The Comeback

CAST:
LOCHI, a prison guard
KATHI, a prison guard
SAMSON
DELILAH
CROWD
______________________________________

FIRST SCENE 

[NARRATOR] The prison-house in GAZA. On the stone floor a sightless man, bound 
to a great wheel, moves round and round, grinding the grain in hopeless, 
dreary labour. His head is bent low, his face spiritless, his great shoulders 
droop. On and on, round and round. Like a blind animal. Watching him are two 
young soldiers; and from time to time, when the prisoner pauses to rest, a 
spear touches his leg to prod him on again.
 
LOCHI: Come on, keep moving! We don't feed you so's you can loaf.

[The laboured groan of SAMSON is heard.]

KATHI: Aw, let him alone; let him rest a bit. Put your spear down. How would 
you like to be walking round and round, chained to the end of that pole? 

LOCHI: Never mind how I'd feel; I'm not doing it and the Captain told us to 
keep him moving. Come on, big boy; keep that wheel moving, 'n don't make so 
much noise!

KATHI: Look at the brass chains he's got to drag round.
 
LOCHI: I didn't put 'em there. That's his hard luck.

KATHI: Say, Lochi, have you noticed -- he's changed the last month.
   
LOCHI: Yea. There's no fight in him. When he first come here, he'd lunge on 
them chains and try to break 'em, and try to snap the grinding pole. Now he 
rests against it.
 
KATHI: It's getting to him. 

LOCHI: It's got him; he's licked.
  
KATHI: A month shoving that wheel 'ud lick anybody.
  
LOCHI [loud]: Come on! Keep moving!
 
SAMSON [off]: All right; all right.

LOCHI [loud]: Come on, Samson, can't you give me no argument at all? [He gives 
a coarse, noisy laugh.] No argument at all. A month ago he'd a cursed for an 
hour. He's licked.
  
KATHI: Just the same he must'a been good once. He's still got a nice pair of 
shoulders.
   
LOCHI: Aw, they tell you how good he was, but how do we know? 

KATHI: He was a bad boy.
 
LOCHI: How do we know? We never seen him fight.
 
KATHI: He had a wicked right hand, now I'll tell you! And there was something 
in that left, too. 

LOCHI: He's getting fat.

KATHI: Aw, give him a chance to get off that wheel and he'd get in shape to 
put up a battle.
 
LOCHI: They never come back. [Louder.] Hey, Samson, they say you was some 
fighter. How about it? [Pause.] See, he don't even curse me. 

KATHI: I wonder what happened to lick him so good.
 
LOCHI: Ain't you heard, you round here all these weeks?
 
KATHI: Oh, I heard about the woman he was keeping company with; what was her 
name? 

LOCHI: Delilah.

KATHI: Sure, that was it. I've heard him curse her down in the pen o' nights, 
till it made your flesh creep, there was so much murder in his voice.
 
LOCHI: He don't do it any more. That wheel licks everything out of a man; even 
hate.

KATHI: Without that woman they never would'a got him.
 
LOCHI: Then why didn't he have sense enough to stay away from her? 

KATHI: They never have. If they did, they wouldn't go down so far they 
couldn't come back. 

LOCHI: Hey, look!

KATHI: Who is it, the Cap'n? 

LOCHI: No, it's a woman.

KATHI: Say, I've seen her before. She's been hanging round this place for the 
last week or so. 

LOCHI: Shall we see what she wants? 

KATHI: That sounds agreeable. All right, Samson, keep moving. ... Come on, 
Lochi. Look, she's waiting for us, like she wanted to say something. 

LOCHI: Kinda good looking, huh?

KATHI: Not bad. No, look. She's kinda old looking; her hair's getting grey.
   
LOCHI: Aw, don't be too fussy. You stay here and let me talk to her.
   
KATHI: Look, she's moving away. You'd better go now, if you're going to catch 
her.
   
LOCHI: Yea. [Loud.] Hey! Wait a minute. Who are you looking for? Well, don't 
be scared! Can't you talk, sister?

DELILAH: You're the guard?

LOCHI: Sure I'm the guard, but I'm not on guard much longer.
 
DELILAH: Can I see your prisoner?

LOCHI: He's nothing much to look at. And it's against the rules, anyway. 

DELILAH: I'll pay you--well. 

LOCHI: Friend o' his?

DELILAH: Yes. I was a friend of his. 

LOCHI: You mean you want to go in and talk to him?

DELILAH: Yes.
  
LOCHI: Well--let's see. ... If you get caught, I get in trouble, see? You 
better not.
 
