The Boarded Window by R. J. Cardullo | Script Revolution

The Boarded Window

This is the story of a man who THINKS his wife has died of fever.



Page Count: 



Age Rating:

Based On: 
An 1891 story by Ambrose Bierce.

It is 1800. The area around Cincinnati, Ohio, is almost unbroken forest, and a man named Murlock lives there in a small log cabin with his wife, Mary. He makes his living by bartering animal skins. One day when Murlock returns home from hunting, he finds his wife deliriously ill with fever. As they have no neighbors or doctor nearby, Murlock tries to nurse Mary back to health by himself. His efforts are unsuccessful, however, and she lapses into a state of unconsciousness, appearing to die without ever recovering awareness.

Murlock now sets about preparing his wife’s body for burial. He performs this task stoically, if not numbly. He tells himself that, after he buries Mary, he will miss her; for the present moment, he tries to convince himself that things are not so bad as they seem. After Murlock finishes preparing the body, he sits down—feeling utterly tired, as night is approaching, and placing his head on the table. Through the open window he then hears a long, wailing sound, perhaps a wild animal, perhaps a dream, for he is already asleep.

An hour or so later, he is suddenly awakened. Murlock listens intently, wondering what woke him up. He hears, or thinks he hears, soft steps—they sound like bare feet walking upon the cabin floor. Terrified, he neither screams nor even calls out. Instead, Murlock waits in the darkness, speaking his wife’s name but getting no answer. Then he hears something even more dreadful—the sound of a heavy body throwing itself against the table on which his wife lies, and next to which he sits.

Murlock subsequently hears and feels something fall onto the floor so forcefully that the whole cabin shakes. He also hears the sounds of scuffling. Murlock throws his hands across the table, but is horrified to discover that his wife is no longer there. At this point, terror itself drives him to action. Murlock springs to the wall, grabs his loaded rifle, and shoots it without even aiming. In the flash of the gunpowder, he sees a giant panther dragging Mary toward the window by the throat.

Shocked by the sight of his defiled wife, Murlock loses consciousness. When he awakens early the next morning, he sees his wife’s body near the window, where the cat had dropped her before fleeing. She lies in disarray, and from her badly lacerated throat issues a pool of blood that has not yet fully coagulated. Mary’s hands are tightly clenched; between her teeth is a fragment of the panther’s ear, which proves that she was alive when attacked by the wild animal.

Murlock returns his wife’s definitely dead body to its funereal state, cleaning her throat, rearranging her hair, changing her dress. Again he places Mary’s corpse on the table. Murlock is pale and shaken, and his hair appears to have turned white. He then goes outside to board up the window through which the panther had entered the log cabin. Finally, Murlock goes back inside the cabin, carefully latches the front door, and sits down next to his wife’s body. He stares straight ahead, his eyes wide open and unblinking.

Submitted: November 3, 2020
Last Updated: November 4, 2020

Want to read this script? You must join the revolution first. Don't worry, it's free, easy, everyone's welcome, and you can start reading right away.

R. J. Cardullo's picture

The Writer: R. J. Cardullo

A former university film teacher, I turned to screenwriting several years ago. I have also written film criticism for many publications. A New Yorker by birth, I grew up in Miami and was educated at the University of Florida, Tulane, and Yale. My last U.S. address was in Milford, Connecticut; I am now an expatriate residing in Scandinavia. Many of my scripts (both long and short) are adaptations of lesser-known works by well-known authors. I am happy to re-write, collaborate, or write on demand. Thanks kindly for any attention you can give my work. Go to bio

More Scripts From R. J.

The Informer
"The Informer" examines the devastating effect of government surveillance, even censorship, on an ordinary middle-class family of middle-of-the-road beliefs.
Short Drama, Family, Mystery For sale 17pp
The Artificial Black Man
"The Artificial Black Man" depicts the journey of a Southern white through four decades in two American states. The protagonist comes to grips with the realities of race in America and witnesses his family's disintegration.
Feature Drama, Family For sale 109pp
The Housekeeper
In a New England farmhouse, an old woman and a man named Tom talk about two people who are not present—John Hall and his estranged lover, Estelle—until John suddenly appears.
Short Drama, Family, Romance For sale 13pp
Fitzgerald’s Hobby, or Adventures in the Script Trade
From 1939 to 1940, in seventeen stories, F. Scott Fitzgerald humorously mocked himself as a Hollywood hack through the character of Pat Hobby. Several of these stories are adapted for the screen in "Fitzgerald’s Hobby."
Feature Comedy, Drama, Film-Noir For sale 116pp
Soul Survivor
In "Soul Survivor", a man disabled in an industrial accident struggles to retain his identity—particularly as an amateur botanist, a cultivator of flowers—in the face of company attempts to limit his financial compensation.
Short Drama For sale 11pp
Welcome to Our City
Emotionally gripping and mockingly satiric, "Welcome to Our City" captures the festering racial climate of the 1920s in a vision of American life that is uncomfortably relevant to our own times.
Feature Drama For sale 115pp
A man becomes stranded and finds that he has to spend the night in a hotel room—with a total stranger.
Short Drama, Thriller For sale 7pp
The Listener
A traveler knocks on the door of a country house at night and asks if anyone is inside—well, is there or isn’t there?
Short Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller For sale 2pp
A Tough Tussle
During the American Civil War, on night-time patrol, a Union officer tussles with the Confederate enemy—in the form of a corpse—and loses.
Short Action, Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller For sale 6pp
On a wooded island one night sit twelve blind folk under the guidance of an old priest, who, unbeknownst to group members, has expired—yet whose body remains among them, leaning against a tree.
Short Drama, Horror, Mystery For sale 39pp
Turnpike Grocery
A grocery clerk entertains an old widow, who may have discovered evidence of a crime; then the clerk must entertain her own feckless boyfriend, whose false promise of marriage constitutes crime of a different kind.
Short Comedy, Drama, Horror For sale 14pp
Death of a Traveling Salesman
R. J. Bowman, an unmarried traveling salesman, takes refuge from the road one evening with a Southern farm couple—who become the last people he sees on earth.
Short Drama, Family, Mystery For sale 10pp
The Intoxicated
In the early 1950s, two strangers, a drunken adult male and a teenage girl, meet alone inside a kitchen during a suburban house party—to discuss the future of the world.
Short Drama, Family For sale 7pp
Keela & Little Lee Roy
A white carnival barker confronts a crippled black man who was once kidnapped into carnival work as a “redskin” geek, and the result is confessional, horrifying, numbing—even darkly comic.
Short Drama, Mystery For sale 13pp
Company for Dinner
"Company for Dinner" is about a man who fails to notice that he’s entered the wrong home at dinnertime; no worries: the lady of the house and her son don’t notice, either.
Short Comedy, Drama, Family For sale 5pp
A Late Encounter with the Enemy
A fake, 106-year-old Confederate general attends the college graduation of his 62-year-old granddaughter—and dies there, onstage, in full uniform.
Short Comedy, Drama, Family, War For sale 12pp