["Skyscraper," written by Lawrence Holcomb, staff continuity writer for the
National Broadcasting Company, is considered one of the best original radio
plays ever presented. Holcomb has created a drama that could hardly be
presented through any other medium than radio. He has made excellent use of
suggestive sound-effects and the actual production of "Skyscraper" was very
stirring. The play is unusual, as the broadcasters avoid tragedy or morbid
situations whenever possible. The following script is worth careful study. The
playing time was thirty minutes.--Peter Dixon, 1931]
OPENING ANNOUNCEMENT: We take pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, in bringing you
the fifth offering of the Radio Playbill.
This new program series is a special presentation designed to bring you the
best and newest in the field of original radio drama.
We present this afternoon an original play entitled "Skyscraper." The setting,
New York City. The time, the present.
Through this entire scene can be heard the following sounds, which are common
to steel construction work on a tall building: The constant chugging of an
air-compressor engine supplying air for riveting machines; riveting as
indicated in script; the creak of cranes and hoists; the clash of steel
against steel as girders are slung into place; hammering on girders; the calls
of distant workmen to each other; the hissing of the blower of the furnace on
which rivets are heated as indicated in script; once in a while the racing of
a donkey-engine and the whistle signal to start and stop it; and through all
of this the distant sound of traffic from the street thirty stories below. A
combination of all the above sounds with the riveting machine close up must
fade in when the opening announcement is completed. When the riveting machine
stops, the other sounds are far enough back to allow the voices of the members
of the riveting team to be heard as they shout to one another, their greatest
rival in sound being the air-compressor motor.
TIM. [When riveting machine has stopped.] Done!
LEFTY. [Shouting.] Another rivet, Steve!
STEVE. [Back--calling.] Take your time!
[Sound of blower on furnace being worked by STEVE back.]
MARIO. Agh, he's a-not ready again.
LEFTY. [Shouting.] Come on--shoot us a hot one, Steve!
TIM. [Shouting.] Get th' lead out av your fait! You're holdin' us up!
STEVE. [Back--shouting.] Catch it!
MARIO. Here eet come.
[Plunk of a thrown rivet landing in a tin can.]
LEFTY. Got it!
TIM. Stick 'er in, Lefty.
[Sound of LEFTY knocking hot rivet, held in tongs, against steel beam to shake
the flakes off.]
MARIO. Make it-a fast, Lefty.
LEFTY. There! ... Lean on 'er, Mario!
MARIO. Okay, Lefty.
MARIO. Okay, Tim. Give 'er da gun.
[The roar of the riveting machine for a few seconds. Then--]
TIM. She's in!
LEFTY. [Shouting.] A hot one, Steve!
STEVE. [Back--shouting.] Comin' at yuh!
TIM. [Low to MARIO.] And shure that Steve is a total loss the way he's been
[In the middle of TIM's speech the plunk of the rivet in LEFTY's tin can could
LEFTY. [After knocking rivet in tongs against steel beam.] Here's th' hot one.
Knock that drift-pin out, Mario.
MARIO. Sure t'ing. [Couple of strikes of hammer.] Stick 'er!
LEFTY. She's in.
TIM. Lean on th' gun with me, Lefty.
TIM. [Suddenly.] Hold on! Wait a minute! Knock that rivet out, Lefty. It's too
LEFTY. I'll say so!
MARIO. What's-a da matter wid Steve?
TIM. [Yelling.] Hey, Steve, that wan was cold. And we'll have to be usin' th'
rivet boy as a heater instid av you if you can't be doin' betther.
STEVE. [Growling--distant.] All right.
LEFTY. Come on, get your dolly-bar out th' way, Mario.
MARIO. Hit it. I'm-a da waitin'.
TIM. Catch it in your can, Lefty.
LEFTY. What did yuh think I'd do? Let it fall?
TIM. Catch it--that's all.
[Hammer hits rivet out of hole. It plunks into can.]
LEFTY. Shoot another, Steve.
STEVE. [Back.] Comin'!
[Sound of rivet landing in tin can.]
TIM. Come on! Come on! Be makin' it snappy!
[During this speech the rivet in tongs has been struck against beam. ]
LEFTY. She's set.
MARIO. Use-a da gun!
[Clatter of riveting machine. After this stops, distant factory whistles one
after another are heard blowing for a few seconds.]
LEFTY. There's five!
[Nearly all sounds of building work stop at once.]
MARIO. Time-a t' stop.
TIM. [Sarcastic.] An' shure it's a fine showin' we made today, Oi'm a-tellin
LEFTY. How many did we drive, Tim?
TIM. Five hundred an' three, an' Oi'm sayin' it's not Steve Carter's fault
ayther that we did so well as that.
LEFTY. Gee, it's th' first time we've done worse'n five-forty in eight months!
MARIO. We ought-a punch-a dat Steve right in de eye. [Suddenly determined.] I
weel punch heem! He can't-a do--
LEFTY. [Interrupting--sore.] Never mind that stuff, see? You lay off the kid.
I'm takin' care of him, see?
TIM. Yis, niver mind the fightin', Mario. Oi'm boss av this rivetin' tame, and
if there's any punchin' to be done Oi'll be th' wan that's tendin' to it
mesilf, Oi will.
MARIO. Agh! A punch in de jaw would do heem de good!
