My Son John
Date: 28 November 1948
CHAPPELL: Quiet, please. (PAUSE) Quiet, please.
MUSIC: THEME IN AND UNDER
ANNOUNCER: The American Broadcasting Company presents "Quiet, Please!" which
is written and directed by Wyllis Cooper and which features Ernest Chappell.
"Quiet, Please!" for today is called "My Son John."
MUSIC: THEME ... END
FATHER: (NARRATES) Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part One, Act Three, Scene One.
Owen Glendower, the Welsh warrior, says, "I can call spirits from the vasty
deep." And Hotspur replies to him, "Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will
they come when you do call?"
MUSIC: MOURNFUL ACCENT ... THEN IN BG
FATHER: (NARRATES) They come when I call.
I've tried it only once, though. I don't think I shall try it again.
Oh, there's nothing to be afraid. It's still light outside. Sunset was only
two minutes ago at four thirty-one. There's nothing to be afraid while there's
still light. But later-- Ah, we'll come to that.
It was a year ago last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, that my son
John -- died.
MUSIC: SOMBER ACCENT ... THEN IN BG
FATHER: (NARRATES) I'm a very lonely man. Some of my contemporaries insist
that I'm a very hard man. Perhaps I am. But, in my own defense, let me say
that my hardness is possibly engendered by the fact that I've been so
embittered and lonely for so very long.
My wife, whom I love very greatly, died three months after my son John was
born. For a long time I lived with my son John -- alone, except for the
necessary servants, medical attendants and the like.
I saw none of my friends; I allowed my business affairs to drift into the
hands of my associates; I refused to see my friends. And gradually my friends
fell away from me. I lived for all those years - almost a recluse.
But my son John was a joy to me. I denied him nothing. He had friends, he
loved life, and he lived it to the utmost.
When the war came, my son John was much too young for service, a fact that
irked him tremendously. And he exacted a promise from me that should the war
still be going on, he would enter the service on his eighteenth birthday. His
eighteenth birthday was two years ago. And though my heart was wrung at the
thought, I allowed him to enlist in the army, gave him my blessing. I could
deny him nothing, not even this.
And I hoped hard that he would not be sent overseas. But my hopes came to
nothing for, within eight months, he was sent to Austria.
And a scant four months later -- my son John was dead.
MUSIC: SOMBER ACCENT ... THEN OUT BEHIND--
FATHER: (NARRATES) I shall not try to describe to you my grief. It was
overpowering. Let me simply say I was inconsolable. I had never forgotten my
wife -- my beautiful, beloved wife -- who had died and left me with a taste of
ashes in my mouth. But she had left me my son John as a consolation.
Now my son John was dead. And there was nothing left to console me.
It's not surprising, I think, that I turned to the occult for relief. There
was a woman-- Let her be nameless; she, too, is dead now. She was a very wise
woman, skilled in things beyond the comprehension of the material world. I sat
with her many nights in this very room, speaking to her of my love for my son
John, and of my unutterable loneliness.
And the night came when I said to her, "Listen-- Listen," I said, "Can my son
John--? Is there a way to call him back to me?"
WOMAN: (MATTER-OF-FACT) There may be.
FATHER: I have been treated very unfairly by life, I think. I've been robbed
of the only two treasures that life gave to me; first my wife, now my son.
WOMAN: I have tried to reach into the other world to have your son speak to
you through me.
FATHER: Why haven't you succeeded?
WOMAN: Perhaps you do not believe in me.
FATHER: Yes, I think I believe.
WOMAN: You must believe completely -- or I cannot succeed.
FATHER: I tell you, I do believe.
WOMAN: (BEAT) Yes. Yes, I think you do.
FATHER: Well, then--?
FATHER: Then what other reason can there be -- for not reaching him?
WOMAN: You say you don't know how he died?
WOMAN: That's very strange.
FATHER: That's not so strange. I don't want to know how he died.
WOMAN: I don't understand. Didn't the government--?
FATHER: I had a letter. It told me that my son died, that they would send me
details of his death. When that letter came, I tore it up without opening. I
didn't want to know the details.
WOMAN: But you can write and ask them to send the details again. I mean, you
FATHER: No. I don't want to know how he died.
