Announcer: The Mutual broadcasting system presents the first of a series of new and unusual dramatic programs, written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and featuring Ernest Chappell.
[Theme music in]
Chappell: Quiet please... Quiet Please!
[Theme music out]
Man: About 5800 feet above sea level -- a little house, maybe 20 feet long, 15 feet wide. It's made of corrugated iron sheets with a high peaked roof, sort of hangs over the edge of the mountain top, with nothing but the spikes of pine trees stretching all the way down to Pasadena, better than a mile below you. [music up and out] You ever get out to California? Well if you do get up there sometime and take a look at that little house. But look at it through the fence that surrounds it -- that's far enough. [???] You go out Foothill boulevard toward Pasadena, but you turn off on Angeles Crest highway at [La Kanada?]. Just keep on drivin' uphill, you'll get there, just keep right on going. The top of Mt. Wilson is the end of the highway. You ever look through a big telescope? At the sky at night? At the things up there? Things so far away you strain your brain just trying to imagine how far away they are. With nothing between you and them -- billions and billions of miles of nothing? I don't know what it does to you but brother, I freeze. Listen, do you know there are holes in the sky? No I mean it, I've seen 'em. There's a thing in the constellation Andromeda -- no no wait a minute, I'm not gonna get technical with you, just listen. There this thing, astronomers call it 'the horse head nebula'. You know what it is? It's a hole. It's a great big patch of nothing -- just nothing. There aren't any stars there, just... just a hole. No, nobody knows anything about it, astronomers look at it, they take pictures of it and there it stays. There it is now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and a million years from now... and it's been there always. Yes, it has. It's so far away that what you see now is the way it looked a billion years ago -- before there was anybody to see it, friend. And there's lots more of those places. So what's all this got to do with a little house on top of Mt. Wilson? I'll tell you.
[music up and out]
This was quite some time ago, I'd been living in California, see, for several years. I had a couple of buddies, had a nice little place near Van Nuys -- that was before the valley got to be so popular with movie people, radio comics, people like that. And it wasn't bad living alone, waking up in the middle of the night hearing the southern pacific [lark?] whistle for a crossing out around [Chatsworth?]... listening to a dog howling way out across the valley... going back to sleep. I don't get back to sleep so easy these days. [pause] Well, these people from Cleveland were out there, Aldo Manuchi and Hugh Grant. We used to be great friends, Aldo and Hugh and I, so nothing would do but they'd come to stay with me. It was all right, I had a dodge convertable, the boys got quite a kick out of California. That's how we came to go up to Mt. Wilson that day. Aldo and Hugh had been uh, you know, lookin' around for odd places, they had some ideas. The one day we were having breakfast and they were looking at an automobile club bulletin. Aldo said, "Let's go to Mount Wilson," so we did. So, we did.
I'd been up there once before. You know how it is in California--I knew everything. I thought I knew everything. I found out different.
We were inside the big dome where the hundred inch telescope is. It's like being inside a [pause] giant's watch. The telescope is in the middle--a big spidery framework with ladders climbing up all over it up under this dome. The tourists stand on the--kind of a catwalk around the edge while the astronomer explains a bunch of numbers the rest of us don't understand. There were just a few of us that day, standing close to a kind of pulpit listening with our mouth's open...yeah, it is like a pulpit. I got to thinking that day how the astronomer looked like a priest up there--nice, old, white-haired fella--like a priest. And I was thinking he was talking about the heavens too. I'd seen it all before, but my mouth was as wide open as Hugh's and Aldo's.
...as the earth is moving through space, too. It moves around the sun at the rate of about eighteen and one-half miles per second. [murmuring] So therefore, you see, we must--in order to keep this telescope focused accurately on the celestial object we are observing--neutralize those motions mechanically. The telescope itself, as you will observe, is controllable in any direction by this motor. Watch me demonstrate.
[sound of the motor moving]
Astronomer: Notice the motion of the telescope [pause] and the final movement, the rotation of the entire dome exactly synchronized with the speed of the Earth through space. Watch through the shutters above your head...
[sound of the motor moving]
Aldo: Look at--Look at those.
Hugh: Yeah, I see.
Aldo: Look outside. We--We ain't moving, the sky is going by. Look at you!
Hugh: I see it.
Man: It's an optical illusion, Aldo.
Astronomer: No, it's not an optical illusion, in relation to space this spot we are on is standing still. Through these motions here in the dome, the mirror of the telescope is kept aimed exactly at one spot far out in space.
Hugh: What's space, mister?
Astronomer: It's [pause] nothing.
Aldo: What about the air?
