THE GHOST IN THE MEADOW (screenplay based on the stage play of the same name)
of old fashioned ghost stories will enjoy this creepy thriller. When
two sisters relocate from Manhattan to an old farm house in
upstate New York, they soon realize that they may not be alone in the
house. An old boyfriend drops in to visit and when the strange
occurrences continue he calls on the services of a psychic colleague to
try to quell the restless spirits. Based on the legend of the blue boy.
What the critics said!
old fashioned thriller written just for the stage...Simonelli has
written an atmospheric piece that delivers plenty of chills with a
liberal dose of tension breaking comic relief! A real Halloween treat!
Joe Franklin - Bloomberg Radio
THE GHOST IN THE MEADOW
BY Joe Simonelli
AN OLD COUP WITH NEW YORK PLATES AND A METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART BUMPER STICKER DRIVES DOWN A COUNTRY ROAD.
INT. CAR - DAY
Kylie a mid forties retired school teacher, drives the car as her younger sister Sheila, an artist, sits next to her.
KYLIE So where is it? That was the right turn off wasn't it.
SHEILA According to the map and my recollection you turn left after a field past the old church.
KYLIE (looking down at gps) According to the gps it's no where. I should have my head examined for letting you talk me into this.
SHEILA You've always trusted my judgment on investments before, why not now?
KYLIE Because this isn't a stock or a piece of art. This is a house, our home! What if we don't like it?
SHEILA We didn't like our apartment in Manhattan did we? And we managed to extricate ourselves from that situation.
KYLIE That was a rental! This is a property. A property that we spent our last penny to buy. I think there's quite a difference.
SHEILA Come on Kylie, we've been over this. It has everything we need, a piano for you, an upstairs room with a large window for me to do my painting! We both wanted to get away from the rat race and most of all the price was right!
KYLIE That must be the old church.
POV; KYLIE AS SHE LOOKS OUT THE WINDOW AT A BOARDED UP OLD CHURCH.
SHEILA Yes. Now right past this meadow you'll see the left turn off.
KYLIE I must admit it certainly is secluded. How far away from town did you say we were?
SHEILA About ten miles.
KYLIE Ten miles? I certainly won't be walking to the corner for a bottle of milk.
SHEILA No Kyle, it's not Manhattan. Here's your turn. It will be just around the curve ahead.
KYLIE Manhattan? It's not even Long Island!
SHEILA But it is still good old New York state! You don't have to change your drivers license.
KYLIE Thank god for that. But I still don't see why...
(She stops the car suddenly)
Is that it?
POV: KYLIE AS WE SEE THE HOUSE IN THE DISTANCE. IT IS A TWO STORY STRUCTURE IN THE SHAPE OF A SMALL VICTORIAN, WITH A WRAP AROUND PORCH AND A DORMER ATTIC.
SHEILA That's it....Well, are we going to move or sleep here in the car tonight?
The car moves and pulls up to the house. Sheilla and Kylie exit the car. Kylie opens the trunk and they each grab a bag as Sheila takes the front door key from her pocket. As they climb the four steps to the porch a board snaps on the third step.
KYLIE Isn't this charming. Maybe we can invite up the reality show people who help you rebuild your house.
A few wicker chairs and a table are outside on the deck.
POV SHEILA AS SHE OPENS THE FRONT DOOR AND THEY ENTER THE FOYER:
SHEILA Here it is, home sweet home. And fully furnished!
KYLIE Yes, fifteenth century gothic. I'm surprised there's not a suit of armor.
SHEILA Oh that's on the second floor. Come see the living room. I'll show you the piano!
They proceed into the living room where an old spinet piano sits against a wall. Kylie opens the cover of the keyboard and starts to test a few keys.
KYLIE A little out of tune but I guess it will do.
SHEILA Come on upstairs Kyle, I'll show you the bedrooms and my painting studio.
KYLIE Don't forget the suit of armor.
Kylie Follows Sheila up a flight of stairs past a small landing. They reach the second floor.
SHEILA This way, to the right are the bedrooms and bathroom.
KYLIE (looking to the left down a long corridor to one closed door on the end)) What's down there?
SHEILA That door leads to the spare bedroom that I'm going to turn into my studio. You can also access the attic from that room. Want to take a look?
SHEILA Oh come on, stop being apprehensive!
KYLIE (she follows Sheila down hall) Yeah, I'm not so sure apprehensive is the right word.
Sheila tries to open door but it is stuck.
SHEILA These old country doors do tend to stick a bit.
She gives it a shove and it opens. Revealing a large furnished room with a writing desk, couch and wing chair.
SHEILA (CONT'D) Isn't marvelous! Look at that window with a view of the meadow.
