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19 Nocturne Boulevard

19 Nocturne Boulevard is an award-winning anthology audio drama series that ran from 2008 through 2013, and then went into deep hibernation.

STILL working on that Comeback!!

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Jan 6, 2022

(A loose adaptation of "The Picture in the House" by H.P. Lovecraft)

Five friends get together to spook each other with stories, and Charles tells a tale of a weird encounter with a strange old man.  

Cast List
Charles - Michael Coleman (Tales of the Extraordinary)
Warren - Glen Hallstrom
Richard - Philemon Vanderbeck
Herbert - Carl Cubbedge
Edward - Bryan Hendrickson
Creepy Old Guy - J. Hoverson
Martha - Risa Torres

Music by Kevin MacLeod (
Editing and Sound:   Julie Hoverson
Cover Design:  Brett Coulstock

"What kind of a place is it?
Why it's a brownstone dinner party, can't you tell?"


THE PICTURE IN THE HOUSE (Lovecraft 5, #1)


  • Charles, a dilettante
  • Herbert, a scientist
  • Richard, a painter
  • Warren, a professor
  • Edward, the missing member, a writer
  • Scary old man
  • Martha, the cook

OLIVIA     [opening credits] Did you have any trouble finding it?  What do you mean, what kind of a place is it?  Why, it's a brownstone dinner party, can't you tell? 


1_after dinnerish



HERBERT    What's the tune?


CHARLES    It's--

RICHARD    That's one of Eric's isn’t it? 

CHARLES    No-o-o.  You know he never records.

WARREN    I must say that veal cutlet was excellent.  Positively delicious.  Compliments to your cook, Charles.

CHARLES    Excellent woman.  Don't know what I would do without her.  Been with the family for years.

HERBERT    That's the only way to get good help these days - I wish I was fortunate enough to inherit hereditary retainers.

WARREN    Any chance I can get the recipe for the cooking staff at the faculty dining hall?  We don't get veal very often, but--

CHARLES    I'll ask, but I doubt it - she's very secretive about her seasonings.  Now, Herbert, see that everyone has a good stiff drink, for--

RICHARD    Aren't we waiting on Edward?

CHARLES    [darkly]  He isn't able to join us tonight.  Don't worry - I'm quite sure he won't hold it against us.

HERBERT    Here you go.

WARREN    Cheers.  [drinks]  So, what is this story you've brought us here for, Charles?

HERBERT    Anyone for a cigar?

WARREN    Ah, certainly.

RICHARD    I won't say no.

WARREN    You promised us a tale to - I believe the phrase you used was "to make the gorge rise and the hair stand on end", wasn't it?

CHARLES    Yes.  And I know you all consider me the weakest of us all for telling a coherent tale, just because I have a tendency to let myself get distracted and lose my place, but I have a real corker for tonight.

HERBERT    Well, we're all uncorked ... now, so lets see what you can do to us.

CHARLES    All right, I won't keep you in suspense any longer.  You recall that I was away for most of last summer, traveling around the back country roads of New England, looking up genealogical records, tracing my family?

WARREN    Of course - and we all envy you, being a man of enough leisure to be able to wander off at will, instead of having to stay around for your job.

RICHARD    What do you know about jobs?  You're an academic.  That's hardly a real job.

HERBERT    Hah!  This from the artist.  Now, science - science is an all-consuming master.

CHARLES    All right.  All right.  Come on - it's my party and my story.  Don't really matter what your jobs are - you're all idiot enough to be my friends, and that's all that matters.

EVERYONE    [general laughter]

CHARLES    I don't know whether you'll believe me or not - probably not, but it's all true.

HERBERT    It won't be that easy - you're talking to a couple of hardened skeptics here.  I won't believe anything without empirical proof and Warren won't believe you 'til it's written in a book at least a hundred years old, with footnotes and cross-references.

WARREN    [snort]

RICHARD    And me?

HERBERT    Oh, you artists - who knows what you'll believe.

CHARLES    [chuckles] We'll see what you all think by the time I'm finshed.

RICHARD    Edward'll regret having missed a good story.

2_story starts

CHARLES    [darkly] We'll worry about Edward later.  [beat]  If I don't start, we'll be here til dawn, so let's have a bit of hush.  [beat]  Damn-- [forgot]

WARREN    You were cycling around the countryside.

