Original Air Date: February 28, 1974
Written By: Henry Slesar
Starring: Paul Hecht, Evie Juster, Ralph Bell, Robert Dryden
Another of Slesar's meditations on what it means to be a "good" person, and interesting enough as far as it goes.
Gordon Bailey is an insurance exec married to Ann who, we're led to believe, is not that great a cook, and who therefore in the world of 1974 deserves what's coming to her. Which? Is George cheating on her while out of town at a business convention with his boss. It's strictly a one-night, whoo-boy-was-I-hammered-and-had-to-go-along-to-get-along-with-my-boss kind of thing, and Geoge seems to have largely put it behind him.
Until, while sitting on a park bench feeding the awful lunch his wife packed him to the squirrels, he meets Mr. Kellerman, a kind of louchy, blowsy photographer who, in the course of conversating with Gordon, just happens to mention that he was at that recent convention and has some fascinating pictures of Gordo taking his Old Bailey out for a spin. Which pictures he then shows Gordon, and which have to have been taken while Kellerman was literally in the room with Gordon and his squeeze, who Kellerman likely hired to seduce Bailey in the first place. Which? Ewww.
So, Kellerman tells Gordo that for a small monthly fee, he'd be happy to not send the pictures to Ann and ruin Bailey's marriage. Bailey tries to negotiate a one-time payment and Kellerman argues weirdly that it would be better for Bailey to just pay monthly, because if he gave a one-time lump sum, Bailey would always be worried that Kellerman would be back for more and looking over his shoulder and what-not. Which, honestly, seems like it would be Bailey's business, but whatever. After some huffing and puffing, Bailey agrees to the arrangement and starts paying Kellerman monthly.
This goes on for a few months until at one point around Christmas, Kellerman shows up at Bailey's house and lets Gordon know that the monthly fee is going to have to increase a little, because hookers to seduce unwitting insurance executives are raising their prices, and he has to push that increase down to the
consumers victims, etc. Bailey is, understandably, upset, but doesn't think he can do anything about it until he meets David Bliss, who tells him that he, too, is a victim of Kellerman's, and that he has a proposition for him.
The plan is that Bliss has followed Kellerman around and learned the identities of about 12 or 13 of Kellerman's marks, and they collectively have decided that they're going to kill Kellerman. They'll do it by luring Kellerman an otherwise lonely area at night, and then Bliss will run him over in a way designed to seem like an accident. A couple of the other victims will be planted in the area, and will tell the police the same story, i.e., that it was an accident. Bliss wants Kellerman in on the plan, though it's not clear exactly what part he'll have to play. He notes that he, Bliss, will be taking all the risk and actually killing the guy, and that this is a virtually risk-free arrangement for Gordy.
Bailey is unconvinced, pointing out, rightly, that while he did something wrong in cheating on Ann, and Kellerman did something wrong by blackmailing him, neither of them has killed anyone, and doing so, even indirectly, would seem to up the ante of badness, so to speak. Bliss pish-poshes that notion, declaring that Bailey wants Kellerman dead as much as anyone else, and doesn't actually have to do anything, just maybe lie to the cops if they ask him to, and probably not even that, but just keep his mouth shut.
Bailey demurs and goes home to Ann, to whom he confesses his indiscretions, deciding that having almost gotten caught up in a murder plot was his official Sign #1 That This Has Gone Too Far. Ann, because she's a gal, even if she is a bad cook, is mostly upset that he kept this secret gnawing inside of him and worrying about it when of course she was going to forgive his little Do-Si-Do in Duluth (or wherever). While they're talking, they hear on the radio (I know! The radio!) that Kellerman has, in fact, been mown down in what is clearly and obviously an accident and case closed, nothing to see hear, everyone move along.
Which, you'd think, might give Gordo some closure. It's over, he's free from the blackmail, and he didn't even have to get his hands dirty. Except it doesn't. Because Bailey, it turns out, despite the fact that he shtupped some filly in Philly (or wherever) to impress his boss, is a moralistic prig who can't stand the thought that someone is getting away with dispatching a perfectly awful person like Kellerman. His mistake is in sharing those thoughts with Bliss, repeatedly, who warns him that going to the police with his concerns would be sort of a mistake of a pretty major magnitude.
And, oddly, even though he's been introduced to the depths of human depraved behavior by Kellerman and Bliss, Gordo doesn't take the hint, and basically refuses to commit to Bliss that he'll leave well enough alone and not go to the cops, despite the fact that he has nothing to gain from being such a dick. Which, if he'd thought for even a moment, should have given him pause. Because Bliss has already shown what he and his confederates would be willing to do in order to protect whatever it was they were trying to protect from Kellerman.
So when Bliss invites Gordo down to an isolated bar for a nightcap at like 11 pm just to chat about stuff, Bailey goes, blithely unconcerned, convinced that they're both men of honor and he just has to explain his position to Bliss and Bliss will just have to accept it, because what else is he going to do, really?
Well, he's going to have one of his compatriots, the owner of the bar, shoot Gordo in the chest a couple of times, and then have everyone else in the bar, who are also Kellerman victims, back them up that Bailey tried to rob them and they shot in self-defense. That's what. Nothing to see here, move along . . .
At the end, Evie Juster, who plays Ann, also plays one of the witnesses at the bar, and actually identifies herself to the police investigator using her real name, which was kind of cool. . .