118-“The Fatalist”

 

Original Airdate: September 10, 1960)

Rivka Shotness, the daughter of a Russian immigrant, seeks the help of Paladin in the hopes he will protect her father who is about to testify against a local outlaw he saw kill a man.

Director: Buzz Kulik, Writers: Herb Meadow, Sam Rolfe.

MARTIN GABEL as Nathan Shotness (A Drop of Blood, 1961 as Nathan Shotness)
ROBERT BLAKE as Smollet. (A Place for Abel Hix, 1962) as Lauro,
(The Shooting of Jessie May, 1960) as Jessie May Turnbow
ROXANE BERARD as Rivka Shotness. (A Drop of Blood, 1961) as Rivka Shotness,
(Les Girls, 1959) as Cecile.
REGINA GLEASON as Viola Nasby. (Silent Death, Secret Death, 1962) as Beatrice – Burgess’ Sister, (A Drop of Blood, 1961) as Viola Nasby – Paladin’s Love Interest
JOHN CLOSE as Oldfield. (Maggie O’Bannion, 1959) as Bushwhacker,
(Lady on the Stagecoach, 1959) as Grady
LEE SANDS as Messenger. (Long Weekend, 1961) as Townsman,
(The Misguided Father, 1960) as Hal Sims

Smollett, where this man comes from, your town would seem like a peaceful paradise. Now leave him alone…or take your chances with me.

INT. HOTEL CARLTON DINING ROOM – EVENING

PALADIN
This, my dear, is really a very simple trick. Put your spoon and the dull side of the knife…
Well, um, meet Miss Viola Nasby. Uh, Viola, this is Miss…

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Oh, my name is Shotness. Rivka Shotness. I, uh, I am disturbing you?

VIOLA NASBY
Not a bit. Mr. Paladin is delighted.

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Oh. Oh, you are Mr. Paladin, then?

PALADIN
Uh, well, Miss Shotness, would you care to, uh, join us for dinner?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Oh, yes, thank you. Excuse me. A glass of water. Thank you.
Oh, I tried to send you a telegram, but the operator in Calabasas was afraid to send it.
Do you dress like this in the daytime? Oh, no, it is very beautiful.

PALADIN
Afraid to, uh, send a telegram? Why?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Yes, they are all afraid. All except my father. I thought if I came to you and-and explained everything, perhaps you would not be afraid to help us.
It, uh, it was your name that appealed to me.

RIVKA SHOTNESS
In the holy tongue, it has a very favorable meaning. Pala- “wonder.” Din- “judgment.”

PALADIN
Well, perhaps I should raise my fee.

VIOLA NASBY
What about your father, dear?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Well, he reported the murder, naturally. And this is what started all the trouble.
He is the leader of a gang. What you call “outlaws.”

VIOLA NASBY
Your father?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
No, the murderer. Billy Buckstone. My father saw him shoot the man.
When my father reported it to the sheriff, the sheriff only tried to arrest my father.

PALADIN
Why?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Every time that fellow is on trial for murdering somebody,
the witnesses are struck blind,
and the jury men, they are afraid for their families.

PALADIN
And your father?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
They offered him $2,000 for his horse and wagon if he would leave town for a week.

PALADIN
And by that time the trial would be over and Billy Buckstone would be a free man.

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Do you know our town?

PALADIN
Very well.

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Oh.

VIOLA NASBY
Well, why stay in such a hopeless place? Bring your father to San Francisco.

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Oh, but it is not so bad, really. Why, in the old country, we are surrounded by murderers.
In Calabas, why, less than a dozen men are murdered in a year…and no women or children. Why, my father says the, the improvement is enormous.

PALADIN
Your father must be a remarkable man-if he is still alive.

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Oh, uh…I, uh, I am sorry to interrupt, but, uh, you are very beautiful.

VIOLA NASBY
Honey, don’t you know you are, too? Well, go on, help her. I take care of myself.

EXT. IN TOWN – DAY

PALADIN
Whoa… whoa! Will you stable my horse for me? Thank you.

RIVKA SHOTNESS
There it is.

PALADIN
There’s what?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Our wagon. $2,000. They must hate money.

PALADIN
Where is your father apt to be now?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Oh, he will be in the bar for his afternoon beer.

PALADIN
Miss Shotness, will you excuse me, please?

