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The Haunted Cell
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MS
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Posted Feb 20, 2005 - 4:04 PM:

[Of all the circulating "Lights Out" recordings with scripts by Willis Cooper that I have heard, this 20 July 1946 broadcast is the one that most resembles a "Quiet, Please" episode. You can easily imagine Ernest Chappell doing the first person narration -- and the story has similarities with "Good Ghost" and other QP tales of ghosts and petty crooks. Cooper's name isn't mentioned on the recording but it's clearly his work -- the style and content are unmistakable. Collectors call it "The Haunted Cell" but I wonder if the script wasn't originally broadcast in Chicago as "The Death Cell" on 13 February 1935.]
__________________________________

NARRATOR: (DEEP, OMINOUS) Lights out ... everybody.

SOUND: (GONG ... WIND BLOWS ... CLOCK CHIMES)

NARRATOR: This is the witching hour.

SOUND: (DOG HOWLS OVER THE WIND)

NARRATOR: It is the hour when dogs howl --

SOUND: (DOG HOWLS AND BARKS)

NARRATOR: -- and evil things are let loose on a sleeping world.

SOUND: (THUNDER)

NARRATOR: Sit in the dark now and listen to - "Lights Out"!

SOUND: (NOISES OUT ... GONG ... THEN SILENCE)
__________________________________

MAXIE: (NARRATES) So you don't believe in ghosts, huh?

Let me tell ya somethin', friend. Guys that don't believe in ghosts is guys that ain't never seen none, ain't that right?

Listen. I can tell ya a ghost story that'll make your hair curl.

I'll say it'll make your hair curl. Listen.

Last August, I was nabbed by a couple o' coppers.

Never mind the details. It just so happened that they come up on me when I was stickin' up a filling station and -- well, they drug me in.

It was a tough rap to beat - since they got me standin' there, flat-footed, holdin' a gun on one of the filling station guys and-- Well, the coppers didn't like me, anyway.

Huh? Oh, yeah, sure! 'Cuz I'd had to bump off a copper a week or two before.

And wouldn't it be my luck to be picked up by this guy's partner?

Well, they took me in and - they decided to show me the goldfish.

You don't know what that is, huh? Well, I'll tell ya...

MILLER: You're a liar.

MAXIE: Yeah? So what, copper?

MILLER: You rat. I know you knocked off Ambrose Hogan. And you're gonna fry for it.

MAXIE: You gotta prove it first, Miller.

MILLER: Pull the light over this way a little more, John.

JOHNNY: Okay.

MILLER: Right in his eyes. (TO MAXIE) I'll prove it, rat.

MAXIE: Go ahead!

MILLER: Hand me the hose, John.

MAXIE: Now, look here! Don't you go--

SOUND: (MAXIE HIT BY RUBBER HOSE)

MAXIE: Oh! (WHIMPERS IN PAIN)

MILLER: Now what do you say?

MAXIE: I'm not gonna rat to no--

SOUND: (MAXIE HIT BY RUBBER HOSE)

MAXIE: (GROANS, WHIMPERS)

MILLER: Y' ain't, huh?

MAXIE: You wait till I get to a mouthpiece, Miller. You'll be walkin' a beat out in Circleville where the--

SOUND: (MAXIE HIT BY RUBBER HOSE)

MAXIE: (GROANS, WHIMPERS)

MILLER: It won't make no difference to you, punk, where I'm walkin' a beat. Not when you're burned.

MAXIE: Yeah? Who's gonna burn me?

MILLER: You knocked off Ambrose Hogan!

MAXIE: I was in Omaha the night he got knocked off!

MILLER: Listen, Maxie. Get this now. Ambrose Hogan was a white guy. When I seen him layin' on a slab downstairs, I took a solemn oath I'd get the rat that done it if it took me fifty--

MAXIE: You oughta hire a hall--

SOUND: (MAXIE HIT BY RUBBER HOSE)

MAXIE: (GROANS, WHIMPERS) I'll get you for this, copper--

SOUND: (MAXIE HIT BY RUBBER HOSE)

MAXIE: (GROANS, WHIMPERS)

JOHNNY: I don't think you're gonna get anything out of him, Miller.

MAXIE: There's a SMART copper, Miller!