WOMAN: There's not much I can do, then. Do you know where he's buried?
WOMAN: I would have to know that, I'm afraid. That can be the only explanation
of why I have not been able to reach him.
FATHER: Isn't there any other way?
WOMAN: It would be easier if you write and find out.
FATHER: No. No, I will not do that.
FATHER: (BEAT) No other way?
WOMAN: There's a way to do anything.
FATHER: Then--? [...]
FATHER: It's dangerous for one who is not an adept.
FATHER: But you're an adept, aren't you?
WOMAN: I am. But you're not.
FATHER: What do you mean by that? I don't--
WOMAN: You are the only one who can do it.
FATHER: I? I can do it?
FATHER: How? (NO ANSWER) How then?
WOMAN: Listen to me. I can teach you. I can teach you to call up your son in a
way that will bring him to you.
FATHER: Teach me, then. (HOPEFUL) Now?
WOMAN: You may live to regret it.
FATHER: No, no, no. Teach me how to bring my son back. I'll pay you-- I - I'll
make you rich for life. I--
WOMAN: There's no need for pay. I have my own ways of becoming as rich as I
FATHER: Then tell me how.
WOMAN: (BEAT) You may bring about your own destruction.
FATHER: I don't care. Let me have just a little time with my son again and--
Anything can happen.
MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN IN BG
WOMAN: I have warned you. Now give me your hands. And listen.
MUSIC: FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG
FATHER: (NARRATES) And she began to speak. Here, in this very room, as we sat
-- there, at that table. She spoke and her eyes burned into mine. And she told
me how to bring my son John - back from the grave.
It was a very simple thing to do. So simple that-- No, I shall not tell you
what it was I must do. It's very dangerous for one who is not adept, she said,
and that's the reason why I shall not tell you.
I must be alone, she said. I must be alone in a darkened room at midnight. And
then I must do certain things and say certain words, place my hands in a
certain manner. And wait.
I turned out the lights at five minutes before midnight. I set my luminous
dial watch on the table before me. The room was not completely dark; I
hastened to pull down the windowshade.
And, as the hands of the watch met at midnight, I did the thing I was to do,
and I said the words she had taught me, and I placed my hands in the position
she'd shown me.
And I waited.
Then I heard a sound at the door.
SOUND: SOMEONE -- OR SOMETHING -- SCRAPES AT WOODEN DOOR
FATHER: (NARRATES) And after a moment, I spoke. (BEAT, CALLS) Come in.
SOUND: DOOR IS PUSHED OPEN
FATHER: Come in.
JOHN: (OFF, UNHAPPY) Hello, father.
MUSIC: AN EERIE ACCENT ... THEN OUT BEHIND--
FATHER: (NARRATES, IN AWE) In the dark -- in that blessèd darkness -- my son
John's voice. I could not find my own voice for a long time. But John spoke
JOHN: I could prevent her calling me, father, but -- when you called
there was no other way.
JOHN: Yes, father. I have come home.
FATHER: (PLEASED, EXCITED) I did do it then.
FATHER: And nothing happened. She said it was dangerous.
JOHN: You haven't seen me yet, father.
FATHER: Turn on the light.
JOHN: No. We'll talk first.
FATHER: Talk? Oh, John -- it's a joy to hear your voice.
JOHN: I'm not happy about this, father. You should have left me where I was.
FATHER: No. John, if you could imagine the loneliness, the terrible--
JOHN: Yes, I can imagine.
FATHER: And -- you're not glad I called you?
JOHN: No, father.
FATHER: I'll see that you're made happy, John. You'll have everything your
heart can desire.
JOHN: How do you know I didn't have everything I wanted before you called me?
FATHER: (PUZZLED) What--? Oh, I mean-- Were you happy?
JOHN: No. No, not happy, but-- I did have-- (BEAT) Now -- I
FATHER: (HESITANT) John -- where were you? (NO ANSWER) Where were you, John?
JOHN: Father, I - deserted from the army.
FATHER: You deserted?
FATHER: (BEAT) Well, if you deserted, it was for a very good reason-- [...]
But I want to see you.
JOHN: We'll talk first.
FATHER: Well, but--
JOHN: I really had no intention of deserting at first, father. I had two
days' leave and I went exploring.