POV FROM WINDOW OVERLOOKING MEADOW TO THE OLD CHURCH THEY PASSED
SHEILA (CONT'D) Getting a little cloudy out. Hit the light switch Kyle.
KYLIE (she turns on the switch) Hey, electricity! You think there's indoor plumbing too! All we need know is a pig named Arnold.
SHEILA What are you talking about?
KYLIE Don't watch much classic T.V., do you? Is that the door to the attic?
KYLIE Funny place to put it.
SHEILA I don't know. Seems practical to me. You place it at one end of the house so you have a continuos storage space for the length of the house. Come on, let's get the rest of the things from the car and get settled in.
KYLIE I'll get the rest of the things from the car. I don't think that you should be lifting heavy objects, do you?
SHEILA Stop being so cautious.
KYLIE That's the real reason you wanted to leave the city, isn't it?
One of many.
KYLIE Your going to have to confront him eventually.
SHEILA Julian? I will, eventually.
KYLIE Come on, I don't like the looks of the weather. I'll finish emptying the car while you put the groceries away. (MORE)
() (They exit the room as the light gets dimmer and the camera focuses on the attic door. Church bells can be heard in the distance.)
The studio is dimly lit as we hear the faint sound of thunder and rain. Sheila stands next to window looking out below as the curtain opens. Lightning, rain and thunder are apparent in background.
SHEILA A loud bolt of thunder (and lightening strike) flicker the main lights but they remain on. Sheila turns on the lamp then crosses to turn off the main lights. She sits on love seat and starts to read a book as a second thunder and lightning strike flicker the lamp and blacks out the room. (rising from chair) Damn, where is it? (She fumbles her way to the desk until she finds her cell phone, which she opens to use as a light the thunder fades and is replaced by the soft melodic sound of church bells. She crosses down to the window in an effort to ascertain where the music is coming from)
KYLIE (opens the door suddenly startling her sister. The church bells stop just as suddenly. She is holding a flashlight and carries an extra in her pocket) Hey Sheil, you in here?
SHEILA You startled me Kyle. Can't you make a little noise when you're coming into a room?
KYLIE I'm sorry, next time I'll sing an aria. What's your pleasure, Carmen?
SHELIA Funny. Is she my sister or a stand up comic?
KYLIE Right now she wishes she were an electrician. Here, take this flashlight. (Hands her extra flashlight) I'm going to check the circuit box. Did you pick up those fuses like I asked when you were in town?
SHEILA I didn't have time. (she notices something outside the window )
KYLIE This house was your idea, remember.
SHEILA Out here a week and you're still complaining. I knew it. I told you the country might be a good change for both of us. It helps me get motivated to paint. And there's something about this house, and this room especially, I can't verbalize it. Just a feeling.
KYLIE I know that feeling, kind of hot and clammy, it's called lack of central air conditioning.
SHEILA Make light of it if you want but somehow I think this just what I was looking for. The minute I walked into this room I was stricken with an impulse and started painting like crazy.
KYLIE You lived in Greenwich Village, isn't that where all the artists are supposed to live? And when are you going to show me what you're working on?
SHEILA Come on Kyle. You know I don't like to show you anything till it's finished.
KYLIE Yes, I know. You've told me a million times. So an old country house in a state of disrepair is your latest muse. What does it do for me?
SHEILA Gets you away from the rat race. You're retired from teaching; you can start a business out here in the country! Come on Kyle, don't you remember our summer trips upstate to visit Nana at Lake Carmel when we were kids? I loved that old country house. All that grass to play on. The beach at the lake. Oh, and the old rowboat?
KYLIE Yes, the rowboat…and how about that old television of Nana's. Got about three channels.
SHEILA And there always seemed to be an old scary mystery or Alfred Hitchcock show on right before bedtime. Just the tonic to keep two impressionable children up all night.
KYLIE I remember. And how about that stray dog we found at the lake. What did we used to call him?
SHEILA (CONT'D) Meet,' because he used to meet us at the stream near the lake everyday. And we would smuggle out food from the house to feed him?
KYLIE I remember! Nana would have killed us if she knew!
SHEILA (getting more excited as she remembers) Oh Kyle, what about that hoot owl in the garage, remember? (MORE)
SHEILA (CONT'D) We thought the garage was haunted all summer until grandpa finally shooed it out! Oh how could you not want to live out here?
KYLIE Maybe that was great for a kid who was visiting her Nana for the summer but now that I'm "all grown up" what am I supposed to do here in 'Hooterville?'
SHEILA You're resourceful. Teach piano or something. That old spinet downstairs.
KYLIE An old out of tune spinet. With a broken lower C sharp key.
SHEILA We'll get it repaired.
KYLIE With what? We sunk our life savings into this fixer upper in the sticks. All I have is my teacher's pension to support us both now that all of our money is in this place.
