THE NIGHT OWL RADIO MYSTERY THEATRE
( SCRIPT FOR EPISODE # 1 )
" RATTLE-RATTLE "
Written by James M. Sedgwick
©1998 by James M. Sedgwick
(MUSIC: NIGHT OWL RMT THEME BEGINS and holds under for following bit)
NIGHT OWL: Good evening. Unable to sleep? Then why don't you join me? I am your host The Night Owl, and this is...(OMINOUSLY) The Night Owl Radio Mystery Theatre.
(MUSIC: Builds to five stinging chords then OUT)
NIGHT OWL (After a brief pause) Welcome. Let's talk about murder. It's an ugly word isn't it? But it waits for us every day. When we watch the news on television, listen to the radio, or read the newspaper. There it is...Murder. Tonight's radio drama deals with the more frightening type of this particular crime. The serial murder. I say more frightening because it always seems to come from no where, with the perpetrator usually striking with out warning. This evening's villain is not like that however, for he does give warning. One wonders if this is to one's advantage. (OMINOUS MUSIC BEGINS) Let's find out as we listen to tonight's radio mystery..."Rattle-Rattle".
(MUSIC: Ominous Theme builds to five stinging chords then fades out)
(SOUND: PHONE RINGS.)
HARDING (Picks up phone on second ring): Sheriff's office. Deputy Harding speaking.
THE RATTLER (Hisses, then with a low menacing voice): Rattle-Rattle, Deputy. Tonight I strike at ten o'clock. Rattle-Rattle, Deputy. Try to guess on which block.
(SOUND: A BABY"S RATTLE; THEN THE PHONE LINE GOES TO DIAL TONE. PHONE IS PUT BACK ON HOOK. A CLOCK STRIKES THE HALF HOUR)
HARDING (Horrified): Oh my God! Nine-thirty!
(SOUND: PHONE BEING LIFTED; then DIALING, followed by PHONE RINGING THROUGH EAR PIECE THREE TIMES)
HARDING (Anxious): Come on! Answer for Heaven's sake!
(SOUND: PHONE IS LIFTED THROUGH EAR PIECE AFTER THIRD RING)
HARDING: Sheriff Pointer, it's Frank Harding.
POINTER: Yes Frank?
HARDING: I just heard from our friend, The Rattler. He plans on getting his next victim at ten tonight.
POINTER (STARTLED): What?! Why that's less than a half hour from now!
HARDING: I know sir.
POINTER (Calmer): Alright Frank. I'd better start searching the streets for this maniac now. Knowing how this nut has operated in the past, we can assume that he or she plans to carry out the threat.
POINTER: Yes she. We don't know what sex this lunatic is. All we do know, is that four people of both sexes, and from different walks of life, have been riddled with bullets by a nut who's warned us of the crimes before hand.
HARDING: And all with in the last three weeks.
POINTER: Yes. By the way, what did he or she say this time?
HARDING: Oh, the usual "Rattle-Rattle" rhyme, followed by what sounded like the shaking of a babyís rattle.
POINTER: Warning us. Just like a rattle-snake. Well, I'll go round up some of the other men in the hope of catching this creep before there's another murder. You going to be alright until Casey comes in to relieve you at eleven?
HARDING: Yeah. This telephone's been keeping me pretty busy most of the night anyway.
POINTER: Alright then. You can reach me by my car radio if anything else comes up in the mean time. Good night Frank.
HARDING: Good night sir.
HARDING (HANGS UP PHONE): What a night! (PHONE RINGS): Here we go again. (TELEPHONE IS LIFTED AFTER SECOND RING): Sheriff's office. Deputy Harding speaking.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: Hello, I'm calling in regards to The Rattler.
HARDING: Yes, ma-am?
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: I think I know who he is.
HARDING (Doubting it): Really?
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: There's this man that lives in my apartment building who has been acting really strange lately.
HARDING: How so?
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: He comes and goes at the oddest hours of the night, and is always looking over his shoulder as if he's being watched.
HARDING: Well that is a little weird ma-am, but it's hardly a reason to suspect him of serial murder.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: That's what I thought until this morning.
HARDING: What happened?
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: Well, I'm an insomniac you see, so I'm usually up watching old movies to pass the time away.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: I just love old movies. They don't make `em like they used to anymore...
