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Atomic Julie - Patch by William Shedenhelm

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The old boys who fly by the seat of their pants can solve problems that make the more modern space jockeys completely panic.

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    19 Nocturne Boulevard - THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK (Lovecraft 5 #2) - Reissue!

    39:14

    Five friends gather for another story - this one of an artist doomed for his curiousity.   Cast List Edward - Bryan Hendrickson Charles - Michael Coleman (Tales of the Extraordinary) Warren - Glen Hallstrom Richard - Philemon Vanderbeck Herbert - Carl Cubbedge Blake - Derek Fetters (Unspeakable and Inhuman) Music by Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com) Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson Cover Design:  Brett Coulstock   "What kind of a place is it? Why it's another brownstone dinner party, can't you tell?" ***************************************************************** THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK (Lovecraft 5, #2) Cast: Edward, a writer Charles, a dilettante Herbert, a scientist Richard, a painter Warren, a professor Robert Blake, deceased writer OLIVIA     Did you have any trouble finding it?  What do you mean, what kind of a place is it?  Why, it's Charles' house again, can't you tell?  MUSIC SOUND     MUSIC, but muffled SOUND    CUPBOARD CLOSES, FEET APPROACH CHARLES    Try this one. SOUND    BOX HANDED OVER EDWARD    Thanks.  [quiet, a bit diffident] And... and I appreciate your putting us up tonight, Charles. CHARLES    [breezily covering] In my own interest, I assure you.  I've no wish to climb five flights of rickety stairs and squat in your cramped dormer just to hear a story. SOUND    WALKING EDWARD    And I have no wish to disappoint you.  [perking up]  Though you really can't knock the cramped dormer for atmosphere... CHARLES    We'll just look at this as my way of supporting the arts, shall we? SOUND    DOOR OPENS SOUND    MUSIC LESS MUFFLED, SOUND OF FIREPLACE CHARLES    Here we are. SOUND    WALKING IN WARREN    Aha! HERBERT     There you are! RICHARD    Where did you have to go for it?  China? CHARLES    I knew I had a few of these still lying around.  Just take one to start - they're wicked sour. SOUND    BOX OPENS, PICKING OUT CANDIES CHARLES    Richard? RICHARD    Perhaps just one.  [pops into mouth, reacts]  WARREN    [chuckles]  I've tried many kinds of native confectionery in my travels, back in the day.  [puts into mouth, reacts, but tries not to]  [slightly breathless] Ah, yes.  Much like the salted ginger prunes I tried in [deep breath] Hong Kong [coughs slightly] in 1907. RICHARD    So jaded, Warren.  [teasing] Aren't you having one, Herbert? HERBERT    I've never understood the point of discomfiting oneself by eating painful food.  EDWARD    [trying not to pucker] It's really quite tasty. HERBERT    I'll stick to my drink, thank you very much. SOUND    BOX SET DOWN, SHUT CHARLES    Can't blame you, though I find myself rather more partial to these than I ought.  [pops something into mouth, then talks around it with no apparent difficulty]  So, Edward? SOUND    SECOND BOX SET DOWN ON TABLE EDWARD    Um!  [removes candy with a slight slurp]  Right.  Of course. SOUND    SHUFFLING PAPERS HERBERT    Isn't this supposed to be a true story? EDWARD    [baffled] Yes, why do you ask? HERBERT    Why the manuscript, then?  How can we trust anything you've written down to be fact and not one of your fantastical fictions? WARREN    He has a point. EDWARD    Oh, that's simple.  I didn't write any of this.  RICHARD    [give it] Here.  SOUND    PAPER CHANGES HANDS RICHARD    [agreeing] Well.  It's certainly not your handwriting.  [to Edward] Is it some long lost maiden aunt? HERBERT    Let me look.  Hmph.  Spiky.  WARREN    [looking over his shoulder]  Copperplate.  Quaint. EDWARD    Are the experts satisfied? HERBERT    I reserve judgment. WARREN    [chuckles]  I'm not such a stickler for provenance - after all, you're not one of my students. RICHARD    Tell us then, raconteur, who is it that inspires this tale? EDWARD    Robert Blake. RICHARD    [sharp] Blake?  SOUND    SNATCHES PAPERS RICHARD    [urgent] This is Blake's?  What is it?  How did you get it?  SOUND    PAPERS SNATCHED BACK EDWARD    All in good time.  [sniffs annoyedly] SOUND    PAPERS BEING STRAIGHTENED, PLOPPED DOWN EDWARD    [with import, beginning his tale] This?  SOUND    PATS PAPERS AND BOX EDWARD    This is all that's left of Robert Blake. RICHARD    He-- [cuts himself off] EDWARD    [intense] You were about to say - Blake died, 17 days ago, during a storm that knocked out half the electricity in the city.  Died... under very peculiar circumstances, indeed. WARREN    [after a slight pause] And for those of us less acquainted with the deceased? EDWARD    Huh? CHARLES    Yes.  Who is - was - Robert Blake? EDWARD    You haven't heard of him? HERBERT    I vaguely recall something about a Blake.  Isn't he some kind of artist?  Considered rather... blasphemous?  EDWARD    Blake was a writer and a painter, yes. HERBERT    But I was under the impression he was long-dead.  A century or more. EDWARD    [puzzled] No.  Robert died 17 days ago-- WARREN    Oh!  I expect you're thinking of William Blake.  RICHARD    The one who painted the great red dragon and the woman clothed in the sun? HERBERT    [snort of derision]  I don't waste precious memory on such trivia.  I can put names to three paintings - the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and Whistler's Mother.  And that's only because those are ubiquitous. CHARLES    Any chance that the two painting Blakes are connected somehow? EDWARD    Dunno.  Could be.  Hmm.  Robert hailed from Milwaukee, but I don't know anything more about his family.  [shrugs] It would explain some of Robert's peculiar artistic leanings. RICHARD    I've met Blake - this Blake - on several occasions.  I can't say I like - liked - him, but I didn't dislike him either.  His work was rather ... unusual.  Though I'm only acquainted with his paintings. EDWARD    His writing was just as odd - both fiction and non.  This [taps the papers] is supposedly the latter.  A journal.  [with heavy import]  His last days. CHARLES    Ahhh... SOUND    OPENS BOX, TAKES CANDY WARREN    How did you come by it? EDWARD    Let me start at the beginning.  Blake and I have been informally acquainted for years.  We interacted through the magazines that carried our works, corresponded now and then, and [chuckles] lampooned each other a bit.  I wrote a mad protagonist once named Blake Roberts, and he in turn-- RICHARD    Hmph.  His paintings show no trace of a sense of humor. CHARLES    There's more to any man than shows in his public face. WARREN    Who said that? CHARLES    [dry, teasing]  Thought I did. WARREN     [sigh] Never mind. RICHARD    [prompting] Blake? EDWARD    [overriding them all, narrating] Cautious investigators will hesitate to challenge the common belief that Robert Blake was killed by lightning, or by some profound nervous shock derived from an electrical discharge. RICHARD    Lightning?  I thought he died in his rooms. HERBERT    Was he burned? EDWARD    Not at all.  WARREN    But the papers put it down to lightning? EDWARD    I know I'm more used to writing a story than telling it, but you fellows should give me some room to breathe, here.  Stop jumping on me every time I come up for air!  EVERYONE    [mumbled apologies] EDWARD    [poetry] I have seen the dark universe yawning Where the black planets roll without aim, Where they roll in their horror unheeded, Without knowledge or lustre or name. CHARLES    Yours, or his? EDWARD    [chuckles] His.  [deep breath]  All right, now I have written some notes to follow, condensing some of this, and including some outside information.  So don't get confused.  SOUND    RUSTLE OF PAPERS EDWARD    Blake died with a horrible expression on his face.  The police and coroner blame it on the sudden contraction of the musculature due to the sudden ingress of electricity. WARREN    It's not unheard of. EDWARD     But the entries in his diary might suggest another source of the horrible grimace.  Fear. RICHARD    Scared to death? EDWARD    Or scared at the moment of death.  Either way, it's no doubt he worked himself up into a state of absolute terror shortly before his demise.  His diary entries are clearly the result of a fantastic imagination aroused by certain local superstitions. RICHARD    Local to here? EDWARD    Providence.  WARREN    [knowingly] Rhode Island. EDWARD    Blake is - was a writer and painter devoted to the field of myth, dream, terror, and superstition-- RICHARD    Sounds like someone we know.  Hmm? EDWARD    [sigh] His end began with a deserted church on Federal Hill. WARREN    What denomination? SOUND     PAPERS SHUFFLE EDWARD    The notes don't say what it started as.  Probably doesn't matter.  It was bought and rededicated to something called the Starry Wisdom sect. HERBERT    Starry Wisdom?  Astronomers? EDWARD    [chuckles] There's definitely some star-gazing involved in their beliefs. WARREN    [musing] Starry wisdom.... starry wisdom.... Hmm.  I've heard something about them.  [dismissive]  It will come to me. EDWARD    He took up residence in Providence last winter, in the upper floor of a "venerable dwelling where huge, friendly cats sunned themselves atop a convenient shed". HERBERT    He writes about cats?  [disparaging]  He was an only child, wasn't he? EDWARD    [sigh]  He also writes a lot about the local architecture, but I'll skip that as well.  BLAKE     My desk faces a window commanding a splendid view of the lower town's outspread roofs and the mystical sunsets that flame behind them. HERBERT    [dismissive] Cats... and sunsets. EDWARD    Some two miles away rose the spectral hump of Federal Hill. BLAKE    [diary] I have a curious sense that I gaze out upon some unknown, ethereal world which might or might not vanish in dream if I ever tried to seek it out and enter it in person. EDWARD    Blake settled down to write and paint.  During that first winter he produced five of his best-known short stories - The Burrower Beneath, The Stairs in the Crypt-- CHARLES    Oh, that was a corker. HERBERT    You actually read this nonsense? CHARLES    O'course.  Have a subscription and all. EDWARD    Blake also painted seven canvases that season - studies of nameless, unhuman monsters, and profoundly alien, non-terrestrial landscapes. RICHARD    My favorites.  If I do say so myself, though, I do better with....beings, while he should stick - have stuck - to exteriors. EDWARD    But the church kept drawing his thoughts.  BLAKE    At sunset the great tapering steeple loomed blackly against the flaming sky. RICHARD    [speculative] Makes me wish I was more familiar with Providence. EDWARD    Blake made his first and only pilgrimage to the building just before the aeon-shadowed Walpurgis time. HERBERT    What? WARREN    Also known as May eve.  Ostensibly, it's the festival of Saint Walpurga-- RICHARD    There's a name for you.  CHARLES    What was she the saint of? WARREN    Not my area.  But I say "ostensibly", since it was one of those pagan holidays that the church found they couldn't quite ever abolish, so they replaced it, figuring if the populace wanted a holy day, it might as well be a proper Catholic one. RICHARD    And the pagan holiday it replaced? WARREN    Beltane.  A spring fertility festival.  It was a counterpart to All Hallow's Eve - note that they fall on opposite ends of the calendar.  RICHARD     The nights that witches fly!  EDWARD    So he took a walk sometime in late April. BLAKE    I noted the foreign signs over curious shops in brown, decade-weathered buildings. Now and then a battered church façade or crumbling spire came in sight, but never the blackened pile I sought. EDWARD    It was like a labyrinth.  None of the streets went anywhere.  When he asked a shopkeeper about the church, the man's face blanched with fear, and Blake saw him make a curious sign with his right hand. WARREN    Does it say what the sign looked like? Perhaps something like this? CHARLES    Isn't that the same hand gesture you see in ancient paintings of sages and saints? RICHARD    It appears often in Hindu art as well. BLAKE    [cutting in] Suddenly a black spire stood out against the cloudy sky to the left. Twice I lost my way, but somehow dared not ask any help. EDWARD    And then he was there.  In a wind-swept open square towered over by the grim bulk of the decrepit church. BLAKE    I wondered how the panes of the gothic windows could have survived, in view of the known habits of small boys the world over. WARREN    [laughing]  I think we all had our turn in our youth.  Why I remember-- CHARLES    Knee breeches and buckle shoes?  When you write your own reminiscences, and then die in a strange and terrifying way, then we can discuss it.  Go on, Edward. EDWARD    It took Blake some time, both to clear the fence and to find a shiftable basement window, but finally he was inside. BLAKE    The colossal nave was an almost eldritch place with its drifts of dust. Over all this hushed desolation played a hideous leaden light as the declining afternoon sun sent its rays through the strange, half-blackened panes of the great apsidal windows. EDWARD    The stained glass windows seemed to give Blake a nervous moment - both because they were heavily encrusted with soot, and, in a more subtle way, from the subject matter. BLAKE    The few saints depicted bore expressions distinctly open to criticism, while one of the windows seemed to show merely a dark space with spirals of curious luminosity scattered about in it. RICHARD    "Open to criticism"?  That's all he said?  That conjures up far too many possibilities!  EDWARD    That's all. RICHARD    [frustrated noise]  Oh.  They could be cannibalistic, or lascivious, or cross-eyed. EDWARD    Don't know.  In a rear room, Blake found shelves of mildewed, disintegrating books. BLAKE     They were the black, forbidden things which most sane people have never even heard of, or have heard of only in furtive, timorous whispers. EDWARD    You know the type. WARREN    [avid] Oh, yes, but did he give any details? EDWARD    There's a whole list - but it's not really germane to-- CHARLES    Resign yourself, dear boy.  Let Warren salivate a bit. EDWARD    [sigh] Here. SOUND    PAPER MOVES WARREN    Excellent!  [musing]  Necronomicon, yes - ah, in Latin!  That would be the Vermius translation. EDWARD    He also grabbed a small notebook filled with entries in some cryptic code. WARREN    [muttering] The Liber Ivonis?  Sinister.  [chuckles]  Ah, the infamous Cultes des Goules of Comte d'Erlette-- HERBERT    [sigh, disdainful]  You sound like a zealot saying his rosaries - or whatever they say. RICHARD    He sounds like a collector. WARREN    [wistful]  If only.  [normal] But I must be satisfied caring for the collections of others.  Most of these books shouldn't be in the hands of any individual anyway.  They are much too-- RICHARD    Evil? HERBERT    Evil is a construct of morality. CHARLES    Oh, lord-- HERBERT    As is religion. EDWARD    I don't think a book, at least, CAN be evil. You can only be evil if you have free will. WARREN    Oh, now this is my field, and when I tell you the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, or old Ludvig Prinn's hellish De Vermis Mysteriis is an evil book, you may take my word. SOUND    SNATCH OF PAPER WARREN    [upset] Hey! CHARLES    You may have it back at the end of class. EVERYONE    [Chuckles] EDWARD    So.  [looking for his place] Room full of creepy books, Blake takes the diary, goes upstairs.  Right.  Aha! SOUND    SLAPS PAPER DOWN, WOOD BOX STARTS TO SHIFT.  A STRANGE CHIMING NOISE.  CATCH BOX EDWARD    [gasp!]  CHARLES    Oh!  Best watch that! EDWARD    Yeah. WARREN    What IS it? CHARLES    [overly nonchalant] A box.  What does it look like? EDWARD    [back to narration] Blake found a room upstairs, faintly lit by screened windows.  In one corner, a ladder led up to the closed trap door of the windowless steeple. BLAKE    In the centre of the dust-laden floor rose a curiously angled stone pillar some four feet in height and two in diameter, covered on each side with bizarre, crudely incised and wholly unrecognizable hieroglyphs. EDWARD     On this pillar rested a metal box of peculiarly asymmetrical form-- RICHARD    [knowing] Ah.  Boxes. HERBERT    "Asymmetrical"?  Nothing more specific? EDWARD    That's all his notes say-- HERBERT    How unspecific.  Asymmetrical merely means lacking in symmetry, which in turn means without any axis you could draw which would create a mirror image one side to the other. EDWARD    Huh? CHARLES    Symmetrical means the same on both sides-- HERBERT    [correcting] Mirror image on both sides. CHARLES    Right.  So, for instance your face is symmetrical-- HERBERT    No human face is perfectly symmetrical.  Nothing lines up exactly if you look close enough. CHARLES    Roughly symmetrical, then.  You have an eye on each side of a nose, which has two nostrils to balance one another, and so on. WARREN     So as a way to picture an asymmetrical face, you might have an eye down on the jawline, and the nose up at the temple? CHARLES    Only if there wasn't a comparable eye and nose to match on the other side of the face. HERBERT    So was this box only as asymmetrical as a typical face, or was it grossly unbalanced? EDWARD    Uh... the notes just say asymmetrical. HERBERT    [annoyed sigh]  Laymen. EDWARD    That box isn't important anyway - it's long gone.  But what it held... BLAKE    Beneath decade-deep dust was an egg-shaped or irregularly spherical object some four inches through. HERBERT    [starting again] Irregularly spherical? CHARLES    Oh, not again! EDWARD    The four-inch irregular sphere turned out, once the dust was gone, to be a nearly black, red-striated polyhedron with many irregular flat surfaces; either a very remarkable crystal of some sort or an artificial object of carved and highly polished mineral matter. HERBERT    Crystals form naturally according to-- CHARLES    Hush!  HERBERT    Hmph. EDWARD    [placating] So it was carved that way.  Good point. BLAKE    Once exposed, it exerted an almost alarming fascination. I could scarcely tear my eyes from it.  EDWARD    But he did.  I mean, he must have, since he notes there was something else in the room.  