Blue Skies, Black Death

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A 1 Act play based on Hitchcock thrillers, Blue Skies, Black Death is the story of a group of British tourists stranded at an Alpine ski lodge in early spring 1939 due to a sinister Nazi plot...

Submitted: August 01, 2010

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Submitted: August 01, 2010

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BLUE SKIES, BLACK DEATH

 
CHARACTERS
JOE CHANEY
MRS CHANEY
MISS REDGRAVE
DR HELMHOLTZ
DR WEISS
CHARTERS
CALDECOTT
 
The whole play takes place in an Alpine ski resort in Southern Germany six months before the outbreak of World War Two (March 1939).
DESCRIPTION
The back wall of the room is made of wooden logs and panels. There is a large window Stage Left with an Alpine view. To the side of this window are two tables, each with four dining chairs. The tables always have white cloths on top. On the wall above the tables are a calendar which says “März 1939”, and a sign which says “Rauchen Verboten”. Stage right is a bookshelf which has a few grubby titles. On the wall near the bookshelf is a white flag bearing a black Nazi Eagle. Stage front are two comfortable armchairs with a radio set on a small table between them. There is a door stage left which leads to the main hall of the ski lodge.
 
SCENE ONE
[The ski lodge, early evening on a pleasant March night. Joe and Mrs Chaney are sat at a table playing cards whilst Charters and Caldecott twist the dials of a small radio set in an effort to find a station broadcasting in English. Joe and Mrs Chaney are in their thirties. They dress like typical middle-class Europeans in the late 1930’s. Joe wears a blue double breasted suit and brown shoes with spats. Mrs Chaney wears a dark green evening dress with a pearl necklace. Charters and Caldecott both wear evening suits. The radio blares out German commentary on a football match.]
CHARTERS: I say Caldecott… Not a sausage aboutEngland…
CALDECOTT: I know Charters. But one can’t complain you know.
MRS CHANEY: I say. There are English newspapers out in reception.
CHARTERS: [Rising and switching off the radio] Are there really?
MRS CHANEY: Yes, my husband and I bought them this morning from the international shop, just down in the village. You can look at as many as you like…
CHARTERS: That’s extremely good of you… Come, Caldecott… [Caldecott rises and follows Charters who exits stage right]
JOE CHANEY: Pfff… I don’t know why you let those two fools get the better of you. They only want those papers for the cricket scores you know. And they’ll tear them apart to look at them.
MRS CHANEY: Joseph, I was merely being friendly. Something you find hard to do.
JOE CHANEY: I didn’t mean anything… Don’t get excited my dear.
MRS CHANEY: I’ll get excited if I want to!
JOE CHANEY: Listen, my dear. How about we go out for a nice meal? I hear there’s a restaurant down in the village that’s supposed to be out of this world…
MRS CHANEY: If you like strudel…
JOE CHANEY: Oh, there you go again!
MRS CHANEY: I don’t like the food here… They don’t make things the way we do at home…
JOE CHANEY: I brought you out here because you wanted to see Germany and the Alps. Well, here we are. You drove me deaf with your persistent nagging for us to come here, and you haven’t said a good word about the place since you arrived here five days ago!
MRS CHANEY: I merely said I didn’t like some of the things here…
JOE CHANEY: Yes… The bedroom, the bathroom, the views, the food, the drink, the music, the staff, the language, the wildlife, the culture and the weather…
MRS CHANEY: You forgot the climbing…
JOE CHANEY: Yes, and the climbing as well. Anything I can do, anything at all. Move that mountain so you may see the lake properly. Ask the cook for your delicious brown cabbage, just the way you like it, eh?
MRS CHANEY: Joseph, there’s no need to be so callous!
