Herb Neufeld and the Disappearing Woman
The scene opens in the Hauptstraße, Heidelberg
FX: Café Noises
Herb V/O: How can I put this.. it was another warm smoky afternoon in Old Heidelberg..[cough] .. and the walls of the café where Herb Neufeld, Private Eye, sat, were decorated with the dancing bodies of thousands of laughing people.. no, that sounds
wrong.. or... buy a pastry from Peters Pieshop,
here lies Peter of Peters Pieshop fame, framed by a
jealous Pie Fan forever amber, well.. where was I, oh
yes, line two..[clears throat] umm.. it was then that he espied her, ehm.. all at once he knew that this meant to be.. line four.. ehm.. No, she said, nothere, anywhere but.. Hello, Antje!
Antje: Oh, Herb, can't you stop scribbling for a moment and talk to me
Herb: Listen, to be a serious writer..
Antje: Five lines is merely a small start..
Herb: A small step for you Antje my dear, but for me it's a giant stride!
Antje: Oh Come off it, that must be the tenth book you've started..
Herb: Don't exaggerate... Ninth..
Antje: And you've never got past page two..
Herb: Three.. innacuracy will never get you anywhere..anyway, I can just visualize myself having this amazing literary career... daily writing a couple ofhundred words which are quickly seized by the trembling hands of a sweaty printer and transformed almost immediately to the press or is it the sweaty hands of a trembling printer... oh, the ennui, the pure metaphysical pain of it all.. this preciousmoment this...... red hot.. so to speak... blast! the pencil broke ...
Waiter: Existentialism is everywhere..... isn't it?
Herb: Order me a steaming hot Altbier, will you Antje dear..
Antje: A steaming hot Altbier for my friend here and I'll have a croque monsieur and...
Waiter: Certainly not..
Antje: Thank you waiter..
Waiter: Don't thank me..! [goes]
Antje: I don't know ... perhaps it's me ... but I seem to remember a time when waiters where.. well.. more fun, really ..
Herb: Antje .. when will you learn that it's the power of existential reality ...
Antje: Well, that'll cost you 42,000 old francs then..
Herb: ..cheap at the price ... gosh, I remember a job I was on once in France when someone beautiful ate croque monsieur..
Antje: Very literary, Oochie Cooch.. here, drink this ...
it might relieve the paranoia
Herb: Good line.... [scribbles].. relieve the paranoia.. blast! Pencil's broken again
Antje: By the way ..message from Fiorella for you, Herb...
Fade to FX: Opens paper
Herb: What's this here.. meet a Herr Noller.. Frankfurt Östkreuz... ?
Herb: Unfortunately so.. and I thought that we just had time to disagree over a few other things..!..I'd better 'phone this guy Noller immediately .. after all I need the money..!
Fade to: Noller's House
Noller: ..this may strike you as odd, Herr Neufeld, but there is nothing untoward actually going on in my relationship with my wife... it's that I'm a little disturbed by her behaviour..
Herb: ..in what way, Herr Noller..
Noller: She has a way of, well.. disappearing ... from time to time that worries me..
Herb: Has anything untoward happened recently..
Noller: No.. in fact we've been happily married for five years and our relationship is peaceful and altogether comfortable.. it's the fact that I'm so comfortable that worries me.... you see.. there's been no disagreement between us.. almost no dialogue apart from the... ehm .. normal things that go-on between married people.. for a year or so.. it's rather that.. well ....
Herb: Go on -
Noller: Well.. it's that the very fact that we both work, and meet at home in the evenings that makes me distrust her... odd.... don't you think ...?
Herb: Odd? No.. I wouldn't say so.. after all you're the person who has noted a change in the overall conduct of your relationship.. and it's not up to me... though I could perhaps ask you for a few checks on the situation..
Noller: Of course..
Herb: But first.. do you both work all day..?
Noller: Yes.. 8.15 to 4.30, like everybody else..
Herb: And how long are your lunch breaks.. do you work close to each other.. ?
Noller: We used to.. in fact we met at a company dance.. but now my wife.. Rosa .. has moved across the city.. but we have the same lunch breaks.. though we rarely meet at lunch time simply because of transport problems.. you know..
Herb: Yes.. and now tell me more:
Noller: What do you mean?
Herb: About her strange movements..
Noller: Oh, Perhaps I'm suspicious, but she always goes off - with her friends, or so she says, on tuesdays.... always on tuesdays..
Herb: Lots of people do that.. anyway, when did this start..?
