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Three O'Clock

Suspense

Three O'Clock

Mar 10 1949



CAST:


The Suspense Team:

ANNOUNCER, Harlow Wilcox

VOICE, of "Suspense"

HAP

ANTON M. LEADER, producer-director

ANN DAGGETT, magazine editor (1 line)

OPERATOR (1 line)


Dramatis Personae:

PAUL (VAN HEFLIN)

1ST ROBBER

2ND ROBBER

FRANCIE

GAS MAN

ASSISTANT (1 line)

DAVE

MOTHER

BOBBY

MAMA (2 lines)

OFFICER

DOCTOR (2 lines)




SOUND: THEME ... THEN BEHIND--


ANNOUNCER: Now Auto-Lite and its sixty thousand dealers and service stations present--


MUSIC: KNIFE CHORD


VOICE: SUSPENSE! Tonight Auto-Lite brings you Van Heflin in Cornell Woolrich's famous "Three O'Clock," a SUSPENSE play produced and directed by Anton M. Leader.


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


ANNOUNCER: Friends, get in step! Give your car a rep for pep! Replace those narrow-gap spark plugs with wide-gap Auto-Lite Resistor Spark Plugs. Your car will idle smoother, smooth as silk and satin; give you tiptop power and performance on leaner gas mixtures; actually save gas dollars. That's right, actually save gas dollars! Auto-Lite regular-type spark plugs have long been standard factory equipment on many leading makes of cars and trucks. And now six -- that's right, six! -- of these leading makers of cars and trucks have switched to Auto-Lite resistor-type spark plugs for factory installation on their new Nineteen Forty-Nine models. The new Auto-Lite Resistor Spark Plugs are the spark plugs of today -- and the future! Remember, you're right - with Auto-Lite!


SOUND: THEME ... THEN BEHIND--


VOICE: And now Auto-Lite presents Van Heflin in a tale well-calculated to keep you in -- suspense!


MUSIC: OUT


SOUND: TICKING! OF ALARM CLOCK ... THEN IN BG 


PAUL: Francie signed her own death warrant. She signed her own death warrant, didn't she? You're a good husband to her and yet she's two-timing you with another man, isn't she? And you made up your mind weeks ago to kill her, didn't you? Well now, at the last second, what are you waiting for? You've got everything down here you need to do the job. That box near the wall filled with explosive. Two copper wires already capped. This alarm clock. What's holding you back?! Memories of your honeymoon? She's two-timing you with another man; weigh that in your hand! All right then, get to work. First, set the alarm. She gets back from shopping around two-thirty; you'd better set it for three o'clock.


SOUND: CLICK! OF ALARM CLOCK BEING SET 


PAUL: Good. Now then, wind it up.


SOUND: WINDING! OF CLOCK ... THREE TURNS OF THE KEY


PAUL: Now, then, put the cap end of the wires into the little holes you drilled in the box-- Oh, no, no. No, wait. That explosive's kind of tricky, temperamental. Don't touch that box any more than you have to. First, attach the wire to the alarm clock. 


SOUND: WIRE ATTACHED TO CLOCK BEHIND--


PAUL: I wonder why more people haven't thought of this. Probably wouldn't know how to go about it, if they did. There. Now the cap end of the wires into the box. Careful, now, careful.


SOUND: WIRES INTO HOLES


PAUL: There it is. Check it over now; you don't want any slip-ups. At three o'clock, the alarm goes off; it sets up a spark; the spark runs along the wires to the detonators in the box and ---- that's all there is to it. Don't just stand here. Get back downtown to the shop.


SOUND: PAUL'S FOOTSTEPS ACROSS CELLAR FLOOR AND UP WOODEN STEPS ... THE TICKING CLOCK FADES OUT ... CELLAR DOOR OPENS


PAUL: (STARTLED) Huh? Uh--! What--? What are you doing in my house? 


SOUND: SCUFFLE ... THEN IN BG


1ST ROBBER: (TO 2ND ROBBER) Hey, Duke! Somebody is home!


2ND ROBBER: (GRUNTS WITH EFFORT) 


SOUND: PAUL IS SOCKED IN THE FACE


PAUL: (GRUNTS IN PAIN) 


2ND ROBBER: That'll hold him a couple o' seconds.


1ST ROBBER: Suddenly he was standin' there. Must have been down in the cellar all the time we was here!


2ND ROBBER: (DISGUSTED) And you said you cased this place for three days. Get me somethin' to tie him up and let's go.


PAUL: No! No, no! No, don't tie me up! Don't tie me-- (MUFFLED GRUNTS AND PROTESTS BEHIND--)


2ND ROBBER: Slug him again!


