The Invisible Morrison Jeffrey

by Duncan Wells

On October 12th, 1937 Hilton Hayworth the Third murdered James Porter, husband of Missus Jessica Porter. The killing took place in the clearing of a wooded area belonging to the Hayworth estate. The only witness to the murder was a local newspaper stand operator named Morrison Jeffrey. Morrison, it was assumed by the local residents, was mentally challenged and had the mind of a child when in fact his abilities were far superior to those around him. Morrison's creative genius is exposed through his private collection of original drawings while his ability to understand and define his world is exposed through his personal conversations with himself.

The Invisible Morrison Jeffrey is a play that takes place over a 10 year period. It examines the life of the artist and his reaction to the world around him while telling a tale of murder and infidelity.


Morrison Jeffrey
Hilton Hayworth
Jessica Hayworth

The Three Old Ladies

Missus Smith
Missus Gordon
Missus Jeffrey


Mayor Callahan
Mister Barmen
Father Peck
Patricia The Maid
Jessica's Lawyer
Hayworth's Lawyer #1
Hayworth's Lawyer #2

Act One

Scene One

The Letter

Stage right, a beautiful young woman writes a letter. A pre-recorded track of her voice recites the contents of the letter.

My Dearest Hilton:

Today is the anniversary of our first year together and I have spent much of it thinking about our relationship. I believe, as you do my darling, that we belong together but this continued exchange of letters, our secret meetings outside of town, our words of love and those few moments that we are able to spend in each other's arms do nothing but frustrate my heart. I want you to know that I love you more than anything in this world and I realize, now, that I cannot continue to live this life without being a part of yours. Many times over the past few months you and I have discussed a plan of removing that one obstacle which has kept us from each other for so long and tonight, after much thought, I have decided to carry through with that plan. This coming Sunday at 9AM I will send James on an errand to deliver a false package to your home. I will make sure that he takes the shortcut along the service road, through the woods and into the clearing among the birch trees. The 8:50 train will be passing by prior to his arrival. This will ensure that any suspicions concerning his untimely passing, will be directed toward railroad hobos. Please be there waiting for him when he arrives. And may God have mercy on our souls.

With all of my love forever

Lights fade on Scene One and rise on Scene Two - even transition.

Scene Two

The Encounter In The Woods.

Sound Cue: A train whistle blows - Scene: A clearing in the woods.

Hayworth waits in the clearing. He is pacing and visibly nervous as he anticipates the arrival of another person. Enter James Porter.

Hayworth: Porter! Over here!

Porter: Mr. Hayworth, sir I….I'm not trespassing. My wife asked that I deliver this to you. I was on my way to your home and…well, I didn't expect to find you out here…they're ahh…they're dress patterns sir. She said they were on loan from the sewing rooms at the-

Hayworth produces a knife and grabs Porter by the arm.

Porter: Sir? What are...let go of me!

Hayworth Stabs Porter.

Porter: Stop!

Hayworth Stabs Porter.

Porter: Stop!

Hayworth Stabs Porter.

Porter: Stop!

Porter Falls Dead

Hayworth Exits. Long Pause. Morrison Jeffrey enters with a sketch pad and a small pencil. He walks across to Porter. He gets down on his knees, feels Porter's face to check him.

Morrison: Mittah Pottah? Mittah Pottah? (Pause) Mittah Pottah, you ok?

Lights fade on Scene Two.

Scene Three

Rumors and Rubies

Lights Rise Sound Cue: The Red Red Robin - Scene: Morrison's newspaper stand and bench.

At Morrison's downtown newspaper stand where the townspeople gather to chat on their way to and from their usual downtown work and shopping destinations. During the song the town comes alive with passers-by greeting each other. As the song fades Missus Smith and Missus Gordon enter. Other downtown participants move along leaving Morrison and the two women.

Missus Smith: Now what I heard was that the police think there were two people involved.

Missus Gordon: Well, I was talking to Blanch Teasdale this morning and she said she heard it was a couple of railroad hobos.

