The Big Box

Episode #15
Aired 1947-09-15
Length: 25:47
Size: 11.8 MB
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The Big Box

Quiet Please

Wyllis Cooper

No. 14 – The Big Box

WOR -10:00-10:30 PM EDST MONDAY SEPT. 15, 1947
Network – 8:30-9:00 PM EDST Wednesday SEPT. 17, 1947

2:00-5:00 PM Monday, September 15
8:00-10:00 PM Monday, September 15

CHAPPELL: The Mutual Broadcasting System presents Quiet, Please.


CHAPPELL: Quiet, Please


ANNCR: Quiet, Please for tonight, written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and featuring Ernest Chappell, is called "The Big Box"



GEORGE: No, I wouldn't have taken the rig out if it hadn't been for Cavanagh. That's what gets me down, see; I only took it out on account of Cavanagh and now look.

POLICEMAN: You knew Cavanagh before, hey?

GEORGE: Sure I knew him. Cavanagh was one of my best friends.

POLICEMAN: Where'd you know him?

GEORGE: Well, I met him when I was pushin' a rig for Jack Strubing between San Francisco and Salt Lake, back in '37, '38. Then for four-five years we both of us was on a transcontinental run – New York to LA, one of those big Diesel jobs, and we got pretty well acquainted.

POLICEMAN: I s'pose.

GEORGE: Matter of fact, one of the reasons we was such good pals, I guess, was I pulled him out of a thing once. You know.

POLICEMAN: What kind of a thing?

GEORGE: Well, I turned this fourteen-wheeler over about six miles south of Dwight, Illinois, on 66. Cavanagh was asleep in the box.

POLICEMAN: What box? I don't know anything about trucks, bud.

GEORGE: Oh. Well, you know; there's a box up behind the cab, with a bunk in it. One guy sleeps while the other drives. See?

POLICEMAN: I get it.

GEORGE: Well, so I turn this job over, and Cavanagh, he's pinned in the box. So I pull him out. He was pretty glad.

POLICEMAN: Guess a guy would be.

GEORGE: Always said he'd save my life some time.


GEORGE: Even if he had to come back from the dead, he said. Great guy, Cavanagh. You sure you haven't heard anything new?

POLICEMAN: All we got on the wire was this smashed car and three fellas dead.

GEORGE: Well, what could've become of Cavanagh?

POLICEMAN: You go back to the start of your story now, fella. We'll find Cavanagh all right.

GEORGE: If I could do something to help ... I mean I could get me a car and go back there –

POLICEMAN: The rangers are out, son. Besides, you're kind of under arrest, see?

GEORGE: I didn't kill those people.

POLICEMAN: You're a material witness, son. And this here is a mighty funny story. I want to hear the rest of it.

GEORGE: Do you know Cavanagh?

POLICEMAN: Pretty much everybody in Big Spring knew Cavanagh, son. This is his home town.

GEORGE: I know it. Well –

POLICEMAN: You don't mind if I make a note or two.

GEORGE: I don't care. Well, so like I told you, I'm on this run Chicago to Dallas, see. I have me a one-day layover in Dallas, and then I pick up another big box –

POLICEMAN: Big box of what?

GEORGE: Trailer. That's what they call a trailer.


GEORGE: So I'm down at the dispatcher's office yesterday afternoon, batting the breeze with a couple guys I know, and wishing I had a beer, even if I had to drink Texas beer, and I hear the dispatcher hollerin' at me.

ARCHIE: (OFF) George! Why, George.

GEORGE: And I say yeah, what you want? And he says

ARCHIE: (OFF) Come here a minute.

GEORGE: So I walk over to the window – fella named Archie. What you want, Archie, I said.

ARCHIE: George, you want to take a rig west?

GEORGE: I'm goin' back to Chicago.

ARCHIE: As a personal favour to me, George?

GEORGE: I don't owe you anything, Archie.

ARCHIE: Okay, be a jerk. Look, for a bonus?

GEORGE: I want to go to Chicago. I got a girl –

ARCHIE: This is only an overnight hop, George.


ARCHIE: Down to Big Spring.

GEORGE: You got a lot of other jockeys around here. Why pick on me?

ARCHIE: We haven't got a man to take this one, George, I thought maybe you would, and pull me out of a jam.

