A TRAIN CAR
Two familiar figures sway, gently, with the train’s movement. Heyes is all spruced up in his chocolate brown suit and the derby that always appears a shade too small. Curry sports the regrettable light blue-grey outfit accessorised with customary less than flattering trilby. In a contrast to many opening scenes, the boys are neither dishevelled, nor dusty, nor down-at-heel. Dang it they look positively prosperous! In fact, the darker fella, arms folded, self-satisfied smirk dimpling his barber-shaved cheeks, is emanating such an aura of smugness that one can only be surprised it is not misting up the windows as stock footage of Californian scenery rolls past.
Heyes: “Y’know that thing you said I wasn’t to say again…?”
Annoyance quivers over Curry’s face.
Heyes: “I won’t say it but I want you to know I’m still thinking it.”
Curry is not rising to the bait. Silence except for the clickety-clack of a train on a track, which, according to one well-knownset of song lyrics, has rhythm to spare.
Heyes: “Me not saying it don’t alter facts, Kid. I told you that job was worth taking. I told you we’d get paid. I told you all you had to do was have a little fai…”
Curry: “Alright! I got it! You told me so! You been tellin’ me you told me for near two days now. I admit it I was wrong. For once, one of the dumb plans I let ya talk me into worked out. We got us a little stake. We’re gonna go enjoy spendin’ it in Frisco. An’ it’s all thanks to you. Okay?! You’re a genius! Satisfied? Can we drop it now?”
Heyes: (affronted) “Of course.”
Curry: “‘Cos if you say ‘Told ya so’ one more time, Heyes, I swear I’ll…”
Heyes: “The topic is closed.”
Heyes: “Not to be reopened.”
Heyes: “If me pointing out that I told you all along…”
Curry: (warningly) “Heyes.”
Heyes: “…If that’s annoying you, so be it. From this moment on, my lips are sealed.”
Heyes: “Not another sound.” (pause) “Not one more word.” (pause) “I am silent.”
Curry rolls his eyes.
Heyes: “Mute.” (pause) “As quiet as a mouse.” (pause) “As silent as the…”
Innocent, questioning brown eyes.
Offended, Heyes picks up a newspaper and starts to read. Truly observant viewers, especially those addicted to use of freeze frame you know who you are will notice a headline on the back page: Can Frisco race-goers expect a right royal surprise?
The proddiness gradually leaves Curry’s face. A glance at his partner. A half-uncomfortable shuffle. His expression indicates an olive branch might be in the offing.
Heyes’ eyes do not rise from the newsprint.
Curry: “D’ya know what I’m thinkin’?”
Heyes: “I didn’t know you were thinking at all.” (perfectly timed pause) “I didn’t see your lips move.”
Curry, after a fleeting frown, lets that one pass.
Curry: “Take a guess.”
Heyes: (still reading) “Based on the way your stomach’s growling, you’re thinking ’bout dinner.”
Curry: “No!” (pause, half-abashed) “Well, yeah. But I’m thinkin’ WHAT we oughta have for dinner.”
Pause. Heyes turns a page.
Curry: “What d’ya say to sausage and sauerkraut followed by a helpin’ of strudel?”
Heyes does react to that. He looks up. A moment of frowning confusion. Then light dawns.
Heyes: (smiling) “You mean…?”
Curry: (tipping his execrable hat over his eyes and settling back with folded arms) “Yup. Let’s go find out if the Golden Perch Rathskeller really has become the best restaurant in the West.”
Heyes: (mirroring the hat tipping and arm folding) “And if the entertainment’s as good as we heard it’d be.”
SAN FRANCISO EXTERIOR
Halfway down a prosperous-looking side-street, Heyes and Curry halt amidst a cheerful bustle of folk enjoying the fine evening. Stopping outside a building cheerfully painted in white and blue, a welcoming glow shining from spotless windows into the dusk, they look up at a sign:
The Golden Perch Rathskeller.
Beneath the restaurant name, in smaller script, appears:
Meister-Koch, Kurt Schmitt
The whole is enclosed by a colorful border depicting intertwined German and American flags. A mute conversation definitely the right place.
Two ex-outlaws join the smiling couples heading inside.
INSIDE THE GOLDEN PERCH
Clean plates, satisfied smiles and hands resting gently on full bellies tell us our boys have wrapped themselves around a mouth-watering meal.
Now, fine cigars in hand, chairs pushed back, they watch a familiar and undeniably lovely figure on a small raised stage, accompany herself on the guitar. As a heart-tugging rendition of the Cowboys’ Lament comes to an end, Heyes and Curry join in the warm applause. Alice curtseys and kisses her hand to the admiring audience. She moves out of the lit area of the stage and disappears behind a screen.
Curry, taking an appreciative swallow from his wine glass, glances around. Snowy-aproned waiters bustle amongst happy diners. Every table is full. Enthusiastic murmurs at the deliciousness of the food drift over. At the door an impressively moustachioed maitre-de turns away yet another disappointed couple who has neglected to make a sufficiently early arrival.
Curry: “Looks as if Alice and Kurt are doin’ real fine.”
Heyes: (whose smile has faded) “Maybe. Maybe not.”
Heyes nods. Curry and we see what he has seen. Due to the position of the boys’ table in a discrete corner, diagonally opposite a large mirror, they are the only customers to have an angle from which to watch Alice move to the edge of her screen, preparatory to retaking the stage. Believing herself unseen, her expression is bleak. She wipes something from eyes haunted by anxiety. She pinches pale cheeks to conjure the mimic of a happy flush. She takes a deep breath and summons her smile. It is the old, sparkling Alice who takes the stage and, after a few laughing words of introduction, begins a lilting German lullaby. But, the boys now know, the happiness is fake. A mute conversation. In unison, they sip their wine thoughtfully.
Kurt Schmitt, in full chef’s whites, ladle in hand, emerges from the kitchen following a waiter whose hands wring, anxiously, as he babbles at his boss in rapid German.
Kurt: “So where’re these customers who want to complain about my MY apfel strudel?!”
The waiter points.
Heyes: (with his back to Kurt) “That’d be us.”
Curry: (also with his back turned) “We wanna complain that…” (he and Heyes turn) “After tastin’ that, you’ve kinda spoiled us for good old-fashioned pie!”
Kurt blinks in recognition. A wide grin splits his face.
Kurt: “You two!”
The boys stand. Mutual hand shaking, back-slapping, and stuff as close to hugging as you get from an all male scene in a 1970s western.
LATER STILL THE KITCHEN
Alice, Kurt and the boys sit at a scrubbed kitchen table; a bottle is being shared. As the scene progresses, Alice, sipping her wine, glances thoughtfully from one ex-outlaw to another. She bites her lip, allows a furrow to appear between her brows, and gives any other drama-school approved indications of ‘woman plotting and scheming’ that occur to her. Meanwhile, Kurt, quite obviously, is making an effort to seem cheerful, but cannot keep up the act and a muscle at one temple twitches, nervously.
Curry: “It seems business is boomin’.”
Kurt: “It seems that way, yes.”
Silence. A glance passes between husband and wife. She half nods as if to say: ‘go on.’ He half frowns and shakes his head. Heyes and Curry note the exchange.
Kurt: (summoning back a smile) “As you see, we’re fully booked.”
Heyes: “So we saw.”