SHEILA This house was a bargain and you know it. None of the other houses I looked at were this affordable. We could easily fix it up and sell it for twice what we paid in a few years. As for immediate cash flow, I've got an art show coming up in Chelsea next month, I'm sure I'll sell some paintings.
KYLIE Great, I hope the peanut butter and jelly supply holds out till then. (closes the drawer) I thought I saw some spare fuses in this drawer before. It probably doesn't matter; the whole town must be out.
SHEILA I don't think so. I see a light on in that old church across the meadow. Come look. I thought I heard their (MORE)
SHEILA (CONT'D) bells ringing just as the lights went out.
POV - SHEILA LOOKING AT A LIGHT FLICKERING IN THE CHURCH TOWER.
KYLIE (Crosses to window) The old church house? It's been out of operation for years. It's all boarded up.
SHEILA There, do you see the light in the tower?
KYLIE I don't see anything.
SHEILA It's gone dark now. (The lamp in room starts to flicker and comes back on)
KYLIE Ah, there we go. (She turns on the main room lights)So, how about a cup of tea before bed? I've already put the kettle on.
SHEILA I'd love one.
KYLIE Open the window, would you? Hopefully the storm dropped the temperature outside. We should probably save up for some window units for the bedrooms.
SHEILA (Pulling out her cell phone) I'm sure you won't need them once you get a nice country breeze going. I've got an incoming. Julian.
KYLIE Ah, the prodigal boyfriend. Still on a 'break'?
SHEILA He's on probation.
KYLIE Really, aren't you being a bit cavalier considering the circumstances?
SHEILA (ignoring her last comment and Into phone)Hello Julian.
KYLIE Tell him I said hello. I'll be right back with the tea. (she exits)
SHEILA Into phone) Hi Julian.How are you? How are things at Manhattan South?...Did you get that promotion yet? …
INT. APARTMENT NYC - EVENING
JULIAN No, it's still pending.
SHEILA They'll come around. I know how important it is it you.
JULIAN When will you be back in town again?
SHEILA For heaven's sake relax Julian. We've only been out here a week!
JULIAN Seems much longer. How does Kylie like living in 'Green acres'?
SHEILA Kylie likes it just fine. I think. She says hello.
JULIAN Well tell her hello back. I'd like to come up there and tell her myself. I miss you Sheil.
INT. STUDIO - EVENING
SHEILA I miss you too Jules but we both agreed we needed a break didn't we? I moved upstate to the country, not Bolivia, it's a three hour drive!
JULIAN Well then how about I come up and visit.
SHEILA Of course I'd...we'd love you to come up and visit.
JULIAN How about this weekend?
SHEILA This weekend? This weekend starts tomorrow. That would make this a one week break! I don't think that even qualifies as a break! I know married couples who don't see each other for a week.
JULIAN Come on Sheil! Don't tell me you don't miss me even a little?
SHEILA Okay, okay...you can come up for the weekend. But no sex! It's still a break!
JULIAN No sex? No sex! But sex is my second most favorite thing to do.
SHEILA I know, you'll just have to settle for your first most favorite thing to do and watch the Yankees...yes, we have T.V. up here. Yes, cable Julian...it's not the jungle.
JULIAN Great, I'll see you tomorrow afternoon.
SHEILA Jules, as long as your coming, could you bring your tool box? This place is kind of falling apart.
(She crosses to open the window. All is still as she looks out then suddenly calls to someone outside ))
SHEILA Hey you, young man? What are you doing out there? (she turns and a look of puzzlement crosses her face as she calls for her sister) Kyle! Kylie!! (She runs from the room as the wind blows the curtains again the faint sound of church bells are heard. Approaching footsteps are heard)
KYLIE (off) You're being ridiculous Sheila. (The door swings open and Kylie enters carrying a tray with two cups of tea. Sheila follows her in as Kylie sets the tea down on the desk)
SHEILA I'm telling you I saw it Kyle! Right out that window.
KYLIE It was probably a deer or something.
SHEILA I know the difference between a deer and a little boy! And even if it was a deer, which it wasn't, how could it just disappear into thin air?
KYLIE I think maybe it was that wine you had after dinner.
SHEILA It was one glass of wine, not a pint of southern comfort. One glass is okay. All the books say so.
KYLIE Really? All the books I've read say we're three miles from the nearest house and no kid is going to be out by himself in a thunderstorm at this time of night?
SHEILA He was there. And then he wasn't. He just disappeared.
KYLIE Well it gets misty out on the meadow, maybe he just walked into a fog bank. Look, now you have me admitting you saw a kid.
SHEILA I did see one.
KYLIE Okay, come on, (she takes her hand) Let's grab the flashlights and have a look out there ourselves.
SHEILA Oh no, I'm not going out there.
KYLIE Well what do you suggest?
