Seven Keys to Baldpate Inn by Paul Thain


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author’s PRIOR consent


ACT ONE

RECEPTION/LOBBY OF BALDPATE INN, a mountain summer resort closed for winter

Itís a dark and stormy night

A cold Wind howls

The Room is full of Shadows, cast by squat, elongated Shapes shrouded in White

A Flash of Lightning and a Crash of Thunder

Jolts one of the Shapes into life

Intoxicated by the Storm, it begins to dance

Swaying and twisting in the moonlight

It turns

And we glimpse its face Ö

It is NANCY, a Hermit disguised as a Ghost

More Lightning and Thunder

Illuminates a wizened face, peering through the glass-paned Door upstage Left

It is ELIJAH QUIMBY, caretaker of Baldpate Inn, holding a raised Lantern

By its Light we see his wife MARTHA appear behind him

He hands her the Lantern while he fumbles for his keys and unlocks the Door

The Wind howls louder as the Door swings opens

And the Shape disappears as ELIJAH holds the door for MARTHA to enter

He follows, carefully locking the door

They stamp their feet to get warm

ELIJAH: Lord bless me, I do believe it’s colder here than it is outside.

MARTHA: I was thinking the very same, Elijah.

MARTHA lifts her Lantern and peers around the room

Table, chairs, sofas, dresser, desk, coat-stands, reception counter, moose head
and wall-clock are all draped with white dust-covers

MARTHA goes downstage to the Table, removes its dust-cover, and rests her Lantern

ELIJAH joins her, removing ear-muffs, cap and mittens and placing them on the Table

ELIJAH: A fine business this aní no mistake.

MARTHA: What a climb, eh? 

ELIJAH: (stamping his feet again) Feet are frozen, canít feel my toes.

ELIJAH sniffs the air

ELIJAH: Stinks Ö stinks of mould Ö better open the door, let in some air.

MARTHA: You crazy? Snow’ll blow all over the place. (indicates Fireplace)
See if there’s any logs, a fireíll help.

ELIJAH sets about building a fire

ELIJAH: Plenty logs, but I canít find them darned matches.

MARTHA: Donít say youíve gone and left them.

ELIJAH: I swear I picked up a box before we Ė ah, right, here we are.

MARTHA: Better light the lamp first, so’s you can see what you’re doin’.

ELIJAH: Teachiní me to suck eggs next.

MARTHA: (bristling) Only trying to help.

LIGHTS RISE as ELIJAH lights the Lamp over the Fireplace

MARTHA: Grumpy old pig.

MARTHA begins to remove remaining dust-covers and straighten chairs etc

ELIJAH: What you say?

MARTHA: I said, heís late! 

A Distant Clock strikes eleven

ELIJAH: What?

MARTHA goes upstage, peers through glass door

MARTHA: Eleven o’clock. He should be here by now.

ELIJAH: Be on account of the storm.

MARTHA: Train’s on time, been in twenty minutes already. So why ainít he here?
Itís only a fifteen minute walk.

ELIJAH: Not on this night. (handing her matches) Light the other lamp, will you?

MARTHA takes matches and lights Lamp near Staircase Stage-Right

More Thunder and Lightning

MARTHA: Didnít I say we should be there to meet him?

ELIJAH: Shouldíve done nothin’ of the kind. Telegram said to open up and
have the place ready and thatís what weíre doing. Them’s the instructions, aní
them’s what we foller. Youíll see, heíll be here before we know it.

MARTHA winds the Clock, sets it going

MARTHA: If he freezes to death itíll be on you.

ELIJAH: Will you not give me peace, woman?

MARTHA: Iím just sayiní. But frozen or not, itís a puzzle. What do you suppose
heís doin’ in a summer hotel in the dead of winter?

ELIJAH: Ainít none of our business.

MATHA goes to the door again, peers out

MARTHA: What’s his name again?

ELIJAH: Magee. William Hallowell Magee.

MARTHA: William Hallowell Magee. My oh my, that sure is a mouthful.

ELIJAH takes telegram from his pocket

ELIJAH: Thatís what it says.

MARTHA: (taking Telegram) Let me see.

She sits at the Table, studies Telegram

ELIJAH: Just hope we get paid, it being out of season aní all. In fact, I do believe
we should be paid extra, it beiní kind of an emergency, it beiní beyond the call of duty,
aní all Ö

Fireplace glows red

ELIJAH: There she goes!  See?  Blazing up fine.  I said -

MARTHA: I heard you.

ELIJAH: (approaching) Whatís wrong?

MARTHA: Iíve just had one of my feelinís.

ELIJAH: (sitting) You and your feelinís Ö

MARTHA: Have I ever been wrong?

ELIJAH: Right or wrong, it ainít none of our business. What Mr Bentley says
Mr Bentley gets and thatís the beginning aní end of it.

MARTHA: (reading) “Please be aware my friend William Hallowell Magee will arrive
to-night on the ten-forty. He is to occupy the best room in Baldpate Inn, so be prepared
to receive him. Make him comfortable and give him the key. Ask no questions. He has
important work to do”.

MARTHA folds the telegram

MARTHA: Well?

ELIJAH: Well what?

MARTHA: Important work Ö Ask no questions Ö What the devil is that all about?

ELIJAH takes back the Telegram

ELIJAH: None of our business, thatís what.

MARTHA: Maybe heís on the run. Committed some crime Ö comin’ here to hide.

ELIJAH: You think?

