My first submission on FictionPress. :)


*All characters stand on stage, spaced apart. Each character will step forward during their turn and speak.*

ASTRID: I had always imagined that when we die, we wouldn't feel anything. I imagined the usual things… you know, warm white lights, angels, clouds, dead relatives…the whole nine yards. But then I realized…death is death. There is no dignity. There is no grace. There is no glory or honor…just death. There is no such thing as an honorable death…only honorable lives. I lived for love. And what a love it was.

ETHAN: I used to look at myself in the mirror and wonder how I would ever get a girl to like me. Or a boy… frankly I don't think it matters much these days. It seemed like I was falling in love every day. I fell in love with this girl on the bus once. She was the prettiest thing I had ever seen in my entire life. I realized then that I would do anything to have someone love me. I would have given anything for that pretty girl to love me. I chased my fantasies and…look where it got me.

MYRA: When we were in high school we read Romeo and Juliet. At first I was really into it. I thought, oh yeah, one of the greatest love stories of all time, right?! Let me tell you what, it was the biggest crock of horse crap I've ever read in my entire life. A three day relationship between two kids which resulted in six deaths. What kind of love story is that? I never understood why Juliet would have done such a thing. But now….now I think maybe I do.

JIM: One time my dad asked me if I had a special girl in my life. He was always asking me that question….my relationship status was a great source of entertainment during holiday meals. Safe to say I never really put much thought towards finding a girl for myself. I didn't know anything about…love or all that. Pop always used to say that the first time he saw my momma, it was like he'd been hit by a lightning bolt. I never really did understand what Pop meant. Until the day I met her. That fateful day that lightning struck.

AUDREY: My mother loved me with all her heart. She used to sit me at her boudoir and slowly brush my hair and sing me soft songs with her beautiful voice. She used to let me put on her lipstick when I wanted to play dress-up. My favorite was this particularly glamorous shade of blood-red. She would brush my hair while I put on the lipstick and she would tell me that I was the most beautiful creature in the world. She used to tease that I had a face that could break the hearts of a thousand men. (beat) How ironic.

*lights down. Exuent omnes*

*Lights up, interior of a cozy coffee shop. There is a random assortment of sofas, chairs, and little tables. CS should be a couch with a coffee table in front, with a chair off to either side. The rest can be left to the imagination. ETHAN is sitting on the couch, writing in a small notebook.*

ETHAN: [writes a little] Hmmm… [scratches it out and writes something else] *makes disgusted noise* [scratches that out…finally sits back, totally frustrated and throws his notebook on the table in front of him]

*at that precise moment, ASTRID enters from SR with a coffee mug and a plate of pastries*

ETHAN: Damn it all!

ASTRID: Trouble in paradise, Ethan?

ETHAN: It's terrible, Astrid. Everything I've written for the past three months has just been awful! Utter baloney, all of it.

ASTRID: *sets the items on the table* Utter baloney, huh? Is that the technical term for it?

ETHAN: No.

ASTRID: See? I knew you writer-types were always making stuff up.

ETHAN: Of course we make stuff up! That's kind of our job description…

ASTRID: And as the king of BS, I can definitely see why you chose this career.

ETHAN: Astrid!

ASTRID: Oh come on, stop pouting. Look, I brought you breakfast.

ETHAN: Breakfast? It's… 6:30 in the evening.

ASTRID: And you haven't eaten once today. So stop arguing and eat some of the scones I brought. They're butterscotch…your favorite! Brain food and coffee...that'll get rid of that writer's block for you.

ETHAN: More like blow it up with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and massive amounts of caffeine.

ASTRID: You're welcome.

ETHAN: *sighs and grabs a scone* Thanks, Astrid. I'm sorry. It's just…

ASTRID: I know, I know. Headlines and deadlines, Ethan. You keep working. I'll keep the lattes coming.

ETHAN: Astrid, have I told you lately how much I adore you?

ASTRID: *as she walks away* Nope!

ETHAN: *calls after her* Astrid, I absolutely adore you!

*as ETHAN calls out that last line, JIM enters from SL*

JIM: Has Astrid finally caved in, then?

ETHAN: What are you talking about?

JIM: Did she bring you those?

ETHAN: Yeah…not five minutes ago.

JIM: I totally win that bet. *sits on couch with ETHAN*

ETHAN: Huh? She brought me a latte and a plate of scones. What exactly were you betting on?

JIM: I know you've been blowing your brains out trying to get your work finished and I knew you'd get frustrated. I bet Astrid that she couldn't watch you get all bamboozled by work without bringing you coffee or food.

ETHAN: Why on earth would you make a bet like that? That's so stupid.

JIM: She's a sentimental mother hen and I'm a compulsive gambler. What are you going to do?

*ASTRID re-enters with another coffee*

ASTRID: I was hoping to go the rest of the day without seeing your ugly mug around these parts, Jim.

JIM: Nice to see you too, Astrid. Is that for me?

ASTRID: *plops down on the chair* Nope.

JIM: Get outta here. I won that bet fair and square.

ASTRID: Nope.

JIM: It was really quite cold outside. I could really use that coffee to heat me up a little, before I get hypothermia or catch a cold.

ASTRID: Nope.

JIM: You're the prettiest girl I've seen all day long.

ASTRID: You've been with your sister all day. That's not much of a compliment.

JIM: You're so amazing, Astrid. Marry me. Isn't she amazing, Ethan?

ETHAN: Absolutely incredible.

ASTRID: (beat) It is such a good thing for the both of you that I am an enabler and I absolutely can't stay mad at you. *stands and hands the cup to JIM, then plants a kiss on his head*

JIM: Coffee and a kiss? My day is certainly looking up.

ETHAN: You've been with your sister all day. The Black Plague would be a step up.

JIM: Touché, my keen friend.

*MYRA enters SL with some slips of paper in her hands*

MYRA: Hey Astrid, can you come show me how to fix the credit card reader thing again?

ASTRID: Myra, did you break my machine again?

MYRA: No, Mommy and Daddy are just having an argument.

ASTRID: Just be good to the kids when you get a divorce.

MYRA: More like when I throw the damned thing out the window for breaking all the time.

ASTRID: Technological homicide… now there's a writing prompt for you, Ethan.

ETHAN: Not trying to rewrite Office Space. (beat) Who's your friend, Astrid?

ASTRID: Oh! How rude of me. Myra, come meet my boys. Myra's been a friend of my family's for many many moons. She's come to work with me and she's just excellent in the bakery.

*MYRA walks over to them. As JIM turns to see her, we see that he is positively thunderstruck by her*

MYRA: Hey guys.

ASTRID: Myra, this is Ethan. Ethan is a writer and the only reason he's not a starving artist is because I feed him all the stale bagels we throw out. *they shake hands*

ETHAN: Thanks, Astrid. It's a pleasure to meet you, Myra.

MYRA: The pleasure's mine, to be sure, Ethan.

ASTRID: And this is Jim, my neighbor and Ethan's roommate and somehow the social glue that holds this little group together.

JIM: *stares at Myra*

MYRA: *blinks at JIM, twirling her hair shyly*

ASTRID: Earth to Jim… come in Jim…

ETHAN: *elbows Jim in the ribs* Jim!

JIM: Hi! I'm Jim! My name is Jim. It's nice to meet you, Myra.

MYRA: *shakes his hand* It's nice to meet you too, Jim.

ASTRID: Way to go, Romeo. C'mon Myra, let's go see about that nasty card reader that keeps abusing you.

*MYRA and ASTRID exit SL* *JIM still looks positively baffled as he watches them leave*

ETHAN: You alright there, Jim?

JIM: What?

ETHAN: C'mon down off cloud nine, lover boy. (pause as JIM shifts around) So… how about that Myra?

JIM: Huh? Oh…yeah, she's… she seemed nice.

ETHAN: Oh come off it, you were staring at her like you've never seen a woman before. A bomb could have gone off right beside you and you wouldn't have noticed a thing.

JIM: She is the most beautiful…I mean, my God Ethan did you see her?

ETHAN: She is a nice catch, mate.

JIM: Oh for god's sake, Ethan, she's not a catfish in the East River. She's… a goddess. There should be thousands of poets lining the streets waiting to transform her beauty into words. Artists should be flocking to paint her face!

ETHAN: Are there catfish in the East River?

JIM: (beat) What?!

ETHAN: The East River… does it even have catfish?

JIM: That whole bit about artists and poets and all you got was the damned catfish…I don't know, Ethan! I thought you were the Mensa in this group.

ETHAN: Dammit, Jim, I'm a writer, not a fisherman.

JIM: You've been waiting for that opportunity all night, haven't you, you disgraceful Trekkie?

ETHAN: That's literally the best thing about having a friend named Jim.

*ASTRID reenters*

ASTRID: And here I thought we kept him around just for his good looks.

ETHAN: Oh right… there's always that too.

JIM: I hate the both of you.

ASTRID: Awww, that's too bad. I guess I'll just put this back since you won't be wanting it from me… (flourishes a business card under JIM's nose)

ETHAN: Uh oh… Astrid, that wouldn't happen to be Myra's business card, would it?

ASTRID: Why, it most certainly is, Ethan! Would you like one? I'm sure she would love to process an order for more of those scones you polished off.

JIM: *snatches the card from ASTRID* Thank you, Astrid! (exits SL shouting in victory)

ETHAN: He's going to be insufferable after this, you know that right?

ASTRID: As opposed to any other day?

ETHAN: Aww, lighten up on the guy, Astrid. I think he's in L-O-V-E, if you know what I'm saying.

ASTRID: *settles on couch next to ETHAN* I'm never sure I know what you're saying, darling. It's that writer's brain of yours… always full of silliness.

ETHAN: (beat) You're right, Astrid. You're always right. I'm a crap writer and none of my ideas are ever going to make it out there. I think of the most brilliant ideas for screenplays but when I write them down and then reread them they're just… rubbish! I know I'm not a…prolific visionary, but dammit I thought I was better than this!

ASTRID: Hey, hey… don't do that to yourself. You are better! It's just a…process. Don't you have to get all the bad ideas out before the good ones come along?

ETHAN: What if all I'm ever going to write is trash? How can I possibly know that something better will come along?

ASTRID: You can't, Ethan. You can't possibly know. But if you give up now, you'll never know. Even a diamond looks like any other rock when it starts. But when you polish it and shape it and give it time… it shines so magnificently.

ETHAN: *pause…then wraps his arm around ASTRID and kisses her head* You're never going to give up on me, are you Astrid?

ASTRID: Never.

*They look at each other for a moment. ASTRID leans in to kiss ETHAN'S lips, but he pulls away and stands up quickly.

ETHAN: Ummm… I guess, I'd better get going. It's getting kinda late.

ASTRID: Yep. (beat) Yeah, I better close up for the night. Early start tomorrow morning.

ETHAN: *grabs his notebook* Well, I'll see you soon, Astrid. Have a good night.

ASTRID: (as Ethan is exiting SL) Yeah…yeah you have a good one too, Ethan. (as soon as he is gone…) Uggggghhhhhhhh…. Astrid. What the hell is wrong with you?

*Lights down*

*Lights up. The stage is split into two halves. SL is a simple couch and chair with a stand or two, plants…like you'd find in a sitting room. SR is a table with some mixing bowls and miscellaneous baking gear. ASTRID and MYRA are SR going through the motions of baking things. JIM and ETHAN are SL, seemingly engaged in the TV or whatnot. When one side is speaking, the other side will freeze*

ETHAN: So… how was your date with Myra?

JIM: Man, I am telling you Ethan, she is the most amazing person I have ever met in my life. She's so beautiful and smart and funny… we talked for three hours and it didn't feel like anything.

ETHAN: I'm happy for you, man. She seemed like a really sweet girl. Are you going out again anytime soon?

JIM: Yeah, tonight actually. We've got tickets to the hockey game. Can you believe she likes hockey too?!

ETHAN: That's great… really great.

JIM: *pause* Are you okay, man? You've seemed a little distracted these past few days.

ETHAN: *beat* Yeah, I'm fine. Just these deadlines, you know. Work keeps coming and I'm not cranking out anything decent.