Or, should I say, someone?  In the far corner, right at the foot of the ladder, was a hump of dust-- BLAKE    Hand and handkerchief soon revealed a human skeleton. I examined a reporter's badge, a celluloid advertising calendar for 1893, some cards with the name "Edwin M. Lillibridge", and a paper covered with pencilled memoranda. EDWARD    Blake copied the text into his diary, for fear the paper would eventually crumble away to nothing. CHARLES    I think I'll have another-- SOUND    SHIFT OF BOX EDWARD    [a little too vehement] Not that box!  I mean, the candy is in YOUR box. Over there. CHARLES    [bit of a smirk] Oh.  How forgetful of me. WARREN    What is it with the boxes?  RICHARD    [knowing laugh] EDWARD    The notes were typical journalistic jottings, a list of dates and events - all involving the church.  From "Prof. Enoch Bowen home from Egypt May 1844 - buys Church in July" the notes list a number of instances of people speaking or acting against Starry Wisdom, and finally, in April 1877, a number of members were apparently run out of town for their "beliefs." WARREN    Ah!  THAT's what I've been trying to remember!  Starry Wisdom, indeed.  Weren't they accused of human sacrifice? EDWARD    The notes do list a number of disappearances attributed to them.  Here, see for yourself. SOUND    PAPER BEING PASSED HERBERT    [dryly sarcastic] Because, of course, no one ever leaves home of their own accord. CHARLES    The community around was mostly catholic.  Pretty tightly knit. RICHARD    Tightly wound, too, from the sound of it.  Here it says that a mob of "Irish boys" - shouldn’t that be "lads"? - attacked the church, but it doesn't say what came of it. EDWARD    The locals assumed whatever was going on was devil worship.  That's certainly why Lillibridge broke in. BLAKE    They say the Shining Trapezohedron shows them heaven and other worlds, and that the Haunter of the Dark tells them secrets. HERBERT    Did Lillibridge fall off the ladder?  That could easily snap a man's neck, given enough height, or the proper trajectory.  EDWARD    The cause was ... uncertain. BLAKE    I stooped over the gleaming bones. Some of them were badly scattered, and a few seemed oddly ...dissolved at the ends. The skull was in a very peculiar state - stained yellow, and with a charred aperture in the top as if some powerful acid had eaten through the solid bone. EDWARD    Before he realized it, Blake found himself staring at the trapezohedron again, and letting its curious influence call up images in his head. BLAKE    [very spooky] And beyond all else I glimpsed an infinite gulf of darkness, where solid and semisolid forms were known only by their windy stirrings, and cloudy patterns of force seemed to superimpose order on chaos and hold forth a key to all the paradoxes and arcana of the worlds we know. HERBERT    [disgusted] Purple prose. RICHARD    It's very evocative. WARREN    There are certain primitive tribes who ingest drugs to glimpse just such visions. CHARLES    Not another-- WARREN    No, really, I was just about to say that if there was some item that caused "visions", it could easily have become the central focus of a religious cabal. CHARLES    Good and concise. WARREN     If I was gong to wax on, it would be to draw a comparison to the myth of Pandora, or some other famous myth regarding the dangers of curiosity. CHARLES    Well, thank goodness you restrained yourself. EDWARD    Blake finally managed to pull himself away.  Probably noticed the day was waning, and he hadn't thought to bring a torch. BLAKE    It was then, in the gathering twilight, that I thought I saw a faint trace of luminosity in the crazily angled stone. Was there a subtle phosphorescence of radio-activity about the thing? HERBERT    Finally something I can grasp.  Radio-activity is a concrete scientific essence, and could easily be the source of any number of superstitious explanations. CHARLES    If it comes up again, we'll consult you. BLAKE    I seized the cover of the long-open box and snapped it down. At the sharp click of that closing, a soft stirring sound seemed to come from the steeple's eternal blackness overhead, beyond the trap-door. EDWARD    That finally frightened him, and he plunged wildly out into the street, running all the way home. CHARLES    Didn't get lost this time? WARREN    [wistful] I don't suppose the church is still there - you said this all happened fairly recently? EDWARD    It burned down the day after Blake's death.  WARREN    Blast.  Evil or not, those books are a great loss to the general body of human knowledge. EDWARD    During the days which followed, Blake did a lot of research, and worked feverishly at the cryptogram in the notebook. CHARLES    I do like a good cryptogram.  EDWARD    He says he solved the code in June, but didn't bother to include an actual translation in here. There are sketchy references to a "Haunter of the Dark" that could be awakened by someone gazing into the Shining Trapezohedron. RICHARD    You mean, just as he had looked into it? EDWARD    And he clearly believed that he had inadvertently summoned it. WARREN    Hah!  Like Pandora - letting the cat out of the bag, or rather the monsters out of the box. RICHARD    He didn't open the box.  Just gazed into the stone.  The box was already open. WARREN    A metaphorical opening of the way, then - still amounts to the same thing. HERBERT    Some creature from an undefined place regarded this stone as what - the operator on its personal telephone exchange? EDWARD    He felt like it was just watching for its chance to walk abroad.  He also notes, however, that the streetlights seemed to keep it trapped - forming a bulwark of light against its escape. WARREN    Throughout history, light has been the enemy of evil.  Whether it's sunlight causing harm to a shade or the reversion to human of a lycanthrope with the dawn. RICHARD    And ghosts don't walk around by day - it would fade their sheets. EDWARD    Blake writes a lot about the Shining Trapezohedron, calling it a window on all time and space, and trying to trace its largely unbelievable history. HERBERT    Unbelievable? EDWARD    Brought from some other sphere or planet by some elder race. HERBERT    Hmph.  That's just superstitious claptrap repackaged for a modern age.  Any number of objects have fallen to earth with origins clearly outside what we think of as the normal world.  RICHARD    I heard about a meteor up north that had some quite terrible effects. HERBERT    And yet, they have no root in "evil", beyond what we attribute to them.  Science doesn't shy away the way religion does.  We don't just hang a sign on it that says "here there be dragons" and nervously turn our backs.  Science grows to encompass new information.  RICHARD    [snide] Like an amoeba absorbs its food? HERBERT    [thinks, then] Hmm.  I suppose that's one way of picturing it. WARREN    Or water flowing into a series of newly-dug irrigation trenches. CHARLES    [prompting] Realms "beyond"? EDWARD    Blake seemed to think that the only way to banish the evil was to bury the stone and let daylight into the steeple. SOUND    PICKS UP AND OPENS BOX, THEN SHUTS IT AGAIN QUICKLY EDWARD    At the same time, however, Blake goes on at some length about his morbid longing to gaze again into the cosmic secrets of the glowing stone. HERBERT    Impressionable people should stay out of certain fields of endeavor.  RICHARD    Oh?  HERBERT    People with fragile minds are better left to the arts than to science, or investigations into the unknown. RICHARD    I'll have you know that Art can be a terrible wretch of a mistress. HERBERT    With science, you can work your entire life, and never get a single word of encouragement. WARREN    Academia is entirely indifferent to any of us who toil in her fields. RICHARD    At least your field moves forward slowly enough that by the time someone proves your theory wrong, you've been dead long enough to be an exhibit yourself. CHARLES    Shall we put them in opposite corners, or have them construct essays on their misconduct? EDWARD    There aren't enough corners, even in YOUR house. RICHARD    My apologies.  HERBERT    Hmph. WARREN    So sorry.  Pray go on. EDWARD    The morning of July 17, something in the paper really set Blake off.  During the night, a storm had put the city's lighting-system out for a full hour. CHARLES    I'll bet that didn't go over well. EDWARD    The superstitious locals ran mad.  They surrounded the old church, brandishing candles and lamps. WARREN    A vigil. EDWARD    And shuddered at the horrible noises coming from within. CHARLES    I know a few buildings I regard that way. EDWARD    Soon after, in daytime, reporters broke in and found the dust within was all churned up. There was also a bad odour everywhere, and here and there were bits of yellow stain and patches of what looked like charring. HERBERT    Similar to the bones?  Did anyone ever run any scientific tests on any of this residue? EDWARD    Not that I have any note on.  The reporters  noted the stone pillar, but the metal box and the old mutilated skeleton were not mentioned. WARREN    Hmm.  Gone, or simply overlooked? HERBERT    The newspapers love to print prurient details. CHARLES    How prurient is a rock in a box? EDWARD    From this point onwards Blake's diary shows a mounting tide of horror and apprehension. He frantically telephoned the electric light company more than once, asking - even demanding - that desperate precautions be taken to avoid another loss of power. BLAKE    My worst fears concerned the unholy rapport I felt existed between my mind and that lurking horror in the distant steeple- that monstrous thing of night which my rashness had called out of the ultimate black spaces. CHARLES    Sounds like he should have invested his last dollar in safety lanterns. RICHARD    And a trip to the tropics! EDWARD    People calling on him at the time remember how he would sit and stare out of the west window.  He spoke often of strange dreams - not nightmares, precisely, but eerily similar to the vision he'd had when gazing into the stone.  WARREN    Sounds almost like shellshock.  The way memories come back to haunt soldiers. EDWARD    It got worse.  He kept stout cords near his bed so he could bind his ankles at night to prevent himself from somnambulism. CHARLES    I had a friend had to do that once.  If the struggle to get out of bed didn't waken him, the falling flat on his face certainly would. BLAKE    I thought often of the ancient legends of Ultimate Chaos, at whose centre sprawls the blind idiot god Azathoth, Lord of All Things, encircled by his flopping horde of mindless and amorphous dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a demoniac flute held in nameless paws. WARREN    Azathoth!  Now there's a name to conjure with!  Or not to...  preferably.  [winding down] Probably best not to mention it at all. EDWARD    The night of the 30th, Blake came to suddenly, finding himself in a horribly familiar darkened space.  A panic flight ensued, leaving him senseless until morning. CHARLES    Are you saying he managed to sleepwalk all the way across town? EDWARD    Well, the next morning he found himself lying on his study floor fully dressed. Dirt and cobwebs covered him, and every inch of his body sore and bruised. He writes that his hair was badly scorched, and a trace of a strange evil odour clung to his clothing. It was then that his nerves broke down. RICHARD    I think he was overdue.  HERBERT    While I don't understand the phenomena of sleepwalking, I do accept that it occurs. CHARLES    How big of you. HERBERT    But while one might walk in such a fugue-like state, would one take such niceties as getting dressed into consideration? WARREN    It's probably much like a state of mesmerism.  One does what one is told to so. HERBERT    But if no one told him-- CHARLES    Should be obvious.  We've all been told enough times in our lives not to go outside without a jacket.  EVERYONE    [general laughter] EDWARD    August eighth.  The great storm broke just before midnight. Lightning struck in all parts of the city, and a couple of remarkable fireballs were reported.  Blake was utterly frantic and recorded everything in his diary- HERBERT    Did he write that he was frantic? RICHARD    He was the type to record everything. EDWARD    It was more the tone of the things he did write, but his handwriting is very telling, too.  See? SOUND    PAPERS PASS CHARLES    Interesting. SOUND    PAPERS PASS WARREN    Ah.  Yes.  The way it changes - getting bigger, and less readable.  RICHARD    Also harder to write once the lights go out. EDWARD    That hadn't happened - yet.  See, he's still fretting over it right here.  "The lights must not go"; BLAKE    "It knows where I am"; EDWARD    "I must destroy it"; and BLAKE    "it is calling to me, but perhaps it means no injury this time"; EDWARD    --are found scattered down two of the pages.  Ending with-- BLAKE    "Lights out- God help me." EDWARD    At 2.35 the noises at the steeple swelled.  Then, a sound of splintering wood and a large, heavy object crashed down in the yard beneath the frowning easterly façade. RICHARD    Where were the praying multitude? EDWARD    Right there.  Whom do you think was left to tell the tale?  In fact, just as the "escape" was made, with a vibration as of flapping wings, a sudden east-blowing wind snatched off hats and wrenched dripping umbrellas from the crowd. CHARLES    Dousing all the tiny pinpricks of the candles? HERBERT    Quite literally, if the downpour was that prodigious. EDWARD    They must have managed to get some of their lights relit, for they remained at their posts.  The rain didn't stop for another half hour, and shortly after that, the electric lights came back on.  WARREN    You have quite a comprehensive narration, considering the burden of fear the watchers must have been laboring under. EDWARD    The papers gave these matters minor mention in connection with the general storm reports.  I suspect reporters, being what they are, were present during the events. RICHARD    [chuckling] Perhaps someone writing sensational fiction dropped in for a cold chill. EDWARD    The one thing that baffled press and meteorologists alike was a lone lightning-bolt that seemed to have struck somewhere in Blake's neighborhood, though no trace of its striking could afterwards be found. CHARLES    Until--? EDWARD    Precisely.  When a policeman forced the door, Blake's rigid body sat bolt upright at his desk by the window, with glassy, bulging eyes, and the look of stark, convulsive fright on his twisted features!  They were reportedly quite sickened. RICHARD    Police are such delicate flowers.  Always being sickened by things. HERBERT    Looking at such damage objectively, a face of fear is much the same as a face in pain, it's all in the attribution the onlooker gives to the damage-- EDWARD    The coroner's physician made an examination, and despite the unbroken window, reported the death as the result of electrical shock, or rather nervous tension induced by electrical discharge. HERBERT    Electricity is not an entirely understood element, even now.  New possibilities and capabilities are being discovered every day.  I've often thought myself that electricity might be the key to, say, restarting a stopped heart. CHARLES    If you don't want a stopped heart yourself, Herbert, pray let Edward finish.  We're nearly to a conclusion, if I don't miss my guess.  I think I'll turn out the electric lights.  Leave us in the dark like Blake.  Edward can keep the candle. SOUND    GETS UP, LIGHTS CLICK OFF EDWARD    There isn't really a nice convenient ending, just another, larger question mark.  Blake prolonged his frenzied jottings to the last.  In fact, the broken-pointed pencil was found clutched in his spasmodically contracted right hand. WARREN    Spontaneous rigor.  Not uncommon in cases of sudden, catastrophic death.  Leads to the so-called "death grip" of detective fiction. EDWARD    The entries after the failure of the lights were highly disjointed, and legible only in part. BLAKE    Lights still out - must be five minutes now. Everything depends on lightning. Yaddith grant it will keep up!... HERBERT    Yaddith? WARREN    Some ancient deity I'm not familiar with. BLAKE    Some influence seems beating through it... Rain and thunder and wind deafen... The thing is taking hold of my mind... What am I afraid of? Is it not an avatar of Nyarlathotep, who in antique and shadowy Khem even took the form of man? WARREN    Ah, Nyarlathotep, the mysterious "dark man" who can take many forms. BLAKE    The long, winging flight through the void... cannot cross the universe of light... re-created by the thoughts caught in the Shining Trapezohedron... send it through the horrible abysses of radiance... RICHARD    Lost his mind completely. EDWARD    I think he agreed with you. BLAKE    My name is Blake- Robert Harrison Blake of 620 East Knapp Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin... I am on this planet... CHARLES    As if he was trying to find his way home. BLAKE    Azathoth have mercy!- the lightning no longer flashes- horrible- I can see everything with a monstrous sense that is not sight- light is dark and dark is light... I am it and it is I - I want to get out... must get out and unify the forces... it knows where I am... I am Robert Blake, but I see the tower in the dark. There is a monstrous odour... senses transfigured... boarding at that tower window cracking and giving way... Iä... ngai... ygg... I see it - coming here - hell-wind - titan blue - black wing - Yog Sothoth save me - the three-lobed burning eye... [after a moment] WARREN    [sigh wistfully] I can almost smell the sulphuric tang. HERBERT    I certainly can.  Something must be burning. CHARLES    [over-innocent] Burning?  Nonsense. RICHARD    There is definitely a smell. EDWARD    [teasing] Someone here just couldn't stand the suspense, could you, Richard? RICHARD    Moi? HERBERT    Suspense? EDWARD    It wasn't a very good joke, but the box - this box - contained just enough sulfur to make a good pong if anyone got nosy and opened it to see if I really had the shining trapezohedron. WARREN    I suppose that, much like Pandora, there are certain things that you can never quite get back into a box.  END
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Atomic Julie - Puppet Government by George Revelle

