The Tell-tale Heart
What would YOU do if the heart of the person you buried under the floorboards started making noise? Only one way to find out... (Note: Shmoop does not condone murder.)
|19th-Century Literature||19th-Century American Literature|
All 19th-Century Literature
|American Literature||19th-Century American Literature|
All American Literature
|Literary Forms||Short Stories|
I 'm just a perfectly sane guy trying to make the best of my circumstances. [Guy in prison uniform]
…Do you hear something?
…Anyway, I know you're wondering how I got here. [Prison guard speaking to the man]
Well, you're in luck.
I've got some time to kill, so sit back, relax, and ignore that weird thumping noise…you
hear it too, right?
I was just a regular guy, living the bachelor lifestyle with an old man roommate…y'know, [Guy tries talking to a girl in a club and gets hit in the face with a mop]
pizza and Xbox by day, clipping Polident coupons by night…
Oh, don't get me wrong, the old guy wasn't bad. [Old guy with a glass eye]
Heck, I kind of liked him…except for this one little thing…
…Need eye say more?
I couldn't live knowing that thing was near me…
So I did what any sane, rational human being would do…I hatched a plan to murder him [Guy drawing up a plan]
A sane, rational plan.
So I treated the geezer real nice for a whole week.
Y'know…poured his prune juice, cleaned his dentures, the whole nine yards. [Guy holding dentures]
Then each night, I’d sneak into his room and shine a light in to his eye.
What, you think I’d kill an old man in his sleep? [Guy holding a torch on to the old guys eye]
That would be disrespectful.
On the eighth night, I crept into his room and opened his door oh-so carefully...
But when I pulled out my lantern, I made a noise, and woke him up. [Guy drops the torch on the floor]
I waited…and I waited…and eventually, I shined the light on his eye.
And whaddya know…the old man was awake, and finally, I saw it.
…hoo boy, did it set me off.
I charged in like a maniac.
…A fully sane, emotionally stable maniac. [Man looks angry and holds his fists up]
How did I do the deed?
Well…let’s just say I took pillow fights to a whole new level. [Man hitting the old man with a pillow]
Next I needed to confirm the old man was dead…
…so I could move on to part two of my plan.
It’s a little graphic, so let’s use a visual metaphor. [Workers butchering meat]
Hope you weren't eating chicken…
When I was done, the old fart was in old parts.
I pried open three planks of the floorboard to hide the remains. [Guy chucks a bin bag between the floor boards]
And I really thought I had gotten away with it…if it hadn't been for those meddling
See, someone heard the old man scream and called the police. [Policeman walks in]
"No big deal," I thought.
I’m a cool cucumber with a perfectly normal looking floor...no old man parts under these [Guy with 'no police allowed' sign over his floor]
boards, no, sir…
I just told them I had screamed in my sleep, the old man was out of town, and everything
was right as rain.
But, as you've probably guessed, that's not where the tale ends. [Man is dressed in a superhero costume]
It’s time I tell you about my superpower.
I basically have bionic hearing. [Man has large ears]
All my senses are incredibly heightened.
I can hear a baby blinking from two rooms away.
…That's perfectly normal, right? [Man walks into the babies room]
Babies just blink very loudly…
So while the cops and I were shooting the breeze, I started to hear this soft thumping
noise…and it kept getting progressively louder. [Man looks shocked]
I could barely focus on what I was saying, but the cops didn’t seem to notice.
But it kept getting louder…
Until I realized…it was the old man’s beating heart, pounding away from under my [Guy looks annoyed]
I thought I could get through the interview, but you try focusing when there's a dead man's
heart thumping under your feet.
I couldn’t take it any more.
I thought they were going to bust me on the spot.
I had to confess.
I dug up the floor to show them what I had done. [Guy pulls back the floorboards to reveal the bin bag]
My landlord was not going to be happy, that was the end of my deposit.
And now I’m here.
I did the crime, I’m doing the time.
All because of my stupid super-ears.
…I mean, the psychologist said it wasn’t the beating heart I was hearing, but rather, [Guy meeting with a psychologist]
a “manifestation of my guilt.”
I guess that’s one way to look at it.
All I know is that Celine Dion was onto something with that whole, "my heart will go on," thing… [Celine Dion performing]