PAUL BRYAN'S JOURNAL
From the diary about this episode:
Chicago - Arcallia
Monday, April 26
Strange sense of homecoming, landing in Chicago. It's the US, but not San Francisco. Felt wide awake despite only a few hours sleep on the plane, so rented a car and took off early. After lunch in the seemingly pleasant town of Arcallia, I picked up Kathy Sloan bound for parts unknown. She looked barely 16, and I thought, clearly telling lies about her age, so I felt a duty to return her home, and she just jumped out of the moving car!
She didn't seem badly hurt, so I carried her back to the car, and drove her to her grandparents. The local doctor judged her sound enough with a mild concussion, but I felt obligated to stay around to make sure that she was OK, and checked into the same hotel where I had lunch. Amazing hospitality from the local sheriff who hassled me no end with questions, and ended his interview by telling me to get out of town in the morning.
All this definitely deserves further investigation, but for now, the sleep is descending on me full force.
Tuesday, April 27
Bought flowers for Kathy, and was pleased to see her up and about. After returning to the hotel to pack, I kept thinking about the sheriff's curious behavior - and decided to stay on. Rang Kathy and invited her to dinner.
Wrote a long letter to Kate about adventures with Mark, and tried to keep things light while what I really felt was despair.
Wednesday, April 28
Sitting here in my room with ribs taped up and feeling beyond lousy.
Things started out OK last night, and I had a nice dinner with Kathy. She seemed a little mixed up for 19, but I found out more later after we parked by the river, and she told me about feeling smothered by her grandparents whose custody she's been in since her parents died when she was 14. She started coming on a little strong then, begging me to take her with me on my travels, and throwing in kisses which I wasn't quite sure were meant as persuasion or a crush. I think a little of both. Hadn't the heart to let her down, and asked her out for the next evening.
Driving back to the hotel, my car was blocked by the sheriff, and his deputy did me over in a most unfriendly way, the pain I have with each small move of my taped chest a constant reminder.
Once I felt I could move around like a person again, went to the town prosecutor to file an assault complaint against the sheriff and his deputy. The prosecutor acted very professionally, and when I told him about last night, he had an “oh, not the sheriff again” look in his eye, and took me straight over to Trimble's office to confront him. But that was the end of cooperation or good law, as when the sheriff said that he and the deputy were nowhere near the scene of the crime, prosecutor Wagner turned to me and said that when he had to weigh the word of a stranger against two men he knew over 20 years, with no facts on either side, he had to dismiss my claim.
After the prosecutor left I asked Trimble and his deputy just why they wanted me out of town, but the silence made the mystery even more tantalizing. Really have to get to the bottom of this.
Kathy and I had an early meal at the hotel, and then she asked me to take her for another drive. Thought I could have written the scenario word perfect, but she threw me for a loop. After asking a number of pointed questions about who I knew in the town, and why Sheriff Trimble might want me to leave, she said, that very afternoon, the sheriff had given her $2,000 in cash to sign a complaint tomorrow morning that I'd attempted to assault her on our date tonight.
The first thought that went through my mind was how much Kathy wanted me to take her away with me, and how she could use Trimble's idea to her own double advantage. Such suspicions had been heightened by the fact that she'd just instructed me to drive down a dark, lonely stretch of road, announced to be 18 miles long.
So I asked her whether she intended to carry out the mission. She laughed uproariously, and that didn't make me feel a lot more secure until she said that she loved me and would never do anything to harm me. I asked her why we were driving down this lonely road, and Kathy advised, because it would take us to a bowling alley.
She wanted to know what I thought she should do about the sheriff, and with ribs aching, I was more than inclined to make something out of the opportunity. I advised making the complaint, then showing the police the $2000 with Sheriff's fingerprints on notes and envelope.
Kathy kept asking me why I had such a strange bowling stance, and I said I'd learned the style from a master. Didn't tell her it was to avoid pinching my ribs. But while I'd thought that bowling was the last thing I'd be able to do with my sore body, was amazed that I had only occasional winces of pain
We made ourselves visible at the bowling alley from 8:30 to midnight, and I brought Kathy swiftly home afterwards. Her grandfather had just come in from a lodge meeting, so that was all the better.
Now we wait and see what happens.
Thursday, April 29
Just finishing breakfast when Sheriff Trimble sat down beside me. I made an attempt to get up and leave, but he pulled me back and said that Kathy had signed a warrant for attempted assault. I feigned disbelief, but shocked him when I simply got up and accompanied him to his office. Amazingly, no police brutality.
They held the arraignment in the afternoon, and I whisked out my star witness who identified Kathy from a photo, and said that he and a dozen others could state that she and I were in his establishment from 8:30 to midnight. He even mentioned the fainting spell she had for good measure, and clearly placed both of us elsewhere at the time and place of the alleged assault.
The case was dismissed, and the judge looked like he was going to eat Trimble alive even before he got him to his chambers.