    28:28

    A man is pestered to take a government job....
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    19 Nocturne Boulevard - THE PICTURE IN THE HOUSE (The Lovecraft 5, #1) - Reissue

    40:20

    (A loose adaptation of "The Picture in the House" by H.P. Lovecraft) Five friends get together to spook each other with stories, and Charles tells a tale of a weird encounter with a strange old man.   Cast List Charles - Michael Coleman (Tales of the Extraordinary) Warren - Glen Hallstrom Richard - Philemon Vanderbeck Herbert - Carl Cubbedge Edward - Bryan Hendrickson Creepy Old Guy - J. Hoverson Martha - Risa Torres Music by Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com) Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson Cover Design:  Brett Coulstock "What kind of a place is it? Why it's a brownstone dinner party, can't you tell?" *************************************************** THE PICTURE IN THE HOUSE (Lovecraft 5, #1) Cast: Charles, a dilettante Herbert, a scientist Richard, a painter Warren, a professor Edward, the missing member, a writer Scary old man Martha, the cook OLIVIA     [opening credits] Did you have any trouble finding it?  What do you mean, what kind of a place is it?  Why, it's a brownstone dinner party, can't you tell?  MUSIC 1_after dinnerish SOUND     RAIN.  RECORD PLAYER CLICKS AND MUSIC STARTS SOUND     FOOTSTEPS HERBERT    What's the tune? SOUND    MATCH STRIKES CHARLES    It's-- RICHARD    That's one of Eric's isn’t it?  CHARLES    No-o-o.  You know he never records. WARREN    I must say that veal cutlet was excellent.  Positively delicious.  Compliments to your cook, Charles. CHARLES    Excellent woman.  Don't know what I would do without her.  Been with the family for years. HERBERT    That's the only way to get good help these days - I wish I was fortunate enough to inherit hereditary retainers. WARREN    Any chance I can get the recipe for the cooking staff at the faculty dining hall?  We don't get veal very often, but-- CHARLES    I'll ask, but I doubt it - she's very secretive about her seasonings.  Now, Herbert, see that everyone has a good stiff drink, for-- RICHARD    Aren't we waiting on Edward? CHARLES    [darkly]  He isn't able to join us tonight.  Don't worry - I'm quite sure he won't hold it against us. HERBERT    Here you go. WARREN    Cheers.  [drinks]  So, what is this story you've brought us here for, Charles? HERBERT    Anyone for a cigar? WARREN    Ah, certainly. RICHARD    I won't say no. WARREN    You promised us a tale to - I believe the phrase you used was "to make the gorge rise and the hair stand on end", wasn't it? CHARLES    Yes.  And I know you all consider me the weakest of us all for telling a coherent tale, just because I have a tendency to let myself get distracted and lose my place, but I have a real corker for tonight. HERBERT    Well, we're all uncorked ... now, so lets see what you can do to us. CHARLES    All right, I won't keep you in suspense any longer.  You recall that I was away for most of last summer, traveling around the back country roads of New England, looking up genealogical records, tracing my family? WARREN    Of course - and we all envy you, being a man of enough leisure to be able to wander off at will, instead of having to stay around for your job. RICHARD    What do you know about jobs?  You're an academic.  That's hardly a real job. HERBERT    Hah!  This from the artist.  Now, science - science is an all-consuming master. CHARLES    All right.  All right.  Come on - it's my party and my story.  Don't really matter what your jobs are - you're all idiot enough to be my friends, and that's all that matters. EVERYONE    [general laughter] CHARLES    I don't know whether you'll believe me or not - probably not, but it's all true. HERBERT    It won't be that easy - you're talking to a couple of hardened skeptics here.  I won't believe anything without empirical proof and Warren won't believe you 'til it's written in a book at least a hundred years old, with footnotes and cross-references. WARREN    [snort] RICHARD    And me? HERBERT    Oh, you artists - who knows what you'll believe. CHARLES    [chuckles] We'll see what you all think by the time I'm finshed. RICHARD    Edward'll regret having missed a good story. 2_story starts CHARLES    [darkly] We'll worry about Edward later.  [beat]  If I don't start, we'll be here til dawn, so let's have a bit of hush.  [beat]  Damn-- [forgot] WARREN    You were cycling around the countryside. CHARLES    Right.  And I was pedaling like mad, trying to keep in front of this wicked great thundershower, when I spotted a crumbling pile - an ancient cottage built right up into the side of a hill.  It had reached that stage of decrepitude where you're not sure whether it was built there, or just sprang up like a mushroom. RICHARD    Very evocative.  Rounded corners, slanting walls, you can almost smell the mildew. CHARLES    May I continue? WARREN    You didn't happen to have a camera with you on your sojourn, did you? CHARLES    I wasn't sightseeing.  Never been any good with one of them contraptions anyway.  [sigh]  RICHARD    [prompting] The house. CHARLES    Right, so since it was the only structure - and I use the term very lightly - that I'd seen in hours and hours, I decided that forbidding as it looked, the clouds rolling in were worse.  I was already feeling the rain, and the lightning kept striking closer and closer. SOUND    THUNDER EVERYONE    [gasps] WARREN    Well!  That was timely. HERBERT    Now how did you manage that? CHARLES    Sheer luck.  Although the weather report did-- RICHARD    Ah, so you haven't been looking through any of those old grimoires Warren has charge of? WARREN    Oh, stop. CHARLES    Where was I? WARREN    Perhaps you should keep some notes - I find note cards work quite adequately for me when I'm called upon to give a lecture. CHARLES    [sigh] I went into the house.  I knocked first - I certainly didn't want to meet an angry homeowner with a shotgun in my face.  But since there was no answer, I figured it might be abandoned.  And the rain was starting to come down like rods. SOUND    THUNDER EVERYONE    [mild chuckles] CHARLES    [full-on storytelling mode] Inside was a little vestibule with walls from which the plaster was falling, and through the doorway came a faint but peculiarly hateful odor.  I entered, leaned my cycle against the wall, and crossed into a small, dim chamber, furnished in the barest and most primitive possible way.  It appeared to be a kind of sitting-room, for it had a table and several chairs - and an immense fireplace above which ticked an antique clock on a mantel. Books and papers were very few, and in the prevailing gloom I could not readily discern the titles.  Now, in all the room I could not discover a single article of definitely post-revolutionary date!  Had the furnishings been less humble, the place would have been a collector's paradise. 3_music changes SOUND    THE RECORD STOPS. CLICK AS THE NEXT RECORD GOES ON WARREN    You didn't look at the books at all?  Pity. CHARLES    You enthusiasts - always gallivanting ahead.  [dry chuckle] The first object of my curiosity was a book.  It lay open upon the table, presenting such an antediluvian aspect that I marveled at beholding it outside a museum or libary.  Bound in leather with metal fittings, it was in an excellent state of preservation - altogether an unusual sort of volume to encounter in an abode so lowly. WARREN    [eager] And the title? CHARLES    Hold your damn hosses.  When I opened it to the title page my wonder grew even greater, for it proved to be nothing less rare than... [beat, dragging out the suspense] WARREN    Ye-e-e-es? CHARLES    Pigafetta's account of the Congo region, written in Latin from the notes of the sailor Lopex and printed at Frankfurt in 1598. WARREN    [awed!] There's only 12 known copies extant. RICHARD    And you know that off the top of your head?  Oh, Warren.  You need a wife... or at the very least a bad habit. WARREN    Ssh.  The book? CHARLES    The engravings were indeed interesting, drawn wholly from imagination and careless descriptions - it even represented natives with Caucasian features.  Nor would I soon have closed the book had not an exceedingly trivial circumstance upset my tired nerves and revived my sensation of disquiet. SOUND    RATTLE OF HARD RAIN AGAINST THE WINDOW HERBERT    I think I need another drink.  Anyone?  SOUND     DRINKS POUR CHARLES     Go on ahead.  WARREN    [jumping in] The book? CHARLES    [exasperated sigh] What annoyed me was merely the persistent way in which the volume tended to fall open of itself at Plate twelve, which represented in gruesome detail a butcher's shop of the cannibal Anziques. WARREN    Anziques?  They were wiped off the face of the Congo in the seventeenth century, I believe? HERBERT    Were you aware that cannibalism was nowhere near as widespread as so-called history tells us? WARREN    That is a debatable point-- HERBERT    No, no, really - One of the easiest rallying cries to convince your followers to annihilate or enslave another culture was to accuse them of anthropophagy. CHARLES    Fascinating as this is, save it for your own dinner party, Herbert.  What you find so very engaging, I found exceedingly grotesque - to my own shame.  The drawing disturbed me, especially in connection with some adjacent passages descriptive of Anzique gastronomy. HERBERT    What did it say? CHARLES    [annoyed] It's hardly important.  I've worked hard to forget it.  [calm] Anyway, I was examining the rest of the meagre libary - an eighteenth century Bible, a "Pilgrim's Progress" of like period, the rotting bulk of Cotton Mather's "Magnalia Christi Americana," and a few other books of evidently equal age - when my attention was aroused by the unmistakable sound of walking in the room overhead. 4_cook SOUND    DOOR OPENS EVERYONE    [gasps] MARTHA    I'm so sorry sir, I thought you'd all be done by now - I was gonna clean up.  I'll just - I'll just get to it in the morning. CHARLES    Yes, yes of course Martha.  Have a good night. SOUND    DOOR CLOSES RICHARD    You set her up to do that. CHARLES    [not quite convincing]  Of course not.  Heaven forbid.  [a bit smug] That'd be such an entirely transparent ruse.  RICHARD    Perhaps you should be writing these sorts of thrillers, rather than Edward. WARREN    Did he say why he missed coming out tonight? CHARLES    [exasperated sigh]  He dropped by earlier for a moment, but he didn't have much to say.  If I may continue? WARREN    I, at least, am interested. CHARLES    Thank you very much.  I concluded that the occupant had just awakened from a sound sleep, and listened with less surprise as the footsteps sounded on the creaking stairs.  Then, after a moment of silence during which the walker may have been inspecting my bicycle, I heard a fumbling at the door latch and saw the paneled portal swing open again. SOUND    PAUSE, SOME GASPS AS THEY AWAIT SOME SOUND WHICH DOESN'T COME. EVERYONE    [chuckles] CHARLES    In the doorway stood a person of such singular appearance that I might have exclaimed aloud - but for the restraints of good breeding.  Old, white-bearded, and ragged, his height could not have been less than six feet, and despite a general air of age and poverty he was stout and powerful in proportion.  His face, almost hidden by a long beard which grew high on the cheeks, seemed abnormally ruddy and less wrinkled than one might expect; while over a high forehead fell a shock of white hair little thinned by the years.  His blue eyes, though a trifle bloodshot, seemed inexplicably keen and burning.  But for his horrible unkemptness the man would have been as distinguished-looking as he was impressive. WARREN    Unkemptness? HERBERT    I expect the word he should be using - but for the restraints of good breeding - is odoriferous? RICHARD    A-yuh. - the elderly... CHARLES    Yes, yes.   WARREN    Well, Charles, you're halfway to your goal - that alone very nearly brought up my dinner.  CHARLES     It wasn't just the house that suffered from... damp and mildew.  Shall we leave it at that?    5_old man speaks SOUND    RECORD PLAYER CHANGES AGAIN - TO MUSIC FOR FLASHBACK SOUND    CLOCK GETS LOUDER CHARLES    [fading into flashback] The appearance of this man, and the instinctive fear he inspired, prepared me for something like enmity; so that I almost shuddered through surprise and a sense of uncanny incongruity when he motioned me to a chair and addressed me in a thin, weak voice full of fawning respect and ingratiating hospitality. OLD GUY    Catched in the rain, be ye?  Glad ye was nigh the house an' had the sense t' come right in.  I calculate I was asleep, else I'd a heard ye - I ain't as young as I used to be, an' I need a powerful sight o' naps nowadays. WARREN    [breaking] He truly sounded like that?  That's quite an extreme form of archaic Yankee dialect.  I'd thought anything like that dead and gone long years back. HERBERT    There are strange holdouts in little pocket communities all over the back woods. CHARLES    I apologized for my rude entry into his domicile, and-- OLD GUY    Travelling far?  I hain't seen many folks 'long this road since they took off the Arkham stage. CHARLES    I replied that I was going to Arkham, whereupon he continued. OLD GUY    Glad t' see ye, young Sir - new faces is scarce around here, an' I hain't got much t' cheer me up these days. Guess you hail from Boston, don't ye? I never been there, but I can tell a town man when I see 'im - we had one for district schoolmaster in 'eighty-four, but he quit sudden an' no one never heared on 'im since - CHARLES    Here the old man lapsed into a kind of chuckle, and made no explanation when I questioned him.  For some time he rambled on, when it struck me to ask him how he came by so rare a book as Pigafetta's "Regnum Congo." OLD GUY    Oh, that Afriky book? Cap'n Ebenezer Holt traded me that in 'sixty-eight - him as was killed in the war. CHARLES    Now, Ebenezer Holt was a name I had encountered in my genealogical work, but not in any record since the Revolution. I speculated that my host could help me in the task at which I was laboring. OLD GUY    Ebenezer was on a Salem merchantman for years, an' picked up a sight o' queer stuff in every port. He got this in London, I guess - he used to like to buy things at the shops. I was up t' his house once, on the hill, trading horses, when I see this book. I relished the pictures, so he give it in on a swap. 'Tis a queer book - here, leave me get on my spectacles- HERBERT    Spectacles.  Quite terrifying.  A smelly old man in cheaters.  Funny I somehow recall you promising a tale that would set all our hair on end. WARREN    I, for one, am fascinated.  Your recall of his accent is quite impressive.  Is he, do you know - despite being as old as you describe - is he still among the living? CHARLES    I am quite certain of the contrary. WARREN    Pity.  6_more drinks RICHARD    More drinks? CHARLES    Perhaps one more round.  And yes, I am about to get to the meat of the matter, so to speak, if you can hold on for a bit longer, Herbert. HERBERT    Very well.  Patience is a virtue more useful to scientists than many.  I'm putting on my listening face. CHARLES    Good.  The old man donned his glasses, then reached for the volume on the table and turned the pages lovingly. OLD GUY    Ebenezer could read a little o' this - 'tis Latin - but I can't.  I had two or three schoolmasters read me a bit, and Parson Clark, him they say got drownded in the pond - can you make anything out on it? CHARLES     I told him that I could, and translated for his benefit a paragraph near the beginning. If I erred, he was not scholar enough to correct me; for he seemed childishly pleased at my English version. His proximity was becoming rather obnoxious-- HERBERT    Simple hygiene was one of the most important scientific and medical discoveries of the-- CHARLES    [overriding] --yet I saw no way to escape without offending him. I was amused at the childish fondness of this ignorant old man for the pictures in a book he could not read, and wondered how much better he could read the few books in English which adorned the room. This revelation of simplicity removed much of the ill-defined apprehension I had felt, and I smiled as my host rambled on: OLD GUY    Queer how pictures kin set a body thinkin'. Take this one here near the front.  Have you ever seen trees like that, with big leaves a floppin' over an' down?  Some o' these here critters looks like monkeys, or half monkeys an' half men, but I never heared o' nothin' like this un. CHARLES    Here he pointed to a fabulous creature of the artist, which one might describe as a sort of dragon with the head of an alligator. RICHARD    I've seen things like that myself in mediaeval and renaissance art.  To my recollection Bosch painted some, and there's at least one or two in the woodcuts of Breughel. OLD GUY    But now I'll show ye the best un - over here nigh the middle - [getting excited]  What d'ye think o' this - ain't never seen the like hereabouts, eh? When I see this I telled Eb Holt, 'That's somethin' to stir ye up an' make your blood tickle.' RICHARD    Was this still the cut of the lizard man thing? CHARLES    No, [heavy import] he'd just let the book fall open where it would-- OLD GUY    When I read in Scripture about slayin' - like them Midianites was slew - I kinder think things, but I ain't got no picture of it.  Here a body can see all they is to it - I s'pose 'tis sinful, but ain't we all born an' livin' in sin? WARREN    Ahhh - the same picture that put the chills up you? CHARLES    Well, he obviously didn't feel the same way about it-- OLD GUY    That feller bein' chopped up gives me a tickle every time I look at 'im - I have to keep lookin' at 'im - see where the butcher cut off his feet?  There's his head on that bench, with one arm side of it, an' t' other arm's on the other side o' the meat block. CHARLES    As the man mumbled on in his shocking ecstasy the expression on his hairy, spectacled face became indescribable, but his voice sank rather than mounted.  He was almost whispering now, with a huskiness more terrible than a scream. OLD GUY    As I says, 'tis queer how pictures sets ye thinkin'. Do ye know, young Sir, I'm right sot on this one here. After I got the book off Eb I used to look at it a lot, especial when I'd heared Parson Clark rant o' Sundays in his big wig. WARREN    [realizing what the word is] Oh, "Parson"! RICHARD    Oh!  I thought that was his name! WARREN    No, it was the reference to the wig that-- CHARLES    Tell him later.  WARREN    I'll never remember-- CHARLES    Perhaps you should keep some note cards. OLD GUY    Once I tried somethin' funny - here, young Sir, don't get skeert [scared] - all I done was to look at the picture afore I killed the sheep for market - killin' sheep was kind of more fun after lookin' at it - CHARLES    The tone of the old man now sank very low, sometimes becoming so faint that his words were hardly audible. 7_killing sheep SOUND    THE RECORD CHANGES, BECOMES MORE SINISTER SOUNDING CHARLES    I listened to the rain, and to the rattling of the bleared, small-paned windows, and marked a rumbling of approaching thunder quite unusual for the season. OLD MAN    Killin' sheep was kind of more fun - but d'ye know, 't wasn't quite satisfyin'. Queer how a cravin' gets a hold of ye - As ye love the Almighty, young man, don't tell nobody, but I swear to God that picture begun to make me hungry for victuals I couldn't raise nor buy - here, set still, what's ailin' ye? - I didn't do nothin', only I wondered how 't would be if I did - They say meat makes blood an' flesh, an' gives ye new life, so I wondered if 't wouldn't make a man live longer an' longer if 't was more o' the same - CHARLES    But the whisperer never continued. The interruption was not produced by my fright, nor by the rapidly increasing storm. It was produced by a very simple, though somewhat unusual, happening. CHARLES    The open book lay flat between us, with the picture staring repulsively upward. As the old man whispered the words-- OLD GUY    more o' the same CHARLES     --a tiny splattering impact was heard, and something showed on the yellowed paper of the upturned volume. SOUND    THUNDER SHAKES THE HOUSE CHARLES    Oh, heavens! RICHARD    That's why Edward is absent, is it?  I know he's quite the fellow for phobias and superstitions - maybe he has to stay in to avoid the lightning? HERBERT    No - storms have never been on his list - not that he's ever told me.  Anything underground, foreigners, the fair sex, getting lost, and cold drafts - those he will go on and on about avoiding, but never storms.  WARREN    Not that I've heard, either.  But I can add illness, the clear night sky, and heredity to things which make him uneasy. CHARLES    [heavy sigh] I'm almost finished, then you three can gossip on like old biddies all you want.  [storytelling] The drip.  I thought of the rain and of a leaky roof, but rain is not red.  On the butcher's shop of the Anzique cannibals, a small red spattering glistened picturesquely, lending vividness to the horror of the engraving.   SOUND    SQUEAK OF LEATHER CHAIR, AS HE SITS FORWARD CHARLES    The old man saw it, and stopped whispering even before my expression of horror made it necessary; saw it and glanced quickly toward the floor of the room he had left an hour before. I followed his glance, and beheld just above us on the loose plaster of the ancient ceiling a large irregular spot of wet crimson which seemed to spread even as I viewed it. For a moment I couldn't even move, Then a thunderclap broke me out of my hypnotic stare and I realized just what a fix I was in. RICHARD    How did you manage to get away? CHARLES    Oh, so now I have your attention.  Well, it was simple really - I told the authorities later that lightning had struck the house, and I barely escaped with my life, but really-- HERBERT    Lightning?  Ridiculous.  Not that it wouldn't strike a house, but-- CHARLES    BUT - What happened was, I tipped over his lamp, sending burning oil everywhere.  Then I dashed past and out the building, while the old man screamed and wailed behind me. WARREN    Angry at you, was he? CHARLES    [very dry] Well he was on fire.  RICHARD    And the blood? CHARLES    For all that, I wasn't curious enough to go back and look.  Even left my bicycle behind, and had to go shanks mare [on foot] - and through the tail end of the storm, mind you. WARREN    Well, that was an interesting-- 8_windigo CHARLES     Hold on, now.  That's mostly the end of the story, but that crazy old man set me t'thinking ... [trails off] RICHARD    [mildly curious] Yes? CHARLES    Well, I recalled pretty clearly the names he'd mentioned as people he knew back in the day, and when I looked them up in historical records - a couple of them being rather famous, at least locally - and they'd all been dead for at least 50 years. WARREN    He must have been telling you something told him by his father or grandfather - older folks, particularly those in isolated country settings, are often a bit delusional. RICHARD    How old do you think he was? CHARLES    He looked to be about 70, allowing for wind and weather and poverty-- RICHARD    And unkemptness-- WARREN    Yes, yes... CHARLES    --but he was also hale and hearty and strong and .... plump. RICHARD    But you can't think that-- CHARLES    So I started to look into the whole theory.  It was really those last words-- OLD GUY    [echoey] More o'the same... CHARLES     --that made me wonder.  So I find out there's an old Indian myth from a ways up north-- WARREN    The Wendigo?  But that's strictly a cautionary tale.  Ethnologists agree on that. HERBERT    The windy-what? WARREN    May I? CHARLES    [sigh] Certainly. WARREN    [lecturing] The Wendigo, also known as the Windeego, the windikkuk, or the whittikow, is a myth from the various Ojibwa-speaking Indian nations of Canada.  We assume it is a cautionary myth about the evils and perils of resorting to cannibalism during times of famine, particularly during the frozen winter months, which is why the wendigo is inextricably linked with cold and snow. HERBERT    Lovely.  But like scholars everywhere, you left out the best part - what precisely is the myth? WARREN    Oh!  [chuckles]  True, the background is often closer to the academic's heart-- RICHARD    I know the story.  And I won't bore Herbert with the ethnological derivations. WARREN    Go on, then. RICHARD    [spooky]  It is said that the windigo is the spirit of winter, howling always just outside the camps of the people, calling to them to break the taboos and let it in.  For when a man eats the flesh of another man, the spirit of the wendigo can enter him, and turn him into a ravening monster - never satisfied with lesser flesh ever again.  For the wendigo is hunger, endless hunger, and the more it eats, the greater its hunger grows.  So if you're ever in a snowstorm and see a man-like shape, thin and gaunt, and missing the tips of its fingers and its lips - for if it can't find other prey, it will devour its own extremities - you'd best run.  Fast. SOUND    [silent moment, then] LIGHT GOLF CLAP CHARLES     Nicely told.  RICHARD    I really could have used a thunderclap there somewhere.  How do you get so lucky? HERBERT    But your old man, who seems to have indulged himself in cannibalism - or at least, that appeared to be the point of your tale, was ruddy and healthy and stout.  Hmm.  Sounds more like Stoker's description of Count Dracula after a good biting. CHARLES    Interesting point.  I must admit I hadn't made that connection.  I suppose it's not that far a leap from drinking someone's blood to eating their flesh. HERBERT    Wine and wafers. WARREN    No!  I am not going to waste time indulging you in another anti-religious diatribe, Herbert.  We all know where you stand on that. CHARLES    Let's get back to my yarn. RICHARD    There's more?  I thought you'd quite finished? CHARLES    Just a bit to go yet.  There is another myth of the windigo, by the by, though it may be merely a literary creation of Algernon Blackwood.  He wrote of a windigo unrelated to the eating of human flesh-- HERBERT    Anthropophagy. CHARLES    Eh? HERBERT    Sorry.  Anthropophagy is the eating of human flesh.  Cannibalism is the eating of human flesh by a fellow human.  There's quite a difference. 9_blackwood CHARLES    [sigh] Blackwood wrote of the windigo as a huge lonely entity living in the north woods, which calls the names of hunters in the night to lure them away from their campfires.  And one sight of it could drive a man mad. WARREN    Blackwood probably did a bit of bowdlerizing on the original myth - he heard a good story and felt that the cannibalism angle would make it less worthy of publication.  HERBERT    Yes.  Edward has often spoken of his difficulties in getting some of his more gruesome tales into print.  Surprising how old-maid-ish some of these vaunted editors can be. RICHARD    He's not the only one.  Why some of my paintings have been shunned and I've had to remove them from view for fear of having them burned! HERBERT    It makes you wonder what people fear more, the mere act of being shown the horrible, or the person who shows it to them. CHARLES    Enough digression.  As I said, the old man made me wonder.  Made me curious what other tales there were of cannibalism.  After what I discovered, about various religious and cultural activities from around the world, I felt certain the windigo tale wasn't to be taken literally, but as a cautionary tale, created to warn people off from antisocial behavior-- RICHARD    Like Struwwelpeter?  You know, the children's book that warns good little children not to suck their thumbs or the scissor man will come and lop them off? CHARLES    Essentially.  In fact that's a very good example - teaching through use of extreme grotesquerie.  You can't say to a child "leave off sucking that thumb or you'll have pruney thumb in the morning", they just won't take it very seriously, so we invent extremes.  Go off the path and grandma will get eaten by a wolf.  Eat another person and you will turn into a ravening monster. HERBERT    I seem to remember struwwelpeter - it had some horrific illustrations, didn't it?  Particularly for children. CHARLES    I realize I can't possibly hold your interest much longer, but there is a bit more, if you will pay me the courtesy--  [beat] Right.  Well I found that in most cultures - disregarding the various incidents of cannibalism for survival, such as during wars and famines-- A1_medusa WARREN    Like the sinking of the Medusa? CHARLES    What? WARREN    Sorry.  Nothing.  Pray continue. CHARLES    Disregarding eating for survival, there was a pervasive belief that eating parts of one's conquered enemies - human or otherwise - would grant the eater some of the strength of the fallen one.  Many hunters ate the hearts of their prey for this very reason.  Hearts being the seat of bravery in many ancient cultures. RICHARD    The seat of bravery or romantic attachment - how sad it is now relegated to merely the centerpiece for the circulatory system. CHARLES    So they would devour other humans for their strength. Now putting this together with the old man's tale, and his necessary age, if indeed he'd met half the people he mentioned in passing-- HERBERT    And devoured them. CHARLES    Eh? HERBERT    I was thinking back on your tale - if you repeated his words and intonations correctly, and always assuming your cannibalism slant is the true one - then he probably et most of the people he referred to - like "him as they say drowned in the pond". CHARLES    Hmm... [unconvincing] Never really thought much on it. WARREN    Of course you did.  Now you have me interested again. CHARLES    Well, assuming he must have been a couple decades past a hundred when we spoke - at least - then the eating of human flesh had to have had the restorative properties he claimed it did.  Gaining strength from the fallen.  O'course there was always still the threat of the windigo, but I had ruled that out after all the extensive tales of cannibalism due to need in other quarters of the globe, and none of those folks gone crazy, running around eating their own lips. WARREN    [Muttered] The crew of the Medusa went mad. CHARLES    You're not going to let it go, are you?  Fine.  Tell us about the Medusa, but be quick, would you? WARREN    The medusa was a sailing ship heading for the cape of good hope which through poor management was run aground on a sand bar.  Everyone abandoned ship, and the sailors were lost on a raft for weeks.  By the time they were found, they'd resorted to cannibalism and gone mad, not necessarily in that order. RICHARD    I recall the painting in the Louvre - it's massive.  The pathos.  It seemed to imply they were within sight of land the entire time. WARREN    Well, paintings.  They're really more interested in the tragic story than the facts. CHARLES    And they went mad, eh? WARREN    Yes.  You see how it is more universal than you think? CHARLES    They went mad after eating each other. WARREN    Yes. CHARLES    --and being out on the open ocean, possibly within sight of land, for weeks, with no fresh water, in the blistering heat somewhere near the cape of good hope had nothing to do with it. HERBERT    And they started out French. WARREN    Well, when you put it that way-- A2_wrap up CHARLES    [snort] Well, as a final touch to my collection of cannibalistic stories, I did find one rather interesting description of human flesh - the taste and texture of it - written by a connoisseur who had tried some, that said it was much like a good veal - not so tough as beef, nor stringy. RICHARD    I expect that if your cook got ahold of some, it would taste just as good as the veal tonight. CHARLES    Yes.  [with import]  Very likely. HERBERT    Did the description say there was any way to tell the difference? CHARLES    Not if it was cut and prepared right.  Oh, if you found a finger in your stew, you would probably suspect something, but a chop is a chop.  And a roast is a roast. WARREN    [gulp] Where did Edward say he was tonight? CHARLES    He didn't.  You going mad yet?  HERBERT    [interested, not freaked]  You mean, you tricked us into--? WARREN    [trying not to vomit]  Edward!  But he was -- your-- our friend! CHARLES    Still is.  He'll be with us always. RICHARD    [horrified and fascinated]  How did you - do it? CHARLES    Well, I wouldn't let him suffer, would I?  After all, he was a friend. WARREN    I can't -- SOUND    GETTING UP FROM CHAIR, RAPID FOOTSTEPS SOUND    DOOR OPENS. FEET STOP SHORT. EDWARD    [laughing] The look on your face!  WARREN    [long painful gasp] Edward! EDWARD    I never knew you cared. WARREN    [faints] ahh! SOUND    BODY DROP HERBERT    These academics.  Not enough exercise, too much theory. RICHARD    So the cutlet? CHARLES    Veal, o'course, you ninnies.  I only promised you a story to make your gorge rise and your hair stand on end.  Besides.  Martha'd'a never put up with me pulling a stunt like that in her kitchen. END  
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Atomic Julie - Spoken For by William Morrison