MARTHA: Could be violent. A murderer, even.

ELIJAH: Aní why should Mr Bentley be interested in such a man?

MARTHA: We both know Mr Bentley keeps strange company.

ELIJAH: You bin reading too many of them dime store novels.

MARTHA: I tell you, Elijah, itís fishy Ö

Thunder and Lightning

MARTHA: Ö turning up in the middle of the night without so much as Ė

A sharp Rap on the Door

MARTHA: Oh, my Good Lord!

More Thunder and Lightning Ö

Ö illuminating MAGEE, peering through the glass door

ELIJAH: (standing) Get a grip, woman! Itís only him.

MAGEE rattles the door-knob

Knocks again

ELIJAH: Yes, yes, jest a minute, jest a minute!

ELIJAH unlocks door

It swings open

The Wind howls

MAGEE enters carrying two suitcases

Heís a suave New Yorker, full of boyish charm

He wears a Trilby hat and trench coat, its collar stylishly raised

ELIJAH immediately locks the door and carefully pockets the Key

MAGEE: Thank you. Thank you so much. My word, what a night! Cold as the
grave out there, thought Iíd breathed my last. Nameís Magee. Billy Magee. I think
youíre expecting me.

ELIJAH: Sure are, Mr Magee. Mr Bentley sent a telegram.

MAGEE: Excellent.

MAGEE spots the blazing fire, drops suitcases, eagerly approaches it,
warms his hands

MAGEE: This is most welcome.

ELIJAH: My name’s Elijah. And this here is my lady wife Mrs Quimby.

MAGEE: (nods) A real pleasure, maíam.

MARTHA: Glad to meet you, Mr Magee.

MAGEE: Please Ö call me Billy.

MARTHA: Oh, I donít think -

MAGEE: Oh, go on Ö please.

MARTHA: Oh, very well Ö if thatís what you want.

MAGEE: (smiling) Ö Billy.

MARTHA: (smiling) Billy.

MAGEE begins to remove coat and hat

MAGEE: Isnít this just peachy? I can see weíre all going to get along just fine.
Do you think I could get a whisky?

ELIJAH: Barís all locked up for the winter.

MAGEE: So unlock it.

ELIJAH: Mr Bentley donít permit Ė

MAGEE: Iím sure Mr Bentley wonít mind in the slightest. I am, after all, here
as his guest, at his behest, soon I might add, to embark on work of some importance.
Work that requires a high degree of lubrication.

ELIJAH: (going) Iíll go see what I can find.

MAGEE: Iíd be most obliged.

MARTHA: (approaching) Iíll take those, sir.

MAGEE: (smiling) Billy.

MARTHA: (smiling) Billy.

She takes his Hat and Coat

MAGEE sits in the armchair, continues to warm his hands

MARTHA: That’s right, you warm your bones. We’ve been living in them mountains
so long we don’t mind the cold as much as strangers do. But even we felt it tonight.
Ainít that right, Elijah?

ELIJAH: (returning) Right enough. It is truly uncommonly cold.

ELIJAH hands MAGEE a glass of Whisky

MAGEE:  Thank you kindly, Elijah.  But why donít you just bring the bottle?

ELIJAH: The bottle?

MAGEE: Save your legs. Itís going to be a long night.

ELIJAH sighs, goes for the bottle

MAGEE knocks back the glass in one

MAGEE:  Thatís better.

ELIJAH returns with the bottle

ELIJAH:  There you go.

MAGEE stands, takes the bottle

MAGEE: Most kind.

MAGEE re-fills his glass, looks round the room

MAGEE: So this is Baldpate Inn?  Kinda spooky, donít you think?

MARTHA: Some say itís haunted.

MAGEE:  Do they now?

MARTHA: Mountain’s full of mystery. Some say it’s sacred. Some say it has
a soul.

MAGEE: Is that the truth?

MARTHA: So some say.

ELIJAH: Some say too darned much.

As MAGEE wanders the room

MAGEE: Well, ghosts or not, itís perfect. Just as I imagined. And you say youíve
received a telegram from Mr Bentley?

ELIJAH: Only just came, soís we didn’t have much time to prepare.

MAGEE: Yes, Iím sorry about that, but I didn’t decide to come until late this afternoon.

MARTHA: Gettin’ a telegram middle of the night, we was scared to death.

MAGEE: Yes, I can imagine. But I assure you it was altogether necessary in order
that I might accomplish what I have set out to do.

MARTHA: Had to leave in a hurry, did you?

ELIJAH darts MARTHA a look

MAGEE: Sure did. Time is of the essence.

MARTHA: And are we expecting anyone else?

MAGEE: Certainly not. Above all, I need seclusion. It is imperative Iím not disturbed.

MARTHA: I thought so.

ELIJAH: Martha!

MAGEE: Excuse me?

ELIJAH: What she means is, she needs to hurry and fix the best room so itíll be all nice
aní cozy for you aní your important work. Whatever that might be.

MARTHA takes the hint, collects logs

MARTHA: I’ll start the fire right away.

MAGEE: Yes, this is too big a barn to work in. I’ll no doubt be more comfortable up there.

As she climbs the Staircase Ö

MARTHA: I’ll soon have it ready.

MAGEE approaches the Upstage-Right counter

MAGEE: This, I presume, is the hotel office?

ELIJAH: Office and Reception.

MAGEE: Perfect.