Missus Smith: Yes, and that's what I heard too! Railroad hobos. And you know the same thing happened in Roston five years ago. They were brothers. Remember?

Missus Gordon: I certainly do. They were from Clementville I believe.

Missus Smith: That's the two! But I think they were shot by the police or something.

Missus Gordon: Shot? I thought they were caught and hung?

Missus Smith: Hung? Oh, I don't think so dear. Shot is what I heard.

Missus Gordon: Humph! I must be thinking about someone else because I was sure they were caught, convicted and hung.

Missus Smith: They were shot. Believe me! They were trying to escape when it happened. I mean, I'm not sure if they were actually killed during the escape but…do you think it could be the same two who did this?

Missus Gordon: Lord knows!

Missus Smith: He certainly does.

Missus Gordon: I mean, I can't understand it. A person can't even go for a walk in the woods without having to worry about who's hiding behind the trees . God, what is this world coming to! And poor young Jessica.

Missus Smith: Yes, I hear she's heartbroken, in shock they say. She's taken to crying and can't stop.

Missus Gordon: The poor dear girl. I can't imagine how she's coping. Such a shame! Such a tragic unnecessary murder.

Missus Smith: Hello Morrison. How are you today?

Morrison: G-g-good Missa Smit'

Missus Smith: So, what do you think of this terrible thing that happened to Mister Porter? Isn't it awful?

Morrison: Ahhh…dunno…it…it awful. Morrison got to…um…Morrison got to fix papahs.

Missus Gordon: Could I have one Morrison please.

Morrison: Oh yesy Missa Gor'n. Issa nickle ok? Missa Smit' you wan' papah too? Issa nickle ok?

Missus Smith: Yes please Morrison, and a spearmint too if you don't mind.

Morrison: Ok! Issa papah 'an issa sparamin'. (Pointing to the paper and then to the gum) An' issa nickel an' issa penny, ok?

Missus Smith: Here you are.

Morrison: Thank you Missa Smit' an' thank you Missa Gor'n

Missus Gordon: Oh and Morrison dear look you have something here on your - got your nose!

The women laugh

Morrison: Oh Missa Gor'n. Stop it! You do dat alla time. You take my nose alla time.

Missus Gordon: You're a good boy Morrison.

Morrison: Thank you Missa Gor'n.

Missus Gordon: Isn't he a good boy?

Missus Smith: You're an angel sent from heaven Morrison. God broke the mold when he made you.

Missus Gordon: Here's a penny. Just for you!

Morrison: Oh…oh thank you Missa Gor'n! Thank you very much!

Missus Gordon: You say hello to your mother for me.

The women exit

Morrison: I say hello for you.

Missus Smith: And remind her that we have cards tonight

Morrison: I say hullo….ok…I-I-I say hullo to mumma for you and tell her tonight for cards, K? Thank you Missa Gor'n! Thank you Missa Smit'…oh an' Missa Gor'n?

Pause. The women have exited but he calls out to her

Missa Gor'n? Cou' Morrison have his nose back please?

Morrison continues work stocking his shelves. Mayor Callahan and Hilton Hayworth enter while leaving the town hall - the Mayor's Office.

Mayor: Mister Hayworth I can assure you that we are doing all we can. We have Chief Harper heading the investigation. He's already conducted a complete search of the area surrounding the killing. And as you already know, with the body being discovered by your gardener, he has been interviewed and released. He has given the police as much information as he could. He did not witness anyone in the area, he simply stumbled upon the body during his normal course of duties.

Hayworth: I know. I spoke with him myself. (Pause) Mister Mayor, what I would like to know is, what has Chief Harper's search uncovered?

Mayor: They found a small red stone.

Hayworth: They…they found what?

Mayor: A small red, stone… very similar to a ruby but no doubt paste. Costume jewelry perhaps.

Hayworth's mind is elsewhere

Hayworth: Ah…yes, perhaps. A red stone you say? Hmmm! Strange.

Mayor: And they found a pencil too.

Hayworth: A pencil?

