Uncle Fletcher Drops by at 5:30am - by Paul Rhymer

ANNOUNCER: Well sir, it's early morning as we enter the small house half-way up in the next block now, and we find Mr. and Mrs. Victor Gook upstairs in their bedroom. Vic is wrapped in deep majestic slumber, but Sade is wide awake and listening intently, having been disturbed a few moments ago by a distant hammering. Listen: [we hear someone pounding on the door in the distance.]

SADE: [after a time, softly] Vic. [after a pause, more sharply] Vic.

VIC: [sleepy unintelligible vocables]

SADE: [sharply] Wake up!

VIC: [sleepy unintelligible vocables]

SADE: Sounds like somebody's tryin' to knock our front door in.

VIC: [sleepily] What's the matter?

SADE: Listen.

RUSH: [in the distance, calls] Who is it?

VIC: [sleepily] What's the matter, Sade?

SADE: [sharply] Listen.

RUSH: [off, calling] Who is it down there?

VIC: [to Sade, sleepily] What's he yellin' about?

SADE: Somebody's on the front porch.

RUSH: [off, calls] Hey!

VIC: [to Sade] Who's on the front porch?

SADE: [irritated] I don't know.

RUSH: [off, calls] Hey, you on the porch.

VIC: [to Sade] What in thunder time is it? My gosh, a man...

SADE: [briefly] Listen.

FLETCHER: [in the distance] That you, Rush?

SADE: [to Vic] Oh, my.

RUSH: [off, amused, calls] Hello, Uncle Fletcher.

VIC: [to Sade] Uncle Fletcher?

SADE: Yeah.

VIC: [irritated] For Pete's sake.

FLETCHER: [off] Good morning, Rush.

RUSH: [off] Good morning.

FLETCHER: [off] Glorious day.

RUSH: [off] Yeah. Just a second. I'll come down an' let you in.

FLETCHER: [off] Fine.

VIC: [to Sade, irritated] What half-wit time is it?

SADE: Five-thirty.

VIC: [irritated] Holy smoke.

SADE: What on earth can he want at this time of the night?

VIC: Pop some popcorn maybe. I'm going back to sleep. I hope you'll see to it that our different relatives don't disturb me further. I...

RUSH: [in the doorway, cheerfully] Everybody wake?

SADE: Hello, sonny.

VIC: [grunts] Go ?way, sonny.

RUSH: [chuckles] Good mornin', Gov.

VIC: Unk.

RUSH: [chuckles] Hear all that racket?

SADE: Yea.

RUSH: It was Uncle Fletcher pounding on the front door. I'm going down an' let him in.

SADE: Ya suppose anything's the matter?

RUSH: [chuckles] No. I leaned out my bedroom window an' he was standin' down there screamin' what a glorious day it is.

VIC: [grouchily] How about you guys takin' your jolly conversation someplace else? At this uncivilized hour a man objects... [the hammering in the distance begins again].

SADE: [disturbed] Goodness, there he goes again.

RUSH: [hastily] I'll run down an' let him in.

SADE: Yeah.

VIC: [grouchily] Don't bring him up here.

RUSH: [moving off] O.K.

VIC: [to Sade, grouchily] Why don't he use the lamebrain doorbell?

SADE: Just Uncle Fletcher for ya. Why don't he do a lot of things other people...

VIC: [summarily] Fine, fine, fine, fine. And now if you'll excuse me I'll sink back into the arms of Morpheus. I will seal the hushed casket of my soul.

SADE: [puzzled] What in goodness name can he want at five-thirty o'clock in the morning?

VIC: [I don't know and I don't care] Um.

SADE: I was just on the edge of waking up when that pounding started. You know how you are. You're not quite awake and you're really not asleep. I got the peculiar dreamy notion I was working for the Chicago and Alton Railroad an' was down in the roundhouse with nine million locomotives chuggin' an' puffin' back an' forth an'...

VIC: I'd like to hear all about that another day, Doctor Sleetch. Do you mind terribly?

SADE: Going back to sleep?

VIC: [emphatically] I most certainly am.

SADE: Maybe you ought to wait a minute. Maybe Uncle Fletcher's got something important up his sleeve an'...

VIC: [tough] Hey, what's this now?

FLETCHER: [approaching]... my shoe box full of lunch an' some other odds and ends.

RUSH: [approaching] Yeah.

VIC: [horrified, to Sade] They're coming up here!

SADE: I can't help it, can I?

VIC: [bitterly] Ecstasy, ecstasy!