TIM. Come on, Mario. Be movin' so Oi kin be climbin' down out av here... .
Lefty, you were jist sayin' you would take care av Steve.
LEFTY. [Belligerent.] That's what I said!
TIM. Well, be takin' care av him then. Find him another job. He's through!
[Calling.] Hey, Steve! Come over here.
STEVE. [Back.] I'm comin'.
LEFTY. Tim, no! You won't fire th' kid! He was feelin' bad to-day.
TIM. [Snorting.] Feelin' bad?
LEFTY. Bawl him out, but give him another shot to-morrow. He'll come through.
MARIO. Mebbe, Tim, eef I geev-a heem a beeg-a da sock in da jaw, he would
work-a da harder.
TIM. You keep out av this, Mario.
LEFTY. Now listen, Tim, you--
TIM. [Breaking in.] You'll be the wan that's doin' th' listenin', Lefty Gregg!
For a whole wake now Steve's been layin' down on the job, and there's goin' to
be no wan, Oi don't care who he is, that don't work as hard as th' rist av us.
LEFTY. But, Tim--
TIM. [Not letting LEFTY speak.] It was ten cold rivets th' lad threw to you
to-day. And there was three we had to cut out for the inspector afther
rivetin' because Steve had hated thim too hot and they was no good. And
there's no inspector's goin' to have to be condemnin' th' rivets Oi drive.
They're goin' to be put in right in the fairst place jist loik they've always
LEFTY. I'll see the kid snaps out of it, Tim. Just you--
TIM. It was as your friend that Oi worked him on to our rivetin' afther
Schmidt got kilt. But your friendship won't kape him on now that he's not a-
tendin' to bizness. [Shouting.] Steve! Oi told you to come over here to me!
STEVE. [Back--gruffly.] Take your time, will yuh? I'm comin'!
LEFTY. Listen, Tim. You said only a short time back that Steve was the best
heater we ever had. Why--
TIM. It's not what he can do; it's what he does do that goes with me. What Oi
can't for the life av me understand is what you want to go supportin' th'
likes av him for, Lefty. He's been tratin' you mane enough of late.
LEFTY. He's younger'n us. He'll get hep to himself if you give him th' chance,
TIM. Are you manin' Oi haven't give him as fair an' square a chance as any--?
LEFTY. [Quickly interrupting.] Sure you've given him plenty of chances, Tim.
But give me just one more shot at snappin' him out of it. I feel like you do
about keepin th' gang th' best rivetin' team in th' city, Tim. If the kid
don't come through after this, I agree with you--fire him. But not now.
TIM. For the love av Hiven, Lefty, why are you ... [Sighs as if it is
hopeless.] All right. We'll be tryin' him once more because you ask it and
because, when he wants to, he can be as good a heater as the next. There!
MARIO. [Disgusted.] He no come when you call or nothing. If you leave-a to me,
I smash hees nose for heem.
STEVE. [Back--calling--fading in a little.] What do you want?
LEFTY. Here he comes.
STEVE. [Fading in--belligerently.] I suppose you want to bawl me out about
those cold rivets. Well, if you didn't like it, you know what you can do!
MARIO. [Ferocious.] You talk-a like dat an' I'll--
TIM. [Interrupting.] Mario! ... Steve, Oi was callin' you over here to fire
STEVE. Well, fire me if you want to! What do I care?
TIM. [Angry but holding himself in.] Oi was saying "but!" Oi was about to be
firin' you, but Lefty spoke up, an' now ...
STEVE. [Furious--Breaking in.] What's he got to do with me? I won't have him
buttin' in for me. I don't want any of his favors.
TIM. Oi've a mind to go on and fire you, begorra!
STEVE. [Laughing.] Yeh, and if yuh did that, you'd throw the whole team out of
MARIO. Agh! Six-a da men wait to get on dis team. Six good-a da men. We work
day after you go wid good man on your job.
STEVE. Get one then!
TIM. Oi will, bejabbers!
LEFTY. Tim, you promised me. ... Steve, you're worryin' over sompthin'. You
don't know what you're sayin'. Come on, let's go. Drop into my place with me
and have some beer. It'll make you feel good.
STEVE. Leave me alone, will you! I don't want your help.
LEFTY. Come on, Steve. We've stuck together all along. Forget what's on your
mind. ... He'll be all right tomorrow, Tim. ... Come on along, Steve.
STEVE. I don't want ... [Stops suddenly and sighs deeply.] All right.
LEFTY. That elevator hoist over there is going down. [Fading back.] Let's
STEVE. [Fading out.] Go ahead. I'm coming.
MARIO. [Low.] I t'ink a sock in da jaw is what he need most, boss.
TIM. That wouldn't begin to cure th' trouble that's th' cause av this, Mario.
It's the divil that's got into that Steve--him tratin' Lefty the way he does
afther all that Lefty's done for him.
MARIO. You know-a da sompthin', boss?
TIM. Lefty's the only wan that don't be knowin' it, Mario. Steve's in love
with Lefty's wife. That's what's on his mind.
MARIO. [After a second's pause--gravely.] Dat's no good.
TIM. You're right it ain't. An' Oi'm jist a wonderin' what'll happen up at
Lefty's place this avenin' what with the three av thim togither.
