|Message Text||Well, I've been reading _Terror on the Air!_ by our good friend, Dr. Richard J. Hand. In his chapter on _The Hermit's Cave_ series, he writes of an episode known as "The Story Without End" (although "Without End" seems to be the correct title) and calls it "a strong piece with great resonance in the context of war. ... a curious precursor to _Quiet, Please_, not just in its style but in its construction of what we could describe as beautiful horror, where love intersects with the uncanny." He goes on to describe the episode and concludes:
"The Story Without End" remains a startling precursor to some of the more lyrical and languorous narratives of _Quiet, Please_ at the end of the 1940s, such as "In the House Where I Was Born" (May 24, 1948), a similarly poetic account of a soldier's return home ... The romantic idealism of "The Story Without End" is also reminiscent of the haunting love story about two people separated by the world of consciousness and dreams in "And Jeannie Dreams of Me" (October 17, 1948), and the troubled life and desperate love of the soldier in "In Memory of Bernadine" (November 24, 1947). In these and several other examples, _Quiet, Please_ takes the form of beautiful horror to new heights of pathos, psychological depth and lyricism. Nevertheless, "The Story Without End" stands as a forerunner to _Quiet, Please_ that demonstrates the poetical and dramatic potential of the subgenre of "beautiful horror." (_Terror on the Air!_, p. 111)
Now, I have no idea how it would have wound up on _The Hermit's Cave_ but the similarities make me wonder if this isn't an abbreviated version of one of Cooper's lost _Lights Out_ scripts. Take away the cackling Hermit and the organ music and substitute a gong to punctuate the key scenes and it's possible to imagine it on LO, particularly in the period when the series was first broadcast nationally (NBC insisted on Cooper "using ghost and spook stories" and mandated that "gory yarns are out for the present").
The script (as Dr. Hand points out) reads like a dry run for not only QP's "Bernadine" and "Jeannie" but also parts of "I Have Been Looking for You," "The Gothic Tale," "The Little Morning" and a few others -- in sort of the way LO's "Reunion After Death" anticipates QP's "The Evening and the Morning" or LO's "The Coffin in Studio B" morphs into QP's "A Night to Forget."
The script's style is a reasonable facsimile of Cooper's (or one aspect of his style): the direct address to the listener, the fluid first person narration that alternates with brief, pointed dramatic scenes; the elevated "poetic" language in the narrative; the verbatim repetition of key sentences; the compact cast of five characters (with the adult actors portraying their characters at various ages), etc.
And the content is pure Cooper: the ugliness of war, the heavy nostalgia, the returning soldier, the ideal woman as lover, the ambiguity of faith and reason, the religious concerns (the old trysting place is like a "cathedral"; belief in ghosts is "a sinful, terrible thing"), and so on.
Well, if it isn't his, it's a decent enough imitation.
Do you scoff?
Do you shake your head in disbelief?
Do you believe that my mind is addled by the horrors of listening to too much old time radio?
Well, maybe I'm completely wrong about all this. Maybe I'm underestimating the writers of _The Hermit's Cave_. Other episodes of that series, like "The House of Purple Shadows" and "The Blackness of Terror," have their Cooperesque qualities, too.
But you be the judge. Here is a transcript of the play itself, minus most of the organ music cues and the Hermit's commentary:
DAVID: This is a story of love - that has no end ...
Of the deep, dark shadows of sorrow ...
Of dreams - that span the bridge of time.
It's my story and - Lorai's.
I am David Ruenzel. Just an ordinary guy with hopes like yours and dreams like yours.
SOUND: (EXPLOSION ... THE CRASH OF HEAVY MORTAR FIRE ... THEN NOISE OF BATTLE, RIFLE SHOTS, DISTANT EXPLOSIONS, ETC. ... IN BG)
DAVID: I was one in a foxhole with thousands of boys. And, in the night time when the enemy was pouring all they had on us, I did what a lot of fellas did. I put my mind on other things. But not so my pal, Jim Green.