MILLER: Yeah? Listen, I got a way to get things out of smart guys like you, Maxie. Come on over here, John.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS AWAY, HUSHED VOICES OFF)

MAXIE: (WORRIED) What're ya gonna do? ... Listen, Miller--!

MILLER: (OFF) Shut up!

MAXIE: You can't--! I want a lawyer! You GOTTA let me have a lawyer! You can't get away--!

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS RETURN)

MILLER: You wanna sing, Maxie? Or do you want to spend a few hours in the haunted cell upstairs?

MAXIE: The what?

MILLER: (LAUGHS)

MAXIE: Oh! Another gag, huh?

MILLER: Think so? Listen, I bet you eight dollars you'll change your mind, baby. Get up!

SOUND: (MAXIE HAULED TO HIS FEET)

MAXIE: What are ya gon--?

MILLER: Get goin'. Go ahead, John. Open the door.

JOHNNY: Okay.

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS)

MAXIE: What are ya gonna do to me? You can't get away--!

MILLER: Ever know Skeeter Dempsey, Maxie? ... Come on. This way.

SOUND: (DOOR SLAMS SHUT ... FOOTSTEPS DOWN HALL & UP STAIRS, UNDER THE FOLLOWING:)

MAXIE: What about him? They burned him last winter.

MILLER: Yeah. That's right. Friend of yours?

MAXIE: I knowed him.

MILLER: Well, that's just fine, Maxie. Yes, sir, that'll be just dandy.

MAXIE: (AFTER A PAUSE) Whatcha askin' about Skeeter Dempsey for, Miller?

MILLER: (CHUCKLES, AFTER ANOTHER PAUSE) Skeeter killed a copper, too.

MAXIE: So what?

MILLER: It's bad business to kill coppers, Max.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS PAUSE)

MILLER: All ready, John?

JOHNNY: All ready, yeah.

MILLER: Right this way, Maxie, my boy.

MAXIE: What you up to?

MILLER: I'll tell ya. Trot in there, baby! Get in there, you--

SOUND: (MAXIE THROWN IN CELL)

MAXIE: Why, you--!

SOUND: (CELL DOOR SLIDES SHUT ... LOCKED)

MILLER: Now, listen. This here's the cell that Skeeter Dempsey was locked up in when he first came here. He liked the cell, Maxie. (CHUCKLES) He STILL likes it.

MAXIE: What do you mean?

MILLER: He'll probably be around to see you before the night's over.

MAXIE: Oh? Yeah? Another one of your gags, huh? Well, you won't kid me, copper.

MILLER: This whole corridor, Maxie -- you're the only guy in it. Except Skeeter Dempsey. We'll see what a night here with him'll do to you, huh, John?

JOHNNY: Yeah.

MILLER: If ya get scared, Maxie, just call. Just yell! Nobody'll pay any attention to ya. Nobody at all. Except maybe Skeeter Dempsey. Good night, Max. Come on, John.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS AWAY, INCREASINGLY DISTANT UNDER THE FOLLOWING:)

MAXIE: Hey! Listen, now--!

MILLER: (FROM OFF) Pleasant dreams, you rat!

MAXIE: You can't scare me, Miller! I know your gags. You can't scare me!

MILLER: (FROM OFF) No? Well, we'll see about that.

MAXIE: (SCORNFUL) Ghosts! (CALLS OUT) Hey! I want a lawyer!

MILLER: (FROM OFF) Good night, Maxie!

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS STOP ... LIGHT SWITCH CLICKS OFF)

MAXIE: Hey! You can't turn the lights out on me! Miller?! Turn the lights back on, Miller! You can't leave me here in the dark!

MILLER: (FROM OFF) Can't, huh? (LAUGHS)

SOUND: (DISTANT DOOR OPENS AND SLAMS SHUTS ... SILENCE)

MAXIE: Miller?! Miller?! Why, you flat-footed--! Miller?! Come back here! Miller! I'm scared.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS RETURN SLOWLY TO THE CELL)

MAXIE: Turn the lights on, Miller! For the love of Mike! I'm scared o' the dark!

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS COME CLOSER)

MAXIE: Go on! Turn the lights on, Miller! Please!

