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THREE LOVE A MYSTERY: THE GHOST WITH NINE FINGERS

EPISODE SEVEN:

SOUND (Wind and Bells Effect)

ANNCR: Old-Time Radio presents, "Three Love A Mystery"

SOUND (Organ Theme...VALSE TRISTE)

ANNCR: "Three Love A Mystery," presenting the latest adventures of Jack, Doc and Reggie, specialists in Crime and Adventure, now hot on the trail of the Maestro’s Ghost!

SOUND (MUSIC UP TO FINISH) (TRAIN WHISTLE)

ANNCR: The Ghost with Nine Fingers. A new Brian Christopher Misiaszek mystery-adventure thriller!

SOUND (Organ Theme...VALSE TRISTE)

SOUND (CLOCK STRIKES TEN)

ANNCR:  Ten o' clock on a dark and stormy California night in late November, Jack, Doc and Reggie find themselves enmeshed in the coils of yet another baffling mystery! There is strong evidence that a criminal stage magician known only as the Maestro, an old enemy of theirs, has made an incredible double escape, both from the prison where he was serving a life term for murder and more incredibly from the grave after he had died there!

The Maestro’s old partner, Nasha, has a new employer now, a stage magician named Lester Brown, alias Mephisto, who had taken over the dead Maestro’s act and magical paraphernalia. Only thing is, Mephisto and Nasha have been threatened with death with letters supposedly signed by the dead Maestro, and only the intervention of the Three Comrades has thwarted a vicious gunman from killing Nasha. Doc and Reggie had left Jack to further question their new clients, while they attended a dinner party thrown by their friend and former fellow adventurer, Sunny Richards. While they were away at Sunny’s house, Jack learned that the dead gunman, who had been accidentally killed in trying to escape, was supposed to have died in prison! Moreover, he learned that the judge who had convicted the Maestro, Judge Thomas McLarty, had also received a death threatening letter of his own again supposedly signed by the Maestro! Jack immediately telephoned Sunny’s home, and told Reggie to return to the hotel to guard Nasha and Brown, while Doc was to meet the judge and himself at the Judge’s home off of one of the Hollywood canyons.

SUNNY: After Jack broke up my dinner party with his instructions, with Reggie to perform guard duty and Doc to go to Judge McLarty’s home, I convinced Doc that I could drive him to his appointment. I couldn’t just lend Doc my car, since it had a tricky choke only I could handle. Oh yes…I also had to bring my young 8 year old ward, Hermie, too. Doc surprised me by putting both little Hermie and his new puppy Scraps into the back seat of my car, telling me he didn’t want to wake up Hermie by by separating the two of them.

ANNCR: After driving along the wet and slick mountain roads, slowing down for hairpin turns, navigating past flooded pot-holes and small rock slides, the three some—a foursome if you counted Scraps the dog--arrived safely at Judge McClarty’s home. However, once they arrived, they found the judge’s home awash in darkness and Jack unconscious on the front steps! Doc and Sunny have just carried Jack inside the darkened hallway of the judge’s home, when suddenly—

SUNNY: Doc! DOC!

DOC: Sunny! What’s wrong with Jack? Is he bleeding!

SUNNY: No, Jack’s okay. But there’s a light on outside!

DOC: Huh? What are you talking about, that’s jess some more of that crooked legged lightnin'!

SUNNY: No, there’s a car outside!…At least, I can see its headlights!

SOUND (CAR ENGINE STARTING UP)

SUNNY: Doc! That’s my car!

SOUND (SQUEAL OF TIRES, THEN ROAR OF CAR ENGINE THAT FADES).

DOC: Hey, you’re right!

SUNNY: Oh no! They’re stealing our car! (LOUDER) DOC! THEY’RE STEALING HERMIE! (HYSTERICAL) THEY’RE STEALING HERMIE!!!

SOUND (Door being flung open)(Rain and thunder)

SUNNY: (Off Mike) DOC! Hurry up! Come help me!

DOC: Sunny! Wait for me!

SOUND: (Running in rain and mud)

DOC:    (Muttering) Dad-burn them ciffy cats! If they touch one little hair of Hermie's head, I'll personally whamperjaw them to bitty pieces!

SUNNY: (Farther off mike) Hurry, Doc!

DOC: (Panting) Slow down, wouldja Sunny?

