A young Harry Dunning runs through the forest with three boys in pursuit. They finally catch him by a creek and one of them, Randy, drops spit in Harry's mouth. They then pants Harry and throw them into the creek, and the pants drift downstream. Harry just stares up at the sky, and the, boys, disgusted, walk away when they don't get a rise out of their victim.
Later, Harry walks into Holden in his underwear and the townspeople stare at him as he goes. He goes to the pharmacy and tells the owner, Norbert Keene, that he ran like he said but the bullies caught up to him. Harry asks Keene for the spare pair of shorts he keeps stashed there so he can get to school, and Keene reluctantly gives them to the boy. Jake is seated at the counter and looks at Harry, who nervously hides behind the comic book rack until Keene comes back with the shorts. Once Harry leaves, Jake asks Keene if he knows of a local place to stay, saying that he has some business in Holden. Keene tells Jake to check at the home of Edna and Arliss Price.
As a storm forms over Holden, Jake drives to the Price house. He tells Edna that he's a writer and she wonders if he's a Communist. Edna insists that they're Baptists, and Jake says that he'll be leaving on November 1 in three days. Edna charges him the full week rate in advance and spells out the rules.
Up in his room, Jake looks at the burn remains of Al's notes and tries to salvage what he can. He reads the adult Harry's essay about how his father murdered his entire family in a drunken rage except Harry. Jake goes outside where Arliss is working and finds him preparing for Halloween, and Arliss figures that he's looking for a bar and gives Jake directions. He warns Jake that Edna isn't to be trifled with.
Jake drives to the bar and orders a beer. He asks the bartender, Bill Turcotte, if he knows Frank, and claims he was told to look Frank up if he passed through Holden. Bill refuses to answer but advises Jake to get out before the local workers arrive. As Jake takes a seat away from the door, the other workers come in at the end of their shift and two of them, Calvin and Dickie, start grabbing beers. Frank comes in and Bill tells him that Jake has been asking after him. Frank orders a round for his friends, including Jake, and comes over to introduce himself. They all sit down at Jake's table and start drinking, Jake included.
Jake is soon drunk and rambling about economic class, quoting James Agee and praising Frank and his friends as the common people. One of them, Calvin, points out that Frank is sleeping on his couch because Doris kicked Frank out. Frank says that it won't be for long. Jake tries to sympathize, saying that he's divorced, but Frank says that he isn't and refuses to walk away from his problems. The worker insists that he doesn't have any problems and tells Jake that he's going to give him his perfect Chapter 1.
Frank tells Jake to come with him and he and the others drive Jake off. As he drives, Frank asks Jake how he supposedly knows him, and Jake claims that some guy in Lexington told him to look Frank up. Frank demands a name, and Jake can't give him a name or a description. He makes up a name, and Frank asks Jake if he's written a book before. Jake says that it's his first book and it'll be a horror story, and they pull up to the processing plant where Frank and the others work. Inside, Frank says that they're going to have a little fun. The security guard, Clayton, comes out and points out that they're not supposed to be there. Frank offers him a pack of cigarettes to step outside and let them show Jake around, and Clayton quickly leaves.
As they go to the kill floor, Frank talks about how his family has been butchering animals for three generations. He stops at the hide cellar, filled with flies, and talks about how the flies get into everyone's ears and lay eggs. They reach the kill floor and Frank sends Dickie to bring in a cow. He picks up a sledgehammer and tosses it to Jake, and tells him to kill the cow. They want to see if Jake is really one of them, and Frank tells Jake to think of his ex-wife if it helps. After a moment, Jake tosses the sledgehammer on the floor. Frank picks it up and kills the cow, and says that some men don't have what it takes as he walks out with his friends.
Later, Jake sits in his room taking notes. The next day, Jake visits the Dunning house and claims that they won an all-expense prize for a Halloween Festival in Lexington. Harry is home sick but comes over when he hears that they won something. Jake confirms that it'll just be Doris and her three children going, and tells them to wear costumes for the contest. As he goes, Jake tells Harry that things are going to get a whole lot better.
