The Mighty Gargoyle

copyright 2004

by Matthew John Gallagher


The Three Behrs:
The Hostage:
 Gilda Goldstein

For contact and production/royalties information contact the author.
Setting: a small cabin in the middle of the wild woods.

The front door is situated in the corner stage right. It enters into the cabin’s kitchen, which is decorated simply, in a clean country manner. Three chairs of differing styles surround a small table cloaked in gingham. Three settings of food sit untouched on the table.

Up stage left there is the exit to the hallway where the bedrooms are.

Up center the kitchen window, with blue gingham curtains, looks into the woods. Shadows from the trees outside make creepy designs against the gingham curtains.

Down stage left sits a blue sofa, bathed in shadow. On the sofa slumbers a curled up figure, covered by an afghan blanket.

The sound of feet tramping through the forest rise from offstage. The shadows of three figures pass by the window toward the front door of the cabin.

Marion (Offstage): Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!

Paul (Offstage): Oh, stop the singing and just up the door, you ninny!

Marion (Offstage): All righty, Paulie. Don’t be so impatient.

Paul (Offstage): I’ll show you how to be a patient in hospital if you don’t let us in right quick!

Marion (Offstage): Ow!! That smarts!!! Give off!!!

Sound of keys CLINKING in the lock of the door.

Paul (Offstage): Well? Open it, then?

Marion (Offstage): It’s stuck. I can’t get it open.

Paul (Offstage): It’s not stuck.

Marion (Offstage): It is stuck, Paulie. You can plainly see...

Paul (Offstage): Oh, bother. Let me...

Sound of a scuffle outside the door. The door RATTLES violently.

Nigel (Offstage): I has to go to the baffroom.

Marion (Offstage): He has to go to the bathroom, Paulie.

Paul (Offstage): Stop yer gabbin’ and let me work this, you ninny.

Marion (Offstage): Paulie, he has to go to the bathroom

Paul (Offstage): Well, let him go, then! There’s a whole bloody wood out here where a lad can relieve himself!

Marion (Offstage): Paulie, you know that’s not sanitary.

Paul (Offstage): Shut it, I almost got it...

Marion (Offstage): Here, let me help.

Paul (Offstage): You’re in me light... hey now!

Marion (Offstage): Nigel wants to help, too.

Paul (Offstage): The both of you move! My shoes! Nigel, I’m going to--!

The front door is forced open with a crash. Three large burly men tumble through. Marion falls on top of Paul on the kitchen floor. These are the Three Behrs, a notorious band of Cockney Crooks.

PAUL, the oldest, is shorter than the other two, and very scruffy. An unlit cigar constantly sits in his mouth.

MARION sports a full beard and dresses like a lumberjack. He holds two large paper grocery sacks filled with goods. As he falls the groceries fall out onto the floor.

NIGEL, the youngest, is also the largest. He is very childlike.

Nigel walks through the door behind his brothers. Seeing them on the floor, he thinks they are playing a game, and leaps upon them, dog-pile style.

Marion: Nigel, please!!

Paul: Get that big ox off me!!!

Marion: Nigel, Paulie would like you to get off and let us up.

Nigel slowly rolls off his brothers and stands up. He lumbers toward the hallway and offstage.

Marion rises and starts picking up the groceries that have cascaded out of the bags and are now scattered across the room.

Paul lies on the floor in a contorted position.

Marion: Paulie, get up. You look silly down there.

Paul: I can’t. I think me back is broke.

Marion: Oh, come now. It is not. Help me put these groceries away.

Paul: I can’t, I tell you! That big ox crushed me spine!

Marion: (Calling down the hallway) Nigel! Hurry up in there! You need to help Paul get up from the floor! He’s thrown his back out again!

Paul: Don’t let that boy near me!

Marion busily picks up the scattered groceries and putting them away. As he moves about the cabin, he straightens things up a bit. A picture on the wall, the jars of dry goods on the counter and the like.