SOUND: PAUL IS SOCKED IN THE FACE AGAIN!


2ND ROBBER: Again!


SOUND: AND AGAIN! ... MOST OF THE FIGHT IS KNOCKED OUT OF PAUL


2ND ROBBER: (SATISFIED) O-ka-a-y. 


PAUL: (WHEEZES WEAKLY, IN PAIN, IN BG)


2ND ROBBER: That the cellar down there? 


1ST ROBBER: Yeah.


2ND ROBBER: See if there's any rope around.


1ST ROBBER: Coil of rope on the shelf down there. I'll get it.


2ND ROBBER: Nah, nah, we'll carry him down and tie him up there.


PAUL: No, don't tie me up! This house is--


2ND ROBBER: Shut up, you!


PAUL: (GROANS)


SOUND: MORE SCUFFLING ... CONTINUES IN BG


2ND ROBBER: (TO 1ST ROBBER) See if he has a handkerchief. Roll it up in a ball.


PAUL: Listen to me! This house is just--!


2ND ROBBER: All right, shove it in his mouth! Shove it in! 


PAUL: (GAG IN MOUTH, MUFFLED PROTESTS, IN BG)


2ND ROBBER: Take off his belt, and buckle it between his teeth, too.


PAUL: (DESPERATE) Mmmph!


2ND ROBBER: Fast! (BEAT, SATISFIED) O-kay.


1ST ROBBER: What's he puttin' up such a fight about? This place is a lemon; nothin' in it.


2ND ROBBER: Take his legs.


1ST ROBBER: (WITH EFFORT) Okay.


SOUND: SLOW DOUBLE FOOTSTEPS AS THE ROBBERS PICK UP PAUL AND CARRY HIM DOWN TO THE CELLAR ... THE TICKING CLOCK GROWS LOUDER, CONTINUES THROUGHOUT THE SCENE ... PAUL CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE, GRUNTING WITH EFFORT THROUGH HIS GAG


2ND ROBBER: (OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) I did my last stretch just on account of leavin' a guy in the open where he could put a squad car on my tail too quick. (BEAT) Okay, dump him here. 


SOUND: PAUL DUMPED ON FLOOR


PAUL: (GRUNTS IN PAIN)


2ND ROBBER: Now, gimme that rope. I'll hold him.


PAUL: (MORE DESPERATE MUFFLED PROTESTS)


1ST ROBBER: What's he puttin' up such a fight about? (TO PAUL) Look, mister, we ain't gonna hurt'cha. Just leave ya here in the cellar.


PAUL: (DESPERATE MUFFLED OBJECTION!)


1ST ROBBER: (TO 2ND ROBBER) He still ain't convinced. I can't figure him.


2ND ROBBER: (FINISHES TYING PAUL) Okay, that does it. All right, I'll tie him to this pipe. Otherwise somebody's liable to come home right after we leave and hear him thrashin' around. These houses are like matchboxes.


1ST ROBBER: Wonder what he's tryin' to say.


PAUL: (THINKS) Don't leave me tied up down here. I won't call the cops, I swear it. This place is gonna blow up, don't you understand? Explode. This house is gonna explode.


2ND ROBBER: Who cares what he's tryin' to say? Let's go. We'll pull another job tonight. This time I'll do the pickin'.


1ST ROBBER: Well, it looked like a good set-up, standin' way off like it is.


SOUND: THE ROBBERS' STEPS START UP THE WOODEN STAIRS


PAUL: (DESPERATE MUFFLED PROTEST)


1ST ROBBER: (TO PAUL) Hey, mister, will ya relax? You'll never get outta them knots. 


PAUL: (DESPERATE MUFFLED PROTEST!)


1ST ROBBER: (TO 1ST ROBBER) Hey, what's he so bug-eyed about? (TO PAUL) What is it, mister? This alarm clock over here? (DISMISSIVE) Aaaah, whaddaya you care what time it is? You ain't goin' any place. (TO 1ST ROBBER) Hey, should we take the clock, Duke?


2ND ROBBER: Nah. Couldn't raise a buffalo nickel on it. (BEAT) Quarter to two. Let's go; we got work to do.


1ST ROBBER: Right.


SOUND: THE ROBBERS' STEPS UP THE STAIRS BEHIND--


PAUL: (THINKS, INCREASINGLY DESPERATE) Come back. Don't - don't leave me here. This house explodes at three o'clock. Listen to me. It blows up in an hour and a quarter. Come back, come back, come back, come--!


SOUND: CELLAR DOOR SHUTS


2ND ROBBER: (OFF) All set? Let's take the back way.


