BANG FOR THE BUCK:
AN OPERA IN TWO ACTS
Double D Network's CEO, DICK DUNN, and the Board of Directors—HEFFREN, HELEN AND HORST—are stoked by a sensational news event that's sending their ratings through the roof: it's not simply that a young woman has been raped and murdered while running through Washington Gardens, but the perps have sent a tape of the crime to Double D!!
However, SARA DUNN, wife of Dick and Double D's star anchorwoman, having interviewed the bereaved mother of the murdered girl, has been shaken by the experience and is not as excited by the rape/murder as her colleagues.
A black teenager (LEONARD) meets an elderly woman and helps her up to her apartment with a heavy load of groceries. The woman is Mrs. BYMAN, the mother of the murdered girl.
Sara tries to talk to Dick. She wants to find the man she fell in love with, the man who is now hidden behind an armor of power. Sara wants to tell her husband that she is pregnant, but she's scared that Dick doesn't want a child. She broaches the subject. Children will be for later, Dick explains. First, the planetary embrace of his airwaves has to create a world worthy of having a child brought into it... Sara keeps the pregnancy to herself.
Sara does, however, confide in Dick's older brother, Julian. Sara is skeptical when Julian tries to reassure her that Dick will be happy with the prospect of fatherhood. In fact, neither of them quite believes it. But now, to spread oil on the media fires, Sara has to go
interview a shrink about the rape/murder…
Julian gets into a head to head shouting match with his brother, Dick:
Dick is a power junkie! Julian's a loser! Dick's triumphs are a fortress that can't keep out the pain! Julian's quirky music is the bleak sound of his own weakness!
Pushed to the limits of his defenses, Julian finally blurts out that Sara is pregnant and scared to tell her husband!
Suddenly the Board rushes into the executive offices: SARA HAS BEEN KIDNAPPED!!
End of the first act.
Now Sara is gone.
Dick begins to understand how stubborn, foolish and hard he had been towards her. She had sought the soft, tenderness of the man with whom she had fallen in love. He had called her sentimental and frivolous.
Dick accepts and heeds his brother, JULIAN's, entreaties for calm and a measured response…. But fear for Sara, rage, and his ego drill open the wounds… and DICK can no longer sustain the effort.
Violently he pushes away JULIAN's offer of love and seeing.
Dick's personal friend, the president of the United States, and the FBI, have been trying to help, so far to no avail.
Dick goes on TV: 2 million big ones for anybody offering info that leads to Sara's rescue!!
Mrs. Byman tries to help Leonard with his English. Leonard tries to teach Mrs. Byman some eubonics.
The Board of Directors—Horst, Helen and Heffren--sit Dick down in front of the TV monitor: it's airing internationally and it's a tape of Sara, captive...a hostage.
Convinced that his wife is in grave danger, and deciding that the president and the FBI are incompetents, Dick vows to track Sara down all by himself.
Leonard, losing it, confesses to Mrs. Byman that he was the one shooting the video as her daughter was raped and murdered. Mrs. Byman collapses.
Dick encounters FBI Agent, FREELING: "In exchange for 2 million and the price of some land near Santa Clara, I'll open a drawer in my Bureau-made brain, and tell you where, you can find Sara."
Dick accepts Freeling's offer.
He finds Sara and discovers: it was his Board of Directors who 'produced' the kidnapping and, indirectly, the rape/murder of Elizabeth Byman. For RATINGS…
But now that his heart has been opened and Sara is safe, Dick is even ready to forgive his monstrous partners.
Dick imagines what life with the child and Sara can be.
Sara witnesses Dick's transformation. Now he actually wants the child! For Sara this understanding is bittersweet. There will be children, she explains to Dick, but not now: during her captivity she lost the child she was carrying.
After a shocked response of denial, Dick allows himself to be calmed by Sara.
He relents. He accepts the 'what is' of the situation, and he appears to be ready to embark on a different way of living.
But suddenly Dick pulls a .38, turns on the Board, and kills all three of them.
In turn the FBI opens fire on Dick…. BANG! BANG! BANG!
Trying to get him out of harm’s way Sara takes the first bullet. Then Dick is hit.
As Sara holds him dying, Dick's only comfort is that he wanted the child. Unaware that Sara too has been shot, Dick reassures her that he now wanted the child who would have come from her womb.
Sara cradles and caresses her husband. Dick dies.
Minutes later Freeling emotes. She had signed a deal to take over Double D and would have liked Sara to be part of the new team!
"No hard feelings/No reprobation/I saw our future/As fruitful collaboration."