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Series: Miscellaneous Single Episodes
Show: Mutual Radio Theatre: Love Spelled Backwards
Date: Date Unknown

transcribed by Patte Rosebank
Characters:

VINCENT PRICE - tonight's host
CICELY TYSON - tomorrow's host

LUDLOW CASE (Parley Baer) - gentle, kindly, oppressed
EVOL CASE (Virginia Gregg) - his wife, obsessively mothering
HOLIDAY (Hans Conried) - Ludlow's lawyer
DR. LEON ROSELLE - psychiatrist, European accent
MESSENGER BOY + DOCTOR (Daws Butler)
BRAD - one of Ludlow's old high school buddies
CO-WORKER 1 + BUDDY 1
CO-WORKER 2 + BUDDY 2

COURTROOM CROWD / CO-WORKERS / BUDDIES

VINCENT:

This is Vincent Price.

MUSIC:

OMINOUS, UNDER

VINCENT:

It made the headlines, of course. "Wife-Killer Pleads For Death". Ludlow Case--a nice guy, who before the tragedy had done nothing more violent than crush an ice cube--had killed his wife, choking her to death. It made the radio and the television news. Listeners were informed "Ludlow Case, Confessed Murderer, Goes Berserk In Court, Hysterically Demanding His Own Execution".

SFX:

ADD COURTROOM AMBIENCE, WITH JUDGE'S GAVEL BANGING, UNDER, TO [X]

LUDLOW:

(SOBBING HYSTERICALLY) I WANT to die, because I DESERVE to die! She was a good woman! (CONTINUES, AD LIB, UNDER, ENDING AT [X])

VINCENT:

There was bedlam in the courtroom, until deputies managed to grab Ludlow Case and restrain him. Ludlow sobbed pitifully [X], and mumbled that his wife was a good woman, a fine woman--repeating it over and over, crying that he loved her, and she loved him.

LUDLOW:

(SOBBING HYSTERICALLY, UNDER, ENDING AT [X])

VINCENT:

But... he killed her, and wanted only to die. He even asked for a knife or a gun, so that he could do the job himself. [X] Well, Ludlow got his wish. The death penalty. It was over...yesterday's news...the sob-sisters stopped speculating as to what bizarre set of circumstances could have led the big, heretofore gentle man to kill the good woman he professed to love. The defense lawyer went ahead with the usual appeals, Ludlow too indifferent to even realize what was happening. As far as the public was concerned, the case was closed. The execution would be covered, of course, but it would be routine.??And then, three short days before he was scheduled to die, the man who had begged for the electric chair asked to see his lawyer. It was urgent. Something horrendous had happened. He had to see his lawyer right away, right that minute.

MUSIC:

OUT

VINCENT:

And that's only the beginning of our story.

MUSIC:

"MUTUAL RADIO THEATRE" THEME, ESTABLISH THEN UNDER

ANNCR:

"Mutual Radio Theatre", a new adventure in radio listening. Five nights of exceptional entertainment, every week. Brought to you in Elliott Lewis' production of the "Mutual Radio Theatre". Our story: "LOVE Spelled Backwards", by Marian Turk. Our stars: Parley Baer and Virginia Gregg.

MUSIC:

"MUTUAL RADIO THEATRE" THEME OUT

MUSIC:

SINISTER, ESTABLISH, THEN UNDER

VINCENT:

Attorney James Holiday could not comply with Ludlow Case's demand that he see him right away. Holiday was in trial, defending some other poor soul. But he made it to the Death Row cell, that evening.

MUSIC:

FADE OUT

SFX:

CELL DOOR OPENS

HOLIDAY:

(SLIGHTLY OFF) Hi, Lud. You okay?

SFX:

CELL DOOR CLOSES ... HOLIDAY WALKS OVER TO LUD, WHO'S ASLEEP ON A COT

HOLIDAY:

Lud, it's me, Holiday.

LUDLOW:

(ASLEEP) Hm?

HOLIDAY:

C'mon, Lud. Snap out of it.

LUDLOW:

(TO HIMSELF) He didn't come.

HOLIDAY:

Well, I'm here. I came as soon as I could.

LUDLOW:

(TO HIMSELF) I need him, and he won't come.

HOLIDAY:

Lud, get up, move around.

LUDLOW:

Leave me alone. I want my lawyer!!!

SFX:

SLAP

LUDLOW:

(REACTS) Whattayou think you're doin'? Keep your hands offa me, or I-- (RECOGNIZES HOLIDAY, GRUDGINGLY) Oh. It's you. Well, about time!

HOLIDAY:

Sorry I had to do that. You were really out of it.

LUDLOW:

So you finally got here!

HOLIDAY:

What's the problem, Lud?

LUDLOW:

Problem? I'm sitting here on Death Row. Is that problem enough? In a few stinking hours, they're gonna march me down that hall, strap me in that chair, and--

HOLIDAY:

You think I don't care? I did my damndest; you know that. You've only got yourself to blame. All you did was scream that you were guilty, that you wanted to die.

LUDLOW:

(QUIETLY) I changed my mind.

HOLIDAY:

Well, how come? All during the trial, you had this passionate flirtation with death. Wh- why the turnabout?

LUDLOW:

I got reasons.

HOLIDAY:

It's a little late for it.

LUDLOW:

You've gotta help me. I can't die now. I gotta live! I gotta live as long as possible!

HOLIDAY:

Well, all I can do now is try for commutation to life.

LUDLOW:

Th- that's it! Do it! Get me life! Life!

HOLIDAY:

All right. But I can't go in empty-handed. I've gotta have something to present. Some new evidence, or at least some extenuating circumstances. You never even told me WHY you killed your wife.

LUDLOW:

(DEEP BREATH) She was a good woman.