[After very brief pause a radio--with much static--fades in playing a popular
dance-tune. When the music has played a few seconds, a door is heard to bang a
LEFTY. [Fading in--loud so as to be heard over music.] She's alluz playin'
that radio! It drives me nuts!
[After a few more bars the radio is switched off abruptly.]
DOLLY. [Back, fading in a little--angry.] Who turned that off?
LEFTY. [Calling.] It's me, Dolly. I'm home an' I brung--
DOLLY. [Fading in.] You could of left it play to the end, Lefty, couldn't you?
[As she sees STEVE is along.] Oh-h! I-- hello, Steve!
STEVE. [Strained also.] Hello, Dolly!
LEFTY. That's what I was tryin' to tell you--that I brung Steve along. You
know where to wash your hands, Steve. Go right along. ... We're both dirty
from the job, Dolly.
DOLLY. Sure. Get cleaned up.
LEFTY. You go ahead, Steve.
STEVE. [Fading out.] I will, then.
LEFTY. [Low.] We got to pep the kid up. He's had sompthin' on his mind lately
that's got him all wrought up. You've noticed it, haven't yuh?
DOLLY. Why--yes. Yes, I noticed it.
LEFTY. Be nice to him. You've been kind o' short with him lately, I noticed.
Be nice--he needs it.
DOLLY. All right ... I will, Lefty.
LEFTY. What's on his mind has been affectin' his work. He's as good a little
heater as they is when he's goin' right. There ain't no one--an' when I say no
one, I mean no one nowhere, I don't care where you mean--that can bring rivets
to just th' right heat better'n Steve.
DOLLY. [Very tired.] I know.
LEFTY. But the way he's been goin' lately is crumby. Why, Tim O'Donnell would
of fired him to-night if I hadn't spoke up for the kid.
DOLLY. [Suddenly very concerned.] There's danger of his losin' his job, Lefty?
LEFTY. I'll say no one ever come closer to losin' one than he done to-day; and
any more days like this un and he will lose it.
DOLLY. We can't let him lose his job. That'd be awful.
LEFTY. Well, I ain't speakin' up for him no more. Tim's right. A man on our
team has got to work with the rest or get out. We on'y drove five hundred an'
three to-day. Now you know we ain't goin' to keep that up.
DOLLY. Do you s'pose my speakin' to him would help?
LEFTY. Yeh, maybe you can do sompthin'. He thinks a lot o' you, Dolly.
DOLLY. All right, leave us alone then for a time, will you?
LEFTY. Sure. That's what I want. I brung him up here to give him some of that
one half of one per cent I made. I'll ease out to get some pretzels to go with
it and you give him th' lecture.
DOLLY. That'll be fine. [Door back bangs.] Here comes Steve now.
STEVE. [Fading in.] I used the towel on the right.
DOLLY. That's all right. It's mine.
LEFTY. Listen, Steve. I'm goin' to run around th' corner to get us some
pretzels to go with th' beer. Just you sit tight with th' wife. I'll be back
in a second.
STEVE. All right, Lefty.
LEFTY. [Fading out.] Make him sit down an' rest. He's tired, Dolly.
[Door bangs back--dead silence for a second, then--]
STEVE. Come here!
DOLLY. [Almost under her breath--denoting happiness and hopelessness.] Oh!
STEVE. I can't stand this much longer.
DOLLY. Steve, you're hurting me.
STEVE. All right. All right.
DOLLY. [Laughing a little.] That's better. I couldn't breathe. [Growing very
serious.] Steve, you're not going to lose your job, are you? You must work
harder. Lefty said you almost got fired to-day.
STEVE. [Flaring up.] You leave my job to me! What I do at work is none of your
DOLLY. [Protestingly.] Steve!
STEVE. I'll take care of myself, see? What you got to worry about is when
you're goin' to tell Lefty where to get off, and come with me.
DOLLY. It's not so easy on me, Steve. You're already free. And Lefty has been
good to me, I don't care what you say.
STEVE. Do you want to be married to a riveter all your life? Do you? He'll
never be anything better and you know it. But I'm goin' somewhere. I'm a high-
school graduate, anyway.
DOLLY. Lefty might not be a riveter always, Steve. We had some other things in
STEVE. But no matter what he is he'll be as dumb as ever, won't he? Do you
think he'll ever realize how beautiful you are and pay much attention to you?
DOLLY. I s'pose not, but he does care for me lots.
STEVE. And what good's it do you?
DOLLY. I know, Steve. I know. We've been through it all before.
STEVE. If you loved me like you say you do, you wouldn't be wastin' any time
DOLLY. Oh, I'll get the divorce all right, Steve. I've told you I'll get it.
STEVE. Even that makes things seem pretty far away--havin' a trial and all.
[Viciously.] Do you know what I wish would happen?
STEVE. I wish Lefty'd catch his foot in the air-hose up on the scaffold some
day. Every day some one gets killed on some building work. Why shouldn't he be
the one that falls? Why shouldn't it be some one who would make things better
for other people by bein' out of the way?
DOLLY. [Scared.] Steve, no!
STEVE. You needn't talk in tones like that. It's on'y natural to think that
way. A man can't help havin' thoughts like that.
DOLLY. You mustn't let yourself think such things. It's awful, Steve.
STEVE. I know. If I only could forget Lefty instead of working beside him day
after day! You don't know what it means to be workin' away up there with a man
DOLLY. You mustn't hate him.
