The drab interior of a bus station along a deserted highway somewhere in the Midwest. There are two long benches stage Right, back to back; one faces the audience and one faces the rear wall. A door up Center leads out onto the road. It has a single glass pane in the top and the bottom is wooden. Two doors, up Left and down Left. Up Left door reads “Men”; down Left door reads “Women.” The room is lighted by an overhanging light with a dull green shade. A large bus schedule on the wall Right Center. A window is up Right of Center and another at Right.
The sound of heavy RAIN can be heard outside. LIGHTNING flashes outside followed by large bursts of THUNDER. With each flash of lightning the light in the room dims almost to the point of going out, but somehow feeble struggles back to its full strength.
When the curtain rises the stage is bare. Then a Man enters from the “Men’s” room. He is a pleasant looking Man of about thirty-five. He takes off his hat and shakes the water from it; put it on the bench downstage. He glances at the door up Center. Moves to it and peers out; turns and moves to the schedule on the wall and reads it. He then moves downstage and sits on the bench facing the audience. He picks up a discarded newspaper that lies on the seat beside him. He glances back at the door, then turns his attention once more to the paper and begins going through it casually.
The door up Center suddenly bursts open and a Girl of about twenty-three ruches into the room. He is sobbing and is out of breath. She throws her body against the door, slamming it. The Man turns about quickly. She throws the bolt into place and turns slowly, seeing the Man, The Girl’s clothes are wet and muddy. Her hair disheveled. She sobs and rushes to the Man quickly.
Girl (Hysterically). Thanks God! You’re here! Oh, thanks Gold!
(She almost falls and the Man catches her.)
Man My dear! What is it?
Girl Help me. Oh, please – please help me!
Man Good Heavens! You’re in a terrible state. What has happened?
Girl Don’t let him in. Please. He’s after me. Please don’t let him in.
Man Who? Who’s after you?
Girl He’ll be here any minute. Please – help me.
(The Girl looks to the Center door. The LIGHTNING flashes and the LIGHT
dims slowly. The Girl looks at the light and begins sobbing again.)
Man Please, my dear, try to tell me what happened. You’ve locked the door.
No one can come in. Now try to calm yourself.
(The LIGHT has recovered again.)
Girl You’re waiting for the bus, aren’t you? Oh, don’t leave me! (She rushes into his arms.)
Man There, my dear! Of course I won’t leave you!
Girl The bus. What time – Oh, tell me it will be here soon.
Man The last one’s due any time now. The storm has probably slowed it down, Now, listen to me. I shall do whatever I can for you, but you must tell me what has happened.
Girl Yes – Yes – I must get hold of myself.
Man Here. Sit down. (He brings her down to the bench facing the audience.)
There, now, that’s better, isn’t it? Now –
Girl I was at a party. I – I could have stayed all night with a friend, but I thought I had enough gas to get home –
Man Where do you live?
Girl About eight miles from here.
Man I see.
Girl About a mile from here, I suppose – I don’t really know, I ran out of gas – I took my flashlight and locked the car and started walking down the road. There are so few cars this time of the morning, but I thought – anyway – I know I could get the bus when it came along and then – go back for the car later. (She breaks off and glances at the door again. She shudders at her own thoughts.)
Man Come on, now. You were doing fine.
Girl I must have walked – I don’t know – just a little way, when I noticed a car pulled off into a lane. I saw the rear light burning. I wanted to call to them. I thought I’d just call out to them and ask if they could help me – if they might let me have some gas.
Man Did you?
Girl No – I – I didn’t get the chance to. I walked near enough to the car to be heard if I called, but – before I could call out, I saw someone. The front door of the car was open and someone was standing by it. A Man – he hadn’t heard me – he was – he was pulling something out of the car. I couldn’t tell what it was at first – and then the lightning – and I – I saw her hand and then – her head – her hair was light and long and it dragged in the mud.
Man This id dreadful!
(There is a flash of LIGHTNING and a crash of THUNDER.)
Girl He’ll be here. He’ll be here. I’, scared. Oh, God, I’m scared.
Man Did he see you?
Girl Maybe my flashlight – maybe I creamed – I don’t know – I don’t think I screamed. I was too frightened. He looked up – I knew he saw me. I dropped the flashlight and started running. I could hear him behind me. I could hear the water splashing under him feet as he ran. I knew he was behind me – I was afraid I was going to faint. I ran crazy like all over the road – then I ran off the road and into the woods – I circled round and round hoping I’d lose him, but I kept hearing something behind me – I ran until I fell – I knew there was no use – I couldn’t keep it up – but then I realized I must have lost him – because I didn’t hear him anymore.
Man And you came straight here, then?
Girl Yes – Yes – Oh, he’s still out there – somewhere. He’ll be here. Oh, God! I know he will.
Man The bus will be here soon and you’ll be all right.