JIM: No… it's a little more than that. You've been my roommate for three years and you're my best friend. I know it's not just work. You can't BS me, Ethan Taylor.

ETHAN: Can I ask you something? Something about Astrid?

JIM: Astrid? Yeah…sure. What's up with Astrid?

ETHAN: Has… has she ever talked about me? Like…has she ever said anything…about me… possibly as more than…more than just a friend?

JIM: Wait…are you trying to ask me whether Astrid has a crush on you?

ETHAN: *deflates* Yeah…

*they freeze and ASTRID and MYRA pop to life*

ASTRID: How was your date with Jim?

MYRA: How'd you know I had a date with Jim?

ASTRID: Oh please, girl, who doesn't know that you had a date with Jim? Plus, when I came home last night, you weren't there and neither was your little black dress…

MYRA: You checked my closet?

ASTRID: I borrowed your nail polish remover and it just happened to catch my attention. Now stop being ridiculous and spill!

MYRA: I never could fool you, Astrid. Jim is so incredible! He's so smart and cute… and just spontaneous enough that I'm always guessing.

ASTRID: You did always prefer the spontaneous ones. Are you going out again?

MYRA: Mmmhmm. We've got tickets to the hockey game tonight!

ASTRID: Ugh! Jealous! I haven't been to a game yet this season.

MYRA: Jim's got season passes. You could always tag along sometime.

ASTRID: I know… but the third wheel… that's sometimes a weird place to be, Myra. I adore both of you but I'd never want to intrude on you. *grumbles* And it's highly unlikely that we'd pull off a double date.

MYRA: Why would you say that? You've been kind of grumpy about love and such for the past few days.

ASTRID: That's ridiculous, Myra.

MYRA: You practically glared at that adorable couple that came in yesterday. In fact, you've been practically glaring at all the couples that have come in. Did something happen with Ethan?

ASTRID: *flings a spoon into a dish angrily* (sighs) No… nothing happened.

*Switch to JIM and ETHAN*

JIM: Did something happen between the two of you?

ETHAN: The other night at the café… after you and Myra left. I was being a whiny bastard about something and Astrid was calming me down. It was cool, you know, we were just sitting there. Then…she tried to kiss me.

JIM: (beat) And?

ETHAN: And… and I stood up and left.

JIM: Wait…wait… you're saying that Astrid tried to kiss you, and you just ran away?

ETHAN: (beat) Yeah…

JIM: You're either the perfect gentleman, or the perfect idiot. At this exact moment I'm having trouble deciding which.

ETHAN: I didn't know what to do! God, Jim, Astrid's never tried to kiss me before. It was totally out of the blue… I panicked!

JIM: I just can't believe you didn't let a pretty girl kiss you.

ETHAN: But… but it's ASTRID!

JIM: Yeah, I know, she's our friend. I know you don't dislike her…

ETHAN: Well….well yeah, I mean I know she's great. She's brilliant… but I just… I don't know…

JIM: Have you ever felt attracted to her? And I mean in more than a she-brings-me-coffee-and-tells-me-I'm-amazing way?

ETHAN: (beat) I don't know, Jim. I honestly don't know.

*Switch to ASTRID and MYRA*

MYRA: C'mon Astrid…what happened? Did Ethan say something to you?

ASTRID: No. The other night, after you and Jim left the café, I stayed with Ethan a bit. He was going on about how he thinks he's a bad writer and how he'll never be good enough to get anything published. I sat with him and tried to talk to him about it.

MYRA: Oh god, Astrid, you did the mother hen thing again, didn't you.

ASTRID: What?

MYRA: The mother hen thing. You always do that, and even though I've not known Ethan personally, I've known you for years and I KNOW you've done that to him. Let me lay it out for you… He'll whine about something incessantly or talk about how bad he is at something. You go into mother hen mode and cluck at him about how good he is or how incredible his work is.

ASTRID: And that's a bad thing?

MYRA: No, love, but I think you've mistaken his gratitude for the nice things you say for affection. You see it as reaching out to his heart. He sees it as a massive stroke to his ego.

ASTRID: In that case you're really going to smack me for what I'm about to say.

MYRA: (beat) What did you do?

ASTRID: I may or may not have tried to kiss him. On the mouth.

MYRA: Oh…. Astrid… I take it that he didn't exactly go for it, then.

ASTRID: What do you think, Myra?

*Switch to JIM and ETHAN*

ETHAN: I've known Astrid for a long time… we went to school together, off to University… we've been friends for a long time.

JIM: And you've never felt anything for her?

ETHAN: Not… I mean, she's great. She's pretty and smart… and really generous. (beat) Do you remember how she would always make three dozen cupcakes for us before our chemistry study sessions?

JIM: To this day, the taste of chemical discovery is likened to red velvet cupcakes for me...

ETHAN: Me too. (beat) I don't know, Jim. I know that Astrid is a great woman. But I just…never thought about her romantically.

JIM: That's okay, Ethan. It's perfectly acceptable. But you're gonna have to talk to her. You know that, right?

ETHAN: I know. I just don't know how the hell I'm going to do it.

JIM: That's called being a man, Ethan. We're rubbish with words.

ETHAN: We're writers, Jim…

JIM: My point.

ETHAN: Ha ha ha… you're hilarious. *beat* I don't want to break her heart, Jim.

JIM: Then don't.

*Switch to ASTRID and MYRA*

MYRA: What did he do?

ASTRID: He just stood up from the couch really fast and then took his notebook and left.

MYRA: Oh Astrid… have you guys talked about it yet?

ASTRID: Hell no! I made a fool of myself and I'm sure Ethan is just as confused. Talking about it… god, that would be so awkward.

MYRA: Yeah, but you really need to talk about it. If you don't, things are just going to hang in the air around you for the rest of your life. Clear it up and move on.

ASTRID: Look at you being so practical.

MYRA: One of us has to be sensible. And at the moment, it isn't you, sweetheart.

ASTRID: How am I supposed to bring this up? Ethan has been one of my best friends for a really long time. I don't remember exactly when I… started feeling more for him, but I do, and I can't help it. God, Myra, he's my best friend. I don't want to mess that up because I'm a hormonal idiot.

MYRA: Then don't.

*At this point, both sides of the stage will be active, trading lines but still within their respective settings. ASTRID and ETHAN will migrate towards the front of stage as they deliver their lines. When they deliver their last lines, they will be facing each other.*

JIM: You're both sensible and reasonable people. I don't see why you wouldn't be able to just talk it out and move on.

MYRA: Really, Astrid. Ethan is your friend and he'll understand. You just have to come to an understanding of what your relationship is.

JIM: Astrid is probably beating herself up over this. Don't be too hard on her.

ETHAN: How am I supposed to ask her how this affects our friendship when I don't even really know how I feel about her?

ASTRID: But what if he doesn't want our relationship to change? Jesus, Myra I can't really change how I feel about him.

MYRA: No… but you may have to compromise, Astrid. You can't force anything on the man. And you don't want to lose your friendship. But you have to admit that you feel something for him. Otherwise it'll drive you insane.

JIM: You're going to have to sort that out on your own, man. There's nothing I can do for that.

*by this time, ETHAN and ASTRID are front and center, facing each other, but it looks like they're just… staring out their respective windows or something. They're not actually interacting with each other*

ETHAN: She's one of my best friends. My friend…that's it. That's what I'll tell her, Jim.

ASTRID: I love him, Myra. I've loved him for a long time and I can't tell him.

*Lights down*

*Lights up, interior of MYRA'S apartment. MYRA is sitting in a chair reading a newspaper. JIM enters from SL*

JIM: Knock knock!

MYRA: Hey you. *she looks up as JIM pecks her on the cheek* How was your day?

JIM: Just another day in paradise, you know? The office has been swamped with calls about this new supposed serial killer case that's been catching a lot of attention recently.

MYRA: You mean this… ? (indicates newspaper)

JIM: *glances over* Yep. The Kissin' Kate murderess. That's my byline, you know.

MYRA: Made that up all by yourself did you?

JIM: It's perfect. It's a little different than the legend, but I think it still fits. A beautiful woman, lipstick, shooting men…

MYRA: Wasn't that legend… made up? In a book or a movie or something?

JIM: (beat) Maybe…

MYRA: Maybe? How about yes, it was. Couldn't you come up with anything… I don't know…more original?

JIM: I could…but why reinvent the wheel? It's a fitting description and I think it kind of has a ring to it. Besides, it's not like the legend is actually real or anything.

MYRA: Well, unfortunately it's real in this city, even if it is slightly different than the made up legend.

JIM: Do you think my byline is stupid?

MYRA: No, dear, I don't think your byline is stupid.

JIM: Okay. Cause I think it's brilliant, even if it's 'unoriginal'.

MYRA: Hey, go with your best pitch. (beat) So have the police found any leads yet? Anything traceable in that lipstick or whatever? How does that even work, by the way? The paper says it's… hallucinogenic? Really?

JIM: Well, Captain Monahan hasn't been exactly forthcoming with information, but he has released a few things. All the victims have been just ordinary guys… a cook, an accountant, and a nurse. There's nothing horribly unique about them, and nor do they seem to share similar traits, except for the fact that they're all single. They've all been found in their homes with a single gunshot wound right in the heart. As for the lipstick, apparently it's possible, the woman would just have a…layer of something on her own lips to prevent it from knocking her out.

MYRA: A layer of something?

JIM: I don't remember exactly what that tech said… a layer of…beeswax or something like that.

MYRA: That's…actually rather ingenious. Terrifying, but genius.

JIM: That's actually what I was thinking… I didn't want to say that out loud, though.

MYRA: (beat) So, how exactly do you know Captain Monahan? I mean, it isn't every day that a police captain rubs elbows with a member of the press. I thought they hated you guys in the press.

JIM: You watch too much TV, Myra. The captain has a really good relationship with my office. When he became the captain, he came in to talk to us all about building a better working relationship with the press. I sort of became the spokesman for the office and the unofficial representative on the force. We've been working together like that for quite the number of years.

MYRA: Wow. (beat) So you think he'll keep giving you information as the case goes on?

JIM: I'm hoping that the case won't go much further than this. Three murders is… well, we're approaching serial killer territory there.

MYRA: (beat) Did you say that all of the victims were single men?

JIM: Yeah. Why?

MYRA: I guess… if this is a serial killer that's targeting single men… I'm just worried.

JIM: Why are you worried?

MYRA: Oh for god's sake Jim...what about my brothers? They're both single and still at the University. What about Astrid's dad, he's a widower. What about Ethan?

JIM: Myra, I seriously doubt that they're in any danger. (beat) But if you want, I'll talk to them myself. Tell them to watch their backs.

MYRA: (sighs) Promise?

JIM: Promise.

MYRA: *joins JIM on the couch and snuggles in* Thank you, Jim.

JIM: You're welcome. (pause) So….where's Astrid?

MYRA: Working late shift today. I left around noon.

JIM: She doing alright?

MYRA: Well… she seems to have had a little…domestic trouble, I guess…with Ethan.

JIM: Mmm. Yeah, I heard. Ethan was telling me about it a few days ago.

MYRA: Yeah. I've never seen Astrid so flustered. You think they'll work it out?

JIM: Considering that Ethan has a date tonight and it's not with Astrid… I certainly hope they work things out. And soon.

*Lights down*

*Lights up, interior of the café. Astrid is lying on the couch reading a book or magazine.*

*JIM enters from SL*

JIM: Hey, shouldn't you be working or something? The good people of this city deserve their muffins and scones.

ASTRID: Shut it, Jim. You know my shift finished half an hour ago and that's why you're here. I don't even have to ring the dinner bell anymore, you just come running to get the leftover muffins from the bakery.

JIM: I believe they call that a win-win situation. You get rid of the stale muffins…I get free food. (beat) Scoot over. *ASTRID sits up and JIM sits beside her*

ASTRID: I suppose, you great moocher. How have you been?

JIM: I'm alright…can't really complain about anything.

ASTRID: Now there's a first!

