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THE BLUE 

PHANTOM MURDERS

 

                     Week #1 of 3.

 


The original script is by Carlton E. Morse, copyright 1986/1992 with excerpts from the original

The synopsis is written by Brian Christopher Misiaszek, original material copyright 1999.


Episode 1: Friday June 2nd, 1950.

SOUND:           (Clock Strikes Eight) 

ANNCR:          Eight o'clock at night, aboard the power yacht, Blue Phantom somewhere in the South Atlantic Ocean. Prominently present are, Jack Packard!

JACK:          (COMING TO MIKE) I tell you something is going to break wide open aboard the Blue Phantom before morning!

ANNCR:          Doc Long!

DOC:              (COMING TO MIKE) It jes' as my Cousin Winnie-Mae always DID say; us Texas boys is just plain BUILT fer romance…

ANNCR:          (AMUSED) and next, Reggie York!

REGGIE:          (COMING TO MIKE) Oh, but look here, the promise of a good fight is all that brought us aboard the bally old Blue Phantom.

The Announcer introduces the situation.  The Three Comrades are aboard the  yacht, Blue Phantom, the sole vessel of a scientific expedition to explore a certain portion of the South  Atlantic never before attempted. Jack, Doc and Reggie have been hired by multi-millionaire Arnold Foster, who is also the Blue Phantom's skipper.  Although Foster is past middle age, frail, and eccentric, he is an excellent seaman and this voyage of exploration of the bottom of the South Atlantic was his idea.   

Besides Foster, the Blue Phantom's owner and master, there are others aboard the vessel besides our three heroes.  The list includes Ruth Foster (the skipper's wife), Dr. Ezra Parks, scientist; and Dr. Michael Davids, M.D.  Along with Swensen (the engineer), and Roger (the cabin boy), and the two able seamen, named Charley (sic) and Pete, there are eleven persons aboard the Blue Phantom.  

At the time this story begins, it is the eleventh day at sea, and in the cabin assigned to Jack Doc and Reggie, a heated discussion is in progress.

DOC:          (COMING TO MIKE) Just the same, Jack, when we signed on this trip, me and Reggie had it from your own mouth, that they was a-gonna be some excitement.

JACK:        You think there ISN'T going to be excitement?

DOC:          Well I ain't seen nothin' YET…YOU, Reggie?

REGGIE:    That's right, Jack…Eleven days out and not a bally thing.

DOC:           Ain't nobody even lost his temper so far…

JACK:         Plenty of undercurrents,  though…

DOC:           Undercurrents my GRANDMA…What I want is some stand-up and knock-down FIST fightin'…   

The biggest mystery of the trip so far, is why Arnold Foster has hired the three of them!  When Arnold is asked, he simply shrugs his shoulder, wrings his hands and grins weakly, simply saying, "What do you care...You're here, aren't you?"

Doc in particular is suspicious of Foster, if only because, "...that little old wife of his'n is young and purty and hand' out to be tied up to an old coot like him...".  

Jack warns Doc to keep his romantic interests to himself, that there will be trouble enough up ahead, and he wants them all to be ready for it.  When Doc asks what Jack is talking about, Jack cryptically replies, "...apparently both Dr. Parks and Dr. Davids ALSO think she's too  young and pretty to be married to Arnold Foster."   

DOC:   Well that's what I'm a-lookin' for…TROUBLE…I'm so sick of a-sittin' around lookin' at water….Honest to goodness, Jack, if I was to tell my folks back in Texas they was this much water a-runnin' around loose in the world, they'd lock me up fer squirrel food…

Jack repeats his warning to Doc, telling Doc not to mix up matters and complicate things with any misplaced Texas chivalry, at least until they can find out what is at the bottom of it all.  Reggie bluntly asks Jack if he thinks Ruth Foster is the real reason they are here.

JACK:  Well that's bringing it to a head, but it's much deeper than that…As a matter of fact, if you want to know the honest truth, I think this scientific expedition stunt is just a blind to cover up the real reason for this trip.  