    19:32

    A lot of things in space take a lot of time.
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    19 Nocturne Boulevard - LONELY AT THE TOP - Reissue

    40:53

    Trigger Warnings below the script, below. Two girls in very different times and places both make their way to the top - One finds exaltation, the other merely death. Cast List Tess - Beverly Poole Teza - Lyndsey Thomas Mom - Kris Keppeler Markie/Malque - Julie Hoverson Doctor/Trainer/Priest - Mathias Rebne Morgan Music:  Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com)         Josh Woodward (JoshWoodward.com)         Philippe Mangold [Music of Woodward and Mangold used under a Creative Commons license and available through Jamendo.com] Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson Cover Photos: Chris Gilbert     (courtesy of Stock Xchange.com)   "What kind of a place is it?  Why, it's a mother's heart.  Can't you tell?" **************************************************************** LONELY AT THE TOP Cast: Tess (F/16) Teza (F/16) Markie/Marquay (F/16) Mom (F/40) Priest/Trainer/Doctor (M/40)   NOTE:  the roles are deliberately doubled to present the same “people” in both girls’ lives.  The “mom” speeches apply to both at the same time.   OLIVIA     Did you have any trouble finding it?  What do you mean, what kind of a place is it?  Why, it's a Mother's heart, can't you tell?   MUSIC MOM's MUSIC MOM    Darling, this is wonderful.  You can't imagine how proud I am of you!  I've always known you were special, but it means so much to have someone like that see what I have always seen! MUSIC OUT AMB MODERN MARKIE    I totally can't believe it!  You made the cut? TESS    It's not set in stone yet - It's just the semi-finals, but mom's about to wet herself, she's so excited. MARKIE    But Miss Modern Teen Model 2009!  I mean, even if you wash out on the semi-finals, that's still soooo cool!  I wish I was pretty. TESS    Puh-lease.  You're cute.  Cute lasts.  Beauty fades. MARKIE    Cute.  Yeah, that's my curse.  Not tall enough to be a model, not short enough to walk under turnstiles... [laughs a bit bitterly] TESS    Cute lasts.  I have to make the most of this while I can.  Besides, you have plans for your future - the scholarships are lining up.  MARKIE    Yeah yeah yeah, but brains don't get you dates. TESS    Brains last too. MOM MUSIC MOM    The idea that my daughter - my lovely child - could go all the way to the top.  That you could have the perseverance and willpower to do what has to be done to make it.  It will reflect so well on all of us! MUSIC OUT AMB AZTEC MARQUE    You are one of the chosen? TEZA    [laughs delightedly] Yes!  There is still a long path ahead of me, but I feel - it feels right! MARQUE    You are so fortunate!  I wish I was graced with beauty pleasing to the gods.  TEZA    Everyone's fate is different, my dearest friend.  I hear your parents have found you a husband! MARQUE    He is ... kind.  Not unappealing.  Not too old.  Yes, it is a promising match.  I could certainly do worse. TEZA    So you have as much to look forward to as I do! MARQUE    Could you ... do something for me? TEZA    Anything - you are my dearest friend and I love you! MARQUE    When you ... get there, could you petition the great mother Chalchihuitlicue [chal-chee-weet-lee-cue] to smile upon my first pregnancy?  That say that should you survive the first, the others are not so hard. TEZA    Not even a bride yet, and you worry about bearing?  Silly.  Let your time come when it may.  MARQUE    But-- TEZA    But!  But I will.  I will speak with every goddess in the heavens if it will help ease your burden. MARQUE    I love you! MOM MUSIC MOM    Don't be afraid honey, I won't let you fail.  I know you can reach any goal you set your mind on.  You simply must keep your focus.  Can you do that?  Eyes on the prize, sweetheart.  And you know what that means - giving up the things that don't matter to clear the way for the things that do. AMB MODERN MOM    What are you eating? TESS    What?  Ice cream. MOM    No, no, no!  You know what Mr. Dupree said - these last few days before the pageant, you need to stick to simple foods.  No sugar!  Nothing bloaty.   TESS    Chill mom.  I made it this far-- MOM    It just gets harder, honey.  Every inch of the way is like another huge step up the side of a mountain.  None of these steps are easy, but they're worth the effort, if only because of the view once you get up there. TESS    You're really stoked on this, aren’t you? MOM    Yes honey, I'm stoked.  For you.  I want you to be able to get everything you can out of life - a model's life isn't easy, but there are plenty of rewards. TESS    [heard it a million times] and you have to get it while you can, because models are over the hill before they can legally drink. MOM    It's not funny, honey.  It's very serious.  Can't you give it just one year?  How hard is that - to push yourself, for just one year? TESS    I guess. MOM MUSIC MOM    When I heard that you had been chosen, that you were smiled upon out of all the girls, I nearly wept.  I was so pleased.  I've watched your sisters put themselves at the service of husband and children, and I wanted so much more for you.  You are my special, beautiful, darling. AMB AZTEC MARQUE    I'm sorry you will miss my wedding.  TEZA    It is set, then? MARQUE    Not the day, no, but it will be summer next, right after the sowing.  TEZA    A good time.  And I will be with you in spirit.  MARQUE    The midwife thinks I will be old enough, then.  [breaking a little] Oh, I will miss you!  Once you enter the grand temple, we can never speak again! TEZA    You will always be in my heart, as I know I will always be in yours.  I will watch over you and always hear you when you speak to me. MARQUE    It will be in the spring?  For you? TEZA    If I am selected to represent Chicomecoatl [chih-coe-me-coe-ah-tul].  It would be a great honor.  MARQUE    Your mother has been bragging everywhere.  She cannot be quieted.  TEZA    It's as if she was the one being considered. MARQUE    Never mind.  Regardless, we will be together through the winter, while you learn all you must know for the big day.  TEZA    And you learn all you must know for your big day. MOM MUSIC MOM    My dearest child, you don't know how my heart swells with pride when I think about you, up there in front of everyone, beautiful and serene, like a shining star, and knowing, deep inside myself, that I made you perfect. AMB DUAL [Both are speechifying] TESS    I am so pleased to be considered -- TEZA    --to represent our lady of corn on this most sacred of days.  I have always wanted-- TESS    --to be able to find a way to show the world what I have inside, what I have to offer.  And if I could do one thing-- TEZA    --I would like to make my mother, my family, and my people proud of me, for community is everything.  Without the people around us, we-- TESS    --would never have made it this far, this close to becoming the next to represent-- TEZA    --Lady of the corn-- TESS    --Miss Modern Teen Model 2019. AMB MODERN TESS    [crying] MOM    What the hell did you think you were doing in there?  They were laughing at you! TESS    [teary] What? MOM    That judge said you walk like a trucker with hemorrhoids! TESS    I don't know how I walk!  I don't watch me! MOM    [softening] Honey!  Sweetie!  Oh, come here.  It's not over - I promise you.  You were doing so well, I'm sure this one thing won't put you out entirely, as long as you don't give up.  TESS    I want to-- MOM    Shh. Shh.  We'll just find someone to do something about that walk.  No big deal. AMB AZTEC TEZA    [tears] It's all over! I know it! MARQUE    Why? TEZA    The rich merchant from Tenochtitlan - he has requested I marry him! MARQUE    But doesn't he know you are destined for the temple? TEZA    [scornful] Apparently he likes the idea of marrying someone perfect enough for the gods. MARQUE    That is - he is asking for something terrible to happen! TEZA    Well, I haven't been chosen yet - if I tried to step away then, that would be blasphemy.  But to drop out now... what a blow it would be to everyone.  And yet - my mother may consider his offer, since he is very prosperous.  It is not fair! MARQUE    No.   Do not worry.  I think this means as much to your mother - more even - than it does to you.  She wishes you to secure her a place in the high tables of the night.  And there is money from the temple as well - the position is a very prestigious one.  MOM MUSIC MOM    Your dreams are all that matters, my dearest child.  I will never try and stop you from getting everything you deserve.  You know you can count on my support every step of the way.  I will always be behind you to help you face forward, and will push you up every step, if that's what it takes.  AMB MODERN SOUND    VOMITING MUFFLED BY DOOR MOM    Honey?  You doing all right? TESS    [recovering] Just a minute. MOM    Quick rinse, dear - there's someone here to see you! SOUND    DOOR SHUTS, FOOTSTEPS MOM    She'll be out in a minute - fixing her face, you know. TRAINER    Of course.  Why don't work out my fees while we wait-- SOUND     DOOR OPENS TESS    [subdued] Hi. MOM    Oh, come on, show a little enthusiasm!  She's really much more excited than that. TRAINER    Don't worry - I understand.  So this is Tess.  [hmming noises] SOUND    FOOTSTEPS CIRCLE TESS TRAINER    Has she had any formal modeling training? MOM    She's been taking classes since she was nine. TRAINER    [disapproving]  Hmm. MOM    But she also studied ballet, tap, jazz, deportment, and has kept up a 3.7 G-P-A. TRAINER    [dismissive noise] TESS    And I- TRAINER    Shh!  How old is she? MOM    Fourteen.  TRAINER    We're starting it a bit late, but I see potential here.  Show me this walk... MOM MUSIC MOM    Think on this.  Think of the great ones - the ones we all idolize and hold in great regard.  Now picture your face there, among them, gracing the rest of us below.  Can't you see yourself?  Your perfect self? AMB AZTEC MOM    [whispered]  Don't they look grand in their feathers?  They hold our future - your future in their very hands. TEZA    Mother.  You will make me tongue-tied.  They are wise and all-knowing.  They will know if I am the one-- MOM    That you are the one-- TEZA    --the minute they lay eyes upon me. MOM    [gasp] Was that your name?  Did they call your name? TEZA    Yes, mother it was my name.  Pray for me. SOUND    ECHOING FOOTSTEPS PRIEST    You, child.  You aspire to represent the great lady of the corn? TEZA    [awed and respectful]  Yes, if it please the gods. PRIEST    You are lovely, but are you pure? TEZA    Yes, sire.  My mother can swear to it. PRIEST    Remove your shawl, show us your body.  Do not hesitate, child - nothing untoward will happen.  Your mother is right there watching. SOUND    HEAVY FABRIC FALLS TO THE FLOOR MOM MUSIC MOM    It's just skin, honey.  You have nothing to be embarrassed about.  You're lovely.  Think of yourself as a work of art, and they are objective observers.  They wouldn't be interested in you that way, anyway - you know that.  And I'm right here.  Tell me if you get nervous, and I'll make them stop.  All right?  You know every girl who has gone  before has been through this same thing. AMB MODERN TESS    [nervous, jittery]  Well, they haven't said no, yet. MARKIE    That's good. TESS    I guess.  I mean, I'm starting to wonder whether it's all really worth it.  I'm supposed to get good sleep, be rested, so I can look my best, but half the time I'm too damn nervous, or hungry, or...something.  I'm always trying not to think of things, like food, or having time to myself - I mean, what is it all for? MARKIE    Wow.  Maybe you should just tell your mom you want to stop. TESS    Tell my mom?  [laughs almost hysterically] Tell my mom?  Are you high?  She would toss me out on my ear.  She's got so into this - and besides, she's spent all this money - mucho dinero, you know - to get me this far.  How can I let her down - make her waste all that? MARKIE    But you have to think of yourself, right? TESS    I promised her I would do this for one year.  Just a year - I can do it.  [affirmations] I have the willpower to maintain, and the serenity to--[breaks into a sob] MARKIE    Have you eaten anything today? TESS    I can't!  The pre-judging is tomorrow. MARKIE    I have some tic-tacs-- TESS    No!  Don't tempt me!  Shit, Markie, you're supposed to be helping me! MOM MUSIC MOM    It will all be worth it, you know it will.  The purging, the special oils.  You will always be the most lovely one in the place - caught in that one special moment, when you shine above all others.  No one will ever forget you after that! AMB AZTEC TEZA    great and reverent master, what if I have doubts? PRIEST    Doubts?  What doubts, child? TEZA    I fear that I will not be worthy.  That I will falter in my steps and dishonor the crown of corn. PRIEST    I can look into your heart, child, and I see that you have the strength within you to bear this burden - to rise to the heights, and carry the name of Chicomecoatl with dignity and grace. TEZA    Do you? PRIEST    It is always the way of men and women to doubt themselves.  To worry that they will lose themselves in fear, or to ponder what life would be like had they not stepped out upon the path to greatness.  Ever and always. TEZA    But what can I do? PRIEST    Fast and pray, child.  I know you will see the correctness of your choice.  And when your day of glory comes, you will never know fear or doubt again. MOM MUSIC MOM    A boy?  What do you mean a boy?  You don't have time for - you're too young for boys.  All the boys you could possibly want will be at your feet, when the time comes, but right now - [hissed] it will ruin you.  AMB MODERN TESS    But Corey's on TV!  He could help my-- MOM    He could get you on the covers of a bunch of sleazy tabloids-- TESS    But you said publicity is good-- MOM    Not that kind - that will make sure everyone knows your name, but you will never be high class again!  Save that kind of exploitation for when your looks start to fade. TESS    Yeah, like when I'm 17. MOM    You knew going in this was a short hard run, missy.  There is no free ride.  You wanted this as much as I did! TESS    Well I don't want it any more!  I want to have a normal life! MOM    Fine.  We can go back to living a normal life.  You and me and your dad - oh, wait.  Where should we live, hun?  We sold the house when we came on the road with you - to finance your headshots and your spa treatments.  I suppose if you quit school-- TESS    [muttered] I can't concentrate anyway. MOM    --and get a job in fast food, we three between us could make enough to [ramping up, each statement a dagger] live in a crappy little apartment and eat junk food all the time and get enormously fat and covered in  acne, and then as soon as you're old enough, you can run off with some high school drop out who wants to start a band-- [sliding down, into her own misery] but of course you love each other and he ends up driving Greyhound and you lose the last vestige of your waist when you have the first three children, but the fourth child - your fourth child, she might just be perfect enough to live the good life - the beautiful life - at least until she ruins it! TEZA    You gave me the choice mother, and I accept my fate. MOM    I always knew you were just too good to live.  You are an angel, honey, a perfect angel. TESS    Yes, mother. MOM    Sweetie.  [all business] Now here's your pills from Dr. Gustavson - he said don't take them on an empty stomach, so go grab a cracker and some diet soda. MOM MUSIC MOM    There is nothing wrong with wanting more for your child than you had.  Wanting to guide her and make sure she gets the advantages instead of making the same stupid mistakes you made.  Is there?  Isn’t all of life - at least the lives of parents - the effort to make a better life for your children? AMB AZTEC MARQUE     And is he very handsome, the chosen vessel of Tezcatlipoca? TEZA    Don't be silly - he is perfect.  They wouldn't have chosen him otherwise.  [sigh] but of course, we are set upon different paths. MARQUE    Perhaps you will meet later.  Beyond the sun. TEZA    Perhaps.  But he has been given four wives who are all perfect as well.   MARQUE    And you are the Lady of Corn - none can shine brighter than a candle in the sunlight when you are in the room.  I swear you get more beautiful every day.  This suits you. TEZA    Thank you - my mother says so also.  [beat]  We are to meet at another function - what if he talks to me again? MARQUE    Talk is all well and good, but do not be alone.  It is so humiliating to prove that you have not fallen into temptation. TEZA    ugh [shudder]  I could go my whole life without ever feeling that again.  [bucks up] And I shall.  I may talk to him, but I will never step out of the sight of the priests.  We will both remain perfect. MARQUE    Very good. TEZA    I wish you could have come with me...but the temple handmaidens are devoted even earlier than we. MARQUE    Well, I have news for you as well.  My husband to be, [pleased] who has meals with my family more often than custom requires -hmm? - is really quite an amusing man.  And very fond of me.  I may not have my moment in the center of the universe, but I will have a good life. TEZA    I am so pleased.  And I will remember to   petition for you. SOUND    [hug noise] MOM MUSIC MOM    Unhappy?  How can you be unhappy?  You have everything you could possibly want - your face in front of everyone, men at your beck and call, and attending all the best celebrations!  What could you possibly be missing?  [wheedling] you know I'm only doing this for you!  You want this as much as I do!  You've finally made it, honey, what more could any girl want?  Every girl out there looks at you and cries herself to sleep wishing she could trade lives with you.  That is enough to make anyone happy, isn’t it?  To be envied?  How could you possibly be unhappy enough to do this? AMB MODERN DOCTOR    Now take two of these every eight hours, to prevent infection, and change the dressings every 4 hours or so.  MOM    I'll keep her on schedule, don't you worry.  And...this won't get out? DOCTOR    It's hardly likely that people won't notice the change, even with the recuperation period, but I certainly don't keep in business by revealing personal info about my clientele. TESS    Mom? MOM    Don't worry, dear.  Momma's right here. TESS    You said I wouldn't feel it. MOM    Does it hurt, honey?  Here, doctor, can she have something for the pain? DOCTOR    That's in the bag too, but do go light on them - you don't want to become dependent.  MOM    And when the scars heal, and everyone sees  how lovely you are, with your new curves, you will be the envy of even more of the world. TESS    [dully] Of course, mother. MOM MUSIC MOM    Even perfection can be improved on.  Beauty is pain.  That which is prized most is always hardest to come by.  If it was easy to be beautiful, everyone would want to be ugly instead.  You cannot be special if everyone can easily achieve what you have.  You must stand out.  You must shine.  Look into that mirror, dearest child, and tell me you don't love yourself even more each day as you come closer and closer to perfection. MUSIC - BOTH TEZA    Life is pain TESS    Beauty sucks. TEZA    I am being remade in the image of the goddess.  TESS    Who decides what I should fucking look like? TEZA    Painted and pierced.  Smoothed and scented.  I am treated like a queen. TESS    If I have to have one more operation, I'll pee stitches. TEZA    I bite the stick and let the pain carry me away as they mold my flesh. TESS    I cry all night, silently, so my mother won't come and comfort me. AMB AZTEC TEZA    See my new ear plugs?  They made them larger again, and heavy.  They almost touch my shoulders now. MARQUE    Don't they hurt? TEZA    Of course, but pain won't last forever.  I rather coveted a nose piercing as well, but that is not suited to the lady.  I am being remade in her image. MARQUE    I really admire your hair.  Such elegantly styled coils and plaits! TEZA    Smell!  Only the finest oils must touch me.  Everything is moving so quickly - such a short time left before the day I ascend to the top of the sky. MARQUE    Too bad it is not sooner - my sister will start her labor soon, and she could use a blessing from the lady of rivers.  TEZA    I can still burn offerings, like anyone else. MARQUE    True, but I can't help but feel the word of the corn lady will be heard so much louder than mere mortals such as we. TEZA    [laughs ruefully] I can ask any one of a legion of priests to guide me in my prayers, and they will gladly help - for it is goodly for the lady of the corn to look after those with child.  MARQUE    Would you? TEZA    Yes.  And the priests - well their voices will carry as far as they need to go. [they laugh] MOM MUSIC MOM    The day is set, my child.  You have reached the height.  This can never be undone and leave you a nobody ever again.  Everyone will see your face, and know - they will know - that you are the center of the universe. AMB MODERN TESS    Who the hell am I? MOM    What?  Sweetie, you're-- TESS    I used to know!  I used to be Tess, a pretty and I dunno - slightly talented, maybe - high school student, and now--[sob catches] MOM    Now, you're the most beautiful woman in the world - the magazine said so.  It showed your absolute perfection-- TESS    Not my perfection, mother - that's complete crap.  I'm like - I'm like Mr. potato head, and you stuck hair and makeup and a pair of boobs on me - None of this is me!  Who the hell am I?  Did you ever ask?  Did you ever care? MOM    Honey!  It's just icing on a wonderful  cake.  You like cake, don't you?  [ingratiating] And isn’t it better with frosting? TESS    [through gritted teeth] I don't GET cake, mother, not unless I want to taste it both ways [eating and throwing up].  I don’t even know if I could hold it down if I tried. MOM    What the hell has got into you?  TESS    You couldn’t even leave me my own name, could you?  "Tess" just isn't supermodel material.  And you didn’t even choose it - you let a marketing firm do a survey and took their suggestions. MOM    You got to pick one of the three they came up with-- TESS    There isn’t any me left under all this, mother!  Nothing.  I'm hollow.  Empty. MOM    Where are you going? TESS    To find something to fill me. MOM MUSIC MOM    Purpose.  Purpose is enough, isn’t it?  You are moving forward, ever forward.  The search for perfection is a road, not a destination.  There is nothing wrong with embellishing the beauty you were born with. AMB AZTEC MARQUE    [crying]  It was horrible. TEZA    I'm so sorry.  I did what I could. MARQUE    I know.  She is with the gods, now, but it was so awful.  I - I'm so scared. TEZA    Why? MARQUE    Watching her - watching the blood and the pain, hours and hours of it - and the baby died too!  How can I ever choose to go through that? TEZA    It is what women do. MARQUE    You won't ever have to. TEZA    [teasing a bit] I have to give life to the whole world.  [serious] But I feel for you.  And for your sister, and her baby.  It is a tragedy. MARQUE    Is there anything in life that doesn’t hurt? TEZA    Flowers.  Chocolate.  Love. MARQUE    You know what I mean - important things. TEZA    What is more important than Love? MARQUE    [sniff, then a tiny sad uh-huh] MOM MUSIC MOM    Only a few more days.  Nothing must go wrong.  You must be so very careful not to harm yourself, even a scratch or a nick will show.  Only the most skilled may come to do your hair, massage, and dress you in the most beautiful garments.  Nothing is left to chance.  Nothing.  Do you hear me?  Nothing will go wrong, even if I have to hurt someone. MODERN AMB MOM    I see you're feeling a little better? TESS    [dull] Yes I took my medicine. MOM    Good.  Nothing like seeing a smile on my little girl's face again.  And there's nothing wrong with using science to combat unhappiness. TESS    Yes mother. MOM    Unhappiness isn't natural.  Especially for beautiful people. TESS    Beautiful. MOM    Dear.  Don't frown.  You don't want to get wrinkles! TESS    Why don't I just lie here like a blob?  That way I can't break a nail. MOM    Are you sure you took your pills? TESS    [sigh] MOM MUSIC MOM    It is always darkest right before the dawn.  And it is always tensest the night before the main event.  You hold your breath and pray for dawn, the watch the shadows crawl across the ground, feeling like the final moment will never come.  And once it arrives?  Pfft.  It is over.  AZTEC AMB TEZA    I'm happy you could sit vigil this night with me, mother. MOM    How could I do otherwise, my darling chosen one? TEZA    [teasing] You must relinquish your claim to me, since I am now the Corn lady. MOM    [fondly, almost in tears]  My lady of corn.  I will never forget that I was able to contribute to the glory you represent. TEZA    Without you I would not be here - would not be able to bring life to the crops for another year. MOM    And yet it is a melancholy time as well.   Knowing that the great lady will ascend to heaven tomorrow. TEZA    I told Marque I will watch over her.  I can watch you both.  I have two eyes. MOM    Can Teza give her mother a final kiss before the Corn lady must take her walk? TEZA    Of course.  [kiss noise] MOM MUSIC MOM    And this is it.  The end.  What we have worked so hard for.  I know it is a sad time.  I feel sad too, but the triumph, the glory, the joy will outweigh the sorrow.  MODERN AMB MOM    What the hell do you mean, she's gone?  TRAINER    She was here for the opening - the talent portion is about to start, and she's not in the dressing room.  MOM    Have you checked the bathroom? TRAINER    I asked every girl in there, and between yarks they said they hadn't seen her. MOM    How could she do this to me? TRAINER    Worse - her opening number gown is gone too, and it was a rental. AMB - MIXED [Tess is down, Teza is filled with joy] TEZA    I gaze up the endless stairs TESS    Knowing this will be my last trip BOTH    I feel my sandals shift beneath my feet as I take the first step. TEZA    With each step, the roaring grows louder TESS    The voices in my head just won't shut up! TEZA    I must go slowly, for while I cannot falter, neither can I look down. TESS    My head is so heavy TEZA    My crown is so weighty. BOTH    I feel all those eyes upon me. TESS    [shriek] They won't leave me alone! TEZA    [ecstatic] They love me! TESS    They hate me! TEZA    Each step takes me higher.  Closer to the heavens. TESS    I haul myself up, one step at a time. TEZA    My ears still ache - the pain reminds me of what I leave behind. TESS    The pain of what I have become will never leave me. TEZA    The scent of a thousand flowers, thrown by the crowd, surrounds me. TESS    The hallway smells of puke. BOTH    Only a few more steps.  TEZA    I thrill with fear and longing, yearning for the gods. TESS    Please god don't let me fuck this up. TEZA    The priests await me, stern and welcoming. TESS    I see a face and don't recognize myself until I realize it's a mirror. TEZA    The name me Chicomecoatl, and I know I have become the Lady of the corn. TESS    I stare into the eyes in the mirror and have no clue who she is. BOTH    I take up the cup. TEZA    The drink warms me, and I love everyone. TESS    I drink slowly, timing the pills - too fast and I'll barf it all up before it can work. TEZA    My mind floats. BOTH    I can't feel anything anymore. TEZA    They gently lay me on the altar. TESS    The bathroom tile is cool under my cheek. TEZA    The knife above me catches light from Huitztipotchli's glory. TESS    Everything is getting dark TEZA    The knife falls and I transcend. TESS    Everything goes black. OMINOUS SILENCE CLOSING MUSIC SLOWLY CREEPS IN **************************************************************** T R I G G E R W A R N I N G S   [TW - mature language and situations, extreme dieting, non-gender related body dysmorphia and modification, depression, suicide, human sacrifice]
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Atomic Julie - Patch by William Shedenhelm