SOUND: (AFTER A PAUSE, CELL DOOR UNLOCKS AND SLIDES OPEN)

MAXIE: Miller, listen! Take me out of here--!

SKEETER: (COOL & CALM, HIS VOICE ECHOES MILDLY -- LIKE A GHOST) Cut out the yellin', Maxie--

MAXIE: (STARTLED, JUMPS)

SKEETER: --and sit down.

MAXIE: Who--? Who are you?

SKEETER: Don't you know me, Maxie? I'm Skeeter Dempsey.

MAXIE: You -- you can't be. ... It's a gag. ... Listen, copper--

SKEETER: I'm no copper, Max. Sit down. Let's talk about things.

MAXIE: Where are ya?

SKEETER: Right here.

MAXIE: Wait. Wait till I light a match. I want to see what you look like.

SKEETER: You'll be surprised, Max.

SOUND: (MAXIE STRIKES A MATCH)

MAXIE: (GASPS) There -- there ain't nobody here.

SKEETER: Oh, yes, there is, Maxie. I'm right here beside ya, kid.

SOUND: (GONG)
__________________________________

MAXIE: (NARRATES) Yeah. It was Skeeter Dempsey, all right.

I recognized his voice right away.

When I lit the match and couldn't see nobody there, I guess I fainted.

I remember tryin' to yell -- only my voice wouldn't work and, when I come to, I was layin' on the cell floor.

For a minute, I couldn't figure out what happened and - then it all come back to me.

You know how it is when you're really scared?

Well, maybe you never been real scared, huh?

Well, I'll tell ya.

My mouth was so dry, I couldn't hardly breathe. All I could hear was my heart a-pumpin' away as loud as an old flivver engine.

I was too scared to say a word. (GRADUATES DOWN TO A WHISPER) I just crawled up onto the bunk and laid there ... listenin' ... listenin' ...

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS)

MAXIE: (STARTLED, SHARP INTAKE OF BREATH)

SKEETER: So I scared ya, huh, Maxie?

MAXIE: Listen! Go away now! Whoever ya are! Go away! Go away!

SKEETER: Aw, shut up. I ain't gonna hurt ya.

MAXIE: I could pray you away!

SKEETER: No, you couldn't, Maxie. YOU couldn't pray me away. What they got you in here for?

MAXIE: Dumpin' a-- (CATCHES HIMSELF, LOWERS HIS VOICE) Nothin'.

SKEETER: Ya knocked off that Hogan guy, didn't ya? (NO ANSWER) Well, it's too bad for you, Max.

MAXIE: Yeah?

SKEETER: Yeah.

MAXIE: (AFTER A PAUSE) Uhhh? ... Is you still here?

SKEETER: Sure.

MAXIE: (INCREASINGLY DESPERATE) You - you ain't Skeeter Dempsey!

SKEETER: Yes, I am.

MAXIE: Listen! Skeeter Dempsey was burnt last winter! I know an [old padre?] that seen him set in the chair.

SKEETER: That's right.

MAXIE: Well, then you ain't Skeeter Dempsey!

SKEETER: Yes, I am.

MAXIE: (LOSES IT COMPLETELY, SOBS) I know! I know you're Skeeter! I know, I know!

SKEETER: Stop jitterin'. I ain't gonna hurt ya.

MAXIE: But you're a ghost!

SKEETER: Well, what if I am?

MAXIE: I wish you'd go away.

SKEETER: Why should I? This is my cell, after all.

MAXIE: Aw, Skeeter, please--!

SKEETER: Oh, can it. Listen, let's talk. I haven't had nobody to talk to for two months.

MAXIE: Who'd you talk to then?

SKEETER: George Brown. You remember him.

MAXIE: Yeah. [Ice guy--?] (REALIZES) Hey! George Brown hung himself in a cell here!

SKEETER: Yeah. THIS cell.

MAXIE: This - cell?

SKEETER: Uh huh. Him and me sat up and talked all night. And he hung himself next day.

MAXIE: What'd he hang himself for?

SKEETER: Oh, he'd've got burned anyway. They had him for TWO jobs. One, knockin' off an old lady for seventy bucks. And the other, shootin' that bank guy down in Springfield.