FATHER: Did--? Were you--? I mean, did the guards--?
JOHN: No. No, I was in a part of the country where I wasn't supposed to be, of
course, but -- everyone was very kind to me.
FATHER: Well, what happ--?
JOHN: I was walking along a mountain road early in the evening. I didn't know
exactly where I was, and then I saw the lights of a big house a mile or so
ahead of me. And I decided to stop there and see if they could put me up for
FATHER: (BEAT) Did they?
JOHN: No. Just as I turned into the driveway that led up to the house, a - a
dog came running out from the shrubbery. Before I knew what was happening, I'd
been knocked down and the dog was at my throat.
FATHER: Oh, John, how horrible.
JOHN: In the morning, I woke up lying by the side of the road. I was pretty
weak. And I tried to call out, hoping somebody in the house would come out and
help me, but I couldn't see the house.
FATHER: The thing had dragged you away?
JOHN: After a while, I felt strong enough to stand up, and I staggered down
the road, and a couple of Russian soldiers in a jeep picked me up and, somehow
or other, I got back to where I was stationed.
FATHER: My poor boy. But now, John--
JOHN: And I died two days later.
MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN IN BG
JOHN: And then I woke up in the house -- the big house I'd seen when the dog
attacked me. And I was lying on a couch and the dog-- It wasn't a dog, father.
It was a wolf. The wolf was sitting alongside me, talking to me.
MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN IN BG
JOHN: So I stayed there -- all the time -- except at night, until you called
FATHER: John? Weren't you--? I mean, didn't you--?
JOHN: Didn't they tell you in the letter, father, that my body disappeared?
MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN GENTLY OUT DURING FOLLOWING--
FATHER: I didn't read the letter.
JOHN: You should have. Perhaps you wouldn't have done this, then. Because now
- now I can't be dead. Unless--
FATHER: (BEAT) Unless?
JOHN: Well, there's a way. But you wouldn't--
FATHER: Something I can do, you mean?
FATHER: Tell me, John. Tell me so that I-- I mean, if it's something that I
might do inadvertantly -- something I might do without thinking -- I - I'd
want to know, so I wouldn't do it.
JOHN: No, father, this is something you can't do inadvertantly.
FATHER: Are you sure?
JOHN: Yes. Yes, I'm sure.
FATHER: (BEAT, AWKWARD) Do you want to tell me more so we can--? It's been so
long, John. We can do so many things together. Shall I turn on the light now?
Have you got used to - being back?
JOHN: We'll have to turn them on eventually, won't we?
FATHER: Why, of course, I can't see you in the dark.
JOHN: I can see you.
FATHER: You can?
JOHN: You haven't changed much.
FATHER: I'm - thinner.
JOHN: (WRY) I've changed.
FATHER: I suppose you have, but-- Will you turn on the light, John? I can't
get up, you see. The shock of your death, you know. I - I had a little stroke.
JOHN: I'm sorry about that.
FATHER: But now you're back, maybe it'll be better. (DEEPLY) Oh, John, it's so
good you're back again. Turn on the light. Please.
JOHN: Well-- Shut your eyes. You can open them after I've turned on the light.
When I tell you.
FATHER: All right.
JOHN: Keep them closed. (BEAT) Now -- open them.
MUSIC: BUILDS EERILY, IN BG
FATHER: (NARRATES, SLOWLY, SHAKEN EMOTIONALLY) I opened my eyes. And I didn't
believe what I saw. For my son John was not in the room with me. But a great,
lank grey wolf stood beside my chair --- stared at me curiously --- with the
eyes of my son John.
MUSIC: AN ACCENT ... THEN OUT
FATHER: (NARRATES, SHOCKED) "I can call spirits from the vasty deep," I said
to myself over and over again. "I can call spirits--"
She warned me against it, I said to myself; she warned me and I did it.
But my son John, I thought. My son John--
And I spoke the words aloud--
(VOICE BREAKING, SLOWLY) "My - son - John."
(NARRATES) And the wolf came over to me and laid a paw on my knee and spoke to
JOHN: (COOL) I'm sorry, father. I told you I wished you hadn't done it.
