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Ironclad Civility
by David Goldstein (rollercoasterdmg@gmail.com)

Rated: R   Genre: Drama   User Review:

A regular voyage becomes a murder mystery on a steamship in the 1890's. This is a stage play rather than a screenplay. If you like psychology thrillers, you should enjoy. please give me suggestions

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.


TAYLOR is packing his belongings into cases for transport
and destroying other documents. HAROLD is walking in and out
of the room.
You said it wouldn't come to this.
I said that should it come to a
withdrawal that we would have
contingency plans, which we do.
I thought you also said that the
publicity man was good; that he
was effective.
He was damn it, he was. I don't
know where the leak was but the
damage is beyond control. The fall
man's name has already been
publicized. All that's left for us
to do is walk away.
      (looking around
       the room)
I built W&T from the ground up.
From the very first crucible, to
the last batch of factories, I
poured the vital years of my life
into shaping this company. To see
it lost in such a fashion is a
deep wound.
Think of assets purely as assets.
But this means more that dollars
to me. I never anticipated that I
would feel so attatched. I can't
help but feel that you are in a
way responsible for this


      (becoming suddenly
       more fierce)
I was not the only one to
undertake this venture, so do not
even begin to marginalize your own
What is the meaning of this? Is
the entire company to be razed?
I'm sorry Miss Martin. There was a
leak and the entire company is
being scrapped.
No one will come after me will
they? I did all that "extra
paperwork" you asked me to do only
on the condition that I would be
protected in an event such as
this. I see now that was a hollow
promise and that I am being left
to suffer the consequences of your
Samantha Martin, the secretary?
They won't go after you,
especially with the focus on that
manager fellow we gave them.
Harold, we can't just leave, I
gave her my word. Do you have a
fourth ticket?
Ticket? Both of you are just
fleeing with your gains?
I wouldn't put it that way. But we
do have an opportunity here. Miss
Martin, should we provide you with
transportation and safe haven,
would you, in turn, agree to
forget us and that any of this
ever happened?


      (narrowing her
Is there anyone else who knows of
my involvement?
Then you have a deal. I will then
bid you farewell as I must handle
my affairs and pack my things.
Passengers are sitting around waiting to load onto the ship.
Porters and crewmen move about busily preparing the ship to
Papers! New investigation and
scandal revealed! Hey, sir, want a
Not interested, kid, sorry.
      (stands on a crate)
Fifteen minutes to passenger
loading, please have your tickets
                       MRS. TAYLOR
      (to Mr. Taylor)
We’ve been waiting here twenty
minutes already. He said ten
minutes to board five minutes ago.
Dear, I already told you that was
for blue stamped tickets and mine
is yellow, you can see if you need


                       MRS. TAYLOR
      (rummages in her
Let me just have a minute and I’ll
show you.
Show me what?
                       MRS. TAYLOR
      (holds up ticket)
Got it! Look here, my ticket has a
blue stamp.
Margie, it’s purple.
                       MRS. TAYLOR
It must be blue, they didn’t give
out purple stamps, and there is no
purple group on the list to board.
Right then, let me have a good,
close look at it.
      (adjusts glasses
       and looks at the
I think you’ve got something there
      (to FILMORE)
Excuse me… Excuse me, sir?
      (checking cargo
       manifest, paying
       little attention)
Yes, sir, how may I help you?
My wife has been issued a blue
stamp ticket, but I haven’t. We’d
like to board.
I'm sorry sir, but anyone boarding
must have the appropriate
Look here, man, some mistake has
been made. We’ve been waiting for
the longest time and now we have a


                       TAYLOR (cont'd)
proper pass.
Sir, it's company policy. I can’t
change it.
Who could?
The captain would be the man to
speak to.
Let me see him.
He will be here in a few minutes.
In a few minutes I might as well
board as yellow! And
if you're calling me yellow…
Sir, please stay calm, we aim to
give you the best experience
possible, and your cooperation is
appreciated. The bridge is right
over there, you can see if he is
Thank you.
      (to MRS. TAYLOR)
Honey, grab your things.
                       MRS. TAYLOR
Coming dear.
MR. and MRS. TAYLOR board the ship
The crew loads onto the ship, not acknowledging the
passengers overtly. They watch them with a slight air of
disdain. For the remainder of the play, the crew members are
seen only briefly and in the back watching eerily. They are
also seen in scene changes and reflect the mood at the time.
They never speak to the passengers and are always watching
Light shifts to DARIUS


      (to PORTER #1)
May I see my bag for one moment?
                       PORTER #1
Sorry sir, I have already loaded
it. You can pick it up once on
I'm afraid that's unacceptable.
                       PORTER #1
Sorry to say, mister, I just don't
have it. I'm busy as it is. Wait
until we're underway, and you'll
get your bag then.
      (takes some money
       and slips it to
Are you sure it can't be arranged?
                       PORTER #1
I'll see what I can do, but I
can't make any promises.
See that it's done
light shift to SAMANTHA MARTIN with MONTAGUE GRIBBS walking
over to her
Hello there, my dear, my name is
Montague Gribbs, international
bestselling author and currently
freelance journalist. To whom do I
owe the pleasure of meeting?
      (holds out her
       hand lazily)
Samantha Martín, Mr. Gribbs.
Pleased to meet you, miss Martin.
It is miss right?
It’s Ms. Martín.