JOE CHANEY: I’m not the one who’s callous! I’m going to change!
[Joe gets up and leaves via the same way Charters and Caldecott did. As Joe leaves, Charters and Caldecott enter with two “Herald Tribune” newspapers, showing different dates. Joe and the two men exchange brief greetings. Charters and Caldecott return to their seats and read their newspapers]
CHARTERS: I say… Not much in here, is there Caldecott?
CALDECOTT: Nothing at all about cricket… It’s all baseball…
CHARTERS: Baseball?
CALDECOTT: Yes… We call it rounders. Children play it with a little rubber ball and a stick…
CHARTERS: I’m getting tired of this… Oh, I say, Mrs Chaney… Thanks for letting us borrow your newspapers.
MRS CHANEY: You’re welcome, gentlemen… Good evening…
[Mrs Chaney stands up and leaves as if she were irritated. Charters and Caldecott fold up their newspapers and hand them to Mrs Chaney as she leaves]
CHARTERS: Pleasant sort of woman…
CALDECOTT: I suppose, if one likes that sort of thing.
CHARTERS: Oh, come now, my dear fellow, you know full well that’s being a tad inconsiderate toward the poor woman.
CALDECOTT: I guess it is. But, you know Charters; she makes me shiver every time she appears here. It makes me want to leave. I hope we shan’t be sharing a train compartment with them on the way back from Munich.
CHARTERS: No fear. We shall want to be back for the Ashes; whilst they look like the sorts who want to stay here for the next… goodness knows how long… No… We shall be long gone from here by the end of the month.
CALDECOTT: But the Ashes don’t start until June…
CHARTERS: But there’s the first test with India at the beginning of April.
CALDECOTT: I’d forgotten about that! Let’s hope it’s a clean sweep rather than a tropical monsoon like last year, eh?
CHARTERS: Steady on, Caldecott. Saying things like that brings bad luck. Don’t you remember last year, before the Test Match against New Zealand?
CALDECOTT: No, remind me of it again…
CHARTERS: You said to me, “Charters old boy, if it rains today I’ll eat my hat!” And, lo and behold, the game’s a washout and you have to pay thirteen and six for a new trilby!
CALDECOTT: I remember now… But it was just the same with you in the County Championships. You said to me, “Caldecott, if Hampshire hit so much as one six I’ll pay you a month of my wages against a week of yours!”
CHARTERS: Yes, I remember having to tell my sister that I’d been robbed every week for four weeks.
CALDECOTT: But I was forty pounds richer for it!
[Two waiters come in to the room and begin to set the tables for dinner. Charters and Caldecott notice this and leave with a few appropriate remarks as the curtain falls]
SCENE TWO
[The same. The lights are lower to signify late evening. Joe and Margot Chaney are sat at a table whilst Charters and Caldecott are at another table next to them, eating greedily. Two German couples are dancing to gentle swing music. Joe Chaney lights a cigarette but is reprimanded by a German man who points to a sign saying “Rauchen Verboten” and speaks fast German in a disapproving voice. Joe stubs his cigarette out and motions Mrs Chaney to dance. The couple dance with the other two couples. Miss Redgrave enters. She is a middle aged lady wearing walking equipment. In the process of dancing, Joe and Mrs Chaney bump into her. Picking her up, the couple take Miss Redgrave to their table. As Mrs Chaney and Miss Redgrave talk, Joe notices the man who told him to put out his cigarette. Joe takes a ball of string from his pocket and ties the end to the man’s jacket. As the couples dance, the string becomes entangled around the couples dancing. Joe and Mrs Chaney take to the floor again with a smug air about themselves for not being tangled up in the string. The two German couples look disapprovingly at the Chaney’s, who dance for several moments before kissing each other, and dancing out of the room as the curtain falls]
 