Astronomer: There are a few miles of air, my friend, and then--Nothing.
Man: Well, stars.
Astronomer: Yes, the stars and the places where [pause; music up] there are no stars
Man: My skin twitched a little when he said that, "...the places where there are no stars." Did yours?
[music up and out]
Man: Well, the show was over we went outside into the sunlight we walked across the long wooden bridge--there's a deep gully in front of the dome--and on the little path past the thing they call a ???-stat. A small dome on legs about a hundred feet high. Something they study the sun and sunspots and things like that with.
It was quiet up there along toward the middle of the afternoon, there was a chill in the air. We were just talking. It's an odd place and you get kind of impressed. The people impress you.
[music up and out]
The astronomers. They live up there all by themselves. They look at the sky. They see things. You always get the feeling they know a lot more than they're telling--like doctors, or [pause] like priests, I guess. I said that didn't I? Well, it's what they're like. The path leads through the woods--the biggest live oaks you ever saw--leads through the woods over to the old hotel. So I said, "Hey, how about a beer before we start down, uh?"
Aldo: A beer, that's for me.
Hugh: Can you get hard liquor up here, Ross?
Man: Well, I don't think so, anyway I wouldn't wanna drink, not with all that mountain road ahead of me.
Aldo: No, sir, don't you take that drink, Ross. I wouldn't wanna ride that road with anybody who's had a drink a liquor. Maybe you shouldn't have a beer even.
Man: Oh no, wait a minute, a beer won't hurt me.
Hugh: Hey, what's this fence for?
Man: Huh? I never noticed that before.
Hugh: That's quite a fence. You'd have a hard time getting over that.
Aldo: What would you want to get over it for?
Hugh: I don't know. What do you suppose is on the other side of ??? where they ??? tell these things.
Man: I-I don't see anything. 'Cept that little house out there on stilts.
Aldo: Yeah. Funny little place.
Hugh: Fence goes right around it.
Aldo: It got a gate?
Man: Aw, c'mon, let's get a beer.
Hugh: Nah, I wanna look at this, Ross.
Aldo: Probably they got something valuable in there.
Man: Sure, scientific instruments or something, this place is all full of that stuff.
Aldo: Hey Look! It's a sign.
Man: Aw, c'mon.
Hugh: Nah, wait, what's it say?
Aldo: It says, "The public is forbidden to pass beyond this fence under severe penalty."
Hugh: Is that all?
Hugh: What you suppose they got in that place?
Aldo: I don't know.
Man: I don't care.
Hugh: Hey, there's a door up at the end of that trestle. Maybe we could get back and get in through that other shed where that trestle starts, huh?
Man: What do you want to go in there for? Aw, c'mon, we gotta get going--
Hugh [interrupting]: I'm just curious. You know what I mean--place might come in handy.
Aldo: Oh, yeah.
Hugh: See? Especially if they keep everybody out like this.
Aldo: Well, the thing must be full of stuff, Hugh, like Ross said--scientific stuff.
Hugh: Yeah, it might be, it might not be. Hey, here comes that fellow that made the schpiel up there.
Aldo: Better ask him, he'd know.
Man: He won't tell you.
Hugh: Well, we'll find out. Hey, fella!
Astronomer: Ah, yes?
Astronomer: Were you talking to me?
Hugh: Yes, what's in that funny looking building?
Astronomer: Over there?--Nothing.
Aldo: What's the idea of the fence, then?
Astronomer: We don't want people to go in there.
Hugh: I'd sure like to see what's in there.
Astronomer: I said there's nothing in there.
Hugh: You sure, mister?
Astronomer: Yes, I'm absolutely sure.
Man: Well, could we get a pass to go in there, maybe?
Astronomer: No, you saw the sign, didn't you?
Hugh: Yeah, it said something about, "...penalty of the law."
Astronomer: You didn't read it very carefully.
Aldo: He didn't read it, I did.
Astronomer: Read it again.
Aldo: Allright. [from a distance] "The public is forbidden to pass beyond this fence under severe penalty."
[music up and out]
Man: I see what he means. He didn't say anything about the law.
Astronomer: Ah, that's right. Well then, [pause] there are other penalties.
Hugh: Ah, tough guy, huh?
Astronomer: No, not at all.
Aldo: Well, what does it mean then?
Astronomer: I'll give you a little friendly advice. I wouldn't try to find out if I were you.
Hugh: Oh? Is that so?
Man: Do you really know what's in there, mister?
Astronomer: Yes, I do.
Hugh: OK, lads, let's go get that beer!