    18:41

    The old boys who fly by the seat of their pants can solve problems that make the more modern space jockeys completely panic.
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    19 Nocturne Boulevard - A TRILOGY FOR XMAS - Reissue

    46:22

    Nothing is ever normal at 19 Nocturne Boulevard.  So when Olivia, our sultry announcer, decides to read the listeners a few of her favorite Xmas tales, things get a bit out of hand. Adapted by Julie Hoverson from stories by Arnold Bennett, Rudyard Kipling, and Joseph Conrad, appearing in A Christmas Garland edited by Max Beerbohm, published in 1912 Cast List Olivia - Julie Hoverson Emily Wrackgarth - Beverly Poole Jos Wrackgarth - Russell Gold Albert Grapp - Gareth Bowley Kipling/narrator - Rick Lewis Judlip - Cole Hornaday Mr. Williams - Michael Coleman [from Tales of the Extradordinary] Mahamo - Pat McNally Music:  Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com) Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson Cover Photo:  Sanja Gjenero (courtesy of Stock Xchange.com)   "Puh-leeze!  Do I sound like the type to offend with yet another rendition of A Christmas Carol?"   **************************************************** A TRILOGY FOR CHRISTMAS Cast: Olivia SCRUTS Emily Wrackgarth Jos Wrackgarth Albert Grapp   PC X36 Kipling Judlip Father Christmas   THE FEAST Williams Mahamo ANNOUNCER    The stories for tonight's show have been abridged and dramatized by Julie Hoverson     OLIVIA     Did you have any trouble finding it?  Well sit right down.  I want to read you my favorite Christmas stories.  No, don't go!  [disgusted] Oh, puh-lease!  Do I seem the type to offend with yet another rendition of A Christmas Carol, or The night Before Christmas?  Even the Velveteen Rabbit, which is a truly disturbing tale to any small child, is far too common for this house.  MUSIC CREEPS IN OLIVIA    Indulge me, won't you?  I promise I won't disappoint.  I have selected three of my most favorite Christmas tales to share with you, and even if one is a bit romantic and sentimental, well, you have to let me be girly sometimes, right?  So - I'll get sentiment out of the way and move right into the more... meaty stories.  The first story, then, is Scruts by Arnold Bennett MUSIC CHANGES OLIVIA     Emily Wrackgarth stirred the Christmas pudding till her right arm began to ache. But she did not cease for that. SOUND    KITCHEN, STIRRING OLIVIA    She stirred on till her right arm grew so numb that it might have been the right arm of some girl at the other end of Bursley. And yet something deep down in her whispered EMILY    [muttered] It is your right arm! And you can do what you like with it! OLIVIA    She did what she liked with it. Relentlessly she kept it moving till it reasserted itself as the arm of Emily Wrackgarth, prickling and tingling as with red-hot needles in every tendon from wrist to elbow. And still Emily Wrackgarth hardened her heart. EMILY    Mine.  You are mine. OLIVIA    Presently she saw the spoon no longer revolving, but wavering aimlessly in the midst of the basin. EMILY    Ridiculous! This must be seen to! OLIVIA    In the down of dark hairs that connected her eyebrows there was a marked deepening of that vertical cleft which, visible at all times, warned you that here was a young woman not to be trifled with. Her brain despatched to her hand a peremptory message—which miscarried. The spoon wabbled as though held by a baby. EMILY    [exasperated noise] OLIVIA    Emily knew that she herself as a baby had been carried into this very kitchen to stir the Christmas pudding. Year after year, as she grew up, she had been allowed to stir it "for luck." And those, she reflected, were the only cookery lessons she ever got. EMILY    How like Mother! OLIVIA    Mrs. Wrackgarth had died in the past year, of a complication of ailments.  Emily still wore on her left shoulder that small tag of crape which is as far as the Five Towns go in the way of mourning. Her father had died in the year previous to that, of a still more curious and enthralling complication of ailments.  Jos, his son, carried on the Wrackgarth Works, EMILY    [interrupting] and I kept house for Jos. I with my own hand made this pudding. But for me, this pudding would not have been. Fantastic! Utterly incredible! OLIVIA    [slightly miffed] And yet so it was. She was grown-up. She was mistress of the house. She could make or unmake puddings at will. And yet she was Emily Wrackgarth. Which was absurd. EMILY    It is doubtful whether the people of southern England have even yet realised how much introspection there is going on all the time in the Five Towns. OLIVIA    [ahem!]  Emily was now stirring the pudding with her left hand. The ingredients had already been mingled indistinguishably in that rich, undulating mass of tawniness which proclaims perfection. But Emily was determined to give her left hand, not less than her right, what she called EMILY    "a doing." OLIVIA    Emily was like that.  At mid-day, when her brother came home from the Works, she was still at it. EMILY    Brought those scruts with you? JOS    That's a fact. OLIVIA    And he dipped his hand into the sagging pocket of his coat.  It is perhaps necessary to explain what scruts are. In the daily output of every potbank there are a certain proportion of flawed vessels. These are cast aside by the foreman, EMILY    with a lordly gesture, OLIVIA    and in due course are hammered into fragments. These fragments, which are put to various uses, are called scruts; and one of the uses they are put to is a sentimental one. EMILY    The dainty and luxurious Southerner looks to find in his Christmas pudding a wedding-ring, a gold thimble, a threepenny-bit, or the like. To such fal-lals the Five Towns would say fie. OLIVIA     A Christmas pudding in the Five Towns contains nothing but suet, flour, lemon-peel, cinnamon, brandy, almonds, raisins—and two or three scruts. There is a world of poetry, beauty, romance, in scruts—though you have to have been brought up on them to appreciate it. Scruts have passed into the proverbial philosophy of the district. EMILY    "Him's a pudden with more scruts than raisins to 'm" OLIVIA    is a criticism not infrequently heard. It implies respect, even admiration. Of Emily Wrackgarth herself people often said, in reference to her likeness to her father, JOS    "Her's a scrut o' th' owd basin."  [realizing he cut in] Oh, Hmm.  Pardon. OLIVIA    Jos had emptied out from his pocket on to the table a good three dozen of scruts. EMILY     I laid aside my spoon, rubbed the palms of my hands on the bib of my apron, and proceeded to finger these scruts with the air of a connoisseur, rejecting one after another. OLIVIA    The pudding was a small one, designed merely for herself and Jos, with remainder to "the girl"; so that it could hardly accommodate more than two or three scruts. EMILY     I knew well that one scrut is as good as another. Yet I did not want my brother to feel that anything selected by him would necessarily pass muster. OLIVIA     For his benefit she ostentatiously wrinkled her nose. JOS    By the by, you remember Albert Grapp? I've asked him to step over from Hanbridge and help eat our snack on Christmas Day. EMILY    [incensed] You've asked that Mr. Grapp? JOS    No objection, I hope? He's not a bad sort. And he's considered a bit of a ladies' man, you know. EMILY    [incensed noise] SOUND    CLATTER OF SCRUTS INTO BOWL OLIVIA    Emily gathered up all the scruts and let them fall in a rattling shower on the exiguous pudding. Two or three fell wide of the basin. EMILY    [vengefully]  I made sure they all fit, too. JOS    [alarmed] Steady on!  What's that for? EMILY    That's for your guest.  And if you think you're going to palm me off on to him, or on to any other young fellow, you're a fool, Jos Wrackgarth! JOS    I - I would never-- EMILY    Don't think I don't know what you've been after, just of late. Cracking up one young sawny and then another on the chance of me marrying him! I never heard of such goings on. But here I am, and here I'll stay, as sure as my name's Emily Wrackgarth, Jos Wrackgarth! OLIVIA    It is difficult to write calmly about Emily at this point. For her, in another age, ships would have been launched and cities besieged. But brothers are a race apart, and blind. It is a fact that Jos would have been glad to see his sister "settled" JOS    [muttered] —preferably in one of the other four Towns. OLIVIA    [chuckle] She took up the spoon and stirred vigorously. The scruts grated and squeaked together around the basin, while the pudding feebly wormed its way up among them. MUSIC CHANGES ALBERT    [whispered] Is it me?  Oh!  [up]  Albert Grapp, ladies' man though he was, was humble of heart. Nobody knew this but himself. OLIVIA    Not one of his fellow clerks in Clither's Bank knew it. The general theory in Hanbridge was "Him's got a stiff opinion o' hisself." ALBERT    But this arose from what was really a sign of humility in him. He made the most of himself. OLIVIA    He had, for instance, a way of his own in the matter of dressing. He always wore a voluminous frock-coat, with a pair of neatly-striped vicuna trousers-- ALBERT    --which he placed every night under his mattress, thus preserving in perfection the crease down the centre of each. OLIVIA     He had two caps, one of blue serge, the other of shepherd's plaid. These he wore on alternate days. He wore them in a way of his own—well back from his forehead, so as not to hide his hair.  OLIVIA    On wet days he wore a mackintosh. This, as he did not yet possess a great-coat, he wore also, but with less glory, on cold days. ALBERT    He had hoped there might be rain on Christmas morning. But there was no rain. [sigh, resigned] Like my luck. OLIVIA    [whispered, urgent] Stop referring to yourself in the third person, no one else does.  [back up] Since Jos Wrackgarth had introduced Albert to his sister at the Hanbridge Oddfellows' Biennial Hop, ALBERT    when he -I- danced two quadrilles with her, OLIVIA    --he had seen her but once. He had nodded to her, Five Towns fashion, and she had nodded back at him, but with a look that seemed to say-- EMILY    You needn't nod next time you see me. I can get along well enough without your nods. ALBERT    A frightening girl! And yet her brother had since told ...me... she seemed "a bit gone, like" on me!  Impossible! He, Albert Grapp, make an impression on the brilliant Miss Wrackgarth! Yet she had sent him a verbal invite to spend Christmas in her own home. OLIVIA    You're doing it again. ALBERT    [oblivious, enchanted] And the time had come. He was on his way. Incredible that he should arrive! The tram must surely overturn, or be struck by lightning. And yet no! He arrived safely. OLIVIA    [sigh] The small servant who opened the door gave him another verbal message from Miss Wrackgarth. [disapproving] Wipe your feet well on the mat.  [narrating again] In obeying this order he experienced a thrill of satisfaction he could not account for. He must have stood shuffling his boots vigorously for a full minute. ALBERT    This, he told himself, was life. He, Albert Grapp, was alive. And the world was full of other men, all alive; and yet, because they were not doing Miss Wrackgarth's bidding, none of them really lived. OLIVIA    In the parlour he found Jos awaiting him. The table was laid for three. JOS    So you're here, are you? OLIVIA    Said the host, using the Five Towns formula. JOS    Emily's in the kitchen.  Happen she'll be here directly. ALBERT    I hope she's tol-lol-ish? JOS    She is.  But don't you go saying that to her. She doesn't care about society airs and graces. You'll make no headway if you aren't blunt. ALBERT    Oh, right you are. OLIVIA    A moment later Emily joined them, still wearing her kitchen apron. EMILY    So you're here, are you? OLIVIA    She said, but did not shake hands. The servant had followed her in with the tray, and the next few seconds were occupied in the disposal of the beef and trimmings.  The meal began, Emily carving. JOS    [sigh] The main thought of a man less infatuated than Albert Grapp would have been "This girl can't cook. And she'll never learn to." The beef, instead of being red and brown, was pink and white. Uneatable beef! ALBERT    [rapturizing] And yet he relished it more than anything he had ever tasted. This beef was her own handiwork. Thus it was because she had made it so....  [up]  Happen I could do with a bit more, like. OLIVIA    Emily hacked off the bit more and jerked it on to the plate he had held out to her. ALBERT    Thanks! OLIVIA    Only when the second course came on did he suspect that the meal was a calculated protest. This a Christmas pudding? The litter of fractured earthenware was hardly held together by the suet and raisins. ALBERT    All his pride of manhood—and there was plenty of pride mixed up with Albert Grapp's humility—dictated a refusal to touch that pudding. Yet he soon found himself touching it, though gingerly, with spoon and fork. OLIVIA    In the matter of dealing with scruts there are two schools—the old and the new. The old school pushes its head well over its plate and drops the scrut straight from its mouth. The new school emits the scrut into the fingers of its left hand and therewith deposits it on the rim of the plate. ALBERT    Albert noticed that Emily was of the new school. OLIVIA    Oh, I give up. ALBERT    But might she not despise as affectation in him what came natural to herself? On the other hand, if he showed himself as a prop of the old school, might she not set her face the more stringently against him? OLIVIA    The chances were that whichever course he took would be the wrong one. ALBERT    It was then that he had an inspiration—an idea of the sort that comes to a man once in his life and finds him, likely as not, unable to put it into practice. OLIVIA    Albert was not sure he could consummate this idea of his. He had indisputably fine teeth— JOS    "a proper mouthful of grinders" OLIVIA    in local phrase. But would they stand the strain he was going to impose on them? He could but try them. OLIVIA    [con't] Without a sign of nervousness he raised his spoon, with one scrut in it, to his mouth. This scrut he put between two of his left-side molars, bit hard on it, and—eternity of that moment!—felt it and heard it snap in two. SOUND    GRINDING, CRUNCHING ALBERT    He was conscious that at sound of the percussion Emily started forward and stared at him. But he did not look at her. EMILY    [amazed] That was none so dusty. [similar to "not too shabby"] OLIVIA    Calmly, systematically, with gradually diminishing crackles, he reduced that scrut to powder, and washed the powder down with a sip of beer. SOUND    DRINK OLIVIA    While he dealt with the second scrut, he talked to Jos about the Borough Council's proposal to erect an electric power-station on the site of the old gas-works down Hillport way. ALBERT    He was aware of a slight abrasion inside his left cheek. No matter. He must be more careful. OLIVIA    There were six scruts still to be negotiated. ALBERT    He knew that what he was doing was a thing grandiose, unique, epical; a history-making thing; a thing that would outlive marble and the gilded monuments of princes. Yet he kept his head. OLIVIA    He did not hurry, nor did he dawdle. Scrut by scrut, he ground slowly but he ground exceeding small. ALBERT    And while he did so he talked wisely and well. OLIVIA    He passed from the power-station to a first edition he had picked up for sixpence in Liverpool, and thence to the Midland's proposal to drive a tunnel under the Knype Canal so as to link up the main-line with the Critchworth and Suddleford loop-line. JOS    I was too amazed to put in a word, but sat merely gaping—a gape that merged by imperceptible degrees into a grin. Presently I ceased to watch our guest. I sat watching my sister. OLIVIA    Not once did Albert himself glance in her direction. She was just a dim silhouette on the outskirts of his vision. ALBERT    But there she was, unmoving, and he could feel the fixture of her unseen eyes. The time was at hand when he would have to meet those eyes. Would he flinch? Was he master of himself? GRINDING STOPS OLIVIA    The last scrut was powder. No temporising! He jerked his glass to his mouth. ALBERT    A moment later, holding out his plate to her, he looked Emily full in the eyes. They were Emily's eyes, but not hers alone. They were collective eyes—that was it! They were the eyes of stark, staring womanhood. OLIVIA    Her face had been dead white, but now suddenly up from her throat, over her cheeks, through the down between her eyebrows, went a rush of colour, up over her temples, through the very parting of her hair. ALBERT    [casual] Happen, I'll have a bit more, like. OLIVIA    Emily flung her arms forward on the table and buried her face in them. EMILY    [breaking into sobs] OLIVIA    It was a gesture wild and meek. It was the gesture foreseen and yet incredible. It was recondite, inexplicable, and yet obvious. EMILY    [aside, not teary] It was the only thing to be done—and yet, by gum, I had done it. [back to sobbing] OLIVIA    Her brother had risen from his seat and was now at the door. JOS    [pleased with himself] Think I'll step round to the Works, and see if they banked up that furnace aright. OLIVIA    NOTE.—The author has in preparation a series of volumes dealing with the life of Albert and Emily Grapp. MUSIC BACK TO NEUTRAL OLIVIA    Sweet romance, eh?  Well, I've indulged my sentimental side, now how about some gritty policework?  EMILY    Hold up.  You really think I'll get hitched over some fellow who sups pottery? OLIVIA    That's how the story ends.  And he's a good looking chap. EMILY    And your accent is wretched. OLIVIA    Go back to your story. EMILY    Won't. OLIVIA    Your story is over.  Shut up.  EMILY    Can't make me - you're no better'n me - have ten toes and ten fingers just the same. OLIVIA    I'll close the book, and then you'll be gone until someone else reads you - and you're far enough out of print, THAT won't happen any time soon. EMILY    [annoyed, seething]  Right.  I'll sit here, then shall I? OLIVIA    Don't care.  Just keep quiet.  [deep breath] My next tale is PC X-36, by Rudyard Kipling. JUDLIP    Then it's collar 'im tight, In the name o' the Lawd! 'Ustle 'im, shake 'im till 'e's sick! Wot, 'e would, would 'e? Well, Then yer've got ter give 'im 'Ell, An' it's trunch, trunch, truncheon does the trick OLIVIA    From police station ditties. EMILY    Sounds like a donkey. OLIVIA    Shh! KIPLING    I had spent Christmas Eve at the Club, listening to a grand pow-wow between certain of the choicer sons of Adam. OLIVIA    Hold on!  