 
 
 
SCENE THREE
[The same, early next morning. Miss Redgrave is sat at a table reading a German book which she puts down when the Chaney’s arrive. Joe and Mrs Chaney enter, wearing morning dress]
MISS REDGRAVE: Guten Morgen…
JOE CHANEY: I’m sorry?
MISS REDGRAVE: Oh, pardon me. You’re English, aren’t you?
JOE CHANEY: Yes, but don’t worry about it. We’ve spoken to in every language in Europe on our journey so far.
MISS REDGRAVE: Then it’s settled. Won’t you join me for breakfast?
MRS CHANEY: That’s very good of you… I say, aren’t you the woman who we knocked down last night when we were dancing?
MISS REDGRAVE: That’s right. But don’t let it worry you. I can still tangle with the best of ‘em. You might say that I’m young for my age!
MRS CHANEY: Well then, that’s settled.
MISS REDGRAVE: I thought you might like to join me for a little expedition I’ve had planned for today.
JOE CHANEY: Oh, and where’s that?
MISS REDGRAVE: There’s a little village called Weissburg not five miles from here, and today is their saint’s day. I thought the church parade will be marvellous.
JOE CHANEY: Well, these Bavarians certainly know how to put on a show… Service!
[A waiter enters with a frantic air and goes to the Chaney’s table]
MISS REDGRAVE: Zwei… err, what would you like?
MRS CHANEY: Tea… please…
MISS REDGRAVE: Zwei Schwarztee bitte, und frühstück dreimal…
MRS CHANEY: You speak German very well.
MISS REDGRAVE: I’ve lived here since before the last war. I used to own a beautiful townhouse in Nuremberg, but since the rise of fascism I’ve been made to feel unwelcome. So I’m going back home in a few weeks, after I’ve scaled the Obersalzburg.
[As Miss Redgrave speaks, the waiter enters and places three plates on the table. Miss Redgrave tips the waiter a coin. The three people eat their food]
MRS CHANEY: So, what did you do for a living, Miss Redgrave?
MISS REDGRAVE: I was a musician, and a concert pianist.
JOE CHANEY: That’s very interesting; my family have always been musical.
MISS REDGRAVE: Oh…Are they?
JOE CHANEY: Yes, my cousin busks on the Piccadilly line.
MRS CHANEY: Joseph, that’s enough of your course humour… and your cousin Arthur…
[As the characters speak, Dr Helmholtz enters the room. He is in his early fifties with greying hair and a neatly trimmed moustache. He wears a dark suit]
DR HELMHOLTZ: Entschuldigung Sie, aber wo kann ich karte oder informationbucher kaufen?
JOE CHANEY: [with a flurry of hand gestures] Sorry… Err… No Deutsch… [In poor German] Sprechen Sie English?
DR HELMHOLTZ: Of course… I was going to ask [pause as he notices Miss Redgrave]… I was going to ask where I can find information?
JOE CHANEY: Just outside there, in the main hall…
DR HELMHOLTZ: Thank you very much…
JOE CHANEY: It’s nothing… Good morning…
[Dr Helmholtz leaves]
MRS CHANEY: Who was he?
JOE CHANEY: Haven’t the foggiest…
MISS REDGRAVE: He seemed like a nice man.
JOE CHANEY: Hmmm... But the nicest person around here can be a raving Nazi lunatic… I mean, just look at that fellow we met on the Munich train out here. He’s a pleasant chap and a frightful bore, and low and behold, it turns out he’s a paid up member of Hitler’s inner circle and of something called the SS.  
MISS REDGRAVE: Not every German is a fascist. I found that out for myself…
MRS CHANEY: Well Miss Redgrave, you’ve been out here longer than we have, and my husband is not the most tactful gentleman…
MISS REDGRAVE: I have met far worse people than your husband… And I meant to ask you, would you like to come on my walking expedition today?
MRS CHANEY: I…
JOE CHANEY: Why, we’d love to, wouldn’t we dear?
MRS CHANEY: Yes dear…
