Added: 30 March 2006
[Plays and Screenplays]

The Last Caper

Characters:
Frankie, a career criminal on the verge of retirement
Louie, Frankie's old partner-in-crime
Antoine, the new guy, brought in for one last caper

Setting: Louie and Antoine sit at a card table while Frankie paces around the room. Antoine calmly plays solitaire for the duration of the play.

FRANKIE: No.

LOUIE: Frankie, listen to me...

FRANKIE: No, Louie. The answer is no. I'm done. I'm retiring.

LOUIE: But Frankie, just hear me out! Wait 'til you hear the details, Frankie, this deal is a beauty! It's a once in a lifetime chance! After this job you'll never need to work another day in your life.

FRANKIE: I'm not gonna work another day in my life. I'm retiring. You don't even know what you're asking.

LOUIE: Sure I do Frankie. I'm asking you to be the safe man one last time on the biggest diamond job we've ever pulled in our lives.

FRANKIE: Exactly! Exactly!

LOUIE: So what's wrong with that?

FRANKIE: Do you hear yourself? You're asking me to go on a last caper!

LOUIE: Yeah, that's it Frankie, a last caper. One last caper before getting out of the game. One last caper so you can retire in style.

FRANKIE: What's the golden rule of crime, Louie? Never...never...go on a last caper after you decide to retire. It's suicide!

LOUIE: Yeah, I know Frankie, but this is different. You haven't heard about this job yet, Frankie. It's going to be a cakewalk, Frankie! It's going to be like taking candy from a baby!

FRANKIE: Jesus, Louie. That's right out of the book! That's what they all say! Remember Johnny One Shoe? He was all set to quit the business and settle down in Indiana to get to know the son he never had time for. In comes Billy the Skunk and talks him into one last heist. What happens?

LOUIE: I don't remember exactly...

FRANKIE: You do! You do remember, Louie! What happens?!

LOUIE: The job goes bad.

FRANKIE: Goes bad?!

LOUIE: The cops show up.

FRANKIE: And?

LOUIE: And Johnny gets shot in the head.

FRANKIE: And?

LOUIE: His son also gets shot in the head.

FRANKIE Yeah, Louie, the last thing Johnny sees is his son get it while trying to protect him. His son wasn't even a crook, Louie! He was a piano teacher!

LOUIE: Yeah, I know, Frankie. But this is different, Frankie, it really is. That only happened to Johnny because the Skunk got picked up before the heist and sang like a canary to set Johnny up!

FRANKIE: Yeah but Louie, that's exactly the sort of thing that happens on the last caper.

LOUIE: But Frankie, just take a look at the plans!

FRANKIE: And what about poor old Tony Kneecaps? He could have had a comfortable retirement, but no, he had to have more. "One last caper," he says to me. "Then I'll be all set up." "Piece of cake," he says to me. "Can't miss," he says. You remember what happened to Tony, Louie?

LOUIE: Aww, Frankie...

FRANKIE: What happened to him?

LOUIE: Well, it was a pretty good plan...

FRANKIE: What happened to him?!

LOUIE: Shot by the police.

FRANKIE: Shot by the police.

LOUIE: Yeah but that was a freak accident, Frankie. He had a good plan. He had legal access to the shop next to the jewelry store and he was just going to tunnel through in the middle of the night.

FRANKIE: But something went wrong, didn't it Louie.

LOUIE: Yeah...

FRANKIE: The lady who owned the shop next door showed up, didn't she Louie.

LOUIE: Yeah...

FRANKIE: And then what happened?

LOUIE: She got shot.

FRANKIE: She got shot. And a patrolman in the neighborhood heard the noise, and two minutes later, Tony's dead.

LOUIE: Yeah, but that was freaky, Frankie. That was because of the new guy. They brought in a new guy for the job and he lost his nerve.

FRANKIE: Right, Louie, another classic last caper story. New guy! Jesus, Louie! Just like what happened to Five Hats Freddie on his one last bank job! Some podunk town, no security, easy pickin's, right? Brings in a new guy for getaway driver. The guy is supposed to stay in the car, for chrissakes! You remember what happened to him, Louie?

LOUIE: He came into the bank.

FRANKIE: Yeah, he came into the bank and he...

LOUIE: Shot some people for no reason.

FRANKIE: Yeah! Lost his nerve! And the list goes on, Louie. Motormouth Higgins? One last job, piece of cake. Except his fence mysteriously pulls out at the last minute saying the rocks are too hot, and the new fence?

LOUIE: Undercover cop.

FRANKIE: Who does what?

LOUIE: Shoots him twelve times.

FRANKIE: Charlie Tight Pants. Andy the Russian. Spanish Eddie. They all went for the one last job before retirement, and they were all undone by the new guy, and they were all shot by the cops. Forget about it, Louie, it's not going to happen to me. I'm getting out while the getting is good. By the way, who the hell is this guy?