When asked by Reggie what he means, Jack tells the others that his danger sense is firing on all cylinders, though he admits it is only a hunch at the moment.  Despite Foster's peculiar manners, Jack think he's sane enough.  When asked by Doc and Reggie his opinion of the others, Jack says he thinks that the scientist, Dr. Parks, is too smart for his own good.  Jack adds that while the physician, Dr. Davids, appears to be a nice clean-cut man, he's sure that he is mixed up in this somewhere, too.    

A sudden rap on their cabin door interrupts their conversation. Doc opens the door to the sound of ocean waves, and is surprised not to find anyone out there in the darkened doorway.  He is about to shut the door, when a suave voice stops him, and Dr. Parks, the scientist, steps out of the shadows into the lit doorway, asking to come in.

Doc is a little miffed, and asks Dr. Parks why he was hiding on him after he opened the door. Parks replies that he merely stood close to the cabin doorway to be out of the way of the ocean waves.  Jack calls out to Doc to never mind all that, and to let Dr. Parks inside their cabin.

After taking a proffered seat, Parks tells the three he had been trying to talk to the three of them alone, and this was the first time that was available.  Puzzled, Jack tells him they had always been available, but Parks stuns them by telling them all that they and their cabin were being watched over during their time aboard the Blue Phantom!

Jack is suspicious, and questions Parks, who states he is positive they are being watched though he admits he doesn't know who exactly is doing the watching. Jack thinks Parks is talking through his hat; there is absolutely no reason for the three of them to be spied on, and tells Parks this.  

Parks simply shrugs, but becomes very curious about the reasons the Three Comrades have been brought along on this trip. When he learns from Reggie that they are neither scientists, seamen, or friends of the Arnold's, he is still puzzled.

PARKS:    Then what ARE you?...

DOC:    I'll tell you what we are...We're two fisted-hombres lookin' for trouble.

Parks is surprised.  He learns a little about the history of the Three Comrades, who had been together three years at this point.  When asked if they fought in any wars, Doc volunteers that they have fought together in a couple of South American wars, a revolution in China, and even spent time fighting pirates off the coast of Macao.  When Parks sneeringly sums up their vocation as "Soldiers of Fortune", Jack calmly corrects him.

PARKS:    But isn't that exactly what you ARE?

JACK:    In fact, perhaps, if not in spirit.

PARKS:    (AMUSED) Don't tell me morality enters into your endeavors?...

JACK:    As a matter of fact, it does...when we come up against something we don't like, we clean it up.

PARKS:    Wonderful...The Three Musketeers and Robin Hood all rolled into one...

Doc, already peeved at the scientist surprising him in the cabin doorway, is starting to very much dislike the tone of Park's voice, and tells him so.  Parker apologizes in an insincere manner. A little altercation between the two of them threatens to grow, only to be halted by another knock at their cabin door.

FOSTER:   (COMING TO MIKE) Well, well…(SILLY CHUCKLES)…I didn't expect to find YOU here, Dr. Parks.

PARKS:   (STIFFLY) I was just leaving, Arnold.

JACK:    Oh no, you just came…don't go…

FOSTER:  No…no…don't go…As Master of the Blue Phantom, I've got a very interesting bit of information to report…

Foster tells them all that the ship's radio isn't working.  It is so completely out of repair that the Blue Phantom can't send or receive a thing.  Reggie offers to help repair it, but Foster says it's beyond help (giving another silly chuckle as he tells them.  Doc is surprised at this information, and asks if Foster isn't worried:

FOSTER:   Not at all…not at all…Sextant and the stars are good enough for me…(CHUCKLES) And NOW for the interesting news.

DOC:  Yeah, shoot, feller…You got me a-sittin' on the edge of my chair.

FOSTER:   Sssssh…listen…The room steward's been murdered!

JACK:  What's that?

DOC:  Hey, you're kiddin'…

FOSTER:   Didn't I tell you?…interesting!…Murdered with poison!

(MUSIC:……..ORGAN…"VALSE TRISTE")  

 

Episode 2: Monday June 5th, 1950.

SOUND:           (Clock Strikes Nine)

After the announcers spiel recapping the story, the episode opens with Jack and Doc in the tiny medical ward of The Blue Phantom, along with Dr. Davids and the body of the dead cabin steward.