ELECTRIC LIGHTS suddenly flash and stutter off and on

Alarmed, MARTHA calls from the Bedroom

MARTHA: (off) Oh, my Good Lord!

ELIJAH:  Whatís happening? 

MARTHA: Elijah!

ELIJAH: That ainít meant to happen.

MAGEE: Absolutely perfect.

Lights settle Full On

MARTHA appears, leans over balcony

MARTHA:  Elijah, what happened?

ELIJAH: Darned if I know.

MARTHA: Lights middle oí winter?  That ainít meant to happen.

MAGEE: I expect Mr Bentley arranged to have the power turned on.

ELIJAH: Not middle oí Winter, never does.

MARTHA: (from Balcony) Too darn mean.

ELIJAH: You mind your tongue.

MARTHA snorts, returns to the Bedroom

MAGEE: (laughing) Donít worry, I can be the soul of discretion. Now I really
must get on. But first I need to telephone Mr Bentley Ö

ELIJAH: There ainít no telephone.

MAGEE: But I have to let him know Iím here.

ELIJAH: Telephoneís cut off, donít work in Winter.

The Telephone rings

MARTHA re-appears on the Balcony, exchanges a fearful look with ELIJAH

MAGEE smiles

MAGEE: Are you absolutely sure?

Miffed, ELIJAH goes to the Reception desk, behind which is an antiquated
telephone system

ELIJAH: Donít know what the hellís goiní on here.

He answers the Telephone

ELIJAH: Hello? Baldpate 259. Hello?  Ah, Mr Bentley Ö yes Ö yes, sir, just arrived Ö
about ten minutes ago. What?  Underneath the counter?  Ah yes, I see it, sir. 

ELIJAH retrieves a sheaf of Paper from beneath the Reception desk

ELIJAH: Yes, I will, sir. Yes, I understand Ö Twelve oíclock. Twelve oíclock exactly.
Midnight. Twelve oíclock midnight. Yes, sir, thank you, sir, thank Ė

BENTLEY has hung up

ELIJAH also hangs up, goes to MAGEE

ELIJAH:  That was Mr Bentley.  I told him you was here. Says Iím to give you this.

ELIJAH indicates sheaf of paper

ELIJAH: Says youíre to give it me back to me in 24 hours.

MAGEE takes the Paper

MAGEE: Thatís right.

ELIJAH: Exactly 24 hours.

MAGEE: Right again.

ELIJAH: Thatíll be the very last stroke of midnight.

MAGEE:  Yes, thank you, Elijah, I get it. (flicking through sheaf) Headed note-paper, eh? Ö
(laughing) Ö He thinks I might cheat.

ELIJAH: Cheat?

MAGEE: I expect youíre wondering what the devil I’m doing here?

MARTHAís been eaves-dropping

She hurries down the Stairs

MARTHA: Truth to tell, we had been kinda speculatiní Ö

ELIJAH: But that was before we agreed it was none of our damn business.

MAGEE: On the contrary, itís very much your business. Are you a reading
man, Elijah?

ELIJAH: Canít say I am. I have neither time nor inclination.

MARTHA: He ainít, but I sure am.

MAGEE: I thought so. You have that certain look about you. And what genre
most pleases?

MARTHA: Genre?

MAGEE: Whatís most likely to tickle your fancy?

MARTHA: Oh, nothiní high-minded.

ELIJAH:  She likes them paperbacks they sell down at the dime store.

MAGEE: You mean thrilling tales of murder and mystery? 

MARTHA: Sure do. I like nothing better than a good murder.

MAGEE: Spooky shadows? Shots in the night?

ELIJAH: Yeh, thatís them.

MARTHA: Except, that is, a true romance.

MAGEE: Ah, romance Ö

ELIJAH: All that lovey-dovey stuff, she likes that.

MAGEE: Ah, lovey-dovey Ö Now where would we be without lovey-dovey, hm?

MARTHA: And passion. I like passion.

ELIJAH: Get a hold of yourself, woman.

MARTHA: Love at first sight. 

MAGEE: Ah, yes Ö Love at first sight. How blessed that is. A waltz plays under a
silver moon. We see a young man Ö Tall. Dark. And Ö and Ö

MARTHA: Ö handsome?

MAGEE: Thatíll do. He stands alone. Lost Ö lost in his Ö his loneliness.

MARTHA: I sure know what thatís like.

MAGEE: But then Ö Then heís captured by this sudden feeling, this sudden urge. 
And so he turns. He turns Ö and for the first time he sees the girl of his dreams.

MARTHA: Thatís it. You nailed it.

ELIJAH: Like I say, stuff and nonsense.

MARTHA: Maybe so, but they make my day worth liviní.

MAGEE: And thatís a joy to hear.  You see, I write those kind of books.

MARTHA: You do?

ELIJAH: The dickens you do!

MAGEE: Have you ever read The Mystery of the Scarlet Satchel?

MARTHA:  Sure I have.

MAGEE:  Well, thatís one of mine.  One of my better ones, in fact. A real bestseller.

ELIJAH: Well Iíll be. 

MARTHA: My oh my!

ELIJAH: Aní you say thereís money in it?

MARTHA: Elijah!

MAGEE: Damn right, there is. Only the wellís run rather dry recently.  And thatís why
Iím here, why I’ve come to Baldpate Inn.

ELIJAH: Aní you say it pays?

MARTHA: Elijah!

