Seven Keys to Baldpate Inn by Paul Thain

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

It’s 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 …

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

Carefully locking the door, he follows her

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, peers around the room

Table, chairs, sofas, dresser, desk, coat-stands, reception counter, a moose head and a 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 his ear-muffs, cap and mittens and placing them on the Table

ELIJAH: A fine business this an’ no mistake.

MARTHA: What a climb, eh?

ELIJAH: (stamping his feet again) Feet are frozen, can’t feel my toes.

ELIJAH sniffs the air

ELIJAH: Stinks … stinks of mould … 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 fire’ll soon help.

ELIJAH sets about building a fire

ELIJAH: Plenty logs, but I can’t find them darned matches.

MARTHA: Don’t say you’ve gone and left them.

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

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

ELIJAH: Teachin’ me to suck eggs next.

MARTHA: (bristling) Only trying to help.

LIGHTS RISE as ELIJAH lights the Lamp over the Fireplace

MARTHA: (mutters) Grumpy old pig.

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

ELIJAH: What you say?

MARTHA: He’s late! I said, he’s 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 ain’t he here? It’s 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: Didn’t I say we should be there to meet him?

ELIJAH: Should’ve done nothin' of the kind. Telegram said to open up and have the place ready and that’s what we’re doin'. Them's the instructions, an’ them's what we foller. You’ll see, he’ll be here before we know it.

MARTHA winds the Clock, sets it going

MARTHA: If he freezes to death it’ll be on you.

ELIJAH: Will you not give me peace, woman?

MARTHA: I’m just sayin’. But frozen or not, it’s a puzzle. What do you suppose he’s doin' in a summer hotel in the dead of winter?

ELIJAH: Ain’t none of our business.

MARTHA 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: That’s 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 an’ all. In fact, I do believe we should be paid extra, it bein’ kind of an emergency, it bein’ beyond the call of duty, an’ all …

Fireplace glows red

ELIJAH: There she goes! See? Blazin' up fine. I said –

MARTHA: I heard you.

ELIJAH: (approaching) What’s wrong?

MARTHA: I’ve just had one of my feelin’s.

ELIJAH: (sitting) You and your feelin’s …

MARTHA: Have I ever been wrong?

ELIJAH: Right or wrong, it ain’t none of our business. What Mr Bentley says Mr Bentley gets and that’s the beginnin' an’ 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 … Ask no questions … What the devil is that all about?

ELIJAH takes back the Telegram

ELIJAH: None of our business, that’s what.

MARTHA: Maybe he’s on the run. Committed some crime … comin' here to hide.

ELIJAH: You think?

MARTHA: Could be violent.

ELIJAH: Violent?

MARTHA: A murderer, even.

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

MARTHA: We both know Mr Bentley keeps strange company.

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

MARTHA: I tell you, Elijah, it’s fishy …

Thunder and Lightning

MARTHA: … turning up in the middle of the night without so much as –

A sharp Rap on the Door

MARTHA: Oh, my Good Lord!

More Thunder and Lightning …

… illuminating MAGEE, peering through the glass door

ELIJAH: (standing) Get a grip, woman! It’s 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

BILLY MAGEE enters carrying two suitcases

He’s 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 I’d breathed my last. Name’s Magee. Billy Magee. I think you’re 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, ma’am.

MARTHA: Glad to meet you, Mr Magee.

MAGEE: Please … call me Billy.

MARTHA: Oh, I don’t think I –

MAGEE: Oh, go on … please.

MARTHA: Oh, very well … if that’s what you want.

MAGEE: (smiling) … Billy.

MARTHA: (smiling) Billy.

MAGEE begins to remove coat and hat

MAGEE: Isn’t this just peachy? I can see we’re all going to get along just fine. Do you think I could get a whisky?

ELIJAH: Bar’s all locked up for the winter.

MAGEE: So unlock it.

ELIJAH: Mr Bentley don’t permit –

MAGEE: I’m sure Mr Bentley won’t 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) I’ll go see what I can find.