SOUND: PAUL'S HEAVY BREATHING  ... AND LOUD TICKING OF CLOCK ... UPSTAIRS, THE ROBBERS' STEPS CROSS TO BACK DOOR, WHICH OPENS AND SHUTS


PAUL: Gone. They're gone. The only people in the world who know where I am. (STRAINS AGAINST ROPE WITH GREAT EFFORT) I've - I've - got to get out!


MUSIC: FIRST ACT CURTAIN ... THEN BEHIND--


VOICE: For SUSPENSE, Auto-Lite is bringing you Van Heflin in Radio's Outstanding Theatre of Thrills -- SUSPENSE!


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


HAP: Look here, Harlow. Eh, can you help me with my income tax?


ANNOUNCER: Why, I'm just the guy! Here, just fill in form W-Ten-Sixty-Six, I.O.U., RSVP, your telephone number, and ALRSP.


HAP: ALRSP? Auto-Lite Resistor Spark Plug--? Why, Harlow-- Why, they oughtta jail you for this. After all, I--


ANNOUNCER: Hap! Do you and your income tax reports want to look good?


HAP: Well--


ANNOUNCER: Then save, Hap my boy! Save gas, for instance. Replace your old narrow-gap spark plugs with wide-gap Auto-Lite Resistor Spark Plugs! They make your car idle smoother; give you better performance on leaner gas mixtures; actually save gas dollars!


HAP: Harlow, with me all tied up in taxes and Internal Revenue, you--


ANNOUNCER: For Internal Revenue for your engine, switch to wide-gap Auto-Lite Resistor Spark Plugs! They're ignition-engineered by Auto-Lite to meet the highest standards of automotive engineers; to give you smoother idling; more mileage for your dollar.


HAP: I'm worried--


ANNOUNCER: Ah, you don't have to worry, Hap! Why, with wide-gap Auto-Lite Resistor Spark Plugs, you even cut down spark plug interference with radio and television reception. Remember, you're always right - with Auto-Lite!


MUSIC: THEME ... THEN BEHIND--


VOICE: And now Auto-Lite brings back to our Hollywood sound stage Van Heflin as Paul in "Three O'Clock" -- a tale well-calculated to keep you in--


MUSIC: KNIFE CHORD


VOICE: --suspense!


MUSIC: OUT


SOUND: TICKING! OF CLOCK ... THEN IN BG


PAUL: I can't get out. Nobody knows I'm here. Fifty-six, fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine. Twelve minutes to two! It goes so fast. That second hand goes so fast! Five, six, seven. Less than seventy-two minutes. Help me! Somebody help me! Help me! Help me! (BREATHES HEAVILY TO FILL PAUSE) Eleven minutes to two. Only – only seventy-one minutes. Not even that now. Three, four, five, six. Francie, Francie, come home and get me out of this. I love you; I - I can't help being jealous, can I? I'm sorry I tried to kill you; it's because I love you so much, I'm jealous! But you deserve it, you deserve it, after what you'd done to me! Can't you imagine how I felt, that day last month, when I came home--?


SOUND: CLOCK FADES OUT ... FOR FLASHBACK ... FRONT DOOR CLOSES ... PAUL'S STEPS APPROACH BEHIND--


FRANCIE: (NERVOUS) That - that you, Paul? Paul! You're home so early! Are you sick? Another one of your headaches?


PAUL: No, I feel fine. Honest.


FRANCIE: Why - why are you home so early?


PAUL: Well, I don't know; I just got lonely for you, and I said to myself, "Well, you're the boss, old boy, it's your watch repair shop. Now, if you want to close ahead of time, who's to say no?" (CHUCKLES) Come on, hold still a second. Your - your - your lipstick is smeary.


FRANCIE: It - it is? Well, I was lying down; I - I guess I--


PAUL: Well, it's all right. Now come on, pucker up! (KISSES HER FORCEFULLY, CHUCKLES) Well, you're smeared again!


FRANCIE: I'll fix it. As - as long as you're home early, why don't rest a while? The morning paper's still in the den.


PAUL: I guess I will at that. I had a heavy lunch: pot roast, and potatoes, and apple pie, and-- What'd you do today, honey?


FRANCIE: (OFF) Oh-- Oh, the usual. Cleaned the house. Went marketing. Wish we could afford a car. I mean, isolated the way we are, walking eight big blocks to the market-- (CONTINUES INDECIPHERABLY BEHIND PAUL'S NARRATION--)


PAUL: (OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE, NARRATES) I sat down on the couch, and there it was, in the ashtray on the end table: a cigar butt -- still moist on one end, still warm on the other. (TO FRANCIE, CASUALLY) Any, uh, visitors today?


FRANCIE: (APPROACHES) What'd you say?


PAUL: I said, any visitors today?