Alice: “Being fully booked isn’t everything. You see…”
Kurt: (interrupting) “All businesses have their problems, no? Is the way of the world, no? Have some more wine.”
Our boys’ turn to exchange a mute conversation and Heyes’ turn to communicate ‘don’t ask’ to Curry, via a subtle shake of his head.
Silence. Kid Curry wriggles. He cannot help it.
Curry: (not meeting his partner’s eye) “What kinda problems?”
Kurt: “Is tonight a night to discuss problems? No! Tonight we celebrate our reunion with old friends.”
Alice: (firmly) “Yes, these are our friends, Kurt. Friends share their troubles.”
Kurt, after a moment, nods agreeing she is right.
Alice: “Friends help each other.” (to the boys) “Isn’t that so?”
Non-committal murmurs from a pair keen to dodge any casting call for good Samaritans.
Alice: (spelling it out) “If we had a problem, you’d want us to tell you, wouldn’t you?” (pause) “You’d want to help. Wouldn’t you?”
Heyes’ expression is so carefully neutral he’d be a shoo-in as Swiss Ambassador. However, as the silence stretches to an uncomfortable length, Curry, again, cannot help himself.
Alice: “Our problem has a name Randall Brennan.”
Kurt: “He holds the mortgage on the Rathskeller.”
Now Alice and Kurt have begun, they overlap in eagerness to unburden themselves. Heyes’ and Curry’s eyes flick in unison from Alice to Kurt as the words tumble over each other.
Alice: “It wasn’t him we borrowed the money from…”
Kurt: “No, that was Herr Blucher. He knew my Uncle Fritz. A nice man…”
Alice: “TOO nice! He got into debt with this Randall Brennan…”
Kurt: “Not his fault!”
Alice: “Well, to be fair, he signed the contract…”
Kurt: “Contract? He was swindled.”
Alice: “You know the kind of thing. Hidden in the small print was all this this nonsense about calendar years and fiscal years and…”
Kurt: “Herr Blucher trusted Brennan.”
Alice: “A trust wholly misplaced, because everyone knows Brennan’s crooked. He used to be honest to goodness crooked-crooked. Now he can afford it, he’s LEGAL-crooked, which is worse!”
Kurt: “And amongst Herr Blucher’s er…”
Kurt: “Assets, danke, was our mortgage…”
Alice: “Brennan got one of his slimy lawyers legal-crooked again to comb through it…”
Kurt: “Even though we’ve paid regularly, there’s one clause…”
Alice: “Unless we come up with $10,000 by the end of the month, he’s going to foreclose!”
Kurt: “I cannot reason with him.”
Alice: “Of course you can’t reason with him! It’s what he does. He waits until folk have grown a successful business then he steals it!”
Kurt: “Except it isn’t stealing because it’s legal.”
Alice: “Pffttt! The only time he’s not stealing is when he’s kissing up to the rich folk on Nob Hill or waving money around at horse races!”
Kurt: “And all our money is in the Rathskeller.”
Alice: “All Kurt’s savings from years of slaving away in Berlin kitchens. Everything I saved during years on that wretched swing.”
Kurt: “We’ll lose everything.”
The cacophony of concurrent communication concludes. Silence. Two ex-outlaws, overwhelmed at the sudden two-party gush of information, blink.
Alice: (very slowly) “Unless we find a way to come up with $10,000 in the next week, we lose the Rathskeller.”
She waits, expectantly. The boys exchange a glance. A squirm make that two squirms. Curry goes so far as to tug at his collar. But, still no eagerness to leap into the offered Good Samaritan role.
Curry: “That’s a real shame, Alice.”
Alice: (her eyes boring into Heyes) “What we really need is a plan.”
Heyes: “I guess so.”
Pause. Her brows snap together. Then, she smiles at Kurt.
Alice: “Kurt, why don’t we have some stollen with our wine?”
Kurt: “Stollen? Sure I go fetch it.”
Alice: “Joshua, Thaddeus, do you have any ideas where I could come up with $10,000 by the end of the month?” (her eyes narrow, meaningfully) “Without robbing a bank, of course!”
The boys exchange a careful glance.
Heyes: “That kinda money don’t grow on trees, Alice.”
Kid Curry gives her an apologetic shrug.
Alice: (eyes on Curry) “Uh huh. I guess not many things are worth $10,000. I do have one idea.” (her eyes flick to Heyes) “In fact, I have two. You see, I got to thinking about how come the pair of you were acquainted with an outlaw like Charlie O’Rourke. Then I got to thinking about what you told me about running being something you knew all about. Then I got to looking through wanted posters, which gave me lots more to think about.” (she sips her wine) “I would so much prefer an alternative, but, you see, I do have one or two rewarding ideas about how to get my hands on $10,000. Two ideas making $20,000 in total.”
Heyes: (grimly) “You really don’t want to do that, Alice.”
Alice: “I agree. I really don’t. What I want is an alternative plan.” (she bats her lashes, winningly) “If only I knew someone who was a genius at plans.”
A tense pause. Mute conversation between the boys. Half shrug from Curry. Sigh from Heyes. The tension ebbs from their expressions. Their postures relax.
Heyes: “This, Randall Brennan, you say he likes horse racing?”
Alice and we deduce, correctly, that Heyes is now on board. Kurt returns with a roll of delicious looking stollen and a sharp knife.
Alice: “Kurt, Joshua and Thaddeus have offered to help come up with a plan to raise the money! All out of the goodness of their hearts! Isn’t that wonderful?”
Kurt: “That is so kind! Thank you!”
Heyes: (not catching Alice’s eye) “What are friends for?”
Kurt: “And can you come up with such a plan?”
Heyes: (entering smug mode) “With a little help from another old, old friend.”
A FRISCO RACE COURSE
Among the crowds of race goers we zoom in on a familiar dimpled individual. Heyes looks every inch a dapper Eastern gentleman. The brown eyes rest, thoughtfully, on Randall Brennan. He is a brashly dressed individual, flanked by a standard-issue henchman extra, watching the runners and riders parade. An official badge labels him ‘owner.’ Heyes moves through the crowd towards him.
Heyes has one eye on his mark and one the gambling one on the parading horses. We linger for a moment on a board displaying details of the runners. Randall Brennan is shown as the owner of Mercury. Brennan moves away. Heyes makes one final study of the form, then follows at a discrete distance.
Another part of the race course. Bookies tout their odds.
Heyes: “$20 dollars on Carrypoise to win.”
Brennan moves towards the bookie of his choice.
Brennan: (loudly) “$500 dollars, Mercury to win! On the nose!”
Hearing this, Heyes raises his eyebrows and slightly shakes his head.
The race is in progress. Brennan cheers on his horse. The distaste of some of the more gentlemanly race goers to his vociferous yells is evident from the frowning, disapproving glances. Meanwhile, an unseen voice booms through a megaphone.
Voice over: “AnditsPrettyPollytakingtheleadwithCarrypoisecomin gupstrongontheinsideandMercurygaining ontheoutside…”
Brennan: “Come on Mercury! Come on!”
Voice over: “LatechallengefromSeaDancerandPrettyPollyisovertak enCarrypoisestillgainingontheinsidereallygettingin tohisstridenowMercurybeginningtoflag…”
Brennan: (bellowing) “Use the WHIP, you useless…”
Voice over: “Carrypoiseinchesaheadandheslookingaclear…Yes!It ‘sCarrypoisefirstSeaDancersecondfollowedbyPrettyPo lly,HastingsHeirand…”
Brennan: ” ** !”
