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WOR is broadcasting a lively jazz tune at around 5:10 PM, but an announcer cuts in and asks the listeners to stay tuned for an exciting original short drama based on recent events surrounding WOR's very own Donald Quinn. After an advertisement for Heinz Tomato Ketchup, the deep-voiced announcer continues.
ANNOUNCER: Directly from the pen of the man accused of the crime comes this harrowing tale of science, love, and betrayal, here in Donald Quinn's..."Apology."
We join the action on Fifth Avenue, inside a mansion just a bit past its prime...a bit like its owner, one Mrs. Margaret Madison, aging New York socialite.
(light classical music plays)
[The butler is voiced by the announcer, putting on a weak British accent.]
BUTLER: Mrs. Madison, your guest.
[Mrs. Madison sounds surprisingly like they remember her sounding.]
MRS. MADISON: Thank you, David. Mr. Quinn, so good of you to come.
[Donald is voiced by a strong-sounding man who voices the heroes in many of WOR's dramas.]
DONALD: My pleasure, Mrs. Madison.
MRS. MADISON: (coughs)
MRS. MADISON: Don't... (coughs again) Don't mind me. Please, sit down.
DONALD: What did you wish to discuss?
MRS. MADISON: (coughs) This infernal cough. The doctors have been able to do nothing.
DONALD: Well, with all due respect, you are advanced in years...
MRS. MADISON: Hush. I thought perhaps science could cure me.
MRS. MADISON: If great scientific minds studied athletes--people of extraordinary health--perhaps they could discover how to transfer that to other people. People like you and me. Don't you think?
DONALD: Sure, perhaps...
MRS. MADISON: So you'll help me!
DONALD: I never said--
MRS. MADISON: I'll have David set up an expense account for you right away, Mr. Quinn.
MRS. MADISON: The money would be yours to use at your own discretion.
DONALD: Discretion, huh? I'll use it then! (quickly) Do it! Do it, I mean! Use the money for your plan! Let's drink to it! (liquid pouring)
MRS. MADISON: Oh, I'm so glad! Because it's not particularly athletes I'm after.
MRS. MADISON: No...I'm really after freaks.
DONALD: That's hardly a proper topic for a lady to discuss. This wine is excellent.
MRS. MADISON: There are freaks of nature, like those who perform on Coney Island. I've heard some of them are superhuman.
DONALD: Most the ones I've seen seem awful subhuman, though I guess being able to drive a nail up your nose might be useful in a pinch. You could hang a coat.
MRS. MADISON: Hush! Donald--Mr. Quinn--I need you to bring me those freaks!
DONALD: It'd be cheaper to put a hook in the wall.
MRS. MADISON: Put down that wine!
(clink of glass on wood)
MRS. MADISON: The freaks from Elizabeth Williamson's show, Donald. Bring them to me, so we can study them.
DONALD: (slurring his words a bit) That show's fixed, isn't it?
MRS. MADISON: Well, I intend to find out.
DONALD: Fine...but it'll take some time. And money.
MRS. MADISON: The money, we discussed. The time...I haven't much.
DONALD: (quietly) Nor have I.
MRS. MADISON: Pardon?
DONALD: Oh, nothing. We'll discuss this later. I should be getting home. Good evening, Mrs. Madison. I look forward to working with you.
NARRATOR: Donald introduced himself to all the so-called "freaks," or "variants," as some have called them. But one in particular caught his eye, though he had to use all his powers of persuasion to get even the slightest attention from her.
(sound of a crowd in the background)
DONALD: Maeve, please! I'll take you anywhere you want to go! I'll pay you!
[Maeve's actress doesn't sound much like her; she has a tiny bit of a Bronx accent. She's best known as her role in a comedy, as a dim but street-smart flapper named Doris.]
MAEVE: What kind of woman do you think I am, Donald?
DONALD: The kind who wasn't afraid of a challenge!
MAEVE: (pause) What kind of challenge?
DONALD: The challenge to eat a whole chocolate cake all by herself?
MAEVE: (pause again) What are you doing hanging around the Freak Show anyway? You're scaring off our customers.
DONALD: Come; I'm not THAT ugly, am I?
MAEVE: Well...not hideously so.
DONALD: Look, I don't care if your fire thing is just an act or not. I'd like to get to know you better, before it's too late.
MAEVE: Too late?
DONALD: Come. I won't take no for an answer.
DONALD: That expense account has to be good for something!
MAEVE: Expense account?
DONALD: Do you want free cake, or not?
MAEVE: Well, when you put it that way...all right.
NARRATOR: Donald fancied he made fair progress with the fair Maeve that evening. But not all was well at the freak show, as he discovered upon dropping her off.
