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.
Pedott goes up to the bar and another drinker, Lefty, asks what he has. The bartender notes that Pedott comes in every night and says he has whatever anyone needs. As Renard listens, Lefty admits that he needs a new left arm. He was a pitcher for the Cubs but his arm went sour. Now he comes into the bar to drink. Pedott suggests that there are other things that Lefty could do but Lefty doesn’t believe it. The peddler says he knows what Lefty needs and hands him a bus ticket to Scranton, Pennsylvania. The ex-pitcher has no idea what is there for him in Scranton.
As Pedott walks away, Lefty gets a call from an old manager. Lefty has a coaching job with a minor league club in Scranton. He asks Pedott how he knows, but the peddler says that it’s just coincidence. Lefty looks at his dirty jacket and realizes he needs to make an impression. The woman comes over and offers him the bottle of spot remover. Pedott looks on and then realizes that Renard is staring at him. He slips out before Lefty and the girl can see him.
Outside, Renard approaches Pedott. The peddler asks what he wants and Renard demands to know what he needs that night. Pedott glances at a pair of scissors and Renard snatches them up. He figures that it’s a gag and threatens to beat Pedott, but the peddler tells him that they’re what Renard needs.
Renard goes to his hotel and enters the elevator. His scarf catches in the door and strangles him as it starts to ascend. Renard is unable to reach the stop button or summon help, but uses the scissors to cut through the scarf and save his life. Looking at the scissors, he realizes that they were exactly what he needed... and Pedott knew.
Later that night, Pedott returns to his room and finds Renard waiting for him. The peddler insists that he gave Renard what he needed and there’s no reason for him to bother him. However, Renard realizes that Pedott can see the future and wonders how he can dribble away a million-dollar talent. He informs Pedott that he has a partner, but the peddler says that he’s content and has to use his ability sparingly. Renard says that what he needs is wealth and luxury and tells Pedott to reveal what he needs. After a moment, the peddler reaches into pocket and hands Renard a leaky pen. Renard examines it and wonders why he could need it, but then notices that the ink has dropped on a horse's name in the racing news. He leaves Pedott for the moment, already planning to place his bet the next day.
Renard makes $240 and goes back to his hotel room. He has the clerk bring up the new paper and then tries to use the pen. It has run out of ink and Renard goes to get revenge on Pedott for betraying him. He finds the peddler on the street and Pedott explains that whatever someone needs, they only need once. Renard demands to know what he needs next and explains that he’s had a rotten life and he’s not going to give up his one chance at coming out on top. Pedott tells him that it has to stop, and that the things that Renard needs like compassion and a sense of humor are things that he can’t give him.
Renard refuses to take no for an answer and starts going through Pedott’s sales case. Pedott glances nervously at a pair of new shoes and Renard puts them on. He complains that they’re too tight and have slippery leather soles, and tries to work out how they can help him. Renard demands to know what they work and Pedott says that they’re what he needs. The peddler moves away and Renard comes after him, stepping onto the rain-swept street. The soles slip on the moisture and a car hits Renard before he can get out of the way. Pedott knew that Renard would eventually kill him from the moment they met.
Later, a crowd gathers and a couple comes out of the adjacent apartment. Pedott offers the disheveled man a comb, free of charge. Puzzled, the man accepts it and Pedott goes on his way. The couple joins the crowd and a photographer wants to take their picture. The man needs to straighten his hair... and the comb is just what he needs.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 18, 2015