HARDING (Patiently): Yes ma-am.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: Well this morning around four-thirty, as I was in the middle of this fantastic film, I heard a noise out side. I got up, went over to my bedroom window and looked out. That's when I saw him.
HARDING (Caught off guard, was not listening to her): Ah..who ma-am.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: My tenant of course! He was leaning over the trash barrel in the back yard. He had a can of gasoline which he poured into the barrel. Then he pulled out this object he had hidden inside of his coat and threw that in the bin as well. Right afterwards, he set the barrel on fire!
HARDING: He what?!
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: He set it on fire. Well, it instantly reminded me of the movie "The Lodger".
HARDING (Muttering to himself): I wonder if she uses binoculars.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: I beg your pardon?
HARDING: Nothing ma-am. You were saying...
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT:"The Lodger" is the film were Jack the Ripper burned the evidence which he knew would incriminate him. So I thought; what if this guy's doing the same thing?
HARDING: Did you get a look at what he was burning?
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: I most certainly did! (Melodramatically) It was a hockey mask!
HARDING: A what?
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: A hockey mask. You know the one the killer usually wears in those awful splatter movies.
HARDING (Patiently): I see. Was that the only thing he burned?
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT (Sarcastically): That's enough don't you think?! What if he has a chain-saw or an axe, and goes after someone else?
HARDING: I don't think there is any thing for you to be concerned about.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT (Still sarcastic): What do you mean there's nothing for me to be concerned about? That man is The Rattler!
HARDING: Even if he is, I think it highly unlikely that he would use a chain-saw or an axe.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT (Not sure): You do?
HARDING (Reassuringly): The Rattler uses a particular gun on his victims, and...
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT (Impatiently cutting in): I heard all about that on the news! But what makes you so certain he won't kill with something else?
HARDING: Most serial murderers normally don't change their M.O. Look ma-am, tell you what, if that guy burns anything else in the near future, have a talk with him. If he can't give a satisfactory explanation for his actions; then you can call us back and we'll bring him in for questioning.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT (Unsure): I-don't know... If you think it would be best...
HARDING: I'm certain of it ma-am. Good night.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: Good night then.
(SOUND: PHONE PUT BACK ON TO RECEIVER)
HARDING: Crazy old bat! Imagine finding your favorite movie killers in your back yard! (SOUND: PHONE RINGS TWICE AND IS PICKED UP): Sheriff's office. Deputy Harding speaking.
(SOUND: Of wild party through phone earpiece)
CRANK CALLER: Hello, it's nine-thirty-nine P.M. Do you know where your criminals are? (Giggles then hangs up)
(SOUND: Dial tone)
HARDING (SLAMS DOWN PHONE): Jerk! (SIGHS): It takes all kinds!
(There is a slight pause, then the PHONE RINGS. IT CONTINUES TO RING THROUGH-OUT THE FOLLOWING BUSINESS, UNTIL HARDING IS READY TO PICK IT UP)
HARDING (EXASPERATED): Oh God! Who ever it is can wait a minute. I need a cup of coffee.(Humming gleefully as HE POURS COFFEE, and TAKES A SIP): Ahhh! That tastes good! Well..here goes...(HE Picks up PHONE ON SEVENTH or EIGHTH RING): Sheriff's Office. Deputy Harding speaking.
MOLLY (On the verge of hysterics.): I'd like to speak to who ever's in charge please.
HARDING: That would be me at the moment ma-am. How can I help you?
MOLLY (Desperate): I need you send some of your men out to my house at once. He's going to kill me!
HARDING (Alarmed): Who?
MOLLY: The Rattler!
HARDING: What?! Are you sure about this?
MOLLY (Hysterical): Certainly! I'm not the sort of person who would try and pull a sick prank!
HARDING: Alright. Calm down. I believe you. Now if you can try to explain...
MOLLY: He called me! That monster placed a call to my own home! How he got this number I have no idea. It's unlisted for God's-sake! (Getting more hysterical to the point of screaming): You should have heard him taunting me with some ridiculous Rattle-Rattle rhyme. God, it was awful! The point is, he knows everything about me and he's coming to kill me!
HARDING (Soothingly): Ok. Try and get a hold of yourself. I will send out a car to you as soon as I get your name and address.
MOLLY: M-M-M-Molly C-C-Carlton. 421 M-M-Middle S-Street.
