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Late Night with the Devil (2023) | Transcript

A live broadcast of a late-night talk show in 1977 goes horribly wrong, unleashing evil into the nation's living rooms.
Late Night with the Devil (2023)

A live broadcast of a late-night talk show in 1977 goes horribly wrong, unleashing evil into the nation’s living rooms.

* * *

[Film projector whirring]

[Mid-tempo music plays]

[Dramatic music plays]

[Mid-tempo music plays]

[Dramatic music plays]

[Lawn mower whirring]

[Birds chirping]

[Dramatic music plays]

Hmm?

[Gasps]

[Majestic music plays]

[Mid-tempo music plays]

[Dramatic music plays]

[Lights buzzing]

[Static on TV]

[Static intensifies]

[Indistinct shouting on TV]

[Up-tempo music plays]

[Static]

Mindless violence lit up the sky.

America… the 1970s.

The energy crisis is real.

♪ I’m runnin’ away

A time of unrest and mistrust.

I have never been a quitter.

[Siren wails]

It was a night of terror.

A time of fear and violence.

We are entering a satanic age!

Anyone who can’t see that is blind!

[Screams]

Television documents the chaos, beams the horror into our living room.

[Intense electronic rock plays]

And so it is done.

[Flames roar]

But it also offers comfort. [Up-tempo theme music plays]

April 4, 1971… the first episode of UBC’s “Night Owls” goes to air.

The network’s hopes for a late-night hit are riding on the shoulders of the host, a popular Chicago radio announcer.

Good evening, night owls. I’m your host, Jack Delroy.

And thank you for allowing me into your living rooms for the first of what I hope will be many, many shows.

[Chuckles]

I’d like to thank everyone who helped bring this dream to life, especially my dear mom and dad back in Berwyn, Illinois, who I know are sitting in front of their TV set, big smiles on their faces, watching “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.

[Rim shot, laughter]

[Cheers and applause]

With its entertaining mix of interviews, music, and sketch comedy, “Night Owls” with Jack Delroy captures the hearts and minds of midnight America.

[Up-tempo music plays]

[Laughs]

[Cheers and applause]

Well, I am sick of it, Crog, stuck in the cave all day, cooking your sabertooth stew.

Oi, fellas, does this sound familiar?

This is an Amazonian bird-eating spider.

Looks like your furry little friend, uh, might have gotten a better offer.

[Woman screams]

Don’t panic. I got it, Jack.

I got it. Excuse me, sir.

Gus.

Five nights a week,

Jack helps an anxious nation forget its troubles.

[Laughs]

In November 1972,

Jack inks a five-year deal with UBC owner Walker Bedford.

Welcome to UBC family, Jack.

What did you have to sacrifice to get here tonight?

With an Emmy nomination to his name

and growing audience share,

Jack sights are set on the coveted late-night crown.

By Jack’s side through everything is his wife,

the beloved stage actress Madeleine Piper.

Despite Jack’s relentless quest to be number one,

they are considered one of showbiz’s happiest

and most enduring couples.

Madeleine is his muse and his confidante,

but she is not his only source of support.

[Soft, dramatic music plays]

Jack’s association with The Grove,

a men-only club located in the redwoods of California,

has been the subject of rumors since his days in radio.

Established in the 1800s

and counting among its members politicians,

entertainers, and captains of industry,

The Grove has long portrayed itself

as a harmless summer camp for the rich and powerful.

[Men howling and trilling]

But speculation swirls around its taste for arcane ceremony

and its power to make and break careers.

…8…7…6…

Four seasons on, and ratings still fail to match Carson.

[Up-tempo music plays]

The nominations mount, but no trophy.

Jack’s reputation as perennial also-ran starts to bite.

He knows that history remembers only kings.

Then, in September 1976,

Jack’s world is turned upside-down

when Madeleine, a nonsmoker,

is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

In October, Madeleine makes a special appearance on the show.

[Breathlessly] Jack and I first met

when I was doing “Oh! Calcutta!”…

Oh, God.

…at the Eden.

My, you should have seen him blush

when he came backstage and [Gasps] was

confronted with all those glorious naked bodies.

[Audience murmurs] Remember, darling?

Madeleine, I don’t think we need to talk about…

See, [Gasps] he’s blushing right now.

[Laughter] How is a girl

not supposed to fall in love with that?

[Audience “Awws”]

Isn’t she something, ladies and gentlemen?

[Cheers and applause]

It is the highest-rating

episode in “Night Owls” history,

but still falls a point short of Carson.

I love you, Jack.

[Mouthing words]

[Applause]

Two weeks later, Madeleine is dead.

[Inhaling deeply]

[Camera shutters clicking]

A grieving Jack shuns the media.

He flees New York, his location unknown.

Just one month later, and to the surprise of many,

UBC announces his return.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Jack Delroy.

[Cheers and applause]

[Soft, dramatic music plays]

But the gap between Delroy and Carson continues to widen.

Jack and his longtime producer, Leo Fiske,

go out of their way to court controversy,

in a bid to improve audience share.

[Indistinct shouting]

[Grunting]

You used to be the [bleep] man, Jack.

What the [bleep] happened to you?

[Audience murmurs] Huh?

We are gonna take a break, and I’ll…

I’ll be right back. And you will not.

Where the [bleep] do you think you’re going? Huh?

Open the [bleep] door!

Ratings are in free fall.

Sponsors are nervous.

Jack’s contract is set to expire.

Everything is on the line when Sweeps Week begins

on Halloween night, 1977.

[Speaking French]

A desperate Jack plans an episode

he hopes will turn his fortunes around.

Get the audience in, guys. [Door creak, slam]

What you are about to see is the recently discovered

master tape of what went to air that night,

as well as previously unreleased behind-the-scenes footage.

It is the live TV event that shocked a nation…

“Late Night With the Devil.”

[Eerie music plays]

[Static, beeping]

[Electronic hum]

Tonight’s broadcast is brought to you

by the Cavendish Group of Companies.

Let’s shake on it.

[Cheers and applause]

Live from UBC Studios in New York City,

it’s “Night Owls” with Jack Delroy!

[Up-tempo theme music plays]

Joining us on our spooky Halloween special,

Christou…

Carmichael Haig…

Dr. June Ross-Mitchell with the subject of her new book,

Lilly…

Miss Cleo James with a bewitching jazz medley…

plus our annual Halloween costume parade.

But now here’s Mr. Midnight… Jack Delroy!

[Cheers and applause]

[Chuckles]

Oh, boy. Jack?

[Chuckles]

Where the hell is he?

[Laughter]

Uh, Jack, you’re on. [Audience murmurs]

Leo, he’s not, uh…

Boo!

Aw, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! [Laughter]

[Growls]

[Laughing]

[Laughter and applause]

Gus McConnell, ladies and gentlemen.

[Chuckles] You.

[Laughter]

Oh, good evening, night owls, and thank you for allowing me

into your living rooms once again.

We’ve got an incredible show lined up for you tonight

as we celebrate all of the fiendish fun of Halloween.

[Eerie whistling] Ew. Oh, hello.

Um, what do you got there, Gus?

A theremin Jack. It’s a musical instrument.

Oh, that’s not music, Gus.

That is actually the sound you get

when you’re tuning your car radio,

searching for music. [Laughter]

What’s interesting about a theremin, Jack,

is you play it without touching it.

So, you’re not meant to touch it?

No, sir. No touching.

Why, Gus, if only you’d shown the same restraint

at the Melody Burlesque after Friday’s show.

Hmm. [Laughter and applause]

Think we should raise the bar in here

a little bit tonight, folks. Um, anybody go

to the Yankees’ parade? [Cheers and applause]

Yeah! Any Reggie Jackson fans in here?

[Cheers and applause]

Knew she was. Now, there’s a rumor

going around that “Cosmo” magazine

has approached Reggie to be their very own Mr. October.

[Audience “Oohs”]

Ooh.

We can expect Reggie’s impressive homerun spree

to continue well into the offseason.

[Bat hits ball] [Laughter and applause]

We doing good? Have one more?

[Thud] Hey! Whoa!