JOE CHANEY: Excellent! I’ll go and pack up some essentials, and we’ll be on the way whenever you’re ready Miss Redgrave.
Miss Redgrave: I say, this is excellent news!
[As he speaks, Joe Chaney stands up and leaves as Miss Redgrave speaks. After a few minutes, Mrs Chaney leaves Miss Redgrave and follows her husband as the curtain falls]
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 SCENE FOUR
[The same. The room is empty and all the things have been cleared from the table. Joe Chaney and Mrs Chaney enter the room. Joe is wearing shorts, extremely long socks, flat shoes and a tank top over his jumper. He should appear ludicrous to the audience. Mrs Chaney wears the same clothes as the previous scene. The couple walk toward Miss Redgrave’s table]
JOE CHANEY: [As he enters] I don’t see why you’re even coming on this walking trip…
MRS CHANEY: Because I know you Joseph Chaney, and that you need to behave!
JOE CHANEY: Miss Redgrave is old enough to know better…
MRS CHANEY: But you’re not!
JOE CHANEY: Can you please be quiet; your voice is rather irritating this early in the morning…
MRS CHANEY: So my voice is irritating, is it?
JOE CHANEY: It certainly is… Oh, hello… I wonder where Miss Redgrave is?
MRS CHANEY: I haven’t seen her. Perhaps she’s gone outside…
JOE CHANEY: No, she said she’d wait here for us.
MRS CHANEY: Perhaps she forgot.
JOE CHANEY: No, her mind was sharp as a razor-blade.
MRS CHANEY: Well, it certainly was as cutting as one…
JOE CHANEY: Funny, aren’t you!
MRS CHANEY: At least I’m not crude like you…
JOE CHANEY: Oh, come now… You know that’s a lot of rubbish!
[Dr Helmholtz and Dr Weiss enter. Dr Weiss is in his thirties and wears a morning suit with a plain red armband. The two men speak quietly to each other in a language the Chaney’s cannot understand]
JOE CHANEY: I say, you’re the fellow who was in here earlier. Do you remember me?
DR HELMHOLTZ: Yes, I remember you… Hadn’t we better introduce ourselves? I am Doctor Karl Helmholtz of Heidelberg, and this is my associate Doctor Franz Weiss of Berlin.
JOE CHANEY: Joseph Chaney… Fresh out of London… Anyway, I meant to ask you, have you seen the lady I was having breakfast with just now?
DR HELMHOLTZ: [Pointing to Mrs Chaney] She’s stood over there…
JOE CHANEY: No, I don’t mean my wife. There was another lady with us. She was a middle aged English lady… Surely you must have seen her?
DR HELMHOLTZ: You and your wife were alone… I saw no-one else with you…
MRS CHANEY: You did see her. You stopped speaking to look at her…
DR HELMHOLTZ: I stopped speaking because I had to think of the word in English, not because I wanted to look at someone. And there was nobody with you. I looked out of the window…
JOE CHANEY: Oh don’t bother darling, it’s no use trying to reason with these damned foreigners.
DR HELMHOLTZ: I’d be very careful what you are saying…
JOE CHANEY: I apologise, Doctor… I just can’t think why Miss Redgrave would leave us…
DR WEISS: [In poor English] There… was no… English lady… with you…
JOE CHANEY: She was here! I sat opposite her and had breakfast not half an hour ago!
DR HELMHOLTZ: You had breakfast, but did not sit with anyone other than your wife. You were… how do you say… err… halluziniert… hallucinating. The mind can sometimes form the most vivid impressions.
MRS CHANEY: But we’re telling you this woman exists!
DR HELMHOLTZ: She is merely a figment of your imaginations…
JOE CHANEY: I’m sure she must have gone ahead without us. We’ll see if we can’t find her yet, eh? Come on dearest…
[Joe and Mrs Chaney leave the room. Dr Helmholtz and Dr Weiss remain and ponder the situation as the curtain falls]
 
