178-“One, Two, Three”

Directed by William Conrad, Written by Robert E. Thompson.

ROBERT F. SIMON as Samuel Keel/Seth Carter
LLOYD CORRIGAN as Carl Wellesley
JACK ELAM as Arnold Shaffner
WILLIAM WOODSON as Barker
EVE MCVEAGH as Katherine Parsons
BARBARA PEPPER as Della (Head Barmaid)
DOROTHY DELLS as Girl
DEAN SMITH as Driver
JACQUELINE WILSON as Lola (Barmaid at table)
George DeNormand as Circus Patron (uncredited)
Bert Madrid as Circus Patron (uncredited)
Harry Mayo as Circus Patron (uncredited)
Hans Moebus as Circus Patron (uncredited)
Cosmo Sardo as Hotel Guest (uncredited)
Sid Troy as Circus Patron (uncredited)
James Van Horn as Circus Patron (uncredited)
Harry Wilson as Butler (uncredited)
Bob Woodward as Barfly (uncredited)
Look at it, Keel. The third phase of Neptune has crossed into Cancer, the sign of the skull.Whatever you do will have only one end…your own death.

INT. HOTEL CARLTON – LOBBY – DAY

PALADIN
Calcutta, New Delhi, Bangkok, Naples, Madrid, and now San Francisco.

GIRL
Just for tonight.

PALADIN
And you are free tonight after the show, for dinner?

GIRL
Of course.

PALADIN
Hey, boy.

HEY BOY
Mr. Paladin.

PALADIN
A private room at Le Voisin.

HEY BOY
But you said you were going to leave right away?

PALADIN
I have an idea here, boy, that that matter will keep until tomorrow.

HEY BOY
“Samuel H. Keel, San Tiento. Reference to your newspaper advertisement of this day, I believe I am man to carry out your personal assignment. Wire Paladin.”

EXT. ON THE TRAIL – DAY

SAMUEL KEEL
Come.

PALADIN
Mr. Samuel H. Keel…

SAMUEL KEEL
The draft! Close the door! You’re the one from San Francisco? Paladin? I want you to find someone for me, a man named Seth Carter.

PALADIN
Why?

SAMUEL KEEL
Come here.

SAMUEL KEEL
Look at that. See that?

PALADIN
It’s a Tontine pyramid. I understand there have been some fortunes made on these lotteries.

SAMUEL KEEL
In this case, a half a million goes to the man whose name reaches the top of that pyramid,
Seth Carter.

PALADIN
Well, there are at least three people here that have a better chance than Carter.
That’s a long way from certain.

SAMUEL KEEL
More than certain. Predestined. Look here. How many letters in the name “Seth Carter”?
Ten, right? And in one of the others, you see that? Now, look here. Come here. See this?

PALADIN
Gemini opposition to Taurus.

SAMUEL KEEL
And both pointing to Scorpio, the tenth month, see. Ten letters, tenth month, it’s predestined. Seth Carter’s going to win a half a million in that lottery, but that money’s mine, and I can prove it. See, I bought and paid for Seth Carter’s place in the pyramid
because it was the tenth month, October. I paid for his place, but now he’s disappeared, right? Well, Samuel H. Keel don’t hold still for the likes of Seth Carter to do him in the eye. No, sir. Now, come here. Show you this. Here, these three all knew Carter. One of them’s bound to be able to lead you to him. Now, the first one there, Shaffner, He works in a carnival. I’ve lost track of the others. Say, what’s your fee?

PALADIN
Thousand dollars.

SAMUEL KEEL
That’s a little steep, isn’t it?

SAMUEL KEEL
All right, all right, I’ll meet it.

PALADIN
Why? You know who these three are. You know how to go about looking for them.
Why haven’t you tried yourself?

SAMUEL KEEL
Because I’m an Aries. Here, see this? Aries. Here, Aries! Look here. You see that? This is my ascendant here. Jupiter in Capricorn. Saturn in Libra.

PALADIN
Hm, Zeitlen’s Babylonian Triangle.