SMOLLET
Hey, Nathan. Hey, Nathan? Want to buy some old clothes?
How much will you give me for this shirt?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
I carry mail for the United States Government.
You got something to sell, go wash out the stink from it first.

SMOLLET
Well! You boys hear what Nathan said? Said I stink. Boy.
Hey, Nathan, you got so much money, you wouldn’t take 2,000 U.S. dollars for that horse and wagon outside. How about buying me a drink, huh?
Hey, you boys ever see this old skinflint buy a drink for anybody but himself before?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
You drink with your friends, I’ll drink with mine.

SMOLLET
Hmm. But you got no friends, have you, Nathan? Except me.
Ain’t I your friend, Nathan? Another friend.
You, uh, making out in front of all these fine folks
that my friendship ain’t good enough for you, Nathan?
You don’t even carry a gun, do you?
Maybe somebody would like to loan him one.
How come you so anxious to see Billy Buckstone get hung?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
I’m not interested in Billy Buckstone one way or the other.
Leave the law take care of him.

SMOLLET
Oh. I don’t know about that, Nathan. You, uh, you ever see one of these up real close before, Nathan, hmm? Careful now. That thing might go off in the wrong direction.
I’ll bet you wish you had enough guts to point that at me, huh?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Whoever sold you this, he’s still laughing. Look at that. The bore is all pitted. Your hammer is loose. About the only thing it’s still good for is driving nails.
This boy wants to be a gunman.
Doesn’t know even have to buy himself a working piece of equipment.
But these children, they throw away their money on fancy silk shirts.
But when it comes to their own life, they begrudge another dollar.
With that kind of equipment, lowlifes like you terrorize half a county.
Oh, believe me, boychick in the czar’s army, may he rot in the ground.
They would have feed you to the horses for straw!

OLDFIELD
What say, boychick?

SMOLLET
What are you laughing at, jackass?
All right, Nathan, we’ll, uh, see each other again, huh?
We’ll find out who gets the last laugh. Hmm?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
What kind of a thing is that?
Running away without leaving me note?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
If I told you, would you have let me go?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
No. Who is he?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
This is Mr. Paladin. I hire him to protect you.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
A man with ten dollars worth of hardware, right away he’s bigger than the law.
I take care of myself.

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Papa…

NATHAN SHOTNESS
For that we came to Columbus’s country? To hire killers and be as bad as they are?

PALADIN
Mr. Shotness, I’m not a hired killer.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
You’re not? If I say I give you a thousand dollars to kill that little Cossack for me,
you wouldn’t do it?

PALADIN
I would not.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
It’s a good thing because I haven’t got a thousand dollars.
You know, they offered me $2,000 for that broken-down horse and wagon?
Some business, huh?

PALADIN
Why didn’t you take it?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
A good question. The Mishnah says, “Pray for the welfare of the authorities.
“If not for the fear thereof, men would swallow each other alive.”

PALADIN
Why stay here? Doesn’t your Mishnah also say…
“Where this is no law, there is no bread”?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
It also says, “Where there is no bread, there is no law.”
What are you standing there like a fool?
Go home. Make the man something to eat.
You’ve forgotten how to treat a guest?

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Excuse me.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
I’ve got to make more deliveries.
I’ll be home, God willing, before sunset.

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Yes, Papa.

PALADIN
Mr. Shotness, you can’t go out of town right now.
It’d be an open invitation to get yourself dry-gulched.
What kind of business can’t wait till this trial’s over?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Mr. Paladin, I’ll tell you. The Almighty and I, we are in the same business.
I carry the mail, he carries the world.

PALADIN
Now, your daughter brought me here at a considerable inconvenience to both of us.
Do you want my help, or don’t you?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Sure. Their tongues are hanging out. They could drown me in a spoon of water.
Mister, please don’t be insulted, but for bloodthirsty murderers, you’ve got nothing
to compare with Chmielnicki’s Cossacks, may their name and memory be blotted out.

PALADIN
Mr. Shotness, in our small, backward country, uh, we may not have bloodshed on the grand scale to which you’re accustomed, but I see no reason for making it any easier for them.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
You think I would be better off sitting at home?

PALADIN
I do.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
The Angel of Death doesn’t need an excuse.
When your time comes, either you meet him or he meets you.

PALADIN
Well, do you mind if I come along?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
All right, mister. Come. Stop making bargains.

EXT. ON THE TRAIL – DAY

PALADIN
Get up!

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Fine place for an ambush, huh? You play chess?