MAGEE: Sure Ö Thousands, millions even. Only this time I shall be true to my art.  This
time I shall be writing for love not money. You see, Iím planning a story so fine that the
Ghosts of the Greats will descend from the heavens with tears in their eyes and beg me
to join the Immortals.

ELIJAH: Is that so?

MAGEE: And whatís more, I’m going to do it tonight.

ELIJAH: Tonight?

MAGEE: Tonight I shall bring into the world something truly marvelous, something to stir
the soul and quicken the heart. Now what do you think about that?

MARTHA: Why, I think thatís just wonderful.

ELIJAH: And to think she took you for a murderer!

MARTHA: Elijah!

MAGEE: (smiling) Well, whoís to say Iím not?

MARTHA and ELIJAH exchange a look

MAGEE: (laughing) Only kidding Ö

MARTHA: Iíd better be checkiní on that fire. (Picking up suitcase and typewriter machine
case from Table) Shall I be puttiní these in your room?

MAGEE: I donít want to be a bother.

MARTHA: No bother at all, Billy. Anything I can do to facilitate your great work, Iíd
consider an honour aní a privilege.

MAGEE: (smiling) Most kind.

As MARTHA ascends the staircase

ELIJAH scrutinises MAGEE

MAGEE: Can’t quite fathom me, right?

ELIJAH: Truth to tell, I can’t figger whether you’re a smart man or a damn fool.

MAGEE: (laughing) Well, there you go Ö I’ve stalled between those two opinions
myself for years. My publisher says I’m a smart man but most of my critics take me
for a fool. Personally, I think theyíre both right.

MAGEE laughs again, raises his glass

MAGEE:  To the Muses of Creation! May they bless my endeavor!

ELIJAH: And you’re goin’ to write this here book here and now?

MAGEE: I have to if Iím to win the bet.

ELIJAH: Bet?

MAGEE: Wasnít it in the telegram?

ELIJAH: Werenít no mention of no bet.

MAGEE: Iím to write my masterpiece in 24 hours. (waving the sheaf of paper) At midnight
tomorrow I shall return these pages to you filled with ten thousand words of priceless prose. 
Ten thousand bucks to be precise.

ELIJAH: Ten thousand!

MAGEE: But for that, I need solitude. The crackle of the fire, the roar of the wind, and the
tick-tock of the clock. These alone shall bear me company.

MARTHA appears on the Balcony

MARTHA: Everything’s ready up here, Billy. You’d better come up, make sure it satisfies.

MAGEE: Iím sure itíll be just fine, Mrs Quimby. (claps histrionically) And so to work!  But
before you go, Iíd oblige you for the key, sir. Which I understand to be the only one in existence?

ELIJAH: Only one I know of.

MAGEE: And you’re quite sure I won’t be disturbed?

ELIJAH : No-one knows youíre here except us and weíre sayiní nothiní.

As MARTHA descends Stairs

MARTHA: I don’t mind stayiní aní keepin’ watch if you want me to.

MAGEE: Most kind, but I need to be alone.

As ELIJAH & MARTHA put on coats, mittens and mufflers

MARTHA: Rather you than me. This place, all alone. I should think you’d be afraid of the ghosts.

MAGEE: Ö ghosts?

ELIJAH: Havenít I told you there ain’t no such thing. 

MARTHA: I know what I seen.

MAGEE: Seen what?

ELIJAH: All she seen was Nancy the Hermit.

MAGEE:  Nancy the who?

ELIJAH:  Nancy the Hermit. Sheís some crazy woman, lives up in the mountain. Some say she
was let down in love aní it turned her mind. I figger itís her frighteniní people down in the valley.

MARTHA: No oneís ever proved it.

ELIJAH: Martha, there ain’t no such a thing as ghosts. Ainít that right, Mr Magee ?

MAGEE: Oh, Iím not so sure. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than
are dreamt of in your philosophy.

ELIJAH: What?

MARTHA retrieves the Lantern from the Table

MARTHA: Come along, Elijah.

MAGEE: The key?

ELIJAH: Oh, Lord ! The key! There you go. You take good care of it now.

MAGEE: I will.

ELIJAH: Be sure you do Ďcos Ė

MAGEE: Yes, I know - itís the only one.  (unlocking door) Now if you donít mind Ö

Door opens

Wind howls

MARTHA: Come along, Elijah.

ELIJAH: Iím cominí, Iím cominí.

MARTHA: This man has important work to do.

ELIJAH: (turning back to MAGEE) Who the hellís Horatio?

MAGEE: (smiling) Some other time.

MARTHA: Elijah!

They leave

MAGEE closes the Door, shutting out the Wind

He looks around the Room, sighs, shakes his head, mutters

MAGEE: Nancy the Hermit, eh? 

Chuckling, he picks up paper, whisky bottle and glass, makes for the Staircase

As he climbs the Stairs, he calls out

MAGEE:  Hello? Is there anybody there?

