(7) “Strange Vendetta”

Original Airdate:  (October 26, 1957)

“Sit down gentlemen and sit still…I’ve come to order a coffin for the first one of you that makes a move”

Paladin’s new friend, stabbed by an assassin, makes a dying request to have his body taken back home to his hacienda in Mexico.

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen, Writers: Ken Kolb, Herb Meadow (creator)

Guest starring:

JUNE VINCENT as Maria Rojas (wife), MICHAEL PATE as Miguel Rojas (husband),

GERALD MILTON as Farley (U.S. Border Inspector), ONSLOW STEVENS as Dr. Mayhew, NED GLASS as Wilkins (San Francisco Undertaker), ABEL FERNANDEZ as Bandit, ROBERTO CONTRERAS as Ramon Hernandez (Mexican Border Inspector),

ROCKY SHAHAN as Timmons (Stage Driver for Paladin)

Filming Locations: Iverson Ranch

PALADIN
Oh, Hey Boy, anything new and startling in the world today?

HEYBOY
Oh, yes. Big earthquake in China.

PALADIN
Oh, well, that’s hardly in my line.

HEYBOY
Also, big steamboat blow up on Mississippi River.

PALADIN
I’m afraid that’s not for me, either.

HEYBOY
Oh, Mr. Paladin, all the time you go away, you come back, you bring plenty of money.
You sell maybe insurance?

PALADIN
In a way, yeah.

HEYBOY
Oh, excuse me. I must go.

Oh, uh… sorry. No more tickets to the opera. All sold out.

MARIA ROJAS
Oh… I had so hoped. Here, you may keep this for trying.

HEYBOY
Thank you.

MARIA
Oh, I beg your pardon.

PALADIN
Not at all. I couldn’t help overhearing your trouble,

and I have an opera box reserved for the season if you’d care to be my guest.

MARIA
Oh, thank you, but I could not presume on your courtesy,
although we did so want to hear tonight’s performance.

PALADIN
We?

MARIA
My husband and I.

PALADIN
Oh, well, naturally, my invitation extends to him.
I wasn’t planning to attend myself.

MARIA
Here he comes. Perhaps you could ask him.
MARIA
Señor Paladin, my husband, Don Miguel Rojas.

PALADIN
Paladin, con mucho gusto.

MIGUEL ROJAS
Lo mismo, Señor.

MARIA
Dr. Mayhew.

PALADIN
Doctor.

DOCTOR MAYHEW
Sir.

MARIA
Señor Paladin has graciously offered us his box at the opera tonight.
There were no more tickets.

MIGUEL
That would indeed be kind of him.

PALADIN
We don’t get many titled visitors from Mexico and we like to make them welcome.
The newspapers took notice of your arrival and, of course, my invitation includes Dr. Mayhew.

MIGUEL
We’ll accept on the condition you join us and be our guest for dinner.

PALADIN
I’ll cancel my other engagement.

DOCTOR MAYHEW
Señor.

PALADIN
Doctor.

INT. OPERA HOUSE – EVENING

Paladin and guests are in the opera box.  Then we see a hand with a daggar appear from behind the curtain. There is a struggle and Don Miguel is apparently stabbed by the unknown assailant.

A shot is fired. Paladin helps Don Miguel

DOCTOR MAYHEW
What about him?

PALADIN
He’s dead.

DOCTOR MAYHEW
That’s what he deserves. Can you move if I help you?

DON MIGUEL
I would like to explain…

DOCTOR MAYHEW
There’s no time for that. You need treatment at once.

PALADIN
I’ll explain to the authorities it was a clear case of self-defense.

DOCTOR MAYHEW
I’ve got him. You’ll do more harm than good if you pull the wrong way.

PALADIN
It will be easier for you to leave before the police arrive.
I’ll call you a carriage.

MARIA
Thank you. I shall be grateful.

PALADIN
Before you leave, will you look at that man?
Please? Have you ever seen him before?

PALADIN
He looks very surprised at the way things turned out.

INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT

PALADIN
Has Don Miguel ever been attacked like this before?

MARIA
No. Yes, he has- there’s no need to lie about it.

PALADIN
What’s behind it all?

