187-“Darwin’s Man”

Directed by William Conrad, Written by Archie L. Tegland.

Buzz Martin as Tully Coombs
Kent Smith as Avery CoombsAVERY COOMBS
Bud Osborne as Hostler
Robert Dornan as Dandy
Richard Rust as Jayce Coombs
John George as Townsman (uncredited)
Herschel Graham as Hotel Guest (uncredited)
Bert Madrid as Townsman (uncredited)
Mathew McCue as Townsman (uncredited)
Tony Regan as Hotel Clerk (uncredited)
Cosmo Sardo as Hotel Guest (uncredited)
Lucian Tiger as Townsman (uncredited)
Sid Troy as Townsman (uncredited)

 

DANDY
Boy! Where may I find Mr. Paladin?

HEY BOY
Mr. Paladin is very elusive creature. I will search his room once more.

HEY BOY
Mr. Paladin enjoy himself last evening?

PALADIN
Very much. Thank you, Hey Boy. But I suppose it would have been prudent of me to inquire whether or not Theresa had gotten herself married in the two weeks since last I saw her.

HEY BOY
There must be Chinese proverb for new husband.

PALADIN
I’m sure there is. Now, Hey Boy, I have a number of choices. I can let that young man shoot me.

HEY BOY
Honorable thing to do.

PALADIN
Or I can shoot him. Or I could take his gun away, that would humiliate him further,
and only postpone the inevitable. No. I need an honorable, a legitimate excuse for leaving town for a few days. (Paladin opens a letter and reads it aloud)
“Paladin, my father and brother are trying to kill me. Can you help me? Signed, Tully Coombs.” Tully Coombs. Must be Avery Coombs’ son. Thank you, Hey Boy. Will you have my gear delivered to the livery stable? I’ll leave from there. And tell Theresa I expect her to have this entire matter straightened out when I return.

HEY BOY
I go now?

PALADIN
You go now.

HEY BOY MUTTERS IN CHINESE

PALADIN
Good afternoon.

Howdy.

PALADIN
How far out of town is the Coombs place?

It ain’t.

PALADIN
It ain’t what?

Out of town.

PALADIN
Well, let me put it this way…Can you direct me to the Coombs place?
You passed it. That brick place.

PALADIN
I thought that was the courthouse.

Mister, there ain’t no courthouse.

PALADIN
Can you tell me if there’s a hotel in this town, place I can get a bite to eat?

Over there.

PALADIN
Thank you for your kindness.

Old Avery know you’re looking for him?

PALADIN
No. Why?

Wouldn’t blow my nose around here without I cleared with Old Avery. Not if I were you. Give it up. Come on, boy.

EXT. HOUSE OF AVERY COOMBS – NIGHT

PALADIN
Tully. Tully Coombs. Well, Avery Coombs. I had expected to meet your son Tully.

AVERY COOMBS
I don’t believe you’ll have the pleasure, Mr. Paladin. You’re Paladin, ain’t you?

PALADIN
Mr. Coombs, letters are usually considered confidential.

AVERY COOMBS
A man can get killed playing in my backyard, Mr. Paladin. This matter, well, it’s strictly a family affair. My advice to you is go back to the bright lights of San Francisco, save yourself some unpleasantness.

PALADIN
Thank you. Now, Mr. Coombs, my advice to you…is to tell this gentleman outside the window to take that gun off me and save yourself an extreme unpleasantness.

AVERY COOMBS
He won’t shoot unless I tell him to.

PALADIN
All right.

AVERY COOMBS
You always trust a stranger?

PALADIN
A stranger? Avery Coombs, the living legend? As much to northern cattlemen, as Whaley, Middleton and King were to southern herders? No, Mr. Coombs, I’ll trust you not to have me shot in the back.

AVERY COOMBS
Did that legend tell you I’ve had men shot in the back?

PALADIN
Yes, but for better ’cause than this, I hope.

AVERY COOMBS
All right, Jayce. We been after Tully for two days now.
We come close twice. Oh, we did come close, but he’s a Coombs all right.

PALADIN
How’d this whole thing start?

AVERY COOMBS
Well, don’t make a very proud story, especially when it’s your own son.

