Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (GO BACK) (Downloadable Text File)

Series: Miscellaneous Single Episodes
Show: Mutual Radio Theatre: Hotel Terminal
Date: Oct 23 1980

transcribed by Patte Rosebank


(AIRED OCT. 23, 1980)

Characters:

HOST (Cicely Tyson)
ROBERT (Elliott Lewis) - A winning football coach, he can't accept that his marriage has failed, and keeps trying to stop the inevitable. Shows his hurt as anger.
JANET (Mary Jane Croft) - His wife. Tired of his lack of affection and empathy. Weary, independent, resigned.
SHORTY - older man, longtime resident at hotel
DIETER - older man, desk clerk at hotel
MRS. PRITCHARD - railway ticket agent, older woman, bubbly
OLD WOMAN - at hotel. No lines, just crying that speaks volumes
PASTOR - older man, one line
MR. WILLET - older man, cab-driver
CONDUCTOR - older man, kindly

Note: The premise of this play is identical to that of the lost "On Stage" episode "Great Dane".

HOST:

This is Cicely Tyson.

MUSIC:

INTRO OF "WEDDING MARCH" ON ORGAN ... WHEN MAIN PART OF TUNE STARTS, CONTINUE UNDER

HOST:

Robert and Janet were childhood sweethearts. They grew up in a small midwestern town, and began dating in high school. Robert went on to the local college, on an athletic scholarship. Janet went to work in a local bank, to support herself and her widowed mother.

A month before Robert graduated, Janet's mother died. The following week, Robert proposed. The week after that, their old high school offered Robert a full-time job as a coach. And that night, they set a date for the wedding.

Their lives were assuming the dimensions their high school yearbook had predicted for them. After all, hadn't HE been the Captain of the football team, and wasn't SHE the Captain of the cheerleaders? It was a perfect match.

MUSIC:

FADE OUT ORGAN AS PASTOR SPEAKS

PASTOR:

Do you, Robert Talbert, take this woman to be thy wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, as long as ye both shall live?

ROBERT:

I do.

MUSIC:

WISTFUL, SOFT, UNDER

HOST:

Twelve years passed. And the marriage seemed to prosper. There were no children, but Robert's football team began to win championships. First, in the Division, then Regionally, and finally, the State.

Robert was handsome and outgoing, and much in demand as a speaker before men's service organizations. He would speak about what it takes to make a winner, both on the field and off. Then, on the night his team won their third State Championship, and the first one to be televised, Janet announced that she was leaving him.

MUSIC:

FAST FADE OUT

HOST:

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: "Hotel Terminal", by Percy Granger. Our stars: Mary Jane Croft and Elliott Lewis.

MUSIC:

FAST FADE OUT

MUSIC:

WISTFUL, PLODDING PIANO, JOINED BY STRINGS. ESTABLISH, THEN UNDER

HOST:

A marriage of twelve years. By all accounts, a normal one. A marriage housed in a split-level home, nourished on an adequate, if not princely, income. Befriended by similar households, the length of the block. A marriage cradled in the soft, if not always comforting, bosom of routine. A marriage of two people, gliding gently along on the pages of the calendar. The seasons marking the progress of their lives. A marriage that sits on the verge of dissolution.

MUSIC:

ADD DRUMS AND HORNS FOR AN OMINOUS BASS LINE, UNDER

HOST:

For a week following Janet's announcement, they argued and fought, pleaded and cried, as they never had in all the years they had known one another. They accused and counter-accused. They defended and attacked and denied. Hurts that had been forgotten or suppressed, burst out. Finally, there seemed to be nothing more to say. And then, Janet packed her bags.

MUSIC:

OUT

SFX:

HEAVY SUITCASE AND CARPETBAG PUT DOWN ON FLOOR

ROBERT:

(BIG CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER) That's it?

JANET:

(RESIGNED) That's all I need.

ROBERT:

One suitcase?

JANET:

And Mother's old carpetbag. I got a few things in there.

ROBERT:

(DERISIVELY) Mother's old carpetbag...

JANET:

Did you call for the taxi?

ROBERT:

Yes. (BEAT) Mr. Willet wondered where you were going this time o' year. He hoped there wasn't trouble in the family.

JANET:

We don't have a family.

ROBERT:

He meant YOUR family.

JANET:

Which branch? The one in the old-age home, or the aunt who never answers our Christmas letter?

ROBERT:

Well, it put me on the spot.

JANET:

So, what did you say?

ROBERT:

You were going to look at hospitals.

JANET:

What???

ROBERT:

That was all I could think of. You're the President of the First Aid Society, and when he asked if there was trouble, that made me think of hospitals. I said you were gonna take a course.

JANET:

Where?

ROBERT:

In Chicago. I said you were gonna become a Registered Nurse. (BEAT) He wished you good luck. (BEAT) Uh...he'll be here any minute.

JANET:

Well. I wish everyone already knew.

ROBERT:

Well, if you want a rundown on the reactions, give me a call. I'll be on the front line.

SFX:

CLOSET OPENED ... FLIPPING THROUGH COATS, UNDER

JANET:

(SOTTO) I don't even know what coat to take. (UP) Is the train on time?

ROBERT:

Who knows?

JANET:

Well, didn't you ch--

ROBERT:

(EXASPERATED) Yes.

JANET:

And?

ROBERT:

Yes. (BEAT) Mr. Willet also wondered why you had to take the midnight train.

JANET:

I could never become a Registered Nurse, even if I wanted to.

ROBERT:

So, what do I tell everyone?! I still haven't got it figured out. What are we lookin' at here, guys? A separation? A divorce?

JANET:

Stop treating this like the team is losing at half-time!

ROBERT:

It's a pretty good analogy, don't you think?

JANET:

(BACK TO COATS. SOTTO) I guess I'll take the warm one. It's probably freezing in Chicago.