SUNNY: (Up Mike) (Frantic) There goes my car around the corner! Come on, they’re getting away! They’re almost out of sight!!!

DOC: (Panting) Sunny…stop…it’s no use…

SUNNY: No! We can still--

DOC: (Panting) It’s no use…they have too much a head start for us to catch up on foot, Sunny.

SUNNY (Sobbing) Oh, Doc…

DOC: Poor fella. You’re shaking like the last leaf on the tree. Here, hold on to me…

SUNNY: (Sobbing) He’s only a little boy, (Muffled) Doc…he’s all I have!

DOC: (Consolingly) I know…I know…Here, stop cryin’!

SOUND (Rain falling for 5 seconds)

SUNNY: (Sniffling) Thanks Doc…I’ll…I’ll try. But we just can’t stand here…(Rapidly) I know, we can go after them in Jack’s car!

DOC: (Uncomfortable) Well, yes and no…

SUNNY: (Surprised) What…what do you mean, Doc.

DOC: Open yer hand first, Sunny!

SOUND (Smack of pistol in hand).

SUNNY: (Amazed) Wha…what! Doc, your gun!

DOC: That’s right, and the safety’s off, so don’t point it at me! Put it under your coat to keep it dry…

SUNNY: (Amazed, tears forgotten) Doc, what are you doing? Why are you giving me your gun?

DOC: ‘Cause I’m a gonna go after them buzzards who took Hermie, that’s what!

SUNNY: (scared) But Doc, we’ll have to--

DOC: (Earnestly) No, Sunny, you listen to me instead. You’ll have to guard Jack back here at the Judge’s house, until he comes too. We can’t leave just him alone, and I don’t dare take him with us if he has a busted head. And since the folks that whammed him on the noggin may still be around, you’ll need this for protection!

SUNNY (Scared) But Doc! I don’t know how to use a gun!

DOC: Here’s your crash course then. The safety’s off …all you gotta do is jess point the barrel and squeeze the trigger if anyone bothers you.

SUNNY: But…but…

DOC: Jess pull her out and start blazing away first off, Sunny, no foolin’ around, if you know what I mean. (off mike) And keep pullin’ the trigger until they stop botherin’ you!

SUNNY: But…okay then.

DOC: (Off mike) Atta girl, that’s the spirit! And be sure to lock the door behind you! I’ll take Jack’s car and try and follow the varmints who grabbed your car. I’ll be back quicker than two shake’s of a hipponauserous’s tail!

SOUND (FOOTSTEPS SLOSHING IN MUD, IN RAIN)

SUNNY: Doc!

SOUND: (Car engine starting)

SUNNY: (Up) Good luck!

SOUND (Car horn honks twice, roars off in a splash of gravel)

SUNNY: (Under breath, sniffle) … I suppose it’s only sensible…

SOUND (Steps walking in rain)

SUNNY: I KNOW someone has to stay here…but I don’t have to like it…and I DON’T like this gun! I’d better hurry and get back to Jack.

SOUND (Steps turn to running) (Running steps being mounting stairs)

SOUND (Door closed, rain stops)

SUNNY: Whew… I’m glad I have my flashlight. I’d better lock it like Doc said.

SOUND (bolt flung and door locked).

SUNNY: Brr… I’m soaking wet. And there’s poor Jack lying there, almost as if…(Pause)no, he’s still breathing…his poor neck, all red and scraped. (Sharply) Jack, JACK! (Pause) I thought I saw his eyelids flutter, but he’s still out…I’d wish he’s wake up…he looks so uncomfortable lying there…here I’ll roll up my coat inside out and put it under his head.

SOUND (Muffled rumble of thunder rolling around in the background)

SUNNY: (Forced cheerfulness) Boy, that’s some storm. And here I am, trembling like a school girl on—(Sharply) Who’s there?…WHO’S THERE! SAY SOMETHING OR I’LL…I’LL SHOOT?

SOUND: (Clock strikes the quarter hour)

SUNNY: (Under breath) Whew…Just the grandfather clock chiming the quarter hour down the end of the hall…I still can’t shake the feeling, though, that I’m being watched by someone in this…

JACK: Oh (groan)—what hit me?

SUNNY: (Rush) (Sobbing with relief) Jack, oh Jack! You’re awake! I was so worried. Thank goodness you are awake!