JIM: Oh stop it. You're getting to be as bad as Ethan. He's always on my case about something.

ASTRID: Oh. Oh yeah? Well that's… well we all know Ethan's a prick and I'm…

JIM: Astrid. You do realize he's told me everything, right? And even if he hadn't, Myra told me?

ASTRID: Ugggghhhh… news travels fast. (beat) Jim, what am I going to do? What am I supposed to do? I made a complete fool of myself and he won't want to be my friend anymore and I'm going to lose him and…

JIM: Astrid. Shut up.

ASTRID: Jim…

JIM: Look, I'm going to tell you the same thing that I told Ethan, and I'm pretty sure Myra has already told you: you need to talk to him. You're both a little nervous and a little confused. It's going to be awkward and you're going to want to melt into a little puddle on the floor, but you have to do this. Otherwise it's going to keep getting more awkward and more confused.

ASTRID: I know, Jim. I just don't want to mess this up any more that I already have. Ethan is a really great friend, but I can't help the feelings I have for him. I've always had them. I just never worked up the courage to do anything before.

JIM: I know, Astrid. But Ethan's had a lot on his plate for the past few weeks. He's just been distracted and I'm sure it caught him off guard. He just needed time to process things.

ASTRID: Oh Jim… why are you always so rational?

JIM: Someone's got to keep you in line, Astrid. You're an emotional wreck.

ASTRID: Thanks...

*ETHAN enters from SR*

ETHAN: Jim, hey Myra said you'd be out here…*notices ASTRID* Oh. Hey Astrid.

ASTRID: Hey Ethan.

JIM: Well…(beat)… now that there's a 3 ton elephant in the room, I'm gonna go. Since we all know what's going on… talk it out. I'm going to go pop in on Myra in the kitchen. I'll be there when you're done, Ethan. *exits SR*

*there's an ever so slight pause…the awkward silence*

*at the same time*

ETHAN: Astrid, I…

ASTRID: Look, Ethan…

*both pause and laugh shyly*

ETHAN: You go first.

ASTRID: Ethan, I'm really sorry about the other night. I didn't mean to put you in such an uncomfortable position. I… I don't know what came over me.

ETHAN: It's okay, Astrid. You just surprised me, that's all. I didn't know what to do…I guess I just panicked in the moment. I'm sorry I made you feel uncomfortable too.

ASTRID: Can we still be friends?

ETHAN: Of course, Astrid! Why on earth would you think I wouldn't want to be your friend? You're a good person and a really great friend.

ASTRID: Oh good. I think you're a good friend too.

ETHAN: *smiles and stands* Thanks, Astrid. I'm glad we got that settled. (beat) Well hey, I've got to get going so… See you later.

ASTRID: *as Ethan starts to walk SR* Ethan! Wait…

ETHAN: *turns* Yeah?

ASTRID: I love…

ETHAN: *looks pointedly at her*

ASTRID: KitKats. I love KitKats… you know, in case you wanted to get me something to make up for running out on a pretty girl and good friend.

ETHAN: Yeah, I'll be sure to pick up the big pack as long as you pick up some Snickers to trade.

ASTRID: You got it! (with fake bravado)

ETHAN: See you later, Astrid!

ASTRID: Bye, Ethan. *flops on couch* (beat) I love KitKats? Astrid, what the hell are you doing? I love KitKats…who says that?!

*MYRA enters SR*

MYRA: Hey you… how'd your talk with Ethan go?

ASTRID: How'd you…. As if I didn't know, JIM! *shouts SR as if she knows he's standing right there*

MYRA: *chuckles as JIM enters from SR and sits beside MYRA* He's just concerned about you. And so am I. We love you, Astrid!

ASTRID: (beat) I guess I can live with that. (beat) I don't know…I think it went pretty well. We're still friends, if that's what you're wondering.

MYRA: Did you tell him how you feel? How you really feel?

ASTRID: Of course I did….not say anything like that.

JIM: Astrid…

ASTRID: I know, I know, guys. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. We each apologized and then he left. It was a good resolution. We're still friends and everything is back to normal.

MYRA: Except for the fact that you still love him and he doesn't know.

ASTRID: Yeah. That. (beat) It'll be okay. We're in a good place. It was a good compromise. I can pull myself together and I can get over these feelings.

MYRA: Really? And just how do you think you're going to do that?

ASTRID: Well you know what they say… time heals all wounds.

MYRA: Thanks for that, Oprah.

JIM: Hey, go easy on the Oprah jokes. Oprah is my spirit guide.

MYRA: Oh boy…

ASTRID: (pause) So where did Ethan go?

*MYRA and JIM look at each other a little guiltily*

MYRA: Well…

JIM: We weren't sure whether we should say…

ASTRID: Guys… I'm a big girl. Where'd he go?

JIM: Date. He's on a date. Took her to the little restaurant just down at the corner.

ASTRID: Oh. That's… that's good! Good for him. I hope they have a great time.

*They both look at ASTRID pointedly*

ASTRID: What?! I do! This is me…growing up and getting over myself. He's just not that into me. I can accept that. I am… a decent looking girl, and I'm smart and I own my own business. I am successful and I can get what I want. Besides, he's still my friend.

MYRA: *gives her a hug* Somebody get the lady a cigar and a glass of champagne!

ASTRID: A couple bottles of wine will do just as nice…

*ETHAN and CAROLYN enter SL*

JIM: Ethan? What are you doing here?

MYRA: We thought you were on a date.

ETHAN: We were… we were just going down to that little Vietnamese place on the corner but…

CAROLYN: But there were police cars and caution tape everywhere… we couldn't get by. Something happened in the restaurant.

MYRA: And you are? (not unkindly)

ETHAN: Oh yeah…this is Carolyn. She works in the same office building as I do. Carolyn, this is Myra, Astrid, and Jim, my best friends.

CAROLYN: Nice to meet you all. (they all shake hands)

ASTRID: So what's happening at the restaurant? Did you hear anything?

CAROLYN: Well, not officially, but…

ETHAN: But there were whispers…they're saying that Kissin' Kate claimed another victim.

JIM: Really? Oh god… I gotta go, my next big scoop could be hanging around down there. I'll be back! *dashes off SL*

ASTRID: What's a Kissin' Kate and why did Jim just run out the door?

CAROLYN: You mean you haven't heard about Kissin' Kate? The murderess that's been hunting down single men across the city?

ASTRID: Murderess?

MYRA: Yes, Astrid. Although I guess after the fourth murder we can definitely classify her as a serial killer, I think.

ETHAN: Where have you been for all that? Jim's been working on the story for a few weeks.

ASTRID: Ethan, I don't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, forgive me if I don't remember all the details about all the stories Jim is writing.

CAROLYN: Anyway… Kissin' Kate. They say she seduces her victims—who have all been single men—and then she kisses them with hallucinogenic lipstick and shoots them right in the heart.

ASTRID: Well that's….interesting. Really, hallucinogenic lipstick? How's she pulling that one off?

MYRA: Beeswax, apparently.

CAROLYN: Clever girl…

ASTRID: But…Kissin' Kate? It sounds like it's from a book or something.

MYRA: Well, apparently it is. That's where Jim got the name for his byline. Kissin' Kate is a legend that was made up for a book. (beat) Why reinvent the wheel?

ETHAN: Right. But this legend is real… and getting more real and more deadly with each passing week. Four murders in a month… this is getting serious.

ASTRID: Wait, but if she's kissing them with a lipstick that I assume knocks these guys unconscious and then shoots them in the heart… how did this happen…

CAROLYN: *breaks into ASTRID'S train of thought* Happen at a restaurant! That's precisely what I was thinking.

MYRA: You're right…all the other victims have been found in their homes.

ETHAN: So I wonder what's changed with this one?

JIM: *as he enters SL* This one tried to get away.

MYRA: What do you mean, Jim?

JIM: The newest victim. I don't know much, but I was able to find out that this guy figured out that he was passing out and tried to escape before she shot him.

CAROLYN: Wait, was this happening just…smack in the middle of a popular Vietnamese restaurant in front of several dozens of witnesses?

ASTRID: Seriously…did anyone get a glimpse of this woman?

JIM: That's the thing, no one remembers this woman. The only thing they can say for sure is that she had blonde hair. And no it apparently all went down outside…in the alley behind the restaurant. Apparently they uh…got a little frisky and took things out back.

ETHAN: And then what?

JIM: As far as I can tell, as soon as the guy noticed he was losing consciousness, he backed off and tried to run away. But…he failed and she shot him just like all the others. The staff heard the report from the gun and ran out but she was already gone.

MYRA: I just can't believe that no one knows what she looks like.

CAROLYN: Honestly hasn't she ever been picked up by a camera? Seen by staff or other people in restaurants or bars? She's not a ghost.

JIM: Of course not, but it would seem that she is very adept at avoiding detection, even being seen by cameras. She knows how to blend in a crowd. She's probably also good with disguises and never looks the same to any of her victims. She could already be a brunette by now.

ASTRID: This is all too unbelievable… she's a chameleon.

ETHAN: The Chameleon Killer. That's almost a better name than Kissin' Kate.

JIM: *makes a face* No it isn't.

MYRA: Actually…

ASTRID: It is, Jim. Don't be jealous.

CAROLYN: The Chameleon. Just the Chameleon. It has a certain ring to it…

JIM: Oh, whatever. I've gotta go back and see if I can pick up any more tips for my readers. Ethan, you got your notebook lying around here somewhere?

ETHAN: Umm… actually you know I think it might be. Check the drawer in the kitchen. You know, the one where Astrid hides the drugs and pornography.

ASTRID: *punches his arm* I do NOT hide drugs or porn in my kitchen. Or anywhere else in my shop, thank you very much.

CAROLYN: Really? I'd think you'd be tempted to uh…make some special scones or something every now and again.

*all pause and look at her*

MYRA: I like this one, Ethan. She's funny.

ASTRID: I can't say I've never been tempted, Carolyn, but I've never given in. (beat) Well, sit down you two. All this talk of dead men and serial killers… Myra, come help me scrounge up some food and drinks. Carolyn? Would you like something to drink?

CAROLYN: Some tea would be nice, if it isn't too much trouble, please.

ASTRID: Black, white, or green?

CAROLYN: Green, thank you!

MYRA: We'll be right back. *MYRA and ASTRID exit SR*

*CAROLYN and ETHAN sit*

ETHAN: Well…so much for that first date. I'm sorry.

CAROLYN: Oh don't be! We couldn't have known that was going to happen. Besides, I find your friends perfectly charming.

ETHAN: They are the greatest I know, if not the strangest.

CAROLYN: So… Astrid owns this shop? You know I walk by here almost every day and I've never dropped by once?

ETHAN: Really?

CAROLYN: Nope.

ETHAN: Astrid bought it from a little old Italian man right after we graduated. She and her mother built the business from the ground up. It was just the bakery at first, but Astrid added the coffee bar and the WiFi to attract more of the university students.

CAROLYN: That's so wonderful… this is a great little place… it's so chic and cozy. Does her mother still work here with her?

ETHAN: No… Maggie—Astrid's mother—passed away a few years ago.

CAROLYN: Oh dear… how sad.

ETHAN: Astrid was devastated…she almost closed the shop and moved away. Jim and I convinced her to stick with it. We tried helping her in the kitchen for a few years, but since we just kept eating the batter she banished us.

CAROLYN: That's so sweet of you and Jim. Astrid is really lucky to have friends like you. *kisses his cheek*

ETHAN: Actually, I think we're the lucky ones.

*lights down*

*Lights up, one single spot CS. Each character will step into the spot, say their bit, and then exit in their respective directions*

ASTRID: Before my mom died, she came to the shop one day with a gigantic box. She sat it on the floor and then sat down beside it and began pulling out all these little books and small, squarish boxes. When I went over to help her, I saw that they were all of her recipe books and all the recipes she had collected for years and years. When I asked her what she was doing, she said, 'One day, child, I won't be here anymore. I don't have much to give you when I pass on, but these recipes have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Baking was my favorite thing in the whole world.' Then I asked her what her favorite thing was now, because I was always under the impression that baking was her favorite. She put her hand on my cheek and she said, 'You. You're my favorite thing.'