SHEILA I don't know. Call the police.
KYLIE And tell them what Sheila? Some kid is walking across our back lawn. What are they going to do, arrest him for trespassing? We just moved to this community. We don't need to make the locals think we're the newly arrived lunatics from New York City.
SHELIA I know what I saw.
KYLIE You're tired, you just moved into an old country house with faulty wiring and it's the first stormy summer night, of course you thought you might have seen something. (A loud sound is heard offstage as if a shutter is slamming)
SHELIA What was that? Is the front door locked?
KYLIE (exasperated) Yes, the front door is locked!
SHELIA Well what was that noise?
KYLIE It's an old house; it could've been anything. A shutter slamming. Or the screen door on the kitchen.
SHEILA Or a hoot owl in the garage?
KYLIE My god, you're a grown woman, stop it already. (The wind blows the curtains as another thunderclap explodes. Kylie goes to the window and closes it) (As Kylie faces away from window towards Sheila Kathryne walks quickly past the window. She is dressed totally in black.)
SHEILA (Screams) Kylie! Behind you. The window.
KYLIE (Looks back out the window) There's nothing there.
SHEILA I saw something go past the window. You have to believe me.
KYLIE We're on the second floor, who'd you see, batman?
SHEILA It's no laughing matter! Something went past that window!
KYLIE (Again looks out window)) There's nothing there. You're just nervous because you just found out…
SHEILA It has nothing to do with that!
KYLIE Alright, if you say so. Come on, let's go!
KYLIE I can tell that neither of us is going to get any sleep tonight until (MORE)
KYLIE (CONT'D) this matter is resolved. We're both going to search this whole house right now, inside and out, together!
SHEILA Allright! Fine! Let's do it then.
Fine. (as they move towards door)) By the way, what did Julian have to say?
SHEILA He's coming up here tomorrow, to visit for the weekend.
KYLIE Good! Maybe he'll be able to talk some sense into you!
(she turns off lights as she leaves)
(The two women exit. Two beats and the window suddenly blows open, church bells are once again heard.)
The next evening. Sheila is painting. The picture is facing away from the audience so only she can see it. A book she has been reading lies on a small table next to the wing chair. The soft strains of piano music can be heard drifting up from downstairs.
(The faint sounds of church bells replace the piano as Sheila stops painting and looks out the window. As she does, the door slowly opens and Julian quietly enters. He is holding a paper bag holding a bottle of scotch)
SHEILA (Screams) Julian, you jerk! Why do people seem to love to sneak up on me lately? (Bells stop)
JULIAN Just keeping you off guard sexy. Kylie told me you were all worked up about something you thought you might have seen last night but I didn't think you'd be this jumpy.
SHEILA Shush! Do you hear it?
SHEILA Never mind. (She crosses and they hug) I'm actually very glad you came up. It's good to see you.
JULIAN Good to see you too babe. (He moves to look at painting) Hey what are you working on?
SHEILA (quickly covers the painting) Oh no, you know the rules.
JULIAN Yeah, I know the rules. (he goes to kiss her)
SHEILA Ahh, break, remember? This is a social visit.
JULIAN In that case how about a social drink. (he removes a bottle of scotch) You still drink single malt don't you?
SHEILA Yes, but not lately.
JULIAN I think that's when I really fell in love with you.
SHEILA When you found out I was a scotch drinker?
JULIAN No, when I realized you could drink me under the table. (he moves to kiss her and she moves away again)
SHEILA Manners Julian. So where's your luggage? You did bring more than just a bottle of scotch didn't you?
JULIAN Do I really need more than that? My suitcase is downstairs.
SHEILA Well bring it up and put it in my room, second floor down the hall near the bathroom.
JULIAN Now you're talkin!
SHEILA You sleep in my room. I sleep in here. This used to be a guest room but I converted it to a studio. The couch is very comfortable.
JULIAN I don't want to put you out. I'll sleep here. Then sneak into your room in the middle of the night.
SHEILA You'll do no such thing. This door has a lock on it. My bedroom doesn't.
JULIAN Still as stubborn as ever I see.
SHEILA Oh, I'm the stubborn one Mr. "I'm not retiring from the force until I get my lieutenant shield." Can't just be satisfied being a detective sergeant.
JULIAN I wish I were a good enough detective to figure out what you're running away from.
SHEILA Who says I'm running away from anything?
JULIAN Okay, then what are you running to?
SHEILA For the life of me I don't know what you're talking about.
JULIAN We had a good thing going in the city. I mean, we were the fun couple, remember?
SHEILA You've got some warped perception of fun.
JULIAN I'm trying to be serious Sheil. You know how I feel about you. You told me you felt the same. Then you pull this vanishing act.
SHEILA You being serious? That's a new one. Besides, I need some space, I told you. This is like an adventure to me.
