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"Choo-Choo Chicanery"

by John Burkhart

Some Excerpts:

BALDERDASH:  Miss Ditherspoon! Please come in here! (Long pause with BALDERDASH drumming his fingers on the tabletop.) MISS DITHERSPOON! WHERE ARE YOU?

TIZZY:  (Offstage.)  Coming, Mister Balderdash! (She enters from the front of the train with a steno tablet and pen, crosses stage left of table.) What can I do for you, Mister Balderdash?

BALDERDASH:  Have a seat. I want you to take some dictation.

TIZZY:  (Sitting at stage left chair and opening her tablet.) Certainly, sir.

BALDERDASH:  Take a letter…. To: Alfonso Z. Brzezinski, President of the Schenectady & Poughkeepsie Railroad….Dear Mister Brzezinski, This to inform you that my efforts to obtain the Elkhorn Valley Railroad are about to bear fruit. …O.K., Read that back to me.

TIZZY:  (Squinting at her tablet.) To: Alfonso Z…


TIZZY:  That’s as far as I got. I can’t spell Brezhoozky, or whatever that name is.

BALDERDASH:  You mean to tell me that you can’t spell Brzezinski? What kind of secretary are you? And why didn’t you stop me at that point?

TIZZY:  I’m sorry, Mister Balderdash. You were going too fast for me to interrupt you. How is it spelled?

BALDERDASH:   Here’s his card.

TIZZY:   In other words, you can’t spell it either.

BALDERDASH:   ME knowing how to spell his stupid name is not important! What IS important is that you spell it correctly in this letter!

TIZZY:   (Writing on her pad.)  Got it.

BALDERDASH:  Now, read the rest of it back to me.

TIZZY:   Dear Mister Brzezinski …


TIZZY:   That’s all I got.

BALDERDASH:  Good Grief! Now, I have to start all over again!

TIZZY:   Sorry, Mister Balderdash.

BALDERDASH:   Let me see now…

TIZZY:   (Mumbling to herself and writing.)  Let me see now…

BALDERDASH:  That’s not part of the letter!


BALDERDASH:  To: Alfonso Z. Brzezinski, President of the Schenectady & Poughkeepsie Railroad….Dear Mister Brzezinski, This to inform you that my efforts to obtain the Elkhorn Valley Railroad are about to bear fruit ….

TIZZY:  I can’t spell Skinneytady and Picklekeeper either.

BALDERDASH:  It’s Schenectady & Poughkeepsie and they are also on the card!

TIZZY:   Oh! Sure…got it.  Schenectady & Poughkeepsie … (She writes something on her pad.) Now, what comes next?

BALDERDASH:   Oh, good grief! Forget it! I’ll write it myself. Now, did you get those reservations for the New York trip?

TIZZY:  Not yet.


TIZZY:   I can’t call the travel agency until we stop and you said not to telegram them.

BALDERDASH:  Oh … right … I forgot we haven’t stopped since I asked you about them, and telegrams from a train are far too expensive.

(MODESTY enters from front of train. She looks around tentatively.)

MODESTY:   (To BALDERDASH.)  Excuse me, sir.

BALDERDASH:   By all means. I mean, you’re excused. NO! I meant, not excused! I meant, I mean, what can I do for you, miss…

MODESTY:   Faithful.

TIZZY:   Excuse me, but I don’t think Mister Balderdash was asking about your personal life. He wanted to know your name, Miss …

MODESTY:   Modesty.

BALDERDASH:   And that’s also a nice personality to cultivate, but we were asking you for your name.

MODESTY:   I know. It’s a cross I have to bear. My name is Modesty Faithful.

TIZZY:   Well, it is a little strange, but it’s certainly a nice name! By the way, I’m Tizzy Ditherspoon, and this is my employer, Mister Balderdash.

BALDERDASH:   That’s Barton Balderdash, at your service. But please call me Bart.

MODESTY:   I’m pleased to meet you both. Perhaps you can help me.

BALDERDASH:   I’d be happy to … Tizzy, don’t you have something to do?

TIZZY:  No. I’m pretty much all caught up.

BALDERDASH:  I mean … don’t you have duties to perform elsewhere?

TIZZY:  Nope. In fact I’m thinking of eating some lunch while we’re in here.

BALDERDASH:  Why don’t you go to the telegraph car and see if there are any telegrams for me?

TIZZY:  They’re closed for lunch.

BALDERDASH:   Let me put this another way … threes company!

TIZZY:   Oh! I get it! (Pulling BALDERDASH aside.) You want to be alone with Miss Faithful, you sly dog!  Just between you and me, sir, aren’t you a little old for her? Like about 30 years?

BALDERDASH:  (Aside to TIZZY.)  Nonsense! We’re perfect for each other. Many women prefer mature men, you know.

TIZZY:  Well, yes, but this reminds me more of Betty Boop dating Daddy Warbucks.

BALDERDASH:  Let me put this another way ... Do you wish to remain employed?

TIZZY:  (To MODESTY.) You know, I just remembered something important that will happen soon at the rear of the train. Please excuse me!