STEVE. How can I help it? And if he only made one false step--just one--where
would he be? How easy it would be to make him make that step and no one be the
DOLLY. Steve, don't talk that way!
STEVE. [Chuckling diabolically.] Now you see what's driving me almost nuts. If
I threw him a rivet just a little out of the way--threw it to where he'd have
to lose his balance if he tried to catch it--and he would try to catch it if I
know him at all--if I did that, who could say I had made him lose his balance?
DOLLY. Steve, you are going out of your head to talk that way.
STEVE. I know. ... Don't worry--I won't do it, Dolly. It's just that I've got
to grip myself not to--that's all.
DOLLY. I understand.
STEVE. The only thing I'm scared of is that I won't be able to help it some
day--some time when I'm right in the middle of throwing a rivet I'll let it go
wild. That's the reason I can't work well.
DOLLY. You scare me when you talk that way, Steve. You mustn't even let
yourself think such things. Forget it for me. Think of me.
STEVE. I wish I could forget it. [Gustily.] But it would serve him right if it
DOLLY. You frighten me this evening, Steve.
STEVE. Listen, then! Lefty'll be back soon. Let me face him and tell him
you've decided to divorce him. That would help me. I wish he'd start a fight
STEVE. [Continued from his previous speech with hardly a break.] Gee, I wish
he'd take a sock at me!
DOLLY. [Alarmed.] No, we mustn't tell now while you feel this way. We'll wait.
I'll tell him when I'm alone with him--if I can get courage enough to.
STEVE. I want to be here too when you tell him, so if he acts up--
DOLLY. No! I'm going to tell him alone. You've got to let me do it my own way.
STEVE. I'm going right now, then, so you can do it as soon as he gets back.
Tell him I got sick or anything.
[Door opens and bangs back.]
LEFTY. [Loud--back.] It didn't take me no time!
STEVE. [Low.] Gee!
LEFTY. [Fading in.] These are good butter pretzels! Not the kind you get
around here. Just take a look at 'em! [Crinkling of paper bag heard.] Wait
till you taste 'em, boy! Got the beer ready, Dolly?
DOLLY. [Tired.] On th' table here.
[Sound of bag being put on table.]
LEFTY. Well, let's open 'em.
DOLLY. I will. I've got the opener right here.
LEFTY. That's it. [Sound of bottles being opened.] Feelin' better, Steve?
STEVE. [Annoyed.] Yeah.
LEFTY. That's the stuff. [Sound of liquid being poured from bottles to glasses
under dialogue.] You'll be feelin' fine when you get some of this beer in yuh.
LEFTY. Say, Doll?
LEFTY. I saw Williams down to th' store.
DOLLY. Williams? I don't know who you're talkin' about.
LEFTY. You know--the guy that owns that little farm you was so het up over me
LEFTY. He was sayin' he might be interested in comin' down some in his price.
I think I might be able to swing it for you. We got two thousand in the bank
now and with a good mortgage, we might be able to do it ... only the poultry'd
STEVE. [On edge.] What's this talk about a farm and poultry?
LEFTY. Don't you know?
DOLLY. Let's talk of something else. Why bring the farm up to-day, Lefty?
LEFTY. Cause I saw old Williams, natchurly. I thought you'd be kind of glad,
seein' you've had your heart set on that farm for so long.
STEVE. So you've been plannin' on gettin' a farm?
DOLLY. [Hurriedly.] Oh, that's just an old idea I had, Steve.
STEVE. I hadn't heard of it.
LEFTY. [Chuckling.] Old idea, she says, Steve! Why a farm's the thing Dolly's
wanted most ever since we was married six years ago.
DOLLY. Steve doesn't want to hear all that, Lefty.
LEFTY. Sure he does. Don't you, Steve?
STEVE. Why ... sure.
LEFTY. Dolly alluz worried 'cause rivetin' was so dangerous and all. And she's
alluz wanted to live in the country herself, so--
DOLLY. [Swiftly.] So I was after Lefty to buy us a farm, and that was a long
LEFTY. [Chuckling.] Doll thought I'd forgot all about it, Steve, but I hadn't.
You know I'd kind of like to run a chicken farm myself and have a dog or two.
And now it looks like I'll be able to put it across maybe. Won't it be great,
Dolly? I'm goin' to see Williams again on Fri--
DOLLY. [Breaking in passionately.] Stop! Lefty, please don't talk about that
any more now.
LEFTY. [Surprised and concerned.] Why, what's the matter, Doll? I thought
you'd like hearin' about this.
DOLLY. I ... I'm not feelin' very well, Lefty. Steve, if you'll only go, I'll
tell Lefty what we were talkin' about. Go, won't you?
STEVE. [Meaningly.] If you're sure you'll go through with it.
LEFTY. Why, no, you ain't goin', Steve. Gee, it ain't right to ask Steve to go
jest like that, Dolly. If you ain't feelin' well, lie down and Steve and I'll
STEVE. No, I'm goin'. Dolly has sompthin' to tell you.
LEFTY. Forget it, Steve. Shall I get a doctor or sompthin', Doll? How are you
DOLLY. Oh, it's not that! I just want to talk to you alone--that's all.
LEFTY. [Not understanding it.] Why, all right, dear. ... I--I hope yuh don't
mind, Steve. I guess it's sompthin' important.