CAROLYN: When I was in college, I met this little boy one day in the art gallery. I was there looking at a friend's oil painting when I saw this kid wander over and sit down on the bench beside me. He couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 years old. He didn't say anything at first…just looked at the painting with me in silence. After a few minutes, he turned to me a he said, 'I see the world.' I was really confused, because there was really nothing in that painting that looked remotely like a globe or a map or anything. I asked what he meant and he said, 'The colors. It's like the world…some of it is kind of dark and scary and you know don't know what's going on. But some of it is really bright and cheerful and it reminds me that even though there are dark and scary things, there are also bright and cheerful things in the world.' Then he just… got up and left.

MYRA: I had this volleyball coach in school…she was only there for a year. Her name was Coach Smith. Coach Smith was really great with us and she helped us to get better. But at one game, I had missed something…I don't even really remember what happened, but it cost us the game. My friends and teammates played it off really cool, you know? It happens to everybody, they said. I was really upset, because I knew how much that game meant to our team. I felt so bad…I ended up in the corner of the gym crying my eyes out after everyone had left. Coach Smith found me there. She didn't say anything at first…she just sat down with me and let me cry into her shoulder. I told her I was sorry. She told me, 'It's okay to cry when you think you've made a mistake. You are human. Mistakes are human. But you are not allowed to let that mistake define who you are. Cry now, then get up tomorrow and kick ass and don't look back.'

CAPTAIN MONAHAN: When I was transferred to the homicide division, I wasn't prepared for anything that I saw. It took me a long couple of weeks to get adjusted to everything that was going on around me. About a month after my transfer, something happened. We had been in pursuit of this guy for months…he was a murderer and a rapist. The crime scenes made me sick…I tossed my cookies the first time we processed one of his. We finally had a lead and we finally managed to get there before he killed again. The older detectives took care of the criminal and they told me to take care of the girl. She was only a couple years younger than me…and she was curled up in the farthest corner of the room. She was bleeding a little and shaking like a leaf. I didn't want to scare her, so I just kneeled down beside her. She looked at me… I'll never forget what I saw in her eyes…it was terrifying. But then she said in the tiniest of whispers… 'Help me.' And I was able to. I was able to help. And I felt… unstoppable.

*spot down*

*Lights up on the interior of an office. There's a desk SR that faces SL as well as some chairs, maybe a table or a cabinet or something. JIM is seated at the desk, typing away at his laptop. CPT. MONAHAN enters from SL*

JIM: Captain Monahan!

CPT. MONAHAN: Good afternoon, Jim. Nice to see you.

JIM: Good to see you too. I usually have to chase you all over creation to get information out of you and now here you are like Hermes himself. What brings you down to my neck of the woods? Was the donut shop having a bake sale?

CPT. MONAHAN: *sits at a chair* A donut joke to a police officer. You're starting to lose your touch, my friend. That joke is so old its got hair growing in its ears.

JIM: Now that's a good one. (beat) So I'm assuming you're not here to trade one-liners with me?

CPT. MONAHAN: Unfortunately not. I'm here on business today.

JIM: Let me guess… Kissin' Kate.

CPT. MONAHAN: Nothing gets past you, Jim. I know you've been working on this story and we've been working on this case for weeks. Normally we don't consult with the press because…hey you guys are obnoxious AND it's against the rules. But we're going on eight murders, Jim, and we don't have anything to go on. I mean…we've got absolutely nothing and I'm at my wits end. My officers are frantic and my resources are stretched thin.

JIM: I'm not on your payroll, Monahan.

CPT. MONAHAN: I know that, Jim. And I'm sure I'd catch a lot of flak for coming to you like this…but I'm desperate. I talked to my senior officers before I came and they hate this as much as I do, but they're just as desperate. We don't have the manpower or the resources to handle this alone. I know you've got fingers in a lot of pies all over the city. I know you've got your informants. I'm not asking anything major, but if you hear anything…would you send it our way?

JIM: (beat) This is highly unorthodox and completely insane… but I'll see what I can do. To be fair, I haven't heard much either. The city's in a near panic…at least the male population anyway. She's like a shadow or a ghost or something… no one can seem to get close enough to her.

CPT. MONAHAN: I don't get paid to catch ghosts, Jim. This woman's got my city all fired up, and I don't intend to let her boil it over.

JIM: That was an interesting metaphor, Captain.

CPT. MONAHAN: I'll take that as a compliment.

JIM: I must have said it wrong then.

CPT. MONAHAN: You're too much sometimes, Jim. *stands* Will you call as soon as you have something? Anything?

JIM: *shakes MONAHAN'S hand* Of course, Captain Monahan. I'll do what I can.

CPT. MONAHAN: Thank you, Jim. Good day. *exits SL*

JIM: *picks up office phone* Shirley? Hey, it's Jim. Yes. Yes, Captain Monahan just left, thank you for rearranging my meetings without telling me—again. What? No…no Shirley I'm not mad. Ooookay, Shirley. Hey listen, I need you to do me a favor. Yeah, call up all our agents… yeah, we're going to need to execute Operation Jack Horner. What? What do you mean you don't know what that is? Oh c'mon, Shirley we talked about this in the meeting…Jack Horner and the plum in the pie…. Yes, that's the operation I mean. Well for god's sake who decided that Tony gets to name the operations? Look, it doesn't matter. Call everyone up and get them in here for an emergency 4:00 meeting. We've got work to do. Okay… hmmm? Oh surely you can't be serious. Hahahaha…oh come on Shirley, no matter how many times I make that joke, it's still funny. Thank you darling. Bye.

*lights down*

*lights up, interior of JIM and ETHAN'S apartment. ETHAN is on the couch with his notebook, JIM enters from SR*

ETHAN: Well well, look what the cat dragged in.

JIM: Shut up. *collapses on the chair*

ETHAN: Rough day at the office, dear? *stands and exits SL*

JIM: You could say that…

ETHAN: *reenters with a bottle* Here you go. So what happened today?

JIM: I had a visit from one Captain Monahan of the District 13 police department today. He said that all the king's horses and all the king's men can't find a way to bring Kissin' Kate in. Monahan knows that I've got eyes and ears all over the city as a respectable member of the press, so he asked me to do a little digging.

ETHAN: Wow… that's really… crazy.

JIM: My exact words were unorthodox and insane. It's so against the rules, not to mention a rather tall order, but…coming from the good Captain Monahan? That man could chase criminals into the eye of a tornado if he needed to and he'd do it all with one hand tied behind his back and a copy of the Constitution in the other. This is the first time I've seen him come to anyone other than the force for help.

ETHAN: What are you going to do?

JIM: I'm going to do exactly what he asked me to do. I've known Monahan for a long time and this is the first time I've seen actual desperation coming from the man. Not to mention the fact that the city is just about in an uproar over the whole thing.

ETHAN: Alright… so I guess its civic duty time?

JIM: Civic duty time.

ETHAN: In that case… I might be able to help. *retrieves stack of notebooks from under the couch*

JIM: Uh…Ethan…what are those?

ETHAN: Ever since that night Kissin' Kate murdered that guy at the Vietnamese restaurant I was supposed to go to, I've been… curious about this woman and her methods. I started to do the leg work, Jim. I've kept notes on all of the victims and their movements, their spheres of influence, their relationships, etc etc. My intention was to petition to write a book about the case after she was caught. You know…the official story. It was going to be my big break.

JIM: *as he sifts through the books* Oh my god… Ethan…this is incredible work. How'd you get all this information? And when did you have the time?

ETHAN: I'm a writer, Jim. I've got friends in low places in this city, just like you. And I did the research whenever I had a spare moment.

JIM: Okay, you need to help me with this. Between our circles of informants plus the information that you've already compiled on her, we'll be able to solve this thing for Monahan. And that will be a story that's fit to print!

ETHAN: Who says investigative reporting is dead?! Astrid and Myra would be so proud…

JIM: (beat) Wait… I just had a crazy idea…

ETHAN: What is it?

JIM: Come on, help me get these notebooks and let's head down to the café. We're going to need the girls, 12 pots of coffee, and all the butterscotch scones they've got.

*lights down*

*lights up, interior of the café. ASTRID is working with a notebook and calculator, MYRA is working on a laptop*

ASTRID: Myra, why did we order 6 quarts of rosewater?

MYRA: You were watching Cupcake Wars and said you felt "inspired".

ASTRID: Oh yeah… don't ever let me do that again.

MYRA: You got it. (beat) Hey, speaking of inspiration, what would you say if we…

*she is interrupted as JIM and ETHAN burst in from SL*

JIM: Ladies! You are just the people we need to see!

ASTRID: We're a little busy, Jim. You know…some of us have to work for a living.

ETHAN: Astrid, my dear, let the man speak. He's got a great idea.

MYRA: I sense a disturbance in the Force… you boys are plotting something aren't you?

JIM: Oh ho! Too right we are plotting something, Myra my love. We are hatching the greatest scheme of all time.

*they seat themselves*

ASTRID: *puts away her things* Well go on, there's no reason my depression over 6 quarts of rosewater can't wait until tomorrow.

ETHAN: Who orders 6 quarts of rosewater?

MYRA: Don't ask. (beat) Okay…so…spill it, boys. What's going on?

JIM: I had a visit from Captain Monahan today. He asked me to use the network of eyes and ears that I have as a member of the press to help them investigate the Kissin' Kate murders. She's worked her way to eight victims and the captain is desperate. I came home and I was telling Ethan about this all when…

ETHAN: …when I told him that I had been working on profiles of all the victims and their relationships and movements in the city using my own eyes and ears. I had been cataloguing all my notes in the hope that someday I would be able to chronicle the case after her capture. Jim then had this idea that we could use the information…

JIM: …we could actually use the information to try to predict where and when she will go next. There's seemingly no pattern to her, but there has to be something…some underlying motive that leads her to her victims. When we think we've got it close, we send in a decoy to see if she will pick him up. And if she does…we nab her!

ETHAN: And by we nab her, he means the police nab her and we stand off to the side looking terrified.

JIM: Right, of course.

ASTRID: So…let me get this straight. You want to take a bunch of information about dead guys and their lives to plot the movements of a serial killer who seems to have no apparent pattern to her motions and has killed eight men in two months?

JIM: Pretty much.

ASTRID: (beat) Right.

MYRA: No way. It's way too dangerous!

ASTRID: Not to mention… out of your league. I know you guys are smart and capable but…doesn't the police force have an entire team of people who already do this?

ETHAN: Yes, but they don't have the connections we do. Jim and I have contacts all over the city who are able to slip in unnoticed and gather information that the police can't. Not to mention that if we add your contacts from other local restaurants, Astrid, and yours at the University, Myra, we can have half the city looking for this woman.

ASTRID: This is insane…just…utter rubbish! Do you even know what you're saying?

ETHAN: Astrid, it could work!

MYRA: But why you two…or I guess, why us? Why do we have to do this?

ASTRID: Yeah. It's not that I don't want her to be caught, but… why is this falling into our hands?

JIM: Look, I know it's crazy and honestly I can't even believe Monahan asked me. But this woman slips away from them every time and I think Monahan is tired of losing to this chick. We're not going to be in danger…we're just doing what we do best: sniffing out the best scoop for a story.

ETHAN: And I can't very well sit in my house with notebooks of information about a serial killer's victims and my speculations and observations when I know that information might be useful to someone else. We can help.

*brief pause as MYRA and ASTRID look at each other*

ASTRID: What do you need?

JIM: Excellent! *hugs MYRA*

ETHAN: *hugs ASTRID* Thank you, Astrid.

ASTRID: I am so going to regret this.

JIM: Probably. (beat) Okay, first things first: we're going to need a rolling whiteboard, a map of the city, 12 pots of coffee, a tray of butterscotch scones, a nine iron, and a bucket of ice.

MYRA: What's the nine iron for?

JIM: Oh, no time for questions, Myra! The game is afoot!