Marion: We can’t very well have you lying there in the middle of the room now can we? It’s almost time for tea. (Nigel enters.) Nigel, please you’re your big brother into a chair. Oh, but this room is dingy!

Marion crosses to the window in the living room and opens the curtains.

The figure on the couch is illuminated. Golden curly locks of hair poke from one end of the colourful afghan blanket.

Paul: No! I’m feeling better!

Paul tries to raise himself from his position on the floor. His attempt is very painful and unsuccessful.

Nigel reaches down and slips his massive arms underneath Paul’s shoulders. He lifts his brother easily to his feet, then carries him, rather like a rag doll, to the large wooden chair in the kitchen and plops him down into it.

Marion: There. Now that you’re in your hard chair your back should feel much better.

Paul: (Wincing in pain and rubbing his lower back) Much better....

Nigel peeks at the figure on the couch.

Nigel: Shhhh.... sleeping.

Marion: Oh, I nearly forgot about her!

Paul: How can you? She’s the reason we’re stuck out here in the middle of the woods. Nigel, check to see that she’s secure.

Nigel gently lifts back the blanket, revealing a girl in a pretty yellow dress. Her hands and feet are tied up and a cloth has been tied over her mouth as a muffling gag. She appears to have slept through all the commotion.

Marion: Perhaps we should wake her up for tea.

Marion goes into the kitchen and checks to see of there is water in the kettle. Turns a knob on the little stove.

Paul: She gets nothing until we hear back from Goldstein.

Marion: We can’t let her starve.

Paul: Starve?!? You saw how much she ate at breakfast! That "girl" put so much into her stomach that we had to go into town for more food and risk being seen in town. I’ll not have her eating me out of house and home, thank you. What time is it?

Marion looks at a small clock in the kitchen.

Marion: Four o’clock.

Paul: Good. Goldstein is supposed to leave the money at our pre-arranged point-of-contact at four thirty.

Marion: Do you think her father will really give us five million dollars for her safe return?

Paul: He’d better, if he knows what’s good for him. And her. Otherwise...

Paul draws his finger across his throat in the classic symbol of offing someone. He makes a sick sound, emulating the noise made when slitting someone’s throat.

Marion: It would be such a shame to harm her. She’s such a pretty thing.

Nigel: Pretty.

Paul: Come away from her, ox. Help Marion with the tea.

Marion retrieves bread and some sandwich spreads from the cupboard.

Nigel goes into the kitchen and pulls the dirty dishes off the table. He makes several trips from the table to the sink against the far wall, bumping the chair that Paul is in each time.

Paul: What are we having for tea? I’m famished.

Marion spreads the sandwiches, stacking them on a plate. As he does, Nigel takes a bite of each one, unnoticed by Marion.

Marion: Liverwurst sandwiches.

Paul: I hate liverwurst sandwiches!

Marion: The cold box is still on the fritz, I’m afraid.

Paul: Why didn’t you buy devilled ham? I told you to buy the devilled ham.

Marion: It was too expensive. All we can afford is the liverwurst.

Paul: When we get the money from Goldstein we’ll never have to eat liverwurst every again. We’ll be able to have devilled ham every day, any time we want! With watercress, the way the royals have it for their tea.

Marion: Oh, that would be lovely.

Nigel: I likes liverwurst.

Paul: Of course you do.

Gilda, the girl on the sofa stirs. She sits up and stretches, confined by the restraints on her ankles and wrists. She acts as though she barely notices that she is tied up.

Gilda: Mmmm...

Marion: She’s awake!

Paul: Thank you for the advanced notice. Now see if she’s all right.

Marion goes to Gilda and pulls down the cloth from around her mouth.

Gilda: This bed was so comfy. I can’t believe dozed off like that.

Paul: It’s a sofa and you’ve been asleep for at least three hours. I swear all you rich people do is sleep and eat.

Gilda: What smells so good? I’m starving. What’s for lunch?

Nigel brings a plate of the sandwiches toward the sofa.

Nigel: We’re haffin’ liverwurst sandies.

Gilda: My absolute favourite!

