A Tribute to
One of TV's
INT. - NORTH FORK JAIL - DAY
PALADIN is in a CELL. MCCAIN and MICAH are NEARBY, one sitting, one standing. MCCAIN is EXAMINING PALADIN'S GUN.
Gunfighter, North Fork's a quiet,
friendly little town.
And we aim to keep it that way.
(laughs, then serious)
First of all, I'm not a gunfighter...
and second, I suggest you consult a
dictionary for the definition of
"friendly." Arresting a man without
a real charge... you call that friendly?
I'd call attempted kidnapping a charge.
Well, that's quite an escalation,
marshal.... Now how many times do I
have to repeat this? That phony minister
is wanted by the federal government!
There is a bounty on his head that--
Is that what you are-- a bounty hunter?
ANGLE ON PALADIN
HE LOOKS with CONSIDERABLE ANNOYANCE at the two MEN. HE REACHES into HIS GUNBELT, removes a BUSINESS CARD and HOLDS IT OUT between the BARS of his CELL.
As MICAH WALKS OVER to RETRIEVE the CARD.
INSERT - THE CARD
With standard MUSICAL BACKGROUND.
BACK TO SHOT
MICAH MOVES OVER to MCCAIN and GIVES him the CARD.
So, you are a gunfighter.
I am a businessman-- who sometimes
uses his gun. I was on my way to Cline's
Corners when I stumbled upon your "quiet,
friendly little town." I recognized
Wickler in the saloon, and it's my
civic duty to bring him in.
To North Fork, Reverend Wilson's been
nothing but a fine member of the
community. He's helped a lot of people.
Wouldn't sit well with anyone if we so
much as questioned him.
Even assuming any of what you've said
I can assure you... it's true.
Wilson's been a credit to North Fork,
ever since we've known him.
A man can always change his ways, can't
he?... re-make himself? Redeem himself?
That... animal can never redeem himself.
And just how long have you known him?
ANGLE ON MCCAIN AND MICAH
THEY LOOK at each other, casually QUIZZICAL.
Five or six....
Five or six months. You think you can
know a man like Wickler in half a year?
He's as slippery as a salamander. How
do you think he's avoided capture all
You tell us.
(sighs, but serious)
By trading on the good graces of people
Got anything else to say?
Just one thing...
ANGLE ON PALADIN
PALADIN TURNS HIS BACK on the two men, MOVES HIS HANDS to his GUNBELT, extracts and PALMS his DERRINGER.
(continuing, over the shoulder)
... how much longer are you going to
continue this unlawful detention?
ANGLE ON MCCAIN AND MICAH
THEY LOOK at each other, SHRUG and nod. MICAH GRABS a large
KEY-RING, MOVES OVER to PALADIN'S CELL and starts to UNLOCK it. PALADIN TURNS around.
A wise move.
The CELL DOOR SWINGS OPEN.
I don't know about that.
PALADIN OPENS HIS PALM, SHOWS THE DERRINGER.
HE PUTS it BACK into HIS GUNBELT.
PALADIN STEPS OUT of the CELL, and MICAH CLOSES it. MCCAIN GIVES PALADIN HIS GUN.
You need to ride out of town, mister.
PALADIN EXAMINES and HOLSTERS his GUN, then FACES the TWO MEN.
You tarnish your badge, old man.
And you need to pin one on.
PALADIN TURNS and STALKS OUT. MCAIN AND MICAH LOOK AT EACH OTHER for an INSTANT, then WALK toward the FRONT DOOR.
EXT. - STREET - DAY
As PALADIN STEPS OUT of the marshal's OFFICE, looks around and WALKS toward the SALOON. Only now do WE SEE "NORTH FORK" and perhaps "NEW MEXICO" on a storefront or two. MCCAIN AND MICAH STEP OUT of the OFFICE soon after, and WATCH PALADIN.