*lights down*

*lights up. Upstage there are chairs and tables like you might see in a small restaurant. There are people sitting around, but they are frozen. ASTRID and ETHAN enter SR and stand downstage as if they are in front of this restaurant*

ASTRID: I really do not like this idea, Ethan.

ETHAN: Astrid, we've talked about this. This might be our opportunity to finally track down this murderess. She's killed three more people since we decided on this plan…we can't wait any longer.

ASTRID: I just don't want you to get hurt. What if she does come and you get killed before we can stop her?

ETHAN: Look, it has to be me. The woman is smart…she can probably smell a cop a mile away. The decoy has to be someone unsuspecting, like me.

ASTRID: You didn't answer my question.

ETHAN: Look, mother… *places his hands on her shoulders* I'm going to be okay. You are all going to be here with Monahan and his Boy Scouts. It's going to be fine…we don't even know if she'll show up here tonight. This is all speculation.

ASTRID: I thought you said it was science.

ETHAN: Jim said it was science. I've seen enough movies to know when to stop arguing with the mad scientist.

ASTRID: Okay. Just promise me you'll walk out of here alive.

ETHAN: *kisses her forehead* I promise. Now go…

*They part. ASTRID seats herself downstage right, CPT. MONAHAN and a few extra plain-clothes police join them. JIM, MYRA, and other policemen file in and sit downstage left. ETHAN exits SR and reenters upstage right and takes a seat at an empty table. The restaurant unfreezes and fills with chatter as he walks in. ETHAN sits patiently and pretends to read a book while drinking a cup of coffee.

CPT. MONAHAN: Was he okay?

ASTRID: Hmmm?

CPT. MONAHAN: Was he okay? Nervous or anxious at all?

ASTRID: I don't think so… his hands were a little twitchy but that's just adrenaline. He assured me he was just fine.

CPT. MONAHAN: I know you're upset that we sent him in there. It's highly unorthodox to consult civilians like this…but we really appreciate the help.

ASTRID: Yeah well… he always was a stubborn ass. But he has a point…this woman can probably tell a cop from a mile away.

CPT. MONAHAN: Probably. Ethan's been doing good work… I think it's only fair that he get to see a little of the field action. Even I don't like to be behind that desk all the time.

ASTRID: Yeah, he never was one to just…

*Astrid is interrupted by a loud female scream from offstage. All the restaurant patrons and police react visibly. Lights down*

*lights up, exterior, blank stage. On the ground, there is a dead male body. AUDREY is huddled downstage left, curled up as small as she can. CPT. MONAHAN, ETHAN, ASTRID, JIM, MYRA, and assorted police enter from SR*

CPT. MONAHAN: Oh hell's bells….did anybody see anything?

ASTRID: Oh my god… is he dead?

CPT. MONAHAN: *checks pulse at throat* Yeah. He's dead. Dammit.

JIM: I thought I heard a scream…

MYRA: It was a woman's scream, not a man's.

JIM: Whose was it then?

*by now, ETHAN has spotted AUDREY and has been slowly approaching her, not wanting to startle her*

ETHAN: Hello?

*all look to ETHAN and quiet down*

ETHAN: Hey… hey, it's okay. We're not going to hurt you.

*AUDREY slowly unfolds herself and looks at ETHAN*

ETHAN: There you go. Just look at me. That's it. Can I help you up?

*AUDREY stares at his hand for a moment before slowly reaching for it. ETHAN helps her to stand up and once she's up, he helps her keep her balance*

ETHAN: There you go. See, we're all okay. My name is Ethan and these are my friends.

CPT. MONAHAN: *slowly approaching* Hello, young lady. My name is Captain Monahan and I'm a police officer. Did you see what happened?

AUDREY: *shakes head no*

CPT. MONAHAN: No? Okay. Did you just find the man here?

AUDREY: *nods*

CPT. MONAHAN: Okay. Is it okay if we take over to the ambulance so that you can get checked out?

AUDREY: *nods* Help me.

*lights down*

*lights up, exterior. Single chair CS in which AUDREY is sitting. She has a blanket over her shoulders and ETHAN and CPT. MONAHAN are standing on either side of her*

ETHAN: Are you feeling better now?

AUDREY: *slightly hysterical* Oh yeah, totally better! (beat while she glares at him) I'm in shock, look I've got a blanket!

CPT. MONAHAN: Ma'am, please try to stay calm. We're just trying to help, okay?

AUDREY: (beat) I know. I'm sorry… it's just…

CPT. MONAHAN: We know. If it's okay with you, I need to ask you a few questions.

AUDREY: *nods* Okay, that's fine.

CPT. MONAHAN: Can you tell us your name?

AUDREY: Audrey. My name's Audrey Nolan.

ETHAN: Okay, Audrey. What do you do for a living?

AUDREY: I'm a waitress. At the restaurant…*vaguely gestures to the left*

CPT. MONAHAN: Alright. Audrey, when we found you, you were in the alley behind the restaurant and there was a man...

AUDREY: *interrupts him by starting to cry a little*

ETHAN: *kneels by her* Audrey…Audrey look at me. I know this is hard, but we really need to know what happened. I promise that you won't get hurt and you won't have to talk about it after this. But right now…we need to know what you know, okay?

AUDREY: *calms down* Okay. Okay.

CPT. MONAHAN: Why don't you try to walk us through your night? Start at the beginning.

AUDREY: Well, I wasn't supposed to work today. But around 6:30, my boss called and said that Rachel called in with the flu and he needed me to come in to help out with the end of the dinner rush, you know? So around 7:00 I headed down here—I only live about two blocks away. I was coming up the alley to the service entrance when… when I heard a gunshot from around the corner of the building. I… I wanted to go see…you know, try to see if I could help, but my legs wouldn't work. I didn't know what to do and I was so… so scared. I hid behind the trash bins when I heard footsteps coming my way.

CPT. MONAHAN: Did you see who the footsteps belonged to?

AUDREY: *shakes head* Not really. I tried but I was scared that I'd get shot. I saw a woman pass me, but it was dark and I was trying not to move.

ETHAN: So it was definitely a woman?

AUDREY: Yeah. It sounded like she was wearing high heels and I think I saw a long, flappy coat.

CPT. MONAHAN: Can you remember anything else about the woman? Anything at all?

AUDREY: *shakes head* No. I'm sorry, I know how important it is. When I thought she was gone…I came out from behind the bins and… that man was… that man was lying there and he wasn't moving… I saw the blood… and…

ETHAN: Shhhhh….it's okay, you don't have to talk about that if you don't want to.

CPT. MONAHAN: Audrey? Thank you for telling us what you saw, you did great. Have the medics released you?

AUDREY: Yes. Can I go home now?

CPT. MONAHAN: Yes. But here's my card…you call if you remember anything else, no matter how small, okay?

AUDREY: Okay.

*CPT. MONAHAN exits SR*

ETHAN: You okay, Audrey?

AUDREY: No. But I'm better than I was, I suppose.

ETHAN: I have an idea. Would you like to come and get a cup of coffee or tea?

AUDREY: With you?

ETHAN: If that's okay.

AUDREY: (beat) Okay. Where are we going?

ETHAN: I know a place.

*they exit SL, lights down*

*lights up, interior of the café. ASTRID, MYRA, and JIM are there, drinking coffee and eating. ETHAN and AUDREY enter from SL*

ASTRID: Ethan! There you are.

ETHAN: I'm sorry, guys. I got kind of caught up in everything that was going on.

JIM: I'll say. Who's this?

ETHAN: This is Audrey. Audrey was the witness at the scene. Audrey, these are my friends, Astrid, Jim, and Myra.

MYRA: Hello!

ETHAN: She's a little shaken up, so I thought I'd bring her back here for some tea or coffee.

ASTRID: Why don't you sit down here, Audrey, and we'll get you something hot to drink.

AUDREY: *sits on the couch* Thank you.

ASTRID: Of course. *pours a cup and hands it over* I hope tea is okay. The rosewater lemonade didn't turn out the way I intended.

AUDREY: It's fine, thank you so much.

*there's a beat of awkward silence*

JIM: So Audrey… long day, huh?

*this breaks the tension and they all relax and laugh a little*

AUDREY: That's a bit of an understatement, I think…Jim, was it?

JIM: Yeah. So do you mind if I ask what you were doing in the alley?

AUDREY: I work at that restaurant. I was on my way in for my shift when… when it all happened.

MYRA: That must have just awful. Did you see anything?

AUDREY: No… I just heard the gunshot and I hid behind the bins. I was so scared.

MYRA: I can only imagine… (beat) Here, have a scone.

AUDREY: Thanks…

ETHAN: So what ended up happening? Did our plan succeed in any way?

JIM: Not particularly. *stands and wheels in the chalkboard, which is covered with papers, maps, etc* We have a live witness of sorts, which is new, but considering that we still have no accurate description of her… I think we just have to chalk up number eleven, add in the information we have, and try again.

ETHAN: Damn. Eleven murders…this is getting serious.

ASTRID: I checked with Benedict—the owner of the restaurant—and he didn't recognize the victim as being a regular patron.

MYRA: We can use that information…it's a break in the pattern. The victims are usually found in their homes, but this is the second time she has struck in a public place—albeit an alleyway. And if the guy wasn't a regular patron at the restaurant…what did she do, just pluck him off the streets?

ASTRID: I wouldn't put it past her. If it's possible, she seems to be getting even sneakier as time goes by!

AUDREY: Time out! (beat) What in the world are you all talking about? Who are you people? *stands and looks at the board* And why are you… profiling the Kissin' Kate murders?

MYRA: Well, Audrey…here's the deal. Astrid and I are bakers and small business entrepreneurs. Jim and Ethan are writers. In our spare time, we all pile in the Mystery Machine with our Great Dane Scooby and solve mysteries.

JIM: Don't be a hater, Myra. Scooby-Doo is amazing.

MYRA: I didn't disagree, Jim. But you have to admit…to an outsider this all looks rather strange.

AUDREY: (beat) I'm so lost.

ETHAN: We're… helping the detectives at the police department in finding Kissin' Kate. We all have a lot of contacts throughout the city that give us eyes and ears that we can use to try to locate Kissin' Kate. We've been tracking her movements and using the information to predict areas and targets.

ASTRID: As you can see… we haven't been having a lot of success.

MYRA: But we have the largest database of information about Kate and her victims, which has been helpful.

ETHAN: Not to mention that it's given me loads of data for the book I'm writing.

AUDREY: You're writing a book?

ETHAN: Yeah. That's what sort of launched this whole affair. I got really interested in the case and I started compiling information.

JIM: When Captain Monahan contacted me about using my eyes and ears to keep a lookout for Kissin' Kate, Ethan shared this information and the rest just sort of…

ASTRID: Snowballed out of control and turned my lounge into the headquarters of an amateur profiling team.

AUDREY: (beat) That's incredible. And insane.

MYRA: Funny how often those two adjectives seem to coincide.

AUDREY: (beat) Is there anything I can do to help?

JIM: Actually, since you are the first witness of sorts, yes you can. Would you mind?

AUDREY: Not at all. I'm not sure what this is or how I feel about it… but eleven murders and no answers… I want to help.

JIM: Fantastic!

*JIM wheels the board offstage right and MYRA and AUDREY follow. ETHAN gets up to follow but ASTRID holds him back*

ASTRID: Hold up a second, cowboy.

ETHAN: You alright, Astrid?

ASTRID: Yeah, yeah… I just… *throws her arms around him* I was really worried about you.

*they break apart*

ETHAN: Worried about me? Astrid, why were you worried about me? I'm perfectly fine.

ASTRID: But I didn't know that. We were waiting outside the restaurant and we heard the screams… I thought maybe she had gotten to you.

ETHAN: Astrid… I'm okay. Really. You're starting to sound like my mother.

ASTRID: Your mother is a tyrant.

ETHAN: My mother is a nice lady. And also a tyrant.

ASTRID: (beat) We're okay?

ETHAN: Yeah. Yeah of course we're okay.

ASTRID: Okay. Let's go see how close Jim is to burning down my building.

*AUDREY enters SR*

AUDREY: Astrid? Um, Jim wanted to see you. He tried to put another kettle on for more tea but I think he accidentally burnt something.

