"The Bridegroom" was a story printed in the second issue of The Twilight Zone comic published by Dell.
Milo Dean and Cyril Gordon are hustlers. They find lonely, wealthy women, Milo seduces them into believing they have a future to invest in and Cyril collects the checks. The plan works perfectly until one day Milo and Cyril stumble upon a mansion in the woods, home to Verna Barclay. Miss Barclay is wealthy beyond imagination, only equaled by her loneliness. She's the perfect target for Mr. Dean, but there's a secret about this lonesome women. A secret that, once revealed, will change Milo Dean's life forever—and not in a way that he had expected.
Cast of characters
- policeman #1
- policeman #2
- policeman #3
- train passenger
- train porter
- truck driver #1
- truck driver #2
- wedding guests
"A handsome, charming man is Milo Dean, one of the most successful operators in his field...Milo makes a lucrative career out of fleecing the innocent and the gullible..."
Milo Dean was a natural born swindler, thanks to his charm and his good looks. He wasn't shy about using them to get what he wanted, and what he wanted was money. His latest exploit was Agatha, a woman who felt she had found the man with whom she would spend the rest of her life. When Milo asked her for money to invest into buying a home for them, she did not hesitate. She handed over all of her life savings, looking forward to the domestic bliss that was soon to follow.That future, however, would never come to be. Unbeknownst to Agatha, her betrothed had a deal worked out with the supposed real estate agent, Cyril Gordon. The two men would use the duped woman's money to pay for the house, but as a rental rather than a purchase. Agatha had given the men nearly ten thousand dollars for an empty house that they were renting for less than fifty dollars a month! After the deal had been made, the victim would never again see Milo Dean, leaving her not only broke but broken-hearted.
Still, Milo never felt a bit of remorse for his deceptions and comforted himself with bringing happiness to these poor, lonely women—perhaps for the first time in their lives. The police, on the other hand, were not so certain of Milo Dean's generosity. They had a file on the con man that had steadily continued to grow. Milo and his accomplice were not oblivious to this. After every scam, they went into hiding. It was no different following the incident with Agatha. The two swindlers checked themselves into an inn in a small rural village, figuring the police would never find them there.
As the days wore on, the two fugitives grew bored with their secluded small town life. They determined what they needed was to go for a ride and Milo rented a horse-drawn buggy, His companion was less enthused with the old-fashioned mode of travel, but happy to be outdoors.
The men drove about most of the day and as evening approached, they decided it was time to return to the inn. When they reached a fork in the road, however, neither man could recall which way they had taken. Milo opted for the left fork. Suddenly, a large fog bank approached the men from the valley below. This worried Cyril, but Milo assured him that an evening mist was common in the country and pressed on.Soon, neither of the men was sure that they had selected the correct path. They came upon a large mansion—the first house they had seen—and made the choice to stop for directions. Looking through the window, the wanderers saw the estate looked abandoned. Cobwebs were everywhere and a layer of dust coated everything, even a decorated table in the dining hall. The table appeared to have been prepared for a wedding feast whose guests had never arrived. This only increased Cyril's unease, but again Milo pressed on to the front door.
Having knocked on the door, they were greeted by a curt maid who urged the men to leave. Then a voice from the shadows inside canceled the maid's order and instructed her to invite the gentleman in. The voice turned out to be Verna Barclay, owner of the mansion. She seemed certain that she recognized Dean from somewhere, but could not remember where. She felt she could trust the men and offered for them to spend the night in one of her guest rooms. The travelers accepted and Barclay had her maid, Eliza, show them to their room.
Milo Dean could not help but to see the lonely, wealthy maiden as yet another opportunity for a swindle. Cyril, on the other hand, became increasingly anxious about their host and her estate. He asked Eliza about the scene they had witnessed in the dining room. She told the portly man that they had been keeping it ready for Michael Dexter's return. Michael Dexter had been Miss Verna's betrothed many years ago. When the day of the wedding arrived, however, Michael was gone. The scoundrel had left Verna at the altar. She could not accept that he would not return and so she had the dining room sealed off, awaiting what Verna assumed would be his imminent return. He never had.After hearing the story and seeing a portrait of Michael Dexter, Cyril was even more disturbed. The portrait's resemblance to his friend Milo was uncanny! He remarked to Milo, "No wonder Verna Barclay thought she recognized you!" This comment gave Milo an idea. He would craft a disguise for himself to more resemble Barclay's long-departed fiancée and begin courting her. The lovelorn woman would hardly be able to resist a suitor identical to her beloved Michael. Once married, he would be entitled to the mansion and all of the riches that the woman possessed!