SOUND: (BATTLE .. UP, THEN IN BG)
JIM: (EXHALES) They're giving us all they got tonight, Dave.
JIM: You know, it's a funny feeling a guy gets out here. Never knowing just what minute the end is going to come and yet - it's always so close, you can darn near taste it.
JIM: 'S a funny thing, though. It never seems to get you like it does me.
DAVID: (SERIOUS) You know why, Jim?
JIM: (CHUCKLES) Got some secret system?
JIM: Well, give. Let another guy in on it.
DAVID: You got a girl back home, Jim?
JIM: (CHUCKLES) <u>A</u> girl?! Man, I've got dozens.
DAVID: I've got just one.
JIM: (CHUCKLES) I figure there's more safety in numbers. You've got just one. How do you know she'll be yours when you get back?
DAVID: I know, Jim. There was never anyone for Lorai but me. And there was never anyone for me but Lorai.
JIM: You got more faith than I have, Dave. Still, a lot of fellas on the home front makin' hay while the sun shines. So they tell me.
DAVID: I never worry about Lorai. She's always with me. Always.
SOUND: (DURING ABOVE, LOUD WHISTLE OF INCOMING SHELL)
SOUND: (THEY HIT THE DIRT AS A SHELL SOARS IN AND EXPLODES NEARBY)
JIM: (GASPS) Christopher, that was a close one.
JIM: (LOSES COMPOSURE) I hate all o' this! Why do we have to be out here, our bodies targets for death?!
DAVID: (TRIES TO SOOTHE HIM) Quiet, Jim. Think about something else.
JIM: You're a fool, Dave! Don't have any more chance than I have!
DAVID: But I have. I've got faith. You know what, Jim? It always seems that - Lorai is right beside me. Sometimes walking in front of me, shielding me from enemy fire.
JIM: (SCOFFS) Ah, that's rot!
DAVID: You don't have to believe me but I know it's true. I can feel her presence tonight more than ever. I know she's here beside me.
JIM: You expect me to believe in such a thing? As if a person a million miles away could protect you in this foxhole? What's more, it's gettin' hotter around here. We're in for it tonight.
SOUND: (DURING ABOVE, LOUD WHISTLE OF ANOTHER INCOMING SHELL)
DAVID: Please, Jim. Please--
SOUND: (SHELL EXPLODES NEARBY)
JIM: (PANICS) I'm afraid, Dave!
DAVID: Let Lorai protect you as she does me.
JIM: No! They've spotted us! We've gotta move out of here!
DAVID: Jim, don't be a fool!
JIM: It ain't safe here, I tell you! They're zeroed in on us!
SOUND: (DURING ABOVE, JIM SCRAMBLES OUT OF HOLE ... SIMULTANEOUS WITH LOUD WHISTLE OF INCOMING SHELL)
DAVID: Jim! Come back!
SOUND: (SHELL WHISTLES, EXPLODES VERY CLOSE)
JIM: (A HORRIBLE DEATH SCREAM)
DAVID: (SHUDDERS) Jim! Oh, Jim, I told you to stay by me. Lorai would have protected you. Jim!
SOUND: (BATTLE RAGES ON FOR A MOMENT ... THEN FADES)
(MUSIC ... FOR A TRANSITION)
DAVID: Oh, you may not believe my story any more than Jim who lost his life that night.
But I knew my darling Lorai was constantly by my side. No matter how terrible the battle, she was protecting me. When I was in the front lines, she was my shield and my protector.
When we moved along the roadways and our [enemy's] planes above spotted us, I had no fear - for Lorai was near me.
Since childhood, we'd been pals, living on nearby farms. Somehow, even as kids, we seemed to sense that there was a strong bond between us - that no amount of kidding from the other kids could harm.
