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Nightmare

The Unexpected

Episode #132: Nightmare

Oct 31 1948



CAST:

HOST

GINNY, an actress

DWARF, creepy, elderly, high-pitched, feminine voice

DOLL, mechanical, filtered, feminine voice

RICHARD, Ginny's actor boyfriend

DOCTOR (1 line)




SOUND: CLAP OF THUNDER


HOST: Lurene Tuttle in--


SOUND: CLAP OF THUNDER


HOST: (HEAVY ECHO) The Unexpected!


SOUND: CLAP OF THUNDER


GINNY: It was like a bad dream -- a monstrous, terrifying dream. I was caught in a fantastic nightmare. I knew that I had to escape -- or go mad! I had met -- the unexpected.


SOUND: CLAP OF THUNDER ... THEN THUNDER RUMBLES OMINOUSLY IN BG--


HOST: (QUIETLY) The unexpected -- a secret future, a hidden destiny waiting for you. Where? When? Who knows? Tomorrow? Today? An hour from now? Perhaps in just a moment, you, too, will meet -- 


SOUND: CLAP OF THUNDER


HOST: (HEAVY ECHO) The Unexpected!


SOUND: THUNDER FADES OUT


HOST: Before our story, here's a word from your announcer.


[COMMERCIAL BREAK]


HOST: And now radio's most famous actress, Lurene Tuttle, in "Nightmare," a drama of the unexpected.


SOUND: KNOCKING ON DOOR ... THEN IN BG


GINNY: (NARRATES) It all began so simply. Just a knock on the door.


SOUND: MORE KNOCKING


GINNY: (CALLS) I'm coming! Wait a minute, I'm coming!


SOUND: DOOR OPENS


GINNY: (NARRATES) I stared out into the hall, and for a moment I didn't see anything or anyone. Then I heard a voice -- a strange, high-pitched, tinny voice and I glanced down.


DWARF: Good morning, lady! I've got dolls for sale. Would you like to buy a doll?


GINNY: (NARRATES) He was little -- not over three and a half feet tall -- and at first I thought I was looking at a child. Then I realized that he was an old man -- an indescribably ugly old man. An evil grin spread over his dwarf-like face and he held out two beautiful dolls.


DWARF: Buy a doll, lady. See? I have two kinds. This one cries--


DOLL: (BRIEF CRY) Wah waaaah!


DWARF: And this one laughs--


DOLL: (BRIEF LAUGH) Ah, ha ha haaaa!


GINNY: (CAN'T HELP BUT LAUGH) 


DOLL: (BRIEF LAUGH) Ah, ha ha haaaa! (THEN AGAIN BEHIND--)


GINNY: (AMUSED) Oh, she's so funny! So very funny. (LAUGHS AGAIN, KEEPS LAUGHING UNCONTROLLABLY BEHIND--)


DWARF: Will you buy a doll, lady?


GINNY: (STILL LAUGHING) All right, all right.


DWARF: Which one?


GINNY: (HER LAUGHTER SUBSIDES) Oh, it doesn't make any difference.


DWARF: (HOPEFUL) The one that cries?


GINNY: (SUDDENLY INSISTENT) No. No, I'll take the laughter. I need laughter.


DWARF: Take the one that cries, lady. Take the one that cries.


GINNY: Why?


DWARF: Let her shed your tears. But do your own laughing.


GINNY: (MILDLY DEFIANT) Well, if I can't have the funny doll, I won't buy either one.


DWARF: (DUBIOUS) All right. All right, lady. The laughing one.


GINNY: (EAGERLY) How much does it cost?


DWARF: There is no set fee for laughter or tears. Pay what you want. It will be enough. (CRYPTIC) Perhaps too much.


GINNY: (NARRATES) I gave the dwarf a five dollar bill. He shoved it into his pocket, turned, and hobbled away down the stairs.


SOUND: DWARF'S STEPS HOBBLE AWAY ... THEN BEHIND--


GINNY: (NARRATES) I remember wondering why he didn't stop at any of the other apartments on the floor. Then I shrugged and closed the door.


SOUND: DOOR CLOSES


GINNY: (NARRATES) She was a beautiful doll, with long golden hair. Her mouth lifted into the most infectious smile I'd ever seen. And her laughter was instantly contagious.