HARDING (SOUND: OF HIM WRITING DOWN THE MESSAGE): Molly Carlton. 421 Middle Street.
( SOUND: CALL WAITING BEEP)
HARDING: I have another call. Will you hold the line until I get back?
MOLLY (Some what calmer): Yes.
HARDING: Good girl.
(SOUND: ANOTHER CALL WAITING BEEP; FOLLOWED BY A CLICK)
HARDING: Sheriff's Office. Deputy Harding Speaking.
THE RATTLER (Hisses, and then with a taunting tone): Rattle-Rattle, Deputy. Fifteen minutes 'till ten o'clock. Rattle-Rattle, Deputy. Have you figured out on which block? (THE RATTLER HISSES)
(SOUND: SHAKING OF A BABY'S RATTLE, followed by DIAL TONE)
HARDING (Half whisper): My God! (Anxious): Miss Carlton!
(SOUND: OF DIAL TONE OUT. A CLICK; THEN ANOTHER DIAL TONE)
HARDING: Hello? (CLICKS RECEIVER): Hello? (CLICKS RECEIVER AGAIN IN DESPERATION): Miss Carlton? HELLO! (SLAMS DOWN PHONE): Oh great! I've lost her! Now what?! (After a slight pause): The sheriff! Yes. Reach him on the radio!
(SOUND: of POLICE RADIO BUZZING. NOTE: When HARDING speaks RADIO Does Not Buzz. It only Buzzes During SHERIFF'S Lines)
HARDING: Harding to Sheriff Pointer. Harding to Sheriff Pointer. Do you read me sir?
SHERIFF: Coming over loud and clear Deputy. What's up?
HARDING: Got a call from a lady named Molly Carlton. She says that The Rattler gave her one of his infamous warning calls.
SHERIFF: Do you think this is on the level or is this gal just trying to pull our leg?
HARDING: It sounded a little bit too serious to be a crank sir. She even stated that he taunted her with one of his "Rattle-Rattle" rhymes.
SHERIFF: Alright Frank. What's the address?
HARDING: 421 Middle Street.
SHERIFF: Got it. I'll call another car, then Stuart and I will be on our way. Do you have the lady on the phone?
HARDING: No sir. I lost her. You see The Rattler called here while I was on the phone with her. By the time I got back to the other line, we were disconnected. I'm going to try calling her back though.
SHERIFF: You do that, and if you reach her, try to keep her calm until we arrive. Over and out.
HARDING: Over and out sir.
( SOUND: POLICE RADIO IS SHUT OFF)
HARDING (Sighing): Now what did I do with that telephone book? (FUMBLES THROUGH PAPERS ON DESK): There's too much junk on this desk! Ah, here it is! Now let's see...(FLIPS THROUGH PAGES): A...B...(Desperate): Where are the C's? (After a moment): Ah, here they are. Cambridge...Campbell...Were in the blazes is Carlton? (It suddenly occurs to him): Oh, what am I doing? She said she was unlisted! Oh, Great! Now I have to play around with Information and hope to God they can get me through to her. (HE PICKS UP PHONE AND DIALS): This is madness! I'll be so glad when this nightmare is over!
(SOUND: PHONE RINGS THOUGH EAR PIECE)
HARDING (Desperately): Come on! What's taking so long? Answer!
(SOUND OF PHONE LIFTED THROUGH EAR PIECE AFTER THE FOURTH RING)
INFORMATION OPERATOR: This is Information. What city please?
HARDING: Ravens Landing.
INFORMATION OPERATOR: Yes sir?
HARDING: This is Deputy Harding with The Ravens Landing Sheriff's Department. We are conducting an investigation into The Rattler Murders.
INFORMATION OPERATOR: Yes sir. I've heard about the crimes. How can I assist you?
HARDING: I need you to put me through to a non published number. It's extremely urgent.
INFORMATION OPERATOR: Certainly sir. What is the name of the party you wish to reach?
HARDING: Carlton. Molly Carlton. The address is 421 Middle Street.
INFORMATION OPERATOR: Just a minute. I will try to connect you.
HARDING: Thank you.
(SOUND: DIALING THROUGH EAR PIECE, THEN BUSY SIGNAL)
HARDING (Crest-fallen): Nooo!
(SOUND: Of BUSY SIGNAL OUT)
INFORMATION OPERATOR: I'm sorry sir but that line seems to be busy at the moment. Do wish me to keep trying and call you back if I get through?