JACK: (Groan) Yeah…Ooh…help me up…

SUNNY: Are you sure you should? I could get you--

JACK: (Interrupting) Yeah…turn your light away, could you?

SUNNY: Oh, I’m sorry…Here, there’s a chair …(EFFORT) let me help get you up into—

SOUND (Squeak and settling of body in wooden chair)

SUNNY: (Triumph) There!

JACK: (Groan) …Thanks, Sunny.

SUNNY: How do you feel, Jack? Are you all right?

JACK: (Groan) The back of my head has a lump as big as a baseball, and my neck (Another groan) feels like it’s been wrung out to dry…but I think I’m okay…(Swallow) what happened, Sunny? Where am I? And what are you doing here!!!

SUNNY: Oh, your face, Jack! You’re bleeding! There’s blood on your temple! And your neck!

JACK: Never mind that right now. What happened?

SUNNY: (Starting to cry again) Oh, Jack! It’s been awful! Doc and I found you lying on the front steps of the Judge’s house in the rain knocked out. Then someone stole my car and kidnapped Hermie—

JACK: (Quickly) What…Kidnapped?

SUNNY: (Still crying) Yes! While we were carrying you inside here (Sob) someone drove off in my car with Hermie fast asleep in the back seat! Doc went after him, (Sob) leaving me to stand guard over you!

JACK: (Muttering) Quite the circus. (Up) Then what?

SUNNY: (Sobbing) Doc gave me his gun and this flashlight and—

JACK: Here, I’d better take that from you, Sunny. You hold onto your flashlight…go on…

SUNNY: (Sniffle) He said I was to stay here and look out for you while he went off after the kidnappers in your car.

JACK: (Grimly) (Up) That crazy Texas fool…I ought to knock Doc’s block off…abandoning us…bringing the two of you here into danger…

SUNNY: Oh Jack, you should blame me, not Doc…(starting to cry again)) I sort of forced him to let me take him here…and I couldn’t leave Hermie alone at home…

JACK: You should have more sense, even if Doc didn’t…

SUNNY: (Sobbing) Oh, it’s all my fault!

JACK: (Contrite) Oh here, stop that…here…take my handkerchief, it’s mostly dry even if the rest of me isn’t…

SUNNY: (Sniffling) Thanks, Jack…

JACK: And it’s not your fault…I’m more mad at myself…letting someone sneak up on me from behind...

SUNNY: (Feeling better) What…what happened to you, Jack?

JACK: Well after I phoned you to pass on my message to Doc and Reggie, I drove up here to meet Judge McLarty. Someone had sent him a threatening note…just like the death threats one of our client’s been getting.

SUNNY: That’s when you told Reggie to guard some people named Brown and Nasha, and told Doc to come out here with you!

JACK: That’s right. I got here just a few minutes before ten, and found the Judge’s home all in darkness. I knew immediately something was wrong so I went out to look over the grounds before going in, when I saw somebody running across the grounds in the rain.

SUNNY: Who…who was it?

JACK: Don’t know… I thought it might have been somebody connected with all these death threats…

SUNNY: You mean the Maestro? That killer magician who is supposed to be dead?

JACK: (Grunt) So you know that…Doc never knew how to keep his mouth shut...

SUNNY: Don’t blame Doc, Jack…I made him tell me…the message you gave me to give Doc was so strange, (Quoting) "The Maestro's written another death threat from beyond the grave!" (Normal voice) I just HAD to know more!

JACK: (Sigh) I guess you deserved the full story, Sunny. Anyway, I went after whoever I saw running, when the next thing I know someone grabbed me by the throat from behind.

SUNNY: Golly!

JACK: (Continuing) Whoever he was, he had powerful, crushing hands…I must have passed out from the strangling, since the next thing I know I woke up here with you…where is here, by the way? And why is it so dark?

SUNNY: We’re in the front hallway of the Judge’s home, Jack.

JACK: Who let you in?

SUNNY: Why, nobody did. The door was open. No one answered the door when Doc and I tried it, so we just carried you inside and laid you down on the carpet. We tried the light switch on the wall, but nothing happened. Doc thought the storm may have knocked out the lights.

JACK: Hmm….What about Judge Mclarty?