Dr. Davids, who is the MD on this trip, is slightly irritated from all of Jack's questions surrounding the post mortem, but even more so because of the meager facilities aboard ship for performing the autopsy on the dead man. Doc lets slip that Jack has done some rough "doctorin'" in the field, which Jack downplays, much to Dr. David's curiosity. 

As Dr. Davids works on his grisly task, the others recap the story so far, underlying the undercurrent of danger aboard ship, the sudden death of the cabin boy, and the peculiar snickering manner in which  the master of The Blue Phantom, announced his death (which HE says is from poison!). They also add that Reggie (who is absent from the cabin) has gone up on deck to keep an eye on Foster. 

Dr. Davids finally interrupts their discussion to render his verdict to Jack and Doc:  

DAVIDS:        I've done everything I can with the facilities available....

JACK:            And you've reached a decision?

DAVIDS:        Yes...I'll stake my reputation as a physician on it....

JACK:            Well?

DAVIDS:        Death came as the direct result of poisoning from snake venom.

Jack and Doc are astounded at that fantastic news of "...reptiles a runnin' loose on the Blue Phantom..." as Doc puts it, but Dr. Davids is insistent that is verdict is correct.  As Jack muses aloud about having to start a search of the ship for snakes, Dr. Davids  interrupts him again:

DAVIDS:        I haven't told you everything  yet.....

JACK:            Well, isn't this enough?

DAVIDS:        I've been over every inch of his body from head to foot....There SHOULD be fang marks...There SHOULD be a localized swollen and inflamed area where the snake struck...There isn't either....

Dr. Davids is unhappy with his own conclusions, though admits his far from complete autopsy, given the current facilities, may have some flaw. As Doc mutters aloud that it doesn't make any sense to be on the lookout for snakes that bite you, "...without leavin' his mark", and Dr. Davids mentions that he needs some time alone to write out his report, Jack makes a decision. 

Jack wants to talk to Captain Foster on two accounts.  Firstly, he'll need his permission to search the ship for snakes.  Secondly, he suggests to the others that the ship's radio went out of commission, "...mighty conveniently". Also, how did Foster know that the cabin steward was killed by poison, when Dr. Davids just determined this himself after a lengthy autopsy?

Remembering that Reggie had told him that Foster was up in the wheelhouse, Jack steers Doc and himself along the deck and up the ladder.  Instead of finding Foster, they find Old Charley, one of the able seamen of The Blue Phantom.

Greeting them with, "Ahoy there, mates", we all learn that Charley is a rustic sort of sailor, one either very hard of hearing, else having the annoying mannerism of repeating everything he says (and what everyone says) twice, before replying in turn.  After some light, and annoying banter, Charlie comments about the recent death aboard ship. 

CHARLEY:    Hear the cabin boy was murdered...

JACK:        Oh, you heard that.

CHARLEY:    I say I heard the cabin boy--

JACK:        I heard you the first time.  What about it?

CHARLEY:    Reminds me of the time I was sailin' abord the Yankee Boy out of Yokohoma fer Liverpool...Every mornin' a fresh pool of blood on the aft deck.  Nobody dead, nobody missin', but every mornin' there she was...

JACK:    That's a beautiful thought.

Much to Jack's disgust, Doc questions Charley further, and learns that the old salt was convinced his former ship was haunted, and that The Blue Phantom is likely haunted too!  Jack replies that Charlie is crazy, which sends Charlie into a fit of laugher and chuckles.

DOC:    You think that's funny?

CHARLEY:    Sure DO...It's crazy people like me that stay alive after everybody else's gone to Davey's Locker.

Charlie denies seeing any snakes aboard The Blue Phantom, and after callously disregarding the cabin boy's death with, "...nope...No skin off MY nose. Every man for hisself, I always say," seems strangely unperturbed that the man died of snake poison and that there may be snakes aboard ship. Jack's attempts to get Charley to concentrate on the importance of the issue fail miserably, much to Jack's progressive annoyance and exasperation. 