GEORGE: I'll do pretty near anything for dough, Archie but I –

ARCHIE: Just overnight. You can come back on the bus tomorrow.

GEORGE: Tomorrow I'll be on my way to Chi.

ARCHIE: Listen, George –


ARCHIE: Fifty bucks in it for you.


ARCHIE: George, listen, I got to get this rig to Big Spring –

GEORGE: Whyn't you drive it? Who's the regular driver?

ARCHIE: Cavanagh.

GEORGE: What Cavanagh?

ARCHIE: Bert Cavanagh. You know him?

GEORGE: Tall, heavy-set, red hair, got a scar on his forehead?


GEORGE: What's the matter with Cavanagh? He sick?

ARCHIE: You want to take his rig out?

GEORGE: Where is he?

ARCHIE: Big Spring's his home town.

GEORGE: Well! You know Cavanagh's one of my best pals. Why, when we was pushin' a Diesel rig out o' San Francisco for Jack Strubing in the old days – will he be in Big Spring?

ARCHIE: Cavanagh?


ARCHIE: Why – why, sure, he'll be there. Sure, George.

GEORGE: It's a deal. Where's the rig?

ARCHIE: The big red one there by the pumps. See?

GEORGE: I get a helper?

ARCHIE: You don't need a helper.

GEORGE: Well ... I don't know the road any too well. Haven't been over it in years; not since Cavanagh and I used to –

ARCHIE: All you got to do is stay right on 80, all the way in. Stay on the left fork at Weatherford –

GEORGE: I know, I know. The other one goes through Mineral Wells and all over Texas till it comes back at Abilene.

ARCHIE: You remember all right.

GEORGE: Good old Cavanagh. I haven't seen him since before the war.

ARCHIE: Yeah. Well – here's your manifest.

GEORGE: What you got it sealed up for?

ARCHIE: Don't open it.

GEORGE: What'm I hauling?

ARCHIE: Never mind.

GEORGE: Listen ...

ARCHIE: Look, George, you agreed to take the load. Now go on and don't give me an argument. You want the fifty bucks now?

GEORGE: Keep the fifty bucks, Archie. I'm doin' this for Cavanagh.


GEORGE: Seein' that ugly mug of his'll be bonus enough, kid. Where do I put the box when I get there?

ARCHIE: Our place is right off the main drag, George, where you see the Oldsmobile sign.

GEORGE: Okay, I think I know.

ARCHIE: To the left.

GEORGE: Yeah. Where'll I find Cavanagh when I get there?

ARCHIE: What? Why – why, Cavanagh'll be there at the place – when you get there.

GEORGE: You sure, Archie?

ARCHIE: I can make you a promise, George. You get there, Cavanagh'll be there.

GEORGE: And so I said okay, and as I started to walk away I thought I heard Archie say something.

ARCHIE: (OFF) 'Cause that's the way Cavanagh's gonna get there.

GEORGE: And I said what'd you say, Archie?

ARCHIE: (OFF) I didn't say anything, George.

GEORGE: I thought you said something about Cavanagh getting there.

ARCHIE: (OFF) I didn't say a word.

GEORGE: Well, so I think to myself I'm hearing things, and I walk out to the yard and over to the big red box. There's a grease-monkey there and I say sign me out, buster, and he gives me the eye.

MAN: You gonna push Cavanagh's rig, George?

GEORGE: And I said you got any objection? He just hands me the book to sign.

MAN: You can have it, George.

GEORGE: And I said, look Fatty, you trying to tell me something? And he just stood there and shook his head, and I said well, then, get out of my road and I climb into the cab and wound her up.






GEORGE: Well, so I head west. It's about six, six-thirty when I leave Dallas; and I make the thirty-three miles to the Fort Worth city limits in about an hour. Then I go on towards Weatherford, and I make Weatherford about nine o'clock, and I think I can stand a cup of java and maybe a big slice of one of them Weatherford watermelons, so I pull up at a place just this side of the square where I see a couple Diesel jobs standing, and I go in and I have me a slab of watermelon and two-three cups of coffee and it's pretty dark when I come out. The Diesel guys tells me about a wreck up ahead there at Brad where a couple of boys missed the turn off Sixteen coming down from Mineral Wells and laid themselves and their jalopy out like a blueprint all over the road, so I says thanks and I'm off again.


