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A Tribute to
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The Lost Episode
The Masquerade - Act II

10.

 

 

ACT II

 

FADE IN:

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.

                              MICAH
                Gunfighter, North Fork's a quiet,
                friendly little town.

                             MCCAIN
                And we aim to keep it that way.

                             PALADIN
                       (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?

                             MICAH
                I'd call attempted kidnapping a charge.

                             PALADIN
                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--

                             MCCAIN
                          (interrupting)
                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.

 


11.


ANOTHER ANGLE
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.

ANOTHER ANGLE

                             MCCAIN
                So, you are a gunfighter.

                             PALADIN
                      (slowly, deliberately)
                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.

                       (directly to Micah)
                Or yours.

                             MICAH
                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.

                             MCCAIN
                Even assuming any of what you've said
                is true.

                             PALADIN
                I can assure you... it's true.

                             MCCAIN
                Wilson's been a credit to North Fork,
                ever since we've known him.

                        (testing Paladin)
                A man can always change his ways, can't
                he?... re-make himself? Redeem himself?

 


12.


                             PALADIN
                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.

                             MCCAIN
                Six months....

                             MICAH
                Five or six....

                             PALADIN
                         (with derision)
                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
                these years?

                             MCCAIN
                You tell us.

                             PALADIN
                       (sighs, but serious)
                By trading on the good graces of people
                like you.

                             MICAH
                           (two beats)
                Got anything else to say?

                             PALADIN
                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.

                             PALADIN
                  (continuing, over the shoulder)
                ... how much longer are you going to
                continue this unlawful detention?

 


13.


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.

                             PALADIN
                A wise move.

The CELL DOOR SWINGS OPEN.

                             MICAH
                I don't know about that.

PALADIN OPENS HIS PALM, SHOWS THE DERRINGER.

                             PALADIN
                I do.

HE PUTS it BACK into HIS GUNBELT.

ANOTHER ANGLE
PALADIN STEPS OUT of the CELL, and MICAH CLOSES it. MCCAIN GIVES PALADIN HIS GUN.

                             MCCAIN
                You need to ride out of town, mister.

PALADIN EXAMINES and HOLSTERS his GUN, then FACES the TWO MEN.

                             PALADIN
                            (to Micah)
                You tarnish your badge, old man.

                            (to McCain)
                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.

ANOTHER ANGLE
PALADIN reaches the SALOON, THINKS ABOUT going inside, then CLIMBS UP on HIS HORSE. HE turns the HORSE AROUND, HOLDS position.

 


14.


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.

DISSOLVE TO:

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.

                             PALADIN
                Need some help?

                             DRIVER
                Nah, I can handle it.

 


15.


                             PALADIN
                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.

ANOTHER ANGLE
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.

                             PALADIN
                You all right, son?

CLOSE ON THE BOY
ONLY NOW DO WE SEE THAT THE SECOND BOY IS MARK MCCAIN, son of Lucas McCain.

 


16.


                               MARK
                I... I think so.

                             (a beat)
                Ow!

TWO-SHOT - PALADIN AND MARK

                             PALADIN
                Where does it hurt?

                              MARK
                My ankle.... Thanks for saving my
                life, mister.

                             PALADIN
                             (smiles)
                Do you think you can walk on it?


                              MARK
                I can try.

ANOTHER ANGLE
MARK takes a STEP but HIS ANKLE COLLAPSES and MARK YELPS in PAIN. PALADIN CATCHES HIM before he hits the ground.

                             PALADIN
                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.

                          (continuing)
                What's your name?

                              MARK
                Mark. Mark McCain. Yours?

                             PALADIN
                Paladin.

                              MARK
                Paladin... hmph! That's an interesting
                name. Can't say I ever heard it before.
                Is that your first name or your last name?

 


17.


ANOTHER ANGLE
PALADIN SENSES he's in for a LONG TRIP and MAKES A FACE.

                             PALADIN
                Ah... in which direction will we be
                heading?

                              MARK
                            (points)
                That way.

PALADIN NODS.

                              MARK
                           (continuing)
                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.

                             MARK
                     (continuing non-stop)
                What brings you to North Fork...? Why
                are you all dressed in black...?

MARK'S VOICE FADES OUT as we...

DISSOLVE TO:

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.

                             MCCAIN
                Mark!

                             MARK
                Hi, Paw, this is Mr.--

 


18.


MCCAIN GRABS HIS RIFLE.

                             MCCAIN
                I know who he is!

                             PALADIN
                That won't be necessary, McCain.

                             MARK
                           (confused)
                Mr. Paladin saved my life, Paw. Grabbed
                me right before a stagecoach fell on
                top of me.

                             MCCAIN
                            (a beat)
                Even so... what's he doing here?