SAMUEL KEEL
Yes. Yes. This is my year of shadow. I don’t dare set foot outside this room. Anything could happen to me. I can’t take any chances, not with that hex pointing right at me.
You see that, don’t you?

PALADIN
Yes, but with Montaigne, I believe that man does not need the mortar of truth to seal up the private prisons of their fear. However, Mr. Keel…it’s your money. Thank you.

EXT. AT THE CARNIVAL – DAY

BARKER
Hi-yah, hi-ya. Hi-ya, hi, hi, hi.Hi-yah, step right up. Step right up. Hey. Watch her shimmy and watch her shake. Watch her move just like a snake. Hey, move in. Don’t crowd. There’s plenty, it’s all free. It’s all free. Move in, move in. Here we go. Yes, sir. You see before you the one, the only, the original Little Cairo. Give them all a sample, my darling. Watch her move. It’s what you see. Isn’t she mysterious? That’s quite a little princess. Thank you. Now, then, what you see here is but merest patina of what awaits you within, the merest patina, I say. Give them another sample, darling, if you will. Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she mysterious? From the Far East, that’s Little Cairo, the one and only. Isn’t that body golden? That’s quite enough. Thank you. Because, ladies and gentlemen, on the inside, for the thinnest part of the thinnest coin of the realm, you can drink in to sufficiency the mysteries of the East that lie within this tent. Come on, let’s move. Ten cents, one tenth of a dollar. Who’s going to be first there? Step right up, get your tickets. Here we go. That’s the first one. There’s a good man. Ten cents, one tenth of a dollar. Keep moving, please. Thank you. It’s the Little Cairo, the one, the only, original from the Far East. There she goes, the sacred harem rites of ancient Araby Who’s next? Ten cents here, one tenth of a dollar, Ten cents, here we go.

PALADIN
You the owner of this carnival?

BARKER
You a bill collector, brother?

PALADIN
No, I’m looking for a man named Arnold Shaffner.

BARKER
Oh. Oh, he’s the coffin geek. Geek burying’s the next show…as soon as I these rubes packed inside. You better catch ‘im now before we shut ‘im in.

PALADIN
Thank you.

BARKER
Hey, here we go! Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, Little Cairo. That’s the final show for today. Yes, sir. Move along. Here you go. Only 1/10 of a dollar.

PALADIN
Arnold Shaffner? Is your name Arnold Shaffner?

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
What you want with me? Do I know you?

PALADIN
No, but you knew a man named Seth Carter.

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
I don’t know who you are, mister, but leave me alone.
Just go pay your dime and watch them bury me.

PALADIN
I’m looking for Carter.

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
I have nothing to do with Carter no more. I couldn’t even seen him since I served my time.
For all I know, he’s dead. Anyway, I hope he is.

PALADIN
What did you have to do with Carter?

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
You don’t know?

PALADIN
No.

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
You got a bottle of something, maybe? Anything at all.

PALADIN
Here, go buy yourself a bottle with this…after you tell me about Carter.

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
Mister, if I knew where Carter was, I’d kill him. That’s a lie. Couldn’t even steady a gun to sight it no more.

PALADIN
How long since you’ve seen Carter?

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
Oh, I don’t keep track of time no more. Five years in prison at Yuma. I don’t know how long since then.

BARKER
Hey, Geek. Start gettin’ into your stuff. I’m setting up the pitch.

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
First time I saw Carter, I was posted to Fort Currant. Ninth Cavalry, First Lieutenant, Troop C. He was nothing but a peddler then, selling blankets to the Army on contract. You could spit through them. First rain, they tie up like a knot. Next thing you know, some politician made him Indian agent. Maybe he willed it himself. There was some kind of black magic about him.

PALADIN
He willed what?

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
Greentree Fork.

PALADIN
Seth Carter was mixed up in the massacre at Greentree Fork?

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
Planned it down to the last dead Indian, but I couldn’t prove it in a court martial. He was too slick for me. Him and that fella was in it with him to get the Indian land.

PALADIN
Simon Parsons? Carl Wellesley?

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
Wellesley. Yeah, Wellesley, that’s him. And I seen him through here last week when we played Virginia City.