GEORGE: So I'm off again, and I will say that Cavanagh sure had a way with grease-monkeys. This big old box is rolling like a Katy Flier, and the moon's just coming up, and I feel pretty good, figuring I'm going to see my boy Cavanagh in the morning and it's gonna be a thing after not seeing the boy for six-seven years, and I'm whistlin' away happy as a peanut-roaster, and doing a very pretty fifty ...


GEORGE: And it's no time at all when I see the flares on the road where the wreck was. So I slow down and crawl along, and them Diesel guys wasn't kidded. There was pieces of that jalopy spread out over half an acre. Some officious jerk – oh, excuse me – waved me down, so I pulled up and hopped out. They was single-laning the traffic, see, so I had to wait a few minutes, and finally the guy give me the highball, and I climb back in and eased her over into the bottom corner and kind of squidged along. You know, it's dark in the cab, and I was watching out pretty careful so's I wouldn't side-swipe somebody's Model T, and it wasn't till I was past the last pair of headlights that I came to.

POLICEMAN: What you mean, come to?

GEORGE: There was somebody in the cab with me.


POLICEMAN: There was, huh?

GEORGE: Sure. It was Cavanagh.


POLICEMAN: You recognized him.

GEORGE: Sure. I switched the cab lights on.

POLICEMAN: Couldn't have been mistaken.

GEORGE: Listen, officer. I know Cavanagh better'n anybody does. Sure it was Cavanagh.

POLICEMAN: What'd you do?

GEORGE: I wasn't gonna let him have a laugh on me. I turned the lights back off, and I said I knew that's what he said.

POLICEMAN: What who said?

GEORGE: What Archie said when I left the office. I thought he said that's the way Cavanagh's gonna get there.

ARCHIE: (OFF) That's the way Cavanagh's gonna get there.

POLICEMAN: And what'd Cavanagh say?

GEORGE: He just laughed.

CAVANAGH: (LAUGHS) Still pretty hard to fool you, isn't it, George?

GEORGE: You old son of a gun!

CAVANAGH: How are you, George?

GEORGE: I'm swell. How're you?

CAVANAGH: Well, I'm here.

GEORGE: You know, it's been a long time since I heard from you. I never knew what became of you when I went in the army.

CAVANAGH: I've been here quite a while now.

GEORGE: Well, that was pretty slick.


GEORGE: Puttin' Archie up to talkin' me into pushin' your rig back down to Big Spring. And you coming along with me. I owe you a drink.


GEORGE: Where was you?

CAVANAGH: In the box.

GEORGE: Well, you old son of a gun! (HE LAUGHS) That sure is one on me! That sure is! Say, tomorrow we'll – say what kind of town is Big Spring, Cavanagh?

CAVANAGH: Nice place.

GEORGE: You been making the run down there for quite a while?

CAVANAGH: Yeah. Yeah, quite a while, George.

GEORGE: Good fun, huh? Coming back to the old home town.

CAVANAGH: Sure is. (A PAUSE) This time I'm going to stay.

GEORGE: Y'are? How come?

CAVANAGH: I'm done truckin'.

GEORGE: No kidding? Well, that's swell. This really your last trip?

CAVANAGH: Yep. Yep; last time town the big road, boy.

GEORGE: That's swell. You glad?


GEORGE: Yeah, I know. I think about getting out of it, sometimes, too. But I don't know. Say, have you got married?

CAVANAGH: No. No, I was going to, but –

GEORGE: (LAUGHS) Sure. I know. I got a girl in Chicago, and she wants to get married, but – I don't know.

CAVANAGH: I guess I'll never get married, George.

GEORGE: Ah, you can't tell, boy. (A PAUSE) Say, you know this is swell, seeing you. Even if it does have to be your last trip.

CAVANAGH: I don't know anybody I'd rather take it with, George.

GEORGE: Me, too.

CAVANAGH: I'll never forget how you pulled me out of that thing up there in Illinois that time.

GEORGE: Huh! Least I could do after I turned us over.

CAVANAGH: I always wanted a chance to save your life, kid.