Noller: About two years ago.. quite suddenly
Herb: But you have nothing to go on.. just a vaguesuspicion?
Noller: That's right.. just a vague suspicion.. worry really..
Herb: Right, first, take a note of times of incoming phone calls or any calls you don't understand or can't explain ....
Herb: Next, can you get me a list of names and parhaps the addresses or working places of these friends of hers.. after two years these facts must be pretty well established..
Herb: I need a drink, my throat's dry...
Fade to: Herbs office:
Herb: But listen, Fiorella, you're the female end of this partnership and you're just gonna have to infiltrate the group.. that's all ..you know, business.. money?
Fiorella: Drop dead
Herb: Be serious my little flower
Fior: I cannot rat on my sisters!
Herb: Rat..Rat! You're not ratting on anyone..
Fior: Course I am
Herb: No, you're not
Fior: I don't want to do it.. that's all... !
Fade to: Interior sound:
Fior: Well Rosa, it's funny you said that.. myself I always take tuesdays off from the daily grind... you know ... the usual domestic..
Rosa: How extraordinary Fiorella.. my friends and I usually...
Fade to: Office:
Herb: Que sera sera, as they say..
Fior: Actually they don't..! But apart from that.. right, when I go with the other women in this group to this place on tuesday.. you bring the camera or whatever, and see what you can get... but I don't like it.. I just don't like it!
Herb: You know there's nothing in it... she's completely clean, but we have to satisfy Noller.. you know that.. anyway, he's paying for it in advance, isn't he.. ?
Fior: Well, that's the appearance of things.. and I don't know what's going down on tuesday... I just hope it'snothing heavy, that's all... !
Fade to: Exterior, traffic B/G:
Herb V/O: Tuesday Night, about 10.30. Surprisingly cold, The Scene: Me, set against the average fire-escape. And there I was sitting like a frozen mackeral atop the windy pile...yes, literary thoughts were beginning to course searingly through my brain.. what else, nothing had moved since Fiorella and her erstwhile pals had sacheyed into the venue below.. In short, nothing moved at all, except the wind of course, and the only other change I could ascertain was the deep blueness of my fingers ( though it might have been the ultra-violet.. who knows?) and the glowing efflourescence of my Rudolf the Reindeer style nose. [FX: Atchoo] Whoops, I sneezed and dislodged a piece of cement or something, which clinked into the alleyway below. Still, I could see both the angled front and the side of the edifice, and an interesting range of windows at the back, through which nothing illegal or even particularly interesting had as yet passed.. plus ça change the French are wont to say...whatever that means.. but yes, dear viewer, something was indeed about to happen... suddenly twowomen entered a room in my immediate vicinity and a wild argument ensued... Indumb-show, being as the wind was whistling and the window was anyway firmly shut... And then, dear confidant.. just as I was admiring the fact that one of them was wearing almost nothing except a pair of those bejewelled twiddly things that strippers use for describing previously unknown geometric forms using their chests, and the other was resplendant in leather of a shiny blackness previously unknown to science ... yes an interestingpair of these, you might say ... but then .... through the heavily smeared windows...
FX: Sound: Muffled crack of Shot:
Herb [cont]: At first I thought it was my imagination, but I could see that the woman in leather wasflourishing a big black Parabellum 9 Millimetre Automatic Heater, and the other woman had stoppedshouting.. and worst of all I had seen pieces ofshell exit from the wall which lay in the direction from which they had travelled.... I won't ask what you would do ...I mean that's all history now... anyway, for my part I rushed down the fire escape [FX throughout this sequence] ....and along the bottom of the alleyway... along the front of the building, through a gaggle of amazed women.. through a room containing card tables, and another containing a stage upon which a mysteriously almost nude man pirouetted... [shrill screams] ...along a corridor with more people than I would reasonably expect chasing me and falling amongst themselves, through a dressing room, no, a powder room... wow, that was... well how shall I explain it...no, later, later.... up a flight of stairs .. the crowd mysteriously vanished now... along a kind of minstrel's gallery above the top of a stage and finally along what was a sort of gallery of windows, the end one of which was the room I suspected must lie at the end of thisbuilding.. but then..
FX: Door crashes open:
Herb [cont]: There's nothing here.. I mean.. it's empty...
Fior: Hey, Herb..
Herb: How did you get here?
Fior: I was hanging about the entrance.. I saw you runbye...
Herb: I just saw someone kill someone in this room!