SOUND: (TAUNTS AND LAUGHTER OF CHILDREN ... FADES)
LORAI AS A GIRL: They're all laughing because you're walking home with me, Dave.
DAVID AS A BOY: As if I care!
LORAI AS A GIRL: They'll bother you all day tomorrow in school.
DAVID AS A BOY: Let 'em just try.
LORAI AS A GIRL: Dave?
DAVID AS A BOY: Yeah?
LORAI AS A GIRL: Are you planning to marry me when we grow up?
DAVID AS A BOY: Well ... I guess I am.
LORAI AS A GIRL: I'm planning to marry you, too.
DAVID AS A BOY: Can't nobody bother us.
LORAI AS A GIRL: Only Pa. He says it's silly for a little girl to have a sweetheart. ... You ARE my sweetheart, aren't you, Dave?
DAVID AS A BOY: Well, I guess so. You're the only one I like in all the world.
LORAI AS A GIRL: More than your uncle and aunt that you live with?
DAVID AS A BOY: Sure. They ain't like real folks to me. You <u>are</u>.
LORAI AS A GIRL: I'll always belong to you, Dave. ... Always.
DAVID: That's the way it was, right up through the years. We always belonged together.
Maybe it was because I didn't have any real folks. I was an orphan. And the folks that adopted me let me call them aunt and uncle. They were good to me. Uncle Henry planned to let me run the farm when I got through my course down at agricultural college. And, someday, the farm would be mine. And Lorai and I, we planned to be married just as soon as I finished my school course and began to run the farm.
And then ... along came the war. And I had to go. The evening before I left, Lorai and I walked to our favorite place for meeting. In the woods, just beyond the clearing of Uncle Henry's place. We had a favorite old log there where we could peer through the clearing, see the house and hills beyond. And a patch of sky to the west - where the sun dipped down from sight and sent colored streamers out into the sky. And here, when night came, we could look up above the treetops and see the stars - and watch the old moon come riding forth into a purple field. Our trysting place was like a seat in a cathedral. Everything good and clean in life was close to us there at our meeting place in the woods. It was here that we said goodbye.
LORAI: You don't want me to come into town and go to the station, Dave?
DAVID: Don't you think it's better to say goodbye here?
LORAI: We'll never say goodbye, Dave. Never. No matter where you go. I'm always going to be with you.
DAVID: Sure. I kind of feel like that, too.
LORAI: And, Dave ... when you come back, the very hour that you return to me, I'll know it. I won't come down to the station. I'll be waiting here in the woods. Here, on the old log. This is where you'll find me.
DAVID: Oh, Lorai.
DAVID: You'll be brave?
DAVID: I'm going now. Don't turn and look. I'm walking away but - I'm not really leaving at all. I'll be with you always. Oh, don't turn and look. (STARTS TO FADE INTO THE DISTANCE) Before you know it, I'll be back. I'll return and be sitting beside you. Here on on the log at our old trysting place.
(MUSIC ... FOR A TRANSITION)
DAVID: And so it was that, all during the long days of war, I never felt that I was really away from Lorai at all. Or that she was absent from me. Why, there were times when it was as if I could reach out just a little and find her beside me. In fact, there were times that I could actually hear her voice. I recall the first time I heard it. It was a bad hour.
The enemy was giving us everything they had from the sky.
SOUND: (DURING ABOVE, FADE IN ROAR OF PLANE ENGINES ... WHISTLING SHELLS ... BOMBS EXPLODING ALL AROUND)
DAVID: Fellas I knew and liked were dropping all around me. Their cries struck terror in my heart.
SOUND: (MEN SCREAMING AS THE BATTLE RAGES ... ONE CRIES DISTANTLY, "DAVE! DAVE!" ... GUNFIRE, EXPLOSIONS CONTINUE IN BG)
DAVID: In the midst of all the hellfire and dying, the pain and the terror - just as clear as a bird call on a silent night - I heard Lorai's voice for the first time.
