At the Carlton, Paladin is meeting with a ballerina and tells her to audition for him. Once he sees her, he agrees to arrange the audition for him. Hey Girl comes in with a telegram and says that it's important business. The wire is from the citizen's committee in Big Oak, AZ, and they say that hero Tim Decker refuses to track the Bradley outlaws: Ike, Charley, and Bob. He became famous for tracking down the Stoner Gang eleven years ago. Paladin gives the ballerina his card to give to Ivan at the opera house and leaves.
Paladin rides into Big Oak and enters the grocery store. He sees a boy, Larry, stealing candy, and comes over and helps him to it. He then asks to meet with Tim's wife, Jeanie, who works there. Jeanie comes out and introduces Tim, the store's owner. Tim wonders why Jeanie sent for him, and Jeanie explains that it's Paladin's job to go after outlaws. The owner apologizes to Paladin for Jeanie wasting his time, and offers to pay him. Paladin points out that his leaving won't solve the town's problem. Tim says that all he wants to do is be a simple storekeeper, but agrees to go to get the Bradleys. Larry runs out, cheering, and Tim asks Paladin to come with him.
That night, the two men ride off after the Bradleys. Paladin wonders why Tim is leading them off the beaten path, and Tim irritably invites him to take over if he isn't satisfied. The gunfighter drops the matter and after a moment, Tim says that it's better if they don't take his shortcut and invites Paladin to lead the way.
The two men make camp and set up a fire. Paladin figures that they'll catch up to the Bradleys the next night, and Tim admits that he's not as sharp as he used to be. Paladin doesn't see how that would get in the way of a man following a trail. Tim grabs some brush and prepares to throw it into the fire, and Paladin stops him. He wonders if Tim is trying to warn the Bradleys, and Tim insists that he wants to find the gang. Paladin wonders what other reason Tim would have for doing everything wrong, and tells him to go back. Tim refuses to back down, and Paladin says that it isn't his job and Tim isn't the same man he was eleven years ago. The storeowner vows to get the Bradleys if it's the last thing he does.
The next night, the two men close in on the shack where the Bradleys have gone to ground. There's a lookout on the roof, and Tim figures that they have to take him out before Paladin goes in. Paladin tells Tim to take out the lookout when he makes his run, and Tim warns that he's not that good a shot. The gunfighter realizes that Tim never tracked or shot anyone in his life and didn't get the Stoners. Tim admits that the Stoners were dead when he found them, after they fought over the money. He took the bodies and the stolen money in, and basked in the glory even though he never claimed. Tim says that he'll do his best, but Paladin isn't impressed.
Tim aims his rifle but shakes at first. He steadies himself and Paladin begins his run. When the lookout stands up, Tim manages to wound him. Paladin gets into the shack and takes out the remaining two Bradleys, and finds the stolen money.
Paladin puts the wounded lookout on a travois, and Tim offers to pay Paladin his thousand dollars while he takes the lookout into town. The gunfighter figures that Tim plans to take the credit again for doing nothing. Tim says that he does what he's got to do, and doesn't want to steal Paladin's glory but he has to. Disgusted, Paladin tells Tim to take his glory because he has nothing to prove. When Tim looks at the wounded lookout thoughtfully, Paladin notices and insists on going back to Big Oaks with the two men. Tim resents the implication, but Paladin refuses to back down.
The two men ride back with the wounded outlaw and arrive on the town's outskirts. Tim says that it isn't fair that he's going to lose everything because of an outlaw. He tells Paladin that he was just a drifter and people didn't notice about him. When he found the Stoner gang, the townspeople all but turned the town over to him. Tim says that he did everything not to let the townspeople down, and refuses to lose it because of a killer. He goes for the lookout, and Paladin punches him and says that he's pitied Tim at first but now he's disgusted by him. Realizing he was going to kill a man, Tim breaks into tears. Paladin realizes that the lookout is dead and tells Tim, and says that he'll ride into town and watch the hero's welcome.
When the two men enter Big Oaks, the townspeople sound the bell and come running. Jeanie and Larry join them as everyone cheers Tim. Tim tosses the money to the sheriff, and Larry runs over to hug his father. As Tim takes Larry into the store, the townspeople praise him. Jeanie looks at her husband, and Tim calls Paladin in. Once they're inside, Tim tells Larry that Paladin was the one who killed the Bradleys, and the only thing that's true is that he's Larry's father and loves him. Impressed, Paladin thanks Tim for showing him another way to show courage, and admits that he has no idea how he'd stand up to a 10-year-old boy. Once Paladin leaves, Larry comes over and hugs his father.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 29, 2017