*We begin back in the Basement. Slip is at the table. His feet are propped up and he's leaned back, snoring faintly.*
*Chuck lays on an old couch with busted springs, but he can't sleep. He tosses and turns. As he tosses again, there's a faint knock at the door. He sits up, listening. Carefully, he climbs off of the couch and peeks out the window. He sees a pair of sneakered feet. He turns a glance toward Slip, who is still asleep. There's another knock at the door as he heads for the landing.*
Chuck: Who is it?
Voice: Just a peddler sellin' combs an' hair accessories.
Voice: Yeah, all kinds! Big kinds, little kinds...
Chuck: *Runs a hand through his hair* Well... *opens the door*
(It's a big man in sneakers, an apron, and shirtsleeves. He has thick grayish hair and a droopy gray mustache and eyebrows that are so thick, they look fake. He has a cart with various hair accessories. He pulls out one large black comb.)
Peddler: Buy a comb, sonny? Just fifty cents!
Chuck: Fifty cents for a comb? That's a good price!
Peddler: This is a very special comb, Sonny. (Hands it to Chuck) Use it now. You look like you need it.
Chuck: *Sighs* Yeah... *turns to a cracked mirror and runs the comb through his hair.*
(The peddler smirks as Chuck's eyes close and he collapses on the floor, dead white and with the comb still in his hair. He's about to pull it further through when we hear noise from down below.)
Slip: *Calls out* Chuck? *Appears from below; comes to a halt with Chuck at his feet* Chuck... *Looks up at the peddler* What the hell did you do to him?
(But the peddler takes off into the dawn before Slip can get a good look at him - or a good hold on him.)
Slip: *Stumbles through the door after him; yells after him* DAMN YOU, GET BACK HERE!
(Sach shows up at this point, yawning a little.)
Sach: Chief, I'm here to relieve you... (His eyes widen as he gets down the stairs) What happened? Did they...
Slip: I don't know! This guy... *Swats at the doorway, making an aggravated sound as heads back over to Chuck on the floor. He kneels next to Chuck...and finally notices the comb.* What the...
Sach: (He pulls the comb out of Chuck's hair) Where did this come from?
Slip: That guy I just chased outta here.
Chuck: *Groans and opens his eyes* What happened?
Slip: I was hopin' you could answer that.
Chuck: *Sits up* There was a comb peddler. I went to try one...then I'm starin' at the ceiling.
Slip: I chased that guy outta here.
Sach: I thought I saw some old guy with gray hair as I was comin' in.
Slip: That mighta been him.
Chuck: *Nods* He did have gray hair...and sneakers.
Sach: He was carryin' a bunch of combs n' stuff. Looked like any ol' guy sellin' stuff you might see on the street.
Chuck: That's what I thought he was.
Slip: I ain't so sure about that. As soon as Sach pulled that comb outta yer hair, ya came to.
Sach: (He holds up the comb) I'm wonderin' if this has somethin' on it that knocked Chuck out.
Slip: Yer the one ta tell us. *folds his arms*
Chuck: *gets up, holds Slip's elbow* What's wrong with it?
Sach: (He sniffs at it) I can't tell without checkin' my chemistry set, but I think there's some kind of stuff on it. Stuff that knocks you out (makes a face) or worse.
Chuck: *Eyes widen* Worse?
Sach: I ain't the world's biggest expert (gulps) but I think it's poison.
Sach: I told you, I ain't an expert...but that's what I smell on it.
*Slip is growling, rubbing his taped knuckles.*
Chuck: *Holds Slip's elbow a little tighter; he's paled a bit* They almost...
Sach: Chief, maybe we ought to move him somewhere else, like Louie's back room or our place.
Slip: No kiddin'. We're takin' him back to Louie's.
Chuck: Slip... *tights his grip on his elbow*
Slip: *Turns just as Chuck starts to slump; grabs Chuck* REALLY bad time ta faint, ya know that?
Sach: I'll go back to our apartment and run some tests on this comb. Whitey and Butch are already at Louie's.
Sach: You should probably call Gabe, too, and tell him what's goin' on.
Slip: Get the results as fast as you can. I'll take care of the rest. *picks up Chuck in a fireman's carry* Good thing he's pretty light.
Sach: Right, Chief. (Grins) Need a hand there?
Slip: Nah, I'm good. You go check out that comb.
