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Zero Hour

Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator

Zero Hour

Feb 02 1954



CAST:

ANNOUNCER

NBC ANNCR (1 line)


BARRIE CRAIG, hardboiled

EVAN PARKER, Jean's husband

TOM COOPER, Jean's brother; a tough guy

WILMA WEST, Jean's rival; sexy, strong-willed

ALAN LOOMIS, Jean's old flame; another tough guy

JEAN PARKER

SHERIFF, rural




ANNOUNCER: William Gargan stars as BARRIE CRAIG, CONFIDENTIAL INVESTIGATOR!


MUSIC: TAG


CRAIG: The brotherhood of man is a universal truth -- in one instance, anyhow: I never knew a corpse to show antagonism toward a fellow stiff.


MUSIC: TAG


ANNOUNCER: The National Broadcasting Company presents William Gargan in another transcribed drama of mystery and adventure with America's number one detective, BARRIE CRAIG, CONFIDENTIAL INVESTIGATOR! 


MUSIC: SULTRY JAZZ THEME ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG UNTIL TRAIN EFFECTS--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) Barrie Craig speaking. Winter and snow do one of two things to a cliff-dweller. He either packs his swimming trunks and suntan oil and mushes overland to a Florida beach, or he climbs into his mink-lined parka, throws his skis over his shoulder, and hops the ski train to Stowe, Vermont. I did the last mentioned. (SOUND: TRAIN BACKGROUND) I sat on a train wedged in with a bunch of ski lovers entrained for the cold country -- not because of any yen to be an Eskimo, but for a much less noble reason. Said reason being the pursuit of a buck. Would I please come, the telegram said. When a client goes so far as to wire you, one fact is beautifully clear: this guy can afford you.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN OUT BEHIND CRAIG--


SOUND: TRAIN BACKGROUND OUT 


CRAIG: (NARRATES) In Stowe, Vermont, at the lodge, I baked the rheumatism out of my separate parts and joints in front of a roaring log fire the hotel provided. When the ice thawed out of my good ear, I got wind of what my client -- an intense-looking chap named Parker -- was trying to get across to me.


PARKER: The tragedy happened two years ago -- two years ago this week.


CRAIG: Your wife Jean fell four hundred feet and suffered an injury to her spine?


PARKER: Yes, someone had tampered with her ski straps and, on an especially steep and icy slope, they broke. Jean was badly injured. She recovered, but as a hopeless paralytic. 


CRAIG: One hundred percent? 


PARKER: No, just the lower limbs starting at the waist. She's confined to a wheelchair. 


CRAIG: Two years now? 


PARKER: Yes. Jean has been abroad all this time, undoubtedly consulting medical specialists; seeing if anything can be done to restore her. 


CRAIG: But--? 


PARKER: To the best of my knowledge, it's hopeless. 


CRAIG: To the best of your knowledge? You're obviously not close to the situation. 


PARKER: No, I'm not. Since the accident we've been estranged, Jean and I. 


CRAIG: Nice time to cool off toward your wife. 


PARKER: It was not my wish. Jean excluded me from her problem. She turned me away. 


CRAIG: Why?


PARKER: Well, the answer to that is why I'm engaging you. Jean has never acquitted me in her thinking. 


CRAIG: She suspects you? 


PARKER: Yes -- me among others. 


CRAIG: Ohhh. There are others who might have tried to do her in?


PARKER: Yes. Three others. 


CRAIG: Name them. 


PARKER: My wife's brother, Tom Cooper; a man named Alan Loomis; and a lady magazine writer named Wilma West. 


CRAIG: Well, what did they have against your wife -- two years ago?


PARKER: Well, I, er-- I'd rather not influence you with prejudices of my own. It'd be better if you found out for yourself. 


CRAIG: I see. Well, answer me this: why are you ordering an investigation now, er, two years after the mishap? 


PARKER: Well, it happened up here in 1952, this anniversary weekend, and, strange as it may seem, Tom Cooper, Alan Loomis, Wilma West, and myself, the four suspects -- we're all here right now.