I'm the one reading this story! KIPLING    But I'm the narrator. EMILY    Hear Hear. OLIVIA    I'm the reader.  You need to keep quiet. KIPLING    You might have thought first before taking on a first person narrative, mightn't you? OLIVIA    Well, I'll endeavor to sound like you.  Now!  Wait for your cue.  [clears throat] Then Slushby had cut in. Slushby is one who writes to newspapers and is theirs obediently "HUMANITARIAN." When Slushby cuts in, men remember they have to be up early next morning.  KIPLING    Sharp round a corner on the way home, I collided with something firmer than the regulation pillar-box. OLIVIA    [gritted teeth] I righted myself after the recoil and saw some stars that were very pretty indeed. Then I perceived the nature of the obstruction. KIPLING    "Evening, Judlip," [quickly spitting out his descriptives] I said sweetly, when I had collected my hat from the gutter. "Have I broken the law, Judlip? If so, I'll go quiet." JUDLIP    [Gruff] Time yer was in bed.  Yer Ma'll be lookin' out for yer. KIPLING    This from the friend -- OLIVIA    Ahem!  --of my bosom! It hurt. Many were the night-beats I had been privileged to walk with Judlip, imbibing curious lore that made glad the civilian heart of me. Seven whole 8x5 inch note-books had I pitmanised to the brim with Judlip. EMILY    And now to be repulsed as one of the uninitiated! It hurt horrid.  OLIVIA    Don't you start in again! EMILY    Hah! OLIVIA    Don't!  [back to the story] There is a thing called Dignity. Small boys sometimes stand on it. Then they have to be kicked. Then they get down, weeping. I don't stand on Dignity. KIPLING     "What's wrong, Judlip?" I asked, more sweetly than ever. "Drawn a blank to-night?" JUDLIP     Yuss. Drawn a blank blank blank. 'Avent 'ad so much as a kick at a lorst dorg. Christmas Eve ain't wot it was. KIPLING    I felt for my note-book. JUDLIP    Lawd! I remembers the time when the drunks and disorderlies down this street was as thick as flies on a fly-paper. One just picked 'em orf with one's finger and thumb. A bloomin' buffet, that's wot it wos. KIPLING    "The night's yet young, Judlip," [quickly] I insinuated, with a jerk of my thumb at the flaring windows of the "Rat and Blood Hound." At that moment-- OLIVIA    [Catching up] --the saloon-door swung open, emitting a man and woman who walked with linked arms and exceeding great care. EMILY    [sarcastic]  How sweet. OLIVIA    Judlip eyed them longingly as they tacked up the street. Then he sighed. Now, when Judlip sighs the sound is like unto that which issues from the vent of a Crosby boiler when the cog-gauges are at 260 degrees. KIPLING    "Come, Judlip!" I said. "Possess your soul in patience. You'll soon find someone to make an example of. Meanwhile"—I threw back my head and smacked my lips [he does] —"the usual, Judlip?" OLIVIA    In another minute I emerged through the swing-door, bearing a furtive glass of that same "usual," and nipped down the mews where my friend was wont to await these little tokens of esteem. KIPLING    "To the Majesty of the Law, Judlip!" OLIVIA    When he had honoured the toast, I scooted back with the glass, leaving him wiping the beads off his beard-bristles. He was in his philosophic mood when I rejoined him at the corner. JUDLIP    "Wot am I?  [pronouncing] A bloomin' cypher. Wot's the sarjint? 'E's got the Inspector over 'im. Over above the Inspector there's the Sooprintendent. Over above 'im's the old red-tape-masticatin' Yard. Over above that there's the 'Ome Sec. Wot's 'e? A cypher, like me. Why? KIPLING    Judlip looked up at the stars. JUDLIP    Over above 'im's We Dunno Wot. Somethin' wot issues its horders an' regulations an' divisional injunctions, inscrootable like, but p'remptory; an' we 'as ter see as 'ow they're carried out, not arskin' no questions, but each man goin' about 'is dooty.' KIPLING    "''Is dooty,'" said I, looking up from my note-book. "Yes, I've got that." JUDLIP    Life ain't a bean-feast. It's a 'arsh reality. An' them as makes it a bean-feast 'as got to be 'arshly dealt with accordin'. That's wot the Force is put 'ere for from Above. Not as 'ow we ain't fallible. We makes our mistakes. An' when we makes 'em we sticks to 'em. For the honour o' the Force. Which same is the jool Britannia wears on 'er bosom as a charm against hanarchy. That's wot the brarsted old Beaks don't understand. Yer remember Smithers of our Div? KIPLING    [takes breath, but is interupted] OLIVIA    I remembered Smithers - well. As fine, upstanding, square-toed-- [hand over mouth] EMILY    [Picking up quickly, but struggling slightly] bullet-headed, clean-living - go on! - son of a gun-- KIPLING    Ta! --as ever perjured himself in the box. There was nothing of the softy about Smithers. I took off my billicock to Smithers' memory. JUDLIP    Sacrificed to public opinion? Yuss, KIPLING    Judlip paused at a front door, flashing his light down the slot of a two-grade Yale. JUDLIP    Sacrificed to a parcel of screamin' old women wot ort ter 'ave gorn down on their knees an' thanked Gawd for such a protector. 'E'll be out in another 'alf year. JUDLIP     Wot'll 'e do then, pore devil? Go a bust on 'is conduc' money an' throw in 'is lot with them same hexperts wot 'ad a 'oly terror of 'im. EMILY    Then Judlip swore gently. KIPLING     What should you do, O Great One, if ever it were your duty to apprehend him? JUDLIP    Do? Why, yer blessed innocent, yer don't think I'd shirk a fair clean cop? Same time, I don't say as 'ow I wouldn't 'andle 'im tender like, for sake o' wot 'e wos. Likewise cos 'e'd be a stiff customer to tackle. Likewise 'cos— OLIVIA    [muffled struggle] KIPLING    He had broken off, and was peering fixedly upwards across the moonlit street. JUDLIP    [drawn-out, hoarse whisper] Ullo! SOUND    STRUGGLE OLIVIA    [muffled, then deep breath]  Back off! EMILY    Hmph.  [shrug] I made a good go. OLIVIA    Striking an average between the direction of his eyes—for Judlip, when on the job, has a soul-stirring squint—I perceived someone in the act of emerging from a chimney-pot.  Judlip's voice clove the silence. JUDLIP    Wot are yer doin' hup there? OLIVIA    The person addressed came to the edge of the parapet. KIPLING    I saw then that he had a hoary white beard, a red ulster with the hood up, and what looked like a sack over his shoulder. OLIVIA    He said something or other in a voice like a concertina that has been left out in the rain. EMILY    [muttered] Not so very hard to pass it round, is it? JUDLIP    I dessay.  Just you come down, an' we'll see about that. OLIVIA    The old man nodded and smiled. Then—as I hope to be saved—he came floating gently down through the moonlight, with the sack over his shoulder and a young fir-tree clasped to his chest. He alighted in a friendly manner on the curb beside us. EMILY    Come along - let us have a go! KIPLING    Judlip was the first to recover himself. Out went his right arm-- EMILY    --and the airman was slung round by the scruff of the neck, spilling his sack in the road. KIPLING    I made a bee-line for his shoulder-blades. Burglar or no burglar, he was the best airman out, and I was muchly desirous to know the precise nature of the apparatus under his ulster. OLIVIA    Fine.  Let's just keep it moving - A back-hander from Judlip's left caused me to hop quickly aside. The prisoner was squealing and whimpering. He didn't like the feel of Judlip's knuckles at his cervical vertebræ. JUDLIP    Wot wos yer doin' hup there? EMILY    asked Judlip, tightening the grip. SANTA CLAUS     I'm S-Santa Claus, Sir. P-please, Sir, let me g-go.. KIPLING    "Hold him," I shouted. "He's a German." JUDLIP    It's my dooty ter caution yer that wotever yer say now may be used in hevidence against yer, yer old sinner. Pick up that there sack, an' come along o' me. EMILY    The captive snivelled something about peace on earth, good will toward men. JUDLIP    Yuss.  That's in the Noo Testament, ain't it? The Noo Testament contains some uncommon nice readin' for old gents an' young ladies. But it ain't included in the librery o' the Force. We confine ourselves to the Old Testament — O-T, 'ot. An' 'ot you'll get it. Hup with that sack, an' quick march! OLIVIA    I have seen worse attempts at a neck-wrench, but it was just not slippery enough for Judlip. EMILY    And the kick that Judlip then let fly was a thing of beauty and a joy for ever. KIPLING    "Frog's-march him!" I shrieked, dancing. "For the love of heaven, frog's-march him!" OLIVIA    Trotting by Judlip's side to the Station, I reckoned it out that if Slushby had not been at the Club I should not have been here to see. ALL    Which shows that even Slushbys are put into this world for a purpose. MUSIC CHANGES OLIVIA    Oh, this is just getting silly. EMILY    Only just?  I should have said it's been a laugh for several miles. KIPLING    D'you have some problem with a bit of a laugh? OLIVIA    The third story I want to read is very serious.  If this goes on, I won't be able to do it justice. EMILY    What is it then? OLIVIA    The Feast.  By Joseph Conrad. KIPLING    Conrad?  He wrote a Christmas story? EMILY    Who is this Conrad fellow? KIPLING    Wrote something called heart of Darkness. OLIVIA    Yes, yes, yes!  Look, it's ruined now.  I'm just going to give up and read The Night before Christmas. EMILY    [disgusted noise] KIPLING    That sentimental pap? OLIVIA    [huffy] The mood is gone. EMILY AND KIPLING    [whisper in the background] EMILY    We might-- KIPLING    Let me! EMILY    I don't think so!  [annoyed grunt] Look you! - um - I think we've not been introduced? OLIVIA    [sulky] Olivia. EMILY    Right.  Olivia.  Why not let us help read the story.  We can do that well enough, can't we? KIPLING    Certainly. OLIVIA    And keep the comments to a minimum? KIPLING    Well... EMILY    I'll box his ears for you if he steps across the line. OLIVIA    It's worth a try. MUSIC TURNS TROPICAL OLIVIA    The hut in which slept the white man was on a clearing between the forest and the river. EMILY    Silence, the silence murmurous and unquiet of a tropical night, brooded over the hut that, baked through by the sun, sweated a vapour beneath the cynical light of the stars. KIPLING    Mahamo lay rigid and watchful at the hut's mouth. In his upturned eyes, and along the polished surface of his lean body black and immobile, the stars were reflected, creating an illusion of themselves who are illusions. OLIVIA    The roofs of the congested trees, writhing in some kind of agony private and eternal, made tenebrous and shifty silhouettes against the sky, like shapes cut out of black paper by a maniac who pushes them with his thumb this way and that, irritably, on a concave surface of blue steel. EMILY    Resin oozed unseen from the upper branches to the trunks swathed in creepers that clutched and interlocked with tendrils venomous, frantic and faint. KIPLING     Down below, by force of habit, the lush herbage went through the farce of growth—that farce old and screaming, whose trite end is decomposition.  [aside] Optimist, eh?  Ouch! OLIVIA    Ssh.  Within the hut the form of the white man, corpulent and pale, was covered with a mosquito-net that was itself illusory like everything else, only more so. Flying squadrons of mosquitoes inside its meshes flickered and darted over him, working hard, but keeping silence so as not to excite him from sleep. EMILY    [with distaste] Cohorts of yellow ants disputed him against cohorts of purple ants, the two kinds slaying one another in thousands. KIPLING    [avid] The battle was undecided when suddenly, with no such warning as it gives in some parts of the world, the sun blazed up over the horizon, turning night into day, and the insects vanished back into their camps. OLIVIA    The white man ground his knuckles into the corners of his eyes, emitting that snore final and querulous of a middle-aged man awakened rudely. With a gesture brusque but flaccid he plucked aside the net and peered around. EMILY    The bales of cotton cloth, the beads, the brass wire, the bottles of rum, had not been spirited away in the night. So far so good. KIPLING    The faithful servant of his employers was now at liberty to care for his own interests. He regarded himself, passing his hands over his skin. WILLIAMS    [shouted] Hi! Mahamo! I've been eaten up. OLIVIA    The islander, with one sinuous motion, sprang from the ground, through the mouth of the hut. Then, after a glance, he threw high his hands in thanks to such good and evil spirits as had charge of his concerns. In a tone half of reproach, half of apology, he murmured— MAHAMO    You white men sometimes say strange things that deceive the heart. WILLIAMS    Reach me that ammonia bottle, d'you hear?  This is a pretty place you've brought me to!  Christmas Day, too! Of all the —— But I suppose it seems all right to you, you heathen, to be here on Christmas Day? MAHAMO    We are here on the day appointed, Mr. Williams. It is a feast-day of your people? OLIVIA    Mr. Williams had lain back, with closed eyes, on his mat. Nostalgia was doing duty to him for imagination. EMILY    He was wafted to a bedroom in Marylebone, where in honour of the Day he lay late dozing, with great contentment; outside, a slush of snow in the street, the sound of church-bells; from below a savour of especial cookery. [chuckles a bit] WILLIAMS    Yes, it's a feast-day of my people. MAHAMO    Of mine also. WILLIAMS    [disinterested] Is it though? But they'll do business first? MAHAMO    They must first do that. WILLIAMS    And they'll bring their ivory with them? MAHAMO    Every man will bring ivory. OLIVIA    The islander answered with a smile gleaming and wide. WILLIAMS    How soon'll they be here? MAHAMO    Has not the sun risen? They are on their way. WILLIAMS    Well, I hope they'll hurry. The sooner we're off this cursed island of yours the better. Take all those things out-- OLIVIA    Mr. Williams added, pointing to the merchandise. WILLIAMS    --and arrange them.  Neatly, mind you! KIPLING    In certain circumstances it is right that a man be humoured in trifles. Mahamo, having borne out the merchandise, arranged it very neatly. OLIVIA    While Mr. Williams made his toilette, the sun and the forest, careless of the doings of white and black men alike, waged their warfare implacable and daily. The forest from its inmost depths sent forth perpetually its legions of shadows that fell dead in the instant of exposure to the enemy whose rays heroic and absurd its outposts annihilated. EMILY    What's all this to do with Christmas? KIPLING    Want me to cuff her one? OLIVIA    It takes place on Christmas day - they already said that. EMILY    But this is all jungle creepers and spooky shadows - and vermins.  If there's one thing that doesn't come to my mind when I think of Christmas, it's ants and mosquitoes and such.  KIPLING    You should see some of the places I've been. OLIVIA    Why don't we just finish the story? KIPLING    There came from those inilluminable depths the equable rumour of myriads of winged things and crawling things newly roused to the task of killing and being killed. Thence detached itself, little by little, an insidious sound of a drum beaten. This sound drew more near.  [aside]  A-ha, I see where this is going.  Drums in the distance are never a good sign. EMILY    [huffy] Maybe I haven't traveled all over the great wide world, fellow, but even I can probably guess at that. DRUMS SNEAK IN OLIVIA    Mr. Williams, issuing from the hut, heard it, and stood gaping towards it. WILLIAMS    Is that them? MAHAMO    That is they. OLIVIA    The islander murmured, moving away towards the edge of the forest.  EMILY    Does he not notice?  What sort of a dullard is he?  [calling to williams] Do you have a gun? OLIVIA    [exasperated sigh] KIPLING    Calm down, it's just a story. EMILY    Don't go telling me when to calm down!  I just hate stories where stupid people do very stupid things - what possessed this fool to sail half round the world anyway? OLIVIA    [resigned, trying to get it back on track] Sounds of chanting were a now audible accompaniment to the drum. WILLIAMS    What's that they're singing? MAHAMO    [off a bit] They sing of their business. WILLIAMS    [shocked] Oh!  I'd have thought they'd be singing of their feast. MAHAMO    It is of their feast they sing. OLIVIA    It has been stated that Mr. Williams was not imaginative. WILLIAMS    Oh, I say--! OLIVIA    Oh, no!  You stay put! KIPLING    [very knowingly] But a few years of life in climates alien and intemperate had disordered his nerves. There was that in the rhythms of the hymn which made bristle his flesh.  EMILY    Suddenly, when they were very near, the voices ceased, leaving a legacy of silence more sinister than themselves. And now the black spaces between the trees were relieved by bits of white that were the eyeballs and teeth of Mahamo's brethren. MAHAMO    It was of their feast, it was of you, they sang. EMILY    I knew it! KIPLING    It was obvious. WILLIAMS    Look here--! OLIVIA    Cried Mr. Williams in his voice of a man not to be trifled with. WILLIAMS    --Look here, if you've— SOUND    JAVELIN HIT OLIVIA    He was silenced by sight of what seemed to be a young sapling sprung up from the ground within a yard of him—a young sapling tremulous, with a root of steel. KIPLING    Then a thread-like shadow skimmed the air, and another spear came impinging the ground within an inch of his feet. EMILY    As he turned in his flight he saw the goods so neatly arranged at his orders, and there flashed through him, even in the thick of the spears, the thought that he would be a grave loss to his employers. OLIVIA     This—for Mr. Williams was, not less than the goods, of a kind easily replaced—was an illusion. It was the last of Mr. Williams illusions. MOMENT OF SILENCE EMILY    So what shall we do now? SOUND    LARGE BOOK SHUTS DECISIVELY, CUTTING HER OFF OLIVIA    Happy Holidays, all - wherever and whatever they may be. CLOSER OLIVIA    Now that you know how to find us, you'll have to come back.  Maybe next week?  Don't be a stranger - we have enough of those already... The stories dramatized in tonight's episode appeared in a collection titled "A Christmas Garland", first published in October of 1912, collected by Max Beerbohm.  Scruts was written by Arnold Bennett, PC X-36 was written by Rudyard Kipling, and The Feast was written by Joseph Conrad.  These stories have been edited slightly to fit the program.          
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Atomic Julie - The Birds and the Bees by Dave E. Fisher