SFX:

CLOSET CLOSED

SFX:

SHE WALKS TO HER LUGGAGE

ROBERT:

Um... Are you staying with Susie?

JANET:

Until I get my bearings.

ROBERT:

Hm. (BEAT) Got enough money?

JANET:

I went to the bank. (BEAT) Old Mrs. Riddle... She's retiring next week. She was my supervisor when I worked there before we were married. Taught me everything she knew about banking. She believed in advancement.

ROBERT:

Hm. It's changed a lot in twelve years. I can guarantee you that. You need a college education now, just to open an account.

JANET:

She worked there twenty-seven years. The President of the bank himself is giving her a party at his cabin out on the lake. She invited me to come.

ROBERT:

(GRIMLY) Too bad you'll miss it.

JANET:

I told her Yes.

ROBERT:

You won't be here!

JANET:

Well... I couldn't say anything else. She's such a dear, sweet old woman. (BEAT) God only knows what she's gonna think.

ROBERT:

(BEAT) You...uh...you want me to call her?

JANET:

No. Yes-- No. Oh, I don't know. (EXHALE) I can't even make a decision. I feel like such a failure.

SFX:

DOORBELL

JANET:

Who's that?

ROBERT:

Mr. Willet.

JANET:

Oh.

SFX:

ROBERT WALKS TO DOOR, AND PEEKS OUT WINDOW

ROBERT:

Yep. It's him. I can see his cab.

JANET:

Well. I guess it's goodbye, then.

SFX:

HE WALKS TO HER LUGGAGE

ROBERT:

(QUICKLY) Want me to carry your bags?

JANET:

I can manage.

SFX:

DOORBELL ... HE WALKS TO DOOR ... OPENS IT

WILLET:

Evenin', Coach! Your wife better hurry if she's gonna catch that train!

ROBERT:

She's all set.

WILLET:

Want me to take your grip?

JANET:

No, thank you.

SFX:

SHE CARRIES HER LUGGAGE TO THE DOOR

ROBERT:

(SUDDENLY) Wait a minute.

JANET: Robert!

ROBERT:

I'll drive you.

JANET:

No.

ROBERT:

Just to the station. I'll drive you.

JANET:

(FIRMLY) No! It's late. Mr. Willet can take me.

ROBERT:

(FIRMLY) No.

JANET:

But we agreed that--

WILLET:

You better make up your minds. It's almost midnight!

JANET:

Robert, please let me by.

ROBERT:

Sorry you drove all the way out here, Mr. Willet. How much do I owe you?

WILLET:

(AWKWARDLY) Well, uh, three dollars is what I charge--

ROBERT:

(QUICKLY, GIVING HIM MONEY) Here's five. That cover it?

WILLET:

Why, sure! But you better step on it!

MUSIC:

SHORT TRANSITIONAL

SFX:

CAR INTERIOR, DRIVING, UNDER

JANET:

(FRUSTRATED) What's the point?

ROBERT:

I just wanted to drive you.

JANET:

Well, I'm going to miss it now.

ROBERT:

Don't worry. Trains never run on time.

SFX:

CAR SPEEDS UP, SCREECHES AROUND A CURVE, AND RACES ALONG, UNDER

JANET:

You're driving too fast!

ROBERT:

You wanna make it, or don't you?

SFX:

CAR CONTINUES AT NORMAL SPEED, UNDER

ROBERT:

Here. Here's the station. Can you see the train yet?

JANET:

(SOFTLY) No.

ROBERT:

So, we made it. No harm done.

SFX:

CAR OUT

MUSIC:

TREMULOUS TRANSITIONAL

SFX:

INSIDE THE STATION, THEY WALK TO THE TICKET WINDOW

MRS. P:

Oh, evenin', Coach! Evenin', Mrs. Talbert! What brings you to the depot at this hour?

ROBERT:

Janet's taking the twelve o'clock northbound to Chicago.

MRS. P:

(SYMPATHETIC) Well, you just missed it.

JANET:

What?

MRS. P:

She's been and gone, right on time, just like always.

JANET:

When's the next train?

MRS. P:

(CHECKS SCHEDULE) Hmmm...the next northbound's not til noon tomorrow.

JANET:

Well, I don't care where it goes. Just give me a ticket.

MRS. P:

Well, now, there's the southbound. It rolls through here at three-ten.

JANET:

This morning?

MRS. P:

Yes.

JANET:

That's fine. I'll take that.

MRS. P:

Well, uh, where to?

JANET:

Wherever it goes. As far as it goes. You surprise me, Mrs. Pritchard. It's a vacation, so just...surprise me.

MRS. P:

Okay. And that's just, er, for the one o' ya?

JANET:

Yes.

MRS. P:

(CHUCKLES) Oho! You're takin' a REAL vacation, huh?

SFX:

CASH REGISTER, UNDER

MRS. P:

Oh, by the way, Coach, congratulations on winnin' that State Championship! You put Hanson on the map.

ROBERT:

Yeah. Reckon a person could find their way back here now, if they wanted to, couldn't they?

MRS. P:

Oh, I expect. Well, now, here's your ticket, Mrs. Talbert. I won't tell you where it's goin', but I'll give ya a hint. It'll cost ya eighty-nine dollars and sixty cents.

JANET:

(CHUCKLES) Well, that' sounds exotic.

SFX:

MONEY (BILLS AND COINS) ON COUNTER

MRS. P:

But ya got a three-hour wait. And I'm closin' up the station for the night. What are ya gonna do?

MUSIC:

ONE-CHORD CURTAIN

MUSIC:

WEARY, WISTFUL, UP, THEN UNDER

HOST:

It is nighttime in the late fall. The first chill of winter has settled in. Most of the lights in the prairie town of Hanson are out. But on the platform of the railway station, a single light still burns. And under that light, stand two people: A man and a woman.