HOLIDAY:

You said that. You kept saying it.

LUDLOW:

It's true.

HOLIDAY:

Then, why?

SFX:

CREAK OF COT

LUDLOW:

This lousy cot creaks every time you move! You'd think the least they could do for a guy is give him a cot that doesn't creak!

HOLIDAY:

Lud, I'm asking you, WHY?

LUDLOW:

I'm no monster! Just cause I LOOK big and tough doesn't mean anything! Inside, I'm a... (WILTS) marshmallow.

HOLIDAY:

So what happened?

LUDLOW:

She was a good woman.

HOLIDAY:

Lud, try to understand. You'll have to give me something to work wi--

LUDLOW:

In all the time we were married, she never yelled or screamed or cussed me out. I'd get uptight, but she'd stay cool. Cool, calm, and chock-full of love.

HOLIDAY:

Well, a minute ago, you were fighting mad. Now you're going dreamy on me again. I've heard all this stuff, you know. A hundred times I've heard it. She- she was the perfect wife, the greatest housekeeper, the most fantastic cook...

LUDLOW:

Her souffle never fell. I mean, NEVER.

HOLIDAY:

Okay. Well, she was too good to be true. So why did you kill her?

LUDLOW:

She loved me. Go figure women. I never thought I had a chance with her. I'm just a slob. But she LOVED me.

HOLIDAY:

We're not getting anywhere, Lud.

LUDLOW:

She did everything for me. Bought all my clothes, laid them out for me in the morning, got up early to fix my breakfast...

HOLIDAY:

So?

LUDLOW:

Her name was Evol, you know?

HOLIDAY:

Yes. It's an odd name.

LUDLOW:

Well, don't you get it? E-V-O-L. LOVE, spelled backwards.

HOLIDAY:

Oh.

LUDLOW:

Her mother's name is Legna. L-E-G-N-A. Try spelling THAT backwards.

HOLIDAY:

(PAUSE, AS HE THINKS THROUGH IT) Oh.

LUDLOW:

When Evol was twelve... her father killed himself.

HOLIDAY:

You never told me that.

LUDLOW:

Nobody could understand why. He- he seemed to have everything, especially the perfect wife.

HOLIDAY:

Well, go on.

LUDLOW:

One day, he came home from work, drove the car into the garage, turned off the motor, put a gun to his head, and... pulled the trigger.

HOLIDAY:

Good Lord...

LUDLOW:

Every night, when I drove home from work, I'd think about him. I'd put the car in the garage and... sit there for a while. I bought a gun. Kept it in the glove compartment. Sometimes, I'd take it out, raise it to my temple, but... I never had the guts to pull the trigger. So, I'd steel myself... because I knew she'd be there, waiting, with a great big smile. "Was your day full of love?" she'd ask.

HOLIDAY:

(GRIM) Cute.

LUDLOW:

I thought so too. At first. And I'd answer her, "Well, not exactly, but the night's going to be." And I'd take her in my arms, and... (LOST IN REVERIE) she was all... round and soft... like a ragdoll is...

HOLIDAY:

Lud...

MUSIC:

SNEAK IN SINISTER MUSIC BOX TUNE, UNDER

LUDLOW:

(COMING OUT OF IT) Er... Li- like I said. Way back at the beginning, I never thought I had a chance with her. It didn't enter my mind to ask her to the senior prom. I went stag with Brad and two other guys. And she was there with Willie Pomeroy. She was all... rosy pink and white, in a fluffy kinda dress. She looked good enough to eat. I couldn't keep my eyes off her. But I'd never have had the nerve to ask her to dance, and... Then, towards the end of the evening, she walked right up to me...

EVOL:

(SWEETLY) Hello, Ludlow.

LUDLOW:

Er, uh (SHEEPISH) Hi.

EVOL:

Aren't you ever gonna ask me to dance?

MUSIC:

ORCHESTRA TAKES UP THE TUNE, UNDER

LUDLOW:

Who, me???

EVOL:

Ludlow Case, don't you like me? Even a little?

LUDLOW:

Wh-- Gee-- Sure, I- I-- Uh... Uh, you... You really wanna dance with me???

EVOL:

(GENTLE LAUGH) Silly. C'mon.

MUSIC:

UP A BIT LOUDER, THEN UNDER

EVOL:

You're a very good dancer.

LUDLOW:

Who? Uh, me???

EVOL:

(GENTLE LAUGH) "Who, me?" Is that all you can say?

LUDLOW:

Who, m--? (CHUCKLES) Sorry. I guess I- I'm just kinda...

EVOL:

Surprised?

LUDLOW:

Yeah!

EVOL:

I've been admiring you for a long time.

LUDLOW:

Me??? You have???

EVOL:

You're so... so strong. And yet so... well, kind of tender. And you're not all full of your... of your own importance.

LUDLOW:

Mm. I guess that's cause I'm... not important.

EVOL:

Not important??? When you're just about the best player on the football team??? YOU should'a been Captain instead of that stupid Jess Palance.

LUDLOW:

You really think so???

EVOL:

You can run rings around any fellow in school. Why- why, you got Pat and Jerry to stop fighting, last week.

LUDLOW:

(MODESTLY) Awww... well, all I did was bump their heads together, and got 'em talkin' instead o' punchin'.

EVOL:

ALL you did??? You're so modest. You should toot your own horn more. (DECISIVELY) No. Never mind. I'LL toot it for you.

MUSIC:

TUNE CHANGES BACK TO MUSIC BOX ARRANGEMENT, UNDER

LUDLOW:

Y- you wanna know something?

EVOL:

What?

LUDLOW:

(SHEEPISH) I almost flunked English Lit because o' you.

EVOL:

Because of me???