Girl Yes. Oh, God, please let it come quickly.
Man You’ll have to get to the police immediately.
Girl No – I couldn’t. I don’t want to – I’m afraid.
Man But you must. It’s your duty. This is a dreadful thing.
Girl I know, but – what could I tell them?
Man Tell them what you told me just now.
Girl That wouldn’t be enough – they’d want me to describe him. Maybe identify him. I couldn’t – I just couldn’t.
Man Are you sure you couldn’t think of something that might give them a lead. Anything?
Girl I don’t even know what he looked like. I couldn’t see him very well – I was so frightened.
Man Nevertheless you’ve got to go to the police.
Girl I don’t know – I –
Man They’ll ask you a lot of question, of course, but I’m sure you can answer most of them. After you tell them the story the way you told it to me, there’ll be routine questions, but they’ll be simple. They’ll probably ask you something like – was he wearing a hat? How was he dressed?
Girl I don’t even know that!
Man Or – was he tall? Was he short? How would you describe him generally?
Girl I don’t know – I swear – I just don’t know.
Man In the lightning – are you sure you didn’t see his face at all?
Girl I don’t remember. Maybe he was wearing a hat or something. I don’t remember seeing his face.
Man But you saw the Girl.
Girl No – I didn’t
Man But you said her hair was light – and you saw her hand.
Girl Yes, I did. In the lightning, I think – yes.
Man But you don’t remember seeing him?
Girl No – I don’t. (She begins sobbing)
Man I’m sorry – I shouldn’t be going on like this – you are much too upset to even think any more about it. Don’t worry about it anymore. Something will come to you late – that you’ve forgotten about right now. You’ll see.
Man You flashlight- for instance. You could identify that couldn’t you?
Girl Yes – but –
Man There, you see! Now – look – (Points to “Women’s room.”) Go in there, and dry your eyes and fix yourself up. You’ll feel much better.
Girl You won’t leave, will you?
Man Of course not, my dear. I’ll be right here!
(She moves toward the door up left. There is a brilliant flash of LIGHTNING. The LIGHT begins to dim. The Girl looks toward the Center door. There is a Second flash of LIGHTNING illumination the Center door. The Girl screams. In the flash of lightning, a Man’s face can be seen pressed against the glass outside the door. The door rattles viciously. The LIGHT in the room has almost dimmed out.)
Man (Pushing her toward (Women’s room”). Get in there. Stay until I tell you to come out.
(The Man pushes her into the room quickly.)
Second Man (Outside the door. Rattles the door viciously once more). Let me in. Open this door. Let me in!
Man What do you want?
Second Man (Outside). I want to get out of this storm. What the hell do you think I want? What’s the idea of locking this door? You think you own this place? (The Man goes to the door slowly, throws back the bolt and the Second Man enters quickly. He is a nondescript sort of person. Tall, nice-looking and about thirty years of age. He looks about the room as age enters.) You’ve got no right to lock that door – keeping people outside in kind of weather. (The Second Man moves up to the Schedule on there Has there been a bus?
Man No – not yet.
Second Man Late, huh? Good.
Second Man Why? I’d have missed it if it were on time – wouldn’t I?
Man Yes – of course – how stupid of me.
Second Man There’s someone else here, isn’t there?
Man I saw somebody else when I looked in.
Man There –
Second Man A Girl, wasn’t it?
(There two Men look at each other a moment; then the First Man walks to the door where the Girl has gone and knocks on it. The door opens slowly and the Girls enters. When she sees the other Man standing in the room, she starts to cry out, but the Man puts his finger to his lip conveying silence to her and then guides her downstage to the bench.)
Second Man I thought you said –
Man I didn’t say anything.
Second Man You tried to tell me there was no one else here. I thought there was –
Man Did you?
Second Man Yeah, I was sure there was. What was the idea of lying?
Man I wasn’t conscious of lying about anything.
Second Man Yeah? I guess I’m imaginin’ things. Oh, well – forget it. How far you going?
Man just into town.
Second Man How about you, Miss?
Girl Not far.
(The Second Man starts moving down toward the Girl. She sees him coming, and moves over to the wall, appearing to read the schedule)
Second Man It’s pretty late, isn’t it? I was in luck, don’t you think? I told that to our friend here, but he didn’t get it. (To First Man). I’ll bet she’s smarter than you are.
Man Yes – I suppose she might – be.
Second Man (noticing the Girl’s nervousness). Say, you look pretty nervous about something. Strom upsets you plans? You can expect storms to slow up buses. If people were smart they wouldn’t be out on a night like this. Just try to get somewhere when it storms – can’t be done – especially if you’re in a hurry.
Girl I’m – I’m in no particular hurry.
Second Man Well, I’m sure as hell am – but there’s nothing I can do about it – I guess.