That one went over the fence.

[Applause] Whew! [Laughs]

I don’t get that joke, Jack.

Oh, well.

I guess we’re gonna have to raise the bar

to Gus’s standards now, folks.

Uh, yeah, so, apparently, President Jimmy Carter…

Really, Leo? [Cheering]

Oh, you’re… Oh, well, okay. Easy pickings, I guess.

[Laughter] Um…

so, President Carter held a press conference today

announcing a reorganization of his staff.

When asked if his brother Billy was part of the plans,

the president said that he’d offered

Billy a chance to head either the FBI…

is this true? or the CIA. Wow.

That can’t be true.

Apparently, Billy said

he refused to head any agency that he couldn’t spell.

[Laughter] [Rim shot]

I get that joke.

You got it?

I got it.

Gus got it.

[Laughter]

Well, night owls, we’ve got a heck of a show

in store for you tonight, and I’m very excited for you

to see it all unfold before your very eyes.

I really hope you love it. Gosh, I hope you love it.

Please love it, because, well…

it’s Sweeps Week.

[Dramatic chords play]

Oh! That’s right.

Where is Vincent Price when you need him?

Boy, I tell you what.

Now, Sweeps Week, as we all know,

is the all-important national ratings period.

But, hey, do I look nervous to you, Gus?

You better believe it, Jack. [Laughter]

We all know how important it is to keep our sponsors

and affiliates happy. But in my humble opinion,

there is only one person who really matters

in this whole darn crazy business.

Well, thank you Jack.

And that is you, our viewer.

[Laughter]

You have stood by me through thick and thin,

good times and bad. Especially the bad.

It was your support that [Sighs] brought me back

into this very studio a year ago,

when I could have easily thrown in the towel,

when many suggested

that I should have thrown in the towel.

This show is… and it always has been… for you.

Love you, Jack!

And [Sighs]…

[Audience “Awws”] [Sighs]

Leo, can we please get that woman a Nielsen viewing diary?

Come on. [Laughter]

Thank you all.

What do you say, night owls? On with the show, huh?

Yeah!

[Cheers and applause]

Alright

Interest in the occult has seen a major revival in recent years.

This is true. You open any newspaper today,

you’re gonna see hundreds of ads for psychics

or fortune tellers, exorcists, even.

Whoa! [Audience “Whoas”]

Now, as you know, here on “Night Owls,”

we think it’s very important to keep an open mind.

Our first guest tonight…

I am so excited about this young man…

is a shining light in this movement.

Some call him a medium; others, a spiritualist.

Some have even called him a miracle worker.

We know him by one name, and, well,

that’s probably because one name is all he seems to have.

Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome

the mysterious, the mononymous Christou.

[Cheers and applause]

[Indian music plays]

[Cheers and applause]

Thank you for being here.

So, it is just Christou, is that right?

[Middle Eastern accent] Sí, that is correct.

Thank you for inviting me onto your program.

Oh, please, thank you for taking time

out of your busy touring schedule.

You are a hot ticket these days. I tell you what.

It is my pleasure.

Now, as I understand it,

a night like tonight, a spooky night like Halloween,

holds a special significance for someone in your profession.

That is correct. All Hallows Eve is a time

to break open the doors to the underworld.

It is the last chance for the spirits of the recently deceased

to attend to any unfinished business.

Hmm.

Ooh.

So that explains the significance, then,

of the Halloween masks. Sí, yes.

We use them to hide from the angry spirits.

Oh. I’m so curious.

Do you hear these voices of the dead all the time?

The energy is ever-present, sí.

And then I guess the burning question is,

how the hell do you get any sleep?

[Laughter] I mean, right?

Just think of my mind like the ham radio,

picking up frequencies in the airwaves.

When I no longer want to listen, I simply switch it off.

Just like that? Wow.

Okay, well, then I think it is time, ladies and gentlemen,

that we fire up those frequencies.

The energy in here is very strong.

Thank you, Phil. The floor is yours, sir.

Ladies and gentlemen, Christou. [Cheers and applause]

[Inhales deeply]

[Gasps]

I’m already receiving some signals here.

[Breathing unevenly]

[Grunts]

The letter “P,” I’m hearing.

[Breathing unevenly]

Peter. [Audience murmurs]

Pete.

No, wait. It’s clearer now.

Peterson. I’m hearing the name Peterson.

Peterman?

What? I’m sorry.

Sir, you’re up there. Yeah. Okay, okay, sir. sir.

You can stand up back there. Thank you.

Hi, Mr. Peterson.

Uh, no.

Uh, my wife’s maiden name was Peterman.

Yes, that is it… Peterman. She’s in the room with us now.

She is?

Your wife has crossed over, sí?

You could say that.

She ran off with my neighbor five years ago.

[Laughter]

Sorry to hear that.

Oh, don’t be.

My golf game’s never been better.

[Laughter]

No, but there is a…

Now I’m hearing the name Elizabeth.

No, her name was Helen.

There was no Beth or Betty?

Correct.

There was a Betty.

No. You’re correct.

There was no Beth or Betty. [Laughter]

A name starting with “B.”

Oh, my name’s Barry.

That’s not it.

No, it has been for 42 years.

[Laughter]

Gone. The spirit has passed. I’m sorry.

Sometimes the signal gets scrambled.

Studio lights, cameras. I am only a messenger.

I concentrate.

Barry, have a seat. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

And you, sir?

Looks like you went on a shopping spree with Gus

down at, uh, Barney’s Discount Costume Warehouse, huh?

[Laughter] Got quite a steal on that, huh?

Don’t be upset. I’m just ribbing you.

[Laughter]

Oh, Jack.

I’m receiving something. [Exhales sharply]

I’m getting a… Oh, yes, this intrigues.

[Breathing heavily]

Good evening, ladies.

Good evening. [Chuckles]

Evening, evening.

[Chuckles]

Who is Edward?

Eddie? He was a son or brother for one of you, sí?

Edmond was my little brother.

And you were the mother, sí?

Sí. I mean, yes.

[Laughter]

Deduction, Jack, not psychic powers.

I am still impressed. Wow. [Laughter]

Something bad happened to Edmond.

It’s… hard to talk about it?

Yes.

Many questions remain.

Well, h-he…

It may be that Edmond took his own life?

Quite recently, too.

Five years ago.

I know, but it feels like only yesterday.

Such a terrible tragedy.

There was much confusion why he did this, no?

Terrible sadness and confusion. This is so.

There was no note. Nothing.

No.

He was such a happy boy.

None of us knew he was in so much pain.

[Audience murmurs]

Eddie wants you to know that he is at peace now.

He’s sorry for the suffering he has caused.

He communicates this to you. His heart is full of love.

[Chuckles]

Now I’m hitting the word “papa.”

Well, Dad was always Dad. We never…

No, wait. Um…

[Sniffles]

When Edmond was little, he had a teddy named Papa.

This is true.

Oh, my God. I remember.

[Sniffles] I kept all his things.

Can you please tell him that Papa is safe?

[Sniffling]

I do not need to tell him this.

He already knows. [Audience “Awws”]

Thank you. You are both so beautiful.

Bless you. Bless you all!

[Cheers and applause]

Wow!

Wow! What a… What a gift.

Thank you. Christou! Wow!

[Chuckles]

Now these tour dates

should be showing up on your screens momentarily.

We’re gonna have to take a quick break, folks.

When we come back, though, one of the old friends

of our show who always…

[Groaning loudly]

[Screams]

Christou?

[Breathing heavily] [Audience murmurs]

Something very intense here. [Gasps]

Perhaps… Are we getting another message from Edmond?

No, no. This is…

[Screams] [Audience gasps]

I’m getting the name… Minnie.

Does anyone here know a Minnie? Please accept.

Does this name mean anything to anyone in the studio?

No? Um, perhaps a name that sounds like Minnie.

Maybe it’s like a Millie or a Mandy.

I had a Great-Aunt Molly.

It’s Minnie!

[Audience gasps] Please! Who will accept?

[Grunts] So much sadness.

I see [Gasps] a wedding ring.

An unmarried man with a wedding ring.