SUNNY: (Worried) I don’t know, Jack.

JACK: Hmm…Have you done any exploring inside here?

SUNNY: N…Not really…just this main hallway…I didn’t want to leave you, and you just woke up now.

JACK: Well…we’d better do a little exploring right now…first to find a telephone, and then find to the Judge, alive or otherwise…

SUNNY: But Hermie, Jack, Hermie! Shouldn’t we all go off and help Doc look for Hermie?

JACK: (Bitterly) Without a car, Sunny? What can we do in the dark and the rain on foot in these mountain canyons…

SUNNY: Not…not much, I guess…but shouldn’t we be—

JACK: No, we’d do better job in finding Hermie and your car by calling Captain Dane of the police department…he could put out an all points bulletin out to blanket the area with a dragnet. He’ll find them.

SUNNY: (Doubtfully) I…I guess so.

JACK: And we should also find out what’s happened to the Judge here. I haven’t forgotten he’s gotten a death threat, from someone who means business.

SUNNY: You mean…the Maestro’s ghost?

JACK: I don’t believe in ghosts, the Maestro’s or anyone elses, and I’ll explain why later. But that can wait until after we find that telephone….Here, help me up then--- (Groan)

SUNNY: JACK, what’s wrong?

JACK: I guess I’m still kinda woozy…I’d better—

SUNNY: Here, sit down…

JACK: (Painfully) Thanks, Sunny…

SUNNY: Are you really okay, Jack?

JACK: I’ll be okay…(Groan) I’ll just sit down for another minute…

SUNNY: Shouldn’t we be getting you to a hospital or something, Jack?

JACK: Nevermind that, I’m just a little dizzy…You go on ahead with the flashlight then, Sunny and find that telephone…maybe it’ll be working even if the lights aren’t.

SUNNY: (Tentative) I don’t want to leave you alone, Jack…

JACK: I’ll be okay…you’re not scared, are you, Sunny?

SUNNY: Not anymore. I WAS scared, but now you’re awake, I feel much better. I’ll go and do what you asked.

JACK: Good girl.

SUNNY: I’ll be right back, Jack. Will you be okay alone here in the dark?

JACK: (Reassuring) Don’t worry about me…I have some matches…

SUNNY: Well…(Off Mike) I’ll be back as soon as I can…

SOUND (High heels tapping off)

JACK: (Approving) That’s the Sunny I know…I’d better try and stand up again…(Groan) wobbly legs, sore neck…I’d better shuck off this wet raincoat…I think I felt a hook here…

SOUND (Wet clothes rustling)

JACK: Hmm…a wooden coat rack…glass on it…probably a mirror…wait a minute, where are those matches of mine…here they are, in my front coat pocket…hmm…Great, my pipe’s broken…(Grim humour) Better that than my windpipe…

SOUND (Striking of match)

JACK: Good thing these didn’t get wet…hmm…it IS a mirror…Hmm…look at that neck…scratch marks, abrasions…funny thing they didn’t crush my larynx while they were at it…I’ll better paint some iodine on that when—(Startled) what’s that noise?

SOUND (running of high heels approaching mike)

SUNNY: (Out of breath, frantic) Jack, JACK!

JACK: Sunny! Sunny, what’s wrong?

SUNNY: (Frightened)(Rushing) Jack, I found him! You have to help me! I think I found the judge. Jack, I think he’s DEAD!

JACK: What? What do you mean! Out with it!

SUNNY: (Frightened) I found him in the library! He’s in a wheelchair, dead or dying! You have to help me, Jack!

JACK: Slow down, Sunny…take a deep breath…

SUNNY: (Panting) (Deep breath in and out)

JACK: Let’s start again; are you sure he’s dead, Sunny?

SUNNY: (Calmer) Well, he’s cold, and rain is falling in his face from some open glass doors leading out to the patio…and he’s not moving!

JACK: (Grunts)

SUNNY: Jack, what should we do? Shouldn’t we try to help him?

JACK: Here, help me up!

SUNNY: Here, grab my arm…

JACK: (Groan) Thanks…if I can lean on you for balance, maybe we can see what’s wrong with your body.

SOUND: (clumping of feet and clatter of heels shuffle together on wooden floor)

JACK: (Painfully) You make a good crutch, Sunny…And he may not be, you know…

SUNNY: What?