He shreds his betting slip, grinding it into the turf with his heel. Still at a discrete distance we see Heyes draw his head back in distaste at the boorish behaviour.
Brennan heads for a roped area labelled ‘Owners & Race Officials Only.’ Heyes is a few yards in front. Apparently absentmindedly, Heyes bumps a distinguished-looking gentleman. In dumb show we watch the ex-outlaw apologise profusely and his apologies being graciously accepted. As Heyes turns back facing the camera, his hand moves from his lapel. He now wears a lifted ‘owner’ badge.
Heyes gives a friendly pat to Mercury’s flank as Brennan approaches.
Heyes: (affably very educated tone) “She put up a great fight.”
Brennan: “Useless lump of dog meat.” (he eyes Heyes, notes the suit, silk necktie, discrete ‘diamond’ pin, ‘gold’ watch chain, badge…) “You own one of the runners?”
Heyes: “Not exactly. Well… I am part of the syndicate that owns Carrypoise.”
Brennan: “You lucky…”
Something about Heyes’ refined air stops whatever expletive was coming. Heyes radiates the sang-froid of one born with a silver spoon (as opposed to a silver tongue).
Heyes: “The going was perfect for him. He needs to feel the ground.”
Brennan: “You had a decent stake on him, did ya?”
The ex-outlaw gives a deprecating laugh indicating gentlemen do not discuss money with strangers.
Heyes: “No hard feelings?”
Brennan: “Guess not. I’ll be up there with you big boys soon.”
Heyes: “I look forward to the competition.” (He touches his hat, as if about to leave. As he turns away, Heyes mouths, silently, waiting for Brennan to bite.) “One, two, three, four…”
Brennan: “I got me an idea. Why not let me buy you a drink? Maybe I could pick your brains.”
Heyes’ cheeks dimple with smugness. He turns back.
Heyes: “How delightful.” (holding out his hand) “Carleton Balfour, New York.”
RATHSKELLER AFTER HOURS
Heyes, Curry and… Hey! We recognise that dapper man about town being, reluctantly, ushered into the Rathskeller. That’s Diamond Jim.
Jim: “Boys, I don’t even know these Schmitts. Whatever their problems, I don’t have the time to get involved. If there’s anything I can do to advise them over a quick drink…”
Heyes: “It’s US needs the help, Jim.”
Curry: “It’s serious.”
The boys have their backs turned to the restaurant as they reason with Jim.
Jim: “With you boys it’s always serious. I’m sorry, but I’m afraid this is…”
Diamond Jim trails off staring at something off screen. We pan left. It is Alice at her delicious, attractive best.
Curry: “You were sayin’, this is?”
Jim: “This is an unexpected pleasure.”
Heyes: “Mrs. Alice Schmitt, Diamond Jim McGuffy.”
Alice, all smiles and feminine wiles, leads a willing Jim to a table. She presses his hand.
Alice: “We’re so, so grateful for your help, Mister McGuffy.”
Jim: “Whatever I can do for so charming a lady, my dear…”
TEN MINUTES LATER
Our boys, Alice, Kurt and Diamond Jim are in conference mode around a table.
Jim: “Randall Brennan? He owns half a dozen properties in this part of town. NOT a likeable man. If what I’ve heard is true, the Schmitts are right about the way he works, tricking the unwary out of their businesses.”
Kurt: “And he’s not above resorting to having his…his…”
Kurt: “…His heavies turn nasty when things don’t go his way.”
Alice: (still all smiles and wiles) “But with your help, Mister McGuffy, we can get to him. Because you know everything there is to know about horse racing and are SO well connected.”
Jim gives a self-satisfied preen to his moustache.
Jim: “Please, my dear, call me Jim.”
Heyes: “Brennan always gambled. Since he made his money, he’s gone further. He has three horses in training…”
Jim: “But he’s yet to win his first race. I heard he’d do whatever it takes to make that happen.”
Heyes: “I’m convinced Brennan’s passion for racing and the gambling that goes with it is the way to get to him.”
Alice: “It’s not just the racing; he’s trying to use it to break into higher social circles. I’d wager his tongue is hanging out with all the rumors of the visit…”
Kurt: “You mean…?”
Jim: “You mean…?”
Heyes: “You mean…?”
Curry: “What visit?”
Alice rises briefly to her feet and drops a curtsey. Her eyebrows do an indicative double rise and a mischievous grin dimples her cheek.
Heyes: (to Curry) “Don’t you read the newspaper?”
Curry: “Some other fella’s always hoggin’ it! What visit?”
Alice: “It’s only a rumor…”
Kurt: “Because he is travelling strictly incognito…”
Curry: “WHO is?”
Alice leans over and whispers in the Kid’s ear. Curry looks at the excited expressions of the two restaurant owners, Diamond Jim, and at the frank curiosity of his own partner.
Curry: “Don’t we have some kinda Declaration of Independence sayin’ we’re not impressed by…”
Alice: “Don’t be a spoilsport, Thaddeus! I’m as patriotic as the next American, but it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a little foreign pomp and circumstance visiting town.” (to Heyes) “So, Joshua, what’s the plan?”
Heyes glows with the satisfaction of a man about to win the applause of his audience and the fervent admiration of a pretty young woman.
Heyes: “It’s perfect. We…”
Jim: (interrupting) “So long as it’s not working the wire.”
Heyes face remains frozen lips still pursed mid-word.
Jim: “Because Soapy took Brennan with the wire three years back.”
Alice: “Oh, Joshua’s researched Brennan. He won’t have missed important background information like that!”
Heyes blinks like a rabbit staring at a stoat.
Kurt: “Tell us the plan, Joshua.”
Pause. More pause. Metaphorical tumbleweed tumbles.
Alice: (a catch in her throat) “It wasn’t this ‘wire’ idea, was it?”
Heyes: “No. No! Of course not. Nothing like that. No. No.” (brown eyes search, frantically) “We we sell him a horse.”
Expectant silence. Then, silence with the expectation ebbed out.
Alice: “Is that it?”
Heyes: “Well, the rest is just details…”
Curry: “One detail bein’ we need to sell him a horse worth $10,000!”
Jim: “To be fair, it only has to LOOK as if it’s worth $10,000.”
Curry: “It’s still a big ask.”
Heyes stands, begins to pace, watched by four observers; respectively, expectant, trusting, hopeful and sceptical. Pace. Pace. Aha! A familiar spark lights in the dark eyes.
Heyes: “Okay, we do a different kind of wire. We set up a moody stables and sell him a ringer. He won’t even know he’s been chumped. I’ll reel him in with a tale about this young horse a winner in the making. Jim, you work the inside with me as an owner; find us stables we can use. And go find me a horse that looks the part take Thaddeus with you, to help with the convincing.”
Kurt: “What do I do?”
Heyes: “Nothing. From now on you stay out of it. He’s met you, AND you’re too honest.”
Kurt looks offended.
Alice: “It’s true, darling. You ARE too honest. What about me? He’s never met me not close up, anyhow. What do I do?”
Heyes opens his mouth, but is forestalled by his partner.