CHARLES    Right.  And I was pedaling like mad, trying to keep in front of this wicked great thundershower, when I spotted a crumbling pile - an ancient cottage built right up into the side of a hill.  It had reached that stage of decrepitude where you're not sure whether it was built there, or just sprang up like a mushroom.

RICHARD    Very evocative.  Rounded corners, slanting walls, you can almost smell the mildew.

CHARLES    May I continue?

WARREN    You didn't happen to have a camera with you on your sojourn, did you?

CHARLES    I wasn't sightseeing.  Never been any good with one of them contraptions anyway.  [sigh] 

RICHARD    [prompting] The house.

CHARLES    Right, so since it was the only structure - and I use the term very lightly - that I'd seen in hours and hours, I decided that forbidding as it looked, the clouds rolling in were worse.  I was already feeling the rain, and the lightning kept striking closer and closer.


EVERYONE    [gasps]

WARREN    Well!  That was timely.

HERBERT    Now how did you manage that?

CHARLES    Sheer luck.  Although the weather report did--

RICHARD    Ah, so you haven't been looking through any of those old grimoires Warren has charge of?

WARREN    Oh, stop.

CHARLES    Where was I?

WARREN    Perhaps you should keep some notes - I find note cards work quite adequately for me when I'm called upon to give a lecture.

CHARLES    [sigh] I went into the house.  I knocked first - I certainly didn't want to meet an angry homeowner with a shotgun in my face.  But since there was no answer, I figured it might be abandoned.  And the rain was starting to come down like rods.


EVERYONE    [mild chuckles]

CHARLES    [full-on storytelling mode] Inside was a little vestibule with walls from which the plaster was falling, and through the doorway came a faint but peculiarly hateful odor.  I entered, leaned my cycle against the wall, and crossed into a small, dim chamber, furnished in the barest and most primitive possible way.  It appeared to be a kind of sitting-room, for it had a table and several chairs - and an immense fireplace above which ticked an antique clock on a mantel. Books and papers were very few, and in the prevailing gloom I could not readily discern the titles.  Now, in all the room I could not discover a single article of definitely post-revolutionary date!  Had the furnishings been less humble, the place would have been a collector's paradise.

3_music changes


WARREN    You didn't look at the books at all?  Pity.

CHARLES    You enthusiasts - always gallivanting ahead.  [dry chuckle] The first object of my curiosity was a book.  It lay open upon the table, presenting such an antediluvian aspect that I marveled at beholding it outside a museum or libary.  Bound in leather with metal fittings, it was in an excellent state of preservation - altogether an unusual sort of volume to encounter in an abode so lowly.

WARREN    [eager] And the title?

CHARLES    Hold your damn hosses.  When I opened it to the title page my wonder grew even greater, for it proved to be nothing less rare than... [beat, dragging out the suspense]

WARREN    Ye-e-e-es?

CHARLES    Pigafetta's account of the Congo region, written in Latin from the notes of the sailor Lopex and printed at Frankfurt in 1598.

WARREN    [awed!] There's only 12 known copies extant.

RICHARD    And you know that off the top of your head?  Oh, Warren.  You need a wife... or at the very least a bad habit.

WARREN    Ssh.  The book?

CHARLES    The engravings were indeed interesting, drawn wholly from imagination and careless descriptions - it even represented natives with Caucasian features.  Nor would I soon have closed the book had not an exceedingly trivial circumstance upset my tired nerves and revived my sensation of disquiet.


HERBERT    I think I need another drink.  Anyone? 


CHARLES     Go on ahead. 

WARREN    [jumping in] The book?

CHARLES    [exasperated sigh] What annoyed me was merely the persistent way in which the volume tended to fall open of itself at Plate twelve, which represented in gruesome detail a butcher's shop of the cannibal Anziques.

WARREN    Anziques?  They were wiped off the face of the Congo in the seventeenth century, I believe?

HERBERT    Were you aware that cannibalism was nowhere near as widespread as so-called history tells us?

WARREN    That is a debatable point--

HERBERT    No, no, really - One of the easiest rallying cries to convince your followers to annihilate or enslave another culture was to accuse them of anthropophagy.

CHARLES    Fascinating as this is, save it for your own dinner party, Herbert.  What you find so very engaging, I found exceedingly grotesque - to my own shame.  The drawing disturbed me, especially in connection with some adjacent passages descriptive of Anzique gastronomy.

