Without End


ANNOUNCER: The Mummers in "The Little Theater of The Air."

(MUSIC ... ORGAN INTRO, THEN FADE)

SOUND: (WIND BLOWS ... DOGS HOWL)

HERMIT: (CACKLING LAUGHTER) Ghoooossst stories. Weirrrrrd stories. And murders 
too! (CACKLES) The Hermit knows of them all. Turn out your lights. Turn them 
out! Ahhhh. Have you heard the story ... "Without End" -- eh? Then listen 
while the Hermit tells you the story. (CACKLES)

(MUSIC ... MYSTERIOSO ORGAN INTRO, THEN IN BG)

DAVID: This is a story of love - that has no end ...

Of the deep, dark shadows of sorrow ...

Of dreams - that span the bridge of time.

It's my story and - Lorai's.

I am David Ruenzel. Just an ordinary guy with hopes like yours and dreams like 
yours.

SOUND: (EXPLOSION ... THE CRASH OF HEAVY MORTAR FIRE ... THEN NOISE OF BATTLE, 
RIFLE SHOTS, DISTANT EXPLOSIONS, ETC. ... IN BG)

DAVID: I was one in a foxhole with thousands of boys. And, in the night time 
when the enemy was pouring all they had on us, I did what a lot of fellas did. 
I put my mind on other things. But not so my pal, Jim Green.

(MUSIC ... FADES OUT)

SOUND: (BATTLE .. UP, THEN IN BG)

JIM: (EXHALES) They're giving us all they got tonight, Dave.

DAVID: Yeah. 

JIM: You know, it's a funny feeling a guy gets out here. Never knowing just 
what minute the end is going to come and yet - it's always so close, you can 
darn near taste it.

DAVID: Yeah.

JIM: 'S a funny thing, though. It never seems to get you like it does me. 

DAVID: (SERIOUS) You know why, Jim?

JIM: (CHUCKLES) Got some secret system?

DAVID: Maybe. 

JIM: Well, give. Let another guy in on it.

DAVID: You got a girl back home, Jim?

JIM: (CHUCKLES) A girl?! Man, I've got dozens. 

DAVID: I've got just one.

JIM: (CHUCKLES) I figure there's more safety in numbers. You've got just one. 
How do you know she'll be yours when you get back?

DAVID: I know, Jim. There was never anyone for Lorai but me. And there was 
never anyone for me but Lorai.

JIM: You got more faith than I have, Dave. Still, a lot of fellas on the home 
front makin' hay while the sun shines. So they tell me.

DAVID: I never worry about Lorai. She's always with me. Always.

SOUND: (DURING ABOVE, LOUD WHISTLE OF INCOMING SHELL)

JIM: Duck!

SOUND: (THEY HIT THE DIRT AS A SHELL SOARS IN AND EXPLODES NEARBY)

JIM: (GASPS) Christopher, that was a close one.

DAVID: Yeah.

JIM: (LOSES COMPOSURE) I hate all o' this! Why do we have to be out here, our 
bodies targets for death?!

DAVID: (TRIES TO SOOTHE HIM) Quiet, Jim. Think about something else.

JIM: You're a fool, Dave! Don't have any more chance than I have!

DAVID: But I have. I've got faith. You know what, Jim? It always seems that - 
Lorai is right beside me. Sometimes walking in front of me, shielding me from 
enemy fire.

JIM: (SCOFFS) Ah, that's rot!

DAVID: You don't have to believe me but I know it's true. I can feel her 
presence tonight more than ever. I know she's here beside me.

JIM: You expect me to believe in such a thing? As if a person a million miles 
away could protect you in this foxhole? What's more, it's gettin' hotter 
around here. We're in for it tonight.

SOUND: (DURING ABOVE, LOUD WHISTLE OF ANOTHER INCOMING SHELL)

DAVID: Faith, Jim. Faith--

SOUND: (SHELL EXPLODES NEARBY)

JIM: (PANICS) I'm afraid, Dave!