Well I am looking forward to a
wonderful trip. Do you mind if I
inquire as to the reason of your
I happen to. But, anticipating
your persistence, I have family in
The ship's bell sounds and the passengers stand to board the
Look's like we'll have to finish
this conversation another time.
Quite. Please excuse me.
Do you need a hand with luggage or
No, thank you. Really. I'll be
fine on my own.
Various characters are in different places about the ship in
the normal course of business. DARIUS and MRS. Taylor not
present. MONTAGUE sees EMMELINE reading a worn green leather
book on a lounge chair and walks over.
Greetings, my dear, what is that
book you are reading?
      (does not move her
       eyes from the
       page to look at
Discourse on stoicism and its
application to social


That sounds like...uh chewy
I rather enjoy it.
Ever read one of the "Brad Ferce
Adventures" books?
      (still does not
       look up at him)
I'd have to say not. Isn't that
some cheap discount store series?
Why, no, to the severe contrary.
My harrowing novels are
bestsellers, translated into over
11 languages and critically
acclaimed. You've never read one?
You know I based the main
character, Brad Ferce on myself.
Does he die?
We are both very...What did you
I asked if he dies.
No, of course not, he valiantly
succeeds each time, but only by a
Where's the suspense?
What do you mean where's the
suspense it is dreadfully


I'm sure, now if you don't mind...
      (waves hand)
you're in my light.
Fine, yes, well then, I'll be off.
Dinner is in a few moments anyway.
Pleasure to make your
All characters slowly get up and at staggered intervals
leave for their cabins
DARIUS comes up against the flow of traffic
                       DARIUS (solilioquy)
      (wind blows and he
       tightens his
It is cold this afternoon. But
that is not the only chill breeze
to dance across these decks. To a
boat full of strangers I can be
whoever I want to be, because
unlike the grind of life, I am
only judged by how I act right
Do I change my being? and if so,
I bask in first impressions, not
for the anonymity, but for the
challenge of creating that new
persona...only to have to
regretfully kill him upon
returning home.
Is that not the thrill of
For who has not reveled in the
glory of a charade.
It is the purest art.
The most human, the most complex.
Who reveals more than the feigned
As the world sees him only how he
And the perceptions of him lie
entirely in his hands.
For to be loved is the choice of
the admirer.
But to be feared is a choice of
the he who is feared.
And to change ones character on
command is mastery.


                       DARIUS (cont'd)
Reserved for those who truly see
into the minds of others.
And see clearer into their own
minds themselves.
Porter #1 walks by with his arms full.
You there! Where is my property?
                       PORTER #1
I've got it for you. It must be
very important. Wait a moment,
I'll fetch it after I finish a few
It's none of your business. Just
get it quickly, will you?
                       PORTER #1
I might be persuaded to get it
You had better not be asking for
more money.
                       PORTER #1
Fine. I'll return shortly.
DARIUS walks around quietly for a few moments and then walks
towards the dining room
                       PORTER #1
      (catching him
Here, sir.
      (snatching the bag
       and small wooden
       box quickly)
Thank you. You narrowly avoided a
report to you superiors.
                       PORTER #1
I'm glad I did, sir.


DARIUS enters the dining room
                                         BLACKOUT TO NEXT
                                         LATE EVENING
What a lovely dinner gentlemen. We
have an excellent chef, don't you
think? Sometimes he makes me not
want to go home. You know what I
Nods of approval from men except MR. TAYLOR
I certainly do not!
Your wife isn't here, you know,
she can't hear you.
It doesn't matter where she is.
      (stepping between
It's alright gentlemen. Taylor,
you are among friends here, no
charade is necessary. You may
enjoy your wife's cooking but we
can all enjoy a refreshing change.
Captain, will you deal the first
Already started m'boy.
      (pulling out a
Mind if I...?
      (dealing cards)
Not at all, as Mr. Phalen said,
you are among friends here.


      (now lighting it)
Thank you.
      (placing his money
       on the table)
Is money on the table acceptable
to everyone? I am rather sensitive
to foul play.
I will if you tell me what you've
got in that box of yours.
Ah, my most valued collection
piece, an antique pepper-box
He picks up the box and opens it to show MONTAGUE. When he
first opens it, he is startled that something is missing. He
regains his composure, but seems slightly anxious for the
rest of the game.
Really? I favor the revolver
myself. I don't carry it with me,
but I've got it in my room. Remind
me to show it to you sometime Mr.
Phalen will you?
Can we please just play the hand?
Light dims on card game and brightens on EMMELINE and
SAMANTHA on the deck now in coats. EMMELINE is reading
What a lovely day we had, that
bodes well for the rest of the
trip. What do you think?
      (reading a
       different book,
       but still not
       looking at those
       talking to her)
Yes, I suppose it was a clear sky


A few seconds pass as SAMANTHA expects something else to be
Have you seen that fellow
pestering me? Uh, Montgomery
Ah, Montague Gribbs, the self
acclaimed writer.
He comes across rather poorly,
don't you think? I mean, that is
his pen name, is it not?
In similar terms, I would agree.
Do you do anything interesting
ever? Or is all you do sit around
and read?
Well I did meet the most
interesting fellow at dinner.
      (finally puts down
       her book to look
       at Samantha)
His name is Darius Phalen, we
dined together this evening.
I saw you two there. Might there
be a bit of oceanic romance afoot?
Well I...
They lean close together to talk as the light fades on them
and brightens on the card game
Straight! I win the hand.


You can't win, you've got six
Well you dealt them to him.
Replay the hand?
Did anyone read the Sunday edition
before we embarked, 1st page,
above the fold, right side?
No time, why?
      (proud then
Well I...nothing, never mind. So
tell me, Darius, who was the young
lady I spied at your table at
That's an interesting question,
Monty. She seems like a fine
woman, named Emmeline as I recall.
Is that so?
HAROLD and ERIK enter
Evening to you, good sirs, Is
there a seat for me at your table?
Well I was just about to...
Who's your friend there?


Please pardon my lack of
introductions. Sincere apologies.
Harold Wedderburn, and my
associate, Erik.
Just Erik?
He doesn't speak much, but yes,
just Erik.
As I was saying earlier
      (glares at
I'm about ready to turn in. Enjoy
your game.
TAYLOR gets up and leaves
HAROLD takes a seat and the light shifts back to the patio
He is quite charming.
How so?
Well he's polite and proper. He
seemed, almost chivalrous.
      (looks off and has
       an idea)
Sounds wonderful...
He spoke at length with me about
literature and logic.
That sounds like…fun.
Yes quite, but I did find
something...distinct about him.