Nigel: Mine, too.

Paul gets up and snatches the plate of sandwiches from Nigel just before he can offer it to Gilda.

Paul: I said she gets nothing until we get word from her father.

Gilda: My dad won’t bend to your demands, you know. He’ll call out the FBI and the National Guard to find me!

Paul: Not if he wants his little golden girl back in once piece, miss. Now hush up.

Marion: Paulie, I really think we ought to give her a little something to eat. She’s a growing child.

Paul: I won’t have her taking good food like these sandwiches you slaved over-- (Paul looks at the plate of sandwiches in his hand. Each one has a bite mark out of it.) NIGEL!!!

Marion: Paulie, don’t yell so! You know he’s a growing boy, too.

Nigel: I just tooks little bittle bites.

Paul holds the plate at arms length; turns his nose away from it.

Paul: I can’t eat these when they have his saliva all over them.

Marion takes the plate of sandwiches and puts them on the table.

Marion: Are you sure?

Gilda: I don’t mind if Nigel’s taken a nibble from them. He’s sweet.

Marion: Well, since Paul has decided to forego today’s tea, I guess there’s enough for you, Miss Goldstein.

Gilda: Oh, goody!

Gilda holds her hands in front of her, as if showing them that she is still tied up.

Paul: Not bloody likely.

Gilda: How am I supposed to eat when my hands are tied up like this?

Paul: Perhaps you’ll eat less this time, then.

Marion: Paulie, we needn’t be inhumane to our guest.

Paul: Guest! I like that! She’s not a "guest," Marion. She’s our hostage.

Marion: Hostage or not, we still need to treat her in a civilized manner. Nigel.

Nigel sits on the couch and starts to untie her wrist bonds.

Nigel: Pretty.

Paul: Just make sure you leave the feet bound, ox.

Gilda: (To Nigel) This is so kind of you.

Paul: Don’t get used to it.

Nigel helps Gilda to her feet and then to the kitchen table. She hops each step of the way. Nigel leads her to Paul’s chair.

Gilda sits in it, but displays apparent discomfort.

He helps her to her feet again and leads her to Marion’s plush chair. She nearly sinks into it. Nigel pulls her out of the chair and then, with a shy smile, offers his own diminutive stool. She sits down elegantly and looks up at him, smiling.

Gilda: Perfect.

Paul sits on the sofa, exasperated.

Paul: Is her majesty all settled, then?

Gilda daintily takes a bite of a sandwich.

Gilda: Mmmm... scrumptious. You are such a good cook, Mr. Marion.

Marion: Why thank you, my dear.

Gilda: And I must say, I love what you’ve done with this place. It’s so... quaint.

Marion: The challenge, of course, is making a nice home on such limited resources.

Gilda: It reminds me a little of a cabin my folks used to have at Lake Tahoe. Without the hot tub or cable TV. Of course.

Marion: Oh, how lovely! A cabin at Lake Tahoe! I’m sure you must have enjoyed many a wonderful family moment there.

Gilda: Actually, I usually would just go there with my friends. It was really rather a lonely place. I haven’t been to it in years. I’m not even sure if we still own it.

Paul: See how the rich are! They don’t even know what they’ve got and what they haven’t!

Gilda: Well, perhaps you’ll start forgetting things when you get my father’s money. You know what they say: Money changes people.

Marion: Oh, that would be tragic. Wouldn’t it, Paulie?

Paul: Oh, give off.

Marion: I hadn’t thought about that. I don’t want to change, Paulie.

The teakettle emits a whistle. Marion bolts to the stove and turns off the knob. Retrieves a couple of teacups already prepared with tea bags from the cupboard and pours water into them.

Paul: You most assuredly will not change, Marion. I, however, have many plans to change.

Marion carries the tea to the table and places a cup in front of Gilda.

Gilda: Thank you. Did you know that my family came here back in the Great Depression? We weren’t always wealthy. My great-grandfather cleaned toilets for forty years. My grandfather learned the trade, and that’s how he got the idea to open a company that rents commodes to construction sites and fairs. Now we supply Porty-Toidies to five different states. Daddy calls them the "Golden Thrones."