CRAIG: (IRONIC) Grand reunion.


PARKER: (SHRUGS) Skiers come to ski country. 


CRAIG: Criminals come back to the scene of the crime. (BEAT) Where is the victim right now -- your estranged wife, Jean? Don't tell me she's also in the lodge. 


PARKER: No, in the village, in a rented cottage.


CRAIG: Well, why is she -- in her condition? 


PARKER: I don't know. I - I've wondered about it, but I don't know.


CRAIG: What do you hope to gain from my investigation, Parker? 


PARKER: Vindication. Jean's goodwill. So I can live with myself.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) Reinvestigate a two-year-old accident. Two years: I'd be plowing through a lot of cobwebs. (SOUND: LUGGAGE UNPACKED) Getting unpacked in my room, somebody went out of his way to make me feel unwelcome. (SOUND: KNOCK ON DOOR) (CALLS) Come in. (SOUND: DOOR OPENS, THEN CLOSES BEHIND--) (NARRATES) A guy with one blue eye and a black patch where his other eye figured to be. (SOUND: STEPS INTO ROOM BEHIND--) A tough look to him, like the world was too populated for his liking.


COOPER: Am I intruding? 


CRAIG: (SHRUGS) You knocked, I said come in. 


COOPER: You're Barrie Craig? 


CRAIG: That's how I registered.


COOPER: A New York detective. 


CRAIG: That's not on the register.


COOPER: It's written all over you.


CRAIG: Which suspect are you?


COOPER: Suspect? Now look here--! 


CRAIG: Relax. Well, which is it -- Tom Cooper or Alan Loomis?


COOPER: I'm Tom Cooper. 


CRAIG: Mrs. Jean Parker's brother?


COOPER: Jean's my sister, yes. 


CRAIG: Then you're here to threaten me? 


COOPER: To talk sense at you! 


CRAIG: That's polite for threaten. So go ahead: worry me. 


COOPER: All right. I did come to say I don't relish being hounded and harassed by a detective. I'm here for fun and skiing.


CRAIG: Well, how do you know my, er, intentions toward you?


COOPER: I saw you closeted with my moron brother-in-law Parker. Guessing Parker's scheme wasn't hard. 


CRAIG: Scheme? 


COOPER: A grandstand play: hire a detective to show how he's burning to unravel an old mystery -- and, by doing it, make himself look good. 


CRAIG: Is that a hint you think Parker's responsible for his wife's condition? 


COOPER: Not only a hint, it's my opinion. 


CRAIG: Accusation. 


COOPER: Accusation! 


CRAIG: Slander. You can be sued, by Parker. 


COOPER: Parker tries it, I'll brain him. Craig, go home. 


CRAIG: Sure, in good time. 


COOPER: You'll just make a nuisance of yourself to everybody here. 


CRAIG: It's what I'm paid for.


COOPER: All right, milk the situation. Worry a case that had better be forgotten, but don't come near me. 


CRAIG: Or--? 


COOPER: Are you deliberately baiting me? 


CRAIG: A guy looks and barks like he's Little Caesar, I'm always curious about the size of his bite. How do you want to leave, Cooper? 


COOPER: (PUZZLED) How do I? 


CRAIG: Walking or crawling?


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) Tom Cooper wasn't the only weekend skier who had me figured as a pesky killjoy. Another one tried to make me feel unwelcome, but this one wasn't as forward as Cooper. This one was the bashful type who believed in voicing his sentiments from afar. (SOUND: GUNSHOT! ... WINDOW GLASS SHATTERS!) A rifle bullet through my room window. Not intended to kill me. Just discourage me. The bullet lay at my feet. I pocketed it for a souvenir. (CHUCKLE) No doubt about it: it was going to be a weekend to remember. 


