The Ruthless

September 18, 2017
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From the left, Isaac Levy and his son, Abe, walk into the alley. They make their way towards a mini hut with cardboard walls and a roof made from metal scraps, which is their home. They lost all of their money in the stock market crash. They have middle class friends. Isaac is around 30 years of age; Abe is around nine. It is 9:00 P.M. and they have just come back from listening to the World Series Game 1 of 1932 at Isaac’s friend Wally’s house. The Yankees lead the Cubs 1-0.
ACT I
ABE: Thank god the Yanks beat those darn Cubbies. Did ya see Gehrig’s homer in the eighth, dad? Did ya? Did ya?

ISAAC: Why, of course I did. I was right next to you the entire time. Why don’t you go on into bed? You must be tired.
ABE: Are you kidding? I’m as wide awake as anybody in the entire world!
ISAAC (smiling and giving Abe a noogie): I bet you are!

ABE: Ha-ha! Dad! Ha-ha! Stop it, pop!

ISAAC: All right, son. Isaac stops. Go on into bed.
ABE: Ok. Good night, pop.
Abe walks into the hut and goes to sleep. Isaac sits against the wall of the alley. As he gets against the wall, a mysterious figure walks towards Isaac.
ISAAC: Hey, Dexter.

DEXTER: Hey, pal. He looks at Abe. How is he?
ISAAC: I haven’t told him.

DEXTER(frowning): What do you mean you haven’t told him?

ISAAC (Still watching Abe sleep): I don’t know Dex, how would you tell yer kid that you bet on the Yankees losing the first game? And on top of that, how do you say that you bet against the most notorious crime boss of the entire city?

DEXTER (mouth wide open): You bet against-

ISAAC: Yes. I bet against Rudy “The Ruthless” Kaiser.

DEXTER: Oh my.... (Dexter drops next to Isaac and then frowns) Hold on, Kaiser is a German.
ISAAC: I know. I had to use a German name to get into the place where I placed my bet.
DEXTER: What’d you use?

ISAAC: My dad’s name and the name of our neighbor.

DEXTER (doesn’t speak for a moment as he is remembering):
Ike Lauer? Isaac nods.

DEXTER: Damn. What you gonna do?
ISAAC (leans head against the wall): Haven’t got the slightest clue. A group of men walk towards Dex and Isaac. Dex notices them.
DEXTER: Isa-Ike! Get up!
Isaac sees the men and gets up.
DEXTER: Fellas. You see the game?

STEINER: Of course we did. You see Gehrig in the eighth-FASSBINDER: For god’s sake, Steiner, shut up! Fassbinder turns to Isaac (Ike).

FASSBINDER: Where’s the money, Ike.

IKE: I don’t got it.

FASSBINDER: Whaddya mean, you don’t got it? Mr. Kaiser would not be pleased at all to hear that.
IKE: I don’t have the money.
Fassbinder gets face to face with Ike.

FASSBINDER: You have 24 hours to get me that money. Fassbinder takes out his gun and points it at Abe, who is still sleeping in the hut across from them. Or else he gets this bullet, straight through his goddamned head. Fassbinder puts the gun away. He and Steiner walk out of the alley.
DEXTER: Whaddya gonna do, “Ike”?

ISAAC: Whaddya think? I’m gonna run. As far as I can.

DEXTER: When?

ISAAC: The minute my son wakes up.
ACT II
7:00 A.M. Abe is just waking up and finds that the hut has been taken down and all of the clothes that he and his father own are packed in their suitcase. Isaac is finishing packing.
ABE(groggy): Wha-wha? Dad?

ISAAC (turns around): Hey, son. How’d ya sleep?

ABE: Fine. I guess... Dad, what’s going’ on?

ISAAC: We have to leave the city. I’ve made a mistake.

ABE: But all my friends are here! We’ve spent our entire lives here.

ISAAC: But son, that was before the Depression! That was before your mother...
Abe looks at the floor.

ISAAC: Look, son. The Depression has taken too much of our lives. Not to mention your mother’s. We are going to Long Island. I have arranged for my cousins, Howard and Steven, to pick us up from here in a few hours. We have to be gone by 9:00 PM tonight, so they will pick us up around 2:00 PM. That gives you time to say goodbye to everyone.

