(10) “The Long Night”

Original Airdate:  (November 16, 1957)

“Bury this man here..tell the law about it if you want..but don’t forget to tell them what you were about to do here”

Paladin and two other men are held hostage by a cattlemen.  Unless one of the three admit to murdering his wife, the cattlemen will kill them all at dawn.

Guest starring: KENT SMITH as Louis Strome, JAMES BEST as Andy Fisher, WILLIAM SCHALLERT as Clyde Broderick,  MICHAEL GRANGER as Emanual, KENNETH ALTON as Jackson

EXT. WOODED HILLS WITH ROCKY OUTCROPING -DAY

We see Paladin riding along.  A man comes up on him quickly from behind.

EMANUAL
Put your hands on that pommel, Mister.

PALADIN
What?
EMANUAL
The pommel.

EMANUAL
You look behind you, mister, and it won’t be so funny.

EMANUAL
Jackson, take his gun.

PALADIN
Now wouldn’t you like to tell me something?

MANUEL
Come on, you are going with us.

We see Paladin and the cattlemen riding into a camp

JACKSON
Get down.

STROME
She’s dead.

PALADIN
That supposed to mean something to me?

STROME
What’s your name, your business hereabouts?

PALADIN
Here’s my story.

STROME
You’re a long way from San Francisco.

PALADIN
I had an assignment in Fort Worth.
I’m on my way home.

STROME
You’ll stay awhile.
Sit there.

ANDY FISHER
I’m Andy Fisher.

PALADIN
Paladin. Who’s he?

ANDY
Him? That’s Louis Strome.
Just the biggest man in the whole entire world.
He owns most all this Texas panhandle.

PALADIN
Strome- I’ve heard of him.
You’re not with him?

ANDY
No more than you.
They found me on the road.

PALADIN
Strome’s planning a party.

ANDY
Looks like.
I guess he picked me up to play while someone’s to dance.
Maybe somebody else is to play, and I’m to dance.

CLYDE BRODERICK
Say, what’s this all about?

STROME
Get down off that horse and get over there.

CLYDE BRODERICK
Now there’s been some mistake, sir.
My name is Broderick, Clyde Broderick.
For the Sharp’s Rifle Company.
I’m the territorial representative, salesman, drummer, if you will.
I never carry a weapon. I never fired one.
Now, when your two gentlemen there accosted me on the road…

STROME
She’s dead.

CLYDE BRODERICK
Who’s dead?

PALADIN
Shock tactics, Clyde.
You’re supposed to give yourself away when Mr. Strome says those words.

CLYDE
Strome?

STROME
What would he give away about himself?

PALADIN
Well, now Mr. Strome, if I knew that, I’d be your man, wouldn’t I?
But your question…”What would he give away about himself?”
Let me see. You’re obviously looking for a man.
You don’t know who he is. He’s in this area, he rides a black horse.
You have plans for him, and you think he’s responsible for the death of a woman, right?

STROME
My wife.
He was wearing a black shirt or a black jacket.

ANDY
I don’t know what you’re talking about.

CLYDE
Neither do I.

STROME
One of you is lying.

PALADIN
Well, maybe if you’ll tell us a little more, the two who aren’t lying could be of some help.

I’ll give you a start. I remember reading about your wedding.
A little more than two years ago, wasn’t it?
She was a young girl. A member of an old Spanish family in San Antonio.
Vasquez. Maria Felicia Vasquez, right?

ANDY
I was punching cows up in San Anton at the time of the wedding.
It was a big do.

STROME
You knew Maria?

ANDY
You know better than that. The daughter of Vasquez?

She wouldn’t spit on a $22 a month cowhand.

PALADIN
Everybody in San Antonio knew of the family, Strome.

CLYDE
That’s a prominent family. Why, I sold her father two custom-made rifles…

PALADIN
I’ve had business in San Antonio several times in the last two years.
Any one of the three of us might have met her.

STROME
She was my wife. Mine. In fact, the land is mine. In fact, everything I own is mine.
I know she was seeing a man. I left the house yesterday to check my outriders.
I wasn’t supposed to come home last night, but I changed my mind.
There was a black horse back of the house when I rode in.
Maria blew out the lamp when I stepped into the living room,
but I caught just a flash of him.
A flash in the moonlight on his sleeve as he was getting out the window.
It was a black sleeve. I fired just one shot.
I’d have got him, too, except Maria stepped into the path.

PALADIN
It was your bullet that killed your wife?

STROME
She’s dead because of one of you. I mean to hang that man.
He got away riding West. A man wearing black, riding a black horse.
He’d have had to pass through Hangtown this morning.
It’s the only place he could have gotten water. The people in the town remember
only three men passing through who fit.

CLYDE
Well, now, see here, it-it couldn’t be me. I was in Hangtown last night. I stayed in a hotel.
They’ll tell you.

STROME
Was someone with you all night?

CLYDE
Well, no. I went to bed early, and…

STROME
It’s a two-hour ride to my place from Hangtown.
You could have slipped away and back, and no one the wiser.