FATHER: (INCREDULOUS) Are you--? Are you John?
JOHN: Of course I am.
FATHER: Won't I ever see you as you were?
JOHN: No. Never.
FATHER: (MOANS UNHAPPILY)
JOHN: You see, father, she told you how to do it. I had pity on you. I
wouldn't come when she called me -- because I was afraid of just this. I
heard her talking to me, but I didn't answer -- because I wanted to spare you
FATHER: (TRYING TO CONVINCE HIMSELF) I'm - I'm glad I did it. (EMOTIONAL) Oh,
John, welcome home, no matter what shape you're in.
JOHN: (COMPOSED, QUIET) You see, father, there's a catch in everything. Most
of the things you've heard about -- superstitions, old beliefs, all that --
most of them are true. But what people don't know is that there's - there's
always a catch. It's much better not to meddle, father.
FATHER: I'm not sorry, John.
JOHN: It would be much better if you hadn't done it, father.
FATHER: (BEAT, AS MUCH TO HIMSELF AS TO JOHN) I love my son John.
JOHN: (UNMOVED) I loved you a great deal, father. I loved you enough to make
myself stay where I was. Until you made me come here.
FATHER: (BEAT, EXHALES) What can I do for you, John?
JOHN: Nothing, father.
FATHER: There must be something. You - you are alive, aren't you?
FATHER: I mean, would you like something to eat perhaps?
JOHN: (AMUSED) No. Not anything.
JOHN: I came as a wolf because I was more used to being a wolf than anything
FATHER: You mean, you can--?
JOHN: Yes. I can change myself into almost anything. That's one of the things
he taught me. A bird, or a bat, or a cat, or--
FATHER: He? Who is he?
JOHN: Well, you've heard of him.
JOHN: Most people think that Bram Stoker invented him. That he's fiction. But
FATHER: Bram Stoker? That name is familiar. I--
JOHN: Of course. He wrote a book once. A book called -- "Dracula."
MUSIC: SHARP ACCENT! ... THEN OUT
JOHN: You see, father -- we exist. There are thousands of us on the Earth.
More than anybody has any idea. And we're all alike. We're not alive, and
we're not dead. And there are more and more of us every year. Because when
someone dies-- I mean, when one of us finally kills a person, that person
becomes one of us, too.
FATHER: (UNEASY) John--
JOHN: (WARMING TO THE SUBJECT) And it's not bad, father. It's not bad at all.
Did you ever hunt? (NO ANSWER) Well, we hunt. We hunt the greatest game
of all -- mankind. Ah, I could tell you--
JOHN: Yes, father?
FATHER: John, now that you're here -- here in New York, I mean -- will you--?
I mean, will you hunt here, too?
JOHN: How else can I exist, father?
FATHER: Oh, John-- No.
JOHN: I'm sorry, father, but that's the way it is.
FATHER: (MOANS, IN DESPAIR) What have I done?
JOHN: You had plenty of warning.
FATHER: Then -- go back where you came from!
JOHN: No. I can't. I'll be with you forever, father, until you - die.
JOHN: She warned you. Remember?
FATHER: Well-- Won't you change yourself into your old shape then -- at least?
JOHN: That's the one shape I can't assume. It's one of the catches I told you
about. No, I'm sorry, father, but even if I could, I - I don't think you'd
want to see me. Before you put this spell on me, I could assume my own shape
whenever I wanted to. And I remember -- people didn't like it.
FATHER: (SYMPATHETIC) Oh, John--
JOHN: They screamed and ran. (CHUCKLES) But I always caught them.
FATHER: (DISMAYED) Ohhh--
JOHN: I'm sorry, father. You brought it on yourself. If you'd let well enough
alone, I'd never have bothered you. I'd have stayed there with Dracula. Well,
that's the way it is.
FATHER: But, John, I--
JOHN: I'm sorry, father. I've got to leave you for a while.
FATHER: Where are you going?
JOHN: Why, I'm going hunting.
FATHER: (PLEADS) John-- No. No!
JOHN: Sorry, father. I'll be back. I'll always come back, father, so -- don't
worry about me.
FATHER: (NARRATES) And, before my eyes, the lean grey wolf vanished. And I
heard a fluttering sound.