The spirit needs to talk to you. Who are you?!

[Electricity crackles] [Audience screaming]

It’s okay, folks, it’s just our old par cans acting up.

[Gasping] [Audience murmurs]

[Gasping]

Gone. S-She’s gone.

[Gasping]

S-S-She’s gone.

[Gasping]

Leo?

[Breathing heavily]

We’re gonna take a quick break,

and we’re gonna be right back after these messages.

[Up-tempo theme music plays]

[Cheers and applause]

[Music stops]

And we’re clear. [Bell rings]

Gus to wardrobe.

Hey, Mr. Christou, that was fantastic.

You are truly blessed. Jack, can we talk?

Not right now, Gus.

It’s just backstage.

They’re saying you and Leo have got something cooked up

when that girl comes on.

As far as I know,

we’re sticking to the rundown.

Right, right.

It’s just, I saw restraints, Jack, and… and knives.

I’ve got to be honest with you.

We’re a little spooked back there.

What the hell are you still doing here?

Get to wardrobe, pronto.

Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Fantastic segment, fellas.

Mr. Christou,

you look like you might need a bourbon.

Just some water, please.

In this place?

I’ll see what I can do.

Some water for Mr. Christou.

Are you happy to stay with us a little longer?

I really should be…

That’s the spirit.

I can’t wait to catch your act, by the way.

Here, you’ve got some blood under your nose.

Jack, mind if we…

Thank you.

Jesus Christ.

The charlatan really went all-out there.

Oh, boy. That bit with the lights was your idea, wasn’t it?

If you liked it, yeah, I’ll take full credit.

Mm-hmm.

What did you think

about our friend Barry?

[Indistinct conversations]

You okay, buddy?

Yeah. Just that last…

Look, whatever happened was great television.

Don’t let it rattle you. Okay, some orders of business.

We’re running long, late to break.

Okay, but we’re not bumping Cleo again.

Well, we’ll try to make up some time.

Oh, don’t look now, but Cavendish’s new

vice president of marketing and his wife

are sitting in the front row with the head of airtime.

You’re looking directly at them. I don’t understand that.

Hey, they want to talk to you. They want to meet you.

No, I don’t have time to play kiss-ass right now.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m trying to host

a nationally syndicated talk show.

And I’m trying to help you keep it on the air.

McConnell?

Okay.

Where’s McConnell?

Next break.

Mm.

Okay?

How’s June? Did they land? Is she okay?

She’s fine. Just fine.

Great. The girl?

Jack, will you please relax?

Everything’s going very, very well.

Phil, what the hell’s going on with those lights?

We’re working on it.

30 seconds, people!

Hey.

Nothing’s been fixed

since 1956.

Hey, great show so far.

Sammy, how are you?

Good. How are you?

I’m okay. How’s my hair looking?

Alright. You look great.

Good.

Bats in the cave?

You’re all clear.

[Mid-tempo music plays]

Thank you.

Hey, Jack, which card?

Hey.

Is this necessary?

You got a little bit of a sweat going on, honey.

Please, stop!

[Indistinct conversations]

Fine. Suit yourself.

Hey. Hmm?

Fear not, friends, your humble sidekick has returned.

[Laughter]

Stand by everyone.

Staging, the door.

Too kind.

Haig’s on next. Pay him no mind.

He’s all wax, no wick. Okay?

And we’re back in 5… 4… [Door closes]

[Coughs] [Film projector whirring]

[Cheers and applause]

[Mid-tempo music plays]

[Bat squeaking]

Thank you. Welcome back to our Halloween special, folks.

For those of you just tuning in,

Mr. Christou here wowed us before the break

with a demonstration of his mediumistic powers.

It was really something. Am I right?

[Cheers and applause]

[Coughs]

Amazing. Our next guest

is someone equally renowned in his own field.

Once known to us all as Carmichael the Conjurer.

You remember him? Yeah? Well, he hung up the wand

several years ago to become

one of the leading voices of the skeptics movement.

Ladies and gentlemen, make welcome,

if you dare, Mr. Carmichael Haig.

[Cheers and applause]

[Up-tempo music plays]

So good to see you again, Car.

[Coughs]

It’s wonderful to be here, Jack.

Mind if I smoke?

[Coughs]

Please be my guest.

Oh, boy, that was good. [Audience murmurs]

Mmm.

[Audience murmurs]

Wow.

[Audience murmurs] He’s still got it.

[Fanfare] Ladies and gentlemen.

Holy smoke. [Audience groans]

Come… Come on. [Applause]

I’m right here. Car…

we all know you from the Vegas shows,

the TV specials.

[Coughs]

Your group-hypnosis routine was the first of its kind.

Absolutely boggled my mind when I saw it.

Many regarded you as the best in the biz.

And I know my saying that won’t embarrass you.

Correct. On all counts. Continue, dear friend.

[Laughter]

But in recent years,

it seems you’ve turned your attention

to something a little more, shall we say, philanthropic?

You mean IFSIP?

IFSIP.

Now, IFSIP, for those of you not in the know, is an acronym.

It stands for… let me get this right here…

the International Federation

of Scientific Investigation into the Paranormal.

Ooh. It’s a lot of words. We’ve got some pictures up

right here. Take a look.

Photogenic lot, aren’t we?

Yes, it is our mission to test these claims

and determine what is trickery

and what may, in fact, be genuine psi phenomena.

Oh, that’s me about to embark on a little ghost hunt

in Amityville. [Audience “Oohs”]

My dear friends Ed and Lorraine Warren

declined the invitation to join me.

Easily spooked. [Laughter]

Car, be honest with me. What is the harm

for those of us who just want to believe in something mysterious,

something bigger than ourselves, hmm?

Jack, I’m the first to admit

that the world would be a more interesting place

if, uh… if people could magically bend spoons

or divine water with a stick or…

talk to the dead. [Audience groans]

But until I am presented with irrefutable proof…

[Coughing]

I will continue to expose

these men and women for the swindlers they are.

Still carry that check with you, Car?

Oh, yes.

We offer a not-insubstantial reward

for anyone whose claims can be verified.

Get a shot on this?

Camera 1.100 grand. [Audience murmurs]

How many have taken up the challenge?

[Coughs]

Oh, dozens.

And how many checks have you signed?

Yet to sacrifice a nickel, Jack.

Tonight might be the night, though, folks.

Right? [Cheers and applause]

I do not need this man’s money.

No, I imagine you don’t. Not when there are so many naive

but well-meaning people prepared to hand over their hard-earned.

[Coughing deeper]

You okay?

Oh. Do you need a drink of water?

You okay?

[Coughing]

[Gulping]

[Coughs] I’m alright, thank you.

Hey, um…

Now, Car, explain to us Mr. Christou’s readings, then,

before we went to break.

What I saw was an admittedly

accomplished performer digging from a bag of tricks

that goes back to biblical times.

By my count, Christou flopped no less than five times

before he hit on the tenuous Peterson connection.

It was Peterman.

[Chuckles]

He… He’s flawless in hindsight.

Okay, Car, but I observed nothing untoward

when Mr. Christou appeared to connect

these two ladies with their deceased son.

We all saw that, everyone here, right?

To which I would say,

even a broken clock is right twice a day.

False lies! [Audience boos]

You no more have the power of divination

than I resemble Burt Reynolds.

[Laughs]

You, sir, like me, are a liar, a cheat, a charlatan,

and a fake. The difference being,

I’m honest about it. [Audience boos]

Come on. [Audience shouting]

Oh! Okay.

A flair for the theatrical doesn’t go astray.

Christou, wait, I still have to ask you something.

Please.

Christou.

We have not yet discussed the last reading.

Yet another cold trail. Minnie, Molly, Mandy, anyone?

Put a sock in it, will you, Car?

Enough. [Sighs]

Funny as it may seem…

I actually believe that that last reading

may have been meant for me.

[Audience murmurs]

Yes?

Minnie… Who… Who’s Minnie?

Minnie is the private nickname

for…

Madeleine, my wife. [Audience murmurs]

Hmm.

Your wife?

Yes. S-She crossed over, didn’t she?