Jake is eating with the Prices and watching the news. They're having goulash and Jake compliments Edna on her cooking. She talks about how Arliss got the Bronze Star, and Arliss asks Jake if he served in Korea. Jake claims that he did and makes up a unit. Once Edna goes to get coffee, Arliss talks about how he and Jake both know that there's no such thing as a war hero. He describes how he drowned a sleeping German soldier during World War II, and that's how he got his Bronze Star.
Frank comes by the Price house looking for Jake. Jake assures him he wasn't offended the previous night by what happened, but Frank wants to make it up to him. He invites Jake to come along and Jake reluctantly goes. Frank drives to his family butcher shop where he worked his way out of the slaughterhouse, and tells Jake that when rules are broken, there's a price to be paid. He then orders a bruised Doris out of the back, and accuses Jake of trying to screw her behind his back. Jake tries to deny it until he realizes it won't do any good. He says that Doris didn't know anything about it, and Frank beats him. The butcher tells Jake to get out of Holden and throws Jake out on the street. He shoves Doris out and Jake tries to apologize. She walks away without a word... while Bill secretly watches from the bushes.
Jake walks to a sporting goods store and catches the owner as she's leaving. He offers the owner cash for a gun, and claims that he's going to shoot guns. Jake offers her $40 for the gun but she refuses, figuring that Jake is bad news. When he says that he needs it, the woman laughs and takes him inside to get him his gun.
At his room, Jake loads the revolver and looks in the mirror, and promises that he's coming for Frank.
Al and Jake have breakfast in the present, and Al explains that the past doesn't like to be changed. The diner owner tried to save a girl who was crippled in a hunting accident, but every time that he tried to save her, something "coincidentally" happened to stop him. Worst, he got checked a month ago and was fine... and now he has cancer.
Jake wakes up the next morning with the flu. He insists that he won't be stopped and goes to Norbert's pharmacy to get some incontinence pants. Back at the boarding house, Jake gets ready and remembers how Harry described his father killing his family in his essay. The teacher walks across town as the children go trick-or-treating.
At the Dunning house, Doris is struggling to get Ellen into her costume. Harry waits impatiently outside as Jake watches the house from the bushes. He listens as everyone says what Harry described them as saying in his essay. As Jake checks to confirm that there's three minutes until Frank arrives, Bill grabs the teacher from behind, puts a knife to his throat, and says that Jake isn't going anywhere. The bartender insists that he isn't there to help Frank, and Jake says that Frank is coming there to kill his family at 8 p.m.. Bill explains that Frank was married to Bill's older sister Clara 12 years ago, killed her and her baby, and buried her body. Nobody believes Bill because he was just a kid when it happened. Jake says that he believes him and finally says that he's from the future. Bill doesn't believe him, but Jake shoves him away and draws his gun. The bartender tells him to kill, but points out that it's 8:05.
As Jake wonders if he already changed history, Doris screams. The teacher realizes that Jake went in through the back door and runs into the house. There's candy scattered on the floor, and Jake goes up the stairs. He finds the boy in his room and confirms that he's okay, and tells him to stay there. Doris screams again and Jake goes down the hall. He finds Frank standing over Doris with a sledgehammer, and shoot him. Frank knocks the gun out of Jake's hand, and Jake tackles him. They struggle and Jake yells at Doris to run, and she goes down the stairs. Harry comes to investigate, grabs the hammer, and drags it downstairs. Frank crawls after his son, and Jake grabs a lamp cord and strangles Frank. Bill arrives and stares in shock, and Jake kills Frank.
Covered in blood, Jake tells Doris not to go in the bedroom and then walks out. As the neighbors go inside to investigate the noise, Jake goes back to the Price house to get his car. Edna comes out and sarcastically asks if he's been trick-or-treating. She threatens to call the sheriff, and Jake insists that he didn't do a bad thing no matter what it looks like. Edna tells him that God will be the final judge of what he did, and warns Jake that he'd better be prepared for that. Sirens sound in the distance and Edna goes back inside.
Jake drives through the rain and tries to rub the blood off of his hands. He finally pulls over at a water faucet and cleans himself up. As he does, he tells himself that the Dunnings are still alive and realizes that he was able to change history after all. Bill comes up behind him and holds up a torn newspaper that he found in Al's file... showing that Kennedy will be assassinated in 1963. He tells Jake to get in the car.
Written by Gadfly on Feb 23, 2016