A slight frown from Heyes.
Kurt: “Alice is also too honest yes?”
Pause. A pair of uncomfortable cornflower blue eyes meet a set of mocking dark brown. No!
Curry: (unconvincingly) “Yeah, that’s it.” (more surely) “AND if Brennan’s the type to get rough, it’s too dangerous.”
Kurt: “That is true. You must stay safe.”
Jim: “My dear, leave this to us. We cannot risk any danger to such such a lovely lady.”
Alice says nothing but we zoom in on an expression redolent with unconvinced obstinacy.
OUTSKIRTS OF FRISCO BRENNAN’S GALLOPS
Brennan watches a horse run, watch in hand.
Brennan: ” ** !”
The jockey dismounts and leads the horse towards his employer.
Brennan: “What the Sam Hill was that?! I could run it quicker myself! Now get back in the saddle and use the whip on her, or I’ll use it on you!”
As the jockey moves away, Heyes, in his Carleton Balfour persona, strolls up. Brennan sees him. Surprise but not displeasure.
Brennan: “You haven’t got a decent jockey to spare, have you?”
Questioning look from Heyes.
Brennan: “That boy’s too soft! Thinks more of the dang horse’s feelings than of the money I’m ploughing in. I foreclosed on a lot of dumb chumps to pay for these horses the least he can do is make ’em run!”
Heyes: (sympathetically) “It’s an expensive hobby.”
Brennan: “Anyhow what are you doing here?” (half-joking) “Sneaking a look at the competition?”
Heyes: “I was passing by. I thought I’d pay you back that drink I owe you.”
Diamond Jim and Kid Curry enter. Searching. They spot a grizzled individual. Mute conversation. A nod. Over they go.
Jim: “Hello Archie”
Archie looks up from his beer. First at Jim recognition his face falls. Then, at the Kid more recognition his face falls further. When he speaks, it is with a heavy brogue.
Archie: “Jaysus, Mary and Joseph!”
Jim: “I’ve had better welcomes.”
Curry: “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you weren’t pleased to see us.”
Archie: “I get nervous around conmen…” (his eyes shift to Curry) “…And thieves.”
Kid Curry and Diamond Jim react with exaggerated offence.
Archie: “You’re too tricky for my liking. Sure and every time I see you aren’t you after wanting something?”
Jim: “How can you say that?”
Archie: “So, you don’t want anything?”
Jim: “No! No, no, no. Well… Maybe one small thing.”
Curry: “A horse.”
The point of view pans left to a window. Unseen by any of the men, a set of long-lashed eyes beneath upswept chestnut tresses rises above the sill outside. Alice!
A REAL FANCY JOINT NOT A SALOON
Brennan and Heyes are drinking. A bottle of the real good stuff appears to be rendering Heyes or rather Carleton Balfour indiscrete.
Brennan: “So this syndicate you belong to how many horses d’you own?”
Heyes: “About ten here in San Francisco and another fifty or so back East.”
Brennan blinks, impressed.
Heyes: “All of which I’d swap to get the horse I came to look at. But…” (Supposedly inebriated eyes glance around. He raises a slim finger to his lips.) “…Shush!”
Brennan takes the hook. An avaricious glint in his eye, he refills Heyes’ glass.
Heyes: “She’s a veritable flyer running six furlongs at just under a minute twelve.”
Brennan looks away, brow furrowing in mental arithmetic. Heyes takes the opportunity to induce alcohol poisoning in a handy aspidistra.
Brennan: “Well, that’s quick.” (pause) “Any chance of me getting in on the action?”
Heyes: “No, no, no. I’m afraid not. It’s a done deal. Hic!”
Heyes holds out his glass with a drunken smile.
Brennan: “This horse could I even see it?”
Heyes’ bottom lip protrudes and his head shakes to communicate deep reluctance. He pushes his glass a little further forward.
Brennan: (persuasively) “Just to give me some idea of what I should look for.”
Heyes: “I doubt my business partners would appreciate me bringing along another owner.”
Brennan: “Don’t tell them!”
He grins at Heyes and tops up the waiting glass. Slowly a returning grin dimples Heyes’ cheeks.
Heyes: “I suppose there’s no harm in just a tiny peek.”
Heyes, frowning with concentration, tinkers with something small and shiny on the tabletop.
Heyes: “…Small fruit knife.”
Kurt is acting rather like a theatre nurse, to Heyes’ surgeon, pressing one tool after another into the safecracker’s outstretched palm.
Alice, a touch breathless, enters. Both men look up, briefly.
Kurt: “Did the library have the book you wanted, dear?”
Alice: “Library? Oh! No still out on loan.” (innocently) “Are Thaddeus and Mister McGuffy not back?”
Heyes: “Expecting them any minute. One small adjustment to this spring…”
The sound of the outer door, footsteps. Diamond Jim and Kid Curry enter.
Heyes: “Speak of the devil…”
Alice: (indicating Heyes’ task) “What IS that?
Kurt: (proudly) “A patented Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer stopwatch. Accurate to a fifth of a second!”
Heyes: “Well, it was. NOW it’s an inaccurate Joshua Smith special and would make a three-legged donkey with dropsy look fast. There finished.”
Alice: “Will it work?”
Heyes: “Alice! There’s a formula for everything.”
Jim: “So, where are we?”
Heyes: “I’ve arranged to collect Brennan this afternoon.”
Jim: “My er associate can let us have a stables and gallops until six.”
Curry: “Archie is gonna meet us there and bring a horse with him.”
Heyes: “We show Brennan the horse, time it with this, and hit him where it hurts.”
Alice: “Anything I can do?”
She leans forward, eagerly.
Curry: “I could use some coffee.”
A BORROWED STABLEYARD
Curry and Diamond Jim wait. Archie and a very short, skinny fella ride in. Archie has a glossy chestnut mare on a leading rein. The Kid checks out this third horse. Pursed lips. Nodding. Nice!
Jim: “Can she run?”
Archie: “If you mean could she win a race sure.” (pause) “But only if none of the other horses showed up!”
Curry: “Certainly looks the part.”
Archie: “Oh, she’s a fine-looking horse; pity she’s got four left hooves.”
Curry: “How much?”
Curry: “For a horse with four left feet!?”
Archie: “You said she had to look like a racehorse not actually be a racehorse.”
Jim: “I think I also mentioned the word cheap, Archie.”
Archie: “$400. Sure and aren’t I even after lending you Paddy here as a jockey?”
Archie: “$300 and we shake hands on the deal.”
Curry: “$250 and you can shake whatever you like!”
Archie spits on his hand and holds it out. Curry regards it with a certain fastidious thoughtfulness; he pats Archie on shoulder.
Alice, slinking around the stables, watches as the horse is led to a stall by the on-loan jockey. Over she goes.
Paddy: “Who are you?”
Alice: “I’m a friend of of Diamond Jim’s. What’s happening?”
Alice: “The plan how far have we got?”
Paddy: “I t’ink you better ask Mister McGuffy, ma’am.”
He walks away. Alice hears Jim and Kid Curry coming around the corner. She hides in a stable.
Jim: “Where’s the jockey?”
Curry: “Archie sent him to get changed.”
Jim: “Well he’d better hurry.”
They pass. Alice peers after them, opening the stable door a crack. The jockey is walking up behind the door, unseen by Alice… She flings the door open… Smack! Paddy is pole-axed out cold.