ASTRID: (to Ethan) Told you. *exits SR*

(pause)

ETHAN: It's all a little overwhelming, isn't it?

AUDREY: Kinda, yeah… I think I'm just having trouble processing the fact that a serial killer was… literally inches away from me. I could have been killed. She killed that poor man…

ETHAN: Hey…none of that now. All of Kissin' Kate's victims have been male. You aren't in any danger.

AUDREY: But I saw… I was a witness…of sorts. She could have killed me for that reason alone if she'd known I was there. What if she sees my testimony in the papers or something and figures out who I am or where I live? What if she comes after me?

ETHAN: *walks to her* Hey, stop that. Look, no one except us and the police know that you were there. They aren't going to list your name anywhere and she is not going to find out who you are. I promise you, Audrey. Everything's going to be okay.

*AUDREY leans into ETHAN. ETHAN wraps his arms around her. Lights down*

*Lights up, interior of the café. ETHAN and AUDREY are seated on the couch, ASTRID on a chair. ETHAN is typing away busily at his laptop, AUDREY is jotting notes in a notebook, ASTRID is assembling a folder.*

ETHAN: Audrey, can you hand me that file on the table, please?

AUDREY: Sure.

ETHAN: Thanks.

AUDREY: What are you working on?

ASTRID: *without looking up* His book.

AUDREY: Oh? The book about the… the murders?

ETHAN: Yeah. Right now I'm compiling the chapter on my very first encounter with Kissin' Kate.

AUDREY: You've seen her?

ETHAN: Oh gods, no! I doubt I'd still be alive if I had seen her…much like you, my dear Audrey. No, she killed her fourth victim in a Vietnamese restaurant down at the corner. I was taking a girl there on a date, but Kate's appearance...rearranged our schedule a bit.

ASTRID: Seems like just yesterday... What was that girl's name? She was nice.

ETHAN: Carolyn. She was…she was really fantastic.

AUDREY: What happened to her?

ETHAN: Well…

ASTRID: Apparently women are not attracted to men who keep notebooks on serial killers under their beds.

AUDREY: *giggles* Oh god…

ETHAN: She did not take that well at all…

ASTRID: *clearly enjoying this* She just kept yelling and throwing the notebooks at him. Then she opened the door of his apartment and there was Jim, Myra and I…

AUDREY: You were eavesdropping?

ASTRID: Of course! We could hardly miss it from across the hall…plus it was better than daytime television. (beat) Anyway… she throws open the door and sees us standing there. She stops and blinks at us for a split second before she starts yelling at us too.

AUDREY: Oh my god, why was she yelling at you all?

ASTRID: Well, she was yelling at me primarily. Just kept going on about how I was indulging Ethan and why would I let him do such a thing and blah blah blah.

AUDREY: What did you say to that?

ETHAN: I said that she didn't have a choice. Astrid can't refuse me!

ASTRID: I'm an enabler, Ethan. I can't refuse anyone. You aren't special.

ETHAN: Yes I am.

AUDREY: I think that's hilarious. And for the record, I think what you're doing is really great. It's weird and kind of… a bizarre way to spend your time, but I think you're great and what you are all doing to help is just fantastic. Not many people get to say that they have a hand in helping to solve a case like this, but you do! We all do, thanks to you.

(beat)

ETHAN: Well…gee, Audrey…

ASTRID: Now hold on just a diddley-darn minute…

*JIM and MYRA enter SL*

JIM: There's been another one!

ETHAN: What?!

MYRA: Another murder! Kissin' Kate… Captain Monahan called us. It happened about an hour ago down on 14th Street.

ASTRID: Same situation?

MYRA: Everything. Found in his apartment, hallucinogenic lipstick, single gunshot… everything. We're going to go down and check things out…see if there's anything new that we can add. Would you like to join us, Ethan?

ETHAN: Well, I…

ASTRID: I'll go. Ethan's been working on his book and I think he's on a roll. Besides, I can't look at these files anymore, my eyes are going crossed.

JIM: What about you, Audrey?

AUDREY: Thanks, but I've seen enough crime scenes for a lifetime. I think I'll just stay here with Ethan. I'll set up the board though, if you want.

MYRA: That sounds great! We'll call you when we're on our way home. *MYRA and JIM exit SL, AUDREY exits SR to get board*

ASTRID: *stands* Try not to burn anything down while I'm gone, okay?

ETHAN: Scout's honor.

ASTRID: You weren't a Scout.

ETHAN: And you're not a crime scene investigator, yet…here we are.

ASTRID: Touché. I'll see you later. *exits SL*

*AUDREY enters SR with board*

AUDREY: Here we go! Is there anything else I need to do to get things ready for when they come back?

ETHAN: I don't think so. Although I suppose we could try to make dinner or something…it's getting to be about that time and they'll be peckish when they get back.

AUDREY: Sounds good to me! *begins to exit*

ETHAN: Hey, Audrey…wait a second.

AUDREY: What is it, Ethan? You think maybe we should just order Chinese or something?

ETHAN: Uh… I'm sure that'd be fine. But, listen…what you said earlier about…me and what I'm doing. Did you really mean it?

AUDREY: What do you mean?

ETHAN: Earlier you said…you said that what I was doing was great and that our efforts to help were fantastic. Did you mean that?

AUDREY: (beat) Of course I did. Why would you ask me that?

ETHAN: I don't know. I guess… thinking about Carolyn and how she reacted to all of this nonsense… I tend to doubt myself a lot. And to be fair to Carolyn, this is really bizarre. For gods sake, I work at a publishing company. I publish children's books and in my spare time I…what, write books about serial killers? It's ridiculous.

AUDREY: Of course it's ridiculous. You and your friends are consulting with the police about a case involving a major serial killer. That in itself is ground-up insanity sprinkled on a generous helping of crazy-flakes.

ETHAN: Funny. I know it's absolutely ludicrous that we're doing…that I'm doing this. But I can't help but think that I'm doing something right too. We haven't been able to catch her yet, but I really think we are helping and we're getting so close. And now we've got you here with us and you're… brilliant.

AUDREY: Thanks.

ETHAN: I guess I just…want to leave my mark on the world, you know. I publish children's books and that's great and all but… I feel like I haven't done anything that has contributed to the world. When I die…I'm just going to die and people are going to forget me. I don't want to just disappear. I want to be known for something. I thought this might be my chance.

AUDREY: Ethan. We all fear oblivion. Every human on the planet fears that when they leave for good, they'll never have left a mark. Their existence will have gone unnoticed and the wheel of time will turn on without ever having breathed a word about us. But that's simply not true. We're all a part of the world and we're all a part of each other. You mean something. I know you mean something to a lot of people. (beat) So you can stop your crazy talk about not being remembered, okay?

ETHAN: *hugs her* Thank you. I am really glad that you decided to stay with our team and help us.

AUDREY: Well… to be completely honest, my intentions weren't all that selfless.

ETHAN: What are you saying?

*She reaches up and kisses him rather thoroughly. At that moment, ASTRID appears SL. She sees them and freezes for a moment before running back offstage. Lights down*

*Lights up, interior of the café. JIM and MYRA are sitting on the couch, each reading something.*

MYRA: Have you seen Astrid today?

JIM: Nope. Why?

MYRA: I haven't seen her around much in the past week. Ever since we had the newest Kissin' Kate case…she's been very odd. She doesn't come around the apartment very much and she hasn't said more than four words to me in the past seven days.

JIM: Do you think we should be worried about her?

*ASTRID enters SL*

ASTRID: No need to worry about me, Jim. I'm fine.

MYRA: Speak of the devil…

ASTRID: If there is a devil in our group, I assure you it is not me.

JIM: Yes, ma'am.

ASTRID: Sorry.

MYRA: Okay, Astrid. What's up?

ASTRID: Nothing. I'm fine.

MYRA: Horse hockey. You're being very hostile and I'd like to know what's eating you before you accidentally rip one of us apart with your barbed tongue.

ASTRID: It's not my tongue I'm worried about.

MYRA: Astrid O'Connor you listen to me! You've been very upset for the past week and you are being a total idiot right now by denying it and being all snarky with us. We are your best friends, now shut up, sit down, and start talking.

ASTRID: (beat) Myra…

JIM: Come here.

*ASTRID moves to sit in between JIM and MYRA on the couch.*

MYRA: C'mon Astrid, just tell us what's wrong.

ASTRID: *stifling tears* Last week… remember when we were headed down to the crime scene when I said I had left my notebook and my phone at the café?

MYRA: Yeah…

ASTRID: And we came back so I could get them?

JIM: Yeah…

ASTRID: Well…when I came back to the lounge I saw… Ethan and…Audrey… they were kissing!

MYRA: Oh boy.

ASTRID: They didn't hear me come in and they didn't see me because they were… otherwise engaged. I couldn't move for a minute but when I did I ran out. And they've been meeting up in the past week… I see them EVERYWHERE and I can't get away from them. They haven't told us yet that they're together but they've got to be planning on it.

JIM: (beat) Well that explains a lot…

MYRA: Oh for goodness sake, Jim. Go to the kitchen and make the poor woman a cup of tea.

JIM: But…

MYRA: Jim, we have a friend, and she's upset. Now go make tea and don't burn the building down.

JIM: Yes ma'am. *mock salutes and exits SR*

MYRA: *calls out* Thank you, darling! (beat) Now… Astrid…

ASTRID: I know, I know… this is so stupid. I don't know why I got so upset. I mean, I said I was going to be a big girl and get over myself and him and that I'd learn to put it all behind me. But I just can't do that, Myra. I just couldn't… I can't get over him, he's like a record in my head and it's stuck in the same place and it just keeps skipping over and over and over…

MYRA: Astrid…calm down. You just said 100 words in about 9 seconds and I didn't catch any of it.

ASTRID: What am I going to do, Myra? I said I'd get over him. But I didn't…not really. And then I catch him snogging some other woman in MY lounge in MY café and I get so mad that I'm seeing red. Audrey is a nice girl, but… Ethan… Ethan is… I'm just so jealous.

*At this moment, ETHAN and AUDREY enter from SL holding hands and giggling*

MYRA: Oh god…

ETHAN: Hey guys!

MYRA: Ethan…

AUDREY: Are you okay, Astrid?

ASTRID: *pulling herself together* Yes. (beat) Yes, Audrey, I am completely fine.

MYRA: What?

ASTRID: You heard me, Myra. I'm totally fine. (beat) What are you guys up to?

ETHAN: Is Jim around?

ASTRID: He's probably in my kitchen fighting a small fire.

ETHAN: Ah… making tea, then?

ASTRID: You got it.

*JIM enters SR with a teapot and some mugs*

JIM: Astrid! I made the tea and I didn't burn anything.

ASTRID: It's a Christmas miracle...

MYRA: Miracles indeed…

JIM: What are you two doing here?

ETHAN: We have something to tell you all.

*ASTRID drops her mug, but MYRA snags it before it falls. They stare at each other.*

JIM: Really? Well that's…ironic. *looks at ASTRID and MYRA* What would you like to tell us, then?

AUDREY: Well… Ethan and I…we

ETHAN: We've decided to start seeing each other.

MYRA: Seeing each other. As in…

ETHAN: As in…we're dating, Myra.

(beat)

ASTRID: Well! Congratulations are in order, I suppose. Everyone take a cup and toast the happy couple.

*They do as she says*

ASTRID: Cheers, everyone.

*They respond and drink.*

ETHAN: So get this… Audrey also thinks she has an idea that will get us closer to Kissin' Kate.

MYRA: Really? How?

AUDREY: I've been trying to figure out this hallucinogenic lipstick thing. I mean, outside of science fiction I think it's a little hard to grasp. But she's gone and done it and uses beeswax to protect her own lips.

ASTRID: True, they've found the wax residue on the victim's lips. But no skin cells or anything that could provide information on her.

AUDREY: Yeah, but the type of beeswax that she uses isn't your typical beeswax. I have a friend who keeps bees for a living….

MYRA: You're kidding me, right?