Giving up for the moment to try and convince him to help out with a snake hunt, Jack and Doc attempt to light up the deck of The Blue Phantom with a search light in the wheelhouse.  Charley is strangely unhelpful. At first he simply refuses to help, next telling the others that it is mutiny to disobey his orders about keeping their hands off the wheelhouse search light. When Jack and Doc attempt to manipulate the search light, Charley pulls out a nasty surprise on the two of them.

CHARLIE:    No, you don't, mates....Time you two got to movin'.

DOC:    (CHUCKLES) Well, doggone...Look at him, Jack - he's went and pulled a pistol on us.

CHARLIE:    Little beauty, ain't she?  Loaded up to the gills, too.  Git a move on.

Jack and Doc move on, all right.  After a signal from Jack, right towards Charlie!  With a crash of furniture and the sound of bodies hitting the deck, Jack and Doc wrestle the gun away from Charlie, who simply chuckles. After Doc asks him if he has any hard feelings, Charlie simply chuckles again, saying, "'Course not...every man for hisself, I always say..."

Jack turns on and then aims the searchlight along the broad wooden deck of The Blue Phantom.  Despite it being night, albeit with a full moon, the deck is lit up as bright as sunshine.  Jack suddenly spots something and points.

JACK:    (TENSE)  Doc...Doc, look down there!

DOC:    Hey - somebody's sprawled down there on the deck!

JACK:    Somebody...it's REGGIE!

DOC:    Hey, Jack...Snakes!  Maybe a snake's got him!

(MUSIC:……..ORGAN…"VALSE TRISTE")  

 

Episode 3: Tuesday June 6th, 1950.

SOUND:           (Clock Strikes Seven)

The Announcer brings us up to date; it's now morning in the cabin of the Three Comrades.  Last night, Reggie had been found by Jack and Doc sprawled out on the deck of The Blue Phantom. Luckily, he was only unconscious when found by the others.  When they managed to rouse him, he could tell them nothing about his attacker, only that someone had struck him on the head from behind.  This morning, Reggie still had a throbbing headache, but was otherwise okay.

Reggie DID remember several odd things just prior to having been struck unconscious last night.  While on guard, he had noticed that Ruth Foster, Captain Foster's much younger wife, had emerged from her cabin.  She didn't see Reggie, but seemed furtive and secretive in her movements.  Reggie saw that she first went to Dr. Parks' cabin, rapped on the door, and when he opened the door they stood together in the dark, talking for several minutes.  After that, she went to Dr. David's cabin and knocked there.  When she had no reply (since he was still performing the autopsy), she acted as though she didn't know what to do next, then finally returned to her own cabin.  Ten minutes after that, Reggie had noticed Captain Foster came down out of the wheelhouse, and went to the fo'c'sle and talked with Swensen (the Engineer) and Pete (the other sailor).

JACK:    In other words, after he had told us about the steward's death he immediately talked to Charley, the sailor on watch, and Swensen and Pete, who were off duty...

Reggie agrees with Jack's summation.  He goes on to tell Jack and Doc that he next saw Foster go to the cabin that he shared with his wife, Mrs. Foster, and he didn't come out again (at least while Reggie was still conscious).  Jack, listening carefully, and after making a mental tally, shares his conclusion with the others:

JACK:    Well, if Parks was in his cabin, Dr. Davids was up in the medical ward with us, Captain and Mrs. Foster were in the cabin and Charley was up in the wheelhouse, then you must have been hit over the head by either Swensen or Pete.

Reggie is amazed, and asks Jack why they would do such a thing.  Doc replies for him, "Because Captain Foster TOLD 'em to, that's why.."

Jack agrees with Doc, but has no explanation for the others why Foster, who had HIRED the three of them to be on this mysterious cruise in the South Atlantic, would first not tell them the reason for the hiring, then goes about secretly ordering his men to go about knocking members of the Three Comrade's unconscious. 

But that's not as important, Jack reminds the others, as much as the larger situation they found themselves in. The Steward's death by snake venom, despite an autopsy that reveals no sign of punctured skin from fangs.  And NO signs of snakes aboard the Blue Phantom.  Jack also tells the others he has learned that Foster and his crew were going to bury the body of the dead cabin steward at sea later that day. 