DAVID: Let Lorai protect you as she does me.

JIM: No! They've spotted us! We've gotta move out of here! 

DAVID: Jim, don't be a fool!

JIM: It ain't safe here, I tell you! They're zeroed in on us!

SOUND: (DURING ABOVE, JIM SCRAMBLES OUT OF HOLE ... SIMULTANEOUS WITH LOUD 
WHISTLE OF INCOMING SHELL)

DAVID: Jim! Come back!

SOUND: (SHELL WHISTLES, EXPLODES VERY CLOSE)

JIM: (A HORRIBLE DEATH SCREAM)

DAVID: (SHUDDERS) Jim! Oh, Jim, I told you to stay by me. Lorai would have 
protected you. Jim!

SOUND: (BATTLE RAGES ON FOR A MOMENT ... THEN FADES)

(MUSIC ... FOR A TRANSITION, THEN IN BG)

DAVID: Oh, you may not believe my story any more than Jim who lost his life 
that night.

But I knew my darling Lorai was constantly by my side. No matter how terrible 
the battle, she was protecting me. When I was in the front lines, she was my 
shield and my protector. 

When we moved along the roadways and our [enemy's] planes above spotted us, I 
had no fear - for Lorai was near me.

Since childhood, we'd been pals, living on nearby farms. Somehow, even as 
kids, we seemed to sense that there was a strong bond between us - that no 
amount of kidding from the other kids could harm. 

SOUND: (TAUNTS AND LAUGHTER OF CHILDREN ... FADES)

LORAI AS A GIRL: They're all laughing because you're walking home with me, 
Dave.

DAVID AS A BOY: As if I care!

LORAI AS A GIRL: They'll bother you all day tomorrow in school.

DAVID AS A BOY: Let 'em just try.

LORAI AS A GIRL: Dave?

DAVID AS A BOY: Yeah?

LORAI AS A GIRL: Are you planning to marry me when we grow up?

DAVID AS A BOY: Well ... I guess I am.

LORAI AS A GIRL: I'm planning to marry you, too.

DAVID AS A BOY: Can't nobody bother us.

LORAI AS A GIRL: Only Pa. He says it's silly for a little girl to have a 
sweetheart. ... You ARE my sweetheart, aren't you, Dave?

DAVID AS A BOY: Well, I guess so. You're the only one I like in all the world.

LORAI AS A GIRL: More than your uncle and aunt that you live with?

DAVID AS A BOY: Sure. They ain't like real folks to me. You are.

LORAI AS A GIRL: I'll always belong to you, Dave. ... Always.

DAVID: (AFTER A PAUSE) That's the way it was, right up through the years. We 
always belonged together. 

Maybe it was because I didn't have any real folks. I was an orphan. And the 
folks that adopted me let me call them aunt and uncle. They were good to me. 
Uncle Henry planned to let me run the farm when I got through my course down 
at agricultural college. And, someday, the farm would be mine. And Lorai and 
I, we planned to be married just as soon as I finished my school course and 
began to run the farm.

(MUSIC ... TURNS OMINOUS)

DAVID: And then ... along came the war. And I had to go. 

(MUSIC ... TURNS GENTLE)

DAVID: And the evening before I left, Lorai and I walked to our favorite place 
for meeting. In the woods, just beyond the clearing of Uncle Henry's place. We 
had a favorite old log there where we could peer through the clearing, see the 
house and hills beyond. And a patch of sky to the west - where the sun dipped 
down from sight and sent colored streamers out into the sky. And here, when 
night came, we could look up above the treetops and see the stars - and watch 
the old moon come riding forth into a purple field. Our trysting place was 
like a seat in a cathedral. Everything good and clean in life was close to us 
there at our meeting place in the woods. It was here that we said goodbye.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

LORAI: You don't want me to come into town and go to the station, Dave?

DAVID: Don't you think it's better to say goodbye here?

LORAI: We'll never say goodbye, Dave. Never. No matter where you go. I'm 
always going to be with you.

