Where Threads Come Loose
"'Til It Hurts

The Recording Script

• Written and directed by Tony Pagel. Produced by Christopher Bahn
• From episode 12 of the radiodrama series Where Threads Come Loose (originally episode 18 of 1997 Edition)
• Originally broadcast on KUOM-AM December 25, 1994.
• Engineered by Christopher Bahn and Dan Grothe

• Sloane: Christopher Bahn
• Clerk: John Sommer
• Voice over loudspeaker: Tony Pagel
• Bell Ringers: Chuck Keller, Tony Pagel, Dan Grothe and Cameron Gross
• Passerby: Gary O'Grady

• When we started the show, KUOM broadcast Threads on Sunday afternoons, and since one of our broadcast days during our first year fell on Dec. 25, we took the opportunity to write two holiday-themed stories; the other was "A Jules & K Christmas."
Christmas: a festival season of magic. The one time of the year when the goodwill of humanity manifests itself for all to see. It is a season of giving, when people reach down into their pockets to help the less fortunate. But despite the prevalent spirit of generosity, there are always a few holdouts. Enter Richard Sloane, a miser in the Dickensesque tradition. Usually immune to the yuletide feeling, Mr. Sloane is going to learn a lesson this Christmas. He's going to give...until it hurts.

Scene I. Department store
(elevator music, crowd noise).

Clerk: Here you are, sir. One pair of silver cufflinks. I must compliment you on you impeccable taste.

Sloane: Thank you.

Clerk: Shall I have them wrapped for you, sir? The wrapping is complementary this week.

Sloane: No, thank you.

Clerk: Are you certain? It won't take a minute.

Sloane: There's no need for wrapping, I'm not giving these to anyone. They are for me.

Clerk: Oh. Oh, I see. Well then, can I at least get you a bag? I hear the weather has taken a turn for the worse.

Sloane: I won't need one, they'll fit quite nicely in my coat pocket.

Clerk: Very well then, sir. Thank you for your purchase and have a merry Christmas.
Sloane: Yes. Thank you, I will. Good evening.

Voice over loudspeaker: William's Department store would like to take this opportunity to thank you for shopping with us this holiday. On behalf of the staff, I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Sloane: (to himself) I'm sure.

(SFX: door opens, street noise, bell ringing on foreground)

Bell Ringer 1: Give to the poor this holiday! The needy really need your help!

Sloane: Taxi! (pause, bell never stops ringing)

Bell Ringer 1: Excuse me, mister, but you'll never catch a cab tonight.

Sloane: What was that?

Bell Ringer 1: A cab. You'll never get one.

Sloane: (coldly) I'm quite sure I'll get one, sir. Taxi!
Bell Ringer 1: They're all full up, what with the shopping crowds, you know.

Sloane: I'll thank you to keep your opinions to yourself. Taxi! (pause) Damn!

Bell Ringer 1: There's a bus that runs special tonight, on account of the shopping rush. It boards about seven or eight blocks down from here. You could catch that one, if you're headed out for the suburbs.

Sloane: A bus? No, I don't think I'll be riding a bus.

Bell Ringer 1: What's the matter with buses?

Sloane: Have you ever seen the kind of people who ride on a bus? I'd rather walk home that have to face that filthy rabble.

Bell Ringer 1: It's funny that you mentioned that, since that's sort of the reason I'm out here.

Sloane: Do tell.

Bell Ringer 1: It's my job, (pause, coin rings into cup) Thank you, ma'am. It's my job to collect money for the needy in this city. So they can have a good meal and a present or two. It kind of makes things nicer for everyone, you know?

Sloane: Really.

Bell Ringer 1: Yeah. And since you're waiting for a taxi, which I still think you're never going to get, Would you care to make a donation?

Sloane: I would not.

Bell Ringer 1: Why not, if you don't mind me asking.

Sloane: I do mind, so let's leave it at that, hmm?

Bell Ringer 1: But mister...

Sloane: (angrily) But nothing! Just ring your little bell for your pathetic little fund and leave me in peace! TAXI!

Bell Ringer 1: There was no call for that, mister.

Sloane: Wasn't there? You people standing in front of stores with your stupid bells and your little kettles make me ill!

Bell Ringer 1: (tightly) I'm sorry you feel that way, mister.

Sloane: And I'm sorry you're sorry, now leave me be!
Bell Ringer 1: Why is that, I wonder.

Sloane: Why is what?

Bell Ringer 1: Just thinking out loud, mister.

Sloane: Well kindly keep your thoughts to yourself. (pause) Where is a cab when you need one?

Bell Ringer 1: I told you, mister...

Sloane: It was a rhetorical question, you imbecile! That does it, I'm going to the bus stop.

Bell Ringer 1: I thought you didn't ride the bus, mister.

Sloane: Why you impudent...