JACK: He may not be dead.

SUNNY: What makes you think so, Jack?

JACK: Well, he could be simply unconscious. And the rain could explain why he feels cold to your touch. Did you feel for his pulse?

SUNNY: Just for a moment … I couldn’t feel anything so I ran back for you…

JACK: Hmm…what’s he look like?

SUNNY: He’s an older man … bald except for a little fringe of hair…a little dark moustache… and he was leaning back in a high backed wicker…

JACK: It does sound like Judge McLarty…how much farther is he, Sunny?

SUNNY: He’s just down at the end of this long hall in a room past the stairs… I couldn’t find a telephone in the room opposite, and other rooms are all locked…

JACK: That’s strange…what kind of room is he in?

SUNNY: Some kind of library or study, I guess. The walls are lined with books shelves…and there’s a big desk opposite a fireplace. He’s…his wheelchair is parked next to the open French doors with the storm blowing in…and he had a sling on his right arm, like it was broken.

JACK: (Grunt) (Musing) With his stroke he’d be wheelchair bound. And he’d have a support or sling since he would be unable to use his right arm…(Up) I’m feeling a little better now, but you’d better stick close behind me, Sunny. (Low) We’d better keep our voices low, too, just in case whoever attacked him is still lurking about.

SOUND: (Footsteps on wooden floor, with sound of rain rising).

JACK: (Whisper) I’ll go in first; keep close behind me with the light.

SUNNY: (Whisper) Okay…

SOUND: (Footsteps on wooden floor, with sound of rain rising).

SUNNY: (Whisper) There he is, over there by the window…

JACK: (Whisper) Yeah, I see him. Careful with your footing…strange… looks like quite a fight in here…heavy law books flung about…a broken vase…no one else in here…(up) I don’t think we have to whisper any more

SUNNY: (Wonderingly) How could there have been a fight if he’s crippled from his stroke?

JACK: I dunno…whoever attacked him may have searched the room afterwards, I suppose…here we are…It’s Judge McLarty, alright.

SUNNY: Are you sure?

JACK: I recognize him from the Maestro’s trial, although it looks like he’s lost some weight. He doesn’t look as stern now as he did in his courtroom…

SUNNY: See, just like I said…slumped back in his wheelchair, clothes and blanket over his legs soaked with rain…

JACK: Here, hold your light a little more steady…

SOUND (Rain a little louder, rumble of thunder)

SUNNY: Golly, look at his neck, Jack! Collar torn open, tie wrenched away…and marks on it just like yours…

JACK: (Grunt)

SUNNY: Is he…is he…

JACK: Just a second…hmm…I can’t seem to feel his pulse…hmm…

SUNNY: What are you doing now?

JACK: I’m trying to feel for a heart beat with the palm of my hand on his chest… Hmm... I really can’t tell with the noise and wet from the rain blowing in from the window…can you shut those glass doors, Sunny?

SOUND (Hinges squeal, then stop) (Rain diminishes but continues)

SUNNY: No…his wheelchair’s in the way…

JACK: Here, help me roll him back into the room out the way then…I’ll kick some of this stuff out of the way…

SUNNY: (Effort) I’m trying…both the brakes seem to be on…

SOUND (Squeal of rubber tires rolling)

SOUND (Two snicks, one after the other; squealing stops)

SUNNY: Okay, I got them…you should be able to move him better now…

JACK: That did it, his chair’s rolling easy now…can you close those doors now?

SOUND (sudden silence after click of French door shutting)

SUNNY: Whew, done!

JACK: That’s better …much quieter now…say Sunny, do you happen to have a compact on you?

SUNNY: Yes, one in my purse. But why, Jack?

SOUND (Rummaging in the confusion of a crowded lady’s handbag)

JACK: I want to see if the Judge is still breathing. If he’s still alive, his breath will condense on the cool glass of the compact.

SUNNY: Oh…here you go.

SOUND (Snick of compact opening) (Brief pause)

SUNNY: (Breathless) Well? Is he…(Hushed whisper) is he dead?

JACK: (Pause) In the vernacular of Hippocrates, nuts. He’s alive…See? His breath’s fogging up the mirror…

SUNNY: (Relief) Thank goodness!