The next morning, the two guests thanked their hostess and bid her farewell. As the carriage pulled away, Cyril turned back to look at the mansion and it had vanished! He prodded his companion to look back, but Milo refused and dismissed it as the work of the morning mist. He had much better things to think about. This might be his biggest take yet and nothing would stand in the way of his plans, not a sense of morality and certainly not his superstitious pal.In the following days, Milo returned almost daily to the mansion to visit Verna, now sporting a moustache and sideburns just as had been seen in Dexter's portrait. Verna had quickly fallen in love with Milo. He reminded her so much of her lost love that she sometimes confused their names. That did not bother Milo Dean. In fact, this had been exactly what he had hoped would happen. He wasted no time and proposed to Verna before the week had ended. She excitedly accepted his proposal and agreed that they would be married within another week.
In the meantime, Cyril had decided to stay away from the mansion and do some investigating. He could not shake the feeling that there was something wrong with the situation. A postal worker told him that the locals avoided the area surrounding Barclay Mansion, "'It ain't considered healthy!" When Cyril tried to voice his concerns to his associate, they were promptly dismissed. The goal was too tempting to Milo—one more week and Verna's mansion, land and wealth would all be his.Cyril wasn't willing to give in so easily. He checked the local paper for a wedding announcement and found none. The next day he stopped the postal worker he had spoken to previously for a few more questions. The mailman told him that he had neither heard about the wedding nor delivered any invitations for it. The man found it hard to believe that anyone would want to be married at the old Barclay place and thinks that Cyril must be overworking his imagination. He warns the out-of-towner that if he knows what is good for him, he'll stay well away from the eldritch mansion. Again Cyril voices reservations and again Milo dismisses them.
On the day of the wedding, Milo arrives to pick Cyril up in a horse-drawn carriage and an old-fashioned tuxedo. He did not want to spoil the illusion; not at such a crucial point. As the men drive down the rural roadway, Cyril notes that they haven't passed any traffic and have seen no wedding guests. But as they enter the valley where the mansion stood, through the ever-present mist, Cyril was shocked to see the road suddenly filled with buggies on their way to the mansion! Milo saw this as proof that his friend's concerns were baseless, but the sudden appearance left Cyril completely unsettled.
Upon arrival at the mansion, they saw that all of the guests had dressed in old-fashioned garb, much as Milo had. Cyril could stand it no longer. He pleaded with his friend to turn around and give the scheme up. In a panic, he grabbed Milo by the lapels and shook him. The eerie crowd turned on Cyril, intent on stopping from interfering with the wedding ceremony as Milo rushed into the building. Cyril reluctantly retreated and, in desperation, drove the horses back to town to summon the help of the police. The police thought him insane. They revealed that no Barclays had lived in the area for over fifty years! Still, they consented to helping the agitated gentleman and drove him out to Barclay Mansion in their squad car.
When they arrived, it was much as the policemen had said. The famed mansion was nothing more than crumbled ruins! Cyril could not understand. He had seen his friend run into the mansion. He was sure of it. Then, he noticed a gleaming item in the dirt. It was Milo's watch! It was still ticking, but with no sign of its owner. Whatever had happened to Milo, wherever he had gone, his unyielding drive for wealth had helped him arrive there.
"Milo Dean, charmer and swindler of affection-starved ladies, has finally met--and married--his match! We hope they'll live happily ever after, somewhere in the Twilight Zone!"
Response and analysis
This story was a morality tale about selfish deeds and the unexpected consequences that can occur when one becomes blinded by greed. It also demonstrates that those that set traps for others are not immune to themselves becoming victim to the traps of others.
- Originally published in color
- Printed on newsprint, 10 pages
- Reprinted in The Twilight Zone (Gold Key) 26, Mystery Comics Digest 03, Mystery Comics Digest 18, and Mystery Comics Digest 24
Notes and references
- Bob Klein and Mike Tiefenbacher. "The Twilight Zone no 2 (1961 series)." Grand Comics Database. Retrieved: July 14, 2009.