Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Lights Out
Show: Murder Castle
Date: Feb 16 1938

CAST:
STEWART ... an old man in the business of murder for profit
ELLA ... girl of about 20, young, shy
HELEN ... woman in her thirties, housekeeper, very slight Scandinavian accent
BETTY ... Ella's sister, about 23
A POLICEMAN

VOICE:

Lights Out, everybody.

TWELVE CHIMES .. WIND UP ON NINTH .. ALL OUT WITH

GONG!

POLICEMAN:

(IN COMPLETE BEWILDERMENT) I tell you, captain, it don't make sense! We picked her up walkin' down the street sayin' the same thing over and over again! She's as crazy as they come, I tell you! Listen to her yourself!

SOUND:

OPENING DOOR

BETTY:

(FADE IN SAYING THE WORD ON TWO DIFFERENT BEATS AS IF IN TIME TO A MACHINE) Re-venge! Re-venge! Re-venge! (CONTINUING BEHIND)

POLICEMAN:

Yeah, listen to her, captain - Revenge - revenge! Over and over again! Such a young and pretty girl! What could have made her crazy like like that? Well, I ask ye?

BETTY:

(FADE BACK IN FULL..CHANTING "RE-VENGE" "RE-VENGE" OVER AND OVER AGAIN..OUT WITH:)

GONG!

FADE IN SOUND OF WOMAN KNOCKING ON DOOR...THE DOOR DOES NOT OPEN ON THE FIRST SERIES OF KNOCKS..BUT AFTER THE SECOND .. DOOR OPENS SOMEWHAT CREAKILY.

STEWART:

(OFF SLIGHTLY..SUSPICIOUSLY) Yes? Yes, what is it?

ELLA:

(SHE HAS JUST THE TRACE OF AN IRISH BROGUE .. NERVOUSLY) I'm - I'm looking for a Mr. George Stewart, if you please.

STEWART:

(A GREAT DEAL MORE CORDIALLY) Oh! You mean about the advertisement?

ELLA:

Yes, that's right! I got here as soon as I could and I --

STEWART:

That's all right! That's all right! As long as you got here - that's all that matters! Come in! Come in!

ELLA:

Oh, thank you!

CLOSING DOOR BEHIND:

STEWART:

Just put your suitcase down there - it'll be all right.

ELLA:

Thank you.

STEWART:

(FADE) Now if you'll come right this way --

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS CONTINUING BEHIND:

ELLA:

Thank you.

FOOTSTEPS .. ANOTHER DOOR .. OFF SLIGHTLY.

STEWART:

(OFF SLIGHTLY) Just step in here, Miss- uh --

ELLA:

Malone. Ella Malone.

STEWART:

(IN FULL) Yes, of course, Miss Malone.

CLOSING DOOR

STEWART:

Now, then - you'll have a chair please.

ELLA:

Thank you.

STEWART:

(SIGHS AS HE SITS DOWN) Ah! There we are...Now, then, Miss Malone - uh - to be perfectly frank with you, I wasn't quite expecting you today.

ELLA:

Oh, I'm truly sorry, Mr. Stewart, but you see I took the wrong train and I - well, I had the hardest time finding the house. I do hope you'll forgive me --

STEWART:

Of course, of course, don't give it another thought! Promptness may be a virtue, (CHUCKLES) but we all can't be virtuous, now can we? Ah, now then- you're here in answer to my advertisement.

ELLA:

Yes, sir. You wrote me.

STEWART:

Oh, yes, yes, of course! You're the young lady from - uh --

ELLA:

From Cranesville.

STEWART:

Oh, yes, Cranesville. Uh - that was Iowa, wasn't it?

ELLA:

Oh, no, sir! Ohio!

STEWART:

Of course, of course! How stupid of me to forget! Yes, yes, I remember now - I wrote you a letter ...

ELLA:

Yes, sir.

STEWART:

Now, then - you're the young lady who wanted a position as my - uh - secretary, wasn't that it?

ELLA:

Yes, sir. And I do appreciate the opportunity you've given me, sir.

STEWART:

Oh, not at all, not at all! Uh - you have my letter with you?

ELLA:

Oh, yes, sir. Right here, sir.

SOUND OF PAPER

STEWART:

Oh, yes...(AS HE READS) ... Orphan...Business school...Yes, yes, you'll do very nicely...

ELLA:

I'll do my best, sir.

STEWART:

Now, then - uh - your friends know you came here, of course?

ELLA:

(SIMPLY) There's no one very much interested, Mr. Stewart...