Alice: ” ** !”
Face slapping. Head lifting. Nothing. Alice bites her lip. Looking up, she sees the jockey outfit hanging inside the next stall. Alice pulls on the silk cap.
A gig bowls into the yard. Heyes and Brennan climb down. Diamond Jim, all smiles, walks forward to greet them.
Jim: “Carleton. Good to see you.”
Heyes: “Mister De Vega likewise. This is my friend, Randall Brennan. Randall, this is James De Vega.”
Handshakes are exchanged.
Brennan: “Good to meet you.”
Heyes: “I asked Randall along to see my horse.”
Jim: “Well, strictly speaking she isn’t yours yet…” (genial laughter) “…But he’s very welcome all the same.”
Up comes Kid Curry, touching the brim of his hat.
Curry: “Oh, she’ll be ready to go any minute, sir.”
Hey, is that ex-outlaw giving us a brogue? He is! Another accent to go with ‘Southern Gentleman’ on his portfolio.
Jim: “Thaddeus O’Leary, my trainer. He’s first class. Thaddeus, this is Carleton Balfour, who’s acting for the syndicate buying Maid Marion.”
Curry: “Oh, she’s a grand horse so she is.”
Just a hint of a ‘don’t overdo it’ glance from Heyes.
Jim: “Right, let’s go see her run.”
They move away.
At the far end of the stretch of turf punctuated by distance markers, a mounted horse circles. It is too far for the jockey to be anything more than a silhouette.
Jim: “There she is. We’re running her over six furlongs.”
Curry: (through megaphone) “Alright now, bring her up to the start.”
His eyes narrow. That horse does look frisky down there. Kicking up hooves. Trotting in the wrong direction.
Curry: “No, no. This way this way.”
Heyes: “Randall, would you like to time her?”
He hands over the doctored stopwatch.
Curry: “And, go!”
The horse gallops towards them, jockey crouched well forward over the saddle. Randall squints against the sun.
Randall: “If I didn’t know better I’d swear that jockey was a girl.”
Curry, Heyes and Diamond Jim are also squinting at the approaching jockey. Mute conversation. A gulp. Make that three gulps.
Heyes: “A girl jockey?!” (hollow laughter) “That would be something!”
Jim: (laughter of the hollow kind) “It would! Something.”
Curry: (ditto) “A girl jockey?! Sure and did I ever hear the like?”
For a moment Brennan looks from one to another, suspiciously. But, then his face relaxes. He joins in the mirth.
Brennan: “It’d be something all right! Something dumb!” (his eyes go back to the horse) “This Maid Marion don’t look so fast…”
Curry: “Sure, it can be deceptive from back here.” (pause) “Here she comes. Fingers ready on that watch… Yes!”
The horse gallops past the last distance post. Our boys and Jim contribute whoops and clapping. Brennan has clicked the stopwatch. He stares at it in utter disbelief.
Heyes: (to Brennan) “Time?”
Brennan: “One oh nine.”
Curry: “She’s getting better!”
Jim: (genial, half-joking) “Maybe I should put the price up?!”
Brennan stares after the still galloping horse. He points.
Brennan: “I don’t think she wants to stop.”
Maid Marion plus a squeaking Alice heads into the distant trees.
Curry: “Yes, yes… Paddy’ll be takin’ her up to the top field there. Er…” (minor slippage of the brogue) “I’ll go check…”
He sets off at a trot, but after a couple of yards converts it to a sprint.
Jim: “Well, Carleton, it looks like we’ve got a winner fit for Saratoga Springs there.”
Heyes: “I ought to sign those contracts fast!”
Brennan eyes the stopwatch. He licks his lips. Greedy calculation works his avaricious features.
The group is walking back from the gallops to the stable yard. Surreptitiously Brennan pulls Diamond Jim aside.
Brennan: “De Vega, maybe you and I could meet privately?”
Jim: (some reluctance) “Well…”
Brennan: “Y’know, do some business? Listen, I know this real fancy place. Let me…”
The point of view pulls back and we hear no more, although we continue to watch Brennan work persuasively on a gradually yielding Diamond Jim.
Brennan is back in the gig waiting to take his leave.
Heyes: “Thank you, Mister De Vega. I’ll see you in the morning 9 o’clock sharp.”
Jim: “Don’t forget your banker’s draft!” (sotto voce to Heyes) “He wants me to meet him tonight to discuss business.”
With a knowing glance at the smug Brennan, Heyes climbs into the gig and drives off. A second later, a panting Kid Curry puffs into the yard.
Curry: “I can’t find her…”
Right on cue, there is whinnying and the sound of hooves. Alice canters around the corner. Maid Marion rears and again and back she goes, out of sight. Whinnying. A thump. A very dishevelled Alice reappears leading the horse.
Jim: “My dear, are you alright?”
Curry: “We told you to stay out of it! Does Kurt know you’re here?”
Alice: “No! And you’re not going to tell him!”
Curry: (still angry) “Dunno if I can connive at keepin’ secrets between husband and wife, Alice!”
Alice: “Try.” (meaningful look) “Unless, of course, you think I should share ALL my secrets with honest, law-abiding Kurt.”
Curry’s expression registers frustration, plus a touch of grudging admiration. Diamond Jim regards the dishevelled jockey with an admiration wholly untinged by rancor.
SAME REAL FANCY JOINT AS EARLIER
Brennan puffs on a fine cigar. A filled champagne flute stands before him. Bottles wait in ice buckets, a single water droplet tracing a path through the chill condensation on the glass. Either side of Brennan sits a luscious and distinctly low-cut lovely. He spots his guest, raises his hand in greeting.
Brennan: “James! Good to see you. This…” (indicating the stunning blonde) “Is Rosa. And this…” (the dazzling brunette) “Is Juanita. Sit down. Let me pour you a drink.”
Diamond Jim sits. Brennan clicks his fingers. At once the lovelies move beside Jim, cuddling close and gazing at that silver-haired gentleman with as much hungry desire as a starving cat might display on spotting a plate of unguarded smoked salmon.
Brennan: “I bet you’re wondering what you’re doing here.”
Jim: “Well yes.”
Juanita lets her slim hand stray onto his thigh. Diamond Jim loosens his collar with a trembling finger and takes a fortifying swallow of champagne.
Brennan: “Do I look like a chump, James? Do I?”
Brennan: “That’s because I’m not. So let’s not spend the whole night dancing around, huh? I want to buy that horse of yours.”
Jim: “Maid Marion? Well erm… Carleton Balfour has already made an offer.”
Brennan: “Yeah but you haven’t signed a contract yet, have you?”
Jim: (hesitant) “No. But we have a gentlemen’s agreement.”
Brennan: “Gentlemen’s Agre…! Bull! This is business! How much has he offered?”
Jim: “I’m not sure I can say.”
Brennan: “Force yourself. $10,000? $11,000?”
Brennan: “I’ll give you $15,000. Cash!”
Brennan: “You got no objection to cash, do you?”
Jim: “No. It’s just not very usual.”
Brennan: “Might not be usual for a namby-pamby Easterner like Balfour. It’s usual for me. I’ll give you $15,000 cash in your pocket. What do you say?”
Jim visibly struggles with temptation.