[Groans]

An unmarried man wearing a wedding ring?

[Audience murmurs] I think you meant this.

Jack, please.

Half the people in this room are wearing one.

Okay.

And Madeleine’s death

was hardly a secret. This is what I’m talking about.

It is a statistical certainty

that some fool will take the bait.

Don’t be that fool.

What are you up to, Car?

Let’s see if the mad monk

really can conjure up the spirit of your dead wife

live on air.

Half a $1 million should be incentive enough.

[Thud] No?

[Audience gasps, Christou groans]

Christou. [Stomach growling]

Buddy? [Christou grunts]

[Christou vomits, audience screams]

God damn it, man!

[Gasps]

Go to a commercial! Go to a goddamn commercial!

[Vomits]

[Bell rings]

Clear!

It’s okay.

Can we get some help here?

It’s gonna be okay. You’re just overtired, baby.

No! Something’s not right!

We need a doctor!

Get him to his dressing room now.

And someone just clean up all this mess.

The Surgeon General strongly advises

taking Pepto Bismol before speaking with the dead.

Uh, so, is anyone here from out of town?

This was a gift from Charles Laughton,

I’ll have you know.

[Sighs]

You, you, you. [Snaps fingers]

Fetch the burgundy blazer from my portmanteau, will you?

Christ, it must have been a seizure or something.

You play the aw-shucks Midwesterner so well, Jack.

That bit about Madeleine and your secret nickname?

Very impressive.

What are you talking about? There are only three ways

he could have known about that.

One, he’s actually psychic,

which we both know is impossible.

Two, he got lucky. Possible, but highly improbable.

Or three…

You think that I told him?

I wouldn’t blame you if you did.

A little on-air drama can’t be bad for ratings, right?

Right, right.

I do read the trades, Jack.

I’d have thought your high-powered friends

at The Grove could pull a few strings.

I think you overestimate their influence.

You must invite me along one of these days.

I’d love to know if the rumors are true…

the secret handshakes, the orgies,

the arcane ceremonies. But mostly the orgies.

Jack, rundown briefing.

Give me an audience with the Grand Poobah, Jack.

[Sighs] I’ll fit right in.

Good man, Sticks.

I told you not to leave me alone with that asshole.

What am I… your mother? The ambulance is coming.

You can talk to Cavendish in the next break.

Extenuating circumstances.

Any word from Bedford yet?

Mnh-mnh.

The switchboard lit up like a Rosenberg, though.

People are upset? Offended?

Angry, confused.

None of which is terrible news, of course. That’s great.

Mr. Fiske.

No, no, no, no, no.

This comes out in the next break.

Check your rundown. [Bell rings]

Staging, the door.

Shit. Back to the wings. Oh!

I’m not picking up anything down here, Steve.

You picking up anything weird, Lou?

We’re on in five…

Coming through.

…four…

Oh. Not my chair.

[Up-tempo music plays, cheers and applause]

[Music ends]

Thank you.

And thank you to everyone who’s been calling in

to check on Mr. Christou.

Don’t be alarmed, folks.

He is receiving medical attention backstage as we speak.

They needn’t bother.

The man is perfectly fine, I assure you.

Well… your dry cleaner may disagree, Car.

[Laughter]

Well, that’s just an old vaudeville routine.

Spouting, they call it. Controlled regurgitation.

Anyway, I certainly hope you’re gonna keep

that check handy.

The check…

Your breast pocket.

Hmm? [Laughs]

[Audience “ohhs”] Silky as ever, Car.

He got you, Jack. [Laughter]

My sixth sense

is telling me we may just see this check again

before the night is through.

I very much doubt that.

Wait until you meet our next guests.

[Unenthusiastically] Giddy with excitement, Jack.

You should be. [Laughter]

Now, about a… [Siren wailing]

[Audience whispering indistinctly]

About a month ago,

a manuscript happened to cross my desk that, well…

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about, quite frankly.

The book…

…”Conversations with the Devil”

by Dr. June Ross-Mitchell… [Audience “ohhs”]

…hits shelves this week, and it is certain

to challenge more than a few skeptics out there.

Now, before I bring on the doctor

and the young subject of the book,

I wanted to share with you all a clip produced

by June’s psi-research center.

Hopefully catch us all up to speed.

But please be warned, anyone

with young children in the room…

What you’re about to see is profoundly disturbing

and shocking.

Can we roll the tape, please?

[Ominous music plays]

A seemingly ordinary house on an ordinary street.

[Bell ringing] Only this is the headquarters

of the infamous First Church of Abraxas.

I command thee to come forth

and bestow these blessings of hell upon us.

Hail, Abraxas!

Hail, Abraxas!

Hail, Abraxas!

The church’s founder and leader,

the enigmatic Szandor D’Abo.

Abraxas shows us

there is no good, no evil,

no redemption.

Only what we desire and how we obtain it.

You make it sound very easy, Monsieur D’Abo.

Make no mistake… The master demands sacrifice.

D’Abo’s activities come to the attention of the FBI,

who suspect the cult of kidnapping and firearm offenses.

But even more alarming are the stories of children

being bred for human sacrifice.

…and the spilling of blood.

Come forth. Open the gates of hell.

D’Abo claims that anyone who witnesses these dreadful rituals

will fall under the spell of the demon Abraxas,

and so perform his earthly bidding.

And so it is done!

[Sirens wailing]

Events take a tragic turn

in August ’74… [Gunshots]

…when federal agencies lay siege to the house.

Shots have been fired. [Explosion]

After a tense three-day standoff,

D’Abo commands his followers to douse the premises

and themselves in gasoline.

But remarkably, among the smoldering ruins,

a terrified 10-year-old girl is discovered.

She goes only by the name of Lilly.

Her memories of her time in the house…

fractured and incomplete.

Was her survival part of D’Abo’s wicked master plan,

or was she simply the lucky one?

At a loss to explain Lilly’s strange behavior,

the FBI contacts my psi research center.

Lilly and I make an immediate connection.

Important breakthroughs follow,

but there is still much work to be done.

It’s 2:30 p.m., July 10, 1976.

This is a recording of our first session.

[Lilly breathing heavily]

Okay. [Thud]

It seems we’ve made contact.

Who am I speaking to now?

Is this the demon known as…

[Lilly screaming] Oh, my God!

Hold her tight! [Glass shatters]

Help! We need some help in here!

[Lilly screaming]

[Audience gasping]

Wow.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome

Dr. June Ross-Mitchell and Lilly.

[Mid-tempo music plays, cheers and applause]

Oh. You can come out.

Hi. [Audience “awws”]

Lilly. [Cheers and applause]

June.

How are ya?

Whoa! [Laughter]

Good to meet ya.

So good to see you again, June.

You too, Jack.

And, Lilly [Sighs]

so pleased that you could join us today.

Thank you, Mr. Delroy.

I’m so glad you could join us, too.

[Light laughter, Jack chuckles]

Now, Lilly, you don’t have to look at the camera.

You can actually talk directly to me.

Oh, I’m sorry.

Don’t be silly.

I want to start with a tough question, if that’s okay.

I’d like to know…

Have you ever watched my show before?

[Laughter]

No. I’m normally in bed by now.

But I know who you are, Mr. Delroy.

Oh, please. You can call me Jack.

June says you’re very handsome, Jack.

[Audience “oohs”]

[June chuckles nervously]

You’re the man whose wife died of cancer.

Lilly, I don’t think Jack wants to…

I was very sad when I heard about that.

I know what it’s like to lose people who are close to you.

It’s lonely at first, but you’ll get through.

Such wise words from one so young, huh?

Lilly has been through more in her 13 years

than most adults go through in a lifetime.

And you needn’t worry about your TV show.

I think you’re gonna be very famous soon.

Why, thank you for the reassurance.

I was beginning to wonder, Gus.

[Laughter]

Me too. [Laughs]

[Laughs] You’re welcome.

Okay, well, we’re gonna take a break.

Um, but on the other side…

yes, the other side…

we’re going to spend some time

getting to know these two extraordinary ladies.

