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September 29, 2021 28 mins

Haunted by the ghosts of his past and afflicted by migraines and insomnia from the stress of the case, Henry reconnects with Anne. A 4th murder, the most violent yet, pushes Chief Spencer to take extreme measures.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:08):
You were listening to Strawberry Spring, based on a short
story by Stephen King. M M, watch out, I know, Henry,
it's just hard to see through the fog. Where are

(00:29):
those lights coming from? There? Right in my mirror? I
can barely see Mom, Look out over here. This one's

(00:52):
still alive. Grab the stretcher, give me Patty Angry two three.
We had one boy here. It looks like fourteen to
sixteen years of age. Car accident. He suffered lacerations on

(01:14):
his face and blunt force trauma to his head. Hurry up,
we're losing him. He's having a seizure. How much longer
I don't know. And this soap five maybe ten minutes,
I don't know. Just step on it. He's awake, doctor, Henry.

(01:36):
Can you hear me, he's moving. Don't try to speak.
I tried to sit up, but my head was splitting.
I could hear people running around the room, but somehow
I remained calm, like I was a drift at sea, Henry,
just not if you can hear me. I barely had
the strength to move, let alone talk. Everything was a blur,

(01:59):
but room came into focus just long enough for me
to see my arms bandaged. My right leg was broken.
I had no idea how serious my injuries were. Nurse
and give him something for the pain. He's gonna need
to rest. I couldn't stay away long enough to follow
what was going on. I passed out. He's going to sleep. Awhile, nurse,

(02:21):
please make a note in his chart. He was able
to follow some basic command. I drifted in and out
of consciousness. Shadows and light passed over me one morning,
or it could have been night, I don't remember. I
heard the door open. I wasn't sure at first, but
there was the silhouette of a man watching me. He
wandered into the room and hovered about me like some

(02:42):
kind of spirit. Dead said you. The shape just stood
there staring down at me. It must have been my
imagination because it looked like it was crying. Whoever, whatever
that was, held my hand for a moment as I
drifted back into the black. Abyss, Good morning, Henry. How

(03:04):
are you feeling today? Hi? Dr Howard, I'm okay. How
are your headaches? They seem to be going away good.
I'm just gonna take a look at your eyes. This
might be a little bright. Can you follow the light
for me? Without moving your head good, and everything looks okay.

(03:29):
The doctor had come to see me regularly over what
I think was a few days. It's hard to tell,
but there was something about this time that didn't feel right.
I could see from the look on his face something
was wrong, but for whatever reason, I couldn't figure out
what it was. It was blank, expressionless. Henry, has anyone

(03:50):
had a chance to talk to you about what's happened? No?
I know. We were in a car accident, but that's it.
Are my mother and brother, Okay, Henry, this isn't going
to be easy to hear. But my mother and brother
were not okay. In fact, they were dead. Their problems

(04:14):
were over mine. On the other hand, we're just beginning. Hello,
it's this thing on am I coming through? This is
Kevin Hartigan. I'm fourteen years old and I live in
the New Sharon Home for Boys. I had been staying
in the New Sharon Home for Boys for about a year.

(04:36):
I shared a room with a few other teenagers. We
were all orphans. It was okay, I guess. We read
comic books in the wreck room. There was a TV
that we could watch The Lone Ranger on, so that
was good. In spite of there being a few dozen
other boys around my age, though I never really made
what I would call friends with anyone. Kevin was an
orphan there at the same time. I guess it was

(04:58):
the closest thing I had to a friend. Hey, Henry, huh,
headmaster's office. He told me to send you in on
my way out, So that's what I'm doing. I knew
the drill by now. I'd head down the hallway, listen
to what he has to say, then go back to
my room. But it wasn't his fault. He was just
doing his job. Come in, Henry, take a seat. You

(05:27):
wanted to see me, I did. I'm not sure if
you heard yet, but we have a family coming here
tomorrow and they're looking to adopt. I know this won't
be an issue for you, but I have to remind
everybody to be on their best behavior. You are representing
the New Sharon Home for Boys, Yes, sir, the New
Sharon Home for Boys. We called it the New Prison

(05:50):
Home for Strays. I was fifteen years old by then,
even I knew no one wanted to adopt a teenager.
They wanted the younger kids, the ones they could rays
and mold. Into reflections of themselves. By fifteen, it was
too late. I was who I was. My record or
personal history did not work in my favor. The accident