HERBERT    What did it say?

CHARLES    [annoyed] It's hardly important.  I've worked hard to forget it.  [calm] Anyway, I was examining the rest of the meagre libary - an eighteenth century Bible, a "Pilgrim's Progress" of like period, the rotting bulk of Cotton Mather's "Magnalia Christi Americana," and a few other books of evidently equal age - when my attention was aroused by the unmistakable sound of walking in the room overhead.



EVERYONE    [gasps]

MARTHA    I'm so sorry sir, I thought you'd all be done by now - I was gonna clean up.  I'll just - I'll just get to it in the morning.

CHARLES    Yes, yes of course Martha.  Have a good night.


RICHARD    You set her up to do that.

CHARLES    [not quite convincing]  Of course not.  Heaven forbid.  [a bit smug] That'd be such an entirely transparent ruse. 

RICHARD    Perhaps you should be writing these sorts of thrillers, rather than Edward.

WARREN    Did he say why he missed coming out tonight?

CHARLES    [exasperated sigh]  He dropped by earlier for a moment, but he didn't have much to say.  If I may continue?

WARREN    I, at least, am interested.

CHARLES    Thank you very much.  I concluded that the occupant had just awakened from a sound sleep, and listened with less surprise as the footsteps sounded on the creaking stairs.  Then, after a moment of silence during which the walker may have been inspecting my bicycle, I heard a fumbling at the door latch and saw the paneled portal swing open again.


EVERYONE    [chuckles]

CHARLES    In the doorway stood a person of such singular appearance that I might have exclaimed aloud - but for the restraints of good breeding.  Old, white-bearded, and ragged, his height could not have been less than six feet, and despite a general air of age and poverty he was stout and powerful in proportion.  His face, almost hidden by a long beard which grew high on the cheeks, seemed abnormally ruddy and less wrinkled than one might expect; while over a high forehead fell a shock of white hair little thinned by the years.  His blue eyes, though a trifle bloodshot, seemed inexplicably keen and burning.  But for his horrible unkemptness the man would have been as distinguished-looking as he was impressive.

WARREN    Unkemptness?

HERBERT    I expect the word he should be using - but for the restraints of good breeding - is odoriferous?

RICHARD    A-yuh. - the elderly...

CHARLES    Yes, yes.  

WARREN    Well, Charles, you're halfway to your goal - that alone very nearly brought up my dinner. 

CHARLES     It wasn't just the house that suffered from... damp and mildew.  Shall we leave it at that? 


5_old man speaks



CHARLES    [fading into flashback] The appearance of this man, and the instinctive fear he inspired, prepared me for something like enmity; so that I almost shuddered through surprise and a sense of uncanny incongruity when he motioned me to a chair and addressed me in a thin, weak voice full of fawning respect and ingratiating hospitality.

OLD GUY    Catched in the rain, be ye?  Glad ye was nigh the house an' had the sense t' come right in.  I calculate I was asleep, else I'd a heard ye - I ain't as young as I used to be, an' I need a powerful sight o' naps nowadays.

WARREN    [breaking] He truly sounded like that?  That's quite an extreme form of archaic Yankee dialect.  I'd thought anything like that dead and gone long years back.

HERBERT    There are strange holdouts in little pocket communities all over the back woods.

CHARLES    I apologized for my rude entry into his domicile, and--

OLD GUY    Travelling far?  I hain't seen many folks 'long this road since they took off the Arkham stage.

CHARLES    I replied that I was going to Arkham, whereupon he continued.

OLD GUY    Glad t' see ye, young Sir - new faces is scarce around here, an' I hain't got much t' cheer me up these days. Guess you hail from Boston, don't ye? I never been there, but I can tell a town man when I see 'im - we had one for district schoolmaster in 'eighty-four, but he quit sudden an' no one never heared on 'im since -

CHARLES    Here the old man lapsed into a kind of chuckle, and made no explanation when I questioned him.  For some time he rambled on, when it struck me to ask him how he came by so rare a book as Pigafetta's "Regnum Congo."

OLD GUY    Oh, that Afriky book? Cap'n Ebenezer Holt traded me that in 'sixty-eight - him as was killed in the war.

CHARLES    Now, Ebenezer Holt was a name I had encountered in my genealogical work, but not in any record since the Revolution. I speculated that my host could help me in the task at which I was laboring.