[Mid-tempo music plays, cheers and applause]

Okay. That was great.

Quite a show.

I was afraid you weren’t gonna make it.

I’m sorry.

[Music ends]

And we’re clear. [Bell rings]

Great. That was great, ladies.

Lilly, you are adorable.

Thank you, Jack.

And which camera do I look at now?

Um, well, we’re off air, so none.

Time to make ourselves pretty again.

Hey, Jack.

Don’t I already look pretty, Jack?

You’re good.

Sure, you do.

Hi! I’m Lilly!

Jack, we need to talk.

Let me take that

for you, ma’am.

Thank you.

Wow. Weird kid.

She was looking

right down that camera. [Jack sighs]

That was great. You ready?

[Mid-tempo music plays]

This is so much fun.

Welcome to the dream factory, kid.

I really don’t think it’s a good idea, Jack.

She’s becoming more unpredictable.

See, unpredictable… That’s a good thing.

That’s why we still do live TV.

I mean, it’s what’s gonna help sell your book.

This isn’t about the book.

Isn’t it?

Yesterday she went into one of her fugue states,

and she, uh…

she started saying your name.

She’s excited about being on the show.

No, it was as if she was recalling something.

It was hard to make sense of it, but it was strange even for her.

Look, you are ready for this.

You told me that you’re ready for it. You know you did.

Yes. Well, there may have been a few lapses of judgment

on my part that…

This is your time. You’ve done the work.

You’re not gonna back out right now.

Yeah, I admit you made a convincing case.

But my first responsibility is to Lilly.

And I’m telling you, it’s too risky.

[Footsteps approaching]

No, I…

I should get back to her. [Leo clears throat]

She’s not getting cold feet, is she?

She’s fine. She is fine.

[Sighs]

I’m handling it!

Hey, Jack.

Hey.

Okay, so just got a call from Sinai.

[Indistinct conversations]

Yeah, I know, I know, I know.

Christou is dead.

What?

He had some kind of hemorrhage in the ambulance.

Holy shit.

I know.

No. No, no, no.

I thought that that was all part of his act.

The… What did Haig call it? Spouting?

Well, apparently he was spouting from, well, everywhere.

The paramedics couldn’t get it under control.

Jesus Christ!

I know. I know, I know, I know.

I know, I know, I know.

Listen to me.

Nobody can find out about this, especially not Gus.

I’ll do the best that I can, gut you know how quickly

word spreads around here.

Staging,

where’s my sacrificial dagger?

We’re on 60 second.

Hey, hey, Phil. Has the rundown changed?

Staging’s saying something about a new bit in seg five,

and I don’t see it on my…

Wait. Shh, shh, shh.

Look, I’m telling you, Steve, whatever it is,

we’re not seeing it on the monitor down here.

Hey, Phil.

Come on, guys!

You just keep switching cameras,

and I’ll make sure everybody gets their cues, okay?

Phil! Phil!

Stand by, everyone.

Phil!

Then there was a questionnaire

you had to complete before coming in, you say?

Yeah, that’s right.

Oh, and there was a lady in the lobby

who asked a bunch of questions, too.

Oh, yeah. It was the same woman

who came out and helped Mr. Christou when he…

Oh, yes, I know. Most disturbing, wasn’t it?

Thank you, ladies.

All sorts of stuff lately.

Yeah.

No wonder we…

Thank you.

Phil said we’re coming back.

Is everything okay, Jack?

Yeah. Everything is fine, sweetie.

10 seconds!

Where the hell is Haig?

[Bell rings]

And we’re back in five…

four…

[Cheers and applause]

[Eerie music plays]

[Music ends]

And welcome back to our very special

Halloween edition of “Night Owls.”

Now, ladies, there is so much

that I’d like to discuss with you both,

but I want to start with you, June.

Now, you call yourself a parapsychologist.

What exactly does that…

I call myself one

because that’s what I am, Jack.

It so happens I have a PhD in the subject.

From the University of Hogwash, if I’m not mistaken.

The Stanford Research Institute, actually.

The difference being? [Audience “ohhs”]

Is it really worth us continuing if this man

is going to interrupt every time you ask a question?

Car, please behave. [Scattered applause]

As I was going to say,

we parapsychologists believe there are certain phenomena,

psi phenomena,

that traditional science is ill-equipped to understand.

Telepathy, for example. Telekinesis,

apparitional anomalies.

Demonic possession.

“Psychic infestation” is the term we prefer, but yes.

And it’s your belief

that Lilly here presents just such a case.

For the past three years,

I’ve been combining age regression therapy

with a growing understanding of ancient Satanic rituals

to piece together the details of Lilly’s life

and to grasp the nature of the demon that lurks within her.

This is the demon Abraxas

that the charming Mr. D’Abo spoke of in your clips?

No, I believe it’s more likely one of the minor deities

said to serve Abraxas.

These entities thrive on our confusion.

And our stupidity.

[Audience groans]

Look, I understand that some of this

might seem to stretch credulity,

but, remember, big, new scientific ideas

are always greeted with some resistance.

It’s only the most close-minded that greet them with ridicule.

[Cheers and applause]

Incidentally, we have some pieces here

from your private collection.

[June clears throat]

Whew!

Okay, well, girl’s got to have a hobby, huh?

[Laughter]

That dagger was recovered from the remains

of the D’Abo house. We believe it was used in many

of the church’s sacrificial ceremonies.

No! [Audience gasps]

Oh, God!

No! Don’t do it!

I can’t stop it!

Stop!

Turn off your TV sets before Abraxas claims your souls!

Car?

[Chuckles] You truly are a suggestible lot.

Handy to know.

Mr. Haig,

we haven’t come on here for your amusement.

Don’t be silly, my dear.

If we accept the Gnostic interpretation,

Abraxas is the consummate showman. He craves an audience.

After all, his name is the source

of the magician’s favorite incantation.

Abracadabra.

Clever girl.

Now, Lilly, I understand that you have a name

for this thing that lives inside of you.

Mm-hmm.

I call him Mr. Wriggles.

And why do you call him that?

[Sighs]

He kind of wriggles his way inside my head,

and then he wriggles his way out.

But with June’s help, you are able to control him.

June says that everyone has a demon inside them.

But we can’t always control them, can we?

[Eerie music plays]

Gus. Your timing is…

I got it, Jack.

It’s just a matter of…

[Electricity crackling]

Ooh!

[Electricity crackling]

Gus!

Is there off switch for that thing?

How the hell should I know?!

[Music continues, feedback whining]

[Rumbling]

[Table rattling]

[Glass shattering]

[Audience screaming]

[Static hissing]

[Music stops]

It was feeding back through your P.A. system.

No.

It’s the same physics

as when a soprano hits “G” over high “C.”

Poof!

Okay, Car, but come on. That was…

He’s wrong, you know?

It was Mr. Wriggles.

Mr. Wriggles?!

He did it.

[Sighs]

If you insist, little one.

Why must you be so condescending, Mr. Haig?

[Audience murmuring]

Lilly, do you mean

that Mr. Wriggles is here in the studio with us right now?

Mm-hmm.

Would it be okay if we invited him on the show?

Jack, I thought I made it clear…

I think so.

No, I can’t allow that.

A summoning requires a carefully controlled environment.

The lights, cameras, audience…

Conditions here are hardly conducive.

A TV studio’s a controlled enough environment for my money.

Half a million bucks, to be precise.

Can we? June, please!

Yeah!

We want to see!

Come on, June.

Come on, June.

We want to see.

Do it!

Come on!

[June scoffs lightly]

We want to see!

Show us, June.

Come on, June!

The people have spoken.

If I’m able to conduct the session

with the full cooperation of your crew, your audience,

and your guests,

then perhaps we can attempt a brief demonstration.

Yeah!

Yes, of course.

[Applause]

This is great news. It’s great news.

Ladies and gentlemen, please stay tuned

for a live television first

as we attempt to commune with the devil.

But not before a word from our sponsors.

[Up-tempo music plays, cheers and applause]

[Music ends]

Clear! [Bell rings]

Step lively, people. We have two minutes

to prep the main stage, checks on June and Lilly.