HARDING: Yes. Thank you.
INFORMATION OPERATOR: Your welcome, sir.
HARDING (After hanging up phone): What a night! (PHONE RINGS ONCE): Maybe this is Miss. Carlton now. (PICKS UP PHONE): Sheriff's Office Deputy Harding speaking.
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: Hello. I called you earlier this evening about my tenant who was burning trash in my back yard.
HARDING (A little irritated): Yes ma'am. I remember. What can I for you?
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: Well I did as you suggested. I didn't wait for him to burn anything else, mind you. I simply could not stand by and let something else happen. I was not going to wait and get myself murdered like that stupid landlady almost did in "The Lodger". I might not have been as lucky as her you know.
HARDING (Muttering to himself): What a nut!
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT: I beg your pardon?
HARDING (To HER): I was wondering if the matter had been resolved?
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT (High-handed): Far from it! That's why I'm calling YOU! I didn't get a thing out of this man! He refused to answer any of my questions. I've never seen anyone act so strange in my life! (After a short pause): Well???
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT (Sarcastically): Aren't you going to bring him in for questioning? That IS what you said you would do!
HARDING: For what ma'am?
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT (High-handed): WHY FOR MURDER OF COURSE!
HARDING (Exasperated): I'm afraid I can't do that. Now why don't you do us both a big favor by laying off the television for a while, and find yourself a couple of long sappy romance novels. (Angrily): Good night ma'am! (SLAMS DOWN PHONE) The Rattler isn't the only one who's crazy! (PHONE RINGS TWICE): If that's her again I swear to God I'll...(PICKS UP PHONE ON SECOND RING): Sheriff's Office. Deputy Harding speaking.
INFORMATION OPERATOR: This is the Information Operator. I have the party you wish to speak with.
HARDING (Relieved): Thank you very much. (SOUND: A BEEP, FOLLOWED BY A CLICK): Miss Carlton?
MOLLY: Is that you Deputy Harding?
HARDING: Yes ma'am. How are you holding up?
MOLLY: Alright I guess. I was having some trouble with my phone. Everything is made so cheaply now a days. It seems like every other item I buy is defective. Fortunately I had another phone in storage. (Slight pause): Is there anything specific you would like me to do?
HARDING: Nothing except to stay on the phone with me, and remain calm. The Sheriff and a couple of deputies are on their way. They should be there shortly.
MOLLY: Unless they got stuck in a ditch do to the storm.
HARDING: What storm?
MOLLY: It's been raining pretty heavy around my place for the last twenty minutes.
HARDING (Trying to reassure her): They should arrive in time.
MOLLY: But there's no guarantee, is there?
HARDING: Don't lose hope ma'am.
MOLLY: What if he's deceiving you Deputy?
MOLLY (Frightened): The Rattler. What if he's deceiving everyone? He's gotten away with four murders already. What makes you think he won't succeed in killing me?
HARDING: Because Sheriff Pointer and the others will be there on time to trap him. Don't panic. Just stay on the phone with me and remain calm.
MOLLY: Thank you.
HARDING: For what?
MOLLY: For talking to me, and helping me through this.
HARDING: No problem ma'am. It's my job. We all want to see that this nut gets caught.
MOLLY: Tell me Deputy, do you ever think about getting out of the police force?
HARDING: Every day. What cop doesn't think of it? If we all acted on it however, there wouldn't be anybody around to protect the public. Do you have a career?
MOLLY: Well it's a hobby actually. My husband passed away a couple of years ago, and I'm living off of his pension. There really wasn't any need to go back to work, so I stay at home and dabble in a little bit of writing from time to time.
HARDING: What do you write?
MOLLY: Mysteries, mostly. But I really haven't gotten the nerve to send anything in for publication. The market's so full of that particular kind of fiction, it's almost impossible to break into.
HARDING: You never know until you try.
MOLLY (Gasps): Oh, my God!
HARDING (Alarmed): What is it?
MOLLY (Frightened): The lights are going to go out. There flickering something awful do to this storm. I hate the dark. Since I was a little girl I've always had that ridiculous fear. (Gives a nervous laugh): Silly isn't it?
HARDING: Not really. Most of us have some kind of phobia.
MOLLY (Half screaming): Oh no! There gone! (She sobs like a frightened child)
HARDING: It's alright. Just stay on the line with me and...