[music up and out]
Man: Well, of course you know what was up, you're way ahead of me, my Cleveland pals weren't in California just for a vacation. There was a bank I'd had my eye on for a while out in Pacific Palisades. It wasn't the first bank Aldo Manuchi, Hugh Grant, and I had worked a deal on. I didn't go much for this place up on Mt. Wilson with nothing in it and a fence around it. Aldo and Hugh--well, after all, could you find a better place to stash some dough? Nobody could get in they said, and if we could--[pause]. Well, so, I bought the idea, finally.
Now to make a long story short, we took it was, I think, $53,000 out of the bank. 53, 54, ah, what's the difference? It's all gone now.
[music up and down]
It's a long drive from Pacific Palisades over Sunset Blvd.; then up Beverly Glenn to the Valley; through the ??? to Sunland; down past the cemetary on Mt. Pelier Blvd to where you turn off on the Angelo Express Highway. A long drive, especially at one o'clock in the morning. That was when we pulled out of Pacific Palisades. It was summer. It--ah--after you turn on the mountain road, you're not allowed to smoke. You see a fire warden might come along and those guys can tell somebody smoking in a car a half mile off. They throw you in the can for it. Forest Fires.
Now, we didn't want anybody stopping us. It was risky enough anyway because, practically, nobody ever drives up there late at night--Uh--Early in the morning, I mean.
Well, we didn't meet anybody. All three of us were jittery with no cigarettes. That road--it's tough enough in the daylight--??? in the dark. It was half past four when we got to the top. The hotel was dark. Cabins were dark. Look at the sky. Why it's just like ??? in the dark. Why, you could almost reach up and touch it.
I remembered the old guy in the hundred inch dome--"Nothing between us and the stars". Down below--and if you ever go up there at night, you know what I mean--just like looking down at the stars. The lights of seventeen, eighteen, nineteen towns: Pasadena, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Van Neis, San Fernando, Culver City, Santa Monica...Hmmm, makes my hair stand on end when I think of it. Well, I haven't seen it since [pause] nevermind how many years
[music up and behind]
Man: Well, [pause] we stumbled through the pitch dark. We got off the path three times and nearly fell down the hill and ???. You still couldn't light a cigarette. ???.
[music up and behind]
Hugh Grant was in front, then me, then Aldo. We each had briefcases. Hugh had a big pair of spring wire cutters that'll go through a steel cable. All of a sudden he bumped into the fence--
Aldo: What's the matter?
Hugh: The fence!
Man: Hey, where are you?
Aldo: [uh] Stand still, will you?
Hugh: It's dark.
Aldo: Shut up. Listen for a minute. Hear anything?
Aldo: See anything?
Hugh: The dome over there.
Aldo: You see somebody?
Hugh: Them two big windows up there with that big round dome, looks like somebody watching us.
Man: Sure does.
Aldo: Aww, cut it out. I'm gonna try the fence with the cutters.
Man: Want a flashlight?
Man: I wish we--
Man: Aw, forget it, I just don't like that place.
Aldo: Get out of the way.
Hugh: Want us to help you?
Aldo: Just keep outta the way!
Aldo: I think that--
Man: That wire made enough noise to--
Aldo: All right, all right, I'll try another strand.
Aldo: Now see if you can slide under there, one of ya.
Hugh: Nah, can't make it yet.
Aldo: Well, I'll try another. Look out for your arm, there.
Aldo: Now try.
Man: Ah, wait'll I take off my coat. All right, it's off, let's see.
Aldo: How about it?
Hugh: He's through.
Aldo: All right, go ahead.
Hugh: Cut another strand, chief.
Aldo: Can you make it now?
Hugh: I guess so.
Man: Where are you Aldo?
Aldo: Right here! C'mon Joe. Hey, grab the briefcases ???.
Man: Comin' up.
Hugh: I got 'em.
Aldo: Here I come.
Hugh: All set.
Man: I'm all set.
Man: I'm as all set as I ever will be, I figure. I don't like any part of this place. I don't like the dark. I don't like the stars up above us. I don't like the lights down below. I don't like the silence. I don't like climbing around the top of a mountain with nothing under me but thin air for a mile or more.
All I can hear is Hugh and Aldo in front of me, tramping through the weeds, cursing when one of 'em whacks a shin against a sharp rock.
Hugh?: [eh!] Geez!
Man: All I can see is two black shapes in front of me. The blackest shape, that's the building with the house with nothing in it. Aldo and Hugh are panting. [Hugh: Come on Aldo!] That's the sixty-eight hundred feet, you know, your breath is pretty short. It's tough going, especially when you're dragging a briefcase full of money, too. You're scared and tired. Then, all of a sudden, we're at the building, alongside one of the struts that hold up the little trestle.