STEVE. I'll go then.... Dolly, jest remember what you promised me... . [Fading
LEFTY. By, Steve.
[Short silence followed by door closing back.]
LEFTY. I didn't know sompthin' was the matter, Dolly. I wouldn't of brought
Steve home with me if I'd of known you wasn't feelin' well.
DOLLY. I'm feelin' perfectly well. I couldn't stand hearin' you talk about the
farm any more knowin' what I know--that's all.
LEFTY. Knowin' what you know?
DOLLY. Don't ask me yet. I'll tell you in time in my own way--just in a few
minutes. I couldn't talk about it with Steve here.
LEFTY. Is it sompthin' about money?
DOLLY. Money? [Laughs almost hysterically.] I wish it was only that.
LEFTY. [Very serious and sincere.] Well, whatever it is, kid, take your time
an' tell me.
DOLLY. You've been awful good to me, Lefty. Maybe you think sometimes I don't
feel that, but I do. You know, I--
LEFTY. [Hoarsely.] Gee, keep off th' mush!
DOLLY. I've got to tell you how I feel first, Lefty. I've got to tell you that
LEFTY. Listen, there's no sense in you sittin' up and sayin' how good I've
been to yuh. Can yuh tell me why I shouldn't be good to yuh? Can yuh? I'm not
much good at sayin' how I feel about things, Dolly, but I jest want you to
know that bein' married to you leaves me jest about sittin' on top of th'
world. A feller that feels that way has got to be good to his wife, don't he?
DOLLY. [Almost crying.] You're makin' it ... [Gulps.] ... awful hard for me,
Lefty. [Starts to sob lowly.]
LEFTY. Gee, turn off th' waterworks, Doll.... Gee, I wouldn't have said
nothin' if I'd known you was goin' to do a Niag'ra Falls over it.
DOLLY. [Pulling herself together.] Would you mind ... if ... I didn't tell you
until some other time?
LEFTY. You can tell me now, kid. Why don't yuh get it off your chest, whatever
it is? You'll feel better then.
DOLLY. Gee, I couldn't now. I jest couldn't, Lefty. Don't ask me.
LEFTY. [Tense.] I can stand it, whatever it is.
DOLLY. Please don't ask me now ... please don't. [Showing more interest.]
Let's just ... do the usual things together now while we can. [Faster.] Here's
the beer. We ain't drunk it yet. Let's drink! Let's drink happiness to each
LEFTY. [Very gravely and slowly.] All right, kid.
DOLLY. Smile, Lefty! Try! ... And ... and clink glasses!
LEFTY. [Automatically.] Skoll!
DOLLY. [Feverishly.] Skoll!
[A moment's silence in which the glasses are drained. LEFTY blows out his
breath with satisfaction at the end of the drink. Suddenly DOLLY speaks.]
DOLLY. Promise me one thing, Lefty! Promise me you'll be careful at work after
this. Promise you'll be more careful than usual.
LEFTY. Why, I--
DOLLY. [Interrupting.] Promise--that's all. Say you won't reach for any wild
rivets or take any chances at all. Promise me that. Please!
LEFTY. Sure I'll promise, Doll. But why all this all of a sudden? I've been
rivetin' every day for years. What's wrong?
DOLLY. I'm worried--that's all. It's ... it's nothing. It's just that I've got
a scared feelin' inside. You will be careful, won't you?
LEFTY. I said I would.
DOLLY. I hate to think of you bein' up there to-morrow. How high are you now,
LEFTY. Thirtieth floor. We ain't half-way yet.
DOLLY. Couldn't you stay home to-morrow with me? Just one day, Lefty I'd feel
better if you did.
LEFTY. No, I couldn't do that. When one of us don't show up, the whole team's
chucked out of work for the day. I couldn't do that, kid.
DOLLY. [Bowing to the inevitable.] All right. Go then. But be careful. Be
awful careful--for me.
[Silence for a moment. Then a very long blast on a steam-whistle. When this
TIM. Lunch hour's over. Come on, Mario.
MARIO. Okay, boss.
TIM. Get that blower on your furnace goin', Steve.
STEVE. [Fading back.] All right, Tim.
TIM. See that the air-compressor motor gets started, Lefty.
LEFTY. [Fading back.] I'll get 'er goin', Tim.
[Slowly the noises of building as described at the beginning of the script
pick up one by one. First there is a little hammering on the steel beams back,
and a few distant shouts are heard. Then you hear the cranes begin to work.
All this behind the conversation.]
TIM. Hand me up th' rivetin' gun, Mario.
MARIO. Here, boss!
TIM. Now be climbin' up beside me yoursilf.
MARIO. You know somet'ing, Tim?
TIM. What, Mario?
MARIO. You see how Steve look to-day? He got-a da devil in hees eye.
TIM. And how could Oi help but see it?
MARIO: Eet's ver' bad.
TIM. What Oi'm tryin' to figure out is Lefty.
MARIO. You t'ink he know, boss?
TIM. It's not Oi can be tellin' you, Mario. Oi've marked him down as a mite
nervous to-day and that's all Oi can make out av it.
MARIO. I tell-a you, boss, somet'ing happen to-day. Somet'ing bad.
TIM. Go long with yuh. You're alluz predictin' sompthin' direful happenin'. Oi
won't listen to none av your talk.