DELILAH: I said I would pay you.
 
LOCHI: How much?

DELILAH: This handful of gold.

LOCHI: All that. Wait a minute. Let's have it. Now, don't say anything to that 
other fellow over there. I'll fix it up with him. Come in ... it's against the 
rules, but I'm a pretty good fella. Kathi, this lady is going to see the 
prisoner just for a minute.
 
KATHI: Say, Lochi! Nothing doing! We'll get in trouble.
 
LOCHI: I tell you it's all right. It's all fixed up. Stay where you are, and 
watch out for the Cap. Come on, lady. Down this way. 

DELILAH: How dark it is.
 
LOCHI: Your friend don't mind. He can't see nothing, anyway.
   
DELILAH: Oh!

LOCHI: Excuse me; I didn't mean to bring that up. You'll find him right 
through there. ... No, perhaps I'd better go in with you.

DELILAH: Can't I see him alone? 

LOCHI: Well--all right. Make it fast. Come out when I knock.
 
DELILAH: Through this door?
 
LOCHI: Yea; turn to the right when you come to the end of that corridor. [He 
begins to fade, for the mike is with DELILAH.] That's it. Now, to the right.

[A pause. Then SAMSON's laboured groan is heard, as he pushes the great wheel 
round and round.]
 
DELILAH: Samson.
 
SAMSON: Well, who is it?
 
DELILAH: Don't you know my voice?

SAMSON: I have reason to remember it. 

DELILAH: Perhaps you wonder why I've come?

SAMSON: To see your handiwork, eh? Well, you did your work well. You earned 
your money when you sold me to the Philistines.
   
DELILAH [faltering]: I didn't know you were chained like this--

SAMSON [getting angry]: Don't waste your pity on me! [Voice closer; his chains 
rattle.] Get out of here! 

DELILAH: Oh, your face! Your eyes! What have they done to you!
 
SAMSON: They burned them out with red-hot iron. 

DELILAH: Oh, forgive me, forgive me!

SAMSON: Ha! How I would like to get my hands on that white throat of yours, my 
false lovely one, my beautiful betrayer! Aaaagh! [He lunges at her.] 

DELILAH: Oh!

SAMSON: Well, don't worry. I can't break these chains. You're safe. Besides, I 
don't think I'd harm you, anyway. I don't care enough; I don't care about 
anything any longer. This wheel has done its job marvellously well. Ha! I 
suppose you think it's grain that I'm grinding between those stones? Well, 
you're wrong. It's my soul.
 
DELILAH: I knew you would be bitter. 

SAMSON: What brought you here; curiosity? Whatever it was, get out! 

DELILAH: Samson, I came to tell you something that--that may be a little 
satisfaction to you, after all the misery I've brought you.

SAMSON: Go, and let me grind my wheel! 

DELILAH: No, I've got to tell you. You can't see me now, Samson--
 
SAMSON: God be praised!

DELILAH: If you could, you'd be happy.
 
SAMSON: Happy to see that false beautiful face of yours?
 
DELILAH: You wouldn't know me, Samson; I, too, have changed.
 
SAMSON: Are you wearing mourning weeds for me, my sweet?
 
DELILAH: You remember how black my hair was once?
 
SAMSON: Yes, jet black--black as your heart.
 
DELILAH: It's not black, now; it's turned grey.
 
SAMSON: Ah?
 
DELILAH: And my eyes are heavy, and there are wrinkles about them.
 
SAMSON: Well, my eyes are not as bright as they were once!
 
DELILAH: Samson, men no longer turn to look at me when I pass. I've grown thin 
and old.
 
SAMSON: Then there is some justice in heaven! Ha! Ha!

DELILAH: Yes, the scales are balanced, now. My youth for your strength, your 
eyes for my beauty. 

SAMSON: You call that a fair bargain? 

DELILAH: We both lost all we had. You more than I; but at least I, too, have 
suffered.

SAMSON: Imagine you feeling anything deeply enough to wrinkle that smooth 
white cheek of yours! Or to dull the fires of vanity and passion in your eyes! 
Take your parcel of lies, and go! 

DELILAH: You won't believe me!

SAMSON: I believed you once--to my sorrow. Fagh! I can see you standing there 
in perfumed silks, with a lover waiting for you outside, doing this good deed, 
salving your miserable little conscience! I don't want you here!

[A knock.]

LOCHI [outside]: Hey, lady! [In.] The Cap'n's coming. Make it fast. This door 
here. Don't let him see you. All right. Well, Samson, a little company, eh? 

