Season 1/Episode 10: The Devil’s in the Details

by Jessica Best

Content advisories for this episode can be found below.

This episode features: Shariba Rivers as Lily, Marsha Harman as Dot, Kathleen Hoil as Abbie, and Michael Turrentine as Wes.

Written by Jessica Best, sound design by Hannah Foerschler, directed by Jeffrey Nils Gardner, music composed by Stephen Poon, recording engineer Mel Ruder, Unwell lead sound designer Ryan Schile, Executives Producers Eleanor Hyde and Jeffrey Gardner, by HartLife NFP.

Content advisories:

-Menacing voices
- Loud noises
- Mentions of animal cruelty

Transcript:

ABBIE: (TO THEMSELVES) Alright. Cup of coffee.

MUG SET ON A DESK.

Pleasantly monotonous music.

A SONG STARTS UP, SOMETHING

REPETITIVE IN A PHILIP GLASS-Y WAY.

A relaxing read.

THUNK OF A VERY HEAVY BOOK SET ON

A DESK.

It is Abbie Time. (RELAXED SIGH)

IMMEDIATELY THE PIPES BEGIN TO

CLANG.

I’m onto you, radiator pipes. I will not cede my relaxation to

your pedestrian clangs.

RADIATOR STARTS TO HISS.

Same goes for you, radiator hiss. At this point, it’s like you

are not even trying.

RADIATOR CONTINUES HISSING, PIPE

CLANGING BECOMES MORE INTENSE,

RADIATOR HISS RESOLVES INTO

SOMETHING WHISPERING,

(SIGH)

THE MUSIC CEASES. THE WHISPERS

DON’T.

(CALLING) Lily! Hey, Lily!

LILY: (FROM A DISTANCE) WHAT?

ABBIE: Where are your headphones.

NOISES FROM THE RADIATOR

LILY: WHAT?

ABBIE: YOUR HEADPHONES. WHERE ARE THEY.

LILY: (FROM LESS OF A DISTANCE) What?

KNOCKING ON THE DOOR. THE NOISES

IMMEDIATELY CEASE.

Hey, can I come in?

ABBIE: Enter.

DOOR OPENS.

LILY: I actually had something to ask you, if you’ve got a s--what is

that book? “The Eel Riot of 1886”? Talk about good band

names.

ABBIE: Twenty-six people died, Lily. And one eel.

LILY: Uh, too soon?

ABBIE: Is that what you came here to--

LILY: Sorry, no. Kind of an awkward question, but, uh, how much

are you paying for rent?

ABBIE: Wes does most of the books, why not ask him?

LILY: I’m double-checking.

ABBIE: What, do you think he’s embezzling funds? Money

laundering for an under-the-table lemonade stand?

LILY: This is genuinely not about him. Just--given the trouble with

Chester, the whole brothel-fine-technicality thing--

ABBIE: (DRYLY) Yes, Lily, I remember.

LILY: I’m trying to figure out if we’ll be able to afford a lawyer.

There’s not much margin of error.

ABBIE: Four seventy five.

LILY: What?

ABBIE: Four hundred and seventy five a month. That’s what I pay.

LILY: Huh. That’s--

ABBIE: A considerable surcharge on the base rate, I’m aware. I pay

the cat fee.

LILY: But...you don’t have a cat...do you?

ABBIE: No, but should one materialize in my life, I want to be in a

position to welcome it. With food and drink and--little saucers

of cream.

LILY: You’ve never had a pet before, have you.

ABBIE: My sister is allergic.

LILY: I didn’t know you had a sister! What’s her name?

ABBIE: Gail.

LILY: Wait, wait, your parents named you two Gail and Abigail?

ABBIE: (GRIM) We’re twins.

LILY: That makes it worse.

ABBIE: I’m aware.

LILY: That’s cool, though. I always wanted a twin, when I was little.

All the moving from Dad to Mom and back again, it would’ve

been nice to have a companion, you know. So did you do all

the standard twin pranks? Make up a secret language, dress

in each other’s clothes?

ABBIE: I used to try to run twin studies on us.