MAXIE: Did you - see him - hang himself, Skeeter?

SKEETER: No, I wasn't here at the time.

MAXIE: Where was ya?

SKEETER: Oh, I was away.

MAXIE: (AFTER A PAUSE) Skeeter?

SKEETER: Yeah?

MAXIE: What does it - feel like to be - dead?

SKEETER: All right.

MAXIE: Yeah?

SKEETER: Yeah.

MAXIE: (RELIEVED) Oh, my God.

SKEETER: What's the matter?

MAXIE: Well, what - what about hell and all that?

SKEETER: You get used to it.

MAXIE: My old lady used to make me go to Sunday school and - they used to talk about hell there. Fire and everything.

SKEETER: There ain't no fire.

MAXIE: Ain't they?

SKEETER: Nope. It's ... worse than that.

MAXIE: What? What's it like?

SKEETER: You'll find out.

MAXIE: If I get out of this rap, I'm-- I think I'll go straight.

SKEETER: You're too late, Max.

MAXIE: No, I ain't! I'll beat it.

SKEETER: No, you won't. Ya gotta croak.

MAXIE: Sometime, yeah.

SKEETER: You'll croak on this rap.

MAXIE: How do you know?

SKEETER: I know.

MAXIE: (DISMISSIVE) Ahhhh...

SKEETER: There's one way you could get out o' - some of the hell, though, Max.

MAXIE: How?

SKEETER: Bump yourself off.

MAXIE: What do you mean?

SKEETER: Well, if you wait for the law to punish ya, that's one thing. If you take the law in your own hands and -- well, kinda punish yourself -- it'd make a difference.

MAXIE: Is it - pretty tough, Skeeter?

SKEETER: What? Hell?

MAXIE: Dyin'.

SKEETER: It hurts awful. The chair, I mean. Ya go in feeling pretty cocky and figurin' you can take it and you're gonna be a tough guy and all. And then ...

MAXIE: What's that, Skeeter?

SKEETER: All of a sudden you find you can't take it. You don't wanna yell and scream but-- Yeah, well, it's awful.

MAXIE: God. What's that, Skeeter?

SKEETER: You ain't never had no pain in all your life, Max, can begin to compare with the chair.

MAXIE: Yeah?

SKEETER: You'll find out.

MAXIE: Do you really think I will, Skeeter?

SKEETER: Mm hm. What do YOU think?

MAXIE: I wonder how it feels to bump yourself off.

SKEETER: George Brown said it was all right. Kinda made him feel better, he said.

MAXIE: HE said?

SKEETER: Yeah, I seen him the day after.

MAXIE: Oh. Huh?

SKEETER: If I was you, Max, I think I'd do it.

MAXIE: Yeah. (SUDDENLY) I'm not gonna bump myself off! I won't do it! These lousy coppers ain't gonna make me!

SOUND: (DISTANT DOOR OPENS & SHUTS)

MAXIE: Who's that?!

SKEETER: Miller, I guess.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS TO THE CELL)

MAXIE: (CALLS OUT) Is that - you, Miller?!

MILLER: Who was you talkin' to, Maxie? Skeeter Dempsey?

MAXIE: Listen, Miller! Let me out of here! No kiddin', let me out! Put me anyplace you want to but listen, Miller--

MILLER: Scared, Maxie? Who WAS you talkin' to, Maxie? Skeeter Dempsey? (LAUGHS)

MAXIE: Miller! For the love of-- Listen, Miller, turn on the lights, will ya? Turn 'em on, Miller -- just for a minute!

MILLER: Dark's got you down, huh?

MAXIE: Miller! Please! Turn on the lights!

MILLER: Well, why not? It'll be darker still when I turn 'em off again.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS AWAY FROM THE CELL ... LIGHT SWITCH CLICKS ON)

MAXIE: (STARTLED, GASPS)

MILLER: (OFF) What's the matter now?

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS TO THE CELL)

MAXIE: Miller! There ain't anybody here.

MILLER: (CLOSE AGAIN) That's right. Was Skeeter in here with ya, kid?

MAXIE: (STARTS TO LOSE IT AGAIN) I thought-- I thought-- There ain't anybody here!

SKEETER: (CHUCKLES) Oh, yes, there is, Maxie.