FLETCHER: [approaching] Papa and Mama both awake, are they, Rush?

RUSH: [approaching, chuckling] Mama is, I think. I don't know about Papa.

FLETCHER: [approaching] Fine.

VIC: [to Sade, bitterly] Isn't this delicious?

SADE: [little giggle] Well, goodness.

RUSH: [coming up] Here's Uncle Fletcher, people. He's leaving town in a little while.

FLETCHER: [coming up, brightly] Good morning, Sadie.

SADE: [cheerfully] Well. Good morning.

FLETCHER: Glorious day, Vic.

VIC: [without warmth] Yeah. [significantly] What time is it?

FLETCHER: Yes. I look for the thermometer to hit around eighty or so by noon.

VIC: [without warmth] That's just dandy.

SADE: [briefly, low tones] All right.

RUSH: Uncle Fletcher's taking the train for Dixon after a bit.

SADE: [with interest] Oh?

FLETCHER: [importantly] Got my shoebox full of lunch here an' a few other odds an' ends. Train pulls out of the station at six-forty-five.

SADE: How long you plan to be gone?

FLETCHER: Yes. I just made up mind last night. I told my landlady about it. I had something in my tooth an' was whittlin' a kitchen match into a toothpick there in the living room. "Mis' Keller," I said, right out of a blue sky, "I believe I'll run up to Dixon in the morning."

SADE: [cheerfully] Uh-huh.

VIC: [bitterly, low tones] Can't this happy roundtable discussion be moved downstairs?

SADE: [briefly] Don't see how.

VIC: [bitterly, low tones] It's five-thirty in the morning.

FLETCHER: Glorious day, Vic.

VIC: [fervently] Yes sir, a glorious day.

FLETCHER: Reason I stopped by, Sadie, I knew you people generally got up around this time of the morning an'...

VIC: [tough] You knew what?

SADE: [low tones, soothingly] All right, all right.

FLETCHER: ... I thought I might as well look in a minute.

SADE: Uh-huh.

VIC: We don't get up at any five-thirty in the morning.

FLETCHER: Beg pardon, Vic?

VIC: Where in the world you ever got the idea we make it a practice to get out of bed at any five-thirty o'clock in the...

SADE: [hastily] We heard you pounding on the front door, Uncle Fletcher.

FLETCHER: Fine.

RUSH: Why didn't you use the bell?

FLETCHER: Bell, Rush?

RUSH: Doorbell.

FLETCHER: Doorbell's on the blink, ain't it?

RUSH: No.

FLETCHER: I pressed it, but I never heard nothing.

RUSH: That's because you were outside. We would of heard it if you'd rung it a few more times. It rings quite loud.

FLETCHER: [agreeing] Yes. Better get it fixed.

RUSH: Um.

FLETCHER: [generously] I'll fix it one of these times.

RUSH: Um.

FLETCHER: [chuckles] I expect you wondered why I hammered on the door again after you stuck your head outa your bedroom window.

RUSH: Yeah, I did.

FLETCHER: [chuckles] Figured you'd most likely jumped back in bed.

RUSH: [little chuckle] Oh, uh-huh.

FLETCHER: [chuckles] Boys'll do that, Sadie.

SADE: Um.

FLETCHER: Wake ?em up out of a sound sleep and talk to ?em an' give ?em directions an' everything else an' the minute your back is turned they'll fall right back in bed again.

SADE: Um.

RUSH: [chuckles] I didn't do that.

FLETCHER: [chuckles] Yes. Been a boy myself. Remember Henry Fedrock, Sadie?

SADE: No-o.

FLETCHER: [somewhat surprised] He was a Belvidere fella.

SADE: Was he?

FLETCHER: Sure. Oh, wait though, maybe he was before your time.

VIC: [sourly to Rush] What you gonna do?

RUSH: Sit down on the bed.

VIC: [wearily] You're sittin' on my feet.

RUSH: Move your feet a little.

VIC: [moans piteously] Oh, my.

FLETCHER: [pleasantly] Got something in your tooth, Vic?

VIC: [sourly] No.

FLETCHER: [pleasantly] Had your face all screwed up there; it give me the notion you had something in your tooth.

VIC: [bitterly] Five-thirty in the morning.

FLETCHER: [agreeably] Yes.

VIC: [to Rush, tough] You gonna lay down?

RUSH: Why not?

VIC: Go lay down on your own bed.

RUSH: That wouldn't be very polite, would it? Here we got company and...

VIC: [tough] Ouch!

RUSH: Oh, excuse me.