FRANCIE: (UNCONVINCING) No. None. Not even a peddler.


SOUND: TICKING! OF CLOCK ... FADES IN ... CONTINUES IN BG


PAUL: You're a liar, Francie. You lied to me that time. (BEAT, REALIZES) Time. Forty-two, forty-three, forty-four, forty-five. No clock has ever gone this fast. Of all the thousands I've looked at and set right in my shop, not one has ever gone so fast. Its quarter-hours go around like minutes, and its minutes like seconds. (BEAT) Three minutes to two? That's cheating me. It's not keeping the right time. That - that second hand's whirling like a pinwheel! Make it stop, somebody. When the clock says three, the - the house explodes! Make it--!


SOUND: DOORBELL RINGS, OFF


PAUL: Oh, somebody's at the door! Come in, please. Please! Please come in and find me, let me out of here! Please, please, please!


GAS MAN: (CALLS, FROM OFF) Gas company!


PAUL: Gas company? The one call in all the day's routine, from the earliest morning till latest night, that can possibly bring anyone down here to the cellar!


SOUND: DOORBELL RINGS INSISTENTLY


GAS MAN: (CALLS, FROM OFF) Anybody home in there?! Gas company! Anybody home?!


PAUL: I am! I am! I'm down here! Don't - don't wait for somebody to answer the door! It's not locked! Come in! Come in! Please, please! (PAUSE, DISHEARTENED) He's gone. He's gone. (BEAT) No! No, no, no! No, he's coming around to the back!


SOUND: SOFT CRUNCH OF FOOTSTEPS ON GRASS, OFF ... JUST OUTSIDE THE CELLAR WINDOW


GAS MAN: (TO ASSISTANT) Why don't we what?


ASSISTANT: I said, why don't we go in and read the meter anyway -- even if nobody's home? It'll save us a trip.


PAUL: (OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) Yes! Yes!


GAS MAN: Company policy. We never go in to read a meter unless somebody's home. And sure, they're never home when you want them to be.


PAUL: But I am home! I - I am! I'm right down here! I can see your legs through the window! All you have to do is to bend down and look in and - and you'll see me!


SOUND: SOFT CRUNCH OF FOOTSTEPS RETREATING ON GRASS


PAUL: No, no, no, no, don't go away! Stay! (FURIOUS) Look, I'll kill you if you go! So help me, I'll kill you! (INSTANTLY RECANTS) No, no, no! I didn't mean that. Please stay. Please stay! (NERVOUS BREATHING FILLS PAUSE) Look at the time. One minute past two. Fifty-nine minutes left. Not even an hour now. Fifty-nine minutes less eight, nine, ten, eleven. How long fifty-nine minutes seems when - when you're waiting for someone. Like the night that I waited for Francie to come home from a movie. And - and she was late. The night Francie was late coming home from a movie! Yes, in a pig's eye she was at a movie! She was with her boyfriend!


SOUND: CLOCK FADES OUT ... FOR FLASHBACK 


PAUL: (MILDLY REPROVING, TO FRANCIE) Well, sure I was worried, what did you think? You said you'd be home before eleven, and here it is almost midnight! I was about to call the hospitals, and the police--


FRANCIE: Oh, Paul, I'm sorry; really I am! All those - those short subjects; and then the bus was late. I - I'm sorry you worried.


PAUL: (CHUCKLES) All right, forget about it. How was the movie?


FRANCIE: Why, it was all right. Nice western.


PAUL: Oh, a western? I thought you were going to see "Three Musketeers"?


FRANCIE: (UNCONVINCING) I - I was, but I - I changed my mind. I - I saw "Red River" instead.


PAUL: (PUZZLED) Why, I didn't know that was playing in the neighborhood.


FRANCIE: Well, I - I went downtown! I thought that as long as I'm out of the house, I might as well do a little shopping.


PAUL: (SURPRISED) The stores were open tonight?


FRANCIE: No, I-- (WITH NERVOUS CHUCKLE) Did I say shopping? I meant window shopping.


PAUL: Oh. Heh. What was the movie about?


FRANCIE: You know. A western. Lot of shooting, and riding.


PAUL: Oh, yeah. How was Gary Cooper's performance?


FRANCIE: Oh, good. I've always liked him--


PAUL: No, I didn't mean Cooper; Cooper's not in it. I - I meant, uh, John Wayne.


FRANCIE: Uh-- Oh! Was that John Wayne? (NERVOUS CHUCKLE) You know, they all look alike to me. Those - those big hats.


