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The Ghost With Nine Fingers", a THREE LOVE A MYSTERY radio play, is copyright 1999/2000 by Brian Christopher Misiaszek.


THREE LOVE A MYSTERY: THE GHOST WITH NINE FINGERS

EPISODE FOUR:

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 a killer who threatens beyond the grave!

SOUND (MUSIC UP TO FINISH)

SOUND (TRAIN WHISTLE)

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

SOUND (Organ Theme...VALSE TRISTE)

SOUND (CLOCK STRIKES SEVEN)

SOUND
(Rain fall, with occasional thunder rumbling, etc.)

ANNCR: It is seven-o-clock in the evening in the Orpheum Theatre, and many strange events have transpired here in its echoing darkness. Jack, Doc and Reggie, had broken inside, hot on the trail of their old enemy, the Maestro. The boys had fought with the obese Maestro and his captive assistant Nasha once before, and only through outside intervention had bested the man. He was eventually sent to prison for life for his crimes, and Nasha was freed on Jack's recommendation to Judge McLarty. The Maestro later died in prison, having starved himself to death. Only now, months later, Doc had impossibly spotted the Maestro together with Nasha on the rainy streets of Hollywood, and had trailed them to this theatre!

To investigate the impossibility of Doc's sighting of the "nine fingered ghost" of the dead Maestro, they entered the Orpheum theatre. Inside, Reggie gets the surprise of his life when he is attacked by someone inside a supposedly empty coffin who turns out to be Nasha. Nasha, a young foreign woman with shining black hair, flashing eyes, and wearing dancing tights, had been the unwitting partner of the now dead Maestro. Only now, she has a new employer, the mysterious stage conjuror, Mephisto!

Mephisto, the stage name of one Lester Brown, has adopted not only many of the magical acts of the dead Maestro, but also his trademark ugly and obese appearance. He had even hired the Maestro's former assistant--Nasha-- to be his own magician's assistant. Reggie and Doc aren't sure at this coincidence at first, but Jack points out that despite resembling the dead Maestro, Mephisto still has ALL his 10 fingers. The Maestro had lost one finger in a gun battle with a rail-way detective in their previous encounter with the man. Mephisto's now regretting his new magic act, what with death threats warning him away from Hollywood. Death threats, signed by none other than the dead Maestro! As they discuss these matters, suddenly, gun shots ring out in the theatre, and Nasha cries out and crumples to the stage floor!

SOUND (Gunshot rings out)

NASHA: (curt scream)

SOUND (Scream )(Thud of a body falling to the wooden stage floor)

DOC: (excitedly) NASHA! Jack, they just shot Nasha!

REGGIE: (excitedly) Jack, what do we do? Nasha's just been shot!

JACK: (Frantic) Down. DOWN AND FORWARD EVERYONE! THAT SHOT CAME FROM THE CATWALK ABOVE!

SOUND (second and third shot sound out)

BROWN: (anguished) Nasha, Nasha! Are you all right!?

NASHA: (moans)

SOUND (roll of thunder, with rain in background again)

JACK: (harshly) Doc! Jump down into the orchestra pit. REGGIE!

REGGIE: (Tensely) Yes Jack?

JACK: (gasps) Help me drag Nasha off into the pit, and out of the sight of that gunman!

REGGIE: Right-o!

SOUND (another shot rings out, this time with the whine of its passage audible!)

JACK: (gasps) Quickly now!

SOUND (quick sliding of body across wooden floor of stage)

REGGIE: (effort) Upsy-daisy! Got her, Doc!

DOC: Okay son, I got 'er!

SOUND (grunts of effort as body is lowered into pit)

REGGIE: Now you too, Mephisto!

BROWN: I'll do my best. (effort) Here I go--

SOUND (heavy body jumping three feet to floor, followed by two others more lightly).

JACK: (Effort) There, get down now Mephisto. Doc...

DOC: I'm listenin' Son.

JACK: Take Mephisto's gun, and head over to that ladder on the far right of the stage. In a minute I'll take over the lighting board over on the left.

DOC: Okay, Jack. Hey Mephisto! MEPHISTO!!

BROWN: (slow on the uptake) Eh? What's that Mr. Long?

DOC: Your shootin' iron, pardner. You're pistol! Hand it over 'cause I'm a gonna need it if we are goin' to stop that lily livered gunsel playin' hide and go seek in this here theatre.

BROWN: But...but--

DOC: No buts...thanks, pardner.