[In the background, Hugh: Boost me up, Aldo.] Aldo boosts Hugh up. He's a little guy [grunting in the background], but he's spry. Spryer than I am up there a mile in the air. I guess he's not as scared as I am. So I look up and he's sprawled on the trestle with nine million stars behind him reaching down to me--
Hugh: Grab my hand, Russ.
Man: I scrambled up, I'll never know how I made it, either. There we are in the second ???.
Aldo: Keep quiet a minute and rest. I'm knocked out...
Aldo: Do ya-do ya hear anything, Hugh?
Hugh: Just the wind.
Man: Nah, I thought I heard som'n. Guess it's just the wind.
Hugh: Yeah, just the wind.
Man: So we stood up. So Hugh walked the rest of the way down the little trestle. We followed him, stumbling over the planks, and there was the door.
Man: We rattled the bar on it. It was padlocked. So Hugh took the big cutters and he wrenched away at the bar. [screech of metal on metal] We shivered there in the cold and waited to see if anybody heard us. [whispering]There wasn't a sound. [regular tone of voice]So Hugh tried again. [sound of metal on metal] And the bar fell off [crash]. [whispering]And we kept still for half a minute. [regular tone of voice] And then--
Aldo: Open the door.
[creaking of door being opened]
Hugh: Hey where's the flashlight.
Hugh: Ah, nobody can see us. We just put our fingers over it and turn it in the...
Aldo: I don't see anything.
Man: The guy said there was nothing in there.
Aldo: I can't see a thing.
Hugh: Open up the light a little more.
Man: I got it open.
Hugh: It's all black in there--
Aldo: Yes. There's something the matter with the light!
Man: No there ain't. Look!
Aldo: Turn that light off me!
Man: Fine. Look now when I shine it inside.
Aldo: Nothing! There's gotta be something in there.
Man: "Nothing," the man said.
Hugh: Can't even see the floor.
Aldo: Well, I'll find out if there's anything in there.
Man: No, don't go in. You can't tell what's liable to be--
Aldo: Well, look here, I'll toss a briefcase in.
Man: No, no! Throw the wire cutters in.
Aldo: Where are they?
Aldo: God Almighty! Look out will ya? Keep still! You'll wake up the dead.
Hugh: Aw, nobody heard us, I guess.
Aldo: Short on luck tonight.
Hugh: No kiddin'.
Aldo: Aw, gimme them cutters.
Hugh: Shine the light in there. Sure can't see anything, can ya?
Aldo: Throw 'em in.
Hugh: Well, then, get out of the doorway. Keep the light in there.
Aldo: Go ahead. Throw 'em against the far wall.
Man: All Right. Look out!
Man: Where'd they go?
Aldo: Tossed 'em hard enough t' bounce. Move the light around, I can't see a thing.
Man: I can't either. There oughta be--the light just kinda seems to st--
Hugh: Aw, cut it out. There's probably some kind of stuff on the floor.
Aldo: Powder! Maybe they fell into it.
Hugh: Here, stand to one side, Russ.
Man: What you gonna do?
Hugh: Well, I'm goin' in to look around. You got a gun Aldo?
Aldo: Yes. This little thing'll do.
Hugh: All right, c'mon. Russ, you stay here and watch and listen.
Man: I wouldn't go in there if I was you.
Aldo: Nobody asked you to.
Hugh: I'm going, c'mon Aldo.
Aldo: Hey, listen, you!
Hugh: You, got the screamin' meamies, too? Now, c'mon with that gun, there's nothing in there.
Man: Look you, c'mon, let's get out of here.
Aldo: Aw, shut up!
Hugh: Eh, might as well take a gun, too. You can stick it in there. Now, go ahead Aldo with the light.
Aldo: You go first.
Hugh: All right.
Aldo: Now stand there and keep your ears--hey, Hugh, where are ya?
Man: I can't see him. Listen, Aldo, don't go in there.
Aldo: I got to. Hey, Hugh! Hugh? Where are ya?
Man: Listen, Aldo--
Aldo: You keep your eyes and ears open, we'll be right back. Hey, Hugh? You all right? I'm comin' in Hugh! Hugh?
Aldo: What's in there? Hey, Hugh! OK Russ, something's the matter with him. Here I come! Hugh! I'm gonnna--
Man: Hugh! Hey, Hugh! Aldo! Hey, what's in there, you two? Hugh!
[footsteps and the music comes up and down]
Astronomer: I can see you. You can stand up now. They won't come out, I assure you.