MUSIC: UP BRIEFLY THEN BEHIND--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) Roads get impassible because of a snow block, you give transportation back to the horses. (SOUND: CLIP-CLOP OF HORSE, JINGLE OF SLEIGH BELLS, HORSE SNUFFLES, ET CETERA, CONTINUES IN BG) I rented a sleigh, drawn by a horse. My destination? The village -- to introduce myself to Mrs. Jean Parker; pay my respects. En route, still in sight of the lodge, a lady on snowshoes -- and bundled in furs like a mink polar bear -- hailed me like she wanted to thumb a ride.


WILMA: Yoo hoo! Hey!


SOUND: HORSE AND SLEIGH COME TO A STOP ... HORSE SNUFFLES ... WIND BLOWS, IN BG


CRAIG: Yes? 


WILMA: Going to the village? 


CRAIG: I am.


WILMA: Can you take me? 


CRAIG: Take lifts from strangers, lady; you're living dangerously. 


WILMA: (UNWORRIED) Oh, you have a respectable look. (CLIMBS IN, EXHALES, TO HORSE) Giddyap!


SOUND: HORSE AND SLEIGH RESUME ... THEN IN BG


WILMA: Besides, you're not a stranger.


CRAIG: No? 


WILMA: No. 


CRAIG: We have a past together, only I can't place the face? 


WILMA: Spoken like a male. You're Barrie Craig. And I'm Wilma West. 


CRAIG: Ohhh. Another one of my suspects.


WILMA: Yes, I'm a fiendish murderess.


CRAIG: Would-be murderess. The victim survived, I hear tell.


WILMA: (MUSES) Victim. It's like a page out of ancient history, so remote.


CRAIG: (QUIET SARCASM) Yeah. Two years makes any event stale. Except to the victim: confined to a wheelchair, yesterday and today merge for you.


WILMA: Put it that way, I'm chastened. 


CRAIG: Anything you can tell me? 


WILMA: (AMUSED) To clear myself of suspicion? 


CRAIG: Don't work so hard at being sophisticated.


WILMA: Oh, but I must: it's my style, my livelihood. I'm a sophisticated editor of a smart magazine.


CRAIG: Jean Parker -- what did you have against her two years ago? 


WILMA: Let me see. Oh, yes, I was the other woman -- the femme fatale; serpent in Jean's garden. 


CRAIG: You and Parker?


WILMA: Me and Evan Parker, yes.


CRAIG: Did Jean know? 


WILMA: Doesn't the wife always? She finds lipstick smears on handkerchiefs, canceled checks for gifts she never got. 


CRAIG: Er, all kidding around, you and Parker? Or was there something for real between you?


WILMA: Very real, Mr. Craig. Evan Parker loved me and I loved Evan Parker. 


CRAIG: But--? 


WILMA: Jean wouldn't divorce him. She took it all very badly, very shabbily. She scratched and clawed, did everything to embarrass and cheapen Evan's love for me. 


CRAIG: How does it go between Evan Parker and you today? 


WILMA: (SOUR CHUCKLE) Nothing, Mr. Craig. We're polite to each other; we're strangers. Jean sits in a wheelchair between us. 


CRAIG: I suppose you know Evan Parker hired me to get at the truth.


WILMA: Yes, I know. Evan feels guilty about what happened to Jean. (BEAT) I'll make a prophecy.


CRAIG: Yes? 


WILMA: You'll get nowhere at all with your investigation. You'll fail as other investigations have failed before. You'll just renew misery for a lot of people, but accomplish nothing. 


CRAIG: I'll spoil everybody's weekend; I keep hearing that. Well, here's the village. Where can I drop you?


WILMA: Right here. You're, um, going to pay a call on Jean Parker? 


CRAIG: You said magazine editor, but I think you're a mind reader. 


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) I tied my sleigh to a hitching post and started to slosh the hundred-odd yards to Mrs. Jean Parker's cottage. But before I could make the front door, I had another interview forced on me. A guy standing to a side a few feet away from Jean Parker's place, standing like he'd planned it as an ambush for me.