DONALD: Good night, Maeve! Next time, maybe we'll see if you can eat two of them.
MAEVE: Well, I could eat more than you, anyway. Good night, Donald.
(noise of the crowd for a bit)
DONALD: (pause) Hey, little girl. Yes, you. What's wrong with you? Becky, is it?
[Becky's voice is fairly high, and sounds several years too young, which at least coincides with Donald's assessment of her as a little girl.]
BECKY: (sullenly) Nothing.
DONALD: Are you sick?
BECKY: Yeah. Sick of looking at you.
BECKY: (shortly) I'm dying, all right? There's something wrong with my body, and I'm going to die!
DONALD: (pause) I'm sorry. (pause) There might be a way to help you.
DONALD: No; there will be. I'm sure of it. Just trust me, whatever happens, all right?
BECKY: Why should I trust you?
DONALD: Doctors can't help you, right?
BECKY: Who ARE you?
DONALD: A friend. Or I'd like to be. Believe me, we'll help you.
DONALD: I'm offering to restore your health! Doesn't that appeal to you?
BECKY: (pause) I...don't want to die. I don't want to become nothing.
DONALD: Nor do I. So you'll trust me?
BECKY: I guess I don't have a choice.
DONALD: Wonderful. Now get back to Miss Williamson; I'm sure she'll have worried about you.
BECKY: All right... I'll trust you. Goodbye.
DONALD: (sighs) I wonder if it will really work. To restore Mrs. Madison's health...and my own. I'll never forget waking up that morning--I wasn't any more than five--to my mother screaming. My father was dead in the bed beside her. His heart just gave out. And the doctors say mine is just like his. One day...or night...without warning...I'll just be dead. (fiercely) Who can be brave in the face of that? Hey! What are YOU looking at!
MAN: Coney Island ain't the best place to talk about your deepest feelings, mister.
DONALD: Get away from me!
NARRATOR: Through a bit of deception, Donald gathered all the freaks from Elizabeth Williamson's show to Mrs. Madison's basement.
(shouts in the background)
NARRATOR: The butler, a gangster, and Mrs. Madison herself were intimately involved.
[The "gangster" just sounds like an ill-bred deviant; he's actually voiced by Donald's actor, throwing his voice.]
GANGSTER: Get in there, all of youse!
DONALD: Maeve, I'm sorry...
MAEVE: Donald, please! I'm begging you! At least let my twin go free! Do...do whatever you want to me--anything! Just...just don't hurt her.
DONALD: (pause) I'm so sorry, Maeve. I...I love you, with all my heart. But if I don't do something, my heart will be useless for loving, or any other duty.
MAEVE: What the devil are you talking about?
DONALD: My heart is weak. If...if I don't do something, I'll...probably be dead before two years are up.
MAEVE: So you're going to sacrifice us all, to save yourself?
DONALD: No! No one's going to die!
MAEVE: (tearfully) Donald...please...
DONALD: I'm sorry.
NARRATOR: In the cell next-door...
DONALD: Now what, Mrs. Madison?
MRS. MADISON: Now we transfer their health, into me.
DONALD: It won't hurt them?
MRS. MADISON: They're young; they'll recover. Thalgore made a machine that will perform the operation; I suspect that since they're freaks, it will work even better than using athletes.
DONALD: If freaks exist, Mrs. Madison! I never found out if they were just doing parlor tricks! What if they're just ordinary people?
MRS. MADISON: Hush! You'll say nothing else against this experiment.
DONALD: Or what?
MRS. MADISON: Or I'm sure we can carry on without you--or your precious Maeve.
MRS. MADISON: You're outnumbered, and outgunned.
DONALD: You--you can't hurt Maeve! You...monster!
MRS. MADISON: Oh, who kidnapped them, Donald? You want a monster, go look in the mirror.
DONALD: (pause) You're right...what have I done?
(a click, and the sound of science-fiction-type machines, then, several yells)
MRS. MADISON: I think it's working! How wonderful! I can feel their energy!
DONALD: Everyone's being drained!
MAEVE AND DONALD: Becky!
BECKY: I'm getting weaker!
DONALD: Why doesn't Becky just flee?
MAEVE: She's afraid of what they'll do to the rest of us if she does, you fool!
DONALD: But she's going to die! Look at her! She's so pale I can almost se through her! Becky! Get out of here!
DONALD: Someone has to do something...even if it kills me, I have to...
DONALD: (quietly) Or not. (pauses, then shouts) Oh, no! Maeve! She's fainted! (rapid footsteps, a door flying open) Oh, Maeve...it's all right now...I'm here. I've got you.