DAVID: Sure. I kind of feel like that, too.

LORAI: And, Dave ... when you come back, the very hour that you return to me, 
I'll know it. I won't come down to the station. I'll be waiting here in the 
woods. Here, on the old log. This is where you'll find me.

DAVID: Oh, Lorai.

LORAI: Dave.

DAVID: You'll be brave?

LORAI: Yes.

(MUSIC ... GENTLY, IN BG)

DAVID: I'm going now. Don't turn and look. I'm walking away but - I'm not 
really leaving at all. I'll be with you always. Oh, don't turn and look. 
(STARTS TO FADE INTO THE DISTANCE) Before you know it, I'll be back. I'll 
return and be sitting beside you. Here on on the log at our old trysting 
place.

(MUSIC ... FOR A HOPEFUL TRANSITION, THEN IN BG)

DAVID: And so it was that, all during the long days of war, I never felt that 
I was really away from Lorai at all. Or that she was absent from me. Why, 
there were times when it was as if I could reach out just a little and find 
her beside me. In fact, there were times that I could actually hear her voice. 
I recall the first time I heard it. It was a bad hour. 

(MUSIC ... TURNS OMINOUS AGAIN ... THEN OUT AFTER NEXT LINE)

DAVID: The enemy was giving us everything they had from the sky.

SOUND: (DURING ABOVE, FADE IN ROAR OF PLANE ENGINES ... WHISTLING SHELLS ... 
BOMBS EXPLODING ALL AROUND)

DAVID: Fellas I knew and liked were dropping all around me. Their cries struck 
terror in my heart.

SOUND: (MEN SCREAMING AS THE BATTLE RAGES ... ONE CRIES DISTANTLY, "DAVE! 
DAVE!" ... GUNFIRE, EXPLOSIONS CONTINUE IN BG)

(MUSIC ... TOPS THIS, THEN CONTINUES EERILY IN BG)

DAVID: In the midst of all the hellfire and dying, the pain and the terror - 
just as clear as a bird call on a silent night - I heard Lorai's voice for the 
first time.

LORAI: (CALM, LOVING) Do not fear, my darling. I'm here, Dave. Here, beside 
you.

DAVID: It was so clear, that voice of hers, that I expected to look and see 
her standing near me.

You can scoff if you like. You can shrug your shoulders and pass my whole 
story over lightly if you wish. But I know Lorai was there beside me - as the 
battle raged all around.

SOUND: (BATTLE CONTINUES FOR A MOMENT, THEN FADES)

(MUSIC ... OUT)

DAVID: And then it was over.

The war was over!

And finally the day came for leaving the battle-torn old world, getting on a 
ship and starting homeward.

SOUND: (SHIP'S HORN BLOWS ... CROWD CHEERS ... IN BG)

DAVID: There was shouting and rejoicing.

There was singing and laughter.

There was hope about to be fulfilled.

There was home - just beyond the horizon.

SOUND: (CHEERS FADE)

(MUSIC ... FADES IN)

DAVID: We were at sea.

Then we were in the harbor.

Then, on shore.

And then, soon, discharge.

I'd made up my mind I'd return without a word to anyone.

Yes, I'd fool Lorai.

She said she'd know the very hour that I'd be returning. I wouldn't have to 
tell her, she said.

LORAI: (ON FILTER) The very hour that you return to me, I'll know it. I won't 
come down to the station. I'll be waiting here in the woods. Here, on the old 
log. This is where you'll find me.

DAVID: (AMUSED) Yeah. We'd see how good she was. We'd test that second sight 
of hers, that intuition.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (TRAIN RUMBLING DOWN TRACK, IN BG)

DAVID: All the while on the train that carried me towards home, I kept 
chuckling to myself, "We'll see. Just see if she will be waiting on the 
old log when I come walking into the woods."

SOUND: (TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS, TRAIN RUMBLES ALONG)

DAVID: My heart was pounding with the excitement of my returning. Of the 
surprise in store for Lorai. 