Fior: Hey, take it easy..
Herb: Haven't had a drink all day, honest
Fior: When those women catch us they'll do worse than shoot you...
Herb: Yes, but...
Fior: No buts.. look, there's nothing here but three holesin the brickwork.... I can see that.... let's get the police on to this...
Herb: Yes, but..
Fior: And I'll buy you several drinks..
Herb: Yes, I am shaking all over!
Fior: We can get through the fire escape and do a disappearing trick.. quick..
FX: Later, Café B/G:
Herb: .. fascinating... I would never believe that such a straight address as number 178 Augusta Anlage could hide sich a place as the Womens Fantasy World..
Fior: Yes, but being a typical man you never looked, did you Neufeld!
Herb: Looked, Fiorella.. looked.. ?
Fior: If you'd have bothered to look you'd see that over the entrance is the name of this club .. the 'Club Fantasie' - with an 'E'-
Herb: Club spelt with an 'E'.. eh .. could I change the subject a moment?
Fior: Don't choke on your sausage, Herb..
Herb: About the women I saw, Fiorella..
Fior: It's a fantasy club, Herb.. where any woman can play out her fantasies as she wishes.. they were playing some sort of private game.. perfectly okay.. or would you..
Herb: How would you explain the bullet holes in the wall?
Fior: We'll look at them again in the morning.. perhaps the cold light of day will make a difference..
Herb: You betcha... where's the wine list... !
Fade to FX: Street sounds
Director of Venue: We women come here to enjoy ourselves, Herr Neufeld.. Frau...
Fior: That's not important Frau Direktor.. what we'd just like to check is just the fact that there are exit holes in your back wall.. and we need to check the inside of the room concerned
Dir: Well, of course, we have our reputation to think about.. this way..
Dir: Here we are..
Herb: Completely clear.. an empty room, no smell or anything unusual..
Fior: Except for the three entry holes in the wall
Herb[thinks]: Good grouping
Dir: What ?
Herb: Oh, nothing important
Fior: Is there an explanation for them, do you think ?
Dir: Oh, our members get up to all kinds of high jinks... that's what 'Club Fantasie' is all about... but,
I hasten to say, none of those things is ever illegal
Herb: Well, of course, that's hardly my feeling, either
Fior: But you do see our interest.. ?
Dir: Well of course... of course ..
Herb: I'm consumed with curiosity about how that could have been caused..
Dir: Suffice it to say that no-one here has caused it.. or at least not with a gun .. now if I may interject.. there are our first clients.. please leave by the back door.. males are not actually allowed in the club except in eh.. performance capacities..
Fior: Thank you very much, Frau Direktor...
FX: Street sounds
Herb: Well, I thought I just might turn over a buck or two.. I mean they might be short of help..!
Fior: Herb, don't be so gross... anyway you need too much booze to make you go!
Herb: Fiorella! You're hurting my feelings
Fior: The truth will out!
Herb: Talking about truth... what is the story of that room.?
Fior: Well, now you've dragged me into this and I've got mymembership card, I guess I'll have to work it out..
Herb: well, you never know, it could turn out to be a lot of fun!
Fade to: Noller's Office:
Noller: ...so this place turns out to be the female version of a palace of the vanities.. huh! Why on earth wouldn't she tell me?
Fior: Think of it from her point of view- As you know, I'm still continuing my operations.. but as far as I've seen, your wife Rosa has done nothing that you should
be alarmed or ashamed about.. so you can rest your mind..Herr Noller
Noller: well, it's obviously a fairly innocuous sort of
thing.. but I must confess to be being a little
Herb: Men have had such establishments for hundreds of years and nobody's ever turned a hair.. apart from that anyway, once we've completed our investigation
we'll have more substance to put before you..
Herb: Hi, Lieutenant Habicht
Franz: You're looking smart Herb Neufeld..
Herb: Something to do with being paid..Franz
Franz: Well, well ...
Herb: Have you ever heard of a club called 'Club Fantasie',
in the Augusta Anlage, Frankfurt..?
Franz: Only a provincial cop here Herb, only provincials here in Heidelberg..
Herb: Even provincials have fantasies sometimes, Franz...
Franz: Not in Police time they don't
Herb: Ah, but it's one of those fantasy clubs, you know, where girls get their rocks off..
Herb: But we can't go there
Franz: Now he tells me - why not?
Herb: Because we're male
Franz: Never heard anything so preposterous in all my life
Herb: Well, that's how it goes Franz