MAEVE: (whispering) Donald...
DONALD: (whispering) You're only acting...Oh, Maeve... (pause; still whispering) If I let you go...can you destroy that machine?
MAEVE: (whispering) I have some gunpowder on me; I'll try.
DONALD: (whispers) All right. (loudly) Now!
(rapid footsteps, the crackling of fire, and then an explosion)
MRS. MADISON: David! Get them!
MAEVE: (screams) Donald!
DONALD: (weakly) Maeve... Get...get everyone out of here...
MRS. MADISON: I don't think so. I'm feeling rather better, and I won't have you telling anyone what we've done here.
(click of a pistol being cocked)
MRS. MADISON: I'll kill you all! Starting with the firebrand!
(another gunshot, then some silence)
GANGSTER: (groans) Youse...youse WITCH...
MAEVE: The...the gangster...who kidnapped us...
DONALD: He took the bullet...
MAEVE: To save me...
MRS. MADISON: Get away from me, you thug! (screams)
(sounds of a struggle)
MAEVE: He's not dead yet. He's attacking that woman...
DONALD: And he's still stronger than her, even--(gasp)--bleeding!
(sounds of one gunshot, then another)
MRS. MADISON: (coughs)
DONALD: Mrs. Madison and her butler, both. And Patrick doesn't have much time left. Come, Maeve! Get everyone out!
MAEVE: (quietly) Thank you, Patrick.
DONALD: Come on, Maeve!
MAEVE: Everyone, get out! (grunts) Wow, Becky's heavy.
BECKY: (weakly) I'm awake.
(lots of footsteps)
DONALD: Just two more stairways...
MAEVE: Why? Why did he do it? I didn't deserve to have him die for me!
DONALD: Perhaps you...reminded him of someone. I guess he turned out to be good, in the end. I just wish... had been the hero--Do you smell smoke?
(another gunshot, fainter)
MAEVE: (shakily) Who else...
DONALD: (quietly) Perhaps he...ended his own suffering. We need to get out, Maeve, before... Come on. Is Becky...all right?
BECKY: I'll...I'll live. No thanks to you.
DONALD: Everyone else?
MAEVE: They're weak, but they're fine.
(faint sound of birds chirping)
DONALD: Finally, we're outside. The building's...already starting to burn...that gangster must have...set fire to the place...
MAEVE: You're bleeding, Donald.
DONALD: From being shot. And you are...too.
MAEVE: The bullet just grazed my leg. But it's stuck in your side.
(sound of fabric ripping)
MAEVE: Here. Maybe that will slow your blood a little.
DONALD: Perhaps. Maeve...I...
DONALD: No, Maeve...I'm so sorry...I was just afraid...
MAEVE: And you think we weren't? Donald, we all thought we were going to die!
DONALD: I never would have let that happen!
MAEVE: Becky would have died, if I hadn't pretended to faint!
DONALD: (pause) I know. Good intentions are meaningless. Do you think you can ever forgive me? Do you think anyone could?
MAEVE: I don't know, Donald. I don't know.
NARRATOR: Donald Quinn made it to the hospital, and penned this drama there, just last afternoon. He has learned his lesson, though too late. Now he lays in bed, his bank accounts empty, and his heart full...of remorse. While he may recover from his wounds, his soul will never be mended. And while he may escape jail time, he'll never escape his conscience.
[Donald's voice comes on the air, a bit tinny, as if it is being broadcast from a different studio.]
DONALD'S VOICE: Hello, Maeve, Becky, Miss Williamson, everyone. I'm so sorry. I know now that there is...something more than this life, and while I'm not sure what it may be, I'm certain I'll be duly punished, in this lifetime and any subsequent ones I may experience. And I'll surely regret my cowardice for the rest of my short, miserable existence in this body. But I vow to do anything you ask, to atone for my actions in any small part. I'd end my own life, if it would bring a bit of comfort to any of you. I know the story of the boy who cried wolf, and I don't expect you to believe me now; yet I continue on in the vain hope that someday I can make things right. I eternally beg for your forgiveness, and hope that eternity is long enough to persuade you to grant it.
NARRATOR: And now a word from our this half-hour's sponsor, Proctor and Gamble. Pure as the driven snow, pure as the hearts of the innocent people Mrs. Madison kidnapped, is Ivory Soap! 99 and 44/100% pure, in fact! It rinses clean, and can cleanse anything--excepting your own guilty soul, but we can hardly be blamed for that. If human hands can clean it, Ivory will work best! Ivory! It floats!
As to what happens after that.... Well, the future is a blank slate, isn't it...? If you do anything, save me a copy. Take care!
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