(06:11):
was referred to as a traumatic event, which is another
way of saying bad luck. It was what it was,
and we are who we are. That didn't stop the
headmaster from trying to convince me I had a shot. Henry,
my boy, don't get discouraged. Have I ever told you
about William Bell? I'm not I'm not sure, sir. William

(06:33):
Bell was a lot like you. He lost both his
parents in a car accident, had no next of kin.
If I recall, he was brought in when he was
thirteen years old. He was afraid of his own shadow.
If I'm not mistaken. He was eventually adopted and moved
to Maine. It's a beautiful state, but it can get
cold in the winter. He rose above his own adversity

(06:54):
and chose not to let it get the best of him.
I'll be damned if he didn't make the most of himself.
How did he do that, sir? By going to his
classes and getting good grades, And sure enough, one day,
it might have been on his seventeenth birthday, he was
adopted by a couple from Syracuse. I thought she said Maine, right, Maine.

(07:17):
I may have mixed up where he moved to. But
what I'm trying to say is don't give up hope.
The family coming in today could be the right fit
for you, and you might be the right fit for them.
Either way. My point is be patient and good things
will happen for you. You're young, you have your whole
life ahead of you. Yes, sir, good boy, put her there.

(07:39):
I shook his hand. I wanted to believe him, but
all I could think was William Bell spent four years
of his life waiting for someone to adopt him. I
know he was just trying to be positive. I always
wondered if there really was a William Bell, or that's
just the kind of name that circulates among people that
run these institutions. You've got a powerful grip there, Henry.

(08:02):
Now do me a favor and send in Weston when
you get back to your room. I never knew of
the headmaster genuinely thought someone would adopted me, or if
he was just trying to keep my hopes. Who knows,
maybe his hopes up to he seems sad for most
of us in there. He knew the truth. Saying that
out loud just made it real. What do you guys

(08:27):
think anyone got a shot? Maybe if you're under ten. Otherwise,
no way. What are you doing over there trying to
tie my necktie? Yeah it looks great if you're making
a noose and you give me a hand. I never
learned how to time with your dad never showed you. No,
he went to Korea. He died before he ever had

(08:49):
a chance. Sorry, here I'll show you. This is how
my dad taught me. Picture in your house, a cat
and a mouse. As the cat naps, the mouse scurries passed,
cat awaits, and a chase takes place. Cat jumps, with
dinner in sight, around the chair, not once, but twice.
As the mouse highs, the cat looks inside wiggle ism

(09:11):
might boardcat is stuck tight. Hey that's pretty good. Thanks, Yeah,
no problem, But you still don't have a shot. I
sat in the waiting area, lined with wood paneled walls,
staring straight ahead. The longer I looked at the wood grain,
the more I thought I saw images embedded in it.

(09:31):
One by one, my fellow orphans and I sat on
the bench as each one of us entered the Headmaster's office.
We slipped down the bench, one seed closer to going
to a new home. We sat, We waited. We were
all quiet. It's not that we couldn't talk to each other,
but there wasn't anything to say. Everyone knew what was
going on inside that office. Judgment day. Finally the headmaster

(09:59):
opened the door. Henry, come on in and meet Mr
and Mrs Current. I got up and started walking. It
was about a fifteen foot walk. I knew that because
the square tiles on the floor were one foot each.
I counted as I walked, mostly trying to call my nerves.
Two three. It might as well have been a mile.

(10:19):
I've read that prisoners on death row, I think the
last walk to the electric chair feels like a mile.
This could have felt longer. It didn't matter though. An
hour and a half waiting in the hallway and I
finally got my chance. Would it be a stay of
execution or not? That was the question. M hm, Henry,

(10:52):
please meet the Currents. This was the first time I
had met a family that was looking to adopt. I'll
never forget it. She wore a yellow dress with her
hair pinned up. He had broke cream and his hair
that smell is impossible to forget, strong and citruous. I
instantly thought of my father. He used to wear it,

(11:13):
and when I give him a hug, a scent when
right up my nose. He had a tie on. And
I guess they were as nervous as I was, because
he made some small talk. Nice to meet you. It's
a pleasure to meet you too, Henry, Hey, nice tie.
I hated him already. We both knew it was a