Sach: Right, Chief. (He heads out)
Slip: Okay, Chuck, we're goin' ta Louie's. *Heads out; closes the door after them.*
(We fade out on Slip carrying Chuck out of the basement. Fade in on a small airplane hanger in a field. Bobby Jordan gives his small airplane one last rub, then tosses the rag he was using in a bucket and limps out. As he makes his way to a parking lot, he's met by several men in suits and a small, dark-haired woman in a purple suit.)
Bobby: (Frowns) Uh, hi, guys. I thought the shipment wasn't due for another few days.
Zelda: *Folds her arms* You didn't fulfill your part of the deal, did you?
Bobby: (Gulps) Deal? I've delivered those shipments, just like you said. (Frowns) I really need this money. The doctor's appointments for my bum leg didn't come cheap.
Zelda: *Turns* Allan, I think we have an issue here.
Allan: (He comes in - his face is covered with bandages, and he now wears a blond wig) Yeah, boy. We gave you orders to kill the pretty little bastard my Adriana was running around with. You didn't do it. One of my boys had to do the job for you.
Bobby: (His eyes widen) You killed him?!
*Zelda nods, smirking.*
Bobby: But...but...I gave you his heart! What more do you want?
Allan: It was a fake, kid! You could get it from any of your medical shipments!
Zelda: And we don't appreciate being made fools of.
Bobby: I couldn't kill him. He's still my friend! (Narrows his eyes) And you won't kill him. You're crazy. Slip and the others will be watching him night and day now.
Zelda: We've been double-crossed.
Allan: We've seen you hanging around with that mouthy reporter Gabriel Moreno, too.
Bobby: He's also my friend. What's it to ya?
Allan: We don't like men who talk to mouthy reporters.
Bobby: We're just talkin' old times.
Zelda: You don't really expect us to believe that, do you?
Bobby: It's the truth! We've been friends since we were in kindergarten!
Zelda: That is not the part we doubt.
Allan: Oh, we know about Moreno. We also know he's been pursuing this smuggling case ever since he joined that rag he works for. Someone's tippin' him off.
Bobby: It ain't me!
Allan: You're a liar, kid. You an' all those little jerks you used to run around with. We know damn well they're not hair stylists.
Bobby: (Grins) Ok, you got me there. They aren't hair stylists. Or much of anything else, for that matter.
Zelda: No kidding.
Allan: My superior wants to know who they are.
Bobby: Just guys who hang around the Bowery. They're not intelligence officers or cops or anything like that, if that's what you mean.
Allan: (Turns to the woman) Zelda, the last thing we want is for this kid to squeal to his buddies. Shall we bring him to our superior to decide his fate?
Bobby: (He tries to move back) N..no...
Zelda: *Nods once* Yes. We can't run the risk of him further warning his little friends.
(Bobby hits Allan in the jaw and tries to make his way back to his plane, but he's hobbled by his lame leg. One of the goons easily knocks him off his feet.)
Allan: Get him tied up and keep him quiet. We don't want him making a racket when we take him to our superior.
Bobby: (He struggles as well as he can as one of the goons binds his wrists with a handkerchief) Who is your "superior?"
Allan: You'll find out. Oh Miss Zelda, would you like to use your nice handkerchief to keep him quiet?
Zelda: *Removes a purple hanky her her jacket pocket* I'd love to. *Ties it over Bobby's mouth*
(Bobby tries to squawk, but it's tied too tightly.)
Allan: Take him away, boys. Our superior would like to have a nice talk with him.
*The two goons heft Bobby and haul him away.*
Allan: Our boss will make a meal out of that little invalid.
Allan: (Turns to Zelda) I'm going to get back to Adriana and our boss. Why don't you and some of the boys try a new place for lunch? The boss says to check these men out. I don't know why. They're a lot of dimbulbs.
Zelda: Very well.
(Fade out on the hanger; fade in on Louie's. All of the boys but Sach stand in the back room...and Louie's yelling.)
Louie: No, no, and NO! I love Chuck like he's one of my own children, but I don't want killers coming into my store!
Slip: But Louie, how would you feel if som'en happened to him because you wouldn't let him stay here, hmmmm?
Louie: Isn't there anywhere else he can stay? What about your apartment?
Butch: There's too many people in our building. Someone would see him.