MUSIC:

FADE OUT

SFX:

LATE-NIGHT ATMOSPHERE (CRICKETS), UNDER

SFX:

JANET PACES, STOPS

ROBERT:

It won't do any good, looking down the track. Train's not coming for three hours.

JANET:

Well, if you'd let me go with Mr. Willet, I'd have made it.

ROBERT:

(HOSTILE) What's this about a vacation? Is that what this is now?

JANET:

I had to tell her something. It's ridiculous enough as it is. (BEAT) I'm not coming back, Robert.

ROBERT:

You're damn right, you're not coming back! You go now, and that's it!

JANET:

(WRYLY) Winners never quit, and quitters never win.

ROBERT:

That's right! As far as I'm concerned, that's exactly right!

JANET:

(CALMLY) Well, you don't have to wait here with me. I'll be all right.

ROBERT:

(ANYTHING TO GET HER TO COME BACK HOME) You-- You can't stand out here at this time o' night, in this part o' town, all by yourself. It's not safe. There's all those bars around the corner there on East Main. Now, come on. You can wait at home.

JANET:

I'm NOT going back there. It took me too long to leave, and I'm not going back there now! (BEAT) I'll check into a hotel.

ROBERT:

What hotel?! They're all out by the Interstate.

JANET:

There's one across the street there.

ROBERT:

Hotel Terminal?! That's for bums!

JANET:

I don't care. I'll wait there til the train comes. Lemme have my suitcase.

ROBERT:

I'LL carry it.

JANET:

I DON'T want you to come with me.

ROBERT:

I'll carry it over for ya, okay?! Just carry it over. That's all.

SFX:

"LATE NIGHT" AMBIENCE OUT

MUSIC:

SAD, WEARY, SHORT TRANSITION

DIETER:

(SNORING LOUDLY AT DESK, UNDER)

SFX:

SHORTY WALKS INTO LOBBY

SHORTY:

(CALLS) Dieter? (NO REPLY) Dieter... Wake up.

DIETER:

(STARTLED SNORE. WAKING UP) Hmm? Hmm? Oh, what? What?

SHORTY:

If I can't sleep, there's no reason why YOU should.

DIETER:

(YAWNS) What's wrong, Shorty? Room Service didn't bring ya a nighttime bottle?

SHORTY:

Aw, that damn crybaby's goin' again, and I've HAD it! This is Saturday night, dammit, and a man's entitled to a break! Even the Lord got to rest on the Sabbath. I pay for my room, and I want some peace and quiet.

DIETER:

Well, I can't shut her up.

SHORTY:

You ain't even tried recently!

DIETER:

YOU shut her up!

SHORTY:

How, dammit?! I've said every blamed thing I can think of to say, and it don't do any good.

DIETER:

(SIGH) Eighty-two years old, all alone. I reckon you'd cry too, if you were sober enough.

SHORTY:

Why'd the State have to go and put her up here for, anyway? Don't they got old-age homes?

DIETER:

It's cheaper.

SHORTY:

This place has gone straight downhill ever since they made it into a Welfare hotel.

DIETER:

You're just gonna have to let her cry herself to sleep, I expect. She usually does.

SHORTY:

Well... Gimme a cigarette.

DIETER:

Why don't you go buy your own smokes?

SHORTY:

Come on... Be a cowboy.

DIETER:

(SIGH) Well, they're right where they always are. (BEAT) If that old lady don't croak soon, I'm gonna go broke keepin' you in cigarettes.

SFX:

RUSTLE OF CIGARETTE PACKET, AS SHORTY TAKES ONE OUT

SHORTY:

You got a light?

DIETER:

No, I'm out. Go round the corner to the bar, and get some, willya?

SHORTY:

What am I, your slave?

DIETER:

I can't leave the desk.

SHORTY:

(IRONIC) Yeah. Somebody might rent a room.

SFX:

HOTEL'S FRONT DOOR OPENS ... JANET AND ROBERT ENTER

DIETER:

(QUIETLY, TO SHORTY) Go ahead, beat it. Don't be hangin' around.

SFX:

FRONT DOOR CLOSES ... JANET & ROBERT WALK TO DESK, UNDER

SHORTY:

Ehhh. They're probably lost.

DIETER:

(UP) Uh... Evening... Sir.

SFX:

ROBERT PUTS DOWN SUITCASES

DIETER:

What can I, uh, do for you folks?

JANET:

I'd like to rent a room.

DIETER:

Hokey-doke. Uh, how long will you be with us?

JANET:

Just for the night. For a few hours.

DIETER:

Well, that's...fine by me. I got a nice double for ya, up on the top floor. (CHUCKLES) You won't be disturbed.

JANET:

I want a single.

DIETER:

Uh, you mean twins?

JANET:

I mean single. It's just for me.

DIETER:

Oh.

SHORTY:

(TO ROBERT) Ehhh, excuse me, Mister. You got a match?

ROBERT:

I don't smoke.

DIETER:

Shorty, go to McRed's Bar, why dont'cha?

SHORTY:

(GRUMBLING) Okay.

SFX:

SHORTY TRUDGES TO DOOR, OPENS IT, AND LEAVES, CLOSING DOOR, UNDER

DIETER:

Okay, Ma'am. Now, if you'll just, uh, sign the register here...

SFX:

TURNS LARGE BOOK TO FACE JANET ... SCRATCHING OF PEN, UNDER

DIETER:

And... that'll be seven-fifty.

ROBERT:

(GRIM) I'll get it.

JANET:

I can pay.

ROBERT:

What difference does it make?

SFX:

RUSTLE OF PAPER MONEY

ROBERT:

Here ya go, fella; take it outta that.

SFX:

DIETER TURNS LARGE BOOK TO FACE HIM

DIETER:

(READING) Uh...name's uh...Talbert?