Bell Ringer 1: Probably afraid you'll rub elbows with some poor people, huh? Wouldn't want to come down with a case of poverty.
Sloane: Now see here...

Bell Ringer 1: That's okay, mister. You don't need to explain yourself top the likes of me. A man who can afford those cufflinks in your pocket don't need to explain to anyone.

Sloane: What? How did you know about that?

Bell Ringer 1: (shouting) Money for the less fortunate! Make someone happy this Christmas!

Sloane: Answer me! How did you know? Have you been following me? Spying on me? You greasy little toad...

Bell Ringer 1: I've been here all night, mister. I don't need to shop for anyone. No family. Not like you.

Sloane: What are you saying?

Bell Ringer 1: Me mister? I'm just ringing my bell.

Sloane: I need to get home, away from you and your accursed bell, then.

Bell Ringer 1: You probably should (pause) Hey, mister! Keep your ears open!

Sloane: What?

Bell Ringer 1: There's a lot out there that you need to hear! I'd been listening sharp, if I was you!

Sloane: Shut you mouth, you!

Bell Ringer 1: Money for the needy! Money for the needy!

Scene II. A Few Blocks Later
Sloane: (muttering) Stupid old fool. Accosting innocent citizens like that. There ought to be a law against that, there really should. (SFX: bell ringing getting louder) As if Christmas wasn't a trying enough time without some glorified pan-handler begging for spare change. (bell normal volume) Oh, no. Not another one.

Bell Ringer 2: Money for the needy! Your change makes all the difference! Excuse me sir, would you care to make a donation?

Sloane: No, I would not.

Bell Ringer 2: But sir, the money you give tonight may make a family happier tomorrow.
Sloane: As if the welfare doesn't make them happy enough.

Bell Ringer 2: Sir?

Sloane: You listen here. I pay my taxes. I pay taxes on thing I'll never use! Schools, mass transit, WELFARE. If the indigent are so poor, they should get jobs. Instead of buying their Christmas for them, we should have them earn a living. That way, they'd deserve a holiday.

Bell Ringer 2: But sir, Christmas is a season of giving.

Sloane: Haven't you been listening? I give. I give every April 15th! That should be enough for them. If it's not, then that's just too damned bad! I see no reason to throw good money into a hole.

Bell Ringer 2: Have you ever been poor, sir?

Sloane: Do I look like I'm poor?

Bell Ringer 2: That's what I'm saying. You're probably not poor, not with those cufflinks you're carrying. How much did they set you back?

Sloane: What? How did you...

Bell Ringer 2: I'm saying that at this time of year, we as a nation should give to those who need it most. It won't break you to give a little, will it?

Sloane: Answer me, how did you know about those...

Bell Ringer 2: I mean after all, it's not as if you bought anything for your family. Three sisters, a brother and your parents and not one present for any of them. Not to mention your friends, although I'd guess you don't have that many. Why, you should be overflowing with cash right now.

Sloane: Are you working with that man up the street? Are you for some reason watching me?

Bell Ringer 2: We don't have to watch you, sir. Your past is plainly visible all around you. Anyone can pick up the waves you give off. You're an open book.

Sloane: Stop! Leave me alone!

Bell Ringer 2: Alone? Why, you're already alone. You're just about as alone as you can get.

Sloane: Stop it, stop it, stop it!

Bell Ringer 2: This is a free country, sir. You can do anything you like. But if you stay where you are right now, you're going to have to hear me. I'm going to speak all I want.

Sloane: Then I'll go!

Bell Ringer 2: One second more please, sir.

Sloane: What is it, you horrible man?

Bell Ringer 2: I'd like to give you some advice. Don't worry, it won't cost you a dime. You really should give while you still can. A few dollars are all it will take to make things right for everyone, especially you.

Sloane: Is that some kind of threat?

Bell Ringer 2: I'm just talking, sir. It's that free country thing again. In fact, free speech is about the only thing that is free around here anymore.

Sloane: Cut to the chase, you miscreant.

Bell Ringer 2: Okay, sir. All I want to say is this: We can't make you give if you don't want to.

Sloane: There you are correct.

Bell Ringer 2: So, this being a free country, you can go.

Sloane: I shall.

Bell Ringer 2: Just one more thing, sir.

Sloane: What! What is it?
Bell Ringer 2: It is better to give than to receive. You'll feel much better about yourself this year if you give. And if you don't give... (pause)

Sloane: Yes? What is it, man? If I don't give...

Bell Ringer 2: (softly) We will take.

Sloane: That's the last straw! I won't tolerate harassment! I'll report you to your supervisor for this!

Bell Ringer 2: Then you won't give?

Sloane: I most certainly will not!

Bell Ringer 2: You've been warned. (raises voice) Money for the needy! Poverty knows no season!

Sloane: Taxi!

Scene III. More Bells.
Sloane: Can't find a taxi anywhere! God how I hate the holidays. Three miserable blocks and no cabs! I... (pause) oh,no.