STEWART:

(CHUCKLES) Oh, come now - a pretty young girl like you - no young beaus, and so on and so on?

ELLA:

No, sir. There's no one...I mean, sir, you can depend on me to give all my attention to my work.

STEWART:

Very commendable - very commendable, indeed! My work, as I wrote you, is entirely confidential - my philanthropies, are to a great extent entirely sub rosa - no fuss, no feathers - you understand what I mean.

ELLA:

Oh, yes, sir.

STEWART:

As my secretary, my affairs will be entirely in your hands - my checking account, my fanances, and so on and so on - entirely in your care.

ELLA:

I understand, sir.

STEWART:

It's quite a responsibility and you're quite a young woman, and as I wrote you, the bank --

ELLA:

Oh, yes, sir, I understand! The bond - I've brought the money for it.

STEWART:

Oh! Oh, you have --

ELLA:

Yes, sir. Three hundred dollars - I've got it right here, sir.

STEWART:

Fine! Fine! That's very business-like! Yes, indeed! I'll give you a receipt - and there we'll be.

ELLA:

(DIFFIDENTLY) Mr. Stewart --

STEWART:

Yes? My pen - ah, yes, here we are!

ELLA:

(HESITANTLY) My money - I will get it back from the bank any time I leave your employ - I mean when you want me to.

STEWART:

Of course, of course! Now, then - here you are - received of Miss Nellie Malone --

ELLA:

Ella.

STEWART:

Ah, yes, of course -- Ella - memory isn't quite what it used to be. (CHUCKLES) That's why I need a good secretary.

ELLA:

I'm very good at remembering things.

STEWART:

(INATTENTIVELY AS HE WRITES) Oh, are you? Now then - there we are - I guess this receipt is in good order - (READS) - "Received of Miss Ella Malone three hundred dollars to be deposited with the Merchants Bank as surety bond and to be returned to said Ella Malone upon request." And there's my signature! Now, then - how's that?

ELLA:

I'm sure that will do very well, sir. And I want you to know I do appreciate your giving me this chance to --

STEWART:

(DEPRECATINGLY) Now, now, I assure you - the honor is mine! Giving a youngster an opportunity to rise in the business world - it's little enough to do!

ELLA:

You're very kind.

STEWART:

Now, then - you've got my receipt, (INSINUATINGLY) but I - (CHUCKLES)

ELLA:

Oh! Oh, I beg your pardon!

STEWART:

Not at all, not at all!

ELLA:

(DIGGING INTO PURSE) My purse - I have it right here...I am sorry...

STEWART:

(CHUCKLING) Well, I understand - the excitement of your trip -

ELLA:

Here it is, Mr. Stewart. You see, I had it all ready in an envelope. If you'll open it --

STEWART:

Not at all, not at all. Bank can do that when I send it to them in the morning.

ELLA:

But --

STEWART:

My dear Miss Malone, If you say there's three hundred dollars in that envelope, that's all that's necessary as far as I'm concerned. Now just put your purse down there and I'll show you through your new home...

ELLA:

Yes, Mr. Stewart.

STEWART:

Now we'll go right up these stairs...

ELLA:

Yes, sir -

SOUND:

BOTH OF THEM GOING UP FLIGHT OF ECHOING STAIRS .. SLOWLY .. CONTINUING BEHIND:

STEWART:

Yes, yes, you'll find I have quite a place here - three stories high and every inch of it my own design...

ELLA:

(HESITANTLY) Rather...dark...

GIRL STUMBLES

WALKING SOUNDS STOP:

STEWART:

Careful, now - careful!

ELLA:

I'm all right.

SOUND:

WALKING UP STAIRS STARTS AGAIN AND CONTINUES BEHIND:

STEWART:

Mustn't hurt yourself. (CHUCKLES) Hardly the way to start a new job.

WALKING SOUNDS OUT BEHIND:

STEWART:

Now, then - here we are! Take you to your room and there'll you'll be!

ELLA:

My suitcase --

STEWART:

No, no, never mind! Bring it up later - no hurry! Right down the (FADE) hall...

ELLA:

Yes, sir.

STEWART:

(OFF) (SLIGHTLY) Got a nice room for you - very nice. Fact of the matter is you can choose any room on this floor.

ELLA:

(PUZZLEDLY) But, Mr. Stewart! Your daughters --

STEWART:

(IN FULL .. SHARPLY) Daughters?

ELLA:

Yes, won't they object? You just said any room --

STEWART:

Oh, yes, my daughters - I did write you about them, didn't I?

ELLA:

Yes, you did.