(11:34):
shitty tie to make matters worse. It wasn't even tied well.
I could tell they were an East Coast type of family,
probably came from money. There were the types that tried
really hard to have a baby, but it never really
happened for them. How long have you been here at
the Boys Home? About a year and a half. I
came here right after my family, like many of the

(11:55):
boys here in the home, Henry's family had an accident,
and we were fortunate enough to have him join the
rest of our fine, upstanding young men. As I was saying,
right after my family died, Mrs Karrent had a sadness
in her eyes that reminded me of my own mother.
When I looked at her, I felt like she had
already given up on having a baby. Adoption was her

(12:18):
only hope, and even though she was polite, I could
tell I was not going to be offering her the
hope she was looking for. I didn't think any of
the boys at the home wood. She needed to find
some young girl from a nice family that got in
trouble and couldn't deal with the scandal, send her to
her grandparents for the school year, and come home good
as new, minus a baby. So tell us about yourself. Um, okay,

(12:44):
I like comic books and listening to the radio. I'm
pretty good at school. What classes do you like? English? Really? Yeah?
One day. I hope to be a writer. That's good.
It's good to have something to work towards. Henry's being modest.
He's one of our best students here. Thank you, sir.

(13:07):
After that, we made some more small talk, and fifteen
minutes later I went back to being an orphan. I
didn't know what meeting them would be like, but I
was pretty sure I didn't pass the audition. After leaving
the Currents, I figured i'd take a walk about the grounds.

(13:28):
Being an orphan is hard enough, but the Boy's Home
was crowded. Sometimes the only way to get any space
was to go outside. I thought about Mrs Curran. Even
though I didn't have any illusions about getting adopted, I
wondered what it would be like if shows my mother
hearing about teenagers getting adopted. It was like a fairy tale,
like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. It just wasn't really.

(13:52):
The only thing you have in this world is which
you can see, touch, taste and feel. Walking around was
the only thing that felt real to me. It's the
first time I realized it helped me clear my head.
It still does. As my feet crushed the dried leaves

(14:12):
on the ground, I saw something moved behind the trees.
At first I thought it was a shadow, but then
I saw what I thought was a man who seemed
to be watching him. I moved towards him, but he
ducked behind a hedge of vines and facing streets. I
sped up. I was running after him before I knew it.
The man was fast. He was more of a shadow
of figure that I couldn't make out. I stopped to

(14:34):
catch my breath, and for a split second his face turned.
I guessed he looked just like my father. I saw
my breath in the cold air and started to run
after him again. This time I was faster, passing one
tree after another until I caught up. It was only

(14:55):
a shadow. It was March and the spring colors were bright.
The sun blinded me and my head started to pound.
The world started to spend. I lost consciousness and fell back. Hey,
there's someone over here behind the statute because some lights

(15:17):
over here. Jesus, it's another body. This one's a guy
Christ He's alive. Yeah, help him up? Where am i? Hey? Kid,
joined the middle of a quiet You want to explain
what you're doing here? I was. I was walking to
my girlfriend's apartment when I got dizzy and passed out.

(15:40):
What were you doing out after Curkfield? It wasn't after
curfew when I started walking. Look, I don't know how
long I was out for. What time is it? It's
just after I love him? Do you have any I
d here? I'm Henry Dennon. Captain Spencer won't want to,
but he can vouch for me. One of them walked

(16:01):
back to their patrol car and called it in the
other stayed with me, shining a flashlight in my face.
Do you mind turning that away. It's pretty bright. How
about you stay quiet until you check out. I looked around.
That's when I realized I passed down the middle of
the quad, right behind a statue of Deborah Sampson, a
Massachusetts woman who disguised herselves as a man to serve

(16:23):
in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Just for
a moment, I could have sworn she came to life,
musket in hand. She aimed the barrel at me and
looked like she was about to shoot. I wondered if
the cops didn't miss their chance. They have a man
dressed as a woman. Maybe then they could have caused

(16:43):
radio jack. If he checks out, we're gonna let him go.
Thank you, officers. Don't thank me, pal, You're lucky to
Captain knows you. If it was up to me, I
would have clubbed you over the head and dragged you
into the station. Do yourself a favor and goes straight
to your girlfriend's place. If we find you out again
after curfew, you're getting arrested. I don't care who you know.