JACK: Be careful there, Doc. No heroics. We want to question this man, find out why he's trying to shoot up both Nasha and Mephisto's act.

DOC: Okay feller. (moving off mike) Be seeing you!

SOUND (footsteps moving off)

JACK: And Mephisto! Help us move Nasha back under the stage some more, where it's safer!

NASHA: (moans)

BROWN: (Frantic) I say, she isn't going to---

JACK: (gruffly) She isn't.

SOUND (fourth gunshot, followed by whine of bullet passing)

JACK: But she will be if you don't hurry!

SOUND (dragging, moving of chairs and boxes)

JACK: Reggie, Bring her here back among these musical stands and instrument cases!

REGGIE: As good as done, Jack. This way, Mephisto, if you please!

BROWN: (gasp) Yes...yes. Nasha, NASHA, can you hear me.

NASHA: (moan)

BROWN: (gasp) Is she badly injured, Mr. Packard?

JACK: Mmm...let look a bit more at her arm. (pause) Hmm...as far as I can tell the bullet only grazed her upper arm here. You can see it hardly broke the skin, what with the lack of blood and everything. I think she's more in hysterical shock than anything else.

BROWN: (gasps) Thank goodness for that. I'd hate to have anyone injured or killed (pant)...for my stubbornness about keeping on with my act.

REGGIE: You mean you actually blame yourself for all this gunplay, Mephisto?

BROWN: (gasps) Naturally. If it weren't for my plans to (pants)...to recreate the Maestro's show, this chaos and attempts at murder would never have happened. (lower voice) Maybe even...maybe even causing the Maestro's revenge from beyond the grave!

SOUND (Fifth gunshot far off in theatre punctuates the following remarks, followed by a second)

REGGIE: I say...regular war zone upstairs.

JACK: (grimly) That's a real life gunman with real bullets, Mephisto. That's no ghost. There's a logical explanation behind all of this, I can assure you.

BROWN: (gasps) But what? What would anyone gain closing my show, or killing Nasha?

JACK: I don't know. Not just yet, at any rate. But that's what we are going to find out!

REGGIE: (low voice) Jack...

JACK: Yes, Reggie?

REGGIE: (low voice) Nasha's come too. I think she wants to talk to you.

JACK: That will have to wait. Doc needs help with our would-be killer in the dark. I'm going over to the light board so guard these two as best you can.

REGGIE:  (Grimly) A bloody awful job without a gun to back me up, Jack.

BROWN: (Gasps) Mr. Long has my gun, Mr. Packard...(lower voice) only thing, there are only blanks in it.

JACK: (Amazed) There's only WHAT in it!?!?

BROWN: (gasps, then audible swallow) You see Mr. Packard, I use firearms in my act. But...but I thought it was too dangerous to actually load the gun I had on me, in case of an accident or something.

JACK: So you have no live ammunition for your gun at all?

BROWN: (gasps) Oh, no. The real bullets are in my pocket here...I just didn't have time to load them tonight.

REGGIE: (breathless) Jove. Doc's out there stalking a killer, with his own gun loaded with blanks! And he doesn't even know it!

BROWN: I'm sorry...your friend, Mr. Long, took my gun and left before I could tell him--

JACK: That's just great! And we can't even warn him, too, else that gunman will hear it too!

REGGIE: (frantic) What are we going to do, Jack? Doc's out there walking into the lion's den!

JACK: (grimly) Just do your best here, Kid. Your fists may come in handy. (going off mike) I'll go off to try and help Doc. (back on mike) Wait a minute. Mephisto!

BROWN: Yes?

JACK: Give me those bullets...three, four, five...thanks! They may come in handy yet!

REGGIE: Good luck, Jack...(sigh) And good luck to the rest of us, too.

NASHA: (low, soft voice) Meester York?

REGGIE: Oh, so you're awake, are you young lady?

NASHA: Meester York, I am going to die, no?

REGGIE: (firmly) Of course not, Nasha. No where even near to dying. Jack thinks all you have is but a scratch from that bullet. You are a very lucky young lady.

BROWN: But what are your friends going to do, Mr. Yorke? What are--

REGGIE: (interrupting) Oh look here for just a moment, Mephisto. Let's all try to be quiet, alright? (moving away from mike) No need to attract unwelcome attention to us down here. And no need to alarm Nasha. Here, let me cover you with my jacket...