SAMSON: Yes.
  
LOCHI: Get to work; don't be loafing when the Cap'n comes.

SAMSON: You're a good lad, tell me something. 

LOCHI: Well, make it fast.

SAMSON: Did that woman come here alone?

LOCHI: Sure.
  
SAMSON: There was no one waiting for her outside?
   
LOCHI: Not that I seen. Hey, Samson, she a good friend o' yours?
   
SAMSON: She was a friend of mine. Tell me, is she still very beautiful?
   
LOCHI: Beautiful? Well, I don't want to get personal--

SAMSON: False and beautiful?
   
LOCHI: False, eh? They're all that. But beautiful--well, maybe in her day. 

SAMSON: In her day! 

LOCHI: Hey, Samson, get wise to yourself, you been in here a long time. And 
your lady friend is getting along in years like yourself. Grey hair, you know, 
don't help any--and wrinkles--

SAMSON: I can't believe she is old.
   
LOCHI: Listen, big fella, she's a has-been, like you; and they never come 
back, Samson; they never come back. Get to work; here's the Cap'n. 

CAPTAIN: Good-morning, Corporal. I see you keep him working. That's right. 
Anything unusual this morning.
 
LOCHI: Not a thing, Cap'n. Not a thing.

______________________________________
 
SECOND SCENE
 
[NARRATOR] Several days later, toward evening; the place, by the prison gate. 
LOCHI, the young soldier, lolls on a bench; in a moment the prison door opens 
and his companion, KATHI, comes out--
 
KATHI: Hey, Lochi--

LOCHI: What's on your mind?
 
KATHI: Have you been down looking at Samson, lately?
 
LOCHI: No, that's your job this evening. 

KATHI: Well, I can't do anything with him. He won't work.
 
LOCHI: Aw, give him a couple'a digs in the leg. 

KATHI: I did. He don't pay no attention. He's just leaning there against his 
wheel like he was dead. 

LOCHI: Well, they'll wake him up tonight.
 
KATHI: Who?

LOCHI: Haven't you heard? The boys are going to take him down to the temple 
and have some fun with him; so let him alone. He'll have plenty to do. 

KATHI: Fun, eh? I've seen that kind. Load him down with chains, and then put 
out his eyes, then knock all the fight out of him on that wheel--'n then take 
him down there 'n expect him to make sport for the crowd. They're a nice crew, 
them priests down to the temple.

LOCHI: Well, you're not running this town, and they are; and you better keep 
your mouth shut, or you'll get in trouble.
 
KATHI: Say, Lochi! Wouldn't I like to see him stage a comeback? Say, wouldn't 
that be worth looking at? Eh? See him go in there quiet and nice, and them 
fellas come out to plague him; 'n then get his right hand going--bing--bow--
zam! Oh, brother, he must ha' been good once! 

LOCHI: Old stuff, Kathi. They never come ; if he had his two eyes again, 
there's a dozen boys here in town could lick him. He's carrying too much 
weight and his legs are gone.
   
KATHI: I tell you a fella with his shoulders is always dangerous. And I got a 
hunch he can still hit. Say, I'll lay you a week's pay he puts a couple of 'em 
down.
   
LOCHI: All right. I'll take a chance. How do you expect him to hit 'em when he 
can't see nothing? 

KATHI: He's a cagey boy. He's an old timer with a lot o' fights under his 
belt! He'll go in there foxy-like, and wait for 'em to come to him. Then, when 
they get too close, he'll grab 'em--and bing--zam! Oh, how I'd like to see 
that right hand in action!

LOCHI: Look, Kathi; there's that woman again.

KATHI: She's getting to be a nuisance. She's been hanging round here all day.
 
LOCHI: Look; she's coming over this way. 

KATHI: Well, you're back, are you? What do you want, hanging round here? 

DELILAH: I wonder could I see the prisoner once more? 

LOCHI: No. You nearly got caught last time; you're not going to get us in 
trouble. 

DELILAH: I'll pay you well.

LOCHI: What do you say, Kathi? Shall we take a chance again?
 
KATHI: Sure, the Cap'n's been here. One of us can watch if any one else comes, 
and she can slip out the side door.
 
LOCHI: All right, lady; let's see the money first. 

DELILAH: There. Take it.

KATHI: Hey, wait a minute, Lochi; I want my share o' that.
 
LOCHI: There you are. Now--come along, lady. You can't stay but a minute.
 
DELILAH: That's all I want.
 
LOCHI: Say, Samson was quite a friend o' yours, huh?
 
DELILAH: Yes, yes.
 