LUDLOW:

Yeah, I- I couldn't concentrate. Not with you sittin' right in front o' me. I... I- I kept lookin' at your hair, and--

EVOL:

(TOTAL DEVOTION) Oh, Ludlow!

MUSIC:

UP, THEN UNDER

LUDLOW:

(IN REVERIE) She came just about up to my shoulder. I drew her closer and... we kept on dancing. Sometimes, I can still smell the perfume she was wearing. It was like holdin' a whole bunch o' lilacs...

MUSIC: FADES OUT, AS IF MUSIC BOX HAS RUN DOWN

LUDLOW:

After that, we started goin' steady. I got a job in a hardware store, and... went to night school to learn bookkeeping, and... when they made me Assistant Bookkeeper at Johnson's Lumber Company... we were married. She was the one who proposed. (CHUCKLES) If she'da waited for me, I'd still be tryin' to get up the courage.

MUSIC:

MUSIC BOX THEME AS A CURTAIN

MUSIC:

SINISTER THEME UP, THEN UNDER

VINCENT:

The condemned man lay sprawled on the creaking cot. It was as though the pain of remembering was draining his last bit of strength. But Holiday kept probing, like a surgeon with a scalpel, hoping to ferret out the cancer.

MUSIC:

FADES OUT

SFX:

CREAK OF COT

HOLIDAY:

So you got married.

LUDLOW:

Yep. A nice church wedding. All our friends were there.

HOLIDAY:

And then?

LUDLOW:

There was a reception in the back garden of her aunt and uncle's home. Her... mother was in a sanitarium. Been there ever since her father... did what he did. Evol's aunt and uncle didn't like me much. They thought she was throwin' herself away so that... Well, they thought she could do a lot better. It was true, of course. She could'a had almost anybody. Jess Palance was on the top of her aunt's list. His father was Vice-President of a bank...

HOLIDAY:

But she loved YOU.

LUDLOW:

Yeah. (FONDLY) The honeymoon was great. I discovered feelings I never knew I had. I hadn't been around women much. My own mother died when I was a kid, and my dad never re-married. The two of us just batched it. I thought it was really something, the way she fussed over me. I even let her crack my breakfast eggs and spoon-feed me. When I took my showers, she asked me to leave the bathroom door open. She didn't want anything to come between us.

HOLIDAY:

So when did it go sour?

LUDLOW:

I...don't...know. It wasn't any one thing. Maybe if we'd had children. Sh- she had two miscarriages, you know.

HOLIDAY:

(GENTLY) No, I didn't know.

LUDLOW:

Funny thing, what the doctor said. I- I never believed him, of course...

HOLIDAY:

Well, what'd he say?

LUDLOW:

That she brought on the miscarriages. That... she didn't really want children.

HOLIDAY:

Maybe she was afraid they'd come between you.

LUDLOW:

Naw... With all that love to give, why wouldn't she want kids? After each time she lost the baby, she'd cry for days, and cling to me. "All I have is you," she'd say. And then, she'd dry her eyes, and tell me, "You're all I need." She was being brave about it, you see.

HOLIDAY:

I see.

LUDLOW:

After she lost the second baby, we gave up trying. And she clung more than ever. She used to say she hated to see me leave for work in the morning, and she could hardly wait to meet me for lunch. Every day, she'd go to all the bother of takin' the bus downtown, just to be sure I ate right. (SHUDDERING) We'd go to a health food cafeteria.

MUSIC:

VAGUELY DISCHORDANT PIANO JAZZ, UNDER

LUDLOW:

She'd take one tray for the both of us. "Cozier that way," she said.

MUSIC:

UP, THEN FADE INTO

SFX:

CAFETERIA AMBIENCE, UNDER

EVOL:

Darling, doesn't that carrot salad look divine?

LUDLOW:

Looks like carrot salad. And I can't stand it, especially with coconut and marshmallows.

EVOL:

Carrots are good for you. They're chock-full of Vitamin A.

LUDLOW:

I have a great idea. Let's live dangerously, and eat something sinful.

EVOL:

(GIGGLES) I love it when you're facetious, darling! Here, take some sprouts.

LUDLOW:

I hate sprouts.

EVOL:

Nonsense. It's the best thing in the world for you. Here... Would you like some soybean loaf?

LUDLOW:

Would it do any good to say No?

EVOL:

(SNUGGLING) Oh, darling, you're so funny.

LUDLOW:

Hey, there's something I want! Chocolate pudding!

EVOL:

Carob, dear. But it must be leftover; they had it yesterday. Take the prune whip.

LUDLOW:

(FIRMLY) No. No prune whip. Anything but prune whip!

EVOL:

What'd you say, dear?

LUDLOW:

Er... (GIVES UP) Not a thing. I... I didn't say a thing.

SFX:

CASH REGISTER

EVOL:

While you're paying, I'll run and get that nice table over by the window.

LUDLOW:

(MUTTERING) Sure...

MUSIC:

DISCHORDANT VERSION OF PROM MUSIC, THEN OUT

(EVOL IS BUBBLY. LUDLOW IS GRIM.)

 

EVOL:

Isn't this a lovely table?

LUDLOW:

Absolutely.

EVOL:

How was your morning, honey?

LUDLOW:

Okay. Pete wanted me to have lunch with him.

EVOL:

Oh, he could have joined us!

LUDLOW:

Here??? (GRIM CHUCKLE) You couldn't pull him in here with a tractor. He's strictly a hamburger-and-beer man.

EVOL:

Oh. Well, you must insist he come sometime. He should learn to eat right.

LUDLOW:

I'll tell him you said so.

EVOL:

His wife should take better care of him.

LUDLOW:

He's not married.