 
 
 
 
 
SCENE FIVE
[The same. It is mid afternoon. Charters and Caldecott are sat at one of the tables. They have laid out a primitive cricket pitch with toy soldiers, two cups of tea and a tea pot]
CHARTERS:…And Hammond comes round to bat again, but [moving another toy soldier as he speaks]… Compton bowls a sticky one, and that’s Hammond out for a duck…
CALDECOTT: I see. But when Wilcox got that one in by the skin of his teeth in the fifth over…
CHARTERS: Oh, I don’t remember that one old boy…
CALDECOTT: You must remember; you got into an awful froth about it…
CHARTERS: Must have slipped my mind… But do tell, do tell…
CALDECOTT: Well… [Picking up a toy soldier]… Wilcox was going in to bat [moves the soldier]…
CHARTERS: I say, that’s Hopkins, not Wilcox…
CALDECOTT: Oh, is it? Damn these toy figures, they’re all alike!
CHARTERS: Here’s Wilcox, old boy [Hands Caldecott another soldier]…
CALDECOTT: Thanks… [Placing the toy soldier on the table] So anyway, Wilcox was going to bat, and Compton puts a fast one across the left. Then Wilcox gives it a good whack after it bounces off his thigh… And scores a six though everyone says he’s leg before wicket…
CHARTERS: Ah! I recall though, that Compton bowled a bad ball…
CALDECOTT: That was just Wilcox trying to save his skin. Everyone knew that Compton’s bowling was fair and square.
CHARTERS: But I still don’t understand why the umpire just didn’t say “Out” and be done with it…
CALDECOTT: Well, word was that Wilcox bribed that umpire with ten pounds of his own money…
CHARTERS: Really… That’s extraordinary for Wilcox! I don’t know what the world’s coming to… All this nonsense about bribery and bad balls from Compton. Why, it’s ridiculous man. It’s absurd.
CALDECOTT: I know, old boy. But one can’t really say anything about it.
CHARTERS: Of course we can! I say Caldecott; I’ve just had an idiotic idea!
CALDECOTT: What, another one?
CHARTERS: Oh be quiet! Anyway, you were keen as mustard to try and play Alpine cricket anyway!
CALDECOTT: Sorry Charters old sport. So what’s your idea?
CHARTERS: Why don’t we write a letter to the MCC when we get back to England?
CALDECOTT: I say, that’s an idea!... What about?
CHARTERS: About Wilcox and his bad sportsmanship!
CALDECOTT: Ah, I see!
CHARTERS: I say, Caldecott, you really don’t see where I’m coming from sometimes, do you?
CALDECOTT: Not exactly, old boy. But still, I think your idea’s absolutely splendid.
[Murmur of voices outside. Joe and Mrs Chaney enter the room. Joe has a large bruise and a cut on his left knee and is in some pain]
CHARTERS: I say Caldecott; we’d better pack this up.
CALDECOTT: I think you’re right, Charters, old man.
[Charters and Caldecott pack up their makeshift cricket pitch as Mrs Chaney helps Joe to sit down. As the Chaney’s begin to speak, Charters and Caldecott leave the room with the box of toy soldiers. Mrs Chaney dabs Joe’s bruise with a handkerchief]
JOE CHANEY: Agg! Steady on, old girl…
MRS CHANEY: I told you not to go clambering about, didn’t I?
JOE CHANEY: Our map would’ve blown away… [Seethes through pain]
MRS CHANEY: We could have got another one!
JOE CHANEY: But the village was three miles back, and you were grousing that you were tired… As usual!
MRS CHANEY: I was not grousing!
JOE CHANEY: Oh, you certainly were!
MRS CHANEY: I never said a word about being tired…
JOE CHANEY: Oh, must we argue like children?
MRS CHANEY: you started it all!
JOE CHANEY: I didn’t start it! You started it!
MRS CHANEY: Oh, go and blow your nose, Joseph Chaney!
[Mrs Chaney leaves. As she does, Dr Weiss enters the room carrying a small doctor’s bag, which he places on Charters and Caldecott’s table. Dr Weiss and Mrs Chaney exchange greetings in German and English]
DR WEISS: Ich muss sagen, Sie haben einen fiesen Butterguss bekam… Ich werde es sauber… [Dr Weiss takes a pad of cotton wool from his bag and returns to Joe Chaney. Dr Weiss begins to clean Chaney’s bruise and cuts, whilst Joe sighs in pain]
JOE CHANEY: Not really one for English, are you?
DR WEISS: Koennen Sie bitte nicht sprechen…
JOE CHANEY: Same to you…
DR WEISS: Ah, alles fertig, Herr Englander…
JOE CHANEY: The name’s Chaney, by the way.
DR WEISS: [Struggling with the English pronunciation] Chaney… All… err… finished, sauber… Wie kann Mann das auf Englisch sagen?... Err… Not dirty… err…
JOE CHANEY: Clean?
DR WEISS: Ach so! Ja… Clean…
JOE CHANEY: Thanks awfully, but… err… No money, you see… No Marks, spent it all old man…
DR WEISS: No problem… Pay later, yes?
JOE CHANEY: I suppose so. How much?
DR WEISS: Err… I don’t understand…
JOE CHANEY: Marks… Was cost… Wie viele?
DR WEISS: Zwölf…
JOE CHANEY: Oh, good Lord, I don’t know if I can pay you with a wolf…
DR WEISS: Nein! Zwölf… Err… Twelve…
JOE CHANEY: Oh, I see what you mean, Herr Doctor… And thanks all the same.
DR WEISS: Kein Problem…
[Dr Weiss leaves but forgets his bag. Chaney notices this and stands to catch Dr Weiss’ attention]
JOE CHANEY: Oh, I say! You’ve forgotten your bag, Herr Doctor… Oh, blast, he’s already gone…
[Chaney decides to look inside the doctor’s bag and spends a few moments rummaging through the contents. He finds a syringe with a German label and admires it before quickly hiding it in his shorts pocket as he hears Dr Weiss enter the room again]
DR WEISS: Ah, Sie haben meine Tasche gefunden…
[Dr Weiss takes his bag and leaves the room, saying something which vaguely sounds like “Auf Wiedersehen”. After Dr Weiss leaves Joe looks again at the syringe but does not understand the German label. He crosses to the bookshelf and takes a bilingual dictionary. Setting it down on the table he looks, rather awkwardly through the book, attempting to find a meaning for the syringe label as the curtain falls]
 
 
 
 
 