[footsteps, sound of door closing]
Astronomer: Come on, son, stand up.
Man: I've got a gun.
Astronomer: No, you haven't. Stand up.
Man: When my friends come out...
Astronomer: They're not coming out, dear friend. Stand up.
You wouldn't believe me when I told you--
Man: What's in there? [pause] What's in there, I said!
Astronomer: I told you there's [pause] nothing behind that door.
Man: My friends went in there!
Astronomer: They're not there now. There's nothing in there. Do you understand me? There's NOTHING in there.
Man: [menacing] Listen--
Astronomer: No, you listen! I--though, I suppose, it would do no good to tell you--
Man: Tell me what?
Astronomer: I'd better show you.
Man: Show me what?
Astronomer: Come with me.
Astronomer: Come with me.
Man: I won't! You've got to--[footsteps receding music coming up] Wait! [more footsteps, music louder] Wait for me! [footsteps continue and music is louder still]
Man: [music fades a bit, footsteps continue] Across the little trestle; away from the door he closed on my friends; through another door [door closes] into a long shed of dark. And I was glad I couldn't see the stars. Out another door [door closes] at the end of the shed. Down a path past the heliostat reaching up into the sky, shining in the starlight looking like one of those visitors from Mars you heard about on the radio. [pause] Across the little wooden bridge with the two eyes of the hundred inch dome staring down at me and a cold wind coming up the other side of the mountain. [pause] Up a ramp [pause] into the dome itself [pause] and up the iron stairs...
Astronomer: Follow me.
Man: A little yellow light at the head of the stairs and then out on the catwalk in the dark with the floor forty feet below us. Up another ladder. My legs are getting tired. Up...
Astronomer: Follow me.
Man: [panic or desperation coming into the Man's voice] Up another dizzy ladder. And another. And across another spidery walk.
Astronomer: Here. Sit in this seat.
[music fades out]
Man: I can't speak. My throat is dry. My legs are trembling. I'm icy cold in that great dome that far above the floor--I can't tell ya--
Astronomer: [kindly] Sit still, you won't fall.
Man: Why did--wha--
Astronomer: Sit still, I say. You have to be shown.
Man: Wait. [Sound of the dome's motor humming]
Astronomer: Magnetic declination. [Sound of the motor] You can look now.
Man: Look, at what?
Astronomer: Look through the telescope.
Astronomer: Look, son. [pause] What do you see?
Man: Stars, millions of stars...
Astronomer: Wait. [sound of the motor humming] Look again. [pause] What do you see?
Man: Nothing. Nothing!
Astronomer: Wait. [sound of motor] Now?
Man: [calmly] Stars again. Millions. No, a black cloud.
Man: [whispers] Nothing.
Astronomer: That nothing you see is a million light-years away.
Man: What is it?
Astronomer: There's nothing there to see. My friend, there are scores of places in this universe where, [pause] there's nothing. Far places. Near places. Do you understand what I mean?
Man: Is-Is that what you meant when you said--
Astronomer: When I said, "There's nothing behind that door"? Yes.
Man: Well, Where--where--
Astronomer: Your friends? Your over-static(???) friends? I don't know, perhaps--take your eye from the telescope. Wait.
[sound of the motor]
Astronomer: Look now, if you dare.
Man: Well, what--?
Man: Yes. You've guessed what I saw. You've guessed what I saw clawing through black clouds of nothing. You've guessed what eyes I saw. I saw NOTHING.
[music up and down]
Man: Yes, the little house is still there on Mt. Wilson. You can go look at it if you want to, but don't go too close. Maybe somebody will tell you it's just a place where they store equipment. Maybe. Why do they keep the door locked then? Well, just one other thing: Don't you go around opening doors you don't know anything about. There might be NOTHING behind one of them!
[music up and behind]
Announcer: You have just heard "Quiet, Please" which is written and directed by Willis Cooper. The man who talked to you is Ernest Chapell.
Chapell: And the man who played Aldo Manuchi is Martin Lawrence, Pat O'Malley was Hugh Grant, and James Van Dyke, the Astronomer. The music was composed and played by Jean Perazo (???). And now for a word about "Quiet, Please," for next week, here is our writer/producer Willis Cooper.
[somebody says "Go"]
Willis Cooper: I've written what I think is an exciting and unusual love story for next week, Chappy. You will welcome, as our guest, the charming star of stage and radio, Claudia Morgan.
Chapell: "Quiet, Please" for next week is entitled, "I've Been Looking for You." [music up in background] Until next week, then, Quietly yours, Ernest Chapell.
Announcer: [music up and into background]This is the mutual broadcasting system.