DOC:        Doggone...That's one placed I DON'T want to be buried...At SEA!

JACK:        Well, we'd better keep our eyes open and the back to the wall then, because I have an idea that's what's goint to happen to anyone who has the bad luck to die on THIS TRIP.

DOC:        Yes sir, that's my motto from now on...Don't die on this trip!

REGGIE:    (Amused) A bally good motto.

Jack goes on talking about the others aboard on The Blue Phantom.  First Roger, the cabin Steward, now dead (but died of snake venom, despite an absence of fang marks!); then Captain Foster.  Reggie adds, with some amusement, that Doc seems particularly bitter over Foster, no doubt because "...he has such a beautiful wife." Jack reminds Doc not allow his romantic Texas heart to roam on this trip, even if Ruth Foster were to fling herself into Doc's arms, not that Jack thinks she ever will.

DOC:        And why not, I'd like to know...Why, son, down in Texas where I come from I had girl's a-flingin' themselves in my arms right and left.

JACK:        (Amused) Maybe down in Texas the girl's aren't so particular...

Doc takes some offence to this remark, and provides one of his long-winded Texas tales involving his cousin Winnie-Mae, much to Jack's exasperation and Reggie's amusement.  Still chuckling over this, Reggie has a question for Jack.

REGGIE:    Quite...Jack, why do you think he seemed so pleased over the death of the Steward?

JACK:        Did you ever stop to think that perhaps he wasn't...That his snickering and smirking was his attempt to hide a terrible fear.

To the surprise of the others, Jack states he isn't kidding, and adds that he certainly feels that Foster isn't a courageous man.  He also reminds the others of the odd manner Foster had , almost gloating and triumphant, as he looked over at Dr. Parks, when Foster announced the cabin stewards' death. Doc asks Jack if he thinks Captain Foster thinks Dr. Parks killed the steward, and "...is scared wall-eyed of him", but Jack simply shrugs and replies that it is at least something to consider. 

Jack also comments that the radio being knocked out was an odd coincidence, but that it WAS possible that someone else got into the radio room and wrecked things; he emphasized to the others the need to consider things from as many angles as possible. 

In this same line, he asks the others to consider Dr. Ezra Parks, who is a scientist, not a medical man. 

REGGIE:    But look here, what kind of scientist?

JACK:        Well, this is supposedly a deep-sea expedition, so it's natural to suppose he's an expert on under-sea life...

DOC:        Mermaids and stuff like that.

REGGIE:    (CHUCKLES)

JACK:        Doc, do you have to drag in the female angle into EVERY discussion...

DOC:        Not angle, son..Curve...female CURVE..

Jack rolls his eyes, but asks them to consider that it was Ruth Foster who visited Dr. Parks cabin when her husband was conveniently away. And that it was Dr. Parks whom Foster half-way accused of murder, while being at the same time scared witless of him.

Dr. Davids is the next person aboard The Blue Phantom Jack turns their attention to.  Jack admits he doesn't know why Foster chose him to be the ship's doctor, but Dr. Davids does seem to be plenty interested in Ruth Foster, too.  At the same time, SHE tried to see Dr. Davids last night, too.   Doc adds that it was Dr. Davids who tells them all that the cabin steward was killed by snakes, despite the lack of fang marks; could he be giving them all a bum steer?

Reggie mentions that Jack hasn't talked about Swensen the engineer, or sailor Pete yet.  Jack, knowing that Reggie has a particular interest in finding (and dealing firmly with a bit of pugilistic exercise!) the man who knocked him out last night, tells him that after they shower, dress and breakfast, that they'll deal with each of them separately at the first opportunity. 

Suddenly, a strange sound interrupts their discussion.  It's a combination thud or crash, as if something was thrown against their cabin door!  Doc opens the door, and finds somebody laying face down in a heap outside of it.  Jack and Reggie crowd in close, to give Doc a hand if necessary.

REGGIE:    I say, turn him over...Who is it?

DOC:        (STRAINS) Yeah...Heey, it's Pete, the other sailor...

JACK:        (GRIM) Here, let me have a look at him...

REGGIE:    But...But I say...He isn't breathing, is he?

JACK:        No...He's not breathing...