JANET:

Yes.

DIETER:

Hey! Are you Bob Talbert, the Coach? I saw that game last week, right here on this TV! Oh, it was a dandy!

ROBERT:

Oh, thank you.

DIETER:

(CHUCKLING) I bet you're real sorry you're losin' him, huh?

ROBERT:

(BLANKLY) What?

DIETER:

Reese Smith. Oh, that boy has got an arm on him, don't he?

ROBERT:

(AWKWARDLY) Oh, yeah. Well, we, uh... (WITH MEANING) We all gotta go sometime.

DIETER:

(CHUCKLING) That's right. Onward and upward.

JANET:

What room am I in?

DIETER:

Oh. I'm sorry, Ma'am. Let's see... (CHECKING KEYS) That'll be 2-E. Yeah. Here-- here's your change, Coach.

SFX:

GIVES COINS TO ROBERT

JANET:

Robert, can I have my bags?

ROBERT:

I'll carry 'em up.

JANET:

(CLENCHED TEETH) Really, Dear, it's fine.

ROBERT:

(FIRMLY) You go on. I've got 'em.

JANET:

(WARNINGLY) Robert...

DIETER:

Uh, there might be a loose step or two, Ma'am. Uh, maybe you better let the Coach take 'em.

JANET:

(QUIETLY) What are you doing, Robert? Why are you trying to hang on? There's nothing left. Don't you understand? It's OVER.

MUSIC:

SAD, WEARY TRANSITION, FADING SLIGHTLY, UNDER

SFX:

SHORTY WALKS TO DESK

SHORTY:

Here's the matches, Dieter. Keep 'em handy.

DIETER:

(EXCITED) Hey! You know who that was? Bob Talbert, the Coach o' the Tigers!

SHORTY:

Yeah? Whatta ya think HE'S doin' here? Havin' an affair with that...lady?

MUSIC:

LOUDER, THEN FADES OUT FAST

SFX:

ROBERT AND JANET CLIMB THE STAIRS, UNDER

ROBERT:

What'd he say? 2-B?

JANET:

2-E.

ROBERT:

Right.

SFX:

THEY WALK ALONG THE HALL

ROBERT:

Here it is.

SFX:

KEY INTO LOCK ... STRUGGLING TO UNLOCK DOOR

ROBERT:

You want me to do it?

JANET:

(FIRMLY) I can get it.

SFX:

ANOTHER STRUGGLE ... DOOR UNLOCKS ... SHE OPENS IT

ROBERT:

(PATRONIZINGLY) Good for you.

JANET:

Just leave the bags out here.

SFX:

SHE STEPS INTO ROOM

ROBERT:

I'll just put 'em inside the door.

SFX:

HE STEPS INTO THE ROOM, AND DOES.

ROBERT:

There you go. All set. (BEAT) Well...

JANET:

(SUDDENLY) What time is it?

ROBERT:

(CHECKS WATCH) Uh... twelve-twenty. Still nearly three hours. (BEAT) Uh... I'm sorry you missed your train. I didn't do it on purpose.

JANET:

(SOFTLY) I know. (BEAT) You don't have to stay.

ROBERT:

I know. (BEAT) Uh... You want a cigarette?

JANET:

Please.

SFX:

GIVES HER A CIGARETTE ... STRIKES A MATCH ... LIGHTS CIGARETTE

JANET:

(SOFTLY) Thanks.

ROBERT:

(BEAT) How 'bout my watch?

JANET:

What?

ROBERT:

You wanna take it?

JANET:

Oh. No. I think I'd rather not know what time it is. Not for a while.

ROBERT:

Yeah, sure.

SFX:

HE WALKS AROUND, LOOKING AT THE ROOM

ROBERT:

Well, uh... Depressing place, huh?

SFX:

HE WALKS AROUND, LOOKING AT THE ROOM

ROBERT:

(CAUSTICALLY) Hey. Gotta pity the poor, rotten losers that end up in rooms like this.

JANET:

It'd be easier if...

ROBERT:

I know. But there's still time on the clock.

JANET:

This ISN'T the locker-room, Robert! You can't change the course of things with a pep-talk! There aren't five-thousand fans out there, cheering us on! (TEARFUL) We're two people, all alone...in the middle of nowhere, with nothing more to say to each other! And three hours to kill. (BEAT. SOFTLY) That's it, Honey. That's all that's left. Three hours to kill.

MUSIC:

LONG CHORD CURTAIN

MUSIC:

WISTFUL, BUT WITH A BIT OF HOPE, CONTINUING UNDER ... FAST FADE OUT AT [X]

HOST:

People talking in a room. Suddenly, a pause. For a moment, no-one speaks. In the silence, an angel passes over them. A string breaks with a sound lost to the air, but not to the heart. [X] And when the conversation resumes, something has changed.

(ROBERT IS TESTY. JANET IS QUIETLY RESIGNED.)

 

ROBERT:

Nothing more to say, and three hours to kill, huh? Well, maybe you're right. (BEAT) What are you gonna do?

JANET:

I don't know.

ROBERT:

You don't even know where you're going!

JANET:

I don't care.

ROBERT:

(BEAT) Willing to take pot-luck, just to get outta here.

JANET:

We'll get over it. People do.

ROBERT:

That's a REAL cheerful thought.

JANET:

(GRIM CHUCKLE) You know what I thought when you offered to give me your watch? That I wouldn't feel attractive.

ROBERT:

You'll look great. Don't worry about it. It's not your old cheerleading figure, but you wear the right things, and you look great.

JANET:

You really are a pig, Robert. Cut from the whole cloth.

ROBERT:

May-be. But it's what I am. Love it or leave it.

JANET:

I did. I am.

ROBERT:

(BEAT) What happened to us, anyway?