MILLER: I wouldn't worry about it, Max.

SKEETER: I'm right here beside you. And I'm gonna stay.

SOUND: (GONG)
__________________________________

MAXIE: (NARRATES) They kept me in that cell there for four weeks.

Every once in a while, Miller'd come in and stand there in front of the door and laugh at me.

"Gonna sign a confession, Maxie?" he'd say.

I wasn't gonna give him nothin'.

But that place got me.

Just as soon as it was dark, I'd hear Skeeter Dempsey's footsteps and he'd come and sit down with me.

I was awful scared at first.

Kinda hard to get used to practically livin' with a ghost.

But then I kinda got used to him.

He was always tellin' me how I was gonna burn and how I'd be better off to hang myself like George Brown done. I guess I was a little bit nuts.

Miller wouldn't let me have no lawyer, see? He was keepin' me in there [...] without knowing anything about it so's they could hand me the rap when the time come.

Well, the time come.

Some place or other, Miller dug up the evidence that I wouldn't give him and they had me.

And HOW, they had me!

So, one mornin', few weeks later, I'm settin' in the courtroom. The jury's been out for twenty minutes...

SOUND: (CROWD NOISE UNDER FOLLOWING:)

BAILIFF: Everybody rise!

SOUND: (JUDGE ENTERS, CLEARS THROAT, TAKES SEAT)

BAILIFF: Sit down!

SOUND: (JUDGE BANGS GAVEL, CROWD QUIETS)

JUDGE: Gentlemen of the jury, have you arrived at a verdict?

FOREMAN: We have, your honor.

JUDGE: Will you pass the verdict to the bailiff, please?

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS)

BAILIFF: (READS) "We, the jury, find the defendant, Max Young, guilty of murder in the first degree."

SOUND: (CROWD NOISE, JUDGE BANGS GAVEL, CROWD QUIETS)

JUDGE: Mr. Foreman, is this your verdict?

FOREMAN: It is, your honor.

JUDGE: The defendant will rise.

MILLER: Get up, Maxie.

SOUND: (MAXIE RISES)

JUDGE: Max Young, have you anything to say before sentence is passed on you?

MAXIE: Well, uh-- No, your honor.

JUDGE: You realize that in a verdict of guilty of first degree murder, the death penalty is mandatory.

MAXIE: Yeah. Yeah, your honor.

JUDGE: Very well, then. It is the sentence of this court that you are to be taken from this place and, between the twenty-first and the thirtieth of December, shocked to death by electricity. And may God have mercy on your soul.

SOUND: (CROWD NOISE)

MILLER: All right, Maxie. Come on, this way.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS, DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES, CROWD NOISE FADES, MORE FOOTSTEPS)

MILLER: Well, Max, that's that.

MAXIE: Yeah.

SOUND: (A CHILL WIND BLOWS IN AND OUT TO SIGNAL SKEETER'S ARRIVAL)

MAXIE: What'd you say?

MILLER: I didn't say nothin'.

SKEETER: It was me, Maxie. I said, there's - only one way out -- now.

SOUND: (GONG)
__________________________________

MAXIE: (NARRATES) Well, so that was that.

There wasn't money to send me down to the state prison where they bump off guys so they kept me in this here wing of the county jail where they had me, in Skeeter Dempsey's old cell.

I guess this guy Miller musta liked his pal, Ambrose Hogan, quite a lot -- the guy I knocked off.

Huh?

SURE I knocked him off. What's the use o' kiddin' around?

Yeah. I guess he musta thought a lot o' him 'cause he kept me in there where it was dark where I'd be scared to death all the time.

Really gettin' even.

But I kinda fooled 'em.

I wasn't so scared o' Skeeter by this time.

I got so I'd sit in the dark there and - be waitin' for him.

And we'd talk.

'Bout everything in the world.

It was funny. People out o' history. And funny places and stuff and-- Aw, a lot o' things.

Skeeter told me he saw a lot of the guys we talked about.

Nero and - Judas Iscariot ...

But why not?

He was dead, wasn't he?

And so was they.

Oh, but I gotta hurry up with my ghost story, ain't I? That's right, uh...