SOUND: WIND BLOWS ... CRAIG'S STEPS THROUGH SNOW, THEN OUT BEHIND--


LOOMIS: You, Craig!


CRAIG: More people know my name up here. 


LOOMIS: And pedigree. You're a meddler.


CRAIG: Rough talk.


LOOMIS: You'd crucify people for a few pieces of silver. Now, look, stop stirring old ghosts, stop reopening old wounds--


CRAIG: Stop spoiling skiers' weekends. I've met Evan Parker, Tom Cooper, and Wilma West. By elimination, I guess you to be, uh, Alan Loomis.


LOOMIS: I'm Alan Loomis.


CRAIG: Once involved with Mrs. Jean Parker. How? 


LOOMIS: None of your business.


CRAIG: In that case, so long. 


LOOMIS: Hey, wait. (BEAT) I was in love with Jean before she married Parker. She left me at the altar to run off with Parker. It's old ghosts; I said you'd stir them. Go home, Craig. 


CRAIG: When I wrap this up. Crime's committed, somebody must be punished. You through discouraging me? 


LOOMIS: No. I can be stubborn, too -- and determined.


CRAIG: Sure. You're the type hero who can stand in an ambush somewhere and pump rifle bullets into a hotel room. (BEAT) You're not denying you took a potshot at me a few hours ago. 


LOOMIS: Craig, go home -- amicably, with a bonus check from me, or in some other way. 


CRAIG: In a hearse? 


LOOMIS: Even perhaps in a hearse.


CRAIG: I was on my way to see Jean Parker when you waylaid me. Do I have to punch my way to her door?


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) Finally, at long last, I got to sit with Mrs. Jean Parker, once pretty, but now very thin with deep hollows in her cheeks, and eyes that looked burned out by fever. She was in a chromium wheelchair, a plaid blanket covering her lower limbs. 


JEAN: I wish you hadn't come here, Mr. Craig. Evan Parker engaging you -- it can serve no good now.


CRAIG: You want to forget it? 


JEAN: Yes, I do. 


CRAIG: Parker's my client. I'll do what he engaged me to do: clear him of responsibility for your mishap, pin the blame on who really engineered it. You can help me. 


JEAN: How? 


CRAIG: Information and stuff.


JEAN: Hmph! Anybody could have tampered with my skis so that I'd plunge to my death.


CRAIG: "Anybody" meaning, er, your husband? Because you wouldn't divorce him? Wilma West, a rival who hated you? Alan Loomis, a suitor you left waiting at the altar when you married Parker? And your brother Tom Cooper.


JEAN: And my brother Tom. 


CRAIG: What cooked between you and your brother? 


JEAN: A paltry sum of money. Our father died; the will left everything to me, less than ten thousand dollars. Tom was resentful. Money was always his creed and his god. Tom accused me of exercising undue influence over our father, of poisoning father against him.

 

CRAIG: Why are you up here in Stowe?


JEAN: (SADLY) Sentiment, I suppose -- paradoxical as that may seem. I'm half a woman, but my feelings are whole. All of my youth, I came here for the winter snows, the winter fun.


CRAIG: I see. 


JEAN: (SOBS, TEARFUL) You shouldn't have called on me, Mr. Craig.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) To see a woman in the prime of youth -- like Jean Parker was in the prime of her youth; a cripple, only able to live in a narrow area through which she could propel her wheelchair -- the picture stays with you. (BEAT) Four suspects. If one of them had actually schemed the accident, I kept wondering how the guilty party could live with himself -- or herself, if it was Wilma West. (SOUND: CROWDED DINING ROOM BACKGROUND; HOTEL ORCHESTRA PLAYS) The last-mentioned party joined me at lunch in the big hotel dining room. Uninvited, she just plopped down.


SOUND: WILMA SITS


WILMA: (CHEERFUL) Don't look so put upon, Mr. Craig. 


CRAIG: (SOUR) Frankly, I'm not in a social mood.


WILMA: I am. I'm starved. What's good?