Louie: But Slip said somethin' 'bout him bein' poisoned! What if they try somethin' else?
Slip: That's what we're tryin' to avoid!
Butch: No one ever comes back here but you, us, and Sally anyway. If we saw someone coming back here, we'll know.
Chuck: Louie, please! This is the only place I feel safe!
Louie: (Sighs) All right. You can stay here, but stay out of sight. I don't want to encourage these awful people.
Slip: *Claps Louie's shoulder* I knew you'd be receptive to helpin' out, Louis.
Louie: Only because he doesn't have anywhere else to go.
*Whitey puts an arm around Chuck's shoulders as Chuck lets out a sigh of relief.*
Butch: He should be ok back here during the day. We're all usually here, and if we're not here, Sally or Louie are here.
Louie: Just be careful at night...and don't eat anything if you can't pay for it in the morning.
Butch: (He looks up) Hey Louie, I think you have customers.
Louie: (Nods) I'll tend to them. You get Chuck settled back here. There should be blankets in the closet. I've slept here before, when Mama was mad at me.
*Zelda, still in her purple suit, enters the sweet shop.*
(Louie, Butch, Whitey, and Slip come out just as she arrives. Louie grins and immediately goes over to her.)
Louie: Hello, Miss. Welcome to my shop. (He leads her to a table) Here. My very best table for such a lovely lady.
Zelda: Thank you.
Louie: I highly recommend our ice cream sodas and chicken soup with matzo balls.
Butch: We all love the banana splits. Best in the Bowery.
Louie: They eat enough of them...without paying.
Butch: You want music? Whitey could turn on his radio for you!
Louie: Whitey built my radio himself. Worked on the jukebox, too. He's amazing with radios and machines.
Zelda: *Grins in Slip's direction* I haven't decided what I want yet. Mind if I enjoy the atmosphere, for starters?
Louie: Enjoy any atmosphere you like. Just call me when you're ready.
(He walks behind the counter to retrieve a rag, leaving the other three with Zelda.)
Zelda: Do you fellas work here?
Slip: Lets just say we have a personal investment here.
Butch: Louie's our friend. He's sorta like our mentor.
Whitey: A real father-figure.
Slip: 'Specially when he yells.
Butch: Which he does a lot.
(Louie opens the back room door to get another rag...giving us a glimpse of Chuck reading a magazine in a folding chair.)
*Zelda just happens to glance in that direction and sees Chuck. Her eyes widen, but she quickly redirects her attention to the other boys. She smiles at Slip, though.*
Zelda: Would you boys like to join me?
Whitey: Why, are you comin' apart?
*Slip belts Whitey over the head with his hat.*
Zelda: *Chuckles* Please, fellas? Sit with me.
*Whitey and Butch fight over chairs. Slip rolls his eyes and takes the one right next to her.*
Slip: You'll have to exclude them. They were raised in the zoo wit' no manners. *glares at the pair*
Zelda: That's okay. They're rather amusing.
Butch: (He finally grabs the other chair next to Zelda) Aw Slip, she thinks we're amusing!
Slip: That's about all you two are.
Zelda: *Her attention is still clearly on Slip* But you...you're the brains, the leader. I can tell.
Slip: *Smooths his jacket* Natterally.
Butch: Yeah. He's our Chief. He's in charge of dancin', chasin' Sally, an' smackin' us over the head.
Zelda: That sounds like a job in itself.
Slip: It can be.
Zelda: *Fingers a lapel on Slip's jacket* Maybe the hard-working Chief needs a little rest and relaxation.
Butch: We get plenty of rest and relaxation! We don't do nuthin' else!
Whitey: *Nods* And Slip does more restin’and relaxin' than the rest of us.
Zelda: I'm sure that being lacksidasical can get tiring.
Butch: We're...what? (Turns to Slip) What did she say?
Whitey: Wow, Chief, she uses bigger words than you do!
Slip: I noticed.
Butch: What are you doin' here? A nice lady who uses big words doesn't usually hang around these parts!
Zelda: I'm just visiting. Thought I'd see some sights. I got hungry...and a little bored. *leans closer to Slip*
Slip: *His eyebrows raise* Bored, huh? I ain't borin'.
Zelda: I bet you aren't boring.
Butch: (Mutters to Slip) You also HAVE a girl...and she doesn't like sharin'.
Slip: *Mutters back* Shudup.