LORAI: (CALM, LOVING) Do not fear, my darling. I'm here, Dave. Here, beside you.
DAVID: It was so clear, that voice of hers, that I expected to look and see her standing near me.
You can scoff if you like. You can shrug your shoulders and pass my whole story over lightly if you wish. But I know Lorai was there beside me - as the battle raged all around.
SOUND: (BATTLE CONTINUES FOR A MOMENT, THEN FADES)
DAVID: And then it was over.
The war was over!
And finally the day came for leaving the battle-torn old world, getting on a ship and starting homeward.
SOUND: (SHIP'S HORN BLOWS ... CROWD CHEERS ... IN BG)
DAVID: There was shouting and rejoicing.
There was singing and laughter.
There was hope about to be fulfilled.
There was home - just beyond the horizon.
SOUND: (CHEERS FADE)
DAVID: We were at sea.
Then we were in the harbor.
Then, on shore.
And then, soon, discharge.
I'd made up my mind I'd return without a word to anyone.
Yes, I'd fool Lorai.
She said she'd know the very hour that I'd be returning. I wouldn't have to tell her, she said.
LORAI: (ON FILTER) The very hour that you return to me, I'll know it. I won't come down to the station. I'll be waiting here in the woods. Here, on the old log. This is where you'll find me.
DAVID: (AMUSED) Yeah. We'd see how good she was. We'd test that second sight of hers, that intuition.
SOUND: (TRAIN RUMBLING DOWN TRACK, IN BG)
DAVID: All the while on the train that carried me towards home, I kept chuckling to myself, "We'll see. Just see if she <u>will</u> be waiting on the old log when I come walking into the woods."
SOUND: (TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS, TRAIN RUMBLES ALONG)
DAVID: My heart was pounding with the excitement of my returning. Of the surprise in store for Lorai.
Oh, it seemed as though the long train trip would never end.
SOUND: (TRAIN SLOWS DOWN)
DAVID: But finally we pulled into the station.
SOUND: (TRAIN ROLLS TO A STOP ... ITS BELL RINGING, IN BG)
DAVID: There was a little bunch of townfolks around the old depot. I didn't want to see anybody. I waited until the train was almost ready to leave and then I jumped off on the opposite side.
SOUND: (BELL FADES AS DAVE JUMPS FROM TRAIN TO DIRT BELOW AND RUNS OFF)
DAVID: I took to the fields that led out to the road to where our farm stood.
It was autumn.
Already there'd been a frost.
The old maples in the woods were dressed in scarlets, brilliant reds.
Under my feet, the dry leaves made soft music.
Only a little way further to go and our log would be in sight.
And then, there it was before me.
I stopped, dead still.
I couldn't move.
For there she was.
There was Lorai.
Seated on the log, just as she'd promised.
The setting sun made her all golden.
Her fair hair was touched with it.
And sparks of light danced upon it.
She was looking right at me.
Now she was standing.
Her arms stretched out to me.
LORAI: (GENTLE, RELIEVED LAUGHTER) Oh, Dave. Dave.
DAVID: You knew?
LORAI: Yes, Dave.
DAVID: You knew I was coming?
LORAI: Yes, my darling.
DAVID: Just as you said you would know.
DAVID: Oh, darling, Lorai. You've never been absent from me, not for an instant.
LORAI: No, Dave.
DAVID: You followed me wherever I went.
DAVID: There were times - when I actually heard your voice.
LORAI: Of course.
DAVID: What did you say to me? Do you remember what you said?
LORAI: Yes. I remember.
DAVID: Tell me.
LORAI: I said, "Do not fear, my darling. I'm here, Dave. Here, beside you."
DAVID: Yes. That's what I heard you say.
LORAI: We will never be separated, Dave. Never.
DAVID: Of course we won't. Not now. I'm home safe and we'll never be parted again.
LORAI: (URGENTLY) Never let anyone tell you differently. Never let them say that we are parted.