Jim: “No, no. I couldn’t possibly.”
Brennan: “You see, girls, I knew he was going to say that. What with him being a gentleman, his word is his bond.” (to Jim) “Am I right?”
Brennan. “That’s why I brought along Rosa and Juanita. First they’re going to fill you full of champagne. Then they’re going to take you upstairs and help you forget all your morals. And then…” (he holds up a contract) “…You’re going to sell me that horse!”
The point of view zooms in on a perspiring Diamond Jim as the tip of Rosa’s pink tongue gently inserts itself into his ear. A foolish grin spreads across his face. His eyes cross.
RATHSKELLER WELL AFTER HOURS
Diamond Jim, dishevelled, necktie askew, hair rumpled, eyes bleary, enters. Two ex-outlaws look up at what the cat dragged in.
Heyes: “How did it go?”
Jim: “Fine, fine.”
Curry: “So how much did he go for?”
Jubilation. Heyes and Curry both rise to slap Jim on the back. He sways.
Heyes: “Tell us, then, what happened?”
Jim: “I met him he offered to buy the horse like we knew he would…”
He pours himself a coffee with a shaking hand.
Curry: “How did you reach a price?”
Jim: “I was going to ask for ten, then he guessed eleven, so I asked for twelve and he offered fifteen.”
Heyes: “You didn’t rush him though you held out for a while?”
Jim: “I held out – for a while…” (reminiscent smile)
Curry: “It musta been hard?”
Diamond Jim’s eyebrow lifts. A wistful sigh.
Jim: “Pretty hard.” (pause, back to business) “The contract’s signed, sealed and delivered. I’m meeting him at his yard tomorrow to take his money.”
Heyes: “Jim, we owe you!”
Jim: “Glad to help.”
The boys eye him, suspiciously. He clears his throat.
Diamond Jim trots a gig into the yard. Kid Curry, in trainer persona, rides beside him leading Maid Marion. He glances, concerned, at Diamond Jim’s pained expression.
Curry: “Are you okay?”
Jim: “I will be when my head stops throbbing.”
Brennan emerges from the stables, all smiles.
Brennan: “Thaddeus, James, how are you?”
Jim: “A little fragile.”
Brennan: “The girls send their love.”
Jim: “Here she is as promised Maid Marion.”
Brennan: “I’ll get your money.”
Brennan moves off. In dumb show we see him send his henchman on an errand. Meanwhile, Kid Curry raises a questioning eyebrow at Diamond Jim, who refuses to meet his gaze.
Jim: “Some er – ladies of his acquaintance we happened to run into.”
Curry: “Uh huh?”
The henchman returns, hands over a slim roll of bank notes to his boss. Brennan in turn hands this to Diamond Jim. Jim counts it with the swiftness of long practice.
Jim: “What’s this?”
Brennan: “Your money $1,500.”
Diamond Jim and Kid Curry exchange a glance.
Curry: (with an edge of danger) “$1,500?”
Brennan: “Like I agreed with your boss.”
Jim: “I thought we said $15,000?”
Brennan: “Don’t say you didn’t read the contract before you signed it, James?” (mean smile) “Not being a chump, I thought I might need a little insurance. So I made sure the contract was for a ten-percent deposit, the other ninety-percent payable when Maid Marion wins her first race.” (seeing their reaction) “Don’t worry! A flyer like her it shouldn’t be too long, should it? I’ve got her booked into a six furlong at Bay Meadows Saturday. She’ll walk it!”
BACK AT THE RATHSKELLER
Diamond Jim sits with our boys and Alice. The signer of the dodgy contract hangs his head in shame.
Heyes: “Didn’t you check it?!”
Jim: “I thought I did. I saw the $15,000 written down. I thought it was straight.”
Heyes: “You KNEW he likes to use a sting in the small print. We told you!”
Alice: “It’s not Mister McGuffy’s fault. He thought we were the ones playing the trick not the other way round.” (pause) “After all, we are $1,500 up.”
Diamond Jim gives her a grateful glance.
Curry: “Not really. We bought the horse and there were other expenses… All the same…”
Heyes: “We’re not giving up!”
Alice: “What else can we do?”
Heyes: “We can make sure that horse wins on Saturday!”
Alice: “Can I do anything?”
Curry holds out his empty coffee mug, hopefully. With a scowl, Alice takes it and heads for the kitchen. Heyes watches her, thoughtfully.
SALOON IN WHICH WE FIRST MET ARCHIE
Heyes, Curry and Diamond Jim are in much the same attitudes as the last scene plus Archie, who is laughing. No, that is an understatement. Archie is almost helpless with mirth, eyes streaming, gasping for breath, hands clutching at his aching sides.
Heyes: “It’s not funny, Archie.”
Archie: “Sure and it is! That horse couldn’t win an egg and spoon race, let alone a sprint.”
Curry: “There must be a way.”
Archie: “Well, you could fix the race, so you could.”
Heyes: “We’re listening.”
Archie: “How many runners?”
Archie: “Here’s what you do…”
The Irishman leans forward, conspiratorially. The others lean forward too.
Archie: “You have to get into the parade ground before the race. Make sure no one is looking, mind…”
Attentive nods from two closely listening ex-outlaws.
Archie: “…Tie all the other horses’ legs together. Then, she might come in the first three!”
More mirth from the grizzled one. The boys exchange a glance.
Curry: (an edge of ex-outlaw danger) “Help us out here, Archie.”
The edge of danger has little effect.
Heyes: “We could make it worth your while.”
Ker-ching. Archie’s brow furrows in thought.
Archie: “There is a way. Though, I’ve not done it for a while, so I haven’t.”
Archie: “Horse painting.”
Jim: “Of course!”
Curry: “How does paintin’ the dang thing make it go faster?”
Jim: “No. You find a horse the same size, age, height and shape but fast. Then you change its coloring to look like Maid Marion.”
Heyes: “It’s the only way.”
Curry: (to Archie) “And you could do it?”
Archie: “I could. But where are you going to find the right horse?”
A tweed-clad groom, his back to the camera, strides towards a stall. A fine leather saddle embellished with a discrete coronet is carried over one arm. He passes the obscuring edge of the stall and pulls up sharply.
Very English Voice: “Blimey!”
The point of view zooms in on a rough note Hannibal Heyes style capitals pinned to the wall: BACK IN 2 DAYS.
STABLES BELONGING TO DIAMOND JIM’S ER ACQUAINTANCE
Heyes and Curry lead Archie to where two horses are tethered. One is the glossy chestnut, Maid Marion. Beside her stands a beautiful grey. Archie gives an admiring whistle as he pats the dappled flank. The mare’s lovely eyes blink at him.
Archie: (voice low with admiration) “Where did you find her?”
Curry: “We borrowed her.”
Heyes: “They’re exactly the same size.”
Curry: “Can you do it?”
Archie: “Sure! So long as the race is small enough no one will be looking, and your man who bought the other one is no expert, so he isn’t.”
Heyes: “So, we paint this one to look like that one and we switch ’em before the race.”
Archie: “Exactly. No one’ll see the difference; I guarantee it.”
Curry: “When can you have her ready by?”
Archie: “Would you be after having gold or silver service?”
Archie: “She’ll be ready a week Thursday.”
Heyes: (resignedly) “Gold.”
Archie: “Tomorrow morning.”