    27:42

    A story of a future without genders.... sort of. MANY COMMENTS from Julie,  LOLOLOL
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    19 Nocturne Boulevard - CRUMPING THE DEVIL - Reissue

    41:43

    [warning - mature situations, foul language and violence] An ornery old woman takes on all comers in defense of her family and her freedom - even the Devil and Death!  Cast List Maggie - Julie Hoverson Nursey - Robyn Keyes  Bertha - Rhys TM Barry - Mr. Synyster Kev - Michael Coleman (Tales of the Extraordinary) Jemma - Gwendolyn-Jensen Woodard (Gypsy Audio) Morte - Russell Gold Devil -Jack Kincaid (Edict Zero) Ted - Russell Gold Spike - Paul Mannering (Brokensea Audio) Other Bikers -  Brandon O'Brien; Bill Hollweg Music:  Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com) Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson Cover Photo:  Elizabeth Flores       (courtesy of Stock Xchange.com) "What kind of a place is it?  Why it's a recovery ward, can't you tell?" ***************************************** CRUMPING THE DEVIL Cast: [Opening credits - Olivia] Maggie Kev/"the Maniac", grandson Bertha, the manipulative daughter Barry, Bertha's bastard husband Nursey Morte Satan Jemma, the pregnant wimp daughter Ted, Jemma's abusive bastard husband Spike, violent biker OLIVIA     Did you have any trouble finding it?  What do you mean, what kind of a place is it?  Why, it's a recovery ward, can't you tell?  MUSIC AMBIANCE    Hospital, beeps etc. MAGGIE    [talking on phone]  I don't give a flying rat's flaming anus how good a job he does! Shall I roll past your garage and post photos of what he did to his wife?  Perhaps I should leave a nice big bloodstain on your doorstep with the words wifebeater scrawled on the pavemment - don't think I won't! PATIENT    [groan] MAGGIE    [up] Stuff it! [back on phone] Oh, yes!  [evil laugh] You come down here and say that to my face - I'll call the press.  [delighted laugh] I can just see the rags with you beating up a helpless gran in a wheelchair.  Tough guy!  SOUND    DOOR OPENS, FEET COME IN NURSEY    Now, now - phone time's over.  Time to say goodbye to all your friends. MAGGIE    Bugger off, stay-puft. NURSEY    [tsks]  SOUND    PHONE GRABBED AND HUNG UP FORCEFULLY NURSEY    Dear, dear - no need to drive up your blood pressure.  You need to stay calm, ducks, and get your rest. SOUND    CURTAIN PULLED AROUND BED MAGGIE    I'm ordering prunes!  Lots of prunes!  Just so you have to clean up the mess when they come out the other end! NURSEY    My, my - but I'm not here all the time. MAGGIE    [snarled] I have your schedule memorized. MUSIC BERTHA    Mother, you need to be rational about this.  This is your fourth hospitalization this year - you've reached a point where you need someone to look after you.  MAGGIE    Visiting nurse comes by twice a week.  BERTHA     [prompting] Barry! BARRY    What if you... fall? MAGGIE    I have this very special invention.  It allows me to magically contact help when I need it.  BARRY    Oh, what? MAGGIE    It's called a cellphone, you scrofulous prick.  I'll wear it on a lanyard if it'll make you piss off.  Now get your sorry arses out of my sickroom. PATIENT    Go away. MAGGIE    See?  Even that bastard hates you. BERTHA    No mother, we're not leaving until we get this settled. MAGGIE    Nurse! BARRY    There is a button-- MAGGIE    Fuck off - this annoys her more.  Nurse! SOUND    DOOR OPENS, FEET COME IN SLOWLY KEV    H'lo Gran.  [reluctant] Mum.  [distasteful] Barry.    MAGGIE    Who the bloody buggery hell are you supposed to be? BERTHA    Oh, heavens, her memory is going! MAGGIE    Don't get your hopes up, arse-face.  Are you trying to tell me the fruit of your sweaty loins-- BERTHA    [gasp] MAGGIE    --has taken to running about dressed as sir poncy de leon? KEV    I'm Hamlet. MAGGIE    [laughing wickedly] Go on!  You?  You can't memorize the balance of your overdraft!  Come on then, soliloquize us! KEV    [chuckles] It's a sales promotion for a mattress shop.  To sleep or not to sleep, all that bollocks. BERTHA    [muttered] I just don't know where he gets this language from. MAGGIE    Oh, god - if you're truly that fucking dense, I wish I was your father so at least I'd have some slight glimmer of hope that you weren't mine! SOUND    DOOR OPENS, NURSEY FEET ENTER NURSEY    Come, come - let's keep it all nice and civil, there are other people in this hospital, you know. MAGGIE    Well, there must be people somewhere, but there's a couple of wankers in here.  Bugger off, knot-knickers.  BERTHA    [gasp, then affronted noises as she leaves] SOUND    FEET STORM OUT NURSEY    Dear, dear.  Poor old Maggie's being deserted. MAGGIE    Your turn, then isn't it, blancmange?  Shuffle off and fetch something, would you?  ...Like a stick? NURSEY    Tsk Tsk.  You really need to-- MAGGIE    You, hey you in the tights.  You stay.  [beat]  Gotta catflap in those bonbon knickers? KEV    No, gran. NURSEY    [psst, then confidential] Young man, you haven’t brought her any alcohol have you? KEV    No - no!  What sort of grandson would that make me?  No bottle on me anywhere, [leering] want to pat me down? NURSEY    [oblivious] No, no!  Five minutes, then visiting hours are over. SOUND    HER FEET LEAVE, DOOR SHUTS MAGGIE    [hushed] You did bring me something, didn't you?  You are aware I think you're the least worthless of all my pathetic offspring? SOUND    PLASTIC BAG OUT OF POCKET KEV    Love you too, gran.  I remember how much you complained last time of not being able to find a place to light one up, so I baked you some brownies. MAGGIE    You?  Baked?  KEV    I'm a sensitive new age type of bloke.  I can make a mix.  SOUND    OPENING PLASTIC BAG MAGGIE    [sniffs] Nice.  You didn't skimp on the "spices." SOUND    TAP ON THE DOOR NURSEY    Time's up! KEV    Stuff em somewhere.  Size of that cow, she probably snaps up everyone's sweeties.   MAGGIE    I think she just eats patients-- SOUND    DOOR OPENS MAGGIE    [louder] --mostly the males. KEV    [wincey noise] Ooh... MUSIC MAGGIE    [into phone, trying to be quiet] --the Maniac left me a mobile. Have you tracked down Python yet, then?  [beat, then getting loud]  Sod it!  I thought you bastards had better legal these days! SOUND     QUIETLY DOOR OPENS, SLOW FOOTSTEPS ENTER MAGGIE    There must be someone there whose tattooes run more than knickers deep!  [beat]  Fine, I'll call the-- SOUND    CURTAIN SWEPT ASIDE SUDDENLY MAGGIE    [gasp] Bugger me! SOUND    MUFFLED VOICE AS SHE HIDES THE PHONE, BEEPING, TRYING TO TURN IT OFF MORTE    Madame?  I believe you are expecting me. MAGGIE    Riiight.  Middle of the night, hospital room.  Must be the stripper.  Where's your music? MORTE    [startled] Um, no, I-- MAGGIE    Well, you can't be a doctor - they've all gone home.  We're in the hands of the sadists and the diapers. MORTE    The what? MAGGIE    Nurses and interns.  Look, It's late and I'm a bit too knackered to abuse you properly, so tell me who you bleeding think you are so you can sod off! MORTE    [trying to get his spooky back on] I'm... death. MAGGIE    Pull the other one - it spits. MORTE    No, really.  I'm... death. MAGGIE    Always thought you'd be Welsh.  So what are you doing swotting around here?  I'm not dead.  The infernal pinging thing says so. MORTE    But you are old [spooky] ...and dying. MAGGIE    [getting mad] So they keep fucking telling me, but I've never been one for following orders.  If you're really the angel of death, why are you wearing such a for-fucks-sake ugly suit?  And where's your bleeding scythe?  Can't be death without a jolly great scythe, can you, now? MORTE    Oh, please - this is the 21st century. MAGGIE    First piece of sense to come out of your festering gob, you git.  Now bugger off - I'm knackered, but I'm not ready for the tip yet. MORTE    You will see me again tomorrow. MAGGIE    Tell you what - you come back during visiting hours and I'll get my bastard son-in-law to drop in.  All I have to do is wave money anywhere within ten kilometers of my Jemma and that bastard appears like bleeding magic. MORTE    But I-- MAGGIE    Him you can take, with all my heartfelts.  If you're not going to make yourself useful, though, you can piss off and stay there. SOUND    FISHES OUT THE PHONE AND DIALS MORTE     [affronted, huffy] You're not supposed to have a mobile in the hospital. MAGGIE    Fuck off. [into phone]  Spike? MORTE    You have a friend named Spike? MAGGIE    [into phone] No, that's not a cop - just some prat trying to sell me life insurance.  Are you Spike? MORTE    You're really going to just ignore me? MAGGIE    Hold on. [hand over phone] Sorry, didn't mean to leave you hanging like that.  You're right, I should finish with you before making my calls.  So if you would kindly FUCK OFF?  Good.  [back to phone]  God, these bleeding salesmen.  They're like some damn pet pekingese - no balls but still won't stop humping once they get a grip on your leg. MORTE    Well, I- I-I- never! MAGGIE     Spike?  Great - what would it take to get some help with a problem? SOUND    MORTE'S FEET STORM OUT, DOOR OPENS AND SHUTS. MAGGIE    Nice!  Hold that thought, and I'll ring you back tomorrow - that twat's just gone to grass on me to the warden. MUSIC AMB     HOSPITAL ROOM - NOT SO URGENT.  NO PINGING THING. SOUND    TAP ON DOOR, THEN DOOR OPENS WITHOUT WAITING SOUND    WHEELCHAIR BEING PUSHED IN JEMMA    [weak, hopeful] Hello?  [down] Mum. MAGGIE    [trying to be calm and quiet] Jemma.  NURSEY    Here we all are then. SOUND    DOOR SWINGS SHUT NURSEY    Ready for a nice litle family chat. MAGGIE    Just ignore her.  [deep breath] They say you're going home soon. JEMMA    I'm all right. [she's not] MAGGIE    I'll see to it, someone drops around and keeps an eye on you. JEMMA    I'll be careful.  [not very convincing] Won't walk into any more... doors. MAGGIE    [getting a bit annoyed] Won't walk into any more fists, more like. JEMMA    [upset, "not in front of the nurse"] Mum!       MAGGIE    She's heard worse.  Haven't you, snowball? NURSEY    [affirming, acerbic] From you alone. MAGGIE    [snort of laughter, then serious]  So, when can I kill him? JEMMA    What? MAGGIE    That cocksucker husband of yours. JEMMA    Mother! MAGGIE    You can't say you don't want him dead.  Bertha keeps pissing on and on about my hospital record - you're leagues ahead of me.  Between the times he's knocked you up and the times he's knocked you down, it's amazing they don't just name a suite for you and give you your own key. JEMMA    [crying]  He doesn't mean to-- MAGGIE    [losing it]  Doesn't mean to!  What, he was cleaning his swotting great fist and it went off!?  Or the other part - dearie, you get preggers every time that arsehole even wanks in your direction.  You'd be much better off without him. JEMMA    He loves me. MAGGIE    Oh, god - we are not having this discussion again.  JEMMA    And we have eight children to look after - nine, soon. MAGGIE    [softer again]  It's all right then? JEMMA    [barely able to talk] Yes.  MAGGIE    Jems, that son of a syphilitic whore punched you - punched a pregnant woman, let alone a pregnant woman he claims to care for - in the bloody stomach.  JEMMA    [breaks into tears] NURSEY    Oh, look at the time.  Come along Maggie, musn't be late on your pills! MAGGIE    [yelling as they leave] Get it through your sodding thick skull - He DID MEAN IT!  MUSIC SOUND    NIGHT, PINGING, ETC. SOUND     MAGGIE MUNCHING ON SOMETHING SOUND     DOOR OPENS, SLOW FOOSTEPS (two sets) SOUND    PLASTIC BAG RATTLES AS IT'S HIDDEN MAGGIE    [sucking stuff out of her teeth]  Who's there? SOUND    CURTAIN PULLED ASIDE MAGGIE    [disgusted noise] Oh, it's just you.  Piss off. MORTE    I told you I would return. MAGGIE    And take my soul blah blah blah.  I have you sussed, you wanker. MORTE    Sussed?  I already told you - I'm death. MAGGIE    Right.  And I have a daughter who would like nothing more than to have her dear old mum babbling on about meeting death in the flesh - all so she can have me declared non compos and shoved away in some shithole of a home while she sends all my odds and sods to auction "on my behalf".  Piss off, and tell her she can piss off too. SATAN    [explosive laugh] MORTE    See?  I told you. MAGGIE    Told me what?  You're not making sense, the curtain is laughing like a drain, and I'm not that stoned. SOUND    CURTAIN OPENS FURTHER WITH A DRAMATIC SWEEP MORTE    She surely is the most frightful woman I've seen in years. SATAN    I like it. MAGGIE    And who are you supposed to be?  Revival of the Rocky Horror show? SATAN    [laughs harder] MORTE    He's the devil. MAGGIE    Well I knew he wasn't a doctor - not dressed like that.  [sigh] SATAN    [laughing subsides] MAGGIE    Are you done?  I wouldn’t want to waste a good insult on you when you can't hear it properly. SATAN    [chuckles, but stops himself]  Go on. MAGGIE    Dressed like that, you look like Sir Elton John vomited all over you. SATAN    [chuckles] MAGGIE    And I suspect that'd be rare, since he's probably got a strong gag reflex. SATAN    [a moment, then a gasp as he gets it, then uproarious laughter] MAGGIE    Told you it was a good one. [joins in] MORTE    I don't get it. MAGGIE    Oh, god.  You need to loosen the fuck up.  [evil chuckle]  Here.  Have a brownie. MORTE    A brownie?  Ooh.  Chocolate is my weakness. SOUND    RATTLE OF PLASTIC MAGGIE    Death and chocolate - imagine that.  How about you, Gary Glitter? SATAN    Well, if you're offering. [They munch for a minute] MORTE    Interesting [licks his lips, speculatively] ...aftertaste. MAGGIE    Old family recipe.  The maniac bakes them for me.  Don't tell the nurse - she's already thirteen stone. MORTE    [snorts]  Oh goodness! SATAN    [giggles uncontrollably] SOUND    CELL PHONE RINGS MAGGIE    Scuse me for a minute, will you? [they murmur assent] SOUND    PHONE ACTIVATED MAGGIE    Yeah?  Is this Spike?  Then who the bloody hell--  [pleased] Really? MORTE    [confiding, but loopy] Shouldn't have  mobile in hospital.   SATAN    Might call for help? [they both laugh] MAGGIE    You up for it, then?  More the merrier, I always say.  [beat]  Oh, dead may be overkill, but I wouldn't shed any tears.  Mostly I'd prefer him unable to fuck, or walk for at least a year - no, never again on the first - can you manage that? SATAN    [awed] What?  Did I hear you--? MAGGIE    Shut it.  [on phone]  Candy striper.  You know, one of those new homosexual ones.  [back on topic] So, you can handle it? SATAN    I'll have you know-- MAGGIE    [covers phone] Everyone knows you swing both ways - the devil can fuck with anyone. SATAN    Well [trying not to laugh], if you put it that way [bursts into hilarity again] MAGGIE    Great - when?  [upset] Weekend?  Not sooner?  They'll be sending her home tomorrow! MORTE    I thought you were talking about a man?  Who you don't want to be able to-- MAGGIE    Fine.  [annoyed] I'll try and get out of here too, then shall I?  No I bloody well can't talk them into letting her stay-- MORTE    --to [uncomfortable] "do it"-- SATAN    Just say "fuck." MORTE    [affronted] No. SATAN    Come on, I dare you. MAGGIE    Shut up or piss off.  I'm almost finished.  [into phone]  Saturday night, then?  Call me Thursday, same time, and I'll say where.  Brilliant.  SOUND    PHONE OFF MORTE    So is it? MAGGIE    Is it what, arse-face? MORTE    Is it a man or a woman? SATAN    He means who are you talking on the phone about? MAGGIE    I've got some friends of a-- MORTE    --questionable moral character? MAGGIE    Well, they do call themselves the Bastards of Carnage, so that might be a clue - Anyway, I've arranged will ... have a chat with ... my daughter's oozing sore of a so-called husband. MORTE    And you don't want him to be able to-- MAGGIE    And they won't be as kind as a vetrinarian. SATAN    Well!  [lip smacking noises]  Have you any more of those brownies? MUSIC AMB    MAGGIE'S ROOM KEV    I hear they're letting you go? MAGGIE    They have to get sick of me eventually. KEV    Are you doing all right?  Really? MAGGIE    Healthy as a horse.  [sighs] One of those swayback cartoon nags with glue factory stamped on them.  You know what your evil bitch of a mother is trying to do to me? KEV    Would it be so bad? MAGGIE    Et tu, wanker? KEV    No!  I'm really just curious.  MAGGIE    Well, quite apart from the horrors of loss of control over your life, the fact that they will likely frown on my extensive collection of filthy artwork, and having to obey people whose nappies I might have changed, it's the piss. KEV    Piss? MAGGIE    At your age, piss is still romantic.  Getting yourself well and truly pissed, pissing in the snow, nasty piss-scented alleys where you buy happy little packages - piss hasn't lost its shine. KEV    Oh? MAGGIE    By the time you get old, piss is the thing you fear the most.  