JULIAN It seems more to me like you're looking for a new start.
SHEILA Right, I moved out to lower 'dog patch' for the social life and dating scene. Is that what you think?
JULIAN To be honest I don't know what to think.
SHEILA You need to relax. I'm a three hour drive from New York City, it's not like I moved to Tibet. And I appreciate you coming up here to visit and help. It shows you care.
JULIAN And that I have your back?
SHEILA (holds his arm) Yes, that too.
JULIAN Besides, we can't break up; you're the only one who laughs at my dopey jokes.
SHEILA I think now we're getting to the crux of the problem.
JULIAN And that would be?
SHEILA Your constant joking all the time. I never know when you're being serious. You don't need a girlfriend. You need an audience. I think you picked the wrong profession. Game show host might have suited you better.
JULIAN That's not fair Sheil, you know I use the humor to deal with the crap I see all day. After murder scenes and drug overdoses you want a little relief from stress when you get home.
SHEILA I'll keep that in mind if we ever do start things up again.
JULIAN Besides, you've got that sarcastic wit that I love.
SHEILA I think you have the wrong girl. That would be my sister.
JULIAN Well there's certainly something about you that attracts me.
SHEILA Well when you figure it out, you let me know. (Door opens and Kylie enters carrying a bottle of wine and three glasses)
KYLIE Look at you two, nothing I like better than a happy reconciliation. Reminiscing? Make up sex?
SHEILA That won't be happening this weekend.
JULIAN It's only Friday, let's not give up hope.
KYLIE Who's ready for some wine?
JULIAN (to Sheila) Not like you to refuse alcohol. Turning over a new leaf now that you're out in the country?
KYLIE In more ways then one.
SHEILA (slightly reprimanding) Kylie!
JULIAN Well I brought the hard stuff but maybe I'll start slow. Pour away.
KYLIE (as she starts pouring the wine) So Julian, to what do we owe the pleasure? (she glances knowingly at Sheila)
JULIAN I was just in the neighborhood. (as he also looks at Sheila)
SHEILA It's strictly a social visit.
JULIAN (to Sheila) Come on, you know you can't resist me.
SHEILA I'll practice.
KYLIE Come on Sheil, give the poor guy a break. He drove all the way out here to see you, and he brought his toolbox.
SHEILA He also brought his libido.
JULIAN (he takes wine and walks around the room looking about) Although lately I'll sadly admit I've had more luck with my toolbox, which, as it turns out is a very good thing for you two ladies. Helping fix this place could be a lifelong commitment.
SHEILA Oh, now he's talking about a commitment.
KYLIE I thought that word was foreign to most men.
JULIAN No wise cracks, I also brought my gun. (He peruses room) Just how old is this place?
SHEILA Pre-Civil War.
JULIAN (Examining outside of window) Looks it. We certainly have our work cut out for us. But first, tell me more about the drama.
KYLIE What drama would that be?
JULIAN What I heard about last night. Something you saw out the window? (he walks towards window) Is this the one?
JULIAN (examing outside of window) Interesting.
JULIAN Well there are scratch marks on the outside.
Let me see. (Sheila and Kylie walk to window and examine)
JULIAN See here. (He shows them the outside. Kylie leans through window and looks first)
KYLIE Oh yes. Look at that. (she comes back in)
SHEILA That's impossible.
SHEILA (as she leans out the window) Because I washed this window and the sill yesterday morning, inside and out and there wasn't a mark anywhere.
KYLIE Seeing is believing. (To Julian) An animal?
JULIAN I doubt it. The marks are too wide. I hate to say it …it doesn't seem rational.
SHEILA (In from window she sits on open ledge) What?
JULIAN Well I have investigated enough burglaries in my day. In my humble opinion I'd say you had a cat burglar.
KYLIE What? Are you kidding? You're saying those are scratch marks from a human hand.
JULIAN A small human hand yes. Could be a primate. But I don't think you have any monkey's running around loose up here, do you?
SHEILA Could a little boy have made them?
JULIAN I suppose, but you are on the second floor. Doesn't make sense.
SHEILA Why? This house is covered with strong wood lattice and vines. I'm sure someone could climb up. (To Kylie) We really should think about having that stuff removed and re-siding the outside you know.
KYLIE Oh really Sheila.
JULIAN They did build them to last in those days. And I suppose it easy enough to climb if one wanted to. But during the Civil War I doubt burglaries were a problem since everyone had rifles and you were likely to be shot dead before you could get through the window. Although nowadays if I wanted to gain entrance to this house this is the window I'd choose.
JULIAN This room is on the far wing of the house, separated from the other two bedrooms and the bathroom by a long hallway. The oversized window gives plenty of light.
SHEILA That's why I chose it for a studio.