PALADIN reaches the SALOON, THINKS ABOUT going inside, then CLIMBS UP on HIS HORSE. HE turns the HORSE AROUND, HOLDS position.
CLOSE ON PALADIN
HE GLARES sharply in the direction of the MARSHAL'S OFFICE.
POV SHOT - WHAT HE SEES - MCCAIN AND MICAH
As THEY LOOK equally SHARPLY at PALADIN.
BACK TO PALADIN
HE turns HIS HORSE and begins to TROT off, LEAVING North Fork via the SAME ROUTE he initially entered.
MEDIUM-LONG SHOT - PALADIN ON HORSEBACK
As HE REACHES the EDGE of TOWN, HE SPOTS WILSON, who is STANDING in front of the TELEGRAPH OFFICE, leaning against a railing.
CLOSE ON WILSON
EXPRESSIONLESS as always, or perhaps the BAREST HINT of a SMILE.
CLOSE ON PALADIN
SNEERING in DISGUST.
BACK TO LONG SHOT - PALADIN
HE WHIPS HIS HORSE with a hearty "HAH!" and RIDES OUT OF FRAME.
EXT. - OUTSKIRTS OF NORTH FORK - LONG SHOT
AS BEFORE, in the distance WE SEE the small BUILDINGS of North Fork just a SHORT RIDE AWAY. PALADIN RIDES UP TOWARD US INTO THE FRAME, spins his HORSE AROUND to get his bearings, then RIDES BACK TOWARD NORTH FORK, not along the trail, but AT AN ANGLE, through the WOODS and BRUSH.
EXT. - NORTH FORK LIVERY STABLE - DAY
It's somewhat ISOLATED, on the EDGE of TOWN. PALADIN RIDES UP and DISMOUNTS. PALADIN turns his HORSE over to a teenaged STABLE BOY and FLIPS him a COIN.
ANGLE ON PALADIN
As HE WALKS along the STREET. A STAGECOACH is parked a short distance away, being REPAIRED by its DRIVER. PALADIN MOSEYS over.
Need some help?
Nah, I can handle it.
Careful with that wheel-- looks like
it's just about to slip.
The DRIVER NODS. PALADIN WALKS on.
CLOSE ON PALADIN - AS CAMERA GOES WITH HIM
WE HEAR the SOUND of CHILDREN, SHOUTING PLAYFULLY on their WAY HOME from SCHOOL. PALADIN SLOWS to a HALT and SMILES.
LONG SHOT - THE SCHOOLKIDS
About FOUR OR FIVE kids up the road, as they SCRAMBLE in Paladin's direction. They're PLAYING with a BALL, and TOSS IT back and forth.
CLOSE SHOT - A BOY
As HE TOSSES the BALL toward a SECOND BOY.
ANGLE ON SECOND BOY - MEDIUM-LONG
HE FAILS TO CATCH it and RUNS AFTER IT.
The BALL has LANDED ADJACENT to the STAGECOACH. The SECOND BOY ARRIVES and BENDS DOWN to retrieve the BALL.
ANGLE ON STAGECOACH - CLOSE
As the WHEEL Paladin referred to SLIPS OFF its AXLE, causing the STAGECOACH to TIP OVER toward the SECOND BOY, WHO WILL BE CRUSHED.
ANOTHER ANGLE - MEDIUM
As PALADIN FLIES INTO THE FRAME, GRABS THE SECOND BOY, TUMBLES WITH HIM OUT OF FRAME AS THE STAGECOACH TIPS OVER AND COMES CRASHING DOWN, RIGHT WHERE THE BOY WAS STANDING.
ANGLE ON PALADIN AND BOY
PALADIN STANDS up, HELPS the SECOND BOY to HIS FEET. PALADIN BRUSHES HIMSELF OFF a bit, then BRUSHES OFF the BOY.
You all right, son?
CLOSE ON THE BOY
ONLY NOW DO WE SEE THAT THE SECOND BOY IS MARK MCCAIN, son of Lucas McCain.