Oh, it seemed as though the long train trip would never end.

SOUND: (TRAIN SLOWS DOWN)

DAVID: But finally we pulled into the station. 

SOUND: (TRAIN ROLLS TO A STOP ... ITS BELL RINGING, IN BG)

DAVID: There was a little bunch of townfolks around the old depot. I didn't 
want to see anybody. I waited until the train was almost ready to leave and 
then I jumped off on the opposite side.

SOUND: (BELL FADES AS DAVE JUMPS FROM TRAIN TO DIRT BELOW AND RUNS OFF)

(MUSIC ... IN BG)

DAVID: I took to the fields that led out to the road to where our farm stood. 

It was autumn. 

Already there'd been a frost.

The old maples in the woods were dressed in scarlets, brilliant reds.

Under my feet, the dry leaves made soft music.

Only a little way further to go and our log would be in sight.

And then, there it was before me.

I stopped, dead still.

I couldn't move.

For there she was. 

There was Lorai. 

Seated on the log, just as she'd promised.

The setting sun made her all golden. 

Her fair hair was touched with it. 

And sparks of light danced upon it.

She was looking right at me.

Now she was standing.

Her arms stretched out to me.

(MUSIC ... FADES GENTLY OUT AFTER THE FIRST FEW LINES)

LORAI: (GENTLE, RELIEVED LAUGHTER) Oh, Dave. Dave.

DAVID: You knew?

LORAI: Yes, Dave.

DAVID: You knew I was coming?

LORAI: Yes, my darling.

DAVID: Just as you said you would know.

LORAI: Yes.

DAVID: Oh, darling, Lorai. You've never been absent from me, not for an 
instant.

LORAI: No, Dave.

DAVID: You followed me wherever I went.

LORAI: Yes.

DAVID: There were times - when I actually heard your voice.

LORAI: Of course.

DAVID: What did you say to me? Do you remember what you said?

LORAI: Yes. I remember.

DAVID: Tell me.

LORAI: I said, "Do not fear, my darling. I'm here, Dave. Here, beside you."

DAVID: Yes. That's what I heard you say.

LORAI: We will never be separated, Dave. Never.

DAVID: Of course we won't. Not now. I'm home safe and we'll never be parted 
again.

LORAI: (URGENTLY) Never let anyone tell you differently. Never let them say 
that we are parted.

DAVID: Why, what do you mean? We're together. We can't be parted, not ever 
again.

LORAI: Dave ...

DAVID: Oh, my darling. More beautiful than ever. ... But - you're so cold. 
Night is coming. It's chilly here in the woods. I must get you home.

LORAI: (LAUGHS PLAYFULLY) Try and catch me! (SHE RUNS OFF) Try and catch me, 
Dave! (HER LAUGHTER HEARD IN BG)

DAVID: Well ... (LAUGHS) Hey! Hey! You can't run away from me like this! ... 
Wait, I'll catch you! I'm a pretty fair runner these days!

LORAI: (BREATHLESSLY LAUGHING, OFF) Try and catch me!

DAVID: (ALSO BREATHLESSLY LAUGHING) Don't you know I've been in training?!

SOUND: (LORAI'S LAUGHTER FADES ... DAVID'S FOOTSTEPS IN THE LEAVES STOP ... 
AFTER A PAUSE)

DAVID: Wha - ? Hey! You can't hide from me! (SILENCE)

(MUSIC ... A GENTLE STING, THEN IN BG)

DAVID: (AFTER A PAUSE, SURPRISED AND AMUSED) Well ... what do you know? ... 
You've pulled one on me! I - I can't see you anywhere! ... Lorai, where are 
you?! ... (MOCK SERIOUS) Say, you can't run out on me like this! I'll find 
you! 