SOUND: TICKING! OF CLOCK ... FADES IN ... CONTINUES IN BG


PAUL: That was the night that she signed her own death warrant. Little things put the official seal on it, like the cigar butt in the living room; like the gasoline drippings on the street in front of our house, and we don't even own a car! And it wasn't a delivery truck, either, because the drippings showed that it stood there a long time, an hour or more. And like the time last week, when-- (BEAT, REALIZES) The time! Twelve minutes after two? No! Oh, no, that can't be! It was just two o'clock. It - it can't be that late already! Twelve minutes past two? Only forty-eight minutes and - and-- Less than forty-eight minutes! It's - forty-seven, fifty-six, fifty-five, fifty-four. Look at that second hand.


SOUND: FRONT DOOR OPENS AND SHUTS 


PAUL: Francie? Francie? Francie! Francie! 


SOUND: FRANCIE'S STEPS TO KITCHEN TABLE ... PARCELS SET DOWN BEHIND--


PAUL: She's in the kitchen. She's putting down her parcels. How can I make her hear me? There must be some way.


SOUND: FRANCIE'S STEPS TO HALL CLOSET WHICH OPENS


PAUL: And now - now she's at the hall closet; she must be hanging up her coat. Oh, Francie, thank you so much for coming home early. I love you so, and I need you. How could I have ever thought of hurting you? I must have been crazy, but I'm not now.


SOUND: DURING ABOVE, CLOSET CLOSES ... FRANCIE'S STEPS BACK TO KITCHEN


PAUL: Back to the kitchen. Why doesn't she come down here to look for something? She might stay up there all afternoon, lie down; she might wash her hair. She - she might stay up there till it's time to get supper ready. If she does, there's no supper, no Francie -- no me. (BEAT) Francie? Francie! Come down here. I know that you can't hear me, but come down here. Please? Please come down here!


SOUND: PHONE RINGS ... FRANCIE'S STEPS TO PHONE ... RECEIVER UP


FRANCIE: (OFF) Hello? -- Yes, Dave. I just got in this minute. -- Oh, Dave, I'm all upset! I had eleven dollars paper money in the kitchen and it's gone, and the wristwatch Paul gave me is gone, too. We must have been robbed!


PAUL: She knows we've been robbed! She'll get the police now, and they'll search the whole place, and they'll look down here.


FRANCIE: (OFF) Well, I'll look again, but I know it's gone. Paul will have a fit.


PAUL: No, no! No, I won't! I won't, honest!


FRANCIE: (OFF) No, I - I haven't reported it yet. We have to be so careful.


PAUL: Yeah, you're not kidding.


FRANCIE: (OFF) I called Paul at the shop while I was out and there was no answer. I hope nothing's wrong.


PAUL: Can't you guess there's something wrong if I'm not in the shop?!


FRANCIE: (OFF) But maybe you'd better come up. -- Okay. Goodbye.


SOUND: RECEIVER DOWN


PAUL: Yeah. Yeah, that's good. Sure! Come on! If I go, both of you go with me! (BEAT, REALIZES) What time is it? Oh, no, no. It can't be nineteen past two! Only forty-one minutes left. Thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Oh, there I go-- Stop it! Stop it! Think! Think fast! Think, like you did last week when you came home and she threw her arms around you and hugged you and-- Why, that little liar!


SOUND: CLOCK FADES OUT ... FOR FLASHBACK 


FRANCIE: Hi, Paulie!


PAUL: (COOL) Hello.


FRANCIE: No kiss?


PAUL: Well, sure. Why not? 


FRANCIE: (GETS A QUICK PECK) Mmph. (DISAPPOINTED BUT PLAYFUL) Oh, what's the matter? Hard day? So hard you can't even force a smile? I'll make you smile. I'll make you laugh!


PAUL: (TICKLED, LAUGHS LOUD) 


FRANCIE: Kitchee kitchee coo! Come on, smile! Smile!


PAUL: (LAUGHS) Stop tickling me! Cut it out!


FRANCIE: What's this in your pocket?


PAUL: (STOPS LAUGHING, UPSET) Francie, don't!


FRANCIE: A present for me?


PAUL: (SAVAGELY) I said, don't! Give me that!


SOUND: PAUL SNATCHES PACKAGE FROM FRANCIE


FRANCIE: All right. You don't have to grab. What is it?


PAUL: (UNCONVINCING) Well, it's, er-- It's fertilizer; that's what it is.


FRANCIE: Fertilizer?


PAUL: Yeah, a - a sample package. I - I figured maybe we'd start a little garden in the back; a few flowers maybe.


FRANCIE: Oh. Well, that's a nice idea. That's just what I'll do!


PAUL: Yeah, well, I'll keep it down in the cellar. Fella gave it to me said that it should be kept in a cool, dry place. I'll buy the seeds just as soon as you make up your mind what you want.


