A mother's love is the topic Henry Slesar addresses in "The Morning After," which begins as Mrs. Trotter visits her daughter Sharon, who is used to staying up very late and who lives in a modern, well-furnished apartment. The contrast between mother and daughter is striking. Mrs. Trotter took the bus to visit Sharon and wants to shop for "a pair of hospital shoes for every day." Sharon is a kept woman, supported by Ben, "a bad man, a crook" in her mother's eyes. Ben is married and Sharon is waiting for him to get a divorce so she can become his next wife. Mrs. Trotter, on the other hand, was married to Papa her whole life.
As Sharon takes a shower, Mrs. Trotter looks through a "thick magazine . . . devoted to Paris fashion . . . filled with photographs of slender women in settings that had no connection with the reality Mrs. Trotter knew." The telephone rings and she answers it. Ben is calling, frantic because his wife died during the night. He thinks he is speaking to Sharon and urges her to tell the police that they spent the night together.
Sharon emerges from the shower and Mrs. Trotter tells her that Ben called and that his wife is dead. Mrs. Trotter tells her daughter that Ben killed the woman and that "he wants you to tell the police . . . that he wasn't here last night." Sharon assents and the doorbell rings.
"The Morning After" first appeared in the February 1957 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. It was picked up by the producers of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and became the first of Henry Slesar's stories to be adapted for the small screen during the show's fourth season, broadcast on January 11, 1959. Slesar still had not broken into the business of writing teleplays, so the script was written by Rose Simon Kohn (1901-1985), who has few credits beyond this and another episode of the Hitchcock series, but whose teleplay for this story is an excellent example of how to expand a very short story.
|As the storm rages!|
|Just before the telephone rings.|
"The Morning After" is available on DVD here or can be viewed online for free here. It is certainly worth a look.