I... I think so.
TWO-SHOT - PALADIN AND MARK
Where does it hurt?
My ankle.... Thanks for saving my
Do you think you can walk on it?
I can try.
MARK takes a STEP but HIS ANKLE COLLAPSES and MARK YELPS in PAIN. PALADIN CATCHES HIM before he hits the ground.
Well, I suppose I'll have to get a
buckboard and take you home, son.
HE SCOOPS MARK UP in his arms and WALKS toward the LIVERY STABLE.
What's your name?
Mark. Mark McCain. Yours?
Paladin... hmph! That's an interesting
name. Can't say I ever heard it before.
Is that your first name or your last name?
PALADIN SENSES he's in for a LONG TRIP and MAKES A FACE.
Ah... in which direction will we be
So where are you from, Mr. Paladin?
CAMERA PULLS BACK
As PALADIN continues WALKING TOWARD the STABLE while CARRYING MARK. The other SCHOOLKIDS are MOVING AWAY now and the DRIVER and some other ONLOOKERS are WORRYING OVER the STAGECOCH.
What brings you to North Fork...? Why
are you all dressed in black...?
MARK'S VOICE FADES OUT as we...
EXT. - MCCAIN RANCH - TWILIGHT - LONG SHOT
As PALADIN's BUCKBOARD PULLS UP to the FRONT DOOR, MARK SITTING next to him.
EXT. - MEDIUM SHOT - MCCAIN HOUSE
As PALADIN PARKS the BUCKBOARD, LIFTS MARK, CARRIES HIM to the DOOR, then TURNS his body so that MARK can TURN the DOORKNOB and open the DOOR.
INT. - HOUSE - LIVING ROOM
As PALADIN ENTERS and PLACES MARK into a CHAIR. Having heard all the noise, LUCAS MCCAIN ENTERS from an adjacent room.
Hi, Paw, this is Mr.--
MCCAIN GRABS HIS RIFLE.
I know who he is!
That won't be necessary, McCain.
Mr. Paladin saved my life, Paw. Grabbed
me right before a stagecoach fell on
top of me.
Even so... what's he doing here?
Your son twisted his ankle and I brought
him in on the buckboard out there.
That so, Mark?
What's wrong, Paw?
I just didn't expect to see...
him here, that's all.
MCCAIN cautiously PUTS DOWN HIS RIFLE, leaning it AGAINST the WALL in a FAR CORNER of the room.
I guess you can't do your chores with
that ankle. Come on, I'll take you to
your room and you can do your schoolwork.
(to Paladin, chilly)
I'll be right back.
MCCAIN SCOOPS UP MARK and EXITS. PALADIN LOOKS AROUND a bit, then ZEROES IN on MCCAIN'S RIFLE.
ANGLE ON PALADIN
HE WALKS OVER to the RIFLE, BENDS DOWN, LOOKS WITHOUT TOUCHING.
CLOSE ON PALADIN AND RIFLE
HE'S INTRIGUED... after several beats, SUDDENLY MCCAIN'S HAND ENTERS FRAME and PULLS the RIFLE AWAY from PALADIN.
ANOTHER ANGLE - PALADIN AND MCCAIN
PALADIN STANDS UP to face MCCAIN (obviously HAVING RETURNED to the living ROOM), who HOLDS his RIFLE at the READY.
Interesting modification to that
Winchester. But I'd never raise
another man's rifle without his
That's a good policy.
I guess I should thank you for...
what you did for Mark....
Anyone could have done what I did.
I just happened to be there. It was
That's not how Mark tells it.
(a little laugh)
Well, your boy can tell a story. And
ask questions. We had quite a conversation
on the way here.
(can't help but laugh)
I can't disagree with you there.
But you can disagree with me about
(turns serious, a beat)
Why don't you sit down?