SCENE SIX
[The same. It is late afternoon. Mrs Chaney walks into the room. At the two tables are sat several German visitors including Dr Helmholtz and Dr Weiss, drinking cups of coffee, playing cards and drinking games etc. Charters and Caldecott are sat in the armchairs. Mrs Chaney enters looking very anxious. She crosses to the first table]
MRS CHANEY: I say, have you seen an English lady? Um, an Englisch frau?
GERMAN 1: No…
MRS CHANEY: What about you?
GERMAN 2: Nein… I… have, err, how you say… no English, ja?
MRS CHANEY: Oh, good lord… [Noticing Dr Helmholtz] I say, Dr Helmholtz!
DR HELMHOLTZ: [softly] Oh, lieber Gott…
MRS CHANEY: There you are… I say, have you seen the English lady my husband and I had breakfast with?
DR HELMHOLTZ: But, Mrs Chaney, you remember I said that your friend was a figment of your imagination.
MRS CHANEY: [As she speaks she becomes more hysterical, attracting everyone’s attention] But I’m telling you she’s not! I saw her with my own eyes, damn you! I don’t care if I have to turn this lodge upside down to find her!
[Charters rises to face Mrs Chaney]
CHARTERS: I say, my dear woman, but that won’t do you any good making a scene like this!
DR HELMHOLTZ: I shouldn’t worry, my friend. She’s a little tired, that’s all. I’ll go and find her some cognac.
[Dr Helmholtz leads Mrs Chaney away from the room. Everyone goes back to whatever they were previously doing. Charters sits down]
CALDECOTT: I say Charters, what was all that frightful noise?
CHARTERS: Some woman making a scene. Says she’s lost her friend.
CALDECOTT: I’m sure she’ll find her soon. Did she say who her friend was?
CHARTERS: No, I didn’t get a word of it. But she was in a real fizz about it all…
CALDECOTT: Strange…
CHARTERS: What’s strange, old man?
CALDECOTT: Her getting into a right mess about it. I mean, when one of us gets lost, the other just carries on and hopes for the best, eh?
CHARTERS: I don’t see what you mean, Caldecott.
CALDECOTT: Well, you remember last year at the Test match?
CHARTERS: Which one?
CALDECOTT: England, Australia, I think…
CHARTERS: [As if a half forgotten detail returns] Yes, I remember now. I got lost in that lavatory cubicle, and missed the first twelve overs!
CALDECOTT: Only because you couldn’t find the door, old boy.
CHARTERS: I say, that’s a bit rich coming from you Caldecott; you were the same when we were in London, only it was a telephone box!
CALDECOTT: I concur.
[Charters takes a watch from his pocket and reads the time as he speaks]
CHARTERS: I say, Caldecott, It’s nearly six o’clock. Do you think we could go into Berchtesgarten for something to eat?
CALDECOTT: I don’t see why not, old man. I mean, the food isn’t exactly cricket here, is it?
CHARTERS: Nothing in this country is cricket. Especially brown cabbage…
[Charters and Caldecott rise and leave. As they do so, they speak]
CALDECOTT: Well, third rate country, third rate service, I suppose.
CHARTERS: Quite right Caldecott. And the same goes for their politicians as well.
[Charters and Caldecott leave the room. As they leave, Mrs Chaney and Dr Helmholtz enter. Mrs Chaney is carrying a half full brandy glass. She appears traumatised but stable, and is guided to sit in one of the armchairs by Dr Helmholtz]
DR HELMHOLTZ: There you are Mrs Chaney. Rest here a while and I’ll try to find your husband.
MRS CHANEY: He’s sleeping, and will not want to be disturbed…
DR HELMHOLTZ: I see. Do you want anything else?
MRS CHANEY: Yes… Find Miss Redgrave…
DR HELMHOLTZ: Now, we have just been through this… If you continue I shall be forced to send you to the hospital in Graz…
MRS CHANEY: Find Miss Redgrave, damn you!
[Mrs Chaney stands and attracts the attention of all the people in the room]
MRS CHANEY: Everybody listen to me! There’s a woman gone missing from this ski lodge, and if you’ve seen her speak up!
[Mixed reactions from the Germans. They mumble disapprovingly to each other]
DR HELMHOLTZ: Meine Damen und Herren, diese Englische frau hier ist ein bisschen verruckt…
[Dr Helmholtz takes Mrs Chaney and drags her out of the room as she speaks in an increasingly frantic tone]
MRS CHANEY: I’m not mad, I’m telling you, Miss Redgrave is here in this hotel… And I’ll find her if it’s the last thing I do! I’ll find her!
[Dr Helmholtz returns to his seat next to Dr Weiss]
DR WEISS: Was war das?
DR HELMHOLTZ: Nichts… And I think we had better change our course…
[Dr Helmholtz and Dr Weiss speak to each other as the curtain falls]
 