JULIAN The ledge outside makes it convenient if you did want to rob the place.
SHEILA So you're saying someone could have climbed the lattice?.
JULIAN (he looks out the window again) I suppose it's possible. Why?
KYLIE She's convinced she saw a little boy running around on our lawn in the middle of a thunderstorm last night.
JULIAN What would a kid be doing outside in the rain?
SHEILA I'm telling you I know what I saw. (suddenly she falls back towards window) Julian!!! (Julian grabs her and pulls her from the window hugging her close)
KYLIE Be more careful Sheil! You lost your balance.
SHEILA (she pushes away from Julian) Lost my balance like hell. Something pushed me.
SHEILA (indignant) I'm telling you I felt something try to push me out that window.
KYLIE Okay, if you say so.
SHEILA Don't patronize me Kylie. I'm not some over dramatic school girl.
JULIAN Have a seat Sheila. Relax. Kylie didn't mean anything by it. She's just trying to understand.
KYLIE (takes Sheila's hand) Of course I am honey.
JULIAN Maybe you just got dizzy, or a draft or gust of wind hit you.
SHEILA A gust of wind from where?
KYLIE The attic perhaps. It happened before.
JULIAN (walks towards attic door) Is this the attic door?
KYLIE Right on the money detective. (Julian tries to open the attic door but it doesn't budge) Don't bother. It's locked from the inside.
JULIAN How'd that happen?
KYLIE I was bringing boxes up there yesterday. The window was open; a gust of wind came in and slammed it shut behind me just as I came back in here.
JULIAN That's understandable. An old house like this must have drafts all over (MORE)
JULIAN (CONT'D) the place. It's a wonder that more doors don't slam shut. Where's the key?
SHEILA There is no key. And all of my extra art supplies are up there.
KYLIE I'm sure there's a key. I just need to contact the realtor. If not I'll have a locksmith come up.
JULIAN I could have a whack at it. Although I'm hardly fond of old country attics.
KYLIE Really, why is that?
JULIAN Oh, it's going to sound crazy.
SHEILA I already heard the story; you might as well let Kylie in on it.
SHEILA A ghost story. Isn't that right Julian?
KYLIE Really Jules? Well let's hear it. Maybe it will top Sheila's story of the ghost boy in the meadow outside.
SHEILA (CONT'D) Not funny Kylie.
JULIAN Well, if you really want to hear it. Have a seat.
JULIAN (CONT'D) When I was a kid, I don't know, ten or twelve, I went to visit a friend of mine on Long Island. He lived in a big old house near the railroad (MORE)
JULIAN (CONT'D) tracks. I remember trying to sleep at night and you could hear the rumble of the train as it passed. Anyway, his father was pretty well off and this house was huge. They had ten children and I guess the house had at least eight bedrooms. Also had an elevator, and servants' quarters, the whole nine yards. Anyway, it was summer time and his parents and the rest of his siblings were at the family beach house. My friend, Arty was his name, used to come back from the beach every few weeks to cut the grass. So it was just me, Arty and his older sister, she had her drivers license, in this big empty house. They had a guest bedroom in the attic, that's where I was going to sleep. Eight empty bedrooms and I'm stuck in the attic. Of course before bedtime they had to tell me the story of their elderly great uncle Pete who lived in that room until he died in that very bed. How they heard footsteps up there ever since. Old 'Unc' making the rounds.
KYLIE And so did Uncle Pete show up that night?
JULIAN Well suffice it to say that I didn't get much sleep that night. Up in the attic of a huge empty house. The problem is ever since then I've had this recurring dream about that house and that attic.
KYLIE That happens. I keep dreaming about a bad relationship I had in college. So what's yours about?
JULIAN Well it's hard to say. It's strange the way dreams work. In the dream I'm approaching the front door of house. And I know I shouldn't go in there but I'm somehow drawn to it. I know strange things are going to happen once I'm in there. And I know (MORE)
JULIAN (CONT'D) that I especially shouldn't go in that attic because that's the nerve center. That's the nexus. But somehow…
SHEILA (finishing for him) You're always compelled to go up there.
JULIAN Exactly. I've told you the story before Sheil.
SHEILA I know you have. And I've told you I think it has something to do with confronting your demons. Some childhood issues left unresolved, we all have them.
KYLIE So what's up in that attic Julian? You know, in the dream?
JULIAN Old toys moving by themselves. A ventriloquist dummy walking around, telling me to come in to the back room of the attic.
KYLIE The attic has a back room?
JULIAN Yes. And in the dream I know there's something terrible in there. Something horribly evil. I move closer to the door of the room. With every step I take dreading it more.
KYLIE Fascinating? And what do you find in that room?
He doesn't know, because in the dream he never goes into that room, do you Jules? At least, that's what you've always told me.
