At the Porter Hotel, Hoby comes out and finds townspeople gathered
out front. They glare at him and move on, and the prosecuting attorney,
Jeff, comes along and says that Hoby is to blame for turning Bud Ehlers.
Hoby says that the jury turned the man loose, and insists that the man
is innocent. Bud comes out and thanks Hoby for helping get him loose,
and confirms that he can't be tried again for the same crime. He then
tells Hoby that he did kill Old Man Nelson. Bud then advises Hoby to
forget it, but Hoby insists on talking to him in his office. The former
defendant refuses, saying that he's a free man, but Hoby insists.
In the office, Hoby tells Bud to tell him the whole story. Bud says that he bushwhacked Nelson outside of town for the $4,000 he was carrying. He drank with Nelson and rode out to town with him to help him, just like he testified. However, then Bud shot Nelson before riding back to town. He explains that he figured that Hoby would find out he was with Nelson, so he admitted it and threw himself on Hoby's mercy. Bud is telling Hoby now because he figures that he can't do anything about it, and wouldn't admit he was a fool to the townspeople. The killer figures that he can blackmail Hoby with what he knows. Hoby tells him to get out of town but Bud figures that the people owe him something and he plans to collect. The marshal tells him he's not going to pay it off and shoves him out of the office.
Over the next two days, most of the townspeople avoid Hoby. Hoby goes to the barber shop and Aaron's customer immediately leaves. Aaron tells Hoby that there's talk of holding an election for sheriff. The townspeople figure that it's time for Hoby to move on. Aaron wonders why Hoby helped set Bud free, and Hoby says that the state's got to prove that Bud is guilty and he let the audience consider it. He angrily insists that Farrow saw Nelson killed, and asks Aaron if he's ever known Farrow to be convicted. Aaron asks him if he believes Bud is innocent or guilty, and Hoby says that it doesn't matter. The barber asks if the townspeople are right that Bud paid Hoby to help, and Hoby tells Arron to tell them to hold the election and quick, and he'll count the ballots.
Later, Bud visits Hoby and says that he saw Steve Marriner run into town. Steve was a friend of Nelson's, and was asking where he could find Bud. Bud demands that Hoby stop Steve or he'll kill him. Hoby tells Bud to get out, and Bud reluctantly goes.
Later at the saloon, Farrow tells Steve that he saw Bud gun down Nelson. He also says that Hoby told the jury that they shouldn't hang a man on his words. Steve asks if Farrow was drunk when he saw the killing, and Farrow admits that sometimes he doesn't know if he is or isn't. Hoby comes in and sits down, and tells Farrow to find another table. Once Farrow leaves, Steve says that he and Nelson were partners. Steve was heading home after selling their partner, and Hoby tells him that he can get the money from the judge. However, he warns that Nelson lost $2,000 losing cards with Bud. Steve immediately says that Nelson didn't believe in playing cards. He asks what Hoby had against Nelson, because everyone in town has said that Hoby let Bud off. Hoby tells him that he tries to enforce the law, and Steve insists that jury was wrong. Steve says that he doesn't carry a gun, and asks where Hoby stands if someone tries to kill Bud. Hoby tells him that he'll be right in front of Bud, and Steve tells him that it wouldn't be smart. He then says that Hoby reminds him of a man he knew that got in front of a wolf they were hunting and got his head blown off.
Outside, Steve finds Bud and points out that he's jumpy for an innocent man. Bud figures that Steve is going to try to kill him, and Steve advises him to run if he sees him with a gun. He warns that if he does kill Bud then it'll be by the book. As Bud walks off, he comes to Hoby, who has seen the entire thing.
Hoby is in his room, considering Steve's threat and how he had to stop him. Bud arrives and tells Hoby to stop Steve. Hoby says that he'll tell the townspeople that Bud is guilty when the time comes, and until then there's nothing he can do about Steve. He advises Bud to leave town, and Bud figures that if he leaves town then Steve will be waiting for him. Hoby admits that it isn't a bad idea, and Bud says that he's not leaving Porter. He sits down next to Hoby and says that the marshal has him a new roommate. Hoby angrily throws him out.
That night, Steve leaves the hotel and Hoby approaches him. He notices that Steve is carrying a gun now, and says that he doesn't want Steve or Bud to get into trouble. Steve tells Hoby that he doesn't want to tangle with him, but someone has to pay for Nelson's death. Hoby tells him that a captain once told him that it's better to let a hundred guilty men free because they think they'll get away with it and then the law will stop them. Steve asks how many chance Bud will get and walks off.
Bud is drinking at the saloon and notices that everyone is avoiding him. He says that he doesn't care and then goes over to Farrow. Farrow tries to pull away, and Bud says that Farrow tries to get him hung. Steve comes in and tells Bud to leave Farrow alone. Farrow runs out and Bud says that he knows why Steve is wearing a gun. He asks the drinkers if they're going to let Steve kill him, and the bartender says that he didn't hear Steve say anything about killing anyone.
Hoby comes in as Bud insists that the jury found him innocent. The marshal says that Bud isn't innocent and never was, and tells the townspeople that maybe they should vote him out of office. He thought Bud was innocent and says that the law is for the innocent as well as the guilty. Hoby then says that Bud told him that he killed Nelson, and the law says that you can't try a man twice for the same crime. When Steve says that if there's a bad law you work without it, Hoby admits that he can't keep an eye on him 24 hours a day. He advises him not to cause trouble inside of Porter, but says that he can't cover everything outside of it.
Bud accuses them of being in it together and demands protection from Hoby. Hoby says that he can't lock Bud up for no reason, and Bud smashes the bar's mirror. The bartender, Joe, refuses to press charges and Steve covers the cost. Bud says that they're all against him and backs out. Farrow comes in and Bud instinctively shoots him in the shoulder. Steve draws his gun and shoots Bud dead, and Hoby takes his gun. He says that he'll go quietly, and he only meant to scare Bud.
The next day, Hoby releases Steve and says that the coroner ruled that the shooting was justifiable. Steve thanks Hoby for all that he's done and asks about the election. Hoby figures that they probably won't, and Steve jokingly offers to be his campaign manager if they do.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 5, 2017