DAVID: Why, what do you mean? We're together. We can't be parted, not ever again.
LORAI: Dave ...
DAVID: Oh, my darling. More beautiful than ever. ... But - you're so cold. Night is coming. It's chilly here in the woods. I must get you home.
LORAI: (LAUGHS PLAYFULLY) Try and catch me! (SHE RUNS OFF) Try and catch me, Dave! (HER LAUGHTER HEARD IN BG)
DAVID: Well ... (LAUGHS) Hey! Hey! You can't run away from me like this! ... Wait, I'll catch you! I'm a pretty fair runner these days!
LORAI: (BREATHLESSLY LAUGHING, OFF) Try and catch me!
DAVID: (ALSO BREATHLESSLY LAUGHING) Don't you know I've been in training?!
SOUND: (LORAI'S LAUGHTER FADES ... DAVID'S FOOTSTEPS IN THE LEAVES STOP ... AFTER A PAUSE)
DAVID: Wha - ? Hey! You can't hide from me! (SILENCE, AFTER A PAUSE, SURPRISED AND AMUSED) Well ... what do you know? ... You've pulled one on me! I - I can't see you anywhere! ... Lorai, where are you?! ... (MOCK SERIOUS) Say, you can't run out on me like this! I'll find you!
SOUND: (DAVID'S FOOTSTEPS TRUDGE THROUGH THE LEAVES)
DAVID: (TO HIMSELF) Huh! Well, what do you know? ... Got out of my sight. (CALLS OUT, AMUSED) Okay, honey -- you win! If you can hear me, I'm going up to the house to clean up a bit, see Uncle Henry and Aunt Martha. But I'll be over to your house on the stroke of seven! ... Do you hear me?! At seven! And tomorrow we get the license to be married! ... Lorai?! Can you hear me?! The license to be married!
(MUSIC ... FOR A TRANSITION ... THEN OUT)
SOUND: (DOOR OPENS)
AUNT MARTHA: (STARTLED EXCLAMATION) ... Dave!
AUNT MARTHA: (OVERCOME WITH JOY) Oh! Oh, Dave! (CALLS OUT) Oh! Henry! Henry, it's Dave! He's home!
UNCLE HENRY: (OFF) Come here, my boy! You're home safe!
DAVID: Oh, what a grand feeling to see you two.
AUNT MARTHA: Oh, don't he look wonderful, Henry?
UNCLE HENRY: Taller than ever and filled out, too!
AUNT MARTHA: Ohhh, we're glad to have you back, David. Glad you made it safe and sound.
DAVID: Oh, I tell ya, there wasn't a chance of me not making it. ... You know something, Aunt Martha?
AUNT MARTHA: Mm?
DAVID: All through the terrible business, I felt that Lorai was beside me, protecting me from death.
AUNT MARTHA: (SYMPATHETIC) Oh, David ...
DAVID: And the most wonderful part about it all -- even though I never let any of you know I was coming home today -- Lorai had a feeling about it. She was waiting in the woods for me just now at our old log where we always used to meet.
AUNT MARTHA: (STUNNED) What - did you say, Dave?
DAVID: Lorai was waiting in the woods for me. I just left her. She sensed that I was coming home today and, just like we planned before I went away, she was waiting for me in the woods.
UNCLE HENRY: My boy--
AUNT MARTHA: Henry! Henry, you've gotta--
UNCLE HENRY: Didn't you get our letters, Dave?
DAVID: Well, sure, I got some, but mail hasn't caught up with me now for a long time.
AUNT MARTHA: (BREAKING DOWN IN TEARS) David ... Oh, David. (SOBS, IN BG)
DAVID: (CONFUSED) What's wrong? ... What is it?
UNCLE HENRY: Well, David ... It's like this ...
AUNT MARTHA: She - couldn't have met ya in the woods, David. ... Lorai couldn't have been in the woods just now.