EVOL:

Well... Someday, he'll meet a real nice girl, and then all his troubles will be over. Why don't you ask him for dinner, and I'll invite Mabel Quigley--

LUDLOW:

He's got a... girlfriend. And, anyway, y- you don't wanna waste your elegant cooking on him. Why, he wouldn't appreciate it.

EVOL:

Darling... (AS IF TO A CHILD) Don't talk with your mouth full. And don't put so much margarine on your roll.

MUSIC:

WEARY TRANSITION, THEN UNDER ... OUT SUDDENLY AT [X]

LUDLOW:

She did cook real elegant, believe me. Lunch out was soybeans and sprouts, but dinner at home was gourmet all the way. She made all kinds o' fancy things, and tried to teach me how to pronounce 'em. But I never could. Vichy-sauce, and all that. It was mostly kinda soft, creamy stuff. (GRITTING TEETH) She wouldn't ever just slap a big juicy steak on the pan. When I'd tell her that was all she had to do to make me happy, she'd... [X] smile her soft, understanding smile she had, and say she liked to fuss and bother for me.

HOLIDAY:

A most unusual woman.

LUDLOW:

(GRIMLY) Taking care of me was her mission in life. If I had to work late, she phoned every half-hour to warn me not to get over-tired. The slightest cold, and I'd be put to bed with a vaporizer, heating pad, and hot lemonade. And on Valentine's Day, she-- (PAUSE) D'you know what she did, one Valentine's Day? Maybe that's what did it.

MUSIC:

DISCHORDANT STRINGS AS A CURTAIN

MUSIC:

OMINOUS CELLO, UNDER

VINCENT:

Love... Who can fathom its many guises, or control its power? Like all power, Love has the capacity to heal... and also, to wound. What was it Evol did to Ludlow, on that Valentine's Day, the Day of Love? To find out, we go to the offices of Hunter and Company, Builders, where Ludlow had a desk in a very large room that accommodated bookkeepers and accountants.

MUSIC:

OUT

SFX:

OFFICE AMBIENCE, UNDER

MUSIC:

DISCHORDANT VIOLIN, UNDER

VINCENT:

A messenger boy is walking towards Ludlow's desk.

MUSIC:

OUT

BOY:

Uh, are you Mr. Ludlow Case?

LUDLOW:

(NOT LOOKING UP) Right.

BOY:

(CHUCKLING) I got somethin' for you.

LUDLOW:

Okay. Where is it?

BOY:

It's downstairs. Uh, see, it's- it's kinda big, so I didn't wanna lug it up here til I was sure. The address was blurred.

LUDLOW:

So, what IS it?

BOY:

It's a valentine, sir. I- I'll be right back.

SFX:

BOY'S FAST FOOTSTEPS, FADING AWAY

WORKER 1:

Gettin' a valentine, Lud?

LUDLOW:

I'm afraid so.

WORKER 2:

Hey, I got one this morning. Overdrawn bank statement.

LUDLOW:

I have a feeling mine will be worse.

SFX:

BOY RETURNS, CARRYING LARGE VALENTINE HEART, WHILE CO-WORKERS LAUGH AND AD-LIB COMMENTS

BOY:

Here ya are, sir. Uh, would you just sign for it, please?

WORKER 1:

(LAUGHING) Well! Oh, will you look at that? Hey, that's as big as I am! A great big red, satin heart! Ha-ha! Hey, what's the ribbon say? (READING) "Evie Loves Lud".

WORKER 2:

Awwww... Ain't that the bits? (LAUGHS)

LUDLOW:

(URGENT WHISPER, TO BOY) Get that thing outta here!

BOY:

Well... You haven't seen it ALL, sir. See, there's this round box in the centre, you see? A- and you're supposed to open it.

LUDLOW:

(URGENT WHISPER) I've seen enough!

BOY:

B- but that's the main attraction. See, you open the box, and then a kewpie doll springs out.

WORKER 1:

A kewpie doll???

BOY:

And she talks, too! Here, I- I'll do it for you.

SFX:

DOLL ON A SPRING POPS OUT

DOLL:

(EVIE'S VOICE, FILTER) Kissy-poo, kissy-poo! I love you! Kissy-poo!

(CO-WORKERS ROAR WITH LAUGHTER, UNDER)

 

LUDLOW:

Are you gonna get that thing out of here, or do I have to SMASH IT?!

BOY:

(EMBARRASSED AND SCARED) Yes, sir! Right away! I'm just doin' my job! (AS HE DRAGS HEART AWAY) I'm sorry about that, sir!

WORKER 1:

(LAUGHING ALMOST TOO HARD) Kissy-poo, I love you!

(LAUGHTER OUT)

 

MUSIC:

PIANO & DISCHORDANT VIOLINS AS A CURTAIN

LUDLOW:

Well, Holiday... Your wife ever do a thing like that?

HOLIDAY:

Hardly. Did you talk to her? Did you try to get her to listen to reason?

LUDLOW:

Are you kidding? I tried everything. It was like talkin' to water. Can you make a river flow any different by using words? She'd listen; she'd agree with everything I said, and then she'd go right along, the same as always. In desperation, I got the idea that maybe if somebody else talked to her, a- a professional, you know? Maybe even a psychiatrist.

HOLIDAY:

Hmm, sounds like a good idea.

LUDLOW:

Well, of course, I couldn't come right out and say I thought there was something wrong with her. I... I had to make her believe I was the one that needed a head-doctor.

HOLIDAY:

And how'd you do that?