MARIA
A vendetta. An insane blood feud. It has cost many lives already.
Why doesn’t he hurry?

PALADIN
Well, I’m sure Dr. Mayhew is working as fast as he can.

MARIA
Oh, this was bound to happen. If they fail tonight, they will kill him some other time.

PALADIN
Perhaps I can be of some help.

MARIA
I’m afraid not, Señor. This is not a tragic opera. In this case, death is very real.
Oh, here he comes.

DOCTOR MAYHEW
He’s resting quietly. You may go up now, Maria.

PALADIN
Doña Maria…will you give your husband my card?

MARIA
This is no time for formal courtesy, Señor.

PALADIN
Please.

MARIA
I will give it to him.

PALADIN
Thank you.

PALADIN
Well?

DOCTOR MAYHEW
The wound itself isn’t too serious-that is, no vital organs were hit-
but I don’t like the looks of it.

PALADIN
What’s wrong?

DOCTOR MAYHEW
There was poison on the blade of the knife.
Nothing familiar. A plant substance of some sort.

PALADIN
Will he live?

DOCTOR MAYHEW
Yes, perhaps. For a week.

DOLLY IN TO – CLOSEUP SHOT – DOCTOR MAYHEW’S FACE

FADE TO

INT. HOTEL ROOM OF DON MIGUEL – EVENING

CLOSEUP SHOT OF A BOOK BY SHAKESPEARE

DOLLY OUT TO – PALADIN STANDING AT BEDSIDE OF DON MIGUEL

DON MIGUEL
Do you know what Shakespeare said about Mercutio’s wounds,
Señor Paladin?

PALADIN
“‘Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but ’tis enough, ’twill serve.”

DON MIGUEL
It’s the same with my wound.
Not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door but it is enough.

PALADIN
Don…

DON MIGUEL
Do not be surprised. I have talked to Dr. Mayhew.
We are old friends. He told me I’m dying.

PALADIN
Well, doctors have been wrong before.

DON MIGUEL
Not this time. I can feel it. That’s why I sent for you after I read your card.

PALADIN
You want revenge?

DON MIGUEL
No. The vendetta is between my family and another ancient line.
We do not invite interference. My task for you is much more personal.

PALADIN
Name it.

DON MIGUEL
I want you to escort my body safely to my home in San Tomasino and deliver it there
to my wife, Maria.

PALADIN
Isn’t your wife here with you?

DON MIGUEL
No, I sent her off this morning. I wanted her safely out of the way.
I wish to die unobserved. I will pay whatever price you ask.

PALADIN
Then you must anticipate trouble.

DON MIGUEL
True. The vendetta against my family includes the threat of mutilation
or destruction of the body.

PALADIN
Do you believe in those traditions?

DON MIGUEL
I’d rather not but it’s a part of my heritage. I cannot ignore it.
Will you take the job? For $1,000 and expenses?

PALADIN
Don Miguel, that’s fair enough, but it’s my hope that you’ll recover.

DON MIGUEL
Then we have a bargain. I will send instructions to Maria.
You will be paid upon safe delivery of my body to San Tomasino.

PALADIN
It is a fee I hope not to collect.

DON MIGUEL
You will be notified when your job begins.
I will try not to keep you waiting.

INT. HOTEL CARLTON LOBBY – DAY

PALADIN
Oh, Hey Boy, more exciting news in the world today?

HEYBOY
Oh, yes. Big robbery in San Francisco. $230,000.

PALADIN
Oh?

HEYBOY
You’re not interested?

PALADIN
Not particularly.

HEYBOY
You read about robbery?

PALADIN
No… here’s the news that interests me.
“Don Miguel Rojas, distinguished visitor from Mexico, died last night of wounds
suffered when he was attacked by an unidentified assailant while attending the opera.”

HEYBOY
You interested in that?

PALADIN
Very.

HEYBOY
Oh, you maybe sell Mr. Rojas some insurance?

PALADIN
Well, in a way.

FADE TO – WILKINS UNDERTAKER SHOP – SIGN

INT. WILKINS UNDERTAKER SHOP -DAY

WILKINS
Good day. May I help you in this hour of trouble?