LOCHI: Right through this door. You first. Say, he was speaking about you when 
you left. 

DELILAH: What did he say?  

LOCHI: Well, lady, since you ask me: He was asking me if you was still as 
good-looking as when he knew you; Poor fella, I guess he's forgot how long 
he's been in that pen. Meaning no offence to you, y'understand! I guess we all 
look different than we did a few years ago. Say, what ha' you got there all 
wrapped up?

DELILAH: Just some food for him. 

LOCHI: That's all right. He won't eat for us. Mebbe if you bring him something 
special--Well, here we are--you go right through that door. I guess you know 
the way. [Begins to fade.] Just a minute, now. Don't stay no longer.  

[A pause.]

DELILAH: Samson. 

SAMSON: Well?
 
DELILAH: You'll forgive me for coming when you know why I'm here.
 
SAMSON: I'm past forgiving you, Delilah. I've forgotten you.
 
DELILAH: That's not true. When you said my name just then--your voice 
trembled. 

SAMSON: Fa!

DELILAH [triumphantly]: And when I left last time, you asked the guard if I 
was still beautiful. Don't tell me you have forgotten! I've sinned against you 
more than you can ever forget! I've hurt you more deeply than you can ever 
forget! And you loved me once more than you can ever forget!

SAMSON: Why do you come to me saying this? What do you hope to gain? My 
forgiveness? Well, I care so little that I'm willing to forgive you: a dead 
soul doesn't care what it does.

DELILAH: Now you're speaking in bitterness. Oh, I didn't come here to ask 
forgiveness. But there is one last thing I can do; one deed to make up for all 
the evil I have done.

SAMSON: And what is that, pray? 

DELILAH: I can release you.

SAMSON: Huh! So you've bribed the guards, have you? You think you can make 
everything all right by sending me out into the world this way! Strength gone
--blind--broken! No. I'll stay here, and hide myself.

DELILAH: I speak of real escape. From everything. Hold out your hand. 

SAMSON: Well?

DELILAH: What do you feel?

SAMSON: A dagger. 

DELILAH: Well?

SAMSON: Take it back. That is a coward's way. That is for women.

DELILAH: Samson, it's better than what you must face tonight!
 
SAMSON: All nights are the same when you live in darkness.
 
DELILAH: They're going to torture you in the temple; make sport of you for the 
crowd! Make you fight, blind as you are!   

SAMSON: Well, they'll get no sport. I have no fight left for them. It will be 
a dull business.
  
DELILAH: Oh, take this dagger! Release yourself, Samson! You've suffered 
enough. 

SAMSON: I don't suffer any more. I tell you I am numb and dead.
      
DELILAH: No, you're not! Don't tell me I've killed your soul!
 
SAMSON: You see me, Delilah.
 
DELILAH: Oh, my God! To give you back the strength I took from you! Since you 
must die, to have you go to death in that temple, not as a dumb brute marked 
for slaughter, but fighting!

SAMSON: What do I care?
 
DELILAH: I care! I have cheated, robbed, deceived, betrayed you! But don't 
tell me I have killed your soul!

SAMSON: You and this wheel. 
 
DELILAH: Oh, Samson! Somewhere in the dark past you loved me; and by that love 
so long forgotten, rouse yourself now.

SAMSON [a tender note]: How long ago it seems, that love I bore you.
 
DELILAH: Remember how you used to hold me in your arms--those arms; how strong 
they were! Unconquerable! 

SAMSON: Oh, what strength I had once! 

DELILAH: You will have strength! Believe it once more!
 
SAMSON: If I only could! 
 
DELILAH: One last fight, Samson! Turn on them in the temple! Scatter them like 
grass in the whirlwind!
 
SAMSON: If I could believe in myself! 

DELILAH: I believe in you! I who betrayed you! I who still love you.
 
SAMSON: You love me? Now? After--everything? 

DELILAH: Out of the darkness of my sorrow, Samson; out of the tragic failure 
of my life, out of my betrayal, and my own sin, I love you. Believe in 
yourself once more!

SAMSON: Yes, to scatter them! Like the whirlwind! One last fight! O God, to 
have my strength!

DELILAH: You can!

SAMSON: To uproot the very pillars of the temple! To bring death crashing on 
my enemies!
 
DELILAH: You will! You can!

SAMSON: Oh, Delilah, Delilah! Is it to be, that you who robbed me of my 
strength, shall give it back for one last fight, and rouse this sleeping soul 
of mine to anger!

DELILAH: The guards come! I cannot stay! Remember, one last fight.