OLD GUY    Ebenezer was on a Salem merchantman for years, an' picked up a sight o' queer stuff in every port. He got this in London, I guess - he used to like to buy things at the shops. I was up t' his house once, on the hill, trading horses, when I see this book. I relished the pictures, so he give it in on a swap. 'Tis a queer book - here, leave me get on my spectacles-

HERBERT    Spectacles.  Quite terrifying.  A smelly old man in cheaters.  Funny I somehow recall you promising a tale that would set all our hair on end.

WARREN    I, for one, am fascinated.  Your recall of his accent is quite impressive.  Is he, do you know - despite being as old as you describe - is he still among the living?

CHARLES    I am quite certain of the contrary.

WARREN    Pity. 

6_more drinks

RICHARD    More drinks?

CHARLES    Perhaps one more round.  And yes, I am about to get to the meat of the matter, so to speak, if you can hold on for a bit longer, Herbert.

HERBERT    Very well.  Patience is a virtue more useful to scientists than many.  I'm putting on my listening face.

CHARLES    Good.  The old man donned his glasses, then reached for the volume on the table and turned the pages lovingly.

OLD GUY    Ebenezer could read a little o' this - 'tis Latin - but I can't.  I had two or three schoolmasters read me a bit, and Parson Clark, him they say got drownded in the pond - can you make anything out on it?

CHARLES     I told him that I could, and translated for his benefit a paragraph near the beginning. If I erred, he was not scholar enough to correct me; for he seemed childishly pleased at my English version. His proximity was becoming rather obnoxious--

HERBERT    Simple hygiene was one of the most important scientific and medical discoveries of the--

CHARLES    [overriding] --yet I saw no way to escape without offending him. I was amused at the childish fondness of this ignorant old man for the pictures in a book he could not read, and wondered how much better he could read the few books in English which adorned the room. This revelation of simplicity removed much of the ill-defined apprehension I had felt, and I smiled as my host rambled on:

OLD GUY    Queer how pictures kin set a body thinkin'. Take this one here near the front.  Have you ever seen trees like that, with big leaves a floppin' over an' down?  Some o' these here critters looks like monkeys, or half monkeys an' half men, but I never heared o' nothin' like this un.

CHARLES    Here he pointed to a fabulous creature of the artist, which one might describe as a sort of dragon with the head of an alligator.

RICHARD    I've seen things like that myself in mediaeval and renaissance art.  To my recollection Bosch painted some, and there's at least one or two in the woodcuts of Breughel.

OLD GUY    But now I'll show ye the best un - over here nigh the middle - [getting excited]  What d'ye think o' this - ain't never seen the like hereabouts, eh? When I see this I telled Eb Holt, 'That's somethin' to stir ye up an' make your blood tickle.'

RICHARD    Was this still the cut of the lizard man thing?

CHARLES    No, [heavy import] he'd just let the book fall open where it would--

OLD GUY    When I read in Scripture about slayin' - like them Midianites was slew - I kinder think things, but I ain't got no picture of it.  Here a body can see all they is to it - I s'pose 'tis sinful, but ain't we all born an' livin' in sin?

WARREN    Ahhh - the same picture that put the chills up you?

CHARLES    Well, he obviously didn't feel the same way about it--

OLD GUY    That feller bein' chopped up gives me a tickle every time I look at 'im - I have to keep lookin' at 'im - see where the butcher cut off his feet?  There's his head on that bench, with one arm side of it, an' t' other arm's on the other side o' the meat block.

CHARLES    As the man mumbled on in his shocking ecstasy the expression on his hairy, spectacled face became indescribable, but his voice sank rather than mounted.  He was almost whispering now, with a huskiness more terrible than a scream.

OLD GUY    As I says, 'tis queer how pictures sets ye thinkin'. Do ye know, young Sir, I'm right sot on this one here. After I got the book off Eb I used to look at it a lot, especial when I'd heared Parson Clark rant o' Sundays in his big wig.

WARREN    [realizing what the word is] Oh, "Parson"!

RICHARD    Oh!  I thought that was his name!

WARREN    No, it was the reference to the wig that--

CHARLES    Tell him later. 

WARREN    I'll never remember--

CHARLES    Perhaps you should keep some note cards.