No answer

He laughs, switches off Lights

And exits to his Bedroom

The Clock strikes twelve

Thunder and Lightning

We hear the clatter of a typewriter

More Thunder and Lightning

Illuminating LOU CAPRIANNI, wearing a trench coat and Trilby, peering through
the glass-paned door, his Torch cutting the dark

He unlocks the Door and enters

He further explores the Room with his Torch, picks out a Safe tucked behind the Reception desk

He quickly surveys the Room again

Satisfied, he goes to the Safe

Holding the Torch between his teeth, he dials the Safeís combination

The Safe door swings open

He shines his Torch and peers in

And becomes agitated, mutters

LOU:  Ö goddam Ö

From the Safe he takes out an open packet of cookies

He ponders it for a few moments

Then quickly returns the packet and closes the Safe

And reaches for the Telephone

LOU: West Reuton 287. And hurry it along, sister, this is urgent.  Hi, boss, yes, itís me.
Listen Ö Sure, I got here all ok, but Ö yes, thatís right , cold as a tomb Ö Thing is, we
got a problem Ö the safe, itís empty Ö Yes, empty. Empty except for a packet of cookies Ö yeh,
cookies, open, an open packet. No, no joke Ö Would I joke Ė Yes, empty. What more can I
say, I canít say it different, thereís nothing in there except cookies. Ok, Iíll check again, but Ė

LOU has heard MAGEE typing upstairs

LOU: (whispers) Thereís someone else here.  Sure Iím sure. I can hear one of them, you
know, typewriting machines.

Typing stops

LOU: Ö consequences?

MAGEE exits his room

LOU: What díyou mean consequences?

He stands on the Balcony, listening

LOU: Boss, I swear on my motherís -

LOU hears MAGEE creep downstairs, whispers

LOU: I have to go.

LOU hangs up, creeps around the Desk

MAGEE switches on the Lights, sees LOU and smiles

MAGEE: Good evening.

LOU: And who the hell are you?

MAGEE: Or should I say, ďGood morningĒ.

LOU:  I said, who the hell are you?

MAGEE: I was about to ask the same.

LOU draws and points his Gun

MAGEE: Whoa Ö

MAGEE raises his hands

MAGEE: Nameís Magee. Billy Magee Ö

LOU:  So what you doiní here?

MAGEE: Iím a guest, invited by the owner, a certain Mr Bentley.

LOU:  I know Bentley.

MAGEE: So what are you doing here?

LOU: None of your damn business.

MAGEE: I do rather think I’m entitled to an explanation.

LOU: Is that so?  Well I do rather think Iím the one holding a gun. So how did
you get in?

MAGEE: Through that door.

LOU:  Now I know youíre lying.  There’s only one key to Baldpate.  And I have it.

MAGEE: I myself was laboring under much the same illusion. But since my key fits the
lock and your key fits the lock, it would seem we are both victim of a misapprehension.

LOU: A miss - what?

MAGEE: It would seem there are two keys to Baldpate.  (showing his key) See? (turning)
Now if you donít mind Ö

LOU: Not so fast!

MAGEE: (chuckling) Now where have I heard that line before?

LOU: Listen here, wise guy!

MAGEE:  And that one. (turning back) My dear fellow, much as you amuse me, I really
must get on.

LOU: (approaching) You’ve plenty nerve talkiní to me like that with a gun in your face.

MAGEE: Doesn’t bother me in the least. I am more than familiar with this scenario.

LOU:  Excuse me?

MAGEE: Iíve been here a hundred times. You see, I created you. Well, maybe not you
exactly. But plenty like you. Youíre a dime a dozen.

LOU: You sick of liviní? Iíve killed men for less.

MAGEE:  You see? Another of my lines.

LOU: What the hell you talkiní about?

MAGEE: Iíve killed men for less. I wrote that.

LOU: Have you lost your mind?

MAGEE:  And that one.

LOU: Iíll ask you one more time Ė ?

MAGEE: Iím a novelist. I write novels, popular novels. And Iím trying to win a bet by writing a
ten thousand word story in twenty-four hours. (turning away) So if you donít mind, I have work to do.

As MAGEE continues up the Stairs

LOU fires his gun

MAGEE freezes

LOU: Next time I donít miss. 

MAGEE slowly turns back

LOU: See that safe?  Last night a certain person put a million dollars in that safe. 

MAGEE: And why would a certain person do that?

LOU: None of your business.

MAGEE: You have to admit it sounds rather shady.

LOU raises his gun

MAGEE: Ok, ok Ö Iím all ears.

LOU: And tonight Ö tonight when I come to collect that million from a certain person on
behalf of another certain person, I open the safe and what do I find?

MAGEE: Surprise me.

LOU: Cookies. Thatís what I find.

MAGEE: Iím surprised.

LOU: I find cookies. Aní nothiní else.

MAGEE: I have to agree that is unusual.

LOU: The Inn is closed all Winter. And you Ö you are the only person whoís been here.
The only one. Just you. No-one else. You see where Iím heading with this?

MAGEE: You consider me a suspect?

LOU: Got it in one, Sherlock.

MAGEE: Well, I can certainly see your logic. Only youíre wrong on at least one count. Iím
not the only one whoís been here.  Earlier tonight I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance
of the Caretaker and his good lady.

LOU: Is that so?

MAGEE: Not that Iím not suggesting for a moment Ė

Telephone rings, LOU picks up

LOU: Hi Boss Ö Yeh Ö some smart-ass writer guy Ö Magee Ö Billy Magee. Says he knows
nothiní. Says it might be the Caretaker Ö

MAGEE:  I said no such thing!

LOU: (pointing gun) Shut it!  Ok, boss, understood.

LOU hangs up

LOU: He is not a happy man.

MAGEE: Losing a million big ones, I donít imagine he would be. So what happens now?

Outside, a Woman screams

Then a sudden flash of Lightning and a crash of Thunder

MARY NORTON, a sharp, young reporter, appears at the Door

She quickly unlocks it and enters

Followed by CONNIE RHODES, a mature and elegant widow

CONNIE barges through, shouts to MARY following behind her

CONNIE: Lock the door! Lock the door!