JACK: (Continuing like he hadn’t heard) --and I can feel his heart beating now… (Puzzled) I don’t know why I couldn’t feel his pulse earlier…I’ll try the arm with the sling on it…Good pulse here on the right side, too.

SUNNY: Is he going to live?

JACK: I think so, but he’s still unconscious. It can’t have done him much good to be strangled on top of his earlier stroke.

SUNNY: So what do we do now, help him onto the floor?

JACK: (Slowly) No…best leave him where he is… we’d better call for a police ambulance just the same. (Off Mike) There should be a telephone in this room…it looks like it was used as a study…

SUNNY: (Awed) Just look at those marks on his neck…someone tried to strangle him, like they tried to strangle you earlier!

JACK: (Off mike) Good think he failed twice, too…(Black humour) then we’d be calling for a PAIR of morgue wagons…

SUNNY: Brrr…don’t even JOKE about it, Jack!

JACK: Okay, okay…keep your light on him Sunny…I’ll strike a few matches and check out this end of the room for a telephone. We need to call for an ambulance now, as well as for the police!

SUNNY (Off Mike, anxious) Please hurry, Jack! I’m still worried about Hermie!

SOUND (Striking of match)

JACK: (Under breath) This desk is a mess… looks like someone dumped out an entire desk drawer here…hmm…a telephone COULD be buried under here…Insurance forms…bundles of letters…

SUNNY: (Off mike) Jack, why is the Judge’s hand all curled up in his sling?

JACK: (Absently) His arm was paralyzed from his stroke. He can’t move it, and its less likely to be injured if it’s safely braced….(to self) Hmm… news clippings… whoops… need another match…

SOUND (Striking of another match)

SUNNY: (Off mike) And did you see that funny ring he’s wearing on the same hand, Jack?

JACK: (Absently) I saw it. That’s his class ring on his long finger, one from his law school. (To self) Well well! This is interesting…all these news clippings are about the Maestro’s trial…one here from a San Diego Paper, one from LA…

SUNNY: (Off Mike) Oh Jack, did you see these marks on the Judge’s throat…

JACK: (Not really listening) Erm?

SUNNY: (Off Mike) Little red circles really…four on the right side, and three on the other…

JACK: (Surprised) Eh? Say that again, Sunny!

SUNNY: (Off mike) Why, I was only mentioning the pattern of the bruises on the Judge’s neck where someone tried to strangle him…

JACK: (Approaching mike) Too early for bruises…

SUNNY: Well then, you can see there for yourself…

JACK: Hmm…on left side of his neck…One, two, three…FOUR marks on the left side …

SUNNY: And three on the right…two low down, and one a bit higher… Small round red ones…almost like fingerprints.

JACK: (Slowly) Yes…it almost looks…

SUNNY: (Completing the sentence) --Like a man with nine fingers tried to strangle him!

JACK: (Puzzled) It must be just an artifact of the strangling attempt. While it may look--(Sharp whisper) Sunny…

SUNNY: What?

JACK: (Low) Switch off your flashlight and lower your voice. There’s someone or something outside the window there. I just saw something move by those glass doors.

SOUND (Snick)

SUNNY: (Whisper) Okay… what should I do now?

JACK: (Low voice) Get down on the floor…crawl and push the Judge’s wheelchair at the same time… push him towards the wall, out of the way from the doors, just in case someone decides to take a potshot through the glass.

SOUND (Rolling of chair on wooden floor)

SUNNY: (Whisper)…Okay…He’s out of the way now…now what?

SOUND (Jiggle of metal latch)

JACK: (Low) They’re trying the handle of the door… (Sharply, still low) Crawl under the desk, Sunny, and stay out of sight now matter what happens…

SUNNY: (Whisper) Jack…Jack, what are you going to do?

JACK: (Grimly) If your lucky, you’re going to see just what a lead bullet will do to a ghost with nine fingers!

SOUND (Organ Theme...VALSE TRISTE)

SOUND (WAILING LOCOMOTIVE, followed by SCREECHING CAR)

ANNCR: You have just heard the seventh chapter of "The Ghost With Nine Fingers." The further adventures of the Jack, Doc and their friends will come to you tomorrow at this same hour. "Three Love A Mystery", by Brian Christopher Misiaszek comes to you Monday to Friday through the courtesy of Old Time Radio. This is the Unusual Broadcasting Company.