MAGEE: I’d be most obliged.

MARTHA: (approaching) I’ll 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 livin' in them mountains so long we don't mind the cold as much as strangers do. But even we felt it tonight. Ain’t 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 don’t you just bring the bottle?

ELIJAH: The bottle?

MAGEE: Save your legs. It’s going to be a long night.

ELIJAH sighs, goes for the bottle, MAGEE knocks back the glass in one

MAGEE: That’s better.

ELIJAH returns with the bottle

ELIJAH: There you go.

MAGEE stands, takes the bottle, smiles

MAGEE: Most kind.

MAGEE re-fills his glass, looks round the room

MAGEE: So this is Baldpate Inn? Kinda spooky, don’t you think?

MARTHA: Sure is. Some say it’s 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, it’s perfect. Just as I imagined. And you say you’ve received a telegram from Mr Bentley?

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

MAGEE: Yes, I’m 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.

ELIJAH: Is that right?

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 expectin' anyone else?

MAGEE: Certainly not. Above all, I need seclusion. It's imperative I’m 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 it’ll be all nice an’ cozy for you an’ 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 …

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: What’s happening?

MARTHA: Elijah!

ELIJAH: That ain’t 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 o’ winter? That ain’t meant to happen.

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

ELIJAH: Not middle o’ Winter, never does.

MARTHA: (from Balcony) Too darn mean.

ELIJAH: You mind your tongue.

MARTHA snorts, returns to the Bedroom

MAGEE: (laughing) Don’t worry, I can be the soul of discretion. Now I really must get on. But first I need to telephone Mr Bentley …

ELIJAH: There ain’t no telephone.

MAGEE: But I have to let him know I’m here.

ELIJAH: Telephone’s cut off, don’t work in Winter.

The Telephone rings

MARTHA re-appears on the Balcony, exchanges another 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: Don’t know what the hell’s goin’ on here.

He answers the Telephone

ELIJAH: Hello? Baldpate 547. Hello? Hello? Ah, Mr Bentley … yes … yes, sir, just arrived … about ten minutes ago. What? Underneath the counter? Ah yes, yes, I see it, sir.

ELIJAH retrieves a sheaf of Paper from beneath the Reception desk

ELIJAH: Yes, I will, sir. Yes, I understand … Twelve o’clock. Twelve o’clock exactly. Midnight. That’ll be twelve o’clock midnight. Yes, sir, thank you, sir, thank –

BENTLEY has hung up

ELIJAH also hangs up, goes to MAGEE

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

ELIJAH indicates sheaf of paper

ELIJAH: Says you’re to give it back to me in 24 hours.

MAGEE takes the Paper

MAGEE: That’s right.

ELIJAH: In exactly 24 hours.

MAGEE: Right again.

ELIJAH: That’ll be the very last stroke of midnight.

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

ELIJAH: Cheat?

MAGEE: I expect you’re wondering what the devil I'm doing here?

MARTHA’s been eaves-dropping

She hurries down the Stairs

MARTHA: Truth to tell, Mr Magee, we had been kinda speculatin’ …

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

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

ELIJAH: Can’t say I am. I have neither time nor inclination.

MARTHA: He ain’t, but I sure am.

MAGEE: I thought so. You have that certain look about you.

MARTHA: I do?

MAGEE: What genre most pleases?

MARTHA: Genre?

MAGEE: What’s most likely to tickle your fancy?

MARTHA: Oh, nothin’ 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: Spooks and shadows? Shots in the night?

ELIJAH: Yeh, that’s them.

MARTHA: Except for a true romance.

MAGEE: Ah, romance …

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

MAGEE: Ah, yes … lovey-dovey. Now where would we be without lovey-dovey, hm?

MARTHA: And passion. I like passion.

ELIJAH: Get a hold of yourself, woman.

MARTHA: An’ love at first sight ...

MAGEE: Hm … love at first sight, how blessed that is. A beautiful waltz plays under a silver moon. We see a man … a young man … tall, dark. and … and …

MARTHA: … handsome?