LOU conceals his gun and hides in the Shadows

Still panicking, CONNIE almost bumps into MAGEE

CONNIE: Iím sorry, Iím so sorry. 

CONNIE turns back to MARY

CONNIE: Has it gone? Is it still there?

MARY locks the door, looks out into the night

MAGEE: My dear lady, whatever is it? 

CONNIE: A ghost, we saw a ghost.

MAGEE: Ö a ghost?

MARY: Up on the mountain Ö

MAGEE: Ghosts donít live on mountains.

CONNIE: Young man, Iím telling you we saw a ghost!

CONNIE sits on the sofa

CONNIE: White. It was all white. White Ö white as .. as Ö

MAGEE: Ö a sheet?

CONNIE:  As snow.

MAGEE:  Ah, yes - snow.

CONNIE: Youíve seen it?

MAGEE: No, itís just, well, Iím a writer, so naturally I have a certain Ö a certain facility with,
you know Ö words.  Are you sure it wasnít Ö Oh, I donít know Ö a polar bear?

CONNIE:  A polar bear?  In Utah?

MARY: (approaching) Well whatever it was, weíre very sorry to have invaded you like this.

MAGEE stares at her, besotted

MARY:  Excuse me?  Is there a problem?

MAGEE: Problem? No, no, itís fine, perfectly fine.  After all, you were in peril, in danger, who
knows what might have - But how Ö how did you get in?

MARY: I have a key.

MAGEE: You do?

MARY shows it

MAGEE: So where did you get it?

MARY: Am I being interrogated?

MAGEE: Please. Itís important.

MARY: I promised not to say.

MAGEE: Promised who?

CONNIE: I knew we shouldnít have come.

MARY sits, embraces and comforts her

MARY: Now, now, Connie, you know we had to. And whatever it is out there, Iím sure
weíre perfectly safe now.

CONNIE: Are we?  How can we be sure?

She turns to MAGEE:

MARY: Do you have any brandy?

MAGEE: I have whisky.

MARY: Thatíll do.

MAGEE: In my room.

MARY: So go get it.

MAGEE remains fixed to the spot, still captivated

MARY: Is there something wrong?

MAGEE: No. Nothing. Nothing at all. Quite the contrary, suddenly everything is quite, quite
wonderful. Iíll go get the whisky.

As he leaves, LOU escapes the Shadows and approaches the women

LOU:  Mrs Rhodes, this is a surprise.

CONNIE: Lou Ö?  You here already?

LOU: Already?

CONNIE:  The meeting.

LOU: Oh, the meeting!  So, er Ö so youíre early too, hm?

CONNIE:  Jim doesnít know Iím coming and I donít rightly think I should be here, but my new
friend Miss Norton persuaded me I have a duty. 

LOU: Did she now?

CONNIE: Miss Norton is a reporter.

LOU: Is that so?

MARY stands, extends her hand

MARY: Mary Norton. Iím with The Daily Planet.

LOU: Lou Caprianni.

CONNIE: Lou works for the Mayor.

MARY: That must be interesting?

LOU: Yeh, fascinating. So whatís this all about, Mrs Rhodes?

CONNIE: I only wish I knew. I donít know what to believe. Miss Norton has made me
aware of certain highly disturbing allegations against Jim.

LOU: What kind of allegations?

CONNIE: Oh, I donít know the detail, but it boils down to bribery and corruption. Lou, you
know Jim better than anyone. Tell me truly, do you take him to be an honest man?

LOU: What? The Mayor? 

CONNIE: Iíve only just rid myself of one scum-bag, I canít afford to take on another.

MAGEE appears on the Balcony with bottle and glass, listens

CONNIE: Iím supposed to be marrying the man on Saturday. I need to know the truth.

LOU: What can I say? The Mayor Ö heís an honest man, a man of the people, a pillar of society.

CONNIE: And he would never accept a bribe?

LOU:  The Mayor? Ridiculous! Hell would freeze over first.

CONNIE: Thank you, Lou.

LOU: Youíre welcome.

MAGEE approaches with bottle & glass, pours whisky for MRS RHODES

CONNIE: Thank you, youíre very kind.

MAGEE: My pleasure. Nameís Magee. Billy Magee.

CONNIE: Iím Mrs Rhodes, but you can call me Connie.

MAGEE: Itíll be an honour. 

CONNIE: And this is -

MARY: Mary Norton. Iím a reporter with The Daily Planet.

MAGEE: What?  You mean like Superman?

MARY: Superman?

MAGEE:  The Daily Planet. Isnít that Supermanís newspaper?  You know Ö Superman Ö Clark Kent?

MARY: Well I know Clark but Ė

MAGEE:  You know Clark? 

MARY: We even dated once or twice.

MAGEE: You dated Clark Kent? 

MARY: Not that itís any of your business.

MAGEE: But donít you realise Ė

MARY: Realise what?

Telephone rings

LOU: Thatíll be for me.

MARY: Are you ok?

LOU picks up phone

LOU: Baldpate 547. 

MAGEE:  No, I donít think I am. 

LOU: Ö Police? 

MAGEE:  Things are getting pretty weird.

LOU: Good evening, officer Ö

MAGEE: I feel like Iím living in a dream.

LOU: How can I be of assistance? 

MAGEE: Maybe Iíve had too much hooch.

LOU: Ö gunfire?