Well it is difficult to describe.
His expression maybe? He seemed so
resolute, so natural and
confident. It was reassuring but
then again, uncanny.
       thinking about
       something else)
Oh, yeah
      (waits a moment)
What did he say his favorite book
was and what was it about?
Light shift to card game
You gentlemen are taking my money
quite efficiently.
Why thanks.
What do you think of the old
bucket? Isn't it quite a ship?
If I wasn't a passenger, I'd say
this were a military vessel.
Keen eye m'boy. It was but then
she was decommissioned and sold
for civilian use. Now I make runs
with cargo and passengers like
That's very...
MRS. TAYLOR screams loudly from offstage. Both groups are
lit and they get up to see what happened.


MR. and MRS. TAYLOR are standing over the corpse of PORTER
#1 horrified at the knife wound to the neck. All others
around doorway and hall.
My God! What happened?
MRS. TAYLOR is almost hysterical she tries to talk but can't
say anything intelligible.
She had just woken up from her nap
when I came in here because I
turned on the light. We found him
like this.
Someone fetch Filmore at once. Mr.
Phalen and Mr. Gribbs stay here
with me. Everyone return to your
cabins at once. Remain orderly but
make haste. Lock your doors. We
have a murderer on board.
All characters reluctantly leave, some trying to sneak a
peek, others with worried expressions.
Montague, I want you to take the
Taylors above decks for me,
Will do.
Mr. Phalen, I need you to help me
maintain order. Do you think you
could do that?
Yes, absolutely, whatever you
Good, keep watch in the corridor,
I must perform a cursory
DARIUS walks out of the room into the hall.


Did you find a weapon?
      (looking around)
Not yet.
Do you know who he is?
A crewman. I don't know him
personally, but I've seen him
      (searching outside
       of the room)
I've got something.
DARIUS picks up a knife.
It's a bloodied knife on the
      (Walks over to
       inspect it)
The murderer must have tossed it
while escaping.
It looks like a common pocket
This may be more sinister than we
first anticipated.
Aye. Let's lock the door and go
above decks.


Only light is from lanterns carried by BARTLE and MONTAGUE
MONTAGUE is sitting on the patio with the TAYLORS
We must tell everyone on board. We
should rouse them now and hold a
My good captain, we mustn't.
Are you suggesting I do not tell
them of the murder? I am certainly
not about to hide such a thing.
I do not suggest it so, rather to
await first light to brief them,
the darkness has a sway on the
emotions in such a time of crisis.
I suppose that is grounded, Mr.
Phalen. I hope you will return to
your stateroom to rest. There are
yet a few hours till morning.
I believe I will, I bid you
goodnight sir.
Oh and Mr. Phalen?
      (turning around)
Yes captain?
Lock your door.
BARTLE walks over to MONTAGUE
How are they holding up?
Fine, I think, it has been a
traumatizing night.


I appreciate your help in this.
Not a problem in the slightest.
      (to MR. TAYLOR)
Are you doing all right?
I believe so. Margaret nodded off
a few minutes ago. She took this
rather poorly.
      (he strokes her
       hair and then
       looks surprised)
Something is wrong!
BARTLE and MONTAGUE come over
She is cold
What? What are you saying?
Her breath is faint! Help me with
FILMORE runs over from below decks.
I came as quick as I could. I was
told briefly of the situation.
It's no use.
From what affliction does she ail?
She wept on my shoulder not ten
minutes ago.
She has passed Mr. Taylor.
Good lord...
      (stumbles back a
       few feet)
What treachery wove this? Is
Margaret taken from me? Damn this


                       TAYLOR (cont'd)
boat to Hell I say! Good lord I
said, never a more pitiful lie did
spit from my mouth. It is not a
good lord what kills an innocent
woman. She would harm none!
      (he stops, pounds
       his fists on the
       railing and
       collapses, crying)
She must have been poisoned.
I thought her hysteria was from
the body in her room.
Aye, it was, but also some venom
did course through her then.
I've got some smelling salts,
      (he is
       uncomfortable to
       finish the
We must hope this night claims no
more souls.
DARIUS is leaning on the railing looking out to sea.
SAMANTHA approaches.
Morning there. Not at the
captain's briefing?


I know what he has to say...But
All of this talk of murder, and to
know he is on board, I might just
get a little scared.
      (walks next to
I wanted to be away from all of
that...and be with someone I
trust... to protect me and all.
I expect you can get that from me.
You know, this reminds me of a
book I love, maybe you've heard of
it? The Shadows of Madness.
      (he turns around)
I'm sorry?
Yes, the uh symbolism seems
      (raising an
How so?
You must know how it was
so...powerful and revealing of
      (trails off
the human something or another.
      (smiles at her for
       the first time)
As a matter of fact I do.
EMMELINE sees DARIUS with SAMANTHA and rushes over to talk
to him.


Why Darius, how lovely to catch
you here, under rather portentous
circumstances, I regret. I see
you've met my...my friend Samantha
Martin. (mar-teen)
Sure. We haven't talked since
yesterday. Would you like to take
a walk?
I would love to, my dear.
Samantha, I'm sorry but I must
continue this conversation at a
later time. I will make it up to
you, yes?
It's all right, she forgives you.
We'd best be going.
I suppose I'm off then, Samantha.
SAMANTHA pouts and walks away. DARIUS and EMMELINE walk
around the ship.
What do you think about this whole
business of the murderer being on
It is rather disturbing, but I'm
decently confident I could take
most of the men here.
Who says it is a man?
Well I naturally assumed... You
know It's not me I fear for, It is
for those I hold dear.
How sweet!


Seeing what happened to Mrs.
Be wary, will you?
I will, you don't have to worry
much, especially if you are there
to protect me.
I hate to have terrible timing,
but I just realized I have to
Oh but must you now? Why?
I cannot tell you, but I can
assure you it is a good reason.
You will appreciate it.
Will I?
      (kisses EMMELINE's
Until later, my dear.
DARIUS leaves and a few moments later SAMANTHA walks over
Just what exactly were you trying
to pull, stealing him from me like
I'm doing nothing of the sort. I
enjoy his company and the
intellectual rapport we have.
I know that is what you are
interested in.
Don't get your hopes up. I'll get
him quickly. I always do.