PALADIN
But you will explain it.

AVERY COOMBS
Sure. Then maybe you’ll forget about this mess, go back where you belong.

PALADIN
Maybe.

AVERY COOMBS
Tully’s been looking to get married for a year now. He’s been after me to give him 160 acres for a toe-hold.

PALADIN
160 acres, that’s not much of a toe-hold, is it?

AVERY COOMBS
No, it ain’t. Well, anyway, I said he could have it. All he had to do was take it away from Jayce.

PALADIN
And who is Jayce?

AVERY COOMBS
My oldest son.

PALADIN
You say Tully would have to take it away from Jayce, you mean they’d fight for it?

AVERY COOMBS
They both got equal rights to it.

PALADIN
Well, that’s still a poor way to settle an inheritance. One of them could get killed.

AVERY COOMBS
That would leave the best man still alive.

PALADIN
I see. And Tully wouldn’t fight Jayce?

AVERY COOMBS
No, sir, he would not fight.

PALADIN
Is that him, Jayce?

JAYCE COOMBS
Yeah!

PALADIN
You’re Jayce, hmm? Well, Jayce, the shots from this carbine warned your brother off.
What’s your father gonna say about that?

PALADIN
That shoulder wound, how’d he get it?

JAYCE COOMBS
Tully.

PALADIN
Gunfight?

JAYCE COOMBS
Bushwhacked. Two days ago Saturday night.

PALADIN
How?

JAYCE COOMBS
Pa was sitting here and Tully came home from the dance.
He shot him through that open window over there.

PALADIN
This room well lighted?

JAYCE COOMBS
Yes.

PALADIN
Did your brother use a handgun or a carbine?

JAYCE COOMBS
Handgun. Now you hear me. I don’t know why my Pa’s letting you hang around here,
but you stick your nose in any deeper, and I’ll knock it off for you.

AVERY COOMBS
I’d have got him if that horse hadn’t fell out from under me.
You throw a lot of lead for not hitting anything.

PALADIN
You’ve managed to open that shoulder up again. Get some whiskey, please.

AVERY COOMBS
Paladin, you said I was a legend. Tell him what I done to be that.

PALADIN
Sit down and I’ll tell him. Are you gonna get some whiskey? You and your partner Reid opened up the high country, proved that men and cattle could live through the snow and come out with a profit. Your father and Reid fell out. Your father killed Reid. Now if you’re gonna make a point, make it.

AVERY COOMBS
Boy, brother or no brother, when a man threatens what’s yours, you either gotta kill him or convert him. Only cowards convert.

PALADIN
He obviously wants you to settle down to business. Avery, I do not understand you at all. 160 acres.
What do you mean?

PALADIN
Your sons are not pushing this fight, you are.

AVERY COOMBS
So?

PALADIN
Why can’t your sons share their birthright?

Especially since one of them is asking so little?

AVERY COOMBS
Tully wants me to give him 160 acres of what I built. What if I give it to him? What if he has two kids and they want some? And Jayce has two kids and they want some?
What does that leave of what I built? Where does that leave me?

PALADIN
A lesser man in my eyes, for one thing. You’re a man who’s trying to achieve immortality on a piece of land.

AVERY COOMBS
I’ll leave a son, Paladin. One strong enough to keep this land the way I got it!

PALADIN
Don’t you think it’s time the killing ended? These are your two sons, not wild animals.
You ever heard of a man named Darwin?

PALADIN
Charles Darwin?

AVERY COOMBS
He wrote the Origin of the Species. I ain’t much educated, but I’ve got that book. I read it the way some men read the Bible.

PALADIN
And it confirms everything you already believe?

AVERY COOMBS
Right. Tell him, Jayce.

J
The strong will survive, the weak will perish.

AVERY COOMBS
Don’t tell me life ain’t a jungle. I’ve lived it.

PALADIN
Then Tully bushwhacking you was only playing the game. His mistake was shooting you in the shoulder instead of the head. Or are you sure it was Tully that shot you?
You’re a big man, Coombs. In a well-lighted room, short range.

J
Who else could it have been?