Mayor: Yes, an orange pencil. Well, to be exact, it was the nub of an orange pencil - approximately this big. The eraser was hardly used. Now that's what you call strange - wouldn't you say Mister Hayworth?

Hayworth: A pencil nub?

Mayor: Yes a pencil nub, orange in color with an eraser that was hardly used. Obviously the owner wasn't prone to making mistakes. It, along with the red stone, was found next to Porter's body.

Hayworth: What would a pencil nub be doing there Mister Mayor?

Mayor: Humph! Indeed! And what would a red stone be doing there? These are the questions the police are looking for answers to

Hayworth: Hmmm!

Mayor: Of course at this point they're not sure of either one, the pencil or the stone. They do know, however, that more than one person was involved. The grass was well trampled around the body which indicates, at least to Chief Harper, that Porter was attacked by more than one person.

Hayworth: One of whom was carrying the nub of an orange pencil.

Mayor: And a red stone as it would appear.

Hayworth: Interesting! But what about the murder weapon itself?

Mayor: They've combed the entire woods but found nothing. Some flattened grass beside a nearby tree where they suspect the killer or killers were hiding but other than that…

Hayworth: Nothing.

Mayor: Well, the investigation is on-going. At this point the police can only work with what they have.

Hayworth: A red stone and a pencil nub.

Mayor: Mister Hayworth.

Hayworth: A red stone, a pencil nub and some flattened grass.

Mayor: Mister Hayworth, I can understand your concern with the killing taking place on a section of your property but you have to allow the police to do their job.

Hayworth: A man was killed on my property, stabbed repeatedly to death and all you have is a mysterious red stone, a pencil nub and some flattened grass Mayor Callahan? Of course I'm concerned! Not only am I concerned about the fact that this happened on my property, I am also concerned about the competency of the Beldune Constabulary. Do we know if anyone witnessed the murder? And again, what about the murder weapon?

Mayor: A witness? Well, no one has come forward and as for the murder weapon, well, from the appearance of the wounds that Mister Porter received it appears to have been a knife that was used.

Hayworth: A knife? Not a pencil nub, but a knife?

Mayor: I appreciate your sense of humor Mister Hayworth but, yes, a knife. A knife with a six inch blade.

Hayworth takes a paper and skims the headlines while the Mayor moves to downstage center spot.

Hayworth: Or so it would appear - hello Morrison.

Morrison freezes at the sight of Hayworth. Lights fall on Morrison's Newstand leaving Mayor in down center spot.

Mayor: Chief Harper is waiting to speak to Missus Porter to see if she knows if her husband was going there to meet someone. From what they understand, James Porter was not one for going for walks in the woods. He was last seen carrying a package and so that could also be a clue but until they have an opportunity to speak with Missus Porter they won't know for sure.

Hayworth walks into center stage spot

Hayworth: Well to be quite honest with you, Mayor Callahan, it would seem to me that what you need…what you really need…is the murder weapon…the knife.

The Mayor follows. Back lights fall.

Mayor: But the package Mister Porter was carrying could be a clue.

Hayworth: The package he was carrying could have contained muffins Mayor Callahan and if talk around town has any merit, railroad hobos would indeed take those muffins with them.

Mayor: Muffins?

Hayworth: You know what I'm saying! If James Porter was carrying a package and he was attacked by railroad hobos they would have taken the package, would they have not? It makes perfect sense that this…this package, no matter it's contents, would have been the motive for the attack in the first place.

Mayor: Well, I suppose but I think we should first wait until Chief Harper has had a chance to speak with Missus Porter. They say she's in shock you know.

Hayworth: Yes…yes, I hear. I…I hired a nurse to tend to her during the day. Just to be on the safe side.

Mayor: You hired a nurse?

Hayworth: Well, she is a valued employee of mine.

Mayor: That's very generous of you Mister Hayworth…certainly out of character but generous nonetheless.

Hayworth: I beg your pardon? My generosity out of character?

Mayor: Well, not meaning to insult you.

