Listening to “The Thing That Cries in the Night” (Chapter Twelve): Pride Is a Fierce Old Lady

We are experiencing technical difficulties. I arrived in New York City yesterday after what seemed a well-nigh interminable journey by train and plane, prolonged rather than relieved by a sleepless stopover in Manchester, England. Now I can’t seem to get wireless access long enough to update and edit this journal. So far, I resisted having to consume cups of overpriced coffee for the privilege of keeping the silent few abreast of my adventures in living and listening.

Right now, this means resting my laptop under a scaffold while waiting for the rain to ease. Not quite the walk in the park I enjoyed yesterday (as pictured above). I am determined, though, to continue my three-week mission to explore strange goings-on, seek out new death and old civilization, to boldly venture deeper into the house of Martin, whence I’ll be reporting back as regularly as technology, weather, and footwear permit. Today’s installment, the twelfth in the fifteen-part radio thriller “The Thing That Cries in the Night,” was first broadcast during the East Coast revival of Carlton E. Morse’s I Love a Mystery program on this day, 15 November, in 1949.

Jack Packard, one of the three investigators hired to rid the formidable Mrs. Randolph Martin of her “granddaughter trouble,” makes a startling statement. He claims to know the identity of the mysterious “thing,” the menacing no-show that bawls like a baby, supposedly to warn the Martin’s of death and destruction.

It is unclear whether we are to regard the “thing” as a neo-gothic alarm system or as the destructive force that has already caused the death of two people and the injuries of other members of the Martin clan. So, Jack is in a position not only to put an end to the mystery but to prevent further crimes. Yet instead of sharing his knowledge, he keeps his two fellow adventurers, Doc Long and Reggie York as mystified as most of Morse’s listeners are likely to be at this point.

The rules of the game have changed: we are no longer Jack’s secret sharer. A compact has been broken. The police are on the scene of the crime; they, too are being left in darkness. Morse does not as much as give them a voice. They are figures of no consequence; and since they are not given a voice, we cannot expect any assistance from such muffled authorities.

Mrs. Martin is about to go back on another agreement. Just when the case shows promises of being solved, the old woman dismisses the men whose services she had been anxious to secure. So eager to protect whatever secrets are cloistered in her less-than-happy home, she even expresses herself pleased at the prospect that cracking this nut of a case might be the death of Jack.

Is Jack willing to pay so dearly for his supposedly superior position, a fiercely contested vantage point from which he is now able to threaten Mrs. Martin with the disclosure of her deadly secrets? Will the price of knowledge prove higher than the cost of ignorance? And will I manage to post again tomorrow? Please stay tuned.

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