In a town in the Old West, the town drunk, Al Denton, staggers out of a bar accompanied by the sounds of laughter. A local gunslinger, Dan Hotaling, pours whiskey in Denton's face as a peddler, Henry J. Fate, looks on. Hotaling tells Denton to sing for a drink. Desperate for alcohol, Denton staggers to his feet and starts singing. The local saloon girl, Liz, asks the bartender, Charlie Dalton, if he can stop it, but Charlie chooses to stay out of it. Meanwhile, Hotaling shatters the bottle and throws it into the dirt, and Denton desperately scoops it up and drinks from it. Liz comes outside and looks at Denton, and then walks away without saying anything. As Denton passes out on the street, a gun appears near his hand...Read the full recap
Narrator: Portrait of a town drunk named Al Denton. This is a man who's begun his dying early - a long, agonizing route through a maze of bottles. Al Denton, who would probably give an arm or a leg or a part of his soul to have another chance, to be able to rise up and shake the dirt from his body and the bad dreams that infest his consciousness. In the parlance of the times, this is a peddler, a rather fanciful-looking little man in a black frock coat. And this is the third principal character of our story. Its function: perhaps to give Mr. Al Denton his second chance.
Hotaling: Wait a minute, boys! Here we go again! Let's hear our little songbird! Hey, Denton! Three choruses of "How Dry I Am". Let's hear it!
Liz: Al, don't do it.
Al Denton: He'll give me a drink, Miss Smith.
Liz: The devil with him. I can give you one, too, and you won't have to do that for it.
Al Denton: (sings) How dry I am. How dry I am. Nobody knows … how dry I am …
Hotaling: All right. Come on, Rummy. Go on and get your drink. You've been a good boy.
Al Denton: I was good. I was real good. I was so good that once a day, someone would ride into town to make me prove it. And every morning, I'd start my drinkin' a few minutes earlier. Until one morning, the guy that asked me to prove it turned out to be sixteen years old. I left him there on his face. Right there in front of the saloon. I left him there bleedin' to death with my bullet in him. I guess it'll start all over again now. Every fast and fancy man who owns a gun will come riding in down that street. Only this time it'll be me face down, bleeding to death. I think I'll go in now and get a shave. I wanna look proper on the day I die.
(after Denton accidentally shoots Hotaling)
Hotaling: Hey, Rummy! Face me, Denton!
Al Denton: It was an accident, Mr. Hotaling.
Hotaling: You're gonna get this right in your stomach!
Charlie: Dan, give him a break!
Al Denton: I didn't mean to...I didn't even mean to...I didn't even mean to... (Denton fires the gun again; it hits a chandelier, which knocks down Hotaling)
Man: Mr. Denton, maybe you'd let us buy you a drink.
Al Denton: What'd you call me?
Man: I didn't mean no offense.
Al Denton: I just asked you what you called me!
Man: Nothing. Nothing, Mr. Denton. I didn't call you anything.
Al Denton: That's it. Mr. Denton. He called me mister, Charlie.
Charlie: (offering him a drink) Here you are, Al.
Al Denton: No, thanks. I've had enough. I think I'll go out and get a shave. (slugs Hotaling, who falls to the floor) And don't call me Rummy anymore!
Liz: Al, I think everything's gonna be all right now, understand? Charlie says you're as good with a gun now as you ever were.
Al Denton: That's what Charlie says? I was good. I was real good. I was so good that once a day someone would ride into town to make me prove it, and every morning I'd start my drinking a few minutes earlier, until one morning the guy who asked me to prove it turned out to be sixteen years old. I left him there on his face, right there in front of the saloon. I left him there bleeding to death with my bullet in him. I guess it'll start all over again now. Every fast and fancy man who owns a gun will come riding in down that street, only this time it'll be me face down, bleeding to death. I think I'll go in and get a shave. I want to look proper on the day I die.
Al Denton: How much do I owe you?
Henry J. Fate: Oh, there's no charge for this. You might call this a... just a service. That's what it is. Just a service of Henry J. Fate. Just so you might remember sometime the night Fate stepped in.
Pete Grant: Step away from the bar, please, Mr. Denton...and draw.
(Denton and Pete Grant fire their pistols; they hit each other in the hand)
Doctor: This is a push, boys. No winner. You won't be shootin' anymore with that hand, Al. Not anymore. Couple of fingers'll are going to be stiff, too. But that don't make any difference. The way you stood up there...that will be something to tell your grandchildren about. And the way it looks now, you'll live to have some.
Al Denton: (to Pete Grant) Just like me. You'll never be able to fire a gun again in anger. You're blessed, son. We've both been blessed. (Pete leaves) He's lucky. He learned it early.
Man: Did you get him, Pete?
Pete Grant: No more than he got me.
Narrator: Mr. Henry Fate, dealer in utensils and pots and pans, liniments and potions. A fanciful little man in a black frock coat who can help a man climbing out of a pit - or another man from falling into one. Because, you see, fate can work that way in the Twilight Zone.