LILY: Twin studies?

ABBIE: Fewer confounding influences, it’s easier to isolate a

variable. You know, kid stuff. Where are your headphones?

LILY: After Spoodle fired me, I threw them out the window.

ABBIE: Ah.

LILY: On the bright side, it was very therapeutic.

ABBIE: Any sense where they might be now?

LILY: My mom fished them out of the bushes. So, no. How come

you never mentioned having a twin?

ABBIE: Under what set of circumstances would that have been

relevant?

LILY: Fair enough. Well, I’ve gotta go stare at some spreadsheets.

ABBIE: Hey. Before you go.

LILY: Yeah?

ABBIE: Have you noticed--radiator problems, lately?

LILY: What kind?

ABBIE: ...none.

LILY: Have I noticed a lack of radiator problems? Not...especially?

ABBIE: Right. Godspeed, Harper.

DOOR SHUTS.

RADIATOR: (WHISPERING) Abbie...

ABBIE: (TO HERSELF) This is just your standard-issue apophenia.

MUSIC RESUMES.

RADIATOR: Abbie....

MUSIC TURNED UP LOUDER

RADIATOR CLANGS

WHISPER NOISES FROM THE RADIATOR

ABBIE: (READING LOUDLY) “From this rope now stretching across

the canal, a live eel would be tied, the object of the game

being to pull the eel off the rope. The slippery, thrashing

creature proved a difficult quarry, of course--”

RADIATOR CLANGS

WHISPER NOISES FROM THE RADIATOR

ABBIE: “ --frequently sending the competitors toppling off their boats

and into the dirty waters below, much to the delight of

onlookers. By a decade later, this sport of palingtrekken, or

“eel pulling”--

RADIATOR CLANGS MORE VIOLENTLY

WHISPER NOISES FROM THE RADIATOR

ABBIE: WAS WIDELY SEEN AS A FORM OF ANIMAL CRUELTY--

A KNOCK ON THE DOOR. THE RADIATOR

CEASES.

WES: (THROUGH DOOR) Abbie? Uh, what are you doing?

ABBIE: (THROUGH GRITTED TEETH) Relaxing.

WES: (THROUGH DOOR) That’s cool. Can I ask you a question?

ABBIE: What.

DOOR OPENS.

WES: So...?

ABBIE: So?

WES: If I could just get your take on--

ABBIE: The suspenders are passable. The shirt looks nicely period-

appropriate; people act like the Victorians lived in sepia

tones, but as a group, they actually tended towards the eye-

searing, as the original color scheme of the house suggests.

But shouldn’t you be wearing knee breeches?

WES: That’s not what I--knee breeches? Aren’t those for boys

younger than thirteen?

ABBIE: How old are you?

WES: I didn’t come here to--sixteen, Abbie, geez.

ABBIE: Why are you dressed like it’s the late eighteen hundreds?

WES: I thought it’d add something to the tours, can--

ABBIE: Slim chances you’re getting Dot into a bustle. Or Lily.

WES: Look, can we talk about it some more? What happened in

the woods. The birds? The wolves?

ABBIE: The birds that briefly sounded like wolves?

WES: You said that idea was “idiotic.” Your exact words, Abbie.

ABBIE: Yes, well, then I started googling birds. You know, there’s a

number of birds who are excellent mimics, and not just of

other bird songs, either. Several corvids can mimic human

speech, including crows and ravens. Some of them can do

dogs, too. I watched a couple of videos, it’s--upsetting.

WES: Yeah, but--hundreds of birds, all at the same time?

ABBIE: Then what do you think happened?

WES: I guess that brings us back to “I don’t know.”

ABBIE: Right. Hey. Have you noticed anything funny with the

radiators?

WES: Funny ha-ha, or funny we-need-to-call-the-company-again?

ABBIE: I’d say more the latter.

WES: Are you sure? I’ll have to rejuggle the whole month’s

expenses to cover another repair person.

ABBIE: I--no. No, I’m not sure. It’s...nothing.

WES: Okay.

ABBIE: Wait! Wes? (TRYING TO BRING UP THE RADIATOR)

WES: Yeah?