LUDLOW:

Well, I- I'd been havin' the same kind o' dream, almost every night. I- I'd be at a phone booth, and it would be very important that I call Evie. It'd be live or death, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get her. I'd dial, a- and nothing would happen! I'd call the operator, and she'd come on, a- and then go out before I could say anything! And I'd look around for someone to help, and... there was never anybody there! There was- there was nothing but the phone booth, and the darkness, and... I'd keep puttin' dimes in, and dialling, and dialling, and... Then I'd wake up in a cold sweat--

HOLIDAY:

And what did the psychiatrist say?

LUDLOW:

Oh, he... He said it was a sign of frustration. (BITTER LAUGH) I already knew that. I'd read a book on dreams, once. But I- I told Evie I was worried, and was gonna see this doctor, and wanted her to come along.

HOLIDAY:

And she went with you?

LUDLOW:

Oh, sure. She couldn't wait! Of course, I saw him myself, the day before. Even though I had to pay extra.

MUSIC:

SNEAK IN MENACING PIANO TUNE, UNDER

LUDLOW:

I- I had to explain the whole situation, that he was to pretend I was the patient, but that what I really wanted (DEEP BREATH) was to see if there was something he could do about her. His name was Roselle. Doctor Leon Roselle. And he had a foreign kinda accent, that sounded put-on to me.

PSYCH:

Ah, dear people, come in, come in!

MUSIC:

FADE OUT FAST

SFX:

DOOR CLOSES ... LUDLOW & EVIE WALK IN ... SIT DOWN

PSYCH:

Sit, sit sit. I'll be with you in a moment.

SFX:

PSYCH FLIPS THROUGH HIS NOTES

PSYCH:

Ah, here it is. Yes, of course. Case. Monsieur and Madame Case. Monsieur's having dreams, no?

LUDLOW:

(FIRMLY) Yes. I'm always dialling this phone, and, uh--

PSYCH:

Uh, dreaming is not too serious. Anything else bother you?

LUDLOW:

Well... Y-y-y... You know, Doc, like I said when I made the appointment, my wife, Evie, she- she came along...

PSYCH:

Yes, yes, of course.

EVIE:

But whatver it is, I want to help Ludlow see it through.

PSYCH:

Most commendable, indeed. Tell me, madam, are you and your husband, uh, you have a good relationship?

EVIE:

(RAPTUROUSLY) Oh, our relationship couldn't be better! We love each other as much now, as the day we were married! (BLUSHING) Maybe more.

PSYCH:

No complaints?

EVIE:

Complaints??? About Lud??? Every day, I thank the Good Lord for sending him to me! He's my whole world.

PSYCH:

Oh? So? Well, then, perhaps he should not be your whole world. Perhaps--

EVIE:

Oh, I'm sure your wife feels the same.

PSYCH:

My wife? (BITTER SIGH) My wife...I... Well, what can I say?

EVIE:

Are you all right, Doctor Roselle? You look so tired.

PSYCH:

Tired? (BITTER SIGH)

EVIE:

Oh, you poor man! You're exhausted.

PSYCH:

(LITTLE WHIMPER) Oh...

EVIE:

(DEEPLY SYMPATHETIC) And no wonder. Listening to people's troubles all day long.

PSYCH:

(LITTLE WHIMPERS) Day after day...

EVIE:

Oh, you should take a vacation.

PSYCH:

(SADLY) How can I? Appointments, appointments, nothing but appointments... Paranoics, psychopaths, manic-depressives, all needing me. They're DRAINING me! They're draining my life's blood...

EVIE:

Now, what you should do, is quit. Go into another line of work.

PSYCH:

How can I quit? How else can I make so much? I'm up to my beard in debt. My wife throws money around like it was kleenex!

EVIE:

(MOTHERINGLY) Oh, I wish I could help.

PSYCH:

Oh, nobody helps a psychiatrist. (TEARFUL) Nobody thinks we have problems...

EVIE:

(SOOTHING) You must calm down, now. Do not excite yourself. Just relax.

SFX:

SHE WALKS TO HIM

EVIE:

(TENDERLY) Just relax. And let me massage the back of your neck.

PSYCH:

(SUCCUMBING) Madame Case...

EVIE:

Call me Evie. (MASSAGING WITH A TOUCH AS GENTLE AS HER VOICE) In just a minute, you'll feel much better. You'll see.

PSYCH:

(MELTING) Ahhh... Madame Evie?

EVIE:

My... All the muscles back here are so tight.

PSYCH:

(DEEPLY RELAXED) Oh, that feels so good... Ah, you have the touch... Definitely. Oh, you have the touch...

EVIE:

Now, about your wife... You must be firm. Very firm. She'll respect you for it.

PSYCH:

She will?

EVIE:

Of course. Now, I'll tell you what you must do. You must tell her that the next time she buys anything without asking you, you will shave off all her hair.

PSYCH:

Oh? (HOPEFUL) Oh? You- you think it will work?

EVIE:

I guarantee it, Dr. Roselle.

PSYCH:

(SMITTEN) Call me Leon. (KISSES HER CHEEK)

LUDLOW:

Hey! Stop kissin' my wife!

PSYCH:

Only on the cheek. What man could resist this feminine delight? Ooh, you're so FORTUNATE, Monsieur Case. I hope only you realize how fortunate you are.

EVIE:

Oh, I- I'm sure he does! But what about those awful dreams he's been having, Dr. Leon?

PSYCH:

Well, so he dreams. Everybody dreams. Not to worry, dear lady. And you, Monsieur Case, you'll take nice long walk after dinner, then no more telephones stop working in your dreams, heh?

EVIE:

(OVERJOYED) Oh, Ludlow! Isn't that wonderful? All you need is more exercise!

LUDLOW:

(GRIM) Great. Just great.

PSYCH:

Uh, Madame Evie, uh, will you please wait in the outer office, dear lady? I, uh, must have one moment with your husband.

EVIE:

Of course.

