Soothing Music Tempers Justice
(News item) Use of background music in the Los Angeles Police Building to "alleviate tensions" of 280 employees was authorized today by the City Council.
Scene is an interrogation room in the Police Building. Time: late afternoon.
The room is simply but tastefully furnished. There is only one straight-back chair in the center of the room, bathed in the blinding brilliance of a 300-watt bulb. There is a rococo bug in one corner, and in the other a Swedish modern stereo hi-fi speaker. From it comes the soft strains of Wayne King's orchestra playing "The Waltz You Saved for Me."
A recently apprehended burglary suspect, his hair in disarray, his shirt collar rumpled, sits in the chair. Two veteran detectives, Dan Moriarty and DanMonahan (their names have been changed to protect the innocent), are pacing in the semi-darkness on either side of the chair. The suspect leans forward suddenly:
Suspect -- Listen, you guys, I can't stand this jazz any more. I'll talk!
Moriarty -- Whatta ya mean, jazz? That's Wayne King.
Monahan -- He plays waltzes.
Suspect -- I don't mean the music. I mean you guys pacing up and down, and this light in my eyes. I can't take it any more.
Monahan -- You're aware, of course, that anything you say might be used against you.
Moriarty -- (admiringly)-- Geez, Dan, you really know your manual.
Monahan -- Thanks, Dan.
Suspect -- I had been casing this place for two weeks and . . .
(The Wayne King record ends, and Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians come on singing "My Funny Valentine.")
Suspect -- . . . And I finally figured I could knock it over this morning. The night watchman eats his lunch at 2 a.m. and I . . .
Moriarty -- Geez, Dan, they're playing that "Funny Valentine" into the ground. That's the fourth time they've played it wince we've been in here with this citizen.
Monahan (shrugs) -- It bugs me too, Dan, but what can you do? Parker digs it.
Moriarty -- Oh.
Monahan -- He's a sentimentalist.
Moriarty -- Yeah.
Suspect -- So, I figured if the night watchman is having his lunch at 2 a.m., I can get in through the side window.
Monahan -- Dan, you know, that Waring is the last of the great bands.
Moriarty -- You can say that again, Dan.
Suspect -- I'm no good, boys. I admit it.
Moriarty -- I'll tell you something, Dan. This Lawrence Welk is coming along pretty fine. He can't speak so good, but he's got a helluva beat.
Suspect (desperately) -- I might as well cop out to everything. This isn't the only job I pulled.
Monahan -- He's all right for polkas, but he's no Billy May.
Suspect -- You guys got 17 unsolved heists on the books you're going to clear up tonight. I did 'em all.
(The record ends and Doris Day comes on singing "I Love Everybody." Monahan paces up and down, tapping his rubber hose in the palm of his hand in time with the rhythm.)
Moriarty -- There's a girl with style, Dan.
Suspect (disgustedly) -- Gimme some paper and a pencil. I'll write it out.
Moriarty (polite but cool) -- Don't be a wise guy, sir. If you got anything to spill, say it to us. That's what we're here for.
Monahan -- I'll take him back to his cell, Dan. He's not going to talk.
(Monahan and prisoner exit stage right. Captain enters stage left.)
Moriarty -- We didn't get a thing out of him, captain. He won't sing.
Captain -- Speaking of singing, Dan, have you dug that new Johnny Mathis album?"