MARIO. You leesten to Mario, boss. He tell you somet'ing happen.
TIM. Oi'm not takin' it in at all, Oi'm not.
MARIO. How many man been keeled so far on dees building, boss?
TIM. Only wan, Hiven be praised! And him on the fairst floor.
MARIO. Eet time for more, boss. Evra da building keel more dan one man. Five,
seex--more dan one, always.
[Air-compressor engine starts--a little back.]
TIM. We'll be settin' a low record this toime. You'll see, you superstitious
MARIO. Lefty come.
TIM. [Calling.] Hurry along, Lefty!
LEFTY. [Fading in.] I'm ready.
TIM. [Calling.] Steve! Got a hot wan ready?
STEVE. [Back, calling.] Ready! Here it comes!
LEFTY. [Calling.] Let 'er come!
[After brief second there is the plunk of a rivet in the catching can.]
TIM. [Mad--yelling.] Hey, watch the way you're throwin' those rivets, Steve.
MARIO. [Laughing a little.] Gee, Lefty, I t'ought you would-a fall dat time
LEFTY. [Nervous.] That was a close one.
TIM. Don't catch no more like that, Lefty. Let 'em go.
LEFTY. [Calling.] For Pete's sake, watch it, Steve! [Laughing nervously.] I
don't want to take no tumble from here.
TIM. And you let it go loik Oi say if he throws wild again.
LEFTY. One of them loose rivets would kill some one in the street if it hit
'em. I gotta stop 'em, Tim.
MARIO. Come on. Stick-a da rivet in before it get cold. [Bang as rivet in
tongs is struck against beam to knock off flakes.]
LEFTY. There! Hold 'er in!
MARIO. Okay, Tim. Shoot!
[The roar of a riveting machine for a few seconds.]
LEFTY. [Calling.] Toss a hot one, Steve! [Low to himself.] And straight.
TIM. [Calling.] Now be throwin' it careful, Steve!
STEVE. [Back--calling.] Coming!
MARIO. [Shouting warning.] Look out!
TIM. [Warningly.] It's wild! Let it go!
LEFTY. [Low, as he strains in reaching.] I got it.
[Sound of rivet striking edge of can.]
MARIO. [Fear-struck.] Look out! Look out!
TIM. [Fearful--shouting.] Grab something! Hang on!
STEVE. [Back--shouting.] Hold him!
TIM. Grab him, Mario! Catch him!
[LEFTY, who is slightly nearer the mike than the others, gives a series of
scared "Ohs" as he tries to regain his balance.]
LEFTY. Oh! Oh! Oh!
MARIO. Hold a minute. I get-a you!
TIM. [Simultaneously.] Reach for him! Quick!
LEFTY. Help! Quick! Grab me! Oh! O-o-o-oh!
[Note. From this point on the mike follows LEFTY and the speeches of the
others fade quickly back.]
TIM. He's falling!
MARIO. He go-a da off!
TIM. Lefty's falling!
[From this point on a slight rustle can be heard under everything, steadily,
in order to denote the movement of the air as LEFTY hurtles through it. The
cries of the others can be heard in the distance, fading completely out.]
LEFTY. Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!
[LEFTY's voice fades into a pitiful groan. For a second there is only the
rustle of the air. Then a deep singsong voice murmurs, as if at LEFTY.]
VOICE 1. [Not fast.] You're falling, Lefty!
VOICE 2. [Another weird voice follows the first.] You're falling!
[Gradually the voices commence to speak more swiftly and to follow each other
VOICE 1. You're falling!
VOICE 2. You're going to die!
VOICE 1. You're falling!
VOICE 2. You're going to die!
VOICE 1. Thirty floors down!
VOICE 2. Thirty floors!
VOICE 1. You're falling!
VOICE 2. Only a second to live!
VOICE 1. Thirty floors!
VOICE 2. You're falling!
VOICE 1. You're going to die!
[By the last speech, the voices have accelerated to trip-hammer speed. Now
LEFTY cries as if for help.]
LEFTY. I'm goin' to die! Mother! Mother!
[At this point a boy's voice--about eight years old--substitutes for LEFTY and
continues the calling. He'll be called "SONNY" in the script and he represents
LEFTY as he was as a child.]
SONNY. [Continuing LEFTY'S call in the same beat.] Mother! Mother!
MOTHER. [Fading in.] Yes, sonny. Here I am.
[Note. The swish of air continues in background of all these flashes of
SONNY. [Almost weeping.] I fell off my wheel. It hurts! Oh! Ouch! Ouch! It
MOTHER. Let me see your foot--stop hopping around. Hold it up here.
SONNY. It hurts so!
MOTHER. [Soothingly.] There! It'll be all right in a minute. There now! There!
Be my big boy. That's it! Don't cry!
SONNY. I'm not crying! [Gives a sniffle.]
MOTHER. That's right. Come up here on my lap, sonny. Mother wants you always
near her ... [Fading out.] ... always near her.
VOICE 1. [Loudly.] You're dying!
VOICE 2. You're falling to death!
VOICE 1. You're going to die!
[Kids' voices fading in--excited as they play a game of keep-away with a
tennis ball. In this scene LEFTY'S part is played by a boy's voice that is
fourteen years of age. The part in the script will be called "YELLOW."]