MAGEE: You see, Iím trying to write a book Ö

MARY:  A book?

LOU: What here?

MAGEE: Well, a story.

LOU: Hell, no.

MARY:  Thatís just wonderful!

LOU: Must be some mistake.

MAGEE: At least Iím trying to. 

LOU: Youíre welcome. 

MAGEE: But I keep getting interrupted.

LOU: No problem.

LOU hangs up

MAGEE: You see, unless I finish my story before Ė

LOU sees a flashing Light through the glass-paned door

LOU: What the hell was that?

MAGEE:  What was what?

LOU goes to the Door, peers out

LOU:  A light. A weird light.

MAGEE joins him

LOU: See?  Over there Ö up on the ridge?

MAGEE: Ah, yes Ö

LOU: See how itís moviní Ö swaying from side to side Ö

MARY: (joining them) Looks like itís dancing.

CONNIE joins them

CONNIE: Itís the ghost.

LOU: Do ghosts dance?

CONNIE: Itís come back?

LOU: Weird or what?

MARY:  Thatís what we saw before, only - 

LOU: Look! Look at its head! Its headís on fire!

MAGEE: On fire!

CONNIE: Oh, my Good Lord!

MARY: And itís coming this way!

CONNIE:  Oh, my dear Lord! 

LOU pulls out his gun

LOU: Hide! Everybody hide!

MAGEE: You ladies, you go upstairs and lock yourselves in my room!

CONNIE: (crossing herself) God preserve us!

MARY & CONNIE head up the Stairs

MAGEE shouts after them

MAGEE:  Donít worry, weíll be fine. The doorís locked and I have the only - well I thought
I had the only - well, whatever, between the three of us -

LOU:  Will you shut it! 

MAGEE: We have three keys.

LOU: The lights!  Kill the lights!

MAGEE snaps off the Lights

LOU:  Quiet!  Quiet everybody!

MARY & CONNIE observe from above, crouched behind the Balcony

The ghostly Light draws closer

CONNIE whimpers

LOU:  Ssh!

A glowing Hooded Head peers through the Door

CONNIE whimpers again

LOU:  Ssh!

Still shrouded, NANCY unlocks the Door and enters, illuminating the Dark with her fiery Lantern

She raises the Lantern to better explore the room

Satisfied, she extinguishes the Lantern and rests it on the Reception counter

Then removes her Hood

And goes to the Safe

Dials its Combination

Opens it

Reaches for the cookies

And eats one

MAGEE switches the Lights back on.

MAGEE: I thought so. 

NANCY: Ho-de-do, stranger.

MAGEE: You have a key?

NANCY: Sure I have a key. Night like this, worth its weight in gold. So what you
doiní here, out of season, aní all?

LOU appears from the Shadows, pointing his gun

LOU:  What are you doiní here? 

NANCY raises her hands

NANCY:  Easy, fella. Collecting my cookies, thatís what. Safeís the best place for Ďem. 
Keeps Ďem nice aní dry aní the mice canít get Ďem.

LOU: So how come you know the combination?

NANCY:  Used to work here. Still do in summer, selling postcards to the tourists. Like to
see some?

LOU: Quit fooliní, lady - where is it?

NANCY:  Whereís what?

LOU: The money.

NANCY:  What money?

LOU: The money you took from that safe.

NANCY: Iím just a plain and simple hermit, mister, I donít need no money.

MAGEE: So whatís with all the ghost stuff?

NANCY:  I donít like my solitude spoiled by them crazy folk down in the valley. Theyíre all
so dumb and superstitious, scariní the bejeezus out of them kind of amuses me. Even a
hermit needs a little entertainment once in a while.

Thereís a sharp rap at the door

MAGEE strides to the Door

A louder sharp rap

MAGEE: Ö ok, ok Ö

MAGEE carefully takes his Key, unlocks and holds open the Door

The Wind howls

MYRA, excessively glamorous, makes a Grand Entrance

MYRA: Why, thank you, kind sir.

MAGEE: (closing Door) At least you donít have a key.

MYRA: (taking a key from her pocket) Oh, but I do Ö

MAGEE: This place has more keys than a grand piano!

MYRA: But I prefer not to use it.  I prefer some fine gentlemen such as yourself doiní it for me.
Such a night, eh? (removing her coat, revealing a skimpy dress)  Iím so darned cold, I did truly
fear for my earthly soul. Look at me, all covered in goose-bumps! (laughing loudly) I even got
bumps on my bumps!

Exasperated LOU approaches, whispers

LOU: What the hell you doiní here?

MYRA: You shush your mouth.

MYRA turns to MAGEE

MYRA: Is he here yet?

MAGEE: Is who here?

MYRA: My husband.

LOU:  Your husband? You donít have a -

MYRA: My husband Mr Hayden. Mr Tom Hayden, President of the Reuton Railway Company. 
Remember?

LOU: Oh. Oh, him.

MAGEE: You two know each other?

LOU: Sure, we do.

MYRA: No, we donít.

LOU: We donít?

MYRA: You must be Mr Magee.

MAGEE: Thatís me.

MYRA: Tell me, Mr Magee - are you with the Mayor or are you with the Railroad?

MAGEE: Me?  Iím just with me.

MYRA: You have no idea what joy it is to hear that!  Mr Magee, I so desperately need your help.

MAGEE: You do?