SOUND: TICKING! OF CLOCK ... FADES IN ... CONTINUES IN BG


PAUL: Fertilizer. She never even suspected that it was an explosive. I brought other things home last week, too; every day something else. Some more "sample packages" of "fertilizer" which I carefully packed into a soap box that I had in the cellar. And copper wire, and dry-cell batteries. And this clock. And she never suspected a thing. She was so flustered trying to cover up the fact that she had a caller, that I could have brought in a grandfather's clock under my arm, and she probably wouldn't have even noticed it. Oh, but, Francie, that doesn't matter now. If you-- If you'll just come on downstairs.


SOUND: DOORBELL RINGS ... FRANCIE'S STEPS TO FRONT DOOR BEHIND--


PAUL: He's here. Her boyfriend's here. 


SOUND: FRONT DOOR OPENS


FRANCIE: (OFF) Hello, Dave.


SOUND: FRONT DOOR CLOSES


DAVE: (OFF) Well! Did it turn up yet?


FRANCIE: (OFF) No. And I haven't heard anything from Paul, either.


DAVE: (OFF) The police will think I did it, I suppose.


FRANCIE: (OFF) Oh, don't say things like that. Come on into the kitchen. Coffee's ready.


SOUND: THEIR STEPS INTO KITCHEN ... SCRAPE OF KITCHEN CHAIRS


PAUL: What're they gonna do? Just - just sit there? Don't they-- Don't they know that it's twenty-eight minutes to three? Only minutes left now; minutes! Not even a full half hour any more.


FRANCIE: (OFF) Don't you think we ought to tell Paul about - about us?


DAVE: (OFF) I don't know. How will he take it?


FRANCIE: (OFF) Paul isn't narrow-minded. We can't keep on like this. It's better to go to him ourselves and tell him about you than wait till he finds out. He's liable to think something else entirely!


PAUL: What's she talking about?


FRANCIE: (OFF) I know he didn't believe me that night when I helped you find the furnished room, and told him I'd been to a movie. I'm - I'm so nervous and upset all the time. I feel as guilty as if-- As if I were one of those disloyal wives or something.


DAVE: (OFF) Well, didn't you ever tell him about me at all?


FRANCIE: (OFF) Why, I told him you'd been in one or two little scrapes. But I let him think I'd lost track of you and I didn't know where you were any more.


PAUL: (SURPRISED, CONFUSED) Well - well, that was her brother she said that about.


DAVE: (OFF) I'm gumming things up for you, all right. An escaped convict for a brother.


PAUL: Oh, Francie! Francie, I didn't know! Why didn't you tell me it was your brother? Why didn't you tell me?


FRANCIE: (OFF) Let's - let's go downtown and talk it over with Paul.


PAUL: No! No, no, stay here! Don't - don't go downtown! Stay here!


SOUND: SCRAPE OF KITCHEN CHAIRS


DAVE: (OFF) You shouldn't be seen with me. You could get into trouble yourself! Telephone Paul to come here instead.


PAUL: Yes! Yes, yes, stay here - with me! Please! Stay!


FRANCIE: (OFF) I'm not afraid.


PAUL: What can I do? What can I do? This pipe! This pipe leads upstairs! Hit it with something. With what, though? What? (BEAT, WITH EFFORT) My head! (GRUNTS WITH EFFORT BEHIND--)


SOUND: DULL THUNK OF HEAD ON METAL PIPE! AGAIN! AND AGAIN!


FRANCIE: (OFF) What was that?


DAVE: (OFF) What? I didn't hear anything.


FRANCIE: (OFF) I thought I heard a noise in the cellar.


PAUL: Yes, you did, you did! It's me! It's me!


DAVE: (OFF) You want me to take a look?


PAUL: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes, yes, yes!


FRANCIE: (OFF) No-o-o. I - I guess I was wrong. Let's go, Dave.


SOUND: THEIR STEPS TO FRONT DOOR


PAUL: (DESPERATE) Francie! Francie!


SOUND: MORE DULL THUNKS BEHIND--


PAUL: Come down here and look! (GRUNTS) Only twenty-two minutes left! Francie! Francie!


SOUND: FRONT DOOR SLAMS SHUT ... ONLY PAUL'S LABORED BREATHING AND THE TICKING CLOCK FILL A PAUSE


PAUL: (WHIMPERING) Oh, Mama. Mama, Mama, Mama. It's gained another minute. Help me, Mama; help me, Mama. Help me. Help me, Mama, help me--


SOUND: OCCASIONAL THUMP OF BALL BOUNCED AGAINST OUTSIDE OF CELLAR DOOR


MOTHER: (OFF) Be careful what you're doing, Bobby!