MAGEE: That’ll do. He stands alone. Lost … lost in his … his loneliness.

MARTHA: I sure know what that’s like.

MAGEE: But then … then in a magic moment, he’s captured by this sudden feeling, this sudden urge. And so he turns. He turns and for the first time … for the first time he sees before him the girl of his dreams.

MARTHA: That’s it, you nailed it good.

ELIJAH: Like I say, stuff and nonsense.

MARTHA: Maybe so, but them Romances make my day worth livin’.

MAGEE: And that’s a joy to hear, Mrs Quimby. 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, that’s one of mine. One of my better ones, in fact. A real bestseller.

ELIJAH: Well I’ll be.

MARTHA: My oh my!

ELIJAH: An’ you say there’s money in it?

MARTHA: Elijah!

MAGEE: Damn right, there is. Only the well’s run rather dry recently. And that’s why I’m here, why I've come to Baldpate Inn.

ELIJAH: An’ you say it pays?

MARTHA: Elijah!

MAGEE: Sure … 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, I’m 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 what’s more, I'm going to do it tonight.

ELIJAH: Tonight?

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

MARTHA: Why, I think that’s just wonderful.

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

MARTHA: Elijah!

MAGEE: (smiling) Well, who’s to say I’m not?

MARTHA and ELIJAH exchange a look

MAGEE: (laughing) Only kidding …

MARTHA: I’d better be checkin’ on that fire. (Picking up suitcase and typewriter machine case from Table) Shall I be puttin’ these in your room?

MAGEE: I don’t want to be a bother.

MARTHA: No bother at all, Billy. Anything I can do to facilitate your great work, I’d consider an honour an’ 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 … 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. To be honest, I think they’re both right.

MAGEE laughs again, raises his glass

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

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

MAGEE: I have to if I’m to win the bet.

ELIJAH: Bet?

MAGEE: Wasn’t it in the telegram?

ELIJAH: Weren’t no mention of no bet.

MAGEE: I’m 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 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: I’m sure it’ll be just fine, Mrs Quimby. (Claps histrionically) And so to work! But before you go, I’d 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 you’re here except us and we’re sayin’ nothin’.

As MARTHA descends Stairs

MARTHA: I don't mind stayin’ an’ keepin' watch.

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: … ghosts?

ELIJAH: There ain't no such a thing.

MARTHA: I know what I seen.

MAGEE: Seen what?

ELIJAH: All she seen is Nancy the Hermit.

MAGEE: Nancy the who?

ELIJAH: Nancy the Hermit. Some crazy woman, lives up in the mountain. Some say she was let down in love an’ it turned her mind. I figger it’s her frightenin’ all the people down in the valley.

MARTHA: No one’s ever proved it.

ELIJAH: Will you not be told, woman? There ain't no such a thing as ghosts. Ain’t that right, Mr Magee ?

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

ELIJAH: What? What you say?

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 ‘cos –

MAGEE: Yes, I know - it’s the only one. (Unlocking door) Now if you don’t mind …

Door opens Wind howls

MARTHA: Come along, Elijah.

ELIJAH: I’m comin’, I’m comin’.

MARTHA: This man has important work to do.

ELIJAH: (turning back to MAGEE) Who the hell’s Horatio?

MAGEE: (smiling) Some other time.

MARTHA: Elijah!

They leave

MAGEE closes and locks 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 in the manner of a Medium

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, wearing a trench coat and Trilby, peering through the glass-paned door

His Torch cuts 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 Safe’s combination

The Safe door swings open

He shines his Torch and peers in

And becomes agitated, mutters

LOU: … goddam …

From the Safe he takes out an open packet of cookies

He ponders them for a few moments

Then quickly returns the packet to the Safe

And reaches for the Telephone

LOU: West Reuton 287. And hurry it along, sister, this is urgent. Hi, boss, yes, it’s me. Listen … Sure, I got here all ok, but … yes, that’s right, cold as a tomb … Thing is, we have ourselves a problem … the safe, it’s empty … Yes, empty … except for a packet of cookies … Yeh, cookies, open, an open packet. No, no joke … Would I joke – Yes, empty. What more can I say? I can’t say it different, there’s nothing in there except cookies. Ok, I’ll check again, but –

LOU has heard MAGEE typing upstairs

LOU: (whispers) There’s someone else here. Sure I’m sure. I can hear one of them, you know, typewriting machines.