SOUND: FLUTTER OF BAT'S WINGS
FATHER: (NARRATES) And a huge black bat was flying out the open door.
MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN IN BG
FATHER: (NARRATES) I endured my son John in numb horror for so long. I grew
accustomed to finding a black dog snoring away all day long in that corner
over there -- lazily waking up as darkness began to fall. I learned not to
disturb the sparrow that slumbered through the daylight hours on the top of
the bookcase there.
Sometimes he was that same grey wolf, lying there under the window from
sunrise to sunset, growling a little in his sleep, yawning widely as he awoke,
his red mouth and cruel, long fangs gleaming in the lamplight.
Oh, my son John was very discreet. It was a long time before I began to notice
in the papers the stories of lonely people about the city and suburbs being
attacked by a ferocious great grey dog or - or clawed by a huge tomcat.
But the stories appeared from time to time. And I knew.
My son John spent less and less time with me in the nighttime, although he was
always there asleep during the day.
And slowly a - a conviction grew within me. A conviction that I-- I, the
bereaved father; I, with the best intentions of a disordered mind; I was
responsible for these murderous attacks. For had I not summoned back to my
side this - this ravening horror that was my son John?!
MUSIC: UP FOR AN ACCENT ... THEN OUT
FATHER: (NARRATES) I called on her. And the wise woman who had taught me the
spell came to see me. The grey wolf was asleep beside the radiator, twitching
and growling from time to time, when she came in.
SOUND: DOOR CLOSES
WOMAN: I expected you to call me long before this.
FATHER: I was trying to decide; to prove something.
WOMAN: Well? Did you succeed?
FATHER: Yes, I succeeded.
WOMAN: Your son came back?
WOMAN: Where is he?
FATHER: There. On the floor, asleep.
WOMAN: Oh? (PAUSE, UNSURPRISED) I see.
FATHER: You warned me.
WOMAN: Yes, I warned you.
FATHER: Do you know what he is?
WOMAN: (MATTER-OF-FACT) Yes, of course; a vampire.
FATHER: He says he can't be killed.
FATHER: You've been reading about the attacks on defenseless people--?
WOMAN: I know about them, yes.
FATHER: What can I do?
WOMAN: He says he cannot die?
FATHER: He said that. Oh, he said there was a way, but -- I wouldn't do it.
WOMAN: Don't you know the way?
FATHER: Of course not.
WOMAN: Did you ever read "Dracula"?
WOMAN: I see. Well, probably you wouldn't do it--
FATHER: What is it?
WOMAN: --your own son, whom you loved.
FATHER: Tell me. No! You do it.
WOMAN: Not I, not I. I gave you the spell. I can protect myself against
vampires; I have nothing to fear.
FATHER: But these other people. The ones that--
WOMAN: I'm not concerned with them. But you are.
FATHER: (WEARY SIGH) Oh, I've done a terrible thing. Tell me what to do.
WOMAN: Do you think you can do it?
FATHER: (BEAT) I will do it.
WOMAN: You will drive a wooden stake through his heart while he is asleep?
MUSIC: AN ACCENT ... THEN IN BG
FATHER: (IN DESPAIR) Oh, John-- Oh, John, my son!
MUSIC: AN ACCENT ... THEN IN BG
FATHER: (NARRATES) And, in his sleep, the great gaunt wolf that was my son
John stirred uneasily and muttered through his dreams, as she went away from
I wheeled myself over to the bookcase. Surely I remembered a copy of "Dracula"
there. And after a while I found it, sat down to read it, to find out how to
kill a vampire.
I found it. I read the details of what the good doctor and his friend did to
the sleeping vampire in her coffin.
I sat a long time staring at my son John -- until he stirred, and I hastily
put away the book and wheeled myself back to my desk as he woke.
He wagged his tail as he stretched and got up. He went to the door.
"Hunting again?" I said. And "Hunting again," he said, and he went away.
Then I got to the telephone and I called up a man I know, and after a while,
he brought me, not without wonderment, a hatchet. And a heavy butcher knife.
And a great sack of garlic. And I sent him away. And lay down to wait till
dawn, till my son John should appear again -- and lie down to his last sleep.