You bastard. You ambushed me.

You didn’t require too much convincing, dearie.

Bread and circuses.

You shut up.

This is your chance to prove people like him wrong.

This is your moment, June.

Did you hear anything I said back there?

You know, for a talk show host, you’re a terrible listener.

Is somebody gonna clean up the glass?

Lilly’s okay with it. Aren’t you, sweetheart?

Sure, Jack.

Can I get you two ladies

to follow me downstage, please?

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jack, can I get a minute?

Can it wait?

No, sir. It cannot.

Excuse me, uh, Phil.

There are some restraints backstage.

Would you mind?

Sure.

I hope you know what you’re doing, lady.

We know what we’re doing, Sammy. Don’t we, June?

Jerry, you got the new lighting cues?

[Sighs] What?

You’re meddling with things you don’t understand.

Okay. If we…

manage to conjure Satan,

I give you express permission to go right for that exit.

Okay? If Earth swallows us whole, I apologize in advance.

Okay?

What has gotten into you?

Half an hour ago, you thought

Madeleine was trying to reach out to you from the grave.

And now…

Now… Now, buddy,

all I’m trying to do is save our fucking show. Okay?

So enough with the sanctimonious crap.

I know about Christou.

It’s that Mr. Wriggles, isn’t it?

He’s behind this whole thing.

Who else knows about Christou?

Crew’s scared, Jack. I’m scared.

Okay? Some of us are talking about jumping ship.

No one’s going anywhere, God damn it.

And you need to keep this fire-and-brimstone bullshit

to yourself. Please, Gus?

Okay?

You are not a bad man, Jack.

You’re not. And I am begging you

to stop this before something terrible happens.

Jack, you’re gonna intro the girls downstage.

Mm.

Is there a problem here?

Stand by, everybody.

There’s no problem.

[Bell rings]

We are back in five…

four…

Welcome back, everyone.

Without further ado, Dr. June Ross-Mitchell

will commence the demonstration.

And might I say to you both, Godspeed?

Thank you, Jack.

Now, if the entity is present tonight,

it may manifest itself in any number of ways,

but its entry into our world is only possible through Lilly.

I merely provide the key that unlocks the door.

Whatever you might see or hear, I ask you all to remain calm.

It’s vital that Lilly’s focus remains with me.

[Lilly chuckles]

Let us begin. [Breathes deeply]

Lilly, to me.

Close your eyes, Lilly.

[Breathes deeply]

That’s it.

And let yourself sleep.

[Breathes deeply]

Relax.

Lilly, can you hear me?

Lilly?

May I speak to the one you know as Mr. Wriggles?

[Breathes deeply]

If Mr. Wrig…

[Chair thuds]

[Audience gasping] Quiet.

[Chair thuds]

May I ask who is present now?

[Lilly groans, audience gasps] Shh!

[Lilly straining, chair thudding]

Please let yourself be known.

[Lilly straining, chair thudding]

[Lilly laughing mockingly]

Speak.

[Demonic voice] You know who I am, Doctor.

[Cracking]

[Audience gasps, screams]

Please.

Is that the devil?

I’m so scared.

Is she okay?

[Audience murmuring]

[Cracking]

[Audience gasps]

Who are these people?

[Cracking]

What is this?

[Audience gasping, chair thudding]

Where am I?!

There is no need to be alarmed.

What have you done to me, Doctor?

We mean you no harm.

We’ve brought you into this realm to better understand

your purpose.

My purpose?

He’s here, isn’t he?

Good to see you again, Jack.

Nah. Sorry.

I don’t believe we’ve been acquainted.

Don’t be a fool. We go way back.

We met amongst the tall trees.

Remember?

Lilly, return to me.

Oh, Juney, Juney, Juney, Juney!

Be careful now.

You know what happened to his last whore.

She died. She died an ugly, ugly death.

Lilly, come back to me… now!

And the worms finished off with Minnie a long time ago,

didn’t they, Jack?

So now you can screw up whoever you want, hmm? Like Dr. June.

Dr. June thinks you’re very handsome, Jack.

Dr. June thinks you’re very, very handsome.

That’s enough! Lilly, I need you to come back to me now!

[Singsongy voice] Jack and June went up the hill

to fuck each other’s brains out. [Audience gasps]

Jack and Jill went up the hill to [bleep] each other’s…

That’s enough! [Audience gasps]

[Lilly crying]

Lilly?

Lilly, sweetheart? [Lilly sniffles]

[Normal voice] Why would you hurt me like that, June?

You know I can’t help it.

I know. I never…

[Screeches] [Audience gasps, screams]

No, Jack! Stay where you are.

[Cracking]

[Indistinct shouting]

Vade retro Satana.

Sunt mala quae libas.

[Laughs]

Vade retro Satana. Sunt mala quae libas.

[Laughing]

You were cursed by Anum and Antum, Lahmum and Du-rum,

[Demonic voice] The Underworld

and those who lie in it,

that you shall not seize her,

and you shall not return.

And you shall not return!!

[Cracking]

How could you let it happen, Jack?

How could you let it happen?

[Banging, electricity crackles]

[Audience screaming]

[Banging]

[Breathing heavily]

[Crying]

[Screams]

[Chair thuds, audience screams]

[Normal voice] Oh, my God. I’m so sorry.

No, no, no, no. No, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

I never should have put you in that position. Okay?

[Whispering indistinctly]

You’re okay. You’re okay. Just breathe.

That was…

You’re okay.

Ladies and gentlemen,

have you ever seen anything like that?

This is unconscionable, Jack.

I would like to point out

a number of tricks employed by the so-called doctor.

And you’ll get your turn, Car.

Right now…

some messages.

[Mid-tempo music plays, applause]

[Music ends]

We’re clear. [Bell rings]

Is this a talk show or a fucking freak show?!

I mean, the depths you people have sunk to.

Carmichael, just take it easy, okay?

Let’s get Sammy in to mop that brow of yours.

Sammy?

Lilly, are you okay?

A bit embarrassed, I guess. I’m okay.

Phil. I’m sorry. Can we get a hand with these straps?

I got you.

June.

Come here. Come here.

Just, let’s…

You’re okay. [Restraints clicking]

Jesus. That was… I mean…

[Gasps]

I knew that we were gonna see something amazing tonight,

but…

we got to get you guys back on as soon as possible.

This could become, like, a regular spot.

The tall trees.

What did she mean by that?

I don’t know. You tell me.

This isn’t some kind of parlor trick, Jack.

I know that, June. I mean, this…

There is something very special happening here with Lilly.

With you.

I just… I want to be a part of it.

Uh! You’re hurting me!

Sorry, kid.

Look, I’m trying here.

Hey, Phil.

It’s okay, it’s okay. I got this.

Can I see that? Thanks. Thanks, guys.

Go ahead.

It’s okay, Lilly. It’s okay.

Thank you, Jack.

Mm-hmm.

No, she’s great. She’s got it all.

Well, this is all very exciting. Thank you so much.

Sorry.

Send regards to Bonnie

and the kids. Okay. Bye-bye.

We’ll have you back next year.

This isn’t about ratings anymore, Leo. This is sorcery.

Listen to me, you goddamn shit-your-pants Mick asshole!

Dial up that grin. Dial it up.

Dial it up and get on with your job.

And not one more word.

[Woman singing scales]

It’s all smoke and mirrors, Gus. Trust me.

Leo should have cut the whole show right after Christou died.

Bombed, you mean?

No. Didn’t you hear?

He’s dead.

Puked his guts out on the way to Sinai.

Two minutes, everyone.

We’re on the homestretch. Let’s keep it going.

[Grunts]

Thank you, Jack.

Yeah. Come here.

And what are we doing now, Jack?

Um, now it’s nearly time to say good night, darling.

[Sighs] Oh.

Jack.

Sammy. Checks on June and Lilly.

Okay, so three of the crew have just walked off,

the Communications Commission

have called an emergency meeting at 7:00 a.m., and…

Bedford.

Mm-hmm.

What did he say?

Just that he thinks it’s the biggest TV event

since the moon landing.

Who was I to disagree?