CRAIG: Read the menu.


WILMA: Ahhh, prime roast beef -- food for a ravenous skier. Order it for me with A-One Sauce, Mr. Craig. No, not Mr. Craig. Barrie! 


CRAIG: (TO WAITER) Charlie? C'mere. (ORDERS) Roast beef for the lady. (BEAT, TO WILMA) You've got a way with men, huh, Miss West? 


WILMA: (CHUCKLES) I'm at home with men. I had seven brothers. 


CRAIG: I never had a sister. That makes me a woman-hater.


WILMA: Oh, I wouldn't be discouraged. You'll accept me or, um, I'll force myself on you.


CRAIG: It won't help your case, baby -- if you're the guilty party. 


WILMA: I wonder will you be so blasé about my charms tonight. 


CRAIG: What's tonight? 


WILMA: The weekend dance, and I'll be wearing a Parisian import.


CRAIG: Meaning I'll go for the dress, if not the woman? 


WILMA: Hm, I don't look to advantage in these ski clothes. I'm, uh, overdressed, dramatically speaking.


CRAIG: Well, I've finished eating. (MOVING OFF) So long. 


WILMA: Barrie, don't make me eat alone! (CALLS AFTER HIM) Barrie


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) A guy never lived who could shake a determined dame. She cornered me again on the ski slope. I wasn't skiing, just looking. I couldn't afford to break a leg, not while I was working. 


SOUND: SKI SLOPE BACKGROUND ... WIND BLOWS


WILMA: (OUT OF BREATH) Barrie--?


CRAIG: Breathless over me? 


WILMA: (EXHALES) Yes and no. Climbed up the slope, I'm winded. I've, er-- I've got something to show you. 


CRAIG: What?


WILMA: This note. (SOUND: PAPER UNFOLDED) Threat against my life. 


CRAIG: (READS) "Wilma, enjoy the short weekend -- your last." (TO WILMA) Where did you receive this? 


WILMA: From Tom Cooper. 


CRAIG: Tom Cooper?


WILMA: By hand. It had been slipped under his door, he said -- by mistake, it seemed, since it was addressed to me.


CRAIG: That's a funny note. Where's Tom now? 


WILMA: Taking the high jump.


CRAIG: Show me the way. 


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) We got within view of Cooper, maybe two hundred yards away. Cooper poised like an Olympic skier on the most dangerous jump in the area.


WILMA: That's Tom Cooper up there on the peak! 


CRAIG: Yeah. Let's get down to the base. He'll jump and we'll meet him below. 


WILMA: All right.


CRAIG: (NARRATES) Only we weren't going to get to meet Cooper below. Cooper, in fact, was never going to make the jump.


SOUND: DISTANT RIFLE SHOT!


CRAIG: (NARRATES) A rifle shot -- from an angle I couldn't figure, the way altitude reverberates sound. But an accurate shot: it dropped Cooper dead in his tracks.


WILMA: Tom! He's been shot! 


CRAIG: He didn't just fall. Go stay with Cooper; I want to scout the area for the rifleman. 


MUSIC: UP FOR TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) I found a lot of snowmen, but no human being. Hiding out of sight wasn't tough for an assassin at any compass point: there were ravines and rocks and woods. Besides that, stare out at snow, like I was, your focus goes awry. You get snowblind. I joined Wilma.


SOUND: WIND BLOWS


WILMA: Tom's dead.


CRAIG: Yeah. (EXAMINES HIM) Drilled in the right temple. Somebody up here is a superb marksman.


WILMA: What do we do?


CRAIG: Find a sled somewhere and get Cooper to the local undertaker. Then inform the coroner. Want to stay here while I go get a sled? 


WILMA: No! I'm coming with you.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) Murder: Tom Cooper, Mrs. Jean Parker's brother. We brought the body into the village on a horse-drawn sleigh. (SOUND: HORSE, SLEIGH, JINGLE BELLS, ET CETERA) Wilma went the whole morbid route with me. She was afraid not to -- afraid to be on her own, out of my sight. After a formal report on how Cooper came to get shot, the local sheriff did some theorizing.


