Biz.--Fade in series of code v's ... up full ... down behind.
NARRATOR.--Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the Columbia Workshop presents the
fifth program of its experimental series dedicated to you and the magic of
radio. In line with its policy of introducing the work of new authors, the
Workshop is pleased this evening to offer an unusual drama dealing with the
dark recesses of the subconscious mind. We present "Case History" by Milton M.
Biz.--Fade in on hiss of sterilizer.
DR. MARKS.--I think it's pretty hopeless, Doctor--he's too far gone--
DR. VIVIAN.--No--there's still a spark left--about one chance in a hundred if
we work fast.--When did they find him?
DR. MARKS.--Our ambulance picked him up about 20 minutes ago--crumpled on the
sidewalk in front of a drugstore on 6th and Main.
DR. VIVIAN.--Nurse! Tourniquet for intravenous injection--syringe--50 cc.'s of
methylene blue--get ready for gastric lavage and artificial respiration--
DR. VIVIAN.--Strip his right arm, Doctor Marks--while I get these gloves on--
DR. MARKS.--Right-- (Ripping of cloth)
DR. VIVIAN.--Alcohol, please--(Few slaps against arm) Cotton, iodine--all
right, Doctor--tighten the tourniquet--little more, please--syringe, please--
(Pause) Thank you--there-- (To doctor) Consciousness and reflexes are restored
sometimes before the entire injection of the methylene-- (To nurse) Stand
ready with the respirator if he starts coming round--
NURSE.--All ready, Doctor--
Biz.--First faintly ... a groan and heavy sigh ... it continues a little
DR. MARKS.--He's coming out of the coma--
DR. VIVIAN.--Quick--start the respirator-- (Hiss of respirator starting) All
right, Doctor--put the mask on his face-- (The groans get muffled as the mask
is placed on River's face) Nurse--get another 50 cc.'s of methylene ready in
case of lapses--
Biz.--Metallic click of respirator counter close to mike ... the breathing
mask close too ... through it we hear the labored breathing of patient ... he
mumbles ... groans ... lapses into steady deep inhalations against the beat of
the inhalator counter and hiss of apparatus.
DR. VIVIAN (in subcontrol room).--He's slipping again--hypodermic, please.
Biz.--The organ sustains the lowest octave it can reach ... it starts low in
background ... as it builds slowly ... we hear a repeat of:
DR. VIVIAN (on first filter).--He's slipping again--hypodermic, please-- (The
organ up more)
DR. VIVIAN (on highest filter).--He's slipping again--hypodermic, please--
(The organ higher)
DR. VIVIAN (steps way back from filtered mike and shouts so that voice sounds
way off in distance).--He's slipping again--hypodermic, please--
Biz.--The organ builds full up--dissolves into roar of airplane engine in
studio--full up, then down for:
RIVER.--What am I doing up here? Wonder what time it is-- Not in these hills--
Snooze you go!--And wham!--Eighty-five hundred feet-- No good either-- Fellow
can scrape his landing gear off on a tree or smack into some mountain, like
Girard out of Cleveland. Found Girard almost three weeks after he came down in
the Alleghenies-- Girard could fly too-- A good job, flying--the mail!--Checks
coming in regularly-- Fellow could be pretty certain of his coffee and rolls
as long as he kept his end up--that would be one cinch for River Dawson-- If
only Western Continent Airways hadn't folded-- I'd still have my job ...
Number One Pilot and no troubles with Janet-- No troubles with Janet--
Biz,--The engine whines and labors ... the sighing wind rises.
RIVER.--Whoa, there!--Whoa!--Never can tell about this mountain flying-- Get
caught in a down draft and you lose altitude like a winged Mallard-- Level,
there, Beulah-- I don't know where we're flying, but keep your nose up--that's
it--upsy, Beulah-- (RIVER is silent for a second ... the engine roars on ...
the wind whines in gear and rigging) Wonder what Janet is doing now--sipping
cocktails--dancing with some mug--someone else's arms around her--all right--
I'm just a dumb pilot out of a job--can't blame the kid--what was it she
Biz.--Airplane engine alone for a second.
JANET (board fade in).--Why can't you give it up, River? (Pleading) Now that
Western Continent is out of business, give up flying--get yourself another
job--it gets them all. It comes to everyone they all say at the field. It'll
come to you, and where'll I be, River?
