Written by Joe Janes
148 of 365
(Lights up on Eric standing alone in a parking garage. He hears a car in the distance. He hears a car door. He hears distant footsteps. He hears someone clearing their throat.)
ERICIs someone there?
(He hears stronger throat clearing and then Vandemeer walks out of the shadows in a trench coat and fedora, sucking on a milkshake.)
VANDEMEERYeah, kid. Sorry. Feeling a little phlegmy. Gotta cut down on these milkshakes.
ERICDid you find Melissa, Mr. Vandemeer?
ERICWhat do you mean “maybe”?
VANDEMEERI mean maybe when I say maybe. I’ll walk if you don’t like how I do business, Eric.
ERICI’m sorry. It’s just, three in the morning in this parking garage. I feel like I’m doing something against the law.
ERICI don’t think so. Are you?
VANDEMEERYou want the information or not?
ERICYes, of course, I do. I just didn’t expect all this cloak and dagger stuff.
VANDEMEERYou try to find somebody who maybe don’t want to be found, you get the cloak and dagger stuff. Comes with the territory. Plus, these are my regular office hours. I get this space for free at night.
ERICMelissa doesn’t want to be found?
VANDEMEERLook, kid. Let me give you some advice. You’re trying to find a girl you had a thing with a long, long time ago.
ERICI just want to see if she’s okay.
VANDEMEERAll right, then. She’s okay. We’re done here.
ERICWell, you have to tell me more than that. I paid you two thousand dollars to find her for me. How do I know you’re not just ripping me off?
VANDEMEERShe lives in Toledo with her third husband, Carl Busby.
VANDEMEERHer kids are all in college or vocational school. She makes money as a nurse-for-hire. Eats more yogurt than any woman should. She likes the ponies.
ERICShe’s always liked ponies.
VANDEMEERNow she bets on them.
ERICI want to see her.
VANDEMEERHere’s her number.
(He hands him a slip of paper.)
ERICFinally, a phone number.
VANDEMEERLook, kid. Do yourself a favor. Throw that slip of paper away.
ERICI haven’t seen her in twenty years.
VANDEMEERExactly why you should file it in the trash bin. Things will never be the way they were with her. She was your sweetheart a long time ago. She’s changed. You’ve changed. You can’t reheat that hormone casserole.
ERICI don’t expect to. She was important to me. I wouldn’t be who I am now if she hadn’t pushed me in the right direction. I owe her. I want to thank her.
VANDEMEERThat’s what you say to help you get to sleep at night. But I know and you know you hope there’s a spark there that hasn’t gone out. Maybe it has, maybe it hasn’t. If it has, you’ll be broken hearted all over again. If it hasn’t, you’ll ruin her life and hate yourself for it. Leave it alone. Walk away. She’s doing okay. That’s all you wanted to know, that’s all you need to know. Am I getting through that bone beret you’re wearing?
ERICYeah. I hear you. Thanks, Mr. Vandemeer.
VANDEMEERIf you want your two grand back –
ERICNo, no. You did your job.
VANDEMEERGood. I already spent it. I have some car wash coupons I could give you, though.
ERICThat’s okay. I think I’ve got my money’s worth.
VANDEMEERThrow that slip of pulp and ink in the can.
VANDEMEERIf you like the job I did, tell your friends. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. And the only one I can afford.
(Vandemeer nods, sips on his milkshake, and retreats into the shadows. Eric looks at the number, crumples it up. Think better of it and uncrumples it. He dials. We hear him dial and we hear the phone ring and pick up.)
VANDEMEER (VO)Thank you for calling Vandemeer Car Wash and Detective Agency, if you’d like to leave a message-
(Eric hangs up.)