GEORGE: Well, if I get in a jam tonight, there's your chance. I haven't been along this road in a long time, you know.

CAVANAGH: Yeah. Yeah, I was thinking of that, George.


POLICEMAN: You couldn't be mistaken, George.

GEORGE: Listen, how could I be? I told you about that thing when I pulled him out of the box there on 66! He talked about it! How would anybody else know?

POLICEMAN: Yeah. You sure got something there. But...

GEORGE: But what?



POLICEMAN: And he talked to you?

GEORGE: Certainly he did -

POLICEMAN: I mean you recognized his voice all right.

GEORGE: I couldn't miss it. (A PAUSE) What are you driving at?

POLICEMAN: I was just figgerin'.

GEORGE: You figger it was somebody else?


GEORGE: (PROMPTLY) It wasn't. It was Cavanagh.

POLICEMAN: Well, go on.

GEORGE: Well, we kept right on rollin'. (PAUSE) You know that road?




GEORGE: Ain't there a lot of traffic on it usually?

POLICEMAN: Right smart.


POLICEMAN: Quite a lot. Why?

GEORGE: There wasn't last night.


GEORGE: Practically none at all. No trucks. Just a few passenger cars. Nobody coming this way.

POLICEMAN: That's funny.

GEORGE: I thought it was. I mentioned it to Cavanagh.

POLICEMAN: What'd he say?

GEORGE: Nothing.

POLICEMAN: That's sure funny, George.

GEORGE: After the moon went under a cloud, kind of, it got darker'n the inside of a coffin.

POLICEMAN: Who said that?

GEORGE: Who said what?

POLICEMAN: I mean did you think of that? Or did Cavanagh?

GEORGE: Gee, I don't know. (HE THINKS) Guess it was me - no, it was Cavanagh. Yeah, I remember. I said it's awful dark, and Cavanagh said dark as the inside of a coffin.

CAVANAGH: (DISTANT) Dark as the inside of a coffin.


GEORGE: That sure is a lonesome stretch of road. All the little towns was dark...didn't see a light for a long, long time. Then we saw a little place alongside the road, and there was a red neon sign on, and Cavanagh said pull up a minute.

POLICEMAN: Where was that, George?

GEORGE: Let's see... About half way between Eastland and Cisco. You know that curve just before you pass the Fish Hatchery?


GEORGE: Little place on the right hand side of the road coming this way. New place, I guess - at least it wasn't there when I used to drive this way.

POLICEMAN: What was the name of the place?

GEORGE: Uh - some girl's name. Uh - Edwina's Place. Edwina; that's it. Funny name. Big neon sign. You know the place?

POLICEMAN: I used to know it; yes.

GEORGE: Well, so we pulled up, and Cavanagh said sit there a minute to me and he got down. I was going to come along and have some coffee, but he said no, they're closed, and anyway I just want to talk to Edwina a minute, so I sort of laughed and said go ahead.

POLICEMAN: Yeah. Did you see this Edwina?

GEORGE: I could see somebody moving around inside; they just had a couple little night-lights on, see. And then the door opened and she came out.

POLICEMAN: You did see her, then.

GEORGE: Well - I figured this was Cavanagh's private business. I wouldn't want somebody starin' at know.

POLICEMAN: Yeah. But did you see her?

GEORGE: Yeah, I saw her.


GEORGE: Well... I set there and smoked a cigarette. I could see they was talkin', standing there in the neon light. I could kind of hear Cavanagh, but I couldn't hear her.



POLICEMAN: I said yeah.

GEORGE: Well... I guess it was five minutes, maybe, when Cavanagh clumb back into the cab. I rolled away slow, getting back on the road, and he was hanging out the window kind of waving at her, and as we pulled away I could see her in the mirror, waving back at him.

POLICEMAN: You could see her.

GEORGE: Certainly I could see her! Am I blind? She was standing there in that red light, and it looked just as if the place was on fire behind her - what's the matter with you?

POLICEMAN: I'll tell you in a minute.

GEORGE: Was that the girl Cavanagh was going to marry?

POLICEMAN: Yes, that was the girl.

GEORGE: You know, I had an idea it was.

POLICEMAN: Yes, that was the girl.

GEORGE: That's too bad.

POLICEMAN: Say this was between Eastland and Cisco.