ABBIE: ...Your sneakers aren’t period.

WES: Thanks, Abbie.

FOOTSTEPS, DOOR SHUTS.

RADIATOR CLANGS, HISSES

ABBIE: This is nothing, this is nothing at all. Schizophrenia doesn’t

even run in your family, and this is not how bipolar

manifests, you have mild sleep deprivation plus stress, and

all you need to do is unwind for an afternoon.

RADIATOR CLANGS

WHISPER NOISES FROM THE RADIATOR

ABBIE: (CLEARS THROAT) “--was widely seen as a form of animal

cruelty, at least by the middle- and upper- classes of

Amsterdam, whose more comfortable lifestyles did not,

perhaps, require such an escape valve--”

RADIATOR CLANGS, ABRUPTLY

WHISPER NOISES FROM THE RADIATOR

LILY: Abbie!

ABBIE: Yeah!

LILY: There’s something you need to see.

ABBIE: Of course, come in, take off your coat, have a soda.

LILY: So I was trying to track all the expenses, and, um.

ABBIE: You’re hemorrhaging money, aren’t you.

LILY: That’s not--how’d you know?

ABBIE: You’re a dilapidated boarding house in perpetual repairs with

two paying guests.

LILY: No. Well, yeah, actually, but that’s not the only thing that’s

wrong.

ABBIE: What is?

LILY: The numbers didn’t add up.

ABBIE: Are you accusing Wes of cooking the books? Mr. Boy

Scout?

LILY: No. We should have about eight hundred dollars less than

we do, which is when I started going through the drawers,

which is when I came across these--

WES: Abbie, you won’t believe what I just-- (SEES LILY) You. How

dare you?

ABBIE: If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the parlor.

FOOTSTEPS OUT THE ROOM.

LILY: I don’t know, Wes, how dare I what?

WES: I found this on the kitchen table. Is this what I think it is?

“Lillian Henrietta Harper, objective: driven and dynamic

worker with most of a B.A. seeking to apply my unique

problem-solving skills to a fast-paced and challenging work

environment--”

LILY: (CRINGING) They all sound that cringey when you read

them out loud.

WES: Don’t joke about this! It’s a resume! You’re leaving!

LILY: I’m not going anywhere tomorrow, I’m just--exploring my

options.

WES: How are you going to explain this to your mother?

LILY: That’s between me and my mom, Wes.

WES: What’s Dot supposed to do?

LILY: What do you mean? Her leg’s getting better. The boot’s

coming off next week. She’s so excited, I overheard her

trying to start a rugby league for seniors. She won’t need me

underfoot anymore, if she ever did.

WES: What about the boarding house? What about Chester?

LILY: I read the old statutes and—look, she doesn’t need me, she

needs a legal expert, which is what I’m trying to do--

WES: She needs support. She needs her daughter.

LILY: I’ll call, I’ll email--

WES: The screen hurts her eyes and she won’t admit it.

LILY: Then I’ll call. Everyone knew I was only gonna stay for eight

weeks. I have to get back to my life--

WES: Liar.

LILY: What?

WES: I’ve seen your resume. You’ve had fifteen jobs in the past

five years. Working at an alpaca farm, clerking at an M&M

store--it’s not like you’re following some kind of grand dream,

you’re just scraping by with whatever you can get.

LILY: Maybe my lifestyle didn’t meet the lofty standards of a high

school junior, but I don’t get why I have to keep sacrificing

for someone who doesn’t even want me here.

WES: She loves you, Lily. You should see the scrapbook she has

of you, from all your visits here. She saved everything.

LILY: Of course she did. She’s a packrat.

WES: You’re not listening.

You’re not even leaving for anything. You’re just leaving her.

LILY: Well, maybe it runs in the family.

WES: Is that what this is? Some messed-up revenge plot? You

could have chosen to stay with her, and you didn’t!

LILY: What, I could’ve moved away from my friends and my school

and everyone I knew to follow her out here, so we could do

who-knows-what in Mount fucking Absalom? I was in third

grade!