FLETCHER: [to Sade, informatively] He's got something in his tooth.

SADE: Yes, must have.

FLETCHER: No, but this Henry Fedrock there in Belvidere was a good deal like Rush. Wake him up out of a sound sleep an' tell him something an' he'd agree with ya an' talk back intelligent as a horse an' the minute your back was turned he'd fall right back on the bed again.

RUSH: [chuckles] I never done that.

FLETCHER: [chuckles] Yes, you scalawag. Glad to hear you own up.

RUSH: [chuckles] Um.

FLETCHER: [to Sade] Henry Fedrock left Belvidere there in nineteen-ought-nine. He moved to Albuquerque Colorado, married a woman twenty-eight years old, went bail for his brother-in-law that skipped the country, invented a fingernail file that run by electricity, an' later died.

VIC: [to Rush, bitterly] Get off my feet.

RUSH: Move your feet a little.

VIC: [piteous moan]

SADE: [politely] How long you plan to visit in Dixon, Uncle Fletcher.

FLETCHER: Just today. Coming back tomorrow.

SADE: [polite interest] Well. [tough] Oh, Rush.

RUSH: Sorry, Mom.

SADE: Get up.

RUSH: There's room for me on the bed if you an' Gov'll move three-quarters of an inch.

SADE: [distaste] Ish.

FLETCHER: No, reason I stopped past, Sadie, I knew you people had a habit of gettin' up around this time of the morning an' I thought I'd look in a minute an' tell you my plans.

SADE: Uh-huh. Well, glad you did, but you made one little mistake. [little giggle] We don't as a rule get up this early.

FLETCHER: That's what I say. An' then on top of that I figured there's people in Dixon you an' Vic would like to have me say hello to for ya.

SADE: Uh-huh.

FLETCHER: Mrs. T.K. Hoygawper for one.

SADE: I don't guess I know anybody by that name.

FLETCHER: I'll tell her hello for ya.

SADE: All right.

FLETCHER: Wait a second. I'll jot down the different ones.

SADE: Um.

FLETCHER: Got pencil stub an' scratch paper right here on me.

SADE: Um.

FLETCHER: Mrs. T.K. Hoygawper. I'll make it a special point to tell her you wanted to be remembered to the family.

SADE: Um.

FLETCHER: [cheerfully] Here we are, a pencil stub an' scratch paper.

SADE: Um.

RUSH: [little chuckle] Gov's gone to sleep.

SADE: Has he?

RUSH: Sure. Uncle Fletcher, Gov's gone to sleep.

FLETCHER: Fine. Got something in his tooth likely. [to Sade] Now.

SADE: Um.

FLETCHER: [importantly] Mrs. T.K. Hoygawper.

SADE: [sleepily] Um.

FLETCHER: Walter Hoygawper left Dixon a year or so ago, ya know.

SADE: [sleepily] Um.

FLETCHER: Moved to Richmond, North Carolina, married a woman sixteen and three-quarters years old, bought a dry goods store an' sold it twenty minutes later at a profit of eleven dollars, grew chin-whiskers to spite his landlord and later died.

SADE: [sleepily] Um.

FLETCHER: I've got Mrs. T.K. Hoygawper wrote down here. Who else ya want me to say hello to?

SADE: [sleepily] Um.

FLETCHER: [thinks of somebody] Oh? Myrtle McAnderson.

SADE: [no comment]

FLETCHER: Myrtle McAnderson still makes the bakery goods an' sells ?em there in Dixon. Best apple pies in the world. [writes] Myrtle McAnderson. [brief pause] Now, who else ya want me to say hello to?

SADE: [no comment]

FLETCHER: Jim Fashrope?

SADE: [no comment]

FLETCHER: No, come to think of it Jim Fashrope don't live there any more. Some gives it out he moved to Tallahassee Georgia, married a woman thirty-nine years old and later died an' others give it out he moved to Fargo Minnesota, married a woman forty-nine years old an' later died. You can search me which story is true. In any case he's not in Dixon.

SADE: [no comment]

FLETCHER: [after a pause] Oh,... I bet you want me to say hello to Doctor Klackgummer.

SADE: [no comment]

FLETCHER: Sadie, shall I tell Doctor Klackgummer hello for ya?

SADE: [no comment]

FLETCHER: [after a pause, softly] Sadie? [pause] Sadie? [after a longer pause] Vic? [after another longer pause] Rush? [pause] Rush? [after a long pause, to himself] Fine. Fine.

ANNOUNCER: Which concludes another brief interlude at the small house half-way up in the next block.