GEORGE: That's right.

POLICEMAN: That's the place.

GEORGE: (AFTER A PAUSE) What's the matter with you?

POLICEMAN: Well, George, I'll tell you. Edwina built that place about a year and a half ago.

GEORGE: I knew I'd never seen it before.

POLICEMAN: And she and Cavanagh were in love. He used to stop there every trip naturally.


POLICEMAN: They planned to get married last month.

GEORGE: What happened?

POLICEMAN: Why, the place burned down a week before the wedding date, George.


POLICEMAN: And Edwina was burned to death in the fire.


GEORGE: I know I saw her. I know I saw her. I saw Cavanagh standing there with his arms around her.

POLICEMAN: I won't argue with you, George.

GEORGE: Maybe I fell asleep there while Cavanagh was out of the cab.


GEORGE: No, but I saw the neon sign! I couldn't dream that!

POLICEMAN: If you could dream the rest of it you could dream that, George.

GEORGE: Maybe I dreamed Cavanagh, too!

POLICEMAN: I don't think you did.

GEORGE: I know I didn't! He was in that cab with me all the way from where I stopped there at Strawn. Why didn't he say something?

POLICEMAN: D'you ask him?



GEORGE: Well, but where did he go? What happened to me last night?

POLICEMAN: You killed three men.

GEORGE: I didn't! I tell you I didn't do it!

POLICEMAN: Well, suppose you tell me just what did happen, George.

GEORGE: You don't believe anything I'm telling you.

POLICEMAN: I didn't say that.

GEORGE: Well, do you? (A PAUSE) Do you believe Cavanagh was with me last night?

POLICEMAN: That I believe.

GEORGE: Well, what do you think happened to him? (NO ANSWER) You think I killed him? Do you?

POLICEMAN: No, George.

GEORGE: Well, where is he? Do you know?

POLICEMAN: I'll tell you later.

GEORGE: Where?

POLICEMAN: We'll see.

GEORGE: Listen, I'm just about going nuts on this thing.

POLICEMAN: So you left



GEORGE: Cavanagh didn't say anything for a long time.

POLICEMAN: He was there, though.

GEORGE: He was smoking a cigarette. I could see him. I'll tell you how I can prove he was there. Look. See here. I smoke Pall Malls.


GEORGE: Cavanagh always smoked Tareytons, and he always tore the cork tips off 'em. He didn't like cork tips.

POLICEMAN: I know that.

GEORGE: Well - I bet you'll find the three or four cork tips on the floor of the cab!

POLICEMAN: We found 'em.

GEORGE: You see?

POLICEMAN: Go on with your story, George.

GEORGE: Yeah. We rode along for a long time, and I didn't want to say anything - I figured he was thinking about the girl, and - well, you know. We went through Abilene, and on through Sweetwater, and still he didn't say a word. I got to wondering about gas, so finally I turned to him and said hey Cavanagh.

CAVANAGH: What, George?

GEORGE: How's this baby on gas? We need to stop for some, you s'pose?

CAVANAGH: No, we've got enough to make Big Spring. Manuel filled the tanks, didn't he?


CAVANAGH: We got enough.


CAVANAGH: Want me to spell you a while?

GEORGE: No, I'm all right. (A PAUSE) Can't have much of a load tonight. Way we're rolling.


GEORGE: Archie was awful funny about what's back there in the big box. Handed me the manifest all sealed up.

CAVANAGH: You don't know what's back there.

GEORGE: No. D'you?


GEORGE: What? Must be awful valuable.

CAVANAGH: Was once.

GEORGE: What is it?

CAVANAGH: You'll find out.

GEORGE: What's the idea?

CAVANAGH: What do you mean?

GEORGE: Don't you trust a guy?

CAVANAGH: (LAUGHS A LITTLE) Ah, cut it out, George.

GEORGE: Well, nuts to you if you don't want to tell me.

CAVANAGH: Don't nag a guy on his last trip, George.

GEORGE: Okay. It's none of my business. (A PAUSE) You know, I hate to hear you talk about that last trip stuff, Cavanagh.

CAVANAGH: Everybody's got to make his last trip, George. It's a good break I get to make it with my old pal.

GEORGE: Wish I'd known before you was down here.