KID. [Away back.] Throw it to me, Lefty! Throw it here!
BULLY. [A little closer, fading in.] Throw the ball to me, Lefty!
[Throughout this scene KID plays back a little further than YELLOW or BULLY.
Other kids' voices back shout, "Here!" and, "To me, to me!"]
YELLOW. Here go, Sam!
KID. I got it! Atta way!
BULLY. [Very close and very angry.] I told yuh t'row dat ball to me, Lefty!
Didn't yuh hear me?!
YELLOW. [Very scared tones.] I kin throw to who I want in keep-away! [Yelling
with pain.] Ow-w! Let go my arm! Let go! Ouch! Don't bend it!
BULLY. Are yuh goin' to t'row it to me next time when I tell yuh--are yuh?
KID. [Back.] Don't let him bully yuh, Lefty. Leave Lefty alone--you're
YELLOW. Oh, ouch! Ow-w-w--
KID. Don't be yeller, Lefty! Don't do it!
BULLY. [Viciously.] Will yuh?
YELLOW. [Howling.] Oh-oh-hhhhhhyes! Leggo!
BULLY. Den say "uncle" foist! Say "uncle"!
YELLOW. Ouch! Uncle, uncle!
KID. Lefty's yeller! He said "uncle!" He's yeller!
[Kids' voices back take up the cry of "Yeller!"]
YELLOW. I ain't yeller!
KID. Yes, you are! You're scared, you're Yeller!
[Suddenly you hear a hand strike a face.]
BULLY. [Surprised and angry.] Hey! What's de idear? What're yuh hittin' me
YELLOW. I ain't scared of yuh! Come on an' fight! I ain't scared.
KID. Lefty hit 'im! Atta way, Lefty!
YELLOW. I'll show yuh!
[Sound of scuffling. Cries of kids, back--"Fight! Fight!"]
KID. Lefty's fightin' the bully!
[As noise of all this fades out, YELLOW, in the middle of the fight, almost
YELLOW. [Fading out.] I ain't yeller! I ain't!
VOICE 2. You fell off the building!
VOICE 1. You're dropping fast!
VOICE 2. Dropping!
VOICE 1. Dropping!
VOICE 2. Dropping!
[Fade in the continuous firing of heavy guns on the Western front in the World
War. This firing is back. Staccato sputtering of machine-gums heard back.
Near, you hear shells first whine and warble in the distance, then shriek in
and explode. Between explosions you hear the motor of a truck being turned
over by the hand-crank without its having any effect on the engine. Each time
it sputters and dies out.]
BUDDY. [Excited.] Hurry and crank, Lefty! We gotta pull out of here!
LEFTY. The engine won't catch, soldier.
BUDDY. Gee, caught with a truck in a bombardment like this!
[Engine whirls lifelessly once more.]
LEFTY. There's no use. It won't go.
BUDDY. What'll we do? These shells'll catch us.
[Shell starts to whine in.]
LEFTY. Under the truck!
[Loud explosion near, followed by falling earth and spattering shrapnel.]
BUDDY. [Laughing nervously.] Gee, jest in time!
LEFTY. I thought that one had our names on it.
BUDDY. If we hadn't dived under this truck, Lefty, the shrapnel would have got
[Another shell whines in and explodes.]
LEFTY. I'm stayin' right under here.
BUDDY. Me too. Nothin's goin' to move this boy!
[The motor of an automobile fades in. The brakes of the car screech and the
motor begins to idle.]
LEFTY. [Hearing motor--surprised.] What's that?
BUDDY. Gee, a car's pulled up beside us!
GEN. [Back a little--calling.] Américains, come from under zere!
BUDDY. He's callin' us out.
LEFTY. It's a French general!
BUDDY. Gee, now we'll catch it!
GEN. [Back a little.] Dépêchez-vous! Vite!
LEFTY. Crawl out!
BUDDY. Sir, we--we--
GEN. [Fading in.] You have need to say nussing. Eet eez very brave to repair
ze auto under fire. I weesh your names.
LEFTY. My--mine's Gregg, sir.
CAPT. [Reading a military order in routine manner.] --for extreme danger under
fire has been made a Knight of the Legion of Honor by the French Government!
[Fading out.] He will henceforth be entitled to wear--
VOICE 1. You're in space!
VOICE 2. Nothing to hold to!
VOICE 1. Falling--
VOICE 2. To death!
VOICE 1. Falling to death!
TIM. [Fading in.] --and that's the way that Schmidt got killed. He was a good
TIM. What yuh want, Lefty?
LEFTY. I know who can take Schmidt's place as heater on th' rivetin' gang.
There's a friend of mine--a young feller that's bright and could learn in no
TIM. And who is he, Lefty? What experience has he had rivetin'?
LEFTY. Steve Carter, an awful nice kid! He ain't had no experience rivetin'
but he knows heats from workin' in th' gas-plant since gettin' out of high
TIM. We gotta be havin' a foine man, Lefty. No kids'll be on our tame.
LEFTY. Give him a chance, Tim. He'll learn fast. I'll risk my own job on it,
Tim. You will give him a shot at it, won't you?
TIM. [Fading out.] Well, seein' you think so high av him, Lefty, bring the lad
around an Oi'll be havin' a talk with him.
VOICE 2. You're dying, Lefty!
VOICE 1. A second to live!