SFX:

HE WALKS HER TO DOOR ... OPENS IT

EVIE:

Goodbye. And... (TENDERLY) merci!

PSYCH:

(TENDERLY) Merci to you. I must kiss your hand. (TO LUDLOW) Er, with your permission, of course.

LUDLOW:

(GRIM) Go ahead.

PSYCH:

(PASSIONATELY KISSES HER HAND) Au revoir.

SFX:

SHE LEAVES ... HE GENTLY CLOSES DOOR

LUDLOW:

Doctor, you didn't even--

PSYCH:

You are frustrated. With a wife like that, you are frustrated??? Get out of here! You are CRAZY!

MUSIC:

OMINOUS CHORD AS A CURTAIN, TURNS INTO DISCHORDANT STRINGS, UNDER

HOLIDAY:

What a fiasco.

LUDLOW:

You know, I thought maybe I WAS crazy. Crazy, anyway, to pay fifty bucks an hour to be TOLD I was. (EXASPERATED BREATH) I just gave up. Went along as best I could.

MUSIC:

PIERCING CHORD, UNDER, CHANGING TO MUSIC BOX AT [X], THEN OMINOUS CHORDS AT [XX]

LUDLOW:

Then, she did something else. And I decided to have it [X] out with her, once and for all. [XX] That night, I came home, washed up, and went into the kitchen.

MUSIC:

OUT

SFX:

SHE'S PREPARING DINNER, UNDER

LUDLOW:

Listen...Evie? I have to talk to you seriously.

EVOL:

Oh, good! But not now, darling. I'm fixing dinner. Escargots au Bourguignon.

LUDLOW:

Yahoo on fancy-schmancy! Can't we ever just have hot dogs?!

EVOL:

You're overweight as it is, honey.

LUDLOW:

But now, look here--

EVOL:

I know, dear. You're being considerate. You're trying to save me work. But I enjoy doing it. (SNUGGLY) For you.

LUDLOW:

I am NOT being considerate! I'm trying to talk to ya! Evie, I'm not a baby! I'm not your child! I'm your HUSBAND!

EVOL:

Of course you are, dear. What a silly thing to say.

LUDLOW:

Well, you TREAT me like a child! You embarrass me!

EVOL:

Oh, I would never do that!

LUDLOW:

I know you don't mean to, (CLENCHED TEETH) but you just don't seem to realize how humiliating--

EVOL:

Hand me that big spoon, will you, darling? You want a little taste now?

LUDLOW:

No, I DON'T want a little taste now!!! I want you to listen to me! Evie, I am begging you. I'm pleading with you! I'm pleading for US! I am about at the end of my rope. Now, you've GOT to listen to me!!!

EVOL:

I'm listening, dear. I wouldn't humiliate you for the world.

LUDLOW:

Well, you do it all the time, and you did it again this afternoon, when you brought my galoshes to the office!

EVOL:

But it was raining...

LUDLOW:

DRIZZLING! I'm a grown man, Evie! I have a right to get my feet wet, if I want to!

EVOL:

Oh, but you don't want to, do you?

LUDLOW:

Yes, I do!!! I WANNA GET MY FEET WET!!!

EVOL:

Now, you are being childish.

LUDLOW:

No, YOU are being childish. In fact, you're being infantile, if you can't see what's wrong with bringing my galoshes to the office! If you can't, or won't, see that, YOU'RE HOPELESS! YOU'RE HOPELESS, AND I CAN'T TAKE IT ANY MORE! I'M LEAVING!!!

EVOL:

(BEAT) Dinner will be ready in five minutes.

LUDLOW:

Well, enjoy it. I'm goin' out for a hamburger with FRENCH FRIED ONIONS. And then, I'm goin' to a hotel for the night! And in the morning, I'M GONNA SEE A DIVORCE LAWYER!

SFX:

HE PUTS ON HIS COAT, UNDER

EVOL:

If you're really running away from home, you'd better have dinner first.

SFX:

HE OPENS FRONT DOOR

LUDLOW:

GOODBYE, EVOL!

SFX:

HE LEAVES, SLAMMING FRONT DOOR

MUSIC:

EERIE "MUSIC BOX" TUNE, THEN UNDER, TURNING INTO OMINOUS ORCHESTRAL

HOL:

You actually walked out on her?

SFX:

SNEAK IN AMBULANCE SIREN AT [X]

LUDLOW:

Yeah. (SIGH) But I went back. I had the hamburger and the onions, and then I dropped in at a drugstore for some antacid tablets. I was within a coupla [X] blocks of our house, when I heard the siren.

SFX:

SIREN SLOWS, AND STOPS, THEN OUT

LUDLOW:

My heart started pumpin' like mad. Somehow, I knew the siren was for Evol. (HOARSELY) I got this dank feeling, like my gut was just a big hole, and I was being sucked into it. (RECOVERS) By the time I got to the house, they were carrying her out. I grabbed hold of one o' the medics. He- he told me she'd taken a whole bottle o' sleeping pills. I rode with 'em to the hospital, and I paced the Emergency waiting room, while they pumped out her stomach, and... (BITTERLY) I hadn't tried to understand HER. She'd- she'd lost her mother and father when she was a kid, and... I guess she was scared she'd lose me too. (HOARSELY) It was a long wait. And then, one o' the doctors came to tell me she'd be okay. He looked at me like I was some kind of villain!

MUSIC:

OUT

DOCTOR:

(GRIM) Mr. Case?

LUDLOW:

That's right. How is she, Doc? Is she all right?

DOCTOR:

Well, fortunately, the ambulance got to her in time. You're a very lucky man, Mr. uh, Case.

LUDLOW:

Oh, yeah. I'll say.

DOCTOR:

Your wife is a wonderful person. Her first thought was to protect you. The moment she regained consciousness, she said you were in no way to blame for what happened.