Bell Ringer 3: 'Tis the season for charity! All donations cheerfully accepted!

Sloane: Another one! They're like the plague!

Bell Ringer 3: Dig deep into your pockets, Richard Sloane!

Sloane: What!?!

Bell Ringer 3: Yes you, Richard Sloane! Give! Give or we will take!

Sloane: Just keep walking, everything is fine. You're not going to notice that bell ringer...

Bell Ringer 3: Richard Sloane! Give or we will take!


Scene IV. Still more bells!

Sloane: This can't be happening. What's going on in this city? This shouldn't be... (SFX: guess what?) Oh God, I need a cab. Now!

Bell Ringer 4: Make this Christmas merrier, Richard Sloane!

Sloane: Leave me alone!

Passerby: Are you alright, buddy?

Bell Ringer 4: Give, Richard Sloane. Give or we will take!

Sloane: No! Stop it!

Passerby: Do you need some help?

Sloane: No! No, I'll be fine, thank you.

Passerby: Calm down, now. I can get you some help.
Bell Ringer 4: Last chance, Richard Sloane!

Sloane: Make them stop! Make them STOP!

Passerby: Help! Somebody help me with this man!

Bell Ringer 4: Give or we will take!

Sloane: Can't you see him? Can't you hear him and that bell of his?

Passerby: I'm not hearing anyone but you, pal. Help! This man needs help.

Sloane: I don't need anything but some peace and quiet!

Bell Ringer 4: Give! Give! GIVE!

Sloane: (screams)

Passerby: Hey, come back here!

Scene VI. At Home
(door slams, locks lock)

Sloane: Thank God that's over! That cab was a miracle! (sighs) Oh! Messages! I wonder who called?

BR:2: (on machine) You had your chance, Sloane. You didn't give. Now we're going to take.

Sloane: ARRGH! This isn't happening! This isn't happening! (pause) But it is, somehow, isn't it? I know, I'll call the police. There must be something they can do. (SFX: muffled bells) This is definitely illegal. There are laws against stalking in this state. I'll...What's that sound? (pause) Bells! Bells! Where are they? Oh,no! It can't be. (SFX: locks unlock, door opens, bells get unmuffled)

Bell Ringer 2: There's no place like home for the holidays, is there Sloane?

Sloane: What are you all doing here? This is trespassing! I'll have the lot of you hauled off!

Bell Ringer 2: You won't be able to fix this that easily, Sloane.

Sloane: Oh I won't, won't I? Let's just see. (pause) There's no dial tone. You cut my line!

Bell Ringer 2: Not us, Sloane.

Sloane: Then who? Who are you working for? Who sent you? Why are you doing this to me?
Bell Ringer 2: Let's just say we're concerned citizens. Come on in, guys.

Sloane: No, stay out of my house! I, Oh! (S gets pushed out of the way)

Bell Ringer 2: You brought this on yourself, Sloane. We gave you every chance to give, but you wouldn't listen.

Sloane: Get out, all of you, get out!

Bell Ringer 2: We're not leaving until this is finished, Sloane.

Sloane: What do you want?

Bell Ringer 2: We just wanted you to give. To make a real difference in other people's lives. Arrogant and selfish people like you don't deserve Christmas. You never listen. We stand out in the cold, day and night, in order to do some good. But you never hear. You never stop to help. Well, we're sick of it.

Sloane: I...

Bell Ringer 2: Save it, Sloane. You had your chance. We won't listen to you any more than you listened to us.

Sloane: I have money in my wallet! Take all you want! Take it all. Just go away and leave me alone.

Bell Ringer 2: You're still not listening. It's too late to throw money at us.

Sloane: But I want you to have it. I'm giving it. It's a donation.

Bell Ringer 2: It's the spirit of the thing. You're only giving the money out of fear. We have no use for extorted money. It's not right.

Sloane: I'll give you anything you want. I have lots of furniture that you can have. Just bring one of your trucks over in the morning. There's money in the safe upstairs, and lots more in the bank. I'll write you a blank check. Anything you want, you can have. I want to give it to you!

Bell Ringer 2: Want to or have to?

Sloane: I, uh, want to.

Bell Ringer 2: Too little, too late, Sloane. Your season of giving is past. We've come to take.

Sloane: What do you mean?

Bell Ringer 2: Take, Sloane. You didn't give, so now we take.

Sloane: Now wait! Surely we can come to some understanding...

Bell Ringer 2: Let's take, guys.

Sloane: Now hold on, I think I have...Hey, let go of me!

Bell Ringer 2: Merry Christmas, Sloane.

Sloane: Say now, let me loose. I (bell hits Sloane) OW! That's...OW! I, wait...OW! (Sloane screams as the bells continue to hit him, fade after a few seconds, bring up the Carol of the Bells and the credits).