OLD GUY    Once I tried somethin' funny - here, young Sir, don't get skeert [scared] - all I done was to look at the picture afore I killed the sheep for market - killin' sheep was kind of more fun after lookin' at it -

CHARLES    The tone of the old man now sank very low, sometimes becoming so faint that his words were hardly audible.

7_killing sheep


CHARLES    I listened to the rain, and to the rattling of the bleared, small-paned windows, and marked a rumbling of approaching thunder quite unusual for the season.

OLD MAN    Killin' sheep was kind of more fun - but d'ye know, 't wasn't quite satisfyin'. Queer how a cravin' gets a hold of ye - As ye love the Almighty, young man, don't tell nobody, but I swear to God that picture begun to make me hungry for victuals I couldn't raise nor buy - here, set still, what's ailin' ye? - I didn't do nothin', only I wondered how 't would be if I did - They say meat makes blood an' flesh, an' gives ye new life, so I wondered if 't wouldn't make a man live longer an' longer if 't was more o' the same -

CHARLES    But the whisperer never continued. The interruption was not produced by my fright, nor by the rapidly increasing storm. It was produced by a very simple, though somewhat unusual, happening.

CHARLES    The open book lay flat between us, with the picture staring repulsively upward. As the old man whispered the words--

OLD GUY    more o' the same

CHARLES     --a tiny splattering impact was heard, and something showed on the yellowed paper of the upturned volume.


CHARLES    Oh, heavens!

RICHARD    That's why Edward is absent, is it?  I know he's quite the fellow for phobias and superstitions - maybe he has to stay in to avoid the lightning?

HERBERT    No - storms have never been on his list - not that he's ever told me.  Anything underground, foreigners, the fair sex, getting lost, and cold drafts - those he will go on and on about avoiding, but never storms. 

WARREN    Not that I've heard, either.  But I can add illness, the clear night sky, and heredity to things which make him uneasy.

CHARLES    [heavy sigh] I'm almost finished, then you three can gossip on like old biddies all you want.  [storytelling] The drip.  I thought of the rain and of a leaky roof, but rain is not red.  On the butcher's shop of the Anzique cannibals, a small red spattering glistened picturesquely, lending vividness to the horror of the engraving.  


CHARLES    The old man saw it, and stopped whispering even before my expression of horror made it necessary; saw it and glanced quickly toward the floor of the room he had left an hour before. I followed his glance, and beheld just above us on the loose plaster of the ancient ceiling a large irregular spot of wet crimson which seemed to spread even as I viewed it. For a moment I couldn't even move, Then a thunderclap broke me out of my hypnotic stare and I realized just what a fix I was in.

RICHARD    How did you manage to get away?

CHARLES    Oh, so now I have your attention.  Well, it was simple really - I told the authorities later that lightning had struck the house, and I barely escaped with my life, but really--

HERBERT    Lightning?  Ridiculous.  Not that it wouldn't strike a house, but--

CHARLES    BUT - What happened was, I tipped over his lamp, sending burning oil everywhere.  Then I dashed past and out the building, while the old man screamed and wailed behind me.

WARREN    Angry at you, was he?

CHARLES    [very dry] Well he was on fire. 

RICHARD    And the blood?

CHARLES    For all that, I wasn't curious enough to go back and look.  Even left my bicycle behind, and had to go shanks mare [on foot] - and through the tail end of the storm, mind you.

WARREN    Well, that was an interesting--


CHARLES     Hold on, now.  That's mostly the end of the story, but that crazy old man set me t'thinking ... [trails off]

RICHARD    [mildly curious] Yes?

CHARLES    Well, I recalled pretty clearly the names he'd mentioned as people he knew back in the day, and when I looked them up in historical records - a couple of them being rather famous, at least locally - and they'd all been dead for at least 50 years.

WARREN    He must have been telling you something told him by his father or grandfather - older folks, particularly those in isolated country settings, are often a bit delusional.

RICHARD    How old do you think he was?

CHARLES    He looked to be about 70, allowing for wind and weather and poverty--

RICHARD    And unkemptness--

WARREN    Yes, yes...

CHARLES    --but he was also hale and hearty and strong and .... plump.

RICHARD    But you can't think that--

CHARLES    So I started to look into the whole theory.  It was really those last words--

OLD GUY    [echoey] More o'the same...

