Tales From the Darkside 218: The Old Soft Shoe

As the episode begins Paul Dooley (who famously played Claudius in Strange Brew) is on the telephone, assuring his wife that despite the fact that he's a travelling salesman on the road, he isn't making time with a cheap floozy. So what's the first thing he does when he gets off the phone?

Comes on to the first cheap floozy he sees. Of course, she's not as cheap or floozyish as he'd hope, and wants none of his attentions. When Paul finally gets around to trying to check in, he's told that there are no more rooms - despite the key still hanging on the wall. It's the manager's policy never to rent that cabin, probably because it's haunted - not that he says anything, I'm just assuming. They take a moment to discuss a bizarre turtle that sits on the desk-

No, you're not seeing things, that is, in fact, a candle mounted on its back. Apparently this is a memorial to the manager's father, who was famously pro-turtle.

Paul heads off to his room, and settles in. By settling in, I mean that he finds a psycho-esque hole in the wall, and uses it to spy on his attractive neighbour.

You know, Paul, I'm pretty sure this episode isn't going to turn out well for you. Just a hunch, but were I you, I'd get back on the road right now.

He turns on the radio and draws a bath, but just when it looks like he's going to be able to spend the evening in gentle relaxation, a mysterious woman appears inside the cabin! Calling him 'Harry', this lingere-clad apparition intimates that she's some manner of kept woman who's been waiting an excessive amount of time for her beau to return. She invites him to dance. and they start to reminisce - Paul makes the mistake of mentioning his wife, which leads to an understandable reaction from the ghost-mistress.

They're interrupted by a knock on the door - his neighbour doesn't like the loud music, so he dutifully lowers it - but the damage has been done. Ghost-mistress is insanely jealous, and the simple fact that a woman showed up at the door has driven her to heartbreak. Also, murder:

Taking two bullets, Paul flees into the cold night. But by the time he makes it to the motel office, the wounds have miraculously healed! The manager refuses to believe a crazy woman is running around with a gun - but doesn't want Paul calling the police and giving his place a bad name, so he agrees to check it out, shotgun in hand. They find no sign of the woman, and all the damage she'd done, the broken mirror and vase-

Have mysteriously repaired themselves!

The manager leaves, angry at having his time wasted, leaving Paul with the contents of the closet, which include a mysterious red box. It contains, as mysterious boxes so often do in these stories, a withered corsage along with some news clippings. The clippings concern people drowning in the very motel room that Paul is staying in, thirty years earlier on this exact day!

The ghost-mistress reappears for more dancing, and despite the overwhelming creepiness of the whole affair, Paul gives in and joins her in the dance, finding himself suddenly dressed for the occasion:

This ends the only way it logically can, with Paul winding up the same way as the original "Harry". Drowned in a bathtub.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you always need to thoroughly read the creepy newspapers you find squirreled away in haunted motel rooms. Only by doing so can you figure out what the ghost has planned! Oh, and Harry? Turns out that he was the famous turtle aficionado who'd owned the motel previously - thus explaining how he was able to have a kept woman within one of its rooms, I suppose.


Although, I've got to say, even if it was the ghost doing the murdering, some of the blame has to be laid on the manager's head for not tearing the room down, as the sheriff suggests. So he didn't let anyone rent it for thirty years, but he's been cleaning it all that time? Just get rid of the thing, guy.

Or maybe he's afraid of letting the ghost go free...

1 comment:

soggybottom said...

I agree with Greg that Arthur is definitely guilty of some wrong-doing. And one could speculate that he purposefully only left those 2 keys on the wall when the-2 came in so that Chester would insist on getting a room that Arthur could then act reluctant to rent out (to get him off the hook later).

And there's another red flag when Arthur didn't want to involve the cops after Chester got shot, and then he immediately blames Chester's drinking for imagining it (without any proof that Chester HAD been drinking). He had to have known what was going on in that room.

Speaking of getting shot, what's the explanation there? How do you get shot, and then you're suddenly miraculously healed?

Did he never get shot? Was it all in his head (or all in his dream when he fell asleep in the chair)? How much of the episode was Chester's dream-land? All the way to end?

Maybe he never even drowned...