WES: You blamed her for what happened. And that’s natural for a

child. But you grew up, Lily, and you’re still so convinced it

had to be all her fault.

LILY: Who else was there? Dad’s not perfect but he never did

anything to make her uproot her whole life, our whole lives,

to run off to the middle of nowhere and this stupid, creepy

old house. So who does that leave, huh?

WES: It’s more complicated than that. Have you even tried to talk

to her?

LILY: That’s another thing, how do you know how complicated it

was? Did she sit you down and tell you the whole fucking

complicated story? Hell, maybe she did. Maybe she’s told

the entire town why she ended up here.

And here I am, old enough to hear whatever kind of

explanation she might have to tell me, to justify this, just

hanging around this broken down old wreck of a boarding

house, and all she wants to do is iron the sheets and

tuckpoint the chimney and play Boggle.

Maybe she loved the idea of having a daughter, but the

reality--was too complicated. It’s easier to save old photos

and ticket stubs than it is to actually bother staying in

someone’s life.

WES: You chose not to come back. How many years has it been?

LILY: She knew where to find me.

WES: Did she? Montpelier, Bismarck, Phoenix, Iowa City--

LILY: I left a forwarding address.

WES: Did you?

LILY: ...When I remembered.

WES: You are such a child.

LILY: Really, Wes? God, you’re--

WES: What, Lily, what am I?

LILY: You’re not her kid.

WES: Yeah, well you are. So act like it.

You didn’t get what you wanted from her, and that’s not

easy, it’s not, but what is she supposed to do about it now,

anyway? Whatever it is you’re missing, it’s time to make

peace with the fact that she will never be able to make it

right.

You came here for her. This can’t be about you right now,

even if that’s not fair. That’s what growing up means.

You’re the adult, be the adult. She needs help, she needs

sympathy. Dottie isn’t doing well.

LILY: And what do you need?

WES: What’s that supposed to mean?

LILY: I found these in my mom’s desk. Do you know what these

are? Maybe you don’t, since they’re all unopened. It’s

paychecks, Wes. It’s every paycheck she’s ever written you

the entire time you’ve been working here. What the hell,

Wes?

WES: We--I--the house needs so many repairs, it’s not--it’s not

doing well, and I don’t have any expenses, I mean, I’m a

teenager, so it’s okay, I just--I need the house to be okay. I

need it to be.

LILY: Wes.

WES: It has to be.

LILY: That’s really all this is?

WES: What else would it be? I love this place.

LILY: Wes, you can’t keep it going forever. And no offense, but a

couple hundred dollars you don’t claim isn’t gonna make a

difference. Come on. Take your checks.

WES: No.

LILY: Do your parents know you’ve been working here for free?

WES: They think work builds character.

LILY: You’ll need to report it on your taxes.

WES: I know. I don’t care.

LILY: What’s your social security number?

WES: My what?

LILY: I need it to fill out your W-9. Mom’s files are a mess.

WES: Do you know your social security number? Right off the top

of your head?

LILY: Yes.

WES: What, is it an old person thing?

LILY: Bring it tomorrow. You know your address, right? I need that

for your W-9, too.

WES: My address?

LILY: Yeah, Wes, do you have an address?

WES: (SNIPPY) I have an address, Lily.

LILY: Okay. (PAUSE) What is it?

WES: (GROWING FRUSTRATED) I have an address, I live

somewhere. (MORE FRANTIC NOW) I have a home where I

live, and that means I have an address!

LILY: Wes...? Do you want me to call someone?

WES: WHAT’S MY ADDRESS? WHAT IS IT?

WATER SURGES THROUGH THE PIPES,

THE RADIATOR HISSES.

LILY: Wes, what the hell is going on?

WES: Oak...street...

THE RADIATOR HISSES LOUDER.

I have...a house...on Oak Street. There’s a pile of

shoes by the door that my dad is always tripping over, but

half of them are his. There’s a kitchen in the front, with green

and white tiles and a stain on the ceiling that looks like a cat,

or a bird if you tilt your head the right way.

THE RADIATOR CLANGS.