DOC:        Dead?

JACK:        Very dead...

DOC:        And I s'pose they'll tell us HE was bit by a snake, TOO... 

MUSIC:……..ORGAN…"VALSE TRISTE") 

Episode 4: Wednesday June 7th, 1950.

SOUND:           (Clock Strikes Nine)

It's now two hours after Pete, one of the seamen, was found dead outside the cabin shared by Jack, Doc and Reggie.  While Dr. Davids and Dr. Parks are performing an autopsy on the body of the dead man in the medical ward, the scene finds us with the Three Comrades in the main lounge of The Blue Phantom alone with Captain Foster.

Jack is surprised to see no one else is in the lounge, since he asked earlier that everyone aboard The Blue Phantom assemble here for a discussion.  When he asks Foster why he is the only one to show up, the master of The Blue Phantom tells Jack he has told them to ignore Jack's request.  

Surprised and not a little annoyed Jack asks why.  Captain Foster simply smirks and smiles and says that the ship's crew have duties to perform.  When Jack then asks why Mrs. Foster hasn't obeyed, Foster slyly replies, "Women...you know women..."

JACK:    Now look here, Captain Foster.  There's been two deaths aboard the Blue Phantom...perhaps two murders... 

FOSTER:    (AGREEMENT) Murder...Yes, undoubtedly murder..

JACK:     And yet you go around smirking and smiling and rubbing your hands as though the whole thing greatly amused you.

FOSTER:    (AMUSED) Amused...Is that the way it's appeared to you?

Jack challenges Foster's superficial veneer of amusement, telling the Captain of The Blue Phantom that it badly conceals Foster's true feelings, that he is scared within an inch of his life.  Foster vehemently denies this, but his hand is suddenly trembling.  When Jack hands him a glass of water, Foster's hands shake so much that the glass drops to the deck and shatters.

JACK:    You see...you're trembling so much you can't hold a glass of water in your hand...Fear!

FOSTER:    No...no...NOT FEAR...

JACK:    I've got eyes in my head.

FOSTER:    (EAGER, CRINGING)  But I can explain...A touch of ague...malaria...tropical fever...It often comes on me...

Jack really doesn't buy this explanation, but drops this line of questioning for now.  He and the others learn from Foster that Dr. Parks and Dr. Davids are at this moment performing an autopsy on the new dead man. However, Foster refused to explain the undercurrent of trouble going on between himself and the two doctors, nor will he comment on the radio so mysteriously breaking down now of all times. Foster again refuses to tell Jack why he and the others were hired, though Jack darkly hints to Foster that the real reason was that Foster wanted a bodyguard. 

Doc. angry about this stonewalling, cajoles Jack and Reggie to take over the ship and bring it back to port.  

Jack reminds Doc of two important points; firstly, taking over the ship from Captain Foster would constitute mutiny (since Foster has technically done nothing wrong so far). Secondly, none of the three of them know anything about piloting a ship!

Suddenly, Jack hears a sound at the door to the main lounge.  He quietly slips over, and jerks open the door. Caught red-handed listening is Swensen, the ship's Swedish engineer! 

FOSTER:    (CHUCKLES) Caught you, didn't they Swensen?

SWENSEN: They sure enough DID, and a dirty trick it vas, too!

Jack questions Swensen about what he was doing listening outside on their conversation.  Swensen tries to clam up, at first only saying he was stopping by the cabin door just to scratch himself.  He does finally admit, that, "...Vell...YES...between itches and scratches..." he was listening in, but won't tell them why.  

Swensen also admits under questioning about Pete's movement's (before his death) that Pete was to go topside and take the helm at eight bells to relieve Charley when he left the foc'c'sle at Seven o'clock, after he had a shower first.  Jack reminds everyone that Pete was found dead at 7:15, and never did have his morning bath given the condition of Pete's hair body when it was found.

That reminds Jack to wonder what is taking so long with the autopsy.  After sending Doc to find out, he turns from questioning Swensen and asks Captain Foster if he knew anything about Pete's movements in the fifteen or so minutes between the time he left the fo'c'sle and when he was found dead outside their cabin door. Captain Foster drops a bombshell.

