Voices – A Problem Play in Five Drabbles.
I - Fritz’s Observation
In cuisine, all is balance.
Archie is young and does not know. He watches and wonders what my secret is.
I have no secrets, just balances of spices, and flavors, and life. I live a placid existence here and have a young friend who shares my nights off. She is sweet but has heat. She is balanced.
Archie rushes away from here to fall into the arms of his women and dance. It shows he is off-balance. From the direction he falls, I can tell what disturbs Archie’s equilibrium.
M. Wolfe refuses to see. He, too, is off-balance.
II - Saul Panzer’s Tale
Sometimes I just drop by.
I don’t bother to telephone first. Mr. Wolfe always invites me to dinner. I accept.
Since Archie’s away and Fritz is off, Mr. Wolfe cooks. The food is simpler but still good. Then we talk about stuff we both like: politics, cosmology, philosophy. I don’t use many words and my tongue isn’t clever, but he claims my thinking is elegant. Archie’s not the only one whose heart thumps when he hears that voice praise him.
What happens afterwards with his mouth and hands is good, too.
Sometimes I don’t just drop by.
III – Theodore’s Revelation
If you’ve only read his books, you don’t know what a cruel bastard Archie Goodwin can be.
He mocks me for doing my job, cultivating Mr. Wolfe’s orchids, breeding them, staying over to fumigate and free them from parasites, just because I oil up Mr. Wolfe, who gives me that job.
Today, I’ve had enough. I say, “Y’know, Saul Panzer visits sometimes when Fritz has a day out and you’re off with your women.” Goodwin looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. That decides me. I’ve let this parasite alone too long. “He stays here all night.”
IV – Wolfe’s Story
In a fairytale of my homeland, the evil giant protects his heart by hiding it within a golden box beneath the roots of a tree on a distant island.
My own heart is wrapped in fat within this intellectual’s body, locked away inside a Manhattan brownstone.
Archie asks me, “Why does Saul spend nights here with you?”
I look at him. “Saul is my friend. What would you have me say?”
It is no surprise to me when he gets up and leaves without another word.
The hero always finds and destroys the giant’s heart in the end.
V - Archie’s Decision
I have a Marley .38. In the movies, detectives use guns to clean evil off the face of the earth. I have a key to the brownstone.
I have my hands. The guys in my hometown used fists to protect their pride. I have Saul’s address.
I have a nickel. I drop it into the phone in the corner of the bar and dial the brownstone.
Wolfe picks up. He pauses, and then barks, “Yes?”
I have a brain. “Saul’s my friend, too.” I have a heart. I use it. “So are you. We have to talk.”
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