While traveling on a special assignment, Hoby sets up camp for the night ten miles from his destination, Jacksboro. He settles down before the fire and once he removes his gun belt, a man cocks his revolver and tells Hoby not to move. The man tells Hoby to stand up and pistol-whips him unconscious. The intruder then takes Hoby's money and badge, and finds a wanted poster with the face and name of Mal Cody on it... and says that he's wanted for murder and has a scar on his arm. The man tosses the poster in the fire and watches it burn.
Later, Hoby wakes up and sees his empty gun belt hanging on a nearby tree. There's no sign of his attacker, but Mal has taken his horse. Hoby continues on to Jacksboro on foot. As he gets a drink of water at the stable pump, Fenn Dooley comes over and tells Hoby he can leave his saddle and bedroll in the stable. Hoby drops it off and sees his horse in a stable. Fenn comes in and asks if something is wrong, and says that when he came in that morning, the horse was already there. He points out that Hoby has no proof that it's his horse, and tells him to talk to the man who brought it in. Fenn asks Hoby what side of the Civil War he was on. Hoby asks him the same thing, and Fenn says that he was on both sides but is currently on the Northern side.
At the sheriff's office, the lawman officer says that he doesn't believe Hoby's claim that he's a Texas Ranger sent to take custody of Mal. He points out that Hoby doesn't have a badge or a gun, and says that a Ranger calling himself Hoby and having the proper papers already came in that morning and got Mal. The sheriff advises Hoby to get out of town or he'll lock him up, and Hoby readily agrees. Before he goes, Hoby says that his ambusher was waiting for him and the sheriff was the only one who knew Hoby was coming. once Hoby leaves, the sheriff walks out.
That night, Hoby goes to the saloon and spots Fenn drinking. A man who looks just like Mal is at the bar drinking with a saloon girl, Julie Corbin. When the man sees Hoby, he tells Julie to get out and admits that he doesn't know if there'll be trouble. Julie calls the man Wes, and Wes says that he has to give Mal time to get out of the state. When she wonders why Wes should get in trouble for his twin brother, Wes says that he doesn't want to see Mal hang for a killing he didn't do. He believes Mal over the jury, and figures that it's good enough for him.
Once Julie leaves, Hoby goes over to Wes and says that he has seen wanted posters with Wes' face on it. Wes says that it's his twin brother Mal, and he can prove it if he has to. He asks if Hoby has proof he's a Ranger, and Hoby asks where he can find Mal. Wes says that a Ranger got Hoby out of jail that morning, and offers to buy him a round. The sheriff comes over and tells Hoby to get out of town. Once Hoby leaves, Wes tells the sheriff that Hoby is no trouble. The sheriff guarantees that Hoby won't be in town come morning, but Wes tells him to let Hoby stay so his brother can get an extra day to run.
Hoby goes back to the stable and lights a lantern, and Fenn tells him to put it out. He says that he's been waiting for Hoby, and invites him to stay in the stable that night. Fenn explains that someone in town might have been tempted to shoot at Hoby, and he didn't want a stray shot to catch him. He refuses to loan Hoby a gun, and says that Wes was telling the truth. Fenn tells Hoby that Wes has never done no wrong and Mal is a killer but Wes never believed it. Hoby asks who held him up, and Fenn feigns innocence. When Hoby asks him about the sheriff, Fenn tells him that Mal held up a bank and Fenn always figured the sheriff could be bought. He hints that they'd be better off if Hoby killed the sheriff, tosses him a coin for a meal, and leaves.
Julie is in her room when Wes visits her. He tells her that everything's under control and Julie gets him a drink. She asks what makes him so sure that Mal didn't shoot his friend Chris Hardin in the back. Julie points out that Chris was a thief and a murderer, and Wes says that he never saw Chris kill anyone. She reminds him that he never saw Mal kill anyone, either, and he wonders if she's turning against him. Julie tells him that he's a fool but Wes refuses to hear a bad word about his twin. She says that she knew Mal before she met Wes, and liked him until she found out what he was. Julie tells Wes to get out, and he accuses her of lying.
Mal comes in and Wes is surprised that he hasn't left the country already. His brother says that the sheriff told him that a Ranger is in town and wonders why Wes didn't kill him. Wes says that all he did was promise breaking Mal out and giving him enough time to leave the country. Mal accuses him of taking up with "his girl," and Julie insists that she isn't his girl. After he pours himself a drink, Mal says that she might be his girl again if he stays around for awhile. Wes warns him that Hoby will come after him, and Mal figures that he can gun down Hoby the next time Hoby comes up to him. He tells Julie to go into the next room while he and his twin change clothes, and tells Wes to get out of town. When Wes tells Julie to stay, she warns that Mal will shoot both of them if Wes doesn't obey. Wes doesn't believe Mal would kill them, and she tells him to ask his brother who shot Hardin in the back. Mal admits that he killed Hardin and repeats his order, and Wes starts undressing.
Hoby is sleeping in the loft wakes up when he hears someone entering the stable. He jumps down and punches Wes, wearing Mal's clothing. He takes Wes' gun and Wes shows him his unscarred forearm to prove who he is. Once he hands over Hoby's badge, he asks Hoby to get Mal before he takes him in. Hoby asks for an explanation, and Wes says that he thought Mal was innocent and wanted to give him enough time to get away. However, Mal never planned to leave town and told him that he killed Hardin. Wes says that he stayed to save Hoby, and warns that Mal is going to kill Hoby the next time that he braces him. He tells Hoby that Mal is in the saloon and he's not going anywhere. When Hoby warns that he may have to kill Mal, Wes admits that it has to be done but he can't do it.
After holstering the borrowed gun, Hoby goes to the saloon. Fenn approaches him outside and offers him a revolver. Hoby says that he has a gun and Fen admits that he sent Wes to the stable. He offers to walk with Hoby into the saloon.
The sheriff enters the saloon and calls Mal over, assuming that he's Wes. He warns that he didn't like how Wes turned Mal loose, and then points out that Hoby just came in. He buys a drink with the money Wes gave him back, and offers the sheriff a drink. Hoby claims that he stole the money, and tells Mal to come along. Mal insists that he's Wes, and the two men draw. Hoby shoots Mal down, and Fenn draws a gun on the sheriff to keep him from interfering. The Ranger then puts the sheriff under arrest for aiding and abetting an escaped prisoner, and tosses his badge down on the bar. Hoby looks at Mal's body and tells the customers that if anyone knows where Mal lived, they should take him home because Wes will appreciate it. He then leads the sheriff out.
The next day, Hoby is preparing to ride out. Fenn invites him to stay over the next time he comes through and says that it'll be a pleasure to see him again. Wes and Julie come up, and Wes figures that Hoby has to take him in. Hoby points out that there were no witnesses who saw Wes attack him, and leaves Wes with Julie as he rides out.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 5, 2017