Hayworth: You have relatives working for me Mayor Callahan. Relatives who were hired sight unseen as you might remember.

Mayor: I remember.

Hayworth: Is that not generous?

Mayor: My apologies -

Hayworth: And every single one of your Chief Harper's ne'er do well brothers, sons and uncles are either employed with the Hayworth Fabric Company or have profited in one form or another. Why even this moment as we speak I have five Harpers' on payroll and two more who receive all of my delivery and maintenance calls and you tell me that my generosity is out of character?

Mayor: Obviously I wasn't thinking. I do apologize.

Hayworth: No matter what you might think Mayor Callahan, I do have a heart and I am a fair and compassionate man. This woman….this employee…..this Jessica Porter. Her husband was brutally murdered. She has no one to take care of her. I'm just….I'm just trying to help out that's all.

Lights fade on Scene Three and rise on Scene Four - even Transition.

Scene Four

Morrison Jeffrey Didn't See Nuthin'

Music Cue: Money Is The Root Of All Evil - Scene: Morrison Jeffrey's Room

The music cue overlaps the scene, which sees Morrison sketching in pencil at a small desk. Samples of his artwork are hanging from the walls. Music fades and we hear Morrison, upset with his situation, and talking to himself while sketching. His room has an assorted collection of clothes lying around, hanging off the back of a chair and piled on top of his bureau

Morrison: Nuttin….nuttin….din see no Mittah Pottah….din see no Mittah Hay'earth….Morrison Jeffrey din see nuttin…fixa trees….fixa sky….fixa leaves onna trees…..but din see nuttin….nuttin….no, no Mittah Hay'earth….uh uh, din see him…an'…an' no Mittah Pottah…din see him neitha….din see him dead…din see him 'live…din see nuttin….see the trees….see the sky…see the leaves on the trees but din see Mittah Hay'earth…uh uh…din see no Mittah Hay'earth….din see nuttin….din see no knife…no, no big shiny knife…no knife….uh uh…din see nuttin…no knife an'…an'…an' no Mittah Pottah layin' inna blood…inna blood an' onna groun'….uh uh….Morrison Jeffrey din see nuttin…..Morrison Jeffrey din….see…. nuttin!!!

There is a knock at his door. He tears up drawing.

Missus Jeffrey: Morrison?

Morrison: K Mumma!

Missus Jeffrey: Morrison, let me in please?

Morrison: K Mumma…I comin'

The unlocking of the door is heard. Two dead locks, a chain and a key.

Missus Jeffrey: Morrison dear I know I asked you before, but I wish you wouldn't lock your door the way you do.

Morrison: But it Morrison room so he allowed to lock it if he want to, right?

Missus Jeffrey: Well, yes but you have so many locks. I don't see why you can't simply use a key.

Morrison: But….it Morrison room… he allowed to lock it if he want to, right?

Missus Jeffrey: But Morrison, If it's your drawings you're concerned about dear, I won't remove them. I promised you that and I've never broken that promise.

Morrison is frustrated

Morrison: But….it Morrison room… he allowed to lock it if he want to, right?

Missus Jeffrey: Sigh! Yes, Morrison, it's your room. If you want to lock it, it's alright.

Morrison: T'ank you!

Missus Jeffrey: Are you happy now?

Morrison: Morrison happy.

Missus Jeffrey: Alright then, tell me what were you yelling about?

Morrison: Yelling? Morrison not yelling. Morrison draw picture….K?

Missus Jeffrey: But I heard you.

Morrison: No you din't

Missus Jeffrey: Morrison?

Morrison: Nuttin Mumma….Morrison not yelling….Morrison…Morrison sing song. I sing….I sing ah…."I din see nuttin in the sky, nuttin in the moon but the stars in your eyes…my pretty sweetie pie.

Missus Jeffrey: Oh stop it you!

Morrison: I din see nuttin in the trees but the birdie's tweet tweet I din see nuttin no no, nuttin no no, I din see nuttin…..but the sunshine in you eye…my sweetie pie..