BARKER
Sorry brother, it’s time to do the act. You check your air hose? Okay, get ready. I’m going to herd ’em in. Give me a hand here, will ya, brother? There you go. Easy does it. Let it over.

PALADIN
Thanks.

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
I don’t know what you’re after Carter for, but I hope it’s to kill him.

BARKER
Now a bolt here and there, brother. Appreciate it. That’s far enough. Thank you, brother.
Okay, Jim, you can let ’em in. Right this way, ladies and gentlemen! The living corpse!
Locked alive in a coffin. Yet he lives. He breathes! Move right along. Step up on the platform. There you go. Thank you. The living corpse! Horrible but true. Alive, alive, alive. The living corpse. Move right along, sir. There he is on the platform. Right before your eyes in the glass coffin, the living corpse. Alive. Well, then, good people, what you see here is more than a phantom. Greater than a phenomenon, what you see here, is a phantasmagoria, the living corpse, sealed alive, sealed alive in a vacuum so perfect
that not even the tiniest insect could endure more than an hour. Sealed here since time immemorial. Sealed.

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
Help!

BARKER
Sealed here by men whose integrity is beyond repro…

ARNOLD SHAFFNER
Let me out!

MAN
There’s a snake in there.

PALADIN
Get him out of here.

BARKER
No hurry. Looks like the show’s over. My living corpse is dead.

INT. BIRD SHOP – DAY

CARL WELLESLEY
All right. All right, I’m coming. Ah, I was feeding some of my birds. Now, you rest there, Isaac. Now. You’re from the Agricultural Association, about my pest-eating insects?
Well, they should be hungry about now. Come on, let’s take a look. You know, they thrive on maggots, absolutely thrive. And on screw worms and on botflies. Of course the gasterophilius type, and also on tick grubs.

PALADIN
Well, that’s not why I’m here.

CARL WELLESLEY
Oh? And… And aphids. Of course they relish aphids, and bud moth and scale.
They eat them all. They simply devour them, and they’re not messy. Of course they have to avoid these dangerous little beauties. Otherwise…

PALADIN
You are Carl Wellesley.

CARL WELLESLEY
No, Wells. My name is Wells. Now, will you excuse me, please?

PALADIN
I’m looking for Seth Carter.

CARL WELLESLEY
Will you get out? I mean, please go. I don’t know where he is, and I know who he is. I’m the only one who does. Satan. How else could all this have happened?

PALADIN
You’re talking about the massacre at Greentree Fork?

CARL WELLESLEY
I am going to lock up, and you are going to go.

PALADIN
Yes, I am.

CARL WELLESLEY
You’ve got to go.

PALADIN
I’m going to go just as soon as you’ve told me all about it.

CARL WELLESLEY
Why not? I used to have a guilt about it, but not now, not after I came to understand.
Come here. Come here. Look at that. Lovely, timid, eh? You see how clear it is once you understand? At that time, before I understood, of course, I was a missionary to the…A missionary to the Yerma tribe. I discovered a vein of gold on the Yerma reservation,
and I told the Indian Agent.

PALADIN
Seth Carter. And Seth Carter found a Lieutenant named Shaffner, who would initiate an attack on the Yermas at Greentree Fork. That’s what happened, isn’t it? Carter had the Indians driven off their land. He knew there was gold there, but he still needed help. He needed someone with the power to declare the Yermas hostile, transfer their land to the public domain. And that’s where Simon Parsons came in, hm? Parsons had to be a government official of some kind. I can’t trace him down.

CARL WELLESLEY
No. No, you can’t. He killed himself. He found out about her.

PALADIN
Her?

CARL WELLESLEY
Of course. He… He found out about her. I truly believed. I lived only to bring
the Word to the heathen. Do you think I would have given that up for gold? Oh, for Lieutenant Shaffner, gold would do, but the devil has other temptations for his antagonists. And… And he’ll come back to her…He’ll find her. He’ll find her in Taylorstown, and he’ll track her down to that devil’s lair where any man… any man…

PALADIN
Wellesley.