Curry: “How much?”
Heyes: “$100! For slapping paint on a horse?!”
Archie: “I don’t know how else you’ll win on Saturday.”
With glowering reluctance, Heyes counts over the money. Our boys walk away leaving Archie with the horses.
Heyes: (to Curry) “I feel robbed!”
Curry: “Guess some folks are just naturally larcenous, Heyes.”
A ‘look’ is exchanged.
Curry: “Heyes, y’do know this plan has more holes than a leaky sieve?”
Heyes: “How often have I told you, Kid, you gotta have faith?”
Curry: “When we’re bein’ chased outta Frisco with the law on our tail and zip in our pockets don’t say I didn’t tell ya so.”
THE KITCHEN OF THE RATHSKELLER
An annoyed Alice is once more filling the coffee mugs.
Alice: (under her breath) “Who was it got the location of the gold from Charlie? Me that’s who! And do they think of that now? No! All I’m good for is brewing coffee…”
A slim shadow falls across her. She looks around Hannibal Heyes.
Alice: “You do know this plan of yours has a hole in it?”
Heyes: (calmly) “Uh huh.”
Alice blinks not expecting that matter-of-fact acknowledgement.
Heyes: “You do know Thaddeus and Jim and Kurt for that matter only want to keep you out of it, to protect you? Them being such gentlemen.”
Alice: “You’re keeping me out of it too. Or are you telling me you’re not a gentleman?”
Heyes: “Let’s just say I can see how this situation must be frustrating for a woman of your independent spirit. Your enterprise yesterday certainly taught us not to underestimate you, huh?”
Alice: (quickly) “Don’t tell Kurt. Please.” (reacting to Heyes’ quizzical eyebrow lift) “It’s not that I want to deceive him just that he’d worry.” (more light heartedly) “Besides, if there are no secrets in a marriage what becomes of the excitement? Of the eternal enigma that is woman?”
Heyes: “I entirely agree. A woman with no mystery is is like champagne with no bubbles. In fact…” (he lays a hand over hers, speaks lower) “…I wondered if you and I could share another secret?”
Alice meets the gaze of the handsome ex-outlaw.
A fleeting moment of temptation. Then, gently, but firmly, she removes his hand.
Alice: “I don’t keep those kinds of secrets from Kurt.”
Heyes: “Don’t say no until you hear what I have in mind…”
The point of view pulls back as Heyes leans in. We see, but do not hear, as he pours rapid silver-tongued persuasion into her shell-like ear. Slowly, Alice smiles, nods…
STABLES BELONGING TO DIAMOND JIM’S ACQUAINTANCE LATER
Archie, sponge in hand, bucket beside him, tints the grey mare with slow, careful strokes of rich chestnut. She looks around at him over her shoulder, gives a gentle whinny.
AND LATER STILL
Our boys, plus Diamond Jim, gaze in admiration at twin Maid Marions. One nuzzles, affectionately at Kid Curry’s shoulder.
Heyes: “Archie they’re identical. You’re an artist.”
Curry: “Are you sure she’ll win?”
Archie: “I don’t know where you found her but she’s a flyer.”
Jim: “I’ve had a look at the other runners; she’ll leave them all stone cold.”
Curry: “So, do we go?”
Heyes: “We go!”
SATURDAY A RACE MEETING
Establishing shots show milling race goers, parading horses the usual. Discretely, in the far background, a sharp-eyed viewer may spot bowing San Francisco luminaries greet a gleaming carriage containing tweed-clad arrivals. Attendant members of the uniformed police department keep a sharp watch on the neck-craning crowd.
The point of view zooms in on a paddock area. Brennan’s long-suffering stable hand leads Maid Marion to a hitching post near other glossy racehorses.
Around the edge of a handy building appears, peers and disappears a pair of familiar cornflower-blue eyes. Meanwhile, Heyes, in Carleton Balfour mode, strides over to Brennan from the opposite direction.
Heyes: (loudly, to Brennan) “You, sir, are a dang cheat! That…” (indicating Maid Marion) “…Is MY horse and you cheated me!”
Brennan: “Hey, all’s fair in love and racing!”
In the background, the blue eyes make a reappearance and narrow, watchfully.
Heyes: “You knew I’d done a deal with De Vega and you went behind my back. What makes it worse is, I introduced you…”
Unseen by the distracted Brennan, Kid Curry leads ‘Made Up Marion’ across the paddock.
Brennan: (mockingly) “Did I thank you for that?”
Heyes: “You’re a cheat and a liar!”
Brennan’s henchman exchanges a glance with his boss. He takes a step forward, folds his arms.
Meanwhile, ‘Made Up Marion’ takes the place of her body double.
Brennan: “You soft, Eastern… Get out of my way before lose my temper!”
Maid Marion is led away, nibbling gently at the brim of Kid Curry’s hat.
Brennan: “Look, I offered the man more than you and he accepted. Now are you going to leave or do I have to get Clyde here to flatten you?”
Heyes: (backing off) “You’re never going to get away with this.”
Brennan: (turning away, dismissively) “I already have!”
A SHORT WHILE LATER
A smug Brennan watches the runners and riders ‘Made Up Marion’ among them circle. A tap on his shoulder; it is Diamond Jim.
Brennan: (cheerfully) “De Vega James!”
Jim: (also cheerful, if a touch wary) “I hope you brought my money.”
Brennan: “It’s yours the second she crosses the finish line provided she comes first.”
Jim: “Oh, she will.”
Brennan: “I’m just off to place a small bet or maybe not so small, huh?”
Brennan walks past a row of bookies, all with their odds chalked up on boards and their patter in full flow. As he reads one set of odds after another, a frown gathers.
Brennan: (grousing under his breath) “Five to one… Is that the best they can do?”
Unseen hoarse voice: “Maid Marion, off’ring six to one on…”
Brennan’s face lights up. He heads for the source of the better odds.
Brennan: “$2,000 on Maid Marion to win.”
He holds out a thick roll of dollars. The point of view shows us no more of the bookie than a pair of worn leather gloves.
Megaphone voice over: “Andthey’reoff!Andit’sMaidMariontakinganearlyleadw ithGovernorsChoicecomingupstrongontheinsideandHype riongainingontheoutside…”
A shot of Brennan looking jubilant.
Voice over: “It’sMaidMarionMaidMarionallthewayrealstrongformfr omRandallBrennansnewcomerhereHyperioninsecondandaf inefirstrunfromKlondikeKate…”
Shot of Diamond Jim and Kid Curry, also in jubilant mode.
Voice over: “Yes!It’sMaidMarionfirstwinningbytwolengthsHyperio nsecondfollowedby…”
Brennan punches the air in victory.
A SHORT TIME LATER WINNERS’ ENCLOSURE
Brennan is still jubilant. He has one eye on ‘Made Up Marion’ now sporting a huge rosette, and one social-climbing, envious eye on an area cordoned off with purple silk rope, peopled with extras for whom the costume department has clearly upped the budget and raided the well-heeled masterpiece theatre racks.
Diamond Jim approaches, Kid Curry in tow. Brennan grabs Jim’s hand, pumps it vigorously.
Jim: “I told you she couldn’t lose. Er… My money?”
Brennan: “She’s worth every dime!” (to henchman) “Clyde go get this man his money! And now…” (he reaches towards an ice bucket on a table) “Champagne!”
