183-“The Man Who Struck Moonshine”

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, Written by Barry Trivers

Phyllis Avery as Sylvia Kadish
William Conrad as Moses Kadish

Kadish, just because you drilled a well for water and struck pure whiskey doesn’t necessarily mean fate is against you. But I intend to convince you there is nothing supernatural about your whiskey well.

EXT. ON THE TRAIL – DAY

MOSES KADISH
How’s your head?

PALADIN
Well, it’s not too bad, considering that I just smacked it into a rock.

MOSES KADISH
Here’s your hat.

PALADIN
Thanks.

MOSES KADISH
Yeah, I might have knowed it. Wasting good powder and shot at the wrong man. You ain’t one of the McCandle brothers.

PALADIN
You mind telling me who the McCandles and why you almost killed me?

MOSES KADISH
What do you care what I do to the McCandle brothers? Fact is the McCandles have been potting at me for over a month now, and I don’t know no why any more than you do.
It’s just me, I guess.

PALADIN
Who and what are you?

MOSES KADISH
My name’s Kadish. Moses Kadish.

PALADIN
Well, if you’re in any sort of trouble…

MOSES KADISH
“Have gun…”Well, this is the first stroke of luck that’s come along in a month of Sundays.

PALADIN
For whom?

MOSES KADISH
For both of us, Mr. Paladin.
If there was ever a man on God’s green earth
that needed you, it’s me, sir.

PALADIN
Well, I’m not so sure it’s mutual.

MOSES KADISH
Look, I got some acorn coffee on the stove and a pot of salt pork and beans that’s been ripening for a long time. Now, we can work out the details while you’re eating and…
Of course you don’t expect any money ’cause I ain’t got none. But I got something else that’ll make it worth your while. Come on. Come on.
There was an army post here once, but it burned down. I built this place whole with my own hands, scrounging up all this stuff. Now don’t you go saving none of that for me because I had it for breakfast.

PALADIN
Well, uh, I’m not really very hungry. I, uh…I ate just before you shot at me.

MOSES KADISH
Wasn’t that a rare stroke of luck that I didn’t hit you, I mean?

PALADIN
Yes, sir. I, uh, suspected that the fate that guided your hand is now making the halls of Olympus ring with sardonic laughter.

MOSES KADISH
The halls of Olympus. You know something, Mr. Paladin? I just knew you was this kind of a man. Well-read and cultured and all that, but with a wild stroke of courage blended right in. I knew you was that kind of a man.

PALADIN
Well, you were gonna tell me about the kind of trouble you’re in.

MOSES KADISH
Yeah. Slurp some of that down, huh?

PALADIN
Well, Mr. Kadish, that’s very good whiskey.

MOSES KADISH
Yeah.

PALADIN
True bouquet, full body, very well and carefully aged.

MOSES KADISH
True is true. I got a whole lake of the stuff.

PALADIN
You got a lake of it?

MOSES KADISH
Yeah. We’re sitting on it right now.

PALADIN
You’ve got a lake of it, and we’re sitting on it?

MOSES KADISH
Uh-huh.

PALADIN
Well, Mr. Kadish, that’s very interesting, but I had hoped that you had something more on your mind than your neighbors raiding your still.

MOSES KADISH
No, no, that’s true, believe me. Believe me, that’s true. A while back, I got tired of trekking down to the creek to get water, see? And I decided to drill me a well. About six weeks ago, it come in. And…it wasn’t water. It was whiskey.

Paladin laughs

MOSES KADISH
You don’t believe me, do you?

PALADIN
No!

MOSES KADISH
Come on out to the pump. Come on out to the pump.

MOSES KADISH
All you gotta do is just pump it just a couple of times. You’ll find out. Come on. Go on, pump it. Pump it. Well, what did I tell you? Now you believe me?

PALADIN
Mr. Kadish, either I have stepped over the line into your fantasy or you are about to become the richest drunkard in the world.

MOSES KADISH
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison thereof drinketh up my spirit.
God sent it to try me, like everything else.

PALADIN
Now, would you like to stop talking in riddles?

MOSES KADISH
Do you realize that there are a million people who must have drilled wells around here in the last year. How many of them you figure hit whiskey?

PALADIN
There has to be an explanation!

