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BURLESQUE!

OR

MURDER MY SWEET-PEA
Written by Derek Dubois

Based on characters from "The Sweet Little Variety Show" by Tnia Montenegro, Nicole Maynard

74 Central St. Apt. 3 Manville RI, 02838 401-309-2231

OVER BLACK The ever-increasing sounds of catcalls grows into a near frenzy until... INT. BURLESQUE CLUB - CONTINUOUS BANG! A lone spotlight explodes to frame a BURLESQUE DANCER amidst a sea of black. She stands ferociously behind a mic stand in her fishnet stockings, high heels, and framesqueezingly tight corset. This is TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER Good evening gentlemen and welcome to The Speakeasy for a night of tits, tassels, and tantalizing talent. The dense room is filled to the brim with smoke. lighting shrouds everything in sensuous mystery. Low

The Ringmaster stands up on stage, a glorious red curtain behind her. On three sides of the stage, pushed against the walls, are tiny tables that fill the diminutive room. A healthy audience composed entirely of men in tailored suits and sunglasses, sit behind candlelight. A jazzy Cabaret-esque song oozes from the PA. Trixie sways with the music. The men observe with acetic stillness. 8 additional BURLESQUE DANCERS emerge from behind the curtain in variations of the same gloriously sexy costumes. All powder-white china doll skin; blood red lips. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER (CONTD) Weve got a swell lineup of very sexy acts for you tonight. My kittens are just beggin to play. The dancers pull back the curtain revealing an upright piano center stage. The women close around and seductively push it to the front of the stage. One burlesque dancer sits at the keys and tinkles out the melody to EARTHA KITTS I WANT TO BE EVIL. Trixie, now beside the piano, begins to croon. The rest of the burlesque dancers fan out into the room, in between the tables of spectators.

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TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER (CONTD) (singing) Prim and proper, the girl who's never been cased / I'm tired of being pure and not chased / Like something that seeks it's level / I wanna go to the devil. From the wings of the stage, a small brass band marches out as the song kicks into a glorious crescendo. All of the dancers begin to sing, each focusing their attention on a specific member of the audience. ALL DANCERS (singing) I wanna be evil, I wanna spit tacks / I wanna be evil, and cheat at jacks / I wanna be wicked, I wanna tell lies / I wanna be mean, and throw mud pies... The room is alive with kinetic energy. The stage lights cast decadent prisms of colors. Teasing amounts of skin flash in and out of the light and smoke. The Ringmaster continues with the show. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER We hope youve checked your better judgment at the door because once this roller coaster of a night starts...theres no getting off. The music peaks and...The Curtain closes and... THWICK! The lights go out. The room goes black.

TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER (O.S.) (CONTD) Gentlemen, put your hands together and welcome our first act, the lovely songstress Sweet-Pea. The lone spotlight returns, searches the empty stage. curtain pulls back and... The

AHHHHHHHH! One of the burlesque dancers lets loose an earpiercing shriek - straight out of a 50s horror B-Movie as the spotlight finds a dangling pair of bare legs swaying ever so slightly. (The lower half of a woman whos been hanged). This is (was) SWEET-PEA. There is a noticeable commotion with the men in the audience as they try to decipher whether this is still part of the act.

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The women flock to the suspended body, reaching for the end of the rope to untie her. A man leaps up in the crowd. Hes a bit tipsy but cocksure and impeccably dressed. This is DETECTIVE ARTHUR CHRISTIE. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Stop! Dont touch a thing. This is now a crime scene. The spotlight turns on this new figure. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER And who the hell might you be, sir? DETECTIVE CHRISTIE I am detective, well - former detective, Arthur Christie. He rushes up to the stage, taking a pair of spectacles from his breast pocket and moving in for a closer look. Trixie looks up to the stagehands manning the production. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER Cut the curtain already. On with the show! The red curtain slams shut hiding Trixie, Detective Christie, Sweet Peas body, and the rest of the dancers. A commotion can be heard behind it until two hands violently push a blonde bombshell in a low-cut dress to the microphone. She has tears in her eyes but launches into her vaudeville act. This is KITTY COUPE. KITTY COUPE Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere. Tonight Ill take you to some very special places. She holds a hula-hoop. INT. BACKSTAGE - MOMENTS LATER Detective Christie supervises the lowering of Sweet-Peas body to the floorboards. Enclosed around him are several other burlesque dancers including GINGER CITRONE and SADIE ROCKET. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Careful! Careful! We mustnt disturb the body.

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Sweet-Pea is laid upon the floor. Detective Christie gets in real close and begins examining the body. He turns to look over the sexy women who have collected around him, scans their chests. They look back bewildered. He lands on Sadie Rocket and has an a-ha moment. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE (CONTD) May I? Shes quite confused. Detective Christie doesnt wait for her to put the pieces together and reaches for a tuft of white cloth protruding from her bust-line. He snaps it up like a magician performing the tablecloth trick. Christie uses the handkerchief to handle Sweat-Peas chin. He gently rolls her head from side to side. On her right cheek an odd symbol composed of two characters not easily identifiable. Detective Christie notices something else in the corpses balled right hand. He pries it loose. It is a folded sheet of paper. Opening it, he scans the cursive lines. SADIE ROCKET What is it? DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Its a suicide note. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER What a tragedy that has befallen us. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Ringmaster, I must implore you to clear a small area where I can conduct my investigation. SADIE ROCKET Investigation? What for? DETECTIVE CHRISTIE This was no suicide. (Beat) ...It was murder. Trixie cries out in genuine surprise. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER What???!