Typing stops

LOU: … consequences?

MAGEE exits his bedroom

LOU: What d’you mean consequences?

MAGEE stands on the Balcony, listening

LOU: Boss, I swear on my mother’s –

LOU hears MAGEE creep downstairs, whispers

LOU: I have to go.

LOU hangs up, creeps around the Desk

MAGEE switches on the Lights

He sees LOU and smiles

MAGEE: Good evening. Or should I say, "Good morning."

LOU: And who the hell are you?

MAGEE: I was about to ask you the same.

LOU draws and points his Gun

MAGEE: Whoa …

MAGEE raises his hands

MAGEE: Name’s Magee. Billy Magee …

LOU: So what you doin’ here?

MAGEE: I’m a guest.

LOU: A guest?

MAGEE: 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 I’m the one pointing a gun. So how did you get in?

MAGEE: Through that door.

LOU: Well now I know you’re lyin'. 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 victims of a misapprehension.

LOU: A miss what?

MAGEE: It would seem there are two keys to Baldpate Inn. (showing his key)

MAGEE: See? (turning) Now if you don’t mind …

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 talkin’ 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: I’ve been here a hundred times. You see, I created you. Well, maybe not you exactly. But plenty like you. You’re a dime a dozen.

LOU: You sick of livin’? I’ve killed men for less.

MAGEE: You see? Another of my lines.

LOU: What the hell you talkin’ about?

MAGEE: I’ve killed men for less. I wrote that.

LOU: You crazy?

MAGEE: And that one.

LOU: I’ll ask you one more time – ?

MAGEE: I’m a novelist. I write novels, popular novels. And I’m trying to win a bet by writing a ten thousand word story in twenty-four hours. (turning away) So if you don’t mind, I have work to do.

As MAGEE continues up the Stairs

LOU fires his gun

MAGEE freezes

LOU: Next time I don’t miss.

MAGEE slowly turns back

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

MAGEE: Is that so? 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 … I’m all ears.

LOU: And tonight … 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. Cookies, that’s what I find.

MAGEE: I’m surprised.

LOU: Cookies. An’ nothin’ else.

MAGEE: I have to agree that is unusual.

LOU: The Inn is closed all Winter. And you … you are the only person who’s been here. The only one. Just you. No-one else. You see where I’m heading with this?

MAGEE: You consider me a suspect?

LOU: Got it in one, Sherlock.

MAGEE: Well, I can certainly see your logic. Only you’re wrong on at least one count. I’m not the only one who’s 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 I’m not suggesting for a moment –

Telephone rings, LOU picks up

LOU: Hi Boss … Yeh … some smart-ass writer guy … Magee … Billy Magee. Says he knows nothin’. Says it might be the caretaker …

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 don’t 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: I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.

MARY locks the door, then goes to the window

CONNIE: Has it gone? Is it still there?

MARY: Looks like it’s gone.

MAGEE: My dear lady, whatever is it?

CONNIE: A ghost, we saw a ghost.

MAGEE: … a ghost?

MARY: Up on the mountain …

MAGEE: Ghosts don’t live on mountains.

CONNIE: Young man, I’m telling you we saw a ghost!

CONNIE sits on the sofa

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

MAGEE: … a sheet?

CONNIE: As snow.

MAGEE: Ah, yes - snow.

CONNIE: You’ve seen it?

MAGEE: No, no, it’s just … Well, you see, I’m a writer, so naturally I have a certain … a certain facility with, with you know … words. Maybe it was … oh, I don’t know … a polar bear?

CONNIE: A polar bear? In Colorado?

[end of extract]

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