Rang Kathy to tell her the good news. She offered to take me to dinner, but I begged off, finally telling her about the real assault the other night, and saying that I wanted to get a good rest before starting a long drive tomorrow.
Needless to say, the call went on and on, but at least I was lying down.
Friday, April 30
Just about to check out of the hotel, I picked up the Arcallia Bulletin from the desk, and had a look through to see what they'd say about the court proceedings yesterday.
There wasn't a word about the case, so I went over to the newspaper to see the editor. When I got there, all the answers to the mystery appeared, like a row of cherries in a slot machine or tumblers clicking in a complex lock.
There on the wall was a photo of Trimble and a man who had once been my client. When I asked a staffer who the man was, he said it was the owner and editor of the newspaper, someone I had believed dead in a light plane crash five years ago.
I got directions to his house to go and confront him, but Trimble was already there when I arrived. He made some pretty hideous threats about what he'd do to me for ruining his career, and with my ribs taped, I had little hope of being able to defend myself, much less get the better of this bully.
At first, I didn't seem to have any strength at all, and Trimble ducked my head under water without my being able to raise it out. Maybe it was the horrible sensation of drowning that sourced some inner power, but I managed to get out of that situation, and recover enough to overcome him. Not sure if it was the college boxing or the years of judo and karate to keep fit despite my sedentary work, but survival required the entire lot.
When I had Trimble on the ground, we both got a surprise. He had no idea why he had risked so much to get me out of town. But what satisfaction when I told him to get up and arrest the friend who had faked his death, and cashed in on a big double indemnity policy while getting out of all his many debts.
More bruises and bumps, but a tremendous sense of satisfaction solving the mystery. My puffy face gave me an excuse for not taking Kathy out, but I gave in to dinner at her grandparents'.
Producer: Jo Swerling Jr., Associate Producer: Paul Freeman, Music: Pete Rugolo, Director of Photography: John L. Russell A.S.C., Art Director: Frank Arrrigo, Film Editor: Robert Watts, Unit Manager: Willard Sheldon, Assistant Director: Frank Losee, Set Decorators: John McCartey & Perry Murdoch, Sound: Robert Bertrand, Color Coordinator: Robert Brower, Color by Pathe, Editorial Dept. Head: David J. O'Connell, Musical Supervisor: Stanley Wilson, Costumes by Burton Miller, Makeup: Bud Westmore, Hair Stylist: Larry Germain
Paul is spotted in the diner of a small town
Paul claims to sell embalming fluid
The sheriff tells Paul to get out of town
Kathy asks Paul to take her with him
The doctor says people let lawmen get on with their work
Paul's accusation is refuted. The sheriff keeps silent
The sheriff offers Kathy money to betray Paul
The sheriff shows a formal complaint signed by Kathy
Paul examines the witness who exonerates him
The prosecutor tells the sheriff that he's finished
Paul scans the local paper for his story
The sheriff confronts Paul at the editor's gate
Both bruised and beaten, the sheriff and Paul go to arrest the editor for fraud
Kathy tells Paul that she loves him
Driving through small-town America, Paul stops for lunch at a diner, and is apparently noticed with alarm by a man who enters and quickly leaves. This is the only possible clue we have to the mysterious events which follow.
Driving on to his next port of call, he picks up a hitchhiker. The girl, who appears under age to him, says that the only other ride she was offered was from “some man, kinda creepy looking, like he sold embalming fluid.” Paul looks distressed, and when she asks if something is wrong, he replies gravely, “it happens that I sell embalming fluid.”
The girl becomes flustered with apologies, and then Paul breaks into a large grin. She tells him that her name is Kathy Sloan, but Paul unravels the rest of her story as lies, and against her protests, determines to drive the runaway back to her home. However, she jumps out of the moving car, and is injured. The doctor says it's no more than a mild concussion, but after speaking with Kathy's grandparents, Paul decides to stay in town to make sure she is all right.
He checks into a local hotel, but when he returns to his car, Paul is accosted by the local sheriff who asks many questions, but receives only evasive answers about Paul's situation and plans.
In the end, he tells Paul to “get out of my town in the morning.”
The next day Paul brings Kathy flowers, and indicates that he's about to move on, but later he rings her, and invites her to dinner, the fact meantime established that she's nineteen.
She tells him that she was orphaned at 14, and that her grandparents control her with an iron hand, and are trying to mould her into something she isn't.
Kathy explains that's why she wants to get away, even avoiding the good college that is waiting for her.
Chatting in his car, she kisses Paul, and begs him to take her with him on his travels, later kissing him again and telling him she doesn't want him to leave.
His attitude appears paternal, yet before she kisses him a third time at her home, he asks her out again for the next evening. He's indicated to her that he has a “small problem.”
It becomes even larger a few minutes later when the sheriff and his deputy stop Paul's car and beat him up, leaving him lying beside his car.