SHERIFF: An accident. Some bad shot in those woods who has no right to own a gun.


CRAIG: It wasn't an accident, sheriff. 


SHERIFF: Oh, come now, Craig -- don't pump this up to more than it is. 


CRAIG: Cooper was shot from a distance by a high-powered rifle with modern range sites. Shot by a top marksman: it took only one bullet. I call that very skillful murder.


SHERIFF: Now, why would anyone want to murder this Tom Cooper?


CRAIG: Well, that's a long story and even I don't know the half of it -- yet. But it's murder, bet on it! 


WILMA: It was murder, sheriff. Look here. (SOUND: PAPER UNFOLDED) This note. It's a threat to murder me.


SHERIFF: A threat? Let me see. (SOUND: NOTE TAKEN) (READS) "Wilma--" (TO WILMA) That you, ma'am? 


WILMA: Yes, I'm Wilma.


SHERIFF: Yeah. (READS) "Enjoy the short weekend -- your last." (SKEPTICAL) Now, how is that a threat, like you say? 


WILMA: Can't you read?!


CRAIG: He obviously can't.


SHERIFF: Aw, now you're gettin' steam-heated, you two. I read the paper and I say it might mean anything! I'm markin' Tom Cooper down as an accidental shooting.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) We left the sheriff muttering to himself and started back to the hotel. (SOUND: HORSE AND SLEIGH, IN BG) It was growing dark and the temperature had dropped enough to make us human icicles in the front seat of the rig. Wilma sat as close as she could get, warmth being at a premium like it was. Halfway between the town and the lodge, Wilma lost the little warmth I could give her. She went from cold to ice-cold.


SOUND: RIFLE SHOT! ... HORSE AND SLEIGH SLOW DOWN A LITTLE, IN BG


WILMA: (CRIES OUT) Barrie! 


CRAIG: You're shot.


WILMA: How--? How did I--?


CRAIG: It's an ambush -- from anywhere in the south woods flanking the road. 


WILMA: (EXHALES IN PAIN)


CRAIG: Where do you feel it?


WILMA: Here - here, in my chest. It hurts, Barrie.


CRAIG: There's a hotel doctor; I've got to get you there.


SOUND: HORSE AND SLEIGH SPEED UP A LITTLE


WILMA: (TEARFUL) Barrie--?


CRAIG: Yes, Wilma? 


WILMA: I - I won't make it. I won't make it. 


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES, A LITTLE SHAKEN) She wouldn't make it -- I knew: looking at her, watching life flicker, then go. The second murder in a matter of hours. I turned the sleigh around. I - I had another corpse to turn over to the village authorities.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) Later at the hotel, my client, Evan Parker, put on quite a show of nerves.


PARKER: Craig, I've tried to contact you everywhere. 


CRAIG: Everywhere is where I've been. When you hired me, you didn't mention mortician's duties. 


PARKER: Two frightful murders. What does it mean? 


CRAIG: Somebody is haywire with a rifle. 


PARKER: But why? What reason was there to kill Tom and Wilma? 


CRAIG: I can't answer that. I could try, I guess. 


PARKER: Yes? 


CRAIG: To shut them up. Say Tom and Wilma knew who'd arranged your wife's mishap two years ago. 


PARKER: You think Tom and Wilma knew?


CRAIG: It's possible, but as I said, it's only a guess. 


PARKER: Well, dignifying your guess, if Tom and Wilma knew, and with themselves innocent, then your theory can point to only one person. 


CRAIG: Like? 


PARKER: Alan Loomis. He's all that's left.


CRAIG: "Tom-Wilma-Loomis" equals three. There were four suspects to the plot against your wife. 


PARKER: Four? Oh. You're including me. 


CRAIG: Let's say I'm not excluding you. 


PARKER: Do you think I'd hire you, bring you all the way from New York, if I was the guilty one? 