SAMANTHA struts past her and leaves. The other passengers
enter and mill around worriedly. BARTLE and FILMORE come to
center stage.
All slowly exit except for BARTLE and FILMORE.
                                         LATE MORNING
Damn it Filmore, what are we going
to do about this?
Why sir, I didn't know you were so
emotionally broken up about this.
Of course I am, I just can't show
it up front of the passengers.
That's how it always is with them.
If I don't have a stiff upper lip,
we descend into the depths of
chaos. At this point the last
thing we need is the collapse of
I wholeheartedly agree, sir.
We need to put it all into this
one. Everything odd you notice,
tell me. In fact, tell me
everything that is too ordinary as
I'd be telling you everything that
happens then, captain.
Blast it man! You know what I
Yes, I do sir.
Thank you, I appreciate
reliability in a crisis. Filmore,
please don't exclude anyone right


                       BARTLE (cont'd)
away, I'm afraid that everyone is
a suspect until otherwise proven.
Yes, I know, I won't take anything
lightly in all of this.
FILMORE leaves and BARTLE paces, contemplating the
situation. FILMORE returns hurriedly.
What could it be, man? You left me
not a moment ago.
Dire news. A crewman informed me
Mr. Taylor is hung by the neck off
the stern of the ship.
He must have been too distraught
over his wife.
Did anyone see it?
Not to my knowledge, no.
Let us go then. He spoke of this
boat being damned. We must pray he
I have the crew checking the
locations of the passengers.
As long as none of them are near
when you...haul him aboard.
Aye, sir.


                                         BEFORE SUNRISE
DARIUS is hidden as MR. TAYLOR paces on the deck. The only
light is a lamp set on a crate.
I must find who did this to her.
To her... who
      (mumbling to
The room and she was but who
To think that I held her there in
my arms. She was dying and I did
nothing. I did nothing to help
her! Reminiscence does nothing as
well. It is clear what I must now
do. I'll tell everyone about our
plot, that will flush out the
culprit and may yet save lives.
Darius closes behind him and slips a rope around his neck,
and after a struggle, he is thrown off the ship.
An honest man spoiled by dishonest
If only he had not thrown me
overboard, he would not have been
thrown as well.
standing in a line with some bags in that order. Each person
has a spotlight down on them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, at this time
it has become necessary to
institute a harsher investigation.
We apologize for the
inconvenience, but the captain has
ordered a full, thorough search.
This'll be a load of fun...


A load of somethin'
      (he turns to
Does he have the right to do this?
You must understand that at sea,
the captain is the law.
Yes, he can even perform
marriages. We aren't in
territorial waters.
After some miles it's open ocean
legally. As far as jurisdiction is
concerned, international laws
like...murder...aren't governed by
one country.
FILMORE first comes to ERIK, who takes a breath and puffs
out his chest. After a glare from ERIK, FILMORE moves on to
HAROLD. ERIK looks at him and shakes his head. FILMORE goes
to HAROLD'S briefcase. HAROLD looks at ERIK and nods. ERIK
doesn't stop FILMORE. FILMORE tosses the bag to a waiting
seaman. FILMORE begins to pat down SAMANTHA, who is
disgusted at being touched by him.
      (He pulls out his
       idea pad)
What if the absolutist captain
broke down, then what?
In a civilian fleet it's slightly
different, but in the Navy there
are regulations to deal with that
I wonder who killed that crewman.
Maybe another disgruntled crew


What if someone is here to kill
all of us?
FILMORE reaches EMMELINE and tosses her bag into the pile.
Are you suggesting some serial
killer aboard?
I wrote a book about a serial
killer once.
I bet it was as dull as someone I
You wouldn't know a good book if
one hit you over the head!
I bet Brad catches the killer. Am
I right?
You'll have to read the book to
find out.
He shoots him doesn't he?
Haven't you considered putting
something weighty in there?
Sweetie, he wishes he had
something weighty out here.
You know, that is the last I will
hear from you. I swear to God!
About the book?


Oh, yes, I've tried, but that
doesn't flip pages.
Then what is your method?
I think that my role as a writer
is to shape the events in my
world, the dialog and actions are
up to the characters themselves.
That's the first interesting thing
that has come out of your mouth.
Everything else was stupid,
crumbs, or spit.
      (He moves suddenly
       towards SAMANTHA)
I've had it with you! Do you want
to learn who is stupid, you damned
floozy ?
FILMORE and DARIUS grab and restrain MONTAGUE.
If we can all maintain control in
this stressful situation... Your
luggage can be picked up after
Don't you think we should do
something to protect ourselves,
I'm looking over my shoulder, as
should you. Just lock your door
and don't go out alone.
      (she looks at
I don't think that should be much
of a problem.


      (she looks at
       DARIUS, then at
I don't see why it would be.
Everyone disperses except for EMMELINE and DARIUS.
Why are you here, Dare?
What business?
I'm bound not to say.
Oh, but for me?
It's important, but I must not
say. Why are you here?
      (she grabs his
       collar and smiles
       at him)
I won't say.
Aren't you now a fox?
On occasion I'm a fox, but
occasionally as well I'm a
Tell me. I would not expect one
such as yourself to travel
unaccompanied unless something
unfortunate had occurred.
It is odd that you would put it
so, but I must be made plain. My
brother was killed in accident at
the foundry where he worked about
two weeks ago.


It couldn't be Wilkins & Taylor
Foundry, could it?
Precisely. There was little to no
disclosure about the circumstances
of Peter's death, so I proceeded
to investigate thoroughly myself.
What I discovered was shocking to
say the least.
Could you share your findings with
Not now. I fear for my safety in
public company.
I understand, it'll be discussed
later then. Until we are in such
private company, stay close and in
my sight.
I'm glad I've got you to protect
me. You know, I've been wondering
why the captain hasn't turned the
ship around.
That puzzles me as well.
I mean, we aren't yet halfway
there, so turning around would be
Maybe the cargo needs to reach its
That would be quite some cargo to
override the deaths of passengers.
This is quite some ship.