 
 
SCENE SEVEN
[The same, about four days later. To signify the passage of time, a few days on the calendar have been crossed out. It is late at night and everyone has gone. Miss Redgrave is sat alone at a table. She wears the same clothes but they are dishevelled and dirty. There are several purple marks on her face and neck. She spears to be feverish and sickly. Mrs Chaney enters the room, wearing a silk robe and dressing gown. Mrs Chaney is tired and enters, stumbling. She notices Miss Redgrave but does not immediately recognise her, but stops and turns to the woman when it dawns on Mrs Chaney who is sat at the table. Mrs Chaney attempts to greet Miss Redgrave who rejects Mrs Chaney, who is puzzled as to why the old woman is not courteous and friendly. Mrs Chaney sits in the armchair, devastated at Miss Redgrave not being accommodating]
MRS CHANEY: I thought we were friends!
MISS REDGRAVE: But we are, Mrs Chaney. That is why I did not want you to come close to me.
MRS CHANEY: What’s wrong, Miss Redgrave?
MISS REDGRAVE: I’ll tell you. But I cannot speak openly. Come closer…
[Mrs Chaney stands and crosses to Miss Redgrave. Miss Redgrave whispers into Mrs Chaney’s ear. As she does this, Dr Helmholtz enters the room]
DR HELMHOLTZ: What are you doing here, Frau Chaney?
MRS CHANEY: I, err, couldn’t sleep Dr Helmholtz.
DR HELMHOLTZ: You should not be here at this late hour alone. You never know what may happen…
MRS CHANEY: Is that a threat Doctor?
DR HELMHOLTZ: Take that as you please… But I can assure you this is a threat…
[Dr Helmholtz pulls a Luger out of his pocket. Mrs Chaney stands back in shock]
MISS REDGRAVE: What does that shoot, water?
DR HELMHOLTZ: Shut it, you… you… Schweinhund!
MISS REDGRAVE: That’s no way to speak to a lady, especially when one’s occupation declares that one must be courteous. And please don’t be so clichéd!
DR HELMHOLTZ: That’s enough from you! Now, you!
[He gestures to Mrs Chaney]
MRS CHANEY: Me?
DR HELMHOLTZ: Who do you think I meant? The King of England!
[Mrs Chaney bursts into tears]
DR HELMHOLTZ: I’m sorry. Please forgive me… But you must do something for me…
MRS CHANEY:[Crying] Anything…
DR HELMHOLTZ: Go and get your husband, and any other British guests you find. There’s something very important I have to tell them.
[Mrs Chaney rushes out. In her absence, Dr Helmholtz sits in the armchair and places the Luger next to the radio set. He lights a cigarette and begins to smoke]
MISS REDGRAVE: Why are you doing this, Herr Doctor?
DR HELMHOLTZ: Orders.
MISS REDGRAVE: But is there any necessity for this cruelty?
DR HELMHOLTZ: When you are in the Party, one must not question orders, especially those from the highest authority!
MISS REDGRAVE: The Party can go and blow its nose.
DR HELMHOLTZ: Halt die Klappe!
[Mrs Chaney returns with Joe. He is also bleary eyed. He wears grey pyjamas]
JOE CHANEY: I say, it’s awfully late to be dragging me about…
MRS CHANEY: I know, but…
DR HELMHOLTZ: Ah, Herr Chaney, so good of you to come. I must speak to you about something of the highest urgency…
JOE CHANEY: Oh, and what’s that?
[Dr Helmholtz stands up and points the Luger at Joe]
DR HELMHOLTZ: Get over there…
JOE CHANEY: You wouldn’t dare shoot me, Herr Doctor.
DR HELMHOLTZ: I warn you, Herr Chaney, I am a crack shot. This pistol has won me more cigars, toy trains and goldfish than I care to remember!
JOE CHANEY: So what’s this about?
DR HELMHOLTZ: You’ll find out soon enough…
[Charters and Caldecott enter, speaking]
CHARTERS:…I knew we shouldn’t have gone to that wretched place. Fancy running out of food, old boy?
CALDECOTT: I say, Charters…
CHARTERS: What is it?


© Copyright 2018 John Kessler. All rights reserved.

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