DOLL: (LAUGHS) Ah, ha ha haaaa! (THE BRIEF LAUGH REPEATS MECHANICALLY, OVER AND OVER, BEHIND--)


GINNY: (CHUCKLES, NARRATES) Whenever I turned her in my hands, I found myself laughing right along with her. (CHUCKLES AND THEN LAUGHS HEARTILY AND UNCONTROLLABLY IN COUNTERPOINT WITH DOLL)


DOLL: (STOPS ABRUPTLY IN THE MIDDLE OF A LAUGH)


GINNY: (STOPS LAUGHING ABRUPTLY, NARRATES SOBERLY) Oh-- Suddenly I felt very foolish. What was wrong with me? I was playing with dolls, acting like a ridiculous child. I'd only bought the thing because I felt sorry for the dwarf. I didn't really want it. Then I tossed the doll on the sofa and forgot all about it. Forgot about it completely until later when Richard came by to take me out to dinner -- and the subject, for some reason, came up again. 


SOUND: SCENE FADES OUT ... TRANSITIONAL PAUSE ... SCENE FADES IN


RICHARD: Tell me, Ginny, what is, uh--? What is this thing?


GINNY: Hm? Oh, it's just a doll I bought this morning -- from a horrible little man that came to the apartment. (CHUCKLES) Bend it over; it laughs.


DOLL: (LAUGHS) Ah, ha ha haaaa! Ah, ha ha haaaa


GINNY: See? (CAN'T HELP GIGGLING) Isn't it funny?


RICHARD: Hm, not particularly.


GINNY: (CHUCKLES) I guess it just seems funny to me. (CHUCKLES) Well, come on, Dick. We've got to hurry if we're going to get to the theater on time. If an understudy can't do anything else, at least she can be prompt.


RICHARD: Ginny, there's something I've been wanting to ask you.


GINNY: Hm?


RICHARD: Are you sure you want to keep on with your acting?


GINNY: Keep on with it? Well, I really haven't done any yet. (INHALES, UNHAPPY) It doesn't look like I will. Marsha Claremont's as healthy as a horse.


RICHARD: No, you'll get a chance someday, Ginny, if you wait long enough. But I wish you wouldn't wait.


GINNY: What do you mean, Dick?


RICHARD: Well, I'm doing all right now. Playing Romeo to Claremont's Juliet is a swell break. And I haven't told you before, but I - I have had some feelers from Hollywood. Nothing definite, of course, but--


GINNY: Oh, Dick! How wonderful!


DOLL: (DURING NEXT LINE, STARTS TO LAUGH) Ah, ha ha haaaa! (CONTINUES MECHANICALLY, OVER AND OVER, IN BG)


RICHARD: So - so I'm pretty well set for the next few years and-- Well, I'd like to share my luck with you. (OVERLAPS WITH--)


GINNY: (DURING ABOVE, STARTS TO LAUGH ALONG WITH DOLL) I'm sorry, Dick. I can't help laughing! (LAUGHS HELPLESSLY, IN BG)


RICHARD: (CONFUSED) Don't you - don't you understand what I'm trying to say?


GINNY: Of course, I do, Dick! (LAUGHS) The doll makes me laugh! (LAUGHS) I can't help it! (LAUGHS HELPLESSLY, IN BG)


RICHARD: (OFFENDED) I'd hoped this would sound serious to you, Ginny; it's serious to me.


GINNY: (STILL LAUGHING) Well, stop the doll's laughing, Dick; then I can talk! (LAUGHS) Please stop the doll, Dick! I want to answer you. (LAUGHS, DESPERATELY) Just stop the doll! (LAUGHS HELPLESSLY, IN BG)


RICHARD: (FURIOUS) You're the only one who's laughing, Ginny -- and you're laughing at me!


GINNY: (STILL LAUGHING) No, I'm not, Dick; no, I'm not. It's the doll! Can't you hear it? (LAUGHS HELPLESSLY, IN BG)


RICHARD: (WITH DISGUST) Goodbye, Ginny! I'm sorry I bothered you, but at least I'm worth a good laugh!


SOUND: RICHARD'S HURRIED STEPS TO THE DOOR, WHICH SLAMS SHUT


GINNY 

AND DOLL: (BOTH INSTANTLY STOP LAUGHING WITH DOOR SLAM)


SOUND: TRANSITIONAL PAUSE


GINNY: (NARRATES) Stopped! As soon as Dick walked out of the room, the laughter stopped. I hurried to the sofa, picked up the doll, and turned it over very slowly.


DOLL: (SLOW VERSION OF LAUGH) Ah, ha ha haaaa


GINNY: (NARRATES) I had heard it! I was sure I'd heard it. And Dick must have heard it, too. (BEAT) Somehow, I knew he hadn't. (BEAT) I held it close to my face for a moment and then suddenly, without thinking, I threw it to the floor.