(PAUSE)

SOUND (creak of someone climbing a metal ladder, a-huffing all the while)

DOC: (approaching mike, under breath) Okay, Doc, ol Kid, keep climbing this ladder as fast as you can. (gasps) Just like climbing into the hayloft with my cousin' Winnie Mae on my Mamma's side. (gasps) Still too much light up here for my likin', despite all the shadows up here --

SOUND (continue climbing)

DOC: (under breath) Yesirre Doc, just keep hoping your Texas luck hasn't worn out, and that Jack (gasps) can turn off those stage lights before you get up there on the catwalk, and stand out (effort) like a fig leaf on a burlesque queen--

SOUND (climbing stops, then sound of footsteps on wood, softly)

DOC: (under breath) Huh. At the top already. Kinda reminds me a little too much like the ledge in that there Temple of the Vampire Bats down yonder in Central America. Ropes hanging about like those vine-ropes we played Tarzan on. (pause) Yessiree, the stage floor all forty or fifty feet below here lookin' jess as soft as the floor in the Temple--

SCAR: (harshly) Okay Red, put 'em up!

DOC: (startled, and guarded) Hey, who said that!

SCAR: Never mind that, buddy. Just start ticklin' the ceiling with your hands. (pause) NOW.

DOC: So there you are, hidin' in the shadows behind those ropes and all on the walkway (angrily) You're that two-tailed ciffy cat that shot Nasha!!

SCAR: Maybe. So what? Not that you're gonna do anything about it, Red--

DOC: Hey, what happened to your face? It looks like you should be in the horror pictures, like the Phantom of the Opp-ery or somethin'.

SCAR: (white with anger) Forget about my face, Red. The skirt who gave me this scar paid for it plenty. Just like what I'll do to your friend the skirt below and her friend the fat man.

DOC: (taunting) Oh, a real he-man. First shootin' at girls, then shootin' your mouth off. If you weren't holdin' that gun on my gizzard there, I'd whale the livin' daylights out of you for what you did to Nasha.

SCAR: (ugly laugh) But I AM holding the gun. And I'll thank you for handing over that pistol I see you have wedged in your belt, Red. Just use two fingers now--

SOUND (pistol dragging from leather)

SCAR: Uh uh Red--this rod I'm holding, he has a hair trigger. (ugly laugh) I'm wise to all the tricks of all the mugs in the world. My time in stir taught me a lot. So no funny business, see?

DOC: So a wise guy jail-bird too, huh?

SCAR: Wise enough to know that you don't want to show me the colour of what human bean juice you leak, Red. Hey, that's pretty good, ain't it!

DOC: (bored) What is?

SCAR: Your name matches what you may be leaking if I have to shoot you. (ugly laugh) Red! (ugly laugh).

DOC: (overlapping laugh) Okay okay, a real funny man too, huh? So what do you want me to do with my shootin' iron, anyway?

SCAR: Just drop it to the floor, and kick it back here behind me.

SOUND (gun drops to floor, then skid's across rough wooden boards)

SCAR (ugly laugh) Pretty little thing, your pistol. Much like the skirt below I'm going to see layin' out on mahogany with flowers and slow music, if you catch my drift.

DOC: (angrily) Doggone, what kinda man would go and shoot a pretty she-male like Nasha, and for no good reason?

SCAR: Oh I have my reasons. Mostly, because it's just a job the boss wanted done. Not that I mind hurtin' women. But you'll soon have another reason to hate me, Red.

DOC: (guarded) Hey, what-ja mean?

SCAR: (Ugly laugh) Because my gun was out of ammo!! (ugly laugh again) I...I tricked you into giving up an empty pistol for your loaded one!!

DOC: (Angrily) Why you-- (catches self) A real smart guy, ain't you? For two cents I'd--

SCAR: Hey! Who turned out dose lights?

JACK: (Off mike, echoing) Doc, DOC! Get him! Your gun only had blanks! HE'S GOT ONLY BLANKS!! GET HIM!

DOC: YAHOO! Now, come get some new scars, you FILTHY HOMBRE!!!

SOUND (first a tremendous blow is heard, then a ferocious fist-fight breaks out, while first one gun shot rings out, then another!)

DOC: (gasps) Yep, you can jess call me the Bullet-Proof Kid! (gasps) I don't remember (gasps) when I had so much fun!

SOUND (fists smack against fists, until the soundperson's hands start to turn red swell and ache)

SCAR: (groan) I'll get you, I'll get even--

SOUND (three more shots ring out)

DOC: (outraged) HEY! Why you rotten skunk, tryin' to shoot at my face--

SOUND (erratic but fast running along catwalk)

DOC: (gasps) Jack! JACK! Put the lights back on!