CHARLES     --that made me wonder.  So I find out there's an old Indian myth from a ways up north--

WARREN    The Wendigo?  But that's strictly a cautionary tale.  Ethnologists agree on that.

HERBERT    The windy-what?

WARREN    May I?

CHARLES    [sigh] Certainly.

WARREN    [lecturing] The Wendigo, also known as the Windeego, the windikkuk, or the whittikow, is a myth from the various Ojibwa-speaking Indian nations of Canada.  We assume it is a cautionary myth about the evils and perils of resorting to cannibalism during times of famine, particularly during the frozen winter months, which is why the wendigo is inextricably linked with cold and snow.

HERBERT    Lovely.  But like scholars everywhere, you left out the best part - what precisely is the myth?

WARREN    Oh!  [chuckles]  True, the background is often closer to the academic's heart--

RICHARD    I know the story.  And I won't bore Herbert with the ethnological derivations.

WARREN    Go on, then.

RICHARD    [spooky]  It is said that the windigo is the spirit of winter, howling always just outside the camps of the people, calling to them to break the taboos and let it in.  For when a man eats the flesh of another man, the spirit of the wendigo can enter him, and turn him into a ravening monster - never satisfied with lesser flesh ever again.  For the wendigo is hunger, endless hunger, and the more it eats, the greater its hunger grows.  So if you're ever in a snowstorm and see a man-like shape, thin and gaunt, and missing the tips of its fingers and its lips - for if it can't find other prey, it will devour its own extremities - you'd best run.  Fast.

SOUND    [silent moment, then] LIGHT GOLF CLAP

CHARLES     Nicely told. 

RICHARD    I really could have used a thunderclap there somewhere.  How do you get so lucky?

HERBERT    But your old man, who seems to have indulged himself in cannibalism - or at least, that appeared to be the point of your tale, was ruddy and healthy and stout.  Hmm.  Sounds more like Stoker's description of Count Dracula after a good biting.

CHARLES    Interesting point.  I must admit I hadn't made that connection.  I suppose it's not that far a leap from drinking someone's blood to eating their flesh.

HERBERT    Wine and wafers.

WARREN    No!  I am not going to waste time indulging you in another anti-religious diatribe, Herbert.  We all know where you stand on that.

CHARLES    Let's get back to my yarn.

RICHARD    There's more?  I thought you'd quite finished?

CHARLES    Just a bit to go yet.  There is another myth of the windigo, by the by, though it may be merely a literary creation of Algernon Blackwood.  He wrote of a windigo unrelated to the eating of human flesh--

HERBERT    Anthropophagy.


HERBERT    Sorry.  Anthropophagy is the eating of human flesh.  Cannibalism is the eating of human flesh by a fellow human.  There's quite a difference.


CHARLES    [sigh] Blackwood wrote of the windigo as a huge lonely entity living in the north woods, which calls the names of hunters in the night to lure them away from their campfires.  And one sight of it could drive a man mad.

WARREN    Blackwood probably did a bit of bowdlerizing on the original myth - he heard a good story and felt that the cannibalism angle would make it less worthy of publication. 

HERBERT    Yes.  Edward has often spoken of his difficulties in getting some of his more gruesome tales into print.  Surprising how old-maid-ish some of these vaunted editors can be.

RICHARD    He's not the only one.  Why some of my paintings have been shunned and I've had to remove them from view for fear of having them burned!

HERBERT    It makes you wonder what people fear more, the mere act of being shown the horrible, or the person who shows it to them.

CHARLES    Enough digression.  As I said, the old man made me wonder.  Made me curious what other tales there were of cannibalism.  After what I discovered, about various religious and cultural activities from around the world, I felt certain the windigo tale wasn't to be taken literally, but as a cautionary tale, created to warn people off from antisocial behavior--

RICHARD    Like Struwwelpeter?  You know, the children's book that warns good little children not to suck their thumbs or the scissor man will come and lop them off?

CHARLES    Essentially.  In fact that's a very good example - teaching through use of extreme grotesquerie.  You can't say to a child "leave off sucking that thumb or you'll have pruney thumb in the morning", they just won't take it very seriously, so we invent extremes.  Go off the path and grandma will get eaten by a wolf.  Eat another person and you will turn into a ravening monster.

HERBERT    I seem to remember struwwelpeter - it had some horrific illustrations, didn't it?  Particularly for children.