[Suddenly voices commence to pour in, seemingly from all sides, at great speed
with ever-increasing acceleration.]
MOTHER. It'll be all right in a minute! Don't cry!
KID. Yeller! Yeller!
[As each character finishes his line, he begins muttering in background, to
give an accumulative effect.]
GEN. I weesh your names!
BULLY. Say "uncle"! Say "uncle"!
MOTHER. There now--be my big boy!
BUDDY. The shells'll catch us!
TIM. That's how Schmidt got killed!
VOICE 1. [In same conglomerate tempo with others.] Falling!
VOICE 2. Falling!
[Now through the general muttering comes clearly the voice of DOLLY calling
and fading in closer and closer. Other voices die out.]
DOLLY. Lefty! Lefty!
LEFTY. [Calling.] Dolly!
DOLLY. [Fading in close.] Lefty, come to me!
LEFTY. Dolly! Dear Dolly!
DOLLY. We've got to drink to each other's happiness. We got to drink.
LEFTY. They're butter pretzels. I love you, Dolly. I'll tell you more often
DOLLY. I love you. Thank you for buying me the farm, Lefty. We've nothin' to
do now but tend the chickens and be happy.
LEFTY. And I have the dog. I had an awful dream, Doll. I dreamed I was still
rivetin' and fell off a skyscraper. I dreamed Steve made me fall.
[At this point DOLLY commences to laugh softly in the background at the
absurdity of the idea.]
LEFTY. [Continuing.] It all seemed so real. There I was-- [Suddenly.] Why, it
seems almost real now.
[Abruptly DOLLY stops laughing. Her tones take on a worried tone as she
DOLLY. It can't be! You were dreaming! You were dreaming!
LEFTY. [Gropingly.] No, it's almost real. [Fearfully.] I believe it is real!
DOLLY. [Frightened.] No! No! It can't be!
LEFTY. [Terrified.] It is real! It is! Dolly, save me! Dolly! Dolly!
DOLLY. [Fading back--horrified.] Don't leave me, Lefty! Stay with me!
LEFTY. Dolly, I love you! Dolly!
DOLLY. [Away back, fading out completely.] Lef-f-fty!
LEFTY. [With a terrible moan.] Oh-h-h-h-h-h-h-!
[There is a terrific thud as LEFTY'S body strikes the pavement. At this point
the swishing of air, which has continued as an undertone ever since the fall
began, stops completely. At the same time the traffic sounds swell in from all
directions. There is the shriek of a woman and then you get the effect of a
crowd closing in around LEFTY'S body.]
WOMAN. [Shrieking.] Oh-h-h-h-h-h-h-!
MAN 1. [Fading in--shouting.] A workman fell!
MAN 2. A man killed!
BOY 1. Gee, a bird fell off!
WOMAN. [Sobbing.] Th' poor man--the poor man!
BOY 2. [Frightened--crying.] Mama! Mama!
MAN 1. Oh, don't look at him! Look away!
BOY 1. Here comes de cop!
BOY 1. [Crying.] Mama, I scared! Mama!
MAN 2. He's dead all right!
MAN 1. Let the policeman through!
COP. [Fading in.] Comin' through here! Look out of the way! Stand back there!
MAN 2. [Low to friend.] Fell right down here from I don't know how high.
BOY 1. I never saw a dead un before.
WOMAN. Is he--dead, officer?
COP. He is, ma'am. [Calling.] You'll have to stand back there!
WOMAN. With a wife no doubt at home.
BOY 2. [Wailing.] Mama!
MAN 1. No use our standin' here.
MAN 2. Nothin' we can do.
WOMAN. His poor woman! It's a sad life she'll be leadin' from now on!
[All street and crowd sounds fade out. For a moment there is dead silence.
Then the continued and violent ringing of a door-bell is heard. This is
followed by knocking on the door. Then the door is opened.]
STEVE. [Nervous.] It's me, Dolly.
DOLLY. [Wearily nervous, almost to the breaking-point.] What did--you come--
here for, Steve?
STEVE. I came to tell you again I didn't do it! I swear to you I didn't. ...
Tell me you believe me! It wasn't my fault! I was nervous. I was trying to
throw the rivets straight, but they wouldn't go! I couldn't help it, I tell
you! You believe me, don't you?
DOLLY. Please go. I'll try to--believe you.
STEVE. But you've changed toward me. Why don't you love me still? You will
love me, won't you?
DOLLY. No, Steve.
STEVE. But you've got to. I didn't do it, I tell you. You can't let this ruin
both our lives.
DOLLY. I can't help ... how I ... feel. This has ... drained everything out of
me. [Impetuously.] Go, will you?
STEVE. But, Dolly--
DOLLY. [Almost screaming.] Go-o-o! I can't stand this!
STEVE. But I--
DOLLY. Will you go or won't you?
STEVE. [Angry--fading back slightly.] All right, I will!
[Doors bangs to.]
DOLLY. [Commencing to weep--low to herself.] Lefty!
[After a few seconds her broken-hearted sobs fade out.]
CLOSING ANNOUNCEMENT: This brings to a close the radio play "Skyscraper," the
fifth to be presented from the Radio Playbill. We hope that next Wednesday
afternoon at this time you will be with us again to hear another of these
plays written especially for radio production.
Originally broadcast: 11 February 1931