RIVER.--I'll be all right-- Some of the boys have been in it since the Wright
boys flew at Kitty Hawk.
JANET.--Yes! And their legs are broken in a dozen spots, and crooked, and
shiny where they're scarred. And they talk of their miraculous escapes. And
then one day they don't escape. Every week one of the boys who've been in it
since the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk comes to the end of his string.
Give it up, River.
RIVER.--I can't. I'll get a job and we'll get married and everything'll be
JANET (coldly).--No, River, it won't.
JANET.--No. I won't share you with the wind and the scent of gas and the beat
of engines and the threat of death. I want my man for myself, and not for the
RIVER.--You're wrought up. I'll call you tomorrow.
JANET.--No. I won't be home to you. I'm sorry, River. I've made a decision.
I'm asking you to make one. But think!
RIVER (stolidly).--I don't have to think. I can't do anything but fly. It's in
my blood. There's no decision to make when there's only one--course.
JANET.--I--I'm sorry, River. Terribly sorry.
RIVER (bitterly angry all at once).--Sorry!--Yes, you're sorry--Maybe you'd
like me to be a ribbon clerk or a dandy in evening pumps. Well, I'm not-- It
ain't my speed-- I stick to the stick! I'll be seeing you!
Biz.--The drum of the airplane engine up full for a second ... then down
RIVER.--So that's the end of that-- Humph-- Why is it so cold?--and DARK!--
Like the bottom of a pitch lake--ouch! (He cries out suddenly) Funny-- There's
that pain in the right arm again-- Tight and cramped-- And I wonder what's
wrong with the old lungs-- Can't--seem--to--get--my--breath. Kinda--chokes
me-- Awful cold--wonder--why--can't be lost-- Who--me?-- River Dawson?--don't
make me--me laugh-- There's a light in--the east-- Funny--gas gauge--must be
stuck--flew all--this--distance-- Didn't use up any gas--stuck--remember--
have--it fixed--remember-- (Breathes gaspingly) There goes my breath again--
got to hold tight--can't crack up here--bad spot--never find me-- (Build
plane) Better set all controls in neutral--slipping--cold--dark--slipping--
Janet--Janet--slipping-- (The airplane engine up full ... dissolve into low
drone of organ ... fade out entirely and into hiss of respirator)
DR. VIVIAN.--He's slipping again--hypodermic, please--
DR. MARKS.--His respiration's more labored--he's slipping back into a coma
DR. VIVIAN.--Yes--looks bad--the syringe, please--quick, Nurse!
DR. VIVIAN (in subcontrol).--We'll give him fifty cc.'s more-- Tourniquet
again, Doctor--tight on the right arm-- (The organ starts low background)
DR. VIVIAN (first filter).--Tight on the right arm. (The organ up a bit)
DR. VIVIAN (extreme filtration).--Tight on the right arm!
DR. VIVIAN (still filtered ... moves back from mike and shouts for distant
effect as before).--Tight on the right arm.
Biz.--The organ surges up to cover him ... gradually dissolves into plane
engine again.... Up full, then down for:
RIVER.--What happened--must've passed out--that's funny--River Dawson passing
out--lucky I didn't smack into a mountain--better have a look around--it's
light now--foggy but light--well, if that ain't the luckiest!--An airport--
just where I was headin' too--is that flyin' or is that flyin'--just kind of
instinct I guess--usin' the old flyin' head-- We better get down, Beulah, and
see about that gas gauge-- (Motor whines a bit) That's it, Beulah, around and
into the wind--nasty fog--lucky it's a nice long field-- (Motor cuts ... plane
starts descent ... whine of wind) Easy, Beulah--easy does it. (The motor
stops ... plane lands) She's down--nice work, Beulah--(Ring on cymbal light)
Well, where is everybody--not even a ship on the field--I better do a little
investigating--ought to be someone stirring in the administration building--
there's a bunch on the rail--that's a relief--I was beginning to feel creepy
around this morgue--and this fog--brrr--thick as Turkish coffee-(Footsteps on
concrete) Funny lookin' bunch--old Horseface there--sadder than sad--bony
lookin' guy--I oughta feed 'im an apple-- (Footsteps stop)--Er-- Hello, boys--
(There is no answer) Hello-- (Pause) Say, are you guys deaf?
RIVER.--Where's the boss of this outfit?
HORSEFACE.--Inside. You better wait, though. You better.