CHARLES    I realize I can't possibly hold your interest much longer, but there is a bit more, if you will pay me the courtesy--  [beat] Right.  Well I found that in most cultures - disregarding the various incidents of cannibalism for survival, such as during wars and famines--


WARREN    Like the sinking of the Medusa?

CHARLES    What?

WARREN    Sorry.  Nothing.  Pray continue.

CHARLES    Disregarding eating for survival, there was a pervasive belief that eating parts of one's conquered enemies - human or otherwise - would grant the eater some of the strength of the fallen one.  Many hunters ate the hearts of their prey for this very reason.  Hearts being the seat of bravery in many ancient cultures.

RICHARD    The seat of bravery or romantic attachment - how sad it is now relegated to merely the centerpiece for the circulatory system.

CHARLES    So they would devour other humans for their strength. Now putting this together with the old man's tale, and his necessary age, if indeed he'd met half the people he mentioned in passing--

HERBERT    And devoured them.


HERBERT    I was thinking back on your tale - if you repeated his words and intonations correctly, and always assuming your cannibalism slant is the true one - then he probably et most of the people he referred to - like "him as they say drowned in the pond".

CHARLES    Hmm... [unconvincing] Never really thought much on it.

WARREN    Of course you did.  Now you have me interested again.

CHARLES    Well, assuming he must have been a couple decades past a hundred when we spoke - at least - then the eating of human flesh had to have had the restorative properties he claimed it did.  Gaining strength from the fallen.  O'course there was always still the threat of the windigo, but I had ruled that out after all the extensive tales of cannibalism due to need in other quarters of the globe, and none of those folks gone crazy, running around eating their own lips.

WARREN    [Muttered] The crew of the Medusa went mad.

CHARLES    You're not going to let it go, are you?  Fine.  Tell us about the Medusa, but be quick, would you?

WARREN    The medusa was a sailing ship heading for the cape of good hope which through poor management was run aground on a sand bar.  Everyone abandoned ship, and the sailors were lost on a raft for weeks.  By the time they were found, they'd resorted to cannibalism and gone mad, not necessarily in that order.

RICHARD    I recall the painting in the Louvre - it's massive.  The pathos.  It seemed to imply they were within sight of land the entire time.

WARREN    Well, paintings.  They're really more interested in the tragic story than the facts.

CHARLES    And they went mad, eh?

WARREN    Yes.  You see how it is more universal than you think?

CHARLES    They went mad after eating each other.

WARREN    Yes.

CHARLES    --and being out on the open ocean, possibly within sight of land, for weeks, with no fresh water, in the blistering heat somewhere near the cape of good hope had nothing to do with it.

HERBERT    And they started out French.

WARREN    Well, when you put it that way--

A2_wrap up

CHARLES    [snort] Well, as a final touch to my collection of cannibalistic stories, I did find one rather interesting description of human flesh - the taste and texture of it - written by a connoisseur who had tried some, that said it was much like a good veal - not so tough as beef, nor stringy.

RICHARD    I expect that if your cook got ahold of some, it would taste just as good as the veal tonight.

CHARLES    Yes.  [with import]  Very likely.

HERBERT    Did the description say there was any way to tell the difference?

CHARLES    Not if it was cut and prepared right.  Oh, if you found a finger in your stew, you would probably suspect something, but a chop is a chop.  And a roast is a roast.

WARREN    [gulp] Where did Edward say he was tonight?

CHARLES    He didn't.  You going mad yet? 

HERBERT    [interested, not freaked]  You mean, you tricked us into--?

WARREN    [trying not to vomit]  Edward!  But he was -- your-- our friend!

CHARLES    Still is.  He'll be with us always.

RICHARD    [horrified and fascinated]  How did you - do it?

CHARLES    Well, I wouldn't let him suffer, would I?  After all, he was a friend.

WARREN    I can't --



EDWARD    [laughing] The look on your face! 

WARREN    [long painful gasp] Edward!

EDWARD    I never knew you cared.

WARREN    [faints] ahh!


HERBERT    These academics.  Not enough exercise, too much theory.

RICHARD    So the cutlet?

CHARLES    Veal, o'course, you ninnies.  I only promised you a story to make your gorge rise and your hair stand on end.  Besides.  Martha'd'a never put up with me pulling a stunt like that in her kitchen.