JANET:

We don't look at each other any more.

ROBERT:

(BEAT) There's not another woman, Janet.

JANET:

I know. That's not what I meant.

ROBERT:

(BEAT) You don't think we could turn things around?

JANET:

No.

ROBERT:

The way it looks to me, we just haven't given it our best shot.

JANET:

It's not a game, Robert. Don't you see, there's nothing there? There's no common ground any more.

ROBERT:

Why not?

JANET:

I don't know. Something's gone. Love, maybe. Maybe just compassion. I don't mean just you; it's both of us... There's no common feeling; there's nothing we share.

ROBERT:

No? What about our whole lives?

JANET:

I mean now.

WOMAN:

(IN NEXT ROOM, STARTS TO CRY DEEP SOBS AND MOANS OF EMOTIONAL PAIN, CONTINUING UNDER)

ROBERT:

What the hell is that?

JANET:

(VERY CONCERNED) It sounds like someone's crying in the next room.

ROBERT:

Oh, terrific!

JANET:

We're talking too loud.

SFX:

HE WALKS TO WALL ... POUNDS SOFTLY ON IT

ROBERT:

(CALLING THROUGH WALL) Hey, let's keep it down over there, okay?

SFX:

POUNDS ON WALL SOME MORE

JANET:

Robert, don't! It sounds like an old woman.

ROBERT:

Great. Probably means she's deaf, to boot!

JANET:

Just leave her alone.

ROBERT:

What? Sit here and listen to THAT?

JANET:

(LOUD WHISPER) Keep your voice down! She'll stop in a minute!

ROBERT:

I WON'T keep my voice down! I got a problem here! My whole life is collapsing, and I won't keep my voice down, because some drunken derelict in the next room is snivelling into her beer!

WOMAN:

(CRIES FOR A FEW MORE SECONDS, THEN STOPS)

JANET:

(BEAT) She stopped.

ROBERT:

(GRIM) Yeah.

JANET:

Do you think she's all right?

ROBERT:

She probably cried herself back to sleep.

JANET:

Well, shouldn't we do something?

ROBERT:

Like what?

JANET:

Well-- Maybe we should tell the desk clerk.

ROBERT:

Why? It's none of our business. You can't do anything for people like that anyway.

JANET:

(WISTFULLY) My mother used to cry like that at night, after Daddy died... When I came home from our dates, I could...hear her in her room, all alone, crying.

ROBERT:

(GRIM) Hm. It was her way of tryin' to make you feel rotten because you wanted to lead your own life.

JANET:

After a while... I stopped going in to see her. I couldn't bear it. The first night I stayed with you, was because I couldn't face lying awake at home, listening to her.

ROBERT:

(GRIM) You mean, it wasn't my long-lost skill as a lover?

JANET:

(SMILING) I remember. I was so worried someone at work would notice I was wearing the same dress, two days in a row... Mrs. Riddle did, I'm sure. Oh, I was mortified. But she let on like she hadn't noticed a thing. She always made me feel that whatever I did was the finest thing in the world, by her.

ROBERT:

THAT'S what you remember?

JANET:

And right after that, Mother began to stop eating... First, she made me feed her like a baby; then she refused to eat at all. Like she knew she'd lost. And I was gonna lead my own life.

ROBERT:

So long as it didn't offend Mrs. Riddle.

JANET:

Mrs. Riddle liked you, Robert. She was the one who thought we should get married.

ROBERT:

Okay! Sorry! Personal foul.

JANET:

I've never wanted to be alone.

ROBERT:

So, now you're jumping on the first train to nowhere! I don't get it. What sense does that make?

JANET:

I don't know. Probably none. I'm sure you're right.

ROBERT:

So, why?!

JANET:

(BEAT) I get headaches.

ROBERT:

Headaches?

JANET:

I tried to explain it before, Robert; I couldn't.

ROBERT:

If you can't explain something, it doesn't exist!

JANET:

The headaches exist.

ROBERT:

We're not bums, Janet! There's no reason we couldn't make it work out! I'll do anything but go to a marriage counsellor!

WOMAN:

(STARTS CRYING AGAIN, UNDER)

ROBERT:

(EXPLODING) Oh, shut up!

SFX:

HE POUNDS HARD ON WALL

ROBERT:

(TO JANET) You know where that train's going, the one you're taking? Houston! What the hell are you gonna do in Houston?!

WOMAN:

(CRIES LOUDER)

ROBERT:

(CALLS THROUGH WALL) Hey, over there!

SFX:

HE POUNDS HARD ON WALL

ROBERT:

(DITTO) What's your problem, huh?

JANET:

Robert, leave her alone! You should go down for the desk clerk!

ROBERT:

Houston! You wear a man's watch there, and them millionaires won't give ya a second peek!

JANET:

Maybe she's hungry!

ROBERT:

Hungry?

JANET:

I mean, maybe she's hurt herself! Maybe she has a broken hip!

ROBERT:

So? Don't listen!

JANET:

PLEASE go down! We should call someone!

ROBERT:

(SEETHING) Why don't you do it? You want it done,YOU do it! You're the President o' the First Aid Society! Go over! Give her some feminine pep-talk!

JANET:

All right!

SFX:

SHE STANDS UP ... GOES TO DOOR ... OPENS IT

ROBERT:

(SUDDENLY CONCERNED) Hey, wait a minute! Where are you going?

JANET:

To talk to the desk clerk myself, if you won't, and to call for help if necessary!

ROBERT:

It won't bring your mother back!

JANET:

(BEAT) That stung, Robert. That hurt.

SFX:

SHE GOES OUT, SLAMMING DOOR

WOMAN:

(SOBS LOUDLY, AS THOUGH HER HEART IS BROKEN)

ROBERT:

(AFTER SEVERAL SECONDS) Oh, cool it, huh? What are ya cryin' about, anyway?

