia: (mutter) Good thing, I may need a good lawyer after all this.

Darryl: What's that mom ?

Olivia: Nothing, nothing at all.

Darryl: You're up to something. I can tell by the sound of your voice. Are you in trouble ?

Olivia: (chuckling) Not at all. You worry too much, baby. (to herself) I can't tell him I just solved a murder, he'll begin to ask questions. I want to start my own detective agency. I'll need to keep it hidden, most of all from prying eyes and ears like his. But, what of Gracie ? I suppose I'll have to do my best to conseal this as well.

Darryl: (sigh of relief) Thank goodness. We'll be over this weekend. I think Erin will be availible this weekend. I'll see if I can send an email her way so we can get together.

Olivia: We could eat at that bakery she's been eager to try.

Darryl: Certainly, that's a grand idea. Oh, mom ? One more thing before I go.

Olivia: What's that, sweet bun ?

Darryl: I love you. And don't work too hard in your garden. You don't want to strain yourself.

Olivia: Darryl Luke, you know full well I am capable of handling myself.

Darryl: I'm aware, mom. I love you, hope to get us all together. Time willing, we can have a mini reunion soon.

Olivia: Baby steps, Darryl. Take care, ok, son ?

Darryl: Will do !

Olivia: (narrating) Looking at all this information on my hands I felt invincible. Goddess like. Yet, I knew that I shouldn't let success go to my head. I turned my evidence in to the police and the case was closed. Feinstein was arrested, convicted and put on trial without any stir in the neighborhood. Matters went along normally, but I felt like my duty hadn't been completed. With my newfound skill, I wanted to crack down on crimes on my own. Sort of like a self made Ms. Marpole if you will. Color me crazy, but I needed excitement in my life, and I am fairly sure my beloved Cyril would've supported me in my plan.

(Scene fade)

Scene 3-Sweet Reunion

Erin: (coming over with Darryl in his car along with Gracie and Sylvia) I can't believe we're actually going to Muffin But Love. Just driving by this spot as a kid made me drool. That chocolate smell...divine.

Darryl: Just smelling it now makes me hungry.

Gracie: I really hope they have lemon bars, or even better...lemon cupcakes !

Olivia: You're just like grandpa Cyril. Remember how much he liked lemons ?

Gracie: Yes, grandma. He was sugary sweet, though. The exact opposite of a lemon.

Olivia: That's right, Gracie. He was. So, Erin, how goes school work ?

Erin: It's challenging but worthwhile.

Olivia: What about that handsome young man you're seeing. What's his name ?

Erin: Cameron ? We're still going strong. He's like me. He wants to work for the same firm I'm looking into getting hired for. You know, Sherman, Rife and Gail ?

Olivia: That's a rather classy outfit, and they're scrutinizing and particular.

Erin: I know, but I'm sure I'll impress them. The Gardener family has charm and wit on their side. After all, I have the Gardener intellect. Nothing can go wrong.

Gracie: (spots a little black journal that has fallen out of her grandmother's purse) Granny, you dropped something. Let me pick it up for you.

Olivia: (a bit anxiously) Oh, thank you. You're such a curteous child.

Darryl: What's this ? (reading title) Gardener's Detective Agency. Recent cases solved: The conundrum of the missing cat, Harold Stutz' missing hearing aid, Ms. Livery's pilfered panties... The list goes on. Mom, you are up to something.

Sylvia: You've been detecting. I guess it's hard to put down the microscope after so long, huh ?

Gracie: You've been solving mysteries like Nancy Drew ?

Olivia: I'd rather liken myself to Agatha Christie, but yes, dear, child.

Sylvia: You shouldn't be intruding in other's lives. You might get into trouble.

Olivia: Harold said the exact thing to me a couple days ago after I found his lost hearing aid. He had been blaming his poor hearing on other issues, but Muriel tattled, revealing that he actually hid them in a place where no one else would find them; in the top droor of his cabinet where he keeps his revolver. Seeing that he's taller than she, he can reach it easier and pass it off on 'forgetfulness', or as he loves to blame it on Altzhiemer's which he doesn't even have, and frankly, I don't find funny at all.