RIVER.--A tough baby, the boss, eh? (To himself) Funny cuss, old Horseface--
put his face together in a hurry--nice eyes though--kind of soft like--
HORSEFACE.--He's all right--
RIVER.--I guess I'll go in anyway--it's formal to report-- (Starts off) I'll
see you, boys--
HORSEFACE.--No. Don't go in--I wouldn't.
RIVER (curiously).--Say, the boss must be poison.
HORSEFACE.--Oh, I don't know. Pretty regular when you get to know him.
(Meaningly) If you get to know him--
RIVER.--If I get to know him--an aristocrat, eh? In this forsaken burg?
HORSEFACE.--I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't know about it.
RIVER.--All right--all right. Can I get a stuck gas gauge adjusted? And how
about a little gas and oil? Gauge says I'm full up but that couldn't be--I've
been flyin' all night.
HORSEFACE.--That'll be all right.
RIVER.--Will it now? All by itself it'll be all right. It's the climate, I
bet. What I want to know is, do I get a gas gauge unstuck?
HORSEFACE.--It'll be all right, I said.
Biz.--Before the senseless talk can continue, someone else, heavy-toned and
surly, breaks in.
VOICE.--Nice day yesterday, too.
HORSEFACE.--Yup. And it'll be nice tomorrow and the next day and the next.
Always was. Always ought to be, by the records.
RIVER.--I want a gas gauge fixed and I want gas and oil and if you boys aren't
talking, your boss is. So, one side, boys.
HORSEFACE (pleasantly disarming).--Where you from? (His mildness takes RIVER
RIVER.--Huh? Oh, Los Angeles. San Diego, really, but I took off from Angel.
VOICE.--Nice trip? (Insinuatingly, with the suggestion of a leer in his voice)
RIVER (guardedly).--Oh, sure. All right.
ANOTHER VOICE (sharp, bird-like, chirps up).--Er, you ever been around these
parts before? Don't quite remember seeing you, stranger, I don't think.
HORSEFACE.--You shet up, Chet. This man's a guest, see. He ain't staying, so
you treat him like a guest, see? You got such a big mouth.
RIVER.--I been around. Maybe YOU haven't. But I've done plenty flying. Plenty.
Think I'll have a look around until the Big Shot can see me and check me in
HORSEFACE.--Mind if I go with you?
RIVER (pleased).--No, I don't mind. Thanks.
HORSEFACE (to the group).--Be good, boys.
Biz.--Footsteps of RIVER and HORSEFACE ring on the concrete as they walk in
RIVER (suddenly).--Say, what about this place? Don't it do any business? I
don't see a ship and I don't hear a single engine.
HORSEFACE--No. Nothing much doing lately.
RIVER.--Well, I'm sorry to report that I don't like this place.
HORSEFACE.--We belong; You don't. Let it go at that.
RIVER (after a pause ... thoughtfully).--You're all right!
HORSEFACE (gently).--Thanks, kid. (They clump on ... then footsteps halt)
Well, this is number one hangar. (A faint clinking of hammers comes to them,
muffled as by fog)
RIVER.--Well! A ship, as I snore in my sleep! And a beauty! I never would have
thought it of the old burg. A real beaut. Look at those lines--long and sleek
and slick and--she's a honey, what I mean--
HORSEFACE.--Mercury Airlines. Cruising speed 180 miles per hour.
RIVER.--Well, she'll do all right. Man! That's what I like to see in a--
(Stops short ... a note of shrewdness and deep suspicion suddenly enters his
voice) Say, when did that ship come in?
RIVER.--Where's the luggage? And the passengers?
HORSEFACE.--About somewhere. I ain't exactly the local nursemaid.
RIVER (thoughtfully).--You know, I wouldn't say this to anyone but you. You
look on the level, and if you ain't, it's my funeral, not yours. But is that
bunch stealing planes?
HORSEFACE (gently mocking).--Stranger, you grieve me!
RIVER.--All right, don't talk then. I'm not looking for trouble. Unless you
get gay with my job out there. Then watch out.
HORSEFACE.--Don't worry, kid.
RIVER.--All right. I was just serving notice, you might say. I've heard of
plane smuggling to two-by-four powers that'll buy up anything that'll hop
fifty feet. Revolutionaries and that sort of thing. But let it pass. Only
hands off my ship.
Biz.--They have been walking during this dialogue ... suddenly RIVER cries
RIVER.--Look! That man on that oil drum ... reading out of that little leather
book. I know him.