STEWART:

Well, never mind about them - they're upstairs studying. (FADE) Now right here --

SOUND:

OPENING DOOR OFF SLIGHTLY

STEWART:

(OFF SLIGHTLY) I suggest that you take this room. At least for tonight.

ELLA:

Whatever you say, Mr. Stewart.

STEWART:

Get the light on --

CLICK OF SWITCH:

STEWART:

There we are! Nice, isn't it?

ELLA:

(HESITANTLY) Yes...it's - it's very nice...

STEWART:

Go on in - look around!

ELLA:

Well, I -

STEWART:

Go right ahead! It's going to be your room for quite some time to come, you know!

ELLA:

All right.

STEWART:

Now then - go on in further! It's going to be all yours after all! Make sure you like it!

ELLA:

I've never had such a large room - if you've got one a little smaller -

STEWART:

(TENSELY) On the contrary, my dear Miss Malone, you'll find this one small enough! (FADE) Perhaps a little too small - (CHUCKLES) Yes, indeed, entirely too small!

CLOSING DOOR...BACK

ELLA:

But, Mr. Stewart -

SOUND:

KEY BEING TURNED IN DOOR...BACK

ELLA:

(MORE IN PUZZLEMENT THAN IN FRIGHT .. TO HERSELF) Locking the door... (UP A LITTLE) Mr. Stewart! Why did you --

PULLING ON THE DOOR KNOB BEHIND THE FOLLOWING:

ELLA:

Mr. Stewart, why did you lock the door? Mr. Stewart!

BEGINS TO POUND ON DOOR BEHIND THE FOLLOWING .. WITH INCREASING INTENSITY

ELLA:

Mr. Stewart, why have you shut me in here? Mr. Stewart, please! Please answer me! Mr. Stewart, please let me out of here! (WITH GROWING FRIGHT AND HYSTERIA) (AS HER POUNDING ON DOOR INCREASES) Mr. Stewart! Let me out of here! Let me out! Let me out! It's getting dark in here! The lights - Mr. Stewart! (SCREAMINGLY) Let - me - out!

GONG:

STEWART:

(FADE IN) Yes, yes, Miss Nord - there's no doubt in my mind at all that you're the very person I want to employ as my housekeeper.

HELEN:

(SLIGHT TRACE OF SCANDINAVIAN ACCENT) I'm very glad to hear that, Mr. Stewart.

STEWART:

Of course the matter of being housekeeper of a place as large as mine calls for definite qualities. You understand, of course.

HELEN:

I always do my best, sir.

STEWART:

And one certainly can't ask for more than that! No indeed!

HELEN:

Your wife - maybe she'd like to talk to me?

STEWART:

Wife? Oh, yes, yes, of course - I wrote you about my wife, didn't I?

HELEN:

Yessir.

STEWART:

Er - uh - my wife is out shopping - as soon as she returns, you'll meet her. I'm sure she'll find your recommendations as satisfactory as I did.

HELEN:

It makes me very happy. I've always wanted to work in a fine house.

STEWART:

About money -

HELEN:

Oh, any salary you want to pay me, Mr. Stewart, is all right. I just want a chance to show you how good I can do your work.

STEWART:

Very commendable - yes, indeed - very commendable! But we must agree on a salary - I'm the sort of man who has respect for money and expects a similar respect in others. Oh, yes, and speaking of money - you'll be wanting to open a new bank account I suppose.

HELEN:

Bank account?

STEWART:

Yes, it's my principle that everyone employed by me should have a savings account. Builds character.. I'll open an account for you in the morning and you can transfer any other bank accounts you have back in your home town up to my bank. Convenience, you know.

HELEN:

Oh, no, sir, I haven't got that!

STEWART:

Eh?

HELEN:

I haven't any money in the bank back home - I took it all out.

STEWART:

Oh!

HELEN:

It wasn't much anyway - what was left of father's insurance money after my - my mother died.

STEWART:

Ah, yes - Now, then - supposing you leave all your things here and we'll go look over the house.

HELEN:

That will be very nice.

STEWART:

(FADING) Here - right through this door.

SOUND:

DOOR OPENING...OFF SLIGHTLY

HELEN:

I'll be glad to be working in such a big house.

STEWART:

Right this way - oh, yes, quite an establishment here. Designed it all myself.

HELEN:

I'll work hard, Mr. Stewart.

STEWART:

Yes, yes, I'm certain you will...Now, then - right down these stairs.

SOUND:

GOING DOWN FLIGHT OF STEPS CONTINUING BEHIND:

STEWART:

I'll show you everything downstairs first.