                                         EARLY EVENING
SAMANTHA is at the bar reading a card.
                       DARIUS (vo)
Dearest Samantha,
You have my deepest apologies for
the charade I have put on. You
know I love you, not that bookworm
Roberts. If you feel the same,
meet me on the patio this
afternoon. Make sure you aren't
seen by anyone; that jealous hag
would find out. You know she has
sources. I want to see you soon.
Darius Phalen
SAMANTHA takes a drink and gets up from the bar and walks
outside. DARIUS is crouched and steadied on the balcony
above. He looks a SAMANTHA with a gun pointed at her.
Where is Darius? He said to meet
him here. Am I enamored with him
of my own whim or of a spiteful
anger against that know-it-all. I
suppose that I'll just let time
tell me which. After all, what
can't time do in its epic, sweet
Two shots are fired and SAMANTHA spins to the floor.
DARIUS tosses the gun to the deck below with a handkerchief
on it. He runs into the ship as people funnel out in a state
of disarray.
What the hell is going on here?
My words exactly captain.
EMMELINE faints into DARIUS'S arms when she walks out.
This is the third murder in cold
blood. The killer is here, one of


MONTAGUE walks in.
Lovely timing, Mr. Gribbs.
Where were you Mr. Gribbs?
In my room, writing.
You didn't have the best rapport
with the late Ms. Martin.
I didn't, but that doesn't mean...
      (picks up
Captain! Look here.
What am I seeing?
Each stateroom has a supply of
handkerchiefs with the ship's
insignia and room number
embroidered in them.
Does this mean we have the
murderer's room number?
I do believe it to be so.
Silence, awaiting the number.


17, yes, it's room 17. Whoever
shot the gun got the cloth from
there. Who's room is that?
I'm in 15 and Erik is in 16. Erik,
who is next to you?
ERIK leans over and whispers in his ear covered by a hand.
How sincere. That is Montague's
They all gasp and look at MONTAGUE
I wasn't there, I swear.
That doesn't sound probable.
Especially considering your
outburst at her earlier.
Honestly, I was writing.
I never trust a man who says
"honestly". It calls into question
all his other statements.
And his statements are in
Do we have conclusive proof of
EMMELINE enters.
What happened?
Mr. Gribbs killed Samantha.
He did?


I did not.
It would seem, fair sir, that you
I did not!
ERIK nods at him.
I told you all I did not do it!
Do you accuse someone else?
I do not.
Then you...
I did not!!
Maybe we're being to hasty.
It is easiest and fastest to
convict a guilty man.
Isn't an innocent man damned by
the same coin?
Are you questioning my judgment?
ERIK pins MONTAGUE to the wall.
      (bordering on
Please let me go, I did nothing


Tomorrow morning we will conduct a
trial for you. Nothing had better
happen tonight, or your punishment
will not wait 'til land.
All exit except for MONTAGUE and DARIUS.
I appreciate you sticking up for
My pleasure.
I remember how that napkin left my
possession. I lent it to you.
You did.
But that would mean...
I did.
Why would you?
Because you covered it up. You
wrote the articles and
advertisements willfully intending
to deceive the public. Their
scheme would not have been
possible without your propaganda.
How do you know anything about it?
You might say, I'm protecting a
confidential source. But I will
grant you a choice.


If I refuse?
I shoot you.
Can I work with you?
I can't afford the risk.
I'm no risk, really, you can count
on me.
Can I?
Very well, go wake the captain and
tell him there has been a murder.
Who was killed?
You aren't sure, just have him
come up here to see.
All right, Phalen, I'll do as you
I'm sure.
MONTAGUE turns to leave. DARIUS runs behind him and stabs
him in the back and covers his mouth. MONTAGUE struggles to
cry out and goes limp.
Shhhhhhh. Shhhhhh. It is good
night to you Montague Gribbs.
      (he releases
       MONTAGUE onto the
Good sir, I bid you farewell.


DARIUS walks around and thinks for a moment. He then has an
idea and drops the bloody knife onto the body. He drags the
body out of view, simulating dragging it to the lifeboat
launch deck. He returns after a few moments and runs hastily
into the ship.
                                         LATE EVENING
DARIUS runs somewhat stealthily but bumps into FILMORE who
is patrolling the halls.
Mr. Phalen! What are you doing out
at this hour?
      (rapidly changes
       his expression)
Why, I am heading back to my
stateroom. I went topside for some
fresh air.
Fresh air? You are aware of the
curfew order you just blatantly
Am I a prisoner to my room at
I'm sorry sir, but that is the
policy that the captain has
instituted. It does draw suspicion
that you are out alone after dark.
I warn you not to make any
accusations you are not willing to
stand behind. Now if you would
excuse me.
I've had it with you damned
passengers always whining about
this and that. This is a ship, do
I look like a concierge? You
should handle some damn
inconveniences to your damn mild
sensibilities. Is it too much to


                       FILMORE (cont'd)
ask? Is it?
Sir, your demeanor is shocking.
Drop the act, Darius. Pull back
the veil of sophistication. All of
this polish and pomp here is
nothing. Even the finest panoply
is stained by the money dripping
from the slavering jaws of greed.
We all carry some façade around to
hide what we want to say. Don't
you see that?
Oh, believe me that I do see it.
But do you not therein see the
opportunity? Such a ironclad
civility leaves a perforated
barrier to social intrusion. It is
such a beautiful self deception.
What cannot be done by one with a
controlled cast? How is the line
drawn between safety and security?
Is that choice dictated by our
savage disrespect for our
neighbors' privacy, or by our base
instinct for our own. You seem to
have chosen a side.
As have you...How do you justify
your position to herald rights
when it can be easily condemned by
pragmatism? There is a killer on
board. That is a fact.
And if were to tell you I caught
him just now, what would you say?
Would it then not be a
contradiction to you that the
violation of those very rules
allowed me to stop this madness?
Yes, that would be interesting to
say the least...Will you show me?