We’re back!

Baby! Back! We’re back from the fucking dead!

We’re talking about 35, maybe even 40 share.

“The night Jack Delroy interviewed

that cock-fucking devil”!

Well, it might not

be the headline The Times, run with, or The Post,

for that matter, but something in that vein.

Oh, and Bedford also took quite a liking

to… to June, too.

Asked when she’d be back.

I’ll do what I can.

I guess I don’t have to kiss Cavendish’s ass.

Cavendish? Screw Cavendish.

After tonight, every fucking Fortune 500 will be lining up

to be a part of the resurrection of Jack Delroy.

If anyone’s gonna be kissing ass, it’s them.

What’s the matter?

Just [Sighs]

That girl’s voice…

I know. How did she do that?

Yeah, but at the end, I mean, she sounded just like Minnie.

You heard that.

No, no, no, no.

Don’t… Don’t you go all screwy on me, Jack.

I’ve already got Gus back there prepping for an exorcism.

I just got spooked. That’s all.

Let me tell you something.

If Minnie were here, she’d be saying,

“You get out there, Mr. Midnight,

and you knock ’em dead.”

Positions, people. 10 seconds.

We’ll drop the costume parade to give Carmichael

a few more minutes on his soapbox,

and then we’ll wrap it up, throw it to Cleo.

10 seconds, people.

Jack.

Can we have Cleo standing by?

Dagger. [Bell rings]

And in five…

four…

[Up-tempo music plays, cheers and applause]

[Music ends]

Welcome back.

Ladies and gentlemen,

before we continue, I’d like to apologize to anyone

who may have been upset or offended

by what you saw before the break.

It’s not every day that you see a demonic possession

on live television.

Lilly…

can you assure everyone that you’re okay?

Yes. I’m fine, Jack.

And do you have any recollection

of what just happened?

It’s hard to explain.

It’s like I’m asleep, but I’m awake at the same time.

I just try to focus on June’s voice.

I’m sorry if Mr. Wriggles said anything rude.

Alright, enough with all this subterfuge.

May I, Jack?

Yeah. Oh, please.

Because, you know, I’m dying to hear you explain away

what we all just witnessed here. Let’s hear it.

Let me preface this by saying

that my chief concern is the welfare,

indeed the sanity, of this young girl.

How dare you?

I beg your pardon?

[Scoffs]

[Audience murmuring]

Before I became her guardian,

Lilly lived in the cruelest conditions imaginable.

I studied her, yes. I treated her.

But I also gave her two things

I’m sure you’re just as skeptical of…

love and compassion.

Lilly and I are family.

I can assure you all there is no demon

lurking inside this child.

Clearly, she has been placed in a hypnotic state,

then manipulated by the good doctor

to perform her bit.

Hypnosis?

Then… Then how do you explain the physical transformations

with her skin? The voice changed.

There was banging on the walls of the studio.

She levitated, for God’s sakes!

Granted,

the stagecraft was impeccable.

[Audience booing]

Do you know what I think, Car?

Pray tell.

I think that you are just a self-righteous,

coldhearted curmudgeon who’s trying to weasel

his way out of parting with half a million bucks.

Yeah!

Yeah!

[Applause]

If you’ll allow me, Jack,

I’d like to prove my thesis beyond a shadow of doubt.

Be my guest.

I’ll need a volunteer.

[Laughs]

Thank you, Gus.

Hmm?

[Laughter]

Yes, if you’ll join me center stage.

Could I have those chairs back here, please?

Do as you’re told, Gus. Gus.

[Cheers and applause]

Car. You’ve got five minutes. Make ’em count.

Don’t worry, Jack. What I have in store

should provide a very fitting climax to your show.

My wife likes the way

my head sits on my shoulders, Mr. Haig.

I hope you’re not planning to, uh…

Make it spin?

Oh, I plan to make everybody’s head spin.

[Audience “oohs”]

[Breathes deeply]

Could I just have the lights dimmed, please?

[Switch clicks]

[Chuckles]

A bit of atmosphere never hurt, did it, Dr. June?

You know what we say in TV land…

Where there’s smoke, there’s probably a smoke machine.

[Laughter]

My compliments to the producer.

Okay, Gus.

[Breathes deeply]

Are we feeling comfortable?

Sure.

I hope everyone here in the studio

and you at home are all feeling comfortable, too.

It’s important that everyone is as relaxed as they can be.

Now, I have something here

that I want you all to look at.

Do you think we might be able to get a close-up?

Mm.

[Watch ticking]

I will now ask you all to stare into my watch.

Even you, Jack.

Got a good shot on all the studio monitors here.

I hope our viewers at home are also paying attention.

Watch carefully.

‘Round…

and ’round, it goes.

Is everyone feeling nice and relaxed?

[Button clicks]

Good.

Now, Gus…

Hmm?

…tell me all about this vermiphobia of yours.

I’m sorry. My what?

Your morbid fear of worms.

How do you know about that?

What is it about them that so unsettles you?

Isn’t it obvious? They’re such ugly, slimy things.

No arms, no legs, no eyes.

Indeed. Quite grotesque.

And they seem to thrive wherever it’s dark and moist…

the soil, the mud, the human body, even.

Disgusting.

Do you realize that you are now deep in a trance?

No, sir, I do not.

A very… deep…

trance.

Okey-dokey. You’re the expert. [Chuckles]

And when I click my fingers,

you will be entirely under my command.

Look, this is silly. I don’t think it…

[Snaps fingers]

Gus, can you hear me?

Yes.

Do you know where you are?

Here…

in the studio with you.

You don’t feel any different?

No.

Why should I?

[Moaning]

What is that? Do you hear that?

Geez, it’s…

It’s hot in here.

Skin’s itchy.

You alright, Gus?

Yeah. Just, uh, so damn itchy.

[Chuckles]

Your neck.

It’s bleeding.

I did nick myself shaving earlier.

Geez.

[Audience screaming]

What is that?

[Audience “ohhs”]

Jesus!

Now, just stay calm, Gus.

No. No! I can feel them.

They’re inside me.

Jesus!

Aaaahhh!

Aah! [Lilly laughs]

[Audience gasps, screams]

Oh, God!

[Snaps fingers]

[Snaps fingers]

Help me, Car.

Oh, God!

Oh, Jesus Christ!

[Lilly laughing]

Why is Gus acting so silly?

[Audience screaming]

[Choking]

This wasn’t meant to happen.

[Audience screams]

[Worm squeaking]

[Jack gasping]

Uhh!

Dreamer, here!

Awake!

How do you feel, Gus?

Fine.

Uh, when do we begin? [Switch clicks]

Oh!

Geez! When did that happen?

[Laughter]

Geez.

You mean you have no idea? There were worms all over you.

Worms?

Oh, God, I hope not. I hate worms.

[Laughter]

Okay, Car.

What the hell just happened?

I did the exact same thing June did,

just with a tad more imagination.

You said I used to be the best. Perhaps I still am.

Now would be the appropriate time to applaud.

[Scattered applause]

Mm. [Chuckles]

You’re saying you just hypnotized all of us?

I’m pretty sure I had most of you here in the studio,

and no doubt a number of our viewers at home.

Fortunately, you’re a suggestible lot.

What’s he talking about, June?

He played a mean trick on us, that’s all.

Leo, um, can you get the guys up in videotape

to play back that last bit?

Yep. Lining it up.

Now, if Carmichael’s right… if… then…

oh, boy. We’re in store for some very interesting viewing.

Bravo. Yes, let’s do that.

Best idea you’ve had all night, Jack.

They’re cueing it up now. Let’s start there.

You don’t feel any different?

No.

Why should I?

Because something dreadful is about to happen.

It’s dawning on you. Hear that?

Ghostly sounds, anguished moaning from beyond.

That is not the way I remember it.

You’re hot. You’re itchy.

Feels like something’s crawling under your skin.

It’s hot in here.

[Laughter]

Skin’s getting itchy.

Your neck. It’s bleeding.

I did cut myself shaving earlier.

What?!

What?!

[Audience murmuring]

What is that?

Worms.

Jesus Christ!