HELEN:

You have a washing machine?

STEWART:

Eh? Oh, yes, yes, everything modern - everything convenient. High, wide basement.

SOUND:

GOING DOWN STEPS OUT BEHIND:

STEWART:

There you are - now watch yourself - it's just a little dark down here this time of day.

HELEN:

Oh, it is a big basement, all right. I could hang up plenty of washing down here.

STEWART:

Oh, yes, yes indeed. (FADE) If you'll come this way...

HELEN:

You - you building something down here?

STEWART:

Building? Oh, yes, yes indeed! Always building - always changing - always remodeling. Change - change change! My hobby. Always changing things!

HELEN:

Hard to keep clean...

STEWART:

Now, now, don't you worry about that - everything will be cleaned up in short order. Bags of sand and concrete and concrete mixer. Everything will be out of the way - won't bother you at all! (CHUCKLES) No, not at all...right this way.

HELEN:

You - you're making more rooms?

STEWART:

Yes! Yes, indeed! With nice clean concrete floors! Here - look at this one!

SOUND:

OPENING DOOR BEHIND: "HERE .. LOOK AT THIS ONE". IN ABOVE

HELEN:

Kind of...dark...

STEWART:

Come on, come on! Get closer! All my own work! (CHUCKLES) You see - the floor's still wet. I like concrete, don't you?

HELEN:

(A LITTLE DOUBTFUL) Yes...it is clean...

STEWART:

Yes, covers everything! (IN A LITTLE CLOSER) You know how deep that concrete is? Three feet deep! Yes, ma'am, three feet deep - and I just poured it an hour before you honored me with your presence. Three feet - that'll make a mighty thick slab of stone, won't it, Miss Nord? Thick enough to cover - you!

SOUND:

FIST HITTING FACE AT "YOU"

HELEN:

(GROANS)

SOUND OF BODY ON FLOOR

STEWART:

(CHUCKLING) Yes, indeed - a fist to the point of the jaw is still a most effective soporific...(WITH EFFORT AS HE LIFTS THE WOMAN) Ahhhh...You're quite a heavy woman, my dear Miss Nord. (STRAINING) Up you go - (AS HE THROWS HER IN THE WET CONCRETE) Ahhhhh!

SOUND OF BODY LANDING IN WET CONCRETE .. BUBBLING SOUND AS BODY SINKS DOWN INTO IT. THIS IS HEARD BEHIND:

STEWART:

Face down in wet concrete - (CHUCKLES) What an unusual bed you lie in, Miss Nord...

BRING UP BUBBLING SOUND AS THE BODY SINKS DOWN IN THE CONCRETE

STEWART:

(AVIDLY) Sinking down - and down - and down -- (CHUCKLES) And the concrete will harden and I - (SIGHS) Ah, I guess I'll have to get myself a new housekeeper .. (CHUCKLES)

GONG:

FADE IN SOUND OF DIALING ON TELEPHONE

STEWART:

(AS HE WAITS FOR CALL TO BE COMPLETED..HE "DUM-DUMS" A LITTLE WORDLESS TUNE TO HIMSELF...BREAKING OFF WITH:) Hello? Hello? Is this the employment agency? This is Mr. Stewart - Mr. George Stewart. I'm interested in employing a nurse for my child - someone preferably unattached who can live here with my wife and myself...No, no, just send me their names, addresses and references and so on. And I'll send you a check for the services.

DOOR BELL RINGS BACK:

STEWART:

My address is 424 East 7th...Yes, yes, just their names and addresses.

DOOR BELL RINGS AGAIN BACK:

STEWART:

Yes, yes, I'll send you a check. Goodbye.

TELEPHONE RECEIVER UP .. DOORBELL RINGS AGAIN..BACK

STEWART:

Yes, yes, I'll be there - I'll be there.

FADE IN DOORBELL RINGING TO PAINT PICTURE OF HIM WALKING TOWARD DOOR .. SOUND OF BOLT BENG THROWN BACK..DOOR OPENING SLIGHTLY.

STEWART:

Yes, yes, what is it?

BETTY:

(BACK SLIGHTLY) Is Mr. Stewart in?

STEWART:

Ah, yes, yes. Yes, indeed!

DOOR OPENING WIDER

STEWART:

Won't you come in? I'm Mr. Stewart.

BETTY:

(FADE IN) Thank you.

SOUND:

DOOR CLOSING BEHIND

STEWART:

You're answering in regard to --

BETTY:

(THERE IS A CERTAIN NERVOUSNESS ABOUT HER) Secretarial position. You wrote me a letter!