Paul: So you’re saying that your family is full of--

Marion: (Interrupting) Your family is very corrupt because of all the money they have?

Gilda: I don’t know about corrupt, but we aren’t the closest of families. I mean, not like you and your brothers. You seem very close with one another.

Marion: Oh, we are. We’re quite devoted to one another.

Paul: May we change the subject, please?

Marion: Do you think money will really change us?

Gilda: I would hate to see that devotion to each other be destroyed.

Marion: How would that happen?

Gilda: Well, the first thing to go is living on a budget. I mean, you got a deal on this delicious liverwurst, right?

Marion: Oh, yes. It was three for sixty-nine cents. A very good bargain, if I must say!

Gilda: You won’t care about the cost of your liverwurst after you become rich. You’ll end up paying any amount just to have it. And then, when all the money has been spent on liverwurst, you’ll need more and more money, because you’ll have become used to spending money on the expensive stuff.

Nigel: What about tuna?

Gilda: I’ve known people--friends of my parents--who would spend as much as five dollars for a can of tuna.

Marion: No!

Gilda: Yes!

Marion: My word.... Five dollars a tin!

Nigel begins to blubber.

Paul: Enough of this ridiculousness. She’s just trying to confuse you. I don’t mind telling you that I for one will not mind paying as much as five dollars for a tin of my favourite devilled ham.

Gilda: I hope you weren’t making plans to spend the entire five million, when really you’ll get much less.

Marion: Much less?

Paul: I demanded five million.

Gilda: You are going to split it three ways, aren’t you?

Paul: Naturally. We’re brothers.

Gilda: I just did the math. Roughly, each of you will get one-point-six million dollars out of the five million that my Daddy will pay you for my safe return. It’s much easier to go through one-point-six million than it is five million.

Marion: One-point-six is much less than five million, you’re right.

Paul: Don’t listen to her, Marion. It’s plenty for each of us. We’ll be able to have everything we’ve ever wanted.

Gilda: You’ll spend it until it’s all gone and then you’ll want more. And then where will you be?

Marion: It sounds like some sort of sickness to me.

Gilda: (Whispering conspiratorially to Marion) It’s called "Gold Fever." People become greedy and paranoid.

Nigel: (Conspiratorially) I had the measles once.

Paul: What’s all that whispering going on over there?

Gilda: (Whispering) You see? And he doesn’t even have the money yet.

Marion: Paulie, you aren’t going to want all the devilled ham for yourself, are you? Not at five dollars a tin!

Paul: That’s it! (Bolting up from the sofa and suddenly remembering his hurt back) Ow! Enough of her worrisome blathering. Nigel, put the gag back on her.

Nigel: But then she won’t be able to talk.

Paul: Precisely. Marion, clean up the tea.

Gilda: I see Marion cooking and cleaning up around here. And Nigel doing everything you tell him to do. What else do you do besides give all the orders, Mr. Behr?

Paul: I, my witty girl, give the orders because I am Eldest, and the brains of this outfit. And when I have to, I take matters into my own hands.
Paul crosses to the table and pulls the cloth around Gilda’s mouth. He walks away.

When his back is turned, Gilda pulls the gag down herself.

Gilda: I’m not done eating.

Paul: Tie her up again!!!

Gilda: My father won’t like it at all when he’s learned that you’ve been unkind to me.

Marion: Oh, we haven’t been unkind, have we??

Gilda: Well, not you, Mr. Marion. And certainly not sweet Nigel, here. But Mr. Paul has, with his shouting and his ordering. Perhaps when I talk to my father, I’ll tell him to give you and Nigel your share, and leave Mr. Paul’s share out of the ransom.

Paul: You can’t do that!

Marion: Could you?

Paul: He’s going to leave the money under the bridge behind a boulder marked with special graffiti. She won’t be able to tell him anything.