FOSTER:    (SNICKERS) You might ask Dr. Davids...

JACK:    Ask Davids...Why?...What does he know?

FOSTER:    (SNICKERS) Ask him why Pete came staggering out of the sick bay just before he dropped dead in front of your cabin door.

Startled by this sudden revelation, Jack has Captain Foster repeat himself. 

Foster, still snickering, states he had forgotten to tell the others that he saw Pete come out of the tiny sick bay, "...staggering and weaving like a drunken sailor..." and died almost instantly afterwards! 

As Jack and Reggie stare at amazement at each other at this bombshell, a second one occurs when the door to the main lounge suddenly opens with a bang and the sound of ocean waves.

DOC:    (COMING TO MIKE) (BREATHLESS) Jack...Jack...come a  runnin'...

REGGIE: Doc, what is it?

DOC:    (BREATHLESS)  Both of them there doctors is layin' on the floor in yonder, sleepin' like babes...

JACK:  Parks and Davids unconscious...

DOC:    Yeah, but worse than THAT...

JACK:    Worse?

DOC:    Both of them dead men is gone!

REGGIE:    Dead men GONE...

DOC:    Vanished...Flesh and BONE!

MUSIC:……..ORGAN…"VALSE TRISTE") 

 

Episode 5: Thursday June 8th, 1950.

SOUND:           (Clock Strikes Four)

Doc, on guard with Dr. Parks in the latter's cabin, suddenly notices late in the afternoon that his charge is awake, although still woozy from a blow to the head.  Groaning and rubbing his sore head, Parks asks Doc what happened. Parks learns from Doc that both he and Dr. Davids were both found struck unconscious,  and that Reggie is now guarding the unconscious Dr. Davids while Doc is performing the same duty here.  

Doc also tells him that the bodies of the Steward and Pete are now missing, much to Dr. Parks' surprise.

DOC:    Of course, maybe somebody didn't want you fellers autopsyin' Pete to find out what made him die...And Maybe he jes' threw the steward overboard for good measure.  

PARKS:    But that couldn't be the answer, because Dr. Davids had already completed the autopsy when we were attacked...

DOC:    Hey--sure 'nuff!  Then you know what killed Pete?

PARKS:    That's right.

DOC:    Was it...was it...

PARKS:    (NODS) Snake venom...The same thing that killed the steward.

Doc expresses his bafflement, but Dr. Parks sticks to his scientific guns--it was snake venom..  Parks asks what Dr. Davids had to say about the matter, and learns from Doc that, according to Reggie, that the scientist was still knocked out. 

Doc suddenly realized that perhaps he shouldn't do any more talking and perhaps spoils some of Jack's plans, and tells Parks this.

PARKS:    (AMUSED) You and that young Englishman put quite a lot faith in Packard, don't you?

DOC:    Jack? You bet your sweet life we do!

PARKS:    He's really that intelligent?

DOC:    Look son, Jack kin lick his weight in quiz books any day of the week!

Parks remains amused, but desists.  He does tell Doc that he thinks there really is a murderer now aboard The Blue Phantom, although the idea of a man stalking the decks with a club in one hand and a poisonous reptile in the other is an incongruous one.

To change the subject, Doc asks Dr. Parks if he is married.  Surprised, Parks says no, but gets Doc to talk a little about himself and his Texas background.  As usual, Winnie-Mae, his favorite cousin on Doc's mama's side becomes part of the conversation.

DOC:    Like two toad-frogs in the same puddle...Growed up to be the purtiest female woman in the country...Why, say, when she was goin' on twelve, she could have given Myrna Loy shoes and stockings and STILL have go her pick of the men.. 

After another story about Winnie-Mae, the door opens and Jack enters. 

Jack cuts to the quick, and asks Dr. Parks if he feels like talking.  Guardedly, Dr. Parks says he does, and tells Jack he just told Doc, that according to their autopsy, Pete died from snake venom. 

JACK:    (THOUGHTFULLY) Two deaths from snake poisoning and no snakes aboard...What conclusion does that lead you to?

PARKS:    There's only one conclusion you CAN have...

JACK:    I'd like to hear it.

