Red Ruin & Blues Roses

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Hello. This is a one act play I have written for my playwriting class. I want people to look at it because I would like feedback.

This thing doesn't do italics, so theres no way to tell the difference between dialogue and stage direction! so i will use these *

Red Ruin & Blue Roses

A play in one act


The story is dedicated to and heavily inspired by Charles Bukowski and all that he wrote.  

Red Ruin & Blue Roses takes place in Los Angeles, 1997. 



FRANK: mid-forties, poorly kept, slightly disheveled appearance.

DEATH: a woman in her early thirties, very attractive, wears tight-fitting clothes, heels and glamourous make-up.

McDONAUGH: Frank’s landlord, mid-forties, quite repulsive and unkept.

SARTRE: famous French existential writer, mid-seventies, formally dressed.

SANDRO: owner of Sandro’s Pizzeria.  He is also an underground horse-racing bookie.

TYLER: a goon who works for Sandro.

GERARD: another goon who works for Sandro.

FINK: a neighbourhood bartender



Scene I: Frank’s Apartment

*Scene opens on FRANK’s office. It is a small, poorly lit cluttered work-space filled with stray papers, empty liquor bottles and nearly empty bookshelves.  FRANK is seated at his desk which is angled downstage toward the audience.  His feet are up on his desk as he smokes a cigarette and flips through a horse-racing pamphlet.  After an elongated silence, the phone on his desk begins to ring.  FRANK does not look up from his pamphlet and continues reading.  After ringing several times, the phone stops.  Silence returns but is soon interrupted as DEATH enters.*

DEATH: Answer your fucking phone, you good-for-nothing!

FRANK: *Looking up from his pamphlet he sits up.*  Frank Waits, private detective.  And how I may I help you today, sweetie?  Do you have a sneaking suspicion your husband is screwing his secretary? 

DEATH: Cut the shit.  And do up your fly for Christ’s sake.  *FRANK complies.*  Look, I’m in a bit of bind and and I need you to follow this man.  *She hands him a large photograph.*   

FRANK: Is this Jean-Paul Sartre?  

DEATH: I think so.

FRANK: Look, if you’re some sort of loony fan who wants me to find where you’re favourite writer hangs out, then I’m sorry to break this to you but Sartre is dead.  He died about twenty years ago.  And he lived in fucking France.

DEATH: He’s alive and in LA.  I want you to find him and make sure it’s him.

FRANK: Well, If you’d like to fly me to Paris I could show you his tombstone and this could be a fairly simple case. 

DEATH: I’m telling you he’s alive!  He likes to hang out in the public library on Crescent.  I need you to go there.

FRANK: If you know where he is then why don’t you go down there and find him yourself.

DEATH: I have to know if it’s really him first.

FRANK: Alright.  I wish I could say this is the stupidest case I’ve ever accepted but sadly it’s not.  I would love to take your money and prove you’re nuts because I hate beautiful women; so okay.  *Pause.*  But first, why are you coming to me?  There’s tons of other dicks in this city.

DEATH: Fink recommend you.  I want you to get your ass down to Crescent and tell me if you find Sartre or not.

FRANK: Fink huh?  *Pauses.*  Why do you want to know again?  

DEATH: I just need to know, okay?  I’ve been in a rut these past few days and I need some help as pathetic as that sounds.

FRANK: Can I get your name?  *He grabs a pad of paper and pen.*

DEATH: Death.

FRANK: What?

DEATH: My name is Death and that’s all you need to know.  *She begins to scribble into a checkbook.*  Here.  *She tosses a cheque towards FRANK and exits.* 

FRANK: *Goes to examine the cheque.*  Three-hundred dollars?!

*As FRANK stands gazing at the cheque, McDONAUGH enters puzzled.*

McDONAUGH: No fucking way you’re pulling that piece of ass.  *He gestures offstage in DEATH’s direction.*

FRANK: Fuck off.

McDONAUGH: Got a drink for me?

FRANK: In the kitchen, make it yourself.  

*McDONAUGH crosses the office and goes offstage (kitchen).  FRANK sighs.  He returns with two glasses and sits in the chair across from FRANK’s desk.*

McDONAUGH: Alright.  Crazy Legs ran yesterday.  Speed like a fucking leopard.  Ran the first quarter in 21.  Came into the stretch with a five length lead.  20 thousand dollar claimers and he lost by half a length.  Now he’s dropping down against 15 thousand claimers and the form’s got him listed at 15 to 1 tonight.  A steal!  I happen to be a nice guy so I’m asking you if you want part of the action.

FRANK: Don’t get me into this shit.  Why not just take all the “action” for yourself?