JULIAN She's right. I never go in. I always wake up before I go in.
SHEILA Ventriloquist dummy? There you see Jules, you're repressing your need to perform on stage again. We'll just have to get you a dummy and let you cut loose.
JULIAN A lot of people find those inanimate dummies pretty frightening.
KYLIE And I'm one of them. Well I think I've been sufficiently spooked for one night. Although I would like to find out a little bit more of the history of this house. I think I'll go into the town library tomorrow and see what I can dig up.
JULIAN Sounds like a plan. Maybe Sheila would kind enough to show me the sights tomorrow, after which I'll start working on that attic door.
SHEILA And what shall I do while you're repairing the door?
KYLIE Paint, like always.
JULIAN And stay away from open windows. At least on the upper floors.
SHEILA Sure, make a joke about it.
KYLIE I'm not entirely sure he was joking. (to Julian) Were you?
JULIAN Not entirely. Maybe there is something unnatural going on in this house. Who knows? I usually deal strictly in facts but you have no idea what I've seen when I've been on criminal investigations.
SHEILA Then maybe it was fortuitous you coming up this weekend. In any event I'm getting tired and I think it's best if I do a little reading and turn in.
KYLIE No problem Sheil. I think I'll go downstairs and try to catch an old movie on T.V. Care to join me Jules?
SHEILA An old ghost story?
JULIAN Sounds great. (to Sheila) Are you sure you want to sleep in this room all alone tonight? From what you said seems to be going on I would think you'd want stay in your room. I can move in here.
KYLIE So close to the Attic Julian?
SHEILA Thank's but no thanks. I'm not about to be put out in my own house. I'll sleep where I like and if there is a ghost in here, they best steer clear. I don't scare as easily as you think. Remember, I worked for the Motor Vehicles department for two years.
JULIAN All right Sheila, be stubborn again. But at least keep the door unlocked. I'll be right down the hall if you need me.
KYLIE Come on Jules, grab the wine and let's see what's on.
JULIAN Maybe you'll play me a little tune on that piano downstairs first.
KYLIE Sure, why not. (she exits)
JULIAN (goes to exit and stands in doorway turning to Sheila) Remember, leave it open. (he exits) (Sheila crosses to table where book is. All of a sudden she holds herself as if she is cold. She crosses tentatively to the window and closes it. She returns to table, turns on small reading lamp then turns off the main light. She sits on love seat, picks up the book and starts to read. We can hear the faint sounds of Kylie and Julian singing to an old standard on the piano. The piano music fades and Sheila turns off lamp and starts to doze off on love seat. A few beats and we again hear the piano, louder this time and playing a dirge. Sheila sits up and turns on the lamp. She looks at her watch. The door to her room suddenly swings shut. She goes to open it but can't. She shouts through the door)
SHEILA Julian! Kylie! What's going on down there! It's three in the morning for Pete's sake!
( A small hand appears on the closed window then disappears. The piano music suddenly stops! (MORE)
( (CONT'D) The attic door opens slowly and Kathryne, dressed completely in black, stands in the doorway and points to the window. Sheila screams as Kathryne backs out of the room and the attic door closes.)
JULIAN (off) Sheil, are you okay? Unlock the door!
SHEILA I can't, it's stuck. Where's Kylie? I'm frightened.
KYLIE (off) I'm here honey. (Suddenly the door opens and Julian and Kylie step in. Sheila runs to hug Julian)
JULIAN It's okay. We're here now.
KYLIE (turning on main light) Calm down baby. It's over.
SHEILA (a little hysterical) Where were you two? (to Kylie) Why were you playing that dreadful song at this time of night?
KYLIE What are you talking about? That wasn't me. The piano woke me up too. I thought it was you or Julian.
JULIAN Not me. I don't play piano.
KYLIE Why were you screaming?
SHEILA (looks towards attic door) The doorway. Someone was standing there. A woman. The door swung open and a woman stood there.
JULIAN (crosses and tries to open the attic door but it doesn't budge) It's still locked tight as a drum.
SHEILA (adamant) She was there I'm telling you! What? Do you both think I'm crazy?
KYLIE Of course not hon. I heard the piano too, remember.
JULIAN You're sure this door was open and you saw something?
SHEILA Why would I lie about it?
KYLIE In your condition…. (she catches herself)
JULIAN And what condition is that?
SHEILA Nothing for you to be concerned about. I just haven't been feeling well.
JULIAN Maybe the fresh country air isn't agreeing with you. Your body is too used to New York City soot. What do you say Kyle?
KYLIE Oh no, I'm not being drawn into your little tiff with Sheil.
JULIAN There's no tiff at all, is there Sheil?
SHEILA Certainly not, and since when have you minded your business Kyle?
KYLIE And what's that supposed to mean?
