[SCENE I. GAVIN’s house. JEREMY and GAVIN are on the couch, talking about something or other; the television is on in the background, playing the news.]
JEREMY: The thing to remember, Gavin, is that Melissa is like a black widow spider.
GAVIN: In that she spins messy webs and likes to lurk in dark places?
JEREMY: Uh, I was going for ‘her sting will kill you and she eats her mates.’ Just look what happened to poor Nick Hayes.
GAVIN: Hm. You bring up an excellent point.
(A pause in the conversation. The news is audible between their conversation.)
ANCHOR: . . . infiltrating our community. These ‘Canadians,’ as they call themselves, are reported to be savage and extremely dangerous. Police advise anyone coming in contact with a Canadian to . . .
JEREMY: And furthermore everyone knows this to be true of black widows. And of Melissa. Which means that only a very stupid man would–
GAVIN: Okay, okay.
ANCHOR: . . . taking advantage of their superior currency to buy American products for pennies on the dollar. It’s rumored that . . .
JEREMY: You used to be so level-headed. What happened?
GAVIN: She just sort of grabbed me. One minute we’re researching demons or something. Next thing I know, face full of Xenakis.
ANCHOR: . . . extremely polite. The Portland Police Department are investigating a smuggling ring based out of Portland, suspected of smuggling goods into Canada. (An image of a police composite sketch that looks a great deal like KELLY HAYES appears on the screen.) Witnesses report that a girl matching this description . . .
JEREMY: Was she–
GAVIN: Shut up! (He points at the screen.) That’s Kelly Hayes. Tell me that’s not Kelly Hayes.
ANCHOR: . . . substantial reward for information leading to the arrest of this suspect. In other news, national burger chain Zenburger has been shut down after accusations of . . .
GAVIN: How much do we like Kelly, Jeremy?
JEREMY: You’re joking.
GAVIN: Well, look, “substantial reward” implies–
JEREMY: Even if she wasn’t our friend’s little sister–
GAVIN: All right, all right. (Beat.) Do you think she’ll pay for a protection tip or something?
GAVIN: Fine. (Beat.) We have to do something though, right?
(They both fall silent and go back to watching the television, which is relaying images from the aftermath of the Zenburger incident.)
[SCENE II. SOPHIE’s house. It is a mess of pizza, beer bottles, etc. SOPHIE is watching a movie when her phone rings.]
SOPHIE: Swanson Investigations. Sophie speaking.
JEREMY: Sophie, it’s Jeremy. Listen, did you see the news just earlier?
SOPHIE: Which story?
JEREMY: The cops are looking for Kelly Hayes. I thought maybe you could–
SOPHIE: I’ve already compiled a dossier. Meet me at the Jaded Old Crone in an hour?
JEREMY: Sure. I’ll see you then.
[SCENE III. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. A very haggard-looking MELISSA is seated on the couch; every minor noise seems to make her jump. SARAH is watching her with some evident concern.]
SARAH: Have you finally decided to become a meth addict?
SARAH: It’s just, the twitchiness and the tired eyes.
MELISSA: I am not a meth addict.
SARAH: It’s really okay if you are. I’m your friend even when you make horrible choices.
(A loud thump at the window, and KELLY crawls through, shortly followed by a CANADIAN. MELISSA rises.)
MELISSA: I don’t have time for this right now, small friend. (She approaches the window and makes sure it is secured.) These people aren’t here, eh?
SARAH: Did you just say “eh?”
MELISSA: No, I said “okay.” As in “These people aren’t here, okay?”
SARAH: (Narrows her eyes.) I see.
MELISSA: Anyway. Kelly, take him up to my room. Sarah, these people aren’t here. (KELLY and the CANADIAN head upstairs. MELISSA begins to follow, then stops to look at SARAH.) I’m just trying to help people. I didn’t know what else to do.
SARAH: Harboring Canadians is dangerous, Melissa!
MELISSA: They’re in a bad place, Sarah. Every Canadian is being forced to produce a vat of maple syrup for the strategic syrup reserves. Kelly and her friends are just trying to help out.
SARAH: Fine. I’ll watch the door.
[SCENE IV. The Jaded Old Crone. SOPHIE, JEREMY, and GAVIN are looking over a series of photographs.]
GAVIN: Kelly sure is spending a lot of time over at Melissa’s place. (Beat.) Why do you have all these pictures?
SOPHIE: If I’m being completely honest, I took most of these while I was watching Melissa.
GAVIN: And why are you watching Melissa?
SOPHIE: Oh, come now. Melissa has more enemies than you have, uh. Hairs?
JEREMY: So do you know where Kelly is now? We tried to get a hold of her but she wasn’t answering.