McDONAUGH: *Finishes his the first drink and carelessly tosses his glass on the ground.*  Well, Frank you haven’t paid your rent in three months and I’m pretty sure you have no intention of paying any it anytime soon.  You don’t even have enough dough to clean this shit-hole up.  So you either chip in whatever you got now for Crazy Legs, I’ll collect, forget you owe me, and I’ll consider not evicting your lame ass.  *He downs the second glass and tosses it on the floor.*

*FRANK doesn’t answer*


FRANK: McDonaugh, if you think I’m going to bend over for such a stupid offer, then your mind is as warped as your face. 

MCDONAUGH: Cut it out, Frank.

*FRANK goes into his cupboard and slides brass knuckles onto his hand which he shields from McDONAUGH.  He walks toward the sitting McDONAUGH and punches him in the face, knocking him off his chair.  FRANK then gives McDONAUGH a swift kick to his ass.  FRANK reaches into McDONAUGH’s back pocket and takes out his wallet.  After inspecting it, he tosses it back to McDONAUGH and exits leaving him lying in pain on the floor.*



Scene II: The Library

*Scene opens on a typical library setting.  There are a few bookshelves lined in rows and a check-out desk which is angled downstage.  Seated at the desk is a LIBRARIAN.  Sifting curiously through the shelves is SARTRE.  FRANK enters and after inspecting the rows between shelves he sees SARTRE beginning to read one of the books.  FRANK approaches.*

FRANK: I can’t believe it.  What are you doing here?  You’re suppose to be dead.

SARTRE: All these translators are absolutely awful.  Pointing to the book.  I hope people don’t think the originals are this shitty.

FRANK: But your writing was about ideas, right?  I mean the ideas are important not the sentence structure so who cares?

LIBRARIAN: Don’t you think this is a conversation that belongs outside the library? 

*SARTRE turns to leave, FRANK stops him*

FRANK: I have to ask you a few questions. 



FRANK: Did you get that watch in Paris?


FRANK: *To LIBRARIAN.*  Do you have any idea how obnoxious that is?

LIBRARIAN: Do you have any idea how loud you are?  This is a library. 

FRANK: *Walking towards the desk.*  Listen lady, Jean-Paul Sartre is standing *he points back at SARTRE who is exiting* right in your own fucking library and all you can do is “shhh” me? 


FRANK: *Turns around and notices SARTRE is gone.*  Fuck!  *He races offstage toward SARTRE.*



Scene III: Back at Frank’s Apartment

*Scene opens on FRANK’s office as it was in Scene I.  McDONAUGH is seated at FRANK’s desk asleep with his head back.  FRANK enters.*

FRANK: What the fuck is this?

McDONAUGH: *Wakes up abruptly.*  That sweet piece of ass from this morning came in while you were out and paid your rent for a year, you lucky piece of shit.  But no more fucking around.  I want this place cleaned up.

FRANK: Fine.  Whatever.  Just get out of here already, you’re starting to stink the place up.

McDONAUGH: Fuck you, Frank.  *He exits*

*FRANK sits in his chair at his desk and pours himself a cup of whiskey.  He reclines and sips his drink in thought.  The silence is again interrupted by the ring of the telephone.  After a few rings FRANK answers reluctantly.  FINK enters the room.  The two hold a regular phone conversation while FRANK keeps the phone receiver to his ear.*


FINK:  Hello, Frankie.  It’s Fink from down at Mulligan’s.

FRANK: Fink, my good man.  You’ve been recommending me.  Thanks.

FINK: Not a problem.  I’ve got faith in you, Frank.  You’ve got talent.

FRANK: Some might call it a little raw but I’ll take it.  Business has been kind of slow lately.

FINK: I want you to find me the Blue Rose.  

FRANK: The Blue Rose?  I feel like I’m in the circus.  What’s the Blue Rose?

FINK: I’m not entirely sure.  But I know it’s somewhere out there.  I’m sure it exists and it’s in Los Angeles.

FRANK: Okay, but how am I going to know it when I see it?  

FINK: You’ll know, trust me.  And when you do, you tell me exactly where it is.

FRANK: If there are no leads then I’m afraid I don’t know where to start. 

FINK: I know you’re gonna find it, Frank.  I’ve got faith in you.  I’ll pay you $100 a month for life once you do.

FRANK: Any chance I can get that all up front?

FINK: *Laughs.*  You’ll get it in a lump sum the day you stop blowing everything at the track.

FRANK: That’s fair.

FINK: Goodbye Frank.  He exits.

*FRANK hangs up the phone and begins to rub his head in thought.  After a long pause, FRANK picks up the phone and dials.  SANDRO enters.*

SANDRO: Sandro’s Pizzeria, how can I help you? 

FRANK: This is Mr. Pink.

SANDRO: Frank?  Shit man, you’re $500 under, I can’t take any more bets from you.  We’re starting to get impatient over here, you gotta pay up before I can let you place anything.

FRANK: Look, I’m going to put 35 bucks on Crazy Legs to win in the 6th tonight.  If Crazy Legs loses, I pay everything I owe.