What I was gonna say was -- I was settin' there one night -- the twenty-third, it was, day before Christmas Eve -- settin' in the dark and - I heard Skeeter come in.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS TO THE CELL, DOOR UNLOCKS, SLIDES OPEN & CLOSED, A STEP)

MAXIE: Hello, Skeeter.

SKEETER: Hello, Max. How ya feelin'?

MAXIE: Not so hot.

SKEETER: Still thinkin' about the hot squat, huh?

MAXIE: What else ya expect me to think about? I wish they'd hurry up and get it over with, that's what I wish.

SKEETER: It's tomorrow night.

MAXIE: What is?

SKEETER: They burn ya.

MAXIE: On Christmas Eve?

SKEETER: Yup.

MAXIE: Honest, Skeeter? How do ya know?

SKEETER: I found out.

MAXIE: Oh, God.

SKEETER: Well, don't take it so hard. I'll walk in with ya when they take ya to the chair. I'll stand right there alongside ya.

MAXIE: Will ya, Skeeter? Will ya, honest?

SKEETER: Sure. ... Won't do ya much good, though.

MAXIE: Why?

SKEETER: I can't keep it from hurtin' ya.

MAXIE: Honest, Skeeter -- does it hurt a lot? Or is it all over with pretty quick?

SKEETER: It seemed to me to last a hundred years.

MAXIE: Ohhhhh, I'm a sucker for pain, Skeeter.

SKEETER: Are ya?

MAXIE: Sure. I cut my finger once, I pretty near croaked with the pain.

SKEETER: You ain't felt nothin' yet.

MAXIE: Yeah?

SKEETER: Yeah.

MAXIE: Gee, I remember, too, when I busted my leg, my old lady set up all night holdin' my hand and me bawlin'--

SKEETER: This'll feel like a million busted legs.

MAXIE: Listen, Skeeter.

SKEETER: What?

MAXIE: Didn't you say George Brown told ya it didn't hurt much bumpin' yourself off?

SKEETER: That's what he said. Why?

MAXIE: I - I was wonderin'...

SKEETER: Well, I know what I'd do if I was in your place.

MAXIE: Yeah? Would you bump yourself off?

SKEETER: Yeah.

MAXIE: I - I don't think I got the guts to do it, Skeeter.

SKEETER: T'ain't hard. You got a belt. You could get it around your neck and climb up on the bunk and fasten the belt to the bars up above. Then, all ya gotta do is - jump off.

MAXIE: (SOBS) Yeah. Yeah.

SKEETER: You know it would help you out if you did.

MAXIE: What do you mean?

SKEETER: Well, ya know, I told ya. Kinda punishing yourself, see?

MAXIE: I know. (BREAKS DOWN) But I can't, Skeeter! I can't, I can't! I don't wanna die!

SKEETER: Well, it's all right with me. I was just tellin' ya. And believe me, lad, I know what I'm talkin' about.

MAXIE: Do ya, honest, Skeeter? Do ya?

SKEETER: Yeah.

MAXIE: (WHIMPERS) I wish I had the guts to do it.

SKEETER: I don't care what you do, Maxie. Only you're gonna get burned tomorrow night anyway. And if you wanna get out of the most awful pain ya ever had - and do yourself a good turn at the same time - well...

MAXIE: I wonder what it feels like.

SKEETER: George Brown said it only hurt for a minute.

MAXIE: He never had much guts. THAT I remember.

SKEETER: No.

SOUND: (DISTANT DOOR OPENS & SHUTS, FOOTSTEPS UNDER FOLLOWING:)

SKEETER: Here comes Miller. Gonna tell ya, I guess.

MAXIE: Yeah.

SKEETER: He don't look very happy.

MAXIE: He what? Can - you see in the dark?

SKEETER: Yeah.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS COME CLOSER, STOP)

MILLER: (IN A CONCILIATORY MOOD) Hello, Max.

MAXIE: Hello, Miller.

MILLER: Want me to turn on the lights?

MAXIE: I don't care.

MILLER: You gettin' used to the dark?

MAXIE: Yeah.

MILLER: Well, I'll - I'll turn 'em on anyway.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS AWAY FROM CELL, LIGHT SWITCH CLICKS ON, FOOTSTEPS RETURN)

MILLER: Well, Max, it's about the end of the string, eh?