ABE: What happens after?

ISAAC: Well, my cousin’s wives are seamstresses, you see. They will make us new clothes. After that, well, I’m not entirely sure. There’s this old restaurant though, Ron and Laurie’s, that Howard told me is hiring. They said that they need a bus boy, you, and a waiter, me. We will stay with Steve and Caryn until we can buy our own place.

ABE(angrily): Ugh, fine. As much as I hate to admit it, you’re right. This place is a dump. Can we leave at 8:00 PM so I at least have time to say bye to my friends?
ISAAC: Well, all right. It’s a little close....
Abe gives Isaac a puppy dog face.
ISAAC: But I can make it work. Go on, get outta here.
ABE: Yes! Thanks, pop! I’m gonna go get Harold and Ernie. See you at 8:00 PM!
Abe happily runs away.

ISAAC:(under his breath) Please, son. Make it home safe.
8:45 P.M.- The alley: Abe is still not back. Howard and Steven are in the car waiting.
HOWARD: Ugh, Isaac, where’s the kid? We have to be home soon.

STEVEN: Our wives must be worried sick. We would usually be home by now.
ISAAC (nervously): Don’t worry, fellas. He’ll be here any minute.
A mysterious figure comes walking down the alley.

ISAAC: Who...?
The figure is revealed to be Mrs. Kershowitz, Harold’s mother.

ISAAC: Hello, Mrs. Kershowitz, how are you?

MRS. K: Fine, thanks. Isaac, Abe didn’t want to tell you himself. He... is refusing to leave. We can’t get him to move from the couch. We thought you could do a better job. He has been saying stuff like “not Long Island!”
Isaac checks his watch. It reads 8:50.

ISAAC: We have to hurry. Mrs. K, hop in the car with us. I’m not leaving this god forsaken city without my son.
Kershowitz House: Isaac enters the small house. Steven and Harold are in the car outside. The suitcase is in the car also.
ISAAC: Abe, what in god’s name are you doing?! Get in the car, now!

ABE: No! I don’t wanna leave!
Isaac angrily picks up Abe and heaves him onto his shoulder.

ISAAC: You may not realize it, but I’m trying to save your life. You don’t want it here. Isaac walks out of the house with Abe on his shoulder.
ABE: Nooo! Let me go!
Isaac puts Abe down.
ISAAC: Listen to me right now young man! I am your father! You will listen to me. Why can’t you see that I’m trying to preserve a better life for us both? This place will never be as it used to. I promise that when this is over, we will have a better life on Long Island.
Abe begins to cry. Isaac gets on one knee so he can be face to face with Abe.
ISAAC: Look at me, Abe. Abe looks at him. I love you. You know I do. I’m doing what’s best for us. I know you don’t like it, neither do I. I have to leave Dex, my best friend, like you’re leaving Ernie and Harold. Maybe someday you will see them again. But today is not that day. Please get in the car. Abe gets into the car. Isaac checks his watch. It reads 8:59.
ISAAC: Oh my god! Isaac gets into the car. Drive! Drive! Drive! The car pulls away.
ISAAC: See, son?
Abe looks Isaac in the face.
ISAAC: We’ll be home in no time.
ACT III
45 minutes have passed. Abe and Isaac are on their way to Long Island with Howard and Steven. Abe is asleep. Isaac is explaining to his cousins what he did.
HOWARD: Seriously, Isaac? Why on Earth would you bet with Kaiser? Do you have any idea how many people have “disappeared” because of him?

ISAAC: I know, I know. I was in a pickle. I needed cash.

STEVEN: Yeah, and now you owe cash. Does he have any “friends” on Long Island that you know of?
ISAAC: He used to. There was this whole “turf war” thing going on before the Depression hit. Kaiser and some Long Island mobster made a peace agreement to keep their turfs separate. STEVEN: I don’t know, Isaac. What if the other mobster owes Kaiser a favor, and he uses that to ruin you?
ISAAC: Ugh. Let’s just get home.
Howard notices something funny in the mirror.
HOWARD: Huh, that’s weird. That car has been following us for about half an hour. I think I saw the guy in the passenger seat pulling out a revolver.
A bullet shatters the back windshield. Abe wakes up.