CRAIG: Guilty parties have hired me before in other cases. I'm a screen they can hide behind. 


PARKER: It's not like that in my case. 


CRAIG: I hope not, for your sake. 


PARKER: Loomis! It has to be Loomis. Find him, arrest him. Force him to confess. Loomis -- he's your man.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) I went looking for Loomis. I called his room, then checked the desk. It began to look as if Parker was right about Loomis. Loomis had skipped, in a hurry.


SOUND: RECEIVER UP ... DIALS OPERATOR


CRAIG: (INTO PHONE, WITH APPROPRIATE PAUSES) Hello? Operator, get me the sheriff's office. ... Hello, sheriff? Barrie Craig. A suspected murderer is trying to leave town. Alan Loomis. About thirty-five, tall, over six feet, brown hair. Grab him and don't let go till I get there.


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


SHERIFF: Loomis turned up somewhere else, right after you telephoned me. 


CRAIG: You've got him?


SHERIFF: I have.


CRAIG: Where is he? 


SHERIFF: In the undertaking parlor with the other two. And one bullet in him -- clean, like the other two. 


CRAIG: Where did you find Loomis like that?


SHERIFF: Tonight in the village, sittin' on a sleigh without a stir to him, not fifty feet away from Peck's hardware store. 


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) Four suspects and three of them dead. That left Parker -- guilty by elimination. Only thing, if multiple murder was Parker's reason for weekending in Stowe, why had he hired me to play spectator to murder? Me, snooping around? I could only mean trouble for him. (SOUND: CRAIG'S STEPS TO DOOR) I went back to see Parker, to tell him the sad news about Loomis. (SOUND: KNOCK ON DOOR ... NO ANSWER ... DOOR OPENS) He wasn't in his room. (SOUND: PHONE RECEIVER UP, DIALS "0") I called the main desk. (BEAT, INTO PHONE, WITH APPROPRIATE PAUSES) Hello? This is Barrie Craig. I'm up in Evan Parker's room. He's not in. Will you page him for me? ... What? Oh. Mount Mansfield? Thanks. (SOUND: RECEIVER DOWN) (THOUGHTFUL) Mount Mansfield. (NARRATES) I went to get into my snowshoes. 


MUSIC: UP FOR ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) I spied Parker from a distance of a hundred yards, trailing up-grade where the slope began to rise. He had his skis perpendicular to his back, and something that looked like a rod or stick wrapped in burlap, slung under his arm. I got within hailing distance. (CALLS) Parker! Hey, Parker! (NARRATES) He looked like he wanted to run, but how could he, ankle-deep in the snow? Then, as I got close, he looked like he wanted to melt in the snow and die. I didn't waste any time on protocol. 


SOUND: SLOPE BACKGROUND ... WIND BLOWS


CRAIG: What are you lugging, Parker? 


PARKER: (NERVOUS, UNCONVINCING) I, er, thought I'd practice the jump, so I strapped my skis together--


CRAIG: I'm not talking about skis. Wrapped in burlap -- what is it? 


PARKER: A pole, for balance.


CRAIG: It's too short for that. It's only about as long as a rifle. Do I have to wrestle you for it?


PARKER: (RESIGNED) No. It's a rifle.


CRAIG: High-powered, with a modern range finder? 


PARKER: Yes.


CRAIG: And evidence in it of three shots fired maybe? 


PARKER: (CONCEDES) Evidence of three shots fired.


CRAIG: Cooper, Wilma, and Loomis? 


PARKER: Cooper, Wilma, and Loomis. 


CRAIG: (SUSPICIOUS) You sound like you're confessing. 


PARKER: I came up here to dispose of the rifle, hide it. But now-- 


CRAIG: But now? 


PARKER: I don't care to save myself. 


CRAIG: Three murders. Why? 


PARKER: One of them paralyzed Jean. All of them could have, for the grudge they bore her. I meted out punishment equally. 


CRAIG: (SKEPTICAL) You crazy or, uh, pretending? 