SOUND: (DAVID'S FOOTSTEPS TRUDGE THROUGH THE LEAVES)

DAVID: (TO HIMSELF) Huh! Well, what do you know? ... Got out of my sight. 
(CALLS OUT, AMUSED) Okay, honey -- you win! If you can hear me, I'm going up 
to the house to clean up a bit, see Uncle Henry and Aunt Martha. But I'll be 
over to your house on the stroke of seven! ... Do you hear me?! At seven! And 
tomorrow we get the license to be married! ... Lorai?! Can you hear me?! The 
license to be married!

(MUSIC ... TOPS THIS ... THEN OUT)

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS)

AUNT MARTHA: (STARTLED EXCLAMATION) ... Dave!

DAVID: (CHUCKLES)

AUNT MARTHA: (OVERCOME WITH JOY) Oh! Oh, Dave! (CALLS OUT) Oh! Henry! Henry, 
it's Dave! He's home!

UNCLE HENRY: (OFF) Well, Dave, my boy! You're home safe!

DAVID: Oh, what a grand feeling to see you two.

AUNT MARTHA: Oh, don't he look wonderful, Henry?

UNCLE HENRY: Taller than ever and filled out, too!

AUNT MARTHA: Ohhh, we're glad to have you back, David. Glad you made it safe 
and sound.

DAVID: Oh, I tell ya, there wasn't a chance of me not making it. ... You know 
something, Aunt Martha? 

AUNT MARTHA: Mm?

DAVID: All through the terrible business, I felt that Lorai was beside me, 
protecting me from death.

AUNT MARTHA: (SYMPATHETIC) Oh, David ...

DAVID: And the most wonderful part about it all -- even though I never let any 
of you know I was coming home today -- Lorai had a feeling about it. She was 
waiting in the woods for me just now at our old log where we always used to 
meet. 

AUNT MARTHA: (STUNNED) What - did you say, Dave?

DAVID: Lorai was waiting in the woods for me. I just left her. She sensed that 
I was coming home today and, just like we planned before I went away, she was 
waiting for me in the woods.

UNCLE HENRY: My boy--

AUNT MARTHA: Henry! Henry, you've gotta--

UNCLE HENRY: Didn't you get our letters, Dave?

DAVID: Well, sure, I got some, but mail hasn't caught up with me now for a 
long time.

AUNT MARTHA: (BREAKING DOWN IN TEARS) David ... Oh, David. (SOBS, IN BG)

DAVID: (CONFUSED) What's wrong? ... What is it?

UNCLE HENRY: Well, David ... It's like this ...

AUNT MARTHA: She - couldn't have met ya in the woods, David. ... Lorai 
couldn't have been in the woods just now.

DAVID: But she was. I just saw her.

UNCLE HENRY: No, David. No. 

AUNT MARTHA: Lorai ... died, my boy. She passed away just a little while after 
you went overseas. ... We wrote you. We finally wrote you about her death. 

(MUSIC ... A STING ... THEN OUT)

SOUND: (WIND BLOWS ... DOGS HOWL)

HERMIT: (CACKLING LAUGHTER FADES IN) And now David finds that the person close 
to his heart, who he has just met at the old trysting place in the woods, is 
of this world no more. She is a dream and a vision that is ended - in death. 
What will happen to David's life now - eh? The Hermit will tell you before the 
night is done! (CACKLES)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Now, the Hermit again.

HERMIT: (CACKLING LAUGHTER) And now David Ruenzel goes on relating the story 
of his life to the Hermit. Listen. (CACKLES)

(SOUND: WIND AND DOGS FADE)

(MUSIC ... ORGAN, IN BG)

DAVID: You ask - what happens to my life now? You think that I believe that 
death has separated Lorai and me? Never. 

As we reckon time on this earth, my Lorai was - asleep in death at the time 
she appeared to me on the battlefield. She was not of this world when, in 
returning home, I met her in the woods at our old and destined meeting place. 

Uncle Henry and Aunt Martha have taken a place in town. 

They've left me the farm as they promised - and I'm working it.

I've been here three months now.

Last evening, Aunt Martha came out to see me.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

AUNT MARTHA: I - brought you a pie and some cookies, David. 