STEWART:

Oh, yes, yes, indeed! (FADE SLIGHTLY) Won't you step in here, please?

BETTY:

Thank you.

STEWART:

(IN FULL) Now you sit there and I'll sit here and we'll get better acquainted. Put your suitcase anyplace. Now, then - I'm afraid I didn't quite get your name.

BETTY:

Ray - Betty Ray. You wrote me.

STEWART:

(HE DOESN'T KNOW HER AT ALL) Oh, yes, of course! I remember you distinctly. Now then - you're from - uh -

BETTY:

Grayston. I hope that everything is the way you said it would be in your letter, Mr. Stewart.

STEWART:

Eh?

BETTY:

I mean, I hope you haven't changed your mind about me.

STEWART:

Oh, not at all, not at all! I'm in definite need of a good secretary - my philanthropies you know - and you're unquestionably just the person to take matters in hand - yes indeed!

BETTY:

I'm glad to hear that.

STEWART:

Now, then - you have my letter to you - just to sort of refresh my memory on the circumstances, don't you know.

BETTY:

Oh, I'm sorry.

STEWART:

Eh?

BETTY:

I didn't bring it with me.

STEWART:

Oh...well, then suppose you tell me a little more about yourself, and all that's happened. Mother and father see you off to the train, I suppose?

BETTY:

Oh, no, sir! It's the way I wrote you, Mr. Stewart - I'm quite alone...

STEWART:

(PLEASED) Oh, yes! Yes, indeed! Well, I'm sure you'll find everything here quite to your satisfaction. Restful, quiet - I have quite a place here, you know. (SLOWLY) I'll show you around in a few moments.

BETTY:

That'll be very interesting.

STEWART:

Ah, yes - but first - there's the matter of the surety bond. (INTENTLY) I wrote you about that, didn't I?

BETTY:

Yes...you did.

STEWART:

(SIGHS WITH RELIEF) Ah, yes! I felt quite certain of that.. You understand, of course, that this money will be returned to you by the bank at the time you wish to leave my employment. Fair is fair - that's what I always say. Yes, indeed!

BETTY:

Mr. Stewart...I was wondering --

STEWART:

Yes?

BETTY:

Have you had...many secretaries?

STEWART:

(SHARPLY) Why do you ask that?

BETTY:

I want to know...

STEWART:

But why do you ask that question?

BETTY:

And what happens to them after you hire them - (HER VOICES RISES SUDDENLY AS IF SHE'S BEEN HOLDING HERSELF IN LEASH AND CAN DO SO NO LONGER) - tell me what happens to them!

STEWART:

(AFTER TENSE PAUSE) (TENSELY) Young woman - who are you?

BETTY:

My name is...Betty Malone...

STEWART:

Malone!

BETTY:

(WITH INCREASING TEMPO) Betty Malone! My sister Ella came here a month ago about a job, and I want to know where she is - you hear me - I want to know where she is!

STEWART:

(SLOWLY) I don't think I quite know what you're talking about..

BETTY:

Why do you lie to me? (UP) Why do you lie to me? She was here! She was!

STEWART:

Now then - what makes you so sure?

BETTY:

A letter - you wrote her - the first one! I waited a whole month - and then I came here. As soon as I saw you I thought something was wrong - and now I know there is! My sister Ella - where is she - you've got to tell me!

STEWART:

(SLOWLY) What if I tell you again that I don't know what you're talking about?

BETTY:

I'll go to the police! They'll make you tell the truth! I know she came here! I know she did.

STEWART:

(CHUCKLES)

BETTY:

Why do you laugh? Why?

STEWART:

Because you're being a very foolish young lady - very foolish. There is no need to get excited - (CHUCKLES) Of course your sister's here - very happy, too.

BETTY:

(DAZEDLY) She's - she's here?

STEWART:

Yes, yes, and very happy, too!

BETTY:

Then take me to her - oh, please take me to her!

STEWART:

All right, all right, no need to get excited. Of course I'll take you to her. (CHUCKLES) I intended to all along. Just having a little joke with you.

BETTY:

Is she all right - is she -

STEWART:

Of course, of course! Now then - come right along with me (FADE) come right along with me...

TRANSITIONAL PAUSE

FADE IN PAIR WALKING UP STEPS

STEWART:

(FADE IN WITH SOUND OF WALKING UP STEPS) Yes, yes, she's right up here - been with me for over a month.

BETTY:

Why didn't she write? Why didn't she tell me?

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS OUT WITH:

STEWART:

Now, then, right down this hall and you can ask her that for yourself.