MUSIC: AN ACCENT ... THEN OUT
FATHER: (NARRATES) But it was only three o'clock in the morning when I heard
the patter of feet in the hallway and, in a moment, the door opened quietly,
and a little white Sealyham romped in and jumped up on my bed.
My son John was home early.
JOHN: Well, father?
FATHER: Yes, son?
JOHN: I wasn't asleep this afternoon.
JOHN: I heard what she told you to do. I watched you go to the bookcase and
get that book and read it.
JOHN: You were reading how to kill me.
FATHER: Well, John, I--
JOHN: Well, you remember she said she knew how to protect herself against
JOHN: She didn't.
FATHER: (BEAT) John, what--?
JOHN: She won't bother me any more.
FATHER: What did you?
JOHN: I killed her.
FATHER: Oh, no.
JOHN: (WITH RELISH) I was a lion and I clawed her and I bit her. Now she's one
of us. And she's sorry she told you how to kill me. Aren't you, dear?
WOMAN: Of course, darling.
FATHER: (NARRATES) And I looked. And a tiny white cat sat on the foot of my
bed, washing her face [...] with an elegant paw. And I reached for my son's
throat and the little cat sprang at me with a wild yell.
MUSIC: FOR A SPRINGING CAT (ON HIGH PIANO KEYS) ... THEN ORGAN, IN BG
FATHER: (NARRATES) But my son John pushed her away. He sat there for a moment,
laughing at me. And then he settled down beside me. And he said--
FATHER: (NARRATES) And I listened. And listened. And listened.
And, once in a while, she put in a word, too.
And, as the night wore on, with John's stories of the greatest of all hunts in
my ears, and the thoughts of never dying unless--
And John seemed to read my thoughts -- for he jumped off the bed and trotted
to the place where I'd hidden the knife and the hatchet and the other things.
Then, in a minute, a great tall gorilla came back in my room with the things
and he laughed, opened the window with his great hands and threw them out.
SOUND: WINDOW OPENED AND SHUT, DURING ABOVE
FATHER: (NARRATES) And then he turned around to me and he did something and he
was a little Sealyham again. He jumped up on the bed beside me. And he
whispered in my ear.
JOHN: (WHISPERS) Come on, father. What about it?
FATHER: (NARRATES) And I said-- "Well, at least I'll be with my son -- forever
and ever. And it sounds like a better life than sitting in a wheelchair and
feeling guilty." And I said, "Do you feel guilty, son John?"
JOHN: Not at all.
FATHER: (TO WOMAN) Do you?
WOMAN: Of course not.
FATHER: Well, then-- Will it hurt much?
MUSIC: AN ACCENT ... THEN OUT
FATHER: (NARRATES) It hurt for a moment when I felt those sharp little teeth
in my throat, but it was over very quickly and I thought--
"I ought to be a dog, too."
And I felt something funny. She and John laughed and -- there I was, a--
(STRONGER) There I was, a big, slavering Great Dane. And I said--
"Why, this isn't bad at all, is it?"
(CHUCKLES) And we laughed and laughed and laughed.
Because now-- Now I've got my son John back!
And we'll be together -- forever.
Yeah, but really forever.
And I've discovered the hunting is really fine.
Maybe -- my son John and I'll come hunting you some night.
MUSIC: THEME ... FADE FOR ...
ANNOUNCER: The title of today's Quiet Please story was "My Son, John." It was
written and directed by Wyllis Cooper. The man who spoke to you was Ernest
CHAPPELL: And Warren Stevens played John. The woman was Cathleen Cordell.
Music for "Quiet, Please," as usual, is played by Albert Buhrmann. Now for a
word about next week, here is our writer-director Wyllis Cooper.
COOPER: Thank you for listening to "Quiet, Please!" For next week, I have a
story for you called "Very Unimportant Person."
CHAPPELL: And so, until next week at this same time, I am quietly yours,
MUSIC: THEME ... END
ANNOUNCER: And now a listening reminder. Three signet rings are the clues left
in the mysterious disappearance of three men. You can learn what happened when
DAVID HARDING, COUNTERSPY investigates "The Case of the Three Ring Murder"
this evening on your ABC station.
This is ABC, the American Broadcasting Company.