That was intended as a
hypothetical. And yet your
eagerness has persuaded me. I am
reluctant as we have found
ourselves on not quite parallel
lines, but yes, I will. Come
along, my surprise is yet
DARIUS leads FILMORE topside
                                         LATE EVENING
DARIUS and FILMORE enter from stairs.
He's over here. I caught him
trying to leave on a lifeboat.
And how did he end up?
He brandished a knife, and I
disarmed him. I expect he knew
that he had no chance of standing
trial here. It got violent and
this is how things ended.
FILMORE leans into a lifeboat, out of which is protruding
I apologize, as you have proven
wiser than I surmised. I assure
you that my ambition well worth
DARIUS hits FILMORE over the head. When FILMORE slumps onto
the floor unconscious, DARIUS picks up the bloody knife and
cuts his throat.
DARIUS lowers the lifeboat over the side with MONTAGUE
inside. He leaves the knife near FILMORE'S body and walks


Terrible is the price that has
been and will be paid for what is
right. Pawns although necessarily
sacrificed, have a certain charm;
each one a queen in its own right.
You just have to push them far
                                         EARLY MORNING
DARIUS rings the ship's bell.
BARTLE, EMMELINE, HAROLD, and ERIK run out topside, half
dressed and confused.
Everyone come quick!
BARTLE sees what happened first.
Is Montague here?
He is missing, as well as a boat.
Mr. Phalen, what in God's name
I didn't see exactly, but by the
missing lifeboat and body, I'd say
Filmore found Mr. Gribbs trying to
escape and he met an unfortunate
end. Montague must now be long
gone, as I stumbled upon the scene
during my sunrise constitutional.
It is a relief that the killer is
gone, but disconcerting that he is
loose on the world. I suppose this
puts to rest the doubt over his


Oh, yes, but can the joy over our
safety overcome our sadness over
the loss of our companions?
Filmore was the best mate a
captain could ask for.
So many people dead. I wonder why
he did it?
I don't think we'll ever be able
to find out.
What a terrible dilemma.
What do we do now?
I don't know...
I believe we must carry on as best
we can.
I think we should all take some
peaceful time to reflect. This has
been a traumatic experience.
I see. That might be best.
      (to DARIUS)
Come with me, please, I want to
Yes, what is it?


You know, Darius, this – all of
it, as horrible as it is -- has
made me realize the… extent of my
feelings for you.
I admit, I have been rather...
preoccupied with my decidedly...
similar siutation
You don't know how relieved I am
to hear that from you. I… I was
worried that you had feelings for…
Well, I shouldn't…
DARIUS puts his hand to her lips.
Don't. Just be with me here now.
There isn't a place I'd rather be.
Or, on the thought of it, I'd
rather be many other places, but
with you regardless.
Naught but semantics.
For once, let's ignore text.
DARIUS opens his mouth to speak but EMMELINE stops him. They
kiss and DARIUS reaches out and puts out the light.
                                         EARLY AFTERNOON
How lovely, it's overcast today. I
hope it rains.
Oh yes, I would love some rain.


Why ever would that be? Don't you
love a sunny day?
Not at all. When I was a girl, it
rarely ever rained and it was
almost always sunny. Rain was so
much fun because it was different.
I remember playing with the
miniature rivers that formed all
over the place; building dams of
pebbles and sticks to postpone the
inevitable collapse and
dissolution into the stream. Rain
endowed the world with motion. It
gave excitement to a bland
landscape. The gentle
pitter-patter of the droplets
soothed me to sleep, and the cold
made me treasure the warmth of my
I can hardly imagine. I used to
hope the snow or rain would let up
so I could go out.
I never had snow. I wished for it,
but I never had that white morning
Funny how geography does that.
I would go so far as to say that
people often carry traits of where
they grew up.
Emm, have you ever noticed the
uncanny ability of people to
return to routine after a trauma.
Yes, but it seems normal to me.
It doesn't surprise you?


Routine is routine because it is
comforting, dear. So of course
that's what people do. It's what
they know.
You're saying that when the status
quo is disturbed, people will do
what it takes to return to
normality. It is then that they
are most at ease, yes?
Thus is the nature of man. I mean
we are taking a walk and others
are acting as though nothing
happened because that is what
feels best to do. When a trauma,
say a murder, is encountered,
afterwards, is what people really
want to do to talk about it. Do
they really want their lives
disrupted? You know they crave
what they had.
Their sense of security?
So they are more vulnerable
because they want to believe they
are safe?
Vulnerable, yes, I suppose,
because they can easily be
convinced to action. I believe an
appropriate phrase is, "People are
by nature changeable. It is easy
to persuade them about some
particular matter, but it is hard
to hold them to that persuasion.
Hence it is necessary to provide
that when they no longer believe,
they can be forced to believe."
Intriguing. You know, that's given
me an idea.


Let's have a social event tonight
It might give everyone a chance to
face what's happened and move on.
I don't think that would be
agreeable to all.
If you arrange music and drinks,
maybe have someone help you with
some lighting. It'll lighten up
this ship.
Are you sure?
Yes, quite. Wouldn't you say a
chance to relax -- lift the pall
of gloom hanging over everyone?
I could use a break from this
oppressive haze. Would the crew be
allowed to come?
You know, I've noticed something
odd about them for the whole trip.
Have you?
I believe so. You mean how they
always seem to be watching you
from the shadows?
It's eerie.
I wasn't going to say this, but
it's possible they know more than
we think they do.
      (now looks
       uncomfortable but
       trying to contain


                       DARIUS (cont'd)
I'm sorry?
I think they've seen at least a
few of the murders, but they
aren't telling us.
      (somewhat worried
       but disguising it)
If they knew the killer was
Montague why didn't they tell us.
      (with a look of
       fearful suprise)
Because maybe Montague wasn't the
You cannot be serious.
Indeed I am, and how grave.
And yet still shouldn't they say
Maybe they hold their tongues for
fear of reprisal killings. Maybe
they hold them for the culprit is
a fellow crewman. Or it is
sincerely possible that they
approve of the killer's actions
assuming he isn't one of them.
Emmeline, for all of your wisdom,
I beg you now to apply it and do
not speak of this to anyone.
You confound me, Darius.
Yet hear me. If the rest get word
that the killer is still here,
there would be no way to catch
him. Right now, if he wasn't
Montague, he has his guard down.