AUDREY: No really, she does. And she uses the honey and the wax to make her own products, you know, soaps and candles and stuff. I think she can help us narrow down where the wax that Kissin' Kate uses is from.

JIM: Is that possible?

ETHAN: I don't really know, but it's the best lead we've had for a while.

AUDREY: We were just going to go downtown to tell Captain Monahan. I know they've been trying to identify the wax, but I think my friend will be able to narrow the field considerably.

(beat)

MYRA: That's brilliant.

JIM: Well done, Audrey.

ASTRID: Spectacular.

AUDREY: Do you want to come with us down to the station? The captain's waiting for us.

MYRA: Definitely. Right, Jim?

JIM: Wouldn't miss it! Audrey's first lead!

AUDREY: Well let's go then!

*They all stand to go. AUDREY, JIM, and MYRA file out SL. ETHAN starts to follow but ASTRID holds him back.*

ETHAN: Astrid? What's up? Are you okay?

ASTRID: So… you and Audrey, huh?

ETHAN: Yeah…Audrey and I. Isn't it great?

ASTRID: When did that come about?

ETHAN: Um… I don't know, we just kind of hit it off.

ASTRID: Oh, how perfectly male of you.

ETHAN: What is wrong with you, Astrid?

ASTRID: I thought I could trust you, Ethan.

ETHAN: You can, Astrid. You've always been able to trust me. Why are you being like this?

ASTRID: Oh, don't play dumb with me, Ethan.

ETHAN: I'm not playing!

ASTRID: Ha!

ETHAN: Oh, you know what I mean! I really don't see where you're going with this.

ASTRID: You don't see where this is going? (beat) I SAW you Ethan. I saw you kissing Audrey in the café last week.

ETHAN: You what?

ASTRID: I saw you. When we all left to go to the crime scene last week but you and Audrey stayed behind. I came back into the café to get my notebook and my phone and I saw you two…trading spit.

ETHAN: Oh grow up, Astrid! We had a moment and we kissed each other. For the record, she kissed me first.

ASTRID: I didn't see you complaining.

ETHAN: Why would I? I like her, I like kissing, we're both adults. She's a beautiful woman, not to mention incredibly smart and caring.

ASTRID: Yeah, maybe a little too caring.

ETHAN: (beat) What does that even mean?

ASTRID: Damn it, Ethan, I'm the one that's supposed to take care of you. I am your best friend and I am the one that gets to take care of you.

ETHAN: Astrid…are you jealous?

ASTRID: Once again, ladies and gentlemen, the fantastic deductive powers of Ethan Taylor.

ETHAN: Astrid, why the hell are you being like this? You're not my girlfriend and you're not my mother, so I fail to see exactly how any of this is your business!

ASTRID: I'm your friend and I'm supposed to be able to make you see reason…

ETHAN: But you think you can just…tell me how I'm supposed to live my life? You may be my friend, Astrid but not my conscience. That is not how this friendship works. I am the master of my own fate and I get to decide what I do… and who I kiss, thank you very much. I thought you liked Audrey.

ASTRID: I do… I think she's nice…

ETHAN: Then why is there a problem?

ASTRID: I… I don't know… I just… I…

ETHAN: Cut the crap, Astrid. What is your problem?

ASTRID: I DON'T WANT TO LOSE YOU!

ETHAN: (beat) What?

ASTRID: Ethan. You're my best friend. I've seen you go out with lots of women over the years, but Audrey… she's different. She's different than me too. She's smarter and prettier and…everything. She's got the whole package. And I see the way you've been looking at her when she's not looking and I just feel… like I don't matter anymore. With the other girls I still felt like you needed me, but there's something so charismatic about Audrey that… I feel like you won't need me anymore.

ETHAN: Have you completely lost your marbles? I have no idea why you're thinking these things, but I can assure you they're not true. You are my best friend. You've always had my back and I've always had yours. I think Audrey is an amazing and unique person and I like her very much. But you… you are my North Star. You always lead me to where I need to be. I couldn't imagine a life where I didn't have you. You will always matter to me.

*ETHAN hugs ASTRID tight. *

ASTRID: God… I'm sorry, Ethan. I'm so sorry.

ETHAN: It's okay, Astrid. Look, would you just tell me these things in the future instead of letting it all stew in that funny little brain of yours?

ASTRID: I didn't know how to tell you. But okay.

*They hug again.*

ETHAN: Moron.

ASTRID: Idiot.

*AUDREY walks in SL as they're saying this*

AUDREY: Everything okay, you two?

ASTRID: Never better. Thanks, Audrey. I appreciate the time to just talk to Ethan alone.

AUDREY: It's no trouble, Astrid! I know you guys are best friends. It's so awesome!

ASTRID: (beat) She really is a winner, Ethan…

ETHAN: I like to think I have decent taste.

AUDREY: In women, perhaps… but in ties, no.

ASTRID: God, I know, right? Have you seen the blue one with the little pictures of flying toasters and fat bungee jumpers?

ETHAN: Hey, that is the best tie in the whole damn universe.

AUDREY: No it's not. It's a disgrace to all ties everywhere.

*MYRA and JIM enter SR with CAPTAIN MONAHAN*

JIM: Hey guys… you're not going to like this.

AUDREY: Let me guess…

CPT. MONAHAN: Kissin' Kate. Again. Apartment on Peach Street.

ASTRID: Dammit! This is getting out of control!

ETHAN: How many is this now?

MYRA: Thirteen. Lucky number thirteen.

(pause)

JIM: This is getting serious.

CPT. MONAHAN: I've always thought you had a real knack for stating the obvious, Jim.

MYRA: How are we supposed to do this? We've been on this case for about a month and a half and she's killed five people. We haven't been able to stop her.

ASTRID: Captain Monahan, I can't imagine what you must be going through…you've been on this since the beginning.

CPT. MONAHAN: (beat) I've gotten a few more grey hairs. But I know that we absolutely cannot afford to give up now.

MYRA: But what are we supposed to do? How can this possibly help?

AUDREY: If we stop now, we know that we'll never catch her. Inaction will never produce a result. But if we keep trying, there's a chance that we might get her.

JIM: Do or do not…there is no try.

AUDREY: And that's the only thing Yoda ever said that I don't buy. If we don't try, we know we'll fail. We have to keep going because there are men out there whose lives depend on us. If we give up because we haven't succeeded yet, then they pay the sacrifice for our delay. I don't want that to happen.

ETHAN: She's right.

MYRA: She does have a point…

CPT. MONAHAN: Wise little grasshopper… *with renewed vigor* All right, ladies and gents, we've got a serial killer to catch and lives to save. Let's go to work.

JIM: Come on, gang! To the Mystery Machine!

ASTRID: Jim, stop.

JIM: Killjoy.

*Lights down.*

*Spots on. Same procedure as previous monologues except when each person finishes, they will not exit, but lie down and play dead. *

VICTIM 1: She came for me when I was on my way home from work. I saw her in the street and I'll be damned if she wasn't the prettiest thing I'd ever seen. She was holding a cell phone in one hand and crying rather hard. I stopped to see if I could help her. She said her phone was dead and she needed to call her brother because her mother was in the hospital…just had a stroke at home, apparently. She was crying so hard… I felt so bad for her. My own mom died of a stroke when I was kid. My apartment was right there, so I told her she could come in and use the landline and charge her phone. She came up with me, thanking me profusely. When she finished her call, she handed the phone back and then…then she kissed me right on the mouth. At first I was really surprised but really into it. Then I started to feel… dizzy. Sleepy almost. All I wanted was to lie down for a bit…

VICTIM 2: She came for me in the backseat of the cab we were sharing. It was a Tuesday night, and it was raining cats and dogs in the city. I had gone downtown…met some of my friends at the pub, had a few beers, played some pool. When I left, I was a little tipsy so I took a cab. When I got in, I noticed that an incredibly beautiful woman had gotten in at the same time. I asked where she was headed, and she said she lived on 14th Street. What a coincidence…that's where I lived. So we decided to share the cab. We talked… flirted mostly…she was so damn gorgeous. When we pulled up to my apartment, she got out with me and offered to walk me up. Who was I to say no? When we got inside… I couldn't resist anymore, so I kissed her… right good kiss too, right on those beautiful lips. Then I think all that alcohol caught up with me…cause I didn't feel too good. I fell down and then…

VICTIM 3: She came for me in the elevator down to the parking lot. I had just left the theatre for the night. I was singing the lead role in Rigoletto at the opera that night…my first premiere as a lead and I was damn proud. I thought maybe I'd go to the clubs with my friend Marcus and celebrate. I had my phone out and was getting ready to text him when she stepped in to the elevator. She was so incredibly beautiful…entire arias could have been written about her beauty and nobody would mind hearing them. I was so speechless but she smiled at me and said she was a big fan. She was praising my singing and my acting and god, it felt so good to get the recognition. I asked her if she wanted to go out for a drink with me. She smiled and said sure…and then she leaned in to give me a kiss. I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to kiss those lips! I heard the elevator ding as it stopped on our floor, but I don't remember getting out. That must have been some kiss….

VICTIM 4: She came for us in the night. She came for us with her beautiful face and her soft little nothings whispered into our willing ears. She came for us, innocence and grace masking a deadly lust for our blood. If it is one thing nature teaches us, it is that sometimes the most beautiful things are the most deadly. How ironic. (beat) She came for us in the night. She'll come for you too.

*Spots down*

*Lights up, interior of the café. ETHAN is on his laptop, AUDREY is filing her nails, and ASTRID is picking up some dishes.*

ASTRID: Do you want any more coffee, Ethan? Rosewater lemonade, I think I finally got it right this time.

ETHAN: Hmm? *looks up from his laptop* Oh, no thanks, Astrid. I'm just about finished with this chapter here.

ASTRID: Okay. No rush. Audrey, anything I can get for you?

AUDREY: No thank you, dear. Although you were right, the rosewater lemonade was spot on.

ASTRID: Thanks. (beat) Well…since you're still writing, Ethan, I think I'm just going to pop down to the market for a minute to pick up a few things for the kitchen. I'll be back in a bit.

ETHAN: Yeah…yeah okay *not really looking up at her*

AUDREY: Don't be rude, Ethan…

ASTRID: It's okay, Audrey. In his language that means 'I understand, have a good trip'.

AUDREY: If you say so, Astrid.

ASTRID: I'll be back in a few. I'll bring home Indian for dinner, is that okay?

AUDREY: Sounds great! Take your time, we'll be fine. And Jim's not here, so the place won't burn to the ground.

ASTRID: Thanks, Audrey. Catch you later! *exits SL*

(briefest of pauses)

ETHAN: *enthusiastically hits laptop key* Well, I think that just about wraps that chapter up.

AUDREY: You think so?

ETHAN: Yep. I didn't think that was going to be as hard as it was. You know, it's weird trying to write a story about a woman that you've never met. I mean, this is all just speculation and theories about her life and why she's doing this. We may never know what her real story is until they catch her.

AUDREY: And what was this chapter about?

ETHAN: This was the big one…the speculation behind what events might have turned her into a psychopathic and ruthless serial killer.

AUDREY: Oh, that is a big one. And what conclusions did you come up with, Detective? Let's see if your speculation matches mine.

ETHAN: Well… of course we aren't sure what really happened. But from the evidence and the interviews I've done with the real profilers, I believe—and Captain Monahan agrees—that this woman is suffering from delusions of grandeur. She clearly sees herself as some kind of… authority figure, choosing who lives and who dies. We think she might have been a jilted lover at some point…maybe an extramarital affair gone wrong? Whatever it really is…this woman is decidedly psychotic. I mean, who could kill thirteen men in cold blood like that?

AUDREY: *brings a handgun out of her bag* I could.

ETHAN: *stands up quickly and moves to the side* Audrey… Audrey what are you doing?

AUDREY: *stands and follows* Oh Ethan, you never were that bright, were you? I'm going to kill you Ethan. I'm going to kiss those beautiful lips of yours and then I'm going to put a bullet in your heart.

ETHAN: Audrey…just…put the gun down. Please. We can talk about this.