Your own, someone else's - fuck death, fuck the devil, if there was a sodding god of piss we'd all be sacrificing virgin sheep to him just to make him stay the fuck away.  That's what those places are, Kev.  [solemn] They are where piss goes to die.  The smell, the damp, the feel in the air.  As long as I can still hold my water and get myself in and out of the bogatory, it's my bleeding right to look after myself.  KEV    [serious] All right. MAGGIE    [fierce again] Next time you feel yourself getting curious, darling beast, just swot on down to the crystal lights retirement complex - you don't even have to go inside, just stand downwind and have a good long whiff.  MUSIC AMB    NIGHTTIME AGAIN MAGGIE    [anxious sigh, then fretting] What is the bloody holdup?  I said-- SOUND    PHONE BUZZES, TURNED ON MAGGIE    Finally!  Took your goddamn time, didn't you?  [beat]  So Jemma phoned you - God, how I spewed forth such a spineless cow, I've no idea.  [beat, then disgusted]  Oh, right, the bloody money - that's the only thing you give a shit about, isn't it? MAGGIE    Don't bother, you mealy mouthed two faced prick!  I know just how much you care for your wife - I've seen the sodding medical charts.  [beat]  Blah Blah Blah.  Blah Blah Blah.  Course you have a problem - you're still fucking breathing.  I am planning on fixing that, you know.  [beat]  [chuckles nastily]  Wouldn’t you like to know?  I'll tell you when, though - give you something to stew about, you arsehole - Saturday night.  You'd best watch your step, cause you may not realize it, but I have friends in low, low places, and they just love an excuse to beat some bastard to holy fuck and back!  [beat]  What do you mean, how are they going to find you?  They're probably already watching you.  Run if you want, but unless you find some way to get me first, they will get you.  SOUND    PHONE SHUT OFF SATAN    Was that really a good idea? SOUND    QUIET FOOTSTEPS APPROACH MAGGIE    What, impressed? SATAN    Yes and no.  I like your intensity, but you shouldn't have warned him. MAGGIE    Betcha I know what I'm doing. SATAN     [seriously] Let me think about it. MAGGIE    So, what's the pitch tonight?  And where's the undertaker? SATAN    He's a very busy entity.  He's already wasted rather a lot of time trying to impress you. MAGGIE    Why impress me - isn't he fucking all-powerful death?  Doesn't he just whisk people off and bobs your uncle, you're hip deep in the bleeding river styx? SATAN    Styx?  Well, I'm impressed-- MAGGIE    [dismissively] Beer mat trivia.  So it's just you and me tonight, is it?  Pity - I haven't had a really good threesome since 1968. SATAN    [chortle] MAGGIE    Right, laughing boy.  Either you dropped in for more of the maniac's brownies, or you want something from me, and I don't fancy myself so fucking entertaining that I'd drag you away from the torture telly. SATAN    Torture? MAGGIE    Bleeding heart chat shows and those so-called game shows where people swallow foul things that haven't even taken them to dinner and a picture first. SATAN    [sigh] Bloody hell - it's getting so hard to frighten people these days.  You say you'll stick a red-hot poker up the bum and half say "been there, done that". MAGGIE    Well, I've been and done around in my time.  Are you planning to try and scare the crap out of me? SATAN    Really, I just follow Morty around, since once he lets on he's coming for someone, it's usually a piece of piss to get them to agree to sell their soul... MAGGIE    [bark of laughter] A bit like when a bloody great hurricane hits and all the bastard insurance salesmen clean up selling storm coverage? SATAN    A bit.  So.  You selling? MAGGIE    Blunt, aren't you? SATAN    I feel we've gone a bit beyond a sales pitch here. MAGGIE    So?  I sell my soul and you - what?  Give me my greatest wish?  I assume immortality is only on the high shelf - the one you can't ever knock down enough sodding bottles to win. SATAN    What do you want? MAGGIE    [thinks, then]  No.  Two reasons.  First, I still believe you're some starving artist Bertha paid to come round and chat me up.  Second, I might have a mouth like a public urinal, but I still read my classics.  Monkey's Paw?  Nothing good ever comes from a bad deal.  SATAN    It's not my fault if people don't take time to read the small print.   MAGGIE    You ponder enough, there's always a way to bugger the customer.  If nothing else - just send the damn thing round unassembled, with instructions in fucking Parsi. SATAN    [laughing again] I do like you. MAGGIE    Can’t say you're the worst bastard I've had to deal with in my whole sodding life. SATAN    Tell you what - just to prove that I am what I claim to be, how about a freebie? MAGGIE    I draw the line at giving up my favors for anything less than a fiver. SATAN    [chuckling] No, I mean I'll do something for you.  No strings.  Cross my heart. MAGGIE    You're not planning to bugger me on this? SATAN    What would it get me, until I get a signature on the dotted line?  It can't be anything huge - I'll not cure cancer or feed the world's hungry-- MAGGIE    Sod the hungry.  Too many bloody people clogging up the sewer we call the world anyway. SATAN    --or make you healthy. MAGGIE    [grim] Yeah, right. SATAN    Something short term and simple. MAGGIE    I got it.  And if you do it, I promise to take under consideration that you might actually be the bleeding king of the underworld.  Right? SATAN    Ask and it shall be done. MAGGIE    Right.  Now you have to wait until I say "done" before you go swotting off and do this - I want every bloody condition met.  SATAN    [very serious] Very well. MAGGIE    With no harm to either of them, in the immediate or long term, I want something to happen that will keep Jemma in hospital until Sunday.  Can you do me that?  Suspicious skin condition, something - and this is the part that if you fuck me I will find a way to rip your bollocks off - it has to be something that won't hurt the baby.  Right, uh... [thinking, then] Fuck.  Done. SATAN    [dead serious]  I see.  Agreed.  [beat, then a bit hesitant]  You wouldn't happen to have any of those brownies, would you? MUSIC SOUND    WHEELING DOWN A HOSPITAL HALL NURSEY    Doctor says you're just about well enough to leave.  MAGGIE    [snarl] Lovely.  NURSEY    Probably tomorrow - just in time for the weekend. MAGGIE    [snarl] Can't think of anything that would brighten my day more. SOUND    DOOR OPENS BERTHA    Oh!  Here she is. MAGGIE    Oh, bollocks, who decided to shit all over my parade? BERTHA    Mother! MAGGIE    Technically.  Can you at least keep your festering gob shut until this pelican gets me settled?  It's humiliating enough to be jumbled around like someone's sodding laundry, but to have an audience is just the bloody capper. BERTHA     Mother, this is too important to wait. MAGGIE    Fine.  Talk. BERTHA    I brought you the brochures-- MAGGIE    [somewhat muffled] Talk over.  Fuck off. BERTHA    Mother!  You must admit you need care.  You can't-- MAGGIE    I can!  You'll never get an agreement from me to being stuck in your fucking P-O-W camp, and if you even think about trying to  prove me incompetent, I will change my will and put Jemma in charge. BERTHA    [indignant] Jemma!  She doesn’t --- She has too many... children... to look after! MAGGIE    [smug] And a bastard husband who will go through the bulk of my money in a week or two, slick as snot.  BERTHA    Besides, Jemma's going to be a bit longer here herself.  Some weird rash has cropped up that they want to keep for observation. MAGGIE    [at a loss]  Really?  [swallows, then her beligerance returns]  Devil only knows how that happened.  Right.  Now, I'm tired and you need to PISS OFF. BERTHA    This is not over! SOUND    FEET STORM OUT, DOOR SLAMS NURSEY    And what's wrong with a little care? MAGGIE    You. MUSIC SOUND    NIGHTTIME MAGGIE    All right, you pouffy bastard - come out. SATAN    [tsks]  Names? MAGGIE    Endearments, darling beast.  So what did you do to my idiot daughter? SATAN    You asked for a skin disease - I gave you one.  Shouldn’t even be much scarring. MAGGIE    Scars she's used to.  I'll send her a bloody great tub of aloe vera.  Or will it to her.  I meant to ask, when can I expect another visit from lord stick up his bum? SATAN    Death?  About a week.  Maybe less.  MAGGIE    And then--? SATAN    [final, agreeing] And then.  You ready to sign on? MAGGIE    I'll read the bloody fine print first. SATAN    [chuckling, evilly] You may not have time - there's a helluva lot of fine print. MAGGIE    [chukles evilly back]  Hand it over. SOUND    HUGE SHEAF OF PAPER HITS THE TABLE WITH A THUD MAGGIE    Bugger me! SATAN    There may be an easier way. MAGGIE    Than buggering me?  What's that, then? SATAN    A bet.  MAGGIE    A bet? SATAN    You suggested it yourself last night.  I asked if you know what you're doing, and you-- MAGGIE    [considering, then quietly] I spoke very loosely. SATAN    The devil is in the details.  [laughs] MAGGIE    How do I prove I won, and what do I get? SATAN    What you get - hmm - I'll get Morty off your back, for, say, ten years?    MAGGIE    Is that all? SATAN    Who do you think I am, bloody Oprah? MAGGIE    That has to come with two things-- SATAN    I said-- MAGGIE    I have to be in at least as good health as I am now the entire time - no fucking coma for ten years - and abso-fucking-lutely no bloody nursing home.  I'll live on the kerb before I'll-- SATAN    Done. MAGGIE    And if I lose? SATAN    I get your soul - immediately. MAGGIE    So the bet is I know what I'm doing - how do I prove I won?  SATAN    What are you trying to accomplish? MAGGIE    Oh, no - I'm not giving you any chance to play silly beggars with my plans.  Suffice to say that after Saturday night I will still be the one smiling? SATAN    Hmm - give me a few more of those brownies and you have a deal. MUSIC SOUND    DOOR OPENS, WHEELCHAIR ENTERS MAGGIE    Jems? JEMMA    [weak, but better than before] Yes?  MAGGIE    They say you're to stay here a few more days. JEMMA    It's this bloody rash.  [itching noise] NURSEY    Now now, you know you're not supposed to-- MAGGIE    [weary] Bugger off Moby Dick.  Jems, I'm going home now, they say, and - uh - this weekend should be bloody interesting. JEMMA    [dull] Of course, mum.  You have someone to look in on you?  Bertha? MAGGIE    Only if I want to sign my away my soul.  [laughs uncomfortably]  Nah, I've talked Kev into roughing it with me for the weekend. JEMMA    [a bit disbelieving] Oh.  Yeah.  Good. MUSIC KEV    [muffled, nervous, on the phone]  Of course this is her bloody mobile!  She's asleep.  [beat]  Fuck no, I won't!  You can haul your own bleeding carcass in here and do your own dirty work.  [beat, sarcastic]  Ri-i-ight.  No, you don't understand - I'm rather fond of the old bag-- [beat]  Well, yeah, there is a toady element to it, but we get on, gran and me.  I'd just as soon have her around a while longer.  [beat]  Ain't impossible, innit?  She is meeting her solicitor next-- [beat] Oh, you didn't know that yet, did you?  [beat, then cowed]  Y‑yeah, I know--  No!  No, don't go to the cops.  I'll--  [beaten] I'll leave latch up, then, shall I? MUSIC [very ominous] SOUND     DOOR OPENS VERY CAREFULLY.  SOUND OF GENTLE WHEEZY BREATHING.  SLOW CREAKING FOOTFALLS.  TED    [muttering]  Stupid bloody old cow.  Have my guts for garters will she?  Hah!  SOUND     CREEPING GETS CLOSER TO THE BREATHING. TED    Once we've got your fucking money, you old bitch, Jemma'n me'll be just bloody fine.   SOUND    LIGHT SWITCH TURNED ON MAGGIE    [casual, off in a corner] Oh, right.  Tickety-bloody-boo. TED    [whirling]  You insane bitch!  [unsure] Wait!  If you're over there in the shadows, then who's in the sodding bed? SOUND     BEDCLOTHES FLUNG BACK KEV    [flamey] 'elo, luv! TED    What kind of bloody game are you playing? MAGGIE     Hmm.  Red Rover.  Red Rover, red rover, send the donkey's scrotum over. TED     Two to one?  The mummy and the weasel.  I can take the both of you!  [yells and runs at her] SOUND     RUNNING FEET, BROUGHT TO A SUDDEN HALT TED    [urk] SOUND     BODY DROP SPIKE    [chuckles nastily] No, me old son, I think you've got that ass-backwards.  Hasn't he, lads? SOUND     DOORS OPEN, SEVERAL SETS OF HEAVY FEET ENTER BIKERS     [agreeing noises, laughs.] SOUND    SLAP OF FIST INTO HAND, CHAIN RATTLES KEV    You mind, gran?  Not my thing. MAGGIE    [kindly] Nah, go ahead, you ponce.  I'll be right here.  Better than a jolly great football riot. KEV    [off] Yeah, but guess who gets to hose out your kip? SOUND     FEET SCUTTLE OUT OF ROOM TED    [panicking] Someone'll hear! MAGGIE    Not bloody likely.  I made dead cert of that.  Amazing what free dinner coupons will do to get people to vacate for the night.  Course, police'll chalk them up to the same burglars who broke in here - luckily Kev and I stopped in for dinner with Bertha. KEV    [yelling from off] We had a sodding flat on the way. MAGGIE    [threatening] Doesn't that just take the biscuit?  Now Ted.  If you take this like a good little mountain of elephant dung, quietly and repentant-like, they might leave you alive.  SOUND    PUNCHING COMMENCES, associated noises from the bikers TED    [grunts]  Hey!  Why--? MAGGIE    [incensed]  Why?  Hold up.  [starting low, and mounting] Three broken wrists - that's why.  A cracked fucking pelvis - that's why.  A broken collarbone - that's why!  Thirty-bloody-seven sodding black eyes, and that's only the ones I counted myself - that's why!  Punching your fucking pregnant wife in her stomach [ragged breath, then almost a whisper]  That.  Is why. SOUND    PUNCHING COMMENCES AGAIN, associated noises from the bikers MUSIC SOUND    HOSPITAL HALLWAY, ANNOUNCEMENTS, WHEELCHAIR APPROACHES NURSEY    [distasteful, but trying to hide it] Oh, goodness, are you back? MAGGIE    No fear, yeti.  We're just visiting, aren't we?  KEV    Right.  We're family. NURSEY    That's lovely.  Well, just a minute then.  He's not really up to much.  Poor fellow. SOUND    DOOR OPENS, PINGING MACHINES INSIDE MAGGIE    I know.  [pouring on the melodrama]  Apparently he was coming by to bring some flowers - since I'd just got out of hospital - and surprised some burglars or something.  [sounding almost teary]  But for the grace of the almighty, that could have been us - couldn't it, Kev? KEV    Worth every bite of mum's pork au poivre. MAGGIE    [sharp] Shh.  [teary] Tragic. NURSEY    [softening] See, I knew you had it in you. SOUND    DOOR SHUTS MAGGIE    If only she had it in her more often, she wouldn't be such a tight-ass knicker-twisting sodding git. TED    [muffled by tubes and such]  uh? MAGGIE    Good night.  What a mess. TED    [alarmed] uh! MAGGIE    Don't call reinforcemants just yet - we're merely here to deliver a message. TED    [shuddering] um? MAGGIE    It boils down to this, my evil bastard sonofabitch in law.  Quite apart from being ready to kill you should anything untoward happen to either of us here, my friends plan to visit anything you do to Jemma upon you.  And I do mean anything.  If you get anywhere near her, even with a freindly weapon, you better be ready to take every single bleeding stroke you give.  SOUND    WHEELCHAIR ROLLS AWAY MAGGIE    I'll send round some vaseline. SOUND    DOOR OPENS MUSIC SOUND    TELLY ON LOW, MAGGIE TAPPING FURIOUSLY AWAY ON COMPUTER MAGGIE    Bastards!  Fucking evil empire bastards!  They just wait until I'm in hospital, and change the rates on me again! SATAN    [clears throat] MAGGIE    One minute - I have to update my sodding bid structure.  Again. SATAN    What? MAGGIE    Business.  And... there.  Good for now. SATAN    Well, um.  [a bit cowed]  The bet. MAGGIE    You have to admit, I got my bloody way. SATAN    Yes.  Very well too.  MAGGIE    So I win, do I? SATAN    Oh... yes.  You're very impressive.  I'd almost offer you a job myself. MAGGIE    Come back in ten years, [fondly] you ponce.  So what, do we shake on it or somesuch? SATAN    Frankly, I'm rather fond of my fingers. MAGGIE    [laughs]  You have my oath I won't bite...  This time. SATAN    Right, then. SOUND    HESITATE, THEN A HANDSHAKE MAGGIE    Go on then.  I'm far too bloody busy to be swotting around all day with the likes of you.  SOUND    TAPS A FEW KEYS MAGGIE    [to computer]  What does that wanker bloody mean he forgot to pay me?  [aside]  There's some brownies there.  Drop round any time.  [back to computer, then fading out] Dammit!  Dammit it all to bloody buggery arse-face fucking donkey scrotum hell!!! CLOSER OLIVIA    Now that you know how to find us, you'll have to come back.  Maybe next week?  Don't be a stranger - we have enough of those already...  
  • 19 Nocturne Boulevard podcast

    Atomic Julie - Green Grew The Lasses by Ruth Laura Wainwright

    28:05

    Newsflash!  Women turn green in small community!  Strange growths everywhere!  What could be behind it?

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