Escape – “Poison” Transcript

Woody: I drove it as fast as I could. The houseboy at the doctor’s thought I was a madman at first, but then he decided in my favor, showed me where the stuff was. I found the bottle, smelled it to make sure, and then took off back to the house. I eased the car up the driveway and tiptoed into the bedroom.

Harry: You’re my friend, Doctor? You’re my pal?

Ganderbai: Yes, I am your friend. And I’m not going to let any harm come to you.

Harry: Here’s Woody. He’s my friend too, Doc.

Woody: Here’s the stuff, Doctor.

Harry: Woody, I’ve been an awful dope all my life. You know that, Woody?

Woody: Ah, that’s okay, Harry. You’re gonna be okay from now on.

Harry: The Doc here… my friend here… I didn’t like him when he first come into the room. Why? Because he wasn’t an American, or even an Englishman. What do you know about that, huh? He’s my friend.

Woody: Ah, it’s okay, Harry. You’re gonna be okay now, boy.

Harry: I’ve been a pious dope…

Ganderbai: Mr. Woods, you’ll have to help me.

Woody: Right.


Woody: He pulled a prescription pad out of his case, tore the cardboard backing off, and twisted it into a neat little funnel. He laid this on the edge of the bed. And then he took the piece of hollow rubber tubing that had been used as a tourniquet and he began to slide it under the sheet. It went in where the sheet ended, across Harry’s chest, and he slid it down. He slid it slowly, so slowly that, although I was watching it, I didn’t see it move. Hours seemed to crawl by. The tube inched invisibly on and down, down and down, past the unseen buttons of his jacket, past the unseen cord to his trousers, and then it stopped. Ganderbai had set it by a route which did not cross any of the creases in the sheet. He was being very careful not to prod the snake with it. He was sweating too now, sweating and biting his lip with his teeth. It’s funny, I remember now, one was gold. I remember staring at it while he inched that tube.

Ganderbai: Now the funnel. I fit it into the end of the tube and we are ready. Mr. Pope, this is going to be very cold. The evaporation of the chloroform will cause a sharp lowering of the temperature. You must be prepared for this.

Harry: Hm.

Ganderbai: It will take rather a long time, another factor for which you must prepare yourself. The snake is a reptile, and reptiles do not react quickly for the anesthetics, which are intended for the use of warm-blooded animals. Bear these things in mind. Are you ready?

Harry: Sure… friend.

Woody: He opened the bottle and began to drip the stuff into the funnel. Slowly, very slowly, drop by drop the clear liquid entered the tube and traveled the long, dark route to Harry Pope’s stomach, where the krait lay sleeping. Drop by drop, a pale swirling vapor, all over the funnel. Down there on the sheet where the tube ended, a wet gray patch began to spread, the chloroform spreading and evaporating. Spreading and evaporating. The room began to reek of it, and I remembered other places and other times: hospitals, operations, the death of loved ones. Smell of chloroform. (Harry begins to moan.) Harry began to twitch now, his nose, he seemed to be in agony.

Harry: Woody.

Woody: Harry, what is it?

Harry: I think I’m gonna… sneeze.


Woody: Don’t do it, boy! Hang on, Harry! You gotta hang on! Don’t!

Woody: Ganderbai looked at Harry’s face. He reached up, pressed his knuckle against some nerve on Harry’s upper lip and the agonized look vanished. The relentless dripping of the chloroform continued. Harry was getting cold. I could see gooseflesh along his arms, across the top of his chest where the jacket was open. Ganderbai looked at this and stopped pouring.

Ganderbai: That is enough. I think our little friend should be thoroughly unconscious now. Mr. Pope, you must remain very still. We are going to remove the sheet now.

Harry: Anything you say, Doctor.

Ganderbai: Mr. Wood, you take the other side. We’ll have to do this ever so carefully.

Woody: We each took a side of the hem. I watched Ganderbai, did everything that he did. Harry’s arms were still flat on the bed, pointing toward his feet. We inched the sheet under and free of these. It was rough, because we had to do it without disturbing the main area of the sheet. When it was free of his arms, we began to raise it slowly, gathering the material in our hands as we progressed, ever so slowly down Harry’s chest. We reached the end of his jacket. No sign of the snake. My hands were beginning to shake. Ganderbai paused while I turned my head away for air. The odor of chloroform was stifling. And then we went on, slowly, thread by thread, raising the sheet and easing it away, down past the cord of his pajamas, and down and down, and still no sign of the snake. I’d stopped lookin’ for it by now. I was concentrating on keeping my arms from shaking. And then, quite suddenly, we were done. Ganderbai dropped the sheet on the floor. Harry lay on his back, not moving, but watching us with wide, terrorized eyes. Ganderbai squinted at both sides of Harry, at his legs.

Harry: Where is it?

Ganderbai: It is not as you supposed on the outside of your pajama pants. It must be up one of the legs.