RIVER.--Sure ... Brad Young used to sit like a jack-knife like that and read
and read. Hey-- Oh--oh--oh, no. It can't be. No. That's impossible. (His voice
is broken and sad)
HORSEFACE.--We--people look different in a fog, don't they?
RIVER.--Yeh. Guess they do. Only it sure gave me a start, at first.
HORSEFACE.--I bet it did. You grabbed my arm so it'll be black and blue, I
RIVER.--I thought sure it was old Brad Young. He looked up at us so sad and
expectant-like. I thought I recognized him, and then I didn't and then I did
again. But it's impossible. I tell you, I never did see such a bunch of
melancholy mutts--if you don't mind my Spanish--I never did see such a bunch
in all my days--
HORSEFACE.--So would it be all right if I just kind of inquire where you're
RIVER.--Me? Oh, East, I guess.
HORSEFACE.--You don't seem very particular about your destination. Er--feeling
a bit low, kid?
RIVER.--No. Why, no, I'm okay. Well--yes.
HORSEFACE.--Shoot, kid. That is, if you feel like it. I'm always glad to
listen to a man's troubles, if it'll help any.
RIVER.--Don't see where it makes any difference if I tell you. Girl trouble.
HORSEFACE.--That's nothing. Don't be foolish.
RIVER.--Lost my place with Western Continent when it folded, too.
HORSEFACE.--That's nothing. Nothing to shout about but nothing to get you down
either. Don't be foolish. I wouldn't do anything rash, ya know. What's this I
hear about a Trans-Pacific line? There ought to be jobs for the right men.
Trans-Pacific! That sounds great to me! Trans-Pacific. Trans-Pacific. If only
RIVER.--What? If only you was what?
RIVER.--All right again. But to me you sounded like a guy in the trenches
that's just heard about Broadway or Main Street or Platt's Junction. That's
HORSEFACE.--Trans-Pacific! That's mighty fine. (There's another silence ...
then HORSEFACE clears his throat noisily) Er, you left Los Angeles last night?
RIVER.--That's right. Had a battle with the girl friend. It's all washed up,
too, if you want to know. So I checked out of my room and tore down to the
field and here I am.
HORSEFACE (remotely).--And here you are. You came straight out to the field?
No stops? Think. Think very hard. It's--it's important, kid. Think--think--
think. (There is something urgent, almost pleading in Horseface's tone.
River's hesitancy of speech suggests heavy frowns, struggle with faulty
RIVER.--Sure--straight out. No, no, not quite, I guess. Say--cut it out--my
arm hurts--sharp--cut the questions--cut it, I say--(His voice rises
hysterically) Cut it, do you hear? I'm on level and this place isn't, I tell
you! So cut it, see! And my arm aches-- (Start to fade out) What makes my arm
ache-- what makes my arm ache-- (Groans and out)
Biz.--The organ starts low ... builds to maximum and then on cue doctor on
high filter, shouting so that it cuts from distance.
DR. VIVIAN (in subcontrol).--Tight on the right arm!
DR. MARKS (clear).--Right, Doctor-- (Moans from RIVER) He's coming to again--
DR. VIVIAN (clear).--Syringe! Hold his left arm, Doctor, he's reaching for the
tourniquet-- (The monotonous beat of the respirator counter is heard
throughout) If this methylene brings him around again, I think he'll be all
Biz.--Close-up on heavy breathing through respirator mask ... the organ
starts low ... as the tempo of the breathing increases the counter beat
increases and the organ volume builds against it ... through it we cut three
times the doctor's voice as before.
DR. VIVIAN (first filter).--I think he'll be all right-- (Organ and breathing
DR. VIVIAN (high pass filter).--I think he'll be all right-- (More organ and
DR. VIVIAN (high pass filter ... calling from way off).--I think he'll be all
Biz.--The organ surges up full ... breathing drops ... then fade organ into
abstract effect for fog ... then:
HORSEFACE.--You'll be all right, kid--just think--it's important-- think--
HORSEFACE.--Did you stop any place between the time you left the airport and
RIVER.--I don't know--and the back of my neck hurts--I can't think--I can't!