WOMAN:

(CRIES HARDER, UNDER)

ROBERT:

(FRUSTRATED) Ohhh... (SOTTO) Holy cow, I never heard a sound like that. (THROUGH WALL) La-dy? ...Stop it, willya? Lady! (PAUSE. SOTTO) What am I doin' talkin' to a wall? I must be nuts.

SFX:

WALKS TO DOOR, OPENS IT, GOES INTO HALL

ROBERT:

(CALLING) Janet? (SOTTO) Oh, good golly, don't you ever shut up?

SFX:

WALKS TO WOMAN'S DOOR

ROBERT:

Hey? ...Hey? Is this your door?

SFX:

KNOCKS ON DOOR

ROBERT:

Can you listen up in there?

SFX:

KNOCKS ON DOOR

ROBERT:

Hey?

SFX:

KNOCKS ON DOOR

WOMAN:

(CRIES HARDER)

ROBERT:

(SOTTO) It don't even sound human!

WOMAN:

(CRIES FADE SLIGHTLY, CONTINUING UNDER)

ROBERT:

(AWKWARDLY TRYING TO BE GENTLE) Look... I'm next door, here. My wife just went down to see the night clerk. Is there something we can do for you? (PAUSE) Did you hurt yourself? (PAUSE) Hey, Miss? Can you hear me? Are you all right? (PAUSE) Uh, look. I'm gonna come in, okay?

WOMAN:

(CRIES HARDER)

ROBERT:

Are you decent? I'm from next door, and I'm just gonna see you're okay.

SFX:

TRIES DOORKNOB. IT'S LOCKED ... HE TRIES AGAIN

ROBERT:

You got the door locked. Are you okay, then?

WOMAN:

(CRIES HARDER)

ROBERT:

Could-- could you just tell me what the matter is? (PAUSE. WITH GROWING EMPATHY) You sound like you're hurt pretty bad. Do you wanna talk to someone? (PAUSE) Would that help?

SFX:

GENTLY KNOCKS ON DOOR

ROBERT:

I can stay here if you want. (PAUSE) My wife went for help. She'll know who to call.

WOMAN:

(CRYING STOPS FOR A MOMENT, AS IF LISTENING TO HIM. THEN CONTINUES, UNDER)

ROBERT:

It...doesn't sound to me like you need a hospital, though. Sounds like...what you need (CATCH IN VOICE) isn't around any more. (PAUSE. SOFTLY) My wife and I are splitting up... She's taking the three-ten to Houston.

WOMAN:

(CRIES SOFTER, AS IF LISTENING)

ROBERT:

She doesn't even know what she's gonna do. (BEAT) Neither do I.

WOMAN:

(CRYING STOPS)

ROBERT:

I coach football, but the season's over. (PAUSE) What about you? (PAUSE) If... if you wanna talk, I'll stay here by the door. Okay? (PAUSE) Can I? (PAUSE. TEARFUL) Can I just stand here outside your door?

MUSIC:

WISTFUL CURTAIN

MUSIC:

WEARY, WISTFUL, UP, THEN UNDER

HOST:

Cicely Tyson again. And here is the Fourth Act of "Hotel Terminal".

MUSIC:

FADE OUT FAST

WOMAN:

(CRYING HARD, CONTINUING UNDER)

ROBERT:

(AFTER SEVERAL SECONDS) Ma'am? (PAUSE) Ma'am? I'm still here. (PAUSE) It...it's not much of a place to be if you're down and hurtin', is it? (PAUSE) My wife'll be back up, any minute now, if you can just hang on. (PAUSE) Is-- is there someone we can call? (PAUSE. CATCH IN HIS VOICE) Hey? If there's something I can do...please tell me. (PAUSE) If there's something I can say... (PAUSE) I know how you feel. You're crying for both of us. We knew each other, our whole lives practically. Went steady, got married... What'd we know, huh? (TEARFUL) Oh, God, it's terrible when you blow it that big.

WOMAN:

(CRYING LOUDER, UNDER)

SFX:

SOMEONE COMING UPSTAIRS, UNDER

ROBERT:

(RELIEVED) Hey! She's comin'! My wife's comin' back. It'll be okay now.

SHORTY:

What'sa matter? Is she keepin' you awake too?

ROBERT:

(STARTLED) What?

SFX:

SHORTY WALKS TO DOOR

SHORTY:

Here. I'll show ya how to deal with her.

ROBERT:

Who are you?

SHORTY:

Name's Shorty Ebbetts. I live here.

ROBERT:

My wife--? Is she downstairs? Did she speak to you?

SHORTY:

Sleep is like protein, ya know that? Eight hours has all the vitamins and minerals of a twelve-ounce steak. And it's free.

ROBERT:

(MYSTIFIED) What?

SHORTY:

Only, we got Miss Crybaby here, who's got no consideration for us regular cowboys, like you and me.

ROBERT:

Hey... she sounds like she's in a hell of a lotta pain, Mister.

SHORTY:

(GRIM) I'll say she is.

SFX:

POUNDS ON DOOR

SHORTY:

(YELLING) Hey!

ROBERT:

(ALARMED) What are ya doin'?

SHORTY:

This is how to deal with her!

SFX:

POUNDS ON DOOR

SHORTY:

Hey, Crybaby! This is Godzilla! You want me to kick your door down?

WOMAN:

(CRIES HARDER)

SFX:

POUNDS ON DOOR

SHORTY:

Want me to tear it off its hinges, and stomp on your back?

ROBERT:

(OUTRAGED) Hey, Mister! Cool it!

SHORTY:

(IGNORING HIM) You think you're the only one who's got problems? Well, you're NOT! I got problems too! I can't sleep! It's no bed o' roses on THIS side o' the door either, ya know! What gives you the right to lock yourself in?