SHEILA You know what I mean. Ever since mom and dad died you've been trying to run my life.
KYLIE I most certainly haven't. Unless you mean supporting you while you try to get your art career off the ground.
JULIAN Hey what's going on here? I've never known you two to squabble like this.
SHEILA Maybe your right Jules, maybe this move to the country is getting on our nerves.
KYLIE As well as other things…
JULIAN Well there's nothing we can do about it tonight. Come on let's try and get some sleep with what's left of the night. We'll have fresh heads in the morning. Kylie, why don't you let Sheila stay with you in your room tonight?
KYLIE How about it Sheil? It will be just like when we were kids at Nana's in the old country house.
SHEILA Sure, I've had enough of this room for one night.
JULIAN Yes, everything seems to be happening in this room doesn't it. I have a colleague who I used to work with on missing person cases. She's had experience in these matters. I'm going to call her in the morning and see if I can't get her up here. We're going to get to the bottom of this. (Julian and Sheila exit as Kylie lingers a moment)
KYLIE (Kylie crosses to attic door and checks to see that it is still locked. She also checks out the window to make sure it's locked. She turns off the lamp then crosses to main door.) Country living, never a dull moment. (she turns off main lights and exits. Two beats and a hand knocks three times at the window)
It is early the next evening. Stage is still dark as we hear Julian banging at lock on attic door with a hammer and screw driver. Sheila is painting as lights come up.
SHEILA Any luck Jules?
JULIAN I'm going to have to bore a hole in the lock but I didn't bring a drill. You don't happen to have one, do you?
SHEILA Heavens no. But the previous occupants left some tools in the basement. You may find one down there.
JULIAN Doesn't stand to reason that they would leave anything like that unless they were in an awful hurry to go, but I'll go take a look. (He crosses to the hall door)
SHEILA Jules wait. (she crosses to him) Can't you stay here and keep me company a little while longer. Just till Kylie gets back from town.
JULIAN Still a little nervous huh? Sure, come sit down with me. (They sit on couch) I wanted to thank you for showing me around town today.
SHEILA And I wanted to thank you for treating me to lunch.
JULIAN That was my pleasure. To bad Kylie couldn't join us. She's been gone a while, hasn't she?
SHEILA She was going to the library to do research this morning then she was stopping for some groceries.
JULIAN I hope she bought enough for four. Antoinette will be arriving in a little while. She'll probably want to stay overnight.
SHEILA Is that the psychic you mentioned?
JULIAN One and the same. Best one in New York. She's broken a number of cold cases for us. She's been written up in trade magazines. She broke one really tough case in South Carolina about twenty years ago. The LaShonda Brown case. But she's always been hesitant to talk about it. Since then police forces around the country have requested her help.
SHEILA What was the LaShonda Brown case?
JULIAN Well I'm not sure of all the details, it was a murder case down south. The Sheriff was stumped and was going to close the case. Antoinette was called in and in a few days they caught the perps.
SHEILA Well if she's that good, I'll definitely look forward to meeting her.
KYLIE (enters carrying papers) Meeting whom?
KYLIE Who's Antoinette?
SHEILA Julian's associate, the paranormal investigator he mentioned last night. She'll be arriving any minute.
KYLIE Wonderful, we can make a party of it. And after what I've found in the library, it could be quite an interesting evening.
JULIAN What have you got?
KYLIE (pulls up a chair and refers to notes) It's very interesting. It seems this house has its own ghostly legend. "The forsaken boy."
SHEILA What did I tell you? I knew I saw him. Well come on, let's hear it.
KYLIE Apparently, according to some old newspaper articles I read, what I found on the internet and the gossip that the old librarian told me, it all started during the Civil War. This house was built shortly before then. The old church across the meadow was already there for a number of years. The house was owned by a farmer who got drafted into the war. He was killed in the battle of Gettysburg (MORE)
KYLIE (CONT'D) leaving his two pre-teen daughters in the care of their stepmother, Kathryne. And according to the accounts, she was not the nicest of people.
KYLIE Well to make extra income after her husband died, she rented out the two bedrooms on the second floor to 'gentleman' boarders and moved the two girls to this room. She slept upstairs in the attic. She didn't treat her stepdaughters very well.
JULIAN And I guess child services weren't invented.
KYLIE On the contrary, it was called an orphanage. That old church across the meadow served as one during the Civil War.
KYLIE More about that later. Now here's a great tidbit Sheil. The stepmother…
SHEILA Kathryne? I'm just trying to keep the story straight.
KYLIE Yes, Kathryne was also a piano teacher. Gave lessons to the townspeople and their children. She was quite passionate about it too, and quite accomplished. (Sheila and Julian exchange glances)
SHEILA I guess that explains the three A.M. concerto. Funny though, why would a passionate musician, especially one who spends time with children, have