LUDLOW:

Well, we had just--

DOCTOR:

It's just fortunate that someone called. A neighbour, perhaps. You'll want to thank whoever it was.

LUDLOW:

Oh, sure, sure. Uh, c- can I see Evie now?

DOCTOR:

M-hm. For a moment.

SFX:

LUDLOW WALKS TO A ROOM ... OPENS DOOR ... ENTERS ... CLOSES DOOR ... WALKS TO EVIE'S BED

LUDLOW:

(GENTLY) Hi, Evie.

EVOL:

(TEARFUL) I'm sorry, Lud.

LUDLOW:

YOU'RE sorry??? It's all my fault.

EVOL:

No. It's mine. You were right. And I promise you, I'll try. I'll try not to love you so much.

MUSIC:

OMINOUS, PIANO, MUSIC BOX, DISCHORDANT STRINGS, THEN OUT

LUDLOW:

Well... (CHOKED UP) that just tore me apart. What do you do with a woman like that?

HOL:

Well, did you ever thank the neighbour who called?

LUDLOW:

And you know? I never could figure out who it was. Evie said she didn't know. When we got home, she told me again she understood what I'd been trying to say, and that things would be different... But they never were. I just tried to accept it as best I could. She just didn't have it in her to change.

HOL:

Well, we all have our hangups.

LUDLOW:

I guess so. (PAUSE) Maybe if I hadn't gone on the camping trip... But, oh Lord, how I wanted to go! I can't remember ever wanting anything so much. Except maybe my first bicycle. There were ten of us, guys I used to pal around with in high school. Every year, in September, we'd go up to the mountains for a weekend. But I hadn't gone with them since I was married, cause Evie was afraid I'd get snakebite or poison ivy or something. That year, though, Brad--my buddy--kept insisting. One night, he dropped by the house, unannounced, to try to talk me into it. (BEAT) Maybe if he hadn't... everything would have been... different.

MUSIC:

OMINOUS, THROBBING DOUBLE-BASS STRINGS, AS A CURTAIN

MUSIC:

EERIE MUSIC BOX THEME, UNDER

VINCENT:

Vincent Price again. And here's the Fourth Act of "LOVE Spelled Backwards".

Evol has welcomed Ludlow's friend, Brad, and is serving refreshments.

SFX:

DESSERT & COFFEE BEING SERVED

EVOL:

Some more Mint Frappe, Brad?

BRAD:

(EATING) Don't mind if I do. Hey, this is just great. Ol' Lud here sure hit the jackpot when he got you.

EVOL:

Well, I'm the lucky one. To have him.

LUDLOW:

(WARNINGLY) Now, Evie...

BRAD:

I sure wish you'd reconsider, Lud, and come along. You know, we always used to call ourselves the Terrible Ten, but, without you, we're just the Nasty Nine.

EVOL:

Why don't you go with them, darling?

LUDLOW:

(BEAT) What...? (STUNNED) What'd you say, Evie?

EVOL:

Why don't you go on the camping trip with your friends? It would be a nice change of pace for you. You've been working so hard.

LUDLOW:

But I didn't think--

EVOL:

I know you're worried about leaving me, but I'll be just fine. I'll wash my hair, and hem up those curtains, and first thing I know, you'll be back.

LUDLOW:

D'you mean it?

BRAD:

Well, sure she means it. (CHUCKLING) Like my Alice, can't wait to get rid o' me for a couple o' days!

EVOL:

I promise to keep all the doors and windows locked at night, so I'll be perfectly safe.

MUSIC:

MUSIC BOX TUNE, UNDER

HOL:

Sounds like she was trying to change.

LUDLOW:

Yeah? She sent me off with a brave smile... and the world's largest first aid kit. Well, golly, that was a beautiful spot! Only a coupla hours from town, but like a whole different world. I hadn't felt so good, so relaxed, in I don't know when. The air was crisp, and you could smell the pine trees, and I felt... well, how'd you say it? Attuned. Attuned to the guys and the earth and the stars and... Attuned to God Almighty.

HOL:

It sounds great.

LUDLOW:

(DEEP BREATH) We were sittin' around the fire, that first night, singing and laughing and...

MUSIC:

OUT

SFX:

BUDDIES SINGING & TALKING ... CAMPFIRE CRACKLING ... CRICKETS CHIRPING, UNDER

SFX:

BRAD BANGING ON TIN POT, FOR ATTENTION ... BUDDIES GO QUIET

BRAD:

Okay, guys, okay. Therapy time. Our annual "Tell Your Pals What's Buggin' You" session. Now, here's where the Terrible Ten let it all hang out. Come on, Lud, you go first. It's only fair, seeing you missed so many.

LUDLOW:

(CHUCKLING) Well, I... I'm sorry to disappoint you fellows, but right now, NOTHING'S bothering me. Right now, I'm the happiest guy in the whole world!

BUDDY 1:

Hey, whattayou mean comin' up here HAPPY, and makin' us all look bad?

(BUDDIES AD-LIB LAUGHTER & REACTIONS)

 

BUDDY 2:

Well, I got somethin' to gripe about: My boss. You wanna hear what he did to me?

BUDDY 1:

Don't answer that, guys!

(LAUGHTER)

 

BUDDY 2:

Well, he brings his punk kid in, tells me I should teach him how to run the Repair department. I tell him, "You want your son to run the Repair department, that's fine. But count me out." I tell him, "I'm not teachin' nobody how to put me outta work!"

BUDDY 1:

Hey, atta boy, Frank!