PALADIN
Yes, you can turn one of your clients over to me.

WILKINS
Oh? Which one?

PALADIN
The late Don Miguel Rojas.

WILKINS
Oh, of course. You must be Mr. Paladin.

PALADIN
That’s correct.

WILKINS
Come this way, please. Looks fine, doesn’t he? We take great pride in our work.

PALADIN
I’m sure.

WILKINS
Now, I have the papers all ready for you to sign so you can take delivery.
If you please.

PALADIN
Where do I sign?

WILKINS
Thank you. And this is a copy of the death certificate.
You’ll want that for the border authorities.

PALADIN
Thank you. I’ve hired a stage and driver. I’ll have him come around.

WILKINS
Of course. And I’ll complete fastening down…
I’ll make the final arrangements.

EXT. STAGECOACH

PALADIN
Anybody here?

FARLEY (U.S. BORDER INSPECTOR)
You just try going through without inspection and you’ll find out if anybody’s here.
What’s your destination?

PALADIN
San Tomasino.

FARLEY
Oh… want to look it over, Ramon?

FARLEY
What’s your name?

PALADIN
Paladin. My driver is Timmon.

FARLEY
Just two passengers?

PALADIN
Three.

FARLEY
Well, you can’t take a dead body across the border.

PALADIN
Yes, I can.

FARLEY
Are you trying to tell me how to run my business?

PALADIN
Well, somebody should, because obviously you don’t know.

PALADIN
Page 14, Article 8.
If you’re looking for a little palm-greasing, you’re going to be disappointed.

RAMON
You want to open this big box on the top?

FARLEY
That ain’t necessary, Ramon.

PALADIN
Thanks. What’s the country like ahead?

FARLEY
Empty except for a water hole called Loma Verde.
The rest is Gila monsters and rattlers and that’s good company for you.
Inspection’s passed on one condition.

PALADIN
What’s that?

FARLEY
When you come back, cross at some other station. I’ve seen enough of you.

MUSIC
Hyah!
Hyah!
Whoa.

BANDITO
Manos arriba!

BANDITO
Manos arriba!

PALADIN
He said to raise your hands in case you hadn’t guessed.

BANDITO
¿Que quiere?

BANDITO
Usted sabe.

PALADIN
No tenemos mucho dinero.

BANDITO
La caja!

PALADIN
Go! Hyah!

BANDITO
Caballo!

PALADIN
Hyah! Ha!

PALADIN
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

Paladin finishes the grave

DON MIGUEL
Señor Paladin.

commercial break

DON MIGUEL

Bodies seem to be your specialty, Señor Paladin.
I must thank you for taking such good care of mine.

PALADIN
You’re very quick for a corpse.

PALADIN
Now that you’re here, I suppose you’ll want to examine the cargo.

DON MIGUEL
Yes. Let us satisfy our curiosity on that point there.
Uh-uh. Señor Paladin. Yeah. Now move.

PALADIN
That’s the shipping payroll robbery.

DON MIGUEL
$250,000 and all of it mine.

PALADIN
All yours? It took four men to commit that robbery in San Francisco.

DON MIGUEL
You have already eliminated them when they tried to steal my body.

PALADIN
You plan well. What about Doctor Mayhew?

DON MIGUEL
He was paid off. Along with Mr. Wilkins, our undertaker.
They made my death seem very convincing.
But not so convincing as yours will be, Señor Paladin.

PALADIN
What are you waiting for?

DON MIGUEL
First, you must help me with another burial.
This money must be hidden until certain arrangements are made.
Replace the lid.

PALADIN
Why was I chosen for this job?

DON MIGUEL
You have not completely escaped notice. Your talent with a gun, your devotion to duty.
We heard of these things. And you did not disappoint us.
Now, move. And I warn you, one false move will shorten your life and ensure you of a death much more unpleasant unless you cooperate.

PALADIN
What about that man in San Francisco when he staged the attack in the opera?
What about him?

DON MIGUEL

That man? He was hired to play a part. We changed the ending of the scene.

PALADIN
No wonder he looked surprised.

DON MIGUEL
You can’t play chess without sacrificing pawns.

PALADIN
Check.