PAUL: (DAZED) What? Oh, that's a kid bouncing his ball against the house. Yeah, it's - it's a little kid.


MOTHER: (OFF) Bobby, come away from that cellar door!


PAUL: No, no, let him stay! Stay - stay there, Bobby! Don't move!


MOTHER: (OFF) Did you hear what I said, Bobby?!


PAUL: Bobby, just turn your head this way and you'll see me. A little more, Bobby, that's it! He's looking right at me, but he doesn't see me. Don't you see me? Turning my head from side to side? Back and forth, back and forth, back and fo--? (EXCITED BURBLING) Yes! He sees me!


MOTHER: (OFF) Bobby, what are you doing there?!


BOBBY: (JUST OUTSIDE THE CELLAR WINDOW) Mommy, look!


PAUL: Does he understand what he sees? Oh, if - if he were only just a few years older; a child of seven or eight could understand it.


MOTHER: (OFF) Bobby, are you coming? I'm waiting.


PAUL: Stay where you are, Bobby. Make her come to you.


MOTHER: (OFF) Did you hear what I said?! (COMING CLOSER) When I call you, I want you to come to me.


SOUND: SOFT CRUNCH OF MOTHER'S STEPS ON THE GRASS


BOBBY: Mommy, look! Funny man!


MOTHER: Why, Mommy can't peek into strange people's houses. Come on, dear.


BOBBY: Funny man! Tied up!


MOTHER: (MOVING OFF) Yes, yes. Well, say goodbye to the funny man tied up.


BOBBY: (MOVING OFF) Bye-bye, Funny Man, tied up. Bye-bye, Funny Man, tied up.


SOUND: SOFT CRUNCH OF THEIR STEPS RETREATING ON THE GRASS


PAUL: (BITTER LAUGHTER, SLOWLY TURNS TO SOBS; THEN CARELESSLY) Aw, let it blow up. What do I care? (BEAT) No, no, no. How much time is left? Ten minutes? (CLUTCHING AT STRAWS) Well, someone could come down here now, or even six minutes from now, or seven, and I could still escape. Forty-two, forty-three, forty-four. The clock's - the clock's beginning to look like people, like Mama. Oh, my head hurts. (REVERTING TO CHILDHOOD) Mama? I'm sorry for what I've done. Paul's sorry. He won't do it again, honest. Just let him go this time, and not punish him. He's - he's learned his lesson; he'll never do it again. Poor Paul, poor Paul.


SOUND: PHONE RINGS ... THEN IN BG


PAUL: Oh, that - that must be Francie. They must have found the shop closed; trying to find out if I came back here while she was gone. When no one answers, will that tell her that something's wrong? Would she think that I'm stretched out here down in the cellar if I don't answer the phone?


SOUND: PHONE RINGS ONE LAST TIME


PAUL: (BEAT, INCREASINGLY DELIRIOUS) Bye-bye, Francie. Bye-bye. Bye-bye. Tick-tock. Bye-bye. Tick-tock. Seven minutes to three. In seven minutes the alarm goes off. "Seven minutes to three. / The alarm rings for me." (CHUCKLES) That's it -- a poem, Francie -- it's a funny poem. Seven. (FERVENT PRAYER) Please let time stand still at seven. (BEAT) Now it's six. What a precious number is six -- so round, so comfortable. Let it be six forever. Not five, or four, but six for all eternity. Let time stand still at six. (BEAT) Now it's five, five, five, five, five, five, five, five -- (SOBS) -- five, five. Four. Four. Bye-bye, five. Paulie says bye-bye, five.


SOUND: CLOCK FADES OUT 


MAMA: (GENTLY, WARMLY) Good morning, Paulie dear. Good morning. Wake up, sleepyhead. Wake up. Do you know what time it is?


PAUL: (SLEEPY, HAPPY) No-o-o. What time is it?


MAMA: Take your head out from under the pillow and see for yourself.


PAUL: All right. It's exactly -- one minute to three.


SOUND: TICKING! OF CLOCK ... FADES IN ... CONTINUES IN BG


PAUL: (SHUDDERS) One minute to three! Oh, I - I was dreaming. One minute to three; not even a minute. Barely fifty seconds. Fifty seconds to go. Fifty seconds to live. Help me, Mama, help me! Francie! Paulie needs help! He dies in forty seconds! Thirty-nine, thirty-eight, thirty-seven. He's - he's not a bad little boy. He always means well, so help him! Help little Paul--! Mama? Mama, where are you? Quick, I haven't got much time. I have - twenty seconds. (TEARFUL) Nineteen, eighteen, seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, fourteen, thirteen, twelve, eleven. (CALM) Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.