JACK: (off mike) What!?

DOC: (gasps) I've lost him! JACK! I've lost him in the dark.

SOUND (running stops, and sound of someone rapidly descending ladder)

JACK: (off mike) Here come your lights, Doc!

SOUND (light switch is thrown)

JACK: (off mike) Do you see him, Reggie?

REGGIE: (off mike) There he is Jack! I see him! Coming down that far ladder!

SOUND (running along stage is heard, then superimposed sound of someone rapidly descending ladder)

DOC: (gasps) Look out! I'm coming down as fast as I can, fellas!

JACK: (coming to mike) Reggie, stay with the others! Doc and I'll go after him!

REGGIE: (plaintively) But Jack!

JACK: (gasps) Reggie, I need you here to guard Nasha and Mephisto!

REGGIE: (resignedly) Right-oh...

SOUND (running across stage floor)

SOUND (metal door crashes open; sound of rain, thunder, etc., which subsides as door crashes shut again)

DOC: (gasps) I'm down now! Where'd he go?

JACK: Here! He's out the side door! Doc! We want to question that gunman!

DOC: (gasps) You betcha! Stop talkin', and start puttin' your runnin' shoes on, Son!

SOUND (metal door crashes open again; sound of rain, thunder, etc., which stays up)

JACK: (gasps) There he goes!

SOUND (wet leather shoes pounding hell bent in the rain...have occasional splashes through puddles, etc.)

DOC: (gasps) Boy, that yella skunk is fast, ain't he!

JACK (gasps) Nevermind that..he's dodging out the alley mouth...don't get him out of your sight, Doc!

DOC (gasps) He's already out of sight around the corner, Jack!

JACK (gasps) He can't get far--the rain will slow him down--

SOUND (roll of thunder, then sound of night city traffic in the rain starts to rise)

DOC: (gasps) We better take her on two wheels then--if he grabs a car or a cab or somethin', we're sunk.

JACK: (gasps) There he goes! Darting across the street there!

SOUND (sudden screech of brakes, then crash)

SOUND (sudden scream)

SOUND (footsteps slow somewhat, then stop)

DOC: (gasps) Did you see that, Jack! Didja see!

JACK: (gasps) Ran right into the street without looking--

DOC: (gasps) Didn't even see that cab comin' before it whammed him against the pavement like a tennis ball!

JACK: (gasps) Come on...maybe he's only hurt.

DOC: (gasps) If he's only hurt, you can call me a green eyed hipponauserous!

SOUND (running resumes, sound of traffic in background)

CABBIE: (talking to himself, bit of a Brooklyn accent--start low and build up) It wasn't my fault! He jess run out in front of me without looking. He had a gun in his 'and and everything!

MAN: (harshly) Don't look dear!

WOMAN: (hysterical) Oh, how awful! Take me away, Stan!

CABBIE: (plaintively) How could I stop my cab in time! Ran right out in front of me, he did. And wid a gun and all!

JACK: (Low voice) He's dead all right, Doc.

DOC: Man-o-man is that an understatement, Jack! Son, it looks he was first eaten by a coyote, and then dropped off a cliff! I didn't think his ugly scar puss could look any worse, but it is!

JACK: (low voice) That cab hit him square at the knees, then ran right over him with all four wheels.

MAN: (excitedly) Somebody call a doctor. A doctor!

SOUND (Ad libbed remarks of Cabbie, crowd, etc.) (traffic and falling rain) (Police siren)

JACK: Too late for a doctor for him! (lower voice) Doc, I see that beat policeman rushing over here.

DOC: (low voice) Yeah? What do we want to do now? Let him know what happened?

JACK: (low voice) No! We don't want to get mixed in this right now. It'll be a little awkward with Mephisto's gun stuck on the scene here, but it can't be helped. I'll make some quiet inquiries by telephone later tonight. Let's head back to the theatre, and see how Reggie's doing with the others.

DOC: Okay fella. Anything you say. Man-o-man, what a greasy end!

SOUND (Ad libbed remarks of Cabbie, crowd, etc., start to fade; footsteps resume)

JACK: (harshly) He deserved everything he got. I just wish we had a chance to talk to him, search his clothes, find out who he was.

DOC:
He said somethin' kinda funny when he had the drop on me, up on the catwalk, Jack.