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DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Ringmaster, I must ask, who amongst your stable would have had access to Sweet-Pea in the moments before her death? TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER Only those girls who were on deck for the first act. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE And who might that include? TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER In addition to Sweet-Pea? Three. Kitty Coupe, Ginger Citrone, and Sadie Rocket. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Round them up quickly Ringmaster. I must speak to each of them. Flustered, she collects herself for a moment. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE (CONTD) Now, Ringmaster! She takes off running, nearly tripping in her heels. fumbles a flask from his pocket and nips from it. INT. BURLESQUE CLUB - MOMENTS LATER Kitty Coupe performs on stage, dancing with a hula-hoop. The microphone, removed from its stand, has been placed between her well-proportioned breasts. KITTY COUPE A kid ran out of the burlesque show. The doorman grabbed him and asked what is the matter. The kid said, "My Mama told me if I looked at anything bad I'd turn to stone.... and I can feel it starting!" Kitty lets the hula hoop drop to the floor and bows to the crowd who erupts in applause. KITTY COUPE (CONTD) Thank you so very much. I love you all. He

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She removes the microphone from her anatomy and replaces it before taking her props and charging back behind the curtain. INT. BACKSTAGE - CONTINUOUS Kitty emerges through the curtain and finds Trixie, standing unimpressed with her arms crossed. KITTY COUPE Hows it going? Who the hell is that man? TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER Some detective. I have no idea. He reeks of booze and wants to see you, Ginger, and Sadie immediately. And with that she slips out onto the stage to wild cheers. INT. DRESSING ROOM - 12:00 AM The room is just a line of make-up counters with large vanity mirrors surrounded by giant light bulbs. Racks of lingerie. Detective Christie sits across from Kitty Coupe. He studies her for a long while before gulping from his flask. Kitty wears a completely non-chalant expression. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE How long did you and Sweet-Pea work together? KITTY COUPE Here at the club? Only a couple of months. But Ive known Sweet-Pea years. We ran in the same circles. INT. DRESSING ROOM - 12:15 AM In Kittys place now sits Ginger Citrone. GINGER CITRONE We auditioned together. We were the only two hired from over 45 girls. She had something special. INT. DRESSING ROOM - 12:30 AM In Gingers place now sits Sadie Rocket.

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DETECTIVE CHRISTIE I hear she was about to break big? SADIE ROCKET She had more than a few talent agencies interested in her act... DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Did this upset you in any way? INT. DRESSING ROOM - 12:00 AM We cut back to Kitty Coupe. KITTY COUPE Are you asking if I am a jealous woman? You dont think Id be happy for her? INT. DRESSING ROOM - 12:15 AM Cut back to Ginger. GINGER CITRONE Im not gonna lie to you detective. Yeah, I was upset. I was dyin inside. See, we had a thing. You know? I dug her. And she was ready to just up and leave like that? I know how it looks but I didnt kill her. Honest. INT. DRESSING ROOM - 12:30 AM Cut back to Sadie. SADIE ROCKET Let me ask you detective, what even makes you think this was a murder? DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Ah, but that is for me to know and you to find out. SADIE ROCKET How could any of us have offed Sweet-Pea? You think I, or any of the girls, could carry her body up to those rafters? I consider myself an independent woman but Im not that strong.

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INT. DRESSING ROOM - 12:00 AM Cut back to Kitty. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Kitty, howd you get those scratches? Four long red scratch marks run the length of her forearm. She turns them over and hides them away from view. KITTY COUPE (stumbling) I, uh, my cat gave em to me. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE (deadpan) Thats some angry pussy. (a beat) Thatll be all for now. INT. DRESSING ROOM - 12:15 AM Ginger leans in real close to detective Christie. whispering in his ear. GINGER CITRONE Why dont you leave the case be? She places a hand on his upper thigh. GINGER CITRONE (CONTD) You know...Ive always had a thing for...inquizzical men. Maybe when youre finished playing Sherlock Holmes you and I can knock off together? An obviously frazzled Detective Christie adjusts his tie to hide his blushing. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Ginger, for someone who just admitted to a relationship with a woman killed no more than 30 minutes ago - you seem real eager to move on? GINGER CITRONE Im on the rebound. All but