CARL WELLESLEY
Any man…

PALADIN
Now, listen to me! Now, I don’t want any more of this wild talk. I want answers. I want straight answers. Now, who was Simon Parsons?

CARL WELLESLEY
One of the condemned, like me. He wa…

PALADIN
Who was Simon Parsons?

CARL WELLESLEY
He was the Assistant Territorial Commissioner.

PALADIN
And Seth Carter got him to put that Indian land up at auction so he could buy it and make a quick killing on the gold? Is that it?

CARL WELLESLEY
No. No, he didn’t. She did it.

PALADIN
She? Oh, the one he’ll come back to. Now, who is she?

CARL WELLESLEY
Simon Parson’s wife. But she was to belong to me. Carter put her in my mind, and I never… I’ve never got her out. Katherine. To tempt me. I was a missionary. Now do you understand?

PALADIN
I think I’m beginning to understand now.

CARL WELLESLEY
No, you don’t. Nobody does. You hear those people walking on the street up there? I watched them every day. They walk as if there’s solid ground underneath them because they can’t see. There’s no fire. There’s no sulfurous pit. Only here, inside. That’s where hell is. Hell is everywhere! Because we’re all condemned, and I am the only one who knows! Because unto him was given the key to the bottomless pit and the power to loose the ravens of death. The ravens of death! And the scourge of locusts, the messengers of sin! Of sin! Of sin.Now they’ll know. Now they’ll know, that you, too, are condemned. You are condemned! You are all condemned! You are condemned! Do you hear? You shall all know the truth!

DRIVER
I couldn’t help it, mister. He just stood there, and before I could pull those horses up,
I hit him.

PALADIN
He’s dead.

DRIVER
Do you know something, mister?

PALADIN
What?

DRIVER
He acted like he was scared, but he wasn’t scared of me. He never even seen me.

PALADIN
Well, the “Devil’s Lair” in Taylortown.

DELLA
Smoking again, and after all the time I told you girls about it. Do you want to give my place a bad name? Well, you’re a new one around here, ain’t you? Millie! Shut off that contraption! Thank you, dear. First drink’s on the house. And none of that moonshine rotgut that they serve down at the Pico House, neither.

PALADIN
Katherine Parsons. I was told she works here.

DELLA
That’s funny. I wouldn’t have figured her for your type. I’ll fetch her for you. Katie! You got a caller waitin’ on you down here. She’ll be coming right down.

LOLA
Would you like to dance?

PALADIN
No, thanks. Not right now.

LOLA
Wouldn’t have to collect from you.

KATHERINE PARSONS
Why did he do that? I only loved him. I tried to… to hold him…even after he shot me.

PALADIN
Seth Carter? Was it Seth Carter?

KATHERINE PARSONS
Seth…Now he’s going to have to kill y…you, too.

SAMUEL KEEL/SETH CARTER
Come in, Paladin. I’ve been expecting you. I assume you discovered Seth Carter.
Of course you wouldn’t be here otherwise, would you?

PALADIN
I discovered him. Not in time to prevent three people being murdered…Seth Carter…Samuel Keel.

SAMUEL KEEL/SETH CARTER
You’re quite right. Once the Yerma land was disposed of, Seth Carter disappeared. Had to. In a sense, he knew too many facts.

PALADIN
Like Shaffner and Wellesley and Katherine Parsons.

SAMUEL KEEL/SETH CARTER
And, as a matter of fact, like you, Paladin. You’re the last one between me and that money. It’ll be simpler if you give me your gun.

PALADIN
Now, whatever you do can only result in your own death. It’s predestined. The third phase of Neptune has moved into Cancer. The sign of the skull. Look at it. Go on, look.

Paladin slyly shoots him with his trusty belt derringer.

SAMUEL KEEL/SETH CARTER
It doesn’t matter. The sign of the skull, Neptune in Cancer.

PALADIN
Did I say Neptune? Oh, well, that was a very serious mistake. I was completely wrong.

SAMUEL KEEL/SETH CARTER
What is it?

PALADIN
Mercury.

SETH CARTER
Mercury, the sign of good fortune and…

PALADIN
And long life.