It was raining--yes--it was coming down heavy and it was late and there was a
light on the corner and it said drugs--I--I got some cigarettes--that's right
HORSEFACE.--That all? Nothing else? Think--(almost pleading) --think--
RIVER.--That's all--no--I don't know. I can't think, I tell you, my arm aches
and my neck--he wrote in a book, yeah--the druggist--he had a face like a
prune. I thought, "He's got a face like a prune," and a head like a shiny
bowling ball. He bent over to write in a red book; he wanted to know my name--
RIVER.--Sure--yeah, for cigarettes--he asked what is your name--and I said,
"Hector Higgins"--wasn't that a scream, Hector Higgins? (Laughs hysterically
then stops suddenly) It was raining and I got cigarettes and I was in a plane
--and--and--what do you care, you old scarecrow. What's it to you? You
with your goofy horseface. What's it to you? Let me go--I've got to be
going--I'll be seeing you-- Got to go--get gas and go--That's it-- I won't
stand this place another minute--(His voice lowers and he babbles
HORSEFACE.--Take it easy, kid--I think you can go back--it's hard but you can
do it--easy does it, kid.
RIVER.--That man--that man on the oil drum again. That man-- (His voice starts
climbing again unsteadily) I know now--it--it IS Brad Young. It IS, I tell
you! Look, he's walking away from me. But it's Brad-- (Shouts) Brad--Brad
Young--Brad, wait-- Don't you know me--Brad-- (Lower, awed) He--he's turning--
he heard me! It's Brad! See--he recognizes me--he's smiling at me--
(Sobbingly) Brad--talk to me-- (a pregnant silence ... then a new voice, low,
BRAD.--Hello, River--sure is great to see you again.
RIVER.--No! No! (Disbelief fills his struggling tones) It can't---it can't!
Don't lie to me-- You can't be Brad Young. Stop nodding at me like that; stop
grinning, I tell you-- (Screaming) You can't be Brad Young--you-- (Slower now
with deadly emphasis and realization) You--crashed in Arizona four years ago!
Burnt to a crisp!
RIVER.--Yes, River, he says. Yes, River--it--it can't be. It can't! (Suddenly
struck by another idea) The liner! The Mercury ship I saw in the hangar--
what--what about her?
HORSEFACE (sadly).--Too bad. She crashed last night in the Sierras. Smashed to
kindling. All hands killed. Too bad.
RIVER.--Smashed! All! (Gibbering in horror) I've got to go! Let me out of
here! My ship--where's my ship? Got to get to my plane. (Gasps) That light!
That awful glaring light. (The organ comes in with a high-pitched eerie ring
low in background)--From the building--and there's someone standing in the
doorway--someone-someone--someone-- My plane! I can't find it--this fog. You,
you Brad! Stop that grinning and nodding-- Stop it! Stop it! You--you--thing--
(His voice trails off into this distance on the filter setup as the organ
chord rises to a crescendo) Stop--stop--stop--stop! (It is lost in the organ
build ... then everything cuts ... complete silence ... after a few seconds
... low, in the background the fog effect and a light eerie wind)
HORSEFACE (softly).--So long, kid. Go back. Back to Broadway and Platt's
Corners and the Trans-Pacific--so long, kid--
BRAD (wistfully).--So long, River. Go back.
HORSEFACE (fade this into the wind rising).--Back--go back--(Wind up ... fades
... a long pause, then footsteps in a corridor ... door opens)
NURSE (quietly).--Good morning, Doctor. He's rested quite well. He's awake
DOCTOR (footsteps).--Hello--well, you're looking better. I didn't think there
was much hope when they brought you in last night.
DOCTOR.--That was a terrific shot of cyanide you took. Enough to kill a squad
of ordinary men ...
RIVER.--Yeah--don't know what got into me--to make me do it ...
DOCTOR.--Let's forget about it--I've brought you a morning paper--
RIVER.--Thanks, Doc--what's the top news?
DOCTOR.--Bad air crash-headlines-look--
RIVER (reading).--"NINE DIE AS MERCURY CRASHES INTO MOUNTAIN"-- (His voice
seems strained as though he gropes in his memory for something that eludes
him) as Mercury liner crashes into mountain--as Mercury liner-- (Sighs and
DOCTOR.--Did you know about it?
RIVER.--No--no. It just sounded as if I heard it some place--too bad--too
DOCTOR.--Well, I'll leave you now--there's a young lady waiting to see you--
think you're strong enough--
Broadcast 15 August 1936
on The Columbia Workshop
Script by Milton Geiger