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Ginger moves in close with her pouty red lips and goes in for the kiss. Just as her lips so lightly brush Christies he pushes her away. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE You know, Im a little thirsty and my flasks a little empty. Ginger shrugs her shoulders and gets up walking, as all women and high heels do - so elegantly, out the door. Detective Christie touches his lips with his fingers and in a daze falls out of his chair collapsing to the floor. His head rolls around as his eyes regain focus. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE (CONTD) (to himself) Oh my. INT. BURLESQUE CLUB - NIGHT A woman sings Fever for the delighted crowd as she slowly removes items of clothing. INT. BACKSTAGE - NIGHT Detective Christie emerges from the dressing room shaking off his daze. He walks likes a man half-in-the-bag. All of the women: Trixie, the burlesque dancers, and the three suspects cram the backstage area awaiting the detectives next move. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER Detective the coroners are here. Can they remove...the body? DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Momentarily. For I have solved the mystery of the murderer. The women gasp audibly. worried looks. Kitty, Ginger, and Sadie exchange

TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER You mean, its true? One of my girls killed Sweet Pea? DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Not quite Ringmaster.

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TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER (confused) Then it was a suicide? DETECTIVE CHRISTIE No Ringmaster. It was most definitely murder but it wasnt one of your girls. It was all three of them. KITTY COUPE liar! Detective Christie approaches the body of Sweet-Pea which has been laid upon a table. He points to her neck where the noose had been tied. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Look closely at Sweet Peas neck. No bruising. She died before she was hanged. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER How? He rolls Sweet-Peas head to the side to reveal the marks hed discovered earlier. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE You see these marks beside her mouth? Sadie cranes her neck to the side to see. removes Sadies kerchief from his pocket. Detective Christie

DETECTIVE CHRISTIE (CONTD) I took this from Sadie shortly after Sweet-Peas body was discovered. Its monogrammed with her name. Her real name. Jennifer Fields. She used it to smother Sweet-Pea and the requisite force left the imprint of her monogram on the her face. The imprint on the face is now revealed to be the letters J and F upside down. KITTY COUPE Okay, so Sadie did it! That doesnt mean I had anything to do with it? Arrest her!

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SADIE ROCKET You bitch! DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Oh but Kitty when I was speaking with Sadie earlier she raised a very interesting point. There is no way that one of you could have single-handedly smothered her to death. Look here Sadie. Christie lifts Sweet-Peas cold grey hand. under her fingernails. There is crud

DETECTIVE CHRISTIE (CONTD) Can you see that there? Skin under her fingernails. Kitty rubs her hand over the scratch wound on her arm, embarrassed. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE (CONTD) But the pieces of the puzzle didnt quite fall into place. I had to ask myself how you three could have gotten the jump on Sweet-Pea in the first place. And thats when Ginger Citrone tried to paralyze me with her poisonous lipstick. One kiss from Gingers lips could paralyze someone long enough for ...Sweet-Pea kisses her lover and wham...goes limp...Kitty holds her down...Sadie holds the kerchief over his nose and mouth. By the time the effects of the poison begin to ware off she had just enough time left reach out and claw at her attackers. The three women are stunned by his powers of deduction. Trixies eyes fill with tears. DETECTIVE CHRISTIE (CONTD) And finally the three of you, together, crafted the fake suicide note, carried her to the rafters, tied the noose around her neck, and left her there. Trixie? TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER Yes detective?

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DETECTIVE CHRISTIE Take her away. INT. BURLESQUE CLUB - MOMENTS LATER The front door of the club opens on a black night pierced with the lights from gathered police cars and an ambulance. Two CORONERS and a stretcher enter the clubs front door and head up the center aisle disappearing backstage. INT. BACKSTAGE - MOMENTS LATER The two coroners load Sweet-Peas body on the stretcher as a great sadness overtakes the room. Many of the burlesque dancers have broken into tears. Detective Christie nods. The men roll her out.

Trixie the Ringmaster softly, with a cracked and wavering voice, gently begins to sing an old French funeral song. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER J'irai la voir un jour / Au ciel dans la patrie / Oui j'irai voir Marie / Ma joie et mon amour Detective Christie removes two pairs of handcuffs and chains Sadie to Kitty and Kitty to Ginger. INT. BURLESQUE CLUB - CONTINUOUS The stretcher emerges from behind the curtain. follows in song behind. Trixie

All of the men in the crowd stand in penance. Their eyes locked on the floor. The burlesque dancers create a receiving line around the stretcher as its wheeled to the door. Together they all begin to sing in a transcendent refrain. ALL DANCERS Au ciel, au ciel, au ciel / J'irai la voir un jour / Au ciel, au ciel, au ciel / J'irai la voir un jour. Each dancer lays a hand on Sweet-Peas body as it passes. The song continues even after the stretcher leaves the main doors of the club.

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Once passed, Detective Christie leads the chain gang of killers out through the same receiving line. They keep their heads down while the other women stare them down. Detective Christie and the women leave and the big steel doors close with a heavy THUD behind them. TRIXIE THE RINGMASTER (exasperated) It just never ends at the Speakeasy. The women all turn back and filter through the curtain behind the stage. The houselights kick on killing any last ounce of romance the room contained. The men in trench coats slowly head for the doors themselves leaving the club an empty mess. FADE OUT. CREDITS. END.

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