PARKS:    Someone with a quantity of the venom is administering it to his unfortunate victims aboard the Blue Phantom as he sees fit.

Parks reiterates his theory that there is a murderer aboard The Blue Phantom.  He also tells Jack that this type of crime is too weird to fit the temperaments of the stoic and unimaginative remaining crew of  Swensen or Charley. Jack agrees with this line of reasoning, and tells Dr. Parks to go on theorizing. Dr. Parks then says that they can also drop Ruth Parks from the list. Jack interrupts here, stating that poison is and always has been a woman's weapon.  Upset, Dr. Parks says it is ridiculous to assume this.  Additionally, how could she have both knocked out himself and Dr. Davids, as well as carry the two dead men outside the sick bay and pitch them into the ocean?  

Parks next tries to suggest that one or more of the Three Comrades could be behind it all.  Jack nips that suggestion in the bud, stating that they are on the side-lines in this matter, but that Dr. Parks may have suggested that should be suspects was just to confuse matters.   Upset again, Dr. Parks asks Jack if he thinks that he is guilty, a claim that Jack side-steps for the moment.  However, Jack does go out and say that from the not so subtle hints and deductions that  Parks has been dropping up to now that he believes that Parks thinks Captain Foster is the guilty one.  Parks agrees; that's exactly what he things.

However Parks is upset again to learn from Jack that Dr. Foster has earlier suggested that either Dr. Parks, Dr. Davids or even both may be the guilty party.  As proof, Captain Foster told Jack that less than two minutes before Pete fell over dead, Captain Foster saw him come out of the medical ward staggering and weaving, and that a few minutes later he saw both Parks and Dr. Davids come out of the ward and head to their separate cabins.

Parks protests his innocence, that he didn't know that anyone was watching, but that there was a perfectly valid explanation.  

Parks explains that Dr. Davids had earlier knocked on his cabin door, stating that he heard someone inside the medical ward (which is directly next to Dr. Davids cabin) and that they should investigate.  The two entered the little sick bay and found Pete inside, unsteady on his feet, with the strong smell of wine on his breath. Dr. Davids ordered the obviously drunk Pete out of the sick bay, but not before Pete said something very sinister and strange in retrospect.

JACK:    Yes?

PARKS:    He said...Just looking for a little something for a snake bite.

DOC:    HEEEY...he said that?

PARKS:    Well, you know that some make humorous reference to liquor as snake-bit medicine.  

JACK:    Very humorous indeed...the man came to you for medical aid and you two master minds threw him out...Two minutes later, he was dead of snake poisoning. 

PARKS:    That's not fair, Packard...we had no reason to believe--

JACK:    You had EVERY REASON TO BELIEVE HIM...wasn't one made already dead from snake poisoning?...There's one of two conclusions to draw from your own story, Parks...either you two administered poison to him while he was in there with you--

PARKS:    You're insane...

JACK:    Or else a man came to you for help on the point of death and you refused him aid...Take your choice.  The man's dead because of you either way.

Parks vehemently refuses to take any such responsibility for Pete's death.  He starts to angrily reply, when Reggie, absent until now, suddenly bursts into the cabin out of breath:  

REGGIE:    It's Pete...The body of Pete...It's back again...

Startled, the others join to where Reggie claims to have found the body of the dead sailor.  They dash out of the cabin, run down the rolling deck, and Reggie points in front of their cabin.

REGGIE:    (COMING TO MIKE), There...Right in front of the door...

JACK:    What are you talking about...there's no body here!

REGGIE:    No BODY!...But I say, there WAS, THERE WAS...Look, Look, there's the wet out-line where the body lay...

DOC:    Sure 'nuff LOOKS like it, Jack...

JACK:    If there was a body, where is it NOW?

DOC:    (CHUCKLES) Doggone!...This here's 'bout the FRISKIEST corpse I ever did see!

MUSIC:……..ORGAN…"VALSE TRISTE") 


So ends the first five episodes of The Blue Phantom Murders (also known as "The Blue Phantom" from the first run of this ILAM story).  

Stay tuned for further adventure on the high seas whenever I have the chance!  

::Brian::