(17:09):
Got it got it good? I get the hell out.
Are Hey, Henry Waite up? I thought that was you?
What are you doing out here at this hour? I

(17:30):
can ask you the same. I'm just finishing the lace
shift at the station, late shift. I thought you were
the morning guy, morning, noon, night. I'm here whenever you
need to hear me. Hey, what's going on with the
cops back there? They're giving you a hard time? Kind
of but not really, thankfully, Captain Spencer vouch for me. Well,
that's good. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right,

(17:51):
something like that. You know, I'm not sure if you're
turned around, but this isn't the way back to the dorms.
I'm on my way to Rachel's. I'll never understand what
she's sees in you. You're a lucky guy. I've never
been able to keep a long term relationship. Something always
gets in the way, like what I'm not quite sure,
but maybe one day you'll help me figure it out. Maybe.

(18:15):
Until then, this is where I go left and you
go right. I gotta crash you on the morning shift.
Like I said, morning, noon, and night. If you're listening,
I'm there for you, you know, keep you company on
these long foggy nights. You know how, I know you're

(18:36):
perfect for radio, know how He's spewing an endless dream
of bullshit. You have no idea. So after Captain spends
her vouch for me, they let me go, and here
I am. Thank god they didn't arrest you. Keep telling

(18:58):
you it's for seat coming up here after curfew. No
I know, but by the time I finished at the
papers late. Plus, I don't want you to be here alone.
If you don't have to be here, what does bring
me help Jack caught you out, then i'd be the
first guy that kills. So far, I think I'm safe. Well,
you're here now, that's all that matters. Let's try to

(19:22):
get some sleep. Tomorrow is another day. I laid down
next to Rachel. There was just enough moonlight creeping into
the room to remind me how beautiful she was, especially
when she was sleeping. I closed my eyes and shut
out the light. The only rest I could get was

(19:43):
when I was in complete darkness. But Rachel was wrong
about one thing. Tomorrow wouldn't be just another day for
Hannah Gray. Can we hear anything now about the weather,

(20:06):
like what like when is this ship gonna let up?
I can tell you right now if we have a
snowballs chance in helly catching this guy it ain't gonna
be in the middle of this flock, that's for sure. Yeah,
at least it's quiet out here, other than your irish yest,
not like a hair of the crickets. Fuck is that ice?

(20:30):
And mean with your flashlight? Would you funk? Don't move?
Don't move? What do you mean? Don't move? Help me up?
Would you? What is that on me? Is that it's blood?
That night they found Hannah Gray's head. It was split
in two, with one half on the north side of

(20:50):
the quad and the other half on the south side.
The kill was so precise her glasses were cut right
down the middle. Another night had passed, another girl was dead.
Spring heel Jack was like a spark on the horizon.
You could see it just long enough to know you
can't catch it. I sat next to Anne. We were

(21:11):
both sobering up finding ahead. We'll do that to you.
Oh do you think we'll have to wait here? Beats me?
You probably until they get all the paperwork done. You know,
if you told me I'd be coming back to New
Sharon in nineteen seventy six to investigate spring heeled Jack,

(21:31):
I wouldn't have believed you. I get that if you
told me while I was back here, you and I
would make amends. I would have told you you're crazy.
I get that too, Henry. If you would have told
me we'd find the head of a victim in the
same exact spot where Chelseie Spencer's head was found, I'd
tell you that spring heel Jack was back yes, and

(21:53):
closed her eyes. It was all too much for her.
I think she was able to block it out when
she moved away. The murder the book me coming back
here resolve too much. As for me. I sat next
to her on the bench in the hall. She leaned
her head on my shoulder, as much out of affection
as exhaustion, or maybe she was just drunk. I watched

(22:19):
everyone run back and forth, one by one. They'd hurry
into Chief Spencer's office. They'd exited just as fast as
they entered. We waited, just like at the Boy's home.
Sit and wait your turn. Your time will come. Just
be patient. But what if I didn't want to be
patient anymore? What if my time had come and gone?