DAVID: But she was. I just saw her.
UNCLE HENRY: No, David. No.
AUNT MARTHA: Lorai ... died, my boy. She passed away just a little while after you went overseas. ... We wrote you. We finally wrote you about her death.
(MUSIC ... FOR A TRANSITION)
DAVID: You ask - what happens to my life now? You think that I believe that death has separated Lorai and me? Never.
As we reckon time on this earth, my Lorai was - asleep in death at the time she appeared to me on the battlefield. She was not of this world when, in returning home, I met her in the woods at our old and destined meeting place.
Uncle Henry and Aunt Martha have taken a place in town.
They've left me the farm as they promised - and I'm working it.
I've been here three months now.
Last evening, Aunt Martha came out to see me.
AUNT MARTHA: I - brought you a pie and some cookies, David.
DAVID: Thanks, Aunt Martha.
AUNT MARTHA: Oh, your Uncle Henry and I worry about you, my boy.
DAVID: Oh, you must not do that.
AUNT MARTHA: But we can't have you here all alone.
DAVID: I'm not alone.
AUNT MARTHA: David ... You need somebody to keep house for ya. You should find a nice girl - court her - and - and marry her.
DAVID: Aunt Martha ... Never.
AUNT MARTHA: Oh, it ain't right. It's a sinful, terrible thing, you thinkin' that a dead girl is beside you all the time.
DAVID: (PETULANT) Stop, Aunt Martha. You can't talk this way to me.
AUNT MARTHA: I gotta, David. The livin' can't bow down to the dead.
DAVID: Lorai is not dead.
AUNT MARTHA: I saw her lowered into her grave.
DAVID: You must say no more. It's the way I want it. There's no one in all the world, here on this earth or after, that I want - but Lorai.
AUNT MARTHA: Oh, David. ... It's the war. It's touched your mind.
DAVID: No, Aunt Martha. There's no use trying to explain. There's a bond between Lorai and me that is stronger than life - deeper than earth - and beyond all time and reckoning.
(MUSIC ... FOR A TRANSITION)
DAVID: Sometimes I wonder.
I puzzle over the "why" of it all.
Why am I left on earth alone?
Why, if Lorai had to pass beyond, I could not have met her there?
But such was not the way it was planned.
And I'm not alone.
Often, as night gathers, when the stars light the sky, when the wind is soft and blows a fragrance in the windows, I hear the door open softly.
SOUND: (DOOR OPENS SOFTLY)
DAVID: (AFTER A PAUSE) Lorai?
LORAI: Yes, David. I am here.
DAVID: I - can feel your presence. But I cannot see you.
LORAI: I cannot always return to your sight. But I am ever-present.
DAVID: Yes. I know.
LORAI: I will always be near you.
DAVID: Oh, why can't I, too, die, that we may be together?
LORAI: That I cannot answer. There will be an hour - a time for meeting.
DAVID: You will never appear to me again like you did in the woods when I came home?
LORAI: No, my darling. Not until the final hour.
DAVID: Until - my death, you mean?
LORAI: We do not call it "death" - we who love - for love is stronger than death, my darling. Love is of the spirit. And the spirit never dies.
(MUSIC ... FOR A TRANSITION)
DAVID: And so it is I know - the love I bear for Lorai, and the love she bears for me, knows no boundary, nor no ending.
Do you scoff?
Do you shake your head in disbelief?
Do you believe, as does Aunt Martha, that my mind is addled by the horrors of war?
Do you believe it true that my Lorai, because of death, has left me?
Ah, what matter what you say or what you think?
I tell you, she is with me always ...
During the soft, early hours of dawn ...
When the sun rides the summit ...
When dusk falls - and the shadows lengthen to bring the night ...
When the wind sings ...
When the pines mourn ...
... she is near me.
This is my story of - love - that never ends.
(MUSIC ... FOR A FINISH)
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|Submission Date||Aug 17, 2006|