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THE GRAVES OF WHAMPERJAW, TEXAS

Week #3 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 11: March 3rd, 1952.


SOUND: Clock strikes seven o'clock.

It's now two days after the time Doc had found Banker Martin dead in his room -- a victim of snake bite! There's still no sign of Jack, who has gone undercover to try and unravel this baffling mystery. It's also been two days since one of Bradley's henchman have broken Ramon's arm, and the young Mexican lad has still not returned from hospital from the next town to get his fracture repaired. Doc, restless with inactivity, and tired of hiding out in dusty haymows, has just snuck back to the little cafe to talk to Jerry Booker, just as the clock strikes seven o'clock at night.

Jerry and Doc have their little pow-wow, Mercedes having said she was heading over to her little cabin to change. With the Mexican girl gone, the two play catch up. Jerry confides in Doc her concern over the intensity of emotions that Ramon had recently directed to her, and her palpable relief he's been away for the last two days. Uncomfortably, she says to Doc:

JERRY: Acts like he doesn't know which would be more fun, to kiss me or kill me...

Ironically, cued to that moment, Ramon comes into the cafe, a cast very obvious on his right arm. He tells the two about his misadventures and his trip to the hospital, and his very recent return. Doc leaves the two in the kitchen for a moment (Jerry the unwelcome recipient of some further Ramon-styled flattery), heading to the other room of the cafe. He's still curious about the primitive decorations that hang on the walls, especially the vicious looking arrows that resembled the one found deep in the pump of the first murder victim. Looking out the window towards the little cabin out back, he is staggered to see Mercedes talking to the enemy in a friendly way. Specifically, with Buck Bradley!

Although Doc can't hear what they are talking about, the listeners of the show are privileged to a little fade-in scene that contained these disturbing words:

MERC: It is better I come to you...otherwise we may fail...first I must trap this Senor Packard...then we will take care of the red-haired Senor Doc Long...Ramon will be gone away...

Mercedes has apparently joined the enemy! Mercedes, seemingly in cahoots with Bradley, goes ahead with a plan with Bradley to trap Jack, then find a way to send her brother Ramon back to Mexico. She seems to be more than a little friendly with Bradley, who preens in her company, then hurries off.

Mercedes returns to the cafe, and Doc, seeing the tête-à-tête, but not hearing the conversation, pretends not to notice the clandestine meeting just held. Mercedes expresses delight at the return of her brother, but the little reunion is interrupted by the arrival of the strange Mrs. Hootin, still wearing her gorgeous diamond tiara, while at the same time wearing a faded print dress, and wearing rough men's shoes.

Mrs. Hootin is in the cafe just for a moment, there to see "...the pretty gurl," meaning Jerry Booker, whom she took a shine to several days earlier. Cryptically, she repeats the odd phrase she said in the bank to the now deceased Mr. Martin, "H'it won't do it," and departs again to the puzzlement of the others.

They don't have a chance to be puzzled for long, for whom should enter the cafe next is the mysterious crippled stranger with the white whiskers and bum arm who had clobbered Buck Bradley with his big stick of a cane to save Doc and Ramon. Doc goes over to meet the stranger, curious to learn who he is and why he helped them. But not before the grizzled stranger pinches Jerry on the bottom! Before she and Doc can get mad at these unchivalrous antics, the stranger reveals himself--to be none other than their friend, Jack Packard himself!

Jack tells the astonished room that he's been hiding out, working as a handyman these past few days on a local farm. He had been working undercover, away from the others, trying to put together the pieces of this mystery. It was he who had slugged Bradley on the head outside the bank, allowing for the rescue of Doc and Ramon. More importantly, Jack's learned that there's yet *another* open grave and verse! He takes out his little note-book, opens it and reads:

JACK:    Here it is...says, "On February 10, another will join the other dead men! Leader of vermin and rats and hogs, will die like all the yellow dogs, who cheat and lie and spoil the dreams, of folks who wish on gold moon-beams."

DOC: "...Folks who wish on gold moon beams!" I know! I know who that means!

MUSIC: (Organ, "Valse Triste")

Episode 12: March 4th, 1952.


The clock strikes 8 PM. In the lengthy announcer's recap is a recounting of how the mystery of the crippled stranger who saved Doc and Ramon had earlier been solved; it was Jack, working undercover. Also, is a recap on the astonishing relationship between Mercedes and Bradley, and how Ramon continues to make violent and dangerous (verbal) love to Jerry by telling her, "...she is too lovely to live in this world!" 

At the moment, all are seated around the kitchen of the little cafe which Mercedes owns.

With Doc's words, ""...Folks who wish on gold moon beams!" I know! I know who that means!" still hanging in the air, and Ramon poised to reply, Mercedes rapidly interupts to silence Ramon. Speaking in Spanish to her brother, she hurriedly tells him to say that in Mexico many people wish on moonbeams. Unfortunately for her, all the others know a smattering of the Spanish language and catch on to what she says.