SANDRO: Seriously? 

FRANK: I’m on a lucky streak today, I got a good feeling about this.

SANDRO: Don’t talk about luck, Frank.  *Pauses.*  Alright.  I hope you’re not stringing me out here, for your sake.  If Crazy Legs goes down, we’re not going to be so nice anymore. 

*SANDRO exits as FRANK hangs up the phone and proceeds to pour himself more whiskey. 



Scene IV: Morning in Frank’s Apartment

*Scene opens on FRANK’s office.  The whiskey bottle is now empty and the office has become more disorganized.  FRANK enters hungover from offstage from what the audience understands to be his kitchen and the remainder of his apartment.  FRANK sits in his desk chair and closes his eyes.  His moment of peace ends as SARTRE enters holding a pistol.*

SARTRE: You stay the fuck away from the Blue Rose, you low-life!  *He points the pistol at FRANK.*

FRANK: Ok.  Before I can take any of this in, I’m going to need my glasses. *He reaches for the drawer.*

SARTRE: Don’t even think about it!  You think I’m an idiot?  Everyone knows every dick has a gun.  You probably got a bunch in that drawer. 

FRANK: Nice work, detective.  But I really can’t see much without my glasses.  *He reaches for the drawer again.*

SARTRE: Hold it buddy.  I’ll shoot your arm off I swear.

*FRANK opens the drawer*

SARTRE: I said cut it out!

*FRANK lifts his gun out of his drawer and takes aim at SARTRE* 

SARTRE: Put it down! 

FRANK: I can always tell when they’re not going to shoot.  If you want me to “stay away” from the Blue Rose then why don’t you just kill me?

SARTRE: *Pauses.*  Look, just tell me where the lady is.

FRANK: What lady?

SARTRE: Death.

FRANK: Jesus, Sartre.  You’re all over the place.

SARTRE: Tell me or I’ll shoot!

FRANK: No you’re not.  Fuck this, I’m gonna to shoot you.  *He cocks the piston.*  I used to think you were one of the smartest guys the 20th century had ever seen.  What happened?

SARTRE: Fuck you, I will shoot.

*Right after SARTRE says this, DEATH burst through the door.  FRANK and SARTRE remain with their guns pointed at each other.*

FRANK: Found her.


DEATH: What the hell is going on here? 

FRANK: I have no idea.

*SARTRE points his gun at DEATH, who is standing between FRANK and SARTRE, forming (close-to) a Mexican stand-off.*

SARTRE: Put the gun down or I’ll shoot her.

FRANK: For fuck’s sake.  Death, can I kill this guy?

DEATH: Nah, I’ll do it.  *She glares at SARTRE.*

*SARTRE begins to shake and choke.  He drops his gun and falls to the floor lying motionlessly.*

FRANK: This is some pretty weird shit.

DEATH: Yeah.  Sorry for that.  I think I might be loosing my touch.

FRANK: What’s all this about the Blue Rose? 

DEATH: I’m not sure.  Fink got you looking for it? 

FRANK: Yeah.  How’d you know?

DEATH: Never mind that.  I’m gonna take this out of here, thanks Frank.

FRANK: Don’t mention it.

*DEATH grabs the gun and drags SARTRE by the leg offstage exiting herself.*

FRANK: Jesus Christ.  *He lights a cigarette and searches his office for a bottle with liquor in it.*

*McDONAUGH enters*

McDONAUGH: Frank man, you got to tell me if you’re hittin’ that ass?  *Pointing off stage.*

FRANK: How many times do I have to tell you to fuck off?  I don’t owe you jack and I would like some quiet around here for five minutes.

McDONAUGH: If I was on that, the whole neighbourhood would know about it.

*FRANK glares at him angrily.  McDONAUGH exits.  FRANK pours himself a drink and returns to his desk.  He takes a recorder out of his drawer, kicks his feet up and begins to record himself.*

FRANK: I would like to take this time to document the strangest 24 hours of my life in case something weirder happens later and I need a reference point.  But first, I would like to say that I will be spending the rest of the day sitting on my ass.  It seems that the Blue Rose, whatever it is, is coming for me.  It’s close, I don’t even have to move.  *Pause.*  I wonder if Fink will actually pay me--

*FRANK is cut off by the telephone ring.  He turns off the recorder, sighs and answers the phone.  SANDRO enters the stage.*

FRANK: *With the phone to his ear.*  What?

SANDRO: You idiot!  I shouldn’t have let you place that bet.

FRANK: Crazy Legs?