BETTY:

This isn't a trick, is it?

STEWART:

My dear young lady, you have easily the most suspicious mind of anyone I've ever met! I'm quite a helpless old man - you always have recourse, as you put it, to the police. Here we are - right in this room.

BETTY:

What - what's she doing in there?

STEWART:

It's her room! She's slightly indisposed. Go right in.

BETTY:

All right.

SOUND:

TRYING DOOR KNOB

BETTY:

It's - it's locked!

STEWART:

Well, knock on the door and she'll open it for you!

GIRL KNOCKING ON DOOR CONTINUING BEHIND:

BETTY:

Ella, it's Betty! Let me in, darling - it's Betty!

KNOCKING ON DOOR AGAIN...HARDER.

STEWART:

Must be asleep...

BETTY:

Ella, please! It's Betty! Your sister Betty!

STEWART:

Well now - certainly is a tight sleeper...

BETTY:

But she can't be sleeping! Open the door - please open the door!

STEWART:

All right, all right, now no reason to get excited.

RATTLE OF KEYS:

STEWART:

Got the key right here...

SOUND:

KEY BEING PUT IN LOCK ETC...BEHIND:

BETTY:

Quickly! Open the door - quickly!

KEY TURNING IN LOCK:

STEWART:

Now, now, don't excite yourself needlessly! There we are - go ahead - you open the door!

DOOR OPENING SQUEAKILY BEHIND:

BETTY:

Ella, it's Betty! Ella - what -- (SCREAMS HORRIBLY AT THE SIGHT SHE SEES)

GONG:

STEWART:

Now, then - my dear Betty - we understand each other clearly, don't we?

BETTY:

(THERE IS A CERTAIN DEAD QUALITY IN HER VOICE AS THERE WOULD BE IN A GIRL WHO HAS SEEN UNUTTERABLE HORROR) Ella...dead...

STEWART:

(CHUCKLES) Nothing like a complete understanding, now is there?

BETTY:

Ella...dead...

STEWART:

Oh, it wasn't so difficult. I shut the door - sealed it - (CHUCKLES) and nature took care of the rest.

BETTY:

(SOFTLY IN SPEAKABLE HORROR) Mother in heaven..

STEWART:

But she died quite easily - much easier than...others.

BETTY:

Why?

STEWART:

You mean why do I do it? (HE SPEAKS PERFECTLY CONVERSATIONALLY) It's a very simple explanation, young woman - this is my business.

BETTY:

Business.

STEWART:

Yes, yes, my business! Some men make their fortune in stocks, and some in bonds, and some in business - and this is my business.

BETTY:

Why?...

STEWART:

Why? Why? Why is any business conducted? Profit, my dear - and I've made quite a neat little profit. Oh, yes, and a very safe one, too!

BETTY:

Ella...my sweet...

STEWART:

Yes, and you're the very first to come wandering about looking for one of my - (CHUCKLES) customers. The first - (TENSELY) and I assure you - the last...Yes, thirty women have come in my front door...

BETTY:

Ella...

STEWART:

Thirty-one, including you and Ella. Come on along. I'll tell you all about them. You will find it most instructive. Yes, indeed!

BETTY:

(THERE IS GREAT DISTATSE IN HER VOICE EVEN THOUGH SHE SPEAKS SLOWLY) Don't...hold my arm..

STEWART:

But I must! These corridors, they twist and turn. Yes, it's best I hold your arm. Get lost easily around this house! (CHUCKLES) My most interesting house!

BETTY:

(STILL THAT FLAT HOPELESSNESS) Where are you taking me?

STEWART:

Yes, there were thirty before you - (CHUCKLES) - most interesting array. I used to read the want ads in small town papers and then I'd write letters - oh, most interesting letters. I needed a secretary, or a housekeeper, or a nurse - excellent salary - (CHUCKLES) Unusual accomodations...

BETTY:

Somehow, Ella, I knew this had happened...

STEWART:

Yes, indeed! And they brought all their worldly belongings with them - generally in a suitcase. A little here and a little there - (CHUCKLES) I assure you it has been most profitable. Now in this room for example --

BETTY:

(IN FLAT HORROR) No, no! Don't open that door!

STEWART:

(CHUCKLING) No, perhaps it would be better not to. The one in here came to be my housekeeper - let me see - how long ago was it? Well, no matter - she came as a housekeeper, and after she went into ah - retirement in that room, I found in her suitcase such interesting bonds! I tell you my eyes fairly popped from my head! Ah, yes - it's the uncertainty that makes my little business so very fascinating...