CLYDE
But I didn’t!

STROME
Where did you spend the night, Paladin?

PALADIN
Under the stars. I slept on my saddle.

ANDY
The same.

PALADIN
Now, Strome, if it’s all the same to you,
I’ll be on my way, and I’d like my weapons returned.

ANDY
Wait a minute, I’ll ride a piece with you.

STROME
You’re staying here. Manuel, fix a fire.

There’ll be two of my men watching you every minute.
You won’t be able to see us, but you can’t make a move that we don’t see.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

We see three hangman’s nooses.

PALADIN
Three men, three different stories.
It’s too bad we haven’t got time to check them.

ANDY
We’re going to have to do better than that, or else we’ll all haul rope.

PALADIN
Well, I wouldn’t say that.

ANDY
Why, you got something in mind?

PALADIN
Well, they’re probably all asleep now, except the two guards.

CLYDE
Attack the guards?

ANDY
Well, we can’t even see out there.

PALADIN
If the fire gets much lower, they won’t be able to see us, either.

ANDY
They’re not going to let that fire die.

PALADIN
Well, I certainly hope not.

Paladin pulls out his derringer that he keeps under his belt.

ANDY
You always carry that?

PALADIN
Always.
Clyde.

EMANUEL
Stay where you are, gentlemen.
My friend has a gun on you.

ANDY
Well, we got no place to go.

PALADIN
Manuel.

MANUEL
Yes?

PALADIN
Don’t alarm your friend, just call him down.

MANUEL
Hey, Jackson, come down here. It’s all right.

JACKSON
Yeah?

MANUEL
I think I’ve got our man figured out.

JACKSON
Who is it?

MANUEL
Look here.

PALADIN
Just drop the rifle.

Drop it.

ANDY
All right, come on. Let’s get out of here.

PALADIN
Wait a minute, wait a minute. We’ll need horses.
That means we’ve got to take Strome and the rest of them.

WE HEAR GUNSHOTS

STROME
I didn’t mention that along with the guards, I’d be watching all night.
I promise I’ll kill the next man who fires. Throw down those guns.

CLYDE
If we could just get to the darkness.

PALADIN
Not a chance, Clyde. They’d cut us down before we took two steps.

STROME
Do you want it finished now, or do you want the four hours till breakfast?

CLYDE
He’s going to kill us anyway.

ANDY
Four hours is four hours.

PALADIN
No odds, Clyde. No odds at all. Throw it down.

STROME
Now that you’ve blown off steam, maybe you’d best get back to the business at hand.

CLYDE
I never fired a gun before, but I wish now I’d taken at least one shot at you.

STROME
You certainly don’t want to see daylight.

PALADIN
Why don’t you shoot, Strome?

STROME
If Manuel hadn’t come in front of the barrel…

PALADIN
Like your wife came up in front of the barrel?
He told us his wife moved in front of his bullet.
She moved faster than his bullet?

ANDY
That ain’t very likely.

PALADIN
It’s possible if Strome was heavy on the trigger,
but we just saw him hold off on a snap shot.

STROME
What else?

PALADIN
Strome, you told us this man who got away rode off without ever looking back.
Now, I think if he had any feeling for that girl, he’d have looked back when you shot.
He’d have ridden back to see if she was hurt.

CLYDE
Are you saying that this girl is not dead?

PALADIN
No, I think she’s dead.
But Strome, how much time passed after that man got away?
How much time before you shot your wife?

ANDY
Why don’t you answer that, Strome?

PALADIN
How much time, Strome?

STROME
Maybe a half hour.

CLYDE
You mean you murdered her?
You just shot her down like that?

STROME
Like that. Just like I’m going to hang one of you, or all of you in the morning.

CLYDE
Well, if you murdered her. What do you want from us?

STROME
She’s dead because of one of you. I’ll be waiting. Just call me. If you want to tell me anything.

PALADIN
Well, it does get cold out here at night.

CLYDE
Why don’t you stop that?

ANDY
What else is there to do?

PALADIN
We got company. Anyone for gambling? You’ll never play for higher stakes.

ANDY
What’s on your mind, Paladin?

PALADIN
Well, now there’s no sense of all three of us being hung.
And all one has to say to Strome is, “I’m it.”

ANDY
Well, who’s going to say that?

PALADIN
Whoever gets the smallest rock.

CLYDE
I don’t want any part of it.

PALADIN
Strome would have to let two of us go.
Those two could double back and try and save the one who had to stay.

CLYDE
Yeah, but suppose he didn’t let one of us go, or two of us go.

ANDY
And suppose they didn’t get back in time.

PALADIN
That’s two “supposes” against a surefire, three-man hanging.
You two take your choice. Rocks are lined up this way.
I’ll take the one that’s left.

ANDY
All right. You want to go first?

CLYDE
No.

ANDY
I’ll take this one on… on this end.

CLYDE
I’ll take the one on that end.

ANDY
You win.

CLYDE
That’s not funny.

PALADIN
Clyde, you have my word, as long as I live, you live.
You want to call Strome?