Ramon admits that *he* makes wishes on moonbeams, but scornfully tells them it is *not* a superstition; it was a habit he learned from Mrs. Hootin! He goes on to say that Mrs. Hootin is like a little girl--in her mind. Working for Mrs. Hootin, he has had ample opportunity to observe her, and learn that she thinks she is a beautiful princess. And it was her who taught Ramon to wish on gold moonbeams, which Doc agrees was his thinking exactly.

Jack tells the girls to return to the cabin and lock it. Mercedes hands over to Jack a Winchester rifle, and Doc has his gun (only with no bullets), and they say they are going to hide out again. After a few minutes, Mercedes herself heads outside, leaving Ramon (still tired with his broken arm) along again with Jerry. Ramon proceeds again to unnerve Jerry with his odd manner of Spanish flattery and "dead talk":

RAMON:    But it is as I have say...you are too beautiful...too lovely...to exquisite to live in this sad and ugly worl'...

Fade now to Jack and Doc, who have *not* been heading to some nearby hideout as they have said, but who have been instead waiting outside in the shadows. Jack is updated by Doc on his suspicions regarding Mercedes, and together they talk a little on the recent Martin murder. Suddenly, Mercedes walks past them, obviously heading to Buck Bradley's cabin for a clandestine night rendezvous! They quietly follow the girl, ducking behind oil derricks, dodging pipes snaking along the ground, and so on, until they arrive at the girl's destination.

JACK: But Doc, look! What she doing? She knocked on the door. Now she's--

DOC: Yeah. Now she's ducking away! Look!

JACK: She 's dropped down on the ground behind that little picket fence.

DOC: Shore 'nuff! There...there's Bradley openin' his door!

JACK: And Mercedes is HIDING!

DOC: Well, that's the dad-gummest thing I ever--

SOUND (Revolver shots off mike...two of them)

JACK: Doc! Doc! She shot him! She plugged him and down he went!

DOC: Yessir! He's a gone goose...and Mercedes done it!

MUSIC: (Organ, "Valse Triste")

Episode 13: March 5th, 1952


The clock strikes nine-o'clock, as Jack and Doc are astounded at what they just saw; Mercedes has just gunned down Buck Bradley. Flabbergasted, Doc speaks for both of them.

DOC:    She shot Bradley, Son!...Jest up an' shot him down!

Mercedes runs off into the night, as Doc and Jack approach the prostrate Bradley, shot down by Mercedes as she laid in waiting. Only...he isn't dead! As Jack discovers, the bullet only creased Bradley's temple, knocking him unconscious. As Jack checks him over for other injuries, Doc grabs first Bradley's cartridge belt, and then Bradley's big fat wallet.

Suddenly, they hear the noise of someone running their way, and Doc and Jack run like hell on dirt. They plop down out of sight in a handy shadow of an oil pipeline. While waiting to see if they have been followed, Doc whispers his worries to Jack about the strange way that Ramon is making love to Jerry. Jack convinces Doc that grabbing Bradley's wallet was wrong and is stealing; grumbling, Doc returns the wallet to the body of the unconscious Bradley, but not before taking back all the money that had been stolen.

Jack and Doc return to the little cafe, and find Jerry and Mercedes, both getting ready to retire for the evening. Ramon is already supposed to be in his little lean-to outside the cafe, fast asleep. The boys confront Mercedes about shooting Bradley, and tell her that she has failed to kill the Texas badman. They take Mercedes and Jerry along outside to talk, and head over to the graveyard as they do so.

Mercedes confesses that she has been very recently been meeting Bradley and planning with him to help capture the boys and send Ramon back to Mexico. Only, it was for the best of intentions; all her maneuvering has been done to try and save Ramon from certain death at the hands of Bradley. She tried to kill Bradley just a few minutes ago, outside his cabin, when she realized that Ramon would never recant his vow made earlier in the evening to kill Bradley himself or die in the attempt. To save her little brother Ramon, and to make sure the job was done right, she decided to kill Bradley himself!

At this point of Mercedes explanation for her peculiar actions, the group has arrived now at the Whamperjaw graveyard. Another grave has been filled in, but now there is a new one yawning open! The group heads over to investigate this latest clue.

SOUND (Lonely dog howls in distance)

JACK: (Mumbles as he reads to himself, then) Well, evidently this will
be one of the last of the strange open graves...says:

"To make my plans all complete/ I'll trode the grave in my bare feet,
And step in a face too pretty somehow/And laugh at how she must look now
Pert an' cute and such a looker/ Here lie the body of JERRY BOOKER."

JERRY: (Terrified) This...this grave's for ME?

MERC: (whispers) "Too pretty somehow"...madre di dios! Ramon!