SFX:

POUNDS ON DOOR

SHORTY:

Clarice! D'you hear me? You shut up in there! You're a no-good, name-callin', laamite shrike! I should'a beat the tar outta you, ya hear? I should'a broke every bone in your body, you and that damn Memphis truck-driver both!

WOMAN:

(CRYING GETS SOFTER, UNDER)

SHORTY:

I'm a chain-smoker, Clarice! I drink the cheapest damn wine I can get! I'm goin' to Hell in a handcart, and it's YOUR fault!

ROBERT:

(WORRIED) Mister... You okay?

SHORTY:

(PAUSE) Alice? (PAUSE. GENTLY) Alice? (PAUSE) Ain't you ever gonna give your ol' Daddy a call? Ain't you ever gonna come see me again? You don't listen to what your mother says about me, do ya?

WOMAN:

(CRYING SOFTER, AND STOPPING)

SHORTY:

(ALMOST TENDERLY) That's the only problem, Honey. That's the only thing in the world that stands between me and you. (PAUSE. TO ROBERT) There ya go, Mister. Now, we can get some sleep.

ROBERT:

My... My wife went downstairs to help. Did you see her?

SHORTY:

That woman that was with ya? She left.

ROBERT:

(BEAT. CATCH IN VOICE) What do you mean?

SHORTY:

I mean, she walked out the door.

ROBERT:

Wh... Didn't she talk to the night clerk?

SHORTY:

Well, we said, "Howdy," but she didn't say nothin' back. She just went out.

MUSIC:

2-CHORD TRANSITIONAL

SFX:

ROBERT HURRIES DOWNSTAIRS ... WALKS TO THE FRONT DESK, WHERE DIETER IS ASLEEP

ROBERT:

(QUIETLY) Hello? (NO REPLY) 'Scuse me?

DIETER:

(STARTLED) Huh? Huh?

ROBERT:

My wife...?

DIETER:

(YAWNS) Huh?

ROBERT:

(MORE URGENT) My wife?

DIETER:

Yeah, Coach, I'm with ya so far. What about her? (YAWNS)

ROBERT:

W-- She came down to tell you 'bout that lady upstairs.

DIETER:

Oh, I can't do nothin' 'bout that. She's-- she's the State's problem.

ROBERT:

(WORRIED, INTENSE) Where is she?

DIETER:

Which one? Your wife? I dunno. She come down a few minutes ago, kinda slow, and she looked like she was gonna say somethin'. Then she changed her mind, and went out the door.

ROBERT:

You don't even have a payphone here?

DIETER:

No. Phone company's passed us by.

ROBERT:

(SOTTO) Damn! (UP) So, she had to go out to look for one.

DIETER:

Well, she won't have much luck around here, I expect. Only phones are in the bars, and they'll all be closed down by now.

ROBERT:

So now...she's all over Creation, somewhere! That fellow who was down here before oughtta be horsewhipped!

DIETER:

(CHUCKLING) Yeah. Yeah, I could hear him all the way down here, this time! Did he get her to shut up?

ROBERT:

She sounds like she's in a hell of a lotta pain!

DIETER:

Aw, it's the same thing every night. They're both used to it.

ROBERT:

Doesn't anyone help her?

DIETER:

Well, HE does. Shorty, that-- that fella upstairs. He runs her errands; he does her shopping. They're practically old friends.

ROBERT:

Wh... Why does she cry?

DIETER:

Cause she's old. She's all alone. And it's nighttime.

ROBERT:

(ALMOST INAUDIBLE) Yeah. (UP) Her name is...Clarice?

DIETER:

Naw. That's what Shorty calls her. That, and Alice. That's his wife and his kid. I-- I'm sorry she kept your wife awake, Mr. Talbert. I... I-- I don't reckon this is the kinda place you folks are used to stayin' at.

ROBERT:

Well, she, uh... She has to catch a train.

DIETER:

The three-ten southbound?

ROBERT:

(BEAT) W-- She wanted to catch the midnight train, but we missed it. And we... We didn't figure it was worthwhile to go back home.

DIETER:

Oh, that train goes in the other direction.

ROBERT:

(BEAT) Pardon?

DIETER:

The midnight goes north.

ROBERT:

Yeah. Well...like I say, it wasn't worthwhile to go home. (PAUSE) Uh, is it okay (CATCH IN HIS VOICE) if I wait for her?

DIETER:

(UNDERSTANDS) Oh. Sure. (TRYING TO COVER IT) Oh, yeah. Th-- there's a couch over there in the lobby. Uh... Help yourself. It's only (LOOKS AT CLOCK) one o'clock now. I... I reckon she'll be back, before long.

MUSIC:

TWO-CHORD TRANSITIONAL, LIKE A MOURNFUL TRAIN WHISTLE

SFX:

OLD CLOCK CHIMES THREE

SFX:

HOTEL FRONT DOOR OPENS ... JANET WALKS IN ... DOOR CLOSES ... SHE WALKS TO FRONT DESK, WHERE DIETER IS ASLEEP.

JANET:

Excuse me.

DIETER:

(YAWNING, AS HE WAKES UP) Hm? Yeah? (RECOGNIZES HER) Oh. Hullo, Mrs. Talbert.

JANET:

I've come back to pick up my bags.

DIETER:

(YAWNING) Yeah?

JANET:

I'm catching the train that leaves in a few minutes.

DIETER:

M' okay. Uh, you been out lookin' for a phone, all this time? (YAWNS)

JANET:

A phone?

DIETER:

Yeah, for the old woman.

JANET:

Uh-- (REALIZES) Oh. Uh, no. No, I didn't go for help. I just went for a walk.

DIETER:

That's, uh, mighty dangerous in this part o' town, this time o' night.

JANET:

Is my husband still upstairs?