CLYDE
You call him.

PALADIN
Strome!

STROME
Yes? You have something to tell me?

PALADIN
Yes.

STROME
I’m listening.

CLYDE
Well, I, uh… you see…
(throws down a rock in frustration)
No!
No, I’m not the man.
I didn’t know your wife.
I didn’t have anything to do with your wife, and I’m not going to say I did!
PALADIN
Well, Clyde, you certainly are a disappointment.

CLYDE
All right, what are you going to do, kill me?

PALADIN
No. If that’s the truth, Clyde, you stick with it.

STROME
There isn’t much time left. I’m not fooling! I’ll fill those nooses!

PALADIN
Strome, why don’t you content yourself with one murder this week?
Killing a woman, that’s a big enough chore for you.
And after all, you had plenty of justification for killing her.
After all she did to you. By the way, what did she do to you exactly?
You tell us the man was there, but what exactly were they doing?

STROME
She said they were talking. He was just somebody she could talk to.
What does a man talk to a woman about? All I wanted was his name.
That’s all I asked her for.

PALADIN
And you killed her when she wouldn’t tell.

STROME
Why didn’t she tell if there was nothing between them but talk?

PALADIN
Because you would have killed him! You wouldn’t believe it!

STROME
I don’t believe it now.

CLYDE
It does happen.

ANDY
Now, don’t be telling Strome about women. He knows about women.
Don’t let all this upset you.
Here, I’ll play you a song to quiet your nerves and steady your hand
for the morning’s work.

There is a place that I do know
Where my true love goes to drink her wine
In her store-bought clothes
And she sits her down on some brave boy’s knee
Now don’t you know that vexes me
And yet she cries, I love you best
But a troubled mind can know no rest
For a troubled mind can know no rest.

STROME
You try to ride me, you young…

ANDY
Young? Is that the rub, Strome? I’m young, she’s young?
So that puts us together, huh? Could have been, couldn’t it?
Young man, someone closer to her own age?

STROME
It could be a dandy with a guitar.
A drifter with easy words and no morals.

ANDY
That’s right. It could’ve been me she wanted to talk to. And why not?
What would she want with a vicious old goat like you?

PALADIN
Strome. It could have been an older man. Someone who knew the world.
Someone who could paint word pictures for her of places she’d never seen
and never would see locked up in that big house of yours.
Somebody had to tell her she was clever, she was pretty and wanted.

CLYDE
Could have been a lonely man, Strome. A man who wandered every place because he had no place. He could draw strength from someone like her loving him. He’d take more than he could give, but he could make her feel needed because he’d see her loneliness.

STROME
Emanual! Jackson!

Build up that fire.
Get breakfast.
Finish this! Finish this!

ANDY
I lost my head.
I think you saved my life.

CLYDE
Yeah, for the moment.
Three fools, that’s what we are.

PALADIN
Well, I find good comradeship comforting in a time like this.

STROME
Hurry it up.

PALADIN
Patience, Strome. I won’t keep you long from your pleasure.

STROME
It will be a pleasure. You had it coming to you.

PALADIN
Well, the man who killed Maria should hang, there’s no question about that,
and we all know who did that.

STROME
That’s enough!
Stand up, all of you!

PALADIN
Well, since we must. You can turn these two loose-
I’m you’re man. You didn’t think I’d let you hang, did you?

STROME
I knew it. What were you to Maria?

PALADIN
Well, Strome, it’s a little late to be worrying about that, isn’t it?
I thought you were so certain.

STROME
Just the one rope.

ANDY
Thanks, Paladin.

CLYDE
I’m… I’m sorry.

PALADIN
Save it. I’m not the man-one of you is.
Now my life…Just don’t wait too long.

STROME
Come on, Paladin.

391
00:20:46,311 –> 00:20:48,512
We don’t have to stand here
and watch this.

STROME
You’ll stay.
Nobody leaves
till it’s over.

CLYDE
I will not stay here!

STROME
We don’t need these two.

ANDY
Is there any special song I can send you off with, Paladin?

PALADIN
Anything you like, but don’t wait too long!

CLYDE
I never shot one of these things before.

PALADIN
Oh, you’re doing fine. Keep it up.
Cover me the best way you can.

PALADIN
Hold it.

MANUEL
No more.

PALADIN
You see Andy?

CLYDE
No.

PALADIN
Andy!

ANDY
I’m back here in the clearing. I’ve got Strome.

PALADIN
Come on. Cut him down. Move!
Clyde, when this started, you were going someplace.

CLYDE
You riding my way? Well, bye. I think I’ll hold on to this.

ANDY
I loved Maria. She liked me, that’s all. She needed a friend, somebody she could talk to.
So once in a while we’d get together and we’d talk. But that was all.
He killed her because she talked to another man. She was nothing to him.
Just something he owned. Don’t you see, I… I had to have time to make him pay
for what he did to Maria. But I swear, I wouldn’t let you hang.

PALADIN
You bury him here and the others.
Tell the law about this if you want, but don’t forget to tell what you were about to do here.

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