LOUIE: Antoine. Antoine, this is Frankie.

Antoine looks up briefly and barely nods before resuming his solitaire game.

FRANKIE: And he is...

LOUIE: He's new, Frankie, he's a getaway driver. He knows a good fence, and he can get us another triggerman if we need one.

FRANKIE: Louie...

LOUIE: He's a real nice guy when you get to know him, Frankie.

FRANKIE: I don't want to get to know him, Louie. I want to retire. I promised my daughter, no more crime. From now on it's going to be PTA meetings and soccer games. I'm going to live a normal life. Be a normal father.

Louie pulls out some scraps of paper from his pocket. On the paper are blueprints, scrawled out maps, and scribbled notes.

LOUIE: OK, Frankie, OK, but just look. At least give me the benefit of your advice. You see, there's just a thin retaining wall over here, see, accessible by a back alley away from traffic. Look. We stage a car accident over here, right, and knock out the electricity on these four square blocks by hitting this box over here. The regular patrol guys pass by here at 7:30 every night and don't come back until 9:30, giving us an easy window not even counting the distractions.

FRANKIE: Hm. What about internal security?

LOUIE: That's the beauty part. Security guard detail on Thursdays is a near sighted seventy year old rent-a-pig with a bad knee. He doesn't get out of his chair for nothing.

FRANKIE: No. No. No. I don't like it. It's all wrong, Louie, it smells bad. And how much you reckon they've got in diamonds?

LOUIE: Seventy five million easy.

FRANKIE: Well that ain't small change.

LOUIE: No it sure ain't.

FRANKIE: Not that I'm even considering it, but what type of safe they got in there?

LOUIE: It's an old Masterson 7000 combination.

FRANKIE: No kidding?

LOUIE: No kidding. Just like the one you opened in about fifteen seconds in the Detroit job back in '87.

FRANKIE: That's my favorite safe.

LOUIE: I know it is, Frankie. Wouldn't you like to get your hands on one of those babies one last time?

FRANKIE: No, man, it's wrong, all wrong.

LOUIE: Can't you just feel that smooth cold steel already? Running your fingertips over the ridges of that dial? Pressing your cheek against it, listening to them tumblers, just feeling that sweet thing respond to your caresses?

FRANKIE: Nah, Louie, I can't, I...

LOUIE: Seventy five million, Frankie. We can't do it without you, pal. Forty million for you, and me and Antoine'll split the rest.

FRANKIE: Sounds like one of those dirty capers where it's really a hundred fifty million and you guys play me for a sucker and I get real mad and I have to get even and everything goes wrong and we get shot by the cops.

LOUIE: Frankie...

FRANKIE: Let me have a look at those blueprints.

Frankie pores over the blueprints while Louie looks on, smiling, and winks at Antoine, who continues to play solitaire in perfect serenity.

FRANKIE (CONT'D): I don't know Louie, I must have a screw loose somewhere but...oh hell I'll do it.

LOUIE: All right! That's the Frankie I know! Come on, let's get moving!

FRANKIE: All right.

LOUIE: Come on Antoine!

Louie and Frankie walk off stage first. Seeing them go, Antoine rises to go after them. No longer serene, suddenly there is a wild look in his eyes. He pulls a gun out of his pocket and twirls it around his finger as he runs offstage yelling his only line.

ANTOINE: Wooooooo hooooooo!

Comments

20 May 2006 21:37:11 John S

Maybe it should star a bunch of guys all named John or Jonathan, I just don't know where we'd find such an unlikely amalgamation. But thanks for the kind words just the same. I've never been able to bring myself to watch that Lock Stock and Smoking Cockneys business either. I think I tried once and just couldn't make it past the first seven minutes. So if I've helped anyone else get back seven minutes of their lives, then it hasn't all been for nothing.

19 May 2006 17:57:37 John Baker

You know ,I've read it again and it's a pretty startling idea for a good play. " just one last caper"

jb.

18 May 2006 08:42:06 Jonathan

Frankie, Frankie, what are you letting yourself in for? I love this story- particularly effective the way Frankie doesn't relate himself the misadventures that have befallen others who have been tempted into a 'last caper' (that's what I'd call it, by the way!), but nudges the reluctant Louie into revealing the increasingly ridiculous details. And I love the inevitability of the outcome-we know that in the end the temptation is going to be just too much..

Also you have saved me the job of ever having to watch 'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels', or anything else by that Cockney feller who's married to Madonna. So that's a relief.

17 May 2006 14:58:08 John S.

Sad indeed. Whether caper, dodge, escapade, gambol, lark, or monkeyshines, the last one is sure to bring you down. It never fails.

15 May 2006 18:04:00 John Baker

We would possibly call it the last dodge. No matter what, it was doomed to fail.
A very sad tale indeed.
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