That’s right. Worms. Dozens of them.

Hundreds of them. Now, just stay calm, Gus.

No! They’re inside of me. I can feel ’em!

Show me.

Get ’em out!

They are coming out.

Oh, boy. Okay, let’s stop there.

[Laughter, scattered applause]

I’ve never been so embarrassed in my whole life.

[Audience “aws”]

Is there…

anyone who did not see the worms the first time around?

I didn’t see them.

One.

I didn’t see them.

You did? Okay. So aside from a couple

of people in the audience,

uh, it looks like you

have made fools of us all once again, Car.

All in a day’s work.

I did not hypnotize Lilly,

or the studio audience,

or the viewers at home.

Oh, come on, Doctor.

You’ve been caught dead to rights.

At least America can sleep a little easier

knowing the devil’s not going to pop out of their TV screens.

If Mr. Haig thinks we’re playing a trick on everyone,

then maybe we should look back

at that part of the show, too, Jack.

Yeah.

Yeah.

Do you mean when Mr. Wriggles joined us?

Mm-hmm.

You don’t think the television cameras lie,

do you, Mr. Haig?

No, of course not.

Jack, please.

Lilly has been through enough. No.

Okay, folks. I’m sorry.

Our producers are telling me that the lovely Miss Cleo James

is standing by to take us out.

And…

I…

I just think maybe we should bring her back at a later date,

because we can’t leave everybody hanging like this.

Yeah!

Yeah!

I’m sorry. We can no longer take any part in any of this.

Lilly, we’re leaving.

But we want everyone to know the truth.

Don’t we, June?

Yeah!

Standing by, Jack.

We’re staying.

Please.

We could start it.

Yeah. Right there. [Click]

It’s gonna be okay.

Speak.

[Demonic voice] You know who I am, Doctor.

[Audience gasps, screams]

Quiet.

You say cameras

don’t lie, right, Car? Who are these people?

What is this?

There must be some rational explanation.

My IFSIP team may need to take these tapes in

for forensic examination.

My purpose?

Good to see you again, Jack.

Sorry. I don’t believe we’ve been acquainted.

Don’t be a fool.

Did you see that?

We go way back.

I’m sorry. Can you stop it?

Just go back a few seconds.

[Tape rewinding]

Stop.

Okay.

Go from there, but very slow, please.

[Distorted] Good to see you again, Jack.

Slower.

[Distorted] Sorry. I don’t believe we’ve been…

Okay. Freeze it there.

That’s just a glitch, Jack.

No, it’s something else. Now go one frame at a time.

No, no. Sl… Can you slow it down?

Keep going.

[Hisses]

Minnie?

[Audience gasping]

My God! [Lilly crying]

It is you.

You set the whole thing up.

Did you really think another special appearance

from Madeleine might actually save your little gabfest?

You’re okay.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

This… This makes perfect sense.

You… You conspire with Christou

to have him reach your dead wife,

throw in a few Grand Guignol theatrics with these two,

and then top it all off

with some clever videotape manipulation.

It’s genius, Jack.

Cynical, depraved genius.

[Electricity crackling]

Ladies, the encore is quite unnecessary!

[Audience murmuring]

Um…

[Crackling continues]

Can we get some help here?

Now!

[Electricity crackling]

[Audience gasping]

[Crackling continues]

[Crackling continues]

Uh! Aah!

[Screams]

Cut the show, Leo! Cut it!

[Lilly screams]

[Audience screaming]

The power of Christ compels you!

The power of Christ…

[Crack]

[Audience screaming]

Gus!

[Audience screaming]

Lilly, to me!

[Choking]

Aah!

[Choking]

Lord of Flies, God of Ungodliness,

I solemnly promise to worship and obey thee

and perform thy unholy bidding.

Oh, fuck.

[Breathing heavily]

[Demonic voice] Abracadabra.

[Screaming]

Everybody, get out!

Jack! Jack! Come on!

Come on. Please. Please.

[Static hissing]

[Feedback whining]

[Mellow music plays]

But now here’s Mr. Midnight…

Jack Delroy!

[Cheers and applause]

Jack! Jack!

Whoo-hoo-hoo!

Jack!

Come on in, Jack.

[Cheers and applause continues]

We love you, Jack!

[Gus laughs]

[Woman chanting “Jack!”]

How did I get here?

The same way you always get here, Jack…

straight down 5th and right on 47th.

[Laughter]

[Laughter continues]

You okay, Jack? [Laughs]

[Laughter]

[Laughter stops]

[Ominous music plays]

I am sick of it, Crog!

Stuck in the cave all day cooking your saber-tooth stew

while you and your troglodyte buddies

go out hunting all day long.

[Laughter]

[Applause]

What the fuck is going on?

[Audience “oohs”]

Don’t think that’s the line we rehearsed. [Laughs]

Leo! [Applause]

Oh, where are you going, Jack?

Jack, we’re still on air. Jack?

Now, I’ve brought something really special

for you today, Jack.

Here she is.

I’ll just get her out so you can have a really good look.

[Worm shrieking]

[Gasps]

Hello!

Jesus.

Here she is.

[Audience “awws”]

Relax.

Jack, she’s perfectly harmless.

No.

[Worm hisses, shrieks]

Jack and I first met when I was doing “Oh! Calcutta!”

at the Eden.

[Gasps]

My, you should have seen him blush

when he came backstage and was confronted

with all those glorious naked bodies.

[Jack breathing shakily]

Remember, darling?

No.

Is that another thing you’ve managed to forget?

You’re dead.

[Inhales deeply]

[Mellow music plays]

[Distorted music plays]

Okay, Penelope.

Now give the Wheel of Wonder a big spin.

Just remember to let go.

Last week we had a lady go ’round for hours and hours.

Spin the wheel!

[Up-tempo music plays, rhythmic clapping]

Switch off your televisions. [Gus laughs]

Turn off your TV sets.

Stop watching this.

Turn it off!

Turn it off!

Turn it off!

[Tempo increases]

Stop!

Please.

Aah!

Stop it!

[Camera shutters clicking]

[Indistinct shouting in distance]

Welcome to the family, Jack.

Over here!

Jack, Jack. Congratulations on your ratings win.

What did you have to sacrifice to get here tonight?

Oh, Jack Delroy’s greatest sacrifice is yet to come.

[Bell ringing]

Hm.

Great show tonight, Jack.

At least a 40 share.

Maybe even a 50.

Come.

[Whimpers]

Now drink up, Jack.

[Group shrieking]

[Gulping]

[Coughs]

[Breathing heavily]

[Woman vocalizing]

[Respirator hissing]

There you are.

I was worried they wouldn’t let you see me.

They told you you could have it all.

Didn’t they?

Be number one?

Well, you finally made it, darling.

But you had to pay a price.

Exit Minnie, stage left.

I never thought that they’d…

Your soul belonged to them.

Still does.

[Gasping]

It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.

You have to believe me.

You’re on your own now, Jack.

I love you.

[Sobs] I love you, Minnie.

[Crying]

[Voice breaking] Then, please…

do this one last thing for me.

[Gasps, groans]

The pain. Please.

Please. You know what to do.

Please.

[Groans]

Oh.

[Breathes sharply]

Do it. Do it.

[Gasps]

[Breathing heavily]

Yes.

[Screams]

[Screams]

[Gasps]

Dreamer, here. Awake.

Dreamer, here. Awake.

Dreamer, here. Awake.

[Sirens wailing in distance]

Dreamer, here. Awake.

Dream, here. Awake.

Dream, here.

[Sustained beep]

[Static hissing]

[Mid-tempo music plays]

♪ Write another song for the money ♪

♪ Something they can sing, not so funny ♪

♪ Money in the bank to keep us warm ♪

♪ Roll another joint for the Gipper ♪

♪ Get the Gipper high, he gets hipper ♪

♪ Stick it in his mouth and keep him warm ♪

♪ Elect another jerk to the White House ♪

♪ Gracie Slick is losing her dormouse ♪

♪ Take her off the streets and keep warm ♪

[Mid-tempo music plays]

[Woman vocalizing]

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