A doctor tapes up Paul's ribs, but doesn't appear outraged at the unaccounted-for police brutality. In a neutral way, he also indicates that it would be best for Paul to leave town.
So Paul goes to the town prosecutor for help, and makes a charge against the sheriff and his deputy.
The prosecutor asks the pair where they were, and they deny having assaulted Paul, so he says he must believe men he's known for years over the words of a stranger, and also suggests that Paul leave town.
After he's gone, a bedazzled Paul asks the sheriff why he wants him to leave without an answer, and when they are alone, the deputy asks to be filled in, but the sheriff continues to say nothing.
Still not able to get Paul out of town, the sheriff approaches Kathy on the street, and offers her $2000 if she will accuse Paul of assaulting her. She says it's a silly idea, but listens to the plan.
That evening in the car, Kathy questions Paul about why people want him to leave, but he's confounded by the puzzle, and says he won't leave until he has an answer to it.
She then appears to be following the sheriff's plan, telling him to drive down a certain lonely road, and the next morning, at the diner, the sheriff tells Paul he has a warrant for his arrest - for attempting to assault Kathy.
Paul laughs, but the sheriff says that Kathy has signed a formal complaint against him, which won't be issued if Paul simply leaves town immediately. Paul declines and is arrested.
The next scene is an arraignment hearing with Paul acting as his own counsel. He says that he can spare the county the cost of a trial by presenting a witness who will prove him innocent of the charge.
On the stand he questions the owner of a bowling alley in a neighboring village who testifies that Paul was at his establishment from eight until midnight, and that the girl with him - whose photo he identifies - had a dizzy spell during that time, witnessed by many people.
This evidence appears to refute all charges, and the case against Paul is dismissed. In chambers, the prosecutor and judge attack the sheriff, and ask why Kathy set him up.
The prosecutor suggests bringing Kathy in, and charging her with making a false complaint, but the sheriff asks them to drop the matter.
The prosecutor then tells the sheriff that this event will damage their political party, and that the sheriff won't be on the ticket at the next election.
Checking out of his hotel the next day, Paul scrutinizes the local newspaper, and then suddenly leaves without paying.
He goes to the paper to inquire when the edition came off the press, and asks to speak to the editor.
The young man at the desk says that the editor is home sick, and then, with some shock, Paul spots a photo on the wall which is identified as the owner/editor with the sheriff.
Paul leaves the newspaper office with a purpose, and is shadowed by the sheriff's deputy in his car. The deputy reports that it looks like Paul is headed for the editor's house, and the sheriff says that he'll take over from there. When Paul arrives at the gate of the editor's home, the sheriff is there to block his way. He says that Paul destroyed everything that the sheriff took 20 years to build, and then says that he's going to break at least one bone in Paul's body for each of those years.
A violent fight ensues, and the sheriff even tries to drown Paul who nevertheless triumphs in the end , and says that this morning, he was ready to give up trying to solve the riddle, was within a minute of leaving the town when he had a look at the newspaper.
Paul says that the sheriff's editor friend made the mistake of leaving the previous day's court proceedings out of the paper, causing Paul to go over to their office to make an inquiry. “His picture was on the wall,” Paul says, “he looked fine ….. for a man who's been dead for five years.”
The sheriff looks up in surprise from the ground where he's lying, and Paul too shows surprise that the sheriff didn't know why the editor wanted him out of town. Paul goes on to explain that the editor and his wife had been his clients. When their private plane crashed into the sea, the wife received $200,000 from a double indemnity policy. It is now his patron whom the sheriff must arrest.
Saying goodbye to Kathy's grandparents, Paul tells them how the editor and his wife let the insurance company solve both their financial and marital problems. Then he parts with Kathy, and says to her that no one can take away her soul, and that if she goes to college, he'll write to her every month - for as long as he lives.
Notes & Comments: Well paced and intriguing, “Never Pick Up a Stranger” has the qualities which made Run For Your Life stand out from the pack. The ongoing mystery of this episode holds the viewer right to the conclusion, especially since there are no clues to guide one to the fascinating solution.
However, there were two additional “mysteries” not solved by the revelations at the end. One was a combination of how Paul proved that he was innocent, how Kathy got away legally swearing the warrant, and if they were not colluding in a plan never clearly revealed, how he remained friendly with her after an episode which could have eaten up a large chunk of time from the precious days Paul has left.
Secondly, one wonders why Paul keeps “leading Kathy on,” inviting her out over and over when she obviously has a crush on him and Is so much younger. He clearly has a adult's concern for a teenager, but is clearly not romantically attracted to her.
The first questions could have indeed had Paul spending the evening at the bowling alley with a friend of Kathy's at her instigation to thwart the sheriff, but this is not made clear, and not really even implied.
The pained mock look on Paul's face when she mentions someone creepy who might sell imbalming fluid was priceless, and might have even fooled the viewer for a moment, referring to his thinking about the death which awaits him. Made the joke all the more priceless.