(22:43):
Dat right? Asses in here now, Jesus Christ, let's go.
Why am I nervous? We didn't do anything wrong. Some
authority figures you never outgrow What is this? Is this
some kind of sick joke? What do you mean? You
know what I mean? He placed her in the same
exact spot as check. You know where she was, And

(23:08):
now we have a new victim. Her parents were already contacted.
They're identifying her right now. Jesus, Jesus is right. Do
you know how hard it was to make that call?
Do you? I can only imagine. I'm sorry you had
to be the one to do it. Yeah, well so
am I. But this stops now. I have John Dancy

(23:29):
and custody right down the hall. You found him. It
wasn't hard. He's been living with his mother just outside
of town. You should see him, strung out on dope.
He looks like every other junkie, rejected. Do you really
think he's spring Hill jock. We looked at every suspect
at the time, he had access, he knew the campus,

(23:50):
and after he found a carman girl, we never suspected him.
What about Mma, Laura? We might pick him up again too,
for questioning. I've had a theory for a long time.
What if they were in on it together. I'm a
Laura is in jail. Dancy goes out and kills gives
him the perfect alibi. Have you ever heard such a thing.

(24:12):
If I'm Laura and Dancy was somehow orchestrate multiple murders
across this long of a time span, it would be unprecedented.
It would explain a lot two different people. One can
lead a normal life while one kills and vice versa. Hello,
are you sure? How long? All right? Just give me

(24:36):
a minute, would you? Are you okay? What is it here?
We're all gonna need this drink up. What's going on?
The girl's parents, they're in the hallway. They want to
come in and talk to me about the case. Don't
even think about it. You two are mixed up in

(24:57):
this case more than any two people on earth. You
think gonna face these parents alone? You've got another thing coming. Now,
sit down and follow my lead. Don't say anything you
don't need to. Hi, Please come in, Chief Spencer. Thank
you for seeing us. We understand you lost your own

(25:18):
daughter to this this animal. Yeah, I did eight years
ago this month. It can't be. This is crazy. After
all these years, they look exactly the same. We need
to know what you're doing to find the rest of her.

(25:39):
Believe me, we have every available man on the job
spring Hill. Jack has a history of leaving the remains
somewhere on campus, so we will find her, but are
you going to catch him? We're going to do everything
we can. If I can introduce you, this is Anne Bray,
she's here from the Globe to help with the investigation.

(26:00):
I'm so sorry for your loss. And this is Henry Denton.
They were both students doing the first wave of killings.
Henry actually wrote the book on them. You should know.
I have a suspect and custody right now, and I
intend on getting a confession out of him in any
accomplices he may have. They don't remember me. How could

(26:21):
they nineteen sixty one and was fifteen years ago. I
sat right across from them in the headmaster's office. She
has more grain now, but her hair is basically the
same style. His hairs were seating, but the brille cream.
I'd know that scent anywhere. I was right about what

(26:42):
I knew back then. They didn't want to adopt the
teenage boy. They wanted a baby. They found on Marcia.
She was two at the time. Now she was seventeen
years old. They don't remember me, but I remember that
I didn't feel it at the time. I bet the rejection.

(27:02):
I can feel it now, emotional memory all coming back.
Mr and Mrs Curran. I'm sorry to meet you under
these circumstances. You seem so familiar. Have we met? Do
I tell them who I am, that I was a

(27:23):
scared teenager in an orphanage, just looking for a home.
Do I tell them I wanted parents? Do I tell
them how sorry I am for their loss? Or do
I just avert my eyes and sympathize for them? Maybe
the answer is all of the above. M yeh did it?

(28:00):
Strawberry Spring Executive produced by Lee Metzker, Jared Gootstat and
Philip Alberstadt, starring Garrett Headland, My Lot, Ventimilia Horizon, Guardiola,
Sydney Sweeney, Ken Marino, Al Madrigal and Breck Passenger. Audio
up in house production by Georgana Black, Franzheim and Laura Ramadan,
Edited by Carry Caulfield, Eric and Jeremiah Zimmerman. Sound design

(28:21):
and mixed by Jeremiah Zimmerman, scored by Jeff Peters. Songs
and music by Jared Gutstat and Jesse Siebenberg. Strawberry Spring
is published in Stephen King's Short story collection night Shift,
available in paperback and ebro from Anchor Books, and as
an audio book from Penguin Random House Audio. For the
fullest of production credits, please visit audio up dot com.
You can find more podcasts from I heart Radio on

(28:42):
the i Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you
listen to podcasts.
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