(AD-LIB AGREEMENT)

 

BUDDY 2:

He says, "Hey, wait a minute, wait a minute." He's not puttin' me outta work. He doesn't really want Junior to run the place; he just wants him to THINK he's runnin' it! Seems the kid can't hold a job, and the boss figured it's cause he's got no confidence. Well, I'm about to enlighten him that what the kid really hasn't got is BRAINS. But the boss gets real chummy, takes me out for a drink, and asks me to please, as a special favour, to help him out.

BUDDY 1:

Yeah, he sure knows the way to your heart, ol' buddy!

(AD-LIB AGREEMENT)

 

BUDDY 2:

So, now, I got this nitwit on my hands, and with everything else I have to do, I gotta keep an eye on him, so's he doesn't get some car's wiring all fouled up, and maybe kill somebody!

(AD-LIB CONCERN AND DISCUSSION, UNDER)

 

BUDDY 2:

Now, fellas... Whattayou think o' that?

BUDDY 1:

Yeah, you got trouble, all right.

SFX:

FAST-MOVING CAR APPROACHING, UNDER

BRAD:

Hey, look out! There's a car comin' right at us!

(AD LIB CONFUSION, YELLS, SCRAMBLING)

 

LUDLOW:

WHAT THE HELL???

SFX:

CAR ROARS UP ... SMASHING THROUGH WEEDS, ETC. ALONG THE WAY ... DRIVES OVER TENT, FLATTENING IT ... SCREECHING TIRES, UNDER

BUDDY 1:

Right through the tent! Holy mackerel, what a driver!

BRAD:

Who the hell is it???

SFX:

CAR SCREECHES TO A HALT ... ENGINE TURNED OFF

(AD LIB REACTIONS, ANGER, DISBELIEF, DISCUSSION, UNDER)

 

LUDLOW:

Looks like MY car... My God, it IS my car! Evie, is that you? What are ya doin' here? What'sa matter? What's wrong???

EVOL:

(OFF, CALLING) Ludlow?

LUDLOW:

(CALLING) Evie, come on! Get outta the car!

SFX:

CAR DOOR OPENS, THEN SLAMS

LUDLOW:

(CALLING) Are you all right?

EVOL:

(APPROACHING) Oh, dear! Did I hurt anything?

BUDDY 1:

You just totalled our tent, that's all. Besides scarin' the pants off us!

EVOL:

Oh, I'm sorry.

LUDLOW:

Evie, what is it??? Is it my dad? Did he have another attack?

EVOL:

No, no, dear. Your daddy's okay, and even if he weren't, I wouldn't come up here and ruin your weekend by telling you.

LUDLOW:

Well, WHAT HAPPENED???

EVOL:

Can you put the tent back up, boys? Will it be all right?

BUDDY 2:

Well... we'll try.

BRAD:

Don't worry; it'll be okay.

LUDLOW:

(BESIDE HIMSELF) For God's sake! Are you gonna tell me what you're doin' here???

(BUDDIES ARE SHOCKED SILENT BY HIS OUTBURST)

 

EVOL:

Oh... I... I just came to bring you something you forgot.

LUDLOW:

WHAT DID I FORGET???

EVOL:

It's all right, dear. I brought them. Here. (BEAT) You know you have to take your vitamins.

(BUDDIES AD LIB MOCKING DISBELIEF AND LAUGHTER)

 

MUSIC:

OMINOUS CHORDS, AS A CURTAIN, THEN PIERCING STRINGS, FADING UNDER

LUDLOW:

Well... a doll like that, I couldn't let her drive back all alone now, could I?

HOL:

I guess not.

LUDLOW:

(DEEP BREATH) It was about... two in the morning when we got home. We went into our cozy, neat-as-a-pin house that Evie had decorated so it looked like it coulda been in a magazine... But that night, somehow, it- it seemed strange. Alien. As though I'd never seen it before. Evie said she'd fix me a nice hot cup of milk. Then, she came over... raised her lips for a kiss... (PAUSE, QUIETLY) I don't remember doing it. I don't remember my hands at her throat... or her body going limp. I don't remember anything. Except a... kind of... wondrous... sense of freedom.

MUSIC:

CRASHING CHORD, ECHOING, THEN OUT

MUSIC:

DISCHORDANT STRINGS, THEN OUT

LUDLOW:

I'm pleading with you, Holiday. I'm begging you. Don't let 'em strap me into that electric chair! I want to live. I want to live as long as possible! I- I CAN'T DIE! Not yet.

HOL:

Well, you still haven't told me. What made you change your mind?

LUDLOW:

She came to me. Last night. Evol. She stood right there, right... right where you're standing. I could see her. I- I could see right through her. She spoke to me. She said, "I forgive you, my dear." She said, "I love you. I'm waiting for you." (SOBBING HYSTERICALLY) Oh, don't let me die!!! Don't let me die!!!

MUSIC:

DISCHORDANT CURTAIN, THEN OUT

MUSIC:

"MUTUAL RADIO THEATRE" THEME, ESTABLISH, THEN UNDER

ANNCR:

The "Mutual Radio Theatre" is brought to you, five nights a week, at this time. Tonight's original radio play, "LOVE Spelled Backwards", was written by Marian Turk, and produced and directed by Fletcher Markle. Your host was Vincent Price. Our stars were Parley Baer and Virginia Gregg. Featured in the cast were Hans Conried, Larry Moss, Daws Butler, and Barney Phillips. John Harland speaking. The Elliott Lewis production of "Mutual Radio Theatre" is a presentation of C.V.I.

"Mutual Radio Theatre" has been brought to you in part, by Sears. A name that means Quality and Value. A name that you can count on for Service and Dependability. Sears - Where America Shops For Value.

CICELY:

This is Cicely Tyson, inviting you to join us tomorrow, at this time, for another story about Love - the most unpredictable of human emotions.

MUSIC:

OUT