Darryl: You're getting in over your head already, mom. (pats her hand)

Olivia: Just call me a 'one woman neighborhood watch', boy ! I've still got it !

Gracie: You're the coolest grandma ever ! You not only get us sweets but you solve crimes ! Man, late night TV has nothing on you !

(They all laugh)

Sylvia: I think we should head back. (to Darryl) She's encouraging Gracie enough, don't you think ?

Darryl: Mom, it's been lovely, in fact, everything has been swell.

Olivia: Why are you heading out so early ? It's not like we are that far from each other.

Sylvia: I know, mom. Work keeps us busy though.

Erin: (hugging her along with Sylvia and Darryl, Gracie does as well) I'll have to return to college tomorrow. Thanks for letting me buy an extra jelly bean cupcake. Cameron's crazy about Jelly Bellys and he'll devour this one in no time flat.

Olivia: Think nothing of it, my darlings. All of you are my delights, so I felt a little treat in that respect is fair payment. You know I'm going to miss you. Don't forget to say hello every so once in a while. Don't let it be until next Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Erin: (kissing her cheek) It won't mom. (gets into Darryl's car along with Sylvia who also kisses her goodbye)

Darryl: Bye mom. Love you immensely. (kisses both her cheeks and forehead)

Olivia: (sad sigh) They tell me I'm in too deep. (determined) I'm only working on petty crimes. Feinstien was my first 'big time' murder mystery, and I solved that one overnight. There has to be something more I am missing in the neighborhood. Some underlying factor I have been overlooking. I don't care what they say. Gardener's Detective Agency must rise to the occasion.

(scene fade)

Scene 4-Returning A Mafioso's Check Book

Olivia: (narrating) Who would've thought one could get into so much trouble in a grocery store. Here I am minding my own business and I happen upon a check book that someone has lost. When I look at the return address on the inside of its expensive, leather bound covers, it reads, 'If found, return promptly to Franco Staccato OR ELSE.' Chills ran down my spine and I felt time come to a halt. The Franco Staccato ? I was looking for new crimes to investigate and now this... (bumps into Franco accidentally at the store) Oh, excuse me, Sir ! I didn't see you there.

Franco: Maybe if you weren't so short I wouldn't consider you a shadow and you might not get stepped on. Do I know you ?

Olivia: (nervously, in a bit of a squeak) No ! (voice normalizes) I mean...no. I highly doubt it.

Franco: No, I've seen you before. Your that snitchy lady that is a bit too curious for her own good.

Bluto: Hey, boss. She's got your check book.

Brutus: How did you find that, toots ?

Olivia: I swear I simply found it lying on the ground. I didn't know it was Mr. Staccato's until I read the label on the inner lining.

Franco: (magnanimously) I'm truly grateful for what you have done. I'm not so keen on you taking up cases as if you're some sort of private investigator. You once came a bit too close into my backyard.

Bluto: Boss's got eyes everywhere, so he's got tabs on you, Ms. Gardener.

Brutus: I'd watch your step if I were you.

Olivia: No hard feelings. I'm not harming anyone. (nervous laugh) Not intentionally. I had no clue I had been close to your territory. I am tremendously sorry ! Just take your checkbook ! I only saw the return address, I saw nothing else.

Franco: I like you Olivia. I truly do. Don't make me have to warn you again, or I will find other methods of persuading you to keep to your own business.

Brutus: Believe us, lady, he can be a real schmuck when irritated.

Bluto: (whispering) He's got anger issues. Thought you would like to know.

Olivia: Got it. Clearer than Crystale in a wine glass.

Franco: Good girl. I was sort of looking forward to putting dismembered cats in your yard, maybe in your bed...some of them that like to be fed around your home. I guess I can cross that potential activity off my list.

Olivia: (trying not to be disgusted with the implications) Nice meet you, erm...Mr. Staccato.

Franco: Oh, believe me. Pleasure's mine.

Olivia: (watches him leave with his goons and shudders) Hopefully that's the last encounter I have with him.