BETTY:

You killed thirty women..

STEWART:

Now let's go down a little way - now, down here - ah, don't make me pull you along!

BETTY:

You killed thirty women...

STEWART:

Oh, it wasn't difficult! Most women are such fools - anxious to believe what they want to believe...

BETTY:

They came here for life...and you gave them death!

STEWART:

Ah, you're a smart one! That's why I'm even bothering showing you my work - I never did the others! (CHUCKLES) And showing you around won't do harm - you won't be talking "long"...

BETTY:

A thing like you...and thirty women died...

STEWART:

Now in this room - oh, let me open it and show you --

BETTY:

No! No, don't make me look!

STEWART:

(CHUCKLING THRU)

SOUND OF PULLING BOLT BACK AND THROWING OPEN DOOR

STEWART:

You see there's no reason for excitement - an empty room. That's what she thought when she went in here -- then I pressed this button so.

SOUND OF RATCHET AND TRAP DOOR OPENING OFF MIKE

BETTY:

(CRIES OUT)

STEWART:

(GLOATINGLY) And the trap door flopped open as she stood on it and down she went - down, down, guess into what - a pit of lime! (LAUGHS IN ENJOYMENT)

BETTY:

A thing like you alive..

STEWART:

Ah, yes, I tried out so many different ways of killing them. You wonder why they'll never find me out - I'll tell you why - because I'm much too smart for all of them. Because I figured everything out in order - logically - oh, not perfect crimes - no, nothing infantile - but just cleverness in choosing the women I do business with and an equal cleverness in doing away with them. Oh, yes indeed.

BETTY:

You - and -- my dearest Ella...dead...

STEWART:

(IMPATIENTLY) Ella, Ella, Ella! What does she matter - just another - you've got to listen to me! No one else has ever known it - never whispered it before and never again! Why speak of Ella when I'm telling you about my cleverness?

BETTY:

It isn't right for you to live..

STEWART:

(ANGRILY) You're not the judge of living and dying in this place - I am! (MORE CALMLY) Now then, what was I telling you - oh, yes, why they'll never get me! Why my business will go on and on until I have more money than a - no matter that! I want to tell you how I did it.

BETTY:

Ella - somehow - seeing you like that - it's done things in my head.

STEWART:

No corpus delicti - and if there is one, no evidence of violence. There - that's the secret!

BETTY:

Were you very frightened, sister?

STEWART:

A barrel of quick-lime - there's no corpus delicti after that, I tell you! (CHUCKLES) And not when you bury them in a slab of concrete! Ah, yes, that's the secret!

BETTY:

If I could have only been with you, little sister.

STEWART:

And now this room - let me show it to you - I think this will be your room, my dear...

BETTY:

So very frightened...

STEWART:

You see the door - ah, air-tight - air-tight, yes, indeed. I'll open it!

SOUND:

OF PULLING BACK BOLTS AND OPENING HEAVY DOOR BEHIND:

STEWART:

The room - amazing sight, isn't it - no doors, no windows (CHUCKLES) but then, there's quite a scarcity of windows in my house, or haven't you noticed that?

BETTY:

If I could have helped you, Ella...

STEWART:

Ah, but this is a clever room! I'll shut you up inside it and then I'll close the door, and press this button here like this -

CLICK OF SWITCH .. AIR PUMP STARTS .. THIS PUMP MOVES SLOWLY AND HAS TWO DISTINCT BEATS .. DOWN AFTER A FEW SECONDS BEHIND:

STEWART:

You hear that, little one - you hear that? Pumping, pumping, pumping - and guess what it's pumping!

BETTY:

Oh, Ella, Ella, my head!

STEWART:

Air! You hear me pumping the air out of the room! Yes, that's clever, isn't it? You breathe, and soon there'll be nothing there to breathe - and then you'll die - and if the police do find your body - no mark of violence - nothing but asphixiation - a most mysterious death they'll say - and in time they'll decide it's all quite natural - embolism, heart attack - oh, they'll think up a fancy name to clear their files! Yes, indeed! They always do!

BETTY:

(MOURNING) It isn't right for him to live, is it, Ella?

STEWART:

Now, first, off with the pump - (PUMP OUT ON CLICK) And now, my dear, I think you'd better step inside and - Quickly now, so I can close the door and go about my other work! (SHARPLY) Quickly, I tell you!

BETTY:

(TENSELY) No, wait!

STEWART:

Wait for what?

BETTY:

I want to give you something...

STEWART:

What can you give me...that doesn't belong to me already?

BETTY:

(SHARPLY) THIS!