(There is another flash of LIGHTNING and the LIGHT dims bery low again. The Girl is pressed against the Right window in fear. The LIGHT recovers.)
Second Man Say – you’re really upset, aren’t you? Has somebody been bothering you? (The Second Man moves toward her again.)
Girl It’s – it’s just the storm.
Second Man Afraid of storms?
Girl Yes – I – am.
(The Girl seems as if she is about to faint. The First Man pushes ahead of the Second Man and takes her by the arm and leads her down to the bench.)
Man She’ll be all right. Why don’t you leave her alone?
Second Man Yeah! Sure! (He moves away, watching the Girl.)
(There is another brilliant flash of LIGHTNING and a crack of THUNDER. The LIGHT dims slowly and goes out. The Girl lets out a muffled cry.)
Man Here! Have a chewing gum, my dear.
(The Man opens the packet and gives her one. The Second Man pushes his head between them.)
Second Man Don’t mind to have one more, do you?
Man No, of course not. (Gives him one more.)
(The LIGHT comes up slowly.)
Second Man Thanks. (He strolls up toward the Center door.) God! What a night! Always wonder what brings people out on nights like this. Wouldn’t catch me out if it weren’t pretty important. (To Man.) How about you?
Man I have early business in town.
Second Man (To Girl). And you?
Girl I was visiting – with friends. I should have stayed the night.
Second Man Oh! You’re not together then?
Man Er – no –
Second Man I see. (He moves down toward the Girl.) How far did you say you were going?
Girl Not far – about eight miles.
(The Second Man sits beside her and she moves away suspiciously.)
Second Man I never saw anybody so afraid of a storm.
Girl It’s the lightning – I –
Second Man Lightning. I used to be afraid of it, when I was a kid but I got over it. All by myself too. (He takes the Girl’s arm.) Look! Come here. I’ll show you. (He leads her up to the window rear Right.) Watch the sky the next time there’s a big flash. One of the really beautiful sights in this world if you look at it right – like a great big Fourth of july. (There is now a brilliant flash of LIGHTNING.) Look! See! What did I tell you? It’s just like it was cutting the whole world in two. (The Girl breaks away and goes Right.) You wouldn’t even watch it. You’ll never get over being afraid of things if you won’t face them.
Girl I can’t
(There is the bum of a MOTOR in the distance. They All listen. The Second Man goes to the window.)
Second Man I guess that’s it – Yep – Looks empty.
(There is the sound of BRAKES being applied. Each waits for the other to make the first move.)
Second Man Well – are we going?
Second Man What?
Man I’m not going!
Second Man Why?
Man I don’t see that I have to give you a reason for what I do.
Second Man No – I guess you don’t at that – (He looks at the Girl, then moves to her reaching for her arm.) Well, in that case, I guess we’ll just keep each other company, won’t we? (The Girl is stunned. She looks to the First Man, who stands behind the Second Man. The First Man shakes his head “no.” There is the sound of a HORN outside.)
Girl (Backing away from the Second Man). No – No- I don’t think I’ll go either. I’ll wait-
Second Man I think you’d better come on. We’ll have it all to ourselves.
Girl No – No – I won’t. Leave me alone. I’m going to stay here – with him.
Second Man (Looks from one to the other). I get it. Waiting for a bus! (He laughs.) No wonder you had the door locked! (The Second Man exits laughing.)
(The Girl rushes after him, slamming the door and throwing the bolt once more. She listens to the sound of the BUS pulling away. Then she turns quickly to the Man.)
Girl Thank God!
Man I tried to tell him you weren’t here.
Girl But you let him in – in God’s name – why?
Man He was making such a disturbance out there. Besides there was really no way to tell for certain that –
Girl No – He’s gone – He’s gone – I guess it wasn’t – no – I somehow don’t think it was –
Man You don’t think it was he?
Girl No – I – don’t –
Man Yes – You do! You know that wasn’t the Man. Why? That’s a step tp remembering.
Girl No – only that he – he – left. He left –
Man Yes, you do! I knew I t would come back slowly – that you’d remember something.
Man First, you would say – That wasn’t the Man because I remember – and then later – That was the Man because I remember. Yes. You would remember!
Girl No! (There is another brilliant flash of LIGHTNING and the LIGHT begins to dim.) Oh – no – the light – Dear God – No!
Man Don’t worry, my dear. You’ll have light.
(He has taken a flashlight from his coat pocket. The Girl stares at it as the LIGHTNING crashes again and the already very dim LIGHT dies completely. The piercing light of the flashlights is the only light in the room. The Girl runs up to the Center door and pulls at it. She bolts the door before the Man comes near her. A dog that comes there by chance to save itself from the storm jumps and seizes the Man with its sharp teeth. The lights plays over and highlights the inside of the room, the dog forces the Man to run away and the Girl comes out to pat the dog.