Gilda: I must say that these were the most delectable liverwurst sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Thank you so much.

Paul: What time is it?!?

Nigel looks at the clock.

Nigel: The big hand is on the six.

Paul: Big hand on... it’s four thirty!

Nigel: ...and the little bittle hand is on...

Paul: Time to go to the bridge. Marion, you watch her closely. Nigel, you stay away from her.

Gilda: What time will you be back?

Paul: What concern is that of yours?

Gilda: I just want to know if you actually will be back, or if you plan to take all the money for yourself and go to Switzerland.

Paul: Switzerland! Wherever did you get that idea?

Marion: Switzerland! Oh, Paulie, you wouldn’t go to Switzerland and leave us here, would you?

Paul: No one is going to Switzerland!

Gilda: I know a lovely hotel in Lausanne on Lake Geneva. You know, I could contact them and tell them to treat you as special guests. Mr. Paul, you really should take your brothers to Switzerland. It’s lovely this time of year.

Paul: No Switzerland!

Marion: But I’ve always dreamed of going to Switzerland.

Paul: You have not.

Nigel: I wants to go on holiday.

Gilda: Of course, it all depends on whether Mr. Paul does come back with the money...

Marion: You are going to return with all the money, won’t you, Paulie?

Paul: Of course, Marion. We are brothers, aren’t we?

Gilda: Shouldn’t one of you go with him just to make sure?

Nigel: I’m sure we’re brothers.

Paul: Look, Marion, the two of you need to stay to guard our golden girl here. I shall go to the boulder under the bridge, retrieve the parcel containing all of our fabulous money therein, and return, post-haste. Then we shall release this annoying little girl so that she can go back to her toilet-scrubbing father and not fill your head with any more ridiculous notions. Is that all clear?

Marion: Nigel, I want you to go with Paulie and make sure he comes back with the money.

Paul: Marion! Be reasonable!

Marion: You’ve got the Gold Fever, Paulie. It’s effected your judgment. We can’t take a chance that you’ll run off with all of it. Then Nigel and I would be stuck here with nothing. We promised Mother we’d take care of each other.

Paul: And we have. We will! It’s getting late. I have to go to the rendezvous.

Gilda: Don’t bother.

Marion: Why not?

Gilda: If I’m right, the money’s not going to be there.

Paul: What are you saying?

Suddenly spotlights beam through the woods outside the window of the cabin.

Cop (Offstage): All right, Behrs! We have you surrounded! Release Gilda Goldstein and come out with your hands up!

Paulie: Coppers! How did they--?

Gilda: I ate all of that food this morning on purpose, knowing that you would have to go to the market to get more. And let me tell you, that with my girlish figure, that was hard to do. All those bangers! Let’s just say you’re lucky you weren’t here for the next couple of hours. Anyway, I figured someone would spot you and follow you back here to your secret hideout.

Paul: And you kept talking to Marion...

Gilda: ...because I wanted to keep you here until the police came.

Cop (Offstage): You have one minute to send out the Goldstein girl, Behrs!

Marion: And I thought she was sweet. Oh, Paulie, what will we do?

Paul: Surrender, Marion. It’s all we can do now.

Nigel begins to eat the rest of the liverwurst sandwiches greedily.

Marion: Nigel! Don’t be such a hoggity-all!

Paul: Oh, let him. It’s probably the last time in a very long time that he’ll have his liverwurst sandies.

Marion: At least we’ll be together, just like Mother wanted.

Paul: Oh, joy of joys...

Gilda bends down and unties her ankle restraints. She walks spryly to the front door, opens it, then turns back to the Behr Brothers before striding over the threshold.

Gilda: A little something for you to remember: All that glitters is not gold.

She exits gaily.

The Three Behrs hold their hands up and file out of the cabin, sulking, toward the spotlights.

All that Glitters copyright Matt Gallagher. All rights reserved. For production information, contact the author.
Getting Lucky and other select works are available for purchase at

Content copyright 2009 The Mighty Gargoyle. All rights reserved.