STEWART:

(GASPS) Gun!

BETTY:

Get in there! In the room!

STEWART:

(ALMOST DAZEDLY) Gun! You had a gun in your purse all the time!

BETTY:

My father's - I brought it for the man who - (BROKENLY) Ella - (SHARPLY) Get in that room!

STEWART:

No, no! What - what --

BETTY:

Get in there or I'll press the trigger! Get in! I'll kill you -- I'll --

STEWART:

No, no, don't shoot - (FADE) I'm an old harmless man! I was only fooling! I wouldn't hurt you! -- I --

SOUND OF HEAVY DOOR CLANGING SHUT

STEWART:

(OFF MIKE CRIES OUT AS DOOR CLANGS SHUT .. HIS CRIES BECOME HEAVILY MUFFLED THE MOMENT THE DOOR SHUTS COMPLETELY.) (CRIES CONTINUE VERY MUFFLED BEHIND THE FOLLOWING)

BETTY:

Revenge - it's right to revenge, isn't it, Ella?

SOUND OF THROWING BOLT .. STEWART IS HEARD BANGING ON THE DOOR .. PICTURE TO BE PAINTED IS THAT OF A MAN BANGING ON THE INSIDE OF THE DOOR WHILE BETTY IS ON THE OUTSIDE.

BETTY:

He said to press this button, Ella.

SOUND OF CLICK OF SWITCH .. PUMP STARTS WITH THAT SAME BEAT OF ONE..TWO..ONE..TWO.. CONTINUING BEHIND:

BETTY:

(IN GROWING MADNESS) The pump - it's running, Ella - listen to it - it's killing him the way he killed you - it's right to revenge, isn't it, little sister - right to revenge - (MADLY) right to revenge - right to revenge - (FADE) Right to revenge - right -

VERY SHORT TRANSITIONAL PAUSE .. THEN VERNIER FADE IN OF AIR BEING SUCKED OUT THRU PIPE BY PUMP .. WE HEAR THE HISS OF AIR BEING SUCKED OUT.. THEN PAUSE .. THEN HISS OF AIR AGAIN AND SO ON .. PICTURE TO BE PAINTED IS THAT OF STEWART IN ROOM BEGRUDGING EVERY CYLINDER FULL OF AIR AS IT HISSES OUT THRU PIPE.

STEWART:

The air - it's going out - (UP) Shut off that motor out there! You hear me, shut off that motor! It's pumping out the air - pumping it out! (HOARSELY) The pipe - air going out - (STRAINING) I can't reach the pipe! (UP SCREAMINGLY) Shut it off, you devil out there! Shut it off! It'll kill me! Kill me! (THE AIR IS GETTING THINNER .. BEGINS TO BREATHE HEAVILY) It's getting thinner already! (UP SHOUTING AGAIN) Shut it off! I'll give you anything! Anything you want! Shut off that pump! (BREATHES DEEPLY..RASPINGLY..AS HE TRIES TO SUCK MORE AIR INTO HIS LUNGS) (THEN) I can't die! I won't die! I'll tear the walls down!

SOUND OF HIM BEATING FUTILELY ON THE BARE WALLS

STEWART:

Let me out of here! Air! A man's got to have air! Let me out! Let me out! (HIS PAROXYSM DIES AWAY AND WE HEAR HIM BREATHING HEAVILY..RASPINGLY CLOSE TO THE MICROPHONE) Breath - my ears - can't hear - drums breaking - blood in my mouth - my eyes - no air - bleeding - (HOARSELY IN CLOSE - WEAKLY) air - give me air - a breath of air - air - (FADE SLOWLY) air - give me air - give me air -

VERY SHORT TRANSITIONAL PAUSE

FADE IN THE BEAT OF PUMP .. HOLD IT FOR A FEW SECONDS .. THEN FADE AND CONTINUE BEHIND:

BETTY:

(SHE IS COMPLETELY MAD FROM THE HORROR OF IT NOW .. SHE IS SPEAKING THE WORDS TO THE RHYTHM OF THE PUMP AS SHE DOES AT THE VERY START OF THE SCRIPT) Re-venge, re-venge, re-venge, re-venge, (FADE) re-venge, revenge.

GONG:

POLICEMAN:

Yeah, listen to her, captain - revenge, revenge! Over and over again! Such a young and pretty girl! What could have made her crazy like that? (IN CLOSE) What, I ask ye?

GONG:

ANNOUNCER:

Lights Out, written especially for radio by Arch Oboler, comes to you each Wednesday from our Chicago studios.


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