JACK: (Sharply) What did he say?

DOC: Lemmee see if I can remember. Oh yeah. I was askin' him why did he want to go and shoot a nice gal like Nasha, and he said, "Oh I have my reasons. Mostly, because it's just a job the boss wanted done. Not that I mind hurtin' women."

JACK: "...Just a job the boss wanted done," eh? Now that's interesting. Did he say anything else?

DOC:    Yeah, he said he was hired to do away with Mephisto, too!

JACK:    That bears some thinking...Oh, here we are, back at the side door of the theatre. You first, Doc.

SOUND (Metal door swings open)

DOC: Be sure to latch and lock it this time, feller.

JACK: (Short laugh) My intentions exactly.

SOUND (Rain, thunder, etc. subsides as door swings shut again)

SOUND (Footsteps across concrete)

REGGIE: (guarded voice) Is that you Jack, Doc?

DOC: Reggie! What's that in your hand? You look like Sir Galahad!

JACK: A two handed sword, Reggie?.

REGGIE: It is...some of Mephisto's magical paraphenalia. I could find nothing else to arm myself with. What happened with that gunman?

JACK: Dead.

REGGIE: Jove! (pause) What happened?

DOC: Our gunman ran plumb smack into a yeller cab and got himself run over. Deader than a mackerel three days in the Sahara now.

JACK: Never mind that now. How are your two charges, Reggie?

REGGIE: Well, let me set this antique down first

SOUND (soft clank)

REGGIE: I got Nasha up in one of the dressing rooms that she and Mephisto have set aside on the second floor off the left side of the stage. She's shaky, but okay now, with the door locked.

JACK: How's Brown or rather, Mephisto? He looked pretty shaken just after Nasha was attacked.

REGGIE: He's with Nasha. Green about the gills, but a jolly sight better than before. He wants to hire us, now.

DOC: Hire us? As bodyguards for him and Nasha?

REGGIE: Exactly. He wants us to keep any further trouble away from his act, and to try and find out why that gunman was sending those threatening notes.

JACK: From what Doc tells me, that gunman was just hired help. There's someone else masterminding all this.

DOC: I don't follow you feller.

JACK: Look at our dead gunman, the one with the scar. With what little I heard and saw, he didn't seem all that bright a fellow. And you told me yourself, Doc, that he was working for some other person, someone he called "the Boss." Specifically, he was hired to do away with both Nasha and Brown.

REGGIE: But why would anyone want to kill either one of them? 

JACK: I really don't know, but I can think only a few reasons. Money, revenge or fear are the most common reasons.

DOC: I don't get you fella.  

JACK: Well, someone may profit from the closure of Brown's act, or wants to close it for revenge.  More farfetched is the possibility that Brown's new helper, Nasha, knows something that is dangerous to someone else here in Hollywood. 

REGGIE:  You mean like a rival magician, fearful of Mephisto's success?

JACK: That's good thinking, Reggie. There's another possibility that makes sense to me.

DOC: So spill it, Son! Don't keep the two of us in suspense!

JACK:
  Nasha once knew someone well enough to have learned something dangerous him. The MAESTRO.

REGGIE: The Maestro! But you said yourself that the Maestro was dead!

JACK: I know, I know. And I STILL think he's dead! 

REGGIE:  You do?

JACK:    I think someone is pretending to BE the Maestro in order to scare both Mephisto and Nasha away from Hollywood. When that failed, they tried to kill them.

DOC: But why, Jack, why?

JACK: I don't know! But we'll have to have an armed guard on them until we figure that out. And that means a change to our dinner plans tonight.

DOC: Hey, that don't mean we ain't going to go to Sunny Richards house tonight like we planned, are we Jack?

JACK: Well, the two of you can go. Only one of us need stand guard tonight at Nasha's and Mephisto's hotel rooms. I'll take the first shift, and the two of you can draw straws to see who relieves me at midnight tonight

REGGIE:    If you say so, Jack.

DOC: Wait'll Sunny get an eyeful of us, Reggie, when we tell her what's happened here tonight!

REGGIE: Quite. Ghosts, gunmen and glamour. A trilogy of terror!

SOUND (Organ Theme...VALSE TRISTE)

SOUND (WAILING LOCOMOTIVE, followed by SCREECHING CAR)

ANNCR: You have just heard the fourth chapter of "The Ghost With Nine Fingers." The further adventures of the Jack, Doc and Reggie and the A-One Detective Agency 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.