SAMSON: Give me your hand. Ah, how thin it is, Delilah. And your face--hollow. 

DELILAH: Let me go. It will be too late. 

SAMSON: How beautiful you were! Tell me you still are beautiful.

DELILAH: To your blind eyes. 

SAMSON: And I am strong to yours! So be it! Farewell! 

DELILAH: Farewell.  

[A pause.] 

LOCHI [outside]: Look out in there; they're coming.

SAMSON: Come in. There is no one here. 

LOCHI: Oh, she left, did she?  That's just as well. If she's a friend o' yours 
she might not like to see them take you down to the temple.
 
SAMSON: I'm ready to go. 

LOCHI: Here they come, now. Wait a minute and I'll undo this chain to the 
wheel. There y'are.
 
KATHI [just out]: Bring him out, Lochi. They're waiting to take him down.
 
LOCHI: We're coming. All right, Samson; pick them chains up, and you can walk 
easier. Through this door. There y'are. How's he look, Kathi? Think he can put 
up a fight?
 
KATHI: How about it, Samson? Got one fight left in you?
 
SAMSON: Perhaps.
 
KATHI [close to SAMSON]: Hey, Samson--do your stuff just once more tonight; I 
got a week's pay on you; do your stuff, big boy.

______________________________________

THIRD SCENE
 
[NARRATOR] SAMSON was taken down to the temple, and LOCHI went along to see 
the sport. But when he tried to get inside there was such a crowd that he 
perched himself up on a wall across the road, where he could look over a low 
wall and get a fair view of the inside of the temple. Everybody in town seemed 
to be inside except himself, thought LOCHI, but when he saw the crush, he was 
just as glad to be perched up where he was. From inside came the noise and 
roar of the crowd. LOCHI looked down and saw a woman standing near his perch.
 
[Through the following scene cue in the roar of a Madison Square Garden Fight 
Crowd.]

LOCHI: Hey, you, down there! 

DELILAH: Yes?
 
LOCHI: What are you doing here, lady? Seems like I'm always seeing you.
 
DELILAH: Have they brought Samson in yet?

LOCHI: No. Say, why do you want to stay here? If he's a friend o' yours, it's 
going to go kinda bad with him.
 
DELILAH: Perhaps.
   
LOCHI: Perhaps--say--[a roar]. There, he's coming in now. Huh. He don't look 
too bad. If he had his old eyes, he might put up a scrap.  

[A roar.] 

DELILAH: What are they doing?
   
LOCHI: They're clearing a space: ah! They got three big boys going in to mix 
it with him. He hasn't got a chance! They'll keep out of his way, and cut him 
to ribbons.
 
DELILAH: Tell me--does he look--defiant? 

LOCHI: He's just standing. But, Oh, what a right arm--if he could only get 
hold of one of 'em, he'd break him in two. 

[A roar.] 

DELILAH: Well?
 
LOCHI: There they go. Ah--ga! He took one, then! Almost down. Da! [Roar.] 
Another one. Aagh! He hasn't got a chance--and he knows it.

DELILAH: Isn't he fighting?

LOCHI: Naw! [The crowd hoots and boos.] He's just standing, leaning against 
the pillars of the temple.

DELILAH: Oh, if he would only die fighting! 

LOCHI: There--they're pushing him out in the open. [A roar.] Ga! He got one!  
He got one down! And that fella's not getting up, neither! The right hand--
there was something back of that blow; it didn't move the length of your hand!  
Agh! They're putting in some more boys, and they got clubs. I guess it's over 
for Samson. 

[Roars.]
 
DELILAH: Is he still fighting?

LOCHI: Naw--he's taking it now. Ah, Kathi was right, it's no good, this kinda 
fight. Poor devil! There they've drove him back. He's bowing his head--Ga! As 
if he was praying. Yea--and they're closing in to finish him. I'm glad you 
can't see, lady. 

DELILAH: Oh, Oh! 

LOCHI: Huh! Looks like he was holding himself up against the pillar of the 
temple. What's he doing there! The crowd's laughing. Ha! He's pushing against 
the pillar! And--it's--it's--beginning--to give! It's--moving! Look! Look!  
He's-- [Screams, yells, crashes, etc.] Falling! All of it! Get back! [Groans, 
etc.] The temple's fallen! The temple has fallen! [A pause.] Ga!--I--I'll say 
that was a comeback!



______________________________________
Originally broadcast: June 10, 1928 [or earlier]
Written by William Ford Manley for 
NBC's weekly half-hour anthology series, 
"Biblical Dramas."



1