CAVANAGH: Yeah. So do I. I'll be in Big Spring a long time, George. You can come and visit me.

GEORGE: I sure will.

CAVANAGH: You do that, George. Don't forget.

GEORGE: You kidding? I'll be there.

CAVANAGH: You're a good pal.

GEORGE: Do I see a flashlight down the road?

CAVANAGH: Something.

GEORGE: More inspectors, I suppose. The way these guys pick on a truck - axle inspectors, lights inspectors, plant inspectors - well, nothing to do but stop.


GEORGE: So I look out, and there's this car right across the road, and two men - no, three men - standing there in my headlights, and each one of 'em's got a shotgun. I open the cab door and the nearest fella motions with his shotgun.

MAN: Okay, bud, climb down.

GEORGE: So I climb down. I don't know what these inspectors are doing with shotguns, but I take no chances. I'm on the ground in a hurry, without waiting for Cavanagh, and believe me I've got my hands 'way up. I don't say a word, and the guy prods me with the shotgun.

MAN: You haulin' the silk?

GEORGE: And I say the what?

MAN: The silk!

GEORGE: And I say I don't know what's in that truck, mister. And he laughs, and all of a sudden I get the idea. These guys ain't inspectors at all. This is a high jacking. And that's why Archie was so cagey about the cargo. Silk. Silk's been coming in from Japan lately, I read somewhere. But I didn't get much of a chance to do any more thinking.

MAN: Where's your helper?

GEORGE: And I look up through the open door of the cab, and the cab's empty. And I get it! Good old Cavanagh! He'd climbed back into the box, I figured - and if I knew Cavanagh, there'd be a gun in there. Maybe Cavanagh was going to get that chance to save my life, after all! And the guy poked me with the shotgun again.

MAN: Where's your helper, I said?

GEORGE: I haven't got any helper.

MAN: Keep your guns on him, lads. I'm gonna have a look in that cab.

GEORGE: And the guns of the two others swung around on me from the front of the truck as he started to cross between it and the car to climb up the opposite side. And I glanced up again into the cab, and it was empty - and suddenly that big old truck started to move, and there was nobody behind the wheel! All three of the men were trapped against their car, and they bumped against each other as they tried to dodge, but they were too late - the seventeen tons of that truck and trailer were leaping at them like some monster out of a nightmare, and the running board smacked me to the ground and I heard one last scream at Cavanagh's truck, in a horrible roaring and grinding of gears, crashed down on them.


POLICEMAN: Go on, George.

GEORGE: Well, that's all. When I came to, the highway patrol car was there, and the truck was standing alongside the road, beyond what was left of the car and the three men. And ... Cavanagh was gone.

POLICEMAN: That's what you told the boys.

GEORGE: Well, you know they wouldn't let me look for him -

POLICEMAN: Yes, I know.

GEORGE: And they brought me in here -


GEORGE: And that's the whole story - now are you going to get out of here and find my buddy?

POLICEMAN: No, George. We know where he is.

GEORGE: What? Where?

POLICEMAN: They're unloading your truck across the street there.

GEORGE: And I walked to the window. They had the big doors in the back of the big box open. And six men were carrying something out.

You know? Yes, a coffin.

Cavanagh's coffin.

Cavanagh had ridden with me last night.

On his last ride.

That's why the other drivers wouldn't take the run.

Superstitious fools.

Or am I the one that's superstitious? Cavanagh rode the big box with me.


ANNCR: You have listened to "Quiet, Please", which was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper. George, the man who talked to you, was Ernest Chappell.

CHAPPELL: And ____ played Cavanagh; ___ was the policeman. ____ was the high-
jacker. The music for Quiet, Please is composed by Gene Perrazzo, our organist - except, of course, for the theme of Quiet, Please, which is Mr. Perrazzo's own arrangement of themes from the Second Movement of the Cesar Franck Symphony in D Minor. And now, for a word about next week's Quiet, Please, here is our writer-director Wyllis Cooper:

COOPER: Next week we'll have a story called Be a Good Dog Darling - it's about three women, two dogs and one man who get their lives all mixed up.

CHAPPELL: And so, until next week at this time, I am quietly yours, Ernest Chappell.


ANNCR: Quiet, Please comes to you from New York.