DIETER:

Er...no, Ma'am. He-- he come down lookin' for ya. He-- he's on the couch over there. Heh. Looks like he's fallen asleep. Er, you want me to waken him?

JANET:

(WHISPERING) No. No, I'll just get my bags.

DIETER:

Want me to give ya a hand?

JANET:

No, I'll get them myself.

SFX:

SHE QUICKLY WALKS TO HER LUGGAGE ... PICKS IT UP

JANET:

Thank you for asking, though.

MUSIC:

SHORT TRANSITIONAL

SFX:

(SLIGHTLY OFF) SEVERAL BLASTS OF TRAIN WHISTLE ... TRAIN APPROACHES STATION ... STOPS ... RELEASES AIR PRESSURE

ROBERT:

(STARTLED AWAKE) Wh--? Huh? Is that the train?

SFX:

(SLIGHTLY OFF) TRAIN AT STATION, UNDER

DIETER:

Yup. She just pulled in.

ROBERT:

Janet! She didn't come back yet?

DIETER:

Oh, she's been and gone. She said not to wake you.

ROBERT:

She-- She took her bags?

DIETER:

Yeah. Uh, but that train, uh...sits here about five minutes. It's gotta take on the mail. You could... get over there and catch her, I bet.

ROBERT:

She didn't even wanna say goodbye, huh?

DIETER:

Gee, I-- I was gonna waken ya, but she stopped me. But there's...still time.

ROBERT:

When did she come back?

DIETER:

Just a few minutes ago.

ROBERT:

Just in time to catch the train. (BEAT) So, she wasn't looking for help, after all.

DIETER:

Maybe she's changed her mind. (PAUSE) I'm...sorry, Coach.

ROBERT:

(FALSE BRAVADO) Sorry? What the hell for?

DIETER:

I guess this...flophouse wasn't the nicest place for you folks to...be at a time like this.

ROBERT:

(SOFTLY) Well, it was some place, once.

DIETER:

(CHUCKLES) Most of 'em were, Mr. Talbert. Most of 'em were.

ROBERT:

(THINKING) Nineteen-oh-four. That's when they built it. This was the first stone structure in town.

DIETER:

No kiddin'? Hm, boy! She must'a looked like a castle.

ROBERT:

She did. I've seen pictures. There was nothing but lean-to's, tents, and a few wooden shacks. Then the railroad came through. And they put up this hotel. She rose up off the prairie like a castle! It was the finest place in town. I was here, once. (A LITTLE MISTY) I came here when I was fourteen...

DIETER:

Oh, yeah... Uh, they had girls here, then.

ROBERT:

I wrote an essay about this hotel, for History class.

SFX:

TRAIN SOUNDS WHISTLE, SEVERAL TIMES, UNDER

ROBERT:

We all had to choose one o' the old buildings in town.

SFX:

TRAIN PULLS AWAY, UNDER

ROBERT:

We had to do research...find out their whole history. Everything that had happened there. And write about it.

DIETER:

(SMILES) Well, there's...one thing ya gotta say for these old places... They sure were built to last. They may not be much to look at now, but, oh, they sure were built to last!

SFX:

TRAIN IS IN THE DISTANCE NOW ... BLOWS WHISTLE SEVERAL TIMES

MUSIC:

WISTFUL CURTAIN

MUSIC:

WISTFUL CURTAIN

DIETER:

She's gone.

ROBERT:

(CHOKED UP) Yes.

DIETER:

Be in Houston two-fifty-five, tomorrow afternoon. (PAUSE) I'm...sorry, Mr. Talbert. I... I guess there's...there's not much to say, huh?

ROBERT:

No. (SWALLOWS HARD) That was the problem.

DIETER:

Funny how she is, but...sometimes, that's it.

ROBERT:

(CHOKED UP) Yeah. (PAUSE) Well, thanks, uh...?

DIETER:

Uh, Dieter's the name.

ROBERT:

(WARMLY) Thanks, Dieter.

SFX:

STARTS TO WALK AWAY, THEN STOPS

ROBERT:

Uh, say... If you're interested, gimme a call next fall. I'll getcha free tickets for our games.

MUSIC:

TRANSITIONAL, ENDING LIKE A TRAIN WHISTLE

SFX:

"ONBOARD TRAIN" AMBIENCE, UNDER

CONDUCT:

Ticket, Miss? (NO RESPONSE) Miss? (NO RESPONSE) Ma'am?

JANET:

(STARTLED OUT OF HER THOUGHTS) What? Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were speaking to me.

CONDUCT:

I gotta punch your ticket.

JANET:

Oh. Here.

SFX:

GIVES HIM TICKET ... HE PUNCHES IT ... GIVES IT BACK TO HER.

CONDUCT:

So... Gonna be with us all the way to Houston, eh?

JANET:

Yes. I live there. I work in a bank.

CONDUCT:

Oh. Better'n keepin' folks comfortable. You want a pillow?

JANET:

Oh, uh, no thank you.

CONDUCT:

How 'bout a blanket? You look like you're shiverin'.

JANET:

(SMILING) No, I'm fine. I don't need anything.

CONDUCT:

Well, we got a diner, one car forward...and a Club car, one car back. That, and the facilities, should take care o' ya til you're home.

SFX:

SEVERAL MOURNFUL TRAIN WHISTLES, AS TRAIN CONTINUES ALONG

MUSIC:

SAD, WISTFUL, FINAL CURTAIN

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, "Hotel Terminal", was written by Percy Granger, and produced and directed by Livia Gredito. Your hostess was Cicely Tyson. Our stars were Mary Jane Croft and Elliott Lewis. Featured in the cast were Paula Winslowe, Vic Perrin, Herb Vigran, and Ed McNamara. John Harland speaking. The Elliott Lewis production of "Mutual Radio Theatre" is a presentation of C.V.I.