MYRA: Not only my future, but my childrenís future hangs in your hands. But I have no fear,
for I can see you are truly an honest man and that youíd always do the right thing. You will do
the right thing, now wonít you, Mr Magee?

MAGEE: Iíll certainly try. So what Ďs the problem?

MYRA: I do believe my husband is coming here tonight for a secret meetiní with the Mayor.

LOU: Myra!

MYRA: Shut your mouth!  I believe theyíre planning to do a deal.

MAGEE: A deal?

LOU: Myra!

MAGEE: What kind of deal?

LOU: Mrs Hayden!

MYRA: I donít know for sure, but I think it might be illegal.  You know Ö against the law.

MAGEE: I see.

MYRA: I fear not only for myself and my precious children, but above all Ö above all, Mr Magee,
I fear for my husbandís reputation. I fear he might be in cahoots with the Mayor.

MAGEE: Ö cahoots?

MYRA: I do so fear.

LOU: I think we both know the Mayor to be the most honest of men. 

MYRA: Indeed we do. But I fear he may have fallen into bad company. So why donít you go
take a hike and tell him Iím here?

LOU: Is that really what you want?

MYRA: Thatís what I want.

LOU: He wonít be pleased.

MYRA: Just do it.

LOU: (leaving) OK, itís your call.

MYRA turns back to MAGEE

MYRA: Mr Magee, I do believe my husband has agreed to pay the Mayor a million dollars in
return for securiní the city rail franchise.

MAGEE: You mean like a bribe?

MYRA: He tells me itís all perfectly legal and proper. Except weíre never to talk about it.
I find that suspicious.

MAGEE: You and me both.

MYRA: I fear heís gone over to the dark side.

MAGEE: Certainly sounds shady.

MYRA: Aní what with all the secrecy aní all, I do fear it might be misconstrued.

MAGEE: Thatís certainly possible.

MYRA: Which is why Iím here to stop it happeniní.

MAGEE: Stop it?

MYRA: The deal.

MAGEE: But how?

MYRA: No money, no deal.

MAGEE: No money, no deal Ö Hey, thatís neat.

MYRA: So youíll help me? 

Mary and CONNIE sneak from the Bedroom and crouch behind the Balcony

MYRA: Please say youíll help me.

She puts her hands on his shoulders

MYRA: Aní Iíd do anything Ö

She runs her hand through his hair

MYRA: Ö anything at all to save my husbandís reputation.

MAGEE: Thatís Ö thatís very noble of you, but Ė

MYRA: And all you have to do is give me back the money.

MAGEE: Ö the money?

MYRA: You know Ė the money.

MAGEE: I donít have the money.

MYRA: Oh, I think you do. 

MAGEE:  I donít.

MYRA: I think you do.

MAGEE:  I promise you I donít.

MYRA: I think youíve gone and hid it somewhere Ö somewhere special.  Somewhere real
clever, real smart, where nobody -

NANCY: Would either of you like a cookie before I lock Ďem up?

MYRA: Take a hike, sister.

NANCY: Donít say you werenít asked.

NANCY opens the safe

MYRA:  You can open that?

NANCY returns cookies, locks safe

NANCY: Easy when you know how. 

MARY and CONNIE call from the head of the Stairs

CONNIE: Is it safe to come down?

MAGEE: I think you can risk it.

As they descend Ö

MAGEE: This is your ghost Ö commonly known as Nancy the Hermit.

NANCY: Less of the common.

MYRA feints a faint

MYRA: Oh Ö oh, dear, whatís happening?

MAGEE: Are you ok?

During the following, NANCY sneaks away

MYRA: Iím sorry, I suddenly Ö suddenly feel Ė Mr Magee, do you think I might take a
lie down in your room?

MAGEE: Sure, but the thing is, Iím supposed to be writing -

MYRA: (touching his cheek) Thank you.

As MYRA makes for the Stairs, MARY approaches MAGEE, whispers

MARY: You do realise in ten seconds sheíll be ransacking your room?

MAGEE: Not if Connieís with her. Connie, would you mind escorting Ö?

CONNIE: Of course not. Hold on, dear. Wait for me.

MAGEE: Maybe Iím not as dumb as you think.

MARY: Maybe not, but you do know sheís not who she claims to be?

MAGEE: It did cross my mind.

MARY: Mrs Hayden is a woman in her early fifties and a real lady. This one is a - youíre
doing it again.

MAGEE: Doing what?

MARY: Staring. Staring at me.

MAGEE: Am I? Yes, yes, I am. And Iím Ö Iím sorry, but Ö (sighs) Ironic, isnít it? Iíve written
this scene a dozen times in a dozen different ways, but now Ö now when it comes to doing
it for real, I find myself completely lost for words.  And all because of you.

MARY: Me?

MAGEE: Donít you feel it?

MARY: Feel what?

MAGEE: Mary, do you believe in love at first sight?

MARY: Mr Magee, I have a job to do.

MAGEE: Sure you do.

MARY: No, I do not.

MAGEE: Just look at you, youíre bursting with love. Only you just donít know it yet.
Mary, say youíll be my girl.

MARY: Iím nobodyís girl, Mr Magee. This is no time for romance. Reuton is corrupt from
top to bottom. The schools arenít working, the hospitalís closing, the police are half racist
and half hopeless and the bad guys are winning. That has to stop and Iím going to nail the
Mayor and his dirty deals if itís the last thing I do. 

MAGEE: Wow! Thatís quite a speech.

MARY: I mean every word. But I could sure use some help.


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