ABE: Ah! What was that?!
ISAAC: Duck, Abe!
A bullet breaks a side mirror.
DRIVER OF OTHER CAR: Ike Lauer! You owe Mr. Kaiser some money! I’m assuming you don’t have it, which is why Kaiser ordered the hit on you! Give us the money or jump out of the car! Howard maneuvers out of that lane and into a new one. He steps on the gas and they lurch forward. He goes in and out of lanes until they lose the hit men.
HOWARD: Isaac! What the hell is the matter with you?! You almost got us killed!

ISAAC: I know! I’m sorry. Where’d you learn to drive like that?

HOWARD: An old friend. He used to steal cars, and was very good at it. People called him the grand theft of automobiles.

STEVEN: Catchy, right?
Isaac chuckles. He looks down at Abe.
ISAAC: How are you, son?

ABE: I’m ok. What was that about?

ISAAC: Sighs. I...I bet some money that the Yanks would lose the first game.

ABE: Who’d you bet against?
ISAAC: Rudy Kaiser.

ABE: KAISER?!?!? Are you insane?!

ISAAC: A bit.

ABE: Why didn’t you tell me?

ISAAC: Why, I didn’t want to scare you.

ABE: Fine. Just do me a favor. Next time, let me know if you’re gonna place a stupid bet against a notorious mobster. Isaac smiles.

ISAAC: Stupid?

ABE: Well, duh. The Babe and Gehrig have this series all tied up. Here, Uncle Howard? Can you turn on the radio?
Howard turns the radio on.
(Sports Caster)
Yes, well, here we are folks. Game 4 of the 1932 World Series. The Yankees have won the past three games with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig absolutely dominating the Cubs. One more out here in the ninth, and the Yankees win. Herb Pennock on the mound for the Yankees, probably one of the best lefty pitchers in the American league. Full count. Riggs Stephenson at bat. Pennock loads up and fires, Stephenson misses! It’s happened! The Yankees win the series! The Yankees win the series!
Howard turns the radio off.
ISAAC: Huh. Do you think I owe more money for that?
Abe laughs.

ABE: I most certainly hope not.
They finally reach Steven and Caryn’s house. Howard’s wife is there as well.
STEVEN: Here we are! Home sweet home!
They enter the house.
CARYN: Isaac! How long has it been?

ISAAC: Too long, Caryn.
Isaac hugs Caryn.
ISAAC: Abe, this is Caryn. We are going to be living with her and Steve for a while.
CARYN: Hello, Abe! Oh my, you look exactly like your father!
Abe chuckles.
ABE: Thanks.

CARYN: I have some toys upstairs. Straight up, first door on the right. You’re welcome to play with them.
Abe looks excitedly up at Isaac, who nods. Abe smiles and races upstairs.

MARGARET: What took so long, Isaac?

ISAAC: Oh, just some trouble on the highway.
Isaac, Steve, and Howard smile at one another.

CARYN: What happened?

STEVE: Isaac placed a bet with Rudy Kaiser.

CARYN (in shock): Really?! That’s extraordinary!

ISAAC (confused): Why is that? Caryn walks over to the radio and turns it on.
News Reporter:
...Yes, yes. I’m here in downtown New York City where the body of notorious gangster Rudy “The Ruthless” Kaiser has been found. Bystanders say that they heard gunshots near his house, and called the police. Upon entering his residence, the police found him in his study with a bullet in his brain and a gun in his hand. An apparent suicide. We are here with the man who alerted the police, Dexter Understreet.
ISAAC (in disbelief): Dex?!
DEX: Yeah, I heard it first. I was hanging in the alley with a friend of mine and I was on my way out when I heard dem shots. I told the police I says “I think I heard some gunshots near Rudy Kaiser’s place”. Sure enough, old gangster shot himself between his temples.

NEWS REPORTER: Do you have any idea who did it?
DEX: Why, yeah, I got an idea. A friend of mine was hangin’ with him a couple of days before he died. My friend told me that Kaiser was obsessin’ over catching this one guy: Ike Lauer.
CARYN: Who in the world is Ike Lauer?
ISAAC (smiling happily): I have no idea.






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