                       DARIUS (cont'd)
We can flush him out.
I understand.
We'll speak later. I have to go
check with the captain.
Ok, hurry back.
CAPTAIN BARTLE is frustrated and fumbling with charts and
navigation tools.
Dammit I need Filmore to help me
pilot this accursed ship.
DARIUS walks in with a dignified stride.
Darius Phalen, what are you doing
on my bridge?
Emmeline and I have had an idea to
relieve the tension among the
Have you now?
Let's have an event this evening,
something casual with drinks and
I'm swamped here, just getting
this ship to port. You know I
couldn't take on anything else at
this point.
I can see that sir, yes. I'll see
to it personally that no extra
work for you is entailed.


I'm sorry m'boy but I cannot
oblige. Now either help me or let
me alone.
I'm sorry you see it that way.
When you get to be my age, boy,
you end up sorry for a lot of
things, not half of them your
fault. I'm not saying you can't
drink your problems away, rather
that we can't have a sanctioned
event. Not now anyway.
I must respect your choice, as
must I hasten to tell Emmeline.
Thank you for the time.
Evening Mr. Phalen.
What did the captain say?
As you expected he did not
Maybe it's for the best.
Lightning streaks across the black sky and moments after,
thunder booms powerfully. DARIUS turns his head upwards
cautiously, but EMMELINE laughs gleefully.
Isn't that wonderful Darius?! An
electric storm. And we are
steaming into the heart of it.
Wonderful indeed.
Oh it is. Let me show you. There
is a spot I discovered quickly
where you can feel the power of


                       EMMELINE (cont'd)
nature at your fingertips.
You know how to fascinate me. Show
me this place.
Rain is now coming down along with the lightning storm.
Because there are no obstructions, huge, sprawling arc
lighting can be seen across the sky when it flashes. It
lights up the ship and the ocean as bright as day for a
fraction of a second. Because the ship is traveling at
speed, the rain is falling sideways.
Come! Over here, before the storm
What's this you want to show me?
Oh, it's wonderful dear, just
She takes him to the very front behind a wall with a
handrail. They are beginning to get wet.
It's raining. I see the appeal.
No, no, climb up here.
She climbs up onto the railing to get her head over the
wall. She helps him up.
Isn't that fantastic? A wide black
expanse as far as the eye can see.
The rain against your skin. And
wait...there, lightning! and the
sea lights up for you. Otherwise
you are enveloped by the black
bubble. Where does the sky end and
the ocean begin? tell me? can you
see it?


You're right. It is otherworldly.
Why, I'd venture to say this is
fantastic. Nature is so huge, so
awe inspiring.
Be silent now, and become one with
the ship and the elements.
They pause on their precarious roost. Both are drenched and
laughing slightly when lightning strikes.
I feel it now. I see. The ship
falls away and becomes part of my
body. The mighty ocean is so
massive, so expansive. The thunder
is thrilling.
He steps off and away from the railing and offers to help
Life changing isn't it?
You've shown me something magical
here Emm.
I knew you'd think so. Thanks for
coming here with me. I've been
dying to share it with someone.
I'm glad you chose to share it
with me.
No one else I'd rather bring.
The lighting fades out to the sound of rain and wind.
Lighting strikes and the stage is momentarily lit and DARIUS
and EMMELINE are in each other's embrace sharing a kiss. It
is immediately dark again and a few moments later thunder
booms and the scene ends.


DARIUS turns a corner and sees ERIK down the passageway. It
is too narrow to pass beside the large manservant without
his notice.
The bodyguard alone. But how can I
defeat him without being
discovered. The brute has such
great maws as not to be likely to
lose at close combat. And then a
shot would draw attention. But am
I not at a point where the
attention is warranted? And hence
I start the finish!
He has hidden behind the corner while speaking. He then
slowly aims from behind it at ERIK walking down the
corridor. DARIUS fires and is realized by his victim only a
second before the shot.
Now to see the mastermind again
DARIUS runs over dying ERIK and up the stairs to the main
Harold is standing with his arm's crossed and looking
around. After a few moments a gunshot is heard offstage. He
drops suddenly and looks for the shooter. It is DARIUS
belowdecks from the previous scene.
My God!
DARIUS runs onstage from a stairwell.
This will end here.
I haven't a clue what you know,
but I can assure you that you are
in over your head.


      (pointing the
I know more than you have
appraised. I know what I must do
as well to save the lives of
thousands. I know not how you bear
the weight of your own conscience.
My conscience? Am I the one with
blood on his hands? Not only have
I not perpetrated these
atrocities, but according to the
public, I had no part in the
scheme as well. In the eyes of the
masses, it is you whose greed
trumped his responsibility, not
When asked to deliver puddled
iron, all you did was prepare
puddled blood.
Do not be so coy. The low grade
alloy would have lasted at least
5-10 years. By then this whole
mess would have disappeared, and
any potential failure merely a
And when that tower crumbles? And
when that bridge frays? Innocent
people will pay those cents per
ton a hundredfold over. You have
no qualms with this?
You fail to see the insignificance
of that hypothetical. Let the
metal be replaced in a few years.
What are the ramifications then,
hm? A mild dent in a bloated
bureaucratic budget? Hardly any of
my concern. Besides, it's no
longer my dilemma. The public
hungers for their goat, and you've
got a bell around your neck. The
manager looking to augment a
"bonus." They're all suckers for


                       HAROLD (cont'd)
an easy sell.
You really think supplying
dangerously inferior iron is a
public relations issue?
EMMELINE hurriedly enters.
Damn! you shouldn't have come.
This isn't your place. I have to
go through with this.
Is what I see so true as can be
Regretfully so, my dear.
EMMELINE is terribly upset and incredulous.
Look away, Emm.
I'll look where I damn well
please. Anything you can do in
good conscience do can be done in
my presence, can it not?
You gave me all the information I
needed. Trust that I will confide
in you.
And this is where trusting you has
gotten me? Here, Darius, so what
am I to base my trust on? Have you
such a record as to merit this?
It's different now.
How could it be different?