There’s a living room, it’s got a big soft sofa and an

ugly armchair my parents won’t get rid of because they’ve

had it since they met. There’s a dining room which we never

use because we always eat in the kitchen.

There’s a...stairs, there’s a staircase, and when nobody’s

around I try to take the steps three at a time. I used to run

my toy cars down the banister. There’s two bathrooms, and

my room, and an office, and my parents’ room, but I don’t

really go in there.

HISSING, RATTLING

I have a house at 1974 East Oak Street!

ALL RATTLING, SHAKING CEASES.

LILY: Wes. What. The fuck.

WES: Hm?

LILY: Did you...did everything just...

WES: Did everything what? Look, I’m not taking those checks. If

you need my address for tax reasons or whatever, it’s at

1974 East Oak Street.

LILY: Wes, there’s nothing on Oak Street.

WES: Uh, yes, there is.

LILY: It’s a bunch of abandoned lots. Me and Joey got in trouble

one time for playing in the remains of a basement.

WES: That’s why parents got the land cheap. What, do you not

believe me? Go there. Go to 1974 East Oak Street. There’s

a house there, with a kitchen and a living room and a dining

room nobody uses. Go see it, Lily.

LILY: Uh...

WES: Go see my house.

LILY: I need to go.

FOOTSTEPS, DOOR.

WES: (TO HIMSELF) I have a house at 1974 Oak Street. I’ve lived

there for most of my life.

DOOR OPENS.

WES: Lily?

ABBIE: Forgot my book.

WES: (WEAKLY) Eel riots, really?

ABBIE: Eel riot, singular. Are you okay?

WES: I need to be getting home.

ABBIE: You look clammy. Go down and have some juice first, get

your blood sugar up.

WES: Alright. I won’t need it for long anyway. My mom’s about to

start making dinner. In the kitchen.

ABBIE: Okay, go do...that.

WES: We have a dining room, you know, but we never eat there.

So why do we even have it? (LAUGHS)

ABBIE: Wes, did the radiator just make a lot of noise?

WES: Maybe you should have some juice, too, Abbie.

ABBIE: In a bit.

WES: See you tomorrow.

ABBIE: Yeah.

FOOTSTEPS, DOOR.

RADIATOR CLANGS.

RADIATOR: Abbie!

ABBIE: What.

RADIATOR: ...Help me.

ABBIE: Can you please be a little more specific?

RADIATOR: (ABBIE SINGING) “But the cowboys all took a resolution,

No bankruptcies we’d go...”

ABBIE: (DEEP BREATH IN AND OUT)

(READING, TRYING TO FOCUS) “The slippery, thrashing

creature proved a difficult quarry, of course, frequently

sending the competitors toppling off their boats and into the

dirty waters below--” You already read that, Douglas.

LILY! Hey, LILY!

RUNNING FOOTSTEPS, DOOR

LILY: Abbie, what’s--

ABBIE: (WHISPERS) A few seconds ago, did you hear the radiator

go absolutely haywire?

LILY: ...Yeah.

ABBIE: Harper, is it just me, or is it starting to feel almost like there is

something weird going on in this house?

LILY: (NIGH-HYSTERICAL LAUGHTER)

THE THEME SONG COMES IN- STOMPING FEET, RHYTHMIC GUITAR, AND PRONOUNCED BANJO.

CREDITS:       This episode features: Shariba Rivers as Lily, Kathleen Hoil as Abbie, and Michael Turrentine as Wes.

MUSIC BREAK- A HAUNTING SUNG NOTE    

 Written by Jessica Best, sound design by Hannah Foerschler, directed by Jeffrey Nils Gardner, music composed by Stephen Poon, recording engineer Mel Ruder, Unwell lead sound designer Ryan Schile, Executives Producers Eleanor Hyde and Jeffrey Gardner, by HartLife NFP.

THE STRANGE BASS NOTE RETURNS

Paranormal Psychic Investigator Dr. Conrad Cartwright PhD stayed in the Fenwood House on October 17 th , 1973. According to the guestbook, he had a “very productive stay.” Oooooooo.