SOUND: DOLL HITS THE FLOOR


DOLL: (SLOW ECHOEY VERSION OF LAUGH) Ah, ha ha haaaa! (REPEATS EERILY OVER AND OVER, IN BG, INCREASINGLY SOUNDING LIKE THE CROW OF A DEMENTED ROOSTER)


GINNY: (NARRATES) The doll broke into a dozen pieces. But as it shattered, it laughed! Piece by piece, it laughed! I swept the broken bits of wax into the dustpan and dumped them in the incinerator, smiling as I watched them go up in smoke.


SOUND: FLAMES CRACKLE ... THEN BRIEFLY BEHIND DOLL--


DOLL: (EVEN SLOWER ECHOEY VERSION OF LAUGH, AS IF IT WERE DYING IN THE FLAMES) Ahhhh, haaa haaa haaaaaaaa! (REPEATS EERILY OVER AND OVER, IN BG)


GINNY: (NARRATES) I was glad to be rid of the hideous object. I never wanted to hear its mocking laughter again. Never! But I did. The doll was gone, yet its laughter remained. And followed me. In the subway. Eating lunch at the automat. In the dressing room at the theater. And even while I tossed, with endless insomnia, on my bed at night, I would hear that horrible contagious laughter! And I would have to laugh, too. I would laugh and laugh and laugh! (LAUGHS UNCONTROLLABLY, INCREASINGLY HYSTERICAL, IN BG)


DOLL: (DURING ABOVE, THE LAUGH RESUMES ITS FORMER SPEED AND STRENGTH, NOW SOUNDING TRIUMPHANT, AND AS LOUD AS GINNY'S LAUGH) Ah, ha ha haaaa! Ah, ha ha haaaa! (OVER AND OVER UNTIL END OF SCENE)


SOUND: SCENE FADES OUT ON THE COMBINED LAUGHTER OF GINNY AND THE DOLL ... TRANSITIONAL PAUSE


GINNY: (NARRATES) Finally, when I could stand it no longer, I went to see Dr. Wembley, the psychiatrist -- who gave me cold professional comfort at fifty dollars an hour.


DOCTOR: Oh, it's nothing serious, Miss Randolph -- a mild hallucination. Many people have similar reactions to strain or overwork. I'll give you something so that you can rest more easily - and, in a few days, you'll forget all about the laughter.


SOUND: SCENE FADES OUT ... TRANSITIONAL PAUSE ... SCENE FADES IN


GINNY: (NARRATES) He was right. Dr. Wembley was right. I did sleep that night, and by the end of the week the doll had become a nightmare that never really happened. So I wasn't afraid to answer the telephone.


SOUND: DURING ABOVE, PHONE RINGS ... THEN RECEIVER UP


GINNY: Hello?


RICHARD: (FILTER, URGENT) Hello, Ginny? This is Dick. Come right down to the theater; Claremont's sick!


GINNY: What--?


RICHARD: (FILTER) No rehearsal; you'll just have time to make up and get on stage!


GINNY: (NERVOUS) Oh, no!


RICHARD: (FILTER) Did you hear me, Ginny? You're playing Juliet tonight! (NO RESPONSE) Ginny?


GINNY: Oh, I - I can't--! (CALMS DOWN) Yes, Dick, I heard you. I'll be there.


SOUND: RECEIVER DOWN ... TRANSITIONAL PAUSE ... SCENE FADES IN ... RICHARD AND GINNY ARE PLAYING ROMEO AND JULIET ON STAGE, A SLIGHT THEATER ECHO ON THEIR VOICES


RICHARD: ---When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds

And sails upon the bosom of the air.


GINNY: O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name!

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I'll no longer be a Capulet.


RICHARD: Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?


DOLL: (DURING ABOVE, FADE IN THE EERIE LAUGH) Ah, ha ha haaaa! (REPEATS OVER AND OVER, IN BG)


GINNY: (HEARS THE LAUGHTER AND FALTERS MOMENTARILY) Ahh--

(RESUMES HER ROLE, WITH DIFFICULTY)

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy.

Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

(STARTS TO LAUGH UNCONTROLLABLY)


RICHARD: (PUZZLED, HUSHED) Ginny? Ginny, what's wrong? Ginny? 