                             PALADIN
                Your son twisted his ankle and I brought
                him in on the buckboard out there.

                             MCCAIN
                            (to Mark)
                That so, Mark?

                             MARK
                            (nods)
                What's wrong, Paw?

                             MCCAIN
                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.

                             MCCAIN
                          (continuing)
                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.

                             MARK
                But Paw!

 


19.


                             MCCAIN
                       (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.

                             PALADIN
                Interesting modification to that
                Winchester. But I'd never raise
                another man's rifle without his
                permission.

                             MCCAIN
                        (still skeptical)
                That's a good policy.

PALADIN NODS.

                             MCCAIN
                I guess I should thank you for...
                what you did for Mark....

                             PALADIN
                Anyone could have done what I did.
                I just happened to be there. It was
                pure chance.

                             MCCAIN
                That's not how Mark tells it.

                             PALADIN
                         (a little laugh)
                Well, your boy can tell a story. And
                ask questions. We had quite a conversation
                on the way here.

 


20.


                             MCCAIN
                     (can't help but laugh)
                I can't disagree with you there.

                             PALADIN
                         (matter-of-fact)
                But you can disagree with me about
                Wickler.

                             MCCAIN
                     (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.

                             MCCAIN
                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
                difference now.

                             PALADIN
                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
               
made?

                             MCCAIN
                            (a beat)
                I don't know if I can answer that.
                Can you?

                             PALADIN
                When a man burns human beings to death--
                including innocent women and children--
                isn't the answer obvious?

                             MCCAIN
                The only proof he's guilty of that is
                your say-so. It's not enough.

 


21.


                             PALADIN
                I suppose it isn't....

                             MCCAIN
                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
                percent sure?

                             PALADIN
                    (a beat, shakes head no)
                But I am very sure.

                             MCCAIN
                That good enough to take a man
                at gunpoint? To take him away from
                his home, his friends?

                             PALADIN
                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. 

                             MCCAIN
                He's been a good minister, helped a
                lot of people. North Fork considers the
                reverend one of its own.

                             PALADIN
                           (unwavering)
                I'll... commiserate their loss.

                             MCCAIN
                I've got to warn you, Paladin--
                you've riled up the whole town. If
                you try to take him, they'll try to
                stop you.

                             PALADIN
                Does that include you, Mr. McCain?
                Will you try to stop me?

                             MCCAIN
                            (a beat)
                Because of Mark... no. I owe you that.
                There'll be plenty of others, though.
                And Micah.

 


22.


                             PALADIN
                That would be... your town marshal.

MCCAIN NODS.

                             PALADIN
                           (continuing)
                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:

                             MARK
                Paw! Is Mr. Paladin staying for dinner?

                             MCCAIN
                     (smiles, moves head
                     in Mark's direction)
                That's one reason why that wouldn't be
                possible.

                       (loud, to Mark)
                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.

                             MARK
                But Paw, Mr. Paladin promised to
                tell me stories about San Francisco!
                Besides, he must be hungry. And thirsty,
                too.

                             MCCAIN
                Sorry, Mark, but Mr. Paladin has...
                things to do in town.

                             PALADIN
                             (smiles)
                I do believe those... things could
                wait until tomorrow.

MCCAIN LOOKS AT PALADIN, MARC, THEN PALADIN again.

 


23.


                             MCCAIN
                Well, if Mr. Paladin can stand my
                cooking....

                              MARK
                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...

DISSOLVE TO:

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.

                             PALADIN
                That was a fine meal, Mr. McCain.

                             MCCAIN
                Thanks. And it's "Lucas."

PALADIN NODS and SMILES.
                             MCCAIN
                         
(continuing)
                I apologize for Mark's constant pestering
                of you.

                             PALADIN
                Not at all. A strong curiosity is natural
                in a boy his age.

                             MCCAIN
                I suppose it is.

PALADIN LOOKS UP AT THE NIGHT SKY.

                             PALADIN
                You can really see the stars out here.

                             MCCAIN
                        (looks up, a beat)
                I wish you'd just let things be, Paladin.

                             PALADIN
                             (sighs)
                So do I, Lucas.

                             MCCAIN
                         (facing Paladin)
                Why don't you sleep on it? We don't have
                an extra bed, but you're welcome to bunk
                in the barn.

                             PALADIN
                          (facing McCain)
                Thank you.

AGAIN HE LOOKS UP TOWARD the SKY.

 


24.


                             PALADIN

                      (continuing, quoting)
                "The heavens may hold constant things,
                but who knows what tomorrow brings?"

                             MCCAIN
                           (two beats)
                I guess you're right. Who really knows?

FADE OUT.

END ACT II

 


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