PARKER: I'm your prisoner.


CRAIG: (SHARPLY) Get the burlap off that rifle and demonstrate for me. 


PARKER: Demonstrate--? 


CRAIG: How good a marksman you are. Pick something off for me at a minimum of two hundred yards. One shot. Show me a bull's-eye with one shot. (NO RESPONSE, INSISTS) Show me, Parker.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND CRAIG--


CRAIG: (NARRATES) After Parker demonstrated what a marksman he was, I went to see Mrs. Jean Parker, an informal visit this time, around the back of the house. I didn't announce myself right away. I just stood in the yard and aimed the rifle at a rear window. (SOUND: RIFLE SHOT! WINDOW GLASS BREAKS!) My second shot was aimed at a window on the side of the cottage. (SOUND: ANOTHER RIFLE SHOT! ANOTHER WINDOW GLASS BREAKS!) With that, I hurried around to the front of the house and went in with a crash-- (SOUND: DOOR SMASHED IN!) --through the door! Fear does remarkable things to people. It gives them a strength and frenzy. It even helps paralytics to rediscover their legs. There was Jean Parker, out of her wheelchair, standing flat against the wall, to be where the bullets weren't.


JEAN: (GASPS) Mr. Craig!


CRAIG: Yeah, Craig. Fancy seeing you out of your wheelchair.


JEAN: (REALIZES) You were the one firing! 


CRAIG: I was the crazy assassin. I figured you'd hate being a sitting duck in a wheelchair, life being precious even to a murderess. 


JEAN: (COOL) You're very clever.


CRAIG: Yeah. I began being clever when your husband couldn't hit a tree at two hundred yards or even fifty, yet was confessing to three murders. You planted the murder rifle in his room -- this rifle I'm holding.


JEAN: Did I, Mr. Craig? 


CRAIG: Parker guessed your secret just before I did: that the paralysis was a fraud, a blind you could operate behind -- a fraud altogether or that a temporary condition had been remedied abroad in the two years you were away. 


JEAN: (BITTERLY) I underwent twenty-seven operations. 


CRAIG: Parker was ready to shoulder the blame -- to save you. He didn't yell "frame-up" -- he tried confessing to the murders. 


JEAN: (COLDLY) Noble of Evan. I'm touched.


CRAIG: Three murders and your husband, the patsy. You wanted them all dead. 


JEAN: (SAVAGELY) I wanted them all to get what they deserved.


CRAIG: Yeah. Twenty-seven operations. The suffering you've been put to for two years. I guess the mind does crack under a weight like that. I guess you don't stop to think that only one of them was responsible for the accident.


JEAN: Nobody was ever able to detect the one. 


CRAIG: So you convicted all four of them and planned their execution. 


JEAN: I'm not sorry, Mr. Craig. I'm not a bit sorry. 


CRAIG: I am. And right now, I'm - sorry for you. 


MUSIC: CURTAIN


ANNOUNCER: You have been listening to William Gargan in another exciting transcribed mystery drama from the adventures of BARRIE CRAIG, CONFIDENTIAL INVESTIGATOR. Tonight's story, "Zero Hour," was written by John Roeburt. Next week, it's the strange story titled, "For Love of Murder," about which Barrie Craig has this to say: 


MUSIC: SULTRY JAZZ THEME ... IN BG


CRAIG: Next week, the ways of a maid with a man is so torrid, it electrifies the poor stiff; sends him right out of this world. Do I mean literally? I wonder. Good night, folks. See you next week. 


MUSIC: TAG ... THEN BEHIND ANNOUNCER--


ANNOUNCER: The National Broadcasting Company has brought you William Gargan, starring as BARRIE CRAIG, CONFIDENTIAL INVESTIGATOR. Featured in the role of Wilma was Connie Ford. This is Don Pardo speaking. 


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


NBC ANNCR: Jack Webb stars in DRAGNET, next on the NBC Radio network.


MUSIC: NBC CHIMES

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