(Instrumental of White Foxes plays in the background)

Olivia: (driving home, she sees a black Cadillac with tinted windows but doesn't notice it following her until it keeps tailgating her, then she becomes suspicious. The car drives faster and faster, pushing her until she has no other recourse than to drive off the side of the road, and she careens into a tree, her airbag deploys and OnStar calls her.)

Gloria: This is Gloria at Onstar. I just recorded that you have had a crash. I think that the Cadillac behind you was a proponent of that.

Olivia: (groaning) Uhhh...Gloria ? Everything's blurry.

Gloria: But you're still with us ? Still breathing and everything, right ?

Olivia: Did you get the license plate of the Cadillac that hit me ?

Gloria: Yes, and police are following the rapscallion now.

Olivia: Thank goodness. Who could've done this to me ?

Gloria: Don't worry about that now, Ms. Gardener, just stay on the line. The ambulance is coming and paramedics will be there to assist you.

Olivia: Thank you, Gloria. (narrating) I wasn't in pain, I wasn't in shock. The impact of the driver's air bag had knocked some of the wind out of me, but my vision was starting to clear. My poor Juke had been totalled, but at least it was insured and I could buy a new one with the money I had saved over the years thanks to my retirement checks I saved for rainy days. I had a feeling who had been chasing me and I knew I hadn't been freed of Mr. Feinstein's terror yet. I was just happy that this was being handled by the authorities and that I was being taken care of properly.

Scene 5-Unusual Companion

('I've Seen Better Days' instrumental plays in the background.)

Olivia: (narrating) At first, the kids freaked out hearing what had happened to me and that I was in the hospital. I wasn't going to be there long, but I was about to get a vistiation from someone I never could've possibly guessed cared anything about my livlihood. I guess you cannot judge based on outward apperances or intimidation.

Franco: (taking flowers to Olivia) I heard you were in the hospital and as soon as I got word of your peril I had to come and see you.

Olivia: You weren't connected to this ? Pardon my audacity, sir.

Franco: No, no. I completely understand. I'd be a bit freaked out if I was seeing myself come into the room after what I said to you earlier.

Olivia: So, was it who I thought it was that caused my accident ?

Franco: Yes, and he will no longer bother you. True, he is employed under me, but he did this of his own volition.

Olivia: Gee, that's comforting.

Franco: (chuckling) I didn't mean it that way. Sheesh, battin' zero here.

Olivia: (awkward laugh)

Franco: I know it is uncomfortable, and by the way your family is starin' at me, they don't like me much, but let me assure you, that psychopath Mort won't be buggin' you again. You saved my life.

Olivia: Huh ? How so ?

Franco: My checkbook is extremely valuable. Some might say irreplaceable. How I reacted initially was improper. I do hope I am forgiven for that.

Olivia: Just so I am not on your hit list anymore. I don't have any disciples either. It was a silly idea to begin with and I'll just stick to my gardening.

Franco: Hey even if you did go back to your detecting and wandered into my turf, I wouldn't care. I was just being ballsy before.

Adrienne: Not really helping the sitch here, Frank.

Frank: This is Adrienne, my beautiful spouse.

Adrienne: Frank here has open mouth insert footitis and well, sometimes he says things before thinking them. You're under our protection now. Mort's been taught a lesson. We were just coming here to tell you that and to check on you.

Sylvia: The doctor says she will be released in a day or so.

Adrienne: Exceptional news. Well, Godspeed in whatever you do.

Olivia: (narrating) And like that, they were gone. I got little checks in the mail after that paying for my hospital bills, like they never existed. Mort never tried to persue me to the death on the road again (lighthearted laugh) thank merciful God, and I returned to gardening and mystery novels. Yes, this was the truest form of crime solving with which I had become so apt. My youngest daughter was about to get married, my nosy Jewish neighbors kept themselves busy canoodling like always, so I couldn't complain. After all, my song is ever with me. He will come and dance beside me in my rose garden to songs of old and I know one day, I'll come home to him again.

(String of Pearls plays as Olivia dances with her beloved and The End is written in cursive letters on the screen.)