DAVID: Thanks, Aunt Martha.

AUNT MARTHA: Oh, your Uncle Henry and I worry about you, my boy.

DAVID: Oh, you must not do that.

AUNT MARTHA: But we can't have you here all alone.

DAVID: I'm not alone.

AUNT MARTHA: David ... You need somebody to keep house for ya. You should find 
a nice girl - court her - and - and marry her.

DAVID: Aunt Martha ... Never.

AUNT MARTHA: Oh, it ain't right. It's a sinful, terrible thing, you thinkin' 
that a dead girl is beside you all the time.

DAVID: (PETULANT) Stop, Aunt Martha. You can't talk this way to me.

AUNT MARTHA: I gotta, David. The livin' can't bow down to the dead.

DAVID: Lorai is not dead.

AUNT MARTHA: I saw her lowered into her grave.

DAVID: You must say no more. It's the way I want it. There's no one in all the 
world, here on this earth or after, that I want - but Lorai.

AUNT MARTHA: Oh, David. ... It's the war. It's touched your mind.

DAVID: No, Aunt Martha. There's no use trying to explain. There's a bond 
between Lorai and me that is stronger than life - deeper than earth - and 
beyond all time and reckoning.

(MUSIC ... FOR A TRANSITION, THEN IN BG)

DAVID: Sometimes I wonder.

I puzzle over the "why" of it all.

Why am I left on earth alone?

Why, if Lorai had to pass beyond, I could not have met her there?

But such was not the way it was planned.

And I'm not alone.

Often, as night gathers, when the stars light the sky, when the wind is soft 
and blows a fragrance in the windows, I hear the door open softly.

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS SOFTLY)

DAVID: (AFTER A PAUSE) Lorai?

LORAI: Yes, David. I am here.

DAVID: I - can feel your presence. But I cannot see you.

LORAI: I cannot always return to your sight. But I am ever-present.

DAVID: Yes. I know.

LORAI: I will always be near you.

DAVID: Oh, why can't I, too, die, that we may be together?

LORAI: That I cannot answer. There will be an hour - a time for meeting.

DAVID: You will never appear to me again like you did in the woods when I came 
home?

LORAI: No, my darling. Not until the final hour.

DAVID: Until - my death, you mean?

LORAI: We do not call it "death" - we who love - for love is stronger than 
death, my darling. Love is of the spirit. And the spirit never dies.

(MUSIC ... FOR A BRIEF TRANSITION, THEN IN BG)

DAVID: And so it is I know - the love I bear for Lorai, and the love she bears 
for me, knows no boundary, nor no ending. 

Do you scoff? 

Do you shake your head in disbelief? 

Do you believe, as does Aunt Martha, that my mind is addled by the horrors of 
war? 

Do you believe it untrue that my Lorai, because of death, has left me?

Ah, what matter what you say or what you think?

I tell you, she is with me always ...

During the soft, early hours of dawn ... 

When the sun rides the summit ... 

When dusk falls - and the shadows lengthen to bring the night ...

When the wind sings ... 

When the pines mourn ...

... she is near me.

This is my story of - love - that never ends.

(MUSIC ... TO A FINISH)

(SOUND: A LONE, LOUD DOG HOWL FOR PUNCTUATION)

(MUSIC ... A TRANSITIONAL STING)

SOUND: (WIND BLOWS ... DOGS HOWL)

HERMIT: (CACKLING LAUGHTER) Yes, this is the story of David Ruenzel, a boy who 
believes in a love stronger than life or death. This is the story he told to 
me -- a story without end. Turn on your lights! Turn them on! (CACKLES) ... 
I'll be back. Pleasant dreams! (CACKLES)

(SOUND: WIND AND DOGS FADE)

(MUSIC ... ORGAN, IN BG)

ANNOUNCER: All characters, places and occurences mentioned in "The Hermit's 
Cave" are fictitious and similarity to persons, places and occurences is 
purely accidental.

(MUSIC ... OUT)


1