A petty thug, Fred Renard, is sitting in a bar nursing his drink. When the bartender complains, Renard tells him to back off. Meanwhile, a street peddler, Pedott, comes into the bar. He approaches a young woman and offers her some matches. Pedott stares at her and then tells her that what she needs is a small bottle of cleaning fluid, guaranteed to remove spots of any kind. Intrigued, the woman takes it from him...Read the full recap
This episode is based on the short story "What You Need" by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore in Astounding Science Fiction October, 1945.
This story aired December 25th, 1959, Rod Serling's 35th birthday.
Narrator: You're looking at Mr. Fred Renard, who carries on his shoulder a chip the size of the national debt. This is a sour man, a friendless man, a lonely man, a grasping, compulsive, nervous man. This is a man who has lived thirty-six undistinguished, meaningless, pointless, failure-laden years and who at this moment looks for an escape - any escape, any way, anything, anybody - to get out of the rut. And this little old man is just what Mr. Renard is waiting for.
Pedott: I feel sorry for you. I really do.
Fred Renard: I don't want you to. I don't want you to go to that kind of trouble. I just want you to keep supplying me with what I need. I don't care what it is. Scissors to save my lousy hide or a leaky fountain pen so I can pick winners. But whatever it is, I want it to keep coming. I don't want it to stop.
Pedott: That's a pity, because it must stop. It must stop now.
Fred Renard: Why? Why does it have to stop?
Pedott: Because the things you need most I can't supply.
Fred Renard: What are they?
Pedott: Serenity, peace of mind, humor, the ability to laugh at oneself. Those are the things you need most, but it's beyond my power to give them to you.
Fred Renard: What are you doing, giving me the business? Is that what you're doing, giving me the business? You know, I can come over there and take you apart bone by bone. Come on, old man, tell me. Are these what I need?
Pedott: I didn't say they were. But I'll tell you something. They happen to be what I need.
Pedott: Mr. Renard, what I saw in your eyes at that bar was death. My death. You were going to kill me. So what was needed for Mr. Renard was slippery shoes... that's what was needed, slippery shoes.
Narrator: Street scene. Night. Traffic accident. Victim named Fred Renard, gentleman with a sour face to whom contentment came with difficulty. Fred Renard, who took all that was needed, in the Twilight Zone.