AUDREY: I think we've done all the talking we need to do, honey. You are a pathetic little man and your little story about MY life is just not working for me.

ETHAN: Please, Audrey I'm… wait… your life? Audrey what are you saying?

AUDREY: Oh don't be so daft, Ethan. Isn't it rather obvious by now who I am?

ETHAN: You… but you…

AUDREY: Me. You do have to admit that I am rather good, aren't I? I was playing you like a sweet, sweet violin, darling. And you never suspected a damn thing. Oh, this is so good, I am enjoying myself.

ETHAN: What are you going to do with me, Audrey?

AUDREY: Tsk tsk, Ethan. You do know that I hate repeating myself. I told you. I am going to kill you. Savor each breath, my darling. Your last one approaches.

ETHAN: But…why? Why are you doing this?

AUDREY: Why? Is that really the question you want me to answer as I sit here with your life in the palm of my hand? Always with whys and the hows, Ethan. Well, how shall I put this… You weren't as boring as the others. That's why I wanted to take my time with you.

ETHAN: You're going to kill me because I'm…not boring.

AUDREY: Oh no, nothing so dull as that. I'm going to kill you because you are a spineless lowlife, just like all the other men who have…succumbed to my graces. You think you know who I am? You think you've got me all figured out in your little book? Let me tell you something, sweetie…you have no idea who I am or why I do this.

ETHAN: Then why don't you enlighten me. We can talk about this.

AUDREY: I'm afraid the time for talking is over, my dear Ethan. Talk is so cheap, don't you think? Why waste our time with words when we all know that our actions speak so much louder? *cocks the gun*You were great, Ethan, but I think it's time we start seeing other people. If Hell exists, give them my love, won't you?

*ASTRID enters SL*

ASTRID: Hey Audrey I was thinking… whoa.

ETHAN: Astrid, get out of here now!

AUDREY: Don't move, Astrid. (ASTRID freezes) That's a good girl. Oh now this makes it double the fun, wouldn't you say? It isn't often I get two for the price of one. Today must be my lucky day! Astrid, darling, why don't you walk yourself over here and join our little party?

ASTRID: *as she walks slowly over* Ethan…what is going on?

ETHAN: Astrid… I don't believe you've had the pleasure of meeting Kissin' Kate, have you?

ASTRID: *looks back and forth between the two* You? Audrey… you are Kissin' Kate?

AUDREY: Really, Astrid your powers of deduction are astounding. Yes. I am Kissin' Kate. I have to admit, at first I wasn't too sure about that nickname and I thought I'd have a little chat with dear Jim about it… but then I decided I kind of like it. Why reinvent the wheel, after all?

ASTRID: But I don't understand… why are you doing this?

AUDREY: *sighs* Again, always with that question. Why, why, why… I suppose though it is rather the million dollar question, don't you think? Humans…we always want to know why, even if we can't handle the truth in the answer.

ASTRID: Try us. Why are you doing this?

AUDREY: Ooooh so brave. Alright, brave girl I'll tell you why. To protect you. To protect you and all the other women in the world. Men are the most dangerous things to a woman's health, don't you know? Oh, we like to think that men love us regardless of who we are or what we do, but that's just not true, is it? They make us cute promises and whisper sweet truths in our ears. They take our hands, kiss our lips, and hold us when we cry. You think you're safe in their embrace but just when you get warm and comfortable… *snaps fingers*… you're out on the street on your own, alone and cold and miserable. And he doesn't give a damn about you anymore.

ETHAN: Audrey, please…

AUDREY: SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP! Do not speak anymore, Ethan! Do you really think you are any different than those men…those stupid, evil, lecherous men who stare after us with wandering eyes and lusting bodies? Do you think you are any different than my…my Anthony, who left me alone, told me we were never supposed to be? My Anthony, who promised me the sun and stars. You are no different, Ethan Taylor. None of you are.

ASTRID: Please, Audrey… I'm sorry about Anthony and whatever he did to you. But please…put the gun down…

AUDREY: *moves a step closer to ASTRID* Don't you see, Astrid, dear? Don't you see what I am trying to do? These men have hurt us all…every single one of them hurt somebody. At first I was just content to kill Ethan because of his involvement with this case and this little book he was writing—which is all wrong, by the way—but then…oh but then I saw what he meant to you. I saw the little looks you gave him when you thought no one else was looking. I saw it written on your face plain as day. How long have you loved him, Astrid?

ASTRID: *looks silently at Ethan…then down at her feet*

ETHAN: Astrid…

AUDREY: That long, huh? And what has he done about that, hmmm? He chases after other women and leaves you at home alone with your poor broken heart, wondering what you could ever do to have his favors fall upon you. He's broken your heart, dear girl, used you like a cheap tool and yet here you stand, still taking care of him and still following him and hanging on his every word…and he still doesn't acknowledge you.

ASTRID: That's not fair, Audrey. He didn't know.

AUDREY: He never let you explain.

ASTRID: I lost my nerve.

AUDREY: And he never paid attention to you. But don't worry dear Astrid, I can help you. I can take care of him now, and he'll never bother you again.

ETHAN: Audrey… you never cared about me, did you? This was all a game…

AUDREY: Listen to you, you stupid man. Even when this beautiful woman has basically proclaimed her love for you, you still can think only of yourself. It's a shame, really. I think you would have done well together. How terribly ironic. *sighs and re-aims gun at ETHAN* I think it is time for you to go now, Ethan

ASTRID: *steps in between ETHAN and the gun* Audrey, don't do this.

AUDREY: Don't intervene, Astrid. You know he deserves this.

ASTRID: Please, take me instead of him. I'll do anything, just let him go.

AUDREY: My dear I have no intention of letting anyone leave this building alive today. Everything I am doing…I'm doing for you, Astrid, and for me and for all the other women who have been left behind. It really is true what they say, isn't it…Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. It really is too bad you have to die today too…I liked you… but you can spare me the sacrificial lamb act.

ETHAN: *stepping up beside ASTRID* Audrey, please don't hurt her. You said you were doing this to protect Astrid. Don't let her take the fall for my mistakes, please.

AUDREY: *sighs* Ethan, Ethan, Ethan… We all know I can't let Astrid walk out of here. I have so much more work to do…poor Astrid would just try to do something noble, like trying to stop me. I can't very well let that happen.

ASTRID: Audrey. I know someone hurt you. Someone very dear to you…someone promised you that they'd never hurt you. People break promises and that hurts us and we have no control over it. We like to think that if we can take control and make everything neat maybe…just maybe we can stop being hurt. But life is so much messier than that, so much bigger and stranger…and so much more beautiful. Bad things happen to us all the time. We wish we could stop it. But those things, those bad things, are just as much a part of who we are. They are a part of us. I can't say I understand what happened to you. But Ethan and I… and all those other men…they weren't and we aren't a part of that. Killing us won't bring you answers or give you peace. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, Audrey. (beat) I'm begging you one last time… please…take me instead of Ethan and let him go.

AUDREY: (beat) Okay.

*AUDREY raises the gun to ASTRID'S chest and fires. ASTRID collapses on the ground.

ETHAN: ASTRID! NO! Astrid…Astrid please…please!

*lights down on ETHAN cradling ASTRID'S body and AUDREY standing over them, her gun still trained on ETHAN. In the dark we hear JIM and CAPTAIN MONAHAN yell "HEY!". Then there are three more gunshots.*

*lights up on ETHAN and JIM. They are sitting on the couch in the café, dressed in black. ETHAN has his right arm in a sling and there's a cane next to JIM*

*there is a moment of silence*

JIM: How are you holding up?

ETHAN: I don't know.

JIM: Yeah.

*another moment of silence*

ETHAN: She….she didn't have to die. Not like that.

JIM: Ethan…

ETHAN: It should have been me. I should have been the one riddled with bullets. I should have been the one in that coffin we just put in the ground. I should…. I should have been the one to die for her.

JIM: Ethan, don't say that…

ETHAN: *stands and paces room* WHY NOT, JIM?! Why?! That bitch was coming for me, she was going to kill me. I was supposed to be the one that died that day. Astrid was supposed to be at the market, far away…but she wasn't. She was there and she stepped in front of a gun for me, for me, Jim!

JIM: Ethan… *hobbles after with his cane*

ETHAN: Is that what people do, Jim?! Is that what we're supposed to do to prove to people that we love them? Step in front of bullets?

JIM: Not necessarily, but…

ETHAN: She wasn't supposed to be there, Jim. She thought I wasn't listening, but I was. She said she was going to the market, so why was she there? And why did she do that? It should have been me, Jim. It should have been me dying to save her.

JIM: Ethan, I wouldn't have wanted to put your body in the ground either.

ETHAN: It would have been better that way.

JIM: Would it? *shakes head* Astrid loved you. She died protecting you. She obviously thought that was an honorable way to die.

ETHAN: There's no such thing as an honorable death, Jim. Only honorable lives.

JIM: And how can you think that she didn't live one? She loved what she did. She loved us… you and me and Myra… she would have done anything for any of us. It doesn't make much sense but what she did…that was her greatest gift to you. She loved you so much that she willingly gave her life so that you could keep going. Don't insult her memory by asking why.

ETHAN: *chokes a sob and bear hugs JIM* I miss her so much, Jim.

JIM: I know. I know. I miss her too, man.

*MYRA appears SR*

MYRA: Jim? Ethan? Ohhhh… *runs to them. They open their arms to envelop MYRA in their embrace as well. The three stand there for a moment before letting go. JIM and MYRA stay where they are. ETHAN migrates towards front and center*

MYRA: Jim, Captain Monahan is waiting in the kitchen. He needs to ask you some questions… you know, just follow-up. He said he didn't want to do it today but… you know how it is.

JIM: *kisses her forehead* Okay. I'll go talk to him. Are you okay?

MYRA: No. But I'll get better.

JIM: Okay. Ethan, I'm going to talk to Captain Monahan. I'll see you in a bit, alright?

ETHAN: Mmm. Thanks, Jim. *JIM exits SR*

MYRA: *walks up to ETHAN and turns him to face her.* I know you think it should have been you that we buried today. From what Jim has told me, by all rights it should be you. But it wasn't. (beat) I also heard that we could have buried both of you today. I miss Astrid, Ethan. I miss Astrid so much that it hurts me from the inside out. But I'm glad that I don't have to miss you too. Maybe it isn't fair that you're here and she isn't, but it doesn't matter. You are here…here with us. And we can celebrate the life that she led and we can revel in the love she had for us. We wouldn't want to do that without you. I know that Astrid is glad that you are here to remember her. We're glad you're here too.

*ETHAN envelopes MYRA in a hug without saying a word. They stay that way for a few moments. When they break apart, MYRA kisses his cheek and then leaves SR. Ethan faces front*

*ASTRID, dressed in all white, enters from SL. She approaches ETHAN and stands behind him, slightly to the left.*

ETHAN: Hey Astrid. (beat) Today was a hard day without you. I mean…today wouldn't have been hard if you were here. Umm. (beat) You know that movie that you loved so much? It was the robot one…Transformers. You were always so horrified that I had never seen it, and honestly I never watched it just so you would tell me about it. Well… I finally watched it, and then I spent hours on the Internet looking at the trivia and the goofs, just like you used to do. I think I gave Jim a solid half an hour on the Shia LaBoeuf trivia alone. He almost hit me. (beat) I found a quote from one of the robots…the truck one… Optimus Prime. It was a perfect quote, and really quite ironic considering it was your favorite movie. 'The greatest weakness of most humans is their hesitancy to tell others how much they love them while they're alive.' *smiles* Ironic, I told you. (beat) I know this comes a day late and a dollar short but…I did love you, Astrid. I…I do love you. And in more than the you-brought-me-coffee-and-told-me-I'm-amazing way. I loved you… I love you. And I'm sorry it took me so long to say it.

*ASTRID walks up and gently takes ETHAN's hand. He continues as if he doesn't notice it*

ETHAN: I'm sorry I never said it while you were alive. I'm sorry you're not here for me to say it now. But I love you. And I'll never forget you.

*Curtain*