I can't put it in words.
If you cannot speak it to me, then
it is not truth.
It is more truth than ought I have
Then tell me as you would what it
What was it you told me? To for
once ignore text?
Then I compel you to action.
DARIUS turns and decidedly fires three equally spaced shots
into HAROLD. The shots are accompanied by a startled shout
from EMMELINE.He slumps and then falls to the deck,
thoroughly vanquished.
No! Dar....
EMMELINE is unable to finish the word as DARIUS lowers the
smoking barrel silently. They look at each other for a
period of silence.
      (finally breaking
       the quiet)
I can only attempt to justify
EMMELINE does not reply, rather she continues to stare at
Put simply, as you found, Harold
was an aristocratic investor, and
Erik, his protector. Mr. Taylor's
company was contracted to provide
structural materials for a few
large French projects, and Harold
convinced him to skim extra
profits by producing shoddy,
hazardous bars. But when you found
out and publicized the fraud, they


                       DARIUS (cont'd)
saddled publicly me with the blame
for the entire treason.
So it was my report that incited
"At this point one may note that
men must be either pampered or
annihilated. They avenge light
offenses; they cannot avenge
severe ones; hence, the harm one
does to a man must be such as to
obviate any fear of revenge."
Would you not have told me that a
while ago?
Yes, but I only quoted that for
scholastic discussion. You're mad.
Mad? Am I mad, Emm, truly? Think
of the countless people I've
saved. I have done what I felt was
You seemed so charming, and yet...
Will you not come with me? For I
have prevented such a
conflagration of damage as to far
outweigh any losses here.
How can I now that I've witnessed
what you are capable of? You've
committed atrocities over a
machination of your mind. Darius,
be rational. You've killed all of
them for naught.

And if I told you I knew for sure?
What say you then?


You've lied to me Darius, I'm not
sure how to forgive that.
      (In an outburst)
But damn it all, Emmeline, isn't
it plain? I love you. You have
broken me.
They both seem suprised at his uncharacteristic forwardness.
Is that your truth?
For all my treachery, now it is
from my chest and I must speak
I don't see how I can...
EMMELINE contemplates his offer for a moment. BARTLE steps
out onto the deck next to EMMELINE rifle in hand. He has it
pointed at DARIUS. DARIUS quickly aims to fire his pistol
instinctively. The captain fires first striking DARIUS in
the left arm. DARIUS's shot misfires expelling all
remaining bullets at once. One strikes the captain in the
side, one ricochets away, and the last hits EMMELINE in the
I heard it all from the bridge.
      (still reeling
       from the
       realization that
       he has wounded
Look what you've made me do.
      (draws and elegant
       dueling sword and
       discards the
       spent rifle)
I have not made you commit any of
these heinous acts aboard this
ship. She died to feed your own


                       BARTLE (cont'd)
ambition as did the rest of them.
Be prepared to defend your
decision with your life.
DARIUS runs back to HAROLD who had a sword at his waist,
mostly for show. He draws it and engages BARTLE in a fight.
DARIUS is more agile and BARTLE is stiffer from age, but
still a seasoned veteran. DARIUS eventually wins.
      (approaching the
       dying BARTLE)
You had my respect until now.
      (finishes him off)
Fare thee well.
DARIUS kneels next to the bloodied EMMELINE, now possibly
shedding a tear. He shouts in pain and looks down at her.
What have I wrought? I traded the
lives of many strangers for the
life of the only person I hold
dear. Emmeline, we will reach
shore in the morning. I will take
care of you. Please fight.
Look, you have broken me.
Everything on which I prided
myself is now stripped away and
nothing. Do you see this? Tears!
Come back, I beg of you. I built
myself a tower slowly and
steadily, but you have crushed it
to gravel in one fell swoop. As my
tears fall on you, take that, my
spirit, and rise. It was my
ambition and greed that wounded
you, but you must forgive me that.
Forgive me by waking.
Was there truth in her words?
I have not the shadow upon me yet.
I have done a just deed,have I
Madness, is that your fetid breath
upon my neck? I do denounce you!
Oh, but you demand more than that.

I do not see you, so I must be
right. I must be right, for I am
me and that is what I would do.
Darius Phalen would do what is


                       DARIUS (cont'd)
right in the greater cause. A
righteous hero of the people. That
must be who I am...
      (He looks at the
       bodies around him)
What hero would have this blood on
his hands. Is there a cause for
which a fight? Where is my banner,
my flag for which I spill life?
Mine is absent.
It is that banner that staves off
the darkness, the insecurity.
What am I to do, here, in the
darkness, alone.
It will take me soon if I do not
Damn you Emmeline, you have put me
here! You killed my illusions. Now
what do I have?
Oh, no, do not take my words and
flee. Stay, please come back. I
cannot let you go.
This is my horror. But you can
save me from it. Awake, and
absolve me. Please.
He collapses onto her weeping. This is the first time DARIUS
has succumbed to emotion.
The crew disembarks immediately and abandons the ship. They
slink away into the busy loading dock. DARIUS leaves the
ship in the captain's uniform, hat pulled low on his face.
He makes it a safe distance away from the ship and watches
as the authorities discover the horror of the main deck of
the ship. He only stays long enough to hear the shouts of a
panicked longshoreman and see one holding EMMELINE, frail,
softly breathing, and crudely bandaged. The shouts are for a
doctor and police. DARIUS looks up at her with hope, and
then sadness as he turns and walks away.


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