PALADIN LOOKS AT MCCAIN'S RIFLE and then at MCCAIN. MCCAIN understands, PUTS DOWN the RIFLE. PALADIN SITS in a dining room chair, and so does MCCAIN-- THEY ARE SITTING AT THE TABLE ACROSS FROM EACH OTHER, still with some degree of TENSION.
You have to understand... Paladin...
Reverend Wilson is a respected citizen.
It almost wouldn't matter what he did
before he came here. Even if he did
do all the things you said during the
war-- I'm not sure it'd make any
Well, I do believe a man can change,
Mr. McCain. But even if he does, can a
man deny responsibility for his past?
Does saying "I'm a different man now"--
or even being a different man-- does
that absolve him of the choices he's
I don't know if I can answer that.
When a man burns human beings to death--
including innocent women and children--
isn't the answer obvious?
The only proof he's guilty of that is
your say-so. It's not enough.
I suppose it isn't....
And ask yourself this-- what
if you're mistaken? What if Reverend
Wilson just looks like the man on that
poster you saw? Are you one hundred
(a beat, shakes head no)
But I am very sure.
That good enough to take a man
at gunpoint? To take him away from
his home, his friends?
Justice may be a harsh and imperfect
mistress, but she must be served. I have
no choice-- I must take him to the
federal marshal in Santa Fe.
He's been a good minister, helped a
lot of people. North Fork considers the
reverend one of its own.
I'll... commiserate their loss.
I've got to warn you, Paladin--
you've riled up the whole town. If
you try to take him, they'll try to
Does that include you, Mr. McCain?
Will you try to stop me?
Because of Mark... no. I owe you that.
There'll be plenty of others, though.
That would be... your town marshal.
I believe I owe him an apology. You,
too, for that matter-- although you
would make a good lawman.
ANGLE ON MCCAIN
Before he can reply, WE HEAR O.S. MARK'S VOICE:
Paw! Is Mr. Paladin staying for dinner?
(smiles, moves head
in Mark's direction)
That's one reason why that wouldn't be
I don't think so, Mark!
WIDE ANGLE - PALADIN, MCCAIN AND DOORWAY TO MARK'S ROOM
PALADIN GETS UP to leave. MARK ENTERS, into the DOORWAY, his BAD ANKLE lightly BANDAGED. HE STANDS THERE hobbling on ONE FOOT, supporting himself by HOLDING on to the DOORFRAME.
But Paw, Mr. Paladin promised to
tell me stories about San Francisco!
Besides, he must be hungry. And thirsty,
Sorry, Mark, but Mr. Paladin has...
things to do in town.
I do believe those... things could
wait until tomorrow.
MCCAIN LOOKS AT PALADIN, MARC, THEN PALADIN again.
Well, if Mr. Paladin can stand my
I'm sure he can stand it. Er, I mean,
your cooking's not so bad. I mean,
you're a great cook, Paw!
PALADIN AND MCCAIN BURST OUT LAUGHING, as we...
EXT - MCCAIN RANCH - FRONT PORCH - NIGHT
ANGLE ON PALADIN AND MCCAIN as they RELAX after dinner, SMOKING CIGARS. THEY ARE MUCH MORE AT EASE WITH EACH OTHER.
That was a fine meal, Mr. McCain.
Thanks. And it's "Lucas."
PALADIN NODS and SMILES.
I apologize for Mark's constant pestering
Not at all. A strong curiosity is natural
in a boy his age.
I suppose it is.
PALADIN LOOKS UP AT THE NIGHT SKY.
You can really see the stars out here.
(looks up, a beat)
I wish you'd just let things be, Paladin.
So do I, Lucas.
Why don't you sleep on it? We don't have
an extra bed, but you're welcome to bunk
in the barn.
AGAIN HE LOOKS UP TOWARD the SKY.
"The heavens may hold constant things,
but who knows what tomorrow brings?"
I guess you're right. Who really knows?
END ACT II
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