MAXIE: Tomorrow, huh?

MILLER: Yeah.

MAXIE: Well, that makes you and me even.

MILLER: Listen, Max. I wanted to see ya knocked off on account of Ambrose Hogan and I-- well ...

MAXIE: I ain't sore, Miller.

MILLER: ... Aw, you know.

MAXIE: Yeah. No hard feelings, Miller. It's your job bein' a copper and - mine bein' a hood.

MILLER: Yeah. Well, is - is there anything you want, Maxie?

MAXIE: Naw, I guess not.

MILLER: You ain't got no folks?

MAXIE: Nope.

MILLER: I could get you a bottle of bourbon if you wanted.

MAXIE: Nahhh, what's the use?

MILLER: Well, we gotta get ready to go down to the state prison in a little while. They got the-- Well, I mean, that's where ya gotta go.

MAXIE: Do I hafta go today?

MILLER: Yeah, I guess so.

MAXIE: Well ... kinda hate to leave this place, at that.

MILLER: Do ya?

MAXIE: Yeah. Scared me quite a lot at first but - I guess it's taught me a lot - bein' here in the dark all alone.

SKEETER: Except for me, Max.

MAXIE: Yeah.

MILLER: Well, Max... Listen. Try to take it standin' up, will ya? You know--

MAXIE: I'll try, Miller. But it's gonna be awful tough.

MILLER: Yeah. Well, look out. I'll be back in a little bit and we'll go.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS START AWAY, THEN STOP)

MILLER: (SLIGHTLY OFF) Uh, sure there ain't anything you want me to get, Maxie?

MAXIE: Nope.

MILLER: All right.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS START AWAY, THEN STOP)

MILLER: Oh, I'm - I'm sorry, Max.

MAXIE: Huh? Heh! It's okay, Miller. Forget it.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS AWAY, DISTANT DOOR OPENS & SHUTS)

SKEETER: I told ya, Max.

MAXIE: Yeah.

SKEETER: Well, I gotta be goin'. So long, Maxie.

MAXIE: You - goin', Skeeter?

SKEETER: Yeah. I'll, uh, see ya tomorrow night.

MAXIE: But, listen, Skeeter, don't go away now!

SKEETER: I hafta. And, just in case ya decide to - do what George Brown did - there's an extra piece o' rope under the mattress. You won't hafta use your belt. So long.

SOUND: (CELL DOOR SLIDES OPENS, A CHILL WIND BLOWS TO SIGNIFY SKEETER'S DEPARTURE, CELL DOOR SLIDES SHUTS, SKEETER'S FOOTSTEPS AWAY ... GONG, THEN SILENCE)
__________________________________

MAXIE: (NARRATES) Well ... there ya are.

That's your ghost story.

You believe in ghosts now?

You don't?

Well, ya oughta.

You see, I took Skeeter's advice. I hung myself.

(VOICE ECHOES MILDLY LIKE SKEETER'S) I've been dead six months.

SOUND: (GONG)
__________________________________

NARRATOR: All right. You can turn them on now.

ANNOUNCER: You have just heard the third in the summer series of "Lights Out." Tonight's story featured Norman Gottschalk as Maxie, Stanley Shewel as Skeeter Dempsey and Roy Engel as Miller. Boris Aplon was heard as the judge and Nathan Davis as Johnny. Next Saturday night, come nine o'clock, we've got a story cooked up for you that ought to give you a chill in the hottest weather. Two master magicians, both in the inner cult of Haitian voodooism, lock horns in a titanic struggle which comes to a climax over the Chicago airport. So you'd better make a mental note to be near your radio - next Saturday evening. "Lights Out" is produced and directed by Albert Crews.

SOUND: (GONG)

ANNOUNCER: This is NBC, the National Broadcasting Company.

monsterwax
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Posted Mar 20, 2005 - 3:49 PM:

A terrific story. I can hear Ernest Chappel reading it in my mind. It's interesting to note that the NAB passed rules in 1947 forbidding radio dramas where the cops give the third degree. (They also said no kidnapping and beating of kids, and no excessive horror in slaying.) I guess perhaps they heard this story! Thanks for taking the time to post this wonderful script.
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