The bottle is shaken. The cork pops. A triumphant Brennan sprays the fizz over Diamond Jim, Kid Curry, the horse… The horse!
Brennan: (to the Kid) “You did a great job training her, O’Leary.”
Kid Curry proudly pats ‘Made Up Marion’s’ flank. He spots the tint on the palm of his hand; his eyes go to the wine-dampened patch on the painted pelt; so do Diamond Jim’s.
Curry: (valiant brogue still) “Oh, she’s sweating; she’s sweating, so she is.”
Diamond Jim stares anxiously in the direction in which Clyde the henchman went for the money. Yes! There he is on his way back but the crowds… Diamond Jim’s and Kid Curry’s expressions ache with impatience.
In the background, behind the purple silk ropes, the portly, tweed-clad gentleman we saw at a distance in the gleaming carriage is staring at ‘Made Up Marion.’ His pale blue eyes start above a Saxe-Coburgian nose and precisely trimmed beard. His fingers, between which rest a fine cigar, point accusingly. Gosh, that extra does bear an uncanny resemblance to… It can’t be? Can it? Whoever it is, we see him draw the attention of his entourage and scattered police to the mystery mare.
Brennan: (still oblivious) “Let me shake your hand, O’Leary.”
Seeing little choice, Kid Curry, reluctantly, holds out his hand. It is wrung, painfully. Upon release, Brennan stares at his palm chestnut. A frown gathers. He looks up, brows contracting with anger. Then…
An official moves forward towards Brennan, flanked by uniformed police. Diamond Jim and Kid Curry spot this. Gulp.
Unseen megaphone voice: “Payments on the last race are suspended pending a steward’s enquiry. Security personnel to the winners’ enclosure, please.”
A swift, mute conversation between Curry and Diamond Jim. The police are close closer… Decision. As one they take to their heels and run. With a bellow of rage, Brennan starts after them.
Official: “Stop him!”
The uniformed police grab Brennan, who writhes in impotent wrath.
Brennan: “Don’t stop me stop THEM!”
Foaming with fury, he is manhandled away.
Our group of friends is despondent.
Curry: “After all that we blew it!” (to Heyes sotto voce) “I told ya so!”
Jim: “If this gets out among the racing fraternity, I’ll be a laughing stock.”
Alice: “Of course, you didn’t want any of my help. Oh, no!”
Kurt: “Alice! It is not fair to reproach our friends when…”
Curry: (to Heyes, mouthing only) “Told ya so!”
Alice: “Except of course when you needed another pot of coffee. Then I could help!”
Curry: “Alice, this is SO not the time for the ‘I shoulda been included’ speech.”
Heyes: (with a twinkle) “I don’t think that’s the speech she’s planning, Thaddeus. You see, Alice and I spotted a possible flaw in the plan…”
FLASHBACK TO SCENE BEFORE THE RACE
Again we watch Brennan walk past the row of bookies reading one set of chalked odds after another, frown gathering.
Heyes in Voiceover: “Obviously Brennan would want to back his own horse…”
Brennan: (grousing under his breath) “Five to one… Is that the best they can do?”
Heyes in Voiceover: “So Alice and I thought we oughta make sure his money found the best odds in the right place…”
Unseen hoarse voice: “Maid Marion, off’ring six to one on…”
Brennan’s face lights up. He heads for the source of the better odds.
Brennan: “$2,000 on Maid Marion to win.”
He holds out a thick roll of dollars. The point of view as before shows us no more of the bookie than a pair of worn-leather gloves. However, this time the point of view pans up to show the wearer of those gloves. Under an obscuring woollen cap, luxuriant false moustache and carefully applied stubble… That’s that’s Alice!
Alice in voiceover: “Once I’d got Brennan’s money, I decided to put a bet on Maid Marion myself and collected before things went wrong…”
We watch the slight figure of the hirsute bookie collecting and counting a roll of dollars. A wide grin lifts the false moustache.
END OF FLASHBACK BACK TO THE RATHSKELLER
With another wide grin minus costume facial hair Alice produces a fat roll of dollars from her skirt pocket.
Alice: “Here! A $2,000 bet at five to one $10,000!”
The camera circles to give us a succession of reaction shots. Diamond Jim stunned. Kurt stunned, followed by admiring gaze at his clever wife. Curry stunned, followed by rueful acknowledging grin at his smug partner.
Kurt: “The Rathskeller is saved!”
Heyes: “And Brennan won’t be bothering anyone for a while!”
He tosses a couple of newspapers onto the table. The point of view zooms in on the pictures wrathful Brennan being manhandled from the racecourse, ‘Made Up Marion’ back in her natural color and headlines: ‘Property Magnate in Racing Scam Disgrace.’ ‘Brennan Blackballed from Jockey Club.’ ‘Balmoral Princess ‘Fresh As Paint’ after Ordeal.’
Laughter and celebratory backslapping. Kid Curry’s expression becomes thoughtful; the laughter dies from his lips.
Curry: “That $10,000’ll save the Rathskeller right enough. But we still hadta buy Maid Marion, pay Archie and…” (to Heyes) “It’s pretty much wiped out the stake we arrived with.” (seeing Kurt’s guilt-stricken features) “Not sayin’ I grudge it. Just passin’ a remark.”
Heyes: “Maybe not, Thaddeus. Y’see, before the horse got spotted, I managed to get a bet on too!”
His slim fingers draw a roll of dollars from his jacket; not so plump as Alice’s $10,000, but not to be scorned. Curry regards it steadily then meets his partner’s gaze. A slow, slow grin.
Curry: “Know what? So did I!”
A second roll of dollars emerges from the Kid’s jacket.
Diamond Jim grins. A third roll appears.
Jim: “I couldn’t resist.”
Kurt clears his throat sheepishly. A fourth roll is produced from beneath the chef’s apron.
Alice: “Kurt?! You too?”
Kurt: “I do not gamble but when a horse cannot lose…”
A renewal of laughter and backslapping as the scene fades out.
A TRAIN CAR
Through the window we see the station sign San Francisco. As the train pulls away two familiar figures rock, gently, with the movement. Heyes is once again emanating smugness.
Curry: “Don’t say it, Heyes. It may be true but don’t say it.”
Heyes: (all innocence) “Say what?”
Curry: “You know what!”
Heyes: “What? Oh! You mean…?”
Curry: “Don’t say it!”
Heyes: “Okay.” (pause) “I won’t say…”
Curry: (warningly) “Heyes!”
Heyes: “I won’t say a word.”
Pause. More pause.
Curry: “Okay You told me so! You told me it’d work. Satisfied? Now…” (he tips his hat forward, settles back) “Shaddup!”
A more than satisfied grin dimples Heyes’ cheeks. He too tips forward his hat and settles back.
The first actual stopwatch was crafted in 1869 by TAG Heuer, a famous Swiss luxury timepiece company. This device was used to measure intervals of time in fragments equal to 1/5th of a second.
Although there were 314 tracks operating in the United States by 1890, the American Jockey Club was not formed until 1894. Soapy and Heyes seem unaware of this in Shell Game, and so the boys and Diamond Jim are equally oblivious of the anachronism in this story! Likewise, racing took its time getting established tracks in San Francisco but can we believe that city of pleasure had no gentlemen of the turf?