SOPHIE: I can find out. You looking to bring her in? Cash in on that sweet reward money?
SOPHIE: Still. Since you’re friends, and since I owe Gavin a favor, this one’s free.
GAVIN: I can help if you need.
SOPHIE: Why would I need your help?
GAVIN: Melissa and most of her friends hate you, but not me?
SOPHIE: . . . point taken.
GAVIN: And we can use Jeremy’s lab.
SOPHIE: Oh, that would be perfect!
JEREMY: I didn’t volunteer anything.
SOPHIE: I’ll give you both a commission for cases you help me with.
JEREMY: (Sighs.) Fine. But I’m not letting this get in the way of actual work.
SOPHIE: In any case. If you want to help, Gavin, go stake out Melissa’s place with Jeremy. I’ll stake out Kelly’s place. (She gets up.) Oh, Gavin, you might want my dossier on Melissa. You can never be too careful. (She hands him a file.)
GAVIN: Uh, all right. (He also rises.) Jer?
JEREMY: Sure, why not?
[SCENE V. Outside MELISSA’s house. JEREMY is looking through a dossier with a slightly worrying amount of photos while GAVIN keeps watch.]
JEREMY: Does it at all bother you that we just agreed to work for a crazy person?
GAVIN: I like Sophie. She’s thorough. She’s just sometimes thorough about the wrong things.
JEREMY: She’s categorized every article of clothing Melissa owns.
GAVIN: Like I said. Thorough. (He stands up.) I’m going in. Keep an eye on the place.
JEREMY: Whatever you say.
(GAVIN approaches the house and knocks on the door. SARAH answers, peering at him suspiciously.)
SARAH: Can I help you?
GAVIN: Uh, I was hoping Melissa might be at home?
SARAH: I don’t think so. I could check.
GAVIN: Something the matter? You seem less chipper than usual.
(SARAH ignores him and heads upstairs. GAVIN enters and stands awkwardly in the living room. Eventually SARAH and MELISSA return downstairs.)
MELISSA: Hello, Gavin.
GAVIN: Ah, hi. Following the news lately?
MELISSA: No, why?
GAVIN: I’m worried Kelly might be in a bit of trouble.
MELISSA: And why would I know where she is?
GAVIN: Did I say you knew where she is? I just wanted to–
MELISSA: (Suddenly brightening.) Gavin Roderick, I had no idea you were the jealous type!
MELISSA: Look, I’m flattered, but what I do in my spare time is none of your business, eh?
GAVIN: Hang on. Could you repeat exactly what you just said?
SARAH: Look, she’s very tired from all the work at the Examiner and–
GAVIN: (J’accuse.) You’re harboring Canadians.
MELISSA: What on earth could give you that idea?
GAVIN: What would you say if I asked to see your bedroom?
MELISSA: You were kind of mediocre. Pass.
GAVIN: I bet you’ve got Canadians crawling out of the woodwork. No wonder they’re always here, spending their money on our products, replacing good, American customers with their enormous sums of powerful currency. I used to respect you, Melissa Xenakis. I had no idea you were nothing but a filthy Canadian sympathizer.
(MELISSA advances on GAVIN threateningly until she stands inches away, then stares him right in the eye.)
MELISSA: You’re right. I’ve been helping the Canadians, because they’re good people in need. And you know what? (She leans in closer.) There is nothing you can do to stop me. (She stomps on his foot and shoves him backwards. He reels and catches himself on the couch.) Get out of my house.
(GAVIN limps to the door, gives a triumphant smirk, and departs.)
SARAH: So, are you supposed to tell the Canadian-hater that you’re helping Canadians?
MELISSA: Helping Canadians is not a crime!
SARAH: Oh, right.
MELISSA: Jesus Christ. It’s not like I’m doing anything besides taking them to local bars and teaching them to act slightly less Canadian.
SARAH: And providing shelter to a smuggler.
MELISSA: Well, yes, okay, and that. But that might not be illegal!
SARAH: Do you think he can teach me to speak Canadian?
MELISSA: It’s got to be worth a shot.
[SCENE VI. Outside KELLY and CELESTE’s house. SOPHIE is watching from the bushes, through binoculars. Most of the blinds are closed, but part of the kitchen window’s blinds are open. CELESTE walks into the kitchen, carrying two plates, and sits down. Someone else walks past briefly–it’s impossible to get a good look at him, but he is wearing a t-shirt bearing a Canadian flag.]
SOPHIE: Oh, you dirty criminal. (She pulls out her cell phone.) Hey, it’s Sophie. Kelly and Celeste are definitely housing Canadians.