PALADIN
A little.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Good game. Good for the mind. Now we are going to play chess.

PALADIN
Well, Nathan, you aren’t such a fatalist after all.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
I got once a medal for marksmanship from the czar himself, may the cholera take him.
My father, rest in peace, used to say,
“Don’t rely on miracles alone. Say a couple prayers, also.”
Now it’s his move.

SMOLLET
Nathan! Hey, Nathan, where are you?! I’m going to kill you! Nathan!

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Oh, if we were only heathens. Everything would be so simple.
One, two, three, no more trouble.

PALADIN
Nathan, you made a fool out of him.
You’ve got an enemy there that won’t forget until that’s wiped out.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
So I’ve got an enemy. So let him be healthy. What’s life without a little opposition?
There is a saying, “If everybody pulled in the same direction, the world would tip over.”

PALADIN
Well, I’m afraid that one doesn’t share your enlightened philosophy.
Suppose I spend the night in your house.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Uh…Mr. Paladin, I have a small house. My daughter sleeps in the kitchen.
And even our saintly King David was not above temptation.
But come at 8:00. You’ll have a bite to eat, huh?

PALADIN
Thank you.

INT. NATHAN’S HOUSE

Smollet kidnaps Rivka and takes her away as a hostage.

INT. PALADIN’S HOTEL ROOM – EVENING

PALADIN

Taught Solomon his little ABCs Was first man to eat Limburger cheese And while floating down the bay with Methuselah one day I saw his whiskers floating in the breeze About 24 feet long, they were Queen Elizabeth, she fell in love with me…

Nathan bursts into Paladin’s room.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
They took her.

PALADIN
What?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Rivka. They took her.

PALADIN
They leave any message?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Who message? What message? I know what they want.
Tomorrow when the trial starts, if I’m a hundred miles away,
maybe they’ll send her back alive.

PALADIN
Now, slow down, Nathan. You’re sure that Rivka just didn’t go off visiting someplace?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
The whole house was upside down.
Why didn’t we take them this afternoon, in ambush, when we had them?
Maybe their way is the right way.

PALADIN
Nathan. Now, you know that Jacob could never step into Esau’s skin.
He tried it once and what did his father say?
“The hands are the hands of Esau, but the voice is the voice of Jacob.”

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Then what shall I do? How can I stand up in court and open my mouth
when I know that by doing that, I am killing my own daughter?

PALADIN
Not necessarily.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
What do you mean?

PALADIN
Well, wherever they’ve got Rivka, sooner or later, somebody’s going to have to come
from the courthouse to tell them what you’ve done.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
So?

PALADIN
So I’ll be outside the courthouse and I’ll follow the messenger.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Suppose he sees you?

PALADIN
He’ll wish he hadn’t. Nathan, I promise you I’ll find your daughter.
I have had some experience in putting forth the hands of Esau.

EXT. COURTROOM – DAY

OLDFIELD
Come on. I’m betting Nathan don’t show.
Come on. Somebody make a bet with me.
I got five dollars that says he won’t show. Come on!

EXT. ON THE RANGE – DAY

SMOLLET
So, he’s going to make them hang Billy after all, huh?
Well, he’s not going to gloat over it. Get the horses.
Your daddy’s going to be a hero back there.
Well…he’s going to be hero without no kin.
I seen your daddy butcher a cow once.
You people got some special way of doing that, ain’t you?

PALADIN
Now, hold it!

Oldfield makes a move and Paladin shoots him dead. Smollet takes a shot at Paladin and wings him. Paladin falls from the cliff. Smollet goes after Paladin but Paladin uses his trusty derringer and shoots him. He’s all right and Rivka sighs in relief.

INT. SHOTNESS HOUSE – SUPPERTIME – EVENING

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam borei pri ha gafen.
Amen.

RIVKA SHOTNESS
Mr. Paladin, are you sure you could not stay overnight?

NATHAN SHOTNESS
What’s your hurry? Your business will run away?

PALADIN
You have your customers and I have mine.

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Customers, he calls us. Well…now, if the rich could only hire people to die for them, the poor would make a nice living.

PALADIN
“The good die young, that they may not be corrupted.
And the wicked live on, that they may have a chance to repent.”

NATHAN SHOTNESS
Now I ask you. In what other country could you find a hired killer who could quote
you the words of the Holy Zohar?

PALADIN
Nathan Shotness, for the last time, I am not…