MOSES KADISH
Why should the one soul in a million who hit whiskey be the one soul who, if he drinks it, it’ll bet he wreck of his life, huh? Of all the drunkards with whiskey wells, how many of them were trying to save what’s left of their lives by staying dry? There’s no explanation for it. It’s God-sent to try me out, that’s all. I been fighting this thing for six weeks now.
I got less than a week to go. But I can’t do it all alone…’cause it’s gaining on me.
Sylvia is gonna be here…That’s my wife, Sylvia. She’s gonna be here in another five days.
I promised her I’d stay off the sauce for a whole solid year. Five more days. Look, Mr. Paladin, you’re gonna have to help me, please. Tie me up, sit on me, shoot me if you have to, but keep me away from that thing.

PALADIN
Sorry, Kadish, I’m not prepared to take on a lifetime job.

MOSES KADISH
Lifetime? It’s just for five days!

PALADIN
What happens on the sixth day, when I’m gone? Or the sixtieth? Or the six hundredth?

MOSES KADISH
But I just wanna keep my word to my wife, that’s all. I’ll be stronger after that, if I can just get by that. Honest I will, I swear it.

PALADIN
There’s bitterness and truth. It’s a small pill, but a man like you can’t swallow it.
“I’ll be strong tomorrow” is the eternal cry of the weak.

MOSES KADISH
Yeah, I guess you’re right. It was kind of a wild, crazy idea.

PALADIN
Now, about the explanation.

MOSES KADISH
Explanation for what?

PALADIN
For this.

MOSES KADISH
Oh, it ‘s a kind of a thing that happens to me all the time, that’s all.

PALADIN
And the McCandles? No, you may accept your miracles in stride, but if you don’t mind, I think I’ll try and find a little bit more logical explanation for this.

MOSES KADISH
Go ahead. Do what you wanna do. I got my own troubles.

SYLVIA KADISH
Jugs of whiskey on the shelf. A jug on the table.

MOSES KADISH
But don’t you understand, honey? I put it there to test myself, see how close I could sit to it without having a drink. I’ve been drawing a jug every week for six weeks now, and I haven’t had one single solitary drop, honest I haven’t.

SYLVIA KADISH
Who are you?

PALADIN
My name’s Paladin. And you are Sylvia.

MOSES KADISH
He was gonna help me, Sylvia.

SYLVIA KADISH
Oh? How?

PALADIN
Well, your husband has some idea that a malevolent fate is testing him, like Job.

MOSES KADISH
I hit whiskey, honey.

PALADIN
That’s true. He drilled a well for water, and he hit pure whiskey.

SYLVIA KADISH
I’m not surprised.

PALADIN
You’re not?

SYLVIA KADISH
My husband has a special gift for alcoholic catastrophe. If he were lost, it’d be in the mountains, and dogs would bring him brandy. If he got caught in a hurricane, he’d run for the first shelter and it would turn out to be a distillery.

PALADIN
Mrs. Kadish. Moses. Come on with me. I’d like to show you something.

PALADIN
When the fort was abandoned, the Quartermaster, his name was McCandle, he burned it to the ground, wrote all the supplies off the Army records, and he’s been selling the surplus ever since. Including these. And when you hit whiskey, they knew you weren’t about to leave. You still think a malevolent fate singled you out for special punishment?

SYLVIA KADISH
Mr. Paladin, how many men dug wells this year? How many of them hit whiskey? Why did the only one have to be Moses Kadish? Honey, come home. You’ve made your gesture. You’ve tried. Look, I knew you drank when I married you, and I loved you just the way you were. Now give this up and come home.

PALADIN
Moses, do you still want to whip this thing?

MOSES KADISH
Yes, sir, I do.

PALADIN
All right. There it is.

SYLVIA KADISH
Mr. Paladin, I’m sure we’re very grateful for all your efforts. I know you did the best you knew how.

PALADIN
What about it, Moses? What are you going to do?

MOSES KADISH
I don’t know It all seemed so simple. I don’t know.

SYLVIA KADISH
You don’t know? I thought you’d come to your senses. You’re gonna get out of this hovel. Look at him. Can’t you see? He’s in agony. All he really wants is a drink of whiskey.
Now why should he torture himself trying to be something he isn’t?

PALADIN
Is that true, Moses?

MOSES KADISH
I don’t know. I don’t know.

PALADIN
Well, why prolong the anguish? Here’s a jug. Why don’t you just give up now?
Go on, wallow in it!