MUSIC: (Organ, "Valse Triste")

Episode 14: March 6th, 1952.


The clock strikes ten o'clock over the terrifying scene in the Whamperjaw graveyard. Just a few minutes ago, Jack and Doc, with Jerry and Mercedes, came across the last of the strange open graves in the little graveyard up behind the cafe. One that threatens the A-One's secretary, Jerry Booker, with death!

Jerry is terrified! As they leave the cemetery, and head back to the cafe, she emphatically makes it clear that she wants *out* of here, out of Whamperjaw and all its mysterious killings, no later than by the am train. Only...they have no money to take the train, since Buck Bradley had stole all their money!

Still walking back to the cafe, Mercedes offers to lend them all some cash so they can leave as soon as possible. Jerry and Mercedes learn from the boys then, that they have money now, after having grabbed the contents Buck Bradley's wallet. They gather about and open the roll of bills to count the cash, and notice something else folded inside it. It turns out to be a fairly recent "wanted poster"--with Buck Bradley's face on it! Buck Bradley, under his name and several alias, is wanted for murder and highway robbery. 

There's even a price on his head, $4,000!

As they ponder over this new piece of information and arrive at the cafe, Mercedes tells Jerry that it may not be safe for her to sleep at her little cabin, what with all the danger and all. Jack points out that he knows what is really on her mind, that she wants Jerry kept away from Ramon with the murder verse hanging over her head, and that she thinks that Ramon may be the verse writer!

Mercedes explodes at Jack's accusation that she thinks her brother is the mysterious verse writer. It could not possibly be Ramon! She rightly points out that Ramon has a broken arm, now slung in a cast. He's also been in the hospital for the past two days; when could Ramon have dug the grave and write the odd verse in the tombstone? Jack admits his speculations may be groundless, and calms her fears. The girls retire to sleep, while the the others leave to stand on guard.

Jack and Doc leave the cabin, and hide outside to watch. A coyote howls in the distance, and Doc starts to tell of the time he tried to raise a pet coyote and the chaos that ensued. Suddenly they hear someone running towards the cabin--it's Ramon (obviously not sleeping in the little lean-too)! And he's being chased by Buck Bradley! 

Bradley opens fire with his pistol at Ramon, and misses. Doc shoots back, and misses Bradley. But Bradley's return shot knocks Doc's gun from out of his hand!

With the drop on them with his own ready and smoking pistol, Bradley removes their weapons, and tightly hand cuffs Jack, then Doc and Ramon. With a grim wave of his pistol, he motions them to walk towards the Whamperjaw cemetery.

DOC:     Think he means it, Jack?

JACK:    (low) I know he means it!

DOC:    (low) Well son...maybe this is it! (pause)

RAMON:    (Breaks out) Senor Bradley! What is it you do with us? What will you do at the graveyard?

BRADLEY:    (grim) I tuk ever'thing I'm gonna take from you three! Them open graves is gonna come in mighty handy...

RAMON:    (hysterical) Senor...you...you will kill us?

BRADLEY: That's right! And then I'm goin' to put the dirt in...on top!


MUSIC: (Organ, "Valse Triste")

Episode 15: March 7th, 1952


The clock strikes eleven o'clock to mark the time of the suspenseful climax to this final episode. Three empty graves in the little Whamperjaw cemetery , two with words on the tombstones! And now, Jack, Doc and Ramon, who have been captured by Buck Bradley, is going to bring them to the cemetery and then leave them in the graves--dead! Ramon is terrified that Bradley is going to hang him, but as Bradley sneers in reply:

BUCK: (off) You ain't goin' to git hung...you goin' to git shot!

Bradley tells his three captives it was *he* who had shot at Jack in the cafe during their first night in Whamperjaw. And though he denied that he killed his own man, it was Bradley who removed his man killed by the arrow, depositing the body in the conveniently handy first open grave, and buried. it. He also denied killing Abernathy and Martin, too. Abernathy was also buried in his grave, and Banker Martin's body was at that minute being shipped back home for burial.

Bradley cold-bloodedly lines up his three intended victims, each one assigned to stand at the foot their own open grave. Bradley heartlessly tells Doc, Jack and Ramon that he'll kill each one of them in turn, in order of how much they had caused him trouble. Doc was to get his gun shot in the back of the head, Ramon head on, and Jack, why, his death he would play by ear!

Bradley raises his gun...

Shots ring out in the night!

And Bradley reels over and crumples to the ground...dead!

Wonderingly, Jack and Doc see that *Ramon* has killed Bradley! What?! How? They learn that Ramon's arm had NOT been broken several days earlier. Instead, while it had been injured by his run in with Kiddo Kelly, his true purpose of getting out of town was to literally place an ace up his sleeve, to conceal a hidden gun under a fake plaster cast, for just such an occasion. And this was that occasion!

