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Radio Drama: "The Middle Toe of the Right Foot" (1945)

Ambrose Bierce


"The Middle Toe of the Right Foot" first aired May 21, 1945, on The Weird Circle.

Thoughts Before Listening

Ok seriously though, how can this not be good, it’s called "The Middle Toe of the Right Foot" for heck’s sake, at the very least this should be about a disembodied ghost toe that comes back to haunt people and that is just rad as fuck. I am scared though.

Thoughts While Listening

This is an adaptation of an Ambrose Bierce story COME ON AMBROSE DON’T FAIL ME NOW

The weird circle meets in a cave by the sea because no one is the boss of them

He just said bowel keeper. I don’t care if he actually said bell keeper, dude just said bowel keeper HAHAHAHAHAHAHA sorry

And now the bowel/bell tolls.

How is there a bell in the cave? Did someone bring it with them? Whatever, it’s a bowel

And how is it a weird circle? Is it actually a square? Because that would be pretty weird right? Right?

Aw, how nice this is sponsored by Ogden’s cigarettes- Easy to roll, delightful to smoke. Like sausages!

And now, we finally begin with the story. So two dudes on horsies are looking at the Manton farm, which is variously being described using words like ‘rank’, ‘rotting’ and ‘run-down’.

So who is going to get this sweet piece of real estate booty? And where is Manton, the dude of the farm who also killed his wife and kids?

That’s not very nice. Just saying.

Other salient features- Manton has been missing, the house has been empty for ten years and there is a ghost.

Even the trees seem to be leaning away from the house because it is so scary.

Or maybe it just smells. Who knows?

Ok two new dudes now. They are in a hotel? I think so? One who is supposed to be the rude one is allegedly named Gross Smith.

And more dudes? I don’t know what’s happening but someone said Aw Shucks.

They are talking about a corner but they don’t specify what corner. Maybe it’s a metaphor for something like life

Oh, coroner. I’m sorry, I’m from India.

Wow, someone said they shouldn’t hire this one coroner because he has a cast in his eye.

Now this someone is saying that any physical defect goes along with some mental or moral defect OMG BAI…..WHOEVER YOU ARE

Ok there was some dialogue after this which I can’t even because it was just so wow bai everyone just bai

The only thing that can save this now is a little disembodied ghost toe coming out of someone’s ear. Or RuPaul singing ‘Sissy That Walk’

Ok I think flashback is happening? With that previous fellow who embarrassed himself with all his talk about emotional and fiscal defects. I will refer to him henceforth as Bai.

Bai is talking to what I think we are to infer is PRETTY GIRL. We will refer to her henceforth as PRETTY GIRL.

Or nah, ‘girl’ is easier to type.

Bai does not seem to like Manton, and the girl’s brother has taken this cue to say that Manton is a queer duck with queer ways. He’s just over there btw

Wouldn’t it be cool though? If Manton actually was a queer duck?

All the cool kids hate Manton because he seems to have a weird way of decapitating birds? Idk, seems like an unnecessary reinforcement of the ‘queer ducks are killers’ trope

Manton has come by to say hai to Bai and friends. After making some kind of gross remark to the lady of the group (because that’s what ladies are for), we notice that his hands are stained.

Maybe he has his period. And it’s coming out of his hands.

I’m sorry that was really sexist and also not based in realism.

He was butchering a calf which seems to make everyone sad but I feel like none of them are actually sad about the calf. You know?

Bai and Manton are now fighting each other by seeing who can say the most uncomfortable thing about the only woman present

Aaaaaaaaaand the girl’s brother just said, well as her brother, I’ll say she is easy on the eyes WOW YOU WIN WHY ARE YOU ALL SO GROSS OMG BYE

So the girl just said she isn’t perfect because she only has four toes on one foot and in the words of Lady Gaga, she was born that way.

I guess Bai won’t like her anymore now which is actually really great for the girl.

Oh golly I forgot that was a flashback. Basically Bai did not go back to see the girl because he is a real swell guy and anyway she went on to marry Manton.

Why am I listening to this again?

Ok, I don’t know what’s happening. Someone’s choking? And someone else doesn’t care?

Another flashback! It is ten years after that first flashback and the girl is old, tired and scared. Why is she old, tired and scared? Because Manton has killed all their cows.

And the last cow was slaughtered yesterday so now it stands to reason that he will kill either the kids or the wife. Because that is often what happens when people who slaughter cattle run out of cattle.

So they are going to get the doctor? And drive out first thing in the morning?

No one seems to be home, front door is open, and there is blood on the stairs. WHAT COULD IT ALL MEAN??????

In a shocking news development, everyone seems to be dead in Manton house.

Now we are listening to an educative and informative talk about Ambrose Bierce and the story.

Actually that was just a weird way of bringing Ogden tobacco into the conversation. I feel betrayed and yet also, so much more aware about real smoking enjoyment.

MEANWHILE! Gross Smith who has entered and things like that, has been glaring at everyone. And everyone is like, what should we do about this thing that is happening (re Gross Smith glaring at them)?

Now they are all going to fight.

Now they are fighting.

Now they are going to have a duel.

Now Bai is glaring at Gross Smith.

Now they are planning a duel in the dark with knives.

What the fuck is this anyway? Why is all this happening and other neat stuff not happening?

Ten more minutes oh my sainted aunt

Just kill each other already so we can all go home

They left Gross Smith in the duelling room all by himself which doesn’t seem very sporting but maybe someone will die now

Gross Smith is now being eaten? By three ghosts?

Aaaaaand next morning there is dead man in house, footprints with one having only four toes wow so many mystery I’m going home now

Thoughts After Listening

There were many times when I wanted to type ‘toe’ but I typed ‘tow’ instead. Isn’t life weird? I mean what the heck.