Missus Jeffrey: Morrison?

Morrison: Uh huh?

Missus Jeffrey: What's this?

He picks up the torn pieces before she can get to them

Morrison: Iss nuttin Mumma. Issa bad picture….issa no good, K?

Missus Jeffrey: Oh….well, it's 10 o'clock. Did you know that?

Morrison: Is…is 10 o'clock Mumma.

Missus Jeffrey: I want you to put your clothes away and go to bed.

Morrison: Morrison go to bed…K….Morrison go.

He puts away his pencils other drawing tools

Missus Jeffrey: You have to be up early for work in the morning. You know that.

Morrison: Morrison know…up early…up early to bed an'….an' early to rise. It make me healthy, wealthy an' wise…right Mumma?

Missus Jeffrey: I'll be coming by in the afternoon to see you.

Morrison: K Mumma.

Missus Jeffrey: I have to be in town to pick up a few groceries.

Morrison: K Mumma.

Missus Jeffrey: You clean up here and go to bed now.

Morrison: K Mumma…I go. I go, clean up here and I go to bed.

He begins picking up. She attempts to remove a drawing from the wall.

Missus Jeffrey: Oh my God! Morrison? This is -

Morrison: No Mumma! No!!

Missus Jeffrey: This is Mister Porter. This is James Porter!

Morrison: It Morrison's picture! Don't take it.

Missus Jeffrey: Stop it Morrison! I'm not going to hurt it. Goodness!

Morrison: K Mumma! S'mine, K? You don't hurt it, you…you put it back, K?

Missus Jeffrey: You made him look so sad.

Morrison: He sad Mumma…he sad cus he dead. Dat's why he sad!

Missus Jeffrey: It's a remarkable likeness Morrison. It's beautiful but still so… sad. Such a shame. Such a terrible shame. When did you draw it?

Morrison: Ahh…yes'aday ahhh…(He counts on his fingers) Three weeks yes'aday..

Missus Jeffrey: Three weeks ago yesterday?

Morrison: Uh huh! Cou'…..cou' I go bed now Mumma?

Missus Jeffrey: Yes dear. You go to bed.

Morrison: K.

Missus Jeffrey: Oh, yes, the reason I came up here…I was looking for the grocery list I made. It seems to have disappeared. Did you see it?

Morrison: Uh uh…

Missus Jeffrey: No?

Morrison begins to become even more frustrated with her.

Morrison: I said no!

Missus Jeffrey: Oh, I'll…I'll just keep looking I suppose.

Morrison: K Mumma…you look. I go to bed.

Missus Jeffrey: And Morrison, yesterday was Sunday.

Morrison: Sigh! I know Mumma!

Missus Jeffrey: You usually draw in the woods on Sunday.

Morrison: Mumma, I know! K? I know!

Missus Jeffrey: But that's three Sundays in a row. Is there something wrong?

Morrison: Mumma, wi'you go?

Missus Jeffrey: Morrison, I don't know why you get like this!

Morrison: Just go!

Missus Jeffrey: Tsk! Good night.

Morrison: 'Night Mumma….

She begins exits.

Missus Jeffrey: And you're sure you didn't see my grocery list?

Morrison: Go!

Missus Jeffrey: Oh alright! And stop locking your door!

She exits and he follows, yelling, to lock the door

Morrison: Will you go? You…you…you crady! (Click, click, click) Iss my door! Iss my room! (Click, click, click) You go! You…you leave me 'lone an'….an' mine your own bin'ess! Nosey! Stoopid door…stoopid house…..stoopid groc'ry list…….huh….Morrison see no…see no groc'ry list…uh uh….right Mittah Pottah? No sir! She a crady woman an'….an' this a crady house You hear dat mumma? Stoopid!!! Stoopid house!! Crady woman!! Stoopid gro'cry list!! How da hell I s'pose to see her stoopid groc'ry list? Ha! Morrison….Morrison Jeffrey…….din-see-nuttin'!!!


Contact The Author

Duncan's Playscripts