As Ramon goes to free the others, Jack and Doc remain puzzled. 

With Bradley dead, and with his earlier admission that he was *not* the mysterious grave digger and verse writer, who was responsible for all the killings and mayhem?

JACK: Let's see...may as well go and call in the authorities about this body...wish we had something to cover him up with...

MRS. H: He's cover up.

DOC: (startled) Who...who said that???

RAMON: (startled) Mrs. Hootin!

MRS. H: Yes, I'm Mrs. Hootin. He's covered up. I brought a sheet.

JACK: You...you brought a sheet? Did you expect to--?

MRS. H: Yes sir...I expected to cover up.

She moves with strange grace towards the group, and they notice that she was quiet because she was tip-toeing about in bare feet! Jack tries to make some sense out of all of this confusion and unexpected turn of events:

JACK: You mean you had the right to kill Bradley?

MRS. H: Yes sir. But I guess it's all right he's dead. I would kilt him before midnight like I said on the verse I wrote on that there tombstone. But he's dead...that's the main thing.

Jack, Doc and Ramon are astounded! It was the tall and peculiar Mrs. Hootin who was the mysterious murderer! It was she who dug the graves with her strong farm-wife's muscles, planted the tombstones, and scrawled the ragged doggeral foretelling doom to each one of her victims!

Jack, Doc and Ramon learn further from talking to her. "Judge" Abernathy had been killed by Mrs. Hootin, using the old trick of an outside mounted gun with a thread attached to the trigger to provide her an alibi. She had heard the boys rustling in the shrubbery, and so had set the stage where she could commit his murder in plain view, with no one being the wiser!

Jerry Booker was to be the next victim on her list since she was the complete opposite of Mrs. Hootin--young and lovely. Only now, with Buck Bradley dead--the man she had seen kill her husband, Squire Hootin--she had no heart left for killing.

And Banker Martin was killed by a cake-box full of venomous snakes, after being lulled into complacency by several previous boxes full of delicious cakes she had baked herself!

She explains that her plans to kill Bradley were set in place in revenge for her husband's murder. The graves and the verses were to unnerve the Texas bad man and his cronies The others were killed for their various involvements in trying to cheat her out of her oil-rich farm land.

The clock strikes one am, and the scene now fades to the little Mexican cafe. Everyone left connected to the case--Mercedes and Ramon, along with Jack, Doc and Jerry--are present, and are hashing over the events of the last few days, trying to make some sense of it all. It's been several hours since the climax of the story, where Bradley has been killed, and Mrs. Hootin has been revealed to be the mysterious grave digger and murderous corpse killer. Thinking her harmless for now, Jack allowed her to go home but would arrange for the authorities to take care of the obviously deranged and dangerous woman.

Jack spells out an explanation for the girls, absent from the evening's fracas and revelations.

Mrs. Hootin, always somewhat eccentric and thinking that she was a fairy-tale princess, became partly unhinged at seeing her husband murdered by Bradley. But there was more to it than that.

The first man actually killed, the man with the arrow through the heart found on the front steps of the cafe was the man Bradley had sent to see Mrs. Hootin, and told her she was a princess. All she needed was a diamond tiara and everyone would realize what her true nature was. Using some of the inheritance money, she purchased the greatly marked up piece of jewelry. Because people laughed at her, she realized she'd been cheated from the start. This was the point she became completely unhinged, and set out to clean up everyone connected to the deal. This was the reason she kept on repeating "It don't do it," all the time, after she realized she'd been tricked.

Judge Abernathy, who had been connected with Bradley, and who had been trying to cheat her out of her late husband's farm was the second victim on her list of revenge.

Banker Martin was the man who bought Mrs. Hootin her tiara. He was actually working for Bradley, and was willing to take part of the land in payment. He became another victim of Mrs. Hootin's revenge, by means of the snakes in the cake box, described earlier.

Bradley was to be the last victim, but had been finished up instead by Ramon. As an afterthought, Jerry Booker was added as a final victim on Mrs. Hootin's list of those who must die. Her oblique reasoning was, since Jerry was beautiful, she was therefore a thorn in Mrs. Hootin's side, reminding her of her own plainness and unprincesslike appearance!

As they all ponder over the grim and eerie events of the last week, Jerry suddenly remembers that they had received a telegram earlier that day. In all the confusion of graveyard threats and more, she had completely forgotten about it. She pulls it out and reads the teaser for their upcoming adventure:

JERRY:    The telegram I got says; "Come quick...details waiting at the Hollywood office...oh yes, don't be surprised at a decapitation!"

DOC:    Whooeee..now that's a word for you--decapitation! But whose a-gonna be the fall fall-guy? It ain't gonna be me!

MUSIC: (Organ, "Valse Triste")


This marks the end of the final episode of The Graves of Whamperjaw, Texas.

I hope you enjoyed reading it!

::Brian::