SOUND: RING! OF THE ALARM BELL ... LONG AND LOUD ... THEN IN BG


PAUL: (WHIMPERS)


MUSIC: BIG CLIMAX ... FOR TRANSITION ... OUT BEHIND-- 


FRANCIE: (SOBS HEAVILY)


OFFICER: Take it easy, ma'am. The doc's workin' on him. Meantime, just a couple more questions.


FRANCIE: (COMPOSES HERSELF) All right. All right, officer.


OFFICER: You say when you came in, he was all tied up, and this alarm clock here was ringin'?


FRANCIE: Yes.


OFFICER: I see.


DOCTOR: (OFF) Clancy?


OFFICER: Yeah, doc?


DOCTOR: (APPROACHES, SIMPLY) Dead. Of heart failure.


FRANCIE: (DEVASTATED) Oh, Paul! (SOBS BEHIND--)


OFFICER: I'm sorry, ma'am. Now look, just one more thing. This box. There were some wires goin' to it from that clock, and I pulled them out. Do you know what was in it?


FRANCIE: This box?


OFFICER: Yeah.


FRANCIE: Nothing. It used to have some fertilizer in it, but I took it out this morning and used it. I - I've been trying to raise flowers in the back of the house. (SADLY) Paul - Paul loves flowers.


MUSIC: CURTAIN


VOICE: Thank you, Van Heflin, for a splendid performance.


HAP: Harlow, about my income tax report--


ANNOUNCER: Aw, forget it, Hap, and be happy. Ask for those mighty marvels, those gas- and money-savers, those ignition-engineered Auto-Lite Resistor Spark Plugs. They're made by the Auto-Lite men who make over four hundred products for cars, trucks, airplanes, and boats in twenty-eight Auto-Lite plants from coast to coast. Auto-Lite also makes complete electrical systems for many makes of America's finest cars. Batteries, spark plus, generators, starting motors, coils, distributors -- all ignition-engineered to fit together perfectly, work together perfectly, because they're a perfect team. So, folks, don't accept electrical parts that are supposed to be as good. Ask for and insist on Auto-Lite original factory parts at your neighborhood service station, car dealer, garage, or repair shop. Remember, from bumper to tail-light, you're always right - with Auto-Lite.


MUSIC: TAG


VOICE: And now here again is Van Heflin.


HEFLIN: First, I'd like to say that it's always great fun, and a lot of work, to appear on SUSPENSE. And second-- (CALLS) Come on out here, Tony! That's right, come on out! (TO ALL) Ladies and gentlemen, Radio-Mirror Magazine has asked me to call Tony Leader, the producer-director of SUSPENSE, down out of his glass cage up there for a very special reason.


LEADER: (APPROACHES) What's it all about, Van?


HEFLIN: Tony, I'd like you to meet Miss Ann Daggett, Western editor of Radio-Mirror Magazine.


LEADER: How do you do?


DAGGETT: How do you do, Mr. Leader? As a SUSPENSE fan of long standing, I am very happy to have the privilege of presenting to you this scroll. It is in recognition of the fact that SUSPENSE has been chosen Radio's Outstanding Mystery Show by Radio-Mirror Magazine, which will be on the newsstands tomorrow.


LEADER: Why, that's - that's wonderful, and on - on behalf of our writers and our actors and musicians -- Lud Gluskin in particular -- technicians without whom SUSPENSE couldn't even begin to - suspend you, I want to say thank you very much.


HEFLIN: My congratulations, too, Tony, and I'll be tuned in next week to hear Gregory Peck in "Murder Through the Looking Glass," another gripping study in--


MUSIC: KNIFE CHORD


VOICE: --SUSPENSE!


ANNOUNCER: Van Heflin appeared by arrangement with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, producers of the Technicolor picture "Little Women," starring June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Margaret O'Brien, and Elizabeth Taylor. Tonight's SUSPENSE play was written by Cornell Woolrich and adapted by Walter Newman. Music was composed by Lucien Moraweck and conducted by Lud Gluskin. The entire production was under the direction of Anton M. Leader. Remember, next Thursday hear Gregory Peck in "Murder Through the Looking Glass."


SOUND: PHONE RINGS TWICE ... RECEIVER UP


OPERATOR: (FILTER) You can buy Auto-Lite Electrical Parts, Auto-Lite Resistor Spark Plugs, Auto-Lite Sta-Ful Batteries at your neighborhood Auto-Lite dealer. Switch to - Auto-Lite. Good night.


ANNOUNCER: Here's great news. SUSPENSE on television may be seen in many parts of the country every Tuesday night. This is CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System.


MUSIC: THEME ... UNTIL END


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