MOLLY (SCREAMING): There's some one standing out side of my living room window! (Absolutely terrified) Oh no! He's trying to get inside!
HARDING: Miss. Carlton? Miss. Carlton?
MOLLY (Scared out of her wits): What?!
HARDING: Do you have a gun?
MOLLY (SOBBING): Y-y-yes. W-w-why?
HARDING (Shouting at her): Go get it! Get the gun and point it at the creep! Shoot him if you have to!
MOLLY (Absolutely petrified): I CAN'T MOVE! I'M TOO FRIGHTENED...
(SOUND: THE LINE GOES TO DIAL TONE.)
HARDING (Frantic): Miss Carlton? (CLICKS RECEIVER): Hello? Hello? (Puts phone back on hook. After a slight pause): My god! He's going to get her! Oh, where the devil are the sheriff and the other deputies?! (Exasperated): Why aren't they there by now?!
(SOUND: POLICE RADIO NOISE)
HARDING: This is Deputy Harding to Sheriff Pointer. Over. Can you read me Sheriff? Sheriff Pointer can you read me sir? Over.
(SOUND: IN THE DISTANCE A CLOCK STRIKES THE HOUR OF TEN)
HARDING (COMPLETELY FRANTIC): SHERIFF POINTER! Oh why won't he answer me? Sheriff Pointer? Over. It's no use. He's not in his car. (SOUND: SHUTS OFF RADIO): Ten o'clock. Itís over! Itís just over.
(SOUND: PHONE RINGS.)
HARDING: Itís him again. The Rattler.
(PHONE IS LIFTED AFTER THE THIRD OR FOURTH RING)
HARDING (Trying to speak calmly): Sheriff's Office.
MOLLY (CALM): Deputy Harding?
HARDING (Relieved): Miss. Carlton! Thank God! Are you alright?
MOLLY: Yes. I'm fine.
HARDING: Have Sheriff Pointer and the others arrived yet?
MOLLY: Yes, theyíre here, but...
HARDING (Anxious): But what?
MOLLY: Theyíre dead.
HARDING (Stunned): Dead?
MOLLY: Yes, and so is Molly Carlton. She has been dead for several hours now.
HARDING: I don't understand...
MOLLY: Of course you don't. How could you? It's so full of twists and turns isn't it? Just like an Agatha Christie movie. And you know... (Her voice changes to the voice of the WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT): I just love old movies. They don't make 'em like they used to anymore do they?
HARDING (Stunned beyond belief): YOU ARE THE RATTLER?!
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT (Gleefully. Hissing almost like a snake): Yeesss! It was me who called you in the guise of Molly Carlton. I killed her as she was taking the trash out to her back yard earlier this evening.
HARDING: I still don't understand...I...I...I was on the phone with Molly Carlton when The Rattler called. I just don't...
WOMAN TELEVISION ADDICT (Quite pleased with herself): That was the best part of the deception. (Giggles): Give up? Of course you do! You see, Molly had a cellular phone in her house as well as the main line. It made the game much more interesting. Don't you think? (Hisses): Rattle-Rattle, Deputy. I kept my promise (Switches to The Rattler's regular taunting tone): for ten o'clock. Rattle-Rattle, Deputy. Shall we try again on another block? (GIVES A WICKED LAUGH AND HISSES)
(SOUND: SHAKING OF A BABY'S RATTLE WHICH STOPS AFTER A FEW SECONDS; FOLLOWED BY DIAL TONE. THEN CUT TO EERIE END OF PLAY MUSIC. UP AND OUT)
NIGHT OWL: You have been listening to The Night Owl Radio Mystery Theatre's presentation of "Rattle-Rattle." By James M. Sedgwick and Featuring The Put-Together Players. This program was produced and directed by James M. Sedgwick. With John-Scott Fish serving as our executive producer. Sound & Music were by Jim Morris.
(MUSIC: NIGHT OWL RMT THEME BEGINS)
NIGHT OWL: This is your host The Night Owl, inviting you to join me again for...(OMINOUSLY): The Night Owl Radio Mystery Theatre. Until then, try to get some rest. Youíre going to need it!
(MUSIC HOLDS FOR ABOUT FIVE SECONDS AFTER THE NIGHT OWL FINISHES HIS BIT; THEN GOES OUT)
- THE END -