Paladin gets the drop on Don Miguel

Back at the border checkpoint.

FARLEY
I don’t know just what you’re trying to pull, Mister, but you won’t get away with it.

PALADIN
You don’t believe me?

FARLEY
That’s the biggest cock-and-bull story I’ve heard in my whole life.

PALADIN
Well, there’s a very simple way to prove it. Open the coffin.
Cuanto dinero!

PALADIN
Now, gentlemen, if you believe me, I need your help.
I have a fee to collect.

FARLEY
What’s that got to do with me? Or him?

PALADIN
The lady I told you about-the lady in San Francisco, she’s waiting for me to deliver the body of her husband whereupon she will pay me my fee.

FARLEY
I still want to know what’s that got to do with us?

PALADIN
I thought you might like the credit for the arrest if she’s part of the plan.

FARLEY
Hmm.
What are we going to do with all that money?

PALADIN
We are going to turn it over to the Colonel and Commander of the Third Cavalry
in Nogales on our way back. He’ll sign for it and take it to San Francisco.
I know him-he’ll like the trip.

p
But, señor, where’s the dead man?

PALADIN
In the stagecoach. We’ll put the money into the coach and put Señor Rojas
where he belongs.

FARLEY
Wait a minute. I just thought of something. This is in his territory. Before Hernandez
can arrest that woman, we’ve got to find out if she’s guilty.
How are we going to know that?

PALADIN
I think I know how.

FARLEY
You’ve got it all figured out, haven’t you?

PALADIN
I hope so.

MARIA ROJAS
Señor Paladin?

PALADIN
Surprised to see me?

MARIA ROJAS
No, but I thought…

PALADIN
I came in this way because I didn’t want to disturb the servants.
My errand is highly personal.

MARIA ROJAS
Yes, my husband sent word before he…

PALADIN
I’ve hired a couple of workmen. Would you like them to bring it in here?

MARIA ROJAS
Very well.

PALADIN
Muchachos, por aqui.

pala
Ay, vaja.

MARIA ROJAS
I will get your money.

PALADIN
Wait, first you’d better see
if I fulfilled my bargain.

MARIA ROJAS
You are right.

Open it.

PALADIN
Abra la caja.

MARIA ROJAS
Yes, it is my husband. I will get your money.

PALADIN
Well, gentlemen, what do you think?

pedro: In spanish

FARLEY
Not guilty. Hernandez says he won’t make the arrest.
No woman could be that calm if she thought her husband
was alive and then saw him dead.

PALADIN
All right. Thank you very much for your help, gentlemen.
I’ll be with you in just a few moments.

MARIA ROJAS
Where are your men? There is a…

PALADIN
I’ve paid them. They’ve all ready left. Do you often write letters to dead men?

MARIA ROJAS
Then you know?

PALADIN
You hid your grief very well.

MARIA ROJAS
Grief? I had no grief. My life with that man was a nightmare. I do not know how my husband died, señor, but I cannot thank you enough for giving me my freedom.

PALADIN
De nada, Doña Maria. Adios.

MARIA ROJAS
Señor Paladin? Your money.

PALADIN
Did he leave you enough?

MARIA ROJAS
He left me nothing. He only took, but fortunately my family is not poor.
Please, señor.

PALADIN
I’d rather not. It gives me pleasure to pay for my errors.
Especially since this is my last payment. Please.

PALADIN
Doña Maria…Should you come again to San Francisco,
I hope you’ll come to the opera with me.

MARIA ROJAS
Thank you, señor.

EXT. HOTEL CARLTON –  SAN FRANCISCO

INT. HOTEL LOBBY

DOCTOR MAYHEW
I still don’t know why you sent for me, Mr. Paladin.
After all, I’m a busy man.

WILKINS
Ah, here you are, Mr. Paladin. As you see, I came as soon as I got your message.
Now, what can I do for you?

PALADIN
I’d like to order a coffin.

WILKINS
A coffin? For whom?

PALADIN
For the first one of you gentlemen that makes a move. Hey Boy.

HEY BOY
Something I do for you, Mr. Paladin?

PALADIN
Get me a policeman. On second thought, Hey Boy, get two policemen. One apiece.

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