PALADIN
Coombs, there’s something in your jungle that stinks to high heaven.
I think I’d like to hear Tully’s side of this.
Jayce, we’ll settle with him when and if we have to.
Paladin! You think you’ll find him out there?

PALADIN
I’ll find him.
Paladin, I want you to tell him to run or I’ll have to kill him.

PALADIN
You’ll have to kill him?

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00:15:08,988 –> 00:15:10,455
Yeah.

PALADIN
Jayce, I’m only guessing, but I guess that you framed Tully for that bushwhacking.

188
00:15:15,361 –> 00:15:17,488
That’s crazy. What for?

PALADIN
So he’d be forced to run so you wouldn’t be forced to kill him.
He didn’t run far enough, did he? You tell him to clear out, or I’ll kill him.

PALADIN
Would this be Tully Coombs?

TULLY COOMBS
Are you Paladin? How’d you find me?

PALADIN
Apparently, you were in too much of a hurry to cover your trail very well.
You don’t seem very pleased to see me.

TULLY COOMBS
You been to the house?

PALADIN
And I saw your father.

TULLY COOMBS
How do I know you’re not on his payroll?

PALADIN
You don’t. Innkeeper, hot coffee, hot biscuits, and a steak, rare. And then we’ll talk.

TULLY COOMBS
Thank you. Very good.

PALADIN
You have no idea who shot your father?

TULLY COOMBS
No. I just started to unsaddle my horse.
I heard the shot and came running towards the house.

PALADIN
With a gun in your hand?

TULLY COOMBS
Yeah. Then Pa got to a window and got my range. There’s no talking to Pa when he’s shooting at you.

PALADIN
So you turned and lit out.

TULLY COOMBS
Yes, and I stayed lit out ever since.

PALADIN
You came back last night?

TULLY COOMBS
To meet you.

PALADIN
What about you and Jayce before this?

TULLY COOMBS
Oh, Jayce always did bully me some, but that was for Pa’s benefit more than anything else. Actually, Jayce kinda raised me.

PALADIN
Your mother passed away?

TULLY COOMBS
When I was 4.

PALADIN
Well, you must take after her side.

TULLY COOMBS
Well, that’s what Jayce says, but I don’t remember her much.

PALADIN
Tully, the least painful solution to your problems would be to run.
Clear out and never come back. Paladin, this is my home.
And I love that land just as much as Pa does.
And it sticks in my craw to be run off like I didn’t belong.

PALADIN
Well, then you’ll have to fight Jayce.

TULLY COOMBS
No.

PALADIN
It’s too late for anything else.

TULLY COOMBS
No, I won’t kill him. Not for the whole C-double-O.

PALADIN
Tully, I believe that or I wouldn’t suggest a fight.

TULLY COOMBS
If Jayce says he’s gonna kill me, I’ll take him at his word.

PALADIN
Has he ever killed a man before?

TULLY COOMBS
No, but…I’ve never been killed before either.

PALADIN
Well, I’m gonna very hard to see that neither of you spoils that record.

PALADIN
Jayce, where’s your father?

JAYCE COOMBS
We’ve been looking for Tully. We split up. I just got back. He must be on his way in now.

PALADIN
Tully’s here.

JAYCE COOMBS
Where?

PALADIN
Outside.

JAYCE COOMBS
You didn’t tell him.

PALADIN
No. No, Tully’s here to fight you.

JAYCE COOMBS
All right, if that’s the way he wants it.

PALADIN
No guns, Jayce.

JAYCE COOMBS
You know I don’t need a gun.

PALADIN
All right, Avery! Come on over here and take a look. This what you’ve been waiting for? Your two sons fighting like a pair of wild animals? This the end of it, Avery? Or is that warped philosophy of yours gonna demand another scene? A scene where the son kills the father?

AVERY COOMBS
And I picked you to fill my shoes?

JAYCE COOMBS
I’ll kill him!

PALADIN
Jayce! You don’t have to kill him. Now look at him. There’s nothing left there but a reputation, a legend.

JAYCE COOMBS
But the land’s still his.

T
No! It’s ours. We won, we survived, didn’t we? Didn’t we? Didn’t we? Didn’t we? All right.

AVERY COOMBS
I had the land a good long time. And I made my mark on it. Now you do what you want with it.