Phoenix Lights Mini 1
In this special holiday flashback, we see Det. Pal Vargas meet her first client and make an important new friend against the backdrop of Christmas 1945.
Phoenix Lights is written by Kitt Keller and features the voices of Ryan Jenkins as Pal, Jenae Hirsch as Minnie, Ricco Machado-Torres as the client Alvin, William Crook as the Announcer, and Kitt Keller as the Joyce Cigarette Girl.
Music by Cody Hazelle, Kitt Keller, and Conrad Miszuk, with sound by Cody Hazelle.
MFX 1: INTRO MUSIC
ANNOUNCER: Good Evening, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for joining us tonight for a special presentation from the Joyce Cigarette Radio Hour. Joyce Cigarettes, the smooth smoke that 9 out of 10 doctors recommend. Have a holly jolly holiday with Joyce.
MFX 2: Joyce jingle:
’Tis the season, grab a Joyce
And shed that frown.
The cigarette you’ll want to get
When Santa comes to town,
Joyce! Joyce! Joyce!
The doctors’ choice!
ANNOUNCER: Yes, Joyce Cigarettes are the cigarettes you can count on this holiday season to keep smiles bright and the whole family satisfied.
America’s favorite cigarette and they bring you America’s favorite entertainment all winter long. On tonight’s special presentation, let’s travel back in time with private detective Pal Vargas, to Christmas 1945, the first holiday since the war, and the first case in a long line of investigations. Journey tonight to the dusty desert streets of Arizona for the mysteries hidden in the heart of a little town they call Phoenix, to the offices of that rakish private detective with secrets of his own, Pal Vargas…
MFX3: Vargas theme + Christmas bells?, transitions into…
MFX4 Begin Monologue underscoring
PAL MONO Seven months since V-E Day and what do I have to show for it? Hell, what do any of us have to show for it? I got out, I guess. I guess that’s something.
Strange having a Christmas in the desert. You think, Christmas: that means snow and ice, blizzard and bluster, but here, there ain’t a thing but a crystal clear sky and a thin line of frost on the cactus that burns off with the first shot of sunshine.
MFX4: The underscoring is suddenly cut off by…
SFX 4 Bell jangles on door
MINNIE You’re the detective?
PAL Uh, yeah. Yeah, I am. Who are you? I only just hung out my shingle.
MINNIE Hm. You don’t look like a detective.
PAL Maybe I’m a work in progress.
MINNIE No need to
PAL Well, it’s my first Christmas back from the war; forgive me if I’m not exactly the ghost of holiday cheer. Come to think of which, what’s a kid like you doing knocking on a private dick’s door this late on Christmas Eve?
MINNIE Gee whiz, Mister! I’m looking for some help catching Santy Claus; what do you think? I’m here for the job.
PAL What job?
MINNIE You need an assistant. Somebody to watch the desk and screen your clients. Somebody to keep the office running nice and smooth.
PAL Who says I need an assistant?
MINNIE Brown. Minnie Brown.
PAL Nice to, uh,—
MINNIE You’re right; it is. Now, let’s get down to business. I’ll take 80 cents an hour and Mondays off. I assume you’re open Saturdays in case of weekend murders and such.
PAL 80 cents…?
MINNIE I’m worth more.
PAL And what is it exactly you’ll be…
SFX 5 Door bell jangles
MINNIE Good evening. Can I take your coat?
ALVIN May I take your coat is the correct construction.
MINNIE Oh, right. Thank you.
ALVIN I am here to speak with the detective, miss. I have urgent business.
MINNIE Well, let me get you a drink.
SFX 6 Ice clinking
PAL Wait, how did you know where—
MINNIE Here you go, sir. What seems to be the trouble?
ALVIN Well, girl, I do not intent to tell you. Mr…?
PAL Vargas. Pal Vargas. Detective.
ALVIN Ah. I am in need of employing a ‘private eye’ as they say. You are new to the city?
ALVIN Ah. And I suppose that you have not yet acquired a steady supply of clients?
PAL Well, I’ve only just—
ALVIN Ah. Excellent. You will, of course, take on my case at a reduced rate of pay. In return, if I am pleased with your performance of your duties, I shall recommend you to my friends and associates should they require similar services in future.
PAL Well, now…
MFX5 Begin monologue underscoring
PAL MONO I don’t know what I expected for my Christmas Eve—a quiet night in my office putting all the finishing touches in place: the lights in through the window, my name in gold on the door. Another night on the couch practicing—getting the look right, the moves, the poses, the walk. Pacing up and down in the office. How does a man smoke a cigarette? How does he put on his hat? How does he smile?
I sure as hell didn’t expect a client or a…a…I don’t know what to call this pushy, freckled kid who’s come crashing through my door with enough moxie to power an entire squadron of spitfires.
Christmas in the desert. That Bing Crosby number, the one about the old fashioned Christmas, it starts out talking about missing the snow and sled runs. Didn’t think much about it the first time I heard the record…it was in a little club in London with a green door; just a few nights before Mary Ann and I crossed the channel. When the GIs came to England, we brought candy, cola, cigarettes…and music. You’d have thought those Brits had never heard a jitterbug before.
And it was nice, dancing with Mary Ann out in the open, the lights all around us, air raid sirens barely making dent in the music.
What am I doing here in this place? I can’t help but keep wondering whether it’ll turn out how I’ve figured it…I’ve been so careful for so long, I’ve planned and plotted and checked all the boxes, but I won’t know if I’ve done it til its done. That’s what I expected out of tonight: to put the finishing touches to Pal Vargas, detective.
How do I make myself back into something?
MFX 6 End monologue underscoring
MINNIE Now, you wait just a minute!
ALVIN I did not ask your opinion, girl!
MINNIE Well, spit. You’ll get it anyway. Whatever your case is we don’t need it.
PAL Um, Minnie…
MINNIE Lemme guess. You’re here in this busted-up no-name joint ‘cause you couldn’t get any of the established detectives in town to take your case. You talk a big, fancy game, sure, but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts you’ve got yourself run out of every private eye’s office in the Valley. Some low-level, pencil-pushing nobody who likes to puff himself up. Why are you here? Did your wife leave you? Well, I say, good for her and good riddance to you.
MINNIE So long!
SFX 7 Door slam
MINNIE See? You don’t need to deal with that kind of thing. I can take care of it.
PAL That was a client.
MINNIE No, that was a trifler. He’d have run you all through town on pointless errands then refused to pay on some kind of trumped-up technicality. Trust me.
PAL He did seem that type.
MINNIE 80 cents an hour.
PAL All right, then, Minnie. Welcome aboard.
SFX 8 Glasses clink
MFX 7 Outro music
SFX 9 Under the announcer’s spiel, the alien noises start very quietly and grow louder until they overwhelm his voice.
ANNOUNCER And so Pal Vargas settles in to weather the first Christmas since the war, the greatest celebration in American history. With a new friend in Minnie Brown, Vargas steps from 1945 into the open door of 1946, a new year brimming with new opportunities, new mysteries to solve, and, perhaps, new love on the horizon. Join us next time on the Joyce Cigarette Radio Hour for more adventures with Det. Pal Vargas out under the Phoenix Lights.
SFX 10 Alien noises build to a crescendo.
SFX 11 Alien noises cut off suddenly.