Walking Distance

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Martin Sloan: Gig Young
Young Martin: Michael Montgomery
Martin's Father: Frank Overton
Martin's Mother: Irene Tedrow
The Wilcox Boy: Ron Howard
Charlie: Byron Foulger
Mr. Wilson: Patrick H. O'Malley Jr.

"Walking Distance" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. The episode was listed as the eighth best episode in the history of The Twilight Zone by Time Magazine.

Contents

Plot summary

A middle-aged man, Martin Sloan (Gig Young), is driving cross-country when he stops his car at a gas station. He walks toward his hometown, Homewood, that the attendant assures him is within walking distance. Homewood appears exactly as it was when he was a boy. He goes into a drugstore, and has an ice cream soda at the soda fountain while recalling his memories from the past. He says "One of the greatest memories I have is old man Wilson, may God rest his soul, sleeping in his comfortable chair just like he did before he died". The clerk looks at Sloan oddly but says nothing. After Sloan leaves the store, the cashier goes up to a room where Mr. Wilson is sleeping and says "We'll need more chocolate syrup, Mr. Wilson." He responds by saying "I'll order some more of it this afternoon."

Sloan continues walking until he eventually sees himself as a boy, and following him home, meets his parents. Trying to convince his parents that he is their son from the future, he succeeds only in alarming the disbelieving couple who tell him to leave. He finds his childhood self on a carousel, and tries to warn his younger self to enjoy his childhood before it is too late. His advances scare young Martin, who falls off the merry-go-round and injures his leg. Sloan is then confronted by his father who, having seen the papers in Sloan's wallet with its dollar bills from the future, now believes his story. His father advises him that everyone has their time, and that he should look to the future rather than to the past, because the happiness he is seeking may be in the places he hasn't looked yet. Sloan finds himself back in his own time, now walking with a limp, but resigned again to his life as it is.

Themes

Similar themes are explored in "The Incredible World of Horace Ford" and, to a lesser extent, "Young Man's Fancy". The episode also deals with the relentless pressures of the business world, which also serve as the basis for "A Stop at Willoughby", "The Brain Center at Whipple's" and two Serling teleplays from before and after The Twilight Zone: Patterns and the Night Gallery episode "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar".

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