SANDRO: Barely made it out of the gate, he tossed the jockey.  Fuck Frank, I’m sorry.  I’m real sorry but I don’t have a choice, my hands are tied.  *He exits.*  

FRANK: What?  What are you talking about?  *Pause.*  Sandro?  *He hangs up the phone and pours another drink.  He sips it casually and playfully whistles.*

*Lights fade to black.*


Scene V: Late at Night in Frank’s Apartment

*Scene opens on FRANK impatiently sitting at his desk smoking a cigarette.  Soon two large men enter, TYLER and GERARD both are holding hand guns.  Before FANK can even react, they take aim.*

TYLER: Hands up, deadbeat.

FRANK: *Without moving.*  You’d be surprised to know how often I get that.

GERARD: I’m Gerard and this is Tyler.  We’re--

FRANK: Those are some real cute names, boys.  *Pause.*  It looks like you two are here to discuss serious matters.  If we’re going to talk turkey, I should put my glasses on.  I can hardly see a damn thing without them.  

*FRANK reaches for the drawer and TYLER shoots at his hand.  He misses and FRANK quickly draws his hand back.*

TYLER: Sandro wants you dead.  We’re here to kill you.

FRANK: Kill me?  Over a few hundred bucks?  I told him I’d have the money by next week in full.

GERARD: People owe Sandro all over town.  Problem is he’s too damn nice to make an example of anyone.  We figure if we pop some loser in debt, word will spread and light a fire under the asses of the high rollers who aren’t paying up.  Get it?

FRANK: Yeah I get it.  Just give me a second to swallow this.

TYLER: Look, we don’t have much time. The only thing you’re gonna be swallowing is a bullet. 

FRANK: Can you check if there’s anyone in the hallway.  

GERARD: *Takes a look offstage.*  Nobody.  

FRANK: This is a coward’s way of whacking someone you realize?

TYLER: Call it whatever you want. This is just another way for me to pay my bills. 

FRANK: You two wouldn’t happen to know anything about the Blue Rose would you?

GERARD: No.  Kind of rings a bell though.

TYLER: Yeah, rings a bell for me too.  Whatever, if it’s important I’m sure I’d remember it.  Now take one last good look at this piece of shit you call a home and let’s go.

*FRANK rises and walks toward GERARD and TYLER.  As GERARD goes to grab FRANK by the arm, FRANK punches him in the face.  GERARD staggers backward and TYLER quickly aims his gun at FRANK again.*

TYLER: Look bud, this can be quick and painless or long and agonizing.  I suggest you pick the first. 

*FRANK is silent.*

GERARD: Let’s just get out of here already.  *He grabs FRANK by the arm successfully.*

*TYLER puts a bag over his gun hand which is pointed at FRANK and the two escort him to the offstage leading outside of his apartment.*



Scene VI: The Blue Rose

*Scene opens on an empty stage, dimly lit.  GERARD and TYLER enter holding FRANK.  They shove FRANK to the ground centre-stage.*

FRANK: *Remaining on the ground.*  I don’t believe it.

GERARD: You better.

FRANK: Where the fuck are we anyway?

TYLER: It’s not important.  *He attaches a silencer to his gun.*

FRANK: It’s kind of funny, you know?

GERARD: What is? 

FRANK: How my life is ending.  I was just sitting in my apartment, twiddling my thumbs and then you two goons come bursting in out of the blue and quite carelessly tell me it’s all over.  I can’t object or run away, and resisting was pretty much pointless.  And here we are!  It’s happening.  Crazy how things turn out.

TYLER: Can you just shoot this fucker already?  It’s chilly out.

*GERARD does not respond*

FRANK: The crazy thing is, I’m not even going to miss my life.  It’s kind of sad but if I don’t miss living, then death really isn’t a big deal right?  I’m not even curious to see what the fucking Blue Rose is anymore. 

TYLER: Gerard, I gotta shut this guy up.  *He grabs the silencer gun from GERARD and shoots FRANK three times in the torso.*

*FRANK lies motionless, belly-up centre stage with his feet towards the audience.*

GERARD: Nice shot.  *The two exit.*

*There is an elongated pause before DEATH enters.*

DEATH: You really got suckered into this one didn’t you.

FRANK: *Struggling he props himself up on one of his elbows.*  Just couldn’t lay off the track, I guess.  I was hoping you’d come to my rescue back at the apartment.  Mind filling me in here?

DEATH: Fink is a smart guy, he knew the Blue Rose was out there somewhere and that you’d find it.  And now you have it.  

FRANK: I don’t have shit.

DEATH: Here.  *She places a blue coloured rose onto FRANK.*

FRANK: This doesn’t feel right.  This isn’t the way it’s suppose to happen!

DEATH: I’m leaving you with the Blue Rose now, Frank.  You’re in good hands.  *She exits.*

*After examining the Blue Rose, FRANK finally takes the a deep whiff of it.  His eyes slowly close as he lowers himself back down until he is lying flat and motionless.*



The End.

Created: Mar 29, 2012

Tags: blue roses, bukowski, frank, death, red ruin, eli speigel, spiegel

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