GINNY: (STILL LAUGHING, STRUGGLES TO REGAIN CONTROL, THEN RESUMES)

What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,

Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man--

(CRACKS UP WITH HELPLESS LAUGHTER, CONTINUES IN BG)


SOUND: THEATER AUDIENCE MURMURS IN CONSTERNATION 


RICHARD: (TRIES TO HELP BY CONTINUING WITH ROMEO'S NEXT LINE)

I take thee at thy word.

Call me but love, and I'll be new baptiz'd; --

(BREAKS CHARACTER, URGENT)

Ginny, control yourself!


GINNY: (STILL LAUGHING) I can't help it!


RICHARD: Ginny!


GINNY: (STILL LAUGHING) I just can't help it!


RICHARD: Please, Ginny! Please!


GINNY: (HYSTERICAL) It's the doll! It's that horrible doll! I can't help it! (LAUGHING CONTINUES IN BG) 


DOLL: (LOUDER, TRIUMPHANT) Ah, ha ha haaaa! (REPEATS OVER AND OVER, EVEN AS THE REST OF THE SCENE FADES OUT FOR A TRANSITIONAL PAUSE, AND CONTINUES IN BG)


GINNY: (NARRATES, OVER THE DOLL) I ran out of the theater. The laughter echoed in my ears -- driving into my brain until I knew that there would be nothing else left in my life. Nothing but endless days and nights of laughter.


DOLL: (REPEATED LAUGH FADES UP FOR A TRANSITION, THEN DOWN BEHIND--)


GINNY: (NARRATES, OVER THE DOLL) The bridge was high above the river. The murky water lapped at the supports [?]. The next thing I felt was the wind rushing past my face--


DOLL: (ABRUPTLY STOPS LAUGHING WITH--)


SOUND: SPLASH! AS GINNY HITS THE WATER


GINNY: (NARRATES) --and the icy water close over me.


SOUND: CLAP OF THUNDER ... QUIET, STEADY FALL OF RAIN ON A WINDOWSILL, THEN IN BG


GINNY: (NARRATES) Then I awoke. I was in my own familiar bed between clean, cold sheets. My window was open. And the water I had felt had been the splatter of raindrops against my face. I realized that it was a dream; the whole thing -- the dwarf, the doll, the laughter -- nothing but a terrible nightmare. And now I was awake and the nightmare was over. (RELIEVED, SATISFIED EXHALATION) It was over forever.


SOUND: CLAP OF THUNDER ... FOR A CURTAIN ... THEN THUNDER RUMBLES OMINOUSLY BEHIND--


HOST: You think the story is over, don't you? But wait. Wait - for--


SOUND: ROLL OF THUNDER


HOST: (HEAVY ECHO) The Unexpected!


SOUND: THUNDER FADES OUT


HOST: Now here again is your announcer.


[COMMERCIAL BREAK]


SOUND: CLAP OF THUNDER


HOST: Here again is Lurene Tuttle in the surprising conclusion of "Nightmare," a drama of the unexpected.


SOUND: STEADY FALL OF RAIN ON A WINDOWSILL, THEN IN BG


GINNY: (NARRATES, SENSIBLY) I'm awake now and smiling and happy. The nightmare has ended. None of it was real. The dwarf and his laughing doll were just my imagination. Things like that don't happen. I still have Dick and someday perhaps he will ask me to marry him. And someday perhaps I will play Juliet. My whole life is still in front of me -- wonderful, marvelous life.


SOUND: KNOCKING ON DOOR


GINNY: (CHUCKLES, CALLS) I'm coming! Just a minute, I'm coming!


SOUND: MORE KNOCKING ... DOOR OPENS


GINNY: (INHALES SHARPLY, THEN A TERRIFIED EXCLAMATION BEHIND--)


DWARF: Would you like to buy a doll? See? I have two kinds. This one cries--


DOLL: (BRIEF CRY) Wah waaaah!


DWARF: And this one laughs--


DOLL: (LAUGHS) Ah, ha ha haaaa! Ah, ha ha haaaa!


SOUND: CLAP OF THUNDER ... FOR A CURTAIN 


HOST: "Nightmare," a drama of the unexpected, starred Lurene Tuttle and featured Daws Butler and Stanley Waxman. It was produced by Alvin C. Gershenson, written by Robert Libott and Frank Burt, and directed by Frank K. Danzig. And now this is Hal Sawyer inviting you to listen again soon when another of your favorite motion picture stars meets--


SOUND: CLAP OF THUNDER 


HOST: (HEAVY ECHO) The Unexpected!


SOUND: THUNDER FADES OUT


HOST: "The Unexpected" is a Hamilton-Whitney Production transcribed in Hollywood.

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