SYLVIA KADISH
Please, Moses, stop fighting it. You’re miserable and you know it. Come on. Here. Now relax and take a nice long drink.

MOSES KADISH
You know, it’s funny why nobody ever asked me why I drink. Nobody asked me why didn’t I stop. But they don’t care, not really.

SYLVIA KADISH
It doesn’t matter…

PALADIN
Now would you like to keep quiet for just one minute and let him talk?

MOSES KADISH
I drink on account of what it does to me. It’s kind of a twisted magic that stretches me in every direction. I can walk taller, ride further, shoot straighter, and talk smarter than anybody in town. That’s what one drink does.

PALADIN
And two drinks?

MOSES KADISH
Two drinks? That’s something you just wouldn’t believe.

PALADIN
Did you ever try stopping after the first one?

MOSES KADISH
Try stopping after the first…Mr. Paladin, I can see right off that you’re not a real “two-fisted lean your head back and let the gurgling magic go right through you” kind of drinker. Oh, you probably enjoy a libation with a friend or a companion, or take a cup of cheer to ease your aching heart every once in a while. But, man, I’m talking about drinking! I’m talking about “full-time, ’round-the-clock, rain or shine, don’t come home until the last dog is hung” consumption of spirituous liquor!

PALADIN
Moses…Moses, you got a beautiful wife. You have a good job, rare sensitivity and perception, and you’re about to commit suicide.

MOSES KADISH
Oh, I m not dying. I’ve gotten bigger and bigger in every way. The second drink, huh? That second drink can make me work miracles. That second drink I can empty a swimming hole full of kids and take them right back to the schoolyard. And strange dogs answer my commands, and tomcats go right back where they come from. And birds? Nightingales take the tenor parts when I sing.

PALADIN
All right, you’ve had the second drink, and you’re still on top of it. You can still walk away from it.

SYLVIA KADISH
Mr. Paladin, why don’t you let him alone? Can’t you see he’s happy now?

MOSES KADISH
Sylvia, be quiet, please!

PALADIN
Is that true, Moses? Are you happy? You’ve been off that stuff for a year. Didn’t that teach you anything?

MOSES KADISH
Yeah, it taught me one thing. It taught me where the enemy is. His name is John Barleycorn, and the enemy lives right there in that third drink. And he can make me walk shorter, ride lesser, shoot crookeder and talk stupider than anybody I know.

SYLVIA KADISH
Moses.

MOSES KADISH
It’s true. Well, I got two in me now. There he is. There’s the enemy.

PALADIN
Mrs. Kadish, whatever Moses Kadish is, you made him.

SYLVIA KADISH
I? I picked him out of saloons and dragged him out of fights.

PALADIN
You took away his strength and gave him yours.

SYLVIA KADISH
How do you know he had any?

PALADIN
By what he’s done right here.

SYLVIA KADISH
I praised him and comforted him.

PALADIN
You praised him for what? For running away and hiding from you in saloons, the only place he could feel like a man?

MOSES KADISH
He’s right.

SYLVIA KADISH
Drink it, Moses! You need it!

Shots are fired at the shack.
Come on!

MCCANDLE (O.S.)
Kadish? This is McCandle! You burned down our store, remember? Now we’re gonna burn you out!

PALADIN
McCandle, it’s not just Kadish in here now!

MCCANDLE (O.S.)
Don’t matter! You’re gonna get it anyway, in there or out here!

PALADIN
You stay out of the line of fire.

MOSES KADISH
Sylvia. Here, this will help.

Moses fights …

MOSES KADISH
Sylvia, I want you to stop that crying. Come on, stop it! I’m sick and tired of it! Hearing it every night when I’d come home drunk, I never realized that inside you were glad about it. Now I know.

SYLVIA KADISH
What are we going to do now?

PALADIN
Well, Moses, you were right. Two drinks in you and you can accomplish miracles. Sing with the nightingales and charm strange dogs. And apparently you whipped that third drink.

MOSES KADISH
The enemy wasn’t in that third drink,Mr. Paladin. It wasn’t in her too much, either. I guess it was in me. This place, this house that I put a year in building…I guess it changed me.

PALADIN
Well, I do hope your pretty wife likes her new husband. Sylvia.

SYLVIA KADISH
Moses?

MOSES KADISH
Sylvia, you know what you’re gonna do? You’re gonna…start unpacking.

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