Secondhand Magic, Part I

This was written for a contest, in which the first 15 pages of a script were to be entered based on the logline given. Though the entry did not make the top 10, it’s still a fun piece of fiction. Read and enjoy.

After waking to find his wife dead in their backyard, a man conducts his own investigation, and uncovers the hidden life of a woman he thought he knew.



MORTIMER GLOVER, 71, is seated opposite DETECTIVE HARRY SMITH, 45, giving a statement.

MORT: We never had kids, but that’s okay. We kept busy. She was terrific at making stuff – had a real gift. I mean she could design a hat out of cardboard and duct tape. Terrible in the kitchen though.

SMITH: Mr. Glover-

MORT: Yeah, so. She was always moving around, you know? Like she couldn’t keep still in her sleep.

SMITH: Sleepwalking?

MORT: I’d wake up in the night and she’d be gone, so. Sometimes I’d find her in the basement or outside. After a while I stopped looking for her. I figure she’ll come back when she wants to.

Smith is trying to look interested. Mort looks back at him.

SMITH: So it didn’t surprise you that your wife wasn’t in bed this morning?

MORT: Didn’t I just say that?

Smith changes positions and exhales impatiently.

SMITH: Mr. Glover, who do you think killed your wife?

MORT: Are you kidding me? That’s what I want you find out!


Mort and JACK HANSON, 19, are walking out of the station.

MORT (CONT,D): No-talent pretty boys. What do we pay taxes for, anyway? Come all the way down here just to find out the police expect me to track down Maxi’s killer.

Jack pats him consolingly on the shoulder.

MORT (CONT,D): I don’t even know where to look. Who stabs a sixty-nine-year-old woman?


A sleepy Jersey shore diner in the off season. Mort and Jack sit at the counter while LARRY, mid-fifties is behind it pouring coffee.

LARRY: Well Morty, let’s be honest. You sure it wasn’t just – y’know – natural causes?

MORT: She had an ice pick coming out the back of her head. That sound natural to you?

Plates of food arrive in the hands of SUE, 18 and direct.

SUE: Talkin’ about your wife?

Mort looks up in surprise.

SUE (CONT,D): Everyone else is. Some of ‘em think you killed her, but I say it was an accident. I’ve seen some pretty strange things, you’d be surprised.

MORT: Do I know you?

SUE: My name’s Sue.

LARRY: She’s new. And she’s still learning her manners.

MORT: It’s okay, Larry, let her be.

The bell jingles and Larry goes to help a new customer. Sue leans in confidentially.

SUE: Y’know I bet I could help with your investigation. People come in here and tell me all kinds of things. Yesterday morning I had a customer swear he saw a mermaid in the water.

The bell jingles again and JIM, 65, is jingling with it.

JIM: “Ding-dong, the witch is dead!” Good news, Larry. This is gonna be a great day, I can feel it!

LARRY (glancing at Mort): Hey, alright.

Jim bellies up next to Mort and smacks him on the back.

JIM: Morty, my old friend! My old, single, liberated friend! Larry, give me this man’s tab.

MORT: Aw, now stop it Jim.

JIM: I mean it, I’m buyin’!

MORT: No really, look at me. Maxine was no angel, but she didn’t deserve to be shish-kabobbed in her own back yard either. Now have a little respect.

Mort picks up his fork as Jim backs off, chastened.

JIM: Okay, all right. If that’s the way you feel about it.

Jim meets Jack’s level gaze. Mort takes a bite of his eggs and chews. And chews and chews and chews.


Angle on a NOTEPAD featuring a list of shady characters: GANGS, THE MOB, ASSASSINS, NAZIS.

Mort is sitting at the bus stop, staring at the list. He crosses out NAZIS. Sue sits next to him.

MORT: Shift over already?

SUE: Oh no, I got fired. Just a matter of time, I wasn’t very good. Where’s your friend?

MORT: At the hospital. Just about broke his teeth on your omelet. (beat) I’m kidding.

SUE: That was funny. Kinda mean, though.

MORT: Don’t pay any attention to me. I’m just an old man trying to solve a murder.

SUE: Any good leads?

MORT: Well. You know any gangs around here?


The bus drops Mort next to a sign for SEA VILLAGE MARINA. He heads toward a row of floating houses.


Mort approaches his place, an anomaly of a houseboat – literally a floating house, permanently docked in the marina/housing community, but afloat on the bay.

The front door is still wearing CRIME SCENE tape with a few FORENSICS OFFICERS taking pictures. JUDY, 60, rushes up in a jogging suit and oven mitts.

JUDY: Mortimer! There you are. What an ordeal, I started baking as soon as I heard.

MORT: Don’t worry about me, Judy, I’ll be fine. Hey fellas, how much longer you gonna be?

JUDY: Oh look at you Morty, you’re not fine. You’ll never, ever be fine again. I know that’s how I felt when I lost my poor Harold.

OFFICER: Almost done, Mister Glover.

JUDY: You just come home with me, I can’t leave you alone at a time like this.

Some chatter comes across one of the police radios. Mort attempts to evade Judy.

MORT: I’m fine, really. Thanks.

OFFICER: Mister Glover! Can you come back down to the station, there’s um- a bit of a discrepancy.


Mort, Detective Harry Smith and the nervous MORTICIAN stand looking at an empty slab.

MORT: How can it be missing?

MORTICIAN: Well, ah, we have a few theories but really this is quite unusual. Quite, quite unusual indeed.

MORT: I mean a dead body doesn’t just walk away. Not that I’m any expert, but that just seems to make logical sense to me. Am I right?

SMITH: Mr. Glover, what did you do after you left here earlier this morning?

MORT: What did I do? I was investigating my wife’s murder while you bozos fouled up the evidence and lost the body! I should sue!

SMITH: Mister Glover, please calm down. Someone has clearly gone to great lengths to sneak in here, now I need to know if you have any idea who that someone might be.

MORT: Well I don’t know, I guess whoever killed her.

Harry Smith glances at the Mortician.

MORT (CONT,D): Look, I got an investigation to run. You call me when you screw up again.

Smith watches him go with narrowed eyes.

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